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

For The Record  

FTR #781 All’s Well That’s Orwell: The Ministry of Truth and the Ukrainian Crisis (Yuschenko Uber Alles)

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash dri­ve that can be obtained here. (The flash dri­ve includes the anti-fas­cist books avail­able on this site.)

Lis­ten: MP3

Side 1  Side 2

Intro­duc­tion: This pro­gram con­tin­ues analy­sis of the instal­la­tion in the Ukraine of a gov­ern­ment com­posed large­ly of polit­i­cal forces evolved from, and man­i­fest­ing ide­o­log­i­cal con­ti­nu­ity with, the fas­cist OUN/B.

Hav­ing staffed the 14th Waf­fen SS (Gali­cian) Divi­sion and the Ein­satz­grup­pen (mobile exe­cu­tion squads) in the Ukraine, the OUN/B was a piv­otal ele­ment in the post­war Gehlen spy out­fit in its CIA and BND incar­na­tions, the Anti-Bol­she­vik Bloc of Nations and the GOP eth­nic out­reach orga­ni­za­tion.

OUN/B has been deeply involved with covert oper­a­tions and fig­ures in the inves­ti­ga­tion into the assas­si­na­tion of Pres­i­dent Kennedy, as well as the de-sta­bi­liza­tion of the Sovi­et Union dur­ing the cli­mac­tic phase of the Cold War. With a pro­found pres­ence in the GOP’s eth­nic divi­sion, as well as the con­tem­po­rary Ukrain­ian polit­i­cal infra­struc­ture, the OUN/B is any­thing but an his­tor­i­cal rel­ic. The devel­op­ment of the OUN/B in both the U.S. and the Ukraine is explained in great his­tor­i­cal depth in AFA #37.

The Orwellian aspects of the Ukrain­ian cri­sis could not be exag­ger­at­ed and are explored at greater length in this pro­gram (and will be in upcom­ing pro­grams as well.) (To date, we have done four pro­grams to date about the Ukrain­ian cri­sis: FTR #‘s 777778779780.)

We have not­ed that Vic­tor Yuschenko’s term as pres­i­dent of the Ukraine–realized through the so-called Orange Revolution–featured the for­mer Yka­te­ri­na Chu­machenko as his wife. For­mer­ly Ronald Rea­gan’s Deputy Direc­tor of Pub­lic Liai­son, the for­mer Ms. Chu­machenko was a promi­nent mem­ber of the UCCA, the top OUN/B front orga­ni­za­tion in the Unit­ed States. (For back­ground on the OUN/B, the Ukrain­ian fas­cist tem­plate orga­ni­za­tion for Swo­bo­da, see the For The Record pro­grams not­ed above.)

We sus­pect that the for­mer Ms. Chu­machenko was the real pow­er behind the throne.

While pres­i­dent of the Ukraine, Yuschenko presided over a fun­da­men­tal makeover of Ukrain­ian his­to­ry and, through that, polit­i­cal ide­ol­o­gy.

The dra­mat­ic and fun­da­men­tal nature of this revi­sion­ism paved the way for the pub­lic posi­tion­ing of the fas­cist Swo­bo­da par­ty as a viable, demo­c­ra­t­ic enti­ty. Swo­bo­da is a pri­ma­ry ele­ment in the new Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment, dom­i­nat­ing the mil­i­tary and judi­cial process­es of that coun­try.

Pro­gram High­lights Include: 

  • Yuschenko lit­er­al­ly under­took to cre­ate a min­istry of truth, in effect, des­ig­nat­ing the for­mer KGB archives as the focal point to begin a fun­da­men­tal polit­i­cal makeover of Ukrain­ian his­to­ry and ide­ol­o­gy.
  • Con­trast­ing the OUN/B and its affil­i­at­ed orga­ni­za­tions as truth­ful and just, con­trast­ed with “every­thing Sovi­et” as false and evil, Yuschenko suc­cess­ful­ly effect­ed a whole­sale revi­sion­ism of Ukrain­ian pol­i­tics and his­to­ry.
  • Yushchenko appoint­ed the young activist Volodymyr V’’iatrovych (b. 1977) direc­tor of the SBU archives [the focal point of the suc­cess­ful revi­sion­ist effort–D.E.]. V’’iatrovych com­bined his posi­tion as gov­ern­ment-appoint­ed mem­ory man­ager with ultra-nation­al­ist activism; he was simul­ta­ne­ously direc­tor of an OUN(b) front orga­ni­za­tion, the Cen­ter for the Study for the Lib­er­a­tion Move­ment.
  • The revi­sion­ism cast the OUN/B as hav­ing fought the Nazis, a com­plete his­tor­i­cal lie.
  • The alleged anti-Nazi activ­i­ty of the OUN/B co-exists in a remark­able polit­i­cal land­scape with adu­la­tion of the 14th Waf­fen SS Divi­sion (Gali­cia) and its allied for­ma­tions. Even as OUN/B is por­trayed as hav­ing saved Jews from the Holo­caust, its activ­i­ties in mur­der­ing them is cel­e­brat­ed.
  • Direct­ly, explic­it­ly and overt­ly evolved from the OUN/B, Swo­bo­da retains all of the OUN/B’s fas­cism and big­otry, masked by nation­al­is­tic fer­vor.
  • The fun­da­men­tals of Swo­bo­da’s pol­i­tics and char­ac­ter can be gleaned from exam­in­ing par­ty leader Oleh Tiah­ny­bok’s ide­o­log­i­cal advis­er. “Yurii Mykhal’chyshyn (b. 1982), Tiahnybok’s advis­er on ide­o­log­i­cal mat­ters, Svoboda’s top name in the elec­tion to the Lviv city coun­cil and its can­di­date for may­or in 2010, rep­re­sents a more rad­i­cal cur­rent in the move­ment. Proud­ly con­fess­ing him­self part of the fas­cist tra­di­tion, Mykhal’chyshyn rel­ishes the harsh­ness, extrem­ism and uncom­pro­mis­ing rad­i­cal­ism of his idols of the 1930s and 1940s.
  • In Cana­da, Tiah­ny­bok was hon­ored by vet­er­ans of the 14th Waf­fen SS Divi­sion. In the Ukraine almost a year lat­er, Swo­bo­da held cel­e­bra­tions of the divi­sion, fea­tur­ing and hon­or­ing vet­er­ans of the unit, return­ing the grace and favor deferred upon its leader.
  • Tiah­ny­bok ide­o­log­i­cal advis­er Mykhal’chyshyn open­ly embraces street vio­lence as a fun­da­men­tal tac­tic.
  • Tiah­ny­bok ide­o­log­i­cal advis­er Mykhal’chyshyn cel­e­brates the Holo­caust and sup­ports Hamas.
  • Swo­bo­da is affil­i­at­ed with oth­er Euro­pean fas­cist par­ties, includ­ing the Swedish fas­cist milieu to which Pirate Bay/WikiLeaks bene­fac­tor Carl Lund­strom belongs.
  • The Swo­bo­da and Pravy Sek­tor-dom­i­nat­ed gov­ern­men­t’s for­ma­tion of a nation­al guard, to be com­prised of “activists”–the Swo­bo­da and Pravy Sek­tor fight­ers, no doubt.
  • Pravy Sek­tor’s moves to recruit fight­ers to engage the Rus­sians in com­bat in the Ukraine.
  • The UNA-UNSO, a Ukrain­ian fas­cist com­bat unit that has engaged in com­bat against Rus­sia in Geor­gia and Chech­nya. They were present in Kiev dur­ing the demon­stra­tions.
  • The pres­ence of a jihadist ele­ment among the Crimean Tatars.
  • Poten­tial Sau­di Ara­bi­an par­tic­i­pa­tion in an anti-Russ­ian coali­tion.

1. Most of the pro­gram con­cerns the Yuschenko’s delib­er­ate and fun­da­men­tal remak­ing of Ukrain­ian his­to­ry and ide­ol­o­gy. Hav­ing lit­er­al­ly cre­at­ed an Orwellian “Min­istry of Truth,” Yuschenko’s gov­ern­ment paved the way for the polit­i­cal mid­wif­ing of the Swo­bo­da party–the heirs to the OUN/B.

“The Return of the Ukrain­ian Far Right: The Case of VO Svo­bo­da,” by Per Anders Rudling;  Ana­lyz­ing Fas­cist Dis­course: Euro­pean Fas­cism in Talk and Text edit­ed by Ruth Wodak and John E. Richard­son;  Rout­ledge [Lon­don and New York] 2013; pp. 228–255, more.

Note that this book is in Google Books.

. . . . . Swept to pow­er by the Orange Rev­o­lu­tion, the third pres­i­dent of Ukraine,Viktor Yushchenko (2005–2010), put in sub­stan­tial efforts into the pro­duc­tion of his­tor­i­cal myths. He tasked a set of nation­al­is­ti­cal­ly mind­ed his­to­ri­ans to pro­duce and dis­sem­i­nate an edi­fy­ing nation­al his­to­ry as well as a new set of nation­al heroes. . . . .

. . . . . The OUN wings dis­agreed on strat­e­gy and ide­ol­o­gy but shared a com­mit­ment to the man­u­fac­ture of a his­tor­i­cal past based on vic­tim­iza­tion and hero­ism. The émi­grés devel­oped an entire lit­er­a­ture that denied the OUN’s fas­cism, its col­lab­o­ra­tion with Nazi Ger­many, and its par­tic­i­pa­tion in atroc­i­ties, instead pre­sent­ing the orga­ni­za­tion as com­posed of democ­rats and plu­ral­ists who had res­cued Jews dur­ing the Holo­caust. The dias­po­ra nar­ra­tive was con­tra­dic­to­ry, com­bin­ing cel­e­bra­tions of the sup­pos­ed­ly anti-Nazi resis­tance strug­gle of the OUN-UPA with cel­e­bra­tions of the Waf­fen SS Gal­izien, a Ukrain­ian col­lab­o­ra­tionist for­ma­tion estab­lished by Hein­rich Himm­ler in 1943 (Rudling, 2011a, 2011c, 2012a). Thus, Ukrain­ian Waf­fen SS vet­er­ans could cel­e­brate the UPA as “anti-Nazi resis­tance fighters” while belong­ing to the same war vet­er­ans’ orga­ni­za­tions (Bairak, 1978). Unlike their coun­ter­parts in some oth­er post-Sovi­et states, Ukrain­ian “nation­al­iz­ing” his­to­ri­ans did not have to invent new nation­al­ist myths but re-import­ed a nar­ra­tive devel­oped by the émi­grés (Dietsch, 2006: 111–146; Rudling, 2011a: 751–753). . . . .


As pres­i­dent, Yushchenko ini­ti­at­ed sub­stan­tial gov­ern­ment pro­pa­gan­da ini­tia­tives. In July 2005, he estab­lished an Insti­tute of Nation­al Mem­o­ry, assigned the archives of the for­mer KGB (now the SBU, Sluzh­ba Bezpe­ki Ukrainy, the Ukrain­ian Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice) for­mal pro­pa­gan­dis­tic duties and sup­port­ed the cre­ation of a “Muse­um of Sovi­et Occu­pa­tion” in Kyiv (Jilge, 2008: 174). Yushchenko appoint­ed the young activist Volodymyr V’’iatrovych (b. 1977) direc­tor of the SBU archives. V’’iatrovych com­bined his posi­tion as gov­ern­ment-appoint­ed mem­o­ry man­ag­er with ultra-nation­al­ist activism; he was simul­ta­ne­ous­ly direc­tor of an OUN(b) front orga­ni­za­tion, the Cen­ter for the Study for the Lib­er­a­tion Move­ment. State insti­tu­tions dis­sem­i­nat­ed a san­i­tized, edi­fy­ing­ly patri­ot­ic ver­sion of the his­to­ry of the “Ukrain­ian nation­al lib­er­a­tion move­ment,” the lead­ers of which were pre­sent­ed in icono­graph­ic form as hero­ic and saint­ly figures, mar­tyrs of the nation (Rasevych, 2010; Rudling, 2011c: 26–33, 2012b).

Yushchenko’s myth­mak­ing had two cen­tral com­po­nents. The first was the pre­sen­ta­tion of the 1932–1933 famine as “the geno­cide of the Ukrain­ian nation,” a delib­er­ate attempt to exter­mi­nate the Ukraini­ans which, his myth-mak­ers claimed, result­ed in the death of 10 mil­lion peo­ple in the repub­lic.

The oth­er com­po­nent was a hero­ic cult of the OUN(b), the UPA and their lead­ers. The “mem­o­ry man­agers” jux­ta­posed the geno­ci­dal Sovi­et rule with the self-sac­rifi­cial hero­ism of the OUN-UPA, pro­duc­ing a tele­o­log­i­cal nar­ra­tive of suf­fer­ing (the famine) and resis­tance (the OUN-UPA) lead­ing to redemp­tion (inde­pen­dence, 1991). Curi­ous­ly, Yushchenko’s legit­imiz­ing his­to­ri­ans pre­sent­ed their instru­men­tal­ized use of his­to­ry as “truth,” which they jux­ta­posed to “Sovi­et myths.” Wil­fried Jilge, a his­to­ri­an at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Leipzig, writes that “[i]t takes place by means of dis­course, rit­u­als, and sym­bols and uses the past to pro­vide legit­imiza­tion and to mobi­lize the pop­u­la­tion for polit­i­cal pur­pos­es.

. . . A recon­struct­ed his­tor­i­cal mem­o­ry is cre­at­ed as ‘true mem­o­ry’ and then con­trast­ed with ‘false Sovi­et his­to­ry’ ”(Jilge, 2007:104–105). Thus, Valen­tyn Naly­vaichenko, SBU direc­tor under Yushchenko, described the task of his agency as being to dis­sem­i­nate “the his­tor­i­cal truth of the past of the Ukrain­ian peo­ple,” to “lib­er­ate Ukrain­ian his­to­ry from lies and fal­sifi­ca­tions and to work with truth­ful doc­u­ments only” (Jilge, 2008:179). Ignor­ing the OUN’s anti­semitism, deny­ing its par­tic­i­pa­tion in anti- Jew­ish vio­lence, and over­look­ing its fas­cist ide­ol­o­gy, Naly­vaichenko and his agency pre­sent­ed the OUN as democ­rats, plu­ral­ists, even right­eous res­cuers of Jews dur­ing the Holo­caust.

The hege­mon­ic nation­al­ist nar­ra­tive is reflect­ed also in acad­e­mia, where the line between “legit­i­mate” schol­ar­ship and ultra-nation­al­ist pro­pa­gan­da often is blurred. Main­stream book­stores often car­ry Holo­caust denial and anti­se­mit­ic lit­er­a­ture, some of which finds its way into the aca­d­e­m­ic main­stream (Rudling, 2006). So too, for instance, can aca­d­e­m­ic works on World War II by rep­utable his­to­ri­ans inte­grate the works of Holo­caust deniers and cite the for­mer KKK Grand Wiz­ard David Duke as a “expert” on the “Jew­ish Ques­tion.” . . . .

. . . . The cul­mi­na­tion of Yushchenko’s Geschicht­spoli­tik was his des­ig­na­tion, a few days before leav­ing office, of Ban­dera as a hero of Ukraine. Again, there was lit­tle protest from intel­lec­tu­als who iden­ti­fy them­selves as lib­er­als. . . . .

. . . . On June 30, 2011, the 70th anniver­sary of the Ger­man inva­sion and Stetsko’s “renew­al of Ukrain­ian state­hood” was re-enact­ed in Lviv as a pop­u­lar fes­ti­val, where par­ents with small chil­dren waved flags to re-enac­tors in SS uni­forms. . . .

. . . . . Iron­i­cal­ly, the pre­sen­ta­tion of the OUN as resis­tance fight­ers against Nazi Ger­many coex­ists with an elab­o­rate cult of the Waf­fen SS Gal­izien (Rudling, 2012a). Lviv streets have been renamed after Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors like Roman Shukhevych and Volodymyr Kubi­jovyc. In the Lviv city hall, Svo­bo­da is cur­rent­ly work­ing to have the Lviv air­port renamed after Ban­dera. Svo­bo­da deputy Iuryi Mykahl’chyshyn stat­ed, “We should have the air­port named after Stepan Ban­dera. I don’t want to point any fin­gers. . . . But we will have a Ban­dera air­port, a Ban­dera sta­di­um, and the entire city will be car­ry­ing Bandera’s name, because he is its most liv­ing symbol”(“U L’vovi budut’ sta­dion,” 2012). In the fall of 2011, Svo­bo­da deputies in a munic­i­pal­i­ty in the Lviv dis­trict renamed a street from the Sovi­et-era name Peace Street (Vulyt­sia Myru ) to instead car­ry the name of the Nachti­gall Bat­tal­ion, a Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist for­ma­tion involved in the mass mur­der of Jews in 1941, argu­ing that “ ‘Peace’ is a holdover from Sovi­et stereotypes”(“Vulytsiu myru,” 2011). . . .

. . . . Svoboda’s claims to the OUN lega­cy are based upon ide­o­log­i­cal con­ti­nu­ity, as well as orga­ni­za­tion and polit­i­cal cul­ture (Shekhovtsov, 2011b:13–14). Pre­sent­ing Svo­bo­da as the suc­ces­sor of Dontsov and the OUN, Tiah­ny­bok regards Svo­bo­da as “an Order-par­ty which con­sti­tutes the true elite of the nation” (Tiah­ny­bok, 2011). Like those of many oth­er far-right move­ments, Svoboda’s offi­cial pol­i­cy doc­u­ments are rel­a­tive­ly cau­tious and dif­fer from its dai­ly activ­i­ties and inter­nal jar­gon, which are much more rad­i­cal and racist (Olszan´ski, 2011). Svo­bo­da sub­scribes to the OUN tra­di­tion of nation­al seg­re­ga­tion and demands the re-intro­duc­tion of the Sovi­et “nation­al­i­ty” cat­e­go­ry into Ukrain­ian pass­ports. “We are not Amer­i­ca, a mish­mash of all sorts of peo­ple,” the Svo­bo­da web­site states. “The Ukrain­ian needs to stay Ukrain­ian, the Pole—Polish, the Gagauz—Gagauz, the Uzbek—Uzbek” (“Hrafa ‘natsional’nost’v pas­porti,” 2005). Svoboda’s ultra-nation­al­ism is sup­ple­ment­ed with more tra­di­tion­al “white racism” (Shekhovtsov, 2011b: 15). . . . .

. . . . Con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry is inte­gral to Svo­bo­da Weltan­schau­ung, par­tic­u­lar­ly con­spir­a­cies with anti-Semit­ic under­tones. In August 2011, in an appar­ent attempt to dis­tance them­selves from the Nor­we­gian ter­ror­ist Anders Behring Breivik, Svo­bo­da claimed that he was a Jew­ish Mason (Red­kole­hi­ia cha­so-pysu “Svo­bo­da,” 2011). In Sep­tem­ber 2011, Svo­bo­da activists mobi­lized from sev­er­al parts of Ukraine to orga­nize ral­lies against Hasidic pil­grims to Uman.

Fol­low­ing vio­lent clash­es, the police detained more than 50 Svo­bo­da activists, armed with gas can­is­ters, smoke bombs and cat­a­pults. The Cherkasy branch of Svo­bo­da crit­i­cized the police for their alleged fail­ure “to stop and avert aggres­sion by Hasidic Jews to Ukraini­ans” (“Uman: Righ-twing activists detained,” 2011).Svoboda’s anti-Russ­ian and anti-Jew­ish rhetoric is accom­pa­nied by an anti-Pol­ish mes­sage. Svo­bo­da main­tains that Poland has played a neg­a­tive his­tor­i­cal role in Ukrain­ian lands. The par­ty demands an offi­cial apol­o­gy from Poland for five hun­dred years of Pol­o­niza­tion, from the 15th to the 20th cen­turies, and indem­ni­ties for “the Pol­ish ter­ror and occu­pa­tion of Ukrain­ian lands in the 20th cen­tu­ry” (“Zaia­va VO ‘Svo­bo­da’ shchodoproia­viv ukrain­o­fo­bii,” 2010). Focus­ing on divi­sive and sen­si­tive issues, Svo­bo­da provoca­tive­ly denies any involve­ment of the Waf­fen SS Gal­izien in atroc­i­ties against the Pol­ish minor­i­ty in Gali­cia. For instance, on the site of Huta Pieni­ac­ka, Svo­bo­da has placed a huge bill­board deny­ing the con­clu­sion of both Pol­ish and Ukrain­ian his­tor­i­cal com­mis­sions that the fourth police reg­i­ment, which was lat­er adjoined to the Waf­fen SS Gal­izien, burnt this Pol­ish vil­lage and slaugh­tered most of its res­i­dents on Feb­ru­ary 28, 1944. . . .

. . . . Svo­bo­da is a mem­ber of the so-called Alliance of Euro­pean Nation­al Move­ments, a net­work which includes theBri­tish Nation­al Par­ty, Nation­aldemokra­ter­na of Swe­den, the Front Nation­al in France, Fiamma Tri­col­ore in Italy, the Bel­gian Nation­al Front, and the Hun­gar­i­an Job­bik (Umland, 2011). This seem­ing­ly unlike­ly coop­er­a­tion is part­ly facil­i­tat­ed by a joint fas­ci­na­tion with eth­nic puri­ty, inspired by Alain de Benoit, the ide­o­logue of the French Nou­velle Droit. De Benoit fears the dis­ap­pear­ance of plu­ral­ism and the reduc­tion of all cul­tures into a world civ­i­liza­tion and argues that each eth­nos should be allowed to devel­op inde­pen­dent­ly on its giv­en ter­ri­to­ry, with­out the admix­ture of oth­er cul­tures. Nation­aldemokra­ter­na, their Swedish sis­ter par­ty, advo­cates a form of eth­nic seg­re­ga­tion, which they refer to as “ethno­plu­ral­ism” (Dahl, 1999: 68, 136).

Svo­bo­da has opened an office in Toron­to, which has been vis­it­ed by sev­er­al of its lead­ing figures (“Diial’nist Kanads’koho pred­stavnyt­st­va ‘Svo-body,’ ” 2009). In Cana­da, in May 2010, Tiah­ny­bok 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, as the vet­er­ans of the Waf­fen SS Gal­izien call them­selves (“Esesovt­sy nagradil lid­er­aukrain­skikh nat­sion­al­is­tov,” 2010). Fol­low­ing the con­vic­tion and sen­tenc­ing of the death camp guard John Dem­jan­juk to five years of jail for his role as an acces­so­ry to the mur­der of 27,900 peo­ple at the Sobibór death camp,Tiahnybok trav­eled to Ger­many and met up with Demjanjuk’s lawyer, Ulrich Busch, pre­sent­ing the death camp guard as a hero, a vic­tim of per­se­cu­tion, who is “fight­ing for truth” (“Oleh Tiah­ny­bok iz dvo­den­nym vizy­tomvid­vi­dav Nimechynu,” 2010). 10

Tiahnybok’s hero­iza­tion of the Waf­fen SS Gal­izien and oth­er Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors is accom­pa­nied by ide­o­log­i­cal claims that the OUN-UPA con­duct­ed an anti-Nazi resis­tance strug­gle against Hitler.

Yurii Mykhal’chyshyn (b. 1982), Tiahnybok’s advis­er on ide­o­log­i­cal mat­ters, Svoboda’s top name in the elec­tion to the Lviv city coun­cil and its can­di­date for may­or in 2010, rep­re­sents a more rad­i­cal cur­rent in the move­ment. Proud­ly con­fess­ing him­self part of the fas­cist tra­di­tion, Mykhal’chyshyn rel­ish­es the harsh­ness, extrem­ism and uncom­pro­mis­ing rad­i­cal­ism of his idols of the 1930s and 1940s. Con­stant­ly reit­er­at­ing that “We con­sid­er tol­er­ance a crime” and that “We val­ue the truth of the spir­it and blood over-all suc­cess and wealth” (Nasha Vatra , n.d.), Mykhal’chyshyn takes pride in the label “extrem­ist,” which he proud­ly shares with “Stepan Bandera,who cre­at­ed an under­ground ter­ror­ist-rev­o­lu­tion­ary army, the shad­ow of which still stirs up hor­ri­ble fear in the hearts of the ene­mies of our Nation”(Mykhal’chyshyn, “Ori­en­tyry”, n.d.). Mykhal’chyshyn serves as a link between VO Svo­bo­da and the so-called autonomous nation­al­ists. Mir­ror­ing the “autonomous anar­chists” of the extreme left, which they resem­ble in terms of dress code, lifestyle, aes­thet­ics, sym­bol­ism and orga­ni­za­tion, the “autonomous nation­al­ists” attract par­tic­u­lar­ly mil­i­tant and extreme­ly vio­lent “event-ori­ent­ed” young fas­cists. Mykhal’chyshyn has com­bined the attrib­ut­es of var­i­ous stands of the extra-par­lia­men­tary extreme right: Doc Martens shoes, buzz cuts and bomber jack­ets are in the tra­di­tion of the skin­heads, while the night­ly torch­light parades under black ban­ners with SS sym­bols resem­ble the polit­i­cal rit­u­als and Aufmärsche in Nazi Ger­many. The glo­rifi­ca­tion of street vio­lence is a key com­po­nent of this polit­i­cal sub­cul­ture: in an extra ses­sion with the Lviv region­al Rada in front of the Ban­dera memo­r­i­al in Lviv, Mykhal’chyshyn boast­ed that “Our Ban­derite army will cross the Dnipro and throw that blue-ass gang, which today usurps the pow­er, out of Ukraine. . . . That will make those Asi­at­ic dogs shut their ugly mouths.”

While hard­ly a typ­i­cal man of the belles-let­tres , Mykhal’chyshyn, is actu­al­ly a stu­dent of fas­cism. . . . His inter­est is not exclu­sive­ly aca­d­e­m­ic; under the pseu­do­nym Nachti­gall 88, Mykhal’chyshyn pro­motes fas­cist ide­ol­o­gy with the pur­pose of pro­mot­ing a fas­cist trans­for­ma­tion of soci­ety in Web forums linked to Svo­bo­da and “autonomous nation­al­ists.” In 2005, he orga­nized a polit­i­cal think tank, orig­i­nal­ly called “the Joseph Goebbels Polit­i­cal Research Cen­ter” but lat­er re-named after the Ger­man con­ser­v­a­tive rev­o­lu­tion­ary Ernst Jünger. (Olszan´ski, 2011).

Explic­it­ly endors­ing Hamas, Mykhal’chyshyn regards the Holo­caust as “a bright episode in Euro­pean civ­i­liza­tion” which “strong­ly warms the hearts of the Pales­tin­ian pop­u­la­tion. . . . They hope it will be all repeat­ed” (“Mikhal’chyshyn schi­taet Kholokost,” 2011; “Ukrain­skii nat­sist,” 2011).

We rec­og­nize the heavy empha­sis on heroes and hero­ism from the nar­ra­tive of the émi­gré OUN and from Yushchenko’s legit­imiz­ing his­to­ri­ans. The dif­fer­ence is that, unlike these two influences, Mykhal’chyshyn does not deny Ban­dera and Stets’ko’s fas­cism. On the con­trary, their fas­cist ide­ol­o­gy con­sti­tutes the basis for his admi­ra­tion. . . .

. . . . While he is no longer a seri­ous polit­i­cal play­er, Yushchenko left behind a lega­cy of myths which helped legit­imized Svoboda’s ide­ol­o­gy. Svoboda’s appro­pri­a­tion of many rit­u­als in hon­our of “nation­al heroes” from more mod­er­ate nation­al­ists is but one expres­sion of its increased polit­i­cal strength in post-Yushchenko West­ern Ukraine. . . .

. . . . On April 28, 2011, Svo­bo­da cel­e­brat­ed the 68th anniver­sary of the estab­lish­ment of the Waf­fen SS Gal­izien. Octo­ge­nar­i­an Waf­fen SS vet­er­ans were treat­ed as heroes in a mass ral­ly, orga­nized by Svo­bo­da and the “autonomous nation­al­ists.” Near­ly 700 par­tic­i­pants (the orga­niz­ers claimed 2,000) marched down the streets of Lviv, from the mas­sive socialist–realist style Ban­dera mon­u­ment, to Prospekt Svo­body, the main street, shout­ing slo­gans like “One race, one nation, one father­land!,” . . . .

. . . . The pro­ces­sion was led by Mykhal’chyshyn . . . .

2. Next, the pro­gram notes the for­ma­tion of a 60,000 strong nation­al guard in Ukraine, to be com­mand­ed and staffed by  the OUN/B suc­ces­sor orga­ni­za­tions Swo­bo­da and Pravy Sek­tor.

“Ukraine Cre­ates Nation­al Guard Ahead of Crimea Vote”; BBC News; 3/13/2014.

Ukraine’s par­lia­ment has vot­ed to cre­ate a 60,000-strong Nation­al Guard to bol­ster the coun­try’s defences.

The vote came ahead of Sun­day’s ref­er­en­dum in Crimea, now con­trolled by pro-Moscow forces, on whether cit­i­zens want to join Rus­sia.

Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin insists Rus­sia is not to blame for the cri­sis. . . .

. . . . The new Nation­al Guard is expect­ed to be recruit­ed from activists involved in the recent pro-West­ern protests as well as from mil­i­tary acad­e­mies.

Ukraine’s nation­al secu­ri­ty chief Andriy Paru­biy [from Swoboda–D.E.] said the Guard would be deployed to “ensure state secu­ri­ty, defend the bor­ders, and elim­i­nate ter­ror­ist groups”. . . .

3.We con­clude with anoth­er very impor­tant arti­cle from German-Foreign-Policy.com, which feeds along the low­er right-hand side of the front page of this web­site. We note a num­ber of impor­tant points in this arti­cle, includ­ing:

Pravy Sek­tor’s moves to recruit fight­ers to engage the Rus­sians in com­bat in the Ukraine; the UNA-UNSO, a Pravy Sek­tor com­bat unit that has engaged in com­bat against Rus­sia in Geor­gia and Chech­nya (they were present in Kiev dur­ing the demon­stra­tions against the Yanukovich gov­ern­ment); the pres­ence of a jihadist ele­ment among the Crimean Tatars; poten­tial Sau­di Ara­bi­an par­tic­i­pa­tion in an anti-Russ­ian mil­i­tary coali­tion.

“Cold War Images”;” German-Foreign-Policy.com; 3/12/2014.

. . . . The fas­cist “Pravi Sek­tor” (“Rightwing Sec­tor”) has announced that it has opened recruit­ing offices through­out the Ukraine, to recruit vol­un­teers to recon­quer the Crimea. They want to mobi­lize for the case that Rus­sia con­tin­ues its “aggres­sion” there.[5] “The oth­er side of the coin is war,” accord­ing to a quote from one of the lead­ers of the orga­ni­za­tion: “We do not rule out this option. Accord­ing­ly, we are con­duct­ing mobi­liza­tion and are prepar­ing to repel for­eign aggres­sion. If the Krem­lin tram­ples on us fur­ther, we will fight and defend our native state until the end.”[6] Accord­ing to Ukrain­ian media, the leader of the “Pravi Sek­tor,” Dmytro Yarosh, announced that his para­mil­i­tary asso­ci­a­tion would coor­di­nate its activ­i­ties with Ukraine’s Nation­al Secu­ri­ty and Defense Coun­cil. Yarosch offi­ci­ates as Vice Sec­re­tary of this coun­cil under the per­son­al direc­tion of the Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[7])

 Expe­ri­enced Mili­tias

The “Pravi Sek­tor’s” threats of force must be tak­en all the more seri­ous­ly, giv­en the fact that, in the past, one of its mem­ber orga­ni­za­tions, the extrem­ist rightwing UNA-UNSO — found­ed in 1990 — not only had already inter­vened in the Crimea but has com­bat expe­ri­ence. In the spring of 1992, that asso­ci­a­tion staged a demon­stra­tion in the Crimea, which dom­i­nat­ed head­lines through­out the coun­try. This was per­ceived at the time — short­ly fol­low­ing the dis­in­te­gra­tion of the Sovi­et Union — as a response to the top­i­cal debate, as to whether the allo­ca­tion of the Crimea to Ukraine in 1954 should be reversed and the Crimea be reat­tached to Rus­sia. The Crimea remained with Ukraine. UNA-UNSO activists also joined the com­bat in Geor­gia in 1993. In 1994, accord­ing to one report, the asso­ci­a­tion had a con­stant exchange with Chechen sep­a­ratists, at war with Moscow. UNA-UNSO mem­bers also prac­ti­cal­ly “par­tic­i­pat­ed in Chech­nya’s war against Russia.”[8] One of these for­mer UNA-UNSO mili­ti­a­men was recent­ly spot­ted at the West­ern Ukraine protests, when he threat­ened region­al par­lia­men­tar­i­ans with a kalash­nikov. Today he claims he will “fight com­mu­nists, Jews and Rus­sians for as long as blood flows in my veins.”[9]

 “We are Ready”

Along­side the “Pravi Sek­tor,” whose ranks have been dra­mat­i­cal­ly rein­forced in the course of those protests sup­port­ed by Berlin, anoth­er group draw­ing atten­tion in the Crimean con­text are the Crimean Tatars. This 280,000-member Islam­ic minor­i­ty also has a Salafist wing, some of whose activists have com­bat expe­ri­ence from the Syr­i­an con­flict. One of the Crimean Tar­tar lead­ers was quot­ed with a prog­no­sis that it should be expect­ed that, at least, a few of those with com­bat expe­ri­ence will attack the Russ­ian troops in the Crimea in the future. “They say: ‘an ene­my has entered our land and we are ready’,” he is quot­ed saying.[10] Observers point out that, on the one hand, Salafists fight­ing in Syr­ia, often have the best links to Sau­di Ara­bia and that, on the oth­er, mas­sive protests are now tak­ing place in Sau­di Ara­bia against Russ­ian mea­sures in the Crimea — based on the bogus alle­ga­tion, Moscow wants to kill the Crimean Tar­tars. Sau­di media prop­a­gates that in the Crimean War of the 19th Cen­tu­ry, Arab Mus­lims had also fought the Russians.[11] Riyadh, which is par­tic­i­pat­ing in this anti-Moscow media agi­ta­tion, is one of the West­’s — Ger­many’s as well — clos­est allies in the Arab world. This dic­ta­tor­ship has already joined forces with West­ern pow­ers against Moscow — in Afghanistan in the 1980s.


3 comments for “FTR #781 All’s Well That’s Orwell: The Ministry of Truth and the Ukrainian Crisis (Yuschenko Uber Alles)”

  1. The Maid­an is becom­ing a mil­i­tary recruit­ment cen­ter and it’s not just the mil­i­tary doing the recruit­ing:

    The Dai­ly Beast
    World News
    Kiev’s Pro­tes­tors Put on Uni­forms
    Kiev’s Inde­pen­dence Square is becom­ing a mil­i­tary recruit­ment cen­ter, with activists eager­ly enlist­ing as vol­un­teer sol­diers. Anna Nemtso­va reports from the scene.
    Anna Nemtso­va

    Kiev’s Inde­pen­dence Square – the Maid­an so immense­ly impor­tant to the new gov­ern­ment here — is chang­ing all the time. And while most of the world’s atten­tion has been focused on Crimea, some of the devel­op­ments among the crowd in Kiev are decid­ed­ly omi­nous.

    Broad­ly speak­ing, the Maid­an is turn­ing into a mil­i­tary recruit­ing cen­ter. In two weeks, the new Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment is deter­mined to mobi­lize more than 20,000 vol­un­teer sol­diers, and the square is a mag­net for enthu­si­as­tic enlis­tees.

    The Ukraine mobi­liza­tion was declared on the stage the Maid­an on March 1st, the same day the Russ­ian Par­lia­ment vot­ed to autho­rize cross-bor­der mil­i­tary action, giv­ing pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin carte blanche for the pos­si­ble inva­sion of Ukraine. Since then most for­mer activists among the pro­tes­tors, now turned vol­un­teer sol­diers, both male and female, have put on full cam­ou­flage uni­forms and attend mil­i­tary train­ing out­side of Kiev.

    But there are also men in black – pre­cise­ly the kind of peo­ple Moscow glee­ful­ly brands as fas­cists to ter­ri­fy the eth­nic Russ­ian pop­u­la­tions of Crimea and in the east of the coun­try. Mem­bers of the Right Sec­tor nation­al­ist para­mil­i­tary group have occu­pied three build­ings around the Maid­an square over the last few days. New recruits for their forces lined up out­side the for­mer office of Kiev Star, a cell phone com­pa­ny and mili­tia activists car­ried bags full of weapons into the guard­ed door. The Dnipro Hotel is with the Right Sector’s men dressed like down-mar­ket storm troop­ers.

    The movement’s leader, Dmitro Yarosh, has also changed into black. A Russ­ian court recent­ly accused him of extrem­ism and long-term involve­ment with the Chechen Islamist under­ground. Yarosh said in a recent inter­view he pre­dict­ed “the nation­al­ist rev­o­lu­tion” many years ago. He defined his main ene­mies as the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion and the Russ­ian Ortho­dox Church.

    Many sup­port­ers of the Maid­an dis­ap­prove of the Right Sector’s polit­i­cal game, as it was not just Right Sec­tor, and the Sova Cen­ter of Infor­ma­tion and Analy­ses, an inde­pen­dent orga­ni­za­tion mon­i­tor­ing racism and xeno­pho­bia, con­firms their core com­plaint. “Right Sec­tor mem­bers were involved in racist attacks and attacks on their oppo­nent,” says Sova’s head, Alek­sander Verk­hovsky.

    If you lis­ten to Yarosh, you’d think that the scores of peo­ple killed in the Maid­an upris­ing last month were all his men. In fact, most of the peo­ple slaugh­tered at Kiev’s bar­ri­cades were ordi­nary cit­i­zens. But the vio­lence and unrest have played into the Right Sector’s hands. At this chaot­ic and per­ilous moment, Ukraini­ans are will­ing to accept such orga­nized pro­tec­tion as they can find. “Yarosh and Right Sec­tor pro­vide my own secu­ri­ty,” says Natalya Isupo­va, the moth­er of four chil­dren, who lives in an apart­ment near the square.


    Vio­lence has not left the Maid­an alto­geth­er. On sev­er­al occa­sions drunk or frus­trat­ed campers loosed a few rounds from their guns and blew up fire­works in the mid­dle of the night. “Once, they wound­ed a sus­pi­cious char­ac­ter and anoth­er time there was a con­flict between Right Sec­tor and self-defense forces that led to shoot­ings,” Pavlenko said.

    But the campers con­sid­er those exchanges of gun­fire “minor acci­dents” com­pared to the real chal­lenges: the war threat and respon­si­bil­i­ty of try­ing to guide the new nation­al lead­er­ship.

    “In fact, there is no law enforce­ment organ today that could con­trol life on the Maid­an,” says retired Major Gen­er­al Petro Garashuk, now advis­ing the par­lia­ment on mil­i­tary reforms. “The par­lia­ment can­not take con­trol of the Maid­an, it is the Maid­an that con­trols our new lead­ers; in case they dis­ap­point peo­ple, there will be a new rev­o­lu­tion,” Garashuk said.

    Just recent­ly, most vol­un­teer sol­diers of the so-called Defense Army of the Maid­an were imma­ture street fight­ers armed with Molo­tov cock­tails and ply­wood shields against Ukrain­ian state police forces. Since last Novem­ber, when police beat the first pro-Euro­pean Union pro­tes­tors on the Maid­an, the campers have sur­vived bit­ter winds, rains, snow, freez­ing win­ter, police attacks and sniper bul­lets. They nev­er real­ly had time to cel­e­brate what they con­sid­ered their vic­to­ry – the day pres­i­dent Vic­tor Yanukovych fled the coun­try. Bad news con­tin­ued to rain down: ear­li­er this week, one of the Maid­an activists was killed by pro-Russ­ian pro­test­ers in Donet­sk, and sev­er­al activists van­ished or were arrest­ed in Crimea.

    Vol­un­teer psy­chol­o­gists, aware of increas­ing depres­sion on the Maid­an, are try­ing to pro­vide first aid for campers in the heart of Kiev, as well as for the first refugees arriv­ing from Crimea. Instead of med­i­cine, doc­tors pre­fer to treat their patients with a com­fort­ing chat in relax­ing atmos­phere. Spe­cial­ists also encour­age the Maidan’s defend­ers to have more romance, and that notion seems to be catch­ing on. With spring com­ing to the Maid­an, the cri­sis cen­ter at the Ukrain­ian House, a block away from the square, recent­ly cel­e­brat­ed three wed­dings for the self-defense forces.

    Yele­na Fom­i­na pro­vides free psy­cho­log­i­cal help at an impro­vised office occu­py­ing a for­mer McDon­alds ron the cor­ner of the Maid­an. This week was espe­cial­ly dif­fi­cult emo­tion­al­ly, Fom­i­na told The Dai­ly Beast. Spe­cial­ists had to deal with a new wave of psy­cho­log­i­cal trau­mas linked to the Crimea ref­er­en­dum and Russ­ian threats: the con­flict has came to almost every fam­i­ly in Ukraine, split­ting rel­a­tives into pro-Russ­ian and anti-Russ­ian camps. “Talk­ing about their love for Ukraine, their devo­tion to this land, to their coun­try, helps bet­ter than any med­i­cine,” Fom­i­na said.

    As the arti­cle points out, one of the char­ac­ter­is­tics of the rev­o­lu­tion in Ukraine is that the pro­tes­tors haven’t real­ly had a chance to cel­e­brate and psy­cho­log­i­cal­ly unwind. The very act that cat­alyzed the protest, the mys­tery sniper mas­sacre on the Maid­an, was also a hor­ri­ble tragedy for for the pro­tes­tors that took the brunt of the volience. And any eupho­ria in the vic­to­ry that fol­lowed — Pres­i­dent Yanukovich flee­ing Kiev — was almost imme­di­ate­ly swept away by the immi­ment con­flicts in the East and Crimea. It’s one rea­son why the depres­sion set­tling into the Maid­an is so depress­ing: it’s self-rein­forc­ing depres­sion. The less hope there is for a Ukrain­ian soci­ety that’s moved past that sad state of eth­nic divi­sion the greater the incen­tive to embrace the far right and cre­ate eth­ni­cal­ly divid­ed states.

    Finan­cial Times
    March 16, 2014 7:00 pm
    Russ­ian-speak­ing activists demand their own ref­er­en­dums

    By Jan Cien­s­ki in Donet­sk

    Demon­stra­tions broke out in cities across east­ern Ukraine on Sun­day, with thou­sands of pro­test­ers demand­ing the right to hold ref­er­en­dums on their future sta­tus, tak­ing a cue from the Russ­ian-con­trolled vote in Crimea.

    “Crimea was able to vote to join Rus­sia and we want to be able to do the same,” said Svet­lana Zemlyan­skaya, a uni­ver­si­ty lec­tur­er, as about 3,000 peo­ple waved Russ­ian flags and chant­ed their sup­port of Vladimir Putin, Russia’s pres­i­dent. “The Russ­ian army is help­ing the peo­ple in Crimea con­duct the ref­er­en­dum there, and we want them here to help us do the same. They need to be here to pro­tect us from the fas­cist gov­ern­ment in Kiev.”

    With Rus­sia cement­ing its con­trol over Crimea, the stand-off between Moscow and Kiev is shift­ing to the large­ly Russ­ian speak­ing cities of east­ern Ukraine. Russ­ian forces have been hold­ing manoeu­vres near Ukraine’s east­ern bor­der, while Ukrain­ian media have shown the Ukrain­ian army posi­tion­ing troops near the fron­tier.


    Donet­sk, Ukraine’s coal and steel cap­i­tal, has seen weeks of pro-Moscow demon­stra­tions. The protests turned dead­ly late last week, when a group of pro-Russ­ian demon­stra­tors attacked peo­ple show­ing their sup­port for the Kiev gov­ern­ment. One pro­test­er, a mem­ber of the nation­al­ist Svo­bo­da par­ty, was stabbed to death.

    Karkiv, Ukraine’s sec­ond-largest city, also saw dead­ly vio­lence on Fri­day, with two pro-Moscow demon­stra­tors killed dur­ing a stand-off with activists from the nation­al­ist Right Sec­tor move­ment.

    On Sun­day, pro-Russ­ian demon­stra­tors marched down Donetsk’s main street, then stormed the prosecutor’s office, tear­ing down the Ukrain­ian flag from the build­ing and replac­ing it with Russ­ian flags to cheers of “Donet­sk is a Russ­ian city” from the crowd. Pro­test­ers then attacked the office of Ser­hiy Taru­ta, the mil­lion­aire recent­ly appoint­ed the region’s gov­er­nor by the new gov­ern­ment in Kiev.

    In Kharkiv, demon­stra­tors gath­ered out­side the Russ­ian con­sulate, call­ing for Russ­ian inter­ven­tion, while in Luhan­sk pro-Moscow groups staged their own unof­fi­cial ref­er­en­dum.

    Ukraine’s SBU secu­ri­ty ser­vice also report­ed that it had arrest­ed a group of peo­ple in Zapor­izhia, seiz­ing firearms and explo­sives the agency said were going to be used to desta­bilise the sit­u­a­tion in the region.

    Although the protests have been occa­sion­al­ly vio­lent, they have only suc­ceed­ed in attract­ing rel­a­tive­ly small num­bers. In Donet­sk, a city of 1m, the pre­dic­tion had been for a crowd of tens of thou­sands on Sun­day. The demon­stra­tion in Kharkiv was also only about 3,000 strong, accord­ing to local media.

    Those tak­ing part in the march­es are large­ly old­er peo­ple, many of them nos­tal­gic for the days of the Sovi­et Union, bol­stered by a strong con­tin­gent of burly young men wear­ing black jack­ets and sport­ing knit­ted caps.

    Although the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment and media point to the dan­ger faced by the region’s Russ­ian speak­ing pop­u­la­tion at the hands of the new Kiev gov­ern­ment, almost all the vio­lence in recent weeks has been direct­ed at demon­stra­tors show­ing their alle­giance to Ukraine.

    Mid­dle class and younger peo­ple, who have spent two decades in inde­pen­dent Ukraine, tend to be wari­er of the demon­stra­tions, even if they have mixed feel­ings about the new admin­is­tra­tion in Kiev.

    “We don’’t feel any dan­ger here at all,” said Tatiana, a Russ­ian speak­er sit­ting in an upmar­ket cof­fee shop with her hus­band and two young daugh­ters not far from the demon­stra­tion. “The only thing we real­ly are afraid of is a Russ­ian occu­pa­tion. My aunt calls me all the time from Ros­tov [a near­by Russ­ian city] ask­ing if we have enough to eat and if there is blood on the streets. They’ve been com­plete­ly brain­washed – we don’t need sav­ing from any­one.”

    Asked to give their last name, her hus­band Alexan­der demurred. “We have to be care­ful, there’s no way of know­ing how all this will end.”

    It’s increas­ing­ly look­ing like we once again are see­ing a rev­o­lu­tion that was ini­tial­ly root­ed in the spir­it of “a pox on all hous­es, end the cor­rup­tion” suc­cess­ful­ly get hijacked by the far right. For­tu­nate­ly, the bulk of the pop­u­lace still appears to large­ly reject the hor­ri­ble world­views of groups like Svo­bo­da and Right Sek­tor. But inse­cu­ri­ty has always been one of the best of friends of the far right. So the for­ma­tion of far right mili­tias in Kiev com­bined with the sit­u­a­tion in Crimea and the sep­a­ratism in the East (that one would expect in response to the sud­den rise of Svo­bo­da and Right Sek­tor), it’s look­ing like the far right in Ukraine has few­er and few­er rea­sons to be feel­ing down. And that’s pret­ty depress­ing.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 16, 2014, 3:17 pm
  2. Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 16, 2014, 3:48 pm
  3. It’s always inter­est­ing to see which types of expen­di­tures induce elite stick­er shock:

    The Atlantic
    Amer­i­ca Is Too Broke to Res­cue Ukraine
    The real con­test between Rus­sia and the West involves eco­nom­ics, not mil­i­tary might.
    Peter Beinart Mar 17 2014, 3:47 PM ET

    If only Amer­i­ca were fight­ing more wars, Rus­sia would nev­er have tak­en Crimea. That’s basi­cal­ly the argu­ment John McCain made last Fri­day in The New York Times. “For five years,” he com­plained, “Amer­i­cans have been told that ‘the tide of war is reced­ing’.… In Afghanistan and Iraq, mil­i­tary deci­sions have appeared dri­ven more by a desire to with­draw than to suc­ceed.” As a result, “Oba­ma has made Amer­i­ca look weak,” which embold­ened Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine.

    I have no earth­ly idea what McCain means by ‘suc­ceed­ing’ in Afghanistan and Iraq, but we can be pret­ty sure that in addi­tion to claim­ing more Amer­i­can lives, it would require a lot more Amer­i­can mon­ey. Iraq and Afghanistan, accord­ing to a 2013 report by Lin­da Bilmes, a pub­lic pol­i­cy lec­tur­er at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Gov­ern­ment, are the most expen­sive wars in U.S. his­to­ry, cost­ing the U.S. between $4 and $6 tril­lion when you fac­tor in med­ical care. For Ukraine’s sake, McCain believes, that num­ber needs to go up.

    There’s an irony here. If Amer­i­ca and Europe have failed to ade­quate­ly defend Ukraine, it’s not for lack of guns. It’s for lack of mon­ey. Over the last year, the real con­test between Rus­sia and the West hasn’t been a mil­i­tary one (after all, even McCain knows that risk­ing war over Ukraine is insane). It’s been eco­nom­ic. In part because of two wars that have drained America’s cof­fers, and in part because of a finan­cial cri­sis that has weak­ened the West eco­nom­i­cal­ly, the Unit­ed States and Europe have been dra­mat­i­cal­ly out­bid.

    The cur­rent Ukrain­ian cri­sis has its roots in Vladimir Putin’s desire to build a “Eurasian Union”—an eco­nom­ic zone com­pris­ing as many for­mer Sovi­et republics as possible—that re-estab­lish­es Russ­ian region­al dom­i­nance. Putin bad­ly wants Ukraine to join the bloc. But that desire has col­lid­ed with the Euro­pean Union’s bid to get Ukraine to sign a free-trade agree­ment link­ing it to the West. (EU rules, per­haps unwise­ly, made doing both impos­si­ble).

    Last March, then-Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych pledged to work toward an EU agree­ment. Then, in mid-Novem­ber, he abrupt­ly stopped doing so, spark­ing the pro-Euro­pean protests that even­tu­al­ly top­pled him. For Yanukovych, the EU deal—although pop­u­lar with the Ukrain­ian public—carried seri­ous risks. For starters, it would have infu­ri­at­ed Putin. Sec­ond­ly, it would have required him to release his jailed polit­i­cal foe, Yulia Tymoshenko. Third­ly, bring­ing Ukraine into com­pli­ance with EU reg­u­la­tions would have proved cost­ly. As part of the nego­ti­a­tion, Yanukovych asked for €20 bil­lion in aid. But the EU, strug­gling with its own severe eco­nom­ic woes, offered less than one-thir­ti­eth that amount: a mere €610 mil­lion. The Unit­ed States, which now speaks grave­ly about defend­ing Ukraine from Russ­ian aggres­sion, at the time gave Kiev bare­ly any for­eign assis­tance at all.

    Then, in mid-Decem­ber, Rus­sia made its own offer. It pledged to buy $15 bil­lion worth of Ukrain­ian debt and to dis­count the price of Russ­ian gas sold to Ukraine by one-third, which amount­ed to anoth­er $7 bil­lion in sav­ings. This mon­ey, Putin added, would not entail any “increase, decrease, or freez­ing of any social stan­dards, pen­sions, sub­si­dies, or salaries”—a swipe at the IMF-imposed aus­ter­i­ty mea­sures that would like­ly have accom­pa­nied an EU deal.

    While this gap between Russia’s mas­sive offer and the West’s mea­ger one helped keep Yanukovych in Moscow’s orbit, it didn’t keep him in pow­er. In late Feb­ru­ary, he lost con­trol of Kiev to a surg­ing protest move­ment and fled the country—giving Amer­i­ca and Europe yet anoth­er chance to devise eco­nom­ic incen­tives that could point Ukraine in a pro-West­ern direc­tion.

    But yet again, the West’s response has been under­whelm­ing. After Rus­sia seized Crimea last month, the EU belat­ed­ly raised its offer to $11 bil­lion in a bid to sta­bi­lize Ukraine’s weak, post-Yanukovych gov­ern­ment. But the pack­age will release only $1.6 bil­lion in the first year, and even that mon­ey depends on an IMF deal that would like­ly require Kiev’s new lead­ers to take wild­ly unpop­u­lar steps like rais­ing home-heat­ing bills. For its part, Wash­ing­ton has pledged loan guar­an­tees worth $1 bil­lion. But that assis­tance is now stalled in the Sen­ate, where Democ­rats are link­ing it to IMF reforms and Repub­li­cans, if you believe Har­ry Reid, are using it to stop new IRS rules that would lim­it the polit­i­cal activ­i­ties of non­prof­its like those fund­ed by the Koch broth­ers. The West may no longer be in a bid­ding war with Putin, who is more inter­est­ed in desta­bi­liz­ing Ukraine’s new gov­ern­ment than woo­ing it. But coun­ter­ing Putin’s efforts requires help­ing Ukraine secure itself eco­nom­i­cal­ly. And so far, the West’s attempts don’t near­ly accom­plish that.


    We’re long past the era when Amer­i­ca and its allies can spend vast sums to pro­mote West­ern ideals and inter­ests around the world. Except, of course, in Afghanistan and Iraq, where the U.S. is on pace to spend the equiv­a­lent of eight or nine Mar­shall Plans. Too bad we haven’t spent more on those wars. Accord­ing to John McCain, the extra mon­ey just might have saved Ukraine.

    Giv­en how minis­cule $15 bil­lion (or even $50 bil­lion) is when you’re look­ing at the com­bined bud­gets of the NATO allies, it’s pret­ty hard to hard argue that the West can’t actu­al­ly afford to offer Ukraine more. No. It’s about doing the right thing.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 18, 2014, 7:21 am

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