Putin Is Evil END OF STORY, or is that…

Max Rottersman
5 min readFeb 24


(Discussion with Jimbaked, transcript here. I’ll call him Jim in this story)

Our discussion began over his story “Bucha — The Russian Atrocity That Never Took Place

No, he is not a Russian troll. One of his latest replies:

I agree, and I very much regret that they chose to invade Ukraine. I’m not pro-Russia invading Ukraine, I wish this had never happened, and I want it to be over yesterday. I’m not writing “you” off as propaganda, I’m writing off the narrative about ‘Russians as brutal, incompetent, savage poisoners of political opposition’ as propaganda, and the notion that is somehow evidence for Bucha as motivated reasoning by someone who has swallowed that propaganda.

For a jumping off point, I’ll use this comment:

It’s a myth that Putin wants to recreate the USSR, and if you believe this myth, this is another example of how you have been brainwashed by our media into thinking you know something you don’t about Russia and Russians

I’m going to re-assess my thinking as if that is, indeed, a myth.

From the beginning…

Russia never hid the fact that it was ready to invade Ukraine if the West didn’t take its issues seriously. My first story 1/20/22 pre-invasion, where I believe Jim and I would have agreed that the Western media was already in propaganda mode. At the end of January, I suspected Germany’s Navy Chief Kay-Achim Schonbach was prescient and wrote his story. Soon after the invasion began, on 3/12/22 I write Should Biden Call Putin where I go over Russia’s talking points (something I’ve never seen reported in the major media).

What we all know is that the U.S. expected Ukraine to fall once the invasion began.

We must keep in mind that Russia’s invasion into a sovereign nation was preceded by the U.S. invasion of Iraq, also a sovereign nation. I have argued that there isn’t equivalence in the two wars, that the U.S. was less destructive to civilians, that it was a coalition. But as Jim kept pushing his argument I ended up in a corner.

The “Shock and Awe” campaign of 2003 was one of the most shameful things the U.S. did in my lifetime. I’m not talking about its underlying military doctrine of overwhelming force, I’m referring to the way the media broadcast it on TV as if thousands of innocent families weren’t getting killed during that massive attack. Imagine being the child of one of those mom or dad janitors working in one of those buildings?

It’s like we were watching in awe, the power of Auschwitz’s furnaces and smoke stacks.

Fills me with disgust to this day. I can no longer, as an American, take the moral high ground.

Did Russia execute a “shock and awe” against Kiev? No. And they have the capacity. It’s a strong indication they never intended to get into a decapitation war with Ukraine’s government. Yes, they wanted the government replaced, or brought to heel, but not at the expense of the city.

Further, the Russians have not attacked civilians in Kiev or Odessa directly. In this too, I have let propaganda color my thinking. All attacks seem to have been aimed at infrastructure and civilian deaths were collateral damage.

Should they stop firing missiles because they aren’t precise? Did we refrain from bombing Bagdad because ours couldn’t differentiate between friend or foe?

True, Russia has leveled cities in the East and South, but those cities were occupied by the Ukrainian military. This is a difficult subject, but I have to concede it’s common in most wars. Reporters have not been free to embed themselves where they want. And those that have been allowed on the front line are not truly independent.

I believe there have been war crimes committed by Russians in Ukraine. Although I believe them to be beyond the pale, worse than what would happen while the U.S. is fighting, I have to concede that so far, the propaganda surrounding these events is thick as can be. I just don’t know much about who did what, where or why. Again, I don’t agree with Jim here, but his point that propaganda colors my thinking is, I have to admit, true.

Further, if I was a Ukrainian I can see myself torturing and killing Russians in a basement. On that, we hear nothing.

Anyway, I don’t believe anyone could win a case in front of a jury, that Putin ordered rape and torture. Further, my argument that Putin ordered it, not directly, but with a wink, cannot be proven either — at least not yet.

Ukrainians cannot look at this subject objectively. If I was in their shoes, any claim that Bucha or Irpin isn’t a war crime would enrage me too. I too would argue that Russia invaded so Russia must take full responsibility. So my deepest apologies to them. Moving on…

Trying to avoid propaganda, I believe the following:

  1. Russia telegraphed that it was prepared to invade Ukraine if certain conditions weren’t met. It gave the West ample time to respond, which it did, but we don’t know what that response was!
  2. The U.S. conceded that if Russia invaded it would probably succeed in replacing the government but that action would be met with every sanction imaginable.
  3. When Russia invaded Ukraine it did so believing there was enough Russian support to prevent an all-out war. If it knew then, what it knows now, it would have focused its entire attack on surrounding Kiev.
  4. Ukraine beat back the Russian military, but until the war is over, we don’t know how much the U.S. was directly involved.
  5. Russia seems to be fighting the war dirty, but, the propaganda and lack of independent reporting from the battlefields makes it easy for me to support Ukraine and believe Putin evil (this is Jim’s main point, to me).
  6. This is going to get people angry. Sorry. The U.S. has not made a sincere effort at expelling Russia from Ukraine. The U.S. is negotiating with Russia through dead Ukrainians, Russians, military and economic costs. I hate to say all this. But I have to call it as I see it.

One of the aspects of Russia I dislike is that there’s one old man, talking to a dozen other old men, making every decision about the war. These old men have been in power for decades. Compare that to the U.S., where there are many people who have a voice, both young and old and from different ideologically backgrounds.

I can conceive of someone reading a Medium article about the war and communicating that idea to President Biden. I can’t believe that would happen in Russia, which is their fatal weakness. But this is all opinion territory.

I believe the West is truly a better place to live than the East.

Yet should my views on governance matter to Ukrainians or Russians?

What I can’t dismiss is the fact that hundreds of thousands of Russian are fighting in this war. Sure, many couldn’t afford to flee, for one reason or another, but the evidence is overwhelming that the structure of the Russian government isn’t their primary interest. And they’re backing up their values, whatever they are, with their lives. Strong stuff.

If they’re fighting for Putin, Russia or just a paycheck. It doesn’t matter. They’re fighting and we have to stop deluding ourselves that they will one day recognize that Putin is evil and stop.

It’s propaganda to think so.



Max Rottersman

I too, find much of my writing incomprehensible.