Support The Bulwark and subscribe today.
  Join Now

The Distortions of the Putin Apologists

The Americans who are desperate to excuse the Russian dictator and explain away the Ukraine invasion.
March 10, 2022
Terrible Ukraine Takes Exposed | Not My Party with Tim Miller

[Editor’s note: Watch Not My Party every week on Snapchat.]

Tim Miller: To all the Putin apologists out there, here’s my love letter to you. This is “Not My Party,” brought to you by The Bulwark. This week, I want to take on arguments made by influencers on the anti-war left and the populist right who are trying to puncture the—

Voiceover: Establishment narrative.

Miller: —about America’s role in Ukraine. We’ll call this group, the “anti-anti-Putins.” It’s everyone from the DSA to Candace Owens who argue it’s really the U.S. that’s at fault here. So to break down their arguments, let’s go to the Wheel of Distortion, where twisted takes get taken down. And here we go. We’ve landed on Tulsi, and it’s a tweet. Apparently, Russia had “legitimate security concerns” because NATO was encroaching on their turf.

This is the core argument of the anti-anti-Putins, and it has a few obvious problems. Number one, Russia has nukes. so what exactly is their “legitimate security concern”? Ukraine is no threat to them, militarily.

Vladimir Putin (Beck Bennett on SNL): Perhaps not.

Miller: Number two, Ukraine isn’t in NATO. In 2008, when they tried to join, other European countries rejected them. So what exactly was the imminent danger to Russia in 2022?

Vladimir Putin (the real deal; in Russian): [Do you think our goal is to prove anything to anyone?]

Miller: Number three, if Russia is butt-hurt that Ukraine has increased ties with Europe over them, well that’s too bad. It’s what Ukrainians repeatedly voted for. If the Ukrainian people decide that they want to join NATO, Russia doesn’t get to bomb, terrorize, and invade them. That makes Russia the imperialist aggressor. This illogical argument boils down to: Ukraine’s wearing too short of a skirt, so how can you blame Russia for getting all handsy and invading them?

Veronica Mars: Gross.

Miller: Time to spin again. And we’ve landed on our good friend Glenn Greenwald. Let watch the clip.

Glenn Greenwald: If China or Russia created a new military alliance and invited Mexico or Canada, we would of course react as if that were a great threat to our national security, which it would be.

Miller: Fascinating, Glenn.

Ron Burgundy: You’re so wise.

Miller: Okay, well, Brazil, who’s on our side of the globe, did join an alliance with China and Russia, and we’re cool. If Canada did the same, I’m sure we’d try to talk ’em out of it and build up our Mountie defenses. But we sure as shit wouldn’t start carpet-bombing Toronto. This is a crazy excuse.

Next spin. Ah, Iraq!

Hasan Piker: Once again, a fucking senseless war. The double standard is so fucking flagrant.

Miller: Whataboutism, classic!

David Mitchell: Are we the baddies?

Miller: Okay, let’s go here. Iraq was a mistake. I agree. Torture was unforgivable, stipulate. But what does that have to do with Ukraine? Ukraine is a free democracy and Russia is trying to take it over. The U.S. has not fought a war for territory like this since the 1800s.

Bernardo (David Alvarez in West Side Story): Puerto Rico, sí.

Miller: These situations are not the same. And regardless, our past mistakes don’t give Russia an invasion Get Out of Jail Free card.

Spin again! And it’s Glenn talking about Russiagate.

Greenwald: Now, let’s look at the tensions that were created by Russiagate. All of this, constant messaging, Russia as this grave threat, these are the fruits we’re now seeing of it.

Miller: Russia did not attack another country because of the Mueller investigation.

Jesus from Family Guy: Are you sure?

Tim the Enchanter (John Cleese in Monty Python and the Holy Grail): Quite.

Miller: Next. Time for another spin! Glenn is on fire.

Greenwald: No matter what you think of U.S. involvement in the Middle East for all those years, at least there was an actual resource that was of vital interest to the United States, namely oil. The U.S. has no vital interest in Ukraine. There’s no reason. What is the point of all of this?

Miller: Ah, Ukraine doesn’t matter to America at all. Not our problem. Good luck over there.

Sterling Archer: What could possibly go wrong?

Miller: How is a superpower invading an ally in Europe not our problem? Do you World War II much? European security is American security.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt: For us, this is an emergency as serious as war itself.

Miller: Now, let’s put the shoe on the other foot. How exactly is indiscriminate violence in Ukraine in the Russian people’s interest? Look at what’s happening there.

Daleep Singh: The economy in Russia is in free fall. The ruble is worth less than a penny. His stock market hasn’t opened all week.

“This Is Fine” Dog: Things are gonna be okay.

Miller: Final spin.

Bryce Mitchell: I don’t know what’s going on, to be honest, brother. I really don’t. There’s so much stuff. And I don’t think nobody knows what’s going on fully. There’s been so much political corruption in that area.

Miller: Ah, yes. Ukraine is corrupt and we don’t really know what’s going on over there.

Sabine Wren (voiced by Tiya Sircar in Star Wars Rebels): Are you being serious? Is he being serious?

Miller: We do know what’s going on. Look at the videos.

Reporter voiceover: Some two thousand civilians have reportedly been killed.

Miller: If you believe this could be some sinister, NWO, Hunter-Biden military-industrial complex plot, that I’m asking you to log off Reddit, take a walk around the block, and consider why regular, everyday Ukrainians are either taking up arms to defend their country or fleeing in terror. These people need our help. So we must ignore the Russia apologists, and continue to do whatever we can to help. See you next week for more “Not My Party.”

Tim Miller

Tim Miller is The Bulwark’s writer-at-large. He was previously political director for Republican Voters Against Trump, communications director for Jeb Bush 2016, and spokesman for the Republican National Committee.