Vladimir Putin isn’t another Adolf Hitler

THE Ukrainian army is in retreat on every front.

GWYNNE DYER

Since Russian regular army units came to the aid of the hard-pressed pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine’s two easternmost provinces a week ago, the tide of battle has turned decisively.

The two big rebel-held cities, Donetsk and Luhansk, are no longer besieged by Ukrainian forces.

Luhansk airport fell to a Russian tank attack on Monday, Donetsk airport will also be captured soon, and the port city of Mariupol, back under government control since May, may be in Russian hands by the end of the weekend.

Meanwhile, those of us further from the scene are being bombarded with dodgy historical analogies.

This week is the 75th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, so it’s a good time to see if these analogies really stand up to scrutiny.

The first analogy is that Russia’s long-ruling president, Vladimir Putin, is another Adolf Hitler, committed to expanding Russia’s borders back out to the old Soviet frontiers, or maybe even further.

Stop him now or it will be harder and more expensive to stop him later on – and anybody who disagrees is an “appeaser”.

It’s true that Putin has long referred to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 as the greatest geopolitical disaster of the 20th century.

He recently called for immediate talks on the “statehood” of the southeastern Ukrainian provinces that have fallen partly into the hands of the pro-Russians rebels.

This would mean the further dismantling of Ukraine, after the Russian annexation of Crimea last March.

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which used to be part of the old Russian and Soviet empires, are terrified by the implications of Putin’s recent actions for their own independence (they also have Russian-speaking minorities). Even Kazakhstan, far to the east, is getting worried, as Putin says that it is “part of the larger Russian world…I am confident that’s the way things are going to be.”

There are echoes in Putin’s project of Hitler’s first priority after he took power in Germany in 1933, which was to recover all the German-speaking eastern territories that had been stripped away from the fatherland after the First World War.

But Hitler’s second, bigger project was the destruction of the “Jewish-Bolshevik” Soviet Union, which would have required a very big war (though he never intended to fight a “world war”).

Putin has no second project. He cannot embark on a Hitler-stye campaign of conquest, given Russia’s relatively modest economic and human resources.

In any case the other former Soviet possessions in the west, the Baltic states, are already Nato members with solid defence guarantees.

Until the Ukrainian crisis blew up, Putin hadn’t even done much to regain the old Soviet frontiers during 15years in power. He’s still not talking about taking back the rest of Ukraine, so there’s no need to nip his plan for world conquest in the bud. He doesn’t have one.

This leads to the second big difference between 1939 and now.

Back then Britain and France issued an unconditional guarantee that they would go to war if Hitler attacked Poland. Even though they actually had no military ability to help Poland, they felt they had to draw a line in the sand. Whereas Nato has not offered to defend Ukraine militarily no matter what Russia does: it is basically a local issue.

Those are the realities. Ukraine enjoys great sympathy in the West, but nobody will risk a nuclear war by committing Nato forces to save Donetsk and Luhansk. So if Kiev cannot stop the Russian/rebel offensive in the east, and there’s no foreign help coming, what should it do?

The first thing is to freeze the front lines by accepting a ceasefire — which seems still to be on offer. With every passing day Ukraine is losing more territory, and it won’t get it back for decades (if ever).

Russia will settle for a freeze, because Putin’s real goal, if he can no longer directly control the government in Kiev, is to paralyse the country by putting a cuckoo in the nest: creating a permanently dissenting, pro-Russian entity as part of the Ukrainian state. The way Ukraine can avoid that fate is by hardening the borders around the rebel-held territories as much and as fast as possible.

Let the rebels run the occupied parts of Donetsk and Luhansk (Kiev has no choice in that), but Don’t integrate them into some rejigged federal state where they would hold a veto. And Dont recognise their legitimacy if they declare independence or join Russia either.

Treat them as another Crimea, in other words.

Leave the Russians the task of pouring huge, ongoing subsidies into what is really an immense open-air industrial museum, and concentrate instead on making an economic and political success of the rest of Ukraine — which would still have 90 per cent of the population.

And wait. Wait for corruption to dwindle and prosperity to grow in Ukraine, as it probably will when the country gets closer to the European Union. Wait for Putin to grow old and/or for Russia to get distracted by events elsewhere. And don’t get any more people killed when further fighting will just lose you more territory.

Dyer is a London-based freelance journalist.

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1 Comment

Meserlian
September 06, 2014 12:45:10 pm

“No, Vladimir Putin isn’t another Adolf Hitler” http://t.co/yXWOWyw0Eo

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15 Responses to Vladimir Putin isn’t another Adolf Hitler

  1. Jay September 19, 2014 at 5:32 am #

    Don’t expect Putin to broadcast to the world what his NEXT action would be after Ukraine. That will come later. To do nothing now will be an invitation to Putin who will present the world with another fait accompli. It is the exact same attitude towards Hitler that caused WWII to spiral out of control.

    • Laszlo Viski September 19, 2014 at 6:20 am #

      If one wants to find another Hitler, he or she is much better off searching among the western politicians or in Israel. Anyway, who pays for writings like this?

      • Bo Ram September 19, 2014 at 6:56 am #

        Bush/Obama with help from Blair/Cameron have killed 10X as many people as putin and waged war all around the world thinking they can decide the fate of people in other countries. and you seem to ignore that fact. i am more worried abut what the usa will do next in the middle east in the quest to control thee world’s oil supply – their not so hidden world agenda. .

  2. biff Michael Appia September 19, 2014 at 5:58 am #

    Is it nazi to lockup all homosexuals and friends who defend them? Maybe the prisons will be like the reservation schools in canada, or black-ops sites like gitmo?

  3. David Naugler September 19, 2014 at 6:27 am #

    “ongoing subsidies into what is really an immense open-air industrial museum.” What about the families of the workers who work there? Compare the fate of workers in Bethlehem Steel, Pennsylvania. Where are they now? They are all destitute and homeless! What about the destitute and homeless in Greece and elsewhere in the EU? And one oligarch who owns channel 5 TV, in Ukraine wants to impose European austerity and IMF “reforms” in what is left of Ukraine. Petro Poroshenko owns a ship building facility in Sevastopol, Crimea. It is up for sale but it has not been expropriated by his Russian friends. Economic determinism rules the world. The Ukraine civil war is economic. As is so often the case, corrupt Western journalism ignores the fundamentals with focus on trivia!

  4. Volodimir ostrihe September 19, 2014 at 6:28 am #

    “The policy of Russia is changeless according to the admission of its official historian, the Muscovite Karamasin. Its methods, its tactics, its maneuvers may change, but the polar star of its policy–world domination is a fixed star” Quote by Karl Marx, who probably had a better understanding of Russia than most people. His next target may be to re-take Alaska or correct the mistakes made in Cuba by his predesessors. With Obama as president, he may even succeed

  5. Volodimir ostrihe September 19, 2014 at 6:30 am #

    All is well.

  6. Peter P. September 19, 2014 at 6:55 am #

    Putin is no better or worse than Western Leaders! In fact at least Putin is IMO more open and transparent than the others. His ‘agenda’ is clear. The West dissimulates and weaves a devious route for political control of the Ukraine. The EU is no savior for any state; it too seeks ‘control’ of others. It is fascist. At least Putin has the guts to reject the West’s corruption. No other leader has taken steps to stop the promotion of the ‘Gay Agenda’. In this way he shows discernment and, in the Russian culture, Putin can and has taken decisive steps to protest Russian Society from evils that would gradually destroy the moral fabric of his country. Putin alone is at least a ‘Choice’, a choice against the run away corruption of the West. At last a leader with insight and the courage to act. Love him or hate him(the West loves to vilify him!), you gotta admire the man

    • Ravi September 19, 2014 at 9:33 am #

      Hi Peter,

      you are absolutely correct. Putin is man who loves his mother land and the russian people.

      What’s wrong if Putin thinks and acts for the russian resources should only be used for Russian people.

      Eurpoean and american capitalist want to loot other countires resources. They donot like if some one acts for his/her mother land. They want only a puppet to be installed and loot the resources for them selves.

      American and European does not have feelings towards human society, only they knows money.

      First they will bomd than they will do charity and philanthropy….

  7. Sthem September 19, 2014 at 7:18 am #

    Hands off my BRICKS leader President V Putin

  8. kurian September 19, 2014 at 7:19 am #

    OH no no…Politicians these days make hitler look like a teddy bear!

  9. Mark September 19, 2014 at 7:27 am #

    No, he’s more like another Stalin.

  10. lolatcommenters September 19, 2014 at 8:16 am #

    Putin is a totalitarian dictator who’s veil of composure will continue to fade as he continues to be foiled of his goals.

    • fuckoff September 19, 2014 at 12:09 pm #

      die you scumshit!!!!!!!

  11. Brian September 19, 2014 at 8:26 am #

    Putin IS another Hitler and has learned quite well from Hitler the way of expanding his territory. Just as Hitler had Czechoslovakia, Putin has had Crimea. And just as Hitler took the whole of Czechoslovakia, Putin wants all of Ukraine and will probably get what he wa ts because the west is NOT standing up to Putin. These sanctions against a few individuals aren’t going to be effective.

    So the qeurstion next is where is Putin’s Austria? Will it be Georgia or Czechoslovakia? Estonia or Khazakstan? Will Poland once again become the tipping point when the west draws the line in the sand rather than appeasing Putin’s ambition. This isn’t about a nuclear war but a conventional war. Putin doesn’t want and cannot use a devastated landmass, and irrespective of the author’s opinion, the moves of Putin are not going to stop with Ukraine.

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