Defeating the Russian Bearhemoth in the Historiverse

As an expert on the European far right, the author analyzes the importance of the German-Soviet pact of 1939, also known as the “Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact”, the real trigger for WWII according to him. If one of the signatories — Nazi Germany — has lost the war, the other one — Stalin’s USSR — has emerged victorious. The researcher states, the cult of victory in WWII serving the ideological basis of Putin’s power must be dismantled, and Ukraine has a leading role to play in with.

The established time frame of the Second World War tells us that the war started on September 1, 1939, when the Third Reich invaded Poland, and ended with the formal surrender of Japan on September 2, 1945. This time frame is a wishful illusion.

The Second World War started with the signing of the document that outlined a new order in Europe as envisioned by the Third Reich and the Soviet Union. The document, known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, was signed on August 23, 1939 and divided North-Eastern and Central-Eastern Europe into the spheres of influence of the Third Reich and the Soviet Union. Given the politico-geographic alignments, the implementation of the Pact unequivocally implied a global conflict, so the German and Soviet leaders were perfectly aware that, by signing the Pact, they were throwing dozens of millions of lives into the furnace of war.

The Second World War started precisely at the moment when the two totalitarian regimes agreed to jointly kill millions of people.

The deliberate planning of a war of aggression was one of the crimes that cost the German signatory of the Pact, Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, his life: he was sentenced to death by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg in 1946. However, neither the Soviet signatory of the Pact, Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov, nor any Soviet leader was ever tried or even condemned for the deliberate planning of a war of aggression and war crimes committed by the Soviets during the Second World War.

When the Soviet Union and the liberal West declared victory in the Second World War, they implied two contrasting victories. The West celebrated an alleged victory over the aggression that started in September 1939. The Soviets celebrated a victory in the war that they themselves started that year. As a result of their victory, the Soviets obtained even more European territories to add to their sphere of influence than their 1939 agreement with the Nazis had entailed. And, in disregard of its direct involvement in the ignominious war crimes, the Soviet Union was allowed by the West to occupy significant parts of Eastern, Central and Northern Europe.

That was truly a Faustian pact that resulted in the invention of the false yet unfortunately widely accepted “anti-fascist” narrative that the Soviets liberated half of Europe from fascism1. That was a misconception if not self-deception. In the same vein, in 1941, fascists claimed they liberated Croatia by creating the puppet “Independent State of Croatia” headed by people loyal to them.

What the Soviets called “liberation” was straightforward occupation. By allowing the Soviets to occupy half of Europe and, thus, enjoy a total victory in the Second World War, the democratic West agreed to have only a partial victory in the war. Only with the defeat of both the Third Reich and the Soviet Union would have the democratic West truly triumphed.

The destruction of the socialist bloc in 1989-1991 did bring the democratic West closer to a more comprehensive victory in the Second World War. The economically exhausted Soviet Union crept away from the European territories it occupied and eventually fell apart.

But Russia, the major legal successor of the Soviet Union, never admitted its guilt and responsibility for the start of the war and occupation. There was no International Military Tribunal on Soviet war crimes; Russia never paid reparations to the countries the Soviets occupied; the totalitarian ideology of communism, unlike fascism, was not internationally condemned. Russia has not suffered the defeat it should have suffered.

After a few years of theatrical flirtation with democracy, the Russian leadership decided to regain the Soviet might. It was not about restoring the Soviet Union — it was about regaining Soviet geopolitical power. Neither was it about reviving communism. What Vladimir Putin eventually managed to create is the chimeric Bearhemoth whose monstrous enormity constitutes its raison d’être.

To compensate for the ideological hollowness of the monster he created, Putin turned the Soviet victory in the Second World War into a cult, and that cult — devoid of any comprehension of the immense suffering that the Soviet aggression and occupation had brought to Europe, yet filled with fabrications of Soviet “anti-fascism” — became the founding dualistic myth of the Bearhemoth. It is this manipulated dualism that slanders as “fascists” and “Nazis” all the nations who refuse to be fed or submit to the “anti-fascist” Bearhemoth. And this is why the Kremlin interprets today’s Russian occupation and annexation of Ukrainian territories as “liberation from fascism” — the very same lie that the Soviets used with regard to the European territories they invaded, occupied and annexed.

To defeat the Bearhemoth and deliver justice to Europe, we need to strike at the very heart of its mythology. We need to denounce the double lie of the “Soviet victory over fascism” and “Soviet liberation of Europe”. We need to ultimately pronounce the Soviet Union as the Third Reich’s equal partner in crime and condemn the Soviet invasion and occupation of European nations.

Ukraine, which is heroically fighting for its freedom and sovereignty against the Russian genocidal invasion, is the key factor in the fight against Russian imperialism and colonialism. Without any doubt, Ukraine must not only defend itself from the invasion, but it should also defeat Russia on the battlefield, and Western military, political and economic assistance is of vital importance in this effort.

But there is something else that Ukraine needs to do — and only Ukraine can actually do this — in order to contribute to its own victory and to help the entire West to defeat the Bearhemoth in the historiverse.

Ukraine was one of the four co-founders of the Soviet Union and, therefore, bears responsibility for the Soviet crimes against Europe perpetrated throughout decades. At the same time, as a legal successor of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic and, partially, a legal successor of the USSR, Ukraine is in a unique position to condemn this part of its own history and, by doing so, blow up the foundation of Soviet mythology.

Acknowledging its own involvement in the Soviet crimes and speaking on behalf of the former Soviet power, Ukraine will condemn the Nazi-Soviet Pact that paved the way for the Second World War and offer apologies to the European countries occupied by the Soviets after 1945.

Furthermore, as the Ukrainian SSR [Soviet Socialist Republic] was also a founding member of the United Nations, Ukraine needs to use the UN platform to start the process of the total condemnation of the Soviet Union and its ideology. Such a process should result in an international tribunal on the Soviet Union.

In 2015, Ukraine adopted the so-called de-communisation laws, but their implementation has so far been largely cosmetic, superficial and ultimately reactionary. Today, we need profound, radical and revolutionary de-Sovietisation, and Ukraine is best placed to initiate such a process on a global scale. Not only will this finally deliver justice to Europe, but this will also deprive the Russian Bearhemoth of its mythological foundation.

Anton Shekhovtsov is the Director of the Center for Democratic Integrity (Austria), a Senior Fellow at the Free Russia Foundation (USA), an expert at the European Platform for Democratic Elections (Germany), and an Associate Researcher at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs (Sweden).

Footnotes

  1. In Soviet discourse, the term “fascism” refers to both Italian fascism and Hitler’s Nazism.

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