Putin Confirms the Title of Wannabe Historian

ФОТО: ТАСС

Last time, a loser artist plunged the world into a global war. And now a wannabe historian is guided by his “historical logic,” detached from real life, in international politics.

On November 4, Putin celebrated Russian Unity Day in the role of a historian. After publicly visiting the propaganda banner exhibition “Ukraine. At the turn of the eras” in the Moscow “Manezh,” he had a long conversation with “historians and representatives of traditional religions.”

For the first time, Ukrainians heard about this format exactly 8 years ago. At that time, a similar meeting of Putin was widely covered, which, however, took place without the participation of clerics, with “young historians and history teachers.” Well, we see the implementation of the trend for greater “maturity and holiness.” And the famous “spiritual bonds” are increasingly gluing thoughts, will, and conscience of the Russian elite.

Then, on November 5, 2014, Putin shocked the academic community (both in Ukraine and Russia) not only with his ignorance of history, but also with actual directives to scholars about how they should understand, write, and talk about the past. 

The attention of the reviewers was drawn to the revelations of the dictator about Crimea as his “primordial land,” for which the Russians allegedly fought for centuries, about Sevastopol, which, according to him, turned out to be “the primary baptismal font of Russia.” Such pseudo-historical justifications were demanded by Putin’s brainwashing machine just for the year of the illegal annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula.

This time, a new occasion appeared for the “holiday of unity” (and another batch of instructions for historians) — Russia’s attempt to seize four additional regions of Ukraine: Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson oblasts.

However, either the content or the form of what Putin said no longer causes any surprise. Having carried out a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Putin and his clique hit the lowest of the low of everything that official Russia produces. 

At the same time, the presence of the head of the Moscow Patriarchate Kirill (Gundyaev) and the head of the Foreign Intelligence Service Naryshkin (he also heads the Russian Historical Society for some reason) only added to the entourage usual for Russia of nowadays.

Russian scientist Nikita Sokolov believes that Putin is “deeply convinced that in a thousand years, the world has not changed much, and the motives and customs of geopolitical players remain the same as in the Middle Ages. He thinks of political history exclusively as of a constant “exchange of a ball” […], in the form of a series of power disputes that change each other, and refined “bluffing.”

Has anything changed in these 8 years, since Sokolov accurately diagnosed a high-ranking official and a neophyte of historical science? Nothing! At a new meeting with “historians and representatives of traditional religions,” speaking about historical discipline, Putin reproached that in the “hostile” West, “key historical events are presented in an absolutely distorted, inverted form, but the truth is cancelled.”

In Putin’s understanding, correctly adjusted history is almost an accurate science to justify the triumph of the “Russian world.” In his remarks, the attempt to substitute history for scientific communism — a discipline that explained everything in the world back in the youth of the Russian dictator — is very much felt.

There are actually more problems from such a barbaric attitude to such complex humanities as history as it seems. After all, last time, a loser artist plunged the world into a global war. It is hardly worth expecting anything else from a wannabe historian, who is guided in politics by some “historical logic” detached from real life.

What Lies Did Putin Once Again Tell about Ukraine?

The discussion was preceded by an exhibition dedicated not to Russian unity, but to Ukraine. The short history of this stage of the war screams that in making his fateful decision, Putin had failed to learn the history of Ukraine in recent decades (let alone centuries). However, the content of the exhibition (one can draw conclusions from the report of the Zvezda TV channel and from the comments of the Russian president himself) rather indicates that in 8 months of the full-scale war, the situation with Ukrainianism in Russia has not improved, to say the least.

Regarding Ukraine, Putin repeated his already rather worn-out points. There was also talk of targeted intervention and corruption of Ukraine by the West, which began immediately after the collapse of the USSR, and about the spreading of pseudo-values by Banderites and neo-Nazis. And the transformation into anti-Russia. The Kremlin dictator attributes all changes in Ukraine after 1991 exclusively to hostile Western inducements, denying even the possibility of some internal dynamics in a multi-million Ukrainian society.

These same Western interventions, Putin persuades, have led to the war. Note: the intervention not in Russia, which started the aggression, but in Ukraine. How could this happen? The chief philosopher explains: the clash was inevitable, and therefore Russia resorted to a preventive strike, so as not to be caught suddenly by the enemy, as it happened to the USSR in 1941. Obviously, guided only by the “historical logic” granted to him from above, Putin saw a multimillion fascist armada, ready for the new “Barbarossa,” on the Russian borders near Kharkiv and Sumy, so he did not wait for trouble as his predecessor Stalin did.

However, a certain novelty in the format of Putin’s speeches still appeared. Killing Ukrainians in real life, Putin does not cease to pity them: “… it is just strange what is happening there: as if Ukrainians do not exist, they are thrown into the fire, and that’s it. It is Ukraine, the Ukrainian people, that is the first and main victim of the deliberate incitement of hatred towards the Russians, towards Russia. In Russia, on the contrary, you know it well: we have always treated the Ukrainian people with respect and warmth. This sentiment remains, despite today’s tragic confrontation.”

And the President of Russia pities the Ukrainians, of course, because they are “really one people with the Russians. In fact, the confrontation is within one people, just as it was after the events of 1917, people were pit against each other again.” 

Who did it? Putin convinces that both then and now “foreign states took advantage of the tragedy of our people. They didn’t care about the white or the red, they pursued their interests, weakened and torn historical Russia into pieces.”

This “one people” lives not on some other planet, but on the territory of “historical Russia,” from which the Russians voluntarily sculpted Ukraine “in order to create a single, common cultural and humanitarian, historical space.”

Therefore, Putin is eager to tear Ukraine away from the European space. To do this, he warns Ukrainians about the aggressive intentions of the West… to seize Ukrainian lands!  Stating that three neighbours: Hungary, Romania, and Poland dream about returning the territories that were forcibly taken away from these states in favour of Ukraine. 

Instead, Putin boldly calls Russia “the only true guarantor of Ukrainian statehood and sovereignty.” Yes: the country that occupied Crimea in 2014, some districts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. And since February 24, it has been trying to occupy the whole Ukraine.

In this strange “historical logic” of Putin, you no longer know what will surprise you more: the guarantor of statehood and sovereignty overtaking the predatory western neighbours in an attempt to seize Ukrainian lands? Or Ukrainians, who are said to be unable to defend themselves against Hungarian-Polish-Romanian encroachments, defeating the world’s second nominal army for the ninth consecutive month?

It follows from Putin’s perverse “historical logic” that Russia’s fraternal love for Ukraine manifests itself in the form of aggression and murder. And the continuous supply of weapons to Ukrainians for self-defence by the West is, it turns out, evidence of indifference and ruthless attitude towards Ukrainians. 

The lesson of Putin’s pseudo-historical reflections for Ukraine and the world is the only one — Putin always lies, says what is needed for propaganda. Therefore, the task of the Defence Forces of Ukraine is to throw the Russians out of the occupied Ukrainian territory. Otherwise, Putin’s horde will go further, will kill and rape with the words “we are one people.”

Centre for Strategic Communication and Information Security

Ukrainian Institute of National Memory

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