Western media outlets have been promoting a particular perspective on the Ukraine conflict, but also on Vladimir Putin himself. Western media have a long history of attempting to demonise foreign leaders as ‘madmen’: for example Kim Jong Un or Bashar Al-Assad. This is done to obscure any reasons or motivations that a leader may have had for doing something to downplay any Western role, but also to set up a susceptibility to belief in possible future false flags (for who would gas their own civilians other than an unhinged maniac?) In fact, however, Putin has laid out his logic for the ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine, and this is what we are going to examine here.
A Note of Caution
Many people like to strawman individuals who are sceptical of the Ukraine narrative. So let’s state the obvious for the record: just because Putin says something, it does not mean it is true. Nor does it automatically mean that it is Putin’s sincere motive. This is blatantly obvious to everyone except MSM ideologues and their followers, but I will state it just in case. We should apply scepticism and critical thinking to Putin’s claims in the same way we apply them to Western claims.
Putin’s Speech on the ‘Special Military Operation’
Putin gave a 28 minute speech announcing his ‘Special Military Operation’ (his words) in Ukraine. The speech can be found with English subtitles here. I have summarised the main points below:
Putin’s speech starts with criticism of Western governments for expanding NATO closer to Russia’s borders, and claims that he wanted to work with the West on the issue of security. However, he follows up by stating that his proposals were rejected. To explain this, he goes back to the 1980s and the failing Soviet Union, which allowed the US to assert complete dominance. He then lists examples of the US/NATO unilateral military actions. He starts with the bombing of Belgrade by the US, then discussing Libya and Syria and then the invasion of Iraq. While discussing these examples he emphasises the illegality under international law.
He believes Russia in the 1990s was willing to be a partner, but instead of taking this on board the West tried to destroy Russia by supporting terrorism in the Caucasus. Putin insists that he has continued to make attempts to get NATO to not expand further but has failed. He then claims that the USSR was not fully prepared for war against the Nazis and that Putin will not make the same mistake. NATO has hardened its position against Russia, and so Russia must react to the threat. It is a matter of “life or death” for Russia, and NATO have crossed his red line.
Putin then returns to the topic of Donbass. Putin says that Russia has been trying to resolve the conflict there for 8 years but has failed and so is taking military action. He then adds that the West is supporting Nazis in Ukraine, and the threat being posed by NATO in Ukraine makes Russia’s actions defensive. They have been asked for help by the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. In order to protect them, Ukraine will be denazified and demilitarised but the territory will not be occupied. He tells Ukrainians he is not concerned with them but those who are in charge of the country.
Putin’s Truth Claims
If we apply our knowledge of history to Putin’s factual claims (rather than his motives, which are more difficult to assess, or the morals of his actions) we will find that Putin makes a large number of truth claims and reasonable extrapolations.
Point #1: NATO did expand to be closer to Russia’s border. Instead of just having united Germany in their alliance they added ex-Soviet countries Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as well as several ex-Warsaw Pact countries (such as Bulgaria, one of the most pro-Moscow Soviet states).
Point #2: NATO has destroyed multiple countries, including those highlighted by Putin (Yugoslavia/Serbia, Iraq, Libya, Syria). Putin reasonably extrapolates from this that NATO is a threat to Russia’s security. A military alliance that has a long history of being aggressive and murdering civilians is an obvious threat, especially since the West has lied about and demonised Russia. The situation in Syria is of particular relevance given that Russia intervened to help the Syrian government fight Islamic extremism.
Point #3: The Ukrainian Neo-Nazi problem. Putin is correct that Ukraine has a significant problem with Neo-Nazis. The mainstream media, while they have talked about Neo-Nazis in Ukraine, downplay the issue. Supporters of the Ukrainian government generally say that all Western countries have fascist/white supremacist groups, so that the fact that they exist in Ukraine is normal, if undesirable. They also complain that talking about the Neo-Nazi elements in Ukraine we are supporting Putin.
However, they ignore the fact that these groups (such as the Azov Battalion) are embedded within the Ukrainian military. They openly wear Neo-Nazi symbols, such as the ‘Wolfsangel’, which would not be allowed in any military organisation that was not infiltrated by Nazi influence, including Russia’s.
Even when they acknowledge the fact that it is embedded within Ukraine’s national guard forces, they generally state that it is a very small group and therefore not relevant. However, precisely how many of these Neo-Nazis there are is not they key question, it is their influence that is most relevant. The official Ukrainian National Guard account tweeted out a video of an Azov fighter dipping bullets in pig fat to kill Muslims:
More importantly, this article from Max Blumenthal and Alexander Rubenstein outlines the ways in which Neo-Nazi groups have significant influence over the government. It points out that Zelensky, when initially elected, tried to get the neo-Nazi brigades in Zolote to disarm, only to be threatened with more violence.
Instead of continuing down the road of trying to disarm or weaken the Neo-Nazi presence in the country, Zelensky came to accept and promote it.
Putin is also correct when he points to the West’s support for such Neo-Nazi groups in Ukraine. This was most obvious during the 2014 coup, when US figures like Victoria Nuland and John McCain met with far right individuals such as Oleh Tyahnybok.
Point #4: The killing of civilians in Donbass. Many critics of Putin’s actions are simply ignoring the Donbass region, pointing to alleged war crimes by the Russians but ignoring the same in the Donbass.
Contrary to the mainstream media, which acts as if Russia started the conflict in Ukraine, there was already a war in Ukraine. This is the conflict between the Kiev government and the separatists in the Donbass region. In short, the separatists in Donbass wish to be independent from the Ukraine government due to their hostility to Russian speakers. The Ukraine government has committed violence against those areas wishing to be independent, including killing many civilians. Independent journalists such as Patrick Lancaster have documented this through video footage and interviews.
Of course, the Neo-Nazis in Ukraine are part of this campaign to terrorise civilians in the Donbass, given that they see Russians as ethnically inferior to Ukrainians.
Putin has highlighted many points in his speech that are factually true, and form a rational basis for invasion of Ukraine (regardless of one’s moral stance on the question). NATO aggression in other countries and the expansion of such a military alliance is a logical reason for Putin’s actions and explains them without having to resort to calling Putin a maniac or madman. Whether he is sincere about denazifying Ukraine remains to be seen, although it is valid to sceptical of this claim due to Putin’s authoritarianism (though, pace Western media claims, he is is not a fascist or Neo-Nazi).
Part 3 of this article will discuss the biggest and most difficult questions of this whole Ukraine issue and that is its connection with the Covid narrative. There is a large debate in independent media about Putin’s stance on ‘The Great Reset’ and his alleged opposition or support for this. Part 3 will look at the evidence.