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American Opinion: A cataclysmic event based on ego-driven lies. Sound familiar?

American Opinion: There’s something oddly familiar about a scenario in which a cataclysmic event unfolds based entirely on lies and false provocations. The last time the world witnessed such an event was Jan. 6, 2021, when the foundations of American democracy were rattled by the actions of extremists responding to one man’s ego-driven fiction.

U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin give a joint news conference.
U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin give a joint news conference following their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, on July 16, 2018.
Mikhail Metzel/Tass/TNS
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Shocking as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is, it should come as no surprise to anyone in the West. Russian President Vladimir Putin, performing exactly as the United States predicted, set up a straw-horse justification for invading Ukraine and is now acting on the basis of that lie. He used the same set of lies in 2014 to justify seizing and annexing Crimea and, in the same year, to arm separatist militants in two eastern regions of Ukraine. Key to Putin’s fiction is the idea that Ukrainians oppressed by freedom and democracy are crying out to be united under his murderous dictatorship.

Russia is now launching the process of swallowing enough territory, combined with Crimea, to constitute a tenth of Ukraine’s territory. In his speech Monday, Putin dismissed Ukraine as an artificial creation of Soviet communism and asserted that it belongs to greater Russia. His remarks Monday appeared to open the door to future military adventurism in Baltic states that won independence after the Soviet Union’s collapse. President Joe Biden said Tuesday NATO is boosting its forces in those states, raising the specter of a direct NATO-Russia confrontation should Russia continue advancing troops, tanks and missiles westward.

Putin seems unfazed by threats of unprecedented Western sanctions, but he might soon change his mind. Germany has canceled certification of a new pipeline that Russia was counting on for natural gas export revenues. An international embargo on Russian oil also could inflict more economic hardship. But the mother of all sanctions still awaits: the freezing of all Russian government bank accounts abroad and its exclusion from the global Swift banking system, which could severely limit Moscow’s ability to pay bills and collect revenue from abroad.

There’s something oddly familiar about a scenario in which a cataclysmic event unfolds based entirely on lies and false provocations. The last time the world witnessed such an event was Jan. 6, 2021, when the foundations of American democracy were rattled by the actions of extremists responding to one man’s ego-driven fiction.

One of Putin’s longtime cheerleaders, former President Donald Trump, asserted Tuesday that the Ukraine crisis is the result of Biden administration weakness. Putin “would have never done during the Trump Administration what he is doing now, no way!” Trump wrote. Putin didn’t need to because Trump already was doing Russia’s bidding. Trump weakened NATO and publicly sided with Putin when U.S. intelligence assessments said Russia meddled in the 2016 election. It was Trump who withheld badly needed U.S. military aid from Ukraine while extorting its president to help to dig up dirt that would undermine Biden’s election campaign.

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Putin also enjoys the support of Fox News cheerleaders like Tucker Carlson, who is openly supporting Russia over Ukraine. Then there’s Missouri’s junior senator, Josh Hawley, who seems to think Russia attacking Ukraine isn’t such a big deal. And Biden is the weak one?

This American Opinion editorial is the opinion of the editorial board of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

©2022 STLtoday.com . Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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