Russian state media personalities are lauding Russian President Vladimir Putin and his order to send troops to two separatist regions of eastern Ukraine, and using commentary from Fox News host Tucker Carlson and former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to further support his actions.
On Monday, Putin signed a decree recognizing two breakaway regions, the Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic, as independent, and said he would send troops there on a "peacekeeping" mission. The regions are in an area known as the Donbas, and Moscow claims the troops will protect people being oppressed by the Ukrainian government. Russia has supported rebels in the Donbas since 2014, and it's estimated that about 14,000 people have been killed in the fighting.
The Associated Press reports that on Russian state television and radio, Putin's move on Monday was, unsurprisingly, immediately met with lavish praise by anchors and pundits. On Russia 1, political talk show host Olga Skabeyeva delivered a message on Tuesday to residents of the separatist regions, saying, "You paid with your blood for these eight years of torment and anticipation. Russia will now be defending Donbas."
Vladimir Solovyev, host of a morning show on the state-funded radio station Vesti.FM, declared that "we will ensure their safety. It is now dangerous to fight with them ... because one will now have to fight with the Russian army." On Channel One, a correspondent in Donetsk said local residents shared that they finally have "confidence in the future and that the years-long war will finally come to an end."
To further bolster Putin, Russian state media is sharing supportive commentary from his fans on the American right. Julia Davis, a columnist at The Daily Beast and a Russian media analyst, tweeted several clips on Tuesday and Wednesday of Carlson and Pompeo now making the rounds on Russia state media — RT published Carlson's latest defense of Putin with Russian subtitles, as well as an article titled, "Tucker Carlson wonders why U.S. elites hate Putin," while Channel One aired an interview with Pompeo where he praised Putin as "very shrewd" and "very capable," adding, "I have enormous respect for him."
There is some pushback coming from independent Russian news outlets, like the website Holod. Its reporters started the hashtag "I'm not staying silent," and asked people to "express their opinion about the war aloud — and also to remember that each of us has something connecting us to Ukraine." There were several dozen responses, AP reports, with Russians panning Putin's decision to send troops to eastern Ukraine.