cherepanyn2_ALEXEI DRUZHININSPUTNIKAFP via Getty Images_putinredsquare Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

Why Does the West Refuse to Call Putin’s Russia Fascist?

It was not the West's far right or far left but rather its political mainstream and financial elites that helped to bolster the Russian president's regime. They pumped their assets into the Kremlin’s mafia-capitalist system and were corrupted in return.

KYIV – A few years ago, during a panel discussion on the politics of memory at a university in a German-speaking country, I called Russian President Vladimir Putin “the most powerful fascist politician in the world.” Afterwards, the organizers shyly told me that while the event had gone well, the label I applied to the Kremlin leader was “too much” – even though Russia had by that time already occupied Crimea and started a war in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. I was surprised not so much by the organizers’ comment as by the way they made it. They seemed genuinely embarrassed, as if I had said something obscene.

The first Russian bombs that fell on Ukraine on February 24 vindicated my apparent vulgarity. Unfortunately, Putin’s fascism had become so accepted by Western financial and political elites that they were uncomfortable publicly denouncing earlier: It was “too much” until it was “too late.” Even as the obvious and incontrovertible evidence piles up, many still have not abandoned their reluctance to call a spade a spade.

Putin not only denies Ukrainians’ right to exist, but also controls a propaganda machine that has issued a manifesto proclaiming his genocidal aim to eliminate Ukrainians as such. Moreover, he has at his disposal a state that is ready to execute his genocidal fantasies and exterminate Ukrainians because he thinks they should not exist.