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How Putin is weaponizing Ukraine's far-right fringe

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s propaganda campaign against Ukraine weaponizes the country’s struggle with a far-right fringe. But Jewish Ukrainians aren’t buying what the Russian president is selling.
Smoke rises after shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Wednesday. (Evgeniy Maloletka/The Associated Press)

As he declared his war on Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin made an odd promise to a country with a Jewish president and an annual Pride parade: He said he was doing this to "de-Nazify" the country.

Sam Sokol, a reporter with Israeli newspaper Haaretz, was taken back to a time eight years ago — when Russian media advanced fictitious stories about Jewish communities targeted in Ukraine, around the time that Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula. 

Sokol is the author of Putin's Hybrid War and the Jews: Antisemitism, Propaganda, and the Displacement of Ukrainian Jewry. He has covered Ukrainian far-right movements in depth — and explained how those groups have been weaponized by Russian propaganda to legitimize the mass violence we are seeing today.

He's joining us to separate Putin's rhetoric from Ukraine's reality, and to break down what all this means for Ukrainian Jewish communities.


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