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At a time when his forces were prepared to conduct a “special military operation,” Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a forceful speech to his people in which he articulated the rationale for the war on Ukraine.
The phrases “Nazi” and “Neo-Nazi” were used seven times in his speech.
Putin cast the war as a necessity rather than a choice, reminding Russians of the horrific Nazi invasion of the 1940s, which cost the Soviet Union millions of deaths and resulted in the loss of “strategically crucial” territory.
Later, in a statement to the Ukrainian army’s commanders, Putin stated that “reaching an agreement between us will be easier if you take power,” adding that “Russia is battling terrorists and neo-Nazis in Ukraine.”
Causes of War
Putin’s address was dominated by historical ideas, with “the disarmament and de-Nazification of Ukraine” being one of the specific aims he outlined for his war. Putin stated that NATO countries have sponsored ultra-nationalists and neo-Nazis in Ukraine to achieve their interests and that they will not forgive the citizens of Crimea and Sevastopol for opting for reunification with Russia.
“President Putin decided to launch this special military operation to disarm Ukraine and liberate it from Nazism so that the Ukrainians, liberated from this oppression, can freely decide their destiny,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a press conference with pro-Russian separatist officials in eastern Ukraine on Friday.
According to a Middle East article, charges of Neo-Nazism spreading in Ukraine infuriated Kyiv and surprised its friends. Putin’s detractors saw the claims as a ruse to legitimize the conflict, pointing out that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is a Jew who lost three family members in the Holocaust.
Putin, according to Kyiv’s friends, is presenting misleading excuses by combining historical components with current realities in Ukraine.
While Ukrainian nationalists fought alongside the Nazis during WWII, assisting the Germans in the arrest of Jewish citizens and helping to put down the Warsaw Uprising in the summer of 1944, there is no evidence that the Ukrainian authorities today support a “Nazi philosophy,” as Lavrov put it, or the spread of extremist ideology sympathetic to the Nazis among Kyiv’s decision-makers.