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FTR#‘s 1318 and 1319 How Many Lies Before You Belong to the Lies?, Parts 27 and 28

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FTR#1318 This pro­gram was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment.

FTR#1319 This pro­gram was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment.

Intro­duc­tion: Con­tin­u­ing our analy­sis of the Ukraine War, these pro­grams fur­ther chron­i­cle how the con­flict is nor­mal­iz­ing Nazis.

Points of Analy­sis and Dis­cus­sion Include: A full page ad in The New York Times of a film by Bernard Hen­ri-Levy titled from the WWII and con­tem­po­rary Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary and police salutes; An arti­cle in that same paper lion­iz­ing a mem­ber of the Azov Bat­tal­ion; Review of Roman Zvarych’s role in gen­er­at­ing the Azov Bat­tal­ion; A Vet­er­ans Day cel­e­bra­tion at the White House by Ukrain­ian Nazis; The Cana­di­an Par­lia­men­t’s stand­ing ova­tion for an offi­cer of the 14th Waf­fen SS Divi­sion; Canada’s long his­to­ry of import­ing Nazi and SS vet­er­ans; The refusal of Canada’s top gen­er­al to con­demn the ova­tion giv­en to Jarowlav Hun­ka; Review of the con­ti­nu­ity of clan­des­tine war­fare from the Third Reich to the Cold War CIA; The media revi­sion­ism that

Lviv, Ukaine, Sum­mer of 2018. Cel­e­bra­tion of the 75th anniver­sary of the 14th Waf­fen SS Divi­sion (Gali­cian). Note the Ukrain­ian hon­or guard in the back­ground.

char­ac­ter­ized the cov­er­age of “Hunk­a­gate”; Britain’s charg­ing of blog­ger War­ren Thorn­ton with spread­ing “mal­in­for­ma­tion” after break­ing the Hunk­a­gate sto­ry; Review of key infor­ma­tion from FTR#300 about the Nazi tract Ser­pen­t’s Walk.

1.  The New York Times, 11/26/2023; p. 7.–Glo­ry to the Heroes

2a. “Trapped in a Steel Plant, He Was Ready to Die But Not Sur­ren­der” by Marc San­to­ra; The New York Times; 12/25/2023.

. . . . On March 14, he enlist­ed in the Azov reg­i­ment, a for­mer far-right mili­tia group. . . .

2b.“Imag­ined Geo­gra­phies of Cen­tral and East­ern Europe: The Con­cept of Inter­mar­i­um” by Mar­lene Laru­elle and Ellen Rivera; Covert Action Mag­a­zine; 3/23/2019.

. . . . The co-founder of the CUN and for­mer­ly Yaroslav Stetsko’s pri­vate sec­re­tary, the U.S.-born Roman Zvarych (1953), rep­re­sents a younger gen­er­a­tion of the Ukrain­ian émi­gré com­mu­ni­ty active dur­ing the Cold War and a direct link from the ABN to the Azov Bat­tal­ion. . . . Zvarych par­tic­i­pat­ed in the activ­i­ties of the Anti-Bol­she­vik Bloc of Nations in the 1980s. . . . In Feb­ru­ary 2005, after Vik­tor Yushchenko’s elec­tion, Zvarych was appoint­ed Min­is­ter of Jus­tice. . . . Accord­ing to Andriy Bilet­sky, the first com­man­der of the Azov bat­tal­ion, a civ­il para­mil­i­tary unit cre­at­ed in the wake of the Euro­maid­an, Zvarych was head of the head­quar­ters of the Azov Cen­tral Com­mit­tee in 2015 and sup­port­ed the Azov bat­tal­ion with ‘vol­un­teers’ and polit­i­cal advice through his Zvarych Foun­da­tion. . . .

3.“US govt-linked Ukraine activists hold pro-Nazi Vet­er­ans Day ral­ly out­side White House” by Alexan­der Rubin­stein; The Gray Zone; 11/24/2023.

A recent rally in front of the White House featuring Nazi iconography has been wholly ignored by the same mainstream media outlets pushing the narrative of rising antisemitism. The two DC-based organizations behind the events collaborated with the Biden administration on a similar event last February.

This Vet­er­ans Day, on Novem­ber 11, passers­by out­side the White House gates were met with the sight of protest signs bear­ing Nazi-inspired Wolf­san­gels and pro­test­ers per­form­ing fas­cist salutes.

While the ral­ly may have fall­en under the radar of the main­stream press – or was delib­er­ate­ly ignored – the US-gov­ern­ment owned Voice of Amer­i­ca (VOA) pro­vid­ed exten­sive cov­er­age through their Ukraine branch. One pho­to­graph embed­ded in the sto­ry fea­tures Ukraine war vet­er­an Roman Kash­pur flanked by the White House and per­form­ing a fas­cist salute. Aston­ish­ing­ly, the sec­ond shot of the outlet’s video report fea­tures a Wolf­san­gel. Ral­ly goers chant­ed “bring our heroes home!” and “Make Rus­sia pay!”

VOA inter­viewed the rally’s orga­niz­er, Nadiya Sha­poryn­s­ka, whose talk­ing points sound­ed as though they could have come from the Ukrain­ian embassy itself: “Our main mes­sage today is a call for the release of pris­on­ers-defend­ers of Azovstal. We are now ask­ing the Unit­ed States for help to free them as soon as pos­si­ble.”

Sha­poryn­s­ka has col­lab­o­rat­ed direct­ly with the Biden Admin­is­tra­tion dur­ing past ini­tia­tives. As revealed in The Gray­zone, she and a coterie of activists with long­stand­ing ties to neo-Nazi mili­tias man­aged to arrange for high-lev­el Biden Admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials to speak at a ral­ly this past Feb­ru­ary.

The two DC-based groups which orga­nized the efforts, Unit­ed Help Ukraine and US Ukrain­ian Activists, enjoy close ties to the Ukrain­ian embassy. US Ukrain­ian Activists is led by Nadiya Sha­poryn­s­ka, who also co-found­ed Unit­ed Help Ukraine. The lat­ter is led by Tanya Aldave. In Feb­ru­ary, The Gray­zone report­ed that Aldave list­ed her employ­er as the US Secu­ri­ties and Exchange Com­mis­sion on LinkedIn — an account which she has since delet­ed.

This August, Sha­poryn­s­ka was award­ed the Ukrain­ian Order of Mer­it by Pres­i­dent Vlodomyr Zelen­sky. When the pres­i­dent vis­it­ed the Unit­ed States the fol­low­ing month, he per­son­al­ly pre­sent­ed her with the award.

This past Feb­ru­ary, US Ukrain­ian Activists and anoth­er group co-found­ed by Sha­poryn­s­ka called Unit­ed Help Ukraine held a ral­ly com­mem­o­rat­ing the start of the war in Ukraine which fea­tured Unit­ed States Agency for Inter­na­tion­al Devel­op­ment (USAID) direc­tor Saman­tha Pow­er as its keynote speak­er. The Biden Administration’s Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of State for Euro­pean and Eurasian Affairs Karen Don­fried and oth­er local and fed­er­al offi­cials also joined the ral­ly.

Since the Maid­an coup in 2014, Aldave and Sha­poryn­s­ka have fundraised and advo­cat­ed for Ukrain­ian fas­cist groups rang­ing from the Azov Bat­tal­ion, the Aidar Bat­tal­ion, Right Sek­tor, and the Geor­gian Nation­al Legion, as The Gray­zone has report­ed. Aldave, who appears to work for the US gov­ern­ment, has been described by her orga­ni­za­tion Unit­ed Help Ukraine as a “true Ban­derite” – or a fol­low­er of the World War Two-era Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tor and mass mur­der­er of Jews and Poles, Stepan Ban­dera.

In a 2015 Face­book post fea­tur­ing a pho­to of her­self, Sha­poryn­s­ka, and a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the fas­cist Right Sek­tor orga­ni­za­tion, Aldave wrote “we sup­port Dmytro Yarosh,” refer­ring to the group’s ultra­na­tion­al­ist leader who once vowed to “de-Rus­si­fy” Ukraine. Aldave described her­self and the oth­er local activists in the group as “Right Sektor’s DC Branch.”

For her part, Sha­poryn­s­ka once host­ed a char­i­ty con­cert fea­tur­ing Geor­gian war­lord Mamu­ka Mamu­lashvili as its guest of hon­or. The Gray­zone has doc­u­ment­ed numer­ous alle­ga­tions of war crimes com­mit­ted by Mamulashvili’s mer­ce­nary group, the Geor­gian Nation­al Legion; the war­lord has per­son­al­ly implied that exe­cut­ing Russ­ian pris­on­ers of war is Geor­gian Legion pol­i­cy.

Just months pri­or to the Geor­gian Legion event, Sha­poryn­s­ka and com­pa­ny held anoth­er char­i­ty con­cert for the Azov Bat­tal­ion. At the time, Azov was led by Andriy Bilet­sky, an overt­ly fas­cist mil­i­tant who was recent­ly filmed receiv­ing a medal of com­men­da­tion from Zelen­sky. Bilet­sky has vowed to “lead the white races of the world in a final crusade…against Semi­te-led Unter­men­schen,” and described the ene­my of his move­ment as Jews, and the polit­i­cal forces led by the “real mas­ters,” who also hap­pen to be Jews.

As the glob­al focus shifts from Ukraine to Israel-Pales­tine, the Biden Admin­is­tra­tion has tak­en what it describes as a “land­mark step to counter anti­semitism,” fram­ing crit­i­cism of the geno­cide in Gaza as anti-Jew­ish hatred. Mean­while, the admin­is­tra­tion con­tin­ues to ignore the flam­boy­ant fas­cism of the Ukrain­ian oper­a­tives in its orbit, even as it sends top for­eign pol­i­cy offi­cials to appear at their ral­lies.

4.“Canada’s hon­or­ing of Nazi vet expos­es Ottawa’s long­stand­ing Ukraine pol­i­cy” by Max Blu­men­thal; The Gray Zone; 9/26/2023.

By cel­e­brat­ing a Waf­fen-SS vol­un­teer as a “hero,” Canada’s Lib­er­al Par­ty high­light­ed a long­stand­ing pol­i­cy that has seen Ottawa train fas­cist mil­i­tants in Ukraine while wel­com­ing in thou­sands of post-war Nazi SS vet­er­ans.

Canada’s sec­ond most pow­er­ful offi­cial, Chrys­tia Free­land, is the grand­daugh­ter of one of Nazi Germany’s top Ukrain­ian pro­pa­gan­dists.

In the Spring of 1943, Yaroslav Hun­ka was a fresh-faced sol­dier in the 14th Grenadier Divi­sion of the Waf­fen-SS Gali­cia when his divi­sion received a vis­it from the archi­tect of Nazi Germany’s geno­ci­dal poli­cies, Hein­rich Himm­ler. Hav­ing presided over the battalion’s for­ma­tion, Himm­ler was vis­i­bly proud of the Ukraini­ans who had vol­un­teered to sup­port the Third Reich’s efforts.

80 years lat­er, the Speak­er of Canada’s par­lia­ment, Antho­ny Rota, also beamed with pride after invit­ing Hun­ka to a recep­tion for Volodymyr Zelen­sky, where the Ukrain­ian pres­i­dent lob­bied for more arms and finan­cial assis­tance for his country’s war against Rus­sia.

“We have in the cham­ber today Ukrain­ian war vet­er­an from the Sec­ond World War who fought for Ukrain­ian inde­pen­dence against the Rus­sians and con­tin­ues to sup­port the troops today even at his age of 98,” Rota declared dur­ing the Sep­tem­ber 22 par­lia­men­tary event in Ottawa.

“His name is Yaroslav Hun­ka but I am very proud to say he is from North Bay and from my rid­ing of Nipiss­ing-Timiskam­ing. He is a Ukrain­ian hero, a Cana­di­an hero, and we thank him for all his ser­vice,” Rota con­tin­ued.

Gales of applause erupt­ed through the crowd, as Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau, Zelen­sky, Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Chrys­tia Free­land, Cana­di­an Chief of Defense Staff Gen. Wayne Eyre and lead­ers of all Cana­di­an par­ties rose from their seats to applaud Hunka’s wartime ser­vice.

Since the expo­sure of Hunka’s record as a Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tor – which should have been obvi­ous as soon as the Speak­er announced him – Cana­di­an lead­ers (with the notable excep­tion of Eyre) have rushed to issue super­fi­cial, face-sav­ing apolo­gies as with­er­ing con­dem­na­tions poured in from Cana­di­an Jew­ish orga­ni­za­tions.

The inci­dent is now a major nation­al scan­dal, occu­py­ing space on the cov­er of Cana­di­an papers like the Toron­to Sun, which quipped, “Did Nazi that com­ing.” Mean­while, Poland’s Edu­ca­tion Min­is­ter has announced plans to seek Hunka’s crim­i­nal extra­di­tion.

The Lib­er­al Par­ty has attempt­ed to down­play the affair as an acci­den­tal blun­der, with one Lib­er­al MP urg­ing her col­leagues to “avoid politi­ciz­ing this inci­dent.” Melanie Joly, Canada’s For­eign Min­is­ter, has forced Rota’s res­ig­na­tion, seek­ing to turn the the Speak­er into a scape­goat for her party’s col­lec­tive actions.

Trudeau, mean­while, point­ed to the “deeply embar­rass­ing” event as a rea­son to “push back against Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da,” as though the Krem­lin some­how smug­gled an nona­ge­nar­i­an Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tor into par­lia­ment, then hyp­no­tized the Prime Min­is­ter and his col­leagues, Manchuri­an Can­di­date-style, into cel­e­brat­ing him as a hero.

To be sure, the inci­dent was no gaffe. Before Canada’s gov­ern­ment and mil­i­tary brass cel­e­brat­ed Hun­ka in par­lia­ment, they had pro­vid­ed diplo­mat­ic sup­port to fas­cist hooli­gans fight­ing to install a nation­al­ist gov­ern­ment in Kiev, and over­saw the train­ing of con­tem­po­rary Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary for­ma­tions open­ly com­mit­ted to the fur­ther­ance of Nazi ide­ol­o­gy.

Ottawa’s cel­e­bra­tion of Hun­ka has also lift­ed the cov­er on the country’s post-World War Two pol­i­cy of nat­u­ral­iz­ing known Ukrain­ian Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors and weaponiz­ing them as domes­tic anti-com­mu­nist shock troops. The post-war immi­gra­tion wave includ­ed the grand­fa­ther of Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Chrys­tia Free­land, who func­tioned as one of Hitler’s top Ukrainain pro­pa­gan­dists inside Nazi-occu­pied Poland.

Though Cana­di­an offi­cial­dom has worked to sup­press this sor­did record, it has resur­faced in dra­mat­ic fash­ion through Hunka’s appear­ance in par­lia­ment and the unset­tling con­tents of his online diaries.

Yaroslav Hun­ka, front and cen­ter, as a mem­ber of the Waf­fen-SS Gali­cia divi­sion

“We wel­comed the Ger­man sol­diers with joy”

The March 2011 edi­tion of the jour­nal of the Asso­ci­a­tion of Ukrain­ian Ex-Com­bat­ants in the US con­tains an unset­tling diary entry which had gone unno­ticed until recent­ly.

Authored by Yaroslav Hun­ka, the jour­nal con­sist­ed of proud reflec­tions on vol­un­teer­ing for the 14th Grenadier Divi­sion of the Waf­fen-SS Gali­cia. Hun­ka decribed the Nazi Wehrma­cht as “mys­ti­cal Ger­man knights” when they first arrived in his home­town of Berezhany, and recalled his own ser­vice in the Waf­fen-SS as the hap­pi­est time in his life.

“In my sixth grade,” he wrote, “out of forty stu­dents, there were six Ukraini­ans, two Poles, and the rest were Jew­ish chil­dren of refugees from Poland. We won­dered why they were run­ning away from such a civ­i­lized West­ern nation as the Ger­mans.”

The Jew­ish Vir­tu­al Library details the exter­mi­na­tion of Berezhany’s Jew­ish pop­u­la­tion at the hands of the “civ­i­lized” Ger­mans: “In 1941 at the end of Sovi­et occu­pa­tion 12,000 Jews were liv­ing in Berezhany, most of them refugees flee­ing the hor­rors of the Nazi war machine in Europe. Dur­ing the Holo­caust, on Oct. 1, 1941, 500–700 Jews were exe­cut­ed by the Ger­mans in the near­by quar­ries. On Dec. 18, anoth­er 1,200, list­ed as poor by the Juden­rat, were shot in the for­est. On Yom Kip­pur 1942 (Sept. 21), 1,000–1,500 were deport­ed to Belzec and hun­dreds mur­dered in the streets and in their homes. On Hanukkah (Dec. 4–5) hun­dreds more were sent to Belzec and on June 12, 1943, the last 1,700 Jews of the ghet­to and labor camp were liq­ui­dat­ed, with only a few indi­vid­u­als escap­ing. Less than 100 Berezhany Jews sur­vived the war.”

When Sovi­et forces held con­trol of Berezhany, Hun­ka said he and his neigh­bors longed for the arrival of Nazi Ger­many. “Every day,” he recalled, “we looked impa­tient­ly in the direc­tion of the Pomoryany (Lvov) with the hope that those mys­ti­cal Ger­man knights, who give bul­lets to the hat­ed Lyakhs are about to appear.” (Lyakh is a deroga­to­ry Ukrain­ian term for Poles).

In July 1941, when the Nazi Ger­man army entered Berezhany, Hun­ka breathed a sigh of relief. “We wel­comed the Ger­man sol­diers with joy,” he wrote. “Peo­ple felt a thaw, know­ing that there would no longer be that dread­ed knock­ing on the door in the mid­dle of the night, and at least it would be pos­si­ble to sleep peace­ful­ly now.”

Two years lat­er, Hun­ka joined the First Divi­sion of the Gali­cian SS 14th Grenadier Brigade – a unit formed under the per­son­al orders of Hein­rich Himm­ler. When Himm­ler inspect­ed the Ukrain­ian vol­un­teers in May 1943 (below), he was accom­pa­nied by Otto Von Wachter, the Nazi-appoint­ed gov­er­nor of Gali­cia who estab­lished the Jew­ish ghet­to in Krakow.

“Your home­land has become so much more beau­ti­ful since you have lost – on our ini­tia­tive, I must say – those res­i­dents who were so often a dirty blem­ish on Galicia’s good name, name­ly the Jews…” Himm­ler report­ed­ly told the Ukrain­ian troops. “I know that if I ordered you to liq­ui­date the Poles … I would be giv­ing you per­mis­sion to do what you are eager to do any­way.”

“Hitler’s elite tor­tur­ers and mur­der­ers have been passed on RCMP orders”

Fol­low­ing the war, Canada’s Lib­er­al gov­ern­ment clas­si­fied thou­sands of Jew­ish refugees as “ene­my aliens” and held them along­side for­mer Nazis in a net­work of intern­ment camps enclosed with barbed wire, fear­ing that they would infect their new coun­try with com­mu­nism. At the same time, Ottawa placed thou­sands of Ukrain­ian vet­er­ans of Hitler’s army on the fast-track to cit­i­zen­ship.

The Ukrain­ian Cana­di­an newslet­ter lament­ed on April 1, 1948, “some [of the new cit­i­zens] are out­right Nazis who served in the Ger­man army and police. It is report­ed that indi­vid­u­als tat­toooed with the dread[ed] SS, Hitler’s elite tor­tur­ers and mur­der­ers have been passed on RCMP orders and after being turned down by screen­ing agen­cies in Europe.”

The jour­nal described the unre­formed Nazis as anti­com­mu­nist shock troops whose “‘ide­o­log­i­cal lead­ers’ are already busy foment­ing WWIII, prop­a­gat­ing a new world holo­caust in which Cana­da will per­ish.”

In 1997, the Cana­di­an branch of the Simon Wiesen­thal Cen­ter charged the Cana­di­an gov­ern­ment with hav­ing admit­ted over 2000 vet­er­ans of the 14th Vol­un­teer Waf­fen-SS Grenadier Divi­sion.

That same year, 60 Min­utes released a spe­cial, “Canada’s Dark Secret,” reveal­ing that some 1000 Nazi SS vet­er­ans from Baltic states had been grant­ed cit­i­zen­ship by Cana­da after the war. Irv­ing Abel­la, a Cana­di­an his­to­ri­an, told 60 Min­utes that the eas­i­est way to get into the coun­try “was by show­ing the SS tat­too. This proved that you were an anti-Com­mu­nist.”

Abel­la also alleged that Prime Min­is­ter Pierre Trudeau (Justin’s father) explained to him that his gov­ern­ment kept silent about the Nazi immi­grants “because they were afraid of exac­er­bat­ing rela­tion­ships between Jews and East­ern Euro­pean eth­nic com­mu­ni­ties.”

Yaroslav Hun­ka was among the post-war wave of Ukrain­ian Nazi vet­er­ans wel­comed by Cana­da. Accord­ing to the city coun­cil web­site of Berezhany, he arrived in Ontario in 1954 and prompt­ly “became a mem­ber of the fra­ter­ni­ty of sol­diers of the 1st Divi­sion of the UNA, affil­i­at­ed to the World Con­gress of Free Ukraini­ans.”

Also among the new gen­er­a­tion of Ukrain­ian Cana­di­ans was Michael Cho­mi­ak, the grand­fa­ther of Canada’s sec­ond-most-pow­er­ful offi­cial, Chrys­tia Free­land. Through­out her career as a jour­nal­ist and Cana­di­an diplo­mat, Free­land has advanced her grandfather’s lega­cy of anti-Russ­ian agi­ta­tion, while repeat­ed­ly exalt­ing wartime Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors dur­ing pub­lic events.

Dur­ing a March 2, 2020 ral­ly, Cana­di­an Deputy PM Chrys­tia Free­land proud­ly dis­played a ban­ner of the Ukrain­ian Par­ti­san Organ­za­tion which fought along­side Nazi Ger­many dur­ing WWII.

Cana­da wel­comes Hitler’s top Ukrain­ian pro­pa­gan­dists

Through­out the Nazi Ger­man occu­pa­tion of Poland, the Ukrain­ian jour­nal­ist Michael Cho­mi­ak served as one of Hitler’s top pro­pa­gan­dists. Based in Krakow, Cho­mi­ak edit­ed an anti­se­mit­ic pub­li­ca­tion called Krakivs’ki visti (Krakow News), which cheerled the Nazi inva­sion of the Sovi­et Union – “The Ger­man Army is bring­ing us our cher­ished free­dom,” the paper pro­claimed in 1941 – and glo­ri­fied Hitler while ral­ly­ing Ukrain­ian sup­port for the Waf­fen-SS Gali­cia vol­un­teers.

Cho­mi­ak spent much of the war liv­ing in two spa­cious Krakow apart­ments that had been seized from their Jew­ish own­ers by the Nazi occu­piers. He wrote that he moved numer­ous pieces of fur­ni­ture belong­ing to a cer­tain “Dr. Finkel­stein” to anoth­er aryanized apart­ment placed under his con­trol.

Michael Cho­mi­ak at a par­ty with Emile Gassner, the Nazi media chief for Occu­pied Poland

In Cana­da, Cho­mi­ak par­tic­i­pat­ed in the Ukrain­ian Cana­di­an Com­mit­tee (UCC), which incu­bat­ed hard­core nation­al­ist sen­ti­ment among dias­po­ra mem­bers while lob­by­ing Ottawa for hard­line anti-Sovi­et poli­cies. On its web­site, the UCC boast­ed of receiv­ing direct Cana­di­an gov­ern­ment assis­tance dur­ing World War Two: “The final and con­clu­sive impe­tus for [estab­lish­ing the UCC] came from the Nation­al War Ser­vices of Cana­da which was anx­ious that young Ukraini­ans enlist in mil­i­tary ser­vices.”

The UCC’s first pres­i­dent Volodymyr Kubi­jovych, had served as Chomiak’s boss back in Krakow. He also played a part in the estab­lish­ment of the 14th Grenadier Divi­sion of the Waf­fen-SS Gali­cia, announc­ing upon its for­ma­tion, “This his­toric day was made pos­si­ble by the con­di­tions to cre­ate a wor­thy oppor­tu­ni­ty for the Ukraini­ans of Gali­cia, to fight arm in arm with the hero­ic Ger­man sol­diers of the army and the Waf­fen-SS against Bol­she­vism, your and our dead­ly ene­my.”

Free­land nur­tures media career as under­cov­er regime change agent in Sovi­et-era Ukraine

Fol­low­ing his death in 1984, Chomiak’s grand­daugh­ter, Chrys­tia Free­land, fol­lowed in his foot­steps as a reporter for var­i­ous Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist pub­li­ca­tions. She was an ear­ly con­trib­u­tor to Kubijovych’s Ency­clo­pe­dia of Ukraine, which white­washed the record of Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors like Stepan Ban­dera, refer­ring to him as a “rev­o­lu­tion­ary.” Next, she took a staff posi­tion at the Edmon­ton-based Ukrain­ian News, where her grand­fa­ther had served as edi­tor.

A 1988 edi­tion of Ukrain­ian News (below) fea­tured an arti­cle co-authored by Free­land, fol­lowed by an ad for a book called “Fight­ing for Free­dom” which glo­ri­fied the Ukrain­ian Waf­fen-SS Gali­cian divi­sion.

Dur­ing Freeland’s time as an exchange stu­dent in Lviv, Ukraine, she laid the foun­da­tions for her mete­oric rise to jour­nal­is­tic suc­cess. From behind cov­er as a Russ­ian lit­er­a­ture major at Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty, Free­land col­lab­o­rat­ed with local regime change activists while feed­ing anti-Sovi­et nar­ra­tives to inter­na­tion­al media big­wigs.

“Count­less ‘ten­den­tious’ news sto­ries about life in the Sovi­et Union, espe­cial­ly for its non-Russ­ian cit­i­zens, had her fin­ger­prints as Ms. Free­land set about mak­ing a name for her­self in jour­nal­is­tic cir­cles with an eye to her future career prospects,” the Cana­di­an Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion (CBC) report­ed.

Cit­ing KGB files, the CBC described Free­land as a de fac­to intel­li­gence agent: “The stu­dent caus­ing so many headaches clear­ly loathed the Sovi­et Union, but she knew its laws inside and out – and how to use them to her advan­tage. She skill­ful­ly hid her actions, avoid­ed sur­veil­lance (and shared that knowl­edge with her Ukrain­ian con­tacts) and expert­ly traf­ficked in ‘mis­in­for­ma­tion.’”

In 1989, Sovi­et secu­ri­ty agents rescind­ed Freeland’s visa when they caught her smug­gling “a ver­i­ta­ble how-to guide for run­ning an elec­tion” into the coun­try for Ukrainain nation­al­ist can­di­dates.

She quick­ly tran­si­tioned back to jour­nal­ism, land­ing gigs in post-Sovi­et Moscow for the Finan­cial Times and Econ­o­mist, and even­tu­al­ly ris­ing to glob­al edi­tor-at-large of Reuters – the UK-based media giant which today func­tions as a cutout for British intel­li­gence oper­a­tions against Rus­sia.

Cana­da trains, pro­tects Nazis in post-Maid­an Ukraine

When Free­land won a seat as a Lib­er­al mem­ber of Canada’s par­lia­ment in 2013, she estab­lished her most pow­er­ful plat­form yet to agi­tate for regime change in Rus­sia. Milk­ing her jour­nal­is­tic con­nec­tions, she pub­lished op-eds in top lega­cy papers like the New York Times urg­ing mil­i­tant sup­port from West­ern cap­i­tals for Ukraine’s so-called “Rev­o­lu­tion of Dig­ni­ty,” which saw the vio­lent removal of a demo­c­ra­t­i­cal­ly elect­ed pres­i­dent and his replace­ment with a nation­al­ist, pro-NATO gov­ern­ment in 2014.

In the midst of the coup attempt, a group of neo-Nazi thugs belong­ing to the C14 orga­ni­za­tion occu­pied Kiev’s city coun­cil and van­dal­ized the build­ing with Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist insignia and white suprema­cist sym­bols, includ­ing a Con­fed­er­ate flag. When riot police chased the fas­cist hooli­gans away on Feb­ru­ary 18, 2014, they took shel­ter in the Cana­di­an embassy with the appar­ent con­sent of the Con­ser­v­a­tive admin­is­tra­tion in Ottawa. “Cana­da was sym­pa­thiz­ing with the pro­test­ers, at the time, more than the [Ukrain­ian] gov­ern­ment,” a Ukrain­ian inte­ri­or min­istry offi­cial recalled to the Cana­di­an Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion.

Offi­cial Cana­di­an sup­port for neo-Nazi mil­i­tants in Ukraine inten­si­fied after the 2015 elec­tion of the Lib­er­al Party’s Justin Trudeau. In Novem­ber 2017, the Cana­di­an mil­i­tary and US Depart­ment of Defense dis­patched sev­er­al offi­cers to Kiev for a multi­na­tion­al train­ing ses­sion with Ukraine’s Azov Bat­tal­ion. (Azov has since delet­ed the record of the ses­sion from its web­site).

Azov was con­trolled at the time by Adriy Bilet­sky, the self-pro­claimed “White Leader” who  declared, “the his­toric mis­sion of our nation in this crit­i­cal moment is to lead the White Races of the world in a final cru­sade for their sur­vival… A cru­sade against the Semi­te-led Unter­men­schen.”

As Nazi fam­i­ly his­to­ry sur­faces, Free­land lies to the pub­lic

Back in Cana­da, Freeland’s trou­bling fam­i­ly his­to­ry was sur­fac­ing for the first time in the media. Weeks after she was appoint­ed in Jan­u­ary 2017 as For­eign Min­is­ter – a post she pre­dictably exploit­ed to thun­der for sanc­tions on Rus­sia and arms ship­ments to Ukraine – her grandfather’s role as a Nazi pro­pa­gan­dist in occu­pied Poland became the sub­ject of a raft of reports in the alter­na­tive press.

The Trudeau gov­ern­ment respond­ed to the fac­tu­al reports by accus­ing Rus­sia of wag­ing a cam­paign of cyber-war­fare. “The sit­u­a­tion is obvi­ous­ly one where we need to be alert. And that is why the Prime Min­is­ter has, among oth­er things, encour­aged a com­plete re-exam­i­na­tion of our cyber secu­ri­ty sys­tems,” Pub­lic Safe­ty Min­is­ter Ralph Goodale declared.

Yet few, if any, of the out­lets respon­si­ble for exca­vat­ing Chomiak’s his­to­ry had any con­nec­tion to Russia’s gov­ern­ment. Among the first to expose his col­lab­o­ra­tionism was Con­sor­tium News, an inde­pen­dent, US-based media orga­ni­za­tion.

For her part, Free­land deployed a spokesper­son to lie to the pub­lic, flat­ly deny­ing that “the minister’s grand­fa­ther was a Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tor.”

When Cana­di­an media quot­ed sev­er­al Russ­ian diplo­mats about the alle­ga­tions, Free­land prompt­ly ordered their depor­ta­tion, accus­ing them of exploit­ing their diplo­mat­ic sta­tus “to inter­fere in our democ­ra­cy.”

By this time, how­ev­er, her fam­i­ly secrets had tum­bled out of the attic and onto the pages of main­stream Cana­di­an media. On March 7, 2017, the Globe and Mail report­ed on a 1996 arti­cle in the Jour­nal of Ukrain­ian Stud­ies con­firm­ing that Freeland’s grand­fa­ther had indeed been a Nazi pro­pa­gan­dist, and that his writ­ing helped fuel the Jew­ish geno­cide. The arti­cle was authored by Freeland’s uncle, John-Paul Him­ka, who thanked his niece in its pref­ace for help­ing him with “prob­lems and clar­i­fi­ca­tions.”

“Free­land knew for more than two decades that her mater­nal Ukrain­ian grand­fa­ther was the chief edi­tor of a Nazi news­pa­per in occu­pied Poland that vil­i­fied Jews dur­ing the Sec­ond World War,” the Globe and Mail not­ed.

After being caught on cam­era this Sep­tem­ber clap­ping with unre­strained zeal along­side hun­dreds of peers for a Ukrain­ian vet­er­an of Hitler’s SS death squads, Free­land once again invoked her author­i­ty to scrub the inci­dent from the record.

Three days after the embar­rass­ing scene, Free­land was back on the floor of par­lia­ment, nod­ding in approval as Lib­er­al House leader Kari­na Gould intro­duced a res­o­lu­tion to strike “from the appen­dix of the House of Com­mons debates” and from “any House mul­ti­me­dia record­ing” the recog­ni­tion made by Speak­er Antho­ny Rota of Yaroslav Hun­ka.

Thanks to decades of offi­cial­ly sup­port­ed Holo­caust edu­ca­tion, the mantra that demands cit­i­zens “nev­er for­get” has become a guid­ing light of lib­er­al democ­ra­cy. In present day Ottawa, how­ev­er, this sim­ple piece of moral guid­ance is now treat­ed as a men­ace which threat­ens to unrav­el careers and under­mine the war effort in Ukraine.

5.“Nazi­gate: Canada’s top gen­er­al won’t apol­o­gize for applaud­ing Ukrain­ian Waf­fen-SS vet” by Wyatt Reed; The Gray Zone; 9/28/2023.

As Canada’s top offi­cials express embar­rass­ment for hon­or­ing a WWII Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tor in par­lia­ment, the leader of the country’s mil­i­tary, Gen. Wayne Eyre, refus­es to apol­o­gize for his stand­ing ova­tion. The Cana­di­an mil­i­tary has trained Ukraine’s noto­ri­ous neo-Nazi Azov Bat­tal­ion for years.

Cana­di­an politi­cians have been in fran­tic dam­age con­trol mode since fet­ing a for­mer mem­ber of the Waf­fen-SS dur­ing a par­lia­men­tary recep­tion for Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Volodymyr Zelen­sky on Sep­tem­ber 22. The Speak­er of Canada’s House of Com­mons, Antho­ny Rota, resigned fol­low­ing the inci­dent, while Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau lament­ed it as “extreme­ly upset­ting,” and oppo­si­tion leader Pierre Poilievre brand­ed the affair the “biggest sin­gle diplo­mat­ic embar­rass­ment” in Canada’s his­to­ry.

But amid the gra­tu­itous pub­lic rites of con­tri­tion, one influ­en­tial offi­cial has been con­spic­u­ous­ly absent: Canada’s high­est-rank­ing gen­er­al. Accord­ing to the Ottawa Cit­i­zen, Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Wayne Eyre has “declined to apol­o­gize for his stand­ing ova­tion” for Yaroslav Hun­ka, the now-noto­ri­ous 98-year-old for­mer mem­ber of the 14th Waf­fen Grenadier Divi­sion of the SS, whose mem­bers gained inter­na­tion­al infamy for hunt­ing down anti-Nazi par­ti­sans, mas­sacring thou­sands of civil­ians, and burn­ing hun­dreds of Pol­ish vil­lagers alive.

The notion that the Nazi pro­cliv­i­ties of fig­ures like Hun­ka could have escaped Eyre’s notice now appears increas­ing­ly remote. In 2017, Ukraine’s Azov Bat­tal­ion pub­lished pho­tos on their web­site pub­li­ciz­ing their meet­ing with high-lev­el Cana­di­an mil­i­tary offi­cials, who had arrived in Ukraine to help train the noto­ri­ous­ly neo-Nazi infest­ed unit, which was offi­cial­ly incor­po­rat­ed into the Ukrain­ian Nation­al Guard.

A year lat­er, Azov post­ed pho­tos on its offi­cial social media chan­nels show­ing Cana­di­an mil­i­tary attaché Col. Bri­an Irwin meet­ing with its per­son­nel. Respond­ing to a query from jour­nal­ist Asa Win­stan­ley, a Cana­di­an mil­i­tary spokesman jus­ti­fied train­ing the fas­cist mil­i­tary on the grounds that the ses­sion “includes ongo­ing dia­logue on the devel­op­ment of a diverse, and inclu­sive Ukraine.”

Just four months before Russia’s inva­sion of Ukraine, The Friends of Simon Wiesen­thal Cen­ter for Holo­caust Stud­ies sent a let­ter to then-Act­ing Chief of the Defense Staff Gen. Wayne Eyre and Defense Min­is­ter Har­jit Saj­jan demand­ing an inves­ti­ga­tion into the deci­sion to train Ukrain­ian neo-Nazis. The Jew­ish group urged them to ensure that such instruc­tion did not con­tin­ue.

“If Cana­da is going to be pro­vid­ing mil­i­tary train­ing to for­eign forces, then it is our respon­si­bil­i­ty to know we are not train­ing neo-Nazis,” said Jaime Kirzn­er-Roberts, pol­i­cy direc­tor of the Friends of Simon Wiesen­thal Cen­ter. “It is our oblig­a­tion to our Cana­di­an vet­er­ans who sac­ri­ficed so much defeat­ing fas­cism in Europe.”

But such warn­ings appar­ent­ly went unheed­ed. The Cana­di­an mil­i­tary not only declined to dis­con­tin­ue its Nazi-train­ing poli­cies, it esca­lat­ed its pro­gram of coach­ing avowed fas­cists. Since Russ­ian mil­i­tary oper­a­tions in Ukraine kicked off in Feb. 2022, Cana­da has invest­ed a fur­ther $1.6 bil­lion USD in the arm­ing and instruct­ing of Kiev’s mil­i­tary.

On the side­lines of Zelensky’s now-infa­mous address to the Cana­di­an Par­lia­ment, Ottawa autho­rized the fur­ther dis­burse­ment of anoth­er $483 mil­lion USD in aid and train­ing on F‑16 fight­er jets.

Canada’s scheme of fun­nel­ing weapons to Kiev and coach­ing Ukrain­ian forces offi­cial­ly began in 2014, just months after anti-Russ­ian forces top­pled the demo­c­ra­t­i­cal­ly-elect­ed gov­ern­ment of Vik­tor Yanukovych in a bru­tal US gov­ern­ment-backed coup d’etat. Under the aus­pices of “Oper­a­tion UNIFIER,” more than 33,000 Ukrain­ian troops received “advanced com­bat instruc­tion by Cana­di­an sol­diers,” Canada’s state-affil­i­at­ed CBC report­ed in 2022.

Ukraine’s ambas­sador in Ottawa, Yulia Kovaliv, her­ald­ed the train­ing ini­tia­tive as a “very impor­tant ini­tia­tive.”

“It is also impor­tant to fur­ther pro­vide Ukraine with heavy weapons,” she added.

In the UK, where Cana­di­an forces fre­quent­ly trav­el in order to school Zelensky’s army in the art of killing Rus­sians, the pro­gram received a sim­i­lar­ly warm wel­come. An ebul­lient British Defense Sec­re­tary Ben Wal­lace said in a state­ment at the time that he was “delight­ed” that “the Cana­di­an Armed Forces will be join­ing the grow­ing inter­na­tion­al effort to sup­port the train­ing of Ukrain­ian sol­diers in the UK.”

“Canada’s exper­tise will pro­vide a fur­ther boost to the pro­gramme and ensure that the Ukrain­ian men and women, com­ing to the UK to train to defend their coun­try, will get a wide pool of expe­ri­ence and skills from both UK forces and our inter­na­tion­al part­ners,” Wal­lace crowed.

Just what exact­ly the nation­al­ist-lean­ing mem­bers of Ukrain­ian armed forces did with the train­ing and tac­it bless­ing of Cana­da has yet to be ascer­tained. But Azov mem­bers have been impli­cat­ed in a num­ber of war crimes. Despite the unit’s recent push to white­wash its Nazi ten­den­cies, Azov — which has since expand­ed to a full-fledged brigade under Kiev’s offi­cial com­mand — retains as its leader Andrey Bilet­sky, who once described Ukraine’s role on the glob­al stage as help­ing to “lead the white races of the world in a final cru­sade … against Semi­te-led Unter­men­schen.”

Bilet­sky has tak­en pains to dis­tance him­self from the com­ment, but the unit has not under­tak­en sim­i­lar efforts to dis­tance itself from Bilet­sky. In Sep­tem­ber 2023, Bilet­sky was pho­tographed proud­ly shak­ing hands with Zelen­sky dur­ing an inti­mate meet­ing with the Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent on the out­skirts of Bakhmut. And Zelen­sky him­self appears to have few prob­lems with pub­licly asso­ci­at­ing with the group.

In a post com­mem­o­rat­ing the encounter with Ukraine’s most cel­e­brat­ed Nazi for­ma­tion, Zelen­sky declared: “I am grate­ful to every­one who defends our coun­try and peo­ple, who brings our vic­to­ry clos­er.”

6.“The Prais­ing of a Ukrain­ian Nazi-Linked Vet­er­an in Canada’s Par­lia­ment: The Lega­cy of Ukrain­ian Nazis Has Reemerged” by David Starr; Covert Action Mag­a­zine; 10/20/2023.

It was an embar­rass­ing event in the Cana­di­an Par­lia­ment in late Sep­tem­ber as Ukrain­ian Nazi-linked vet­er­an Yaroslav Hun­ka was hon­ored as a World War II “hero.” Upon find­ing this out, Cana­di­an offi­cials scram­bled to save face. Cana­di­an Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau expressed that this was “deeply embar­rass­ing.” House of Com­mons Speak­er Antho­ny Rota, after get­ting more infor­ma­tion about Hun­ka (after the fact), regret­ted his deci­sion to invite him. Democ­ra­cy Now inter­viewed Ukrain­ian jour­nal­ist Lev Golinkin about this rev­e­la­tion. 

It is rather irre­spon­si­ble that there was no rel­e­vant research done on Hunka’s his­to­ry before any­thing occurred. Per­haps Cana­di­an offi­cials rushed to prop up Hun­ka as it relates to the Rus­sia-Ukraine War, of which Cana­da is a sup­port­er. What is also irre­spon­si­ble is the stand­ing ova­tion Hun­ka got in the par­lia­ment, although at the time the audi­ence was unaware of Hunka’s his­to­ry. 

Accord­ing to the BBC, Hun­ka served in the 14th Waf­fen-SS Grenadier Divi­sion dur­ing World War II. The sol­diers in the Divi­sion were main­ly Ukrain­ian, and under Nazi com­mand. Hein­rich Himm­ler, who sys­tem­atized the Nazi pol­i­cy of geno­cide against Jews and oth­er “unde­sir­ables,” paid a vis­it to the Divi­sion and was very proud of its sup­port for the cause of the Third Reich.  

Hun­ka kept a jour­nal of his time in the 14th Waf­fen-SS Grenadier Divi­sion. In it, Hun­ka described the Nazis as “mys­ti­cal Ger­man knights” and was in awe of them. Hun­ka wrote that his ser­vice to the Divi­sion was the hap­pi­est time of his life.  

Mean­while, Nazi Ger­many was car­ry­ing out its geno­ci­dal poli­cies. In Berezhany, where Hun­ka was born, 12,000 Jews were liv­ing there and were attempt­ing to flee so they would not be even­tu­al­ly tar­get­ed by the Nazis. Many could not escape. Max Blu­men­thal, Edi­tor-in-Chief of The Gray Zone, gave detailed exam­ples of the num­ber of Jews mur­dered by the Nazis:  

“Dur­ing the Holo­caust, on Oct. 1941, 500–700 Jews were exe­cut­ed by the Ger­mans in the near­by quar­ries. On Dec. 18, anoth­er 1,200 were shot in the for­est. On Yom Kip­pur in Sept.1942, 1,000–1,500 were deport­ed to Belzec and hun­dreds mur­dered in the streets and in their homes. On Hanukkah (Dec. 4–5) hun­dreds more were sent to Belzec con­cen­tra­tion camp and on June 12, 1043, the last 1,700 Jews of the ghet­to and labor camp were liq­ui­dat­ed, with only a few indi­vid­u­als escap­ing. Less than 100 Berezhany Jews sur­vived the war.” 

The Sovi­ets had con­trol of Berezhany, and Hun­ka and oth­er ultra-nation­al­ist Ukraini­ans were hop­ing Nazi Ger­many would come to their res­cue. Hun­ka wrote in his jour­nal that “Every day we looked impa­tient­ly in the direc­tion of the Pomoryany (Lvov) with the hope that those mys­ti­cal Ger­man knights [would] appear.” Hun­ka got his wish when the Nazi Ger­many army entered Berezhany. Hun­ka: “We wel­comed the Ger­man sol­diers with joy.” This was in 1941after the Sovi­et Union left, end­ing its occu­pa­tion of Berezhany. 

Hun­ka even­tu­al­ly joined the First Divi­sion of the Gali­cian SS 14th Grenadier Brigade, which was cre­at­ed by Hein­rich Himm­ler. He inspect­ed the brigade, and lat­er com­ment­ed, accord­ing to Blu­men­thal, “Your home­land has become much more beau­ti­ful since you have lost – on our ini­tia­tive, I must say – those res­i­dents were so often a dirty blem­ish, name­ly the Jews…I know that if I ordered you to liq­ui­date the Poles I would be giv­ing you per­mis­sion to do what you are eager to do any­way.” 

After World War II, Ukrain­ian Nazi vet­er­ans allied with Nazi Ger­many acquired Cana­di­an cit­i­zen­ship and estab­lished their own com­mu­ni­ties, along with oth­er Ukrain­ian immi­grants.  

The main rea­son why Cana­da allowed Ukrain­ian Nazis into the coun­try was because of their rabid anti­com­mu­nism. The Cold War pro­duced many instances of Cana­da giv­ing cit­i­zen­ship to sev­er­al Ukrain­ian Nazis. For exam­ple, 1,000 Nazi SS vet­er­ans from the Baltic states became Cana­di­an cit­i­zens after the war end­ed. If one had an SS tat­too then it was all the more, eas­i­er to become a cit­i­zen of Cana­da, besides being an anti­com­mu­nist. Thou­sands more Ukrain­ian Nazis, for exam­ple, were giv­en cit­i­zen­ship in Ottawa, Cana­da. 

The wave of Ukrain­ian Nazi vet­er­ans going to Cana­da includ­ed Yaroslav Hun­ka, arriv­ing in 1954 and going to Ontario. He had become a mem­ber of the World Con­gress of Free Ukraini­ans. Ukrain­ian Nazis were now on the side of the “Free World.”  

No doubt, Hun­ka and oth­er Ukrain­ian Nazi vet­er­ans have been cel­e­brat­ed in Ukraine, in par­tic­u­lar, after the 2014 U.S.-backed coup. Before that, when the Sovi­et Union exist­ed, the right-wing in Ukraine was not in the main­stream, but on the out­er fringes of pol­i­tics. (In the USSR, it wasn’t a case of Rus­sia and Ukraine being at each other’s throats, like they are now.) The coup caused the right to reemerge and is now prac­ti­cal­ly in the polit­i­cal main­stream. Neo-Nazis, fas­cists, etc. have been march­ing in the streets, mak­ing a spec­ta­cle of them­selves. These “stormtroop­ers” car­ry the Ukrain­ian flag and also flags depict­ing Nazi sym­bols on them.  

If there is any Ukrain­ian that is enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly fol­lowed in the coun­try more than the oth­ers, it is Stepan Ban­dera, who was a Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tor dur­ing World War II. Writ­ing for Jacobin, Daniel Lazare gives exam­ples of Bandera’s per­son­al­i­ty traits: 

“Ban­dera was indeed nox­ious as any per­son­al­i­ty thrown up by the hell­ish 1930s and ‘40s. The son of a nation­al­ist-mind­ed Greek Catholic priest, Ban­dera was the sort of self-pun­ish­ing fanat­ic who sticks pins under his fin­ger­nails to pre­pare him for tor­ture at the hands of his ene­mies. As a uni­ver­si­ty stu­dent at Lviv, he is said to have moved on to burn­ing him­self with an oil lamp, slam­ming a door on his fin­gers, and whip­ping him­self with a belt. “”Admit, Stepan!’” he would cry out. ‘No, I don’t admit!’” 

Ban­dera sound­ed like he was a masochist. And he would do any­thing for the cause of Ukrain­ian inde­pen­dence. But the inde­pen­dence Ban­dera want­ed was char­ac­ter­ized by right-wing motives. One could dare say this is not inde­pen­dence at all, but an elit­ist car­i­ca­ture of it. With the right being in pow­er, it’s as though they think they have the right to vio­late the rights of oth­ers. More direct­ly put, impos­ing Nazism, fas­cism, etc. 

Hav­ing a vio­lent streak, Ban­dera joined the Orga­ni­za­tion of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists (OUN) and pro­ceed­ed to influ­ence a ten­den­cy in the orga­ni­za­tion that was already vio­lent. Lazare wrote, “In 1933, he orga­nized an attack on the Sovi­et coun­cil in Lviv. A year lat­er, he direct­ed the assas­si­na­tion of the Pol­ish min­is­ter of the inte­ri­or. He ordered the exe­cu­tion of alleged inform­ers and was respon­si­ble for oth­er deaths as well as the OUN took to rob­bing banks, post offices, police sta­tions, and pri­vate house­holds in search of funds.”  

There was a series of events which caused Ban­dera to move fur­ther right­ward. Poland was in con­trol of West­ern Ukraine, and when Ukraini­ans like Ban­dera struck back with arson attacks, the Poles cracked down. Poland respond­ed with repres­sion and cul­tur­al war­fare. Pol­ish farm­ers were brought to Ukraine to make use of the land chang­ing the demo­graph­ics, Ukrain­ian schools were closed down, And there was even an attempt to ban the word “Ukrain­ian.”  

In 1930, the OUN used arson and sab­o­tage to resist Pol­ish con­trol. Poland again cracked down. There were about 30,000 Ukraini­ans thrown into prison. If that wasn’t enough, Pol­ish politi­cians were con­sid­er­ing to embark on an exter­mi­na­tion cam­paign. Lazare wrote, “…a Ger­man jour­nal­ist who trav­eled through east­ern Gali­cia in ear­ly 1939 report­ed that local Ukraini­ans were call­ing for ‘Uncle Fuhrer’ to step in and impose a solu­tion of his own on the Poles.” 

Eth­nic ten­sions con­tin­ued in East­ern Europe, in par­tic­u­lar West­ern Ukraine. Com­bined with that, World War II was approach­ing. Lazare: “Con­ceiv­ably, Ban­dera might have respond­ed to the grow­ing dis­or­der by mov­ing to the polit­i­cal left. Pre­vi­ous­ly, lib­er­al Bol­she­vik cul­tur­al poli­cies in the Ukrain­ian Sovi­et Social­ist Repub­lic had caused a surge in pro-com­mu­nist sen­ti­ment in the neigh­bor­ing Pol­ish province of Vol­hy­nia.”  

But Ban­dera moved even fur­ther to the right. His mem­ber­ship in the OUN prac­ti­cal­ly indoc­tri­nat­ed Ban­dera into being anti­se­mit­ic. Ukrain­ian ultra-nation­al­ists’ feel­ings devolved into a hatred for the Jews. Fur­ther, what the ultra-nation­al­ists ide­al­ly want­ed was a pure Ukraine with no Jews, Poles, Rus­sians, etc. And that obvi­ous­ly includ­ed no Bol­she­viks, com­mu­nists, social­ists; any­thing that con­tra­dict­ed Ukrain­ian puri­ty. 

The OUN embarked on a pogrom against Jews. Its mem­bers, for exam­ple, smashed the win­dows of Jew­ish homes in 1935. The next year was worse. OUN mem­bers burned about 100 Jew­ish homes, thus mak­ing the fam­i­lies who were liv­ing in those hous­es home­less. 

Ban­dera, mean­while, was arrest­ed and put on tri­al for mur­der. Rather than express­ing any guilt, Ban­dera taunt­ed the court, giv­ing the fas­cist salute and say­ing, “Glo­ry to Ukraine.” Ban­dera was to serve a life sen­tence and began doing so. 

Nazi Ger­many, how­ev­er, took over West­ern Poland in 1939. This gave Ban­dera an oppor­tu­ni­ty to escape. And he did, going to Lviv, the cap­i­tal of East­ern Gali­cia. But the Sovi­et Union even­tu­al­ly made an incur­sion into the ter­ri­to­ry, and Ban­dera fled again, toward the side of the Nazis. Lazare wrote, “Even­tu­al­ly, he and the OUN lead­er­ship set­tled in Ger­man con­trolled Cra­cow, where they set about prepar­ing the orga­ni­za­tion for fur­ther bat­tles yet to come.” 

Then, Nazi Ger­many invad­ed the Sovi­et Union. The OUN knew this ahead of time, and this was an oppor­tu­ni­ty to attack in an effort to estab­lish a Greater Ukraine. The OUN drew up a doc­u­ment enti­tled “The Strug­gle and Activ­i­ties of the OUN in Wartime.” Lazare gave details as to the con­tents of this doc­u­ment:  

“It called on mem­bers to take advan­tage of the ‘favor­able sit­u­a­tion’ posed by a ‘war between Moscow and oth­er states’ to cre­ate a nation­al rev­o­lu­tion that would draw up all Ukraine in its vor­tex. It con­ceived of rev­o­lu­tion as a great purifi­ca­tion process in which ‘Mus­covites, Poles, and Jews’ would be ‘destroyed…in par­tic­u­lar those who pro­tect the [Sovi­et] regime.”’ 

Lazare quot­ed more of the doc­u­ment: “We treat the com­ing Ger­man army as the army of allies. We inform them that the Ukrain­ian author­i­ty is already estab­lished. It is under the con­trol of the OUN under the lead­er­ship of Stepan Ban­dera…” 

Ban­dera and his fol­low­ers saw the rela­tion­ship with Nazi Ger­many as “tac­ti­cal.” But it was deeply ide­o­log­i­cal. There was the sce­nario of set­ting up a one-par­ty state with Ban­dera as the “Fuhrer.” And Ukraine would be under the wing of Nazi Ger­many.  

Hitler, how­ev­er, saw the Ukraini­ans as infe­ri­or Slavs. Lazy, dis­or­ga­nized, and nihilis­tic as the Rus­sians.  

Ukraine was impor­tant to Hitler because of its grain sup­plies. Nazi Ger­many pro­ceed­ed to expro­pri­ate grain out of Ukraine on a such scale that would it threat­en to cause star­va­tion for about 25 mil­lion peo­ple. The Nazis had a plan called the Gen­er­alplan Ost. The objec­tive was to kill or expel 80% of the Slav­ic pop­u­la­tion and replace them with Ger­man set­tlers. Ban­dera, how­ev­er, want­ed to des­per­ate­ly to main­tain an alliance with Nazi Ger­many, despite being put under house arrest. Lazare wrote, “Ban­dera and his fol­low­ers con­tin­ued to long for an axis vic­to­ry.” Quot­ing Ban­dera, “Ger­man and Ukrain­ian inter­ests in East­ern Europe are iden­ti­cal.” He added that Ukrain­ian nation­al­ism had tak­en shape “in a spir­it sim­i­lar to the Nation­al Social­ist ideas.” 

But Hitler wasn’t impressed. That prompt­ed OUN mem­bers to form the Ukrain­ian Insur­gent Army (UPA). And the goal for the UPA was eth­nic cleans­ing, notably against Poles, dri­ving them out of East­ern Gali­cia and Vol­hy­nia. Between 1943 and 1945, the UPA killed about 100,000 Poles. And the cam­paign against the Jews con­tin­ued. 

In the last phas­es of World War II, Ban­dera and his fol­low­ers still con­tin­ued to fight along­side Nazi Ger­many, as the lat­ter was retreat­ing and on to even­tu­al defeat. The Sovi­et Union had the momen­tum as its Red Army came clos­er.  

Even in the post-war era, Ban­dera and the OUN car­ried out oppres­sion against “unde­sir­ables.” Lazar pro­vid­ed details: 

“OUN fight­ers killed not only inform­ers, col­lab­o­ra­tors, and east­ern Ukraini­ans trans­ferred to Gali­cia and Vol­hy­nia to work as teach­ers, or admin­is­tra­tors, but their fam­i­lies as well. ‘Soon the Bol­she­viks will con­duct the grain levy,’” they warned on one occa­sion. ‘Any­one among you who brings grain to the col­lec­tion points will be killed like a dog, and your entire fam­i­ly butchered.’” 

The OUN killed 30,000 peo­ple before the Sovi­et Union wiped out the resis­tance in 1950. Even­tu­al­ly, in 1959, Lazar wrote, “a Sovi­et agent man­aged to slip through Bandera’s secu­ri­ty ring in Munich and kill him with a blast from a cyanide spray gun.” Today, Ban­dera is hon­ored in Ukraine to the point of it being a cult.  

That forced the Ukrain­ian ultra-nation­al­ists to retreat to the fringes of soci­ety. But in 1991 after the dis­solv­ing of the USSR, the OUN, along with oth­er right-wing enti­ties, reemerged in Ukraine. They have names like Svo­bo­da, Right Sec­tor, the Azov brigade, etc. And they still want a pure Ukraine. 

Cana­da has been deal­ing with world­wide crit­i­cism of the Hun­ka scan­dal. In mak­ing assump­tions that Hun­ka was a “hero,” Cana­da has soiled its rep­u­ta­tion; and all for a proxy war. 

6.“Media Holo­caust Revi­sion­ism After Canada’s Stand­ing Ova­tion for an SS Vet” by Gre­go­ry Shu­pak; FAIR; 11/24/2023.

Media cov­er­age of the Cana­di­an Parliament’s stand­ing ova­tion in Sep­tem­ber for Yaroslav Hun­ka, a 98-year-old Ukrain­ian Cana­di­an who fought for the Nazis in World War II, has includ­ed egre­gious Holo­caust revi­sion­ism.

On Sep­tem­ber 22, fol­low­ing Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s address to the Cana­di­an par­lia­ment, Canada’s then–Speaker of the House Antho­ny Rota intro­duced Hun­ka:

We have here in the cham­ber today a Ukrain­ian-Cana­di­an vet­er­an from the Sec­ond World War who fought for Ukrain­ian inde­pen­dence against the Rus­sians and con­tin­ues to sup­port the troops today.

Rota went on to call Hun­ka “a Ukrain­ian hero, a Cana­di­an hero, and we thank him for all his ser­vice” (Politi­co, 9/24/23). Par­lia­men­tar­i­ans of all polit­i­cal par­ties gave Hun­ka two stand­ing ova­tions, and Zelen­skyy raised his fist to salute the man (Sky News, 9/26/23).

Then the New York–based For­ward (9/24/23) point­ed out that Hun­ka had fought for the 14th Waf­fen Grenadier Divi­sion, also known as the Gali­cia Divi­sion, of the SS. (The SS, short for Schutzstaffel, “Pro­tec­tion Squadron,” was the mil­i­tary wing of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Par­ty.)

‘A com­pli­cat­ed past’

“You have to tread soft­ly on these issues,” said the main expert used by the CBC (9/28/23) to dis­cuss the top­ic of Ukraine and Nazism.

Cov­er­ing the sub­se­quent con­tro­ver­sy, the CBC (9/28/23) ran the head­line, “Speaker’s Hon­or­ing of For­mer Nazi Sol­dier Reveals a Com­pli­cat­ed Past, Say His­to­ri­ans.” In the con­text of the Holo­caust, “com­pli­cat­ed” func­tions as a hand-wav­ing euphemism that gets in the way of hold­ing per­pe­tra­tors account­able: If a deci­sion is “com­pli­cat­ed,” it’s under­stand­able, even if it’s wrong.

Dig­i­tal reporter/editor Jonathan Migneault, who wrote the piece, soft-ped­aled the Gali­cia Divi­sion in oth­er ways too. He said that some of the Ukraini­ans who joined it did so “for ide­o­log­i­cal rea­sons, in oppo­si­tion to the Sovi­et Union, in hopes of cre­at­ing an inde­pen­dent Ukrain­ian state.”

That’s quite a white­wash­ing of the ide­o­log­i­cal pack­age that goes with sign­ing up for the SS, leav­ing out that this vision for an “inde­pen­dent Ukrain­ian state” includ­ed the exter­mi­na­tion of Jew­ish, LGBTQ, Roma and Pol­ish minori­ties. As far as the “hopes of cre­at­ing an inde­pen­dent Ukrain­ian state” ali­bi, the Per Anders Rudling (Jour­nal of Slav­ic Mil­i­tary Stud­ies, 2012) doc­u­ments that “there is no overt indi­ca­tion that the unit [of Ukrain­ian Waf­fen-SS recruits] in any way was ded­i­cat­ed to Ukrain­ian state­hood, let alone inde­pen­dence.”

‘Caught between Hitler and Stal­in’

Toron­to Star colum­nist Heather Mallick (9/26/23) mocked Poland for want­i­ng to extra­dite Hun­ka, whose unit mas­sa­cred Poles dur­ing World War II, because “Poland has a noto­ri­ous his­to­ry of anti­semitism.”

Toron­to Star colum­nist Heather Mallick (9/26/23) also used the word “com­pli­cat­ed” to dimin­ish Nazi atroc­i­ties, and mock the Pol­ish government’s inter­est in hav­ing Hun­ka extra­dit­ed for war crimes:

Fun­ny, they’ve had 73 years to ask Cana­da for him. It’s almost as if Poland has a noto­ri­ous his­to­ry of anti­semitism but that’s crazy talk….

Rota should have under­stood how com­pli­cat­ed his­to­ry is, how, post-Holodomor, a Ukrain­ian caught between Hitler and Stal­in made a fatal choice.

We can hate Hun­ka for that now. I do.

But would every Cana­di­an MP have made immac­u­late choic­es inside Stalin’s “Blood­lands” in 1943? Of course you and I would have been hero­ic, joined the White Rose move­ment, been exe­cut­ed for our trou­bles. But every­one?

Mallick refers to Ukraine as “Stalin’s ‘Blood­lands,’” cit­ing the Holodomor, the 1930s famine in the Sovi­et Union that killed an esti­mat­ed 3.5 mil­lion Ukraini­ans, as well as mil­lions in oth­er parts of the USSR. Yet her link takes read­ers to a review of the book Blood­lands: Europe Between Hitler and Stal­in, which—its own flaws notwith­stand­ing (Jacobin, 9/9/14)—dis­cuss­es the killings in Ukraine and else­where by Stal­in and, on a sig­nif­i­cant­ly more egre­gious scale, Hitler. Acknowl­edg­ing that the phrase she’s bor­row­ing refers to both Sovi­et crimes and the Nazis’ geno­cides would have made the choice of join­ing the Nazis seem rather less sym­pa­thet­ic.

Mean­while, Mallick’s baf­fling com­ments about Poland erase the Nazis’ sys­tem­at­ic killing of Pol­ish peo­ple. Pol­ish his­to­ry has indeed been marred by hor­rif­ic anti­semitism, with many Pol­ish peo­ple com­plic­it in the Holo­caust, as she glibly ref­er­ences; this does not erase the fact that the Nazis also mur­dered 1.8 mil­lion non-Jew­ish Poles, or negate Poland’s desire to see their killers brought to jus­tice. As Lev Golinkin (For­ward, 9/24/23) point­ed out, the Gali­cia Divi­sion that Hun­ka belonged to was vis­it­ed by SS head Hein­rich Himm­ler, who spoke of the sol­diers’ “will­ing­ness to slaugh­ter Poles.” Three months ear­li­er, SS Galichi­na sub­units per­pe­trat­ed what is known as the Huta Pieni­ac­ka mas­sacre, burn­ing 500 to 1,000 Pol­ish vil­lagers alive.

The non-Nazi SS

Keir Giles (Politi­co, 10/2/23) advances the argu­ment that join­ing the SS and swear­ing “absolute obe­di­ence to the com­man­der in chief of the Ger­man Armed Forces Adolf Hitler” doesn’t make you a Nazi.

An old cliché uses the anal­o­gy of grad­u­al­ly boil­ing a frog to explain how fas­cism takes hold in soci­eties, but read­ers of Keir Giles’ inter­ven­tion (Politi­co, 10/2/23) will feel like they are eyes-deep in a bub­bling caul­dron.

Giles, who said the rel­e­vant his­to­ry is “com­pli­cat­ed” four times and “com­plex” twice, wrote an arti­cle enti­tled “Fight­ing Against the USSR Didn’t Nec­es­sar­i­ly Make You a Nazi.” That’s a dubi­ous claim in a piece focused on World War II, when the Sovi­et Union was the main force fight­ing Nazi Ger­many, and thus fight­ing the Sovi­ets made you at least an ally of Nazis.

More to the point, the unit Hun­ka belonged to was a for­mal divi­sion of the SS, trained and armed by Nazi Ger­many (For­ward, 9/27/23), which “fought exclu­sive­ly to serve Nazi aims” (Nation­al Post, 9/25/23).

Giles, how­ev­er, opened by writ­ing:

Every­body knows that a lie can make it halfway around the world before the truth has even got its boots on.

And the ongo­ing tur­moil over Canada’s par­lia­ment rec­og­niz­ing for­mer SS troop­er Yaroslav Hun­ka high­lights one of the most impor­tant rea­sons why.

Some­thing that’s untrue but sim­ple is far more per­sua­sive than a com­pli­cat­ed, nuanced truth….

In the case of Hun­ka, the mass out­rage stems from his enlist­ment with one of the for­eign legions of the Waf­fen-SS, fight­ing Sovi­et forces on Germany’s east­ern front.

Set­ting aside that Giles omits “and butcher­ing inno­cent peo­ple” when he describes Waf­fen-SS activ­i­ties as “fight­ing Sovi­et forces,” his sug­ges­tion that call­ing Hun­ka a Nazi is a “lie” does not with­stand even min­i­mal scruti­ny. For instance, Rudling (Jour­nal of Slav­ic Mil­i­tary Stud­ies, 2012) doc­u­ments that, from August 29, 1943, onward, Ukrain­ian Waf­fen-SS recruits were sworn in with the fol­low­ing oath:

I swear before God this holy oath, that in the bat­tle against Bol­she­vism, I will give absolute obe­di­ence to the com­man­der in chief of the Ger­man Armed Forces Adolf Hitler, and as a brave sol­dier I will always be pre­pared to lay down my life for this oath.

Vow­ing “absolute obe­di­ence” to Hitler, and swear­ing that you’re will­ing to die for him, makes you as root and branch a Nazi as Rudolf Hess or Her­mann Göring.

‘Sim­ple nar­ra­tives’

After draw­ing these bogus dis­tinc­tions between the Nazis and their units, Giles moved on to geno­cide denial:

The idea that for­eign vol­un­teers and con­scripts were being allo­cat­ed to the Waf­fen-SS rather than the Wehrma­cht on admin­is­tra­tive rather than ide­o­log­i­cal grounds is a hard sell for audi­ences con­di­tioned to believe the SS’s pri­ma­ry task was geno­cide….

Repeat­ed exhaus­tive inves­ti­ga­tions—includ­ing by not only the Nurem­berg tri­als but also the British, Cana­di­an and even Sovi­et authorities—led to the con­clu­sion that no war crimes or atroc­i­ties had been com­mit­ted by this par­tic­u­lar unit.

Giles doesn’t name any inves­ti­ga­tions by British or Sovi­et offi­cials, so it’s unclear what he’s talk­ing about on those points, but he’s lying about Nurem­berg. The Nurem­berg Tri­bunals did not specif­i­cal­ly address the Gali­cia Divi­sion (Guardian, 9/25/23), but found that the com­bat branch of which they were a part, the Waf­fen-SS, “was a crim­i­nal orga­ni­za­tion”:

In deal­ing with the SS, the Tri­bunal includes all per­sons who had been offi­cial­ly accept­ed as mem­bers of the SS, includ­ing the mem­bers of the All­ge­meine SS, mem­bers of the Waf­fen-SS, mem­bers of the SS Totenkopfver­baende, and the mem­bers of any of the dif­fer­ent police forces who were mem­bers of the SS.

Giles assert­ed that “sim­ple nar­ra­tives like ‘every­body in the SS was guilty of war crimes’ are more per­va­sive because they’re much sim­pler to grasp”—but every­body in the SS was, quite lit­er­al­ly, guilty of war crimes.

Heav­i­ly cen­sored report

The Ottawa Cit­i­zen (9/27/23), cit­ing B’nai Brith, report­ed that “the Cana­di­an government’s approach to Nazi war crim­i­nals had been marked with ‘inten­tion­al har­bor­ing of known Nazi war crim­i­nals.’”

The Cana­di­an inves­ti­ga­tion Giles refers to is a 1986 Cana­di­an gov­ern­ment report that claims that mem­ber­ship in the Gali­cia Divi­sion did not in and of itself con­sti­tute a war crime. This con­clu­sion is high­ly sus­pect when read against the Nurem­berg tribunal’s judg­ment, and the report also has to be under­stood in the broad­er con­text of Cana­di­an state inves­ti­ga­tions into Nazis in the coun­try. As the Ottawa Citizen’s David Pugliese (9/27/23) explained:

The fed­er­al gov­ern­ment has with­held a sec­ond part of a 1986 gov­ern­ment com­mis­sion report about Nazis who set­tled in Cana­da. In addi­tion, it has heav­i­ly cen­sored anoth­er 1986 report exam­in­ing how Nazis were able to get into Cana­da. More than 600 pages of that doc­u­ment, obtained by this news­pa­per and oth­er orga­ni­za­tions through the Access to Infor­ma­tion law, have been cen­sored.

Nei­ther Giles nor any oth­er mem­ber of the pub­lic knows what the Cana­di­an gov­ern­ment is hid­ing about its inves­ti­ga­tion, or why it’s con­ceal­ing this infor­ma­tion, so it’s disin­gen­u­ous for him to present the frac­tion of the government’s con­clu­sions to which he has access as if it is the final word on the Gali­cia Divi­sion or any­thing else.

As to Giles’ jaw-drop­ping com­plaint that peo­ple are “con­di­tioned to believe the SS’s pri­ma­ry task was geno­cide,” the Nurem­berg Tri­al con­clud­ed that the SS car­ried out per­se­cu­tion and exter­mi­na­tion of the Jews, bru­tal­i­ties and killings in con­cen­tra­tion camps, excess­es in the admin­is­tra­tion of occu­pied ter­ri­to­ries, the admin­is­tra­tion of the slave labor pro­gram, and the mis­treat­ment and mur­der of pris­on­ers.

Per­haps the pub­lic is “con­di­tioned to believe the SS’s pri­ma­ry task was geno­cide” because the SS car­ried out geno­cide.

As dis­con­cert­ing as it is that authors like Giles are writ­ing fas­cist propaganda—and that Mallick veers per­ilous­ly close to the same—it’s even more alarm­ing that edi­tors at out­lets like the Star, CBC and Politi­co deem such intel­lec­tu­al­ly and moral­ly bank­rupt mate­r­i­al wor­thy of pub­li­ca­tion.

7. “Hunk­a­gate, or How ‘Inglou­ri­ous Bas­ter­ds’ Eat Crow” by C.B. Forde; The Pos­til; 10/01/2023.

Note to self: The Nazis are no longer the bad guys, the Rus­sians are.

So, why is it so sur­pris­ing that Justin Trudeau hon­ored a for­mer Waf­fen SS vet­er­an (Yaroslav Hun­ka), in par­lia­ment, on Sep­tem­ber 22, 2023? There is no point in insult­ing our own intel­li­gence by even con­sid­er­ing that it was sole­ly the fault of one man (Antho­ny Rota), and no one else even knew what Rota was up to. . . .

. . . . Enter War­ren Thorn­ton, in Britain. It was he who first noticed as to what had hap­pened in the Cana­di­an Par­lia­ment. He just point­ed out the obvi­ous: in World War Two, the only ones fight­ing the Rus­sians were the Nazis and their ilk, because the Rus­sians (or Sovi­ets at that time) were “our” allies. Ergo, Hun­ka could not be any­thing oth­er than a Nazi. . . .

. . . . Back in Britain, Mr. Thorn­ton was reward­ed for all his hard work by being prompt­ly arrest­ed for spread­ing “mal­in­for­ma­tion.” This is infor­ma­tion that is true but which the gov­ern­ment feels can cause “harm.” So, British author­i­ties were busy pro­tect­ing Hun­ka, since we can’t have any­one malign­ing the Nazis, can we? Thank­ful­ly, Mr. Thorn­ton was released because he hung tough. . . .

8. FTR#300 “If Music Be The Food of Love, Munch On, Part 3”

 

Discussion

5 comments for “FTR#‘s 1318 and 1319 How Many Lies Before You Belong to the Lies?, Parts 27 and 28”

  1. Is a peace­ful set­tle­ment to the con­flict in Ukraine at all plau­si­ble? Well, if we lis­ten to the reports we’ve been repeat­ed­ly hear­ing in the West­ern press, yes, such a set­tle­ment is not only pos­si­ble but some­thing the Krem­lin has been qui­et­ly send­ing feel­ing out about for months now. But that’s assum­ing we aren’t also lis­ten­ing to the explic­it denials of such reports by the Krem­lin. It’s a weird media mys­tery, but a poten­tial­ly impor­tant one.

    The lat­est exam­ples of these reports came in the form of a Bloomberg report from a few days ago based on two anony­mous sources claim­ing that Vladimir Putin has indi­cat­ed that he would not oppose Ukraine’s “neu­tral sta­tus” and even­tu­al NATO mem­ber­ship, as long as Kyiv rec­og­nizes Rus­si­a’s claims to the occu­pied ter­ri­to­ries. It was a remark­able claim. On the one hand, it’s not hard to imag­ine Putin is open to peace nego­ti­a­tions. That’s how this con­flict will ulti­mate­ly end. But it’s exceed­ing­ly dif­fi­cult to imag­ine that a con­flict that was start­ed in large part of fears of Ukraine’s NATO mem­ber­ship will end up get­ting resolved with that NATO mem­ber­ship. And yet that’s the nar­ra­tive we keep hear­ing.

    In fact, few a days after that Bloomberg report, for­mer NATO Supreme Com­man­der James Stavridis gave an inter­view where he also spec­u­lat­ed that peace nego­ti­a­tions could fea­si­bly get under­way near the end of the year, in par­tic­u­lar after the US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. And accord­ing to Stavridis, the even­tu­al peace plan could resem­ble “the Kore­an sce­nario”, with Russ­ian regain­ing con­trol over Crimea and parts of the land bridge but also with Ukraine mov­ing towards NATO mem­ber­ship.

    So we have to ask, are these real reports about actu­al behind-the-scenes peace feel­ers being sent out by the Krem­lin and that, amaz­ing­ly, could include NATO mem­ber­ship for Ukraine? Or are we just look­ing at the kind of ‘think pieces’ designed to start get­ting West­ern audi­ences used to the idea of an end to the con­flict that does­n’t involve a com­plete expul­sion of Rus­sia?

    Either way, it’s impor­tant to keep in mind that West­ern audi­ences aren’t the only audi­ences hear­ing these reports. Which rais­es one of the oth­er major ques­tions loom­ing over any pos­si­ble peace deal that could end this con­flict: what will Azov and the rest of the Ukrain­ian far right do in response to these pro­pos­als? NATO mem­ber­ship isn’t exact­ly a tempt­ing con­so­la­tion prize for these groups, after all. Don’t for­get how Svo­bo­da, Right Sec­tor, and Nation­al Corps (Azov’s polit­i­cal wing) joint­ly issue a man­i­festo back in 2017 call­ing for mov­ing Ukraine away from the West and the cre­ation of “a new Euro­pean Union with the Baltic States,” along with nuclear weapons for Ukraine.

    But it’s not just the far right’s stat­ed goals that should be a source of con­cern here. It’s their demon­strat­ed abil­i­ty to block peace nego­ti­a­tions and get away with it. Recall how, back in 2019, after Pres­i­dent Volodymyr Zelen­sky was over­whelm­ing­ly elec­tion on a plat­form of nego­ti­at­ing some sort of set­tle­ment for what was then still a civ­il war, Zelen­sky trav­eled to the town of Zolote on the east­ern front to meet with the pub­lic and sol­diers as he was try­ing to reach some sort of cease­fire agree­ment, he was con­front­ed by a num­ber of mem­bers of Azov angry about any such nego­ti­a­tions. After video of con­fronta­tion went viral, Azov founder Andriy Bilet­sky vowed to bring thou­sands of sol­diers to con­front Zelen­sky next. And Zelen­sky was­n’t just sub­ject­ed to mul­ti­ple death threats by far right lead­ers over the cease­fire nego­ti­a­tions. He was also thwart­ed in his demands that the Azov mem­bers in relin­quish what were then ille­gal­ly pos­sessed weapons in the town. Weapons that could be used to block the tem­po­rary peace he was try­ing to estab­lish in the area. And it was none oth­er than Vadym Troy­an — the for­mer deputy com­man­der of the Azov Bat­tal­ion who was ele­vat­ed to the posi­tion of the Chief of Police for the Kyiv Oblast back in 2014 — who insist­ed that, no, Azov pos­sessed those weapons legal­ly, despite the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary stat­ing the oppo­site.

    And that episode in Zolote in 2019 was over a tem­po­rary local cease­fire. And episode that did­n’t involve any real pun­ish­ment for effec­tive­ly black­mail­ing the coun­try’s pres­i­dent with threats of vio­lence. What can we expect from Ukraine’s Nazis today should some sort of seri­ous peace nego­ti­a­tion real­ly start to get under­way? How long before we see some sort of coup attempt? And what will the West­’s response be if Ukraine sud­den­ly finds itself with an far right mil­i­tant gov­ern­ment intent on con­tin­u­ing to wage war at any cost? These are the kinds of ques­tions loom­ing over this whole process that serve as a reminder that, despite the Krem­lin’s denials over these reports, the Krem­lin prob­a­bly isn’t going to be hard­est par­ty get to the nego­ti­a­tion table:

    The Moscow Times

    Krem­lin Denies Putin Send­ing Sig­nals to U.S. for Ukraine Peace Talks

    Jan. 26, 2024

    The Krem­lin on Fri­day denied reports that Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin is prob­ing to see whether the Unit­ed States is will­ing to engage in talks for end­ing the war in Ukraine.

    A Bloomberg report pub­lished the day before cit­ed two anony­mous sources close to the Krem­lin as say­ing that Putin had indi­rect­ly “put out feel­ers” to uniden­ti­fied senior U.S. offi­cials in Decem­ber.

    The Russ­ian leader was said to have indi­cat­ed he would not oppose Ukraine’s “neu­tral sta­tus” and even­tu­al NATO mem­ber­ship if Kyiv accept­ed Krem­lin con­trol of par­tial­ly occu­pied regions. Ukraine, backed by Wash­ing­ton and oth­er West­ern allies, has vowed to reclaim those ter­ri­to­ries.

    “That’s false infor­ma­tion, it’s com­plete­ly untrue,” Krem­lin spokesman Dmit­ry Peskov told reporters Fri­day, refer­ring to the Bloomberg report.

    Yet in com­ments made to Bloomberg in Thurs­day’s report, Peskov was quot­ed as say­ing that “Pres­i­dent Putin has stat­ed numer­ous times that Rus­sia was, is and will con­tin­ue to be open for nego­ti­a­tions on Ukraine.”

    ...

    As the inva­sion nears its sec­ond anniver­sary, U.S. media out­lets have in recent months report­ed that Putin may have been sig­nal­ing an open­ness to a cease­fire deal since at least Sep­tem­ber.

    But the Russ­ian leader could change his mind if his forces were to regain momen­tum on the bat­tle­field, The New York Times report­ed in Decem­ber, cit­ing anony­mous for­mer Russ­ian offi­cials.

    Lat­er that month, the Japan­ese news­pa­per Nikkei, cit­ing mul­ti­ple anony­mous sources famil­iar with Russ­ian-Chi­nese diplo­mat­ic maneu­ver­ing, report­ed that Putin had told Chi­nese leader Xi Jin­ping that his inva­sion of Ukraine would last five years.

    ————

    “Krem­lin Denies Putin Send­ing Sig­nals to U.S. for Ukraine Peace Talks”; The Moscow Times; 01/26/2024

    “As the inva­sion nears its sec­ond anniver­sary, U.S. media out­lets have in recent months report­ed that Putin may have been sig­nal­ing an open­ness to a cease­fire deal since at least Sep­tem­ber.”

    Mur­mur­ings of peace over­tures from Putin aren’t new at this point. US media has been issue such reports for months now. The lat­est being the recent Bloomberg report sug­gest­ing not only that Putin might be open to a peace arrange­ment that results in Ukraine’s “neu­tral sta­tus”, but that Putin could even be open to even­tu­al NATO mem­ber­ship for Ukraine as long as Kyiv rec­og­nizes Rus­si­a’s con­trol of the east­ern provinces. The Krem­lin is for­mal­ly deny­ing such reports. But with this just being the lat­est in a steady string of reports hint­ing at the Krem­lin’s will­ing­ness to nego­ti­ate — at the same time the Ukrain­ian counter-offen­sive has large­ly failed to gain any ground — we have to won­der how much these reports are a reflec­tion of real qui­et nego­ti­a­tions tak­ing place in the back­ground:

    ...
    The Russ­ian leader was said to have indi­cat­ed he would not oppose Ukraine’s “neu­tral sta­tus” and even­tu­al NATO mem­ber­ship if Kyiv accept­ed Krem­lin con­trol of par­tial­ly occu­pied regions. Ukraine, backed by Wash­ing­ton and oth­er West­ern allies, has vowed to reclaim those ter­ri­to­ries.

    “That’s false infor­ma­tion, it’s com­plete­ly untrue,” Krem­lin spokesman Dmit­ry Peskov told reporters Fri­day, refer­ring to the Bloomberg report.

    Yet in com­ments made to Bloomberg in Thurs­day’s report, Peskov was quot­ed as say­ing that “Pres­i­dent Putin has stat­ed numer­ous times that Rus­sia was, is and will con­tin­ue to be open for nego­ti­a­tions on Ukraine.”
    ...

    Or are these reports based on noth­ing but instead pure­ly intend­ed to psy­cho­log­i­cal­ly pre­pare West­ern pop­u­la­tions for inevitable nego­ti­a­tions that con­cede ter­ri­to­ry to Rus­sia? That remains very unclear. It’s not hard to imag­ine nego­ti­a­tions are qui­et­ly hap­pen­ing, but it’s also not hard to imag­ine that Rus­sia may not be in a rush to arrive at a nego­ti­at­ed set­tle­ment at this point giv­en how the war is going for Russ­ian forces.

    And that brings us to the fol­low­ing arti­cle pub­lished in the Kyiv Post, a few days after the Bloomberg piece, about the pre­dic­tions by for­mer NATO Supreme Allied Com­man­der James Stavridis. Accord­ing to Stavridis, the peri­od fol­low­ing the 2024 US elec­tions could be a moment for nego­ti­a­tions on Ukraine. Stavridis went on to spec­u­lat­ed that some sort of set­tle­ment might involve Rus­sia retain­ing con­trol over areas like Crimea and the land bridge, while Ukraine moves towards NATO mem­ber­ship. So for what­ev­er rea­son, we keep get­ting reports in the West­ern press sug­gest­ing the con­flict in Ukraine might end soon­er rather than lat­er with a set­tle­ment that con­cedes ter­ri­to­ry to Rus­sia but also ends up with Ukraine join­ing NATO:

    Kyiv Post

    Ukraine and Rus­sia to Have ‘Moment for Nego­ti­a­tion’ After 2024 Elec­tion, For­mer NATO Com­man­der Says

    James Stavridis likened the even­tu­al res­o­lu­tion of the war to the Kore­an sce­nario, sug­gest­ing that Rus­sia might keep con­trol over some parts of Ukraine while Kyiv would move toward NATO mem­ber­ship.

    by Kyiv Post | Jan­u­ary 29, 2024, 12:59 pm

    For­mer NATO Supreme Allied Com­man­der James Stavridis sug­gest­ed that both Rus­sia and Ukraine, fatigued by the pro­longed war, may find a poten­tial open­ing for nego­ti­a­tions by the end of this year.

    “I think toward the end of this year, prob­a­bly after the US elec­tions, we’ve got a moment for poten­tial nego­ti­a­tion,” Stavridis said in an inter­view on “The Cats Round­table” on WABC 770 AM on Sun­day.

    He com­pared the even­tu­al res­o­lu­tion of the war to the Kore­an sce­nario, spec­u­lat­ing that Rus­sia might retain con­trol over some parts of Ukraine, such as Crimea and the land bridge to Rus­sia, while Ukraine could move towards NATO mem­ber­ship.

    “On the oth­er hand, I see Ukraine com­ing into NATO. I think the out­line of that deal will prob­a­bly become clear­er as this year goes on,” Stavridis said.

    The Slo­vak defense min­is­ter Robert Kalinyak expressed the same sen­ti­ments. Speak­ing to the Trend out­let, he said: “It’s time to start talk­ing about peace talks between Ukraine and Rus­sia,” adding that Russia’s war against Ukraine “has no mil­i­tary solu­tion.”

    “Regard­less of how the con­flict ends, Ukraine will always have bor­ders with Rus­sia. It [Rus­sia] won’t back down,” Kalinyak said.

    ...

    “Giv­en the state of the mil­i­tary con­flict, it is nec­es­sary to start talk­ing about peace nego­ti­a­tions. The lead­ers of the Euro­pean Union and the Unit­ed States should par­tic­i­pate in them,” the head of the Slo­vak Defense Min­istry added.

    More than 80 coun­tries held talks on Jan. 14 to seek com­mon ground on Ukraine’s peace for­mu­la at Davos, Switzer­land, on the eve of the five-day World Eco­nom­ic Forum sum­mit.

    Nation­al secu­ri­ty advi­sors from 83 coun­tries held a fourth round of dis­cus­sions based on Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Volodymyr Zelensky’s 10-point pro­pos­als for a last­ing and just peace in Ukraine, near­ly two years on from Russia’s full-scale inva­sion.

    On Aug. 5 and 6, Ukraine start­ed work­ing to gain sup­port for the 10-point plan among the 42 coun­tries that par­tic­i­pat­ed in the first orga­ni­za­tion­al peace sum­mit in Jed­dah, Sau­di Ara­bia. Although not every coun­try that par­tic­i­pat­ed in the sum­mit was ful­ly on board with every point, most were broad­ly sup­port­ive.

    Zelen­sky first pre­sent­ed the blue­print, some­times called the “Zelen­sky Peace Plan” or the “Ukrain­ian Peace For­mu­la,” at a Novem­ber sum­mit of the Group of 20 major economies.

    But just what are these 10 points?

    They start with nuclear secu­ri­ty and end with the con­fir­ma­tion of the end of the war in Ukraine with an empha­sis on inter­na­tion­al secu­ri­ty and jus­tice.

    Kyiv Post presents a sum­ma­ry of Ukraine’s blue­print for peace here.

    ————

    “Ukraine and Rus­sia to Have ‘Moment for Nego­ti­a­tion’ After 2024 Elec­tion, For­mer NATO Com­man­der Says” by Kyiv Post; Kyiv Post; 01/29/2024

    ““I think toward the end of this year, prob­a­bly after the US elec­tions, we’ve got a moment for poten­tial nego­ti­a­tion,” Stavridis said in an inter­view on “The Cats Round­table” on WABC 770 AM on Sun­day.”

    Might there be a peri­od of nego­ti­a­tions clos­er to the end of 2024? Time will tell, but the oth­er implied part of Stavridis­’s pre­dic­tion is the polit­i­cal real­i­ty that there is unlike­ly to be any sort of for­mal push on these kinds of nego­ti­a­tions from the US until the US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion has been resolved one way or anoth­er.

    But it’s also hard not to notice how these fre­quent pre­dic­tions are set­ting up expec­ta­tions inside Ukraine that NATO mem­ber­ship is going to be the con­so­la­tion prize for not win­ning back that lost ter­ri­to­ry. Expec­ta­tions that are going to ulti­mate­ly be up to Rus­sia to agree to which may not hap­pen. Pre­vent­ing Ukraine’s mem­ber­ship into NATO is one of the over­ar­ch­ing stat­ed objec­tives for Rus­sians “spe­cial mil­i­tary oper­a­tion” in the first place, after all:

    ...
    He com­pared the even­tu­al res­o­lu­tion of the war to the Kore­an sce­nario, spec­u­lat­ing that Rus­sia might retain con­trol over some parts of Ukraine, such as Crimea and the land bridge to Rus­sia, while Ukraine could move towards NATO mem­ber­ship.

    On the oth­er hand, I see Ukraine com­ing into NATO. I think the out­line of that deal will prob­a­bly become clear­er as this year goes on,” Stavridis said.
    ...

    So with the West seem­ing­ly dan­gling some sort of out­line for a peace set­tle­ment that involves a swap of land for NATO mem­ber­ship, we have to not just ask how the Ukrain­ian pub­lic at large might accept such a deal put in par­tic­u­lar how Ukraine’s pow­er­ful Nazi orga­ni­za­tions might respond to such prospects. How will groups like Azov or C14 — both of which have already been deeply incor­po­rat­ed into Ukraine’s offi­cial nation­al secu­ri­ty infra­struc­ture by this point — react to such plans should they appear to have any hope of com­ing to fruition? NATO mem­ber­ship and much clos­er ties to the West isn’t exact­ly some­thing groups like Azov want to see either. Recall how Svo­bo­da, Right Sec­tor, and Nation­al Corps (Azov’s polit­i­cal wing) joint­ly issue a man­i­festo back in 2017 call­ing for mov­ing Ukraine away from the West and the cre­ation of “a new Euro­pean Union with the Baltic States,” along with nuclear weapons for Ukraine. How will Ukraine’s pow­er­ful far right react to news about seri­ous peace set­tle­ments?

    We already know the answer on some lev­el. After all, we already saw how the far right will respond to peace nego­ti­a­tions back in 2019 after Pres­i­dent Volodymyr Zelen­sky was over­whelm­ing­ly elec­tion on a plat­form of nego­ti­at­ing some sort of set­tle­ment for what was then still a civ­il war. As we saw, when Zelen­sky trav­eled to the town of Zolote on the east­ern front to meet with the pub­lic and sol­diers as he was try­ing to reach some sort of cease­fire agree­ment, he was con­front­ed by a num­ber of mem­bers of Azov angry about any such nego­ti­a­tions. After video of con­fronta­tion went viral, Azov founder Andriy Bilet­sky vowed to bring thou­sands of sol­diers to con­front Zelen­sky next. Zelen­sky was fac­ing open threats of vio­lence if he did­n’t change his stance. Threats that went unpun­ished.

    So with the prospect of a replay of that 2019 threat to end Zelen­sky should he pur­sue peace now under­way, it’s worth tak­ing anoth­er look back at that 2019 con­fronta­tion in Zolote. Zelen­sky was­n’t just sub­ject­ed to mul­ti­ple death threats by far right lead­ers, but he was also thwart­ed in his demands that the Azov mem­bers in relin­quish what were then ille­gal­ly pos­sessed weapons. Weapons that could be used to block the tem­po­rary peace he was try­ing to estab­lish in the area. And as we’re going to see, it was none oth­er than Vadym Troy­an — the for­mer deputy com­man­der of the Azov Bat­tal­ion who was ele­vat­ed to the posi­tion of the Chief of Police for the Kyiv Oblast back in 2014 — who inter­vened and declared that Azov’s weapons were all pos­sessed legal­ly even though mil­i­tary offi­cials had pre­vi­ous­ly stat­ed the oppo­site. It was a chill­ing exam­ple of just how pow­er­ful the far right had already become by the time Zelen­sky was elect­ed. Pow­er­ful enough to thwart a pres­i­dent who had just been over­whelm­ing­ly been elec­tion a plat­form to seek a peace­ful set­tle­ment:

    Kyiv Post

    ‘I’m not a los­er’: Zelen­sky clash­es with vet­er­ans over Don­bas dis­en­gage­ment (VIDEO)

    It start­ed as an argu­ment. On Oct. 26, Pres­i­dent Volodymyr Zelen­sky locked horns with war vet­er­ans in the front-line town of Zolote in Luhan­sk Oblast. The pres­i­dent was push­ing a mutu­al dis­en­gage­ment

    by Oksana Gryt­senko | Octo­ber 28, 2019, 6:20 pm

    It start­ed as an argu­ment. On Oct. 26, Pres­i­dent Volodymyr Zelen­sky locked horns with war vet­er­ans in the front-line town of Zolote in Luhan­sk Oblast.

    The pres­i­dent was push­ing a mutu­al dis­en­gage­ment of troops and arma­ments at the front line flash­point. The vet­er­ans opposed this plan.

    Soon, how­ev­er, a video of their dis­agree­ment shot through Ukrain­ian social media, fuel­ing pas­sions across the coun­try.

    It left lit­tle under­stand­ing, how­ev­er, of the real prospects that both Ukrain­ian forces and Russ­ian-backed mil­i­tants would pull one kilo­me­ter back short­ly. That clar­i­ty is par­tic­u­lar­ly lack­ing after the planned with­draw­al was post­poned sev­er­al times due to shoot­ing.

    And locals remain as puz­zled — if not more so — than observers. They don’t know what to expect in the near future.

    Viral argu­ment

    Zolote is a town of 14,000 peo­ple some 700 kilo­me­ters south­east of Kyiv. It is cut in two by the front line of Russia’s war against Ukraine. In some parts of Zolote, the mil­i­tary posi­tions of Ukrain­ian and Russ­ian- led troops are less than 100 meters apart.

    On Oct. 25, Zelen­sky unex­pect­ed­ly arrived in Zolote for an overnight vis­it. He met with sol­diers, res­i­dents and a group of army vet­er­ans who came there ear­li­er this month to pre­vent Russ­ian-led troops from tak­ing con­trol of the town when Ukraine’s army with­draws.

    Some locals fear they may be in dan­ger once the Ukrain­ian army pulls back. Oth­ers believe the greater dis­tance between the two sides’ posi­tions will make their town safer.

    That con­tro­ver­sy rose to the sur­face when Zelen­sky met with the vet­er­ans, who took up res­i­dence in an aban­doned house. Their first dis­agree­ment was about what res­i­dents of Zolote want.

    Zelen­sky claimed that locals want dis­en­gage­ment and that the larg­er dis­tance between the sides would decrease the num­ber of sol­diers being killed each month. But the vet­er­ans argued that troop with­draw­al is effec­tive­ly capit­u­la­tion and that locals don’t sup­port it.

    How­ev­er, the biggest argu­ment erupt­ed when some­one informed Zelen­sky that the vet­er­ans had ille­gal arms, which they alleged­ly stored under their beds. The pres­i­dent then demand­ed they remove the weapons from Zolote.

    When one vet­er­an, Denys Yan­tar, said they had no arms and want­ed instead to dis­cuss protests against the planned dis­en­gage­ment that had tak­en place across Ukraine, Zelen­sky became furi­ous.

    “Lis­ten, Denys, I’m the pres­i­dent of this coun­try. I’m 41 years old. I’m not a los­er. I came to you and told you: remove the weapons. Don’t shift the con­ver­sa­tion to some protests,” Zelen­sky said, videos of the exchange show. As he said this, Zelen­sky aggres­sive­ly approached Yan­tar, who heads the Nation­al Corps, a polit­i­cal off­shoot of the far-right Azov vol­un­teer bat­tal­ion, in Myko­laiv city.

    “But we’ve dis­cussed that,” Yan­tar said.

    “I want­ed to see under­stand­ing in your eyes. But, instead, I saw a guy who’s decid­ed that this is some los­er stand­ing in front of him,” Zelen­sky said.

    Reac­tion

    Cap­tured on video, the inci­dent sparked sig­nif­i­cant crit­i­cism on social media. Many claimed that Zelen­sky should have spo­ken more polite­ly to war vet­er­ans. Short­ly after the con­ver­sa­tion, Zelen­sky admit­ted on social media that some of the talks were “emo­tion­al.”

    Svi­atoslav Vakarchuk, a rock musi­cian and leader of the Voice par­ty, which has 20 mem­bers in par­lia­ment, wrote on Face­book that dis­re­spect­ful con­ver­sa­tions with vet­er­ans “would not bring peace but rather would bring rage.”

    Andriy Bilet­sky, head of Nation­al Corps and the Azov Bat­tal­ion, threat­ened Zelen­sky on his YouTube chan­nel that more vet­er­ans would head to Zolote if the pres­i­dent tried to evict them from the town. “There will be thou­sands there instead of sev­er­al dozen,” he said.

    Mean­while, Nation­al Police Deputy Chief Vadym Troy­an, who was pre­vi­ous­ly Biletsky’s deputy in Azov in 2014, report­ed on Oct. 27 that the vet­er­ans had removed their weapons from Zolote. Troy­an claimed the vet­er­ans had held the weapons legal­ly, although mil­i­tary offi­cials had pre­vi­ous­ly stat­ed the oppo­site.

    Singer Sofia Fedy­na, who is a law­mak­er with the Euro­pean Sol­i­dar­i­ty par­ty of for­mer Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko, which has 27 seats in par­lia­ment, was par­tic­u­lar­ly aggres­sive in her response. She issued phys­i­cal threats against Zelen­sky.

    “Mr. Pres­i­dent thinks he is immor­tal,” she said in a video shared on Face­book. “A grenade may explode there, by chance. And it would be the nicest if this hap­pened dur­ing Moscow’s shelling when some­one comes to the front line wear­ing a white or blue shirt.”

    Zelen­sky has pre­vi­ous­ly vis­it­ed the front line dressed in civil­ian cloth­ing, rather than mil­i­tary fatigues.

    Rus­lan Ste­fanchuk, deputy speak­er of par­lia­ment from Zelensky’s par­ty, called on Ukrain­ian police to inves­ti­gate Fedyna’s com­ments.

    The Krem­lin claimed that it was fol­low­ing Zelensky’s vis­it to Zolote. Dmitri Peskov, spokesman for Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, said the future of the talks between Zelen­sky and Putin would depend on the dis­en­gage­ment.

    ...

    ———-

    “‘I’m not a los­er’: Zelen­sky clash­es with vet­er­ans over Don­bas dis­en­gage­ment (VIDEO)” by Oksana Gryt­senko; Kyiv Post; 10/28/2019

    “The pres­i­dent was push­ing a mutu­al dis­en­gage­ment of troops and arma­ments at the front line flash­point. The vet­er­ans opposed this plan.”

    The elect­ed pres­i­dent of Ukraine has a mutu­al dis­en­gage­ment plan for the front line, but Ukraine’s Nazis had dif­fer­ent plans. Guess who won:

    ...
    On Oct. 25, Zelen­sky unex­pect­ed­ly arrived in Zolote for an overnight vis­it. He met with sol­diers, res­i­dents and a group of army vet­er­ans who came there ear­li­er this month to pre­vent Russ­ian-led troops from tak­ing con­trol of the town when Ukraine’s army with­draws.

    Some locals fear they may be in dan­ger once the Ukrain­ian army pulls back. Oth­ers believe the greater dis­tance between the two sides’ posi­tions will make their town safer.

    That con­tro­ver­sy rose to the sur­face when Zelen­sky met with the vet­er­ans, who took up res­i­dence in an aban­doned house. Their first dis­agree­ment was about what res­i­dents of Zolote want.

    Zelen­sky claimed that locals want dis­en­gage­ment and that the larg­er dis­tance between the sides would decrease the num­ber of sol­diers being killed each month. But the vet­er­ans argued that troop with­draw­al is effec­tive­ly capit­u­la­tion and that locals don’t sup­port it.
    ...

    But the oppo­si­tion to the cease­fire pro­pos­al was­n’t the main point of con­tention between Zelen­sky and the far right that day. Their pos­ses­sion of ille­gal weapons was the pri­ma­ry source of con­flict. Weapons that could be uni­lat­er­al­ly used to dis­rupt any nego­ti­at­ed cease­fire. Zelen­sky issued direct orders to Nation­al Corp head Denys Yan­tar to remove the weapons from the town. And Andriy Bilet­sky respond­ed with a video threat­en­ing to send thou­sands of troops to con­front Zelen­sky:

    ...
    How­ev­er, the biggest argu­ment erupt­ed when some­one informed Zelen­sky that the vet­er­ans had ille­gal arms, which they alleged­ly stored under their beds. The pres­i­dent then demand­ed they remove the weapons from Zolote.

    When one vet­er­an, Denys Yan­tar, said they had no arms and want­ed instead to dis­cuss protests against the planned dis­en­gage­ment that had tak­en place across Ukraine, Zelen­sky became furi­ous.

    Lis­ten, Denys, I’m the pres­i­dent of this coun­try. I’m 41 years old. I’m not a los­er. I came to you and told you: remove the weapons. Don’t shift the con­ver­sa­tion to some protests,” Zelen­sky said, videos of the exchange show. As he said this, Zelen­sky aggres­sive­ly approached Yan­tar, who heads the Nation­al Corps, a polit­i­cal off­shoot of the far-right Azov vol­un­teer bat­tal­ion, in Myko­laiv city.

    “But we’ve dis­cussed that,” Yan­tar said.

    “I want­ed to see under­stand­ing in your eyes. But, instead, I saw a guy who’s decid­ed that this is some los­er stand­ing in front of him,” Zelen­sky said.

    ...

    Andriy Bilet­sky, head of Nation­al Corps and the Azov Bat­tal­ion, threat­ened Zelen­sky on his YouTube chan­nel that more vet­er­ans would head to Zolote if the pres­i­dent tried to evict them from the town. “There will be thou­sands there instead of sev­er­al dozen,” he said.
    ...

    But those threats from Bilet­sky weren’t the most dis­turb­ing part of this sto­ry. That prize goes to the the fact that we found for­mer Azov deputy com­man­der Vadym Troy­an — then serv­ing as the head of the police for the Kyiv Oblast — run­ning cov­er for Azov over these ille­gal weapons. Cov­er that defied the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary:

    ...
    Mean­while, Nation­al Police Deputy Chief Vadym Troy­an, who was pre­vi­ous­ly Biletsky’s deputy in Azov in 2014, report­ed on Oct. 27 that the vet­er­ans had removed their weapons from Zolote. Troy­an claimed the vet­er­ans had held the weapons legal­ly, although mil­i­tary offi­cials had pre­vi­ous­ly stat­ed the oppo­site.
    ...

    So we had a show­down in Zolote in 2019 with Zelen­sky and the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary on one side and Ukraine’s Nazis on the oth­er side, with the Nazis com­ing out on top. And this was a show­down over a peace pro­pos­al that was far less sub­stan­tive than the kind of we is being bandied about in the West­ern press. It was just a tem­po­rary cease­fire around one area on the front line. If that was how Azov respond in 2019, what kind of reac­tion can we expect to peace nego­ti­a­tions that include land con­ces­sions in exchange for mem­ber­ship in NATO? What kind of far right insur­rec­tion can expect at that point? And what kind of access to weapons — legal or not — will those far right forces have now that they’ve been for­mer­ly incor­po­rat­ed into the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary? These are just some of the ques­tions loom­ing over the Ukrain­ian peace process. Ques­tions that, gen­er­al­ly speak­ing, would­n’t have to be asked at all had there not been such an open embrace of these kinds of extrem­ists in the first place by so many of groups long claim­ing to ‘sup­port Ukraine’.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 31, 2024, 1:16 am
  2. @Pterrafractyl–

    Remem­ber that the “Moscow Times” is a right-wing paper named to fool read­ers into think­ing this rep­re­sents what Rus­sians are think­ing and/or say­ing.

    Keep up the great work!

    Posted by Dave Emory | January 31, 2024, 3:51 pm
  3. Prime Min­is­ter invit­ed Waf­fen-SS vet­er­an Hun­ka to his offi­cial recep­tion for Zelen­sky

    The Speak­er took the fall for Trudeau’s actions. Cana­da is crawl­ing with Nazis, eh?

    Posted by Hugh | February 6, 2024, 8:48 pm
  4. High-lev­el shake­ups are under­way inside Ukraine’s mil­i­tary. The kind of poten­tial­ly desta­bi­liz­ing high-lev­el shake­ups that should raise seri­ous ques­tions about whether or nor the shake­ups are going to be lim­it­ed to mil­i­tary. Might we see a “march of Kiev”-style shake­up of the pres­i­den­cy by the time the dust set­tles? It’s increas­ing­ly look­ing pos­si­ble giv­en the recent turn of events.

    For starters, we got con­fir­ma­tion last week of some­thing that’s been hint­ing at for a while now: Volodymyr Zelen­sky has replaced gen­er­al Valery Zaluzh­ny with Gen­er­al Olek­san­dr Syrsky as the head of Ukraine’s armed forces. It’s a move that came at the same time polls have shown a pre­cip­i­tous drop in Zelenksy’s pub­lic sup­port at the same time Zaluzh­ny’s polit­i­cal star has been ris­ing. In fact, recent polls have for the pres­i­den­cy have sup­port for Zaluzh­ny at 40% com­pared to to Zelensky’s 42%. The fact that Zelen­sky sus­pend­ed the elec­tion sched­uled for this Spring back in Novem­ber does­n’t help.

    Beyond Zaluzh­ny’s ris­ing poll num­bers is anoth­er sig­nif­i­cant grow­ing risk as a result of this move: the Ukrain­ian armed forces are report­ed­ly livid with Zelen­sky over the move, in part because it’s seen as a sign that lit­tle will change regard­ing how Ukraine approach­es the fight. Notably, Zaluzh­ny has been advo­cat­ing for a mass mobi­liza­tion of adults into the mil­i­tary, some­thing Zelen­sky has so far resist­ed.

    But there’s anoth­er dis­turb­ing angle to this sto­ry: it appears Zaluzh­ny has already iden­ti­fied his core base of sup­port. At least that’s what we might infer from his recent deci­sions to be pho­tographed with 67th Mech­a­nized Brigade com­man­der Andriy Stem­pit­sky. That’s a Right Sec­tor brigade that’s been for­mer­ly incor­po­rat­ed into the mil­i­tary and Stem­pit­sky is one of Right Sec­tor’s lead­ers. The pho­to shows Zalush­ny and Stem­pit­sky smil­ing and being pre­sent­ed with an award from his brigade in front a pho­to of Stepan Ban­dera. The pho­to was post­ed on Face­book by Stem­pit­sky on Feb­ru­ary 2, the same day the Wash­ing­ton Post report­ed on Zelen­sky plan­ning on fir­ing Zaluzh­ny. So at the same time Zelen­sky appears to have enraged the Ukrain­ian armed forces with this move, Zaluzh­ny is open­ly cud­dling up to the far right.

    But let’s not for­get that far right mili­tias now incor­po­rat­ed into Ukraine’s mil­i­tary aren’t the only source of poten­tial insta­bil­i­ty for the coun­try. There’s also all the ‘for­eign vol­un­teers’ who have been flood­ing into the coun­try. Vol­un­teers who were gen­er­al­ly ide­o­log­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed. At least at first. But ide­ol­o­gy isn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly the pri­ma­ry moti­va­tion at this point. At least that does­n’t appear to be the case for the grow­ing num­ber of for­mer Colom­bian sol­diers who have been head­ing to Ukraine. Instead, it’s about the mon­ey. It turns out Ukraine pays much bet­ter than the Colom­bian mil­i­tary. And thanks to Ukraine hav­ing now set up the infra­struc­ture for Span­ish-speak­ing troops, more and more sol­diers from the Span­ish-speak­ing world can trav­el to Ukraine in search of a small for­tune.

    How will the grow­ing num­ber of finan­cial­ly-moti­vat­ed for­eign sol­diers inside Ukraine play out should we end up see­ing a show­down between Ukraine’s civil­ian gov­ern­ment and the mil­i­tary? These are the kinds of ques­tions we have to start ask­ing. Soon­er rather than lat­er. After all, the elec­tions may have been sus­pend­ed. But a ‘march on Kiev’ does­n’t need a sched­ule. Just a lot of real­ly pissed off troops and some­one to lead them:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    Zelen­sky replaces mil­i­tary chief, nam­ing Syrsky top com­man­der

    By Isabelle Khur­shudyan and Ser­hiy Morgunov
    Updat­ed Feb­ru­ary 8, 2024 at 4:11 p.m. EST|Published Feb­ru­ary 8, 2024 at 11:36 a.m. EST

    KYIV — Olek­san­dr Syrsky, the com­man­der of Ukraine’s ground forces since the start of Russia’s inva­sion, will be Ukraine’s next mil­i­tary chief after Pres­i­dent Volodymyr Zelen­sky on Thurs­day for­mal­ly replaced Gen. Valery Zaluzh­ny in a risky lead­er­ship shake-up that is like­ly to be unpop­u­lar with troops worn down by near­ly two years of war.

    Zelen­sky told Zaluzh­ny 10 days ago that he was being dis­missed, but the president’s office ini­tial­ly denied that the com­man­der in chief had been fired. Then, Zelen­sky delayed in issu­ing a for­mal order or announc­ing a suc­ces­sor and, even after ele­vat­ing Syrsky on Thurs­day, the pres­i­dent did not give an expla­na­tion, say­ing only that change was need­ed.

    But it’s unclear what change Syrsky will — or can — ush­er in. Zelen­sky con­sid­ered Zaluzhny’s plans for this year too ambi­tious con­sid­er­ing Ukraine’s lim­it­ed resources, accord­ing to two peo­ple famil­iar with the president’s think­ing. For the past two years, how­ev­er, Syrsky has essen­tial­ly func­tioned as the military’s sec­ond-in-com­mand. And while Ukraine is expect­ed to focus more on defense this year rather than attempt anoth­er sweep­ing coun­terof­fen­sive, it is still con­fronting a bet­ter-armed and larg­er Russ­ian force.

    As ground forces com­man­der, Syrsky, 58, was cred­it­ed with lead­ing the defense of Kyiv in the first month of the war and then orches­trat­ing a suc­cess­ful coun­terof­fen­sive in the north­east­ern Kharkiv region in fall 2022.

    ...

    The deci­sion to name Syrsky as com­man­der in chief, how­ev­er, is expect­ed to cause back­lash among troops in the field. Among rank-and-file sol­diers, Syrsky is espe­cial­ly dis­liked, con­sid­ered by many to be a Sovi­et-style com­man­der who kept forces under fire far too long in the east­ern city of Bakhmut, which even­tu­al­ly fell to Russ­ian con­trol. Thou­sands of Ukrain­ian sol­diers were killed and many more were wound­ed defend­ing the city, which had lim­it­ed strate­gic val­ue.

    Some Ukrain­ian sol­diers refer to Syrsky as a “butch­er.”

    “I only know what I’ve heard from my sub­or­di­nates,” said a high-rank­ing mil­i­tary offi­cial who, like oth­ers, spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty because he was not autho­rized to do so pub­licly. “One hun­dred per­cent of them don’t respect him because they don’t think he counts sol­diers’ lives.”

    “In com­par­i­son with Zaluzh­ny, he gets much low­er sup­port,” the per­son added.

    Rela­tions between Zelen­sky and Zaluzh­ny had frayed for months, in part because of a failed coun­terof­fen­sive last year that failed to achieve any sig­nif­i­cant ter­ri­to­r­i­al gains and more recent­ly because of a dis­agree­ment over how many sol­diers Ukraine must mobi­lize as rein­force­ments this year. Zelen­sky also viewed Zaluzh­ny as a pos­si­ble polit­i­cal rival and threat because of his high pop­u­lar­i­ty rat­ings, U.S. and Ukrain­ian offi­cials have said.

    Zelen­sky had pub­licly con­tra­dict­ed Zaluzh­ny for say­ing in the fall that the war had become a “stale­mate” — though that assess­ment is now wide­ly regard­ed as fact among mil­i­tary ana­lysts. And while Zaluzh­ny has pushed for mobi­liz­ing near­ly 500,000 new troops, Zelen­sky has resist­ed that high num­ber, pub­licly and pri­vate­ly, say­ing he is not yet con­vinced that it is nec­es­sary and rais­ing ques­tions about whether Ukraine can afford to pay for the new sol­diers.

    One sol­dier said that fir­ing Zaluzh­ny, wide­ly beloved in Ukraine by both troops and civil­ians, is like­ly to fur­ther dis­suade peo­ple from vol­un­teer­ing to fight.

    Zelen­sky said oth­er com­man­ders are being con­sid­ered for pro­mo­tions, as sev­er­al gen­er­als are expect­ed to be removed along with Zaluzh­ny. Zelen­sky said he had asked Zaluzh­ny to remain as part “of the team of the Ukrain­ian state of the future.” It is unclear what role Zaluzh­ny will have going for­ward.

    Zaluzh­ny, 50, was offered Ukraine’s ambas­sador­ship to Britain, two peo­ple famil­iar with the mat­ter said, but declined because it is a civil­ian post. Zaluzh­ny, a career sol­dier, can­not retire from the mil­i­tary while Ukraine is under mar­tial law, one of the peo­ple said.

    In posts on both Zelensky’s and Zaluzhny’s social media accounts, the two men posed shak­ing hands and smil­ing. “A deci­sion was made about the need to change approach­es and strat­e­gy,” Zaluzh­ny wrote.

    ...

    But many troops on the front line felt unsat­is­fied with Zelensky’s expla­na­tion for Zaluzhny’s sack­ing.

    “It has been a very, very sharp neg­a­tive reac­tion to his dis­missal, because, as it seems to us, there were no real rea­sons for the dis­missal,” said a Ukrain­ian offi­cer fight­ing in the south­east­ern Zapor­izhzhia region. “But this will real­ly hit moti­va­tion, of course, real­ly hit. Unequiv­o­cal­ly. There’s less and less moti­va­tion all the time. Peo­ple work and fight increas­ing­ly like automa­tons, [rather] than on moti­va­tion. This will be reflect­ed in the effec­tive­ness.”

    It’s unclear how Syrsky’s appoint­ment will help improve what has become an increas­ing­ly per­ilous sit­u­a­tion for Ukraine on the bat­tle­field.

    Rus­sia has regained the strate­gic ini­tia­tive, increas­ing its attacks along the front line. Com­man­ders have said they are bad­ly lack­ing troops, espe­cial­ly infantry troops who stand in the for­ward­most trench­es to repel Russ­ian assaults. Ukraine is also fac­ing ammu­ni­tion short­ages, and a $60 bil­lion secu­ri­ty assis­tance pack­age pro­posed by Pres­i­dent Biden has stalled in Con­gress.

    U.S. offi­cials did not offer an opin­ion on the change of top com­man­der.

    “Pres­i­dent Zelen­sky is the com­man­der in chief of his armed forces,” Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil spokesman John Kir­by said Thurs­day. “He gets to decide who his lead­er­ship is going to be in the mil­i­tary. That’s what civil­ian con­trol is all about. We know that. And we’ll work with who­ev­er he has in charge of his mil­i­tary.”

    Syrsky, who was born in Rus­sia, com­plet­ed his Sovi­et mil­i­tary edu­ca­tion in Moscow in 1982, though he has said he con­sid­ers Kharkiv, Ukraine’s sec­ond-largest city, to be his home.

    Unlike Zaluzh­ny, who nev­er served in the Sovi­et mil­i­tary, Syrsky began his mil­i­tary ser­vice in 1986 and worked his way up the ranks from a pla­toon com­man­der, even­tu­al­ly com­mand­ing Ukraine’s 72nd Mech­a­nized Brigade. By 2013, he was the deputy chief of the main com­mand cen­ter of Ukraine’s armed forces, respon­si­ble for coop­er­a­tion with NATO and reform­ing the mil­i­tary to the alliance’s stan­dards.

    To some U.S. offi­cials who long sensed dis­trust between Zaluzh­ny and Zelen­sky, Syrsky seemed more impres­sive and inspir­ing as a clas­sic com­bat sol­dier, who dis­played a clear grasp of the bat­tle­field impli­ca­tions when fac­ing what he viewed as polit­i­cal deci­sions.

    “They get to define how they should con­duct their oper­a­tions,” said Celeste Wal­lan­der, the assis­tant defense sec­re­tary for inter­na­tion­al secu­ri­ty affairs.

    “We’ll give them our advice,” she added. “We have a very strong, I think, rela­tion­ship. We have a lot of cred­i­bil­i­ty and trust built between the U.S. polit­i­cal lead­er­ship and the Ukrain­ian lead­er­ship, and the mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary rela­tion­ships.”

    But Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary per­son­nel in the field said they are espe­cial­ly wary of Syrsky exact­ly because he is con­sid­ered clos­er and more loy­al to Zelen­sky and the chief of his admin­is­tra­tion, Andriy Yer­mak.

    “In a cou­ple of months there will prob­a­bly some attempts to con­duct assault actions or some­thing like that. Because Syrsky will fol­low Zelen­sky. And Zelen­sky wants big vic­to­ries,” said a major cur­rent­ly fight­ing in east­ern Ukraine.

    “I think there will be more thought­less assaults,” he added. “And hold­ing on to ter­ri­to­ries that shouldn’t be held on to. For exam­ple Bakhmut, instead of cre­at­ing a nor­mal defense, some for­ti­fi­ca­tion struc­tures, trench­es, they just put peo­ple through the meat grinder to stop assault actions. I think we’ll see more of this s—.”

    Anoth­er com­man­der was more direct, using an exple­tive to say Ukrain­ian sol­diers would be worse off as a result of the change — “because he’s going to com­ply with all polit­i­cal demands when mak­ing mil­i­tary deci­sions.”

    ————

    “Zelen­sky replaces mil­i­tary chief, nam­ing Syrsky top com­man­der” By Isabelle Khur­shudyan and Ser­hiy Morgunov; The Wash­ing­ton Post; 02/08/2024

    The deci­sion to name Syrsky as com­man­der in chief, how­ev­er, is expect­ed to cause back­lash among troops in the field. Among rank-and-file sol­diers, Syrsky is espe­cial­ly dis­liked, con­sid­ered by many to be a Sovi­et-style com­man­der who kept forces under fire far too long in the east­ern city of Bakhmut, which even­tu­al­ly fell to Russ­ian con­trol. Thou­sands of Ukrain­ian sol­diers were killed and many more were wound­ed defend­ing the city, which had lim­it­ed strate­gic val­ue.”

    Expec­ta­tions of a back­lash inside the mil­i­tary. That’s more than a lit­tle omi­nous. But those are the warn­ings we are get­ting in the wake of Zelen­sky’s deci­sion to replace Gen­er­al Zaluzh­ny with the com­man­der of Ukraine’s ground forces Olek­san­dr Syrsky. Warn­ings point­ing to a deep sense of betray­al along with an expec­ta­tion that Ukraine’s mil­i­tary will be expect­ed to engage in more polit­i­cal­ly sym­bol­ic but mil­i­tar­i­ly ques­tion­able com­mit­ments like the cat­a­stroph­ic attempt to hold onto Bakhmut.

    But it’s not just a dif­fer­ence on mil­i­tary strat­e­gy that divides Zaluhzny and Syrsky. There’s also Zaluhzny’s call for the mass mobi­liza­tion of near­ly 500,000 new troops, some­thing Zelen­sky has resist­ed. So at the same time this move is already caus­ing a drop in Ukraine’s mil­i­tary morale, in part over con­cerns that the infantry will be asked by Syrsky to engage in more sui­ci­dal mis­sions, it’s also a sign that a mass mobi­liza­tion isn’t going to hap­pen. It points to a range of crises that could turn Zelen­sky into a very unpop­u­lar fig­ure inside Ukraine’s mil­i­tary. Will all the con­se­quences that could fol­low:

    ...
    But it’s unclear what change Syrsky will — or can — ush­er in. Zelen­sky con­sid­ered Zaluzhny’s plans for this year too ambi­tious con­sid­er­ing Ukraine’s lim­it­ed resources, accord­ing to two peo­ple famil­iar with the president’s think­ing. For the past two years, how­ev­er, Syrsky has essen­tial­ly func­tioned as the military’s sec­ond-in-com­mand. And while Ukraine is expect­ed to focus more on defense this year rather than attempt anoth­er sweep­ing coun­terof­fen­sive, it is still con­fronting a bet­ter-armed and larg­er Russ­ian force.

    As ground forces com­man­der, Syrsky, 58, was cred­it­ed with lead­ing the defense of Kyiv in the first month of the war and then orches­trat­ing a suc­cess­ful coun­terof­fen­sive in the north­east­ern Kharkiv region in fall 2022.

    ...

    Some Ukrain­ian sol­diers refer to Syrsky as a “butch­er.”

    “I only know what I’ve heard from my sub­or­di­nates,” said a high-rank­ing mil­i­tary offi­cial who, like oth­ers, spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty because he was not autho­rized to do so pub­licly. “One hun­dred per­cent of them don’t respect him because they don’t think he counts sol­diers’ lives.”

    “In com­par­i­son with Zaluzh­ny, he gets much low­er sup­port,” the per­son added.

    Rela­tions between Zelen­sky and Zaluzh­ny had frayed for months, in part because of a failed coun­terof­fen­sive last year that failed to achieve any sig­nif­i­cant ter­ri­to­r­i­al gains and more recent­ly because of a dis­agree­ment over how many sol­diers Ukraine must mobi­lize as rein­force­ments this year. Zelen­sky also viewed Zaluzh­ny as a pos­si­ble polit­i­cal rival and threat because of his high pop­u­lar­i­ty rat­ings, U.S. and Ukrain­ian offi­cials have said.

    Zelen­sky had pub­licly con­tra­dict­ed Zaluzh­ny for say­ing in the fall that the war had become a “stale­mate” — though that assess­ment is now wide­ly regard­ed as fact among mil­i­tary ana­lysts. And while Zaluzh­ny has pushed for mobi­liz­ing near­ly 500,000 new troops, Zelen­sky has resist­ed that high num­ber, pub­licly and pri­vate­ly, say­ing he is not yet con­vinced that it is nec­es­sary and rais­ing ques­tions about whether Ukraine can afford to pay for the new sol­diers.

    One sol­dier said that fir­ing Zaluzh­ny, wide­ly beloved in Ukraine by both troops and civil­ians, is like­ly to fur­ther dis­suade peo­ple from vol­un­teer­ing to fight.

    ...

    But many troops on the front line felt unsat­is­fied with Zelensky’s expla­na­tion for Zaluzhny’s sack­ing.

    “It has been a very, very sharp neg­a­tive reac­tion to his dis­missal, because, as it seems to us, there were no real rea­sons for the dis­missal,” said a Ukrain­ian offi­cer fight­ing in the south­east­ern Zapor­izhzhia region. “But this will real­ly hit moti­va­tion, of course, real­ly hit. Unequiv­o­cal­ly. There’s less and less moti­va­tion all the time. Peo­ple work and fight increas­ing­ly like automa­tons, [rather] than on moti­va­tion. This will be reflect­ed in the effec­tive­ness.”

    ...

    But Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary per­son­nel in the field said they are espe­cial­ly wary of Syrsky exact­ly because he is con­sid­ered clos­er and more loy­al to Zelen­sky and the chief of his admin­is­tra­tion, Andriy Yer­mak.

    “In a cou­ple of months there will prob­a­bly some attempts to con­duct assault actions or some­thing like that. Because Syrsky will fol­low Zelen­sky. And Zelen­sky wants big vic­to­ries,” said a major cur­rent­ly fight­ing in east­ern Ukraine.

    “I think there will be more thought­less assaults,” he added. “And hold­ing on to ter­ri­to­ries that shouldn’t be held on to. For exam­ple Bakhmut, instead of cre­at­ing a nor­mal defense, some for­ti­fi­ca­tion struc­tures, trench­es, they just put peo­ple through the meat grinder to stop assault actions. I think we’ll see more of this s—.”

    Anoth­er com­man­der was more direct, using an exple­tive to say Ukrain­ian sol­diers would be worse off as a result of the change — “because he’s going to com­ply with all polit­i­cal demands when mak­ing mil­i­tary deci­sions.”
    ...

    Also note how this high-lev­el shake­up isn’t lim­it­ed to Zaluzh­ny. Oth­er gen­er­als are expect­ed to be replaced. How loy­al is Ukraine’s mil­i­tary going to be to Zelen­sky’s office by the time this shake­up is over?

    ...
    Zelen­sky said oth­er com­man­ders are being con­sid­ered for pro­mo­tions, as sev­er­al gen­er­als are expect­ed to be removed along with Zaluzh­ny. Zelen­sky said he had asked Zaluzh­ny to remain as part “of the team of the Ukrain­ian state of the future.” It is unclear what role Zaluzh­ny will have going for­ward.

    Zaluzh­ny, 50, was offered Ukraine’s ambas­sador­ship to Britain, two peo­ple famil­iar with the mat­ter said, but declined because it is a civil­ian post. Zaluzh­ny, a career sol­dier, can­not retire from the mil­i­tary while Ukraine is under mar­tial law, one of the peo­ple said.

    In posts on both Zelensky’s and Zaluzhny’s social media accounts, the two men posed shak­ing hands and smil­ing. “A deci­sion was made about the need to change approach­es and strat­e­gy,” Zaluzh­ny wrote.
    ...

    So with grow­ing dis­con­tent over this deci­sion and more high-lev­el replace­ments on the way, at the same time Ukraine’s mil­i­tary looks unlike­ly to car­ry out the mass mobi­liza­tion Zaluzh­ny was call­ing for, how long before we see a cri­sis of morale erupt? Time will tell, but as the fol­low­ing arti­cle warns, when that cri­sis hap­pens, don’t be sur­prised if Zaluzh­ny is seen as the solu­tion to that cri­sis. And also don’t be sur­prised if it’s groups like Right Sec­tor offer­ing him up as the solu­tion:

    Dai­ly Dot

    Amid reports of loom­ing dis­missal, top Ukrain­ian gen­er­al flirts on Face­book with far-right mil­i­tary leader

    Zaluzh­ny received an award from a far-right mil­i­tary off­shoot accused of hav­ing ties to Nazis.

    Mar­lon Ettinger
    Post­ed on Feb 5, 2024 Updat­ed on Feb 5, 2024, 6:11 pm CST

    Amid ram­pant spec­u­la­tion that he is about to be fired, Ukraine’s Com­man­der-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Valery Zaluzh­ny is pos­ing on social media along­side far-right imagery and mem­bers of the country’s mil­i­tary.

    The Wash­ing­ton Post report­ed on Fri­day, Feb. 2, that Ukrain­ian pres­i­dent Volodymyr Zelen­sky told the White House that he was plan­ning to fire Zaluzh­ny, whom he’d clashed with over mil­i­tary strat­e­gy over “bat­tle­field set­backs” in the country’s war with Rus­sia.

    Zaluzh­ny report­ed­ly argued that Ukraine need­ed to con­script new recruits between 18–27 to make gains on the bat­tle­field, some­thing which Zelen­sky said the coun­try wouldn’t be able to fund with­out rais­ing tax­es.

    The same day, 67th Mech­a­nized Brigade com­man­der Andriy Stem­pit­sky post­ed a pho­to with a smil­ing Zaluzh­ny being pre­sent­ed with an award from his brigade in front of a pho­to of the World War II-era Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist leader Stepan Ban­dera.

    Ban­dera, a far-right eth­nona­tion­al­ist who wrote about his movement’s affin­i­ty with Nazi race poli­cies, was nev­er­the­less jailed by the Ger­mans for much of the war. His fol­low­ers, how­ev­er, formed the Ukrain­ian Insur­gent Army (UPA), which car­ried out mas­sacres of as many as 100,000 Poles and thou­sands of Jews.

    “The award [of the brigade] … was pre­sent­ed to the Com­man­der-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Gen­er­al Valery Zaluzh­ny,” Stem­pit­sky wrote in the post. In addi­tion to the por­trait of Ban­dera, the two men are stand­ing in front of a red and black flag with skulls and cross­bones on it, as well as the slo­gan “to vic­to­ry, with­out nego­ti­a­tions,” inde­pen­dent researcher Moss Robe­son, who writes about the after­lives of the UPA and the Ban­dera move­ment, told the Dai­ly Dot.

    “Stem­pit­sky is also a leader of the Right Sec­tor polit­i­cal par­ty,” Robe­son said, refer­ring to a right-wing group of hard­line ultra­na­tion­al­ist par­ties in Ukraine that came togeth­er out of para­mil­i­tary move­ments dur­ing the Euro­maid­an move­ment.

    “He’s a for­mer leader of Tryzub, a para­mil­i­tary group cre­at­ed … in the 1990s. Right Sec­tor has plen­ty of neo-Nazis (includ­ing in the lead­er­ship of its par­ty) but Tryzub seems to be like their Ban­derite van­guard.”

    Stempitsky’s 67th Mech­a­nized Brigade was formed when Rus­sia invad­ed Ukraine in 2022 from the Right Sector’s para­mil­i­tary group. Right Sec­tor has a his­to­ry of both flirt­ing with and active­ly inte­grat­ing mem­bers of the Ukrain­ian far-right into its ranks. Accord­ing to a report from Haaretz, they hand­ed out copies of Hitler’s Mein Kampf and the fab­ri­cat­ed anti­se­mit­ic con­spir­a­cy text Pro­to­cols of the Elders of Zion dur­ing demon­stra­tions in 2014.

    Accord­ing to to a report in the Finan­cial Times in Decem­ber, Zaluzh­ny and Zelen­sky have had a strained rela­tion­ship for over a year. Zaluzh­ny is seen as a poten­tial rival for the pres­i­den­cy when elec­tions are held next, polling at 40% to Zelensky’s 42%, as well as being viewed as more trust­wor­thy by Ukraini­ans com­pared to Zelen­sky.

    ...

    ———

    “Amid reports of loom­ing dis­missal, top Ukrain­ian gen­er­al flirts on Face­book with far-right mil­i­tary leader” by Mar­lon Ettinger; Dai­ly Dot; 02/05/2024

    “Accord­ing to to a report in the Finan­cial Times in Decem­ber, Zaluzh­ny and Zelen­sky have had a strained rela­tion­ship for over a year. Zaluzh­ny is seen as a poten­tial rival for the pres­i­den­cy when elec­tions are held next, polling at 40% to Zelensky’s 42%, as well as being viewed as more trust­wor­thy by Ukraini­ans com­pared to Zelen­sky.

    It’s nev­er a great sign for a coun­try at war when the elect­ed leader dis­miss­es a gen­er­al who has more pub­lic sup­port. But that appears to be exact­ly what hap­pened. Zaluzh­ny pos­es an obvi­ous polit­i­cal threat to Zelen­sky? But as the pho­tos with 67th Mech­a­nized Brigade com­man­der Andriy Stem­pit­sky implic­it­ly warn, Zaluzh­ny does­n’t just pose a poten­tial polit­i­cal threat to Zelen­sky. He’s active­ly loved by and open­ly cud­dling up to the Ukrain­ian far right. When you com­bine those Right Sec­tor ties with Zaluzh­ny’s gen­er­al pop­u­lar­i­ty and Zelenksy’s col­laps­ing sup­port­ing inside the mil­i­tary, we’re look­ing at the per­fect set up for a ‘pol­i­tics through oth­er means’ domes­tic sit­u­a­tion. The kind of sit­u­a­tion that would be eeri­ly sim­i­lar to what we saw in 2014 with the Maid­an rev­o­lu­tion in terms of the role Right Sec­tor and sim­i­lar groups could play in pro­vid­ing street mus­cle. But also poten­tial­ly much big­ger than 2014 since Zaluzh­ny can poten­tial­ly win the loy­al­ty of the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary over Zelen­sky. Espe­cial­ly now that groups like Right Sec­tor and Azov have been so thor­ough­ly incor­po­rat­ed into the mil­i­tary and val­orized. In oth­er words, we could see are repeat of the street-lev­el show­down we saw in 2014. But we also might just see a sim­ple Zaluzh­ny-led putsch:

    ...
    The Wash­ing­ton Post report­ed on Fri­day, Feb. 2, that Ukrain­ian pres­i­dent Volodymyr Zelen­sky told the White House that he was plan­ning to fire Zaluzh­ny, whom he’d clashed with over mil­i­tary strat­e­gy over “bat­tle­field set­backs” in the country’s war with Rus­sia.

    Zaluzh­ny report­ed­ly argued that Ukraine need­ed to con­script new recruits between 18–27 to make gains on the bat­tle­field, some­thing which Zelen­sky said the coun­try wouldn’t be able to fund with­out rais­ing tax­es.

    The same day, 67th Mech­a­nized Brigade com­man­der Andriy Stem­pit­sky post­ed a pho­to with a smil­ing Zaluzh­ny being pre­sent­ed with an award from his brigade in front of a pho­to of the World War II-era Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist leader Stepan Ban­dera.

    ...

    “The award [of the brigade] … was pre­sent­ed to the Com­man­der-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Gen­er­al Valery Zaluzh­ny,” Stem­pit­sky wrote in the post. In addi­tion to the por­trait of Ban­dera, the two men are stand­ing in front of a red and black flag with skulls and cross­bones on it, as well as the slo­gan “to vic­to­ry, with­out nego­ti­a­tions,” inde­pen­dent researcher Moss Robe­son, who writes about the after­lives of the UPA and the Ban­dera move­ment, told the Dai­ly Dot.

    “Stem­pit­sky is also a leader of the Right Sec­tor polit­i­cal par­ty,” Robe­son said, refer­ring to a right-wing group of hard­line ultra­na­tion­al­ist par­ties in Ukraine that came togeth­er out of para­mil­i­tary move­ments dur­ing the Euro­maid­an move­ment.

    “He’s a for­mer leader of Tryzub, a para­mil­i­tary group cre­at­ed … in the 1990s. Right Sec­tor has plen­ty of neo-Nazis (includ­ing in the lead­er­ship of its par­ty) but Tryzub seems to be like their Ban­derite van­guard.”

    Stempitsky’s 67th Mech­a­nized Brigade was formed when Rus­sia invad­ed Ukraine in 2022 from the Right Sector’s para­mil­i­tary group. Right Sec­tor has a his­to­ry of both flirt­ing with and active­ly inte­grat­ing mem­bers of the Ukrain­ian far-right into its ranks. Accord­ing to a report from Haaretz, they hand­ed out copies of Hitler’s Mein Kampf and the fab­ri­cat­ed anti­se­mit­ic con­spir­a­cy text Pro­to­cols of the Elders of Zion dur­ing demon­stra­tions in 2014.
    ...

    It’s not hard to see where this sit­u­a­tion is head­ing. The more demands Zelen­sky impos­es on the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary, the greater the temp­ta­tion for groups like Right Sec­tor to enact a “March of Kiev”. And, sure, Zaluzh­ny would need to agree to lead such a march. How unlike­ly is that sce­nario when we see him open­ly embrac­ing Right Sec­tor like this?

    And as the fol­low­ing AP piece reminds us, when we’re talk­ing about Ukraine’s armed forces, we aren’t just talk­ing about Ukraini­ans. This is a mil­i­tary com­prised of vol­un­teers from around the globe, after all. Far right vol­un­teers in many cas­es. But not all cas­es. For exam­ple, as Ukraine has expand­ed its infra­struc­ture for Span­ish-speak­ing troops, hun­dreds of Colom­bian for­mer sol­diers have joined the effort. But as the arti­cle makes clear, they aren’t trav­el­ing to Ukraine out of ide­ol­o­gy. It’s raw eco­nom­ics. Cor­po­rals in Colom­bia get a salary of rough­ly $400/month. In Ukraine, any mem­ber of the armed forces gets a month­ly salary of up to $3,300, regard­ing of cit­i­zen­ship, along with up to $28,660 if they are injured. The fam­i­lies of those killed in action are due $400k in com­pen­sa­tion. it’s not to see appeal. At least the mon­e­tary appeal. So at the same time the over­all social cohe­sion of Ukraine’s armed forces appears to be more strained and at risk of a far right “march on Kiev” than ever, we’re see­ing grow­ing num­bers of finan­cial­ly-moti­vat­ed for­eign vol­un­teers join­ing the fray:

    Asso­ci­at­ed Press

    Ukraine needs more troops fight­ing Rus­sia. Hard­ened pro­fes­sion­als from Colom­bia are help­ing

    By ILLIA NOVIKOV and MANUEL RUEDA
    Updat­ed 4:33 PM CST, Feb­ru­ary 9, 2024

    YIV, Ukraine (AP) — Melod­ic Colom­bian Span­ish fills a hos­pi­tal treat­ing sol­diers wound­ed fight­ing Russ­ian forces in east­ern Ukraine.

    Ukraine’s ranks are deplet­ed by two years of war. As it bat­tles the Russ­ian war machine, Ukraine is wel­com­ing hard­ened fight­ers from one of the world’s longest-run­ning con­flicts.

    Pro­fes­sion­al sol­diers from Colom­bia bol­ster the ranks of vol­un­teers from around the world who have answered Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s call for for­eign fight­ers to join his nation’s war with Rus­sia.

    A 32-year-old from the city of Medellin was try­ing to save a col­league wound­ed in three days of heavy fight­ing with Russ­ian forces. Russ­ian drones attacked the group and shrap­nel from a grenade dropped by one pierced his jaw­bone.

    “I thought I was going to die,” said the man, who goes by the call sign Che­cho. The fight­ers insist­ed on being iden­ti­fied by their mil­i­tary call signs because they feared for their safe­ty and that of their fam­i­lies.

    ...

    Colombia’s mil­i­tary has been fight­ing drug-traf­fick­ing car­tels and rebel groups for decades, mak­ing its sol­diers some of the world’s most expe­ri­enced.

    With a mil­i­tary of 250,000, Colom­bia has Latin America’s sec­ond-largest army, after Brazil’s. More than 10,000 retire each year. And hun­dreds are head­ing to fight in Ukraine, where many make four times as much as expe­ri­enced non-com­mis­sioned offi­cers earn in Colom­bia, or even more.

    “Colom­bia has a large army with high­ly trained per­son­nel but the pay isn’t great when you com­pare it to oth­er mil­i­taries,” said Andrés Macías of Bogota’s Exter­na­do Uni­ver­si­ty, who stud­ies Colom­bian work for mil­i­tary con­trac­tors around the world.

    Retired Colom­bian sol­diers began to head over­seas in the ear­ly 2000s to work for U.S. mil­i­tary con­trac­tors pro­tect­ing infra­struc­ture includ­ing oil wells in Iraq. Retired mem­bers of Colombia’s mil­i­tary have also been hired as train­ers in the Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates and joined in Yemen’s bat­tle against Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

    Colombia’s role as a recruit­ing ground for the glob­al secu­ri­ty indus­try also has its murki­er, mer­ce­nary cor­ners: Two Colom­bians were killed and 18 were arrest­ed after they were accused of tak­ing part in the assas­si­na­tion of Hait­ian Pres­i­dent Jovenel Moïse.

    ...

    As the two-year mark in the war approach­es, Ukraine’s forces are in a stale­mate with Russia’s. Ukraine is now expand­ing its sys­tem allow­ing peo­ple from around the world to join the army, said Olek­san­dr Shahuri, an offi­cer of the Depart­ment of Coor­di­na­tion of For­eign­ers in the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

    In ear­ly 2022, author­i­ties said 20,000 peo­ple from 52 coun­tries were in Ukraine. Now, in keep­ing with the secre­cy sur­round­ing any mil­i­tary num­bers, author­i­ties will not say how many are on the bat­tle­field but they do say fight­ers’ pro­file has changed.

    The first waves of vol­un­teers came most­ly from post-Sovi­et or Eng­lish-speak­ing coun­tries. Speak­ing Russ­ian or Eng­lish made it eas­i­er for them to inte­grate into Ukraine’s mil­i­tary, Shahuri said.

    Last year the mil­i­tary devel­oped an infra­struc­ture of Span­ish-speak­ing recruiters, instruc­tors and junior oper­a­tional offi­cers, he added.

    Hec­tor Bernal, a retired ex-com­bat medic who runs a cen­ter for tac­ti­cal med­i­cine out­side Bogo­ta, says that in the last eight months he’s trained more than 20 Colom­bians who went on to fight in Ukraine.

    “They’re like the Latin Amer­i­can migrants who go to the U.S. in search of a bet­ter future,” Bernal said. “These are not vol­un­teers who want to defend anoth­er country’s flag. They are sim­ply moti­vat­ed by eco­nom­ic need.”

    While gen­er­als in Colom­bia get around $6,000 a month in salaries and bonus­es, the same as a gov­ern­ment min­is­ter, the rank and file gets by on a much more mod­est income.

    Cor­po­rals in Colom­bia get a basic salary of around $400 a month, while expe­ri­enced drill sergeants can earn up to $900. Colombia’s month­ly min­i­mum wage is cur­rent­ly $330.

    In Ukraine any mem­ber of the armed forces, regard­less of cit­i­zen­ship, is enti­tled to a month­ly salary of up to $3,300, depend­ing on their rank and type of ser­vice. They are also enti­tled to up to $28,660 if they are injured, depend­ing on the sever­i­ty of the wounds. If they are killed in action, their fam­i­lies are due $400,000 com­pen­sa­tion.

    Che­cho says prin­ci­ple drove him to trav­el to Kyiv last Sep­tem­ber. He esti­mates that in his unit alone, there were around 100 oth­er fight­ers from Colom­bia who had made the same jour­ney.

    ...

    In Colom­bia, word about recruit­ment to the Ukrain­ian army spreads most­ly through social media. Some of the vol­un­teers who already fight in Ukraine share insights on the recruit­ment process on plat­forms such as Tik­Tok or What­sApp.

    But when some­thing goes wrong, get­ting infor­ma­tion about their loved ones is hard for rel­a­tives.

    Diego Espi­tia lost con­tact with his cousin Oscar Tri­ana after Tri­ana joined the Ukrain­ian army in August 2023. Six weeks lat­er, the retired sol­dier from Bogo­ta stopped post­ing updates on social media.

    With no Ukrain­ian embassy in Bogo­ta, Triana’s fam­i­ly reached out for infor­ma­tion from the Ukrain­ian embassy in Peru and the Colom­bian con­sulate in Poland — the last coun­try Tri­ana passed through on his way into Ukraine. Nei­ther respond­ed.

    “We want the author­i­ties in both coun­tries to give us infor­ma­tion about what hap­pened, to respond to our emails. That is what we are demand­ing now,” Espi­tia said.

    The Asso­ci­at­ed Press tracked down a Colom­bian fight­er who uses the call sign Oso Polar — Polar Bear — and says he was the last per­son to see Tri­ana alive on Octo­ber 8, 2023. He says Triana’s unit was ambushed by Russ­ian forces in the Kharkiv region, after which his fate was unknown.

    The Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary unit where Tri­ana was serv­ing con­firmed to The Asso­ci­at­ed Press that Tri­ana is offi­cial­ly miss­ing, but would not dis­close any details sur­round­ing the cir­cum­stances in which he dis­ap­peared.

    Espi­tia, his cousin, says he’s not sure what moti­vat­ed Tri­ana to fight in Ukraine. But the 43-year-old had served in the Colom­bian army for more than 20 years and leav­ing it had been “men­tal­ly dif­fi­cult,” Espi­tia said.

    “It could’ve been for the mon­ey, or because he missed the adren­a­line of being in com­bat. But he didn’t open up very much about his rea­sons for going,” Espi­tia said.

    ...

    ———–

    “Ukraine needs more troops fight­ing Rus­sia. Hard­ened pro­fes­sion­als from Colom­bia are help­ing” By ILLIA NOVIKOV and MANUEL RUEDA; Asso­ci­at­ed Press; 02/09/2024

    “As the two-year mark in the war approach­es, Ukraine’s forces are in a stale­mate with Russia’s. Ukraine is now expand­ing its sys­tem allow­ing peo­ple from around the world to join the army, said Olek­san­dr Shahuri, an offi­cer of the Depart­ment of Coor­di­na­tion of For­eign­ers in the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

    An expand­ed for­eign recruit­ment sys­tem that promis­es to allow peo­ple from around the world to join the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary. That’s the mes­sage from
    the Depart­ment of Coor­di­na­tion of For­eign­ers in the Armed Forces of Ukraine. And as we can see with the grow­ing num­ber of Colom­bian sol­diers mak­ing their way to Ukraine, this expan­sion has includ­ed the devel­op­ment of the infra­struc­ture need­ed to incor­po­rate Span­ish-speak­ers:

    ...
    With a mil­i­tary of 250,000, Colom­bia has Latin America’s sec­ond-largest army, after Brazil’s. More than 10,000 retire each year. And hun­dreds are head­ing to fight in Ukraine, where many make four times as much as expe­ri­enced non-com­mis­sioned offi­cers earn in Colom­bia, or even more.

    ...

    Colombia’s role as a recruit­ing ground for the glob­al secu­ri­ty indus­try also has its murki­er, mer­ce­nary cor­ners: Two Colom­bians were killed and 18 were arrest­ed after they were accused of tak­ing part in the assas­si­na­tion of Hait­ian Pres­i­dent Jovenel Moïse.

    ...

    The first waves of vol­un­teers came most­ly from post-Sovi­et or Eng­lish-speak­ing coun­tries. Speak­ing Russ­ian or Eng­lish made it eas­i­er for them to inte­grate into Ukraine’s mil­i­tary, Shahuri said.

    Last year the mil­i­tary devel­oped an infra­struc­ture of Span­ish-speak­ing recruiters, instruc­tors and junior oper­a­tional offi­cers, he added.
    ...

    So what’s moti­vat­ed the hun­dreds of Colom­bian for­mer sol­diers to com­mit­ment to Ukraine’s fight? Eco­nom­ic need and the promise of much bet­ter pay:

    ...
    Hec­tor Bernal, a retired ex-com­bat medic who runs a cen­ter for tac­ti­cal med­i­cine out­side Bogo­ta, says that in the last eight months he’s trained more than 20 Colom­bians who went on to fight in Ukraine.

    “They’re like the Latin Amer­i­can migrants who go to the U.S. in search of a bet­ter future,” Bernal said. “These are not vol­un­teers who want to defend anoth­er country’s flag. They are sim­ply moti­vat­ed by eco­nom­ic need.”

    While gen­er­als in Colom­bia get around $6,000 a month in salaries and bonus­es, the same as a gov­ern­ment min­is­ter, the rank and file gets by on a much more mod­est income.

    Cor­po­rals in Colom­bia get a basic salary of around $400 a month, while expe­ri­enced drill sergeants can earn up to $900. Colombia’s month­ly min­i­mum wage is cur­rent­ly $330.

    In Ukraine any mem­ber of the armed forces, regard­less of cit­i­zen­ship, is enti­tled to a month­ly salary of up to $3,300, depend­ing on their rank and type of ser­vice. They are also enti­tled to up to $28,660 if they are injured, depend­ing on the sever­i­ty of the wounds. If they are killed in action, their fam­i­lies are due $400,000 com­pen­sa­tion.
    ...

    So how many of these Span­ish-speak­ing sol­diers has Ukraine incor­po­rat­ed into its forces? And, per­haps more impor­tant­ly, how many have already died or wound­ed? We have no idea. And nei­ther do their fam­i­lies, appar­ent­ly. Which obvi­ous­ly is going to cre­at­ed some com­pli­ca­tions on these fam­i­lies receiv­ing that $400k:

    ...
    In ear­ly 2022, author­i­ties said 20,000 peo­ple from 52 coun­tries were in Ukraine. Now, in keep­ing with the secre­cy sur­round­ing any mil­i­tary num­bers, author­i­ties will not say how many are on the bat­tle­field but they do say fight­ers’ pro­file has changed.

    ...

    IBut when some­thing goes wrong, get­ting infor­ma­tion about their loved ones is hard for rel­a­tives.

    Diego Espi­tia lost con­tact with his cousin Oscar Tri­ana after Tri­ana joined the Ukrain­ian army in August 2023. Six weeks lat­er, the retired sol­dier from Bogo­ta stopped post­ing updates on social media.

    With no Ukrain­ian embassy in Bogo­ta, Triana’s fam­i­ly reached out for infor­ma­tion from the Ukrain­ian embassy in Peru and the Colom­bian con­sulate in Poland — the last coun­try Tri­ana passed through on his way into Ukraine. Nei­ther respond­ed.

    “We want the author­i­ties in both coun­tries to give us infor­ma­tion about what hap­pened, to respond to our emails. That is what we are demand­ing now,” Espi­tia said.

    The Asso­ci­at­ed Press tracked down a Colom­bian fight­er who uses the call sign Oso Polar — Polar Bear — and says he was the last per­son to see Tri­ana alive on Octo­ber 8, 2023. He says Triana’s unit was ambushed by Russ­ian forces in the Kharkiv region, after which his fate was unknown.

    The Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary unit where Tri­ana was serv­ing con­firmed to The Asso­ci­at­ed Press that Tri­ana is offi­cial­ly miss­ing, but would not dis­close any details sur­round­ing the cir­cum­stances in which he dis­ap­peared.
    ...

    It’s going to be grim­ly inter­est­ing to find out how many of fam­i­lies of these for­eign vol­un­teers ulti­mate­ly end up get­ting that $400k. Because right now it’s sound­ing like Ukraine has a “don’t ask, don’t tell” pol­i­cy when it comes to the fate of these vol­un­teers. Which, in turn, should raise ques­tions about what the over­all morale is for all these for­eign fight­ers. Do they share the same grow­ing antipa­thy towards Zelen­sky? Are they feel­ing cheat­ed and abused? And who will they back in the event of a pow­er strug­gle show­down? Again, time will tell. We don’t know for sure. But in sit­u­a­tions like this, when things are only get­ting worse and show no signs of improv­ing, it’s not hard to guess what time is going to even­tu­al­ly tell us. Fas­cist down­ward spi­rals tend to have a lot of iner­tia.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 12, 2024, 5:19 pm
  5. The Track­ANaz­iMerc chan­nel on telegram is rife with pro­files of sol­diers of for­tune com­ing from South Amer­i­ca, par­tic­u­lar­ly Colom­bia and Brazil. Most have left girl­friends or wives and chil­dren to ‘play trench games and pose for tik tok vids’ as the chan­nel often remarks. The pro­pa­gan­da and promised rich­es that would com­pel these guys to risk dying in a ran­dom field out­side a town halfway around the world that they can­not spell, pro­nounce, or find on a map must be com­pelling.

    On a sim­i­lar vein, there is at least one vid going around of a mass grave of sol­diers being filled in with bod­ies and cov­ered with soil by a trac­tor. The loved ones of these dead are like­ly nev­er to be com­pen­sat­ed with any of those promised rich­es, let alone noti­fied of their loss­es.

    Posted by Hugh | February 13, 2024, 7:31 pm

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