David Low named his political cartoon describing the German-Russian invasion of Poland that started the WW2 - "Rendezvous." The cartoon depicts a meeting by the two allied Nazi-Soviet dictators over the corpse of a Polish defender. Hitler says to Stalin while smiling, lifting his hat and bowing: "The Scum of the Earth, I believe?" and Stalin responds to him "The Bloody Assassin of the Workers, I presume?" while smiling, bowing and lifting his in kind. The secret agreement on the division of Poland that was part of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was not yet known, but nonetheless, Low recognized what happened and drew it in this work. (Image: The Evening Standard (UK), September 20, 1939 issue)
Moscow analyst Yury Mukhin offers an historical analogy which says far more than he intends. In a new commentary, he argues that it was British support for Poland, not the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between Hitler and Stalin, that was responsible for the outbreak of World War II in Europe.
Had Britain not committed itself to defend Poland against aggression, he suggests, Warsaw would have been compelled to accede to German demands and war would not have broken out. And if London refuses to back Ukraine, Kyiv will have to come to an agreement with Moscow and once again war can be avoided.
By making this analogy between the events of 1939 and those of today, Mukhin unwittingly invites the conclusion that Putin’s Russia, just like Hitler’s Germany, felt compelled to invade Ukraine because the Ukrainians like the Poles thought that the West would come to their aid and prevent or at least repel such actions and did not accede to reasonable demands.
He thus implicitly acknowledges that Moscow made demands of Ukraine like those Hitler made of Poland and that the actions of both Putin and Hitler were thus legitimate, an equation amazing from someone in a country which commemorates what it calls “the Great Fatherland War” as the unifying event of national life.
Further, Mukhin implies that any government committing itself to the defense of another against outside aggression is in the wrong if the author of the aggression is stronger than the target of that aggression and is itself to blame for the war rather than the one that has launched the invasion.
And finally, he goes even further than the notorious Andranik Migranyan did a few years ago when the Russian propagandist then in New York, said the world must distinguish between a “good” Hitler up to his invasion of Poland and a “bad” one after that time.
Joint Soviet-Nazi military parade in Poland. The history of Russian aggression.
If one follows Mukhin’s logic, what Hitler did in Poland was justified – and of course, what Stalin did in conjunction with him, was too – because the British should not have supported Poland and thus been the chief cause of World War II in Europe rather than it being a playing out of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and its secret protocols dividing the continent.
Those in the West who oppose helping Ukraine defend itself against aggression lest it “provoke” Putin need to recognize the exact nature of Russian “logic” about such things. Putin will feel “provoked” whenever he wants to be and regardless of what anyone does. And he will blame others for the wars that he himself has caused.
Britain’s willingness to go to war to defend Poland against aggression in 1939 was one of its finest hours; a failure by Britain or the West more generally now to help Ukraine defend itself against Russian aggression would not be – and it would only delay but not prevent the broader war Putin appears to want.
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Tags: crimes against humanity, crimes of the Soviet communist regime, Great Britain, History, Hitler, international, Poland, Putin, Putin's confrontation with the West, Russia, Russia-Poland relations, Russian militarism, Russo-Ukrainian War (2014-present), Soviet history, Soviet imperialism, Stalin, UK