Historians of the Third World War might very well compare the 2022 invasion of Ukraine to the 1939 invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany. While it has become fashionable to superficially compare every terrible leader in the world to Adolf Hitler, the uncontested nationalist leader of the Russian Federation for the past twenty years, Vladimir Putin – a former KGB operative who was declared the most powerful man on the planet in the 2010s – bears an astounding resemblance to the founder of the Third Reich.
First of all, it is obvious that Putin is a fanatic nationalist who has built his entire career on reviving the soul of Russia. Just like Hitler, Putin went through a period of catastrophic national humiliation in his youth (in the Great War and the Collapse of the U.S.S.R. respectively) and was devastated by the experience. Unsurprisingly, both of them decided to demonise domestic ‘traitors’ and foreign conspirators while continuing to revere the leaders (Kaiser Wilhelm II and Mikhail Gorbachev). They both sought to restore a former superpower to its days of glory and gave the appearance of a ‘tough guy in charge’ with the charisma and power to accomplish just that.
But this is not all. Both Hitler and Stalin sought to unify all the German- and Russian-speaking peoples respectively under the umbrella of one vast empire. Both excellently exploited the weakness of their democratic contemporaries to achieve their goals with violent mean. Hitler started with relatively mild (even bloodless) conquests such as the Sudetenland, Austria (both 1938), and Czechoslovakia (March 1939) before moving onto the large country of Poland (September 1939). Putin’s long history of aggression against neighbours with large Russian minorities is not much different, with a proven track-record of support for Georgian, and Ukrainian rebels. Putin intervened in the Syrian Civil War to test out his reformed military might, comparable to Hitler’s Condor Legion in Spain. Hitler patronised the German communities all around the world, while Putin pretends to be the spiritual leader of Russians in all of the former Soviet nations and elsewhere. And just like Hitler did not care about economic sanctions and continued to undertake ever riskier endeavours to maintain his popularity, Putin will continue to do the same until the liberal democracies retaliate decisively, willing to face one loss today rather than ten tomorrow.