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Following in Hitler’s steps, is Putin heading to the same dead end?

In a razor-sharp analysis, CNN’s John Blake sheds light on how Russia’s president Vladimir Putin, while having visions of his grandeur that would put him on the Russian pantheon as the founding father of USSR vol. 2, has been committing the same strategic and tactical blunders as another dictator some 80 years ago — Adolf Hitler.

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Beguiling Russians into reliving the WWII anti-Nazi narrative to justify, and absolutely unfoundedly, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, “Putin is committing some of the same blunders that doomed Germany’s 1941 invasion of the USSR,” CNN’s John Blake wrote, referring to scholars and military historians’ remarks that the stratagems applied by the Kremlin’s top man hail from the toolbox of the unaccomplished-watercolourist-gone-dictator of Austrian origin.

“He hasn’t paid enough attention to the lessons of the ‘Great Patriotic War’ he reveres,” Blake pointed out.

Poor logistics

The first mistake marring Putin’s dream of grandeur has been weak logistics and underestimation of his foe. Just like Hitler had thought highly of himself and his troops, so did Putin envisaging the capturing of Kyiv would take a couple of days. Despite a massive and successful encirclement of Stalingrad and taking 700,000 Soviet prisoners of war, the German army “failed to set up sufficient supply lines for the vast distances and harsh terrain of the Soviet Union.” Malequipped for the harsh Russian winter, hosts of German soldiers would suffer frostbites or freeze to death.

Although the matter of clothing may not be an issue for the Russian troops amidst the ongoing struggle in Ukraine, they sure are undersupplied — something confirmed by numerous footage demonstrating Russian soldiers looting shops and businesses in the territories under their occupation.

Just like Hitler’s tanks had run out of fuel, so the Russian vehicles were drying their petrol reserves as soon as the fortnight from February 24 — day zero of the invasion.

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The volume of Russia’s brutality speaks volumes

The footage of the Russian army’s ruthless bombing of civilian targets has been giving what Putin dubbed a “special de-Nazification operation” very bad press.

“Russia’s army has been accused of bombing hospitals, shopping malls, apartment buildings and a theatre with the word “children” written in Russian on the exterior of the building. Russia has also been accused of trying to starve a Ukrainian city into submission by blocking humanitarian relief,” CNN wrote.

By authorising such indiscriminate acts of war crime and giving his FM Sergei Lavrov the leeway to stick to the absurd argument that children’s hospitals were hideouts for “Neonazis”, allowed many countries and communities around the globe to sympathise with Ukrainians, alienated his potential allies even in Ukraine, where many families not only speak Russian but also have relatives in the Russian Federation.

In spoiling rapport with potential allies in Ukraine, Putin followed in Hitler’s footsteps who also could have counted on support from vast numbers of Soviet citizens who suffered under Stalinist terror — a chance that he had jeopardised with his army’s indiscriminate brutality.

Twisted language and the Big Lie

As CNN’s Blake noted, a year prior to the invasion of Ukraine Putin issued an essay entitled “On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians” with the aim of conditioning Ukraine’s independence on a partnership with Russia. Putin believes that the Ukrainian language is not an independent one but a dialect of Russian. The ideological narrative of the Kremlin string-puller rings with similar notes to those of Hitler’s Mein Kampf tune.

Blake cites Avi Garfinkel, a reporter for Haaretz, who in her article entitled “How Putin’s Ukraine Agenda Evokes Hitler’s Mein Kampf.” noted that “like the Führer, the president of Russia bemoans the tragedy that has befallen his homeland, an erstwhile empire, and he too wants to turn back the clock.”

Moreover, with mass support rallies and ardent statements of support from TV anchors and hosts, Putin makes use of Hitler’s favourite rhetoric technique — the Big Lie. The stratagem’s bottom line is that a lie repeated with a good deal of confidence a couple of times by a figure of authority becomes true for the audience. “Tell a lie so big that people will not believe that you would ever try to deceive them on such a grand scale” was Hitler’s rule of thumb, as Blake wrote citing historian Timothy Snyder.

And the lie told by Putin that allegedly Ukraine is ruled by a Nazi government is truly a big one. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky is himself a Jew and his relatives perished in the Holocaust.

Whether Putin’s mimicry of Hitler’s failed tricks will lead him to a similar end remains unknown, albeit the recent withdrawal of Russian forces from the Kyiv oblast provokes some hopes that the Kremlin dictator’s demise is already brewing.

To read John Blake’s article on CNN, click here.

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