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Russia’s Pro-War Bloggers Are Suddenly Sniping Among Themselves

Russia’s famously outspoken pro-war bloggers have begun turning on one another.

Since the onset of the war, the bloggers’ close ties to the military have allowed them to become invaluable sources of information. Their widely followed posts — some scathingly critical of the Russian government — often provide more details about army movements than the Russian authorities do.

But in recent days, the military blogosphere has erupted into a conflict of its own, with some analysts accusing one another of helping the Ukrainian government.

“Who do you work for?” demanded one blogger, Aleksandr Talipov, denouncing pro-war Telegram channels for posting photos of supposed Ukrainian attacks on Russian-occupied Crimea. The channels, he suggested, cater to Ukrainians.

The online battle comes as the Russian military is pursuing a brutal campaign against Ukraine, keeping up the pressure on its grain exports and targeting civilian populations.

A little over a week after a Russian airstrike badly damaged a landmark cathedral in Odesa, Russian shelling on Thursday hit a church in another southern city, Kherson, and wounded three passengers on a trolley bus, Ukrainian officials said. One passenger had life-threatening injuries, the head of the regional military administration said in a statement.

The church, St. Catherine’s Cathedral, is in the center of the city and was targeted more than once on Thursday. As emergency workers extinguished a fire there, it was struck again, injuring four of the workers, Ukraine’s State Emergency Service said on social media.

The church made news last year, when it emerged that Russian forces retreating from Kherson had gone into a crypt there and taken the bones of Prince Grigory Aleksandrovich Potemkin, an 18th-century Russian aristocrat and lover of Catherine the Great who is considered the founder of modern-day Kherson.

On Thursday, the United Nations Security Council convened to discuss global food security, a day after the European Union’s top diplomat sent a letter denouncing what he said was a scheme by Moscow to disrupt the world’s grain supplies and make African nations dependent on Russia for food.

“Russia is now approaching vulnerable countries with bilateral offers of grain shipments at discounted prices, pretending to solve a problem it created itself,” wrote the diplomat, Josep Borrell Fontelles. “This is a cynical policy of deliberately using food as a weapon to create new dependencies.”

In a speech at the Security Council, whose rotating presidency is being held this month by the United States, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken condemned the weaponization of food.

“Enough treating the world’s most vulnerable people as leverage,” Mr. Blinken said. “Enough of this unjustified unconscionable war.”

Moscow last month withdrew from the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which had allowed for exports of grain from Ukraine — a major world supplier — despite the hostilities. Russian forces have since bombarded Ukrainian ports and infrastructure on the Black Sea and the Danube River, raising concerns among world leaders about the stability of the global food supply.

In Russia, it was unclear whether recent political turmoil at home has played a role in the war bloggers’ shifting tone.

Since the start of the war in February 2022, the bloggers’ unstinting support for the invasion has given them license to criticize the Russian government over how the military campaign has been conducted. Even when they have called out the army over stumbles, they have had a shield of protection that opponents of the invasion do not have under a government that is increasingly cracking down on dissent.

But that may now be changing.

Since the failed rebellion by a paramilitary leader, Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, in June and the arrest of a prominent war blogger a week ago, even those whose pro-war credentials are beyond dispute appear to be measuring their words.

On Wednesday, one prominent pundit, Egor Kholmogorov, said he was “ending all of my political, journalistic and social activities.”

Many of the bloggers had long sung the praises of Mr. Prigozhin’s private Wagner military group, and he was a unbridled critic of Russia’s military leaders. Though he loudly proclaimed loyalty to President Vladimir V. Putin, the Russian leader appeared infuriated by the Wagner uprising.

Then, late last month, a prominent military blogger who had criticized the Kremlin’s conduct of the war, Igor Girkin, was accused of engaging in extremist activities after calling Mr. Putin a “nothingness” who had managed to “throw dust in the eyes” of his people.

Days before Mr. Girkin’s arrest, a retired colonel from Russia’s military intelligence who had appeared as a guest on Mr. Girkin’s YouTube channel was charged with discrediting the armed forces, according to Russian news reports.

Erin Mendell, Monika Pronczuk and Farnaz Fassihi contributed reporting.

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