In a recent interview on Russian-state television, Russian commander Apti Alaudinov declared that the conflict in Ukraine is not about territorial conquest but a 'holy war' against 'Satanism.'
Speaking to Vladimir Solovyov, a well-known Russian propagandist and host of "Evening with Vladimir Solovyov," Alaudinov shared his perspective on the ongoing war nearly two years after Russia's full-scale invasion in February 2022.
Alaudinov asserted that the war is rooted in spiritual, moral, and divine values, portraying Russia as a 'buffer' against Satanism encroaching on its borders.
He expressed fears that this 'Satanism' aimed to destroy and fragment Russia. The commander viewed the current conflict as merely the beginning of a longer struggle, emphasizing the need for Russia to affirm its status as a leading nation.
This rhetoric aligns with previous statements from Russian officials. In October 2022, Aleksey Pavlov, assistant secretary of the Russian security council, advocated for the 'desatanization' of Ukraine, alleging the existence of numerous sects forsaking Orthodox values.
Pavlov's comments hinted at broader ideological motives behind the Russian military operation.
Moreover, the discussion touched upon the controversial case of Nikolai Ogolobyak, a Russian man convicted of participating in the ritualistic killing of four teenagers with a Satanist sect.
Ogolobyak, who served six months in Russia's "Storm Z" unit in Ukraine, was pardoned by President Vladimir Putin and has since returned to civilian life.
The framing of the Ukraine conflict as a crusade against 'Satanism' adds a complex ideological layer to the already intricate geopolitical situation. Russia's military efforts in the Donetsk region, particularly around Avdiivka, continue amid this backdrop of ideological warfare.
Newsweek reached out to Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Russian government for comments on Alaudinov's statements, which reflect a deepening narrative in Russian discourse on the war in Ukraine.