Vladimir Putin, 69, has blamed revolutionary hero Lenin for eastern Ukraine not becoming part of Russia. – He has a distorted picture of history, says a professor.
At a conference in Kaliningrad on Thursday, Putin laid out his historical interpretations of Russia and Ukraine in a conversation with students. Gazeta.ru.
Putin says that people living in the Donbass, namely the two districts of Luhansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, consider themselves part of the “common humanitarian, cultural and linguistic space of the Russian world.”
– President Putin says that Ukraine was never a country before the formation of the Soviet Union.
– No state. After the revolution in 1917, all kinds of quasi-states were created, and then Ukraine arose when the Soviet Union was formed, Putin says.
– Don’t want to
According to him, “a significant part of historically Russian territories, including the Donbass, was transferred to Ukraine, although the inhabitants of the Donbass did not want it.”
– Luhansk and Donetsk should actually become part of Russia. But then Vladimir Lenin said “we must reconsider it”. Later they gave this area to Ukraine.
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, 90 percent of the population voted for an independent Ukraine. In 2014, Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula, and later two Moscow-loyal “people’s republics” were established in the two districts of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Professor Emeritus Christian Gerner at Lund University knows a lot about Russian and Ukrainian history. He tells VG:
– Putin has a completely distorted image. Gerner says he doesn’t understand history.
– Don’t give anything away
The professor explains:
– Until the revolution and civil war in 1917, there was no Ukrainian state, as we all know. But Putin says Ukraine should have been under Russia, but the borders were drawn in 1922. There were two new republics. Gerner says that Lenin gave Ukraine nothing.
He traces the lines back to the so-called Kievan Empire (882-1240) and establishes that the Kievan state was long part of the Polish-Lithuanian Empire – and therefore not under Russian control. It was also partly under Austria.
The Russian Empire was founded in 1721 by Peter I of Russia and lasted until the overthrow of Tsar Nicholas II in the Russian Revolution in 1917.
– Soviet republics of Russia and Ukraine were created at the same time. When the Soviet Union dissolved, everyone agreed that the new countries should have the same borders as the Soviet republics of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus.
– What do you think about Crimea?
– When the Soviet Union was founded, Crimea was annexed to Russia. But Nikita Khrushchev chose in 1954 to transfer Crimea to the Ukrainian Soviet Republic. Back then, boundaries meant nothing. According to Leonid Kravchuk, the last leader of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic and the first leader of the new Ukraine, it was easy to support Crimea from the Ukrainian side.
– Putin can say whatever he wants, but he doesn’t understand history. He is a fundamentalist.
Professor Zerner says Putin’s statements confirm either subjugation of the whole of Ukraine or the installation of a “quisling regime”.
– This would be terrible, because it would mean that the war would continue until Putin was gone. Can’t get off target without taking out Putin. This is particularly alarming for Norway, which shares a border with Russia, says Christian Gerner of Lund University.
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Putin says Ukraine threatened Russia with war:
– Our mission, our mission, the mission of our soldiers, the fighters in Donbass, is to stop this war, to protect the people. And of course to protect Russia itself, because on the territory of today’s Ukraine they began to create an anti-Russian enclave that threatens our country, says Putin students.
He emphasizes that Russian soldiers are risking their health and lives.
– They must understand what they are giving their lives for. This is very important. To Russia and the people living in Donbas, says Vladimir Putin, according to Gazeta.ru.
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