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Is Putin Becoming a Modern-Day Hitler?

Si Putin es Hitler, negociar con él será contraproducente. Imagen: FE/EPA/RUSSIAN DEFENCE MINISTRY PRESS SERVICE

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As the days go by, the war in Ukraine becomes more vicious. The Russian Army is directly murdering civilians, and any justification or pretext that Moscow’s intentions were limited to “protecting” the Russian-speaking people of Luhansk and Donetsk has been completely destroyed by the weight of reality and the scale of the attacks.

The clear, undeniable, blunt fact is that Vladimir Putin seeks the absolute submission of Ukraine. He wants it destroyed, disarmed, thrown at his feet. The statements and actions of the Russian regime in recent weeks have made it clear that they intend to recover the old borders of the Soviet empire, to build new international balances, at the expense of sovereign nations, and to crush those who stand in their way.

In the paroxysm of its whim, the Kremlin has gone so far as to launch more or less subtle threats against Sweden, Finland, and essentially any country that dares to confront its expansionist project. As a result, among the reactions of diplomats and analysts, the comparison between the Vladimir of today and the Adolf of the last century is increasingly emerging. The question, which a few years ago would have been dismissed with derisive smiles, today merits increasingly serious reflection.

What if Putin is Hitler?

This is not a simple fallacy ad hitlerium, nor a mere insult of the kind that fills political debates on social networks. It is a serious question, the implications of which are very profound for all of humanity. What if Putin chooses to become a Hitler? That is, what if Vladimir, in a manner similar to Adolf 90 years earlier, opts for military aggression as the way to consolidate his political project on a continental scale?

The similarities are there for all to see. The Russian propaganda machine justified the invasion of Ukraine under the pretext of taking care of ethnic Russians and preserving the space of influence of the Russian nation, an argument very similar to that of lebensraum or living space raised by National Socialist Germany as a banner for its invasions.

Seen in this light, the invasion of Ukraine has several similarities with Hitler’s attacks against Austria and Czechoslovakia, which served to test the reaction of the European powers and the United States, as he consolidated his military positions under the pretext of a supposed ethnic brotherhood. At that time, the European reaction was one of cowardice. They essentially indulged Hitler, hoping that such triumphs on their borders would reassure him.

We know that this was not the case. The easy conquests of Austria and Czechoslovakia consolidated the national socialist myth in the minds of the Germans and increased the appetite of Hitler and his gang, who turned their sights to larger territories. By yielding to the tyrant, the governments of France and the United Kingdom committed the worst diplomatic blunder in their modern history. By humiliating themselves to avoid war, they were left with humiliation and war.

Now, although it is obvious to us, almost a century later, that an unscrupulous psychopath like Hitler must be stopped from the start, the Europeans of the 1930s did not have the advantage of our history books. It is very easy to condemn the protagonists when we know in advance what the plot will turn out to be. It is much more difficult to take a strong position when that history has not yet been written.

putin hitler
1.5 million people have had to flee Ukraine. If Putin is Hitler, these scenes will be repeated across Europe. (Image: EFE)

And this brings me back to the initial question of this article: What if Putin is Hitler?

If the answer is yes, and indeed the Russian warlord is willing to destroy everything in exchange for consolidating his empire, the scenario of the current crisis becomes infinitely more complicated, because, unlike his colleague Adolf, Putin has one of the largest nuclear arsenals in the world, and has already tacitly threatened to use it.

From the very beginning of the invasion against Ukraine, the Russian regime threatened those who support the Ukrainian army with never-before-seen consequences, and this implies a massive threat to life on this planet. It’s as simple as that: in 1938, Hitler had tanks and bombers capable of launching a blitzkrieg to crush France, Belgium, and Poland in a matter of weeks. Putin has the warheads to char hundreds of millions of people in a matter of minutes.

So, the correct response would be to “let him do it,” to prevent him from using that arsenal, right? No. It’s not that simple.

If the West opts for prudence and allows Putin to keep control of Ukraine, politicians in Washington, London, Paris, and Berlin may be able to celebrate that same “peace for our time” that Chamberlain boasted of in 1938, but at the very high cost of betraying the people of Ukraine, in exchange for the mere postponement of an inevitable conflict.

Putin has already publicly stated that the independence of the nations that were subject to the Soviet Union was a mistake, and a little common sense is enough to understand that the Russian gamble will not stop in Ukraine. Perhaps the Moscow bear will entertain itself for a few months devouring the Ukrainian people and institutions, but sooner or later it will turn its greedy gaze towards Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, or the Baltic republics. And its next attack will be fueled by the pride and “legitimacy” of its conquest in Ukraine.

In other words, if Putin is Hitler, giving him Ukraine will only strengthen him, and sooner rather than later Europe and the United States will have before their eyes a decision as bitter as it is obvious: stop Russia using all Western military and political force, even if it means the risk or even the reality of nuclear war, or give in to Putin’s whims and allow him to consolidate his new empire as Tsar Vladimir, ruler of Europe and tyrant of hundreds of millions of people.

If Putin is Hitler, if he is willing to see the world burn in order to satisfy his ambitions, the West will not be able to remain in the realm of half measures for long, and for the third time in 300 years, we will have to decide: either we confront him with everything, or we give him Europe. In 1815 the Allies confronted and defeated the French tyrant. In 1945, they defeated the German tyrant, and now it is their turn to deal with the Russian tyrant.

It is a defining moment. It is, for those in power, a responsibility to create history in uncharted waters and with the lives of millions at stake. Likewise, it is a moment to define our century and our lives. Let us hope they decide well.

Gerardo Garibay Camarena, is a doctor of law, writer and political analyst with experience in the public and private sectors. His new book is "How to Play Chess Without Craps: A Guide to Reading Politics and Understanding Politicians" // Gerardo Garibay Camarena es doctor en derecho, escritor y analista político con experiencia en el sector público y privado. Su nuevo libro es “Cómo jugar al ajedrez Sin dados: Una guía para leer la política y entender a los políticos”

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