We See Your Mike Pence, And Raise You A Vladimir Putin: A Russian Leader’s Take On How The Soviets Beat The Nazis, With Caveats


EDITOR’S NOTE: Late yesterday afternoon, New Matilda received an email from the Russian Embassy in Canberra. Would we like to publish an essay by one of their citizens, a ‘Mr Vladimir Putin’?

At first we thought… does the Russian Embassy think we’re ‘Putin’s bitch’, a slur levelled against Julian Assange by ABC Four Corners Executive Producer Sally Neighbour in 2017… shortly after Neighbour presided over a vomituous one-hour long hug-fest by Sarah Ferguson with failed US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

And then we thought… maybe they just think we’re stupid. Neither is particularly flattering.

But in the end, we figured, sure, why the hell not… it’s not like Putin’s asking to be paid (we haven’t got any money anyway, but you can help fix that by clicking this link), and besides, The Australian re-published an embarrassing puff piece by US vice president Mike Pence last week, claiming that Donald Trump’s response to COVID-19 should be celebrated (which is definitely true if you’re rooting for the disease). So why shouldn’t New Matilda publish a lengthy essay from a world leader?

Unlike Pence’s effort, Putin’s essay is no puff piece. Indeed, it’s a 9,000-plus word feature marking the 75th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s defeat of the Nazis, a fact of history often glossed over by the West (sorry Diggers, the Russians won the war in Europe, not us). The piece also tears Europe and the West more generally a new one, while more or less conceding some of the more problematic parts of Russian history.But unlike The Australian, we don’t publish pieces without fact-checking them, even if they’re written by authors with access to nuclear weapons. And that’s when things got weird.

Overnight, we sought advice from a number of historians and experts in Europe (a sincere thanks to all those involved). The consensus is that Putin’s piece is certainly “very interesting”, but, to quote one of our advisers: “I think it’s actually very important not to get this out without any editorial notes and a disclaimer that a lot of what he writes is disputed by historians, because otherwise it’s just giving Putin an international propaganda platform.”

Indeed, albeit a very small platform. And so that’s what we’ve done. Putin’s piece is published below, and we’ve inserted ‘Ed’s notes’ throughout where we suggest ‘more reading’ might be helpful… which is a polite way of coughing the word ‘bullshit’. None of this, however, means there isn’t value in Putin’s essay. Indeed, there is substantial value in it. It’s definitely propaganda (ironically we published a lengthy investigation on Australian government propaganda yesterday… actually, maybe that’s why the Russian embassy came to us…?) but it’s also well-written, comprehensive, and purports to provide new information about World War II which Putin asserts is based on Russian archives (although notably he quotes from material without displaying it). Most of all it provides a valuable and detailed insight into a non-Western view of the history of Europe post- and pre-Wars by a polarising world leader.

However, we also recommend this article in the Globe and Mail, for a more critical analysis of Putin’s world view. And overnight, The Spectator, a conservative publication in the UK, filed an analysis of this article here. The author of the critique, Owen Matthews, is a respected author, historian and journalist.Our fact-checkers also suggested this Twitter thread by Dr Sergey Radchenko – an expert historian on the Cold War and a Professor and Director of Research at the School of Law & Politics at Cardiff University, which provides a quick take down. And there’s this article by Radchenko, which is more comprehensive.This piece, written by John Pilger and published by New Matilda in June 2016 also touches on some of the themes in this essay. As does this one.

Now, over to Putin….

Chris Graham is the publisher and editor of New Matilda. He is the former founding managing editor of the National Indigenous Times and Tracker magazine. In more than three decades of journalism he's had his home and office raided by the Australian Federal Police; he's been arrested and briefly jailed in Israel; he's reported from a swag in Outback Australia on and off for years. Chris has worked across multiple mediums including print, radio and film. His proudest achievement is serving as an Associate producer on John Pilger's 2013 film Utopia. He's also won a few journalism awards along the way in both the US and Australia, including a Walkley Award, a Walkley High Commendation and two Human Rights Awards. Since late 2021, Chris has been battling various serious heart and lung conditions. He's begun the process of quietly planning a "gentle exit" after "tying up a few loose ends" in 2024 and 2025. So watch this space.