A statement by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday suggesting Ukraine's separatists should postpone their independence referendum was unexpected for all parties in Russia, said ERR's Moscow correspondent Anton Aleksejev.
“I must say that Vladimir Putin's proposal to postpone the referendum of separatists and his words that the presidential elections in Ukraine are a step in the right direction came as a complete surprise to the Russian propaganda machine,” Aleksejev told ETV in an interview Wednesday.
Analysts, pro-Kremlin forces and the opposition are all at a loss for words, he said.
The tragedy in Odessa that claimed more than 40 lives seemed like an excuse to take Russian forces to eastern Ukraine and there was a general feeling that Donetsk and Luhansk will share the fate of Crimea, Aleksejev said.
The propaganda machine was geared towards war and now has trouble explaining Putin's decision to the people, adding that there is a demoralized mood in online publications, and Putin's allies who supported bringing in Russian troops now consider him a traitor.
The reasons behind this sudden change are not known and Aleksejev suggested the president's speech on May 9 may bring some clarity.