Staunton, Dec. 24 – Many have suggested that what Vladimir Putin is doing in Ukraine is the start of World War III, but in fact, Leonid Gozman argues, it is a continuation of World War II and his effort to become the heir of the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century and turn back the clock of world history.
It is critically important to recognize that fact, the opposition Russian politician and commentator says, because “the Second World War was a special war. Unlike the first and certainly the majority of wars in history, it from the outset” wasn’t primarily about territorial conquest (novayagazeta.eu/articles/2022/12/24/zaveshchanie-vtoroi-mirovoi).
World War II was “a war of democracy against totalitarianism,” and so is the struggle of Ukraine and its Western backers today, Gozman says. “Had the Hitlerite coalition won, it wouldn’t have been a world with different borders as after the majority of wars; it would have been a different world.” And the same thing is true now.
Neither conflict could end without “the complete defeat of one of the sides” because what each represented was anathema to the other; and they couldn’t possibly live together “on one planet.” Except for Hitler’s “insane anti-Semitism,” Putin’s Russia is the same in all other regards, the opposition commentator says.
There is the same “phantastic cruelty” against civilians, the same “anger,” and the same conviction that attacking the enemy’s cities, be it London in the case of Hitler or Kyiv in the case of Putin, will be sufficient to cause these peoples to surrender. The words coming out of the Kremlin now are exactly the same on this point as those coming out of Hitler’s secretariat.
Like Hitler, Putin denies the right of entire countries and peoples to exist. “There is no Ukrainian people: it is only part (a weakly developed one?) of the Russian; and there is no language, and no country would have existed had Lenin not invented it. That means, it must not be. “Just like Molotov’s words about Poland. True, he was mistaken and Poland didn’t die.”
Again like Hitler, Putin insists that what he has done is because others left him with no choice and that he is only defending himself and his country. And in other repetitions of the Nazi past, Putin is talking about enemies of the people and traitors; and he has launched a struggle against “incorrect art and “incorrect books.”
And again, like Hitler, Putin is talking about dying for one’s country as the highest value. Again, there is the unconstrained power of the special services, repression and fear, farce instead of justice and lies about everything.
It is said that “in this war, Russia has no allies,” Gozman continues. But “this is not entirely true.” While no one wants to fight alongside Russia, many are Putin’s ideological allies, including Iranian ayatollahs, Maduro, Kim Jong Un, and to a large extent the leadership of China. In this, they are like Stalin who saw Hitler and he had so much in common.
All those who supported Hitler 80 years ago and who back Putin now “are united by hatred to freedom, a conviction of their right to decide the fate of others, and in the insignificance of human beings and whole peoples.” They dream of an order in which they will dictate their will to everyone.
According to Gozman, “the victory over Hitler in the coalition with democracies prevented Comrade Stalin from putting a complete fascist regime in the USSR. He almost did so but all the same not to the end. He was opposed by the spirit of freedom which came with the victors – and that’s why he hated them so much.”
Then Stalin died, but his successors have continued that effort especially now under Putin who views Western leaders as weak and indecisive just as Hitler viewed the Chamberlains and Deladiers. “If Putin wins, he will not stop, just as Hitler didn’t stop at the Sudetenland and Austria. As was true then, this war is one for the destruction of democracy and freedom.”
“The outcome of the current war will depend on whether people understand” that they are fighting the same war that Churchill promised must end with victory no matter how long and how much sacrifice was required, Gozman concludes.