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The History Trap

When Vladimir Putin evokes the horrors of Nazi Germany to justify Russia’s criminal behavior in Ukraine, he engages in a malicious distortion of history. But Russia’s opponents must avoid falling into the same trap and resist lazy parallels, such as comparing Putin to Hitler.

NEW YORK – Speaking in Volgograd, formerly known as Stalingrad, Russian President Vladimir Putin recently evoked the horrors of World War II to justify his invasion of Ukraine. “Again and again, we have to repel the aggression of the collective West,” he said with a straight face, without mentioning that the United Kingdom and the United States were the Soviet Union’s allies during the war. Then as now, he added, Russia is threatened by German tanks, forced to defend itself against “the ideology of Nazism in its modern form.”