How typical of the jingoists in the UK media to start comparing Vladimir Putin with Adolf Hitler over his invasion of Ukraine.
Don’t get me wrong – This Writer and This Site do not approve of the invasion; it should not have happened and represents a failure of democracy, on both sides.
But now that it has happened, it seems some opportunistic, unscrupulous commentators are keen to skew public opinion by presenting a false comparison of Russian president Vladimir Putin with the 20th century German dictator Adolf Hitler.
“It’s 1939 all over again,” they say. “Like Hitler, Putin is a dictator who thinks the West will try to appease him, no matter what he does. So he annexed the Crimea like Hitler annexed the Sudatenland – and now he has invaded Ukraine like Hitler invaded Poland.”
Well, the Crimea is a complicated matter. It was handed to Ukraine by Nikita Kruschev – himself a Ukrainian – because he believed the country of his birth had had a rough time of it in the USSR. Many believed he was wrong to do this and now believe Putin was right to take it back.
The comparison of Ukraine with Poland is similarly twisted – and I wonder if that is at least partly to take attention away from the fact that there is a much more appropriate comparison to be made – with the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.
Instead of comparing Putin with Hitler, we should be drawing parallels with US president John F Kennedy.
In 1962, Kennedy narrowly avoided a nuclear war over the positioning of a Russian missile base in Cuba – right on the border of the United States. He was able to negotiate with Kruschev (for it was he, again) for the dismantling of the base in return for certain reassurances and the crisis was averted.
Putin has stated all through the Ukraine crisis that he was concerned about the positioning of Nato troops on Russia’s borders, which he sees as a threat to his nation’s security – just as Kennedy saw Soviet ballistic missiles sited on Cuba as a threat to the United States.
Fortunately for Kennedy, Kruschev was a reasonable man – or at least, more reasonable than current US president Joe Biden, UK prime minister Boris Johnson, and Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg have been.
If we’re going to make comparisons, let’s make them accurate. And this one certainly casts a different complexion on the current crisis.
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