Russian president Vladimir Putin invoked Jesus, Satan, and transsexual bogeymen in a Kremlin ceremony for carving up Ukraine on Friday (30 September).
Putin signed eagle-embossed, leather-bound tomes declaring four Ukrainian regions to be part of Russia, in rites observed in a palatial hall, filled with clapping VIPs, including patriarch Kirill, and soldiers in dress uniform.
Putin with Russia-puppet leaders from eastern Ukraine (Photo: kremlin.ru)
The last time this happened, when Putin annexed Crimea in 2014, marked a dark hour for Europe's post-WW2 security order.
This time it's more dangerous, because Russia isn't in full control of the new territories it has claimed, amid Kremlin threats to fight for them with nuclear weapons if need be.
Using startling rhetoric, Putin portrayed the annexation as a holy war against the West, which is helping Ukraine to defend itself.
"They [the West] are moving toward open satanism," he said in a speech broadcast to millions online.
Western elites were teaching "sexual deviation" to children who changed their gender, he said**. "We're fighting for historical Russia, to protect our children and grandchildren from this experiment to change their souls," he added.**
Putin invoked Jesus by name to bear witness to his "truth" and portrayed himself in messianic terms.
"I believe in the spiritual power of the Russian people and my spirit is its spirit, the suffering of the people is my suffering," he said.
"The destruction of the Western hegemony is irreversible," he added, as he neared the climax of his oration.
His mysticism stood in contrast to his justification for seizing Crimea, which he based on historical grounds.
Putin also blamed "Anglo-Saxons", referring to the UK and US, for blowing up two Russian gas pipelines to Germany this week — in a potential casus belli with Nato.
He jeered the European public for soaring food and energy prices due to his invasion. "You need food," Putin said. "You can't heat your apartments", he said.
The rest of his speech went along well-worn lines, accusing Western countries of imperialism, colonialism, hypocrisy, and historical sins such as the bombing of Hiroshima and Dresden in WW2.
Satanic phantasmagoria and sexual hate-speech are also familiar themes in Russian propaganda.
But while Putin is known for using foul-mouthed language, such as necrophilia jokes, at state events, his cocktail of sex, religion, and geopolitics on Friday was headier than ever.
For their part, EU leaders are preparing to impose new sanctions on Russia when they meet in Prague next week.
They aim to blacklist Russian ideologue Alexander Dugin, who speaks of the Ukraine war and Russian identity in equally toxic terms, along with 28 others.
They are to strike at Russia's oil, steel, and forestry industries.
The EU is also preparing to copy-paste its Crimea travel and business ban to the new Russia-annexed areas, as the war drags out.
"Russian travel documents issued in those regions [the four Ukrainian areas annexed by Russia on Friday] are not recognised by member states as well as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Lichtenstein for the purposes of issuing of a visa and of crossing the external borders," an internal EU document said, in a decision being prepared alongside the new Russia blacklists.
Ukraine said it was applying to join Nato in its riposte to Putin's move.
The Kremlin solemnities saw Russia's four puppet-leaders in eastern Ukraine grip hands with Putin while chanting "Russia! Russia!" to a standing ovation.
Two of them wore Z-logo lapel-badges, a symbol which became synonymous with Russian atrocities committed in Ukraine over the past seven months.
The Crimea annexation, eight years ago, saw Armenia, Belarus, Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe back Putin at the UN, in a sign of what he might expect this time round.
Cuba, Nicaragua, and Syria also formally recognised Crimea as part of Russia, but Russia's bigger friends, such as China and Iran, never bound themselves to Putin's fancy.
The pattern first arose when he recognised the independence of two Russian puppet-regimes in Georgia in 2008, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and when Putin was joined by Nauru, Nicaragua, Syria, and Venezuela only on the world stage.