Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

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FTR #832 Walkin’ the Snake in Ukraine, Part 5: “We All Remember Well the Soviet Invasion of Ukraine and Germany”

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash dri­ve that can be obtained here. The new dri­ve is a 32-giga­byte dri­ve that is cur­rent as of the pro­grams and arti­cles post­ed by 12/19/2014. The new dri­ve (avail­able for a tax-deductible con­tri­bu­tion of $65.00 or more) con­tains FTR #827.  (The pre­vi­ous flash dri­ve was cur­rent through the end of May of 2012 and con­tained FTR #748.)

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This pro­gram was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment

Oleh Tia­hany­bok–leader of OUN/B suc­ces­sor par­ty Svoboda–salutes

Intro­duc­tion: Devel­op­ments in Ukraine con­tin­ue to con­form to the par­a­digm set forth in the Nazi tract Ser­pen­t’s Walk, in which the SS go under­ground in the after­math of World War II, build up their eco­nom­ic mus­cle, buy into the opin­ion-form­ing media, infil­trate the Amer­i­can mil­i­tary, and–following a series of ter­ror­ist inci­dents in the U.S. which cause the dec­la­ra­tion of mar­tial law–take over the Unit­ed States.

Cen­tral to this takeover is the use of the Nazi-con­trolled main­stream media to fun­da­men­tal­ly revise his­to­ry in a pro-Hitler fash­ion.

In Ukraine, the insti­tu­tion­al heirs to the OUN/B Nazi allies are cement­ing their con­trol over that strate­gic coun­try, strength­en­ing their strate­gic grip over West­ern polit­i­cal, eco­nom­ic and mil­i­tary pol­i­cy and, through that con­trol, suc­cess­ful­ly manip­u­lat­ing ide­o­log­i­cal and jour­nal­is­tic cov­er­age of events in Ukraine and his­tor­i­cal por­tray­al of World War II and the Third Reich in a fash­ion that would make Hitler proud.

(We have cov­ered the ascen­sion of the OUN/B heirs in the Ukraine in a num­ber of pro­grams: FTR #‘s 777778779780781782, 783784794800803804, 808811817, 818, 824, 826, 829.)

As the 70th anniver­sary of the lib­er­a­tion of Auschwitz by the Sovi­et Union approach­es, Russ­ian pres­i­dent Putin has been exclud­ed from the cer­e­mo­ni­al obser­va­tion of that event!

Putin’s exclu­sion exem­pli­fies the per­ver­sion of pol­i­cy and his­to­ry atten­dant on the Nazi ascen­sion to pow­er in Ukraine.

As will be dis­cussed below, much of the Auschwitz staff was com­posed of OUN/B per­son­nel. The direct, insti­tu­tion­al suc­ces­sors to the OUN/B are in pow­er in Kiev.

Note Ukrain­ian offi­cial Arseniy Yat­senyuk’s state­ment: “We all remem­ber well the Sovi­et inva­sion of Ukraine and Ger­many.” He is talk­ing about World War II!

Yat­senyuk is an impor­tant part of the renascent Nation­al Social­ist gov­ern­ment now rul­ing Ukraine. As dis­cussed by George Elia­son, declas­si­fied U.S. FOIA doc­u­ments con­firm that the OUN/B and the close­ly-allied Anti-Bol­she­vik Bloc of Nations con­sti­tut­ed an OUN/B Nation­al Social­ist gov­ern­ment-in-exile. The Maid­an coup of 2014–itself a well-doc­u­ment­ed covert operation–brought that gov­ern­ment to pow­er.

We present a coura­geous­ly accu­rate op-ed piece by Chris Marten­son in the main­stream Mar­ket Watch blog that cor­rect­ly notes that the West (and the Unit­ed States in par­tic­u­lar) are wag­ing war against Rus­sia.

Part and par­cel to that is an orga­nized NATO effort to pro­pa­gan­dize on behalf of the pro-Nazi gov­ern­ment in Ukraine and its West­ern-sup­port­ed poli­cies. One won­ders if this will ulti­mate­ly entail efforts against those hardy few in the West will­ing to swim against the daunt­ing cur­rent of Ser­pen­t’s Walk-style pro­pa­gan­da.

Among the events being effec­tive­ly neu­tral­ized in main­stream media cov­er­age of the Ukraine cri­sis is the delib­er­ate cut-off of bad­ly-need­ed enti­tle­ments to elder­ly res­i­dents of East­ern Ukraine. This is a war crime that endan­gers the lives of hun­dreds of thou­sands!

Pro­gram High­lights Include: The use of rel­a­tivis­tic lan­guage by West­ern media, char­ac­ter­iz­ing doc­u­ment­ed his­tor­i­cal fact as “Russ­ian” or “Krem­lin” pro­pa­gan­da; review of the rejec­tion by the EU, the U.S., Cana­da and Ukraine of a res­o­lu­tion intro­duced in the U.N. Gen­er­al Assem­bly that con­demns the cel­e­bra­tion of Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors; the sub­tle, revi­sion­ist pro-Nazi rhetoric of Ger­man pres­i­dent Joachim Gauck; the prob­a­bil­i­ty that a West­ern­er–pos­si­bly an American–will head the Ukraine’s “anti-cor­rup­tion” bureau.

 

1a. With war­fare con­tin­u­ing in East­ern Ukraine, Russ­ian pres­i­dent Putin has been “dis­in­vit­ed” to the 70th anniver­sary of the lib­er­a­tion of Auschwitz. That lib­er­a­tion was effect­ed by Sovi­et troops. As will be dis­cussed below, much of the Auschwitz staff was com­posed of OUN/B per­son­nel. The direct, insti­tu­tion­al suc­ces­sors to the OUN/B are in pow­er in Kiev.

Note Ukrain­ian offi­cial Arseniy Yat­senyuk’s state­ment: “We all remem­ber well the Sovi­et inva­sion of Ukraine and Ger­many.”

“Lib­er­a­tion with­out Lib­er­a­tors”; german-foreign-policy.com; 1/16/2015.

Through their vir­tu­al dis­in­vi­ta­tion, EU coun­tries are pre­vent­ing the Russ­ian pres­i­dent from par­tic­i­pat­ing at the com­mem­o­ra­tion of the 70th anniver­sary of the lib­er­a­tion of Auschwitz. The high­est rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the coun­try, whose army had halt­ed the mass mur­der in the Ger­man exter­mi­na­tion camp Jan­u­ary 27, 1945, is there­by exclud­ed from the com­mem­o­ra­tion cer­e­monies. How­ev­er, Ger­many’s pres­i­dent, will par­tic­i­pate. Joachim Gauck had already used his speech on the 75th anniver­sary of Ger­many’s inva­sion of Poland, to mas­sive­ly stir up sen­ti­ments against Moscow and to trans­form the com­mem­o­ra­tion of Nazi crimes into an appeal for clos­ing ranks against Rus­sia. In his mem­oirs, Gauck described Red Army sol­diers, who had lib­er­at­ed Ger­many, as beings “with Asian facial fea­tures,” “reek­ing of Vod­ka,” who “req­ui­si­tioned and stole.” A few years ago, he com­plained, “the occur­rence of the Ger­man Judeo­cide has been inflat­ed to a unique­ness,” because “cer­tain milieus of post reli­gious soci­eties” were seek­ing “a cer­tain shud­der in face of the unspeak­able.” In 2010, he was quot­ed say­ing, he “won­ders how much longer we Ger­mans want to nur­ture our cul­ture of cha­grin.”

“Just Like Nazi Troops”

The com­mem­o­ra­tion of the 70th anniver­sary of the lib­er­a­tion of the Ger­man Auschwitz exter­mi­na­tion camp had been the focus of polit­i­cal intrigues already last year. At the com­mem­o­ra­tion of the 60th anniver­sary of its lib­er­a­tion, Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin’s par­tic­i­pa­tion was still tak­en for grant­ed. After hav­ing suf­fered severe loss­es, the Sovi­et Army reached Auschwitz Jan­u­ary 27, 1945, putting an end to the ghast­ly mur­ders Ger­mans were com­mit­ting. First attempts to exclude Putin from the com­mem­o­ra­tion of the 70th Anniver­sary were made in Poland in the sum­mer 2014. A par­lia­men­tar­i­an was quot­ed say­ing that the Red Army “had been an aggres­sor” in WW II, “just like Nazi troops,” which is why the Russ­ian Pres­i­dent should only be allowed to make a “pen­i­ten­tial pil­grim­age” to Poland.[1] At the time, Bro­nisław Komorows­ki could see noth­ing wrong with Putin’s par­tic­i­pa­tion at the Auschwitz com­mem­o­ra­tion. How­ev­er, anti-Russ­ian forces have pre­vailed and the Russ­ian Pres­i­den­t’s invi­ta­tion was can­celled through diplo­mat­ic chan­nels. Accord­ing to reports, Poland’s Prime Min­is­ter Ewa Kopacz has also cam­paigned to pre­vent Putin from par­tic­i­pat­ing at a par­al­lel com­mem­o­ra­tion cer­e­mo­ny in Prague. This would exclude the pres­i­dent of the coun­try, whose army had lost more than a mil­lion sol­diers just to lib­er­ate the Ger­man Reich and the Pol­ish ter­ri­to­ries under Ger­man occu­pa­tion.

Turned against Rus­sia

The anti-Russ­ian instru­men­tal­iza­tion of the mem­o­ry of Ger­man crimes against human­i­ty is mak­ing head­way with Putin’s vir­tu­al dis­in­vi­ta­tion. Already on Sep­tem­ber 1, 2014, Ger­man Pres­i­dent Joachim Gauck used his memo­r­i­al address in Gdan­sk — com­mem­o­rat­ing the 75th Anniver­sary of the Ger­man inva­sion of Poland — to stir up anti-Russ­ian sen­ti­ments. Refer­ring to the Ukraine con­flict, Gauck accused Rus­sia of giv­ing a high­er pri­or­i­ty to “a quest for pow­er,” rather than to “main­tain­ing sta­bil­i­ty and peace.” Com­plete­ly blot­ting out west­ern sup­port for the Ukrain­ian putsch and the civ­il war, while ignor­ing all the wars waged by the West from Yugoslavia to Iraq on up to Libya, Gauck alleged that Rus­sia had “vio­lat­ed inter­na­tion­al law” and “annexed for­eign territory.”[2] Allud­ing to Great Britain and France’s appro­ba­tion for Ger­many’s occu­pa­tion of parts of Czecho­slo­va­kia in Octo­ber 1938, tar­get­ing Rus­sia, Gauck declared, “his­to­ry teach­es us that ter­ri­to­r­i­al con­ces­sions often whet the appetite of the aggres­sors.” The com­mem­o­ra­tion of Nazi crimes was there­by trans­formed into an appeal to close ranks against Rus­sia, which Ger­many had invad­ed.

A “Cul­ture of Cha­grin”

On var­i­ous occa­sions before becom­ing pres­i­dent, Gauck, who, unlike Rus­si­a’s Pres­i­dent Putin, will be present at Auschwitz Jan­u­ary 27, had made pub­lic state­ments show­ing how he views Ger­many’s 1945 lib­er­a­tion and the Shoah. In his mem­oires, he wrote on the sub­ject of Ger­many’s lib­er­a­tion, that it arrived as “hor­ri­ble news,” he depict­ed the Red Army sol­diers as beings “with Asian facial fea­tures,” reek­ing “of vod­ka,” who “req­ui­si­tioned and stole” and sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly raped women.[3] 2006, Gauck remorse­ful­ly claimed that there is “a ten­den­cy toward sanc­ti­fy­ing the Holo­caust,” where­in “the occur­rence of Ger­man Judeo­cide is inflat­ed to a unique­ness that ulti­mate­ly escapes com­pre­hen­sion and analy­sis.” “Cer­tain milieus of post-reli­gious soci­eties” were per­sis­tent­ly search­ing “for the dimen­sion of the absolute, a cer­tain shud­der in face of the unspeak­able.” This could also be achieved by “the absolute evil” and is “para­dox­i­cal­ly of psy­cho­log­i­cal advantage.”[4] Gauck has stat­ed sev­er­al times that “the Ger­mans” would be well advised to change their approach to his­to­ry. In the fall of 2010, he mused, “I ask myself, how much longer do we Ger­mans want to nur­ture our cul­ture of chagrin.”[5] This was after he had pos­i­tive­ly respond­ed to the ques­tion whether “the major­i­ty of the Ger­mans” are mature enough for a “reori­en­ta­tion toward their own vic­tims, the reori­en­ta­tion toward the patri­ot­ic.” “That’s how I see it.”[6]

Broad Brush

Until he was inau­gu­rat­ed pres­i­dent, Gauck­’s his­tor­i­cal views were crit­i­cized in Ger­man pub­lic opin­ion, For exam­ple, he has a knack for using the “broad brush,” in ref­er­ence to his remarks on the “Black Book of Communism.”[7] Gauck had writ­ten that “the com­mu­nists had also made them­selves unpop­u­lar, when they ... approved Poland’s west­ward acqui­si­tion of ter­ri­to­ry and there­by Ger­many’s loss of its east­ern ter­ri­to­ries.” “To both the natives and the expellees, this loss of the home­land was con­sid­ered a great injus­tice, which the com­mu­nists sealed in 1950, by rec­og­niz­ing the Oder-Neisse as the new Ger­man-Pol­ish border,”[8] alleges Gauck. In the con­flict over the “Cen­tre against Expul­sions,” he took the side of the pres­i­dent at the time, Eri­ka Stein­bach, who was sharply crit­i­cized for her his­tor­i­cal revi­sion­ist state­ments, par­tic­u­lar­ly in Poland. Gauck is quot­ed on the Ger­man League of Expellees’ (BdV) web­site say­ing, Berlin is most cer­tain­ly the best loca­tion for a “Cen­tre against Expul­sions.” It blends in, because Berlin is where “there are var­i­ous ‘topogra­phies of ter­ror,’ the loca­tion of the Wannsee Con­fer­ence and the Stasi Head­quar­ters, the for­mer seat of gov­ern­ment of brown and red despots.”[9]

Yat­senyuk’s “Sovi­et Inva­sion”

Gauck­’s Auschwitz speech and Putin’s dis­in­vi­ta­tion coin­cide with Berlin’s open coop­er­a­tion with the fas­cist suc­ces­sors of Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors to stage a pro-west­ern coup in Kiev. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[10]) The Kiev gov­ern­ment has adopt­ed their anti-Russ­ian stand­points, which are also increas­ing­ly hav­ing an influ­ence on the Ger­man debate where they dove­tail with old anti-Russ­ian sen­ti­ments. Arseniy Yat­senyuk recent­ly caused a stir with his inter­view on Ger­man tele­vi­sion. He lit­er­al­ly alleged, “We all remem­ber well the Sovi­et inva­sion of Ukraine and Ger­many.”[11] This state­ment has remained unchal­lenged.

[1] Stre­it in Polen über Ein­ladung Putins zu Auschwitz-Gedenken 2015. www.tt.com 09.05.2014.
[2] Gedenk­feier zum deutschen Über­fall auf Polen 1939. www.bundespraesident.de 01.09.2014.
[3] Joachim Gauck: Win­ter im Som­mer, Früh­ling im Herb­st. München 2009. See Hans-Rüdi­ger Minow: Der Zug der Erin­nerung, die Deutsche Bahn und der Kampf gegen das Vergessen.
[4] Joachim Gauck: Welche Erin­nerun­gen braucht Europa? www.robert-bosch-stiftung.de. See The Con­sen­sus Pres­i­dent.
[5] “Mutige Poli­tik­er ziehe ich vor”. www.sueddeutsche.de 30.09.2010.
[6] Gauck: Erin­nerung an Vertrei­bung leugnet nicht den Nazi-Ter­ror. www.dradio.de 31.08.2006.
[7] Daniela Dahn: Ges­pal­ten statt ver­söh­nt. www.sueddeutsche.de 10.06.2010.
[8] Stéphane Cour­tois et al.: Das Schwarzbuch des Kom­mu­nis­mus. Unter­drück­ung, Ver­brechen und Ter­ror. München 1998.
[9] www.z‑g-v.de.
[10] See Vom Stig­ma befre­it
[11] www.facebook.com/tagesschau/posts/10152968920374407

Com­bat hel­mets of the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­men­t’s Azov Bat­tal­ion

1b.  The U.S. was one of three coun­tries to vote against a U.N. res­o­lu­tion con­demn­ing the cel­e­bra­tion of Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors as “free­dom fighters”–something the U.S. has been pro­mot­ing since the end of World War II. Ger­many and the EU nations abstained.

Ukraine itself and Cana­da were the oth­er coun­tries that vot­ed against the res­o­lu­tion. The OUN/B dias­po­ra and its influ­ence in the GOP and intel­li­gence ser­vices of the U.S. is the pri­ma­ry con­sid­er­a­tion to be weighed in con­nec­tion with this dis­grace­ful episode.

The large OUN/B  dias­po­ra pop­u­la­tion in Cana­da undoubt­ed­ly has much to do with that nation’s behav­ior in this con­text.

“Hon­or­ing Col­lab­o­ra­tors;” german-foreign-policy.com; 11/26/2014.

The Fed­er­al Repub­lic of Ger­many has refused to vote in favor of a Unit­ed Nations res­o­lu­tion con­demn­ing the glo­ri­fi­ca­tion of Nation­al Social­ism and Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tion. Last week, the Third Com­mit­tee of the UN Gen­er­al Assem­bly passed a res­o­lu­tion strong­ly crit­i­ciz­ing the edi­fi­ca­tion of memo­ri­als to Nazi func­tionar­ies and the styl­iza­tion of Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors as “free­dom fight­ers.” Ger­many and the oth­er EU nations abstained, the USA, Cana­da, and Ukraine vot­ed against the doc­u­ment, with 115 nations vot­ing in favor. Berlin and Brus­sels use the excuse of not want­i­ng to sup­port a res­o­lu­tion ini­ti­at­ed by Rus­sia. In fact, a vote in favor of the doc­u­ment would have caused hefty dis­putes with­in the EU, and between the EU and impor­tant allies. With grow­ing fre­quen­cy, noto­ri­ous Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors are being pub­licly hon­ored in such EU coun­tries as Hun­gary or the Baltic coun­tries and in Ukraine, in some cas­es by offi­cials of the respec­tive gov­ern­ments.

Deep Con­cern

The UN res­o­lu­tion express­es its “deep con­cern about the glo­ri­fi­ca­tion, in any form, of the Nazi move­ment, neo-Nazism, and for­mer mem­bers of the Waf­fen SS orga­ni­za­tion.“As exam­ples the doc­u­ment names erect­ing mon­u­ments and memo­ri­als and hold­ing pub­lic demon­stra­tions in the name of the glo­ri­fi­ca­tion of the Nazi past but also by “attempt­ing to declare such mem­bers and those who fought against the anti-Hitler coali­tion and col­lab­o­rat­ed with the Nazi move­ment par­tic­i­pants in nation­al lib­er­a­tion move­ments.” The res­o­lu­tion explic­it­ly “empha­sizes that any com­mem­o­ra­tive cel­e­bra­tion of the Nazi regime, its allies and relat­ed orga­ni­za­tions, whether offi­cial or unof­fi­cial” should be pro­hib­it­ed by UN mem­ber states. The res­o­lu­tion espe­cial­ly express­es its con­dem­na­tion “of any denial or attempt to deny the Holo­caust.”[1]

Nazi Glo­ri­fi­ca­tion not reject­ed

Last Fri­day, when the Third Com­mit­tee of the UN Gen­er­al Assem­bly put the res­o­lu­tion to a vote, the Ger­man Ambas­sador to the UN found him­self unable to cast his vote in favor. All oth­er EU nations also abstained, along with coun­tries, depen­dent, in one way or the oth­er, on the EU, such as Andor­ra, Bosnia-Herze­gov­ina or Mali. Ukraine, the Unit­ed States, and Cana­da vot­ed point­blank against the res­o­lu­tion. The lat­ter two coun­tries are shel­ter­ing rather influ­en­tial Ukrain­ian exile com­mu­ni­ties, char­ac­ter­ized by for­mer Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors of the “Orga­ni­za­tion of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists” (OUN). The rea­son gen­er­al­ly giv­en last Fri­day was that they did not want to sup­port a res­o­lu­tion ini­ti­at­ed by Rus­sia. The Sovi­et Union — of which Rus­sia had been its core — was the coun­try account­ing for the most casu­al­ties from Nazi ter­ror — 27 mil­lion. How­ev­er, had Ger­many and the oth­er EU nations vot­ed in favor of the res­o­lu­tion, it would have nec­es­sar­i­ly caused hefty dis­putes. Today, col­lab­o­ra­tors, who had joined the Nazis in the war against Moscow, are com­mem­o­rat­ed in sev­er­al Euro­pean coun­tries.

In the Strug­gle against Rus­sia

This is par­tic­u­lar­ly true of Ukraine, where, since ear­ly 2012, Ger­man orga­ni­za­tions have been work­ing — and inten­sive­ly so, since 2013 — to incor­po­rate the Svo­bo­da Par­ty and its affil­i­at­ed forces into an anti-Russ­ian alliance of orga­ni­za­tions. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[2]) Svo­bo­da hon­ors the OUN and par­tic­u­lar­ly its com­man­der Stepan Ban­dera, who is very pop­u­lar through­out West Ukraine. In 1941, Ban­der­a’s mili­tias active­ly sup­port­ed Nazi Ger­many in its attack on the Sovi­et Union. Svo­bo­da also hon­ors the “Ukrain­ian Par­ti­san Army” (UPA), which, in the wake of the Ger­man war of exter­mi­na­tion, had par­tic­i­pat­ed in mass mur­ders of Euro­pean Jews.[3] In the course of the Maid­an protests, both this par­ty and oth­er fas­cist orga­ni­za­tions, receiv­ing vig­or­ous sup­port from Ger­many, were play­ing a grow­ing role. Con­se­quent­ly, since the end of Feb­ru­ary, Svo­bo­da has had sev­er­al min­is­ters in the Ukrain­ian putsch regime. Today, fas­cist bat­tal­ions are among the most res­olute com­bat­ants in East Ukraine’s civ­il war. Some of their com­man­ders have been elect­ed to par­lia­ment in the Ver­chov­na Rada on elec­toral tick­ets of the par­ties form­ing the future gov­ern­ment. At the begin­ning of the month, an activist of the fas­cist “Right Sec­tor” and deputy com­man­der of the fas­cist “Asov Bat­tal­ion,” had been named police chief of the Dis­trict of Kiev. In their strug­gle against Rus­sia, Ukraine is unin­hib­it­ed­ly devel­op­ing the tra­di­tions of its anti-Sovi­et Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tion — at the side of Ger­many.

Free­dom Fight­ers

Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors are also being hon­ored in EU mem­ber coun­tries, for exam­ple, in the Baltic nations. Reg­u­lar com­mem­o­ra­tion hon­or parades for the Waf­fen SS, spon­sored by their nation­al Waf­fen SS vet­er­ans are orga­nized in Esto­nia, Latvia, and Lithua­nia. In Latvia, one of the most recent march­es was held last spring, with approx. 2,000 par­tic­i­pants — which, in pro­por­tion to the size of the pop­u­la­tion, would cor­re­spond to a demon­stra­tion of 80,000 in Ger­many. Observers point out that in Riga’s state-run Lat­vian “Occu­pa­tion Muse­um” the Lat­vian Waf­fen SS mili­tias are referred to as “free­dom fight­ers” in the strug­gle against Moscow. Orga­niz­ers of the Waf­fen SS memo­r­i­al march are invit­ed to schools to teach cours­es in “patriotism.”[4] The “All for Latvia” nation­al alliance par­ty, which has con­sis­tent­ly been in the gov­ern­ment since 2011, sup­ports these memo­r­i­al parades. The par­ty recur­ring­ly rais­es the issue of the depor­ta­tion (“repa­tri­a­tion”) of the coun­try’s Russ­ian-speak­ing minor­i­ty. One of the par­ty’s lead­ers had once declared that the Russ­ian minor­i­ty — near­ly one quar­ter of the pop­u­la­tion — are “occu­piers” or “ille­gal colo­nial­ists.” A crit­i­cal appraisal of Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tion is not wel­come in this coun­try. As the his­to­ri­an Maris Ruks notes, Lat­vian schol­ars risk “set­backs in their careers, if they engage in too detailed research into the Holocaust.”[5] In the cur­rent con­fronta­tion with Rus­sia, the Baltic coun­tries are among the EU’s most aggres­sive forces.

Hitler’s Part­ner is being reha­bil­i­tat­ed

Also in Hun­gary fas­cist tra­di­tions are becom­ing more preva­lent. Show­case exam­ples are the new memo­ri­als to the “Reich’s Deputy” and Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tor Mik­lós Hor­thy, which have been inau­gu­rat­ed since 2012. After chang­ing the name “Free­dom Square” to “Hor­thy Square,” in April 2012, in Gyöm­rö, near Budapest, a Hor­thy stat­ue was erect­ed in the vil­lage of Kere­ki in south­ern Hungary.[6] A Hor­thy com­mem­o­ra­tive plaque was installed on its premis­es of the Calvin­ist Col­lege in Debre­cen in May 2012. Oth­er memo­ri­als have fol­lowed. For exam­ple, in June 2013 in the East Hun­gar­i­an vil­lage of Hen­ci­da [7] and in Novem­ber of the same year right in Budapest. “Hitler’s Hun­gar­i­an part­ner is being reha­bil­i­tat­ed,” wrote Ger­man press organs back in 2012, atten­tive­ly not­ing that, at Hitler’s side, Hor­thy had led Hun­gary “into war against the Sovi­et Union.”[8] How­ev­er, cur­rent­ly, Hun­gary is not one of those coun­tries tak­ing a par­tic­u­lar­ly aggres­sive stand toward Rus­sia. The reha­bil­i­ta­tion of Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors extends far beyond Hor­thy. Since the 1990s, there have been many com­mem­o­ra­tive plaques ded­i­cat­ed to the eth­nic, anti-Semit­ic writer, Albert Wass, who had been a loy­al fol­low­er of Hor­thy and the Nazi Reich. His writ­ings have been as accept­ed into the coun­try’s cur­ricu­lums as those of Jozsef Nyiro, who still in 1944 was active in the Nazi Arrow Cross Party.[9] Hun­gary’s “Job­bik” Par­ty — which polled 20.5 per­cent in the April 6, 2014 elec­tions, its great­est suc­cess ever — stands in the tra­di­tion of the Arrow Cross Par­ty.

“Counter Insur­gency”

This is hard­ly an exhaus­tive list of EU coun­tries pub­licly hon­or­ing Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors. In Croa­t­ia, for exam­ple, mon­u­ments to Nazi oppo­nents were destroyed, while, streets were being named after Mile Budak, the fas­cist Ustasha’s lead­ing pro­pa­gan­dist and, for awhile, Croa­t­i­a’s For­eign Min­is­ter dur­ing the peri­od of Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tion. In Italy’s Affile, to the east of Rome, a mau­soleum to the fas­cist war crim­i­nal, Rodol­fo Graziani was inau­gu­rat­ed in 2012. Graziani, who had ini­tial­ly been engaged in “counter insur­gency” in Libya, ordered hostages shot and used poi­soned gas in Ethiopia. Toward the end of the war, he was hav­ing Ital­ians exe­cut­ed for refus­ing to col­lab­o­rate with the Nazi pup­pet regime in Salò. Had Ger­many and the oth­er EU coun­tries not refused to vote in favor of last Fri­day’s UN res­o­lu­tion, they would — had they tak­en the doc­u­ment seri­ous­ly — be fac­ing seri­ous con­flicts with one anoth­er and with their close allies, e.g. their part­ners in Ukraine.

[1] Unit­ed Nations Gen­er­al Assem­bly: Six­ty-ninth ses­sion of the Third Com­mit­tee. Agen­da item 66 (a): Elim­i­na­tion of racism, racial dis­crim­i­na­tion, xeno­pho­bia and relat­ed intol­er­ance. A/C.3/69/L.56/Rev.1. 19.11.2014.
[2] See A Broad-Based Anti-Russ­ian AllianceTer­min beim Botschafter and Juschtschenkos Mythen.
[3] See Zwis­chen Moskau und Berlin (IV).
[4] See Tag der Kol­lab­o­ra­teure and “Lib­er­a­tion Fight­ers” and “Occu­pi­er”.
[5] Frank Bren­dle: Inter­na­tion­al gegen SS-Ver­her­rlichung. www.neues-deutschland.de 17.03.2014.
[6] Györ­gy Dalos: Hor­thy im Hoch. www.nzz.ch 03.07.2012.
[7] Job­bik und Neue Ungarische Garde wei­hen neues Hor­thy-Denkmal ein. pusztaranger.wordpress.com 23.06.2013.
[8] Paul Jan­dl: Hitlers ungarisch­er Part­ner wird reha­bil­i­tiert. www.welt.de 05.06.2012.
[9] See Ein pos­i­tives Ungarn-Bild.

“Glo­ry to Ukraine! Glo­ry to the heroes!”

2. For fur­ther under­stand­ing of how the Orwellian re-write of his­to­ry is tak­ing place, note the rel­a­tivis­tic lan­guage in the sto­ry below, which sub­tly attrib­ut­es the [accu­rate] char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of the Nazi/fascist char­ac­ter of the SS-aligned OUN/B for­ma­tions to “Russ­ian” or “Krem­lin” pro­pa­gan­da.

“Thou­sands of Ukraine Nation­al­ists March in Kiev” by Dim­it­ry Zaks [Agence France Presse]; Yahoo News; 1/1/2015.

Thou­sands of Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists held a torch­light pro­ces­sion across Kiev on Thurs­day in hon­our of a 1940s anti-Sovi­et insur­gent brand­ed by Moscow as a Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tor whom Europe must reject.

The march on what would have been Stepan Ban­der­a’s 106th birth­day moved along the same streets on which hun­dreds of thou­sands ral­lied for three months last win­ter before oust­ing a Moscow-backed pres­i­dent.

Some wore World War II-era army uni­forms while oth­ers draped them­selves in the red and black nation­al­ist flags and chant­ed “Ukraine belongs to Ukraini­ans” and “Ban­dera will return and restore order”.

“The Krem­lin is afraid of Ban­dera because he sym­bol­is­es the very idea of a com­plete­ly inde­pen­dent Ukraine,” Lidia Ushiy said while hold­ing up a por­trait of the far-right icon at the head of the march.

Ban­dera is a myth­i­cal but immense­ly divi­sive fig­ure in Ukraine whom some com­pare to Cuba’s Che Gue­vara.

His move­men­t’s slo­gan — “Glo­ry to Ukraine! Glo­ry to the heroes!” — was also the catch­phrase of last year’s pro-Euro­pean revolt.

Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin in March called that upris­ing’s lead­ers “the ide­o­log­i­cal heirs of Ban­dera, Hitler’s accom­plice dur­ing World War II.”

Ban­dera was the ide­o­log­i­cal patron of resis­tance fight­ers who fought along­side invad­ing Ger­man forces dur­ing World War II. . . .

14th Waf­fen SS “Gali­cian Divi­sion” troops inspect­ed by Himm­ler

3. One of the rel­a­tive­ly few media peo­ple deal­ing with the sub­stance of the Ukraine is George Elia­son. Ear­ly last year, he asked a rhetor­i­cal ques­tion:

“Is the Rebel­lion in Ukraine Real­ly Aimed at Cre­at­ing a Nation­al Social­ist State?” by George Elia­son; OpE­d­News; 2/26/2014.

The award-win­ning jour­nal­ist Max Blu­men­thal is exact­ly right to sug­gest, as he does in his recent Alter­Net piece, that the U.S. has ties to Nazi and fas­cist pro­test­ers in Ukraine. The CIA agrees with him, and so did George Bush Sr. The only dif­fer­ence in their appraisal is the use of the term Neo-Nazi , rather than Nazi. It is just too hard for any­one to fath­om that large com­mu­ni­ties of World War II Nazis not only sur­vived, but have thrived and been pro­tect­ed all these years in Lviv (a city and provin­cial dis­trict in west­ern Ukraine), the USA, and Cana­da.

After World War II, many in the Waf­fen SS went home to their native Lviv region in the Ukraine. Oth­ers immi­grat­ed there, includ­ing mem­bers of three Waf­fen SS divi­sions: the Waf­fen SS Gali­cian, Waf­fen SS Nightin­gale, and Waf­fen SS Roland. These Hitler min­ions were bare­ly inves­ti­gat­ed and nev­er tried for crimes against humanity–although a part of their train­ing was to serve as guards in con­cen­tra­tion camps like Auschwitz. In that capac­i­ty, they were respon­si­ble for the deaths of 200,000 Jews, 100,000 Poles, and at least 150,000 Ukraini­ans.

CIA doc­u­ments cer­ti­fy what every white paper I have come across states clear­ly: Each suc­ces­sive gen­er­a­tion that derived from the ini­tial post-war Waf­fen SS set­tle­ment in Lviv was brought up to be more com­mit­ted than the one before to mak­ing Ukraine a Nation­al Social­ist state.

Roles of the UCCA and the UWC

Two impor­tant play­ers in the unfold­ing events in Ukraine are the Ukrain­ian Con­gress Com­mit­tee of Amer­i­ca (UCCA) and the Ukrain­ian World Con­gress (UWC). The UCCA is under­stood to sup­port the West-lean­ing rebels in the con­flict, and the UWC, orga­nized as an inter­na­tion­al coor­di­nat­ing body for Ukrain­ian com­mu­ni­ties in the dias­po­ra, is believed to sup­port Ukraine’s inte­gra­tion into the Euro­pean Union.

How­ev­er, three sep­a­rate Free­dom of Infor­ma­tion Act (FOIA) doc­u­ments, released under the Nazi War Crimes Dis­clo­sure Act, pro­vide all the infor­ma­tion need­ed to under­stand the true objec­tives of these non-gov­ern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions (NGOs).

The only free­dom these groups want is a Nation­al Social­ist Ukraine. . . . .

. . . . Anoth­er FOIA-released doc­u­ment goes as far as to say that the Anti-Bol­she­vik Bloc of Nations (ABN), led by Ukrain­ian inde­pen­dence leader Sla­va Stet­sko until her death in 2003, was in fact the Nation­al Social­ist gov­ern­ment in exile:

“OUN/B is the orig­i­na­tor and a deci­sive fac­tor in the ABN (Anti-Bol­she­vik Bloc of Nations), which includes rep­re­sen­ta­tives of var­i­ous non-Russ­ian emi­gre orga­ni­za­tions. In the USA the activ­i­ties of the ABN are con­duct­ed by....”

From the 1930s until today, these groups have been prepar­ing for the rev­o­lu­tion that is under­way.

A 2007 FOIA-released doc­u­ment enti­tled “Major Ukrain­ian Emi­gre Polit­i­cal Orga­ni­za­tions World­wide ” lists mem­ber groups in the UCCA and UWC as OUN‑B active orga­ni­za­tions at the date of pub­li­ca­tion. This doc­u­ment makes it very clear that even in the 1970s the Ukrain­ian Nation­al Social­ist polit­i­cal machine con­tin­ued to demon­strate pre-World War II aggres­sive­ness. We learn that:

“At the begin­ning of the 1970s the Ukrain­ian polit­i­cal spec­trum had many fea­tures of the pre­war Ukrain­ian polit­i­cal group­ings. The deci­sive polit­i­cal role was played by three fac­tions of the OUN (Orga­ni­za­tion of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists): OUN/B (Ban­dera), OUN/M (Mel­nyk) and OUN/z (za kor­donom — abroad).”

The doc­u­ment then goes on to dis­cuss Yaroslav Stet­sko, the hus­band of Sla­va Stet­sko and head of the Ban­dera fac­tion of the Orga­ni­za­tion of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists (OUN):

“In August of 1941 Stet­sko wrote his auto­bi­og­ra­phy.... He states that although he con­sid­ers Moscow rather than Jew­ry to be the main ene­my of impris­oned Ukraine, he absolute­ly endors­es the idea of the indu­bitable harm­ful role of Jews in the enslave­ment of Ukraine by Moscow. He final­ly states that he absolute­ly endors­es the exter­mi­na­tion of Jews as opposed to assim­i­lat­ing them, and the ratio­nal­i­ty of the Ger­man meth­ods of exter­mi­na­tion.”

Fur­ther excerpts from “Major Ukrain­ian Emi­gré Polit­i­cal Orga­ni­za­tions World­wide” include the fol­low­ing:

” In Cana­da, in May 2010 , [Senior Ukrain­ian oppo­si­tion leader Oleh] Tyah­ny­bok received the gold­en cross “for his ser­vice to Ukraine’ from the Broth­er­hood of the Vet­er­ans of the First Ukrain­ian Divi­sion of the Ukrain­ian Nation­al Army, vet­er­ans of the Waf­fen SS Gal­izien....”

Orga­ni­za­tion for the Defense of Four Free­doms for Ukraine : “OUN/B is close­ly asso­ci­at­ed with SUM (Asso­ci­a­tion of Ukrain­ian Youth) and such civic orga­ni­za­tions as e.g. 00ChSU in the USA (Orga­ni­za­tion for the Defense of Four Free­doms for Ukraine). Sim­i­lar­ly, OUN/M has its adher­ents among the mem­bers of the UNO & Ukrain­ian Nation­al Uni­ty) in Cana­da. The mem­bers and fol­low­ers of OUN/z are active in the USA in OPVBU (Asso­ci­a­tion for Free Ukraine). OUN/z, as well as 0kVUPA (Asso­ci­a­tion of For­mer Mem­bers of the UPA-Ukrain­ian Insur­gent Army), rec­og­nize ZP/UHVR (For­eign Rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the Supreme Ukrain­ian lib­er­a­tion Coun­cil) as their rep­re­sen­ta­tive polit­i­cal body.”

OUN/B (Ban­dera fac­tion) : “After 1991, the OUN faced con­sid­er­able difficul­ties re-estab­lish­ing itself in an inde­pen­dent Ukraine. It split between the Con­gress of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists (KUN) in Ukraine and the émi­gré OUN/B).... No few­er than four orga­ni­za­tions claim to be the heirs to Stepan Bandera–KUN and the émi­gré OUN/B, the clan­des­tine “Tryzub imeni Ban­dery (“Tri­dent”), and VO Svo­bo­da, whose ide­ol­o­gy was inspired by Stet­s’ko’s ide­ol­o­gy of “two rev­o­lu­tions,” one nation­al and one social.”

Pravy Sek­tor

Trizub (Tri­dent) is the Nation­al­ist group lead­ing the fight­ing today. Its leader, Dmitri Yarosh, has been one of the few voic­es peo­ple only want­ed to hear in pass­ing until today. He has the only hon­est voice of the rev­o­lu­tion. From the begin­ning he stat­ed he is here to lead the war.

“The recent events in Ukraine show that the rev­o­lu­tion­ary way of gain­ing Free­dom, Jus­tice and Well­be­ing leaves no alter­na­tives for the Ukrain­ian peo­ple,” Yarosh said. In this sit­u­a­tion, indis­tinct posi­tions of the lead­ers of the par­lia­men­tary oppo­si­tion par­ties and their fear to make rev­o­lu­tion have forced me to assume respon­si­bil­i­ty for the rev­o­lu­tion­ary process and for all relat­ed events–in par­tic­u­lar, for the events that hap­pened in Ukraine ear­li­er, are hap­pen­ing now, and, what is most impor­tant, for those that will shape the future of our State.”

Dmitri Yarosh is quot­ed as say­ing that the cur­rent gov­ern­ment only has the pow­er giv­en to it by the far-right Pravy Sek­tor group–which rejects the orig­i­nal pro­test­ers’ goal of clos­er links to the Euro­pean Union and demands instead “nation­al rev­o­lu­tion.” Fur­ther, Yarosh states that the new gov­ern­ment will only be in pow­er as long as he him­self decides it will.

How much pow­er does Yarosh actu­al­ly wield? Ask Yulia Tymoshenko, the for­mer prime min­ster whose lead­er­ship Pravy Sek­tor rejects. Ask Arseniy Yat­senyuk , now being con­sid­ered for the posi­tion of Pre­mier in Ukraine’s new gov­ern­ment, and the man the West has pinned its hopes for sta­bil­i­ty on. What does it take to make a World Cham­pi­on look demure? Ask Vitali Kitschko, the pro­fes­sion­al box­er who has announced he will run for the pres­i­den­cy of the new gov­ern­ment.

Who is run­ning the rev­o­lu­tion? Ask Dmitri Yarosh, who in a video stat­ed clear­ly that Ukraine is only the begin­ning. Europe is next.

Stepan Ban­dera (1909–1959), for­mer head of the Orga­ni­za­tion of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists, once advo­cat­ed three ways of deal­ing with non-Ukraini­ans.

“It’s very sim­ple. You deal with them as com­rades — and this is for those who fight with you for Ukraine, regard­less of their nation­al­i­ty. You deal with them in a tol­er­ant way — for those who live on the land and do not oppose our strug­gle; thus, we treat them nor­mal­ly, Ukraine has a place for all. The third way of deal­ing with them is in a hos­tile way — and this is for those who oppose the Ukrain­ian peo­ple’s nation­al lib­er­a­tion strug­gle.”

And, as Dmitri Yarosh has said, “This is how it is in any state; any peo­ple takes exact­ly these posi­tions.”

Fund­ing

Today, the same allied forces that fought for the Third Reich in World War II are set­ting up a Nazi Ukraine. It’s beyond belief. The Ukrain­ian Con­gress Com­mit­tee of Amer­i­ca (UCCA), the Ukrain­ian World Con­gress (UWC), and asso­ci­at­ed orga­ni­za­tions are pow­er­ful lob­by­ing groups. They have suc­cess­ful­ly lob­bied the U.S. Con­gress to pro­vide unques­tion­ing sup­port for their view of Ukraine. Their influ­ence may be the result of the suc­cess they had in the cold war against the Sovi­ets .

Go to any of their chap­ter web­sites. All the asso­ci­at­ed groups are sup­port­ing the so-called “Maid­an” oppo­si­tion move­ment (named after Kiev’s cen­tral square where the protests picked up steam) by donat­ing them­selves and by solic­it­ing dona­tions from the pub­lic. The peo­ple mak­ing the dona­tions are prob­a­bly not aware that the mon­ey will fund, among oth­er things, the Trizub (Tri­dent) group led by Dmitri Yarosh.

For any of the lead­ers of these groups to say they are not sup­port­ing and fund­ing Nation­al Social­ism (Nazism) in Ukraine is a slap in the face of real­i­ty.

Iron­i­cal­ly, this year marks the 70th anniver­sary of D‑Day.

4. Over a month ago, Kiev began imple­ment­ing a new strat­egy in the civ­il war: cut off East Ukraine’s pen­sions and social ser­vices entire­ly:

“Cash Cut to Ukraine Rebel Areas in Risky Strat­egy” by Peter Leonard and Balint SzlankoAP Big Sto­ry; 11/25/2014.

For hours, small crowds in Donet­sk hud­dle hope­fully in the cold around cash machines that nev­er get filled, as artillery rum­bles in the dis­tance.

Mon­ey is run­ning short in the rebel heart­land since the gov­ern­ment announced this month that it will sus­pend bank­ing ser­vices as it piles on the pres­sure. Almost all ATMs have stopped work­ing and the remain­der are expect­ed to stop oper­at­ing over the next two weeks.

The move is part of Ukraine’s plan to suf­fo­cate its sep­a­ratist foe, now that its cost­ly mil­i­tary cam­paign has foundered. Author­i­ties say they are also with­draw­ing all state ser­vices from rebel areas, although hos­pi­tal and school work­ers in the rebel strong­hold of Donet­sk say it has been a while since they last saw fund­ing any­how.

Yet if the gov­ern­ment of Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko hopes to turn peo­ple in east­ern Ukraine against the sep­a­ratist lead­er­ship, evi­dence on the ground sug­gests the strat­egy may only be hard­en­ing their resolve.

“What Poroshenko is say­ing to us is: ‘You are no longer Ukraini­ans. You won’t get pen­sions, you won’t get social pay­ments. When you croak, then we’ll stop this war against you,’” said Donet­sk retiree Geor­gy Sharov. “But I don’t want to go to Ukraine and beg for their mer­cy.”

The lines have typ­i­cally formed in front of cash machines belong­ing to state sav­ings bank Oshchad­bank, which han­dles pen­sions and social sup­port pay­ments.

“Even they don’t always have mon­ey,” said Donet­sk res­i­dent Sergei Smo­tovsky, stand­ing out­side a branch of the bank. “The worst thing is that not only can you not get social pay­ments. You can’t even with­draw mon­ey that you earned, your salary.”

Even though cash machines don’t work, account-hold­ers wait from ear­ly morn­ing until lunchtime in the hope that bank work­ers will top them up, but the doors to the banks often remain firm­ly shut.

Despite the unremit­ting fight­ing tak­ing place across Donet­sk and Luhan­sk, the two regions affect­ed by the armed sep­a­ratist con­flict, large super­mar­kets are still rea­son­ably stocked.

Sup­plies come from oth­er parts of Ukraine and cus­tomers often use bank cards to pay for shop­ping. Ukraine’s gov­ern­ment is now about to block bank cards, cut­ting off anoth­er means of sus­te­nance.

Hard-pressed recip­i­ents of state ben­e­fits have for months turned expec­tantly to the rebel gov­ern­ment for cash. Crowds of pen­sion­ers and sin­gle moth­ers assem­ble dai­ly before the sep­a­ratist head­quar­ters. When any­body in the crowd becomes espe­cially vocal, one of the gun­men guard­ing the build­ing rush­es to bun­dle them away, accus­ing them of being “provo­ca­teurs.”

The brunt of the rage, how­ever, is still direct­ed at the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment.

“Ukraine says Donet­sk is Ukrain­ian ter­ri­tory, and yet they came here with tanks and weapons instead of pay­ing pen­sions prop­erly,” said Donet­sk retiree Ana­toly Vis­ly. “I am a dis­abled vet­eran and I haven’t received my pen­sion for three months.”

Many pen­sion­ers have re-reg­is­tered in towns out­side rebel zones, mean­ing pay­ments have still accrued to their accounts. The chal­lenge for those peo­ple will now become mak­ing the month­ly trip to banks in gov­ern­ment-con­trolled areas, which can be cost­ly and dif­fi­cult, espe­cially for the most infirm.

Prospects for the rebels to set up a wel­fare sys­tem any time soon are bleak.

Anna Kharzhevskaya, an offi­cial with the rebel social affairs and labor min­istry, said sep­a­ratist author­i­ties have only a crude notion of how many peo­ple are eli­gi­ble for social pay­ments.

Ukraine’s gov­ern­ment has been block­ing access to state records and is try­ing to spir­it away hard copies of data­bases still in rebel-held areas, Kharzhevskaya said.

Sep­a­ratist author­i­ties say mili­ti­a­men are under instruc­tions to stop any unsanc­tioned removals of gov­ern­ment records by Ukrain­ian author­i­ties.

With­out a prop­erly func­tion­ing tax sys­tem in place, there is no imme­di­ately obvi­ous and trans­par­ent way for mon­ey to be raised. As a result, Kharzhevskaya said she could not esti­mate when her depart­ment would begin pay­ing reg­u­lar pen­sions.

...

5. Note that, accord­ing to the arti­cle below, the cut off pen­sioner accounts are report­edly still accru­ing val­ue. Pen­sion­ers just won’t be able to access those accounts unless they can leave the rebel-con­trolled regions or the war ends.

“Retirees Starve in Rebel-Held East­ern Ukraine” by Tatyana Gory­a­chova and Hal Fos­ter; USA Today; 12/25/2014.

Retirees in Donet­sk, the largest city in east­ern Ukraine held by pro-Russ­ian sep­a­ratists, are dying of hunger because their pen­sions have been cut off by the nation­al gov­ern­ment, rebel offi­cials and res­i­dents say.

Though Ukraine has not pub­licly dis­cussed star­va­tion deaths, it acknowl­edges there is a human­i­tar­ian cri­sis in the east­ern region because of the con­flict and blames the sep­a­ratists and Rus­sia for sup­port­ing the rebels.

The gov­ern­ment cut off pen­sions this month to peo­ple in all areas of east­ern Ukraine con­trolled by sep­a­ratists to under­cut sup­port for pro-Russ­ian rebels.

The num­ber of star­va­tion deaths in Donet­sk is hard to pin down, large­ly because the con­flict between Ukraine and sep­a­ratist forces has crip­pled gov­ern­ment func­tions in the east, includ­ing med­ical and coro­ners’ offices that record caus­es of deaths.

The siege of the city that began in August has led to 40% of the city’s 1 mil­lion peo­ple flee­ing.

Dmit­ry Pono­marenko, pas­tor of the City of Light Protes­tant church, said he believes the star­va­tion toll is in the hun­dreds, per­haps thou­sands. His assess­ment is based large­ly on accounts from parish­ioners and 300 seniors who come to his church dai­ly for a free meal. In one month, they report­ed more than 100 star­va­tion deaths of pen­sion­ers in Donet­sk, he said.

The Ukrain­ian Inde­pen­dent Infor­ma­tion Agency, cit­ing aid work­ers, report­ed that 22 seniors in Donet­sk, most­ly sin­gle men, died of hunger in Sep­tem­ber.

...

The aver­age Ukrain­ian pen­sion is mea­ger — $107 a month — but it can be the dif­fer­ence between life and death for many.

A num­ber of aid groups are fight­ing hunger in Donet­sk and oth­er cities in the war zone, includ­ing the Unit­ed Nations Food Pro­gram and the char­i­ta­ble foun­da­tion of Rinat Akhme­tov, Ukraine’s rich­est man, who fled to Kiev when sep­a­ratists threat­ened to kill him. These efforts are spo­radic and lim­ited to a few thou­sand peo­ple at a time. They don’t come any­where near replac­ing the pen­sions.

The sep­a­ratists and Rus­sia have decried the pen­sion cut­off as inhu­mane. Kiev says rebels and crim­i­nals have tak­en much of the mon­ey it sends to the east­ern region.

The cut­off, announced Nov. 5, means pay­ments will no longer “be stolen by pro-Russ­ian ban­dits,” Prime Min­is­ter Arseniy Yat­senyuk said.

...

Donetsk’s may­or in exile, Alexan­der Lukyanchenko, who fled to Kiev in August after receiv­ing sep­a­ratist death threats, has crit­i­cized the gov­ern­ment for the cut­off.

The only way for res­i­dents of neigh­bor­ing Donet­sk and Luhan­sk provinces to get their pen­sions back is to go to a city out­side the war zone to re-reg­is­ter for ben­e­fits. Many retirees lack the health or mon­ey to trav­el so far from their homes, Lukyanchenko said.

Yat­senyuk, the prime min­is­ter, said the pen­sions the gov­ern­ment with­holds are accru­ing for the ben­e­fi­cia­ries and will be paid once the east­ern region is free of sep­a­ratist con­trol.

Pono­marenko, the pas­tor, and oth­ers who help the retirees fear a lot more will suc­cumb to star­va­tion.

“We have only enough mon­ey to help a few pen­sion­ers who are able to walk to our church each day,” he said, adding that’s a small frac­tion of the retirees going hun­gry.

Emblem of the Ukrain­ian Azov Bat­tal­ion whose com­man­ders occu­py key posi­tions in that coun­try’s gov­ern­ment

6. “Attempt­ing to cre­ate unbear­able con­di­tions of life is a whole new ball­game... using star­va­tion of civil­ians as a method of war­fare is a war crime”:

“More than 1 Mil­lion Flee, Ukraine Close to ‘Human­i­tar­ian Cat­a­stro­phe’ ” by Kier­an Guil­bert; Reuters; 1/8/2015.

More than one mil­lion peo­ple have been dri­ven from their homes by the con­flict in Ukraine, ham­per­ing aid efforts and leav­ing the coun­try on the verge of a human­i­tar­ian cat­a­stro­phe, aid agen­cies said on Thurs­day.

The num­ber of peo­ple uproot­ed with­in Ukraine, 610,000, and of refugees who have fled to neigh­bour­ing coun­tries, 594,000, has more than tripled since August, fig­ures from the Unit­ed Nations Office for the Coor­di­na­tion of Human­i­tar­ian Affairs (OCHA) show.

The U.N. said an esti­mated 5.2 mil­lion peo­ple in Ukraine were liv­ing in con­flict zones, of whom 1.4 mil­lion were high­ly vul­ner­a­ble and in need of assis­tance as they face finan­cial prob­lems, a lack of ser­vices and aid, and harsh win­ter con­di­tions.

The con­flict between Ukraine and pro-Rus­sia sep­a­ratists, killed more than 4,700 peo­ple last year and pro­voked the worst cri­sis in rela­tions between Rus­sia and the West since the Cold War.

Denis Krivosheev, deputy direc­tor of Europe and Cen­tral Asia at Amnesty Inter­na­tional, said res­i­dents in sep­a­ratist-con­trolled Luhan­sk and Donet­sk could bare­ly afford food and med­i­cines, espe­cially vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple such as pen­sion­ers.

“While it may be too ear­ly to call this a human­i­tar­ian cat­a­stro­phe, it’s clear­ly pro­gress­ing in that direc­tion,” Krivosheev told the Thom­son Reuters Foun­da­tion by email.

The pro­vi­sion of human­i­tar­ian aid was being ham­pered by pro-Kiev vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions that were increas­ingly pre­vent­ing food and med­i­cine from reach­ing those in need in east­ern Ukraine, he said.

“Attempt­ing to cre­ate unbear­able con­di­tions of life is a whole new ball­game... using star­va­tion of civil­ians as a method of war­fare is a war crime.”

The bat­tal­ions often act like “rene­gade gangs” and urgent­ly need to be brought under con­trol, Krivosheev added.

Social ben­e­fits, includ­ing pen­sions, have also become a major con­cern for those in east­ern Ukraine fol­low­ing Kiev’s deci­sion to trans­fer the pay­ments to gov­ern­ment-con­trolled areas, the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) said.

UNHCR spokesman William Spindler said those unable to leave their homes, such as the elder­ly and the sick, and peo­ple liv­ing in insti­tu­tions were not receiv­ing the help they need­ed.

...

7. A coura­geous­ly accu­rate op-ed piece was penned by Chris Marten­son for Mar­ket Watch.

“OPINION: Per­haps You Missed It: We’re at War with Rus­sia” by Chris Marten­son; Mar­ket­Watch; 1/20/2015. 

The U.S. has been wag­ing eco­nom­ic, finan­cial, trade, and polit­i­cal war against Rus­sia and even kinet­ic war-by-proxy in Ukraine. Wor­ry­ing­ly, nobody in pow­er in the U.S. or Europe real­ly seems will­ing to tell us exact­ly why.

From the Russ­ian point of view, every­thing from their plung­ing ruble to bit­ter sanc­tions to the falling price of oil are the fault of the U.S., either direct­ly or indi­rect­ly. Whether that is fair or not is irrel­e­vant; that’s the view of the Rus­sians right now. So no sur­prise, it doesn’t dis­pose them towards good­will nego­ti­a­tions with the West gen­er­al­ly, and the U.S. specif­i­cal­ly.

Recent­ly the anti-Russ­ian stance in the U.S. press has qui­et­ed down, pre­sum­ably because the polit­i­cal lead­er­ship has moved its atten­tion on to oth­er things, and that means Rus­sia is large­ly out of the U.S. news cycle. How­ev­er, there’s plen­ty of seri­ous action going on in Rus­sia and Ukraine, as well as relat­ed activ­i­ty in the U.S. that deserves our care­ful atten­tion.

The U.S. (via John Ker­ry) and NATO have steadi­ly accused Rus­sia of hav­ing fun­neled hun­dreds of tanks, armored per­son­nel car­ri­ers and oth­er heavy equip­ment to the sep­a­ratists in east­ern Ukraine.

These asser­tions bring to mind the Sher­lock Holmes case of the dog that did not bark where the absence of a piece of evi­dence leads us to a very dif­fer­ent con­clu­sion than the one the U.S. polit­i­cal estab­lish­ment would like us to believe.

The sorts of weapon­ry that NATO and the U.S. have charged Rus­sia with pro­vid­ing are vir­tu­al­ly impos­si­ble to con­ceal from the air. Snap­ping high-res­o­lu­tion pho­tos of such war machin­ery is child’s play for today’s mil­i­tary satel­lites, and even civil­ian ones too. If the asser­tions were true, we should have seen a flood of pho­tographs of Russ­ian heavy equip­ment every step of the way as it passed into Ukraine.

But none have been offered, not even one so far. And the sim­plest expla­na­tion for this is that none exist. If they did, you can be 100% cer­tain they’d have been released and replayed over and over again on CNN until every­body and their uncle could dis­tin­guish a T‑72 tank out­line from that of a T‑64.

What con­cerns me even more than these undoc­u­ment­ed charges are two espe­cial­ly ill-con­ceived, if not overt­ly con­fronta­tion­al, pieces of leg­is­la­tion passed by the Con­gress in Decem­ber.

The first is H.Res 758 passed on Dec. 4, which, among oth­er charges, accused Rus­sia of hav­ing invad­ed Ukraine again with­out pro­vid­ing or refer­ring to any sort of evi­dence pho­to­graph­ic or oth­er­wise. Enti­tled “Strong­ly con­demn­ing the actions of the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion, under Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, which has car­ried out a pol­i­cy of aggres­sion against neigh­bor­ing coun­tries aimed at polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic dom­i­na­tion” the res­o­lu­tion is packed with a vari­ety of one-sided asser­tions and leaves no diplo­mat­ic wig­gle room for the pos­si­bil­i­ty that Rus­sia has a dif­fer­ent view of what has tran­spired in Ukraine. . . .

. . . . The Ukraine Free­dom Sup­port Act of 2014, or S.2828, was passed by the Sen­ate on Dec. 11. This goes even fur­ther than mere­ly con­demn­ing Rus­sia and autho­rizes the dis­tri­b­u­tion of both lethal and non-lethal mil­i­tary aid to Kiev, includ­ing sniper and assault rifles, mor­tars and shells, stinger mis­siles, anti-tank mis­siles, night vision gog­gles, radar sys­tems and a host of oth­er hard­ware items.

If the tables were turned, and it were the Russ­ian law­mak­ers pass­ing a res­o­lu­tion con­demn­ing the U.S. for a vari­ety of inter­na­tion­al crimes for which exact­ly zero proof was offered, and then were active­ly arm­ing a dan­ger­ous con­flict right on the U.S. bor­der, I think we all know just how ablaze with indig­ni­ty the U.S. polit­i­cal lead­er­ship would be. And right­ly so.

So is it any sur­prise that Russ­ian For­eign Min­istry spokesman Alexan­der Luka­she­vich said in response, “Both hous­es of the U.S. Con­gress have approved the Ukraine Free­dom Sup­port Act bypass­ing debates and prop­er vot­ing. The overt­ly con­fronta­tion­al mes­sage of the new law can­not but evoke pro­found regret. Once again Wash­ing­ton is lev­el­ing base­less sweep­ing accu­sa­tions against Rus­sia and threat­en­ing more sanc­tions.”

The real­ly bizarre part of this sto­ry is that I can­not yet find any cred­i­ble analy­sis or com­men­tary explain­ing exact­ly what the U.S.’s inter­ests are in Ukraine that are so com­pelling as to risk increas­ing con­fronta­tion with Rus­sia. And it both­ers a great many ana­lysts that the U.S. is on an increas­ing­ly com­bat­ive course with yet anoth­er coun­try with­out pro­vid­ing any evi­dence in sup­port of its accu­sa­tions and actions. Again.

In response, Rus­sia is rapid­ly with­draw­ing from addi­tion­al dia­log with the U.S. and Europe, while draw­ing ever clos­er to Chi­na, Turkey and India. Rus­sians feel that they are already under siege from the U.S., and that acts of war have already been com­mit­ted.

Despite being almost com­plete­ly out of the U.S. news cycle, events are in and around the Ukraine sit­u­a­tion are actu­al­ly pick­ing up pace. On Jan. 15, Ukraine Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko signed a decree mobi­liz­ing 50,000 new ser­vice­men to the front lines, and Rus­sia just announced that Europe will have to accept gas via Turkey as the Ukraine route is being shut down.

This sit­u­a­tion remains much more flu­id and nuanced than we’re being told by the West­ern media, with much more to this sto­ry than a short col­umn allows. Those inter­est­ed in delv­ing deep­er can read our lat­est report here.

But in short, the sit­u­a­tion is get­ting more strained, not less, and it has the very real chance of blos­som­ing into some­thing far larg­er and more dead­ly than the sparse cov­er­age in the West­ern press might imply.

If it looks like a war, acts like a war and smells like a war, it may just be a war. Every­one should be very con­cerned by these events, but espe­cial­ly Euro­pean read­ers.

8a. In keep­ing with Kiev’s new trend of hir­ing for­eign­ers for high-lev­el gov­ern­ment posi­tions, it looks like the head of Ukraine’s new anti-cor­rup­tion bureau might not be Ukrain­ian:

“For­eigner May Head Ukraine’s Anti-Cor­rup­tion Bureau”; Zik.ua; 1/11/2015.

Address­ing a 9‑member com­mit­tee which is to appoint 3 can­di­dates to head the Anti-Cor­rup­tion Bureau, Pres Poroshenko said the ACB is to oper­ate inde­pen­dently and open­ly, his Jan. 10 press ser­vice report runs.

Cor­rup­tion is Ukraine’s major ene­my today, the incum­bent stressed.

There are anti-cor­rup­tion struc­tures in the exec­u­tive and police, he stressed, but their work is not effec­tive since they are infest­ed with cor­rup­tion, Poroshenko said.

The ACB is to become an effec­tive and trans­par­ent orga­ni­za­tion. Only this will help it to gain the con­fi­dence of Ukraini­ans, he said.

The fight should be start­ed with graft, with ACB bring­ing to account­abil­ity high-lev­el offi­cials, and then pro­ceed to low-lev­el cor­rup­tion, he stressed.

The key fig­ure in the ACB is its direc­tor. He did not exclude the pos­si­bil­ity for a for­eigner to occu­py this posi­tion.

...

8b. This prob­a­bly shouldn’t be a sur­prise giv­en the oth­er for­eign­ers that have already been giv­en cab­i­net posi­tions. That, and the fact that the three-mem­ber   pan­el for select­ing the new head of the anti-cor­rup­tion bureau includes the Ital­ian head of the EU’s anti-cor­rup­tion agency:

“Coali­tion Pro­poses Ital­ian Anti-Cor­rup­tion Fight­er for Selec­tion Com­mis­sion of ACB Head”; Zik.au; 12/22/2014.

All the coali­tion fac­tions sup­port Ital­ian Jovan­ni Kesler, the direc­tor of Euro­pean anti-cor­rup­tion bureau, for mem­ber­ship of a 0‑member com­mis­sion that will choose 3 can­di­dates for Ukraine’s Anti-Cor­rup­tion Bureau head, Oleh Lyashko wrote in Face­book Dec. 22.

Verk­hovna Rada has to nom­i­nate 3 mem­bers of the com­mis­sion.

Of the three nom­i­nated can­di­date Pres Poroshenko will choose the ACB head.

The cab­i­net and pres­i­dent have already nom­i­nated their 6 mem­bers.

Accord­ing to the media and NGOs, the 6 are Ukrain­ian par­tiots with impec­ca­ble pub­lic record.

9. As we peruse the “jour­nal­ism” per­tain­ing to Ukraine, it is impor­tant to bear in mind that NATO is orga­niz­ing a pro­pa­gan­da cam­paign to san­i­tize the delib­er­ate, pre-con­ceived re-insti­tu­tion of the OUN fas­cists in Ukraine. We won­der how extreme this is like­ly to become? Will active retal­i­a­tion be imple­ment­ed against jour­nal­ists who dare to tell the truth?

“NATO Seeks Weapons to Counter Rus­si­a’s Infor­ma­tion War” by Sam Jones; Finan­cial Times; 12/7/2014.

A casu­al con­sumer of Russ­ian media might con­clude the west­ern Ukrain­ian city of Lviv, one of the strong­holds of the country’s pro-EU upris­ing, has been over­run by vio­lent fas­cists.

So a video recent­ly uploaded to YouTube will prove dis­ap­point­ing. Called “Where are all the fas­cists in Lviv?”, it fea­tures a cor­re­spon­dent walk­ing the city’s peace­ful streets, inter­view­ing slight­ly bemused — decid­ed­ly un-mil­i­tant — shop­pers.

The online video was pro­duced and pub­lished by Nato. It is a mod­est new weapon the alliance is deploy­ing as it seeks to fight back against a Krem­lin infor­ma­tion cam­paign that is pos­ing a new wor­ry for west­ern pol­i­cy mak­ers along­side Russ­ian bombs and espi­onage.

“Rus­sia is weaponiz­ing infor­ma­tion in this cri­sis,” says James Appathu­rai, the alliance’s deputy assis­tant sec­re­tary gen­er­al for polit­i­cal affairs. “They are reach­ing deep into our own elec­torates to affect pol­i­tics.”

Nation­al intel­li­gence agen­cies in the alliance point to what they say is alarm­ing anti-Nato and anti-Euro­pean rhetoric in the Russ­ian media. The Krem­lin has been par­tic­u­lar­ly mas­ter­ful, they believe, at using a web of dis­in­for­ma­tion to gen­er­ate doubt inter­na­tion­al­ly over its huge mil­i­tary sup­port for sep­a­ratists in Ukraine.

The fear among Nato offi­cials and west­ern pol­i­cy mak­ers is that the Russ­ian cam­paign could fatal­ly frac­ture an already frag­ile Euro­pean con­sen­sus to main­tain tough eco­nom­ic sanc­tions against Moscow for its behav­iour in Ukraine.

In Ger­many, for exam­ple, Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel is con­tend­ing with a siz­able fac­tion sym­pa­thet­ic to Russia’s Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, whether for busi­ness or his­tor­i­cal rea­sons. Oth­er EU mem­bers also appear vul­ner­a­ble to the Krem­lin efforts to sow dis­cord, par­tic­u­lar­ly the impov­er­ished for­mer Sovi­et coun­tries in south­east Europe.

“Infor­ma­tion war­fare is the spear­head of almost every­thing Rus­sia is doing,” says Jonathan Eyal, inter­na­tion­al direc­tor at the Roy­al Unit­ed Ser­vices Insti­tute.

Nato plan­ners accept that Mr Putin “is not mad”, says Mr Eyal, and there­fore unlike­ly to rush head­long into an armed con­flict by, for exam­ple, send­ing tanks into the Baltics. “We are talk­ing about deal­ing with a long-term pro­pa­gan­da cam­paign instead.”

High-lev­el del­e­ga­tions from across Europe have begun meet­ing at Nato’s head­quar­ters in Brus­sels and in nation­al cap­i­tals to dis­cuss the chal­lenge. The Lviv video — what Russ­ian agit­prop prac­ti­tion­ers would call pokazukha, or a pro­pa­gan­dis­tic pub­lic­i­ty stunt — is one of the fruits of those meet­ings.

It has gar­nered 40,000 views so far. Most nor­mal Nato video uploads man­age few­er than 2,000. Nato insid­ers say more such mate­r­i­al should be expect­ed in the future.

There is even talk of reviv­ing cold war ghosts, such as the UK For­eign Office’s Infor­ma­tion Research Depart­ment, a secre­tive oper­a­tion to feed news of Sovi­et mis­deeds to sym­pa­thet­ic jour­nal­ists. It was shut in 1977.

But even nation­al gov­ern­ments once well-versed in Krem­li­nol­o­gy are still some­what bewil­dered by the threat.

The recent expan­sion into Britain of Moscow’s inter­na­tion­al news chan­nel RT, or Rus­sia Today, has prompt­ed a series of nation­al secu­ri­ty dis­cus­sions at some of the high­est lev­els in the British gov­ern­ment, say offi­cials. Yet pol­i­cy mak­ers are at a loss when it comes of pro­pos­als to deal with the threat they per­ceive, par­tic­u­lar­ly when no laws have been bro­ken.

“Our response to pro­pa­gan­da can’t be more pro­pa­gan­da,” says Oana Lunges­cu, Nato’s offi­cial spokesper­son.

In the mean­time, the alliance is seek­ing to try to redress a Russ­ian effort that Ms Lunges­cu says is intend­ed “to con­fuse, divert and divide”.

The alliance has also put togeth­er a new “web por­tal” called “set­ting the record straight”. It is avail­able in Russ­ian, Ukrain­ian, Eng­lish and French and fleshed out with dozens of doc­u­ments, state­ments, videos and images. One sec­tion lists 25 “myths” about the alliance cou­pled with “fac­tu­al” rebut­tals.

Anoth­er “time­line” of events com­piles links to every sin­gle Nato pro­nounce­ment, press con­fer­ence, speech or offi­cial Q&A relat­ing to Ukraine and Rus­sia since Feb­ru­ary.

Per­haps most sig­nif­i­cant­ly, the alliance has begun to co-ordi­nate “mes­sag­ing” among its mem­bers, a senior offi­cial said. Shared lines are now being sent out to strate­gic com­mu­ni­ca­tions teams work­ing in the for­eign min­istries of mem­bers for use. Short­ly before the Nato sum­mit in Wales this Sep­tem­ber, the alliance also opened a new “cen­tre of excel­lence” for strate­gic com­mu­ni­ca­tions in Riga, Latvia, which is intend­ed to serve as a clear­ing­house for anti-pro­pa­gan­da ideas and research.

While Nato has joined the infor­ma­tion war, many in the alliance acknowl­edge its efforts are still in their infan­cy, par­tic­u­lar­ly when set against a vast Russ­ian cam­paign.

“[We have] come a long way in respond­ing . . . but clear­ly it is not enough,” Mr Appathu­rai says. “There are 20 or so peo­ple in Nato’s pub­lic diplo­ma­cy team who are at work try­ing to counter an organ­ised, mul­ti-faceted, well-fund­ed Russ­ian oper­a­tion that is going on across the world.”

 

Discussion

9 comments for “FTR #832 Walkin’ the Snake in Ukraine, Part 5: “We All Remember Well the Soviet Invasion of Ukraine and Germany””

  1. The US plans announced last year to pro­vide mil­i­tary train­ing for Kiev’s nation­al guard units (which includes the neo-Nazi vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions) are set to begin this spring:

    Defense News
    US Train­ers To Deploy To Ukraine
    By Paul McLeary 12:17 p.m. EST Jan­u­ary 22, 2015
    Also Will Begin Ship­ment of US-fund­ed Armored Vehi­cles

    WASHINGTON — Amer­i­can sol­diers will deploy to Ukraine this spring to begin train­ing four com­pa­nies of the Ukrain­ian Nation­al Guard, the head of US Army Europe Lt. Gen Ben Hodges said dur­ing his first vis­it to Kiev on Wednes­day.

    The num­ber of troops head­ing to the Yavoriv Train­ing Area near the city of L’viv — which is about 40 miles from the Pol­ish bor­der — is still being deter­mined, how­ev­er.

    The Amer­i­can train­ing effort comes as part of a US State Depart­ment ini­tia­tive “to assist Ukraine in strength­en­ing its law enforce­ment capa­bil­i­ties, con­duct inter­nal defense, and main­tain rule of law” Pen­ta­gon spokes­woman Lt. Col. Vanes­sa Hill­man told Defense News.

    ...

    The train­ing was request­ed by the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment “as they work to reform their police forces and estab­lish their new­ly formed Nation­al Guard,” Hill­man added. Fund­ing for the ini­tia­tive is com­ing from the con­gres­sion­al­ly-autho­rized Glob­al Secu­ri­ty Con­tin­gency Fund (GSCF), which was request­ed by the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion in the fis­cal 2015 bud­get to help train and equip the armed forces of allies around the globe.

    The train­ing mis­sion has been the sub­ject of plen­ty of dis­cus­sion among US pol­i­cy mak­ers for months, and the Unit­ed States has already ear­marked $19 mil­lion to help build the Ukrain­ian Nation­al Guard.

    “We’re very open to the idea that this becomes a first step in fur­ther train­ing for the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary,” Derek Chol­let, for­mer assis­tant sec­re­tary of defense for inter­na­tion­al secu­ri­ty affairs, told Defense News just before he left the Pen­ta­gon on Jan. 17.

    He was quick to add that he does­n’t antic­i­pate that this train­ing mis­sion “will require sig­nif­i­cant US pres­ence.”

    The mis­sion comes at a time of increas­ing con­cern among East­ern Euro­pean coun­tries that Russ­ian aggres­sion in the region will increase, and as fight­ing around the east­ern Ukrain­ian city of Donet­sk between gov­ern­ment forces and Russ­ian-backed sep­a­ratist rebels rages on.

    Speak­ing at the Davos con­fer­ence on Wednes­day, Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko accused Rus­sia of send­ing 9,000 troops into the east­ern part of his coun­try to back the rebels, a con­tention that NATO offi­cials have backed up, but with­out pro­vid­ing their own esti­mates for the num­ber of Russ­ian forces in coun­try.

    Chol­let said Russ­ian mil­i­tary incur­sions into the Crimea and east­ern Ukraine have refo­cused Amer­i­can atten­tion on the region after a decade of fight­ing two wars in the Mid­dle East.

    “A year ago we were wor­ried about the future of the trans-Atlantic rela­tion­ship, how would it be rel­e­vant to peo­ple,” he said. “And of course, the events of the last year with Rus­sia and Ukraine has focused peo­ple again on threats to Euro­pean secu­ri­ty and the unfin­ished busi­ness, real­ly, still com­ing out of the end of the Cold War.”

    One of the biggest chal­lenges for US pol­i­cy mak­ers is try­ing to dis­cern “where could this lead and how does this make us think anew about Euro­pean secu­ri­ty issues and force pos­ture issues or defense spend­ing issues?” he added.

    In addi­tion to US train­ers, Wash­ing­ton is begin­ning to pro­vide heav­ier mil­i­tary equip­ment to the gov­ern­ment in Kiev. On Mon­day, the Unit­ed States deliv­ered the first pro­to­type of an armored “Kozak” vehi­cle for use with the Ukrain­ian bor­der guard, accord­ing to the US Embassy there.

    A post­ing on a US gov­ern­ment con­tract­ing site put the cost of the vehi­cle at $189,000.

    The vehi­cle is built on a chas­sis man­u­fac­tured by Ital­ian com­pa­ny Ive­co and fea­tures a V‑shaped armored hull to help pro­tect against mines and road­side bombs. The embassy said that to date, “the Unit­ed States has deliv­ered dozens of armored pick­up trucks and vans to the Ukrain­ian Bor­der Guard Ser­vice. The Kozak is larg­er and offers a high­er lev­el of pro­tec­tion.”

    “One of the biggest chal­lenges for US pol­i­cy mak­ers is try­ing to dis­cern “where could this lead and how does this make us think anew about Euro­pean secu­ri­ty issues and force pos­ture issues or defense spend­ing issues?”

    Those are indeed good ques­tions to be ask­ing. The answers might not be as good.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 27, 2015, 10:08 am
  2. Linked on Drudge Report, wide­ly seen. Ser­pents walk revi­sion­ist his­to­ry from the New York Times?
    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/08/sunday-review/surviving-the-nazis-only-to-be-jailed-by-america.html?_r=1

    “Sur­viv­ing the Nazis, Only to Be Jailed by Amer­i­ca”
    “Large­ly lost to his­to­ry, how­ev­er, is the cru­el real­i­ty of what “lib­er­a­tion” actu­al­ly meant for hun­dreds of thou­sands of Holo­caust sur­vivors dis­cov­ered bare­ly alive in the Nazi camps.”

    Posted by GK | February 8, 2015, 1:46 pm
  3. Imag­ine that:

    Buz­zFeed
    Here’s The Ukrain­ian Del­e­ga­tion That Gave Mis­lead­ing Pho­tos To Senator’s Office

    An obscure group duped Sen­a­tor Inhofe’s office. The delegation’s U.S. leader says it was a “mis­un­der­stand­ing.”
    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on Feb. 12, 2015, at 5:51 p.m. Updat­ed on Feb. 13, 2015, at 10:50 a.m.

    Rosie Gray
    Buz­zFeed News Reporter

    WASHINGTON — A del­e­ga­tion con­sist­ing of Ukrain­ian mem­bers of par­lia­ment, a para­mil­i­tary leader, and one George­town pro­fes­sor gave a senator’s office pho­tos pur­port­ed­ly of the Russ­ian mil­i­tary invad­ing Ukraine that were lat­er debunked.

    Sev­er­al pho­tos alleged­ly show­ing the Russ­ian mil­i­tary in east­ern Ukraine that ran on the Wash­ing­ton Free Bea­con on Tues­day were quick­ly shown to actu­al­ly be pho­tos from oth­er con­flicts, some from years ear­li­er. A spokesper­son for Okla­homa Sen. Jim Inhofe told the Free Bea­con that the office had pro­cured the pho­tos from a “Ukrain­ian del­e­ga­tion” in Decem­ber.

    Inhofe’s office pro­vid­ed Buz­zFeed News the list of names of the peo­ple who pro­vid­ed the mis­lead­ing pho­tos:
    [see list]

    None of the Ukraini­ans on the list are par­tic­u­lar­ly well-known to West­ern­ers and the list does not include high-lev­el gov­ern­ment offi­cials.

    A spokesper­son for Inhofe said that the del­e­ga­tion had pro­vid­ed the images in print form when Inhofe was the rank­ing mem­ber of the Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee, and that Kar­ber, who led the del­e­ga­tion, had recent­ly said that the pho­tos were authen­tic when staff reached out to him.

    “Pri­or to using these pho­tos this week, staff reached out to the George­town pro­fes­sor who said he could con­firm that these pho­tos were tak­en between Aug. 24 and Sept. 5 in East­ern Ukraine,” Inhofe spokesper­son Donelle Hard­er said. “We scanned them in to pro­vide to the Free Bea­con. Since they were in print form and we had oth­er sources con­firm that these pho­tos match the sce­nario on the ground, we failed to Google image search them.” Hard­er said that the office had learned that one of the pho­tos is an AP pho­to from the Rus­sia-Geor­gia war in 2008, and the office was able to find two oth­ers online here and here..

    “The Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment mem­bers who gave us these pho­tos in print form as if it came direct­ly from a cam­era real­ly did them­selves a dis­ser­vice,” Inhofe said in a state­ment. “We felt con­fi­dent to release these pho­tos because the images match the report­ing of what is going on in the region. I was furi­ous to learn one of the pho­tos pro­vid­ed now appears to be fal­si­fied from an AP pho­to tak­en in 2008. This doesn’t change the fact that there is plen­ty of evi­dence Rus­sia has made advances into the coun­try with T‑72 tanks and that pro-Russ­ian sep­a­ratists have been killing Ukraini­ans in cold blood.”

    Kar­ber, who co-wrote a paper last year with for­mer Gen­er­al Wes­ley Clark urg­ing the U.S. to pro­vide more non­lethal mil­i­tary aid to the Ukraini­ans, said in an email to Buz­zFeed News that there had been “basi­cal­ly a mis­un­der­stand­ing com­pound­ed by mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion.”

    Kar­ber described bring­ing Semenchenko, Bereza and Teteruk to meet with mem­bers of the Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices, For­eign Rela­tions, and Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tees in Novem­ber. He said that Bereza brought “sev­er­al pack­ets” of 3×5 pho­tographs; one pack­et, Kar­ber said, includ­ed pho­tos tak­en by Bereza’s men of casu­al­ties, and a sec­ond includ­ed pho­tos that Bereza’s men could not have tak­en of Russ­ian arms.

    Kar­ber said that some of the Sen­ate staffers asked to keep some of the pho­tos. He said that on Wednes­day while pack­ing to go to Ukraine, he received an email from Inhofe’s office ask­ing for the time when the pho­tos were tak­en. He sent the fol­low­ing email to Bereza’s staff, he said:
    “The Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee and Sen­a­tor Inhof [sic] want to use some of the pho­tos that Yuri showed to Con­gress — the ones show­ing bad­ly burned troops, etc. BUT they need to know when they were tak­en; and they need that INFO today! I told them that I believe that the pho­tos were tak­en dur­ing the sum­mer Russ­ian “back­stab” inva­sion between 24 Aug and 5 Sept when Bereza and his men were sur­round­ed at Iliovsk bat­tle. If that’s the case just give me a con­fir­ma­tion. If NOT, try to give me a range of dates.” A staffer for Bereza con­firmed those dates with Kar­ber, who relayed the mes­sage to Inhofe’s staff.

    “In terms of yes­ter­day, from my per­spec­tive there was no inten­tion to mis­lead any­one, and par­tic­u­lar­ly a US Sen­a­tor or his staff,” Kar­ber said. “In the haste of run­ning for the air­port and try­ing to respond to a last minute request with short time fuse, I made the mis­take of believ­ing we were talk­ing about the same pho­tos — i.e. burned casu­al­ties (which were 6 of the nine used) and it nev­er occurred to me that the 3 pho­tos of Russ­ian armor were part of that pack­age or being con­sid­ered. Had I seen them, I know I would have raised imme­di­ate objec­tion to the use of at least one and insist­ed that none of the armor pho­tos be used until Bereza him­self con­firmed each and every one by look­ing at the pho­tos per­son­al­ly. That is hind­sight, but it does not excuse what hap­pened or rec­ti­fy the embar­rass­ment it has caused.”

    Note that one of the mem­bers of the list, Ana­tol­li Pinchuk, is list­ed as “pres­i­dent of the UPA”. Is that a ref­er­ence to the UPA? Because, if so, that adds and extra lev­el of ‘yikes’ to the whole sit­u­a­tion.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 14, 2015, 5:45 pm
  4. Aus­ter­i­ty giveth and taketh away, although it real­ly only giveth bad excus­es for the inex­cus­able:

    BBC
    Ukraine: UK and EU ‘bad­ly mis­read’ Rus­sia
    20 Feb­ru­ary 2015 Last updat­ed at 11:36 ET

    The UK and the EU have been accused of a “cat­a­stroph­ic mis­read­ing” of the mood in the Krem­lin in the run-up to the cri­sis in Ukraine.

    The House of Lords EU com­mit­tee claimed Europe “sleep­walked” into the cri­sis.

    The EU had not realised the depth of Russ­ian hos­til­i­ty to its plans for clos­er rela­tions with Ukraine, it said.

    It comes as French Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande and Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel spoke about the cri­sis at a joint news con­fer­ence in Paris.

    Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron said blame for what had hap­pened in Ukraine “lies absolute­ly square­ly with Vladimir Putin and Rus­sia”.

    Ill-equipped

    The com­mit­tee’s report said Britain had not been “active or vis­i­ble enough” in deal­ing with the sit­u­a­tion in Ukraine.

    It blamed For­eign Office cuts, which it said led to few­er Russ­ian experts work­ing there, and less empha­sis on analy­sis.

    A sim­i­lar decline in EU for­eign min­istries had left them ill-equipped to for­mu­late an “author­i­ta­tive response” to the cri­sis, it said.

    The report claimed that for too long the EU’s rela­tion­ship with Moscow had been based on the “opti­mistic premise” that Rus­sia was on a tra­jec­to­ry to becom­ing a demo­c­ra­t­ic coun­try.

    The result, it said, was a fail­ure to appre­ci­ate the depth of Russ­ian hos­til­i­ty when the EU opened talks aimed at estab­lish­ing an “asso­ci­a­tion agree­ment” with Ukraine in 2013.

    Mr Cameron reject­ed claims Britain “sleep­walked” into the cri­sis in Ukraine.

    He said: “What we need to do now is deliv­er the strongest pos­si­ble mes­sage to Putin and to Rus­sia that what has hap­pened is unac­cept­able.

    “These cease­fires need to hold and if they don’t, there’ll be more con­se­quences, more sanc­tions, more mea­sures.”

    ...

    The report also fol­lows com­ments from Defence Sec­re­tary Michael Fal­lon, who has warned Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin pos­es a “real and present dan­ger” to three Baltic states.

    He was speak­ing after RAF jets were scram­bled to escort two Russ­ian mil­i­tary air­craft seen off the Corn­wall coast on Wednes­day.

    Else­where, shelling was report­ed in sev­er­al parts of east­ern Ukraine on Thurs­day, includ­ing around the rebel-held city of Donet­sk.

    The Ukraine cri­sis began in Novem­ber 2013 when pro-Moscow Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovy­ch’s gov­ern­ment aban­doned the EU agree­ment in favour of stronger ties with Rus­sia — prompt­ing mass protests that even­tu­al­ly led to his down­fall.

    Sub­se­quent unrest in Ukraine’s penin­su­la of Crimea led to its annex­a­tion by Rus­sia — which is accused by the West of stok­ing fur­ther con­flict between pro-Russ­ian sep­a­ratists and Ukrain­ian forces in the east of the coun­try.

    ‘Unjus­ti­fi­able and ille­gal’

    Com­mit­tee chair­man Lord Tugend­hat said: “The lack of robust ana­lyt­i­cal capac­i­ty, in both the UK and the EU, effec­tive­ly led to a cat­a­stroph­ic mis­read­ing of the mood in the run-up to the cri­sis.”

    The UK had a par­tic­u­lar respon­si­bil­i­ty to Ukraine because it was one of four sig­na­to­ries to the 1994 Budapest Mem­o­ran­dum which pledged to respect Ukraine’s ter­ri­to­r­i­al integri­ty, the com­mit­tee said.

    Nei­ther Britain nor the EU had a strate­gic response on how to han­dle Rus­sia for the long term, it added.

    A For­eign Office spokes­woman said no-one could have pre­dict­ed the scale of the “unjus­ti­fi­able and ille­gal” Russ­ian inter­ven­tion and it was for the peo­ple of Ukraine to decide on its rela­tion­ship with the EU.

    Shad­ow For­eign Sec­re­tary Dou­glas Alexan­der said it was “vital” the EU had a “unit­ed approach” and that the UK gov­ern­ment helped to find a “diplo­mat­ic res­o­lu­tion” to the con­flict.

    Sir Andrew Wood, for­mer British ambas­sador to Rus­sia, agreed with the report’s assess­ment, call­ing the sit­u­a­tion a “dan­ger­ous moment” because Rus­si­a’s frus­tra­tions could over­spill into oth­er areas, with increas­ing pres­sure on Baltic states.

    Dur­ing a speech in Lon­don, Nato’s mil­i­tary chief in Europe, Gen Sir Adri­an Brad­shaw, referred to plans to build Nato force inte­gra­tion units in east­ern Europe to respond to poten­tial new threats against Nato states in east­ern Europe.

    He said they would “send a strong sig­nal”, and help sup­port east­ern mem­bers in an era of “con­stant com­pe­ti­tion” with Rus­sia.

    Nato’s infor­ma­tion and warn­ing sys­tem will focus on a “range of hybrid threats” includ­ing cyber attacks and polit­i­cal agi­ta­tion, he said.

    ...

    As we can see, part of the fun about this “we nev­er saw it com­ing” claim is now
    offi­cials can feel free to over­es­ti­mate their pre­dic­tions of Rus­si­a’s respons­es to ongo­ing ten­sions. For instance:

    ...
    Sir Andrew Wood, for­mer British ambas­sador to Rus­sia, agreed with the report’s assess­ment, call­ing the sit­u­a­tion a “dan­ger­ous moment” because Rus­si­a’s frus­tra­tions could over­spill into oth­er areas, with increas­ing pres­sure on Baltic states.

    Dur­ing a speech in Lon­don, Nato’s mil­i­tary chief in Europe, Gen Sir Adri­an Brad­shaw, referred to plans to build Nato force inte­gra­tion units in east­ern Europe to respond to poten­tial new threats against Nato states in east­ern Europe.

    He said they would “send a strong sig­nal”, and help sup­port east­ern mem­bers in an era of “con­stant com­pe­ti­tion” with Rus­sia.

    Behold, A new era has arrived! An era of “con­stant com­pe­ti­tion” with Rus­si­a’s mil­i­tary.

    Of course, there’s the ques­tion of whether or not this new assess­ment of Rus­si­a’s Baltic ambi­tions are part of anoth­er aus­ter­i­ty-induced hal­lu­ci­na­tion. Regard­less, an era of “con­stant com­pe­ti­tion” for mil­i­tary supe­ri­or­i­ty isn’t going to be cheap so at least we have a bet­ter idea of how Europe will prob­a­bly decide to end the aus­ter­i­ty mad­ness: With more MAD­ness, of course.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 20, 2015, 10:45 am
  5. War­lords for free­dom! Huz­zah!

    Actu­al­ly, maybe that’s not such a good idea:

    Vox.com
    Pro-Kiev mili­tias are fight­ing Putin, but has Ukraine cre­at­ed a mon­ster it can’t con­trol?

    Updat­ed by Aman­da Taub on Feb­ru­ary 20, 2015, 10:10 a.m. ET

    The east­ern Ukraine con­flict is typ­i­cal­ly seen as a war between the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary, on one side, and Russ­ian-backed rebels, fight­ing along­side unac­knowl­edged Russ­ian forces, on the oth­er. But there is anoth­er fac­tion fight­ing as well, one that has gone large­ly over­looked: the dozens of pri­vate “vol­un­teer” mili­tias that share Ukraine’s goal of crush­ing the sep­a­ratists, but that aren’t nec­es­sar­i­ly oper­at­ing under its con­trol. These groups have proved use­ful to the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­men­t’s war effort, but they pose a seri­ous threat to the long-term sta­bil­i­ty of Ukraine.

    By many esti­mates, there are approx­i­mate­ly 30 of these pri­vate armies fight­ing on the Ukrain­ian side. Their fight­ers are accused of seri­ous human rights vio­la­tions, includ­ing kid­nap­pings, tor­ture, and extra­ju­di­cial exe­cu­tions.

    The longer these groups con­tin­ue to oper­ate, the greater the chances that their lead­ers will exploit their pow­er for per­son­al or polit­i­cal gain, and cement their own pow­er to oper­ate with­out con­straint from the cen­tral gov­ern­ment. That under­mines the pow­er of Ukraine’s gov­ern­ment, risks chaos in a part of the coun­try that has already suf­fered too much, and rais­es the pos­si­bil­i­ty that even if sep­a­ratist forces are defeat­ed, east­ern Ukraine might be left as an ungoverned col­lec­tion of war­lord-dom­i­nat­ed fief­doms.

    Vol­un­teer mili­tias are fight­ing on the front lines — and grow­ing in pow­er

    There are esti­mat­ed to be about 30 vol­un­teer, pro-Ukraine mili­tia groups oper­at­ing in east­ern Ukraine. And while they col­lec­tive­ly field thou­sands of fight­ers, their exact num­bers are uncer­tain. Some, like the right-wing Azov Bat­tal­ion, grew out of pre-exist­ing groups that mil­i­ta­rized when the con­flict broke out in east­ern Ukraine in 2014. Oth­ers, such as the oli­garch-fund­ed Dnipro Bat­tal­ion, were cre­at­ed more recent­ly.

    The mili­tias are allies of Ukraine’s cen­tral gov­ern­ment, and most coor­di­nate with it, but they are not under its full con­trol. The Azov Bat­tal­ion, for instance, answers to the Min­istry of the Inte­ri­or, and receives con­sid­er­able gov­ern­ment sup­port. By con­trast, the unaf­fil­i­at­ed Right Sec­tor oper­ates inde­pen­dent­ly, and has refused to even reg­is­ter with the gov­ern­ment.

    As the con­flict has gone on, these groups have pro­lif­er­at­ed and grown more pow­er­ful, mak­ing them use­ful in Ukraine’s war effort, but also more of a long-term threat to the coun­try and its gov­ern­ment. Although most of the groups nom­i­nal­ly report to either the Min­istry of the Inte­ri­or or the Min­istry of Defense, that can break down on the bat­tle­field. Steven Pifer of the Brook­ings Insti­tu­tion told me he found that mil­i­tary com­man­ders on the front line can­not rely on the mili­tias to fol­low orders. That is a wor­ry­ing sign that the gov­ern­ment does not have full con­trol over the vol­un­teer mili­tias now, and that they could grow more inde­pen­dent in the future.

    ...
    The east­ern Ukraine con­flict made these groups of thugs more pow­er­ful
    The nature of the east­ern Ukraine con­flict has giv­en those thugs a bat­tle­field — and turned them into bet­ter-orga­nized, bet­ter-armed, and bet­ter-fund­ed mili­tias that are far more dan­ger­ous to Ukraine’s future.

    ...

    The mili­tias have also gained more pow­er because the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment, led by new Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko, brought them friends in high places. For instance, Arsen Avakov, Poroshenko’s Min­is­ter of Inter­nal Affairs, was pre­vi­ous­ly the leader of for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Yulia Tim­o­shenko’s polit­i­cal bloc in east­ern Ukraine. He has a long­stand­ing alliance with mem­bers of the Azov Bat­tal­ion, a far-right orga­ni­za­tion whose mem­bers have a his­to­ry of pro­mot­ing anti-Semi­tism and neo-Nazi views. Avakov has has used his posi­tion to sup­port the group, going so far as to appoint Vadim Troy­an, an Azov deputy leader, as the chief of police for the whole Kiev region. And Azov’s leader, Andriy Bilet­sky, is now a mem­ber of par­lia­ment as well.

    Igor Kolo­moisky, an oli­garch who is now the gov­er­nor of the Dnipropetro­vsk region of east­ern Ukraine, fund­ed the Dnipro Bat­tal­ion, a pri­vate army that, accord­ing to the Wall Street Jour­nal, has 2,000 bat­tle-ready fight­ers and anoth­er 20,000 in reserve. Newsweek report­ed that he also pub­licly backs the Aidar bat­tal­ion and has fund­ed oth­er mili­tia groups as well, includ­ing the Azov, Don­bas, Dnepr‑1 and Dnepr‑2 bat­tal­ions.

    The mili­tias pose a seri­ous threat to Ukraine’s future

    At some point, the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment needs to be able to gov­ern Ukraine. It can’t do that if parts of the coun­try are dom­i­nat­ed by mili­tias that don’t obey any offi­cial author­i­ty.

    The fact that pow­er­ful oli­garchs are sup­port­ing some of the mili­tias — and that Ukraine’s oli­garchs have a long his­to­ry of resist­ing the state — rais­es the wor­ry­ing pos­si­bil­i­ty that these wealthy Ukraini­ans could use the mili­tias to pro­tect their inter­ests from state inter­fer­ence.

    Sim­ply by exist­ing, those pri­vate armies could be “cre­at­ing enough of an implic­it threat that the gov­ern­ment can’t move against, say, cor­rupt schemes,” Karat­ny­cky warned.

    These groups pose a seri­ous threat to Ukrain­ian civil­ians as well. In Decem­ber 2014, pro-Kiev mili­tias blocked human­i­tar­i­an aid from reach­ing rebel-held areas of east­ern Ukraine. Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al researcher Denis Krivosheev said in a state­ment that the mili­tias were starv­ing civil­ians as a weapon of war­fare, call­ing the tac­tic a war crime.

    Anoth­er mili­tia, the Aydar Bat­tal­ion, has kid­napped and tor­tured civil­ians in east­ern Ukraine. On dozens of occa­sions, mili­tia mem­bers abduct­ed civil­ians, tor­tured and inter­ro­gat­ed them, and stole their mon­ey and valu­ables before either releas­ing them or hand­ing them over to the Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice, Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al report­ed in 2014. The bat­tal­ion was also report­ed­ly run­ning a secret deten­tion cen­ter in the city of Severodonet­sk, in which “detainees were forced to recite the Ukrain­ian nation­al anthem and beat­en if they failed.”

    Local police told Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al that they had reg­is­tered more than 38 crim­i­nal cas­es against Aydar mem­bers, but that they lacked the pow­er to take any fur­ther action against the group — a wor­ry­ing sign of the mili­tias’ pow­er.

    As time goes on, the things that made the mili­tias use­ful for Ukraine will also make them dan­ger­ous. Their strength and auton­o­my in east­ern Ukraine, par­tic­u­lar­ly com­pared to the rel­a­tive­ly weak gov­ern­ment, could poten­tial­ly give them tremen­dous pow­er there. These are the con­di­tions for war­lordism — for mili­tias turn­ing their pieces of ter­ri­to­ry into lit­tle fief­doms that they or their wealthy patrons would be free to gov­ern, or exploit, as they wished.

    Inevitably, Ukraine’s gov­ern­ment will have to take on the mili­tias — which could spark a new con­flict

    The experts I spoke to agreed that the mili­tias rep­re­sent a threat to the long-term sta­bil­i­ty of Ukraine, and ought to be dis­solved and incor­po­rat­ed into the reg­u­lar secu­ri­ty forces. But it’s not clear whether Poroshenko’s gov­ern­ment sees that as a pri­or­i­ty — or whether the gov­ern­ment is equipped to take them on at all.

    Karat­ny­cky, of the Atlantic Coun­cil, said the mili­tias had served an impor­tant pur­pose but that it was time for Ukraine to move to a pure­ly pro­fes­sion­al mil­i­tary. Pifer agreed, say­ing that the mili­tias are a threat to Ukrain­ian democ­ra­cy, and that any increase in US mil­i­tary assis­tance to Ukraine — which he sup­ports — should be tied to a com­mit­ment to dis­solve the vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions.

    How­ev­er, it is not clear whether Poroshenko views that as a pri­or­i­ty. Pifer said that he is cer­tain that Poroshenko would agree, if pressed, that pro­fes­sion­al­iz­ing the fight­ing forces is a good idea — but that it’s not clear where that falls on the Ukrain­ian pres­i­den­t’s list of pri­or­i­ties. Poroshenko may be too focused on win­ning the con­flict now, or on imple­ment­ing oth­er types of reforms, to take this poten­tial­ly dif­fi­cult step for long-term sta­bil­i­ty.

    And it’s not clear that he has the polit­i­cal cap­i­tal to do so any­way. Avakov, his inte­ri­or min­is­ter, backs the Azov Bat­tal­ion, so would be unlike­ly to sup­port any pol­i­cy that would under­mine it. And Avakov is a key sup­port­er of Prime Min­is­ter Arseniy Yat­senyuk, who would like­ly need to be on board with any major change in pol­i­cy on the mili­tias.

    It is like­wise unclear whether oli­garchs like Kolo­moisky would be will­ing to give up their ties to mili­tias and the pow­er that they bring — and how they might respond if the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment moved to dis­perse the groups.

    The mili­tias them­selves might not go qui­et­ly either. In ear­ly Feb­ru­ary, when Poroshenko was rumored to be con­sid­er­ing dis­band­ing the Aydar bat­tal­ion, the group marched on Kiev. Its fight­ers blocked access to the min­istry of defense and burned tires out­side its gates until Poroshenko backed down. In Sep­tem­ber 2014, The Guardian’s Shaun Walk­er embed­ded with the Azov Bat­tal­ion in Mar­i­upol, and found “almost all to be intent on ‘bring­ing the fight to Kiev’ when the war in the east is over.”

    If they get their wish, it could be yet anoth­er dis­as­ter for a coun­try that recent­ly seems to have had lit­tle else.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 26, 2015, 8:41 pm
  6. Just FYI, we’re about halfway through what Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff dubbed “Baltic Neo-Naz­i/Ul­tra­na­tion­al­ist March Month”: Four parades of lunatics, one awful theme:

    i24 news
    Four Baltic march­es, one dan­ger­ous racist trend
    Efraim Zuroff
    Pub­lished Feb­ru­ary 15th 2015

    This com­ing week will see the open­ing of what I refer to as “Baltic Neo-Naz­i/Ul­tra­na­tion­al­ist March Month.” With­in exact­ly 29 days, four such march­es will take place in the cap­i­tal cities of the Baltic Euro­pean Union mem­bers — Lithua­nia, Latvia, and Esto­nia. And while there obvi­ous­ly are dif­fer­ent local nuances, the sim­i­lar­i­ties between the march­es are far too numer­ous to ignore, reflect­ing a dan­ger­ous trend, which deserves to be treat­ed seri­ous­ly by Brus­sels.

    All the march­es are being spon­sored by right-wing orga­ni­za­tions with fas­cist sym­pa­thies and zero tol­er­ance for local minori­ties. At past march­es in Lithua­nia, the most pop­u­lar slo­gan shout­ed was “Lietu­va lietu­vams” (Lithua­nia for Lithua­ni­ans); and in Esto­nia, it has already been announced that the theme of this year’s march will be “Eesti eest­lastele” (Esto­nia for Esto­ni­ans). In oth­er words, as far as they are con­cerned, only eth­nic Lithua­ni­ans or Esto­ni­ans belong in their coun­try.

    The spon­sors also share a crit­i­cal view of the accept­ed nar­ra­tive of World War II and the Holo­caust, which includes the exten­sive and zeal­ous col­lab­o­ra­tion by tens of thou­sands of Lithua­ni­ans, Lat­vians and Esto­ni­ans in the mass anni­hi­la­tion of not only their fel­low Jew­ish cit­i­zens, but also of thou­sands of Jews deport­ed from else­where in Europe to the Baltic coun­tries to be mur­dered there, as well as tens of thou­sands of Jews mur­dered by secu­ri­ty police units from Lithua­nia, Latvia, and Esto­nia in Belarus. As far as the orga­niz­ers are con­cerned, the real “geno­cide” was that sup­pos­ed­ly com­mit­ted in the Baltics by the Com­mu­nists, where­as the Holo­caust was pri­mar­i­ly a respite from the two peri­ods of Sovi­et repres­sion and per­se­cu­tion in 1940–1941 and 1944–1991.

    The revi­sion­ist bent of the marchers was bold­ly evi­dent in both Lithua­nia and Latvia in pre­vi­ous such events. Thus, for exam­ple, the Lat­vian march is osten­si­bly to hon­or the locals who fought along­side the Nazis in the two Lat­vian SS divi­sions, whom the marchers seek to por­tray as Lat­vian free­dom fight­ers. They con­ve­nient­ly for­get three impor­tant his­tor­i­cal facts: that the goal of these divi­sions was a vic­to­ry of the Third Reich, that Nazi Ger­many had absolute­ly no inten­tion of grant­i­ng Latvia inde­pen­dence even if it had won the war, and that among these so-called “Lat­vian heroes” were quite a few for­mer mem­bers of the Lat­vian Secu­ri­ty Police who had active­ly par­tic­i­pat­ed in the mass mur­der of Jews, local and for­eign. In Lithua­nia, promi­nent­ly dis­played among the nation­al­ist heroes was Juozas Ambraze­vi­cius, the Prime Min­is­ter of the Lithuan­ian Pro­vi­sion­al Gov­ern­ment estab­lished in July 1941, which ful­ly sup­port­ed the Third Reich and encour­aged Lithua­ni­ans to par­tic­i­pate in the mass mur­der of their fel­low Jew­ish cit­i­zens, hard­ly a qual­i­fi­ca­tion for glo­ri­fi­ca­tion. At these march­es, Lithuan­ian swastikas, a slight­ly altered ver­sion of the Nazi orig­i­nal to avoid legal prob­lems, were a very com­mon sight.

    All four march­es are being held in the main avenues of the cap­i­tal cities, and three of them are cel­e­bra­tions of local inde­pen­dence days. The first march, on Feb­ru­ary 16 in Kau­nas, which was the cap­i­tal of the first Lithuan­ian repub­lic in mod­ern times, marks the inde­pen­dence grant­ed in 1918. The sec­ond, a week lat­er, on Feb­ru­ary 23 in Tallinn, marks Eston­ian inde­pen­dence, and the third, which will be held in the cen­ter of Vil­nius on March 11, marks the renew­al of Lithuan­ian inde­pen­dence in 1990. (The Lat­vian march, which will be held in Riga on March 16, is linked to a his­toric bat­tle of the Lat­vian Legion.) The com­bi­na­tion of exclu­sion­ist nation­al­ist slo­gans with the achieve­ment of free­dom for the Baltic peo­ples is a tox­ic com­bi­na­tion which sends a racist, xeno­pho­bic and anti-Semit­ic mes­sage which, at least in the­o­ry, runs counter to the val­ues of the Euro­pean Union.

    ...

    Four neo-Nazis march­es with­in a month held in the main avenues of the cap­i­tal cities and three of them are cel­e­bra­tions of local inde­pen­dence days?! Yikes! That sounds like it should be big news, espe­cial­ly for the rest of the EU since we’re talk­ing about three EU mem­bers here AND these same mem­bers have spent the last year warn­ing about a Russ­ian inva­sion.

    Of course, when big news is big unpleas­ant news, it just might end up as no news:

    IB Times
    Nazi Hunter: Even Putin would con­demn Nurem­berg-esque parades in Esto­nia
    By Dr. Efraim Zuroff
    Tue, Mar 3, 2015

    The torch­light parade held by right-wing ultra­na­tion­al­ists last week in the Eston­ian cap­i­tal of Tallinn remind­ed the Russ­ian jour­nal­ists cov­er­ing the event of sim­i­lar spec­ta­cles in Nazi Ger­many, but this was more wish­ful think­ing on their part than actu­al real­i­ty.

    They were out in full force this past Tues­day night, but unfor­tu­nate­ly, they were the only for­eign tele­vi­sion jour­nal­ists cov­er­ing the event, with not a sin­gle rep­re­sen­ta­tive of any Euro­pean Union mem­ber coun­try’s media in atten­dance.

    ...

    The Euro­pean Union, on the oth­er hand, does not appear to be par­tic­u­lar­ly per­turbed by gen­uine­ly dis­turb­ing phe­nom­e­na in the Baltic coun­tries and else­where, which, of course, would in no way jus­ti­fy Russ­ian aggres­sion, but deserve to be han­dled seri­ous­ly and prompt­ly before they get out of hand.

    Tues­day’s march, which was spon­sored by the Sinine Ara­tus (Blue Awak­en­ing) youth move­ment, close­ly affil­i­at­ed with the Eston­ian Con­ser­v­a­tive Peo­ple’s Par­ty (EKRE), was a good exam­ple of at least one of the major prob­lems we increas­ing­ly encounter in post-Com­mu­nist East­ern Europe, and espe­cial­ly in the Baltics. I am refer­ring to the rise of eth­no­cen­tric sen­ti­ment, a euphemism for racism, anti-Semi­tism, and xeno­pho­bia.

    Thus the march was pub­li­cised under the slo­gan of ‘Esto­nia for Esto­ni­ans,’ an explic­it mes­sage of zero tol­er­ance for Esto­ni­a’s minori­ties, among them fam­i­lies who have lived in the coun­try for gen­er­a­tions. The announce­ment also bore the sym­bols of the “sis­ter” par­ties in Lithua­nia and in Latvia, whose plat­forms advo­cate the same eth­no­cen­tric­i­ty.

    In addi­tion, the only sign I saw besides the one held by the lead marchers which said ‘For Esto­nia,’ bore a white suprema­cy mes­sage. In fact, IBTimes UK report­ed not that long ago on a state­ment by Mart Helme, a lead­ing mem­ber of the EKRE, who said that the pol­i­cy in Esto­nia towards Africans should be, “If you’re black, go back.” When ques­tioned about this state­ment by the Eston­ian dai­ly Pos­timees, Helme respond­ed that he would not allow polit­i­cal cor­rect­ness to silence his opin­ions.

    Rewrit­ing Nazi his­to­ry

    The oth­er omnipresent prob­lem in the Baltics was not in evi­dence this past Tues­day night, but is def­i­nite­ly in the back­ground.

    As past march­es by Baltic ultra­na­tion­al­ists have clear­ly demon­strat­ed, one of their key goals is to rewrite the nar­ra­tive of World War II and the Holo­caust to hide the exten­sive lethal com­plic­i­ty of local Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors and pro­mote the canard of his­tor­i­cal equiv­a­len­cy between Com­mu­nist and Nazi crimes, often com­mon­ly referred to as the “dou­ble geno­cide the­o­ry.”

    A very impor­tant ele­ment of this cam­paign is the glo­ri­fi­ca­tion of cer­tain anti-Com­mu­nists, despite their par­tic­i­pa­tion in the per­se­cu­tion and mur­der of their fel­low Jew­ish cit­i­zens dur­ing the Holo­caust.

    This ele­ment was on dis­play last week in Kau­nas, Lithua­nia and will cer­tain­ly be fea­tured in Vil­nius and Riga in the march­es sched­uled for mid-March. In Esto­nia, this revi­sion­ism is on dis­play at the annu­al gath­er­ing of SS vet­er­ans held in Sin­i­mae every sum­mer, and host­ed by the vet­er­ans of the 20th Eston­ian Waf­fen-SS Grenadier Divi­sion, which is attend­ed by SS vet­er­ans from many Euro­pean coun­tries in which such gath­er­ings are ille­gal.

    ...

    In Esto­nia, a coun­try in which local Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors par­tic­i­pat­ed in the mur­der of prac­ti­cal­ly every sin­gle one of the 1,000 Eston­ian Jews who lived there under the Nazi occu­pa­tion, as well as of thou­sands of for­eign Jews deport­ed by the Nazis to Esto­nia, and local Jews killed by the 36th Eston­ian Secu­ri­ty bat­tal­ion unit in Nowogru­dok, Belarus, they should know bet­ter.

    Well that was some alarm­ing no news. And note that the end of “Baltic Neo-Naz­i/Ul­tra­na­tion­al­ist March Month” does­n’t mean the end of the state-sanc­tioned neo-Nazi gath­er­ings. For instance:

    A very impor­tant ele­ment of this cam­paign is the glo­ri­fi­ca­tion of cer­tain anti-Com­mu­nists, despite their par­tic­i­pa­tion in the per­se­cu­tion and mur­der of their fel­low Jew­ish cit­i­zens dur­ing the Holo­caust.

    This ele­ment was on dis­play last week in Kau­nas, Lithua­nia and will cer­tain­ly be fea­tured in Vil­nius and Riga in the march­es sched­uled for mid-March. In Esto­nia, this revi­sion­ism is on dis­play at the annu­al gath­er­ing of SS vet­er­ans held in Sin­i­mae every sum­mer, and host­ed by the vet­er­ans of the 20th Eston­ian Waf­fen-SS Grenadier Divi­sion, which is attend­ed by SS vet­er­ans from many Euro­pean coun­tries in which such gath­er­ings are ille­gal.

    Yep, the annu­al gath­er­ing of SS vet­er­ans in Sin­i­mae, Esto­nia each year is yet to come. And don’t assume that it’s just a gath­er­ing of increas­ing­ly elder­ly old-school Eston­ian Nazis. It’s not:

    the alge­mein­er
    The Waf­fen-SS as Free­dom Fight­ers
    Jan­u­ary 31, 2012 12:58 pm
    Per Anders Rudling

    Despised and ostra­cized, the Swedish com­mu­ni­ty of Waf­fen-SS vol­un­teers long gath­ered in secre­cy on “The Day of the Fall­en,” for obscure rit­u­al­is­tic annu­al gath­er­ings at a ceme­tery in a Stock­holm sub­urb.

    Since the 1990s, the rit­u­als have not need­ed to be clan­des­tine: the few, now very elder­ly sur­vivors now head to Sin­imäe, Esto­nia, where they feel they are now get­ting the hon­or to which they are enti­tled. Here, Swedish, Nor­we­gian, Aus­tri­an, Ger­man and oth­er Waf­fen-SS vet­er­ans from West­ern Europe meet up with their Eston­ian com­rades. The annu­al gath­er­ings include those who vol­un­teered for ide­o­log­i­cal rea­sons, and who are today active­ly pass­ing on the expe­ri­ences to a new gen­er­a­tion of neo-Nazis.

    In pre­vi­ous years, Mart Laar, the Eston­ian min­is­ter of defense sent offi­cial greet­ing to the vet­er­ans. Eston­ian gov­ern­ment endorse­ment of these events means in effect that an EU mem­ber state is under­writ­ing the Waf­fen-SS vet­er­ans’ own claims that they con­sti­tut­ed a pan-Euro­pean force, who were more­over pio­neers of Euro­pean uni­fi­ca­tion.

    Accord­ing to the Tageszeitung, this March the Eston­ian par­lia­ment will con­sid­er a law, which would for­mal­ly des­ig­nate the Eston­ian Waf­fen-SS vet­er­ans as “Free­dom Fight­ers.” The law, pro­mot­ed by Mart Laar’s right-wing nation­al­ist Isamaa par­ty, rep­re­sents a fourth attempt by the Isamaa to pass such a law. Pre­vi­ous efforts were made in 2005, 2006, and 2010. Last win­ter the Eston­ian prime min­is­ter Andrus Ansip sent the Eston­ian Waf­fen-SS vet­er­ans a let­ter, in which he thanked them for their ser­vice to the Eston­ian peo­ple.

    In doing so, Esto­nia would con­firm its lead­ing role in reha­bil­i­tat­ing the Waf­fen-SS. Across Europe, Waf­fen-SS vet­er­ans and their admir­ers are fol­low­ing the devel­op­ments in Esto­nia and Latvia. Nowhere in Europe have these vet­er­ans been rec­og­nized by gov­ern­ments . The Esto­ni­ans and Lat­vians were (and are) break­ing a taboo, set­ting a prece­dent for oth­ers to fol­low.

    ...

    Like their Scan­di­na­vian com­rades, the Ger­man Waf­fen-SS vet­er­ans per­ceive them­selves as a vic­tim­ized and mis­un­der­stood group, sec­ond class cit­i­zens, vic­tims of vic­tors’ jus­tice. They have gen­er­al­ly not been enti­tled to state pen­sions for vet­er­ans.

    Out­side of Europe, Waf­fen-SS vet­er­ans have been more suc­cess­ful in gain­ing accep­tance for their own nar­ra­tive. In Cana­da, gov­ern­ment author­i­ties, in the name of mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism have agreed to share the con­struc­tion cost for mon­u­ments with the asso­ci­a­tion of the Ukrain­ian vet­er­ans of the 14th Waf­fen Grenadier Divi­sion of the SS (1st Ukrain­ian), bet­ter known at the Waf­fen-SS Gal­izien. Pub­lic insti­tu­tions of high­er edu­ca­tion insti­tute endow­ments in the hon­or of Ukrain­ian Waf­fen-SS vol­un­teers.

    To the dis­ap­point­ment of the extreme right, for­mer Ukrain­ian pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yushchenko (in office 2005–2010) did not fol­low up his reha­bil­i­ta­tion of the most impor­tant inter­war Ukrain­ian fas­cist orga­ni­za­tion, the OUN, with a reha­bil­i­ta­tion of the Waf­fen-SS Gal­izien. To the Ukrain­ian far right, Latvia and Esto­nia have become a source of inspi­ra­tion and an exam­ple to emu­late. Much like the cur­rent Eston­ian prime min­is­ter, Andrus Ansip, the lead­ing Ukrain­ian ultra-nation­al­ist par­ty, the All Ukrain­ian Asso­ci­a­tion Svo­bo­da, which dom­i­nates local pol­i­tics in sev­er­al West­ern Ukrain­ian cities, denies that hon­or­ing Waf­fen-SS vet­er­ans has any­thing to do with neo-Nazi ide­ol­o­gy.
    ...

    Note that Vik­tor Yuschenko may not have tech­ni­cal­ly “reha­bil­i­tat­ed” the Waf­fen-SS Gal­izien divi­sion, he came pret­ty damn close, as Per Anders Rudling has dis­cussed in oth­er pieces.

    Con­tin­u­ing...

    ...
    In April 2011 Svo­bo­da cel­e­brat­ed the 68th anniver­sary of the estab­lish­ment of the Waf­fen-SS Gal­izien. Lviv was dec­o­rat­ed with bill­boards refer­ring to the vet­er­ans of the Waf­fen-SS Gal­izien as “the trea­sure of the nation,” accom­pa­nied by the slo­gan “They defend­ed Ukraine.” The far right marched through Lviv with cries like “Gali­cia – Divi­sion of heroes!,” and “One race, one nation, one Father­land!” In time for the Euro 2012, a Waf­fen-SS Gal­izien taxi com­pa­ny was estab­lished.

    These process­es are inter­linked. The Eston­ian and Lat­vian gov­ern­ments’ par­tial recog­ni­tion grant­ed their pre­sum­ably hero­ic Waf­fen-SS vet­er­ans is part of a larg­er nar­ra­tive of apolo­get­ics and obfus­ca­tion.

    ...

    In fact, a Nazi vic­to­ry, for which the Waf­fen-SS was employed, would have meant the per­ma­nent dis­ap­pear­ance of Esto­nia, the pop­u­la­tion of which was ear­marked for destruc­tion by the Gen­er­alplan Ost, which stip­u­lat­ed that only 50% of Esto­ni­ans could be Ger­man­ized. That dis­cus­sion would have there­by pre­clud­ed this dis­cus­sion in the first place.

    Thus, that gov­ern­ment that has itself pro­filed from an elab­o­rate vic­tim­iza­tion nar­ra­tive mak­ing Esto­nia a Euro­pean cen­ter of grav­i­ty for Waf­fen-SS nos­tal­gists is deeply iron­ic.

    Unlike most plants, these sort of cults grow in the shade. The Eston­ian gov­ern­ment does not want inter­na­tion­al expo­sure on this. Yet, that is exact­ly what is need­ed.

    The nos­tal­gia for the Waf­fen-SS “free­dom fight­ers” is not mere­ly an Eston­ian con­cern It is a Euro­pean con­cern. It is an inter­na­tion­al con­cern.

    “Unlike most plants, these sort of cults grow in the shade. The Eston­ian gov­ern­ment does not want inter­na­tion­al expo­sure on this. Yet, that is exact­ly what is need­ed.”

    Well, as we saw above, it does­n’t look like “inter­na­tion­al expo­sure” should be much of a con­cern for pro-Waf­fen-SS gov­ern­ments.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 4, 2015, 6:58 pm
  7. Lithua­ni­a’s gov­ern­ment is appar­ent­ly so fear­ful of a Russ­ian inva­sion (even though its in NATO) that it’s about to bring back the draft:

    Wor­ried over Rus­sia, Lithua­nia plans mil­i­tary con­scrip­tion

    By Andrius Sytas

    VILNIUS Tue Feb 24, 2015 3:27pm GMT

    (Reuters) — Lithua­nia plans to restart mil­i­tary con­scrip­tion, which it end­ed in 2008, to address grow­ing con­cerns about Russ­ian assertive­ness in the Baltic region, Pres­i­dent Dalia Gry­bauskaite said on Tues­day.

    “Today’s geopo­lit­i­cal envi­ron­ment requires us to strength­en the army, and do it as fast as pos­si­ble,” Gry­bauskaite said after a meet­ing of the coun­try’s defence coun­cil.

    The Baltic states are con­cerned that Russ­ian annex­a­tion of Crimea and sup­port for rebels in east Ukraine may be a fore­taste of it reassert­ing itself in oth­er for­mer Sovi­et ter­ri­to­ries.

    Latvi­a’s defence min­is­ter has sug­gest­ed increas­ing army num­bers by 2,000 to 7,000 men, but there are no plans to intro­duce the draft. Esto­nia has main­tained con­scrip­tion.

    Lithua­ni­a’s new con­scrip­tion would apply to men between the ages of 19 and 26 with exemp­tions for cer­tain cat­e­gories, such as uni­ver­si­ty stu­dents and sin­gle fathers and would recruit around 3,500 men per year. It would be up for renew­al after a 5‑year peri­od.

    Lithua­ni­a’s par­lia­ment still needs to approve the plan.

    ...

    “Lithua­ni­a’s new con­scrip­tion would apply to men between the ages of 19 and 26 with exemp­tions for cer­tain cat­e­gories, such as uni­ver­si­ty stu­dents and sin­gle fathers and would recruit around 3,500 men per year. It would be up for renew­al after a 5‑year peri­od.” Well, at least Lithua­ni­a’s uni­ver­si­ties should get a much need­ed boost in enroll­ment.

    Also note that while the law has­n’t been approved by Lithua­ni­a’s par­lia­ment, experts see­ing its pas­sage as like­ly:

    Newsweek
    Lithua­nia to Vote on Con­scrip­tion to Com­bat Russ­ian Threat
    By Felic­i­ty Capon
    3/6/15 at 1:02 PM

    The prospect of mil­i­tary con­scrip­tion in Lithua­nia will spark a fierce debate in the country’s par­lia­ment when it is put to a vote next week, ana­lysts say.

    Con­scrip­tion in the Baltic state was tech­ni­cal­ly sus­pend­ed in 2008, although the law stayed in force and is still valid. How­ev­er, there has recent­ly been increas­ing talk of lift­ing the sus­pen­sion and resum­ing con­scrip­tion for the next five years as an emer­gency mea­sure in the wake of per­ceived Russ­ian aggres­sion.

    The Lithuan­ian gov­ern­ment approved the motion this week after pres­i­dent Dalia Gry­bauskaite announced at the end of Feb­ru­ary that con­scrip­tion was need­ed due to the “cur­rent geopo­lit­i­cal envi­ron­ment”. The Lithuan­ian par­lia­ment must still approve the plan.

    On Wednes­day Gry­bauskaite told Lithuan­ian jour­nal­ists that “with a chang­ing geopo­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion around our bor­ders, we realise that the threats are very real. The threats are real for our whole region, all Baltic states, and our neigh­bour­hood has become less pre­dictable and more aggres­sive, I mean Rus­sia.”

    Gry­bauskaite would like to see the first draft for ser­vice­man issued as ear­ly as Sep­tem­ber, but par­lia­ment and the broad­er Lithuan­ian soci­ety remain divid­ed over the con­tro­ver­sial mea­sure. Par­lia­ment is set to vote on the mat­ter next week, as a mat­ter of emer­gency.

    “From what I hear from some MPs, the dis­cus­sion is prob­a­bly going to be very heat­ed,” said the prime min­is­ter Algir­das Butke­vi­cius on the radio Žiniu Radi­jas on Thurs­day morn­ing.

    Tomas Jer­malavi­cius, a research fel­low at the Inter­na­tion­al Cen­tre for Defence Stud­ies in Tallinn, Esto­nia, believes the motion is like­ly to pass, but only after a seri­ous debate.

    “Lithuan­ian soci­ety is split on the issue,” he says. “A num­ber clear­ly feel that Rus­sia pos­es a great threat, and they are already mak­ing moves to sign up to vol­un­tary para­mil­i­tary organ­i­sa­tions and nation­al defence vol­un­teers. They cer­tain­ly sup­port the resump­tion of con­scrip­tion.”

    “But a lot of oth­er peo­ple feel that state can­not coerce its cit­i­zens in this way,” he con­tin­ues. “Peo­ple want to pur­sue careers, to study and there has been a back­lash from some sec­tions of soci­ety, from sports­men, celebri­ties and econ­o­mists speak­ing out in pub­lic. There’s cer­tain­ly as inter­est­ing debate in the pub­lic space right now.”

    There is grow­ing alarm through­out Lithua­nia, Latvia and Esto­nia that the cur­rent con­flict in east­ern Ukraine could spill over into the Baltic States. Increas­ing­ly fre­quent snap mil­i­tary drills are being car­ried out by Rus­sia near its east­ern Euro­pean neigh­bours, and experts have warned that the sit­u­a­tion should not be tak­en light­ly.

    Yet despite the Russ­ian threat, there is anger in Lithua­nia that the announce­ment on con­scrip­tion was made so sud­den­ly. “It came as a great sur­prise and was not prop­er­ly explained”, says Jer­malavi­cius.

    A selec­tion of EU for­eign min­is­ters met in Riga today to dis­cuss the cri­sis in Ukraine, with talks focus­ing on the need to intro­duce fur­ther sanc­tions against Rus­sia. Latvi­a’s defence min­is­ter has also sug­gest­ed strength­en­ing his coun­try’s mil­i­tary, by increas­ing army num­bers to 7,000 men, although the coun­try isn’t cur­rent­ly plan­ning on intro­duc­ing com­pul­so­ry ser­vice.

    While experts believe that the law will like­ly be passed, cer­tain amend­ments and assur­ances have been made in order to make the law a more attrac­tive and palat­able prospect. The Min­istry of Nation­al Defence sub­mit­ted amend­ments to the law which will lim­it the num­bers of con­scripts to 3,000–3,500 and will expand a range of ben­e­fits for the troops.

    ...

    Fear of Russ­ian aggres­sion is not just being felt in the Baltics. This week, it was announced that Pol­ish MPs will be offered mil­i­tary train­ing, due to fears that the con­flict in Ukraine could spread. Par­lia­men­tary speak­er Radoslaw Siko­rs­ki announced that par­lia­men­tar­i­ans will be trained at an army fir­ing range, adding that these are “trou­bled times”.

    It sure sounds like Lithua­nia is going to get a draft soon. And since a “num­ber clear­ly feel that Rus­sia pos­es a great threat, and they are already mak­ing moves to sign up to vol­un­tary para­mil­i­tary organ­i­sa­tions and nation­al defence vol­un­teers,” it will be inter­est­ing to see how the nation­al debate over the draft evolves, espe­cial­ly since the largest para­mil­i­tary unit, the “Lithua­nia Rifle­men’s Union”, is already almost as big as Lithua­ni­a’s armed forces:

    Russ­ian threat sees rebirth of Lithua­nia para­mil­i­tary group
    Agence France-Presse Sep­tem­ber 2, 2014 10:52pm

    In thick pine forests hid­den in the remote wilder­ness of east­ern Lithua­nia, young pro­fes­sion­als are ditch­ing their suits and ties for cam­ou­flage gear, and swap­ping iPads for rifles.

    These week­end war­riors also proud­ly wear bracelets with emblems of green fir trees on their wrists, sym­bols of their small Baltic coun­try’s wartime resis­tance against the Sovi­et Union, which occu­pied it in 1940.

    Now, Rus­si­a’s takeover of Crimea and increas­ing signs of its involve­ment in Ukraine’s east, cou­pled with sabre rat­tling in its Kalin­ingrad exclave bor­der­ing Lithua­nia, are spark­ing a sharp rise in para­mil­i­tary recruits here.

    Like oth­ers in the region, Lithua­nia is call­ing on NATO to put per­ma­nent boots on the ground in the Baltics to ward off any poten­tial threat from their Sovi­et-era mas­ter.

    But while they await a deci­sion that could come at a key two-day alliance sum­mit start­ing Thurs­day in Wales, Lithuan­ian civil­ians are lac­ing up their own com­bat boots.

    Stu­dents, busi­ness­men, civ­il ser­vants, jour­nal­ists and even politi­cians are among the hun­dreds who have joined the gov­ern­ment-spon­sored Lithua­nia Rifle­men’s Union, a group first set up in 1919 but banned in 1940 under Sovi­et rule.

    “The Vil­nius unit has tripled in size since the begin­ning of the cri­sis in Ukraine,” says Min­dau­gas Bal­ci­auskas, unit com­man­der of the group which boasts about 7,000 mem­bers in the nation of three mil­lion, a num­ber almost on par with its 7,000 mil­i­tary per­son­nel and 4,200 reservists.

    - ‘Take up arms’ -

    Pres­i­dent Dalia Gry­bauskaite, a karate black belt dubbed Lithua­ni­a’s ‘Iron Lady’ for her tough stance on Rus­sia, has also sworn to “take up arms” her­self in the unlike­ly case Moscow would attack this 2004 NATO and EU mem­ber of three mil­lion.

    “Being in a para­mil­i­tary unit will give me priv­i­leged access to infor­ma­tion and make me bet­ter pre­pared than those who don’t join,” Arturas Bortke­vi­cius, a 37-year-old finance spe­cial­ist, told AFP, adding that he wants to learn the skills he needs to defend his coun­try and fam­i­ly.

    Mem­bers spend week­ends on manoeu­vres deep in the woods or at a mil­i­tary train­ing range in Pabrade, north of the cap­i­tal Vil­nius.

    Lib­er­al MP Remigi­jus Sima­sius says that while his place “would be in par­lia­ment” giv­en a cri­sis, he joined the rifle­men in the wake of Rus­si­a’s Crimea land grab in the hope of encour­ag­ing oth­ers to fol­low suit.

    Even some Lithua­ni­ans with Russ­ian roots have joined up amid the Ukraine cri­sis.

    “I’m a Lithuan­ian cit­i­zen of Russ­ian ori­gin. I am who I am, and I am Lithuan­ian patri­ot,” pho­tog­ra­ph­er Vladimi­ras Ivanovas, 40, who also joined up, told AFP.

    - Check­ered past -

    The Rifle­man’s Union “has left an indeli­ble mark on the his­to­ry of Lithua­nia,” says his­to­ri­an Arvy­das Anusauskas.

    It was cre­at­ed after World War I in 1919 dur­ing a series of “Wars of Inde­pen­dence” fought by Lithua­ni­ans in 1918–1920 against Russ­ian Bol­she­viks, mixed Russ­ian and Ger­man forces and Poles.

    Aside from Lithua­ni­ans, from 1919–1940 research shows its mem­bers also includ­ed Russ­ian, Poles, Jews and even Chi­nese, reflect­ing the eth­nic com­plex­i­ty of and ten­sions in the region.

    Its rep­u­ta­tion is how­ev­er taint­ed by alle­ga­tions that cer­tain mem­bers were involved in a series of Nazi mas­sacres between 1940–44 that claimed the lives of an esti­mat­ed 80,000–100,000 Jews, Poles and Rus­sians in Panierai, a sub­urb skirt­ing the cap­i­tal Vil­nius.

    The Rifle­men’s Union was banned in 1940 by the Sovi­et Union when the Red Army swept in from the east to occu­py Lithua­nia dur­ing World War II, but mem­bers fought a gueril­la war against the Sovi­ets until the ear­ly 1950s.

    Its revival in 1989 came as the Sovi­et bloc began to crum­ble and now its large new crop of mem­bers say they are will­ing to fight again should their coun­try come under attack.

    ...

    “The Vil­nius unit has tripled in size since the begin­ning of the cri­sis in Ukraine,” says Min­dau­gas Bal­ci­auskas, unit com­man­der of the group which boasts about 7,000 mem­bers in the nation of three mil­lion, a num­ber almost on par with its 7,000 mil­i­tary per­son­nel and 4,200 reservists.”

    Well, it’s pret­ty clear that a lot of Lithua­ni­ans are freaked out and get­ting ready for some sort of immi­nent war. Pre­sum­ably it will be WWIII since Lithua­nia is in NATO. WWIII fought with tank how­itzers?

    Ger­many pre­pared to sell tank how­itzers to Lithua­nia: Der Spiegel

    BERLIN Sat Feb 28, 2015 7:53am EST

    (Reuters) — Ger­many is pre­pared to sell tank how­itzers to Lithua­nia, Ger­man mag­a­zine Der Spiegel said on Sat­ur­day.

    Deputy defense min­is­ter Katrin Sud­er said in a defense com­mit­tee meet­ing it would be pos­si­ble to sell how­itzers to Lithua­nia as the Ger­man armed forces had a suf­fi­cient num­ber of them, the mag­a­zine said.

    It added that Sud­er had stressed Ger­many want­ed to help its NATO part­ner mod­ern­ize its forces and would “favor­ably exam­ine” a poten­tial request for tank how­itzers.

    A spokesman for the Ger­man defense min­istry said Lithua­nia had not made an offi­cial request but the coun­try had expressed an inter­est and Ger­many was pre­pared to help.

    ...

    Keep in mind that Ger­many is also look­ing at upgrad­ing its mil­i­tary forces, so sell­ing the exist­ing equip­ment to the Baltics might be part of a larg­er mil­i­tary over­haul. After all, you can’t have a new Cold War with­out lots of new weapons!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 6, 2015, 1:26 pm
  8. “ser­pen­t’s walk” can now be found for free on the inter­net: https://archive.org/details/CalverhallRandolphO.SerpentsWalk

    Posted by Piet Bess | March 20, 2015, 1:33 am
  9. The fol­low­ing arti­cle has a March 31st pub­li­ca­tion date so hope­ful­ly it’s just a pre­emp­tive April Fools joke:

    US forces to hold exer­cis­es in Ukraine

    The Asso­ci­at­ed Press
    Pub­lished: March 31, 2015

    KIEV, Ukraine — The Unit­ed States plans to send sol­diers to Ukraine in April for train­ing exer­cis­es with units of the coun­try’s nation­al guard.

    Ukraine’s Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Arsen Avakov said in a Face­book post on Sun­day that the units to be trained include the Azov Bat­tal­ion, a vol­un­teer force that has attract­ed crit­i­cism for its far-right sen­ti­ments includ­ing bran­dish­ing an emblem wide­ly used in Nazi Ger­many.

    Avakov said the train­ing will begin April 20 at a base in west­ern Ukraine near the Pol­ish bor­der and would involve about 290 Amer­i­can para­troop­ers and some 900 Ukrain­ian guards­men.

    Pen­ta­gon spokesman Col. Steve War­ren said the troops would come from the 173rd Air­borne Brigade based in Vicen­za, Italy.

    ...

    The train­ing of the Azov Bat­tal­ion is sched­uled to begin on April 20.

    So that hap­pened.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 4, 2015, 3:55 pm

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