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.
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.
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 late 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.”