putin talks about Ukraine non-stop because russia has no history of its own – Snyder

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A kind of essay written by putin, in which he set out his vision of the history of Ukraine, Belarus and russia, historically speaking, is entirely without merit, said renowned historian and professor at Yale University Timothy Snyder.

“When I read it as a historian, the feeling I have is the same feeling I have when, for example, at a cocktail party I’m forced to speak to someone who has a very strong conviction about something in the past but doesn’t really know what he’s talking about. Normally, a historian in that situation simply smiles and nods and finds an excuse to walk away,” Snyder explained.

He noted that as putin heads an influential power, we have to take these views seriously. Not as history, because as history they’re laughable, but as politics, Snyder said.

“When we read this essay with care what we notice is that it’s really about an absence, it’s about the absence of a story of russia. There is no story of russia that putin is able to tell. What he is able to tell us is a story about some kind of encounter with Ukraine which somehow for mysterious reasons went wrong,” said Timothy Snyder.

“The second thing we notice in this article is that it is not about the future. This is a story about the past. And here we see some characteristics of putin’s regime: there is no future in putin’s story about russia, there is only a past, a mythical past,” he said.

According to the historian, the problem with the way putin tells his story is that Ukraine is there as a kind of crutch, Belarus is there as a kind of crutch too, because russia is unable to tell a story about itself and so the story that is told relies upon other peoples.

“What this is basically telling us is that russia invaded Ukraine because russians do not yet know who they are. russia under putin invaded Ukraine in order to be able to tell a kind of story about who russians are,” Snyder said.

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