A former president and prime minister of Russia who was once thought by some to be "a hope of Russian liberals and the West" isn't flying under that descriptor anymore after recent harsh statements against Ukrainians amid the Russian invasion. The Daily Beast reports that Dmitry Medvedev—who served as president during Vladimir Putin's hiatus from 2008 to 2012, then as PM from 2012 to 2020—"routinely calls for the extinction of Ukraine as a nation" on social media, and a recent post on the Telegram app is sticking to that messaging. "People often ask me why my Telegram posts are so harsh," Medvedev wrote, in Russian, per a post shared by Bulgarian journalist Christo Grozev. "The answer is I hate them. They are bastards and scum. They want death for us, for Russia."
Medvedev then added: "And as long as I'm alive, I'll do anything to make them disappear." The Jerusalem Post reports that the 56-year-old former attorney, who's currently serving as deputy chair of Russia's Security Council, also recently doubled down on his country's claims that the Russian invasion isn't a "war," but a "special military operation," telling Al Jazeera via Tass that Russia's goals in Ukraine are "limited" and that it's trying to keep any damage to civilian infrastructure to a minimum, which has been shown to not be true.
An April article in Radio Free Europe delves more into Medvedev's shift from a "mild-mannered, iPhone-toting technocrat" who once ate cheeseburgers with then-President Barack Obama to a "belligerent" name-caller in service of his boss. "Medvedev may want to signal to everyone that he is part of the system, that he is essentially by Putin's side," Maria Snegovaya, a fellow at the DC-based think tank Center for a New American Security, told RFE at the time. Medvedev is also "among the top politicians least trusted by Russians," RFE notes, citing opinion polls, which may be why he's trying desperately to stay "relevant," Syracuse University political science professor Brian Taylor tells the outlet. (Read more Dmitry Medvedev stories.)