foreign interests

Putin Decries U.S. ‘Satanism’ in Bizarre Speech Annexing Parts of Ukraine

Photo: Contributor/Getty Images

In a speech at the Kremlin on Friday, Russian president Vladimir Putin marked a significant turn in the war in Ukraine, formally announcing that Russia would annex four regions in eastern Ukraine that would now be part of his country “forever.” But despite the historic nature of the annexation — which clearly violates international law — he was having trouble staying on topic.

During the 37-minute address, Putin decried “Satanism” in the U.S., referring to transgender issues in a tone suggesting a seasoned viewer of stateside conservative media. “The repression of freedom is taking on the outlines of a ‘reverse religion,’ of real Satanism,” he said, adding that the open attitudes toward gender identity are a “denial of man.” In a question posed to “all citizens of Russia,” he asked, “Do we really want to see perversions that lead to degradation and extinction be imposed on children in our schools from the earliest years, for it to be drilled into them that there are supposedly some genders besides women and men, and offered the chance to undergo sex-change operations?”

The invasion of Ukraine, in this light, is a battle against these values and the “the ruling circles of the so-called West,” which Putin referred to as “the enemy” and “deceitful and hypocritical through and through.” He paused for applause as he condemned western colonialism in Asia, from the Opium Wars to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. “They created a precedent,” he said in a terrifying addition, referring to the nuclear attacks. In more recent aggressions, he also blamed the U.S. and allies for blowing up the Nord Stream pipelines connecting Russian natural gas to the European Union.

There was an air of victory inside the great hall, but Putin did not mention the recent turn for the worse in Ukraine, where Russian forces have been pushed out of a wide swath of territory while suffering catastrophic losses. Russia is particularly on its heels in eastern Ukraine, where Russian troops in the critical rail-hub city of Lyman are now nearly encircled. And as the U.S. continues to pour billions in funding and arms into Kyiv, there are signs that Russia is facing supply issues, reportedly receiving material from North Korea. Putin also overlooked the exodus of military-age men following his order to mobilize hundreds of thousands of reservists to fight in the war. (He did acknowledge the day before that “all mistakes” in the mobilization process are going to be fixed.) Since the order sparked scattered protests in the country last Thursday, over 200,000 Russians have reportedly fled into the European Union, Georgia, and Kazakhstan — a number that is probably an undercount as Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey haven’t released data on the arrivals.

These developments didn’t damper the pageantry on Friday at the Kremlin. After the speech, Putin gathered with four Russian-backed heads of the occupied (and partially occupied) regions, which recently held bogus referendums in which as much as 99 percent of voters favored annexation. The men gathered in a circle and put their hands in a circle, chanting “Russia! Russia!”

Putin Decries U.S. ‘Satanism’ As He Annexes Parts of Ukraine