One of Vladimir Putin’s chief propagandists has turned heads in a not-so-festive New Year message on Russian television in a renewed push to drive up enlistment numbers.
Vladimir Solovyov — often referred to as Putin’s “voice” — is a leading commentator in Russia with his own prime time chat show, largely focusing on pro-Russian rhetoric as the nation faces continued backlash.
Solovyov has spent much of the Ukraine war parroting the Russian President’s justification for the conflict.
He regularly made suggestions of using nuclear weapons to turn the tide in Russia’s favour throughout 2021, earning a considerable amount of backlash from the global media.
He has regularly attempted to drive a sense of nationalism into Russia’s youth, encouraging them to sign up to fight in Ukraine amid Putin’s partial mobilisation of troops in late 2021.
With thousands of military aged men fleeing the country after the mobilisation announcement, Solovyov has now resorted to even more desperate rhetoric on his evening show, claiming that “life is highly overrated” and urging Russians not to fear death.
“Why be afraid of what is inevitable?” he said in the New Year address.
“We’ll go to heaven. Death is the end of one earthly path and the beginning of another. Don’t let fear of death influence decisions.
“It’s only worth living for something you can die for, that’s the way it should be.”
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky warned of Russia’s amplified efforts to swing the invasion in its favour after almost an entire year of bloody conflict.
“We started this year with what Ukraine needs most right now – on the eve of new mobilisation processes being prepared by the terrorist state. Now is the moment when together with our partners we must strengthen our defence,” he said this week.
“We have no doubt that the current masters of Russia will throw everything they have left and everyone they can muster to try to turn the tide of the war and at least postpone their defeat.”
Putin mouthpiece’s fiery live TV spat
On a recent episode of Evening with Vladimir Solovyov – translated by Russian Media Monitor – one guest appeared to leave the firebrand host speechless and fuming at the temerity of the guest to disagree with him.
Solovyov was ranting about Russia’s recent battlefield defeats and how much of a threat Ukraine’s forces could pose.
“We don’t have an overwhelming advantage on the front lines and since summer we’re on the defensive.
“Our position is unfortunate,” said Solovyov.
“If (Ukraine) decide to enter (the Russian border city of) Belgorod, is our defence line prepared? Will we applaud them? Will we say ‘no don’t you dare’.
“I will ask for 156th time. Why don’t we say if (Ukraine is) shelling us: ‘Kharkiv will be wiped off the face of the earth, Kyiv will be destroyed’”.
Former Israeli diplomat Yaakov Kedmi immediately fired back and boldly questioned the Russian propagandist to his face.
“These words: ‘to wipe Kyiv and Kharkiv off the face of the earth’. They should not be uttered, especially in Russian,” he said.
“It’s obscene; it’s not constructive; it’s criminal to bomb peaceful cities.
“There were no wars in history where the bombing of a peaceful city or a civilian population ever led to some kinds of results on the battlefield. Would they be deterred by that? When did it ever happen? It didn’t happen in any war.”
The toll from a Ukrainian New Year strike in Makiivka has risen to 89, Moscow said Wednesday, after Russians gathered to mourn the troops in a rare public display of anger and grief.
Russia said in the early hours of Wednesday that more bodies had been found under the rubble in the town of Makiivka in the Russian-controlled region of Donetsk and the toll had risen to 89.
The defence ministry declared that the tragedy had taken place because Russian troops had used cell phones, giving away their location to Ukrainian forces.
Russia said on Monday that 63 troops had been killed, the biggest loss of life from a single strike reported by Moscow since the start of the offensive in February.