Putin’s supporters call for the liquidation of Ukraine as ‘genocidal rhetoric’ swells

Russian President Vladimir Putin on a display screen at Red Square as he addresses a rally and a live performance marking the annexation of 4 areas of Ukraine — Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia — in central Moscow on Sept. 30, 2022.

Alexander Nemenov | Afp | Getty Images

Prominent supporters of Russian President Vladimir Putin are utilizing more and more “genocidal rhetoric” when discussing and demonizing Ukrainians, analysts notice, with some pro-war commentators cheering the idea of the “liquidation” of the trendy state of Ukraine.

Ultranationalists have come to the fore in Russia significantly since the Feb. 24 invasion, constantly pushing the Kremlin to take a tougher line with Ukraine and overtly vital of Moscow’s army management following a collection of withdrawals or defeats throughout the struggle.

Well-known commentators, starting from army bloggers and journalists to politicians and officers, belonging to a nationalist faction in Russian politics have repeatedly referred to as for Russia to undertake a extra cruel strategy to Ukraine, with some selling the use of nuclear weapons and others advocating its full annihilation.

‘Cockroaches’ and ‘pigs’

One of the most carefully adopted pro-Kremlin blogs belongs to former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev who has over 900,000 followers on Telegram and is one of the staunchest supporters of the struggle and most vociferous and harsh critics of Ukraine.

The rhetoric he makes use of to characterize Ukraine and Ukrainians has additionally turn out to be more and more dehumanizing; this week he characterized officials within Kyiv’s government as “cockroaches” (as a result of they wished to retake Crimea, a Ukrainian peninsula illegally annexed by Russia in 2014) whereas he used the time period “grunting pigs” earlier in November.

He has denied “mythical” Ukraine’s existence, telling his followers this week that “Kiev is the capital of Ancient Russia” and that “Kyiv is just a Russian city where people always thought and spoke Russian.” That sentiment is extensively echoed by different officers and army bloggers, or “milbloggers,” as they’re recognized.

“I have repeatedly said that, by and large, the Ukrainian nation does not exist, it is a political orientation,” Moscow City Duma deputy and pro-Kremlin journalist Andrey Medvedev instructed his 150,000 followers on Telegram Wednesday.

“To be a ‘Ukrainian’ one does not even have to speak the Ukrainian language (which is also still being formed). Ukrainians are Russians who have been convinced that they are special, more European, more racially pure and more correct Russians,” he claimed.

“All this can be stopped only through the liquidation of Ukrainian statehood in its current form,” Medvedev mentioned.

The rhetoric has heated up in the final week following the circulation of a video on social media that Moscow says shows Ukrainian forces killing Russian troops who may have been trying to surrender. Ukraine’s deputy prime minister mentioned Kyiv would examine the video however mentioned “it is very unlikely” that the edited snippets present what Moscow claims.

Nonetheless, the video has brought about a storm amongst pro-Kremlin commentators, with Russia’s State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin taking to his Telegram channel to sentence Ukraine and repeat baseless accusations that the Kyiv authorities is led by “fascists” and “Nazis” regardless of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy himself being Jewish.

Another well-liked motif being utilized by pro-war, pro-Putin bloggers is characterizing Ukraine and Ukrainians as “evil” or “sadists” or “Satanists.”

Blogger Ilya Varlamov, whose Telegram channel is adopted by 360,000 individuals, has described Ukrainians as “the grunting pigs of Satan” (the identical derogatory language and terminology is commonly shared throughout the blogosphere displaying the pervasiveness of anti-Ukrainian propaganda) whereas one other well-liked blogger, adopted by over 500,000 individuals, characterised Ukraine’s raid this week on a Russian-backed monastery in Kyiv as illustrative of “evil” Ukraine’s obvious disdain for Russian tradition.

A view of Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra complicated in the capital Kyiv,

Nurphoto | Nurphoto | Getty Images

‘Genocidal rhetoric’

Analysts agree that the widespread use of such language by pro-war commentators in Russia is tantamount to “genocidal rhetoric,” as analysts at the Institute for the Study of War famous Wednesday.

“This rhetoric is openly exterminatory and dehumanizing and calls for the conduct of a genocidal war against the Ukrainian state and its people, which notably has pervaded discourse in the highest levels of the Russian political mainstream.”

“As ISW has previously reported, Russian President Vladimir Putin has similarly employed such genocidal language in a way that is fundamentally incompatible with calls for negotiations.”

Using dehumanizing and animalistic descriptions of Ukrainians, and espousing baseless claims that they pose a risk and hazard to Russians, is reminiscent of the language and debate seen in Nazi Germany previous to the Holocaust during which hundreds of thousands of Jews and different perceived “enemies” of Nazi Germany had been murdered.

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The U.N. describes genocide “as a crime committed with the intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, in whole or in part.”

Ultranationalist propaganda has turn out to be an element of the mainstream in Russia, one analyst mentioned, with anti-Ukrainian ideology and symbols changing into ubiquitous.

Max Hess, fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, instructed CNBC Thursday that “there has always been rather extreme language in the sort of Russian blogosphere and amongst the Russian nationalist crowd … but what’s changing is how much of this the Kremlin is pushing into the mainstream.”

“The Kremlin is really almost endorsing a lot of this rhetoric. I mean, we saw just yesterday, you know, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeting a meme about Zelenskyy and the missile that landed in Poland. But doing so in the most anti semitic tropes possible,” he famous, including that “while we’ve seen the Kremlin dabble with this kind of rhetoric before we haven’t seen it [previously] in the mainstream to this extent.”

“And it’s not just in the sort of blogosphere or on those Kremlin social media channels, it’s in state museums, it’s in the rhetoric on the main state talk shows. So it’s really the mainstreaming of it,” he famous.

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