JRL NEWSWATCH: “How Putin’s Obsession With History Led Him to Start a War” – WSJ

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

“Long-winded, often factually erroneous arguments back his conviction that Russia has a historic right to Ukraine”

“[In his] two-hour interview with Tucker Carlson … Putin recounted events of centuries past and trotted out 17th-century documents … expounding on deeply held views about the past, many widely disputed by historians, that have driven him to launch the continent’s bloodiest conflict since World War II. Putin’s obsession with the history of Ukraine and the Slavic peoples is far from new. In 2008 … Putin [asked the] then-U.S. Ambassador … ‘Don’t you know … Ukraine is not even a real country?’ …. Maidan Square and Monument in Kyiv, adapted from usembassy.gov imagePutin’s moves since — from his initial [2014] invasion … and the annexation of Crimea to the full-scale war … launched in 2022 — all stem from this …. Putin’s historical views … have deep roots in the Russian Empire’s historical narrative [from a time when] [t]he very name Ukraine and the printing of books and newspapers in Ukrainian were illegal …. [Putin reportedly] spent an inordinate amount of time during the Covid-19 pandemic poring over historical texts … [and creating his July 2021] treatise, ‘On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians’ … [which was] read … to every member of the Russian armed forces ahead of the invasion. Putin’s long-winded … often factually erroneous explanations in … the Carlson interview essentially repeated [its] main talking points … often with … even more extreme modifications and additional historical revisionism, such as saying that Hitler had no choice but to invade Poland in 1939 and trigger World War II. …”

The author goes on to argue that the question of Ukrainian identity is central to Russia’s foundational myth and current politics.

Click here for: “How Putin’s Obsession With History Led Him to Start a War” – Wall Street Journal: Yaroslav Trofimov