Russian state television admits that “war” and “special military operation” are the same thing

A prominent Russian media pundit recently flouted one of the country’s key rhetorical rules when speaking about the conflict in Ukraine.

Margarita Simonyan is the editor-in-chief of the Russian state news channel RT and is considered one of the country’s leading propagandists. On Saturday, Julia Davis, founder of the Russian Media Monitor, a surveillance group that analyzes the country’s state-controlled news, shared on Twitter a clip from a panel discussion 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 key rules Russia has adhered to when discussing the invasion of Ukraine: he labeled the conflict a “special military operation,” as opposed to the inflammatory term favored by the West, a “war.” Contrary to this rule, she admitted that no matter what it is called, the conflict remains the same.

“You have to somehow coexist with us,” Simonyan said. “What is 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 will end, and what will you do with us do?”

Russian officials have insisted on the term “military special operations” since the invasion of Ukraine began in February almost a year ago. It is only recently that some key figures have begun using the term “war”, whether intentionally or accidentally. The rule was first flouted by propagandist and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ally, Vladimir Solovyov, during a broadcast in early November.

In early December, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made the first slip by a Kremlin official. Lavrov described the situation in Ukraine as a war during a press conference in Moscow and accused the United States and NATO of directly contributing to the conflict.

“We didn’t just stand up with Ukraine, [only because] we didn’t like it [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelensky, or because he stopped playing in 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 easy like that, we warned [Ukraine] for many, many, many years.”

russia ukraine invasion called war
You can see Russian President Vladimir Putin and RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan. Simonyan recently admitted that calling the invasion of Ukraine a “special military operation” or “war” does not change that.
Evgenia Novozhenina/AFP via Getty Images

Later in the month, Putin himself broke the rule when he addressed reporters and claimed Russia wanted to end the war rather than prolong it.

“Our goal 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, just weeks after the invasion began, the Kremlin passed new anti-dissident laws that ban Russian citizens from calling the conflict in Ukraine a war, for which some have since been convicted.

news week turned to Russian officials for comment. Russian state television admits that “war” and “special military operation” are the same thing

Rick Schindler

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