Russia's Defense in Ukraine: The New Euphemisms

Russian politicians, military experts and TV propagandists are struggling for explanations. They do not speak of defeat and retreat.

A large poster on a street in St. O'Petersburg shows a Russian soldier with the message: Glory to our Russian heroes

Russia continues to celebrate its Russian boys sacrificing themselves for the security of the country Photo: Dmitri Lovetsky/ap

MOSCOW taz | Suddenly there is “war” on Russian state television. The “special military operation”, as Russia has been euphemistically calling its attack on Ukraine since last February, has almost imperceptibly withdrawn from the propagandists’ terminology. "Voina," says a soldier from the front in Donbass, whom a reporter from the state broadcaster Rossiya 1 shows in his report. "Woina," says a parliamentary group leader in the Duma on a talk show on the state-affiliated broadcaster NTW. War.

A word that could be prosecuted in Russia these days. But since Russian Defence in Ukraine last weekend, the country, along with its ultra-patriotic politicians, nationalist military experts and hateful TV propagandists, is struggling for explanations. "Life-threatening", "extremely dangerous", "war is war" is what the blogs and TV programs say.

Of course, they do not speak of defeat and retreat. The Russian Ministry of Defense has come up with other euphemisms for this. In the Kharkov region, an "operation to reduce and organize the movement of troops" is taking place, says ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov, as usual in a robotic manner. "Regrouping" is the new buzzword when it comes to Russian strategy at the front, which of course doesn't say "front". This is necessary in order to achieve the “goal of the “special operation”: the “liberation of the Donbass”.

The Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday the "special operation" would continue until the "declared goals" were met. The Ministry of Defense speaks of "heavy losses" by the Ukrainians, citing numbers of fallen soldiers and lost technology of the "enemy". Nobody says officially what the apparently hasty withdrawal of the Russian army from the Kharkiv region means for Russia.

business as usual

“Business as usual” prevails, the Russian leadership pretends normality to the people. Since the beginning of his "special operation" Russia's President Vladimir Putin has made a kind of separation: here the usual, quiet everyday life of the people in Russia, there the "sacrifice" of Russian "boys" to "protect the security of the fatherland". This is how his silence on the Russian failures can be seen even now - as if nothing had happened. As if the failures were just runaways in an operation going according to plan. So to be neglected.

That's what others talk about. And almost hysterical. The image of the big, powerful Russia has been torn to pieces, writes the nationalist journalist Yegor Kholmogorov in his Telegram channel. The glorious Russian army was humiliated, the people of Donbass were betrayed. A Telegram user named "Spy who nobody writes to" calls the "events in Kharkiv" a "disaster". It was a "criminal irresponsibility" of those who ordered it.

Some call for the arrest of generals for high treason, others write of "tactical nuclear strikes on western areas of Ukraine". "Four to five of them" would be enough for a capitulation, says the blogger Roman Romanow. After the first, the Ukrainian leadership would “howl loudly”, after the second “become thoughtful”. "In addition, we would create a restricted zone with NATO countries."

The propagandists created a “bloodthirsty monster” as they enthusiastically demanded first the annihilation of Ukraine and now the hanging of Russian generals, says Russian blogger Ilya Varlamov.

Liberal political scientists are suddenly talking about a "colonial war" that Russia is waging

The tone of Russian TV shows has changed. Suddenly, long-forgotten liberal-minded political scientists are guests on the talk shows, explaining to viewers that Russia is waging a “colonial war” and is destroying itself in the process. Even agitators like Dmitri Kiselyov, head of the state-affiliated media holding Rossiya Segodnya, sound almost exhausted. "It was an incredibly tough week," he says in the Sunday weekly review "Westi Nedeli". "We fight," is faded in, which in Russian means "we toil away".

On “60 Minutes” on the state broadcaster Rossiya 1, the presenter Olga Skabeeva tries to sugarcoat the situation. "Nothing supernatural" happened near Kharkiv. "It's just very serious, and we're worried." Meanwhile, Vladimir Solovyov recalled the "difficult male work of a special operation" and said: "All panic-mongers should be shot. Like Stalin.”

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