Opinion: Ukraine's aching pain and Cold War 2.0

Photo by Evgeniy Maloletka of The Associated Press / Smoke rises from an air defense base in the aftermath of a Russian strike in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Feb. 24, 2022. Big explosions were heard before dawn in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Odesa as world leaders decried the start of Russian invasion that could cause massive casualties and topple Ukraine's democratically elected government.

Back in 2019, my opinion column, "Don't Underestimate Putin's Threat," was published. I quoted Ukrainian-born comedian Yakov Smirnoff's joke about how the KGB, Soviet Russia's secret police, stood for Kiss Goodbye Your Butt. Today's Russia is "... a world erupting with new money and new power," says British producer Peter Pomerantsev in his 2014 book, "Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible."

Not much has changed.

Ever wonder how Vladimir Putin served as Russia's president twice and prime minister twice after being a KGB intelligence officer for 16 years? Journalist David Satter reports that Putin created a false-flag operation against Islamist Chechen rebels to become Russia's "Bloody Czar." His false-flag strategy relied on lies, redirection and intimidation.

Putin still uses the KGB "false flag" strategy, claiming that the current war is Ukraine's fault, pseudo-annexing Russian-leaning parts of Ukraine and sending in the military as "peacekeepers." He has repeatedly denied (falsely) that he had any intent to invade Ukraine while at the same time increased Russian troops on the border while deploying Russian troops in Belarus.

Remember the 1960s Cuban Missile Crisis? America was in a Cold War standoff when the Soviets installed nuclear-armed missiles in Cuba, and President Kennedy enacted a naval blockade to protect our national security. The Soviets finally removed their missiles, a trade-off for our assurances that we wouldn't invade Cuba.

Why would anyone believe Putin's assurances that he had no intent to invade unless Ukraine forced him into it? We know that it's Russia, not Ukraine, that's fomenting war. At least, most of us do. Fox News' Tucker Carlson insisted that we take Putin's side, calling Putin's invasion "humanitarian" because Ukraine's president is such a dictator.

It's past time to reject the Putin Fan Club fostered by Donald Trump, who early on made sure that the 2016 Republican Party platform wouldn't call for providing weapons to Ukraine to fight Russia and rebel forces. At their 2018 Helsinki summit, Putin and Trump caused alarm and confusion by secretly discussing a referendum in Eastern Ukraine, a strategy used in annexing Crimea. Trump covered for Putin, declaring that Putin didn't see Ukraine as part of Russia. Right.

Republicans' continual struggle over Ukraine was evident when they careened from calling Biden weak to calling Democrats "warmongers." Echos of Trump could be heard in claims that GOP Reps. Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney were Ukrainian lobbyists (remember that Kinzinger and Cheney are the only Republicans serving on the House committee investigating the Capitol riot).

Don't gift Putin with the chaos caused by the Jan. 6 "legitimate political discourse." We need to be unified in conceding nothing and using every sanction possible. When Trump calls Putin a genius with the kind of militarized peacekeeping force in Ukraine that we should have at our own border, remind your elected officials, "Don't drink the Russian Kool-Aid!" Because if the Putin Fan Club revs up, get ready to "Kiss Goodbye Your Butt."

Contact Deborah Levine, an author, trainer/coach and editor of the American Diversity Report, at [email protected]