Confusion reigns on Russia’s state TV, as panicked lawmakers and pundits try to explain to the public why their country invaded Ukraine and now faces crushing Western sanctions. And in the process of zealous propagandists striving to justify the unfathomable, they’ve inadvertently revealed too much.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told state TV on Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin was directly involved in making command decisions with respect to Russia’s military activities in Ukraine. He urged: “It’s time to unite around our president,” and encouraged those who understand the Kremlin’s aims to “patiently explain” them to anyone who doesn’t.

Appearing on the state TV show The Evening With Vladimir Soloviev on Friday, Russian lawmaker Andrei Kartapolov, who heads the Russian parliament’s defense committee, then set out to justify Putin’s military activities in Ukraine.

Starting with the most recent news of a terrifying fire caused by the Russian military’s efforts to take control over the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Kartapolov claimed that Russian troops were ordered to seize Ukraine’s nuclear plants to prevent Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky “from building a dirty bomb” with which to attack Russia.

Kartapolov’s baseless allegation stemmed solely from Zelensky’s statement at the Munich Security Conference on Feb. 19, where he brought up the failure by the signatories to honor the Budapest memorandum, wherein Ukraine gave up its nuclear arsenal in return for security guarantees. Zelensky requested new security guarantees—or, in the alternative, he stressed that all provisions of the 1994 agreement would be void. This statement contained no threats towards Russia, but was convenient enough to be appropriated as one of Putin’s claims as to why Ukraine somehow posed a threat to its larger neighbor.

On Soloviev’s show—an Orwellian environment, typical of the Russian state media—the host and every panelist repeatedly denied the obvious, attempting to disprove the notion that Russia is at war with Ukraine. Soloviev asked: “Are we de facto at war with NATO?” Kartapolov concurred: “De facto, we are at war with NATO, because all of Ukraine’s military formations are carrying out NATO’s tasks… NATO is also solving another problem, getting rid of Europe’s excess migrants by sending them to fight in Ukraine.” He pompously concluded: “God is not in power, but in truth.”

As to the Kremlin’s aims in Ukraine, Kartapolov explained them in detail: “Our position is clear and transparent, including during these negotiations. The essence is as follows: Ukraine will recognize Crimea as the Russian Federation, as well as DPR/LPR [‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ and ‘Luhansk People’s Republic’] within their administrative borders. Ukraine will change its social and state system and become a neutral, demilitarized country. That’s it.”

Lawmaker Konstantin Zatulin, who is deputy chairman of the Duma commission on relations with the former Soviet Union, seemed unsettled by Kartapolov’s revelations and angrily replied: “When a horse has something to say, a saddle shouldn’t be the one to talk. This is not the time to tell everything. First of all, we’re not the ones who should be saying that, they [Ukrainians] need to be the ones who say that. But that situation has to ripen first. It won’t be done during the thunder of cannons. Until our operation has concluded, it won’t be clear what ‘denazification’ will consist of.”

As for “demilitarization,” Zatulin said that even specific kinds of weapons Russia wants to eliminate from Ukraine are being discussed during talks between the Russian and Ukrainian delegations.

The banter revealed Putin’s apparent strategy in Ukraine: destroy Ukraine’s infrastructure and cause widespread desperation with a brutal military assault, which would then compel the Ukrainian government to concede to Putin’s terms and leave their positions or face a violent removal by force. It’s a land grab of Eastern Ukraine, followed by the transformation of the rest of the country into a powerless vassal state, controlled and headed by Putin’s puppets. To break Ukraine’s resolve, the Kremlin likely intends to replicate the brutality it demonstrated in Syria and Chechnya.

The devastation Putin’s military campaign has already caused to its neighboring country was of no concern to the pro-Putin pundits. In a glib and nonchalant manner, Soloviev noted: “Ukraine is sinking into the stone age. Most of its territories are on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe.” Nonetheless, he encouraged the Russian government not to stop their “military operation,” known in the rest of the world as brutal, unprovoked war.

Soloviev added: “It should be understood that this is not a war against Ukraine or the Ukrainian people, but a military operation… of denazification and demilitarization of NATO’s fist that was directed at us.” Zatulin chimed in: “This is a war against the West, a war against NATO.” The host agreed: “Of course. This is a battle from the war that started on May 9, 1945, when they—pretending that they’re with us—were getting ready to destroy us.”

Like mantra, state television talking heads are making references to World War II, invoking the spirit of a fight against Nazism for no other reason but to whitewash Putin’s latest land grab in progress.

Lawmakers and pundits essentially debunked Putin’s claim that he invaded Ukraine to remove what he said is a “Nazi” government—which is, incidentally, headed by a Jewish man. Instead of demystifying the Kremlin’s agenda for the masses, state media demonstrated that in Putin’s Russia, anyone who dares to oppose Putin is described as a “Nazi,” to the point where the term is devoid of its original meaning.

On Soloviev’s show, political scientist and professor of history Elena Ponomareva asserted: “We’re fighting not only against NATO, but also against the Nazi European Union.”

Two days earlier, on a state TV show 60 Minutes, journalist Andrei Sidorchik rode the concept all the way down the hill when he exclaimed: “Joe Biden is a Nazi. The U.S. Congressmen⁠—Democrat and Republican⁠—are Nazis… German Chancellor is a Nazi… EU leaders are Nazis… because their sanctions are attempting to preserve Neo-Nazism in Ukraine.”

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