As the Russian war machine turns peaceful Ukrainian cities into rubble, Putin’s imperial delusions evaporate into thin air together with any hopes for a quick win over determined and united Ukrainian defenders, who fight for their loved ones, their country, and their freedom.

We learned during this past week that in the Kremlin Orwellian newspeak “self-defence” turns into an unprovoked invasion of a peaceful neighbour, “limited military operation” means an all-out attack, “negotiations” are shadowed by terror bombings of innocent civilians, and a “non-occupation” forebodes crushing oppression under the Muscovite ruler.

In the hope to satisfy Putin’s insatiable imperial ambitions, and amidst reports of the angry uncrowned tsar hiding in an undisclosed location, more and more Russian military forces have been mercilessly poured into the flames of war with limited results.

As the news of the illegal attack against Ukraine began finally to trickle into the Russian consciousness together with the first signs of rising anti-war movement in Russia, the Kremlin ordered, to nobody’s surprise, intensifying efforts to suppress any dissenting opinions.

The regulatory authorities (Roskomnadzor) as well as the prosecutor’s office pushed to restrict outlets and criminalise content (e.g., reporting on war in Ukraine). Takedowns of Dozhd and Ekho Moskvyy are an indication that even tighter censorship, harking back to Soviet times, is still to come. Domestic coverage becomes ever more hermetic with increasingly restricted access to Western social media networks.

As an example of Kremlin propaganda efforts directed at audiences abroad, the Russian Foreign Minister launched this Tuesday a cynical and visually off-putting campaign on social media to give visibility to the alleged “genocide” suffered in Donbas.

Two websites of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted a number of versions of a very explicit and violent video. The content was further amplified on social media, especially on Twitter, by Russian diplomatic accounts (in English, Spanish, in the UK, Geneva and Israel) using the newly minted hashtag #DonbassTragedy.

Outside of the Kremlin’s accidentally revealed imperial daydreams, destroyed and abandoned Russian armoured vehicles together with supply convoys blown to smithereens litter the Ukrainian countryside. Moreover, hopeless and hungry Russian soldiers allegedly cry over unsecured radio communications when the reality of Putin’s illegal war against Ukraine hits them. Cold reality also touches the home front in Russia, as some casualties of Putin’s illegal war are carried back home lifeless from the battlefields. Instead of glory and the rebirth of an empire, Putin’s delusions have brought only ever-increasing oppression, devastated living conditions, and death to ordinary Russian citizens.