The Kremlin line on the Ukraine war

Vladimir Kikadze’s “Special Operation: The Ukrainian Front of the War Against Russia“, published in Moscow earlier this year, is a truly dismal book: 250 pages of speeches and decrees by Vladimir Putin, preceded by 250 pages of adulatory commentary from Kikadze.

Written in the style of a Stalinist propaganda tract of the 1930’s, Kikadze’s commentary also doubles up as a pseudo-historical background to the current war.

This is covered in snappily entitled chapters such as “Anti-Russian Ukraine: From a Puppet of Germany and Austro-Hungary to the American Occupation and the War against Russia (1914-2022)” and “‘We Trained Nazis’: Judases in Vyshyvankas – Lackeys of the Abwehr, the Gestapo, the SS, the SD, and the CIA of the USA.”

Kikadze has something with an obsession with “Judases in vyshyvankas” (traditional Ukrainian shirts) who betray their country for “pieces of silver”. He uses the two expressions repeatedly. It is surely pure coincidence that Ukraine’s president is Jewish.

At no point in the book does the author even mention in passing Ukraine’s right to national self-determination. Instead, Kikadze’s sole focus is on Ukrainian nationalism – as defined by Kikadze himself.

For Kikadze, Ukrainian nationalism and the demand for Ukrainian independence can exist only as the far-right nationalism of the viciously anti-Polish and anti-Jewish Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) of the 1930s and 1940s. Its aim, then and now, is defined by Kikadze as:

“A Ukro-Nazi empire from the Adriatic to the Pacific … the destruction of Russia from within, in order to re-establish the Rzeczpospolita [Polish Commonwealth of 1569-1795], ... the unification of all Slavic territories into a single empire, from the Adriatic to the Pacific, with its capital in Kyiv: a neo-Nazi empire cleansed of Russian speakers.”

The post-independence leaders of Ukrainian nationalism, Kikadze continues, “sold the independence of Ukraine, obtained in 1991 with the assistance of Russia, together with the massive territories gifted to Ukraine by Russia when both were members of a single federation, for foreign pieces of silver”.

“Ukraine, along with the people who were selling it” were bought by “the United States and its satellites in NATO, for the sake of fighting against Russia and destroying it.”

After 1991 Ukrainian history books were also rewritten: “The so-called national historical discourse in Ukraine is artificial. It corresponds first and foremost to the interests of other states, other peoples, transnational profiteers and corrupt domestic Ukrainian elites.”

Then, in 2014, “a neo-Nazi regime seized power as a result of an armed state coup.”

Since then, “the ‘collective West’ has encouraged the militarisation and Nazification of Ukraine” while the “belated followers of the OUN” have driven the country’s impoverished population abroad to seek work: “Ukraine without Ukrainians – this is the real slogan of the Ukrainian authorities and the West which supports them.”

And so, concludes Kikadze, the “Special Military Operation” launched in February of last year became a matter of necessity: to save the people of the Donbas from genocide, and to denazify and demilitarise Ukraine.

Kikadze treats the subsequent annexations of Ukrainian territory – ruled out by Putin when he announced the invasion: “The occupation of Ukrainian territory is no part of our plan” – as a case of Russia simply resuming ownership of lost property.

He quotes Putin’s speech of September 2022 (“the historical lands of Novorossiya”) and his speech of December 2022 (“our former common country”).

He quotes Russian Security Council member Igor Shchyogolev’s speech of 2022 (“The Ukrainian people is, in essence, one people with us”) and Defence Minister Shoigu’s statement of December 2022 (“The Sea of Azov has again become an internal sea of Russia, as it was for 300 years in the history of our country”).

And Kikadze himself refers to “temporarily occupied territories of the Russian Federation”, without defining the parameters of the “occupied territories”.

Kikadze concludes by suggesting a number of steps which he believes would help ensure Russian victory in the war.

A change of name would be useful: “More and more people in Russia are saying that there is a need to change the status of the Special Military Operation, which is increasingly taking on the characteristics of a Patriotic, Liberatory, Holy War of our people.”

“A short-term militarisation of Russia and its economy” would also have a beneficial effect on the battlefield, along with carpet-bombing Ukrainian positions: Waves of 400 planes at a time, each with loads of 40 rockets with 400-kilogramme warheads.

This would turn Ukrainian positions into “a lunar landscape where nothing would remain – neither life nor any military equipment.”

Given that the creation of an International Tribunal on Ukrainian War Crimes by the United Nations is “extremely unlikely”, Russia itself should create one – with the involvement of “states which have taken an independent position on the Ukrainian question, in particular Syria, Iran and Bolivia.”

But, most important of all, is greater clarity about Russia’s war aim. This should be spelt out as:

“The complete liberation of the entire territory of Ukraine from the power of the Kyiv neo-Nazi, criminal, terrorist regime, and from the forces of the foreign military intervention now underway under the leadership of the USA and NATO; the complete dismantling of current neo-Nazi Ukrainian statehood which is the product of the criminal, terrorist quasi-state.”

If such steps are implemented, Russia can look forward to victory with confidence:

“Our strength lies in traditional Russian spiritual-moral values. … In the fortress of these values is the strength of the Russian World. This time too, this strength will help Russia to defeat Evil, to defeat the enemy of humanity on the Ukrainian front of the war against our homeland.”

Kikadze’s book is a repetitive and vacuous propaganda tract which turns reality, both historical and contemporary, on its head. Even worse, his twisted version of reality is mainstream in Russia today and even included in the school curriculum.