A term that is almost never mentioned in connection with Putin’s Russia is “fascism.” The word seems to have gone by the wayside among journalists, and to be associated primarily with 20th century dictators. Indeed, the ideology itself – as expounded by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini after the First World War – had fairly specific tenets as it applied domestically: breaking strikes, crushing left-wing labor unions, promoting working-class nationalism and inciting ethnic chauvinism. But in foreign policy, the fascism of both Mussolini and Hitler was characterized by militarism and imperialism, and it appealed to ethno-national unity and a historic or “sacred” mission to conquer the lost territory of former empire.
There is no essential difference between that policy and the policy of the Putin regime today. Putinist Russia is nationalistic, appeals to former imperial glory (both Russian and Soviet), and asserts that parts of Ukraine – a state which the Russian government viewed as sovereign for over two decades since the collapse of the USSR – are intrinsically “Russian.” The Kremlin has appealed to common religious and ethnic identity to bolster its policy of creating “Novorossia” (‘New Russia’), a mythical historical territory supposedly dating back to the time of the despot Russian Empress Catherine II, when the Russian Empire was expanding militarily. As the economy crumbles at home, Putin’s Russia is resorting to a policy of military aggression, annexationism and imperialism to shore up domestic popular support.
This article from the BBC explains the appeal to ethno-religious identity in the Russian policy in Ukraine. It is a “crusade,” and while the BBC is widely accepted as the most politically correct media outlet in the Western world, it is nevertheless true that Russia’s war in Ukraine is one of “religious destiny.” In the 21st century, this can only be described as “fascist,” yet even the BBC – once George Orwell’s employer – never uses the term to describe Russia today.
Read the article here: The Russians fighting a ‘holy war’ in Ukraine