On Tuesday, talks between Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland and Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov ended with a dramatic threat to potentially shutter all Russian diplomatic missions if the U.S. didn’t lift all sanctions against Moscow. Nuland’s response? A resounding “Nyet,” much to Ryabkov dismay.
But Russia’s attitude towards Nuland goes beyond her politics: Apparently, Moscow’s misogynists would rather not deal with a woman at all.
Russian state media led the charge in covering Nuland as the subject of a “Fashion Police” segment, as opposed to a U.S. government official who should be taken with any modicum of seriousness. State media outlet Ria Novosti, typically known for its dry news coverage, led with a headline that read: “Nuland arrived at the Foreign Ministry in a crimson suit.” The piece mused about Nuland’s “colorful outfit” and her “unusual striped booties.”
Russia’s state TV followed suit, with the host of 60 Minutes Olga Skabeeva critiquing Nuland’s attire, which she described as something you would see in Boris Yeltsin’s Moscow of the 90s. Skabeeva claimed: “Nuland’s dress code let her down. The main U.S. expert in Russia and Ukraine, Victoria showed up to an official meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs wearing booties and a crimson suit.”
Appearing on Russia’s 60 Minutes, Igor Korotchenko, member of the Defense Ministry's public advisory council, angrily exclaimed that the sole purpose of meeting with Nuland was “to put Americans back in their place.” “Let Nuland return to Washington empty-handed,” Korotchenko urged. State-sponsored misogynists echoed similar sentiments across Kremlin-controlled media.
Appearing on the state TV show The Evening With Vladimir Soloviev, political scientist and Professor of Communications Dmitry Evstafiev described Nuland—a U.S. government official—simply as an “exotic dame.” Experts in the studio likewise dismissed Nuland’s abilities as a negotiator and host Vladimir Soloviev surmised: “There is no one in America for us to talk to.”
Soloviev didn’t always feel that way. During the same broadcast of his show on Tuesday, the notorious pro-Kremlin propagandist admitted that he personally authored multiple letters to former President Donald J. Trump during his tumultuous term, urging him to appear on the program—to no avail. But Moscow’s prominent talking heads are holding on to hope that Trump will potentially run and win in 2024.
In an ongoing effort to appeal to American conservatives, savvy promoters of Putin’s reign lean heavily on social media outlets, including YouTube. Editor-in-chief of RT Margarita Simonyan recently described such platforms as “weapons,” more effective than any others. Certain segments of Russian state TV shows are often translated and posted to YouTube, including one recent broadcast that laid the blame for Russia’s troubles with the West not on Moscow’s own destructive foreign policy decisions, but instead on American women.
Appearing on The Evening With Vladimir Soloviev, political scientist Sergey Mikheyev asserted in the clip: "We're witnessing a major deterioration of political analysis and decision-making in America... There are many reasons for that, but personally I believe that, among other things, this clearly has to do with the rise and advancement of femininity in the West today... we observe too much hysteria, too much emotion. We see unpredictable and irrational behavior. We see ignorance and stubbornness. We see unwillingness to listen to logical arguments... These are all attributes of femininity that got out of control.”
Host Vladimir Soloviev gleefully declared: “When they show this in the U.S., the title at the bottom of the screen will say, ‘MALE CHAUVINIST PIGS.’”
Mikheyev exclaimed: "Yes, of course! And it's no laughing matter. This has to do with the decline of masculinity... When society abandons traditional and religious values, masculinity declines... It loses its intellectual, analytical and volitional capabilities... It gets increasingly feminine... In the West, they claim that men and women are the same... We know it's a lie. It's a lie... We see more and more feminine hysterical reactions from Western political leaders." Throughout Mikheyev’s rant, an all-male panel nodded approvingly.
The host and experts then moved on to the topic of Trump’s presidency, claiming that the former president was disliked and criticized “just because he is a man.” Mikheyev reluctantly admitted that according to Russian standards of masculinity, Trump was “kind of strange,” but nonetheless still preferable to any inherently “irrational” female.
With a smirk, Kremlin propagandists ludicrously claimed that former U.S. National Security Council official Fiona Hill and former White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham were “jealous” that Trump expressed no interest in them, neither personally nor professionally—accusing his female critics of “reverse sexism.”
During Trump’s presidency, Russian state media experts acknowledged that Hill was well-qualified to serve as Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Director for European and Russian Affairs on the National Security Council, frequently praising her knowledge of Russia. But after she dared to criticize Trump in a book and testified in his impeachment hearings, Kremlin propagandists began dismissing Hill’s insights as “gibberish.”
With broad brush strokes, state TV pundits were all too clear about their preference for purging women out of foreign policy, politics or any leadership positions.
Referring to actions reportedly taken by Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley to limit Trump’s ability to order a dangerous military strike or launching nuclear weapons, Mikheyev raged: “You have all these crazy women, or effeminate men, being placed in charge of important matters. That's why generals have to make some calls, because they don't understand what's going on. The world has gone crazy.”