‘I’ll Stand on the Side of Russia’: Pro-Putin Sentiment Spreads Online

On a podcast on Wednesday, Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s former adviser, also praised Mr. Putin as “anti-woke.” He suggested the Ukrainian conflict was “not our fight.”

After Russia’s attack began, some online users explained Mr. Putin’s motives by blending them with conspiracy theories about Covid-19. One Twitter account named War Clandestine declared that Mr. Putin was targeting biolabs in Ukraine that were operated by the United States. The idea was made more believable, the author said, because of the conspiracy theory that the United States engineered Covid-19 at a lab in Wuhan, China.

Pro-America influencers like Mikel Crump and John Basham, who have a combined following of 99,200, amplified the thread. Twitter later suspended the War Clandestine account, plus a second one by the same user for trying to evade the ban, but people continued posting screen recordings of the thread online.

Twitter said that the accounts by the user were permanently suspended for violating its abusive behavior policy and that it was monitoring for emerging narratives that violate its rules. Mr. Crump and Mr. Basham did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Some pro-Russia commentators insisted they were right. Many blamed Mr. Biden, dredging up old conspiracy theories about his son Hunter and Hunter’s employment at a Ukrainian gas company when Mr. Biden was vice president and engaged in diplomatic efforts with the country. There was no evidence of wrongdoing by the Bidens, but conservatives seized on the narrative during the 2020 election.

When reached for comment, Mr. Oltmann, the conservative podcaster, said, “You really have no idea about Ukraine. People support Russia because you did not do the right thing when it came to the fraud and corruption of Biden. I pray for the people in Ukraine but equally pray the people who facilitated the evil communist agenda in the U.S. are held accountable.”

In an email, Ms. Owens, the conservative talk show host, also said the Russia-Ukraine war was Mr. Biden’s fault. “Ukrainians are dying because of the Biden family’s criminal connections and insistence on stoking conflict in the region,” she said.

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