Vladimir Putin‘s Critically Nostalgic Imperial Glimpse to Lands of Neighbours

Here are a couple of interpretations on persistent interest of the President of Russia V. Putin in history. On 27 June Krzysztof Zanussi, Polish Film Director on the TV channel in the program ‘Savik Shuster freedom of word’ …

Here are a couple of interpretations on persistent interest of the President of Russia V. Putin in history. On 27 June Krzysztof Zanussi, Polish Film Director on the TV channel in the program ‘Savik Shuster freedom of word’ noted that nothing clears the head better than admission of guilt. Polish people admit their guilt – both in regards to Jews as a part of their society and all neighbours, including Ukrainians (as it has been mentioned, the program was broadcasted on one Ukrainian TV channel). The comment was related to the events of World War II.   
According to the Director, Polish people noticed V. Putin’s article in the US magazine The National Interest  about World War II (we have analyzed it and the context of the article in the article ‘Is The Soviet Union Collapsing Just Now?), which scared. If the president of the big country is engaged in a strange investigation of the history, something is wrong in that country.
As regards the glow of the President of Russia, it is probable that as it arouse fast, it was unexpectedly fading’ because of natural conjuncture reasons: on 24 June a parade was organized in Moscow (ignoring COVID-19) to commemorate 75 years of the victory against Nazi and information noise that followed ‘exhausted’ so far.   
A day before the Polish Director made his speech Martin Schulz Wessel, one of directors of German-Ukrainian History Commission who discussed V. Putin’s’ historical reasoning during German TV channel in the program , told about the practice to attempt telling historians how to assess facts. In his opinion, under normal conditions we understand the history as a discourse without involvement of the government. Thus, it makes us think when/if the president starts being the historian publicist and send his ‘product’ to Heads of Departments of History in German High Schools (the Kremlin did that), asking to use this text for training purposes.
According to M. S. Wessel, V. Putin’s article ignores scientific criteria, for instance, seeing Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact that divided Europe between authoritarian Germany and Soviet Union regimes as a normal diplomatic practice in the fourth decade of the last century. However, aggression that was following the Pact cannot be compared with other process that was taking place at that time. The President of Russia, blaming Poland in participation of dividing Czechoslovakia in 1939 ignores a historical context, which also makes his text disputable and dangerous.
A historian also pointed out that historical falsification of V. Putin about Ukraine, especially when he blames Ukrainians in the style of Soviet propaganda for collaboration with the Nazi and at the same time in the name of Russian nation accepts a heroic resistance and victory against Nazi Germany. However, Ukrainians and Russians have to share the victory as well as collaboration.
During the interview on Ukrinform on 22 June Vasyl Bodnar, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine to this end reminded of one historical fact that over 400 thousand ethnical Russians were fighting on the side of the Nazi Germany during World War II.   
The German historian summarized that V. Putin’s article is as if from the Soviet textbook of history. Andriy Melnyk, Ambassador of Ukraine to Germany, who participated in the same TV program, emphasized an obvious threat of the article to all Europe, because it is s signal that the Kremlin is ready to ‘move’ walls with involvement of military forces if the West does not agree with his cynical demand to recognize zones of influence of Moscow.
A continuation – projection of this situation is as follows. After the article in The National Interest V. Putin claimed that after separating from the collapsing Soviet Union each republic ‘brought along’ traditional historical territories of Russians (according to the President of Russia, when they joined the Soviet Union they got a lot of land). They had to leave with their ‘own’ instead of ‘grabbing’ gifts of the Russian nation.  
If we evaluated the new lessons of history (that are related first of all to Ukraine and Georgia) it is not strange that neighbours of Russia pricked up their ears. They pricked their ears too much that Drimtry Peskov, Press Secretary of the President of Russia had to explain that his boss had no territorial claims against the former Soviet republics; he was talking only about systemic shortcomings of the Soviet Constitution. If gifts were mentioned, let’s discuss about these gifts. In fact, if we talk about actual matters, they are particularly confused. They were confused namely by the Soviet Union dominated by Russia.  
Here are some facts. In July 1919 in the heat of the civil war Central Executive Committee of all Russia, nominally the highest Soviet authority in the territory of the former Russian empire, issued an order ‘About consolidation of Russian, Latvian, Lithuanian and Belarusian Soviet republics for the fight against global capitalism’. It should be noted that then the Bolsheviks didn’t think that their revolution would be limited only to the collapsed empire but would spread in other countries and finally in the whole world. This algorithm also includes unsuccessful march of the Red Army to Poland in 2020.       
In Soviet maps of 1918–1922 short-term political subdivisions used to emerge such as Lithuanian-Belarusian SSR (Litbel). Freely weird borders of Ukraine until it joined the USSR in 1922, for instance in 1919 four Chernigov Governorate regions ‘leaked’ from Russia. Therefore, in 1939 the Ukrainian SSR replenished with territories of the eastern Poland, in 1940 – Northern Bukovina that Romania had to give up under pressure of the Soviet Union and in 1944 – Transcarpathia that was given to the USSR by Czechoslovakia. The Crimea was transferred to Ukraine in 1954.     
Belarusian SSR in 1924-1926 ‘added’ Gomel and Mogilev Governorates. In 1939 the Soviets and Nazi shared Poland and it got eastern territories. After occupation of the Baltic States Joseph Stalin corrected the border of Lithuania and Belarus and transferred some regions to Lithuania, including the resort of Druskininkai. In 1944 J. Stalin decided to pass the area of Bialystok that at that time belonged to Belarusian SSR to pro-Soviet Poland.
Middle Asia was incorporated into the Russian SSR and existed under the rights of autonomic republics (Kazakhstan, Kirgizia – until 1936, Uzbekistan – until 1925, Tajikistan – until 1939 and Turkmenistan – until 1924). When Moscow decided to ‘freely interpret’ establishment of boarders of the Russian SSR, it can threaten to usurp all Middle East. Or part of it. In 1922 a Treaty establishing the Soviet Union was signed not by Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan but Transcaucasia Federation. Otherwise, do you forget the ‘lessons’ of the Crimea or territories torn away from Georgia?  
According to the Russian historian Boris Sokolov, if we interpret V. Putin’s speech in a quite wide way, the most scandalous statement of the ‘historian’ V. Putin that Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia joined the USSR voluntarily and according to all requirements of the international law applicable at that time .Occupation of the Baltic States and annexation varies from usurpation of eastern Poland or Bessarabia maybe just in the fact that these three republics were fully occupied (Poland and Romania actually have not disappeared from the political map). Occupation of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in the point of view of international law does not vary from occupation of Austria, Czechoslovakia and Denmark by the Nazi Germany.   
Even if it varies – to the benefit of the Nazi, they in Denmark that capitulated in 1940 allowed the local government to work until August 1943. By the way, the occupied Latvia and Estonia only did not get new territories (gifts, according to the President of Russia),  they actually had to give up their own territories – Latvia with Abrene town and six counties of Abrene region (Purvmalas, Linavas, Kacėnu, Upmalas, Gauru and Augšpils) that were included in the composition of the Russian USSR. The same year Petseri County in Estonia was occupied by Russians.
This is a rather weird if not tragicomical logic of the leader of Russia who has just secured ‘eternal presidency’ plebiscite and the ruling class of Russia. V. Putin’s Russia ignores real politics that was existing before World War II, which was based on imperial ambitions of the authoritarian regimes of that time, tries to ‘clean’ the Soviet Union by blaming everybody around them for the war and ignoring the chaos that was raised by the politics of the USSR also on the matters of territories. Any other interpretation of history made ‘not by Moscow’ and reasoned by historical facts still raise range to the President of Russia.  
The fact is that we should see V. Putin’s talks on topics of history as manifestations of the Russian imperial politics in post-Soviet environment.
The Baltic States, same as all European Union (and not only) do not approve the approach of the President of Russia. However, it is absolutely identical to the one published by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia. According to this statement (23/03/2019) that was designated to remember a common parade of Soviet and Nazi soldiers in Brest after successful occupation of Poland: thanks to a non-aggression Pact signed between the Soviet Union and Germany the war started in the limits of strategically more favourable territories of the USSR. Its population experienced terror of Nazis two years later and hundreds of thousands lives were saved.  
We have not much to add when we remember the scope of deportations of the eastern Europeans to Siberia as a result of Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.
So things are like this. In the Security Forum held at the beginning of May Vīķe-Freiberga, former President of Latvia, who participated in it in the discussion indicated that V. Putin got stuck in the time machine with all his imperialistic-chauvinist narratives. He admitted himself that he was raised by Soviet propaganda films and he hardly grew up to understand democracy and equality in rights of nations. Neighbours of Russia need to oppose objective facts against such a philosophy and political functioning.
This how the theory looks like. Prospects of life practice especially after voting in Russia regarding ‘eternal presidency’ of V. Putin are like in a fog. The rage of the President of Russia mentioned here unwillingly brings us back to the warning of the German historian about a serious danger of his speeches.   
 Arūnas Spraunius

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