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Vladimir Putin justified Adolf Hitler’s invasion of Poland; South Africa must denounce him

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Branko Brkic is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Daily Maverick.

The world is reeling from brutal wars, seething conflicts that could soon explode, and the prospect of deadly weapons (not all of them physical) that are already creeping towards us. Fear of what tomorrow will bring is everywhere. During chaos and swirl, South Africa has always been strongest when it takes a high moral ground. Denouncing Russian President Vladimir Putin and his justification of Hitler’s invasion of Poland is a necessary place to start.

The right-wing US media personality Tucker Carlson is a lucky man who managed to snag an “interview” with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin last week. Putin’s record of not giving interviews to Western journalists is still unblemished though. Carlson is no journalist (even his old employer, Fox News, admitted that) and he was, of course, lying when he claimed that no Western news outlet had ever bothered to interview Putin since the beginning of the Ukrainian war, now almost two years ago. 

If you have more than two hours to spare/waste, the “interview” is here and Carlson will surely be grateful that you improved his viewing metrics — entertainment shows depend on them.

The “interview” followed a predictable pattern: Clueless or alt-right “questions” and then Putin’s lengthy lecture from his alt-history repertoire, influenced by some of the most radical, reactionary ideologues the world has ever seen. 

What got me seriously worried was Putin’s appreciation of Hitler, something he has echoed in the past. The New Yorker journalist Masha Gessen had the same moment of fear — that is what happens to all of us born in the early post-World War 2 era when the wounds were still too fresh and the memory of lost loved ones still too vivid.

Here’s what Gessen said in her story about this section of the “interview”:

… I can’t get one passage out of my mind. In the history-lecture portion of the interview, when Putin got to 1939, he said, “Poland cooperated with Germany, but then it refused to comply with Hitler’s demands… By not ceding the Danzig Corridor to Hitler, Poles forced him, they overplayed their hand and they forced Hitler to start the Second World War by attacking Poland.” 

(This is my translation – MG.) 

The idea that the victim of the attack serves as its instigator by forcing the hand of the aggressor is central to all of Putin’s explanations for Russia’s war in Ukraine. To my knowledge, though, this was the first time he described Hitler’s aggression in the same terms.

Putin has reproduced Hitler’s rhetoric before. Ten years ago, announcing the annexation of Crimea, he seemed to borrow from Hitler’s speech on the annexation of Sudetenland. At the time, I assumed that the language had come from a speechwriter who knew what they were doing while Putin may not have. But the way Putin described the beginning of the Second World War in his interview with Carlson suggests that, although he keeps accusing Ukraine of fostering Nazism, in his mind he might see himself as Hitler, but perhaps a wilier one, one who can make inroads into the United States and create an alliance with its presumed future President.

It’s telling, too, that Putin took the time to accuse Poland of both allying with Nazi Germany and inciting Hitler’s aggression. As he has done with Ukraine in the past, he is positioning Poland as an heir to Nazism. He mentioned Poland more than thirty times in his conversation with Tucker. If I were Poland, I’d be scared. 

Gessen is a great journalist, with a particularly thorough understanding of the Soviet Union and today’s Russia, especially Putin. But during the Putin “interview”, and as I read her words, I could not help but be especially worried for South Africa.

A prisoner of the Cold War

Our government’s great friend Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin is no ordinary politician. 

He is a product — and seemingly still a prisoner — of the Cold War. In his Soviet years, history was something to reimagine and rewrite according to the current needs and ideologies. 

So when he referred to the events of September 1939, with Carlson sporting his trademark clueless face, he did not talk about the inconvenience of the Soviet Union invading the very same “stubborn” Poland from the east, just 16 days after Hitler’s forces did. 

He did not say anything about the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact which aligned Stalin’s Soviet Union with Hitler’s Nazi Germany and was signed on 23 August 1939; it led to the occupation of Poland by both Germany and USSR. (The latter also occupied and annexed Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in the summer of 1940.) 

He did not talk about the 22,000 Polish officers and intelligentsia prisoners of war murdered in the Katyn forest by the Soviet army.

(Eventually, some 20-27 million Soviet people died in the war — including Putin’s elder brother — after Hitler attacked the USSR on 22 June 1941. Together with 6 million Poles and an estimated 6 million Jews across different countries, between 70 and 85 million people perished in those six years of madness.)

Today, Putin is happy to rewrite history, incomprehensibly accuse Ukraine and Poland of being heirs to Nazism, and invest billions into his state propaganda machinery to make his fiction permanent. 

Two years after he attacked Ukraine, he can still count on South Africa as a steady and loyal ally. We’ve helped the Russians in every way possible, including causing possibly lasting damage to our international reputation within the circle of the world’s democracies. 

Our government has been a friend where many a more circumspect country would have given up.

A moral duty

But sometimes, the moments of sheer and utter disbelief happen when things can never be the same again — and we must express our disagreement and disgust. Many around the world expressed similar outrage after Donald Trump too started quoting Hitler with some regularity. 

Don’t we feel a moral duty to call out Putin for justifying Hitler? If nothing else, we felt that same kind of moral duty when we pressed charges against Israel at the International Court of Justice. What is stopping South Africa now after Putin has crossed that line?

How can our government NOT react?

In these crazy times, up is down and down is up. We choose our path and decide who our friends are, and we pick only the worst, it appears. 

On Monday, a not-so-surprising tweet from the ANC secretary-general, Fikile Mbalula, announced:

On the 15-17 February 2024, I will lead an ANC delegation to the Forum Of Supporters Of The Struggles Against Modern Practices Of Neocolonialism – For The Freedom Of Nations, in Moscow, Russia.  #ANCAtWork

While it’s sometimes difficult not to laugh at Mbalula’s tweets (he can be rather entertaining in his goofy way), this one was deadly serious. Our participation in such a sham event points to an alarming new level of alignment with Russia.

For what the United Russia party is… let’s just say it is Putin’s political vehicle and supports some of the nastiest people on the planet.

Read more in Daily Maverick: ‘The world is topsy-turvy’ — Ramaphosa denies SA’s foreign policy on human rights is unbalanced

(The conference Mbalula is so excited to attend will be chaired by Dmitry Medvedev, former president and premier of Russia, Putin’s long-time number two. If you want to learn more about him, just type Medvedev-nuclear threats in your browser.)

As these events march in their speedy cadence past us, why are we still happy to mortgage our democracy, our hard-fought freedom and respect, and our future? 

Are we content to throw away everything we have achieved — trade relations with the world’s democracies, our freedoms, the standing and the glow of the Mandela age — to follow aggressors, human rights violators and corrupt leaders into their nightmares? 

If you, dear reader, think that South Africa’s foreign relations pivot does not affect you, think again. It will affect you at every level of our society. And it will not be pretty. We still have a voice that will be heard if we finally, as a country, stand for what’s right and not for what’s wrong, and in every possible way.

The right thing is to, right now, denounce Putin’s Hitler remarks in the strongest terms possible. The world needs to know that South Africa does not endorse such a rewrite of history and does not stand behind the man who embraced the dark side. The price of not doing anything will one day be too costly.

And if we keep our silence, the ending of the book that begins with us not standing up to the reawakening of evil will be just too hard to bear. DM

With thanks to Gordon Lightfoot.

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Kenneth FAKUDE says:

    I guess the right thing will be south Africa supporting Poland in denouncing Russia.
    Poland is a state that hasn’t requested South Africa to be their mouth piece.
    Poland is also a member of NATO who have ignored Putin’s concerns legitimate or not, this comment is not happening in a vacuum.
    South Africa is not a NATO member and cannot have a say in NATO issues.

    • Claire Hollingworth says:

      The article argues that we should denounce Putin’s warped view of history… unless you agree with Putin’s take on WW2?

    • John P says:

      Putin is not a “Nato issue”. His desire to rebuild the Soviet Union at the expense of Georgia, Chechnya and Ukraine so far and, I am confident more states to follow, is rather a world peace issue.

    • Orn BSD says:

      I wish that there would be more factual reporting rather than fear and outrage inducing articles. At this point in history people deserve a clear view of the dynamics of the global economy, geopolitics, and the global village so they can make informed decisions. The sad reality is that most people do not have the time nor wherewithal to independently gather the facts of what is happening. There is just too much happening out there, so people form their world view from the media they consume. Media like the, DM, which claim to report the truth can help with this by sticking to facts and leaving people to make up their minds. Unfortunately, they are caught up in the geopolitical posturing between the west and others, have picked a side and embedded themselves accordingly instead of reporting from a bird’s eye view. They can no longer see the forest for the trees.

      • Henry Coppens says:

        The ‘trees’ are: If you don’t like what your neighbour is doing you don’t jump over the fence and try to kill him. This is the correct side and DM and many others have taken it. ‘Weeeel, maybe there are two sides to all this. No there isn’t. All this pontification, searching, excuse making just muddies clarity and the morality.

  • Johan Steenhuisen says:

    Just totally unbelievable!

  • Ismail Lagardien says:

    Always wish that Branko would write more. This is a brilliant essay.

    • Peter Relleen says:

      Yes, it is a brilliant essay.
      Branko has sounded the alarm bell.
      Is South Africa / the ANC, listening, I wonder ?

    • Willem Boshoff says:

      Hear hear!

      • Helen Swingler says:

        Agree. A conference about the ‘freedom of Nations’ in Russia is outrageously hypocritical. Russia is not free, thanks to the despot who sits at the centre of a deadly web, spinning silk around his ill-gotten billions warped sense of history. The naivety of the ANC is astounding. When will Africa stop selling its birthright to the global north?

  • 2000 AD says:

    It is extraordinary and out of context stretch to analyse Putin’s comments as a ‘justification’ for the invasion of Poland in the 2nd world war. Mr Brkic undermines his credibility and that of his newspaper by doing so. On a separate issue, I wonder who Mr Brkic is referring to when he speaks of the ‘circle of democracies’ within which South Africa has hurt its reputation. Real vibrant democracies like Brazil and India? – Or the uni-party plutocracies such as the United States and Britain? Mr Brkic needs to widen his personal overton window.

  • Steve Davidson says:

    Let’s hope that when the moonshot coalition takes over SA the first thing they do is send all the sick (mentally) ANC lovers to Moscow for a bit of RasPutin’s Revenge for their failure.

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    You are appealing to reason, and on the logical premise that the South African policy makers care about our people.

    Sadly neither of the above are relevant as the only focus of our policy makers, and all those that gravitate to Putin and his like, is on the self.

    To draw a sporting analogy, you may clearly explain the rules of cricket, but it has little or no import to a swimmer or runner.

    And let the world make no mistake, these people are not playing cricket.

  • Sydney Kaye says:

    You are correct. Russia was a co-agressor with Germany at the beginning of WW2; Communism being the other side of the Fascist coin. It was only when the gangsters fell out that Russia became an ally of the West for a mutually, but temporary beneficial reason, although many of the useful fools in the West fell for its socialist equality schtick. Churchil understood the mendacity of the Russians ( as did General Patton who wanted the advance on Berlin to “go right on to Moscow”) but a weak Roosevelt gave ground to Stalin leading to a 45 year Soviet dictatorship over millions in Eastern Europe and the cold war with the West, led by America. How ironic them that the Republican Party ( better dead than red and the most virulent anti Russian section of American society) is now a Russian apologist because of Trump’s as yet unknown motivation.

    • dexter m says:

      Roosevelt was not weak , the US did not have manpower to take on the Russian Army . The US public would also not have accepted another war and was also getting wary of the high death count of soldiers. Why do you think it used the atom bomb on Japan , it did not have the manpower and was not prepared to accept the high death count that would have resulted from an invasion of Japan.

    • Penny Philip says:

      Your view on Roosevelt’s position at that stage of the war is simplistic. Eisenhower had a big say in the strategy & he estimated that it would take the loss of a minimum of 10,000 US soldiers to take Berlin. At that stage of the war Berlin was seen by the western allies as more of a prestige issue than of strategic importance. The Russian army was closer to Berlin, & Stalin was indifferent to losses of his own troops .

  • Richard Bryant says:

    The west sits on a golden opportunity of defeating putin forever. All they have to do is properly finance and arm Ukraine. They will do the rest. The level of anger by Ukrainians about the destruction of their country and lives by this 21st century butcher is palpable.

    It came close last year when Prigojn challenged putin. But the slow drip of support for Ukraine by Europe and now the USA has resulted in the war taking on WWI tactics with thousands of lives being lost for the advancement of just metres on the battlefield. Putin knows he can keep grinding for years, and he simply doesn’t care how many lives are lost in the process.

    All they have to do is blow up the Kirsch Bridge and then invade and retake Crimea. To do this, they will need modern aircraft and other weapons, including long range missiles. Russians must understand that this is no special military operation but a war which they started. And to face defeat will be the end of putin.

    But to allow putin to succeed and then expand his warped sense of the world into Africa and other places will have disastrous consequences for democracy everywhere.

    • Londani Ntshangase says:

      Sounds easy enough. Why haven’t the west done it yet?? Oh i know. Maybe its because its not that easy!! Only way Russia is losing the war is if NATO fights directly, that itself might spark a nuclear war to which no one will be winners if anyone comes out at all.

  • Andrew Newman says:

    Stalin is a hero of Putin’s. An empire builder and colonizer.
    Stalin signed an alliance with Hitler against Poland guaranteeing Russia taking most of Poland and starting WW2. It also gave Russia the Baltic states, Finland and parts of Romania. Stalin assisted Hitler in his war against UK and France and applied to join the Axis alliance with Japan, Germany and Italy.
    Of course that all changed on the 22 Jun 1941.

  • Denise Smit says:

    I commented about the article on Mbalula”s trip to Russia calling it out a warmonger and colonialist. My comment was blocked twice and is still blocked this moment. Russia should be called out and DM should not be part of blocking anti Russia speak

    • M D Fraser says:

      Right on Denise ! Some time ago I cancelled my DM subscription after I received a “naughty boy” warning about one of my posts. I have subsequently re-subscribed. However, you are probably right, we don’t know how much ‘redacting’ DM does to comments. I often wonder at the slant taken on certain subjects.

    • dexter m says:

      join the club. i did not call Russia a warmonger , but did high highlight it is a colonialist. And it is not DM , just other commentators . Found it takes DM a while to review posts .

  • Beryl Ferguson says:

    Well written. Thought provoking. Challenging

    • Londani Ntshangase says:

      Sounds like an article written by the NATO spokesman.

      • drew barrimore says:

        Londani you sound like a lost victim of Putin propaganda. Go live there and see if you can voice an opinion other than the Kremlin line. There are always useful idiots in the world that will continue to to scream anything anti-West because the rest of the sheep do too. Yes the US is guilty of multiple sins, but they did not destroy Chechnya, or prop up the butcher Assad in Syria against his own people, they did not invade Georgia and they did not invade the Ukraine. So temper your screeches with a bit of circumspection.

        • 2000 AD says:

          Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Grenada, Panama, Sudan & Kosovo. These as a minimum are the countries invaded or bombed by the United States in breach of international law in the past 30 years.

          • Skinyela Skinyela says:

            Skinyela SkinyelaYour comment is awaiting moderation. This is a preview; your comment will be visible after it has been approved.
            1 March 2024 at 10:10
            You are wasting your time, he will never respond to that. To some people the US is a benevolent empire and whatever atrocities it commits are regarded as mistakes which happens while trying to do good. You are talking to people who are currently ignoring the persecution of Julian Assange and cheering on the genocide currently unfolding in Gaza. To them the west is inherently good, and everyone else is evil. US and UK are regarded as model democracies, really now!!? A one party(with two factions, Republicans and Democrats) state!! I so wish that Trump wins, I don’t like his politics, but I love how he exposes the west as hypocrite they and embarrasses them.

      • Graeme de Villiers says:

        Isn’t your bridge missing you?

  • R IA says:

    I fully agree with you. And am very worried about the future if our – am I allowed to use the word idiotic – government keeps this up. Which they seem likely to do.

  • Middle aged Mike says:

    A South African denunciation is like getting yapped at by an incontinent Yorkie with dementia and halitosis in the neighbours kitchen.

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    The current SA gov. only seems to denounce countries with Democratic bases and decent leaders with integrity! LOL!

  • Greeff Kotzé says:

    So Putin believes the Sudetenland annexation was justified. And he believes the invasion of Poland (from both directions) was justified.

    Well, to our governing party I shall now say: Take a lesson from Chamberlain’s mistakes. It should now be clear to you that appeasement won’t work. Dictators want what they want, and they will suffer no compromise. If you continue to act as an enabler to Putin’s military aggression — an offense to all that is decent and just — you will be doing so at all of our peril.

  • Grant S says:

    If our government can find a way to make things worse, they will. It’s the one thing they’re brilliant at doing. The populist propaganda being spouted by several political parties (several hundred if you look at the myriad of parties registered to contest our election), all trying to secure the ill-informed voters mark later this year, it’s right out of Vlad’s playbook. “Just make it up”. Mind you, when you have Putin doing his thing, Trump talking rubbish in the USA, the Middle East, which will never see lasting peace despite being one of, if not the holiest place on earth (war never being the fault of religion of course), you wonder what human ‘evolution’ has delivered. A well written article placing a spotlight on a global problem. As the saying goes, if the politicians lips were moving, it was probably a lie.

    • dexter m says:

      Also include the politicians in Europe and Asia to the list. Seems populism on the rise ,who needs facts or history , when you can just make up own version. The sad part there is always an audience in all countries for this revisionist history.

  • Con Tester says:

    It’s “Malice in Wonderland” over on planet ANC. This alignment with unsubtle paranoia-riddled despots reflects the ANC’s infatuation with all things autocratic. But it’s unrequited love because those adulated authoritarians view their adherents as a proselytising front of useful marionettes, whose strings they no doubt control with faux flattery and some pocket change.

    What’s truly ironic here is the bit about Mr Fix Fokkol jetting off to this “Forum Of Supporters Of The Struggles Against Modern Practices Of Neocolonialism” shindig. It signals a complete disconnect from the slap-in-the-face obvious practices of Putin’s (also China’s, another ANC idol) colonialist ambitions in the form of creeping economic slavery. Or, perhaps the ANC grandees really are so cynical as to want this nightmare foisted on the people of SA—just so long as they themselves remain amply pampered.

  • Daniel Cohen says:

    Excellent piece. Up there with the journalistic great. Would that it injects a little sanity into what goes for SA’s foreign policy

  • John Patson says:

    White English speakers often forget the depth of support there was for Hitler in South Africa. The Ossewabrandwag, was the militant face of Afrikaaners who got guns and undertook terrorist acts in support of the Nazis, and they had a lot of support, some say as many Afrikaaners were in favour of the OBW and Nazis as were in favour of Smuts and the Allies.
    Amid the black population there was also support for Hitler, and not just of the “my enemies enemy is my friend” sort, found in townships. Some Zulu thinkers, years before Inkatha, saw Zulu nationalism as similar to the pure-blood national myth Hitler sprouted on about, and saw the Zulus and Nazis as natural allies.
    The predominant historical narrative for white English speakers is of brave South Africans leaving home and hearth to travel to the other side of the world to help Britain defeat evil, and succeeding — but some other South Africans have different family versions.
    When you look at the seemingly irrational support for Putin from people who would be targets for his thugs in Russia just because of their skin colour, this history might be one of the reasons.

    • Londani Ntshangase says:

      More like pseudo history. When did the Zulu people support Hitler??? It is however well documented that a lot of Afrikaners and National Party members were German sympathizers.

      • Denise Smit says:

        National Party did not exist then and it was a

      • Denise Smit says:

        crime to support the Ossewa Brandwag. The support is exagerated

        • Johan van der Watt says:

          Thank you Denise Smit – the Afrikaner support for Germany is often way overstated.
          I have a motto when it comes to life in general – question everything.
          I have second motto – know who you are by knowing your history and your place in it.
          It has led me to read & research, then read more and research more.
          We all know that history is written by the victors, which sadly often ends up as twisted political propaganda. I know how I and my own people were deceived and lied to by the very people they voted into power. (why does that sound strangely familiar?)
          There is so much out there; in books, on the internet – educate yourself on our own and on world history.
          It is fascinating!
          Do not blindly accept what you hear or read. Instead read as widely as possible. Check the facts and check the facts once more – it’s all out there.
          Hiding inbetween the misinformation amd propaganda is a myriad of excellent recent research by people passionate about the truth.
          You can only define your own course in life if you know for certain where you come from.
          Never hand over that responsibility to anyone; neither to politicians or any other person.
          The truth shall set you free!

  • Albert Smith says:

    I draw comfort from the fact that, as with every other so-called policy, “our” alignment with Russa is not borne of anything other than financial need or greed by the ANC. Lets boot the ANC out of power and all this nonsense foreign policy also goes away. The average South African is concerned about where his next meal will come from, whether he will still have a roof over his head, etc. These ANC crooks (sorry comrades) can all shape up and ship out to Russia when (God willing) they lose power in this years elections

  • Steve Du Plessis says:

    And the nazis of our day – Hamas. That’s not something to worry about? Especially that our morally and strategically bankrupt government supports them. Perhaps this publication should have a careful look at your positions and your values so that articles like this one do not ring hollow

    • Ismail Lagardien says:

      This is factually incorrect. Never mind what anyone thinks of Hamas, they doe not have a global vision of domination (a reich that will live 1000 years), they have not implemented pogroms agains communists, gays and jews. I don’t think they have a leader as fanatical and self-obsessed as Hitler had…. we could go on and on. This is NOT a defence of either (nor of Putin or any of the West’s enemies) It is simply to say we do not help the cause of peace and justice by making up stories. Ask yourself, and answer honestly, who has had the political economic power and military power to establish and maintain a global order for the past 70 years? You may (if you are not blind) reach a more definitive conclusion.

      • L T. says:

        You are the one with a blind spot Ismail. I read your pieces in Business Day and I wonder how you can ignore Hamas’s stated intent to wipe out Israel and all Jews and not compare that to Hitler’s intent? You dont find Sinwar and other Hamas leaders as fanatical and self obsessed as Hitler? You don’t see any connection between the suffering of the Palestinians and Hamas? Wow. I worry about you Ismail – your credibility as a commentator, as a political analyst and as a moral human being is on the rocks.

  • Patterson Alan John says:

    And the EFF manifesto is fully aligned with Russia, Venezuela and Cuba.
    Imagine when Ramaphosa joins forces with Malema as these two accelerate the slide to oblivion as they ensure that power is retained by the worst characters in the SA political sphere.
    If you are not scared of your future in SA, you should be.

  • Zai AD says:

    Well Russia stood by SA against the white supremacist that governed SA
    Russia stands together with RSA against the US-backed apartheid zionist terrorist regime of israel.
    So SA should denounce Russia on his statement while the world supports a televised genocide?

    • Gavin Hillyard says:

      My, my. Such big words straight out of the Communist handbook. And Hamas are as white as the driven snow it seems?

      • Stephen Paul says:

        Yes. So many demonizing endlessly repetitive canard laden Tik Tok adjectives about Israel render them worthless and meaningless. If I repeat over and over and over again specifically Arab nationalism is evil does that make it true. No, of course not.

    • John P says:

      Russia did not stand with South Africa against Apartheid. The Soviet Union did and surprise surprise that included Ukraine.
      Russia is in fact more on the side of Israel than Hamas. The countries have full diplomatic relations, Israel has refused to supply equipment to Ukraine and about 15% of Israelis speak Russian and have historical ties to Russia.

    • John Brodrick says:

      Wrong. It was not Russia that stood by SA against white supremacy; it was the USSR, which included Ukraine. The apartheid government was opposed because it was undemocratic; it did not allow the majority of ordinary South Africans to participate in national government. Instead it killed, jailed or exiled its opponents, which is precisely what Mr Putin’s government is doing in Russia and to the Russian people who do not appreciate his dictatorship. Now he wants to do it also to the Ukrainians.I cannot understand why people who sacrificed so much to throw off the apartheid dictatorship now want to cheer on and support the dictatorship of Mr Putin. In apartheid SA you risked your life if you opposed the Nationalist Party government; in Russia today, you risk your life if you oppose, or even just criticise Mr Putin and his government.

    • John Brodrick says:

      Wrong. It was not Russia that stood by SA against white supremacy; it was the USSR, which included Ukraine. The apartheid government was opposed because it was undemocratic; it did not allow the majority of ordinary South Africans to participate in national government. Instead it killed, jailed or exiled its opponents, which is precisely what Mr Putin’s government is doing in Russia and to the Russian people who do not appreciate his dictatorship. Now he wants to do it also to the Ukrainians. I cannot understand why people who sacrificed so much to throw off the apartheid dictatorship now want to cheer on and support the dictatorship of Mr Putin. In apartheid SA you risked your life if you opposed the Nationalist Party government; in Russia today, you risk your life if you oppose, or even just criticise Mr Putin and his government. Why was the former unacceptable, but the latter is acceptable?

  • Irene Baumbach says:

    Thank you Branko.

  • dexter m says:

    Can someone pls explain what being non aligned means to Mbalula

  • jill jones says:

    Thank you, Branko. Scary, but, as usual, not enough individual voices to make an effective army to change the “majority” army’s direction.

  • Gordon Cyril says:

    The present SA Government is fast becoming a facsimile of the PLO who in decades of confrontation with Israel, never “missed and opportunity to miss an opportunity” and look at where that debacle is now.

    SA has been caught red-handed in its malfeasance with Russia be it as an apologist for Putin, sending undercover nocturnal weaponry from a national key point, pitching up in Ukraine armed to the teeth as a “peacemaker” presumably to twist Zelensky’s arm, and aligning with its toxic partners including astonishingly hosting “The Butcher of Tehran” Raisi shortly. Iran is one of Russia’s new armourers.

    In this light, to then expect Mbalula with his attendant dim wattage to understand the adverse nuances of him partying with “the axis of evil” under the guise of #ANCatwork is to give him far too much credit (none of which he or the ANC has left)

    To then expect SA to call Russia out on its failure to denounce Putin’s invocation of Hitler to victim blame will be a futile exercise especially as they are keen to protect their largesse which would dry up if SA decided to be an honest broker.

    The SA Government is a busted flush and if Pandor can descend into Islamism and dogwhistle Zionist slander, nothing suggests they will “get religion” when it comes to Russia. On the contrary, Expect worse.

  • Marilyn Brown says:

    It is unbelievable that Putin is allowed to get away with such crazy statements and such barbaric actions in Ukraine. Putin and Netanyahu are cut from the same cloth when it comes to making war. Poland will be next on Putin’s agenda and we are morally bound to denounce Putin and support Poland. How do we do this in an official way?

  • Dave Gould says:

    Great article Branko, but I think you just may have mistaken Mbalula and the rest of the ANC as being sentient. The single brain cell they share amongst them appears to have gone missing, or no longer operates due to lack of maintenance. So to expect them to denounce what any reasonable human finds reprehensible is perhaps a broken, rusted, potholed bridge too far.

  • Hervey Williams says:

    Perhaps the death of Alexei Navalny, Russia’s Nelson Mandela equivalent, will help the ANC to appreciate how brutal the present Russian regime is.

  • Neil Parker says:

    There are 4 war criminals that need to be singled out in today’s world. In no particular order of demerit, they are Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Medvedev and Benjamin Netanyahu. Trump’s arrogance is little mitigated by his utter stupidity which probably encouraged Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Medvedev – with his nuclear threats – also wants to ride bareback like Putin but is a little man trying to be big. Netanyahu needs to explain to us why the Israeli security apparatus ignored the Hamas build up which was reported to them And then why his tanks recently blasted a civilian car leaving a 6 year old survivor calling for help. When help came they too were killed and I’m asking how different are you (Mr Netanyahu) from Putin and his tank crews doing exactly the same thing. Methinks you – like Donald Trump – are also in the Putin fan club but don’t worry, we’re right there with you!

  • Neil Parker says:

    Oh the incongruity: Mbalula and Tucker Carlson – joining the club supporting Putin and his murderous thugs. We have noted with deep sorrow , Alexey Navalny’s death. The cynical timing of the Tucker Carlson interview and (no doubt flattering) invitation to Mbalula to join the crusade against “Modern Practices Of Neocolonialism ” is also noted.

  • Thinker and Doer says:

    It is apalling that the Govenrment is so determined to cozy up to Putin’s regime, that has invaded Ukraine and murdered and brutally suppressed and murdered opposition leaders such as the courageous Mr Navalny, as well as backjng so many other authoritarian regimes who disdain democracy, freedom and human rights, such as China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the Assad regime in Somalia. It betrays the fundamental principles underpinning the Constitutional order, and also places South Africa’s reputation and trading interests in serious jeopardy. To adopt such stances for outmoded ideological reasons, or financial gain for the ANC and the cadres, is indefensible and yet another example of the government’s reckless and dangerous approach in so many areas of governance.

  • N H says:

    At last, a voice of common sense, reason, and courage. The ANC overlooks the AGOA agreement and other advantages of trade with the US and the West. Their ignorance and ideology will sink this fragile economy even quicker than anticipated.

  • Yaakov Rashi says:

    Russia is the key supporter of Iran to free Palestine and has been active in anti Zionism. SA will stay loyal even if Russia commits war crimes.

  • PETER BAKER says:

    It is fine to be hyper critical of Putin, who is nothing less than a Hitler wannabe. But the likes of DM and Business Day must bear a major responsibility for the bold support of Russia by our el Presidente Ramaphoria, who is snugly in Putin’s pocket. The leaders of our so-called Liberal press have given the South African el Presidente unwavering and unquestioning support for years. It is a sad reflection on this liberal press that they only NOW see just how sinister and malignant the ANC government is in this country. You guys should have done a better job in analyzing Ramaphoria before singing his praises and chanting his name to the mountains. Perhaps a Ramaphoria under more pressure over a longer period of time would have been less inclined to support Russia’s aggression in the Ukraine. I have yet to read a word from either Peter Bruce or Branko Brkic that were completely hoodwinked by the likes of el Presidente Ramaphoria. Shame on you.

    • L T. says:

      I think we were all hoodwinked by Ramaphoria. He seemed to be the antithesis of JZ – educated, worldly, numerate, literate , sincere…….We were so desperate to believe that he would rescue us and that he was on the side of all we believe is honest, right and just. Shame on all of us.

    • Skinyela Skinyela says:

      Do you really believe that media pressure would sway the president?
      The likes of DM do not even represent the voice of an average Saffer. So, if you want to influence public opinion DM is not your platform.

  • Skinyela Skinyela says:

    Unrelated.

    Branko, if I may ask, do you support what the US did to Yugoslavia?
    Do you recognise Kosovo as a sovereign state?

  • Sue Grant-Marshall says:

    Such an excellent article Branko! A measure of its excellence is the massive response it has generated. Some responses even lucid and well balanced. I wonder if Ramaphosa ever reads DM, particularly the ‘ Comments’ at the end. I doubt it, more’s the shame.

    all shades of opinion and some of them even balanced!

  • Sue Grant-Marshall says:

    please edit this :

    Sue Grant-Marshall
    4 March 2024 at 17:52
    Your comment is awaiting moderation. This is a preview; your comment will be visible after it has been approved.
    Such an excellent article Branko! A measure of its excellence is the massive response it has generated. Some responses even lucid and well balanced. I wonder if Ramaphosa ever reads DM, particularly the ‘ Comments’ at the end. I doubt it, more’s the shame.

  • David Forbes says:

    WHY is this piece still on the site???? Dated 5 Feb! I know of no other piece of writing that has ever lasted this long, and clearly it is because this is the EDITOR!!!! Bow down.
    C’mon man, I watched the Carlson interview and I don’t see Putin quoting Hitler or trying to emulate him. He shows what happened in history. This is an opinion piece by a man of East European origin, so I can understand, partially, his perspective. But really, to see this languishing forever on the DM pages is really pathetic. Maybe Branko could replace it with a piece comparing Netenyahu with Hitler? Surely more relevant, more accurate and more timely? Or perhaps he prefers to laud Navalny rather than champion the cause of Assange? Putin may be a rich and nasty man, but he sure has outwitted the entire Western world, and his strategic insights and planning are something to behold. Before the SMO (now a war), NATO, that blonde idiot former journalist and Biden thought Russia would be walkover. They thought throwing weapons and cash at Zelensky would turn the tide. But the global bullies have found, to their cost, and their chagrin, that Zelensky’s “summer offensive” was a complete flop, and now they running out of ammo while Z runs out of time (his term of office expires in May) and America runs out of cash. It would really laughable, but so many Ukrainians have died for nothing but Zelensky’s ego and the puffery of NATO, all really to protect the Biden family’s corrupt links. Sies! All of you!

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