Putin Apologists’ Revisionist Approach to History

As I write this, the invasion of Ukraine has begun. Whether Putin’s apologists will continue to distort past and present remains unclear, but odds are it will continue if the latest response to my post is any indication.

Before I continue, I want to make sure people understand whom I include and exclude from being Putin’s apologists/anti-anti-Putinist. Among those who do not count:

  • General critics of Joe Biden’s policy on Russia so far: I think it’s too early to declare success of failure, as Biden’s policy continues to evolve, but there were plenty of things he could have done better. Those who say that without insisting the Kremlin is entitled to Ukraine are not the subject of this post.
  • Critics of Obama’s policy on Russia: To all of the “Mitt was right!” folks out there, all I can say is: I agree; I’m glad I voted for him, too; and I’m not talking about you either in this post.

So who are the subjects of my wrath? Mainly the folks out there who are so determined to make Putin look good that they make themselves look bad by spreading misinformation from the Kremlin.

Things like this:

Ukraine is no more a democracy than Russia; both major opposition political leaders (both pro-Russian) are currently rotting away in Ukrainian prisons.

I’m assuming this is a reference to Viktor Medvedchuk and Petro Poroshenko. Trouble is, neither are in jail. Medvedchuk is under house arrest, while Poroshenko can move freely. Oh, and this is what the “pro-Russian” Poroshenko had to say about Putin.

Ukraine’s former president and current lawmaker Petro Poroshenko has compared Russian President Vladimir Putin to a modern-day Hitler.

He was speaking outside parliament as MPs hold crisis talks in Kyiv, reports the BBC.

Poroshenko, who was in office from 2014-19, also said “today is a tragic day” but that Ukraine will prevail.

That’s hardly what I would call “pro-Russian” … unless, of course, the reference was to these Russians … or these … or these (see the whole thread).

But wait, there’s more. The anti-anti-Putin’s use of what could be described “a revisionist approach to history” is to rely for “facts” on Seamus Milne (author of a Guardian column cited as proof that the Maidan uprising was a foreign coup). The name would understandably be unfamiliar to most Americans, but those of us who follow British politics know him as the communications director for one Jeremy Corbyn – the ex-Labour leader best known for being unable to acknowledge that Putin poisoned Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia. Milne himself has lamented the downfall of East Germany (yes, East Germany) and insists Joseph Stalin got a bad rap from historians.

If the anti-anti-Putinists don’t like the use of that label, I’ll be happy to replace it with Corbynservative.

The bad faith continues with a discussion of what Senator John McCain was thinking when he went to Kyiv (it is not spelled “Kiev”) to express his support for the Revolution of Dignity (emphasis in original).

Asked about Russian president Vladimir Putin’s role in the crisis, McCain said: “There’s no doubt that Ukraine is of vital importance to Putin. I think it was [Henry] Kissinger, I’m not sure, said that Russia, without Ukraine it’s an eastern power, with Ukraine it’s a western power. This is the beginning of Russia, right here in Kiev. So Putin views it as most highly important and he has put pressure on Ukrainians – the price of energy, different kinds of activities. The word is very clear that he has made certain threats. Whether he would carry them through I don’t know.”

Notice what is not mentioned here?  Democracy.

Notice what wasn’t cited? The last paragraph of the story (emphasis added).

Asked by CNN host Candy Crowley whether now was a good time to be “taking Russia on,” given US diplomatic co-operation with Russia on issues such as Iran’s nuclear programme and the civil war in Syria, McCain said: “I don’t think we would be ‘taking on Russia.’

“These people love the United States of America, they love freedom – and I don’t think you could view this as anything other than our traditional support for people who want free and democratic society.”

Others would say the Corbynservatives seem obsessed with fingering the European Union as the bad guy. I’m a Eurosceptic myself, so I don’t mind bringing the Brusselian Empire down a peg. Trouble is, even the ostensible demands Putin put forward before he dropped the masks involved NATO, not the EU.

The real whooper, though, comes in response to my question on just how far Putin should be allowed to go.

Our options are either (a) to recognize the mistake, keep Bush 41’s word to Russia

That refers to the mythical promise Bush supposedly gave about not expanding NATO. First, that would be news to the fellow who supposedly received that “word.”

Russia behind the Headlines has published an interview with Gorbachev, who was Soviet president during the discussions and treaty negotiations concerning German reunification. The interviewer asked why Gorbachev did not “insist that the promises made to you [Gorbachev]—particularly U.S. Secretary of State James Baker’s promise that NATO would not expand into the East—be legally encoded?” Gorbachev replied: “The topic of ‘NATO expansion’ was not discussed at all, and it wasn’t brought up in those years. … Another issue we brought up was discussed: making sure that NATO’s military structures would not advance and that additional armed forces would not be deployed on the territory of the then-GDR after German reunification. Baker’s statement was made in that context… Everything that could have been and needed to be done to solidify that political obligation was done. And fulfilled.”

…To be sure, the former Soviet president criticized NATO enlargement and called it a violation of the spirit of the assurances given Moscow in 1990, but he made clear there was no promise regarding broader enlargement.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, we need to remember just what this mythical “word” actually means: NATO reverts back to its 1990 status – and the following nations are left wide open to Putinist revanchism.

  • Estonia
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Poland
  • Hungary
  • Slovakia
  • Romania
  • Bulgaria
  • Albania
  • Slovenia
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • Montenegro
  • North Macedonia

That’s 110 million people to be thrown to the wolves – all in the hope that maybe, just maybe, one tyrant can be convinced to turn on another tyrant not shooting at him. Then again, there may be … other motives.

While all of this is going on, the 43 million Ukrainians are doing what the Corbynservatives claim to care about them so much said they’d never do: they’re fighting to defend their country. They are asking for our support and we are giving it to them. It is right to do so – and if we do enough, they can win.

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