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Putin targets German speakers in Russia in search for cannon fodder

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“Russian-Germans of Russia should do something unusual, extraordinary to be rescued and survive,” Victor Dietz told the Russian newspaper Realnoe Vremya in March 2023. He added: “I offered [advise] all the male population of our people [to] apply for Wagner Group – as a team, in an organised way.”

Referring to Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Wagner chief who was later killed by Putin in a power struggle, he added: “[Maybe] half of our men turn out cowards and start fleeing abroad, but the second half will continue joining Prigozhin’s Group … with big noise.”

The Telegraph has also seen “combat sheets” – Russian army propaganda leaflets – which contain excerpts about the work of the Tomsk Regional Russian-German House, including its “patriotic education” projects.

And an ethnic German poet, Valentina Hertzen, has been rolled out at memorial ceremonies in Russia  where she has read out her work for soldiers “participating in the special military operation” – Putin’s euphemism for the war in Ukraine.

The propaganda material was first unearthed by the Society of Germans of Zaporizhzhia, a group of ethnic Germans living in Ukraine which has called on its Russian counterparts to campaign against the invasion. The society hopes the German government will take action over its language and culture being used in war propaganda.

In a recent letter to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, they wrote: “We have publicly addressed the ethnic Germans of the Russian Federation, calling on them to refuse to participate in the war against Ukraine.

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