Putin instructs teachers not to call his war a war

Russia's Education Ministry is instructing schoolteachers to read a two-page statement to their students to disavow them of the thought that their country is at war with Ukraine. Human Rights Watch reports that the text is intended to be read to classes before they screen video of President Vladimir Putin defending the military action.

The approved line for Russian teachers is to tell their students that Russia invaded Ukraine because “our policy is freedom, freedom of choice for everyone to independently determine their own future and the future of their children.”

READ MORE: 'No longer inevitable': British admiral casts doubt Putin's 'decimated' forces can win in Ukraine

If any child asks whether Russia is at war, teachers should answer no: it is conducting a “special peacekeeping operation” to stop a “nightmare of genocide” against “millions” of ethnic Russians and Russian speakers in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The Russian leadership “does not like to wage wars, create conflicts and succumb to provocations,” has “done everything possible to resolve the situation by peaceful, political means,” and is “not going to impose anything on anyone by force.”

Clearly that lesson plan is false, with over 1.2 million Ukrainians having left their country as refugees, hundreds of civilians having been killed and evidence of potential war crimes mounting. If a teacher were to speak out against the war and call it what it is he or she could be fired and face up to 15 years in prison, according to Human Rights Watch.