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‘Putin’s Ribbentrop’ emphasizes Moscow still wants all of Ukraine, Portnikov says

Vladimir Putin awarding Sergey Lavrov at the Kremlin, Moscow, Russia. May 21, 2015 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) awarding the country’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R). Moscow, Russia, 21 May 2015 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
‘Putin’s Ribbentrop’ emphasizes Moscow still wants all of Ukraine, Portnikov says
Edited by: A. N.

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov says Moscow will not recognize the Donbas “republics” because to do so would be “to lose all the rest of Ukraine and leave it to the Nazis,” a clear indication from “Putin’s Ribbentrop” that the Kremlin wants to control all of Ukraine and not just part of it, Vitaly Portnikov says.

That is not surprising, of course, the Ukrainian commentator says. It has long been the conclusion of Ukrainian and Western analysts; but now Lavrov has confirmed it and in a way that makes his words even more threatening to the people of Ukraine.

As Russia has done so often, before it invades another country, Moscow insists that it is saving that country from a regime its population hates, Portnikov continues. What Lavrov has said is simply a reiteration of that approach, as is his insistence that Ukraine is preparing a provocation involving military force against Russia.

“This accusation is a direct indication,” the Ukrainian commentator says, “that Russia has not ceased its preparations for a direct military invasion of Ukraine and has not forgotten about a land corridor to occupied Crimea,” however much some would like to believe otherwise on the basis of Kremlin propaganda.

The references to Nazism are especially important, Russian commentator Anton Orekh says for what they say about Moscow’s thinking and about its assumptions concerning the Russian people. Lavrov mentioned Nazis in Ukraine four times, an indication this reflects the views of Russia.

And Lavrov insisted, Orekh continues, that the Poroshenko “regime” displays all aspects of Nazism and not just some. Thus one must look for racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, homophobia, the supremacy of the Ukrainian nation, the use of symbols from the Third Reich and praise for Adolf Hitler.

That is obviously absurd, although those who believe it aren’t going to be susceptible to rational arguments. “But Lavrov isn’t insane,” Orekh says. And that means “there must be a cause for a serious statesman to say such things.”

In fact, there is, Orekh says. And it is simple: “We must explain why Ukraine suddenly was transformed into an enemy. We must explain why we seized Crimea and why we support the revolt in the Donbas” – and do so in a way that even the densest will understand and immediately accept.

“Our chief historical achievement,” the Russian commentator says, “is the victory over the fascists and Nazis. And propaganda mobilizes this aesthetic. For not only in Ukraine do Nazis rule. There are Nazis in the Baltics, Nazis in Poland, Nazis practically everywhere where people don’t agree with us.”

In reality, there are no more Nazis in any of these places than there are in Russia – and perhaps even fewer – but Lavrov and his ilk find it useful to use this ideological model about others rather than about anyone in Russia today.

Further Reading:

Edited by: A. N.
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