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Myths and realities of Putinism and NATO expansion

Vladislav Zubok

Englesberg Ideas

7 min


6 May 2022

Original Content 

Two myths became intertwined in Putin’s mind by February 2022 which led to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The first involves Ukrainian ‘Nazis’ who allegedly seized power in Ukraine, with assistance from the West, and oppressed ‘Russians’ in Donbass. The other concerns US global hegemony, finding an eager collaborator in ‘Nazified’ Ukraine and using NATO as its main instrument against Russia. In his article published in July 2021, titled ‘On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians’, Vladimir Putin wrote: ‘Ukraine was dragged into a dangerous geopolitical game aimed at turning [it] into a barrier between Europe and Russia, a springboard against Russia.’ For the Russian leader, the ‘Nazis’ of Ukraine and the geopolitical calculations of Washington and its Eastern European allies were two sides of the same coin. Russia had been continuously deceived, Putin argued, its influence in its very neighbourhood ignored. The only option was to use force.

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