‘Behold the face of pure ignorance’: Candace Owens mocked by Pulitzer-winning historian for Ukraine comment

Ms Owens claimed that ‘Ukraine wasn’t a thing until 1989’

Gino Spocchia
Saturday 19 March 2022 15:26 GMT

Right-wing pundit Candace Owens defends nationalism and Hitler ideology

Republican commentator Candace Owens has been schooled by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Anne Applebaum for her claim that Ukraine “wasn’t a thing until 1989”.

During her Candace show on The Daily Wire this week, Ms Owens claimed that “Ukraine wasn’t a thing until 1989” and that it was “stupid” to suggest Russian president Vladimir Putin was carrying out a “genocide” in the country.

“Obviously Ukraine wasn’t a thing until 1989,” Ms Owens argued in the footage, shared by MediaMatters on Wednesday. “Ukraine was created by the Russians. They speak Russian.”

“Behold the face of pure ignorance,” wrote Ms Applebaum, an author and writer for The Atlantic, in a Twitter post on Friday attacking Ms Owens for her analysis. “This is what happens when you know no history”.

Ms Applebaum is an expert on Russia and has authored books including Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine and Gulag: A history, for which she won the Pulitzer-prize for non-fiction in 2014.

Benjamin Tallis, a fellow at the Centre for International Security, also tweeted: “Mind blowing ignorance. Heartbreaking immorality.”

Ms Owens defended her comments about Russia and Ukraine on Friday, and made the baseless suggestion that billionaire philanthropist George Soros was behind the “false narrative” of war.

“What they are doing right now is creating a false sense of security in the West”, Ms Owens said, while dismissing the global condemnation of Russia’s invasion.

“All of this to illicit emotions to get you to donate and things that you dont really understand that are complex.”

“I actually read a couple of days ago that Putin invaded Ukraine because he’s experiencing ‘roid rage’,” said Ms Owens of Mr Putin’s aggression. “I mean that’s a real Western article, you can look that up, they all shared it.”

Ms Owens said that she could have been more “eloquent” about her views on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine was formed in 1917 as the Ukrainian People’s Republic and had been an independent country for five years before it was subsumed into the Soviet Union in 1922.

Not all Ukrainians speak Russian, according to the country’s census. Roughly 29 per cent of Ukrainians speaking Russian as their first language.

The United Nations human rights office said in a statement on Friday that 816 Ukrainian civilians have been killed in the conflict since it began on 24 February, although the death toll is likely higher.

Ms Owens said news reports from Ukraine were part of a “false narrative” designed to “illicit emotions to get you to donate”, and that the analysis from mainstream media organisations were like a “movie script”.

She referred to reports about a Ukrainian pilot nicknamed the “Ghost of Kyiv” as an example of the “extraordinary tales” coming out of the country.

The name refers to a pilot who Ukrainian officials said has shot down 49 Russian aircraft since the war began, after video circulated on social media appearing to show a fighter plane taking down Russian aircraft over Kyiv. The Ghost of Kyiv may be a myth, experts say.

The Independent has approached Ms Owens for comment.

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