President Vladimir Putin’s lengthy treatise on Russia and Ukraine’s shared history has been added to the Russian military’s curriculum, the RBC news website reported Thursday, citing unnamed sources.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reportedly personally ordered the 5,300-word opus published by the Kremlin on Monday to be added into the military-patriotic directorate’s curriculum. Russian media called the article Putin’s “final ultimatum to Ukraine” while some Western analysts criticized it as “one step short of a declaration of war.”
“The president’s article caused a great positive response and discussion in the military due to the large number of servicemen who have Ukrainian roots, parents or relatives in Ukraine,” a Russian military source was quoted as saying.
They added that the commander-in-chief’s key thesis about the stated unity of Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian people “is shared by all Russian servicemen.”
RBC reported that another source in the military’s “military-patriotic” directorate, which was created in 2018 to comparisons with Soviet-era institutions that ingrained soldiers’ loyalty to the Communist party, confirmed that Putin’s article has been made compulsory.
Social media users were quick to point out that Panorama, a satirical news website similar to The Onion, predated RBC’s report with a Monday tweet saying that “Shoigu ordered to bring the contents of Putin’s article on Ukraine to the Russian military personnel’s notice within 24 hours.”
“What else should we write about?” Panorama quipped in a follow-up.
The Kremlin said Friday that it was unaware of the Russian Armed Forces making Putin’s article compulsory reading material, but noted that such a decision would be “quite understandable.”
Ukraine has been battling pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine since 2014, when Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula and triggered a wave of Western economic sanctions.
After a lull in fighting last year, the conflict that has claimed more than 14,000 lives escalated again at the start of 2021.