President Vladimir Putin presented on Russian television painfully flawed historical “evidence” that Ukraine never existed and that the country traditionally belongs to Russia.
The president pored over a 17th-century French map, but apparently couldn’t read what it actually said. Not only is Ukraine explicitly described on the document as a separate country, but even Putin’s own city of St. Petersburg is mentioned here as Swedish territory. Hard to imagine that was the intention of the show.
Putin is known for wanting to bend history, in part to justify invading Ukraine. Before the TV broadcast, the president was reportedly surprised by Valery Zorkin, the educated president of Russia’s Constitutional Court. The latter claimed to have discovered a special map from the 17th century, originally compiled by the French during the reign of Louis XIV.
“It’s common knowledge,” Putin replied, poring over the map in question with Zorkin for more than a minute. “These countries were just part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, then they were asked to become part of the Grand Duchy of Moscow. It was only later, after the October Revolution, that quasi-state formations began to form. The Soviet government created the Soviet Ukraine. Until then, there had never been a Ukraine in the history of mankind.
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Curious story, because the map indeed indicates and very clearly (in French): “Ukraine or the country of the Cossacks”. Professor Hans van Koningsbrugge, professor of Russian history and politics at the University of Groningen, therefore looked at the fragment in amazement. “The fact that there is emphatic ‘Cossack land’ over areas that Putin appropriates has been completely ignored. It ridiculed the whole performance and showed a painful lack of historical awareness,” the professor said.
Naturally, the incident drew a lot of teasing on Twitter. Some joked that the 17th century map was good news for Putin because the United States – which keeps Ukraine afloat with its military support – does not exist either, according to the document. “Has any of Putin’s staff seriously considered this map before?” We are wondering. Helpful Swedes even sent Putin older maps showing that more parts of Russia actually belong to Sweden.
Van Koningsbrugge: ,,Saint Petersburg was indeed formally Swedish until 1721. If you look closely at this French map, it really doesn’t make sense: the Black Sea looks different, the Sea of Azov is also difficult to recognize. Now, if this Zorkin had any idea of history, he would have at least shown a map of the late 18th century, when Marshal Potemkin conquered this region for Catherine the Great. But displaying this map is pure stupidity. Maybe they don’t read French in the Kremlin and think it’s okay, not understanding that it will lead to ridicule and ridicule and they will get the opposite of what they want.
The bottom line of this whole story is that Putin is using yet another ad hoc rationale to justify the attack on Ukraine, Van Koningsbrugge thinks. “I call it the selective shopping at the supermarket of history. It also says something about the Russian scholars who stayed away. My sophomores can already see it’s not right, but apparently it’s too hard for the Russians.
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