Russian Lawmaker Calls Ukraine Invasion 'Holy War' Between 'Good and Evil'

A Russian lawmaker appearing on a television program described Moscow's internationally condemned invasion of Ukraine as a "holy war," contending that it was a struggle between "good and evil."

Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the full-scale assault on Ukraine on February 24, with the vast majority of United Nations General Assembly members formally condemning the unprovoked attack just days later. Only four nations—Syria, Belarus, North Korea and Eritrea—joined Russia in voting against the landmark resolution.

In recent weeks, Russia has faced growing accusations of "war crimes" and "genocide" as international journalists and Ukrainian officials have documented atrocities. Civilians have reportedly been shot in the back of the head with their hands tied behind their backs, as Ukrainians have discovered mass graves with hundreds of bodies in areas previously occupied by Russian troops for several weeks. There have additionally been growing reports of rape as well as indiscriminate bombing of Ukrainian cities.

None of those reports deter State Duma Deputy Vyacheslav Nikonov's support for Russia's aggression against its Eastern European neighbor, judging by his remarks on Russian television.

"In the modern world, we are the embodiment of the forces of good. This is a metaphysical clash between the forces of good and evil," Nikonov said, according to a translations shared to Twitter on Sunday by Julia Davis, creator of the Russian Media Monitor and columnist for The Daily Beast.

"This is truly a holy war we're waging and we must win," Nikonov added.

Russian lawmaker Vyacheslav Nikonov
Pro-Kremlin lawmaker Vyacheslav Nikonov described Russia's invasion of Ukraine as a "holy war." Above, Nikonov speaks with journalists inside Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport on July 12, 2013. VASILY MAXIMOV/AFP via Getty Images

The lawmaker is a member of Putin's dominant United Russia party, which controls nearly three quarters of the State Duma—the lower house of the nation's Federal Assembly. Nikonov, along with a number of other Russian lawmakers and officials, has been sanctioned by the U.S. amid the war with Ukraine.

On Wednesday, Nikonov claimed that Russia was battling the "Fourth Reich" with its invasion of Ukraine.

"The block of imperialist states will not be complete until it coincides with the Hitler coalition," the deputy said. "We're talking about a Fourth Reich. And what kind of Fourth Reich would it be without Finland? How do you have a Fourth Reich without Norway? How do you have a Fourth Reich without Japan? It's all forming back up."

Putin and other Russian leaders have claimed that Russia attacked Ukraine in an effort to "de-Nazify" the country and remove its "neo-Nazi" leaders from power. In reality, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky is Jewish and had family members who were killed in the Holocaust genocide perpetuated by the German Nazis in World War II. When Zelensky won the presidential election in 2019, with nearly three-quarters of the vote, Ukraine's prime minister was also Jewish.

Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service director Sergey Naryshkin also claimed earlier this month in an article published on the website of Russia's National Defense magazine that Western nations are at risk of falling under "Nazi" control.

The Russian intelligence official argued that "it's possible that it will end not by the coming to power in the U.S. and European states of nationally oriented, sensible and realist politicians, but by the establishment of complete and undisguised liberal-Nazi dictatorships in the Western area."

Newsweek reached out to the Russian embassy for comment.