Home Society Belgium exists largely ‘thanks to Russia,’ Putin claims
Belgium exists largely ‘thanks to Russia,’ Putin claims

Belgium exists largely ‘thanks to Russia,’ Putin claims

by host

Russian pseudo-historian-in-chief Vladimir Putin has delivered his latest twisted history lesson: Belgium owes its existence to Russia.

According to the Russian president, Belgium first “appeared on the world map as an independent state, largely thanks to Russia and Russia’s position,” though he didn’t specify how.

Unsurprisingly, given Putin’s track record, the truth is almost exactly the reverse.

When Belgium rose in revolution against the Kingdom of the Netherlands in pursuit of independence in 1830, Russia was fully on the side of the Dutch and was planning to send troops to crush the Belgian rebels, fearing any kind of action against Europe’s great monarchies.

The czar ultimately had to divert those troops — many of them Polish — because of the November Uprising in Poland. After that was defeated, fleeing Polish officers headed to Belgium where they strengthened the country’s fledgling armed forces.

While Russia ultimately accepted Belgian statehood at the London Conference of 1830, it would make more sense to credit the anti-Russian Polish revolutionaries of 1830 than the Russians for the country’s existence. Britain and France were seen as the leading powers at the conference.

Putin made his false claim on Wednesday in response to a question asked by a Belgian at the World Youth Festival, a gathering of young people from Russia and around the world, held near Sochi.

Putin has often been accused of revising and weaponizing history to justify his imperialist ambitions.

He has repeatedly claimed Ukraine historically belongs to Russia, devoting almost the entirety of the first 30 minutes of his two-hour interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson in February to a rambling tirade on the subject, and ordered high school textbooks be rewritten to reflect his revanchist ideology.

The first noteworthy contact between Russia and what would one day become Belgium took place when Peter the Great — the Russian ruler whose bronze statue stands in Putin’s cabinet room — visited the southern Netherlands in 1717.

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