Last July, Vladimir Putin supplied the mythical basis for Russian war propaganda in an essay titled “On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians.” The essential idea is that Russia has the right to Ukraine because of things that happened a thousand years ago in Kyiv. At the time, the city was a trading hub of Viking slavers who were gaining dominance over local Khazars. It takes some fanciful thinking to see here a reason for Russia to invade Ukraine in the 21st century, as it seems prepared to do. The absurd particulars, though, are less important than the principle. If countries can claim other countries on the grounds of millennial myths, the modern state system ceases to exist.
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Editor’s Note: This op-ed was published by The Washington Post. The Kyiv Independent is aggregating it as a recommendation to our readers.