With Putin supporters and the state media celebrating Monday's attack as a long-awaited response to Ukraine's heightening counteroffensive, Vladimir Putin appears to be a hostage of his own supporters' views.
For weeks, Putin's supporters have been calling for drastic steps in Ukraine. And these calls gained momentum in the weekend after the Crimea bridge was destroyed. The Kremlin unleashed a barrage of deadly attacks in 15 Ukrainian cities, as well as the capital Kyiv. There were a series of bitter and heavy strikes against Ukrainian civilians and infrastructure.
Commentators said Russian missiles tore through rush-hour traffic and into energy facilities – all in retaliation for an explosion that damaged a key bridge. The Russian president told his security council that it was "revenge" for what he said was Kyiv's long track record of "terrorist" actions.
Pro-Russians Cheer Kremlin On
The state TV hosts and pro-Russia officials who had been feeling dejected and depressed for weeks are now cheering Moscow on. They are celebrating and dancing as Ukrainians run for their lives and grieve for their loved ones lost in the Russian assault. But Vladimir Solovyov, a Russian propagandist, demanded to know "When will we actually start fighting?" He believes it was better for Russia to be feared than laughed at.
Ramzan Kadyrov, Chechen leader, is beaming ear to ear. He said he is now "100% happy". And RT television channel boss Margarita Simonyan described Russia's missile strikes as "little response has landed".
Meanwhile, Anton Krasovsky, senior RT employee, posted a video of himself in a cap with a pro-war Z symbol, dancing and grinning broadly at the camera. He also punches the air in joy for Russia's victory. Andrei Medvedev, another state TV journalist, said Russia's strike was a logical step. He highlighted that the society had long been demanding for this and that the military situation demanded a different approach to the hostilities.
Sergei Mironov, a senior Russian lawmaker, said its time for fighting fiercely, even cruelly. "Without looking back at whatever censures from the West. There won't be any bigger sanctions. They won't say any worse words. We need to do our thing. We started it – we should go till the end. There is no way back. Time to respond!"
Sergei Aksyonov, the Russia-installed governor of Crimea, applauded Moscow's hits. He said if such actions to destroy the enemy's infrastructure had been taken every day, Russia would have finished everything in May and the Kyiv regime would have been defeated. Aksyonov hopes the pace of the operation will not slow down.
Monday's Strikes – An Act of Desperation
Tatyana Stanovaya, founder of thinktank R.Politik, believes that Putin's initiative is weakening. He feels the Russian president is becoming more dependent on circumstances and those who are forging the victory in Ukraine for him. There are demands for Putin and the Russian forces to keep up the pace and the intensity of the attacks and damage to Ukraine. Russia's reinforced attack comes after a series of failures on the battlefield and the call-up of hundreds of thousands of military reservists.
Grigory Yudin, from the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences, said Russia's escalation of attacks is an act of desperation to solve Putin's internal problems. He believes the idea is to "scare the opponent to death" so it will surrender. Andrei Kortunov, Russian foreign policy analyst, thinks the Russian leadership is ready for a war of attrition. He said Moscow wants to break the will of the Ukrainian people and the army.