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History As It Happens

Nov 8, 2022

In Vladimir Putin’s warped view of the past, Ukraine was only able to seek independence in 1991 because of a mistake made by another Vladimir nearly 70 years before. In his zeal to obscure Ukrainian national identity, Russia's dictator blames the Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin for “creating” an independent Ukraine in 1922 “by separating, severing what is historically Russian land.” These two events – the Bolshevik revolution and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – are not connected only in Putin’s imagination. They are linked through a history of appalling violence and destruction. The place names of battles of the Russian civil war a century ago are familiar to anyone following today’s news of Russia’s military fiasco in Ukraine. In this episode, the esteemed military historian Antony Beevor discusses the parallels between the civil war that birthed the Soviet Union and Putin’s drive to turn Ukraine into a client state – a plan that has, thus far, failed. Moreover, the Bolshevik coup d’etat of October, 1917, far from an obscure bit of history, shaped the course of the twentieth century as few other events did. Antony Beevor is the author of "Russia: Revolution and Civil War, 1917-1921."