Why do people contend that Putin's invasion of Ukraine lies with the United States and its western allies (Mailbox, Sept. 22)? The aphorism "Russia is a country with an unpredictable past" comes to mind. I have personal experiences with those who have lived through the Soviet era, including my wife who was born in Russia. When she moved to this country, I learned that Russians were not made aware of inconvenient historical events that did not fit the proffered narrative to its citizens. Historical events such as the 1939 non-aggression pact signed by Hitler and Stalin was one of these. Another was any mention of the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. Even Stalin's image has been rehabilitated in recent times to suit the needs of Putin and his allies.
The shifting mythologies and cover up of historical events are not unique to Russia, but it nevertheless is an object lesson how history has been manipulated, altered and politicized. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine, with its competing views regarding the legitimacy of Ukraine's sovereignty, has its roots going back many centuries.
As to the contention by Putin apologists that if NATO had not expanded to include Eastern European countries after the collapse of the Soviet Union all of the events now unfolding would never have happened is utter nonsense. Those living under the thumb of the Soviet Union had a valid reason to distrust Moscow and made their own decisions regarding entry into the NATO fold. They were not coerced into doing so. Shifting historical narratives has always been a political tool manipulated by those in power. For those Russians who challenge the prevailing narrative, as by simply uttering the word war instead of "limited military engagement," a prison sentence hangs over their head. No more apologies for Putin.
Jeff Hogue, Fortuna