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Socalists Acknowledge Ukraine run by Nazis, the NATO Provocations and Hypocrisy by the West
international | anti-war / imperialism | other press Monday March 21, 2022 22:25 by 1 of Indy
A letter to a friend on the historical and political background to the war in Ukraine by long time socialist David North
The following letter was sent by WSWS International Editorial Board Chairman David North to a friend who requested his opinion on a recent online discussion held at a US college on the Russia-Ukraine war.</p>
Thank you for bringing the online discussion on the Russia-Ukraine war to my attention and providing me with access to the campus event. I have now listened to the broadcast and will give you, as you have requested, my “professional” opinion of the presentation of the two academics. I will concentrate on the remarks of the historian, with whose work in the field of Holocaust studies I am familiar. In any case, he made the most substantial comments.
To be blunt, I was disappointed, if not surprised, by the superficial approach that was taken to this critical and dangerous turning point in world events. As you know, my evaluation of the war is that of one who has been active in international socialist politics. The World Socialist Web Site has publicly condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine. However, this principled opposition from the political left has nothing in common with the grotesquely one-sided official US-NATO propaganda narrative, which presents the invasion as an entirely unprovoked act of aggression by Russia.
Momentous events such as wars and revolutions invariably raise complex problems of causation. That is one of the reasons why the study of history is an indispensable foundation of serious political analysis. This general truth acquires exceptional importance in any discussion of Russia. This country was the site of arguably the most significant political event of the twentieth century, the 1917 October Revolution, whose historical, political and intellectual legacy still reverberates in our own time. The study of Soviet history remains critical to understanding the politics and problems of the contemporary world.
Making this point is not a matter of political nostalgia. The initial remarks of the historian referenced briefly the final decades of the USSR and stressed the trauma caused by its dissolution. However, his emphasis on the impact of this event on the personal psychology of Vladimir Putin did not lead to a serious understanding of either Russia or the present war. He did not attempt to explain the socio-economic foundations of the regime that emerged from the decision of the Stalinist bureaucracy to liquidate the Soviet Union.
Essential questions were not asked. In whose interests does Putin rule? What impact did the privatization of state assets have on the Russian capitalist elite’s perception of its security interests? Comparing the foreign policy of Putin to that of the Soviet Union, what elements of its policies changed and what elements persisted?
Geography is a persistent factor, and it is one that has haunted Russia, a country that has been the terrain of so many invasions—including, need I mention, the extermination war launched by Nazi Germany only 80 years ago, which claimed the lives of between 30 and 40 million citizens. The historian mentioned the impact on Putin of the mob scene outside Stasi headquarters in Berlin in 1989. I find it hard to believe that that incident affected him more than the enduring societal recollection of the “Great Patriotic War” and its aftershocks.
The catastrophe that began on June 22, 1941 is embedded in the collective consciousness of Russians. This is not a matter of justifying the nationalistic conclusions that are drawn by Putin, not to mention ultra-right elements like Aleksandr Dugin, from World War II. But the experience of World War II is more important in understanding Russian perceptions, including among workers, than supposed dreams of a lost empire.
That being said, what I found most troubling about the webinar’s discussion of the war was the absence of any reference to the wars that have been waged by the United States, often with the support of its NATO allies, during the last 30 years. The entire coverage of this war in the media has been characterized by a level of hypocrisy that is disgusting. Even if one accepts as absolutely true all the crimes attributed to the Russians during the last month, they do not approach the scale of horrors inflicted by the United States and NATO on Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan—not to mention the other countries that have been on the receiving end of US bombings, missile strikes and targeted killings. Based on what one sees and reads in the broadcast news and print media, one might form the impression that the United States has been overtaken by a virulent form of collective amnesia.
Does no one remember “Shock and Awe”? If the Pentagon had planned the war on Ukraine, Kyiv and Kharkiv would have been flattened on the first night of the war. The US media acted as if the attack on the maternity hospital in Mariupol (accepting as true the description of its contemporary use) that cost three lives was an act of unspeakable brutality. Has everyone forgotten the February 1991 US bombing of the Amiriyah air raid shelter on the outskirts of Baghdad that killed approximately 1,500 women and children? It is credibly estimated that deaths caused by US “wars of choice” total more than 1 million. And the dying continues. Millions of children are starving in Afghanistan. Dark-skinned refugees from the disaster created in Libya by NATO bombs are still drowning in the Mediterranean. Is anyone paying attention to this? Are the lives of the people of Central Asia and the Middle East less precious than those of Europeans in Ukraine?
Journalists who are now comparing Putin to Hitler seem to have forgotten what they themselves wrote during the air war on Serbia and the later invasion of Iraq. The historian referred to Thomas Friedman of the New York Times as a major geopolitical thinker. Let us recall what he wrote on April 23, 1999, during the US-NATO bombing of Serbia:
Allow me to recall the words of Washington Post columnist George Will, who is now frothing with rage over Putin’s crimes. But this is what Will wrote during the US invasion of Iraq in a column dated April 7, 2004:
One week later, on April 14, 2004, Will unleashed another homicidal tirade in the Post:
Will’s columns were not exceptional. They were fairly typical of what US pundits were writing at the time. But what has changed is the broader public reaction. At that time, opposition to US wars and the foreign policy that fomented them was widespread. But it is difficult to find even traces of public opposition today.
The examination of the aggressive foreign policy of the United States since the dissolution of the USSR is not only a matter of exposing American hypocrisy. How is it possible to understand Russian policies apart from an analysis of the global context within which they are formulated? Given the fact that the United States has waged war relentlessly, is it irrational for Putin to view the expansion of NATO with alarm? He and other Russian policy makers are certainly aware of the enormous strategic interest of the United States in the Black Sea region, the Caspian region and, for that matter, the Eurasian landmass. It is not exactly a secret that the late Zbigniew Brzezinski and other leading US geostrategists have long insisted that US dominance of Eurasia—the so-called “World Island”—is a decisive strategic objective.
This imperative has become even more critical in the context of the escalating US conflict with China.
It is within this framework that the future of Ukraine has become a matter of great importance for the United States. Brzezinski stated explicitly that Russia, deprived of its influence in Ukraine, is reduced to the status of a minor power. More ominously, Brzezinski spoke openly of luring Russia into a war in Ukraine that would prove as self-destructive as the earlier Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. A review of the events leading up to the war—going back to the US-supported Maidan coup of 2014—strongly supports the argument that this objective has now been achieved.
Again, the recognition that Russia perceived in the actions of the United States and NATO a serious threat is not a justification of the invasion. But should there not be a critical evaluation of how the policies of the United States led to and even deliberately instigated it?
In an essay posted online by Foreign Affairs on December 28, 2021, nearly two months before the invasion, analyst Dmitri Trenin wrote:
If an agreement on the non-NATO status of Ukraine could have been secured, would that not have been preferable to the present situation? Can it be seriously argued that Russia had no reason to object to Ukraine’s integration into NATO? Those who experienced the crisis of October 1962 remember that it was triggered by the Soviet Union’s placement of ballistic missiles in Cuba. Though this was done with the full consent of the Castro regime, President Kennedy made clear that the United States would not accept a Soviet military presence in the Western Hemisphere and was prepared to risk nuclear war over the issue. That was 60 years ago. Can anyone seriously believe that the Biden administration would act less aggressively today if, for example, Mexico or any other Caribbean or Latin American country entered into a military alliance with China, even one which claimed to be purely defensive?
There is a further issue that was not seriously addressed. Both professors minimalized the continuing political and cultural influence of fascism in Ukraine, which is demonstrated in the renewed glorification of the mass murderer Stepan Bandera and the influence of the heavily armed paramilitary forces, such as the Azov Battalion, who identify with the horrifying legacy of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and its armed force, the Ukrainska povstanska armiia (UPA). The critical role played by the OUN and UPA in the extermination of Ukrainian Jews is a matter of established historical fact. The most recent account of their genocidal crimes, Ukrainian Nationalists and the Holocaust: OUN and UPA’s Participation in the Destruction of Ukrainian Jewry, 1941-1944, by John-Paul Himka, makes for very difficult reading.
The horrors of World War II are “not only” a matter of history. (I put “not only” in quotation marks because these two words should never be used when referencing events associated with crimes such as the Holocaust.) It is well known that the cult of Stepan Bandera and the justification of all the crimes with which he is associated reemerged as a potent and extremely dangerous factor in the political and cultural life of Ukraine in the aftermath of the dissolution of the USSR.
In his authoritative biography of Stepan Bandera (The Life and Afterlife of a Ukrainian Nationalist: Fascism, Genocide, and Cult) the historian Grzegorz Rossoliński-Liebe wrote that after 1991:
Rossoliński-Liebe further reports:
During the Cold War, the right-wing extremist Ukrainian lobby exerted substantial international influence and especially in the former West Germany, the United States and Canada. Until his assassination by the Soviet KGB in Munich in 1959, Bandera gave interviews that were broadcast in West Germany. The post-World War II career of Bandera’s deputy, Iaroslav Stets’ko, also deserves attention. He corresponded with Hitler, Mussolini and Franco and attempted to obtain the support of the Third Reich for the “free Ukrainian state” that Stets’ko proclaimed after the German invasion of the Soviet Union. This project proved unsuccessful, as the Nazi regime had no interest in satisfying the aspirations of the Ukrainian nationalists. Stets’ko was taken into “honorary captivity” and brought to Berlin. In July 1941 he produced a statement in which he declared:
Stets’ko survived the war, became a well-known figure in international right-wing politics and served as a board member of the World Anti-Communist League. Among the many tributes he received for his life-long struggle against Marxism was being named an honorary citizen of the Canadian city of Winnipeg in 1966. That was not all. In 1983, reports Rossoliński-Liebe, Stets’ko “was invited to the Capitol and the White House, where George Bush and Ronald Reagan received the ‘last premier of a free Ukrainian state’.” [p. 552]
Rossoliński-Liebe recalls yet another event:
The international connections of Ukrainian neo-Nazis are intensely relevant to the present crisis. It has recently been revealed that Canadian officials met with members of the Azov Battalion. According to a report posted by the Ottawa Citizen on November 9, 2021:
The report continues:
There is yet another disturbing aspect of this story which relates directly to the extremely aggressive anti-Russian policy of the Canadian government. Chrystia Freeland is the Canadian Deputy Prime Minister. Her grandfather, Mykhailo Khomiak, edited a Nazi newspaper called Krakivski Visti (Kracow News) in Occupied Poland and then briefly in Vienna from 1940 to 1945. Of course, Deputy Prime Minister Freeland should not be held responsible for the sins and crimes of her grandfather; but serious questions have been raised about the influence of right-wing Ukrainian nationalism on her own political views, and, therefore, on the policies of the Canadian government.
The National Post of Canada reported on March 2, 2022:
The media’s reluctance to undertake an intensive investigation into Freeland’s family connections and the broader connection between the Ukrainian far right and the Canadian government stands in stark contrast to the witch-hunt aimed at suppressing all traces of Russian influence in the cultural life of the country. Earlier this month, the 20-year-old Russian piano virtuoso, Alexander Malofeev—who is in no way responsible for the Russian invasion of Ukraine—could not go ahead with recitals that had been scheduled in Vancouver and Montreal. A similar purge of Russian cultural influence is underway in the United States and throughout Europe. This degrading campaign—which is the negation of the cultural ties between the United States and Russia that began to flourish in the mid-1950s despite the Cold War—should be seen as a manifestation of the very dangerous political and ideological impulses and motivations that are at work in the present crisis. Far from denouncing and opposing the anti-Russia hysteria, the intellectual and cultural institutions are, for the most part, adapting themselves to it.
There is a final criticism that I must make of the webinar. There was no reference in the discussion to the extreme political and social crisis within the United States, as if the domestic situation has absolutely nothing to do with the very aggressive stance taken by the United States. Many serious studies of World War I and World War II have focused on what is known among historians as “Der Primat der Innenpolitik” (The primacy of domestic politics). This interpretation, developed in the early 1930s by the left-wing German historian Eckart Kehr, placed central emphasis on the role of domestic social conflicts on the formulation of foreign policy.
A careful consideration of Kehr’s conceptions—which acquired great influence among subsequent generations of historians—is certainly necessary in analyzing the political motivations of the Biden administration. Since the turn of the decade, the United States has been shaken by two historic crises: (1) the COVID-19 pandemic and (2) the attempted (and nearly successful) coup d’état of January 6, 2021. Both of these events, even when viewed in isolation, have been traumatic experiences.
In just two years, the United States has suffered, at minimum, 1 million deaths due to COVID-19, more than in any American war and, possibly, greater than the total number of deaths suffered by Americans in all US wars. The actual number of fatalities, based on a study of excess deaths, may be far greater. This means that an extraordinarily large number of Americans have experienced the loss of family members and close friends. More than 1 out of 100 Americans over the age of 65 has died. Millions of Americans have become infected, and a large but as yet uncalculated number of them are grappling with the effects of Long COVID. Normal patterns of social life have been disrupted in ways that have never been experienced in the history of the United States. Protracted social isolation has intensified the problem of mental health, which was extremely serious even before the pandemic began. And worst of all, the United States has proven to be incapable of bringing this crisis to an end. The prioritization of economic interests over the protection of human life has prevented the implementation of the Zero-COVID policy that could have ended the pandemic.
The extreme social, economic and political contradictions, developing within a society plagued by staggering levels of wealth and income inequality, finally exploded on January 6, 2021. The president of the United States attempted to suppress the results of the 2020 election, overthrow the Constitution, and establish himself as an authoritarian dictator. Not since the Civil War has the American political system confronted such a fundamental political challenge. And those who either minimize the significance of the event or claim that the crisis has been overcome are engaged in self-delusion. Biden himself acknowledged on the anniversary of Trump’s attempted coup d’état that it is not guaranteed that American democracy will still exist at the end of this decade.
Is it really implausible to suggest that the interaction of these two crises has played a significant role in the formulation of American foreign policy? Would this be the first time that a government seized upon, and even provoked, an international crisis to deflect attention from intractable domestic problems?
In concluding this letter, I must return to a point that I made earlier, that the study of Soviet history is critical to an understanding of the current world situation. Amid the capitalist triumphalism that prevailed in the aftermath of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, there was much fanciful talk of the “End of History.” Within the former Soviet Union, the equivalent of this self-deluding euphoria was the belief, especially among intellectuals and status-conscious professionals, that the restoration of capitalism would bring untold riches to Russia and a flowering of democracy. The unfulfilled dreams of the 1917 February Revolution would be realized. The bourgeois Provisional Government, overthrown by the Bolsheviks in October, would be reborn. All those with talent, ambition and connections could become either rich entrepreneurs or, at least, members of a new and prosperous middle class. Wherever Marxism had put a minus, the newly minted petty bourgeois now put a plus mark.
The second element of this euphoria was that Russia, having thrown off its revolutionary and utopian strivings, would be a “normal” country, welcomed lovingly into the community of Western nations. References to Lenin’s writings on imperialism, not to mention those of Trotsky, were greeted with giggles. Russia had, at last, come to its senses; and no one took “Marxism-Leninism” seriously anymore. I should add that I encountered the same conceptions among Ukrainian academics that I met in Kyiv.
In any case, these great illusions—in universal capitalist prosperity, a flowering of democracy and the peaceful integration into the world system dominated by the United States—have been totally shattered.
Economic “shock therapy” and the collapse of 1998 bankrupted broad sections of the aspiring middle class. The democracy of which the middle class dreamt collapsed amidst the bombardment of the Russian parliament in October 1993. Capitalist restoration produced a corrupt oligarchical system, with massive social inequality, dominated by a semi-authoritarian Bonapartist regime. And, finally, rather than being peacefully integrated into the community of nations, Russia found itself under relentless military and economic pressure from its “Western partners.” The promises it had received, relating to the non-expansion of NATO, proved worthless. Every effort made by Russia to assert its independent interests was met with economic sanctions and military threats.
In the form of the Ukraine crisis, Russia is confronting the tragic and potentially catastrophic consequences of the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Putin is seeking to overcome this crisis through thoroughly reactionary and politically bankrupt measures—that is, through a war that is aimed at strengthening the borders of the Russian national state. It is significant that Putin’s war speech began with a denunciation of Lenin, the October Revolution and the establishment of the USSR. Ironically, in his hatred of Marxism and Bolshevism, Putin’s views are aligned completely with his NATO enemies.
Rejecting the foreign policy of the Soviet Union, Putin is attempting to resurrect the foreign policy of Tsar Nicholas and appealing for support of “Mother Russia.” On the basis of this pathetically retrograde policy, he has produced a modern-day version of the disastrous Russo-Japanese War of 1904, which fatally undermined the Romanov regime and set Russia on the path of revolution. There is reason to believe that this war will lead to a similar outcome, but it will not be the type of revolution that the Biden administration will welcome. The Russian working class is a massively powerful social force, with an extraordinary and historically unequaled tradition of revolutionary struggle. Decades of political repression—the most criminal expression of which was the physical extermination during the Stalinist terror of the revolutionary Marxist intelligentsia and working class vanguard—separated the working class from this tradition. But this crisis completes the discrediting of the post-Soviet regime and will create the conditions for the renewal of socialist internationalism in Russia.
It is not only in Russia that the post-1991 illusions have been shattered. Within the United States and in all capitalist countries, the intersection of social, economic and political crises will produce a resurgence of opposition to capitalism and the reckless policies of imperialism that have brought the world to the threshold of nuclear war. Of course, the outcome that I foresee is not guaranteed, but I can envision no other progressive solution to the intensifying world crisis.
The webinar discussion could not be expected to address comprehensively all the complex issues posed by the eruption of the Russia-Ukraine war. However, to the extent that it reflects the discussions now taking place at colleges throughout the country, it typifies the dangerously uncritical and complacent attitude toward a crisis that threatens to develop into a catastrophe. I hope that the analysis presented by the World Socialist Web Site will encourage serious scholars to speak out against this dangerous escalation and to use every means available to them to elevate public opinion by counterpoising historical knowledge to jingoistic and warmongering propaganda.
I hope that this letter more than adequately meets your request for my opinion of the webinar.
With very best regards,
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No Ukraine is NOT run by Nazis what total utter rubbish!!! Read this, QUOTE:
"Ukraine's Jewish community is not happy with the "de-Nazify" rhetoric. Kyiv Chief Rabbi Yonatan Markovitch told Haaretz he has no idea what Putin is talking about, and anti-Semitic "incidents are very rare and the government takes care of them." Putin is "totally nuts," Ilya, a Jewish businessman in Kyiv, told Haaretz. "The Jews of Ukraine are an integral part of Ukrainian society and we never faced Nazism here, or fascism, and we feel safe in Ukraine. We don't feel safe when Russia says there are Nazis here."
This is not a new claim by Putin and his Russian allies, though. And Zelensky tried to head it off on Wednesday, hours before Putin launched his invasion. "You are told we are Nazis, but how can a people support Nazis that gave more than 8 million lives for the victory over Nazism? How can I be a Nazi?" he asked Russia. "Tell my grandpa, who went through the whole war in the infantry of the Soviet Army and died as a colonel in independent Ukraine."
So, what does Putin mean by "de-Nazify?" Stephen Colbert asked journalist and Russia specialist Julia Ioffe on Thursday's Late Show. "Is he speaking in a vocabulary that is for, you know, domestic consumption, that we don't understand?"
Ioffe said that when Ukrainians protesters ousted a pro-Kremlin president from Kyiv's Maidan square in 2014, "there was a very active right-wing nationalist, sometimes neo-Nazi, contingent, but it was a minority on the Maidan. And Russian propaganda took that — they often just take like a little bit of truth and spin it into this, you know, cotton candy of lies." Russian state TV is saying the same thing eight years later, she added, and "I think there are a lot of Russians, especially those who watch state TV, who think it is a country run by Nazis, even though it has a Jewish president."
And this is from 2018...
Israel is arming neo-Nazis in Ukraine
Asa Winstanley The Electronic Intifada 4 July 2018
The Azov Battalion uses the Nazi Wolfsangel symbol as its logo. Its founder Andriy Biletsky (center) has moved to ban “race mixing” in the Ukranian parliament. (Azov/Twitter)
Israeli arms are being sent to a heavily armed neo-Nazi militia in Ukraine, The Electronic Intifada has learned.
Azov Battalion online propaganda shows Israeli-licensed Tavor rifles in the fascist group’s hands, while Israeli human rights activists have protested arms sales to Ukraine on the basis that weapons might end up with anti-Semitic militias.
In a letter “about licenses for Ukraine” obtained by The Electronic Intifada, the Israeli defense ministry’s arms export agency says they are “careful to grant licenses” to arms exporters “in full coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other government entities.”
The 26 June letter was sent in reply to Israeli lawyer Eitay Mack who had written a detailed request demanding Israel end all military aid to the country.
Azov’s official status in the Ukrainian armed forces means it cannot be verified that “Israeli weapons and training” are not being used “by anti-Semitic or neo-Nazi soldiers,” Mack and 35 other human rights activists wrote.
They had written that Ukrainian armed forces use rifles made in Israel “and are trained by Israelis,” according to reports in the country.
The head of the Israeli arms export agency declined to deny the reports, or to even discuss cancellation of the weapons licenses, citing “security” concerns.
But Racheli Chen, the head of the agency, confirmed to Mack she had “carefully read your letter,” which detailed the fascist nature of Azov and the reports of Israeli arms and training.
Both the defense ministry letter and Mack’s original request can be read in the original Hebrew below.
Israeli rifles in Ukraine
The fact that Israeli arms are going to Ukrainian neo-Nazis is supported by Azov’s own online propaganda.
On its YouTube channel, Azov posted a video “review” of locally produced copies of two Israeli Tavor rifles – seen in this video:
A photo on Azov’s website also shows a Tavor in the hands of one of the militia’s officers.
The rifles are produced under licence from Israel Weapon Industries, and as such would have been authorized by the Israeli government.
IWI markets the Tavor as the “primary weapon” of the Israeli special forces.
It has been used in recent massacres of unarmed Palestinians taking part in Great March of Return protests in Gaza.
Fort, the Ukrainian state-owned arms company that produces the rifles under license, had a page about the Tavor on its website at the time of writing this article. But the page was removed after publication of this article.
The Israel Weapon Industries logo also appears on its website, including on the “Our Partners” page.
Starting as a gang of fascist street thugs, the Azov Battalion is one of several far-right militias that have now been integrated as units of Ukraine’s National Guard.
Staunchly anti-Russian, Azov fought riot police during the 2013 US and EU-supported “Euromaidan” protests in the capital Kiev.
The protests and riots laid the ground for the 2014 coup which removed the pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych.
This photo from Azov’s website shows an officer of the neo-Nazi militia armed with a version of Israel’s Tavor rifle. The Tavor is made under license from Israel by Ukraine’s national arms maker Fort.
When the civil war began in eastern Ukraine against Russian-backed separatists, the new western-backed government began to arm Azov. The militia soon fell under the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian interior ministry, and saw some of the most intense frontline combat against the separatists.
The group stands accused in United Nations and Human Rights Watch reports of committing war crimes against pro-Russian separatists during the ongoing civil war in the eastern Donbass region, including torture, sexual violence and targeting of civilian homes.
Today, Azov is run by Arsen Avakov, Ukraine’s interior minister. According to the BBC, he pays its fighters, and has appointed one of its military commanders, Vadym Troyan, as his deputy – with control over the police.
Avakov last year met with the Israeli interior minister Aryeh Deri to discuss “fruitful cooperation.”
Azov’s young founder and first military commander Andriy Biletsky is today a lawmaker in the Ukrainian parliament.
As journalist Max Blumenthal explained on The Real News in February, Biletsky has “pledged to restore the honor of the white race” and has advanced laws forbidding “race mixing.”
According to The Telegraph, Biletsky in 2014 wrote that “the historic mission of our nation in this critical moment is to lead the white races of the world in a final crusade for their survival. A crusade against the Semite-led untermenschen.”
At a military training camp for children last year, The Guardian noticed that several Azov instructors had Nazi and other racist tattoos, including a swastika, the SS skull symbol and one that read “White Pride.”
One Azov soldier explained to The Guardian that he fights Russia because “Putin’s a Jew.”
Speaking to The Telegraph, another praised Adolf Hitler, said homosexuality is a “mental illness” and that the scale of the Holocaust “is a big question.”
An Azov drill sergeant once told USA Today “with a laugh” that “no more than half his comrades are fellow Nazis.”
An Azov spokesperson played that down, claiming that “only 10-20 percent” of the group’s members were Nazis.
Nonetheless, the sergeant “vowed that when the war ends, his comrades will march on the capital, Kiev, to oust a government they consider corrupt.”
After Azov’s founder Andriy Biletsky entered parliament, he threatened to dissolve it. “Take my word for it,” he said, “we have gathered here to begin the fight for power.”
Those promises were made in 2014, but there are early signs of them being fulfilled today.
This year the battalion has founded a new “National Militia” to bring the war home.
This well-organized gang is at the forefront of a growing wave of racist and anti-Semitic violence in Ukraine.
Led by its military veterans, it specializes in pogroms and thuggish enforcement of its political agenda.
Earlier this month, clad in balaclavas and wielding axes and baseball bats, members of the group destroyed a Romany camp in Kiev. In a YouTube video, apparently shot by the Azov thugs themselves, police turn up towards the end of the camp’s destruction.
They look on doing nothing, while the thugs cry, “Glory to the nation! Death to enemies!”
Israeli defense minister Avigdor Lieberman (left) met with the Ukranian prime minister last year to discuss deeper military ties. (Ukranian Government Portal)
Israel’s military aid to Ukraine and its neo-Nazis emulates similar programs by the United States and other NATO countries including the UK and Canada.
So obsessed are they with defeating a perceived threat from Russia that they seem happy to aid even openly Nazi militias – as long as they fight on their side.
This is also a throwback to the early Cold War, when the CIA supported fascists and Hitlerites to infiltrate from Austria into Hungary in 1956, where they began slaughtering Hungarian communist Jews and Hungarian Jews as “communists.”
Recent postings on Azov websites document a June meeting with the Canadian military attaché, Colonel Brian Irwin.
According to Azov, the Canadians concluded the briefing by expressing “their hopes for further fruitful cooperation.”
Irwin acknowledged receipt of an email from The Electronic Intifada, but did not answer questions about his meeting with the fascist militia.
A spokesperson for the Canadian defense department later sent a statement claiming that their “training of Ukrainian Armed Forces through Operation Unifier incorporates strong human rights elements.”
They said Canada is “strongly opposed to the glorification of Nazism and all forms of racism” but that “every country must come to grips with difficult periods in its past.”
The spokesperson, who did not provide a name, wrote that Canadian training “includes ongoing dialogue on the development of a diverse, and inclusive Ukraine.”
The statement said nothing about how alleged Canadian diversity training goes down with the Azov Battalion.
Also part of Colonel Irwin’s meeting was the head of Azov’s officer training academy, an institution named after right-wing Ukrainian nationalist Yevhen Konovalets.
Konovalets is one of the group’s idols, whose portrait frequently adorns its military iconography.
Konovalets was the founder of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), which later allied itself to Nazi Germany during its invasion of the Soviet Union.
The OUN took part in the notorious 1941 Lviv massacre, when the Nazis invaded Soviet territory.
During the pogrom, thousands of Jews were massacred in the now-Ukrainian city.
US aid to Nazis
Canada is of course not the only NATO “ally” to be sending arms to Ukraine.
As Max Blumenthal has extensively reported, US weapons, including rocket-propelled grenades, and training have been provided to Azov.
Under pressure from the Pentagon, a clause in the annually renewed defense bill banning US aid to Ukraine from going to the Azov Battalion was repeatedly stripped out.
This went on for three straight years before Democratic lawmaker Ro Khanna and others pushed it through earlier this year.
For his trouble Khanna was smeared in Washington as a “K Street sellout” who was “holding Putin’s dirty laundry.”
Despite the ban finally passing, Azov’s status as an official unit of the Ukrainian armed forces leaves it unclear how US aid can be separated out.
In 2014, the Israel lobby groups ADL and the Simon Wiesenthal Center refused to help a previous attempt to bar US aid to neo-Nazi groups in Ukraine.
A now-deleted photo from an Azov website showed US-licensed RPGs were going to the neo-Nazi militia.
The ADL argued that “the focus should be on Russia,” while the Wiesenthal Center pointed to the fact that other far-right leaders had met at the Israeli embassy in Ukraine – as if that somehow absolved their anti-Semitic views.
Attempts by some in Congress to bar US military aid to Nazis in Ukraine may explain military aid from Israel.
Israel’s “deepening military-technical cooperation” with Ukraine and its fascist militias is likely a way to help its partner in the White House, and is another facet of the growing Zionist-White Supremacist alliance.
Israel has historically acted as a useful route through which US presidents and the CIA can circumvent congressional restrictions on aid to various unsavory groups and governments around the world.
In 1980s Latin America, these included the Contras, who were fighting a war against the left-wing revolutionary government of Nicaragua, as well as a host of other Latin American fascist death squads and military dictatorships.
It also included the South African apartheid regime, which Israeli governments of both the “Zionist left” and Likudnik right armed for decades.
As quoted in Andrew and Leslie Cockburn’s book Dangerous Liaison, one former member of the Israeli parliament, General Mattityahu Peled, put it succinctly: “In Central America, Israel is the ‘dirty work’ contractor for the US administration. Israel is acting as an accomplice and an arm of the United States.”
Amid an alarming rise in anti-Semitism and neo-Nazism, Israel now appears to be reprising this role in eastern Europe.
With translation from Hebrew by Dena Shunra.
Asa Winstanley is an associate editor with The Electronic Intifada.
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