The trouble with tankies
There is a disturbing tendency among some leftists and progressives—derisively called “tankies”—in America, Britain, Germany, and other Western countries to defend Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. To do so, they often echo Putin’s lies about wanting to “denazify” and “demilitarise” Ukraine. But Putin’s goal is not merely to “denazify” and “demilitarise” Ukraine. It is the product of a tsarist wet dream. Well before the invasion, Vladimir Putin made his intent loud and clear. In July 2021, just over half a year before his invasion, he wrote:
I am confident that true sovereignty of Ukraine is possible only in partnership with Russia. Our spiritual, human and civilizational ties formed for centuries and have their origins in the same sources, they have been hardened by common trials, achievements and victories. Our kinship has been transmitted from generation to generation. (emphasis mine)
And Putin isn’t the only Russian official to make these kinds of claims. More recently, Oleg Stepanov, the Russian ambassador to Canada, said in Russia in Global Affairs:
Russia reaffirms the goals of the special military operation. And they all will be achieved. Ukrainians will live in a federal, multilingual, multicultural, democratic, stable, prosperous country free from internal conflict where every citizen feels free and safe. And Russia will provide it. (emphasis mine)
Kiev shall announce that it ceases hostilities, orders its troops and nationalistic units to lay down arms, voluntarily subjects itself to demilitarization and denazification. This is the only way to build a healthy society in Ukraine in accordance with the interests of its people. (emphasis mine)
Stepanov is even blunter than Putin: the “special military operation” is not intended merely to defeat Ukrainian Nazis or ensure its military neutrality. It is to reabsorb Ukraine into the Russian state.
Tankies defend Vladimir Putin’s atrocities in Ukraine, blame the Russian invasion on the United States and its NATO allies, and ignore or outright deny Russia’s oppressive acts against its own people and the people it has conquered. Time and again, they defend Russia’s government and spread its propaganda.