Vladimir Putin is ramping up his brutal assault on Ukraine, shelling civilians from Odessa to Kharkiv, and leveling the port city of Mariupol — leading President Joe Biden to denounce the Russian dictator as a “war criminal.” But if the initial days of the war were marked by some conservatives muting their admiration for the Russian state, a spate of notorious right-wing figures are now dropping the mask to defend Putin, and even claim his fight as their own.
Over the weekend, former Trump adviser Roger Stone, MAGA media maven Cassandra MacDonald (née Fairbanks), and former Staind rocker Aaron Lewis all spoke out to praise Putin, denounce Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky — or both. This week, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene joined the parade, blaming Ukraine for getting itself invaded, while insisting that the war is a lost cause and that Putin is “being very successful” in Ukraine. Then Lara Logan, the former “60 Minutes” correspondent who has her own show on the streaming service Fox Nation, trumped them all, touting Putin as a heroic global actor, declaring: “He’s the man who is standing between us and this New World Order.”
In an interview aired on the far-right network Real America’s Voice, former Trump adviser Roger Stone defended Putin’s horrific war against Ukraine. “Putin is acting defensively,” Stone insisted against all evidence. “He’s not acting offensively. But you won’t read that in the mainstream media.”
Stone rattled off a winning BINGO card’s worth of Kremlin-friendly talking points and conspiracies. He denounced Zelensky as undemocratic for having “shut down three television stations that were critical of the government.” (That decision rightfully inspires debate, but context here is also important. Stone failed to mention that those stations had broadcast Russian propaganda, and were run by mogul Viktor Medvedchuk, who is so tight with the Kremlin that Putin is literally his daughter’s godfather. Mevedchuk was hit with U.S. sanctions in 2014, described as Putin’s “long-time proxy and close personal friend.”) Stone then rehearsed the MAGA canard that concern over Ukrainian borders is misplaced as long as America’s are overrun by “millions of illegals … bringing disease.”
Stone kept twisting and twisting the facts until he snapped into Putin’s paranoid worldview — that Ukraine is a dangerous aggressor that must be stopped: “Ukraine is not even remotely [about] what they’re telling us it’s about,” Stone claimed. “The Ukrainians have used their soil to place dual-launch missile pads, missiles that will be aimed at the Soviet Union [sic].” Stone closed out his pro-Putin rant by citing the latest right-wing conspiracy theory about U.S.-funded biolabs. “There are in fact biolabs that are funded by our tax dollars, cooking up who knows what pestilence to dump on the Russian people,” Stone claimed.
Former 60 Minutes correspondent Lara Logan is no stranger to controversy. Her turn to the right was welcomed by Fox News, which featured her as a talking head and gave Logan her own show, “No Agenda,” on its streaming service Fox Nation.
But Logan became radioactive in December when she compared Anthony Fauci to Joseph Mengele, the genocidal Nazi doctor. On Tuesday, Logan appeared on the Stew Peters Show. (Peters is a bounty hunter-turned-right-wing shock jock, who espoused so many noxious Covid conspiracy theories that even Spotify banned his podcast.) Talking to Peters, Logan praised Putin in no uncertain terms as a bulwark against NATO and what President Biden recently referred to as a “new world order” — remarks that have sent conspiracy theorists into a frenzy.
“Whether you like Putin or don’t like him,” Logan said, “Putin is not willing to be a part of whatever global governing structure is coming our way.” Logan continued with admiring words for the Russian leader. “Vladimir Putin has been very calculating, he’s been very careful … he’s said for 15 years that he would not tolerate NATO expansion.”
Logan then spouted off right-wing disinformation about Ukrainian biolabs, claiming without evidence that these phantom facilities are somehow connected to the president’s son. Logan said that Putin “has made it very clear that he’s not part of … the bioweapons labs that Hunter Biden’s partners and firms are connected to,” Logan said.
Logan then insisted of Putin: “He’s the man standing between us and this New World Order.”
Also known as Cassandra Fairbanks, MacDonald is a former Bernie Sanders stan who went through a Trump wormhole in 2016, becoming a hardcore member of the MAGA media mafia. MacDonald is a longtime defender of Russia, who even worked a stint with the Russian propaganda network Sputnik, which has now been banned in the European Union. MacDonald currently IDs herself as editor-in-chief of Timcast.com, the platform of Vice video-journalist turned outrage-farmer, Tim Pool.
On Sunday, MacDonald — who is infamous for trolling and who brags, “I think the shame receptor in my brain doesn’t work” — took to the Twitter mountaintop to shout the quiet part of the MAGA worldview out loud. “I officially ended the ‘I don’t support Putin, but’ pretext charade. I dont give a fuck,” MacDonald wrote. “I like Putin better than Zelenskyy. At least you know who Putin is. Zelenskyy is a shifty little shit weasel.”
MacDonald didn’t stop there, insisting she was tempted to adopt the iconography of the Russian invasion: “I don’t have any beef with Putin. He hasn’t done anything to me,” she tweeted, “That shit turd Zelenskyyyyy is trying to pull our teenagers into a war that isn’t ours and is getting billions of our tax dollars. I’m about to draw a Z on my damn forehead.”
Aaron Lewis’ music career, and his turn from the hard rock of Staind to the twangy country of his solo career, have been well documented by Rolling Stone. But in recent years, politically, the Kid Rock compatriot has fallen into a pit of Deep State despair.
Lewis interrupted a concert over the weekend to launch into a long, Kremlin-friendly diatribe, painting Putin not as a dangerous war-mongering dictator but as a brother in arms fighting globalist boogeymen.
“You know as fucked up as it sounds, maybe we should listen to what Vladimir Putin is saying,” Lewis advised his audience. “Maybe just maybe, when Klaus Schwab and George Soros and every other dirty, ugly Earth-destroying motherfucker jumps on the same bandwagon maybe — just maybe — we should take a look at that,” he said, toying with antisemitic tropes while denouncing the head of the World Economic Forum and the liberal Hungarian billionaire. “Why are they trying to defend Ukraine so much?” he asked. “What do they all have to lose?”
Lewis then launched into a batshit conspiracy theory that news coverage of the war dead in Ukraine has been faked. “It’s all bullshit. It’s all bullshit,” Lewis insisted. “Have you seen the pictures with wooden guns and all the bodies in body bags laying in the background. And all of a sudden one of the bodies starts moving and fucking sits up and starts fixing its fucking body bag while … the reporter is reporting? If you haven’t seen that you better start looking elsewhere.”
Lewis then came out directly to endorse Putin:
“He’s fighting the Deep State right now — which is the same people we’re fighting,” the noted international affairs expert said. Lewis insisted the Russian dictator’s objective in that fight — which has seen Russia bomb maternity hospitals and theaters where children had taken up refuge — was universal: “For freedom.”
Marjorie Taylor Greene
Greene took pains to blame Ukraine for siding with the U.S. and Europe in the “tug of war” with Russia. “Ukraine just kept poking the bear, and poking the bear, which is Russia,” Greene said, “and Russia invaded.”
MTG not only claimed that Ukraine invited the invasion by Russia, but that the country has no chance at defending itself against Putin: “There is no win for Ukraine here,” Greene said. “Russia is being very successful in their invasion, even though we hear different things on television. I don’t see a way out for Ukraine.”
While Greene insisted she’s not a Putin sympathizer, she nonetheless parroted the Russian leader’s propaganda that the Ukrainian military is overrun with Nazis. And Greene excoriated the “complicit” media for not telling the “truth.” (The truth is that Ukraine’s president is Jewish and lost relatives in the Holocaust, and that, while Ukraine has its share of right-wing extremists, there’s no evidence that its armed forces are chockablock with Nazis.)
“They should be talking about the neo-Nazi militia groups that are very much integrated Ukraine’s military,” Greene insisted. “It’s shocking to me that Congress is so willing to funnel $14 billion and military equipment into Ukraine. And you have to ask,” she insisted, “is this money and is this United States military equipment falling into hands of Nazis in Ukraine?”
Greene underscored her belief that Putin’s victory is only a matter of time, and that U.S. support for Ukraine is ultimately cruel: “It’s only going to extend the war a little longer,” she said, “and it’s going to cause more people do die.”