Russian state media is relishing in its coverage of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, using the highly controversial exit as an opportunity to undermine America as a global power while lambasting the U.S. military, intelligence agencies and the justice system.
On Sunday, Vladimir Soloviev, the host of state TV show Sunday Evening With Vladimir Soloviev on Rossiya-1 drew outrageous comparisons between U.S. Marine Sgt. Nicole Gee and deceased Jan 6. Capitol rioter Ashli Babbitt. Soloviev said: “Americans are now grieving the deaths of 13 service members… they’re showing a young woman who perished, and the whole country is mourning her demise. But on Jan. 6 a veteran of the armed forces—a young, beautiful woman—was killed in Washington. Killed by a policeman who was defending the Capitol. There was no threat to his life. She was unarmed. Ashli Babbitt served several tours in various hot spots. She is a veteran. She was killed and America forgot about her, even though she was an American hero.”
RT’s editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan explained the alleged disparity in treatment by the American majority’s “old-fashioned belief” in law enforcement and the justice system. The Russian propaganda establishment is working hard to undermine that as well.
Earlier the same day, Vesti Nedeli With Dmitry Kiselyov took a shot at Lt. Michael Leroy Byrd, the Capitol police officer who shot and killed Ashli Babbitt in the course of his duties. From the start, Russian state media adopted a decidedly racist approach to this matter, and Kiselyov’s show was no exception.
“Who will take their place now? I hope that’s us.”
Reporting for Vesti Nedeli, U.S. correspondent Valentin Bogdanov complained: “A Trump supporter tried to break open the door to the corridor of the House of Representatives and was hit by a bullet. A Black police officer and a white woman. A kind of Derek Chauvin and George Floyd, except on the flip side. And Byrd, unlike his colleague from Minneapolis, will not go to jail for 22.5 years. Black lives continue to matter. He himself is declared a victim of racism. Byrd is elevated to the status of a hero. A press release from Capitol Police stated that if it were not for him, then certain death would await members of Congress. Byrd is innocent in the eyes of those in power in Washington. The same cannot be said about his victim and her family.”
Vesti Nedeli aired a clip of Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News, where Babbitt’s husband claimed to be facing constant threats and decried Byrd’s exoneration. Translated clips of Carlson’s show are being used by multiple shows on Russian state television, since they confirm the most popular talking points exemplifying America’s alleged failure on various fronts.
To showcase the fiasco of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, RT latched on to the objections of Marine Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller, who was relieved of duty after posting a video where he criticized military leaders for failing to accurately predict the Taliban’s rapid advance.
His objections squarely fit in with the head of RT’s passionate media tirade about events in Kabul, including suggesting that the heads of the U.S. intelligence agencies should commit suicide for their inability to foretell future events in Afghanistan. Appearing on state television channel NTV last week, Simonyan shrieked: “I am not the American intelligence agency. And if I was a person heading the U.S. intelligence agencies, as an honest officer in this situation, I would shoot myself.”
During the same program, Simonyan condemned U.S. actions in Afghanistan and proclaimed: “America, who has done all this, and all of the people who were responsible, they’ll burn in hell someday.”
Anti-American sentiments in Russia’s political circles and on state television have reached grotesque proportions: Sunday’s Vesti Nedeli With Dmitry Kiselyov featured Russian politicians firing slingshots at a cardboard cutout of Uncle Sam.
The obvious conclusion proposed by pro-Kremlin pundits is that the United States has lost its stature as a global leader. During his Sunday show, Vladimir Soloviev asserted: “Geopolitical game reached a new level. A post-American world order is being shaped.” Earlier in August, in a broadcast of the show 60 Minutes, state TV host Olga Skabeeva forecast the departure of the United States as the world’s policeman and added: “Who will take their place now? I hope that’s us.”