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Kremlin admits Russia 'de facto' at war, calls Ukraine 'occupying force'

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk March 22, 2024 2:05 PM 2 min read
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov attends a press conference at the Palace of Independence on Dec. 19, 2022, in Minsk, Belarus. (Contributor/Getty Images)
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In an unexpected admission, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on March 22 that Russia is in a "state of war" in an interview with the Russian state-owned media outlet Arguments and Facts.

Peskov also said that Russia's main goal was to protect the people living in the Ukrainian territories illegally annexed by Russia, going on to characterize Ukraine as an "occupying force."

Peskov later clarified his words, saying that "de jure" it remained a "military operation," but "de facto" had become a war.

Russia refuses to refer to its war against Ukraine as a war, referring to it instead as a "special military operation" for propaganda purposes and to downplay its actions for both domestic and international audiences. Russia's choice of wording plays a key part in the framing of its full-scale war.

Under Russian law, it is forbidden to actually call it a war or an invasion, and violating these restrictions can lead to punishment, including a potential prison sentence.

Elaborating on his presentation of Russia's war goals, Peskov said that Russia "cannot allow the existence of a state on its borders" that seeks to "take away Crimea."

Crimea is internationally recognized as part of Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly stated that Ukraine's ultimate goal is the liberation of all occupied areas of Ukrainian territory, including Crimea, and that any other result of the war would "not be victory."

Peskov's comments came on the same day that Russia launched a massive wave of attacks on critical energy infrastructure sites across Ukraine, killing at least five people and wounding 26.

Editorial: Stop using Russia’s propaganda language to talk about its war in Ukraine
Editor’s note: Editorials are articles that present the opinion of the editorial team of the Kyiv Independent. In a world polluted with disinformation and manipulations, we all bear responsibility for the words we choose to use. Unfortunately, some global media and other actors have chosen to act…
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