Kremlin TV Betrays Darling Trump in Crazed Defense of Putin’s War

·4 min read
Photo Illustration by Kelly Caminero / The Daily Beast / Getty
Photo Illustration by Kelly Caminero / The Daily Beast / Getty

A New York Times essay by Yale University professor and historian Timothy Snyder entitled “We Should Say It. Russia Is Fascist,” has spread through Russian state media like wildfire, producing a bombastic firestorm of outraged reactions from the Kremlin’s most prominent mouthpieces.

In his piece published last week, Snyder argued that after being defeated on the battlefields of World War II, fascism has once again raised its ugly head when Putin’s Russia unleashed its invasion of Ukraine. He pointed out the key signs of fascism, indicating that they match up with the current actions and rhetoric of the Russian regime. “If Ukraine does not win, we can expect decades of darkness,” Snyder concluded.

In a broadcast of the state TV show The Evening With Vladimir Solovyov on Friday, the host of the program and its panel of pundits were breathing fire over the essay. Solovyov was so desperate to refute the article, in fact, that he resorted to lambasting one of the few Americans beloved by Russian state television: former U.S. President Donald Trump.

“Listen, you bastards,” Solovyov fumed in a direct address to Americans. “Let me tell you a secret: first of all, your signs are idiotic in their nature. Secondly, looking at your listed indications, how are they any different from the election campaign of Donald Trump? Down to his slogan, ‘Make America Great Again.’”

Solovyov went on to list various signs of Trump’s “fascism,” without any mention of how those descriptions also applied to Putin. “Strong leader, with large crowds coming out in his support... Discussions of former greatness. Donald Trump promised to make America great again,” he said. Referring to visual symbols as a sign of belonging, Solovyov pointed out “Donald Trump’s red hats.” To emphasize his point about “mass events to support the leader,” the host asked: “Would you like me to put on a video of the dancing Trump?”

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Russian propagandists seemed all too comfortable labeling their favorite American president as a fascist, despite the fact that they’re counting on Republicans—led by Trump—to gain ground in the U.S. midterm elections and follow an agenda favored by the Kremlin. Meanwhile, Biden’s falling popularity ratings have been discussed by state media with gusto on an almost daily basis. The Biden administration’s backing of Ukraine, including the brutal wave of sanctions against Russia over the invasion, has not sat well with Moscow.

“Author, professor of Yale University Snyder, is trying to convince the readers that we are waging a fascist war,” Solovyov fumed, referring to the historian as a “pseudo-professor of a pseudo-university. “[They say that] we call Ukrainians Nazis because they refuse to recognize themselves as Russians and dare to resist. Snyder knows nothing and understands nothing. He is simply a liar.”

Despite the host’s assertions, many pundits on state television—including on Solovyov’s own shows—have argued that exact point of view, claiming that Ukrainians are simply Russians who refuse to admit it.

“Those are absolutely Russian people, who speak the Russian language, but who are convinced that they represent anti-Russia and an anti-Russian element,” Henry Sardaryan, Dean of Governance and Politics at Russia's MGIMO-University, said on Solovyov’s Sunday show. “They are totally convinced that they’re in the right. I often hear comments: ‘Look at how hard the Ukrainian side is resisting.’ But it’s not the Ukrainian side, but the Russian side, which was convinced of being Ukrainian.”

Appearing on The Evening With Vladimir Solovyov last month, political scientist Sergey Mikheyev also falsely alleged that no one in Ukraine speaks the Ukrainian language and claimed that it doesn't even exist. On Sunday, Mikheyev was back on Solovyov’s show, arguing that “the Ukrainian question” must be dealt with once and for all, since future generations of Russians can’t be trusted to get the job done.

Equally popular on Russian state television are the talking points promoted by Tucker Carlson of Fox News, which favor abandoning Ukraine and allowing it to be devoured by Russian aggression. As more Republicans start to follow that line, the Kremlin’s mouthpieces are hoping that the midterms will shift the balance in their favor. Though they categorize Trump as someone worthy of a “fascist” designation, it’s clear that Russian talking heads also still think of him as a partner and openly hope that the next presidential election will put him back in the White House—and the Kremlin on top of the world.

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