Redrawing the map of Europe… with blood
The story repeats itself. The world passed through this dark period eight decades ago. A man came to power bearing illusions of grandeur and dreams of expansion beyond the territory of his country, which no longer corresponds to his ambitions. Moreover, he bears a score to settle with the legacy of the “aggression” of the past that his country has suffered from the victors.
Adolf Hitler arrives at the Berlin Chancellery to avenge the Treaty of Versailles. Vladimir Putin arrives at the Kremlin to avenge the agreements between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev which ended the Soviet era and deprived Moscow of its leadership over 14 neighboring countries. However, it opened the door of the European continent to Russia, a stage supposed to be a gateway to transform them into a single family whose relations are shaped by the principles of good neighborliness and respect for the laws of the countries of this continent to manage their affairs as their citizens want.
Putin is not Gorbachev or Boris Yeltsin. He is a student from another school. He does not acknowledge the guilt of the Kremlin rulers during the communist era for what happened to the Soviet Union. Instead, his conspiracy theory leads him to view this collapse as the result of a Western plot to weaken Russian leadership and impose a unipolar world order. He sees the decision of neighboring countries that were part of the Soviet orbit to join the European bloc and NATO as nothing more than a part of this plan.
Putin does not recognize the right of these countries to choose their own destiny because he simply does not believe they have the right to be independent states. This is his fundamental problem with Ukraine, as well as with the three Baltic states which face the specter of a similar fate if the Russian invasion of Ukraine succeeds and Putin is allowed to install his regime. choice in Kyiv.
As the German Chancellor said yesterday, it is a terrible day for Ukraine and a dark day for Europe. Because Olaf Scholz is from Germany, he knows well the heavy tax Russia will pay because of this aggression and has it in mind when he says that history will show that Putin made a big mistake. which will be disastrous for Russia.
But the responsibility does not rest solely on Putin’s shoulders. The West has chosen to ignore the Russian President’s plans for more than two decades, during which he “tested” the limits of Western reactions to his violations of the rules that govern international relations. Forget his domestic politics and his attack on the principle of the peaceful transfer of power, which the West considered an internal matter. Putin poisons his opponents in Western capitals.
He turned the tables in Syria, perpetuating Bashar al-Assad’s grip on power despite widespread regional and international condemnation of the Syrian regime’s crimes against its people. He repeatedly used the Russian Security Council’s veto to prevent investigations into these crimes. He also allied with the Iranian regime despite Tehran’s interventions in several Arab countries. He invaded and occupied Crimea under the pretext that it was “Russian territory”, then sent his forces to the two breakaway provinces in eastern Ukraine under the pretext that Ukrainians of Russian origin resided there. , repeating the argument made by Hitler when he had annexed Austria and the Sudetenland into Czechoslovakia on the pretext that the Germans were in the majority there.
Putin did all of this while the world watched and did nothing but issue condemnations and statements. Even when Western intelligence reports affirmed the Russian president’s intention to invade Ukraine, Western leaders rushed to the end of that long and humiliating table at which they were forced to sit as if they were in court, begging him not to invade his neighbour. Meanwhile, the US President was reassuring Putin that he would not send US forces to Ukraine… What other conclusion could Putin have drawn from all of this beyond an assessment that the West is totally unable to stand up to him and has given him the green light to do whatever he wants in Ukraine?
The story repeats itself. Attempts by British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and French Prime Minister Edouard Daladier to appease Hitler were repeated by Macron and Scholz, whose attempts were never to succeed. As he sat down with them to negotiate, Putin’s army was planning the attack on Ukraine.
History is not rewritten with ink, but with blood. Europe discovered it thanks to the recklessness of a man who came to Munich fleeing Austria and ended up destroying his country and a large part of the European cities with him, leaving Germany with heavy burdens which she carried for half a century before being allowed to unite again and re-establish relations with her neighbors after having forbidden a return to this dark period of her history without erasing the memory of her people.
This is what Europe is experiencing today from another madman who has come to take revenge on his Communist-Bolshevik predecessors, whom he accuses of having “created” his neighbor Ukraine. Just as invading Poland after asserting that it had never been an independent or normal state was the first step on Hitler’s path, it appears that today the invasion of Ukraine by Putin, from his eastern provinces, is based on the same argument: there has never been a normal and authentic state.
However, the Russian president ignores the fact that this country, known as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic at the time, had been part of the Soviet orbit and that its president had been appointed by the Kremlin. At that time, 45 million Ukrainians were entitled to an entity with its own borders and its own capital. Now Putin says he will not allow the country to continue enjoying this right until it is subdued and the direction of its choice imposed on it.
It is a dark page in European history. Putin is not solely responsible. The leniency and appeasement policies of the spoiled KGB prince, who Westerners convinced themselves had taken off that robe, were bound to lead to what we are witnessing today.