At Putin's patriotic pep rally, no mention of the casualties of war

Putin was flanked by service members for the speech, in which he called the armed forces "courageous"

(CNN)One day after delivering a state of the nation speech before Russia's parliament, President Vladimir Putin made an appearance before a flag-waving crowd at Moscow's Luzhniki stadium.

It was a chilling spectacle. The Kremlin leader was essentially presiding over a militaristic pep rally aimed at drumming up public support for his calamitous military adventure in Ukraine.
"We are meeting with you on the eve of Defender of the Fatherland Day," Putin said, referring to the February 23 holiday commonly known as Men's Day. "In this phrase, in these words, there is something powerful, huge, I would say, mystical and holy."
    Put otherwise, Putin was selling his war in Ukraine as a sort of crusade -- and therefore something that will require sacrifices by his people.
      Putin said Russia was fighting for its "historical" borders at the event
      Flanked by uniformed military personnel, the Russian president led the crowd in cheers for the troops that he said were fighting for the "historical borders of our people," his mendacious shorthand for the parts of Ukraine that Russia has attempted to annex, and that Russian forces have failed to control.
      "We have gathered here, in fact, for a festive event, but I know -- just now I was listening to the country's top military leadership -- that right at this moment, there is a battle going on on our historical borders for our people," Putin said. "It is being led by the same courageous fighters who are now standing next to us here. They fight heroically, courageously, bravely. We are proud of them. We are proud, so three cheers in their honor!"
      In his address before the Russian parliament the day previous, Putin made a rambling digression about what he described as Russia's traditional values under attack, making bizarre remarks about the West's promotion of "perversions." At Luzhniki stadium, the Russian leader also cast his war on Ukraine as a campaign to defend the family.