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Observations on What Putin Gets Wrong When It Comes to Texas and Regarding Ukraine!

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Texas appears to be a more frequent topic of conversation in the Kremlin than one might imagine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin invoked the Lone Star State during a December press conference to support his country’s annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea. “Have Mexico and the United States never had territorial quarrels?” Who used to own California? And what about Texas?” Although few doubt Texas’s membership in the United States, Putin stated that the majority of countries continue to recognise Crimea as part of Ukraine.

This war is a result of Russia’s invasion of Crimea in 2014 and subsequent partial control of eastern Ukraine, which Russia has held, albeit defiantly. Putin decided to recognise Russian-backed separatist republics — the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics — and authorised military action “abroad” after amassing an estimated 190,000 troops on three borders of Ukraine. And now, Russia has launched an all-out onslaught against the European continent.

One of Putin’s primary rationales for military action should give us worry. He recently delivered an hour-long lecture in which he made a historically false assertion that Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin invented Ukraine and that the country does not have the right to exist within its internationally recognised borders. Russian state television broadcast fragmented maps of Ukraine described as “gifts” from Russian czars and Soviet rulers.

However, he is incorrect. Ukraine has a long and illustrious national history spanning more than 1,100 years. It is self-contained in terms of language, culture, and customs, not to mention its own national security interests. Putin lamented in his speech that Ukrainians have down Lenin statues in explicit actions of decommunization in recent years.Observations on What Putin Gets Wrong

He then issued a statement that was unmistakably meant to undermine Ukraine’s territorial integrity: “Would you like to be decommunized?” This is ideal for us. However, why stop halfway? We are prepared to demonstrate what true decommunization would entail for Ukraine.”

If Putin actually believes this version of history, which there are numerous indicators he does, then he views the annexation of additional Ukrainian territory as correcting a historical error. Spain, France, and Mexico would all be justified in initiating battles to recover Texas using that rationale.

To the majority, this notion appears ludicrous on the surface. Indeed, it is. However, as residents of a state whose iconography remembers a history of sovereignty under six distinct flags, Texans are uniquely qualified to comprehend the logic’s dire consequences.

Ukrainians are confronted with this twisted logic, which is backed up by the Russian military in its entirety. Texans should be shocked that a world leader is using fabricated historical grievances to deprive the people of a sovereign country self-determination.

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Putin is attempting to sell this conflict — primarily to his own people, but also to the international community — through this narrative. We must reject the notion that it is based on reality. There is a wealth of information available to us to aid us in that attempt.

It is premature to speculate on how or when this war will conclude. There is considerable bipartisan support for tough penalties against Russia, even if they are unlikely to affect the situation on the ground. In truth, there is little that the majority of us can do realistically. However, we can and must educate ourselves so that no one can ever use historical revisionism to justify killing.

Adeline Johnston is a PhD candidate in the University of Texas at Austin’s Department of History.

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