Reflections on Putin’s War

In the early hours of 24th February, President Putin gave a televised address to Russia and the world effectively announcing his invasion of Ukraine, an event shortly followed by cruise missile strikes against specific targets in Ukraine and the invasion of that country’s territory from the north, east and south by ground forces. We’d like to take this opportunity to pass some general comments on these events and to deal with some common misconceptions held by nationalists about the war and its contexts.

In the first instance, it is necessary to set in order the chronology of events that led to this point. President Putin claims that the Ukrainian armed forces have been shelling separatist positions in the Russian-speaking breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, formerly part of Ukraine, and that his military action was necessary to protect Russians in these territories. This neatly omits the fact that these separatist republics only exist because the Russian government supplied protestors with military-grade weaponry and heavy artillery during the Maidan Revolution of 2014; the separatists proceeded to seize government buildings and conduct their own military operation advancing from east to west in an attempt to take territory from the Ukrainian state. They were eventually repulsed until a settled ‘contact line’ emerged, along which reciprocal ‘shelling’ has occurred persistently until now.

President Putin also claims that a ‘genocide’ against Russian-speakers has been ongoing in Donbass, prosecuted by “neo-Nazis” and supported by the government in Kyiv. Across both sides of the contact line, 349 civilians have died through military action between 2016 and 2021. Additionally, the majority of forces on the Ukrainian side of the Donbass contact line are native Russian speakers; Russian is also the lingua franca of the infamous AZOV Battalion, the so-called neo-Nazis genociding Russian speakers. In any event, there would be no fighting in Donbass at all had the Russian state not supplied heavy artillery to the separatists in the first instance. There is clearly no genocide in Donbass.

It is also claimed by Putin that the leadership in Kyiv are neo-Nazis who have militarised Ukraine with the purpose of creating an existential threat to Russia. This is a laughable claim considering Ukraine’s President is Jewish, and his political party a centrist, pro-European organisation, and that Ukraine’s military was sub-par by any measure prior to Russia’s aggressive actions in Donbass and Crimea in 2014. The only “neo-Nazi” political party in Ukraine, Svoboda, lost all but 1 of its seats in the 450-seat parliament at the last election in 2019. Neo-Nazis have almost no political representation in Ukraine.

At this point, we would like to point out the irony and meaninglessness of Putin’s language in this context: the Russian President apparently sent the Wagner Group, a neo-Nazi private militia, to Kyiv with the purpose of assassinating Ukraine’s Jewish, neo-Nazi President.

It is quite remarkable how many nationalists and dissidents in Western Europe and North America have seized these demonstrably false pretexts in order to provide justification for their support of Putin’s War. Other notable justifications include the points that Putin’s Russia is less liberal than the West, that President Zelensky is Jewish or a Western puppet. These are, of course, silly, and would be quite obviously perceived as such by Ukrainians protecting their homeland with automatic weapons. These arguments melt into insignificance when faced with the possibility of perdition and national oblivion. In such cases, we fight. We put aside partisan politics and geopolitical theorising and we drive out the invaders with deadly force. This is the reality of nationalism, not infantile debates in obscure corners of the internet.

It is worth noting as well, that President Zelensky was elected with 73% of the vote in the second round, and Ukraine’s people are definitively pro-European, pro-Western and in favour of NATO membership. This is the same in other former eastern bloc countries, who know first-hand the pleasures of Russian occupation. All of these countries, from Estonia to Poland, hate Russia, the Russian state and everything it stands for. These are all religious, conservative societies who prefer the ‘decadent West’ to ‘based Russia’ – perhaps we would do well to ask why this is, or at least trust that their experience is of greater value than our telescopic theorising.

Finally, you may have noticed that we’ve described this military action as Putin’s War. It is now Putin’s War, the misadventures of a nostalgic Soviet boomer who has quite outrageously sent his conscript armies of Chechens, Kazakhs and Uzbeks to invade and lay waste to a European country. That there is even a debate about the validity of this action is baffling in itself. It is a war of aggression, a war crime and a no amount of contrarianism or ideological fidelity can reverse these facts.

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