According to Daily Mail, Putin gathered tens of thousands of Russians in Moscow on Friday for a rally in which he reportedly pushed a false narrative regarding the war, claiming that he and his forces were ridding Ukraine of “Nazis,” fighting back against a fabricated “genocide” in the Donbass region of the neighboring nation, and even going so far as to suggest Russia forces were advancing against Ukraine despite the Russian army being stalled for days.
“The people of Donbass also disagreed with this, and straight-away they organized military operations against the Nazis,” Putin spouted during the rally shortly before the broadcast mysteriously cut out. “They were surrounded and shelled by guns, the Ukrainians sent airstrikes against them. This is called genocide. It is to save people from this suffering and genocide that we launched our military operation.”
“The best confirmation of this is how our guys are fighting during this operation, shoulder to shoulder, helping each other,” he continued after claiming that the Russian forces were fighting for the “universal values” of their country. “When it is necessary, they cover each-other as if it was their own brother from bullets. We haven't had such unity in a long time.”
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But then, mid-sentence, the broadcast of Putin and the rally was cut and reportedly replaced by a Russian band mid-performance – suggesting that the rally, and Putin’s appearance at the pro-war rally, was not being broadcasted live and was perhaps filmed at a previous time.
Nonetheless, while Putin’s rally was airing on televisions throughout Russia, Russian forces were simultaneously dropping bombs and shelling the western Ukrainian city of Lviv – an attack that was frighteningly close to the neighboring nation and NATO member Poland.
The rally also comes just one day after Lieutenant General Scott Berrier, who is the director of the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency, informed Congress that the continued weakening of Russian forces may very well lead Putin to turn to “nuclear forces” as a deterrent against Ukraine.
“As this war and its consequences slowly weaken Russian conventional strength,” Lieutenant General Berrier told Congress Thursday, “Russia likely will increasingly rely on its nuclear deterrent to signal the West and project strength to its internal and external audiences.”
“Despite greater than anticipated resistance from Ukraine and relatively high losses in the initial phases of the conflict, Moscow appears determined to press forward by using more lethal capabilities until the Ukrainian government is willing to come to terms favorable to Moscow.”