Russian state television is on the wrong track in denouncing the war in Ukraine

Russian state television broadcast calls for Vladimir Putin, the country’s president, to end his war in Ukraine during a show in which pundits openly compared the invasion to “Afghanistan, but worse”.

Vladimir Soloviyev, usually one of the Kremlin’s most trusted chief propagandists, had to interrupt guests on his prime-time TV show to end their criticism of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking on a show on Russia 1, filmmaker and state expert Karen Shakhnazarov said the conflict in Ukraine risks isolating Russia.

He told Mr Soloviyev: “I find it hard to imagine taking cities like Kyiv. I can’t imagine what that would look like.

He went on to call for an end to the conflict, saying: “If this picture starts to turn into an absolute humanitarian disaster, even our close allies like China and India will be forced to distance themselves from us.

“This public opinion, with which they saturate the whole world, can harm us… Ending this operation will stabilize things inside the country.”

Later, during the broadcast of An Evening with Vladimir Soloviev, one of the most watched programs on Russian television, guest Semyon Bagdasarov, an academic, said: “Do we need to enter a Another Afghanistan, only worse?

He said that in Ukraine “there are more people and they are more advanced in handling weapons”, adding: “We don’t need that. Enough already.”

The reference to Afghanistan, a conflict that marked the Soviet Union and still marks Russia, was particularly poignant. The Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, 10 years after its invasion, humiliated.

Historians have said that Afghanistan’s failure and the disillusion felt by millions after it contributed to the fall of the Soviet Union two years later. Thousands of Soviet soldiers were killed in the war, which became deeply unpopular in the country.

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