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FTR #837 Cauldron: Update on Ukraine

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash dri­ve that can be obtained here. [1] 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 [2].  (The pre­vi­ous flash dri­ve was cur­rent through the end of May of 2012 and con­tained FTR #748 [3].)

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Lis­ten: MP3

This pro­gram was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment [7]

[8]

Jaaniko Mer­i­lo

[9]Intro­duc­tion: As the Ukraine cri­sis lurch­es for­ward, the begin­nings of the episode dur­ing sniper fire [10] in Kiev dur­ing the Maid­an coup have come back into view. Although much of the media cov­er­age remains locked in to the “group think” now affect­ing Ukraine, some rays of light have pen­e­trat­ed the delib­er­ate­ly cre­at­ed jour­nal­is­tic dark­ness.

In addi­tion to the dis­in­te­grat­ing sto­ry of a one-hand­ed sniper fir­ing on demon­stra­tors in the coup, we note demon­stra­tors’ sto­ries of being recruit­ed to wield rifles in the Maid­an riots. The secu­ri­ty in the areas in which the snipers oper­at­ed was super­vised by Andriy Paru­biy [11],  the for­mer defense min­is­ter from the fas­cist Svo­bo­da par­ty. Paru­biy is now the deputy speak­er of the par­lia­ment. (The “inves­ti­ga­tion” into the alleged shoot­er with one hand was over­seen by Oleh Makhnit­skiy [12]–the for­mer jus­tice min­is­ter from Svo­bo­da and now an advis­er to Petro Poroshenko.)

In the U.S. and else­where in the West, the Orwellian jour­nal­is­tic cov­er­age of the Ukraine cri­sis con­tin­ues unabat­ed, with mis­in­fo­ma­tion and dis­im­for­ma­tion car­ry­ing the day. Offi­cers [13], as well as founders of [14], the Nazi Azov Bat­tal­ion are pre­sent­ed uncrit­i­cal­ly in U.S. media, while the Amer­i­can ambas­sador to Ukraine–Geoffrey Pyatt–cites mate­r­i­al [15] pro­vid­ed by Dig­i­tal­Globe as cred­i­ble proof of direct Russ­ian involve­ment in Ukraine. (For more about Dig­i­tal­Globe, see FTR #811 [16].)

Ukrain­ian vet­er­ans [17] of the pun­ish­er bat­tal­ions have delib­er­ate­ly mis­led [18] GOP Sen­a­tor James Inhofe (Okla­homa), giv­ing him [17] pho­tographs pur­port­ing to show a Russ­ian inva­sion of Ukraine, when the pic­tures are actu­al­ly from oth­er oper­a­tions.

We note, again, that Michael Bori­urkiw [19], head of the OSCE’s con­tin­gent in Ukraine, is net­worked with the OUN/B heirs [20], as well as with a Malaysian Mus­lim Broth­er­hood milieu [21] that over­laps ele­ments fig­ur­ing in the dis­ap­pear­ance of MH 370. Bori­urki­w’s pro­nounce­ments have done much to shape West­ern pub­lic opin­ion about Ukraine.

[22]

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

In spite of rigid state cen­sor­ship, some Ukrain­ian media have actu­al­ly let slip [23] the fact that there are no Russ­ian mil­i­tary units in Ukraine.

[24]

Pravy Sek­tor: It has chap­ters in the U.S.

The recruit­ment of for­eign­ers to work in the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment con­tin­ues unabat­ed. In addi­tion to Jaani­ka Mer­i­lo [25], who will be “attract­ing for­eign invest­ment” (when she isn’t try­ing to “one-up” Miley Cyrus), for­mer Geor­gian pres­i­dent Mikheil Saakashvili [26] will be head­ing to Kiev.

A want­ed crim­i­nal [27] in his native coun­try, Saakashvili will be in charge of procur­ing arms for Ukraine, one of whose top offi­cials has reit­er­at­ed a com­mon theme of Ukrain­ian propaganda–the U.S. and oth­er West­ern coun­tris should risk nuclear war [28] to aid Ukraine.

The pro­gram includes with a fright­en­ing look at Pravy Sek­tor (“Right Sec­tor”) chap­ters [29] in the Unit­ed States and their appar­ent involve­ment in dis­rup­tion of polit­i­cal activ­i­ties they deem to be “pro-Russ­ian.”

Pre­vi­ous pro­grams cov­er­ing the Ukraine cri­sis are: FTR #‘s 777 [30]778 [31]779 [32]780 [33]781 [34]782 [35], 783 [36]784 [37]794 [38]800 [39]803 [20]804 [21], 808 [40]811 [16]817 [41]818 [42]824 [43]826 [44]829 [45]832 [46]833 [47].

Pro­gram High­lights Include: The eco­nom­ic and eth­nic fac­tors [48] that are moti­vat­ing the insur­gents in East­ern Ukraine; com­par­i­son of the gin­ning up of infor­ma­tion about the Balka­ns’ wars [10] with the dis­sem­i­na­tion of lies to jus­ti­fy our involve­ment in Ukraine; a plan by the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment to shoot desert­ers from the mil­i­tary [49]; review of pre­vi­ous ele­ments of our analy­sis on Ukraine.

[50]

Svo­bo­da leader Oleh Tia­hany­bok salutes

1. The BBC has an update on the “inves­ti­ga­tion” into the Maid­an square sniper mys­tery and the dif­fer­ing accounts of Andre Paru­biy [51], then the head of secu­rity for the Maid­an pro­tes­tors. Paru­biy is the for­mer defense min­is­ter and a mem­ber of Svo­bo­da.

He was in charge of “secu­ri­ty” for the Maid­an pro­test­ers and is now the deputy speak­er of the Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment.

“The Untold Sto­ry of the Maid­an Mas­sacre”  [11]by Gabriel Gate­house; BBC News [11]; 2/11/2015. [11]

A day of blood­shed on Kiev’s main square, near­ly a year ago, marked the end of a win­ter of protest against the gov­ern­ment of pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych, who soon after­wards fled the coun­try. More than 50 pro­test­ers and three police­men died. But how did the shoot­ing begin? Protest organ­is­ers have always denied any involve­ment — but one man told the BBC a dif­fer­ent sto­ry.

It’s ear­ly in the morn­ing, 20 Feb­ru­ary, 2014. Kiev’s Maid­an square is divid­ed — on one side the riot police, the pro­test­ers on the oth­er.

This has been going on for more than two months now. But events are about to come to a head. By the end of the day, more than 50 peo­ple will be dead, many of them gunned down in the street by secu­rity forces.

The vio­lence will lead to the down­fall of Ukraine’s pro-Russ­ian pres­i­dent, Vik­tor Yanukovych. Moscow will call 20 Feb­ru­ary an armed coup, and use it to jus­tify the annex­a­tion of Crimea and sup­port for sep­a­ratists in East­ern Ukraine.

The protest lead­ers, some of whom now hold posi­tions of pow­er in the new Ukraine, insist full respon­si­bil­ity for the shoot­ings lies with the secu­rity forces, act­ing on behalf of the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment.

But one year on, some wit­nesses are begin­ning to paint a dif­fer­ent pic­ture.

“I didn’t shoot to kill”

“I was shoot­ing down­wards at their feet,” says a man we will call Sergei, who tells me he took up posi­tion in the Kiev Con­ser­va­tory, a music acad­emy on the south-west cor­ner of the square.

“Of course, I could have hit them in the arm or any­where. But I didn’t shoot to kill.”

Sergei says he had been a reg­u­lar pro­tester on the Maid­an for more than a month, and that his shots at police on the square and on the roof of an under­ground shop­ping mall, caused them to retreat.

There had been shoot­ing two days ear­lier, on 18 Feb­ru­ary. The 19th, a Wednes­day, had been qui­eter, but in the evening, Sergei says, he was put in con­tact with a man who offered him two guns: one a 12-gauge shot­gun, the oth­er a hunt­ing rifle, a Saiga that fired high-veloc­i­ty rounds.

He chose the lat­ter, he says, and stashed it in the Post Office build­ing, a few yards from the Con­ser­va­tory. Both build­ings were under the con­trol of the pro­test­ers.

When the shoot­ing start­ed ear­ly on the morn­ing of the 20th, Sergei says, he was escort­ed to the Con­ser­va­tory, and spent some 20 min­utes before 07:00 fir­ing on police, along­side a sec­ond gun­man.

His account is par­tially cor­rob­o­rated by oth­er wit­nesses. That morn­ing, Andriy Shevchenko, then an oppo­si­tion MP and part of the Maid­an move­ment, had received a phone call from the head of the riot police on the square.

“He calls me and says, ‘Andriy, some­body is shoot­ing at my guys.’ And he said that the shoot­ing was from the Con­ser­va­to­ry.”

Shevchenko con­tacted the man in charge of secu­rity for the pro­test­ers, Andriy Paru­biy, known as the Com­man­dant of the Maid­an.

“I sent a group of my best men to go through the entire Con­ser­va­tory build­ing and deter­mine whether there were any fir­ing posi­tions,” Paru­biy says.

Mean­while the MP, Andriy Shevchenko, was get­ting increas­ingly pan­icked phone calls.

“I kept get­ting calls from the police offi­cer, who said: ‘I have three peo­ple wound­ed, I have five peo­ple wound­ed, I have one per­son dead.’ And at some point he says, ‘I am pulling out.’ And he says, ‘Andriy I do not know what will be next.’ But I clear­ly felt that some­thing real­ly bad was about to hap­pen.”

Andriy Paru­biy, now deputy speak­er of the Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment, says his men found no gun­men in the Con­ser­va­tory build­ing.

But a pho­tog­ra­pher who gained access to the Con­ser­va­tory lat­er in the morn­ing — short­ly after 08:00 — took pic­tures there of men with guns, although he did not see them fire.

What hap­pened in Maid­an Square: A photographer’s sto­ry

Sergei’s account also dif­fers from Parubiy’s.

“I was just reload­ing,” he told me. “They ran up to me and one put his foot on top of me, and said, ‘They want a word with you, every­thing is OK, but stop doing what you’re doing.’”

Sergei says he is con­vinced the men who dragged him away were from Parubiy’s secu­rity unit, though he didn’t recog­nise their faces. He was escort­ed out of the Con­ser­va­tory build­ing, tak­en out of Kiev by car, and left to make his own way home.

By that time three police­men had been fatal­ly wound­ed and the mass killings of pro­test­ers had begun.

Kiev’s offi­cial inves­ti­ga­tion has focused on what hap­pened after­wards — after the riot police began to retreat from the square. In video footage, they are clear­ly seen fir­ing towards pro­test­ers as they pull back.

Only three peo­ple have been arrest­ed, all of them mem­bers of a spe­cial unit of riot police. And of these three, only two — the low­er-rank­ing offi­cers — remain in cus­tody. The unit’s com­mand­ing offi­cer, Dmit­ry Sadovnik, was grant­ed bail and has now dis­ap­peared.

...

Some of the dead were almost cer­tainly shot by snipers, who seemed to be shoot­ing from some of the taller build­ings sur­round­ing the square.

Lawyers for the vic­tims and sources in the gen­eral prosecutor’s office have told the BBC that when it comes to inves­ti­gat­ing deaths that could not have been caused by the riot police, they have found their efforts blocked by the courts.

“If you think of Yanukovych’s time, it was like a Bermu­da tri­an­gle: the prosecutor’s office, the police and the courts,” says Andriy Shevchenko. “Every­one knew that they co-oper­at­ed, they cov­ered each oth­er and that was the basis of the mas­sive cor­rup­tion in the coun­try. Those con­nec­tions still exists.”

Con­spir­acy the­o­ries abound

Ukraine’s Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­eral, Vitaly Yare­ma, was dis­missed this week, amid harsh crit­i­cism of his han­dling of the inves­ti­ga­tion.

...

The lead­ers of the Maid­an have always main­tained they did their best to keep guns away from the square.

“We knew that our strength was not to use force, and our weak­ness would be if we start shoot­ing,” says Andriy Shevchenko.

Paru­biy says it is pos­si­ble that a hand­ful of pro­test­ers with weapons may have come to the Maid­an as part of a spon­ta­neous, unor­gan­ised response to vio­lence from the secu­rity forces in the days run­ning up to 20 Feb­ru­ary.

“I did hear that, after the shoot­ings on 18 Feb­ru­ary, there were guys who came to Maid­an with hunt­ing rifles. I was told that some­times they were the rel­a­tives or par­ents of those peo­ple who were killed on the 18th. So I con­cede that it’s pos­si­ble there were peo­ple with hunt­ing rifles on Maid­an. When the snipers began to kill our guys, one after anoth­er, I can imag­ine that those with the hunt­ing rifles returned fire.”

Sergei, again, tells a dif­fer­ent sto­ry. He says he was recruit­ed as a poten­tial shoot­er in late-Jan­u­ary, by a man he describes only as a retired mil­i­tary offi­cer. Sergei him­self was a for­mer sol­dier.

“We got chat­ting, and he took me under his wing. He saw some­thing in me that he liked. Offi­cers are like psy­chol­o­gists, they can see who is capa­ble. He kept me close.”

The for­mer offi­cer dis­suaded him from join­ing any of the more mil­i­tant groups active on the Maid­an.

“‘Your time will come,’ he said.”

Was he being pre­pared, psy­cho­log­i­cally, to take up arms?

“Not that we sat down and worked out a plan. But we talked about it pri­vately and he pre­pared me for it.”

It is not clear who the man who appar­ently recruit­ed Sergei was, or whether he belonged to any of the recog­nised groups active on the Maid­an.

And there is much else that we still do not know, such as who fired the first shots on 20 Feb­ru­ary.

As for con­spir­acy the­o­ries, it is pos­si­ble that Sergei was manip­u­lated, played like a pawn in a big­ger game. But that is not the way he sees it. He was a sim­ple pro­tester, he says, who took up arms in self-defence.

“I didn’t want to shoot any­one or kill any­one. But that was the sit­u­a­tion. I don’t feel like some kind of hero. The oppo­site: I have trou­ble sleep­ing, bad pre­mo­ni­tions. I’m try­ing to con­trol myself. But I just get ner­vous all the time. I have noth­ing to be proud of. It’s easy to shoot. Liv­ing after­wards, that’s the hard thing. But you have to defend your coun­try.”

2a. In FTR #779 [32]. we not­ed the dom­i­nant pres­ence of Svo­bo­da and Pravy Sek­tor min­is­ters in the inter­im gov­ern­ment in Ukraine. This may well have affect­ed the inves­ti­ga­tion of the sniper deaths that take place dur­ing the demon­stra­tions that brought about the fall of Vik­tor Yanukovych.

Oleh Makhnit­sky is from Svo­bo­da and has been cen­tral to the “inves­ti­ga­tion” of the sniper attacks. He is now an advis­er to Petro Poroshenko.

Evi­dence has been destroyed, inves­ti­ga­tors have made prej­u­di­cial pub­lic state­ments about the accused, the deaths of the police­men have not been inves­ti­gat­ed and at least one pho­to­graph of the accused has obvi­ous­ly been doc­tored.

“Spe­cial Report: Flaws Found in Ukraine’s Probe of Maid­an Mas­sacre” by Steve Steck­low and Olek­sandr Aky­menkoreuters.com; 10/10/2014. [12]

For mil­lions of Ukraini­ans, it was a crime against human­ity. In Feb­ru­ary, more than 100 pro­test­ers were gunned down in the Maid­an upris­ing that top­pled the pres­i­dent, Vik­tor Yanukovich. The vic­tims are now known as “the Heav­enly Hun­dred.”

In April, pros­e­cu­tors arrest­ed three sus­pects, mem­bers of an elite unit with­in the “Berkut” riot police. Senior among them was Dmytro Sadovnyk, 38, a dec­o­rated com­man­der, who was accused of order­ing his men to fire on the crowds on the morn­ing of Feb. 20. The three stand accused of mas­sacring 39 unarmed pro­test­ers.

On Sept. 19, the case took a turn when a judge released Sadovnyk into house arrest – and, two weeks lat­er, he went miss­ing.

Maid­an activists were out­raged, con­vinced that a cor­rupt sys­tem had let a killer escape. The judge was placed under inves­ti­ga­tion. The pros­e­cu­tor said in a state­ment: “D. Sadovnyk, sus­pected of com­mit­ting an extreme­ly griev­ous crime, aim­ing to avoid pun­ish­ment, dis­ap­peared from his place of per­ma­nent res­i­dence.”

But in a coun­try where jus­tice often isn’t blind, there’s anoth­er pos­si­bil­ity: Sadovnyk was being framed, and saw flight as his best option. In court last month, he called the case against him “a polit­i­cal lynch­ing.” In the days before he van­ished, his wife and his lawyer say, Sadovnyk and his fam­ily received death threats.

A Reuters exam­i­na­tion of Ukraine’s probes into the Maid­an shoot­ings — based on inter­views with pros­e­cu­tors, defence attor­neys, pro­test­ers, police offi­cers and legal experts – has uncov­ered seri­ous flaws in the case against Sadovnyk and the oth­er two Berkut offi­cers.

Among the evi­dence pre­sented against Sadovnyk was a pho­to­graph. Pros­e­cu­tors say it shows him near Kiev’s Inde­pen­dence Square on Feb. 20, wear­ing a mask and hold­ing a rifle with two hands, his fin­gers clear­ly vis­i­ble.

The prob­lem: Sadovnyk doesn’t have two hands. His right hand, his wife told Reuters, was blown off by a grenade in a train­ing acci­dent six years ago. As pros­e­cu­tors intro­duced the image at a hear­ing in April, said Yuliya Sadovnyk, her hus­band removed a glove and dis­played his stump to the court­room.

“He can’t real­ly shoot,” said Ser­hiy Vilkov, Sadovnyk’s lawyer. “To blame him for the crime is a polit­i­cal game.”

The probes into the killings have been hin­dered by miss­ing evi­dence. Many guns alleged­ly used to shoot pro­test­ers have van­ished; many of the bul­lets fired were tak­en home as sou­venirs. Bar­ri­cades, bul­let-pierced trees and oth­er items of foren­sic evi­dence were removed, lawyers say.

A for­mer Berkut com­man­der told Reuters that Berkut offi­cers destroyed doc­u­men­tary evi­dence that poten­tially could iden­tify fel­low offi­cers. They did so, he said, because they feared the Berkut’s head­quar­ters would be attacked by a mob of revenge-seek­ing pro­test­ers after Yanukovich fled to Rus­sia.

The for­mer pres­i­dent isn’t the only key fig­ure miss­ing. In an inter­view before Sadovnyk van­ished, Ukraine’s gen­eral pros­e­cu­tor, Vitaly Yare­ma, said inves­ti­ga­tors had iden­ti­fied 17 Berkut offi­cers as alleged par­tic­i­pants in the pro­tester shoot­ings, based on sur­veil­lance cam­era videos and mobile-phone loca­tion data. Of the 17, he said, 14 had fled to Rus­sia or Crimea, includ­ing the Berkut’s top com­man­der in Kiev. Sadovnyk and his two co-defen­dants were the only iden­ti­fied sus­pects who had remained behind.

MILESTONE

Inde­pen­dence Square was the ral­ly­ing point in Kiev where the anti-Yanukovich rev­o­lu­tion large­ly unfold­ed between Novem­ber and Feb­ru­ary. (The word Maid­an means “square” in Ukrain­ian.) The killings there quick­ly were recog­nised as a mile­stone in mod­ern Ukrain­ian his­tory, part of a chain of events that set off a sep­a­ratist con­flict and Russ­ian incur­sions that have shak­en the coun­try to its core.

Videos and pho­tographs appear to show how Berkut offi­cers shot at pro­test­ers and beat them with sticks. In one video, the Berkut are seen mak­ing a man stand naked in the snow.

The pub­lic is demand­ing answers and jus­tice. But the inves­ti­ga­tions are test­ing Ukraine’s abil­ity to rise above the kinds of fail­ings that have hob­bled the coun­try ever since its inde­pen­dence from the Sovi­et Union in 1991.

In con­trast to, say, Poland, Ukraine has nev­er gelled into a robust state. Kiev has had two rev­o­lu­tions since inde­pen­dence. A host of endem­ic prob­lems — polit­i­cal cor­rup­tion, rack­e­teer­ing, a divide between speak­ers of Ukrain­ian and Russ­ian — have left it fee­ble and frac­tious. Anoth­er of the state’s chief fail­ings, out­side observers say, is a bro­ken jus­tice sys­tem.

Under Yanukovich and his rivals before him, courts and cops were polit­i­cal instru­ments. Yulia Tymoshenko, run­ner-up to Yanukovich in the 2010 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, lat­er was jailed in a case wide­ly crit­i­cised as polit­i­cal.

In its 2013 report on human rights, the U.S. State Depart­ment cit­ed the Tymoshenko con­vic­tion in observ­ing that Ukraine’s courts “remained vul­ner­a­ble to polit­i­cal pres­sure and cor­rup­tion, were inef­fi­cient, and lacked pub­lic con­fi­dence. In cer­tain cas­es the out­come of tri­als appeared to be pre­de­ter­mined.”

The post-Yanukovich gov­ern­ment acknowl­edged as much this July, in a report it pre­pared with the Inter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund. “The tax admin­is­tra­tion, the police, the Pros­e­cu­tor General’s Office, the State Enforce­ment Ser­vice, and the judi­ciary were not­ed as hav­ing tra­di­tion­ally been viewed as among the most cor­rupt pub­lic insti­tu­tions,” the report found.

The past shows signs of repeat­ing itself.

The two pros­e­cu­tors and a gov­ern­ment min­is­ter who have led the Maid­an shoot­ing probes all played roles in sup­port­ing the upris­ing. One of these offi­cials told Reuters that the inves­ti­ga­tors gath­er­ing the evi­dence are com­pletely inde­pen­dent.

Anoth­er gap in the pros­e­cu­tion: To date, no one has been appre­hended in the shoot­ing of police­men. Accord­ing to Ukraine’s Min­istry of Inte­rior Affairs, between Feb. 18 and 20, 189 police offi­cers suf­fered gun­shot wounds. Thir­teen died.

In addi­tion, the for­mer act­ing gen­eral pros­e­cu­tor who over­saw the arrests of the three Berkut offi­cers declared on tele­vi­sion that they “have already been shown to be guilty.” That state­ment, said legal experts, could prej­u­dice the cas­es. Ukraine is a par­ty to the Euro­pean Con­ven­tion on Human Rights, which states that crim­i­nal defen­dants are pre­sumed inno­cent until proven guilty.

“A pub­lic state­ment by a pros­e­cu­tor that direct­ly chal­lenges that pre­sump­tion is a denial of due process,” said Richard Har­vey, a British bar­ris­ter who spe­cialises in inter­na­tional crim­i­nal law.

Even some of the bereaved fam­i­lies ques­tion the fair­ness of the pro­ceed­ings. Ser­hiy Bon­darchuk, a physics teacher, died of a gun­shot wound to the back on the morn­ing of Feb. 20. His son, Volodymyr Bon­darchuk, said the killing is one of the 39 in which Sadovnyk and his two col­leagues are sus­pected. Volodymyr said that based on his own inquiries, he doubts the three were respon­si­ble for his father’s death.

“They are try­ing to close the case because their boss­es and the com­mu­nity just want to have some­one to pun­ish,” he said. “The inves­ti­ga­tion does not have enough evi­dence to prove the guilt of these three peo­ple.”

Volodymyr Bon­darchuk recent­ly helped organ­ise an asso­ci­a­tion of about 70 fam­i­lies of dead pro­test­ers. “The main aim for us,” he said, “is an objec­tive and accu­rate inves­ti­ga­tion.”

GOLDEN EAGLES

Feb­ru­ary 20 was the blood­i­est day of the Maid­an upris­ing. Scores of pro­test­ers and police offi­cers were shot and killed. A day lat­er, oppo­si­tion lead­ers signed a Euro­pean Union-medi­at­ed peace pact.

Pub­lic pres­sure mount­ed to pros­e­cute the per­pe­tra­tors. With­in a week, Yanukovich, by then a fugi­tive, was indict­ed for the mass mur­der of pro­test­ers. An inter­im gov­ern­ment dis­banded the Berkut, a force of sev­eral thou­sand whose name means “gold­en eagle.”

On April 3, Ukrain­ian author­i­ties announced the arrests of sev­eral mem­bers of an elite spe­cial unit with­in the Berkut. One was Sadovnyk, the unit’s com­man­der. A father of three, he first joined the Berkut in 1996 after serv­ing in the Ukrain­ian army. He lat­er won numer­ous com­men­da­tions for his police ser­vice.

Also detained were two younger offi­cers: Ser­hiy Zinchenko, 23, and Pavel Abroskin, 24.

An inter­nal pros­e­cu­tion doc­u­ment, reviewed by Reuters, sketch­es out inves­ti­ga­tors’ ver­sion of events. It is a “Notice of Sus­pi­cion” for Zinchenko, dat­ed April 3.

The doc­u­ment alleges that on Feb. 18, the Berkut’s top com­man­der, Ser­hiy Kusiuk, gave an oral order to Sadovnyk to deliv­er auto­matic rifles to his unit. Kusiuk is among the Berkut offi­cers who fled to Rus­sia, pros­e­cu­tors say. He couldn’t be reached for com­ment.

On the morn­ing of Feb. 20, sev­eral mem­bers of Sadovnyk’s unit were shot. At around 9 a.m., the doc­u­ment alleges, Sadovnyk ordered his men to fire in the direc­tion of unarmed pro­test­ers walk­ing up Insty­tut­ska Street in down­town Kiev. The shoot­ing last­ed near­ly two hours, and more than nine pro­test­ers were killed, the doc­u­ment states.

Sadovnyk’s order to shoot was an abuse of pow­er, “giv­en that there was no imme­di­ate threat to the lives of the police offi­cers,” the doc­u­ment alleges.

Vilkov, Sadovnyk’s lawyer, dis­putes that account. Although the doc­u­ment indi­cates Sadovnyk was at the scene, Vilkov said his client was not on Insty­tut­ska Street when the pro­test­ers were killed the morn­ing of Feb. 20. Vilkov declined to dis­cuss Sadovnyk’s where­abouts.

In a tele­phone inter­view on Sept. 30, Sadovnyk told Reuters he was at a meet­ing on the morn­ing of Feb. 20 at Kiev police head­quar­ters. It began some­time between 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m., he said. The pur­pose, he said, was to deal with reports that many armed pro­test­ers would be arriv­ing in Kiev after a call by protest lead­ers to mobilise.

Sadovnyk said about sev­en police offi­cials and offi­cers were present, and he named three of them. Reuters was unable to locate the three for com­ment.

At the meet­ing, Sadovnyk said, the atten­dees heard gun­shots and screams over police radios. The radios car­ried reports of the death of a Berkut offi­cer and of oth­er police wound­ed on Insty­tut­ska Street.

Sadovnyk said at that point, he left and drove to the scene, tak­ing about 15 min­utes to get there. He said he does not remem­ber what time he arrived, but that inves­ti­ga­tors could fig­ure it out by track­ing his mobile phone. He said he brought a gun and pro­tec­tive equip­ment.

When he arrived, he said, he found a near­ly emp­ty scene, with police offi­cers run­ning and the sound of ric­o­chet­ing bul­lets. He said he nei­ther received nor gave any order for his unit’s mem­bers to shoot at pro­test­ers, nor did he fire at any­one him­self.

“I deny killing,” he said.

Vadim Ostanin, an attor­ney for the Berkut’s Kiev branch, gave a sim­i­lar account to Reuters. He said there is a video show­ing that Sadovnyk attend­ed the meet­ing at police head­quar­ters. Ostanin said that when Sadovnyk arrived at the scene of the shoot­ing, his unit’s men already were retreat­ing.

“GUILTY”

The gen­eral prosecutor’s office declined to dis­cuss the defence’s account. In a state­ment, the office said it has plen­ty of evi­dence against Sadovnyk. This includes videos of a pro­tester being shot by a gun­man. The office believes the gun­man is Sadovnyk, based on the “spe­cial way” the shoot­er is hold­ing the weapon. In a pre­vi­ous state­ment, the office said: “The ques­tion of guilt or, con­versely, inno­cence of men­tioned per­sons will be resolved by the court.”

Oleh Makhnit­sky was Ukraine’s act­ing gen­eral pros­e­cu­tor until June. In an inter­view, Reuters asked him about the pur­ported pho­to­graph of a two-hand­ed Sadovnyk, which was cit­ed at a hear­ing in April.

The pur­pose of that hear­ing, Makhnit­sky said, was not to judge the reli­a­bil­ity of the evi­dence but to deter­mine whether Sadovnyk was a flight risk. He said the evi­dence against Sadovnyk would be pre­sented at a future tri­al.

Makhnit­sky, now an advis­er to Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko, said he was a leader of a lawyers’ group that pro­vided legal assis­tance to anti-Yanukovich pro­test­ers dur­ing the Maid­an demon­stra­tions. He said pol­i­tics played no role in the pros­e­cu­tion of the three Berkut offi­cers. . . .

[52]

Com­bat hel­mets of the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­men­t’s Azov Bat­tal­ion

2b. German-Foreign-Policy.com fea­tures a com­par­i­son with the “cook­ing” of jour­nal­is­tic infor­ma­tion about Ukraine with what took place in the for­mer Yugoslavia [53], the NATO oper­a­tion against Koso­vo, in par­tic­u­lar. (German-Foreign-Policy.com feeds along the low­er right-hand side of the front page of this web­site.)

“From Racak to Maid­an;” german-foreign-policy.com; 2/23/2015. [10]

A year after Berlin helped insti­gate the putsch in Ukraine, new infor­ma­tion is com­ing to light about the Feb­ru­ary 20, 2014 Kiev Mas­sacre. That blood­bath, of more than 50 peo­ple killed, accel­er­at­ed the over­throw of Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych and was also used — even in Ger­many — to jus­ti­fy the putsch. As has now been con­firmed by wit­ness­es, armed demon­stra­tors were the first to open fire on police, and only then, did repres­sive forces return fire, when they were caught in a hail of bul­lets while retreat­ing. If this proves to be true, it could not have been a gov­ern­ment-planned mas­sacre. Fur­ther­more, evi­dence indi­cates that also the snipers, who had shot to kill, were on the side of the gov­ern­men­t’s oppo­nents. Today, the respon­si­bil­i­ty for that blood­bath is as unsolved as that for the deaths of more than 40 Koso­vo Alba­ni­ans in Račak in mid-Jan­u­ary 1999, which the West labeled a mass exe­cu­tion — in spite of all con­tra­dict­ing evi­dence. Račak served as a deci­sive jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for the mil­i­tary aggres­sion on Yugoslavia. The polit­i­cal and media estab­lish­ments’ oth­er forg­eries and lies pre­ced­ing and dur­ing the war on Yugoslavia demon­strate that manip­u­la­tions, such as the ones we are cur­rent­ly see­ing in the Ukraine con­flict, are noth­ing new. They are rather con­sis­tent props in the Ger­man estab­lish­men­t’s stan­dard reper­toire for esca­lat­ing con­flicts.

The Mas­sacre of Feb­ru­ary 20, 2014

A year after the putsch in Ukraine, two reports in lead­ing west­ern news organs are — inde­pen­dent­ly from one anoth­er — shed­ding a new light on the fatal shots in Kiev on Feb­ru­ary 20, 2014. That day more than 50 peo­ple were shot to death in down­town Kiev. This blood­bath accel­er­at­ed the over­throw of Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych. In Berlin this was also used as a jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for the putsch: a pres­i­dent, who delib­er­ate­ly orders the mas­sacre of demon­stra­tors, has for­feit­ed his right to office.

The First Shots

Since a few days, new wit­ness tes­ti­monies on the mas­sacre have been made avail­able. Accord­ing to wit­ness­es, on Feb­ru­ary 20, armed gov­ern­ment oppo­nents con­tin­ued the dead­ly esca­la­tion strat­e­gy, they had start­ed just a few days ear­li­er. Already Feb­ru­ary 18, vio­lent fas­cists had bro­ken away from a “peace offen­sive” protest demon­stra­tion attack­ing police with Molo­tov cock­tails, and stormed the office of Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovy­ch’s “Regions Par­ty,” killing a guard and two par­ty mem­bers. The police retal­i­at­ed bru­tal­ly. On the evening of the same day — Feb­ru­ary 18 — there were reports of around 25 peo­ple killed, one third of the casu­al­ties were police offi­cers, of whom sev­er­al had died of gun­shot wounds. Feb­ru­ary 19, prepa­ra­tions were made to esca­late the con­flict. A Maid­an demon­stra­tor just con­firmed to the BBC that he was giv­en a Saiga hunt­ing rifle on the evening of Feb­ru­ary 19 and had gone to Kiev’s Con­ser­va­to­ry, adja­cent to the Maid­an, on Feb­ru­ary 20, which was under the con­trol of the demon­stra­tors. From there, as pho­tos sug­gest, and as the demon­stra­tor and an oppo­si­tion politi­cian’s report con­firm, shots were fired at police, killing the first three police officers.[1]

In a Hail of Bul­lets

A for­mer “Dnipro” Bat­tal­ion com­bat­ant, the cur­rent par­lia­men­tar­i­an, Volodymyr Parasyuk, has recount­ed what hap­pened next to Ger­many’s Frank­furter All­ge­meine Zeitung. Parasyuk, at the time, was a com­man­der of one of the “Hun­dertschaften” [a mil­i­tary for­ma­tion of 100 men, approx. the size of a U.S. mil­i­tary com­pa­ny] at the Maid­an. He describes how, after the first police were killed, they began to retreat — “going along Insti­tut­ska Street, up the Pech­er­sk hill cross­ing the Maid­an,” accord­ing to the dai­ly. Parasyuk then recounts that his Hun­der­schaft pur­sued the police imme­di­ate­ly: “Every­one, who had been at the bar­ri­cades, began to storm Insti­tut­ska Street.”[2] “Many,” by this time, were already armed; and they “used” their rifles, “as they made the assault.” Police in more secure posi­tions pro­vid­ed cov­er fire for their col­leagues, with­draw­ing in a hail of bul­lets, killing a num­ber of the attack­ing demon­stra­tors. If this ver­sion of events is true, it could not have been Pres­i­dent Yanukovych, who had planned a mas­sacre of the oppo­si­tion.

Under Oppo­si­tion Con­trol

It is still not clear, under whose com­mand the obvi­ous­ly pro­fes­sion­al snipers had then pro­ceed­ed to gun down numer­ous peo­ple at the Maid­an. Back in the spring of 2014, research made by a Ger­man tele­vi­sion team had revealed that the snipers were fir­ing from the upper floors of the “Ukraina” Hotel at the Maidan.[3] A BBC cor­re­spon­dent, who was an eye­wit­ness to the events of Feb­ru­ary 20, had spot­ted a sniper in a win­dow high up in the build­ing. At the time in ques­tion, the hotel was under the con­trol of the oppo­si­tion, who strict­ly reg­u­lat­ed entry onto the premis­es. The sus­pi­cion “that Yanukovych was not behind the snipers, but rather some­one from the new coali­tion,” had also been expressed by the Eston­ian For­eign Min­is­ter, Urmas Paet to the head of the EU’s for­eign pol­i­cy, Cather­ine Ash­ton, already in ear­ly March. He quot­ed Yanukovy­ch’s oppo­nents as his source.[4] The objec­tive would have been to esca­late the vio­lence to pro­voke the ulti­mate over­throw of the gov­ern­ment. Attor­neys for the vic­tims are still com­plain­ing that an offi­cial inves­ti­ga­tion of the mas­sacre has been stag­nat­ing and not seri­ous­ly pur­sued. Ini­tial­ly, an inves­ti­ga­tion of the blood­bath by inter­na­tion­al experts had been demand­ed, how­ev­er that also nev­er mate­ri­al­ized.

Ger­man Instruc­tions

That, in spite of all the unsolved mys­ter­ies sur­round­ing it, this mas­sacre is still today used to jus­ti­fy Yanukovy­ch’s over­throw, brings to mind sim­i­lar meth­ods used in ear­li­er con­flicts — for exam­ple to jus­ti­fy the mil­i­tary aggres­sion against Yugoslavia. At the time, the “Račak Mas­sacre” was giv­en the most atten­tion. On Jan­u­ary 16, 1999, more than 40 Koso­vo-Alban­ian bod­ies were dis­cov­ered in that south Ser­bian vil­lage. At the time, the claims by west­ern politi­cians and the media that Ser­bian forces of repres­sion had exe­cut­ed them have nev­er been fol­lowed up with tan­gi­ble evi­dence. Numer­ous indi­ca­tions point to the pos­si­bil­i­ty that they had been killed in com­bat between Yugoslav gov­ern­ment units and the UÇK ter­ror­ist mili­tia. The Finnish foren­sics spe­cial­ist, Hele­na Ranta, lat­er com­plained, she had been put under pres­sure, and was giv­en “instruc­tions” by Ger­many’s “spe­cial emis­sary” for Koso­vo, Chris­t­ian Pauls: It had been clear “that a whole group of gov­ern­ments had an inter­est in a ver­sion of what had hap­pened in Račak,” which “placed respon­si­bil­i­ty on the Ser­bian side.”[5] Like the dead­ly sniper fire at the Maid­an on Feb­ru­ary 20, 2014, the caus­es of these deaths have nev­er been solved.

Fis­cher’s “Auschwitz”

Oth­er inci­dents pri­or to and dur­ing the war on Yugoslavia also demon­strate how, long before the Ukraine con­flict, news report­ing in the “free West” was being mas­sive­ly manip­u­lat­ed. For exam­ple, one can see this from the account fur­nished by Ger­man mil­i­tary experts, who, on behalf of the OSCE and an EU mis­sion, had observed the sit­u­a­tion in the south Ser­bian province at the turn of the year 1998/1999. Brig. Gen. Heinz Loquai, was sta­tioned at the Ger­man OSCE rep­re­sen­ta­tion in Vien­na, in ear­ly 1999. In his con­ver­sa­tion with german-foreign-policy.com, he recalls that on March 18/19 he had read in an OSCE report on Koso­vo, “the sit­u­a­tion through­out the province remains tense, but qui­et.” Even experts at the Min­istry of Defense had drawn the con­clu­sion on March 23, “still no trends toward eth­nic cleans­ing are dis­cernible.” This was “the sit­u­a­tion,” says Loquai, that Rudolf Scharp­ing, Defense Min­is­ter at the time, and his col­league, For­eign Min­is­ter Josef Fis­ch­er had “com­pared to the Holo­caust, with its mur­der of six mil­lion Jews,” to jus­ti­fy the aggres­sion on March 24, 1999.[6]

Noth­ing to do with Real­i­ty

Diet­mar Hartwig, a for­mer Bun­deswehr offi­cer, who had been sta­tioned in Koso­vo as an observ­er for the EU, in 1999 up until the war, made sim­i­lar obser­va­tions. Hartwig explains, he had had no knowl­edge of “large-scale, or even state-ordered crimes against the pop­u­la­tion” — “nei­ther from the reports of his fel­low observers, nor from his con­ver­sa­tions with lead­ing Koso­vo Alban­ian politi­cians.” Yet the media was con­stant­ly claim­ing that Ser­bian secu­ri­ty forces were using sense­less bru­tal­i­ty on the pop­u­la­tion.” Hartwig notes that “media infor­ma­tion that I encoun­tered dur­ing and since I was in Koso­vo, gave a pic­ture that had noth­ing to do with the reality.”[7] This is also the case of the alleged “Oper­a­tion Horse­shoe,” cob­bled togeth­er from dubi­ous, intel­li­gence ser­vice files and pan­han­dled by the Ger­man Defense Min­is­ter, Rudolf Scharp­ing (SPD) and the Ger­man gov­ern­ment as a Yugoslav gov­ern­ment plan. Accord­ing to what SPD Whip, at the time, Peter Struck, told the Bun­destag April 15, 1999, the paper sup­pos­ed­ly depict­ed the plan “to depop­u­late Koso­vo of eth­nic Albanians.”[8] This alle­ga­tion was then trum­pet­ed, with­out hes­i­ta­tion, by all the lead­ing media organs in Ger­many, seri­ous­ly weak­en­ing oppo­si­tion to the war.

Date­less Tanks

With this in mind, the cur­rent anti-Russ­ian report­ing in Ger­man media and recur­ring proof of media forg­eries can be con­sid­ered a nor­mal­cy in times of con­flict esca­la­tion. Most recent­ly, the Sec­ond Ger­man Pub­lic TV Chan­nel (ZDF) had to admit that its news report alleg­ing that more than 50 Russ­ian tanks had entered Ukraine, had been illus­trat­ed with the pho­to of a Geor­gian tank from 2009. A graph­ic design­er had “inad­ver­tent­ly trans­formed 2009 Geor­gian tanks into date­less Russ­ian tanks.” “The ‘Heute.de’ pro­gram edi­tor in charge” had been inca­pable of “rec­og­niz­ing ... the mis­take,” explained ZDF.[9] Last year, sim­i­lar “mis­takes” had har­vest­ed mas­sive crit­i­cism. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[10]) From the expe­ri­ence dur­ing the war on Yugoslavia, it seems unlike­ly that before an — at the moment unfore­see­able — end of the con­flict, there will be no change in the news report­ing of major media organs nor in the lack of seri­ous inves­ti­ga­tions of who was real­ly respon­si­ble for those con­flict-jus­ti­fy­ing mas­sacres.

 

Oth­er reports and back­ground infor­ma­tion on the medi­a’s role in the Ukrain­ian con­flict can be found here: The Free World [54] and Cri­sis of Legit­i­ma­cy [55].

[1] Gabriel Gate­house: The untold sto­ry of the Maid­an mas­sacre. www.bbc.co.uk 12.02.2015.

[2] Kon­rad Schuller: Die Hun­dertschaften und die dritte Kraft. Frank­furter All­ge­meine Zeitung 07.02.2014.

[3] “Mon­i­tor” vom 11.04.2014. S. auch Legit­i­ma­tion­skrise [56].

[4] S. dazu Die Kiew­er Eskala­tion­sstrate­gie [56].

[5] Markus Bick­el: Kein Inter­esse an gefal­l­enen Ser­ben. www.berliner-zeitung.de 17.01.2004.

[6] S. dazu Inter­view mit Heinz Loquai [57].

[7] Cathrin Schütz: “Medi­en­bild hat­te mit der Real­ität nichts zu tun”. junge Welt 26.02.2008.

[8] Deutsch­er Bun­destag: Ple­narpro­tokoll 14/32, 15.04.1999.

[9] Mar­vin Schade: Immer wieder Panz­er-Prob­leme: ZDFheute.de zeigt falsche Russen­panz­er zu Ukraine-Tick­er. meedia.de 16.02.2015.

[10] See Moskaus Drang nach West­en [58].

 

3. In keep­ing with its Orwellian cov­er­age of the Ukrain­ian cri­sis, the New York Times sourced the Azov Bat­tal­ion for an account of the fight­ing in, and around, Mar­i­upol with­out men­tion­ing the Azov’s Nazi affil­i­a­tion and her­aldry.

“NYT Whites Out Ukraine’s Brown Shirts” by Robert Par­ry; Con­sor­tium News; 2/11/2015. [13]

. . . . On Wednes­day, the Times pub­lished a long arti­cle [59] by Rick Lyman that pre­sent­ed the sit­u­a­tion in the port city of Mar­i­upol as if the advance by eth­nic Russ­ian rebels amount­ed to the arrival of bar­bar­ians at the gate while the inhab­i­tants were being brave­ly defend­ed by the forces of civ­i­liza­tion. But then the arti­cle cites the key role in that defense played by the Azov bat­tal­ion.

Though the arti­cle pro­vides much col­or and detail – and quotes an Azov leader promi­nent­ly – it leaves out one salient and well-known fact about the Azov bat­tal­ion, that it is com­posed of neo-Nazis who dis­play the Swasti­ka, SS mark­ings and oth­er Nazi sym­bols.

But this incon­ve­nient truth – that neo-Nazis have been cen­tral to Kiev’s “self-defense forces” from last February’s coup to the present – would pre­sum­ably dis­rupt the desired pro­pa­gan­da mes­sage. So the New York Times just ignores it and refers to Azov as sim­ply a “vol­un­teer unit.” . . . .

4. In sim­i­lar fash­ion, “The Gray Lady,” as the Times is known, accessed Oleh (“Oleg”) Lyashko, the Ukrain­ian par­lia­men­tar­i­an and one of the founders of the Azov Bat­tal­ion. Note that Lyashko is part of the major­i­ty coali­tion in the Ukraine par­lia­ment.

“U.S. Faults Rus­sia as Com­bat Spikes in East Ukraine” by Andrew E. Kramer and Michael R. Gor­don; The New York Times; 2/13/2015. [14]

. . . . Oleg Lyashko, the leader of the Rad­i­cal Par­ty, which is part of the major­i­ty coali­tion in Ukraine’s Par­lia­ment, said that Mr. Poroshenko had made over­ly steep con­ces­sions to Mr. Putin that he described as a tick­ing “time bomb” that would give Rus­sia a premise for resum­ing hos­til­i­ties in the east. . . .

5a. Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor James Inhofe pre­sent­ed pho­tographs of “Russ­ian mil­i­tary equip­ment” in Ukraine that were quick­ly debunked. The men are mem­bers of the “pun­ish­er” bat­tal­ions [60], as dis­cussed in FTR #826 [44].

Note that one of the mem­bers of the list [61], Ana­tolli Pinchuk, is list­ed as “pres­i­dent of the UPA”. Is that a ref­er­ence to the UPA [62]? Because, if so, that adds and extra lev­el of ‘yikes [18]’ to the whole sit­u­a­tion.


“Here’s The Ukrain­ian Del­e­ga­tion That Gave Mis­lead­ing Pho­tos To Senator’s Office” by Rosie Gray; Buz­zFeed; 2/12/2015. [17]

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 [63] the Russ­ian mil­i­tary in east­ern Ukraine that ran on the Wash­ing­ton Free Bea­con on Tues­day were quick­ly shown [64] 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 [61]]

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 [65] and here. [66].

“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. . . . .”

5b. 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 an extra lev­el of ‘yikes’ to the whole sit­u­a­tion.

“Sen. Inhofe Snook­ered by “Pres­i­dent of the UPA”–Ukrainian Wartime Col­lab­o­ra­tors Who Par­tic­i­pat­ed in Holo­caust;” Twit­ter; 2/13/2015. [18]

5c. In pre­vi­ous pro­grams deal­ing with the Ukraine cri­sis, we have not­ed the role of the Ukrain­ian dias­po­ra [43] in the gen­er­a­tion [34], per­pet­u­a­tion and acces­sion [44] of fas­cism in Ukraine. It comes as no sur­prise to see that there are appar­ent­ly Pravy Sek­tor (“Right Sec­tor”) cells in the U.S.

It is impos­si­ble, under the cir­cum­stances, to encap­su­late our ongo­ing analy­sis of the Ukraine cri­sis. Please uti­lize the exten­sive archive of mate­r­i­al pre­sent­ed in the pro­grams record­ed to date.

“Attack on NYC Art Gallery High­lights Fas­cist Orga­niz­ing in U.S. Immi­grant Com­mu­ni­ties” by Spencer Sun­shine; Polit­i­cal Research Asso­ciates; 10/08/2014. [29]

Last week the New York City stop of the Mate­r­i­al Evi­dence pho­to exhi­bi­tion, spot­light­ing the con­flicts in Ukraine and Syr­ia, was attacked [67]. The cura­tor was maced, the exhib­it was van­dal­ized, and fas­cist pro­pa­gan­da was left behind. As unlike­ly as an attack on a well-heeled art gallery may seem, it’s only the lat­est in a num­ber of sim­i­lar events in the city, which are tied to expa­tri­ate fas­cist orga­niz­ing. . . .

. . . . Although the iden­ti­ties of the alleged assailants are unknown, the New York Mate­r­i­al Evi­dence show has been the focus of [68] some ire from some Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists since its open­ing, who claim it is a pro-Rus­sia pro­pa­gan­da vehi­cle. The fly­ers left behind, among oth­er things, appar­ent­ly pro­mot­ed the Azov Bat­tal­ion, an anti-sep­a­ratist Ukraine vol­un­teer mil­i­tary group with links [69] to the ultra­na­tion­al­ist Right Sec­tor par­ty, and con­sid­ered by some to be fas­cists. (The Bat­tal­ion is also the favored place [70] for for­eign Far Right vol­un­teers.) In Chica­go this past [71] Spring, a group of 40 Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists attempt­ed to dis­rupt an anti-fas­cist meet­ing about the Ukraine sit­u­a­tion; they left behind Right Sec­tor lit­er­a­ture.

In 2014, Right Sec­tor has had chap­ter meet­ings in New York and New Jer­sey. They have par­tic­i­pat­ed in at least two pub­lic demon­stra­tions at the Russ­ian con­sulate in New York, and have been active in fundrais­ing for non-mil­i­tary sup­plies for the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary.

This kind of expa­tri­ate (and par­tic­u­lar­ly Ukrain­ian) orga­niz­ing by Far Right and neo-fas­cists in the Unit­ed States is noth­ing new. Russ Bel­lant doc­u­ment­ed it for Polit­i­cal Research Asso­ciates in the 1980s in his book [72] Old Nazis, the New Right, and the Repub­li­can Par­ty: Domes­tic Fas­cist Net­works and Their Effect on U.S. Cold War Pol­i­tics (PRA/South End Press, 1991). Among the var­i­ous Far Right and fas­cist groups with ties to Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tionist gov­ern­ments that Bel­lant doc­u­ment­ed include the OUN‑B (Orga­ni­za­tion of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists-Ban­dera), which was a col­lab­o­ra­tor with the Nazi occu­pa­tion of Ukraine. Dur­ing the Cold War, their lead­er­ship was in exile in the Unit­ed States, where they were able to exer­cise influ­ence on the Rea­gan admin­is­tra­tion. The OUN‑B is seen by some as the ide­o­log­i­cal pre­de­ces­sor of the Right Sec­tor. . . .

6. Although The Min­istry of Truth will nev­er admit it, occa­sion­al cracks in the dis­in­for­ma­tion wall sur­round­ing the Ukraine cri­sis have appeared. “On the ground” in Ukraine, George Elia­son informs us of a cou­ple of slip-ups on Chan­nel 5, owned (iron­i­cal­ly) by pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko.

Both a Ukrain­ian gen­er­al and one of that coun­try’s intel­li­gence offi­cers let slip that there has been no “Russ­ian inva­sion,” as we have been told.

“Kiev Announces Russ­ian Inva­sion of Ukraine a Hoax” by George Elia­son; OpE­d­News; 1/29/2015. [23]

Through­out this con­flict every once in a while Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment offi­cials have come clean about the Russ­ian inva­sion of Ukraine.

To the cha­grin of the Oba­ma Admin­is­tra­tion and NATO Rus­sia has not invad­ed. This lat­est admis­sion came twice today. Once by infer­ence and the oth­er a direct admis­sion from Ukrain­ian Armed Forces Chief of Staff Lieu­tenant Gen­er­al Vic­tor Muzhenko.

Dur­ing a brief­ing with Gen­er­al Muzenko [73] he announced that “To date, we have only the involve­ment of some mem­bers of the Armed Forces of the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion and Russ­ian cit­i­zens that are part of ille­gal armed groups involved in the fight­ing. We are not fight­ing with the reg­u­lar Russ­ian Army. We have enough forces and means in order to inflict a final defeat even with ille­gal armed for­ma­tion present. “- he said.

If that was­n’t embar­rass­ing enough for the Poroshenko regime which has con­sis­tent­ly stat­ed Rus­sia had invad­ed and that Ukraine is fight­ing the Russ­ian Army, it was Petro Poroshenko’s own TV sta­tion Chan­nel 5 news that broke the sto­ry!

Ear­li­er in the day Ukrain­ian Mil­i­tary spokesman Lusenko said he was wor­ried if a provo­ca­tion hap­pened Rus­sia would jus­ti­fy bring­ing in the Russ­ian army.

This was per­fect­ly in line with Gen­er­al Muzenko’s state­ments which ful­ly destroy west­ern pro­pa­gan­da and agree the Russ­ian inva­sion of Ukraine was a hoax. . . .

7. Once again we are being treat­ed to pho­tographs pur­port­ing to show: Russ­ian mil­i­tary units “invad­ing” Ukraine and/or Russ­ian mil­i­tary equip­ment being “giv­en to the rebels” by the Russ­ian mil­i­tary.

The U.S. Ambas­sador to Ukraine–Geoffrey Pyatt–Tweeted what are sup­posed to be pic­tures “prov­ing” direct Russ­ian mil­i­tary assis­tance to Ukraine after the “Min­sk II” cease fire.

Apart from the lack of coor­di­nates on the pho­tographs and the dubi­ous nature of the images pre­sent­ed, these pic­tures come to us cour­tesy of Dig­i­tal­Globe, dis­cussed at length in FTR #811 [16].

Dig­i­tal­Globe is nei­ther a cred­i­ble, nor a dis­in­ter­est­ed par­ty in this.

“Debalt­seve. We are con­fi­dent these are Russ­ian Mil­i­tary, not sep­a­ratist, sys­tems;” Tweet by Geof­frey Pyatt, U.S. Ambas­sador to Ukraine; 2/13/2015. [15]

7. Nev­er lose sight of the fact that Michael Boci­urkiw [20] is in charge of the OSCE’s del­e­ga­tion in Ukraine. He is nei­ther [21] a dis­in­ter­est­ed par­ty nor a cred­i­ble one.

“Ukraine Cri­sis: Poroshenko Says Peace Deal in Dan­ger;“BBC News; 2/14/2015. [19]

. . . . The group respon­si­ble for mon­i­tor­ing the cease­fire said it remained hope­ful, despite there being “quite seri­ous live fire” in sev­er­al areas.

“We feel that the Min­sk agree­ments are real­ly the only avail­able roadmap to a sus­tain­able cease­fire,” Michael Boci­urkiw, spokesman for the OSCE, told the BBC. . . .

8. Kiev has a solu­tion to its mil­i­tary deser­tion prob­lem: shoot the desert­ers [49]:

“Ukraine Pass­es Law to Shoot Desert­ers”  [49]by Damien Sharkov; Newsweek [49] [49]2/6/15 [49].

The Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment has approved a motion [74] to allow com­man­ders in the armed forces to fire at army desert­ers and use force against ser­vice­men for “neg­li­gence” or “drink­ing alco­hol” while on duty.

The motion was dis­cussed in a ses­sion yes­ter­day after­noon, with 260 MPs pass­ing it out of a total 320, accord­ing to Ukrain­ian news agency Unian [75]— sur­pass­ing the nec­es­sary 226 votes need­ed to pass the bill. It will now be added as an amend­ment to the cur­rent Ukrain­ian leg­is­la­tion on the reg­u­la­tions imposed on com­man­ders’ actions toward their charges.

The act will allow com­man­ders to “utilise dras­tic mea­sures” — defined by the UN [76] as the use of force and firearms — towards offi­cers caught act­ing “neg­li­gently” or in vio­la­tion to the code of con­duct dur­ing com­bat duty or while they are on bor­der patrol. The new act adds “drink­ing alco­holic or low-alco­holic bev­er­ages” while on duty as an offence pun­ish­able by force.

Human Rights Watch (HRW), an inter­na­tional watch­dog doc­u­ment­ing vio­la­tions of human rights, has spo­ken out against the move. “Using force to harm or kill when some­one is ‘neg­li­gent, deserts or drinks alco­hol while on duty’ is unlaw­ful under inter­na­tional law,” Yulia Gor­bunova, a HRW researcher in Ukraine says.

“It is a dis­pro­por­tion­ate response which could con­sti­tute pun­ish­ment in vio­la­tion of inter­na­tional stan­dards,” she adds. “Force in the army can only be used in self defense or where the per­son is pos­ing an immi­nent threat to oth­ers. Shoot to kill would be an extra­ju­di­cial exe­cu­tion and is unlaw­ful,” Gor­bunova con­cludes.

When asked if there was a seri­ous prob­lem with dis­ci­pline and deser­tion with­in the Ukrain­ian army, the Ukrain­ian armed forces did not com­ment.

Balázs Jarábik, a researcher for the Carnegie Endow­ment for Peace, spe­cial­is­ing in cen­tral and east­ern Europe, believes the new law is not as sur­pris­ing as it seems, but rather “an old Sovi­et prac­tice.” Asked if the new law indi­cates a lack of com­mit­ment in Ukrain­ian troops he replied “Not at all.”

“The armed forces are very com­mit­ted — look at the bat­tle for Donet­sk air­port or the fierce fight for Debalt­sevo. Kiev could not even order those folks to with­draw,” he said refer­ring to the fierce bat­tle for Donetsk’s air­port which has been ongo­ing since Sep­tem­ber, and the Ukrain­ian forces defence of the small town of Debalt­sevo in the face of advanc­ing rebel mil­i­tants.

Accord­ing to Jarábik, Kiev’s major mil­i­tary chal­lenges are to do with its admin­is­tra­tion, and issues regard­ing recruit­ment and alle­ga­tions of cor­rupt lead­er­ship are par­tic­u­larly prob­lem­at­ic.

“Cru­cially, Ukraine failed to ensure the nec­es­sary quan­tity of sol­diers alto­gether in the stan­dard four mobi­liza­tion rounds dur­ing the last annu­al cycle,” Jarábik adds. Accord­ing to a state­ment [77] made by the deputy com­man­der of Ukraine’s armed forces Vladimir Talay­lay, 78,000 peo­ple had been called up for duty by last month, but only 46,000 new recruits were enlist­ed into the mil­i­tary as a result.

The Ukrain­ian armed forces announced ear­lier this week [78] they may resort to call up women aged over 20 in the next recruit­ment cycle to make up the num­bers.

Along with Ukraine’s troops a series of vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions have formed with the back­ing of wealthy busi­ness­men, the most famous of whom is Igor Kolo­moyski, who report­edly funds the vol­un­teer Aidar, Azov, Dnepr‑1, Dnepr‑2 and Don­bas bat­tal­ions.

The exis­tence of such units has remained a con­tro­ver­sial top­ic as there are no uni­ver­sal rules about who reg­u­lates their prac­tices.

“Many of the vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions par­tially assim­i­lated in the army are paid for by oli­garchs,” Jara­bik says. “Ukraini­ans increased their mil­i­tary spend­ing this year but indeed cor­rup­tion remains a big issue,” Jarábik adds.

9. Robert Par­ry of Con­sor­tium News is one of the few not­ing the eco­nom­ic, as well as eth­nic con­sid­er­a­tions in the civ­il war.

“Wretched U.S. Jour­nal­ism on Ukraine” by Robert Par­ry; Con­sor­tium News; 2/9/2015. [48]

. . . . step back for a minute and look at the cri­sis through the eyes of eth­nic Rus­sians in east­ern Ukraine.

A year ago, they saw what looked to them like a U.S.-organized coup, rely­ing on both pro­pa­gan­da and vio­lence to over­throw their con­sti­tu­tion­al­ly elect­ed gov­ern­ment. They also detect­ed a strong anti-eth­nic-Russ­ian bias in the new regime with its efforts to strip away Russ­ian as an offi­cial lan­guage. And they wit­nessed bru­tal killings of eth­nic Rus­sians – at the hands of neo-Nazis – in Odessa and else­where.

Their eco­nom­ic inter­ests, too, were threat­ened since they worked at com­pa­nies that did sub­stan­tial busi­ness with Rus­sia. If those his­toric ties to Rus­sia were cut in favor of spe­cial eco­nom­ic rela­tions with the Euro­pean Union, the east­ern Ukraini­ans would be among the worst losers.

Remem­ber, that before back­ing away from the pro­posed asso­ci­a­tion agree­ment with the EU in Novem­ber 2013, Yanukovych received a report from eco­nom­ic experts in Kiev that Ukraine stood to lose $160 bil­lion if it broke with Rus­sia, as Der Spiegel report­ed [79]. Much of that eco­nom­ic pain would have fall­en on east­ern Ukraine.

Eco­nom­ic Wor­ries

On the rare occa­sions when Amer­i­can jour­nal­ists have actu­al­ly talked with east­ern Ukraini­ans, this fear of the eco­nom­ic con­se­quences has been a core con­cern, along with wor­ries about the harsh aus­ter­i­ty plan that the Inter­na­tion­al Mon­e­tary Fund pre­scribed as a pre­req­ui­site for access to West­ern loans.

For instance, in April 2014, Wash­ing­ton Post cor­re­spon­dent Antho­ny Faio­la report­ed [80] from Donet­sk that many of the east­ern Ukraini­ans whom he inter­viewed said their resis­tance to the new Kiev regime was dri­ven by fear over “eco­nom­ic hard­ship” and the IMF aus­ter­i­ty plan that will make their lives even hard­er. . . .

[81]

Jaani­ka Mer­i­lo

10.  In FTR #‘s 824 [43] and 826 [44] (among oth­er pro­grams) we dis­cussed the incor­po­ra­tion of for­eign nation­als (many of Ukrain­ian descent) into the gov­ern­ment of Ukraine.

Join­ing Ukrain­ian-Amer­i­can Natal­ie Jaresko (Min­is­ter of Finance) will be Jaani­ka Mer­i­lo, an Eston­ian of Ukrain­ian her­itage. Mer­ilo’s des­ig­nat­ed task will be to attract for­eign invest­ment.

Mer­i­lo has demon­strat­ed a pen­chant for sug­ges­tive pho­tographs and quasi‑b & d and s & m stag­ing. Ms. Mer­i­lo has not dis­played what would be con­sid­ered pro­fes­sion­al con­duct for a busi­ness­woman. She has also been a mem­ber of the Eston­ian par­lia­ment!

If she were, say, Miley Cyrus, we would expect such behav­ior.

It is strik­ing­ly inap­pro­pri­ate, under the cir­cum­stances.

Exam­in­ing the pic­tures Ms. Mer­i­lo has post­ed of her­self, we can­not help but won­der just WHAT type of “invest­ment” she is try­ing to “attract,” and WHERE, exact­ly, it is going to be “invest­ed?”

Good grief, Char­lie Brown!

“John HelmerThe Lure of For­eign Invest­ment in Ukraine–Meet Jaani­ka Mer­i­lo” post­ed by Yves Smith; Naked Cap­i­tal­ism; 1/20/2015. [25]

The case for for­eign invest­ment in Ukraine is to be made by a spe­cial­ist in sado-masochism, cos­met­ic surgery, and undress. Jaani­ka Mer­i­lo (above), 35, a mem­ber of the Eston­ian par­lia­ment of Ukrain­ian ori­gin with US and UK train­ing, was appoint­ed the gov­ern­ment advi­sor on for­eign invest­ment in Kiev on Jan­u­ary 5. She will report to Aivaras Abro­mav­ičius, a Lithuan­ian and Ukraine’s Min­is­ter of Eco­nom­ic Devel­op­ment and Trade since Decem­ber. In a press cam­paign this month which Mer­i­lo has autho­rized, she likens her­self to the Hol­ly­wood actress Angeli­na Jolie [82].

In Lon­don and Brus­sels, Mer­ri­lo has pro­mot­ed [83] her­self as the exec­u­tive head of the Ukrain­ian Ven­ture Cap­i­tal and Pri­vate Equi­ty Asso­ci­a­tion (UVCA), which is backed by Hori­zon Cap­i­tal, the US Gov­ern­ment-fund­ed oper­a­tion of Natal­ie Jaresko [84], who became the Ukrain­ian Finance Min­is­ter on Decem­ber 3. The War­saw Stock Exchange and the Euro­pean Bank for Recon­struc­tion and Devel­op­ment (EBRD) are back­ers of Merilo’s asso­ci­a­tion, through which she also claims to be a pro­tégé of Sir Richard Bran­son (below, left), and a “Face­book friend [85]” of Edward Lucas (right). Lucas is the first e‑citizen of Esto­nia, and is bas­ing his media pro­mo­tion busi­ness there [86]. . . .

11.  For­mer Geor­gian Pres­i­dent Mikheil Saakashvili–a fugi­tive from the coun­try he once governed–is anoth­er or Poroshenko’s new “advis­ers.” Saakashvil­i’s crim­i­nal record does­n’t seem to have been an object to his assump­tion of office.

Saakashvil­i’s appoint­ment calls to mind the deep polit­i­cal con­nec­tions under­ly­ing more than a cen­tu­ry and a half of anti-Rus­sian/an­ti-Sovi­et maneu­ver­ing in the Earth Island. Geor­gia [43] was part of the Promethean League [35], sort of a pre-WACL [87] WACL [88].

Saakashvili gave open recog­ni­tion to the his­tor­i­cal impor­tance of the Prometheans by unveil­ing a stat­ue of Prmethes in Geor­gia [89].

Note than Saakashvili is a want­ed crim­i­nal in the coun­try he once gov­erned.

“Saakashvili Appoint­ed Advis­er to Ukraine’s Poroshenko”; Democ­ra­cy and Free­dom Watch; 2/14/2005. [26]

For­mer Geor­gian Pres­i­dent Mikheil Saakashvili was Fri­day offi­cial­ly con­firmed as advis­er to the Ukrain­ian pres­i­dent, despite being want­ed for crimes in his home coun­try.

Saakashvili will be head of the Advi­so­ry Inter­na­tion­al Coun­cil of Reforms, a body sub­or­di­nate to Ukraine’s Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko.

“The Advi­so­ry Inter­na­tion­al Coun­cil of Reforms is a con­sul­ta­tive body the main task of which is to elab­o­rate pro­pos­als and rec­om­men­da­tions on the imple­men­ta­tion of reforms in Ukraine tak­ing into account the best inter­na­tion­al expe­ri­ence,” a state­ment [90] pub­lished on the offi­cial web­site of Poroshenko reads.

Pros­e­cu­tors in Geor­gia have charged Saakashvili in four dif­fer­ent crim­i­nal cas­es, which include cov­er­ing up the mur­der [91] of a 28 year old bank employ­ee in 2006.

Toward the end of his near­ly ten years term – the last year in a frag­ile pow­er-shar­ing agree­ment with a hos­tile coali­tion – his rule became increas­ing­ly unpop­u­lar. The coali­tion, called Geor­gian Dream, won a land­slide vic­to­ry in 2012 on a promise to ‘restore jus­tice’, and pro­ceed­ed to put for­mer offi­cials on tri­al and free over half of all pris­on­ers in the coun­try based on the per­cep­tion that there were too many mis­car­riages of jus­tice to go through each case indi­vid­u­al­ly.

Last year also Saakashvili per­son­al­ly was charged. He is cur­rent­ly want­ed for cov­er­ing up the mur­der [91] of bank employ­ee San­dro Girgvliani in 2006, for order­ing the beat­ing [92] of a par­lia­men­tar­i­an in 2005, embez­zle­ment [93] of more than four mil­lion dol­lars, and for order­ing [94] the vio­lent dis­per­sal of an oppo­si­tion ral­ly and storm­ing of a TV stu­dio in 2008. . . .

12. It is less than com­fort­ing to con­tem­plate that a crim­i­nal like Saakashvili will be han­dling arms pur­chas­es for Ukraine.

“Ex-Geor­gian Pres­i­dent Says Will Coor­di­nate Ukraine Arms Sup­ply Issue” [FOCUS News Agency]; FOCUS Infor­ma­tion Agency; 2/14/2015. [27]

For­mer Geor­gian Pres­i­dent Mikheil Saakashvili, who was appoint­ed Fri­day as the chair­man of Ukraine’s inter­na­tion­al con­sul­ta­tive reform coun­cil, has said he will coor­di­nate the issue of arms sup­plies to Kiev, TASS report­ed.

“Now it is most impor­tant to help Ukraine with weapons. Over the next sev­er­al days, I will be coor­di­nat­ing this,” Saakashvili told a Ukrain­ian TV chan­nel.

US Depart­ment of State Spokesper­son Jen Psa­ki said on Fri­day the arms sup­plies to the war-torn Ukraine are still on the table even after this week’s sign­ing of the new Min­sk agree­ments.

In com­ments to his appoint­ment to the post, Saakashvili, who ear­li­er refused to obtain the Ukrain­ian cit­i­zen­ship, said: “I am a free politi­cian and a Geor­gian cit­i­zen, all oth­er pro­pos­als on get­ting Ukraine’s cit­i­zen­ship were not fit­ted in a whole strat­e­gy, and of course, I should return to my coun­try,” he said.

The decree pub­lished on Fri­day says that the coun­cil will be a con­sul­ta­tive agency under the Ukrain­ian pres­i­dent tasked to pro­vide pro­pos­als and rec­om­men­da­tions on reforms in Ukraine on the basis of the best inter­na­tion­al expe­ri­ence.

Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko said Saakashvili, who has unique knowl­edge and expe­ri­ence and has in fact worked as a free-lance advi­sor on Ukrain­ian reforms, has final­ly received his offi­cial sta­tus.

Pres­i­dent Poroshenko said Saakashvili would become “Ukraine’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive abroad and at the same time the rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty in Ukraine.”

Ear­li­er reports said Saakashvili could head the country’s new­ly cre­at­ed Anti-Cor­rup­tion Bureau. How­ev­er, he was not includ­ed on the pub­lished list of can­di­dates for the post.

Saakashvili was the pres­i­dent of Geor­gia for two con­sec­u­tive terms from Jan­u­ary 2004 to Novem­ber 2013. In his home coun­try, Saakashvili is accused of embez­zling state funds. In Sep­tem­ber, the prop­er­ty of the ex-pres­i­dent and his fam­i­ly mem­bers was arrest­ed. Saakashvili’s per­son­al bank accounts in Geor­gia were also arrest­ed.

13. Exem­pli­fy­ing the extrem­ism at the foun­da­tion of the gov­ern­ment in Ukraine is a call by Ukraine’s deputy for­eign min­is­ter for the West to risk nuclear war in order to ful­fill the Kiev regime’s goals.

“Ready for Nuclear War Over Ukraine?” by Robert Par­ry; Con­sor­tium News: 2/23/2015. [28]

A senior Ukrain­ian offi­cial is urg­ing the West to risk a nuclear con­fla­gra­tion in sup­port of a “full-scale war” with Rus­sia that he says author­i­ties in Kiev are now seek­ing, anoth­er sign of the extrem­ism that per­vades the year-old, U.S.-backed regime in Kiev.

In a recent inter­view with Canada’s CBC Radio [95], Ukraine’s Deputy For­eign Min­is­ter Vadym Prys­taiko said, “Every­body is afraid of fight­ing with a nuclear state. We are not any­more, in Ukraine — we’ve lost so many peo­ple of ours, we’ve lost so much of our ter­ri­to­ry.”

Prys­taiko added, “How­ev­er dan­ger­ous it sounds, we have to stop [Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin] some­how. For the sake of the Russ­ian nation as well, not just for the Ukraini­ans and Europe.” The deputy for­eign min­is­ter announced that Kiev is prepar­ing for “full-scale war” against Rus­sia and wants the West to sup­ply lethal weapons and train­ing so the fight can be tak­en to Rus­sia.

“What we expect from the world is that the world will stiff­en up in the spine a lit­tle,” Prys­taiko said.

Yet, what is per­haps most remark­able about Prystaiko’s “Dr. Strangelove” moment is that it pro­duced almost no reac­tion in the West. You have a senior Ukrain­ian offi­cial say­ing that the world should risk nuclear war over a civ­il con­flict in Ukraine between its west, which favors clos­er ties to Europe, and its east, which wants to main­tain its his­toric rela­tion­ship with Rus­sia.

Why should such a pedes­tri­an dis­pute jus­ti­fy the pos­si­bil­i­ty of vapor­iz­ing mil­lions of human beings and con­ceiv­ably end­ing life on the plan­et? Yet, instead of work­ing out a plan for a fed­er­al­ized struc­ture in Ukraine or even allow­ing peo­ple in the east to vote on whether they want to remain under the con­trol of the Kiev regime, the world is sup­posed to risk nuclear anni­hi­la­tion.

But there­in lies one of the under-report­ed sto­ries of the Ukraine cri­sis: There is a mad­ness to the Kiev regime that the West doesn’t want to rec­og­nize because to do so would upend the dom­i­nant nar­ra­tive of “our” good guys vs. Russia’s bad guys. If we begin to notice that the right-wing regime in Kiev is crazy and bru­tal, we might also start ques­tion­ing the “Russ­ian aggres­sion” mantra. . . .

. . . . But it’s now clear that far-right extrem­ism is not lim­it­ed to the mili­tias sent to kill eth­nic Rus­sians in the east or to the pres­ence of a few neo-Nazi offi­cials who were reward­ed for their roles in last February’s coup. The fanati­cism is present at the cen­ter of the Kiev regime, includ­ing its deputy for­eign min­is­ter who speaks casu­al­ly about a “full-scale war” with nuclear-armed Rus­sia. . . .

. . . . To a degree that I have not seen in my 37 years cov­er­ing Wash­ing­ton, there is a total­i­tar­i­an qual­i­ty to the West’s cur­rent “group think” about Ukraine with vir­tu­al­ly no one who “mat­ters” devi­at­ing from the black-and-white depic­tion of good guys in Kiev vs. bad guys in Donet­sk and Moscow. . . .