History and Putin: why reckoning is inevitable

The desire to «create history» is characteristic of authoritarian politicians. However, Putin managed to surpass many in his «reconstructions».

In the summer of 2021, Russian president published an article ​​»On the historical unity of Russians and Ukrainians» in two languages, in which he tried to prove that statehood was «given to Ukraine by the Soviet government», and in general, Lenin was very wrong, «giving» to Soviet Ukraine a part of the lands of «historic Russia».

Of course, historians have put all the points in that opus long ago, but we have to talk about «History from Putin» again and again, because the Russian president constantly uses historical stereotypes in his own interests.

«History from Putin» or a way to justify war crimes

So, for example, there is nothing surprising in the fact that Putin constantly calls the Ukrainian people «fraternal», while sending the Russian army to a «fratricidal war», because the thesis of a «triune Slavic people» serves the ideological needs of the Russian (and Soviet) power since the 19th century. And although Ukrainians and Belarusians are not destined to become equal to Russians in this construction, the exploitation of this «brotherhood» remains one of the cornerstones of Russian politics.

Putin also exploits the «fight against the Nazis». He called the large-scale war against Ukraine a «denazification special operation» and still talks about «Nazis in power in Kyiv».

And this is despite the fact that Putin, who spoke in January 2020 at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial with an anti-Polish speech, should have known that a Jew cannot lead the Nazis.

In fact, the Kremlin dictator is repeating the mistake of his ilk: he is trying to bend History under himself, to correct it in a favorable light for himself. The Russian state and military machines are focused on the thoughtless fulfillment of these fantasies and propaganda is focused on their ideological support.

I will give one example: the story of the «crucified boy in Sloviansk» (perhaps the biggest known fake of Russia’s hybrid war against Ukraine and the world) is only a repetition, an update of the old propaganda campaign «Kill the German», which was headlined by Konstantin Simonov in 1942.

These manifestations of propaganda are subordinated the desire to dehumanize the enemy, to force their soldiers to kill those whom the authorities have designated as enemies without thinking too much. In the same context, it is worth considering the attempt of a fake tribunal against the «Azovs», which Russia has not yet finally abandoned.

As the history of mankind proves, in the process of creating events that will claim the title of historical, it seems important to act adequately to the situation in the country and the world.

I would like to emphasize that Putin, who repeated «We will not allow a repeat of Srebrenica in the Donbas», continued only until February 2022, because after that there were Bucha, Mariupol and Izyum.

The geographical distance between the locations of the most famous war crimes of the Russian Federation allows us to claim that they were not a random element of the hatred of specific individuals, but are part of the state ideology of the Russian Federation.

«Who allowed you to live so well,» the Russian occupiers asked the residents of the Ukrainian settlements they occupied. And they killed civilians in Buchа and prisoners of war in Olenivka with a sense of their own impunity.

Will history take revenge on Putin?

Putin is consistently spreading in the occupied Ukrainian territories the medieval right of the strongest, implemented by him in Russia, as if there were no centuries of human evolution, humanistic ideas and views.

As if there were no horrors of the First and Second World Wars, the Geneva Conventions and the Declaration of Human Rights, written in the blood.

Ukraine is paying a heavy price for the poor knowledge of the history of relations between Russians and Ukrainians by the political elites, for neglecting the threat of Great Russian chauvinism, seeing from its own bitter experience that the former metropolis is able to transform its poorly hidden phantom pains into war crimes.

Putin will also pay for rewriting of history, for its utilitarian use to satisfy his personal ambitions.

Here is Ramzan Kadyrov — whose military and political career began in battles against Russian troops in the North Caucasus and grew into «Putin’s foot soldier» who is allowed to criticize the Russian generals — reacted to the «limited» mobilization in Russia with a statement about the refusal to carry it out in Chechnya.

With this, Kadyrov not only confirmed the assumption of significant losses among his soldiers, but also demonstrated that the relations of elites in 21st century Russia have all the signs of feudalism, up to the hint of disobedience to the suzerain.

As for the mobilization itself, even the first reaction of Russian citizens to it suggests that it will become a problem primarily for the Russian authorities. And Putin’s demonstrative visits in the first decade of September to Kaliningrad (the western enclave of the Russian Federation) and Vladivostok (the Far East), which were noticed by the few, may not save the situation.

By the way, if lawyers should give a legal assessment of pseudo-referendums in the occupied territories of Ukraine, then politically it resembles sublimation.

Putin, whose army was unable to capture Kyiv in three days, found his own «Alsace and Lorraine», only there was neither repetition of the enemy surrender nor the proclamation of the German Empire in the Palace of Versailles.

Therefore, Putin’s Russia is moving towards its inevitable disintegration, proving its expediency to the world by its own actions.


Yevhen Magda, Director of the Institute of World Politics