A prominent Russian media pundit recently flouted one of the country’s major rhetorical rules while discussing the conflict in Ukraine.
Margarita Simonyan is the editor-in-chief of the state-run Russian news media operation, RT, and is considered among the country’s foremost propagandists. On Saturday, Julia Davis, founder of the Russian Media Monitor, a watchdog group that analyzes the country’s state-controlled news, shared a clip to Twitter from a panel show in which Simonyan discussed the West’s long-term relationship with Russia and the eventual need for coexistence.
During the discussion, Simonyan broke one of the most significant rules that Russia has adhered to while discussing the invasion of Ukraine: referring to the conflict as a “special military operation,” as opposed to the more inflammatory term preferred by the West, a “war.” Counter to that rule, she admitted that no matter what it is called, the conflict remains the same.
“You’ll have to coexist with us somehow,” Simonyan said. “What’s happening in Ukraine will eventually end. You can call it a ‘war’ or a ‘special military operation,’ the meaning remains the same. It will end, sooner or later everything comes to an end, and what are you going to do with us?”
Head of RT Margarita Simonyan threatened the West on Vladimir Solovyov’s show. She proposed “liberating” Germans from their “fascist government” and helping Taliban, Iran and North Korea in retaliation for arms deliveries to Ukraine. Watch:https://t.co/Tisib23Eeq
— Julia Davis (@JuliaDavisNews) January 29, 2023
Russian officials have insisted on the term “special military operation” since the invasion of Ukraine began nearly a year ago in February. Only recently have some key figures begun to use the term “war,” whether intentionally or accidentally. The rule was first flouted by propagandist and ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Vladimir Solovyov, during an early November broadcast.
In early December, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made the first slip-up from a Kremlin official. Lavrov referred to the situation in Ukraine as a war during a news conference in Moscow while accusing the United States and NATO of directly contributing to the conflict.
“With Ukraine, we didn’t just get up, [only because] we didn’t like [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelensky, or because he stopped playing in the KVN [Russian and formerly Soviet humor TV show and an international competition] and stopped maintaining his theater, Kvartal 95 [publicly owned television entertainment production company, founded by Zelensky], and we went to war against Ukraine,” Lavrov said. “It’s not just like that, we warned [Ukraine] for many, many, many years.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin and RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan are seen. Simonyan recently admitted that referring to the invasion of Ukraine as a “special military operation” or a “war” does not change anything about it.
Evgenia Novozhenina/AFP via Getty Images
Later in the month, Putin himself broke the rule while addressing reporters, claiming that Russia was intent on ending the war rather than prolonging it.
“Our aim is not to fan the flames of this military conflict, on the contrary, it is to end this war,” the Russian leader said.
Last March, only a few weeks after the invasion began, the Kremlin passed new anti-dissent laws barring Russian citizens from referring to the conflict in Ukraine as a war, under which some have since been convicted.