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FTR #808 Walkin’ the Snake in Ukraine, Part 3 (“How Many Lies Can You Allow Yourself to Believe Before You Belong to the Lie?”)

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NB: This description contains information not contained in the original program.

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Pravy Sektor: "Anti-Terrorist" Ukrainian government militias are drawn from this group and Swoboda

Introduction: This broadcast illustrates the concept of institutionalized political inertia as applied to the crisis in Ukraine. Highlighting the imprisonment of U.S. intelligence analysis and policy formation because of this country’s immersion in the milieu of the Gehlen organization, the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations and the Underground Reich, we are witnessing the fascist roots nurtured and watered during the Cold War blossom into Nazi flowers.

After updating the active role of Germany and the EU in promoting the anti-Yanukovich coup in Ukraine, the program notes the tactics of the Poroshenko government in the civil war in the country’s East. Bombarding heavily populated urban areas with artillery and air forces, the Ukrainian military then follows up with street combat by fascist militias such as the Azov Battalion.

The program reviews the role of the OUN/B in the Republican Ethnic Outreach organization. The latter was an outgrowth of a covert operation called the Crusade for Freedom.

A major aspect of the CFF was the use of “fascist freedom fighters” in Europe, foremost among whom were the OUN/B combatants of the UPA. The UPA coalesced under Roman Shukhevych during World War II. The CFF also involved the elevation of these same Third Reich allies into a major element of the  GOP.

The element of the Republican Party that grew out of the CFF was comprised largely of the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations–essentially a renaming of the Committee of  Subjugated Nations, formed by Hitler in 1943.

Conceived by Allen Dulles, the CFF was overseen by Richard Nixon. Its chief spokesperson was Ronald Reagan. The State Department official responsible for bringing “fascist freedom fighters” like the OUN/B into the United States was William Casey (Ronald Reagan’s campaign manager in the 1980 Presidential race and later Reagan’s CIA director.) The Nazi wing of the GOP was installed as a permanent branch of the Republican Party when George H.W. Bush was the head of the Republican National Committee.

Svoboda leader Tihanybok salutes

It is noteworthy that the organizations that were represented in the GOP ethnic subgroup were all affiliated with the SS during World War II. Prior to the commencement of hostilities, the SS formed effective liaison with the Hungarian Arrow Cross, the Rumanian Iron Guard, the Bulgarian National Front and the OUN/B, among other organizations.

This relationship was cemented and strengthened during the war and remained operational when these elements jumped to U.S. intelligence and, through that relationship, to the Republican Party.

Allen Dulles, godfather of the Crusade For Freedom

Next, the broadcast excerpts an article featured in AFA #36. We highlight the role in the de-stabilization of the former Soviet Union of the OUN/B and the other SS-connected fascist organizations incorporated into the GOP ethnic organization. Heavily overlapping the Free Congress Foundation of Paul Weyrich, the GOP “ethnics” and the OUN/B, in particular, played a leading role in the political tutoring of Boris Yeltsin’s IRG organization. Ultimately, Yeltsin’s forces were instrumental in breaking up the U.S.S.R.

Consortium News give us another good arti­cle on the ongo­ing suppression on resurgent World War II and Third Reich allied fascism in Ukraine and elsewhere in Eastern Europe.

This recreation of World War II fascism manifested by elements directly evolved from the ABN allies of the Third Reich can be seen as a direct outgrowth of the Free Congress Foundation’s efforts in Eastern Europe and the former U.S.S.R.

We note, again, that the head of the liberation sub-group of the Free Congress Foundation was Hungarian Arrow Cross veteran Laszlo Pasztor, the head of the GOP “ethnics.”

Of paramount importance in this discussion is the fact that the NATO countries that are the source for the “intelligence” on the “Russian invasion” of the Ukraine are the same countries that are manifesting their Nazi-allied World War II heritage!

We also note that the satellite photos purporting to show Russian armor and self-propelled artillery in Ukraine come from a private company called DigitalGlobe, founded by people with backgrounds in Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative or “Star Wars” program.

One of the founders, Douglas Gerull, has a background with the Zeiss firm, discussed in FTR #272 as one of the companies that purchased Tinsley Laboratories, an important company involved with the development of satellite imaging intelligence.

Highlighting individuals and institutions at the epicenter of the evolution and perpetuation of the OUN/B, the program notes the development of the UNA-UNSO, evolved from Roman Shukeyvuch’s UPA and its morphing into Pravy Sektor.

ISIS followers vowing allegiance to the group. Compare to Tihanybok's gesturing. Hint: They are NOT auditioning for an anti-perspirant commercial.

Jaroslv Stetsko, Roman Shukhevych and OUN/B chief Stephan Bandera established the Nazi ethnic cleansing model for the OUN/B during the war. Their influence has been maintained through the ABN, Roman Svarych (Jaroslav Stetsko’s secretary in the early 1980’s, a three-time Justice Minister in Ukraine and adviser to current president Poroshenko), Stetsko’s widow Slava Stetsko (along with Roman

Lvov Pogrom, 1941--Einsatzgruppe Nachtigall youth in action. See Nachtigall celebrants at the EuroMaidan demonstrations above, right. A street in Lvov was renamed in honor of this group.

Svarych the founder of the Ukrainian National Congress), Ykaterina (Chumachenko) Yuschenko, former Reagan aide and wife of Viktor Yuschenko, and Yuriy Shukhevych, Roman’s son and a former head of Pravy Sektor.

The broadcast concludes by underscoring the apparent role of Chechens in the military prowess of ISIS. One wonders if the UNA-UNSO cadre may have imparted some of their military skills to ISIS?

Program Highlights Include: Review of the Ukrainian government’s establishment of anonymous “informer” networks in cities they captured in Eastern Ukraine; review of the celebration of the Nachtigall battalion in contemporary Ukraine; review of the overt persecution of the Russian ethnic population of Eastern Ukraine; an important article by Robert Parry noting the spurious nature of claims of a “Russian invasion” of Ukraine, backed by analysis of veteran intelligence officers.

(We have covered the ascension of the OUN/B heirs in the Ukraine in a number of programs: FTR #’s 777778779780781782, 783784794800, 803.)

1.  revealing article from the Telegraph [UK] informs us of the size of the EU’s funding of Ukrainian civil society in its drive to bring that country into the EU’s (read “Germany’s”) orbit. Having committed 496 million Euros to civic organizations in Ukraine, EU poured roughly 11 Euros into the country for every man woman and child in its population.

That pales by comparison with the $5 billion the U.S. has invested in Ukrainian civil society (this according to Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland.)

Also interesting is an account in the story below that an electrician employed in Ukraine received the equivalent of a month’s pay to join in pro-EU demonstrations. The money was said to be paid by a German bank.

The story correctly places the onus of this crisis on the West and not on Putin.

 “Fresh Evidence of How the West Lured Ukraine into Its Orbit” by Christopher Booker; The Telegraph [UK]; 8/9/2014.

How odd it has been to read all those accounts of Europe sleepwalking into war in the summer of 1914, and how such madness must never happen again, against the background of the most misrepresented major story of 2014 – the gathering crisis between Russia and the West over Ukraine, as we watch developments in that very nasty civil war, with 20,000 Russian troops massing on the border.

For months the West has been demonising President Putin, with figures such as the Prince of Wales and Hillary Clinton comparing him with Hitler, oblivious to the fact that what set this crisis in motion were those recklessly provocative moves to absorb Ukraine into the EU.

There was never any way that this drive to suck the original cradle of Russian identity into the Brussels empire was not going to provoke Moscow to react – not least due to the prospect that its only warm-water ports, in Crimea, might soon be taken over by Nato.

And still scarcely reported here have been the billions of dollars and euros the West has been more or less secretively pouring into Ukraine to promote the cause: not just to prop up its bankrupt government and banking system, but to fund scores of bogus “pro-European” groups making up what the EU calls “civil society”.

When the European Commission told a journalist that, between 2004 and 2013, these groups had only been given €31 million, my co-author Richard North was soon reporting on his EU Referendum blog that the true figure, shown on the commission’s own “Financial Transparency” website, was €496 million. The 200 front organisations receiving this colossal sum have such names as “Center for European Co-operation” or the “Donetsk Regional Public Organisation with Hope for the Future” (the very first page shows how many are in eastern Ukraine or Crimea, with their largely Russian populations).

One of my readers heard from a Ukrainian woman working in Britain that her husband back home earns €200 a month as an electrician, but is paid another €200 a month, from a German bank, to join demonstrations such as the one last March when hundreds of thousands – many doubtless entirely sincere – turned out in Kiev to chant “Europe, Europe” at Baroness Ashton, the EU’s visiting “foreign minister”.

However dangerous this crisis becomes, it is the West which has brought it about; and our hysterical vilifying of Russia is more reminiscent of that fateful mood in the summer of 1914 than we should find it comfortable to contemplate.

2a. In Ukraine, the government is using heavy weaponry–artillery, armor, helicopter gunships and fixed-wing combat aircraft–to bombard dense urban areas. Afterward, the Nazi special battalions such as the Azov are sent in for street fighting.

“Ukraine Cri­sis: the Neo-Nazi Brigade fight­ing pro-Russian Sep­a­ratists” by Tom Parfitt; The Tele­graph; 8/11/2014.

Kiev throws para­mil­i­taries – some openly neo-Nazi — into the front of the bat­tle with rebels

The fight­ers of the Azov bat­tal­ion lined up in sin­gle file to say farewell to their fallen com­rade. His pal­lid corpse lay under the sun in an open cas­ket trimmed with blue velvet.

Some of the men placed car­na­tions by the body, oth­ers roses. Many struck their chests with a closed fist before touch­ing their dead friend’s arm. One fighter had an SS tat­too on his neck.

Sergiy Grek, 22, lost a leg and died from mas­sive blood loss after a radio-controlled anti-tank mine exploded near to him.

As Ukraine’s armed forces tighten the noose around pro-Russian sep­a­ratists in the east of the coun­try, the western-backed gov­ern­ment in Kiev is throw­ing mili­tia groups – some openly neo-Nazi — into the front of the battle.

The Azov bat­tal­ion has the most chill­ing rep­u­ta­tion of all. Last week, it came to the fore as it mounted a bold attack on the rebel redoubt of Donetsk, strik­ing deep into the sub­urbs of a city under siege.

In Marinka, on the west­ern out­skirts, the bat­tal­ion was sent for­ward ahead of tanks and armoured vehi­cles of the Ukrain­ian army’s 51st Mech­a­nised Brigade. A fero­cious close-quarters fight ensued as they got caught in an ambush laid by well-trained sep­a­ratists, who shot from 30 yards away. The Azov irreg­u­lars replied with a squall of fire, fend­ing off the attack and seiz­ing a rebel checkpoint.

Mr Grek, also known as “Bal­a­gan”, died in the bat­tle and 14 oth­ers were wounded. Speak­ing after the cer­e­mony Andriy Bilet­sky, the battalion’s com­man­der, told the Tele­graph the oper­a­tion had been a “100% suc­cess”. “The bat­tal­ion is a fam­ily and every death is painful to us but these were min­i­mal losses,” he said. “Most impor­tant of all, we estab­lished a bridge­head for the attack on Donetsk. And when that comes we will be lead­ing the way.”

The mil­i­tary achieve­ment is hard to dis­pute. By secur­ing Marinka the bat­tal­ion “widened the front and tight­ened the cir­cle”, around the rebels’ cap­i­tal, as another fighter put it. While Vladimir Putin, Russia’s pres­i­dent, pre­var­i­cates about send­ing an inva­sion force into Ukraine, the rebels he backs are los­ing ground fast.

But Kiev’s use of vol­un­teer para­mil­i­taries to stamp out the Russian-backed Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics”, pro­claimed in east­ern Ukraine in March, should send a shiver down Europe’s spine. Recently formed bat­tal­ions such as Don­bas, Dnipro and Azov, with sev­eral thou­sand men under their com­mand, are offi­cially under the con­trol of the inte­rior min­istry but their financ­ing is murky, their train­ing inad­e­quate and their ide­ol­ogy often alarming.

The Azov men use the neo-Nazi Wolf­san­gel (Wolf’s Hook) sym­bol on their ban­ner and mem­bers of the bat­tal­ion are openly white suprema­cists, or anti-Semites.

“Per­son­ally, I’m a Nazi,” said “Phan­tom”, a 23-year-old for­mer lawyer at the cer­e­mony wear­ing cam­ou­flage and hold­ing a Kalash­nikov. “I don’t hate any other nation­al­i­ties but I believe each nation should have its own coun­try.” He added: “We have one idea: to lib­er­ate our land from terrorists.”

The Tele­graph was invited to see some 300 Azov fight­ers pay respects to Mr Grek, their first com­rade to die since the bat­tal­ion was formed in May. An hon­our guard fired vol­leys into the air at the battalion’s head­quar­ters on the edge of Urzuf, a small beach resort on Ukraine’s Azov Sea coast. Two more mili­ti­a­men died on Sun­day fight­ing north of Donetsk. Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine’s pres­i­dent, called one of them a hero.

Each new recruit receives only a cou­ple of weeks of train­ing before join­ing the bat­tal­ion. The inte­rior min­istry and pri­vate donors pro­vide weapons.

Mr Bilet­sky, a mus­cu­lar man in a black T-shirt and cam­ou­flage trousers, said the bat­tal­ion was a light infantry unit, ideal for the urban war­fare needed to take cities like Donetsk.

The 35-year old com­man­der began cre­at­ing the bat­tal­ion after he was released from pre-trial deten­tion in Feb­ru­ary in the wake of pro-western protests in Kiev. He had denied a charge of attempted mur­der, claim­ing it was polit­i­cally motivated.

A for­mer his­tory stu­dent and ama­teur boxer, Mr Bilet­sky is also head of an extrem­ist Ukrain­ian group called the Social National Assem­bly. “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,” he wrote in a recent com­men­tary. “A cru­sade against the Semite-led Untermenschen.”

The bat­tal­ion itself is founded on right wing views, the com­man­der said in Urzuf, and no Nazi con­vic­tions could exclude a recruit. “The most impor­tant thing is being a good fighter and a good brother so that we can trust each other,” he said.

Inter­est­ingly, many of the men in the bat­tal­ion are Rus­sians from east­ern Ukraine who wear masks because they fear their rel­a­tives in rebel-controlled areas could be per­se­cuted if their iden­ti­ties are revealed.

Phan­tom said he was such a Russ­ian but that he was opposed to Moscow sup­port­ing “ter­ror­ists” in his home­land: “I vol­un­teered and all I demanded was a gun and the pos­si­bil­ity to defend my country.”

Asked about his Nazi sym­pa­thies, he said: “After the First World World War, Ger­many was a total mess and Hitler rebuilt it: he built houses and roads, put in tele­phone lines, and cre­ated jobs. I respect that.” Homo­sex­u­al­ity is a men­tal ill­ness and the scale of the Holo­caust “is a big ques­tion”, he added.

Stepan, 23, another fighter, said that if lead­ers of the pro-Russian sep­a­ratists were cap­tured they should be exe­cuted after a mil­i­tary tribunal.

Such notions seem a far cry from the spirit of the “Maidan” protests that peaked in Kiev in Feb­ru­ary with the oust­ing of Mr Yanukovich, who had refused to sign a trade agree­ment with the Euro­pean Union. Young lib­er­als led the way but the upris­ing, which ended with the pres­i­dent flee­ing to Rus­sia, pro­voked a huge patri­otic awak­en­ing that sucked in hard­line groups.

Azov’s extrem­ist pro­file and slick English–language pages on social media have even attracted for­eign fight­ers. Mr Bilet­sky says he has men from Ire­land, Italy, Greece and Scan­di­navia. At the base in Urzuf, Mikael Skillt, 37, a for­mer sniper with the Swedish Army and National Guard, leads and trains a recon­nais­sance unit.

“When I saw the Maidan protests I recog­nised brav­ery and suf­fer­ing,” he told the Tele­graph. “A war­rior soul was awak­ened. But you can only do so much, going against the enemy with sticks and stones. I had some expe­ri­ence and I though maybe I could help.”

Mr Skillt says he called him­self a National Social­ist as a young man and more recently he was active in the extreme right wing Party of the Swedes. “Now I’m fight­ing for the free­dom of Ukraine against Putin’s impe­ri­al­ist front,” he said.

Ukraine’s gov­ern­ment is unre­pen­tant about using the neo-Nazis. “The most impor­tant thing is their spirit and their desire to make Ukraine free and inde­pen­dent,” said Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Arsen Avakov, the inte­rior min­is­ter. “A per­son who takes a weapon in his hands and goes to defend his moth­er­land is a hero. And his polit­i­cal views are his own affair.”

Mark Gale­otti, an expert on Russ­ian and Ukrain­ian secu­rity affairs at New York Uni­ver­sity, fears bat­tal­ions like Azov are becom­ing “mag­nets to attract vio­lent fringe ele­ments from across Ukraine and beyond”. “The dan­ger is that this is part of the build­ing up of a toxic legacy for when the war ends,” he said.

Extrem­ist para­mil­i­tary groups who have built up “their own lit­tle Freiko­rps” and who are fun­da­men­tally opposed to find­ing con­sen­sus may demand a part in pub­lic life as vic­tors in the con­flict, Mr Gale­otti added. “And what do you do when the war is over and you get vet­er­ans from Azov swag­ger­ing down your high street, and in your own lives?”

2b. Insight into the nature of the “liberation” manifested by the Ukrainian government forces occupying Slovyansk can be gleaned by reading between the lines of the following story. In FTR #803, we noted that the Pravy Sektor flag was flying over the Interior Ministry building after the city was captured by government forces.

“A Test for Ukraine in City Retaken from Rebels” by Andrew Higgins; The New York Times; 8/1/2014.

. . . . The new authorities, promising anonymity, have set up a hotline for residents to inform on rebel collaborators, and they have printed fliers warning that a new law mandates up to 15 years in jail for separatism. “Of course people are afraid,” Dr. Glushenko said. “They are frightened of being punished.” . . . .

3a. Consortium News give us another good arti­cle on the ongo­ing suppression on resurgent World War II and Third Reich allied fascism in Ukraine and elsewhere in Eastern Europe.

This recreation of World War II fascism manifested by elements directly evolved from the ABN allies of the Third Reich can be seen as a direct outgrowth of the Free Congress Foundation’s efforts in Eastern Europe and the former U.S.S.R.

“The Hushed-Up Hitler Fac­tor in Ukraine” by Dovid Katz; Consortium News; 8/16/2014.

Behind the Ukraine cri­sis is a revi­sion of World War II his­tory that seeks to honor east­ern Euro­pean col­lab­o­ra­tors with Hitler and the Holo­caust by repack­ag­ing these right­ists as anti-Soviet heroes, a real­ity shielded from the U.S. pub­lic, as Dovid Katz explains.

Would Amer­ica sup­port any type of Hit­lerism in the course of the State Department’s effort to turn the anti-Russian polit­i­cal classes of East­ern Europe into paragons of PR per­fec­tion that may not be crit­i­cized, how­so­ever mildly?

It was frankly dis­con­cert­ing to see Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, embrac­ing the leaderof Ukraine’s far right, anti-Semitic, pro-fascist Svo­boda party last Decem­ber. It was dis­turb­ing to learn of the neo-Nazi ele­ments that pro­vided the “mus­cle” for the actual Maidan takeover last Feb­ru­ary (BBC’s News­night was among the few major West­ern out­lets to dare cover that openly).

Most dis­turb­ing of all has been the main­stream West­ern media’s almost Soviet-grade wall some­how erected against crit­i­cal men­tion of the far-right com­po­nent of Ukraine’s 2014 his­tory, ren­der­ing any such thought as wor­thy of ridicule on New York Times opin­ion pages last spring.

Most hilar­i­ous was the Times’s May 2014 pub­li­ca­tion of an (obvi­ously ghost-written, State Department-scripted) op-ed by Ukrain­ian pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Yulia V. Tymoshenko which quotes Churchill writ­ing to Roo­sevelt, “Give us the tools, as we will fin­ish the job,” rum­bling on about “the just and open democ­racy that is America’s great­est bequest to the world.”

This, from the far right politi­cian who had shortly before that expressed geno­ci­dal mus­ings for the mil­lions of Russian-speaking cit­i­zens of her coun­try, and who was, dur­ing her tenure as prime min­is­ter, a prime devo­tee of the wartime fas­cist leader Stepan Ban­dera, whose orga­ni­za­tion slaugh­tered tens of thou­sands (many his­to­ri­ans put it at hun­dreds of thou­sands) of Pol­ish and Jew­ish civil­ians based on eth­nic­ity, in the Aryanist drive for an eth­ni­cally pure state pre­cisely on the Nazi model.

It was there­fore refresh­ing to read in last Saturday’s Times a report that had, albeit buried near the end, a sin­gle line inform­ing read­ers that “One [mili­tia active in the Kiev government’s mil­i­tary cam­paign] known as Azov, which took over the vil­lage of Marinka, flies a neo-Nazi sym­bol resem­bling a Swastika as its flag.” By con­trast, London’s right-of-center Daily Tele­graph ran a whole report Mon­day titled “The neo-Nazi brigade fight­ing pro-Russian sep­a­ratists,” rightly includ­ing the obser­va­tion that the neo-Nazi forces being used by the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment to do mil­i­tary heavy lift­ing “should send a shiver down Europe’s spine.”

This goes to the heart of what is being kept from so many West­ern, and espe­cially Amer­i­can read­ers. Putin — for all his author­i­tar­i­an­ism, anti-democratic bent and revan­chism — is not the cause of the Ukrain­ian conun­drum (though he is cer­tainly exploit­ing it). There is a gen­uine divide in Ukraine between a nationalist-dominated west and a Russian-speaking east.

Any­body who has trav­eled the coun­try will tell you that these “Rus­sians” in the east, and wher­ever else they are to be found, would much rather be liv­ing in a Euro­pean Union-type coun­try than in a Russia-type coun­try. What then is the prob­lem? They do not want to live in an ultranationalist-dominated state that is anti-Russian in a 1930s Aryanesque sense of eth­ni­cally and lin­guis­ti­cally pure Ukrain­ism. They much pre­fer the Russia-model state to that.

Now those anti-racist val­ues, includ­ing the rever­ing of the Anglo-American-Soviet alliance that brought down Hitler, and the dis­dain of soci­eties founded on mod­els of racist purity, are in fact also Amer­i­can val­ues. But that affin­ity between West­ern val­ues and the east­ern­ers would never even be guessed at in the avalanche of Cold War II news­feed com­ing our way.

Inci­den­tally, some West­ern reports that car­i­ca­ture the Putin­ist press’s use of the word “fas­cists” for Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists don’t appre­ci­ate the col­lo­quial Russ­ian usage where it refers not nec­es­sar­ily to swastika-wielding thugs but even to high soci­ety that holds in esteem the likes of Ban­dera and other World War II-era Nazist fas­cists as sup­posed myth­i­cal “free­dom fight­ers” to be revered today by the state, in street names, stat­ues, muse­ums, and more.

That is not to say that America’s allies among the west­ern Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists are all pro-fascist. They are not. But there are two salient issues that go beyond Ukraine and cover all of “anti-Russian” East­ern Europe, par­tic­u­larly the new mem­ber states of NATO and the EU.

The first is casual accep­tance of neo-Nazi ele­ments, sym­bol­ism and ide­ol­ogy as part of any kind of sup­pos­edly cen­trist main­stream. In Latvia [NATO member–D.E.] and Esto­nia [NATO member–D.E.], this is exem­pli­fied by tacit (or not so tacit) state sup­port for hon­ors for those coun­tries’ Waf­fen SS divi­sions. In Lithua­nia [NATO member–D.E.], it can be man­i­fest in state-sponsored shrines to the Lithuan­ian Activist Front (LAF) killers who unleashed the Holo­caust on Jew­ish neigh­bors before the first Ger­man sol­diers had quite arrived.

But there is a sec­ond issue that is much deeper, and has noth­ing to do with these more osten­ta­tious kinds of Nazi wor­ship. That issue is history.

‘His­tory’ Alive

While World War II is indeed “his­tory” for the West, it is very much part of Now in East­ern Europe. State-sponsored insti­tu­tions in the three Baltic coun­tries, Lithua­nia, Latvia and Esto­nia, espe­cially, and also at times in Croa­tia [NATO member–D.E.], Roma­nia [NATO member–D.E.] and else­where have invested a for­tune in a kind of Holo­caust revi­sion­ism that would white­wash their own nation­al­ists’ col­lab­o­ra­tion with Hitler and turn the Soviet Union into the real Hitler.

Known as “Dou­ble Geno­cide,” it posits the absolute the­o­ret­i­cal equal­ity of Nazi and Soviet crimes. Its con­sti­tu­tion is the 2008 “Prague Dec­la­ra­tion [the Czech Republic is a NATO member–D.E.],” which most Amer­i­cans have never heard of, that sports the word “same” five times in ref­er­ence to Nazi and Soviet crimes. Even fewer Amer­i­cans know that one of its demands, that the world accept a uni­tary mix-and-match day of remem­brance for Nazi and Soviet vic­tims, was snuck under the radar into last June’s con­gres­sional mil­i­tary appro­pri­a­tions bill.

The issue across the board is the choice made by nation­al­ist elites in East­ern Europe to con­struct national myths not on the mer­its of a country’s great artists, poets, thinkers and gen­uine free­dom fight­ers, but all too often, on the basis of Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors whose claim to fame is that they were also “anti-Soviet patriots.”

The fact of the mat­ter is that vir­tu­ally all of Hitler’s col­lab­o­ra­tors in East­ern Europe were “anti-Soviet.” In fact, the Soviet Union was the only power putting up resis­tance to Hitler in East­ern Europe. If the Sovi­ets had not pushed the Nazi armies back by the spring of 1944, at huge sac­ri­fice to all the Soviet peo­ples, there would have been no D-Day or open­ing of a West­ern front.

Whether it is hero-worship of Hungary’s Mik­lós Hor­thy [Hungary is a NATO member–D.E.], lead­ers of Croatia’s Hit­lerist Ustasha [Croatia is a NATO member–D.E.], the Nazis’ Waf­fen SS divi­sions in Latvia and Esto­nia, or the likes of Ukraine’s Ban­dera and his OUN and UPA, and the Waf­fen SS, it is an offense to West­ern val­ues that a NATO or EU state, or NATO/EU-aspiring state, would dis­burse state funds on the dis­tor­tion of his­tory, obfus­ca­tion of the Holo­caust and con­struc­tion of soci­eties that admire the worst of history’s racists.

To do so quite sim­ply implies that all the minor­ity cit­i­zens they butchered, or whose butcher­ing they sup­ported, were quite unwor­thy of con­tin­ued exis­tence. Inci­den­tally, all these coun­tries have real heroes from that dark­est moment in their his­tory: those (often the sim­plest of peo­ple) who just did the right thing and risked all to res­cue a neigh­bor from the Nazist estab­lish­ment col­lab­o­ra­tionist lead­er­ship of their own nationalists.

Any viable solu­tion needs to take into account that it is a deeply divided coun­try even in the absence of (ever-present) Putin­ist mis­chief. It there­fore needs to also take into account the many mil­lions of Russ­ian speak­ers who oppose the racial chau­vin­ism of some of the nation­al­ist elite now in or close to the gov­ern­ment, and who have very dif­fer­ent ideas about Twen­ti­eth Cen­tury history.

That is the way for­ward, not the Cold War II non­sense of spread­ing the word that the west­ern­ers are pure angels and the east­ern­ers pure demons, not the neo­con non­sense that America’s great­ness depends on end­less for­eign mil­i­tary mis­ad­ven­tures in regime change that lead to long , unpre­dictable, and uncon­trol­lable cycles of violence.

That Amer­ica shares with Rus­sia the mag­nif­i­cent legacy of hav­ing in tan­dem brought down Hitler’s empire is a her­itage worth invok­ing for build­ing bet­ter under­stand­ing, not a fact to be buried in def­er­ence to the far-right revi­sion of Holo­caust his­tory with which much of nation­al­ist East­ern Europe is so obsessed.

3b. The program reviews the role of the OUN/B in the Republican Ethnic Outreach organization, the Crusade for Freedom, the Free Congress Foundation and the destabilization of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

 “The Free Congress Foundation Goes East” by Russ Bellant and Louis Wolf; Covert Action Information Bulletin #35; Fall/1990.

With the rapid pace of political change sweeping Eastern Europe and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, many opportunities have emerged for western interests to intervene in the politics of  that region. In some cases, such a vacuum has been created that virtual strangers to the area several years ago are now able to actively participate in changing those societies from within.

These interventions are not only being practiced by mainstream organizations. The involvement of the United States Far Right brings with it the potential revival of fascist organizations in the East. One U.S. group, the Free Congress Foundation, has been plahying a role in Eastern European and Soviet politics and has ties to Boris Yeltsin and the Inter-Regional Deputies Group (IRG) in the U.S.S.R.

The Free Congress Foundation (FCF) was founded in 1974 by Paul Weyrich as the Committee for the Survival of a Free Congress. Weyrich, who had started the Heritage Foundation the year before, was heavily funded by the Coors family for both organizations.

Weyrich has kept one foot in the right wing of the Republican Party while dallying with the racist Right and the extreme Christian Right. In 1976, for instance, he and a handful of other New Rights (William Rusher, Morton Blackwell, Richard Viguerie) attempted to take over the segregationist  American Independent Party (AIP), formed by George Wallace in 1968. The AIP was an amalgam of Ku Klux Klan and John Birch Society elements. . . .

. . . . The IRG was established by Andrei Sakharov, Boris Yeltsin and others in the summer of 1989. By the end of that year, a training school had been established for candidates to put forward the IRG program. Their electoral success this year propelled Yeltsin to the leadership of the Russian Soviet Socialist Republic. He immediately began forging collaborative relationships with the deeply reactionary leaders of the Lithuanian Sajudis party. The IRG has also served as a source of right-wing pressure on Gorbachev to dismantle socialism and the Soviet Union itself.

One of the key dangers in this agenda is the political vacuum it creates, allowing ultra-nationalist forces in a number of republics to take power. Such nationalist and fascist elements are already evident in Lithuania and the Ukraine. In the latter republic, the pro-Nazi Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) has gained influence in several parties and has mobilized large demonstrations that honor OUN leaders who abetted Hitler’s war on the Eastern Front. Similarly, several deputies Sajudis deputies served in German military units in 1944, and Sajudis has made declarations against ethnic Russians living in Lithuania. According to some reports, Poles have also been denigrated.

It should also be noted that the “radical reformer” Boris Yeltsin has dallied with Pamyat, the foremost Russian fascist group to emerge in the last several years. Pamyat’s virulent anti-Semitism compares to the crude propaganda of the early German Nazi Party in the 1920’s.

The FCF is not entirely disconnected from the history of the OUN. The Treasurer of the FCF board is Georgetown University Professor Charles Moser. Moser is also serves on the editorial advisory board of the Ukrainian Quarterly, published by the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, a group dominated by the OUN. The Ukrainian Quarterly has praised military units of the German SS and otherwise justified the OUN alliance with the Third Reich which reflects the fact that the OUN was politically and militarily allied with Hitler and the Nazi occupation of the Ukraine.

The OUN, an international semi-secret cadre organization headquartered in Bavaria, has received financial assistance from the late Franz Joseph Strauss, the rightist head of the Bavarian state. Strauss also had a working relationship with Weyrich. . . .

. . . . Finally, FCF’s insinuation into the politics of the East must be judged by their selection of Laszlo Pasztor to head their Liberation Support Alliance, “which seeks to liberate peoples in Central and Eastern European Nations.”

Pasztor’s involvement in East European politics began in World War II when he joined the youth organization of the Arrow Cross, the Nazi party of Hungary.

When the Arrow Cross was installed in power by a German commando operation, Pasztor was sent to Berlin to help facilitate the liaison between the Arrow Cross and Hitler.

Pasztor was tried and served two years in jail for his Arrow Cross activities after an anticommunist government was elected in 1945. He eventually came to the U.S. and established the ethnic arm of the Republican National Committee for Richard Nixon. He brought other Nazi collaborators from the Eastern front into the GOP. Some were later found to have participated in mass murder during the war.

The dormant Arrow Cross has surfaced again in Hungary, where there have been attempts to lift the ban on the organization. Pasztor spent several months in Hungary. When Weyrich later conducted training there, he was provided a list of Pasztor’s contacts inside the country. Weyrich reports that he conducted training for the recently formed and now governing New Democratic Forum.

Pasztor claims to have assisted some of his friends in Hungary in getting NED funds through his advisory position with NED. In 1989 he spoke at the Heritage Foundation under the sponsorship of the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations (ABN), a multinational umbrella organization of emigre fascists and Nazis founded in alliance with Hitler in 1943. It is led by the OUN. Pasztor spoke for the “Hungarian Organization” of ABN, which is the Arrow Cross. . . . .

3c. Note how many of the Eastern European countries manifesting World War II fascist heritage are NATO members. Note, also, where the reports of Russian artillery inside Ukraine firing n Ukrainian forces come from:

“Russians Open Fire in Ukraine, NATO Reports” by Michael Higgins and Andrew R. Gordon; The New York Times; 8/22/2014.

NATO officials said that the Russian military had moved artillery units inside Ukrainian territory in recent days and was using them to fire at Ukrainian forces. . . .

. . . . The NATO allegations are based on intelligence reports from several alliance members, Western officials said, and the allegation generally echoed Ukrainian claims in recent days of an expanding Russian military involvement in support of pro-Russian rebels who are battling to hold off a Ukrainian offensive.

A NATO spokeswoman, Oana Lungescu, also said that the alliance had receive multiple reports of the direct involvement of Russian airborne, air defense and special operations forces in Eastern Ukraine. . . .

Serpent's Walk: Forecasts a Nazi takeover of U.S. in mid-twenty-first century, after WMD terrorist attacks.

3d. The dependence on unreconstructed Nazi sympathizers referencing World War II-era fascist ideological constructs is as dangerous as it is relativistic. Note, again, our reliance for “intelligence” on the very fascist elements we nurtured in the political womb of CIA/State Department/BND/GOP and then recast in Eastern Europe and the former U.S.S.R. after the Cold war.

“Is It War? Ukraine Con­flict Def­i­n­i­tion Soft­ens in West” by Gre­gory Vis­cusi; Bloomberg Busi­ness­week; 8/28/2014.

For gov­ern­ments in the Baltic states of Latvia and Lithua­nia, Rus­sia has invaded Ukraine and the two coun­tries are now at war. Head fur­ther west, and they’re less sure what to call it.

While all agree that a line has been crossed, U.S and NATO offi­cials pre­fer to speak of an “incur­sion.” French and Ger­man lead­ers have warned Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin of fur­ther sanc­tions with­out defin­ing what Russ­ian forces have done.

“In the past 48 hours, we have tipped into a for­mal inva­sion,” Ian Brem­mer, pres­i­dent of the Eura­sia Group, said in a Bloomberg tele­vi­sion inter­view. “Rus­sia and Ukraine as sov­er­eign coun­tries are now at war and it’s going to be very dif­fi­cult for the United States and Europe to deny that reality.”

Call­ing it war or an inva­sion would force the U.S. and Euro­pean Union to con­sider steps they’d never be will­ing to take, such as com­mit­ting mil­i­tary forces, Brem­mer said. While sanc­tions have been imposed on some sec­tors of the Russ­ian econ­omy, Europe con­tin­ues to rely on Rus­sia for natural-gas imports and Russ­ian trade with the EU was worth about $390 bil­lion last year.

“The EU appears to have exhausted its polit­i­cally fea­si­ble options in the pre­vi­ous round” of sanc­tions, Iev­gen Voro­biov, an ana­lyst at the Pol­ish Insti­tute of Inter­na­tional Affairs in War­saw, said in a tele­phone interview.

Troop Buildup

Pro-Russian insur­gents widened their attacks yes­ter­day on Ukraine gov­ern­ment forces, tak­ing sev­eral towns out­side their strong­holds of Donetsk and Luhansk, includ­ing near the Sea of Azov. There are cur­rently 20,000 Russ­ian troops in the bor­der region, with 1,000 oper­at­ing inside Ukraine, a North Atlantic Treaty Orga­ni­za­tion mil­i­tary offi­cer esti­mated today.

Latvia’s For­eign Min­is­ter Edgars Rinke­vics said on Twit­ter that Russia’s actions amount to a “war” that should be taken up by the United Nations Secu­rity Coun­cil. The For­eign Min­istry in Lithua­nia, another for­mer Soviet satel­lite state that’s now one of the EU’s 28 mem­bers, said it “strongly con­demns the inva­sion of Ukrain­ian ter­ri­tory by Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion mil­i­tary forces, which has obvi­ously begun.” . . . .

3e. The satellite imagery purporting to show Russian armor and self-propelled artillery inside of Ukraine comes from a private company–DigitalGlobe. That company was founded by key personnel from Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative.

“DigitalGlobe”; Wikipedia.com.

. . . . . Origins[edit]

WorldView Imaging Corporation was founded in January 1992 in Oakland, California in anticipation of the 1992 Land Remote Sensing Policy Act (enacted in October 1992) which permitted private companies to enter the satellite imaging business.[3] Its founder was Dr Walter Scott, who was joined by co-founder and CEO Doug Gerull in late 1992. In 1993, the company received the first high resolution commercial remote sensing satellite license issued under the 1992 Act.[4] The company was initially funded with private financing from Silicon Valley sources and interested corporations in N. America, Europe, and Japan. Dr. Scott was head of the Lawrence Livermore Laboratories “Brilliant Pebbles” and “Brilliant Eyes” projects which were part of the Strategic Defense Initiative. Doug Gerull was the executive in charge of the Mapping Sciences division at the Intergraph Corporation.[5] The company’s first remote sensing license from the United States Department of Commerce allowed it to build a commercial remote sensing satellite capable of collecting images with 3 m (9.8 ft) resolution.[3]

In 1995, the company became EarthWatch Incorporated, merging WorldView with Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.’s commercial remote sensing operations.[6] In September 2001, EarthWatch became DigitalGlobe.[7] . . . . .

3f. DigitalGlobe co-founder Doug Gerull had previously worked for the Zeiss firm, discussed in FTR #272 as one of the German/Underground Reich/Bormann firms that were moving into satellite imagery technology in the U.S.

“Doug Gerull”; linkedin.

. . . . . Carl Zeiss
Privately Held; 10,001+ employees; Electrical/Electronic Manufacturing industry
January 1980 – 1985 (5 years) Toronto / White Plains, NY

 

3g. An article published after this program was recorded notes the dubious nature of the claims of a “Russian Invasion’ of Ukraine.

“Who’s Telling the ‘Big Lie’ On Ukraine?” by Robert Parry; Consortium News; 9/2/2014.

. . . . And now there’s the curious case of Russia’s alleged “invasion” of Ukraine, another alarmist claim trumpeted by the Kiev regime and echoed by NATO hardliners and the MSM.

While I’m told that Russia did provide some light weapons to the rebels early in the struggle so they could defend themselves and their territory – and a number of Russian nationalists have crossed the border to join the fight – the claims of an overt “invasion” with tanks, artillery and truck convoys have been backed up by scant intelligence.

One former U.S. intelligence official who has examined the evidence said the intelligence to support the claims of a significant Russian invasion amounted to “virtually nothing.” Instead, it appears that the ethnic Russian rebels may have evolved into a more effective fighting force than many in the West thought. They are, after all, fighting on their home turf for their futures.

Concerned about the latest rush to judgment about the “invasion,” the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, a group of former U.S. intelligence officials and analysts, took the unusual step of sending a memo to German Chancellor Angela Merkel warning her of a possible replay of the false claims that led to the Iraq War.

“You need to know,” the group wrote, “that accusations of a major Russian ‘invasion’ of Ukraine appear not to be supported by reliable intelligence. Rather, the ‘intelligence’ seems to be of the same dubious, politically ‘fixed’ kind used 12 years ago to ‘justify’ the U.S.-led attack on Iraq.”

But these doubts and concerns are not reflected in the Post’s editorial or other MSM accounts of the dangerous Ukraine crisis. Indeed, Americans who rely on these powerful news outlets for their information are as sheltered from reality as anyone living in a totalitarian society.


4a. Illustrating the direct line of institutional evolution from the OUN/B to the present, Pravy Sektor is the political arm of the UNA-UNSO. It elected Yuriy Shukheyvch as its head. Shukheyvch is the son of OUN/B commander Roman Shukhevych, declared a “Hero of Ukraine” by the Yuschenko government. Roman also headed the Nachtigall Battalion in their liquidation of the Lvov Ghetto in 1941.

Note that the UNA/UNSO organization–the political parent of Pravy Sektor–has apparently been active in Chechnya as well.

“The Durability of Ukrainian Fascism” by Peter Lee; Strategic Culture; 6/9/2014.

. . . . One of Bandera’s lieutenants was Roman Shukhevych.  In February 1945, Shukhevych issued an order stating, “In view of the success of the Soviet forces it is necessary to speed up the liquidation of the Poles, they must be totally wiped out, their villages burned … only the Polish population must be destroyed.”

As a matter of additional embarrassment, Shukhevych was also a commander in the Nachtigall (Nightingale) battalion organized by the Wehrmacht.

Today, a major preoccupation of Ukrainian nationalist historical scholarship is beating back rather convincing allegations by Russian, Polish, and Jewish historians that Nachtigall was an important and active participant in the massacre of Lviv Jews orchestrated by the German army upon its arrival in June 1941. . . .

. . . . Yuriy Shukhevych’s role in modern Ukrainian fascism is not simply that of an inspirational figurehead and reminder of his father’s anti-Soviet heroics for proud Ukrainian nationalists.  He is a core figure in the emergence of the key Ukrainian fascist formation, Pravy Sektor and its paramilitary.

And Pravy Sektor’s paramilitary, the UNA-UNSO, is not an “unruly” collection of weekend-warrior-wannabes, as Mr. Higgins might believe.

UNA-UNSO was formed during the turmoil of the early 1990s, largely by ethnic Ukrainian veterans of the Soviet Union’s bitter war in Afghanistan.  From the first, the UNA-UNSO has shown a taste for foreign adventures, sending detachments to Moscow in 1990 to oppose the Communist coup against Yeltsin, and to Lithuania in 1991.  With apparently very good reason, the Russians have also accused UNA-UNSO fighters of participating on the anti-Russian side in Georgia and Chechnya.

After formal Ukrainian independence, the militia elected Yuriy Shukhevych—the son of OUN-B commander Roman Shukhevych– as its leader and set up a political arm, which later became Pravy Sektor. . . .

5. Some of the best scholarship on the perpetuation of the OUN/B milieu has been done by Professor Per Anders Rudling of Lund University in Sweden. Discussing Roman Shukhevych (as with other Ukrainian names, orignally from the Cyrillic alphabet, the transliterated names vary, somewhat.)

Rudling notes the enthusiasm of Jaroslav Stetsko, Shukhevych and Stephan Bandera for Nazi ethnic cleansing methods, which they rigorously implemented in Ukraine during World War II.

“Schooling in Murder: Schutzmannschaft Battalion 201 and Hauptmann Roman Shukhevych in Belarus, 1942” by Per Anders Rudling; academia.edu

. . . . . Roman Shukhevych, its ommander, had distinguished himself in German service. Serving in German uniform since 1938, Shukhevych combined his political activism as a Ukrainian nationalist with a distinguished military record. In 1941, he was a commander of the Nachtigall battalion, a Wehrmacht formation consisting of Ukrainian nationalists. . . . .

[Footnote 90] . . . .

90 The OUN(b) blueprint for its wartime activities, “Borot’ba i diial’nist’ OUN pid chas viiny” from May, 1941, authored by Shukhevych, Stets’ko, Lenkavs’kyi and [ Stephan] Bandera, outlined the creation of an OUN “People’s militia,” the establishment of  “internment camps, set up for Jews, asocial elements and captives.” [“Tabir internovanykh,  pryznachenyi dlia zhydiv, asotsial’nykh elementiv ta polonenykh”] It demanded “Ukraine for the Ukrainians!…Death to the Muscovite-Jewish commune! Beat the commune, save Ukraine!”[“Ukraina dlia Ukraintsiv!…Smert’ moskovs’ko-zhydivs’kyi komuni! Byi komunu, spasai Ukrainu!”], demanding a “dog’s death” for the Muscovite-Jewish outsiders [“moskovs’ko-zhydivs’kykh zaid”]. TsDAVO Ukrainy, f. 3833, op. 2, spr. 1, ark. 57-76. Kopiia. Mashynopys and TsDAVO Ukrainy, f. 3855, op. 1, spr. 2, ark. 1-2. Kopiia. Mashynopys. Both published in Stanislav Kul’chyts’kyi et al (eds.), OUN v 1941 roki. Dokumenty, Chastyna 1. (Kyiv: Natsional’na akademiia nauk Ukrainy, Instytut istorii Ukrainy, 2006), 143, 159, 165.

6. The program next summarizes the institutional evolution of the OUN/B through the Cold War years and its perpetuation through CIA and its subsidiary organization the Office of Policy Coordination, the Crusade for Freedom, the GOP’s Ethnic Heritage organization, the Free Congress Foundation and the Yuschenko government in Ukraine.

7. The program concludes with an article noting the military prowess and sophistication of ISIS. Critical to this analysis is the apparent role of the Chechens in the tactical development of the group. In FTR #381. we noted the role of the Al-Taqwa milieu in the funding of the Chechen seperatists, which appears to have continued, as we saw in our analysis of the Boston Marathon Bombing.

In the context of U.S. and Western support for the OUN/B milieu in Ukraine, including the UNA-UNSO fighters who fought with the Chechens and elsewhere in the Caucasus, we may well be seeing “blowback” from our policies vis a vis Ukraine in the development of ISIS’ sophistication. As discussed in paragraph 4a, the UNA-UNSO fighters were initially composed largely of Ukrainian veterans of the Afghan war. The organization gave rise directly to Pravy Sektor.

“ISIS an ‘Incredible’ Fighting Force, Special Ops Sources Say” by James Gordon Meek; ABC News; 8/25/2014.

With the Obama White House left reeling from the “savage” slaughter of an American journalist held hostage by ISIS terrorists, military options are being considered against an adversary who officials say is growing in strength and is much more capable than the one faced when the group was called “al Qaeda-Iraq” during the U.S. war from 2003-2011.

ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, has been making a “tactical withdrawal” in recent days in the face of withering U.S. airstrikes from areas around Erbil in northern Iraq and from the major dam just north of Mosul it controlled for two nail-biting weeks, according to military officials monitoring their movements.

“These guys aren’t just bugging out, they’re tactically withdrawing. Very professional, well trained, motivated and equipped. They operate like a state with a military,” said one official who tracks ISIS closely. “These aren’t the same guys we fought in OIF (Operation Iraqi Freedom) who would just scatter when you dropped a bomb near them.”

ISIS appeared to have a sophisticated and well thought-out plan for establishing its “Islamic Caliphate” from northern Syria across the western and northern deserts of Iraq, many experts and officials have said, and support from hostage-taking, robbery and sympathetic donations to fund it. They use drones to gather overhead intel on targets and effectively commandeer captured military vehicles – including American Humvees — and munitions.

“They tried to push out as far as they thought they could and were fully prepared to pull back a little bit when we beat them back with airstrikes around Erbil. And they were fine with that, and ready to hold all of the ground they have now,” a second official told ABC News.

ISIS didn’t necessarily count on holding Mosul Dam, officials said, but scored a major propaganda victory on social media when they hoisted the black flag of the group over the facility that provides electricity and water to a large swath of Iraq, or could drown millions if breached.

U.S. special operations forces under the Joint Special Operations Command and U.S. Special Operations Command keep close tabs on the military evolution of ISIS and both its combat and terrorism — called “asymmetric” — capabilities, officials told ABC News. A primary reason is in anticipation of possibly fighting them, which a full squadron of special mission unit operators did in the Independence Day raid on an ISIS camp in Raqqah, Syria.

“They’re incredible fighters. ISIS teams in many places use special operations TTPs,” said the second official, who has considerable combat experience, using the military term for “tactics, techniques and procedures.”

In sobering press conference Friday, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said ISIS has shown that it is “as sophisticated and well-funded as any group that we have seen.”

“They’re beyond just a terrorist group. They marry ideology, a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess. They are tremendously well-funded,” he said. “This is beyond anything that we’ve seen.”

Prior ISIS’s recent public successes, the former chairman of the 9/11 Commission, which just released a tenth anniversary report on the threat of terrorism currently facing the homeland, said he was shocked at how little seems to be known inside the U.S. intelligence community about the Islamist army brutalizing Iraq as it has Syria.

“I was appalled at the ignorance,” former New Jersey Governor Tom Kean, who led the 9/11 Commission, told ABC News last week.

Kean, a Republican, who with vice chairman Lee Hamilton, a Democrat, recently met with about 20 top intelligence officials in preparation of the commission’s latest threat report, said many officials seemed both blind-sided and alarmed by the group’s rise, growth and competency.

“One official told me ‘I am more scared than at any time since 9/11,’” Kean recounted in a recent interview.

A spokesperson for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence defended the intelligence community’s tracking of ISIS, saying officials had “expressed concern” about the threat as far back as last year.

“The will to fight is inherently difficult to assess. Analysts must make assessments based on perceptions of command and control, leadership abilities, quality of experience, and discipline under fire — none of which can be understood with certainty until the first shots are fired,” ODNI spokesperson Brian Hale said.

Where did ISIS learn such sophisticated military methods, shown clearly after the first shots were fired?

“Probably the Chechens,” the one of the U.S. officials said.

A Chechen commander named Abu Omar al-Shishani — who officials say may have been killed in fighting near Mosul — is well known for commanding an international brigade within ISIS. Other Chechens have appeared within propaganda videos including one commander who was killed on video by an artillery burst near his SUV in Syria.

Earlier this year, ABC News reported on the secret history of U.S. special operations forces’ experiences battling highly capable Chechen fighters along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border since 2001. In addition, for decades Chechen separatists have waged asymmetric warfare against Russian forces for control of the Northern Caucasus.

The Secret Battles Between US Forces and Chechen Terrorists

In the battle against ISIS, many within American “SOF,” a term that comprises operators from all branches of the military and intelligence, are frustrated at being relegated by the President only to enabling U.S. airstrikes in Iraq. They are eager to fight ISIS more directly in combat operations — even if untethered, meaning unofficially and with little if any U.S. government support, according to some with close ties to the community.

“ISIS and their kind must be destroyed,” said a senior counterterrorism official after journalist James Foley was beheaded on high-definition ISIS video, echoing strong-worded statements of high-level U.S. officials including Secretary of State John Kerry.

Discussion

10 comments for “FTR #808 Walkin’ the Snake in Ukraine, Part 3 (“How Many Lies Can You Allow Yourself to Believe Before You Belong to the Lie?”)”

  1. Anne Applebaum has a horrifying thought or two in Washington Post about Ukraine that she wanted to share with the world: If the West doesn’t prepare for war with Russia, get ready for preemptive nuclear strikes:

    The Washington Post
    War in Europe is not a hysterical idea
    By Anne Applebaum
    Columnist August 29

    WARSAW

    Over and over again — throughout the entirety of my adult life, or so it feels — I have been shown Polish photographs from the beautiful summer of 1939: The children playing in the sunshine, the fashionable women on Krakow streets. I have even seen a picture of a family wedding that took place in June 1939, in the garden of a Polish country house I now own. All of these pictures convey a sense of doom, for we know what happened next. September 1939 brought invasion from both east and west, occupation, chaos, destruction, genocide. Most of the people who attended that June wedding were soon dead or in exile. None of them ever returned to the house.

    In retrospect, all of them now look naive. Instead of celebrating weddings, they should have dropped everything, mobilized, prepared for total war while it was still possible. And now I have to ask: Should Ukrainians, in the summer of 2014, do the same? Should central Europeans join them?

    I realize that this question sounds hysterical, and foolishly apocalyptic, to U.S. or Western European readers. But hear me out, if only because this is a conversation many people in the eastern half of Europe are having right now. In the past few days, Russian troops bearing the flag of a previously unknown country, Novorossiya, have marched across the border of southeastern Ukraine. The Russian Academy of Sciences recently announced it will publish a history of Novorossiya this autumn, presumably tracing its origins back to Catherine the Great. Various maps of Novorossiya are said to be circulating in Moscow. Some include Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk, cities that are still hundreds of miles away from the fighting. Some place Novorossiya along the coast, so that it connects Russia to Crimea and eventually to Transnistria, the Russian-occupied province of Moldova. Even if it starts out as an unrecognized rump state — Abkhazia and South Ossetia, “states” that Russia carved out of Georgia, are the models here — Novorossiya can grow larger over time.

    Russian soldiers will have to create this state — how many of them depends upon how hard Ukraine fights, and who helps them — but eventually Russia will need more than soldiers to hold this territory. Novorossiya will not be stable as long as it is inhabited by Ukrainians who want it to stay Ukrainian. There is a familiar solution to this, too. A few days ago, Alexander Dugin, an extreme nationalist whose views have helped shape those of the Russian president, issued an extraordinary statement. “Ukraine must be cleansed of idiots,” he wrote — and then called for the “genocide” of the “race of bastards.”

    But Novorossiya will also be hard to sustain if it has opponents in the West. Possible solutions to that problem are also under discussion. Not long ago, Vladimir Zhirinovsky — the Russian member of parliament and court jester who sometimes says things that those in power cannot — argued on television that Russia should use nuclear weapons to bomb Poland and the Baltic countries — “dwarf states,” he called them — and show the West who really holds power in Europe: “Nothing threatens America, it’s far away. But Eastern European countries will place themselves under the threat of total annihilation,” he declared. Vladimir Putin indulges these comments: Zhirinovsky’s statements are not official policy, the Russian president says, but he always “gets the party going.”

    A far more serious person, the dissident Russian analyst Andrei Piontkovsky, has recently published an article arguing, along lines that echo Zhirinovsky’s threats, that Putin really is weighing the possibility of limited nuclear strikes — perhaps against one of the Baltic capitals, perhaps a Polish city — to prove that NATO is a hollow, meaningless entity that won’t dare strike back for fear of a greater catastrophe. Indeed, in military exercises in 2009 and 2013, the Russian army openly “practiced” a nuclear attack on Warsaw.

    Is all of this nothing more than the raving of lunatics? Maybe. And maybe Putin is too weak to do any of this, and maybe it’s just scare tactics, and maybe his oligarchs will stop him. But “Mein Kampf” also seemed hysterical to Western and German audiences in 1933. Stalin’s orders to “liquidate” whole classes and social groups within the Soviet Union would have seemed equally insane to us at the time, if we had been able to hear them.

    So there we have it: Unless the west attempts to flood Ukraine with enough military hardware to turn the conflict in the east into a bloody enough stalemate to turns the Russian opinion against any assistance for the rebels, the ultranationalist fascists like Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Alexander Dugin will convince Putin to unilaterally nuke various cities in the Baltics just to demonstrate the hollowness of the West.

    Putting aside the hysterics of predicting that Putin will launch preemptive nuclear strikes on NATO cities just “to prove that NATO is a hollow, meaningless entity that won’t dare strike back for fear of a greater catastrophe”, the column does indirectly raise a valid question: what types of scenarios are going to increase or decrease the odds of a far right ultranationalist challenge from Putin’s right actually succeeded and taking control of the Kremlin and then possibly engaging in the same type of ethnic cleansing that groups like Svoboda and Right Sektor have been pining for? Will prioritizing a ceasefire and peaceful end to the current conflict actually empower the Dugin/Zhirinovsky wing of Russian politics? How about the West trying to turn this into the bloodiest conflict possible while warning that Putin is considering a Hitlerian-style Russian blitzkrieg across eastern Europe with limited nuclear strikes along the way just to show the world who’s the boss. Might that increase the odds of a Dugin/Zhirinovsky faction eventually taking over?

    Also, when can we finally transition to the Rollerball era of conflict resolution? Yes, there would certainly be issues with that kind of alternative approach to war, but it’ll surely be an improvement.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 31, 2014, 6:53 pm
  2. Yasha Levine has been reporting form the Russian/Ukraine border, turning his twitter feed into a must-read source for on the ground perspectives on the conflict. Take this recent tweet…

    My read from talking to people in Ukraine: pro-Maidan folks are geared for more war, while non-political people are tired of it.— Yasha Levine (@yashalevine) September 1, 2014

    So, at least from Levine’s observations, the Ukrainian populace is split at this point over whether to continuing the war or not. And it’s a split that appears to include members of the Ukrainian military. This divide could be quite significant right now, because the rebels just made a big shift in their demands for peace: The rebels are calling for autonomy and not full independence:

    Pro-Russian rebels would respect Ukraine’s sovereignty in exchange for autonomy
    Pro-Russian rebels soften their demand for independence on Monday, saying they would respect Ukraine’s sovereignty in exchange for autonomy.

    By: Vladimir Isachenkov And Jim Heintz
    The Associated Press, Published on Mon Sep 01 2014

    MOSCOW— Pro Russian rebels softened their demand for full independence Monday, saying they would respect Ukraine’s sovereignty in exchange for autonomy — a shift that reflects Moscow’s desire to strike a deal at a new round of peace talks.

    The insurgents’ platform, released at the start of Monday’s negotiations in Minsk, the Belarusian capital, represented a significant change in their vision for the future of Ukraine’s eastern, mainly Russian-speaking region.

    It remains unclear, however, whether the talks can reach a compromise amid the brutal fighting that has continued in eastern Ukraine. On Monday, the rebels pushed Ukrainian government forces from an airport near Luhansk, the second-largest rebel-held city, the latest in a series of military gains.

    The peace talks in Minsk follow last week’s meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Petro Poroshenko. The negotiations involve former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma; Russia’s ambassador to Ukraine; an envoy from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and representatives of the rebels.

    Yet similar talks earlier this summer produced no visible results.

    Unlike the previous rounds, this time rebels said in a statement carried by Russia’s state-run RIA Novosti news agency that they are willing to discuss “the preservation of the united economic, cultural and political space of Ukraine.” In return, they demanded a comprehensive amnesty and broad local powers that would include being able to appoint their own local law enforcement officials.

    This deal is only for eastern Ukraine. There are no negotiations on handing back Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Russia annexed in March, a move that cost Ukraine several major ports, half its coastline and untold billions in Black Sea oil and mineral rights.

    The talks lasted for several hours Monday and were adjourned until Friday, when the parties are to discuss a cease-fire and an exchange of prisoners, rebel negotiator Andrei Purgin said, according to RIA Novosti.

    The rebels’ more moderate negotiating platform appeared to reflect Putin’s desire to make a deal that would allow Russia to avoid more punitive Western sanctions while preserving a significant degree of leverage over its neighbour.

    Over the weekend, the European Union leaders agreed to prepare a new round of sanctions that could be enacted in a week, after NATO accused Russia of sending tanks and troops into southeastern Ukraine. A NATO summit in Wales on Thursday is also expected to approve measures designed to counter Russia’s aggressive actions in Ukraine.

    Could we be seeing the beginning of the end for this conflict? That has to be an amazingly tempting offer for the Ukrainian populace, although it’s unclear if the oligarchs will be open to such an offer, especially those with empires concentrated in the east. The conflict could end the destruction of their physical assets in the east but with costs to their power and influence over the region yet to be determined. So let’s hope the oligarchs are at least entertaining the offer, for everyone’s sake (including their own).

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 1, 2014, 2:08 pm
  3. Well, it doesn’t sound like Kiev is going to be receptive towards the rebels’ ceasefire/autonomy proposal. Kiev’s Defense Minister just doubled down on the WWII analogies

    The Washington Post
    Russia calls for cease-fire with rebels, but Ukraine vows to keep up the fight

    By Karoun Demirjian September 1 at 5:30 PM

    MOSCOW — Russian officials pressed Ukraine on Monday to declare a cease-fire with separatists, but Ukrainians say they are locked in a war not just against the rebels but also against Russia — on behalf of Europe.

    “A great war has come, the likes of which Europe has not seen since the Second World War,” Ukrainian Defense Minister Valeriy Heletey said on his Facebook page Monday, adding that the fight must go on to “show that Ukrainians are not going to give up.”

    Lost territory, trapped soldiers and increasing reports of Russian tanks and troops operating in eastern Ukraine have changed the course of events in the past few days. Newly emboldened separatist forces are bearing down on strategic targets, such as the port city of Mariupol — which the Ukrainian military maintains it can defend — and the airport in Luhansk, where troops retreated in the face of a rebel onslaught Monday.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 1, 2014, 3:44 pm
  4. On the 75th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of Poland, Germany breaks a taboo and pledges to arm the Kurds:

    The New York Times
    Germany to Arm Kurds Battling ISIS

    By ALISON SMALESEPT. 1, 2014

    BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel told lawmakers on Monday that her government had decided to break with a taboo on delivering weapons to conflict zones because Germany and all of Europe faced a security threat from the extremists of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

    Ms. Merkel and top ministers decided Sunday to deliver thousands of machine guns, as well as antitank missiles and armored vehicles, to Kurdish forces battling ISIS in northern Iraq. The deliveries — from existing German Army stocks, and worth an estimated 70 million euros, or almost $92 million — will take place in stages in the coming weeks, the Defense Ministry said.

    On what was the 75th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of Poland, Ms. Merkel went before Parliament on Monday to justify the arms decision. She evoked scenes of mass terrorism and killings in the Middle East, and said of ISIS, “Anything which does not conform to their view of the world they simply expunge from the scene.” In sum, she said, “A religion is being abused in the most terrible way.”

    Before going into detail on Iraq, she recalled that Nazi Germany invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939, starting a war which, together with Nazi crimes, caused millions to die. “We Germans will never forget this,” and it has underpinned post-1945 Germany’s reluctance to enter into conflict, she said.

    But in the case of ISIS, she argued, her government believed it had to make an exception.

    The parliamentary debate on the weapons deliveries was symbolic, since the government can decide to deliver arms where it wishes without the authorization of legislators.

    In a nonbinding vote, lawmakers overwhelmingly backed the government.

    Is this the beginning of a new era of Germany getting directly involved in conflicts around the globe? Perhaps, but keep in mind that recent polls indicate 2/3 of Germans oppose arming the Kurds right now, so that new era might meet resistance:

    Defending arming of Kurds, Merkel calls Islamic State a threat to Europe

    By Noah Barkin

    BERLIN Mon Sep 1, 2014 4:48pm BST

    (Reuters) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended her government’s taboo-breaking decision to send arms to Kurds fighting Islamic State militants in Iraq, telling parliament on Monday that the group posed a major security threat to Germany and Europe.

    Germany, weighed down by its Nazi past, has shied away from direct involvement in military missions for much of the post-war era. And even in those conflicts where German troops have been involved, such as Afghanistan, politicians have tended to describe the missions as humanitarian, rebuilding exercises rather than war.

    Recent polls show that two in three Germans believe the government should not be sending weapons to Kurdish fighters despite reports of atrocities committed by Islamic State insurgents.

    Critics fear the arms could end up in the hands of jihadists. Others worry that Germany, which has not experienced a major attack on its own soil, could become a target itself if it intervenes.

    But Merkel noted in her speech that over 400 Germans and hundreds of other Europeans had travelled to the region to join the fight alongside Islamic State, sometimes referred to as ISIS. These fighters could return home at any time, she said, and therefore already represented a direct threat to Germany.

    STUNG BY CRITICISM

    “We faced a choice: not to take any risks, not to deliver (arms) and to accept the spread of terror; or to support those who are desperately but courageously fighting the barbarous terror of ISIS with limited resources,” Merkel said.

    “We are aware of the risks of this support, of course we considered them. But we also asked ourselves about the acute risks from ISIS if we do not deliver arms.”

    Germany has already shipped humanitarian aid and defensive equipment, such as helmets and body armour, to Iraqi Kurds.

    On Sunday, the government released a new list which includes 16,000 G3 and G36 assault rifles, 30 Milan anti-tank missile systems, 240 rocket-propelled grenade launchers (RPGs) and 10,000 hand grenades.

    The move comes three years after Germany came under sharp criticism from its allies and some critics at home for siding with China and Russia in refusing to back military intervention in Libya in a United Nations vote.

    Stung by that criticism, members of Merkel’s new “grand coalition” government, including Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, spoke out earlier this year about the need for Germany to assume more responsibility in foreign affairs.

    Since then, Berlin has played an active role in mediating in the Ukraine crisis and pushing for European sanctions against Russia. The decision to send arms to Iraq represents yet another step in the direction of a more active foreign policy.

    “What is new is that in an acute crisis situation, German arms are being delivered in order to influence the crisis, to help a partner and to prevent danger. This hasn’t happened before,” Volker Perthes, the head of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs told Reuters. “It is clear that something is changing in Germany.”

    Given the public opposition to arming the Kurds you have to wonder how those polls might shift if arming Kiev becomes a top priority. Maybe it won’t matter.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 2, 2014, 1:42 pm
  5. And the cease-fire is finally here. Whether or not it’s a permanent cease-fire remains to be seen, but this is huge progress:

    The New York Times
    Fighting Tapers Off in Ukraine as Cease-Fire Takes Effect

    By NEIL MacFARQUHAR
    SEPT. 5, 2014

    KIEV, Ukraine — Government forces and the Russian-backed separatist rebels fighting in southeastern Ukraine will observe a cease-fire starting Friday, negotiators from all sides announced at a news conference in Minsk, Belarus.

    Speaking from Minsk, negotiators representing the Ukrainian government, the separatists, Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said that the cease-fire would come into force at 6 p.m. local time, or 11 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time.

    As the truce went into effect, fighting that had raged throughout the day around the strategic port city of Mariupol tapered off, and Ukrainian soldiers could be seen pulling back to their bases. But in interviews, the troops said they had not yet received orders to stand down.

    At a news conference at a NATO summit meeting in Wales, President Obama said he was “hopeful but, based on past experience, also skeptical” about the prospects of the truce holding.

    The Ukrainian national information agency released a list of the 14 points included in the plan: some focused on the cease-fire itself, some on practical steps to get the government functioning again, and some on the political future of the Donbass region.

    The agreement followed, almost verbatim, a cease-fire proposal issued by President Petro O. Poroshenko of Ukraine in June.

    It included amnesty for all those who disarm and who did not commit serious crimes, as well as the release of all hostages. Militias will be disbanded and a 10-kilometer buffer zone — about six miles — established along the Russian-Ukrainian border. A prisoner exchange was set to begin as early as Saturday, according to Interfax-Ukraine.

    The area will be subject to joint patrols. The separatists agreed to leave the administrative buildings they control and to allow broadcasts from Ukraine to resume on local television.

    For the future, the agreement said power would be decentralized and the Russian language protected. An early, failed attempt by more extreme elements in the Ukrainian Parliament to ban Russian as an official language was one of the elements that Moscow seized upon to help inspire the uprising.

    The agreement said the executive in control of each region, the equivalent of a governor, would be appointed after consultations with each region. It also promised early elections and a job-creation program.

    Mr. Poroshenko confirmed the agreement in a statement posted on the presidential website.

    “The whole world is striving for peace. The whole of Ukraine is striving for peace, including millions of citizens in Donbass,” the statement said, referring to the region that includes the separatist strongholds.

    Mr. Poroshenko said he had ordered the Ukrainian Army to stop firing and called for strict monitoring of the cease-fire by international observers.

    The cease-fire proposals included a rough outline of a possible political outcome to the conflict, but negotiating that could be a significant hurdle. President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has been pressing for regional autonomy for the southeastern regions, which would allow Moscow to influence events in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital. But the Ukrainian government has thus far supported only the idea of decentralization.

    Timothy Ash, a market analyst at Standard Bank in London who closely monitors developments in Ukraine and Russia, said the agreement appeared likely to usher in a long, frozen conflict. It could effectively become a political stalemate like those in other Russian-dominated, quasi-independent “gray zones,” including Transnistria in Moldova and Abkhazia along the border with Georgia.

    “Russian regular and irregular forces are not going to withdraw unless Poroshenko delivers on Putin’s agenda for a federal solution for Ukraine, which is really a nonstarter for any Ukrainian politician and political suicide, in effect,” Mr. Ash wrote on Friday in a note to clients. Had Mr. Poroshenko refused to negotiate a cease-fire, however, Ukraine would have risked losing Mariupol.

    The agreement had been expected after both Mr. Poroshenko and Mr. Putin said earlier this week that a truce was likely to emerge from the talks.

    Ukrainian forces had suffered heavy setbacks in the last two weeks, with the separatists breaking out of their isolation in the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk and opening a third front along the strategic southern coast around Mariupol.

    The Russian-backed rebels, who seized control of the coastal town of Novoazovsk last week, had advanced about halfway from Novoazovsk to Mariupol, and they had said repeatedly before the cease-fire was announced that an attack on Mariupol was imminent.

    Officials interpreted the opening of a new, southern front as an attempt by Moscow to force Mr. Poroshenko to negotiate with the rebels, whom he has called terrorists.

    Although some Ukrainians reject the idea of a compromise, a majority are weary of upheaval. The current crisis started with demonstrations in Kiev in November that resulted in the overthrow of the Russian-allied government and, eventually, a conflict in the east in which more than 2,600 people have died, by the United Nations’ count.

    The conflict has developed into the most severe confrontation between Russia and the West since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, with repeated rounds of Western sanctions against Moscow and, this week, the rejuvenation of NATO to act as a deterrent against the Kremlin.

    Analysts were divided on whether the cease-fire would hold, not least because there were divisions among the separatists themselves about what they wanted. “We are planning to continue the course toward secession,” said Igor Plotnitskiy, the prime minister of the self-declared Luhansk People’s Republic, according to the RIA Novosti news service. “The cease-fire is a necessary measure. There is a lot of work ahead of us.”

    The Ukrainian side also demonstrated a hard line. Prime Minister Arseniy P. Yatsenyuk said on Twitter that transforming the cease-fire into a lasting peace would require three things: a long-term cease-fire, the withdrawal of the Russian Army and a wall along the border.

    Ukraine and many Western observers have accused Russia of backing the rebels with fighters and equipment, and of moving its own troops, armor and artillery into Ukrainian territory to carry the fight to the government. Mr. Putin and his government have denied those accusations and insisted that Russia is not a party to the conflict.

    The pause in the violence came as NATO leaders, seeking to counter Russian aggression, approved plans for a rapid-reaction force in Eastern Europe that could mobilize if an alliance country in the region came under attack.

    “Should you even think of attacking one ally, you will be facing the whole alliance,” Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO’s secretary general, said at the meeting in Newport, Wales, according to The Associated Press. Although Ukraine is not a NATO member, alliance nations in Central and Eastern Europe have expressed alarm at the Russian-backed separatists’ fight for control of regions in eastern Ukraine.

    Putting aside the threat of a cease-fire break down, one of the big questions now is what on earth can avoid turning this into another “frozen conflict”. A frozen conflict is certainly better than a hot conflict, but it’s also transnational cancer. On the surface, at least, it looks like there’s a chance for some sort of consensus to emerge: Prime minister Yatsenyuk is calling for “a long-term cease-fire, the withdrawal of the Russian Army and a wall along the border”. Well, a long-term cease-fire is basically what everyone wants at some point so that should be achievable. The withdrawal of the Russian Army should also be pretty straightforward since Russia asserts that it’s troops aren’t in the first place. And that just leaves the giant wall, which is such an insane and pointless waste of an idea that it shouldn’t be too hard to get Kiev to back off of that plan. The assertion by the prime minister of Luhansk that the region will continue to push for secession could be more or an sticking point for any long-term resolution, but that assumes some sort of decentralization plan can’t be developed that is just so appetizing that the people of Luhansk and Donetsk overwhelmingly choose to just accept the decentralization deal and go forward from there. So western Ukraine appears to desire security assurances more than anything else (ideally by joining NATO), while the regions on the east appear to be much more concerned with not being ruled by Kiev. The West seems to want Ukraine into the EU as soon as possible, with NATO membership maybe coming in the future, while Russia wants to avoid another NATO member on its border at all costs. Everyone wants a security guarantee of some sort, with the EU also strongly desiring that Ukraine join the EU (and Russia presumably not very happy about the idea).

    Aside from expanding NATO into NATO-R-U (which could be awesome for everyone), one of the big questions going forward is whether the people of eastern Ukraine, either as “decentralized” regions or a fully independent state(s), would possibly want to join the EU at this point because if they adamantly don’t want a future in the EU is there way to allow just half of a country join the EU while the other half stays out? Could just Kiev become an EU vassal state? That sounds impossible. And if a decentralized Ukraine can’t join the EU that seems like something the EU leaders are going to rather miffed about while negotiating a long-term peace deal that involves keeping Ukraine intact in a decentralized manner. And EU leaders are going to be needed here for any long-term peace. So if it turns out that the east wants out of the EU, will the EU’s leaders and Kiev be willing to put that goal aside for the foreseeable future in order to keep Ukraine intact? And will Russia agree to put of expansion of the Commonwealth Union too for now? Could there be a joint EU/Russian trade deal with Ukraine that guarantees natural gas flows to Europe while both sides shower Ukraine with the resources (and export markets) needed to rebuild its country after decades of corruption and a civil war? Of the many open questions going forward these seems like a big ones.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 5, 2014, 1:52 pm
  6. Here’s a reminder that the sooner a permanent peace can be agreed upon in Ukrainethe sooner the ‘volunteer batallions’ can be disbanded, which is something nearly everyone should be rooting for:

    NBC News
    German TV Shows Nazi Symbols on Helmets of Ukraine Soldiers
    Andy Eckardt

    First published September 9th 2014, 7:07 am

    Germans were confronted with images of their country’s dark past on Monday night, when German public broadcaster ZDF showed video of Ukrainian soldiers with Nazi symbols on their helmets in its evening newscast. In a report on the fragile cease-fire in eastern Ukraine, Moscow correspondent Bernhard Lichte used pictures of a soldier wearing a combat helmet with the “SS runes” of Hitler’s infamous black-uniformed elite corps. A second soldier was seen with a swastika on his gear. “Volunteer battalions from nearly every political spectrum are reinforcing the government side,” the ZDF correspondent said in his report.

    The video was shot last week in Ukraine by a camera team from Norwegian broadcaster TV2. “We were filming a report about Ukraine’s AZOV battalion in the eastern city of Urzuf, when we came across these soldiers,” Oysten Bogen, a correspondent for the private television station, told NBC News. Minutes before the images were taped, Bogen said he had asked a spokesperson whether the battalion had fascist tendencies. “The reply was: absolutely not, we are just Ukrainian nationalists,” Bogen said.

    And here’s a reminder that a durable peace in Ukraine probably isn’t going to happen before more war:

    Ukraine crisis: Renewed fighting threatens fragile ceasefire
    5 NATO members to send weapons to Ukrainian forces, presidential aide says

    The Associated Press Posted: Sep 07, 2014 6:04 AM ET Last Updated: Sep 07, 2014 2:01 PM ET

    Clashes broke out Sunday outside the main rebel-held city in eastern Ukraine, throwing the freshly forged ceasefire agreement between government troops and Russian-backed separatists into further doubt.

    At least two houses blazed in the rural village of Spartak, which lies just north of Donetsk and adjacent to the airport, after they were hit by fire. A man whose house was struck by a shell said rebels had fired from a spot nearby, which appeared to have provoked a retaliatory attack from Ukrainian government troops. This pattern has been regularly observed in the nearly five-month-long military confrontation.

    A group of rebel fighters in the village danced and drank Sunday morning in celebration after what they said was a successful assault on a Ukrainian military encampment in the vicinity. One said their group had captured eight government troops, although none of these captives could be seen.

    The fighter, who provided only the nom de guerre Khokhol, freely acknowledged that the ceasefire was not being respected by either side.

    “There was mortar shelling around 20 minutes ago here in Spartak,” he said. “There is no ceasefire for anyone.”

    The truce signed on Friday appeared to be holding for much of the following day, but was shattered late Saturday by shelling on the outskirts of the southeastern port town of Mariupol, where Ukrainian troops retain defensive lines against the rebels. The city council said Sunday that one civilian was killed there and a serviceman wounded.

    Mariupol is located on the coast of the Sea of Azov, 115 kilometres south of Donetsk. Rebels recently opened a new front on the coast, leading to fears that they were trying to secure a land corridor between Russia and the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed in March.

    ‘Disregard for civilian lives’

    Amnesty International on Sunday condemned all those engaged in the grinding conflict that according to UN estimates has claimed at least 2,600 civilian lives and forced hundreds of thousands out of their homes.

    “All sides in this conflict have shown disregard for civilian lives and are blatantly violating their international obligations,” Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty said in a statement.

    Conflicting claims over NATO weapons

    Meanwhile, a senior aide to Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko said Sunday that Kyiv had reached agreement during the NATO summit in Wales on the provision of weapons and military advisers from five member states of the alliance.

    “At the NATO summit agreements were reached on the provision of military advisers and supplies of modern armaments from the United States, France, Italy, Poland and Norway,” the aide, Yuri Lytsenko, said on his Facebook page.

    He gave no further details and it was not immediately possible to confirm his statement. NATO officials have said the alliance will not send weapons to Ukraine, which is not a member state, but they have also said individual allies may choose to do so.

    However, three of those five swiftly denied making any such pledge.

    Asked about Lytsenko’s comments, defence ministry officials in Italy, Poland and Norway denied plans to provide arms.

    “This news is incorrect. Italy, along with other EU and NATO countries, is preparing a package of non-lethal military aid such as bullet-proof vests and helmets for Ukraine,” an Italian defence ministry official told Reuters.

    Ukraine, Russia, the Kremlin-backed separatists and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe signed the ceasefire deal in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, on Friday evening in an effort to end the bloodshed. The negotiators agreed on the withdrawal of all heavy weaponry, the release of all prisoners and the delivery of humanitarian aid to devastated cities in eastern Ukraine.

    The 12-point agreement, published Sunday by the OSCE, also obliges Kyiv to give greater powers to the separatist Donetsk and Luhansk regions and calls for local elections to be held in those Russian-speaking regions.

    Western leaders voiced skepticism over Russia’s commitment to the deal. A previous 10-day ceasefire, which each side repeatedly accused the other of violating, yielded few results at the negotiating table.

    Unless some new “game changer” weapons get introduced to the conflict (which doesn’t seem likely since they would probably kill a lot of civilians), it’s looking more and more like the plan on both sides is for a battle of attrition. And with winter approaching, life potentially about to get much much worse for East Ukrainians. So the question is raised of how the public sentiment can be expected to change as the conflict drags on. Is support for the rebels expected to grow or shrink amongst the East Ukrainians if the conflict ends in a bloody stalemate that never really gets resolved and doesn’t allow for any semblance of normalcy? It seems like sentiment is only going to grow against the side that does the most shelling of civilian areas, and right now that’s Kiev. Isn’t a Pyrrhic victor the best Kiev can hope for if this conflict drags on past the the winter or will most people just be happy for any end to the fighting at that point and ready to move on?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 9, 2014, 11:34 am
  7. I’m enjoying this show, but you really ought to do some better fact checking of the various claims you are making. In this show listeners are told to “never lose sight of” the fact that Ukraine has 25% of the worlds proven natural gas reserves, and I have seen this claim being made in earlier shows too.

    However, a quick search on Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_natural_gas_proven_reserves) would have told you that the proven gas reserves of Ukraine are actually estimated to be 0.5% of the world total, not 25%.

    Posted by GM | September 10, 2014, 2:58 am
  8. @GM–

    Here’s the source for my statement:

    http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/talking-numbers/this-oil-giant-could-get-crush-by-ukraine-200317976.html;_ylt=A0SO8wmkeB5TWxEAKjpXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTB0c3FzZHNsBHNlYwNzYwRjb2xvA2dxMQR2dGlkA1ZJUDI2NF8x

    EXCERPT: ” . . . .Ukraine sits on 39 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves. That’s about one-quarter of the world’s entire proven reserves. One company that has bet big on Ukraine’s natural gas is US-based Chevron. . . .”

    I source all of my material. Personally, I can neither confirm nor disprove CNBC/Yahoo News’ statement.

    CNBC–though not beyond reproach, certainly–is somewhat more credible than Wikipedia.

    En Garde!

    Dave Emory

    Posted by Dave Emory | September 10, 2014, 6:26 pm
  9. The casual embrace of double-edge swords doesn’t always end well:

    The Guardian
    Azov fighters are Ukraine’s greatest weapon and may be its greatest threat
    The battalion’s far-right volunteers’ desire to ‘bring the fight to Kiev’ is a danger to post-conflict stability

    Shaun Walker in Mariupol
    Wednesday 10 September 2014 08.36 EDT

    “I have nothing against Russian nationalists, or a great Russia,” said Dmitry, as we sped through the dark Mariupol night in a pickup truck, a machine gunner positioned in the back. “But Putin’s not even a Russian. Putin’s a Jew.”

    Dmitry – which he said is not his real name – is a native of east Ukraine and a member of the Azov battalion, a volunteer grouping that has been doing much of the frontline fighting in Ukraine’s war with pro-Russia separatists. The Azov, one of many volunteer brigades to fight alongside the Ukrainian army in the east of the country, has developed a reputation for fearlessness in battle.

    But there is an increasing worry that while the Azov and other volunteer battalions might be Ukraine’s most potent and reliable force on the battlefield against the separatists, they also pose the most serious threat to the Ukrainian government, and perhaps even the state, when the conflict in the east is over. The Azov causes particular concern due to the far right, even neo-Nazi, leanings of many of its members.

    Dmitry claimed not to be a Nazi, but waxed lyrical about Adolf Hitler as a military leader, and believes the Holocaust never happened. Not everyone in the Azov battalion thinks like Dmitry, but after speaking with dozens of its fighters and embedding on several missions during the past week in and around the strategic port city of Mariupol, the Guardian found many of them to have disturbing political views, and almost all to be intent on “bringing the fight to Kiev” when the war in the east is over.

    The battalion’s symbol is reminiscent of the Nazi Wolfsangel, though the battalion claims it is in fact meant to be the letters N and I crossed over each other, standing for “national idea”. Many of its members have links with neo-Nazi groups, and even those who laughed off the idea that they are neo-Nazis did not give the most convincing denials.

    “Of course not, it’s all made up, there are just a lot of people who are interested in Nordic mythology,” said one fighter when asked if there were neo-Nazis in the battalion. When asked what his own political views were, however, he said “national socialist”. As for the swastika tattoos on at least one man seen at the Azov base, “the swastika has nothing to do with the Nazis, it was an ancient sun symbol,” he claimed.

    The battalion has drawn far-right volunteers from abroad, such as Mikael Skillt, a 37-year-old Swede, trained as a sniper in the Swedish army, who described himself as an “ethnic nationalist” and fights on the front line with the battalion.

    Despite the presence of these elements, Russian propaganda that claims Kiev’s “fascist junta” wants to cleanse east Ukraine of Russian speakers is overblown. The Azov are a minority among the Ukrainian forces, and even they, however unpleasant their views may be, are not anti-Russian; in fact the lingua franca of the battalion is Russian, and most have Russian as their first language.

    Indeed, much of what Azov members say about race and nationalism is strikingly similar to the views of the more radical Russian nationalists fighting with the separatist side. The battalion even has a Russian volunteer, a 30-year-old from St Petersburg who refused to give his name. He said he views many of the Russian rebel commanders positively, especially Igor Strelkov, a former FSB officer who has a passion for military re-enactments and appears to see himself as a tsarist officer. He “wants to resurrect a great Russia, said the volunteer; but Strelkov is “only a pawn in Putin’s game,” he said, and he hoped that Russia would some time have a “nationalist, violent Maidan” of its own.

    ..

    For the commanders and the generals in Kiev, who many in Azov and other volunteer battalions see as responsible for the awful losses the Ukrainian army has suffered in recent weeks, especially in the ill-fated retreat from Ilovaysk, there was only contempt. “Generals like those in charge of Ilovaysk should be imprisoned for treason,” said Skillt. “Heads are going to roll for sure, I think there will be a battle for power.”

    The Ukrainian armed forces are “an army of lions led by a sheep”, said Dmitry, and there is only so long that dynamic can continue. With so many armed, battle-hardened and angry young men coming back from the front, there is a danger that the rolling of heads could be more than a metaphor. Dmitry said he believes that Ukraine needs “a strong dictator to come to power who could shed plenty of blood but unite the nation in the process”.

    Many in the Azov battalion with whom the Guardian spoke shared this view, which is a long way from the drive for European ideals and democracy that drove the protests in Kiev at the beginning. The Russian volunteer fighting with the Azov said he believes Ukraine needs “a junta that will restrict civil rights for a while but help bring order and unite the country”. This disciplinarian streak was visible in the battalion. Drinking is strictly forbidden. “One time there was a guy who got drunk, but the commander beat him in his face and legs until he could not move; then he was kicked out,” recalled one fighter proudly.

    Other volunteer battalions have also come under the spotlight. This week, Amnesty International called on the Ukrainian government to investigate rights abuses and possible executions by the Aidar, another battalion.

    “The failure to stop abuses and possible war crimes by volunteer battalions risks significantly aggravating tensions in the east of the country and undermining the proclaimed intentions of the new Ukrainian authorities to strengthen and uphold the rule of law more broadly,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International secretary general, in Kiev.

    Fighters from the battalion told the Guardian last month they expected a “new revolution” in Ukraine that would bring a more decisive military leader to power, in sentiments similar to those of many Azov fighters.

    Despite the desire of many in the Azov to bring violence to Kiev when the war in the east is over, the battalion receives funding and assistance from the governor of Donetsk region, the oligarch Serhiy Taruta. An aide to Taruta, Alex Kovzhun, said the political views of individual members of Azov were not an issue, and denied that the battalion’s symbol had Nazi undertones.

    “The views of some of them is their own affair as long as they do not break the law,” said Kovzhun in written answers to questions. “And the symbol is not Nazi. Trust me – some of my family died in concentration camps, so I have a well-developed nose for Nazi shit.”

    As well as their frontline duties, the Azov battalion also functions as “a kind of police unit”, said a platoon commander who goes by the nom de guerre Kirt. A medieval history buff who takes part in Viking battle reenactments and once ran a tour firm in Thailand, Kirt returned to east Ukraine to join the Azov. He took the Guardian on an overnight patrol through the outskirts of Mariupol and the villages around the front line.

    Part separatist hunters, part city cops with no rules to restrain them, they travelled in a convoy of three vehicles, all heavily armed. As midnight approached we set off across the bumpy tarmac roads to the outskirts of Mariupol, and soon came across a parked car by the side of the road that the men found suspicious.

    Fighters dashed from the front two cars and rushed at the vehicle pointing their guns at it. A startled man got out of the passenger seat, then a sheepish looking woman in a cocktail dress and holding a half-smoked cigarette emerged, smoothing her hair. The Azov fighters apologised, but only after demanding documents and thoroughly searching the car.

    As we edged closer to the front line, Kirt and the others scanned the skyline with binoculars, on the lookout for snipers and separatists. Later, fighters sprinted towards a suspicious jeep parked on the beach while the sea was scanned for hostile support vessels, but it turned out that again the men had stumbled upon people just trying to have a good time: a group of women drinking sparkling wine out of plastic cups on the beachfront.

    The Azov have been partially brought into the military and officially function as a special police unit. There are discussions that Azov and other battalions could be integrated into the army or special forces when the conflict is over.

    Some of them, however, are hoping Ukraine will look very different in the not-so-distant future. And while they may be a tiny minority when it comes to Ukraine as a whole, they have a lot of weapons.

    President Petro Poroshenko will be killed in a matter of months, Dmitry said, and a dictator will come to power.

    “What are the police going to do? They could not do anything against the peaceful protesters on Maidan; they are hardly going to withstand armed fighting units.”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 10, 2014, 6:50 pm
  10. A peek into the future of Ukraine’s parliament: “There might be no opposition at all in this parliament. But there might be competition to see who can be the best nationalist and the biggest enemy of Russia”:

    War heroes and activists to shape new-look Ukraine parliament

    Reuters, 21/10 18:54 CET

    By Richard Balmforth and Pavel Polityuk

    KIEV (Reuters) – Out will go the bodyguards and mistresses, in are likely to come the street activists and war veterans: Ukraine’s next parliament will be pro-Western and strongly nationalist, and it won’t be to Russia’s liking.

    Candidate lists for the Oct. 26 elections show how personal favourites backed by old school powerbrokers in the outgoing parliament are set to make way for people who made their names in Kiev’s “Maidan” revolution last winter, or in resisting Russian encroachment in eastern Ukraine.

    > Army pilot Nadia Savchenko is top candidate for one of Ukraine’s biggest parties – even though she is being held in a Moscow psychiatric clinic, accused of involvement in the deaths of Russian journalists.

    > Airforce colonel Yuly Mamchur – who became an instant hero in March when he defied pro-Russian forces by refusing to leave his post in Crimea – is running for the bloc of President Petro Poroshenko and is set to win a seat on Sunday.

    > The battered face of Tetyana Chornovil, an activist beaten by thugs of the ousted ruling elite, made her a Maidan icon. Already a war widow at 35, she is a candidate for Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk’s party.

    With many outgoing deputies in the pay of business oligarchs, the old 450-seat parliament was a market place for deals to be cut rather than voters’ interests to be defended. This may be about to change.

    “We shan’t be seeing any more bodyguards and mistresses in the new parliament. We will see people with a military background, though they will not have political and juridical knowledge,” said political analyst Mikhailo Pogrebinsky.

    The make-up of the new assembly will reflect months of war and a confrontation with Russia that has created a Cold War-style crisis between Moscow and the West around Ukraine and redrawn its political landscape.

    The Maidan revolution drove out Moscow-backed president Viktor Yanukovich in February. Kremlin alarm at his ousting and the prospect of a pronounced shift westwards by Kiev led to Russia annexing Crimea in March and provoked pro-Moscow separatist rebellions in Ukraine’s east.

    The loss of Crimea and prevention of normal voting in the east, where violence persists despite a ceasefire between Ukrainian forces and the rebels, will mean the number of seats occupied in the new parliament will shrink to 424, according to central election authorities. The others – and Savchenko’s if as expected she is elected – will remain vacant.

    Commentators expect a strong pro-Europe majority to emerge. “At least half of parliament, at the very least, will be changed now. There will be utterly different party structure in parliament,” said Volodymyr Fesenko of the Penta think-tank. “The absolute majority will be with those political forces linked to European integration and the ‘Maidan’.”

    Even in the new-look assembly, Poroshenko will have to work hard to win support for his plan to bring peace in the east as several other pro-Europe parties fear a sell-out to Russia and the separatists.

    Pro-Western Poroshenko called the election to secure further legitimacy after the revolution, which Russia denounced as a fascist coup to justify its backing of the separatists.

    But there is little sign of national reconciliation, with the rebels threatening to hold their own elections in early November, people still dying every day in the east despite the ceasefire and anti-Russian feeling high in the capital.

    Ukrainians are also expressing increasing disenchantment with the slow pace of reforms to improve living standards.

    “There is a risk of a protest mood springing up again if there is no reform. Time is not on Poroshenko’s side. I hope he understands this and will undertake steps towards reform,” said Mustafa Nayem, a journalist and Maidan activist who is running for the Poroshenko bloc.

    THE MAIDAN VOTE

    Pro-Russian forces, including Yanukovich’s Regions Party, are certain to go from the assembly. The Communists, who usually backed him, might lose all representation for the first time since independence in 1991.

    All other parties are seeking the vote of the Maidan – the local name for Kiev’s Independence Square where tens of thousands protested against Yanukovich and which commands moral authority in political life.

    With the parties enlisting war veterans, volunteer battalion leaders and heroes such as Savchenko, Chornovil, Mamchur, the new assembly is likely to be hostile to Moscow.

    “There might be no opposition at all in this parliament. But there might be competition to see who can be the best nationalist and the biggest enemy of Russia,” Pogrebinsky said.

    Poroshenko is hoping for a mandate to pursue the peace plan for the east which he reluctantly accepted after battlefield defeats in which hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers may have died.

    But even with a strong pro-European majority, Poroshenko, a 49-year-old confectionery tycoon, may not find it easy to win support for his plan and his dealings with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    Anti-Kremlin feeling runs high in the capital. On the Maidan, stalls are selling toilet paper printed with Putin’s image. At international football matches an obscene chant about Putin is now as much a fixture as the singing of the Ukrainian national anthem.

    Some supporters of the old elite have come under attack while out campaigning. Several have been seized, pelted with eggs and dumped in rubbish bins.

    POROSHENKO’S PLAN

    Opinion polls suggest Poroshenko’s bloc, which includes the Udar party of retired heavyweight boxing champion Vitaly Klitschko, could take up to 30 percent of the party list vote which decides 225 of parliament’s seats.

    He is assured of the support of Prime Minister Yatseniuk’s People’s Front Party if the latter – a favourite of the West because of his role in negotiating a $17 billion bailout from the IMF – manages to reach the five percent threshold for representation in parliament.

    But he could still find himself in need of support from two potentially crucial players – former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, an old adversary who heads the Fatherland party, and populist firebrand Oleh Lyashko who leads the Radical Party.

    Both have sharply criticised parts of Poroshenko’s peace plan and say his proposal for giving limited self-rule to the separatists for a provisional period will only encourage the rebels to press ahead with plans to form a breakaway entity.

    Keep in mind that Oleh Lyashko is one of the figure popularizing the “trashing” of opposition politicians, so with opposition elected officials about to become a thing of the past the question arises of which group Lyashko and his fellow far right nut jobs will target next. So who’s going to be the new official scapegoat once everyone associated with the old Yanukovich government is removed from power? It’s possible they could start targeting the oligarchs living in mansions, but given Lyashko’s mansion-living lifestyle, maybe not. So who’s next?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 21, 2014, 11:43 am

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