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Why Vladimir Putin Has Invaded Ukraine

Newly appointed Deputy Editor Aman Patel on the revisionist history essay supposedly written by Vladimir Putin in 2021 to justify the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Russian forces have now entered Ukraine and fighting has broken out in the suburbs of the capital, Kyiv. Russian forces, who had been building up on the Russia-Ukraine and Belarus-Ukraine border, entered through the northern Belarusians, as well via the previously annexed Crimea, and the east of Ukraine. Analysts suggest these forces are circling around in a pincer movement to trap the Ukrainian forces in the East of the country. So far casualties on both sides are in the hundreds, something that analysts believe will come as a shock to the Russian forces. By invading Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has shattered decades of post-Second World War peace in Europe. This begs the question, why has Vladimir Putin decided to invade Ukraine?

Vladimir Putin published a 5000-word essay in July of last year that explains why. The essay was entitled On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians. Roughly half of the article is dedicated to tracing the religious, ethnic and linguistic similarities between the two countries. Putin is correct to say that the history of the two states and peoples are deeply intertwined. However, his account of the forced split of the two nations is even more problematic. As expected, Putin mostly lays this at the feet of the West and the Ukrainian political elite. Interestingly, the former member of the USSR Communist Party also blamed the Bolsheviks. The essay is little more than the world according to Putin. Such a revisionist account of the 20th century and the modern-day is both problematic and dangerous.

Putin’s account of the forced Bolshevik creation of the Ukrainian state is ludicrous and incorrect. He claims that the establishment of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic as a part of the Soviet Union was “the most dangerous timebomb”. The timebomb was the theoretical right for these states, including Ukraine, to freely leave the Soviet Union as they pleased. Putin conveniently leaves out the fact that Ukraine and all the other equal republics were ruthlessly subjugated by the Bolshevik Party and had little to no say in their own governance. This timebomb of Ukrainian independence is imaginary – Ukraine was never going to become truly independent under Bolshevik control. Putin also paints the famines of the 1930s as a shared burden between the Russians and Ukrainians. This is a complete misreading of history given that 4 of the 5 million that perished in 1932 were Ukrainian. Stalin deliberately targeted Ukraine by setting them impossible harvest targets and sent officers to routinely raid villages, houses, and farms.

Putin’s misreading of 20th-century history is also matched by his delusions of modern events. He claims that modern Ukrainian independence has been driven by the West and the Ukrainian political elite. The west has been doing its utmost to use Ukraine as a springboard against Russia and thrust NATO membership onto Ukraine against the people’s consent. The reality is the opposite, where Putin has done his utmost to stop democratic Ukraine from joining NATO. What is most reprehensible is Putin’s claim that the west and the UN have ignored the prominent role of the raging Nazism in Ukraine, hence Putin’s call to de-nazify Ukraine. The scale of neo-Nazi activity in Ukraine is insignificant, especially considering the lack of support from the public. To claim that Volodymyr Zelenskyy, a Jewish individual, heads a Nazi sympathising political regime is simply ludicrous and anti-Semitic.

By using claims of rampant Nazism, Vladimir Putin is doing his best to pull on the powerful emotions of the Russian people. The Great Patriotic War was Russia’s great triumph and manipulating this is disrespectful to the very Russian people he claims to be acting in the interest of. Putin and his henchmen are playing the role of the aggressor and invading a neighbouring nation-state, just like the Nazis did in 1941. Ukraine is not a perfect democracy, but it is a shining beacon of liberty compared to Putin’s dictatorship whose current warmongering only serves him and his close circle’s interest. It is for this reason that the protests of the Russian people have been met with crushing oppression.

The fierce Ukrainian resistance against Putin’s invasion is proof that independence was not thrust upon them by external forces. The only external force seeking to subjugate the Ukrainian people is Vladimir Putin and his corrupt political class. Putin’s justifications for invading Ukraine are ludicrous, hypocritical and demonstrate an awful misreading of history. The international community and indeed the student community at King’s must stand up for freedom in Europe and support Ukraine.

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