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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

15 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
  6. The New York Times recent­ly pub­lished a giant piece of report­ing on the US’s decade-long secret intel­li­gence rela­tion­ship with Ukraine. The report was appar­ent­ly based on over 200 inter­views. It was a lim­it­ed hang­out, as we should expect. But it could have been a lot more lim­it­ed and is filled with one stun­ning admis­sion after anoth­er. A doozy of a lim­it­ed hang­out.

    The piece cov­ers the rela­tion­ship between Ukrain­ian intel­li­gence from 2014 to today. A rela­tion­ship describe as a close­ly guard­ed secret. A close­ly guard­ed secret that is for some rea­son now being pub­licly dis­closed in a report filled with the kind of details that appear to con­firm one of the cen­tral tenets of Rus­si­a’s declared moti­va­tions for its inter­ven­tion in Ukraine: that Ukraine was being turned into the West­’s front line for anti-Russ­ian oper­a­tions, well before the 2022 inva­sion. The report actu­al­ly cites an unnamed senior Euro­pean offi­cial who describes how, towards the end of 2021, as Putin was weigh­ing whether to launch a full-scale inva­sion, one of his top spy chiefs told him the CIA and MI6 were con­trol­ling Ukraine and turn­ing it into a beach­head for oper­a­tions against Rus­sia. Which is a pret­ty remark­able detail to include in a report seem­ing­ly cel­e­brat­ing how Ukraine has been turned into an intel­li­gence beach­head for oper­a­tions against Rus­sia.

    As the arti­cle describes, Ukraine has been trans­formed into a Russ­ian intel­li­gence-gath­er hub, deliv­er­ing the US unprece­dent­ed access to Russ­ian com­mu­ni­ca­tions. Some of intel­li­gence now avail­able to the US was already in the pos­ses­sion of the Ukraini­ans and sim­ply hand­ed over to the CIA, often as part of an effort to woo US intel­li­gence into a deep­er rela­tion­ship, accord­ing to the report. But it sounds like the big prize comes in the form of over a dozen secret spy bases that have been con­struct­ed along the Russ­ian bor­der.

    The nar­ra­tive starts with the days fol­low­ing the col­lapse of Vik­tor Yanukovy­ch’s gov­ern­ment in Feb­ru­ary of 2014 and con­ve­nient­ly leaves out any West­ern intel­li­gence role in those events. Ukraine’s new spy chief imme­di­ate­ly after the fall of the Yanukovych gov­ern­ment, Valen­tyn Naly­vaichenko, is described as the fig­ure who first reached out to the CIA. As the arti­cle notes, Naly­vaichenko con­ve­nient­ly hap­pened to have played a sim­i­lar role in start­ing a part­ner­ship with the CIA while serv­ing as spy chief under Vik­tor Yuschenko. So the CIA/Ukrainian rela­tion­ship that ‘start­ed in Feb­ru­ary 2014’ was start­ed by a spy chief who already start­ed a rela­tion­ship with the CIA under the Yuschenko admin­is­tra­tion. There’s also obvi­ous­ly no men­tion of how Naly­vaichenko is tied to the neo-Nazi Right Sector/Pravy Sek­tor. Instead, accord­ing to this nar­ra­tive, Naly­vaichenko met with the CIA sta­tion chief and the local head of MI6 and asked for help in rebuild­ing the SBU from the ground up, and pro­posed a three-way part­ner­ship. “That’s how it all start­ed,” accord­ing to Naly­vaichenko.

    Ear­ly on, we are told, the Oba­ma White House was deeply con­cerned about this rela­tion­ship cross­ing a line pro­vok­ing the Rus­sians. Naly­vaichenko then tapped Gen­er­al Valeriy Kon­dratiuk to serv­er as head of coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence and the two cre­at­ed a new para­mil­i­tary unit, the Fifth Direc­torate, that could be deployed behind ene­my lines and gath­er intel­li­gence that the CIA or MI6 refused to pro­vide them. So it sounds like the CIA and MI6 helped rebuild Ukraine’s intel­li­gence from the ground up at the same time Ukraine was set­ting up spe­cial “inde­pen­dent” units that could oper­ate in a man­ner that gave the CIA and MI6 plau­si­ble deni­a­bil­i­ty when it came to cul­pa­bil­i­ty over ‘cross­ing lines’ with Rus­sia.

    Inter­est­ing­ly, we are also told the Fifth Direc­torate, played a key role in the inves­ti­ga­tion of the down­ing of Malaysian Air­lines Flight 17. Appar­ent­ly that was the unit that, with­in hours, pro­duced tele­phone inter­cepts and oth­er intel­li­gence that pinned the blame for the down­ing of the air­line on the Russ­ian-backed sep­a­ratists. This is a good time to recall how the offi­cer in charge of that inves­ti­ga­tion for Ukraine, Vasi­ly Vovk, called for the destruc­tion of “the Jews” in 2017. We are also told that the CIA was appar­ent­ly so impressed with this intel­li­gence that it respond­ed by pro­vid­ed the unit secure com­mu­ni­ca­tions gear and spe­cial­ized train­ing.

    The rela­tion­ship between Ukrain­ian intel­li­gence and the CIA con­tin­ued to deep­en sig­nif­i­cant­ly head­ing into the sum­mer of 2015, when Petro Poroshenko fired of Naly­vaichenko and Gen­er­al Kon­dratiuk was appoint­ed to the head of the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary intel­li­gence agency, the HUR. Cru­cial­ly, the HUR had the author­i­ty to col­lect intel­li­gence out­side of the coun­try, includ­ing Rus­sia. Inter­est­ing­ly, it appears that Kon­dratiuk ini­tial­ly reached out to his Amer­i­can coun­ter­part at the Defense Intel­li­gence Agency (DIA), but DIA offi­cials were sus­pi­cious and dis­cour­aged build­ing clos­er ties. Why were they sus­pi­cious? We aren’t told. But it turns out Kon­dratiuk had already been estab­lish­ing deep­er ties with the CIA and by Jan­u­ary of 2016, the CIA agreed to mod­ern­ize the HUR in exchange for the the raw intel­li­gence it was gath­er­ing.

    But the CIA was­n’t just train­ing Ukraine’s spies. It was also train­ing Unit 2245, an elite Ukrain­ian com­man­do force. Inter­est­ing­ly, when the Ukraini­ans want­ed to engage in actions that the US saw as too provoca­tive to direct­ly assist in — like plant­i­ng explo­sives on an air­field in Crimea — it was Unit 2245 that the Ukraini­ans turned to. So, much like the Fifth Direc­torate, the CIA trained the com­man­do unit the Ukraini­ans use for actions that are deemed too provoca­tive for the CIA to have its fin­ger­prints on it.

    There’s also men­tions of what sounds like Glad­io-style prepa­ra­tions: start­ing in 2016, the CIA over­saw some sort of spy train­ing pro­gram called Oper­a­tion Gold­fish. Ukraine’s CIA-trained spies were then deployed to 12 new­ly-built for­ward oper­at­ing bases build­ing along the Russ­ian bor­der for the pur­pose of gath­er­ing intel­li­gence inside Rus­sia. But they weren’t just trained for oper­a­tions inside Rus­sia. They were also trained to act as sleep­er agents on Ukrain­ian ter­ri­to­ry for the pur­pose of launch­ing gueril­la oper­a­tions in case of occu­pa­tion. It also sounds like these units were acti­vat­ed in the Kher­son region, assas­si­nat­ing local col­lab­o­ra­tors and help­ing Ukrain­ian forces tar­get Russ­ian posi­tions. While it would be inter­est­ing to learn more about the nature of the fig­ures draft­ed into these par­ti­san stay-behind net­works — like whether or not they are pre­dom­i­nant­ly far right extrem­ists as we should expect — no infor­ma­tion on that is pro­vid­ed in the report.

    When the report gets to the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, not only do we find that the Trump admin­is­tra­tion was ful­ly in sup­port of main­tain­ing this rela­tion­ship with Ukrain­ian intel­li­gence but the admin­is­tra­tion sub­stan­tial­ly deep­ened that rela­tion­ship as the ‘Rus­si­a­Gate’ sto­ry gripped Wash­ing­ton DC. Intrigu­ing­ly, we are told that the HUR played a role in the US intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty’s con­clu­sion that the ‘Fan­cy Bear’ hack­ing group was indeed work­ing for the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment. Ukrain­ian and Amer­i­can intel­li­gence offi­cers report­ed­ly joined forces to probe the com­put­er sys­tems of Russia’s intel­li­gence agen­cies to iden­ti­fy oper­a­tives try­ing to manip­u­late vot­ers. And as part of some sort of joint CIA-HUR oper­a­tion, the HUR tricked a Russ­ian intel­li­gence offi­cer into pro­vid­ing infor­ma­tion that allowed the CIA to con­nect “Fan­cy Bear” to the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment. Keep in mind that the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment for the hack of the DNC right out of the gate in the sum­mer of 2016, pre­sum­ably many months before this HUR trick­ery appar­ent­ly took place under the Trump admin­is­tra­tion. So this nar­ra­tive about a joint CIA-Ukrain­ian oper­a­tion start­ed under the Trump admin­is­tra­tion pro­vid­ing the evi­dence that con­nect­ed Fan­cy Bear to the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment makes no sense in terms of the avail­able time­line of events. But that’s the nar­ra­tive we’re get­ting.

    Final­ly, we get to one of those rev­e­la­tions that hints at a much big­ger sto­ry yet to be told: The report men­tions a secret meet­ing at the Hague hints at a secret anti-Russ­ian coali­tion that was formed long before Feb­ru­ary of 2022 between the HUR, CIA, MI6, Dutch intel­li­gence and oth­er unnamed spy agen­cies.

    But this isn’t just a sto­ry about the rela­tion­ship between the CIA and Ukrain­ian intel­li­gence. The CIA was appar­ent­ly so pleased with the kind of rela­tion­ship it cre­at­ed with Ukraine that it decid­ed to expand it. A secret meet­ing was held at the Hague, where rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the HUR, CIA, MI6, Dutch intel­li­gence, and oth­er unnamed agen­cies agreed to pool more of their intel­li­gence on Rus­sia. A secret anti-Russ­ian intel­li­gence coali­tion was born, with the Ukraini­ans serv­ing as vital part­ners. This is well before the inva­sion of Feb­ru­ary 2022.

    So who knows why exact­ly it was deemed desir­able to share this lev­el of detail about the Ukraine’s spe­cial role as the West­’s anti-Russ­ian secret weapon. Pre­sum­ably the motives had some­thing to do the strug­gles in DC over Ukraine fund­ing and a per­ceived need to bet­ter sell the war in Ukraine to the West­ern pub­lic. But for what­ev­er rea­son the US intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty now wants the world to view Ukraine as not just a belea­guered vic­tim of Russ­ian aggres­sion but a vital ally for secret oper­a­tions inside Rus­sia. The script has­n’t exact­ly been flipped, but this is a major alter­ation:

    The New York Times

    The Spy War: How the C.I.A. Secret­ly Helps Ukraine Fight Putin

    For more than a decade, the Unit­ed States has nur­tured a secret intel­li­gence part­ner­ship with Ukraine that is now crit­i­cal for both coun­tries in coun­ter­ing Rus­sia.

    By Adam Entous and Michael Schwirtz

    Adam Entous and Michael Schwirtz con­duct­ed more than 200 inter­views in Ukraine, sev­er­al oth­er Euro­pean coun­tries and the Unit­ed States to report this sto­ry.

    Pub­lished Feb. 25, 2024
    Updat­ed Feb. 26, 2024, 1:11 p.m. ET

    Nes­tled in a dense for­est, the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary base appears aban­doned and destroyed, its com­mand cen­ter a burned-out husk, a casu­al­ty of a Russ­ian mis­sile bar­rage ear­ly in the war.

    But that is above ground.

    Not far away, a dis­creet pas­sage­way descends to a sub­ter­ranean bunker where teams of Ukrain­ian sol­diers track Russ­ian spy satel­lites and eaves­drop on con­ver­sa­tions between Russ­ian com­man­ders. On one screen, a red line fol­lowed the route of an explo­sive drone thread­ing through Russ­ian air defens­es from a point in cen­tral Ukraine to a tar­get in the Russ­ian city of Ros­tov.

    The under­ground bunker, built to replace the destroyed com­mand cen­ter in the months after Russia’s inva­sion, is a secret nerve cen­ter of Ukraine’s mil­i­tary.

    There is also one more secret: The base is almost ful­ly financed, and part­ly equipped, by the C.I.A.

    “One hun­dred and ten per­cent,” Gen. Ser­hii Dvoret­skiy, a top intel­li­gence com­man­der, said in an inter­view at the base.

    Now enter­ing the third year of a war that has claimed hun­dreds of thou­sands of lives, the intel­li­gence part­ner­ship between Wash­ing­ton and Kyiv is a linch­pin of Ukraine’s abil­i­ty to defend itself. The C.I.A. and oth­er Amer­i­can intel­li­gence agen­cies pro­vide intel­li­gence for tar­get­ed mis­sile strikes, track Russ­ian troop move­ments and help sup­port spy net­works.

    But the part­ner­ship is no wartime cre­ation, nor is Ukraine the only ben­e­fi­cia­ry.

    It took root a decade ago, com­ing togeth­er in fits and starts under three very dif­fer­ent U.S. pres­i­dents, pushed for­ward by key indi­vid­u­als who often took dar­ing risks. It has trans­formed Ukraine, whose intel­li­gence agen­cies were long seen as thor­ough­ly com­pro­mised by Rus­sia, into one of Washington’s most impor­tant intel­li­gence part­ners against the Krem­lin today.

    The lis­ten­ing post in the Ukrain­ian for­est is part of a C.I.A.-supported net­work of spy bases con­struct­ed in the past eight years that includes 12 secret loca­tions along the Russ­ian bor­der. Before the war, the Ukraini­ans proved them­selves to the Amer­i­cans by col­lect­ing inter­cepts that helped prove Russia’s involve­ment in the 2014 down­ing of a com­mer­cial jet­lin­er, Malaysia Air­lines Flight 17. The Ukraini­ans also helped the Amer­i­cans go after the Russ­ian oper­a­tives who med­dled in the 2016 U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

    Around 2016, the C.I.A. began train­ing an elite Ukrain­ian com­man­do force — known as Unit 2245 — which cap­tured Russ­ian drones and com­mu­ni­ca­tions gear so that C.I.A. tech­ni­cians could reverse-engi­neer them and crack Moscow’s encryp­tion sys­tems. (One offi­cer in the unit was Kyry­lo Budanov, now the gen­er­al lead­ing Ukraine’s mil­i­tary intel­li­gence.)

    And the C.I.A. also helped train a new gen­er­a­tion of Ukrain­ian spies who oper­at­ed inside Rus­sia, across Europe, and in Cuba and oth­er places where the Rus­sians have a large pres­ence.

    The rela­tion­ship is so ingrained that C.I.A. offi­cers remained at a remote loca­tion in west­ern Ukraine when the Biden admin­is­tra­tion evac­u­at­ed U.S. per­son­nel in the weeks before Rus­sia invad­ed in Feb­ru­ary 2022. Dur­ing the inva­sion, the offi­cers relayed crit­i­cal intel­li­gence, includ­ing where Rus­sia was plan­ning strikes and which weapons sys­tems they would use.

    “With­out them, there would have been no way for us to resist the Rus­sians, or to beat them,” said Ivan Bakanov, who was then head of Ukraine’s domes­tic intel­li­gence agency, the S.B.U.

    The details of this intel­li­gence part­ner­ship, many of which are being dis­closed by The New York Times for the first time, have been a close­ly guard­ed secret for a decade.

    In more than 200 inter­views, cur­rent and for­mer offi­cials in Ukraine, the Unit­ed States and Europe described a part­ner­ship that near­ly foundered from mutu­al dis­trust before it steadi­ly expand­ed, turn­ing Ukraine into an intel­li­gence-gath­er­ing hub that inter­cept­ed more Russ­ian com­mu­ni­ca­tions than the C.I.A. sta­tion in Kyiv could ini­tial­ly han­dle. Many of the offi­cials spoke on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty to dis­cuss intel­li­gence and mat­ters of sen­si­tive diplo­ma­cy.

    Now these intel­li­gence net­works are more impor­tant than ever, as Rus­sia is on the offen­sive and Ukraine is more depen­dent on sab­o­tage and long-range mis­sile strikes that require spies far behind ene­my lines. And they are increas­ing­ly at risk: If Repub­li­cans in Con­gress end mil­i­tary fund­ing to Kyiv, the C.I.A. may have to scale back.

    To try to reas­sure Ukrain­ian lead­ers, William J. Burns, the C.I.A. direc­tor, made a secret vis­it to Ukraine last Thurs­day, his 10th vis­it since the inva­sion.

    From the out­set, a shared adver­sary — Pres­i­dent Vladimir V. Putin of Rus­sia — brought the C.I.A. and its Ukrain­ian part­ners togeth­er. Obsessed with “los­ing” Ukraine to the West, Mr. Putin had reg­u­lar­ly inter­fered in Ukraine’s polit­i­cal sys­tem, hand­pick­ing lead­ers he believed would keep Ukraine with­in Russia’s orbit, yet each time it back­fired, dri­ving pro­test­ers into the streets.

    ...

    Toward the end of 2021, accord­ing to a senior Euro­pean offi­cial, Mr. Putin was weigh­ing whether to launch his full-scale inva­sion when he met with the head of one of Russia’s main spy ser­vices, who told him that the C.I.A., togeth­er with Britain’s MI6, were con­trol­ling Ukraine and turn­ing it into a beach­head for oper­a­tions against Moscow.

    But the Times inves­ti­ga­tion found that Mr. Putin and his advis­ers mis­read a crit­i­cal dynam­ic. The C.I.A. didn’t push its way into Ukraine. U.S. offi­cials were often reluc­tant to ful­ly engage, fear­ing that Ukrain­ian offi­cials could not be trust­ed, and wor­ry­ing about pro­vok­ing the Krem­lin.

    Yet a tight cir­cle of Ukrain­ian intel­li­gence offi­cials assid­u­ous­ly court­ed the C.I.A. and grad­u­al­ly made them­selves vital to the Amer­i­cans. In 2015, Gen. Valeriy Kon­dratiuk, then Ukraine’s head of mil­i­tary intel­li­gence, arrived at a meet­ing with the C.I.A.’s deputy sta­tion chief and with­out warn­ing hand­ed over a stack of top-secret files.

    That ini­tial tranche con­tained secrets about the Russ­ian Navy’s North­ern Fleet, includ­ing detailed infor­ma­tion about the lat­est Russ­ian nuclear sub­ma­rine designs. Before long, teams of C.I.A. offi­cers were reg­u­lar­ly leav­ing his office with back­packs full of doc­u­ments.

    ...

    As the part­ner­ship deep­ened after 2016, the Ukraini­ans became impa­tient with what they con­sid­ered Washington’s undue cau­tion, and began stag­ing assas­si­na­tions and oth­er lethal oper­a­tions, which vio­lat­ed the terms the White House thought the Ukraini­ans had agreed to. Infu­ri­at­ed, offi­cials in Wash­ing­ton threat­ened to cut off sup­port, but they nev­er did.

    “The rela­tion­ships only got stronger and stronger because both sides saw val­ue in it, and the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv — our sta­tion there, the oper­a­tion out of Ukraine — became the best source of infor­ma­tion, sig­nals and every­thing else, on Rus­sia,” said a for­mer senior Amer­i­can offi­cial. “We couldn’t get enough of it.”

    ...

    A Cau­tious Begin­ning

    The C.I.A.’s part­ner­ship in Ukraine can be traced back to two phone calls on the night of Feb. 24, 2014, eight years to the day before Russia’s full-scale inva­sion.

    Mil­lions of Ukraini­ans had just over­run the country’s pro-Krem­lin gov­ern­ment and the pres­i­dent, Vik­tor Yanukovych, and his spy chiefs had fled to Rus­sia. In the tumult, a frag­ile pro-West­ern gov­ern­ment quick­ly took pow­er.

    The government’s new spy chief, Valen­tyn Naly­vaichenko, arrived at the head­quar­ters of the domes­tic intel­li­gence agency and found a pile of smol­der­ing doc­u­ments in the court­yard. Inside, many of the com­put­ers had been wiped or were infect­ed with Russ­ian mal­ware.

    “It was emp­ty. No lights. No lead­er­ship. Nobody was there,” Mr. Naly­vaichenko said in an inter­view.

    He went to an office and called the C.I.A. sta­tion chief and the local head of MI6. It was near mid­night but he sum­moned them to the build­ing, asked for help in rebuild­ing the agency from the ground up, and pro­posed a three-way part­ner­ship. “That’s how it all start­ed,” Mr. Naly­vaichenko said.

    The sit­u­a­tion quick­ly became more dan­ger­ous. Mr. Putin seized Crimea. His agents foment­ed sep­a­ratist rebel­lions that would become a war in the country’s east. Ukraine was on war foot­ing, and Mr. Naly­vaichenko appealed to the C.I.A. for over­head imagery and oth­er intel­li­gence to help defend its ter­ri­to­ry.

    With vio­lence esca­lat­ing, an unmarked U.S. gov­ern­ment plane touched down at an air­port in Kyiv car­ry­ing John O. Bren­nan, then the direc­tor of the C.I.A. He told Mr. Naly­vaichenko that the C.I.A. was inter­est­ed in devel­op­ing a rela­tion­ship but only at a pace the agency was com­fort­able with, accord­ing to U.S. and Ukrain­ian offi­cials.

    To the C.I.A., the unknown ques­tion was how long Mr. Naly­vaichenko and the pro-West­ern gov­ern­ment would be around. The C.I.A. had been burned before in Ukraine.

    Fol­low­ing the breakup of the Sovi­et Union in 1991, Ukraine gained inde­pen­dence and then veered between com­pet­ing polit­i­cal forces: those that want­ed to remain close to Moscow and those that want­ed to align with the West. Dur­ing a pre­vi­ous stint as spy chief, Mr. Naly­vaichenko start­ed a sim­i­lar part­ner­ship with the C.I.A., which dis­solved when the coun­try swung back toward Rus­sia.

    Now Mr. Bren­nan explained that to unlock C.I.A. assis­tance the Ukraini­ans had to prove that they could pro­vide intel­li­gence of val­ue to the Amer­i­cans. They also need­ed to purge Russ­ian spies; the domes­tic spy agency, the S.B.U., was rid­dled with them. (Case in point: The Rus­sians quick­ly learned about Mr. Brennan’s sup­pos­ed­ly secret vis­it. The Kremlin’s pro­pa­gan­da out­lets pub­lished a pho­to­shopped image of the C.I.A. direc­tor wear­ing a clown wig and make­up.)

    Mr. Bren­nan returned to Wash­ing­ton, where advis­ers to Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma were deeply con­cerned about pro­vok­ing Moscow. The White House craft­ed secret rules that infu­ri­at­ed the Ukraini­ans and that some inside the C.I.A. thought of as hand­cuffs. The rules barred intel­li­gence agen­cies from pro­vid­ing any sup­port to Ukraine that could be “rea­son­ably expect­ed” to have lethal con­se­quences.

    ...

    In Kyiv, Mr. Naly­vaichenko picked a long­time aide, Gen­er­al Kon­dratiuk, to serve as head of coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence, and they cre­at­ed a new para­mil­i­tary unit that was deployed behind ene­my lines to con­duct oper­a­tions and gath­er intel­li­gence that the C.I.A. or MI6 would not pro­vide to them.

    Known as the Fifth Direc­torate, this unit would be filled with offi­cers born after Ukraine gained inde­pen­dence.

    ...

    That sum­mer, Malaysia Air­lines Flight 17, fly­ing from Ams­ter­dam to Kuala Lumpur, blew up in midair and crashed in east­ern Ukraine, killing near­ly 300 pas­sen­gers and crew. The Fifth Direc­torate pro­duced tele­phone inter­cepts and oth­er intel­li­gence with­in hours of the crash that quick­ly placed respon­si­bil­i­ty on Russ­ian-backed sep­a­ratists.

    The C.I.A. was impressed, and made its first mean­ing­ful com­mit­ment by pro­vid­ing secure com­mu­ni­ca­tions gear and spe­cial­ized train­ing to mem­bers of the Fifth Direc­torate and two oth­er elite units.

    ...

    A Secret San­ta

    In the sum­mer of 2015, Ukraine’s pres­i­dent, Petro Poroshenko, shook up the domes­tic ser­vice and installed an ally to replace Mr. Naly­vaichenko, the C.I.A.’s trust­ed part­ner. But the change cre­at­ed an oppor­tu­ni­ty else­where.

    In the reshuf­fle, Gen­er­al Kon­dratiuk was appoint­ed as the head of the country’s mil­i­tary intel­li­gence agency, known as the HUR, where years ear­li­er he had start­ed his career. It would be an ear­ly exam­ple of how per­son­al ties, more than pol­i­cy shifts, would deep­en the C.I.A.’s involve­ment in Ukraine.

    Unlike the domes­tic agency, the HUR had the author­i­ty to col­lect intel­li­gence out­side the coun­try, includ­ing in Rus­sia. But the Amer­i­cans had seen lit­tle val­ue in cul­ti­vat­ing the agency because it wasn’t pro­duc­ing any intel­li­gence of val­ue on the Rus­sians — and because it was seen as a bas­tion of Russ­ian sym­pa­thiz­ers.

    Try­ing to build trust, Gen­er­al Kon­dratiuk arranged a meet­ing with his Amer­i­can coun­ter­part at the Defense Intel­li­gence Agency and hand­ed over a stack of secret Russ­ian doc­u­ments. But senior D.I.A. offi­cials were sus­pi­cious and dis­cour­aged build­ing clos­er ties.

    The gen­er­al need­ed to find a more will­ing part­ner.

    Months ear­li­er, while still with the domes­tic agency, Gen­er­al Kon­dratiuk vis­it­ed the C.I.A. head­quar­ters in Lan­g­ley, Va. In those meet­ings, he met a C.I.A. offi­cer with a jol­ly demeanor and a bushy beard who had been tapped to become the next sta­tion chief in Kyiv.

    ...

    The sta­tion chief had not yet arrived when Gen­er­al Kon­dratiuk hand­ed over to the C.I.A. the secret doc­u­ments about the Russ­ian Navy. “There’s more where this came from,” he promised, and the doc­u­ments were sent off to ana­lysts in Lan­g­ley.

    The ana­lysts con­clud­ed the doc­u­ments were authen­tic, and after the sta­tion chief arrived in Kyiv, the C.I.A. became Gen­er­al Kondratiuk’s pri­ma­ry part­ner.

    Gen­er­al Kon­dratiuk knew he need­ed the C.I.A. to strength­en his own agency. The C.I.A. thought the gen­er­al might be able to help Lan­g­ley, too. It strug­gled to recruit spies inside Rus­sia because its case offi­cers were under heavy sur­veil­lance.

    ...

    The new sta­tion chief began reg­u­lar­ly vis­it­ing Gen­er­al Kon­dratiuk, whose office was dec­o­rat­ed with an aquar­i­um where yel­low and blue fish — the nation­al col­ors of Ukraine — swam cir­cles around a mod­el of a sunken Russ­ian sub­ma­rine. The two men became close, which drove the rela­tion­ship between the two agen­cies, and the Ukraini­ans gave the new sta­tion chief an affec­tion­ate nick­name: San­ta Claus.

    In Jan­u­ary 2016, Gen­er­al Kon­dratiuk flew to Wash­ing­ton for meet­ings at Scat­ter­good, an estate on the C.I.A. cam­pus in Vir­ginia where the agency often fetes vis­it­ing dig­ni­taries. The agency agreed to help the HUR mod­ern­ize, and to improve its abil­i­ty to inter­cept Russ­ian mil­i­tary com­mu­ni­ca­tions. In exchange, Gen­er­al Kon­dratiuk agreed to share all of the raw intel­li­gence with the Amer­i­cans.

    Now the part­ner­ship was real.

    Oper­a­tion Gold­fish

    Today, the nar­row road lead­ing to the secret base is framed by mine­fields, seed­ed as a line of defense in the weeks after Russia’s inva­sion. The Russ­ian mis­siles that hit the base had seem­ing­ly shut it down, but just weeks lat­er the Ukraini­ans returned.

    With mon­ey and equip­ment pro­vid­ed by the C.I.A., crews under Gen­er­al Dvoretskiy’s com­mand began to rebuild, but under­ground. To avoid detec­tion, they only worked at night and when Russ­ian spy satel­lites were not over­head. Work­ers also parked their cars a dis­tance away from the con­struc­tion site.

    In the bunker, Gen­er­al Dvoret­skiy point­ed to com­mu­ni­ca­tions equip­ment and large com­put­er servers, some of which were financed by the C.I.A. He said his teams were using the base to hack into the Russ­ian military’s secure com­mu­ni­ca­tions net­works.

    “This is the thing that breaks into satel­lites and decodes secret con­ver­sa­tions,” Gen­er­al Dvoret­skiy told a Times jour­nal­ist on a tour, adding that they were hack­ing into spy satel­lites from Chi­na and Belarus, too.

    Anoth­er offi­cer placed two recent­ly pro­duced maps on a table, as evi­dence of how Ukraine is track­ing Russ­ian activ­i­ty around the world.

    The first showed the over­head routes of Russ­ian spy satel­lites trav­el­ing over cen­tral Ukraine. The sec­ond showed how Russ­ian spy satel­lites are pass­ing over strate­gic mil­i­tary instal­la­tions — includ­ing a nuclear weapons facil­i­ty — in the east­ern and cen­tral Unit­ed States.

    The C.I.A. began send­ing equip­ment in 2016, after the piv­otal meet­ing at Scat­ter­good, Gen­er­al Dvoret­skiy said, pro­vid­ing encrypt­ed radios and devices for inter­cept­ing secret ene­my com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

    Beyond the base, the C.I.A. also over­saw a train­ing pro­gram, car­ried out in two Euro­pean cities, to teach Ukrain­ian intel­li­gence offi­cers how to con­vinc­ing­ly assume fake per­sonas and steal secrets in Rus­sia and oth­er coun­tries that are adept at root­ing out spies. The pro­gram was called Oper­a­tion Gold­fish, which derived from a joke about a Russ­ian-speak­ing gold­fish who offers two Esto­ni­ans wish­es in exchange for its free­dom.

    The punch­line was that one of the Esto­ni­ans bashed the fish’s head with a rock, explain­ing that any­thing speak­ing Russ­ian could not be trust­ed.

    The Oper­a­tion Gold­fish offi­cers were soon deployed to 12 new­ly-built, for­ward oper­at­ing bases con­struct­ed along the Russ­ian bor­der. From each base, Gen­er­al Kon­dratiuk said, the Ukrain­ian offi­cers ran net­works of agents who gath­ered intel­li­gence inside Rus­sia.

    C.I.A. offi­cers installed equip­ment at the bases to help gath­er intel­li­gence and also iden­ti­fied some of the most skilled Ukrain­ian grad­u­ates of the Oper­a­tion Gold­fish pro­gram, work­ing with them to approach poten­tial Russ­ian sources. These grad­u­ates then trained sleep­er agents on Ukrain­ian ter­ri­to­ry meant to launch guer­ril­la oper­a­tions in case of occu­pa­tion.

    It can often take years for the C.I.A. to devel­op enough trust in a for­eign agency to begin con­duct­ing joint oper­a­tions. With the Ukraini­ans it had tak­en less than six months. The new part­ner­ship start­ed pro­duc­ing so much raw intel­li­gence about Rus­sia that it had to be shipped to Lan­g­ley for pro­cess­ing.

    But the C.I.A. did have red lines. It wouldn’t help the Ukraini­ans con­duct offen­sive lethal oper­a­tions.

    ...

    ‘This is Our Coun­try’

    It was a dis­tinc­tion that grat­ed on the Ukraini­ans.

    First, Gen­er­al Kon­dratiuk was annoyed when the Amer­i­cans refused to pro­vide satel­lite images from inside Rus­sia. Soon after, he request­ed C.I.A. assis­tance in plan­ning a clan­des­tine mis­sion to send HUR com­man­dos into Rus­sia to plant explo­sive devices at train depots used by the Russ­ian mil­i­tary. If the Russ­ian mil­i­tary sought to take more Ukrain­ian ter­ri­to­ry, Ukraini­ans could det­o­nate the explo­sives to slow the Russ­ian advance.

    When the sta­tion chief briefed his supe­ri­ors, they “lost their minds,” as one for­mer offi­cial put it. Mr. Bren­nan, the C.I.A. direc­tor, called Gen­er­al Kon­dratiuk to make cer­tain that mis­sion was can­celed and that Ukraine abid­ed by the red lines for­bid­ding lethal oper­a­tions.

    Gen­er­al Kon­dratiuk can­celed the mis­sion, but he also took a dif­fer­ent les­son. “Going for­ward, we worked to not have dis­cus­sions about these things with your guys,” he said.

    Late that sum­mer, Ukrain­ian spies dis­cov­ered that Russ­ian forces were deploy­ing attack heli­copters at an air­field on the Russ­ian-occu­pied Crimean Penin­su­la, pos­si­bly to stage a sur­prise attack.

    Gen­er­al Kon­dratiuk decid­ed to send a team into Crimea to plant explo­sives at the air­field so they could be det­o­nat­ed if Rus­sia moved to attack.

    This time, he didn’t ask the C.I.A. for per­mis­sion. He turned to Unit 2245, the com­man­do force that received spe­cial­ized mil­i­tary train­ing from the C.I.A.’s elite para­mil­i­tary group, known as the Ground Depart­ment. The intent of the train­ing was to teach defen­sive tech­niques, but C.I.A. offi­cers under­stood that with­out their knowl­edge the Ukraini­ans could use the same tech­niques in offen­sive lethal oper­a­tions.

    At the time, the future head of Ukraine’s mil­i­tary intel­li­gence agency, Gen­er­al Budanov, was a ris­ing star in Unit 2245. He was known for dar­ing oper­a­tions behind ene­my lines and had deep ties to the C.I.A. The agency had trained him and also tak­en the extra­or­di­nary step of send­ing him for reha­bil­i­ta­tion to Wal­ter Reed Nation­al Mil­i­tary Med­ical Cen­ter in Mary­land after he was shot in the right arm dur­ing fight­ing in the Don­bas.

    Dis­guised in Russ­ian uni­forms, then-Lt. Col. Budanov led com­man­dos across a nar­row gulf in inflat­able speed­boats, land­ing at night in Crimea.

    But an elite Russ­ian com­man­do unit was wait­ing for them. The Ukraini­ans fought back, killing sev­er­al Russ­ian fight­ers, includ­ing the son of a gen­er­al, before retreat­ing to the shore­line, plung­ing into the sea and swim­ming for hours to Ukrain­ian-con­trolled ter­ri­to­ry.

    It was a dis­as­ter. In a pub­lic address, Pres­i­dent Putin accused the Ukraini­ans of plot­ting a ter­ror­ist attack and promised to avenge the deaths of the Russ­ian fight­ers.

    “There is no doubt that we will not let these things pass,” he said.

    In Wash­ing­ton, the Oba­ma White House was livid. Joseph R. Biden Jr., then the vice pres­i­dent and a cham­pi­on of assis­tance to Ukraine, called Ukraine’s pres­i­dent to angri­ly com­plain.

    “It caus­es a gigan­tic prob­lem,” Mr. Biden said in the call, a record­ing of which was leaked and pub­lished online. “All I’m telling you as a friend is that my mak­ing argu­ments here is a hell of a lot hard­er now.”

    Some of Mr. Obama’s advis­ers want­ed to shut the C.I.A. pro­gram down, but Mr. Bren­nan per­suad­ed them that doing so would be self-defeat­ing, giv­en the rela­tion­ship was start­ing to pro­duce intel­li­gence on the Rus­sians as the C.I.A. was inves­ti­gat­ing Russ­ian elec­tion med­dling.

    Mr. Bren­nan got on the phone with Gen­er­al Kon­dratiuk to again empha­size the red lines.

    The gen­er­al was upset. “This is our coun­try,” he respond­ed, accord­ing to a col­league. “It’s our war, and we’ve got to fight.”

    The blow­back from Wash­ing­ton cost Gen­er­al Kon­dratiuk his job. But Ukraine didn’t back down.

    One day after Gen­er­al Kon­dratiuk was removed, a mys­te­ri­ous explo­sion in the Russ­ian-occu­pied city of Donet­sk, in east­ern Ukraine, ripped through an ele­va­tor car­ry­ing a senior Russ­ian sep­a­ratist com­man­der named Arsen Pavlov, known by his nom de guerre, Motoro­la.

    The C.I.A. soon learned that the assas­sins were mem­bers of the Fifth Direc­torate, the spy group that received C.I.A. train­ing. Ukraine’s domes­tic intel­li­gence agency had even hand­ed out com­mem­o­ra­tive patch­es to those involved, each one stitched with the word “Lift,” the British term for an ele­va­tor.

    Again, some of Mr. Obama’s advis­ers were furi­ous, but they were lame ducks — the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion pit­ting Don­ald J. Trump against Hillary Rod­ham Clin­ton was three weeks away — and the assas­si­na­tions con­tin­ued.

    A team of Ukrain­ian agents set up an unmanned, shoul­der-fired rock­et launch­er in a build­ing in the occu­pied ter­ri­to­ries. It was direct­ly across from the office of a rebel com­man­der named Mikhail Tol­stykh, bet­ter known as Givi. Using a remote trig­ger, they fired the launch­er as soon as Givi entered his office, killing him, accord­ing to U.S. and Ukrain­ian offi­cials.

    A shad­ow war was now in over­drive. The Rus­sians used a car bomb to assas­si­nate the head of Unit 2245, the elite Ukrain­ian com­man­do force. The com­man­der, Col. Mak­sim Shapo­val, was on his way to meet­ing with C.I.A. offi­cers in Kyiv when his car explod­ed.

    At the colonel’s wake, the U.S. ambas­sador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, stood in mourn­ing beside the C.I.A. sta­tion chief. Lat­er, C.I.A. offi­cers and their Ukrain­ian coun­ter­parts toast­ed Colonel Shapo­val with whiskey shots.

    ...

    Tip­toe­ing Around Trump

    The elec­tion of Mr. Trump in Novem­ber 2016 put the Ukraini­ans and their C.I.A. part­ners on edge.

    Mr. Trump praised Mr. Putin and dis­missed Russia’s role in elec­tion inter­fer­ence. He was sus­pi­cious of Ukraine and lat­er tried to pres­sure its pres­i­dent, Volodymyr Zelen­sky, to inves­ti­gate his Demo­c­ra­t­ic rival, Mr. Biden, result­ing in Mr. Trump’s first impeach­ment.

    But what­ev­er Mr. Trump said and did, his admin­is­tra­tion often went in the oth­er direc­tion. This is because Mr. Trump had put Rus­sia hawks in key posi­tions, includ­ing Mike Pom­peo as C.I.A. direc­tor and John Bolton as nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er. They vis­it­ed Kyiv to under­line their full sup­port for the secret part­ner­ship, which expand­ed to include more spe­cial­ized train­ing pro­grams and the build­ing of addi­tion­al secret bases.

    The base in the for­est grew to include a new com­mand cen­ter and bar­racks, and swelled from 80 to 800 Ukrain­ian intel­li­gence offi­cers. Pre­vent­ing Rus­sia from inter­fer­ing in future U.S. elec­tions was a top C.I.A. pri­or­i­ty dur­ing this peri­od, and Ukrain­ian and Amer­i­can intel­li­gence offi­cers joined forces to probe the com­put­er sys­tems of Russia’s intel­li­gence agen­cies to iden­ti­fy oper­a­tives try­ing to manip­u­late vot­ers.

    In one joint oper­a­tion, a HUR team duped an offi­cer from Russia’s mil­i­tary intel­li­gence ser­vice into pro­vid­ing infor­ma­tion that allowed the C.I.A. to con­nect Russia’s gov­ern­ment to the so-called Fan­cy Bear hack­ing group, which had been linked to elec­tion inter­fer­ence efforts in a num­ber of coun­tries.

    Gen­er­al Budanov, whom Mr. Zelen­sky tapped to lead the HUR in 2020, said of the part­ner­ship: “It only strength­ened. It grew sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly. The coop­er­a­tion expand­ed to addi­tion­al spheres and became more large-scale.”

    The rela­tion­ship was so suc­cess­ful that the C.I.A. want­ed to repli­cate it with oth­er Euro­pean intel­li­gence ser­vices that shared a focus in coun­ter­ing Rus­sia.

    The head of Rus­sia House, the C.I.A. depart­ment over­see­ing oper­a­tions against Rus­sia, orga­nized a secret meet­ing at The Hague. There, rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the C.I.A., Britain’s MI6, the HUR, the Dutch ser­vice (a crit­i­cal intel­li­gence ally) and oth­er agen­cies agreed to start pool­ing togeth­er more of their intel­li­gence on Rus­sia.

    The result was a secret coali­tion against Rus­sia — and the Ukraini­ans were vital mem­bers of it.

    March to War

    In March 2021, the Russ­ian mil­i­tary start­ed mass­ing troops along the bor­der with Ukraine. As the months passed, and more troops encir­cled the coun­try, the ques­tion was whether Mr. Putin was mak­ing a feint or prepar­ing for war.

    That Novem­ber, and in the weeks that fol­lowed, the C.I.A. and MI6 deliv­ered a uni­fied mes­sage to their Ukrain­ian part­ners: Rus­sia was prepar­ing for a full-scale inva­sion to decap­i­tate the gov­ern­ment and install a pup­pet in Kyiv who would do the Kremlin’s bid­ding.

    U.S. and British intel­li­gence agen­cies had inter­cepts that Ukrain­ian intel­li­gence agen­cies did not have access to, accord­ing to U.S. offi­cials. The new intel­li­gence list­ed the names of Ukrain­ian offi­cials whom the Rus­sians were plan­ning to kill or cap­ture, as well as the Ukraini­ans the Krem­lin hoped to install in pow­er.

    Pres­i­dent Zelen­sky and some of his top advis­ers appeared uncon­vinced, even after Mr. Burns, the C.I.A. direc­tor, rushed to Kyiv in Jan­u­ary 2022 to brief them.

    ...

    At Mr. Burns’s urg­ing, a small group of C.I.A. offi­cers were exempt­ed from the broad­er U.S. evac­u­a­tion and were relo­cat­ed to a hotel com­plex in west­ern Ukraine. They didn’t want to desert their part­ners.

    No Endgame

    After Mr. Putin launched the inva­sion on Feb. 24, 2022, the C.I.A. offi­cers at the hotel were the only U.S. gov­ern­ment pres­ence on the ground. Every day at the hotel, they met with their Ukrain­ian con­tacts to pass infor­ma­tion. The old hand­cuffs were off, and the Biden White House autho­rized spy agen­cies to pro­vide intel­li­gence sup­port for lethal oper­a­tions against Russ­ian forces on Ukrain­ian soil.

    Often, the C.I.A. brief­in­gs con­tained shock­ing­ly spe­cif­ic details.

    On March 3, 2022 — the eighth day of the war — the C.I.A. team gave a pre­cise overview of Russ­ian plans for the com­ing two weeks. The Rus­sians would open a human­i­tar­i­an cor­ri­dor out of the besieged city of Mar­i­upol that same day, and then open fire on the Ukraini­ans who used it.

    The Rus­sians planned to encir­cle the strate­gic port city of Ode­sa, accord­ing to the C.I.A., but a storm delayed the assault and the Rus­sians nev­er took the city. Then, on March 10, the Rus­sians intend­ed to bom­bard six Ukrain­ian cities, and had already entered coor­di­nates into cruise mis­siles for those strikes.

    The Rus­sians also were try­ing to assas­si­nate top Ukrain­ian offi­cials, includ­ing Mr. Zelen­sky. In at least one case, the C.I.A. shared intel­li­gence with Ukraine’s domes­tic agency that helped dis­rupt a plot against the pres­i­dent, accord­ing to a senior Ukrain­ian offi­cial.

    ...

    With­in weeks, the C.I.A. had returned to Kyiv, and the agency sent in scores of new offi­cers to help the Ukraini­ans. A senior U.S. offi­cial said of the C.I.A.’s siz­able pres­ence, “Are they pulling trig­gers? No. Are they help­ing with tar­get­ing? Absolute­ly.”

    Some of the C.I.A. offi­cers were deployed to Ukrain­ian bases. They reviewed lists of poten­tial Russ­ian tar­gets that the Ukraini­ans were prepar­ing to strike, com­par­ing the infor­ma­tion that the Ukraini­ans had with U.S. intel­li­gence to ensure that it was accu­rate.

    Before the inva­sion, the C.I.A. and MI6 had trained their Ukrain­ian coun­ter­parts on recruit­ing sources, and build­ing clan­des­tine and par­ti­san net­works. In the south­ern Kher­son region, which was occu­pied by Rus­sia in the first weeks of the war, those par­ti­san net­works sprang into action, accord­ing to Gen­er­al Kon­dratiuk, assas­si­nat­ing local col­lab­o­ra­tors and help­ing Ukrain­ian forces tar­get Russ­ian posi­tions.

    In July 2022, Ukrain­ian spies saw Russ­ian con­voys prepar­ing to cross a strate­gic bridge across the Dnipro riv­er and noti­fied MI6. British and Amer­i­can intel­li­gence offi­cers then quick­ly ver­i­fied the Ukrain­ian intel­li­gence, using real-time satel­lite imagery. MI6 relayed the con­fir­ma­tion, and the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary opened fire with rock­ets, destroy­ing the con­voys.

    ...

    The ques­tion that some Ukrain­ian intel­li­gence offi­cers are now ask­ing their Amer­i­can coun­ter­parts — as Repub­li­cans in the House weigh whether to cut off bil­lions of dol­lars in aid — is whether the C.I.A. will aban­don them. “It hap­pened in Afghanistan before and now it’s going to hap­pen in Ukraine,” a senior Ukrain­ian offi­cer said.

    Refer­ring to Mr. Burns’s vis­it to Kyiv last week, a C.I.A. offi­cial said, “We have demon­strat­ed a clear com­mit­ment to Ukraine over many years and this vis­it was anoth­er strong sig­nal that the U.S. com­mit­ment will con­tin­ue.”

    The C.I.A. and the HUR have built two oth­er secret bases to inter­cept Russ­ian com­mu­ni­ca­tions, and com­bined with the 12 for­ward oper­at­ing bases, which Gen­er­al Kon­dratiuk says are still oper­a­tional, the HUR now col­lects and pro­duces more intel­li­gence than at any time in the war — much of which it shares with the C.I.A.

    “You can’t get infor­ma­tion like this any­where — except here, and now,” Gen­er­al Dvoret­skiy said.

    ———

    “The Spy War: How the C.I.A. Secret­ly Helps Ukraine Fight Putin” By Adam Entous and Michael Schwirtz; The New York Times; 02/25/2024

    “In more than 200 inter­views, cur­rent and for­mer offi­cials in Ukraine, the Unit­ed States and Europe described a part­ner­ship that near­ly foundered from mutu­al dis­trust before it steadi­ly expand­ed, turn­ing Ukraine into an intel­li­gence-gath­er­ing hub that inter­cept­ed more Russ­ian com­mu­ni­ca­tions than the C.I.A. sta­tion in Kyiv could ini­tial­ly han­dle. Many of the offi­cials spoke on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty to dis­cuss intel­li­gence and mat­ters of sen­si­tive diplo­ma­cy.”

    Ukraine has been turned a US intel­li­gence-gath­er­ing hub, deliv­er­ing an unprece­dent­ed lev­el of access to Russ­ian com­mu­ni­ca­tions. That’s the mes­sage being deliv­ered in this New York Times piece based on hun­dreds of inter­views with cur­rent and for­mer intel­li­gence offi­cials. A mes­sage the US intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty clear­ly wants deliv­ered to the pub­lic that por­trays Ukraine as a vital asset in the US’s new Cold War with Rus­sia. Remark­ably, the arti­cle even points out how, accord­ing to a senior Euro­pean offi­cial, Putin fac­tored Ukraine’s sta­tus as a beach­head for oper­a­tions against Rus­sia back in 2021 when weigh­ing whether or not to launch the inva­sion. But the report goes on to quib­ble with the Krem­lin’s assess­ment by point­ing to the var­i­ous ten­sions between the US and Ukraine that have played out over the last decade. Ten­sions that have been large­ly resolved and nev­er real­ly threat­ened Ukraine’s sta­tus as a grow­ing US beach­head. That’s part of what makes this report so remark­able. It’s filled with stun­ning admis­sions about a dra­mat­i­cal­ly deep­en­ing rela­tion­ship that pre­ced­ed the 2022 inva­sion and more or less con­firm the Krem­lin’s fears about Ukraine being trans­formed into West­ern anti-Russ­ian beach­head. It’s a sur­pris­ing­ly reveal­ing self-serv­ing nar­ra­tive:

    ...
    But the part­ner­ship is no wartime cre­ation, nor is Ukraine the only ben­e­fi­cia­ry.

    It took root a decade ago, com­ing togeth­er in fits and starts under three very dif­fer­ent U.S. pres­i­dents, pushed for­ward by key indi­vid­u­als who often took dar­ing risks. It has trans­formed Ukraine, whose intel­li­gence agen­cies were long seen as thor­ough­ly com­pro­mised by Rus­sia, into one of Washington’s most impor­tant intel­li­gence part­ners against the Krem­lin today.

    ...

    Toward the end of 2021, accord­ing to a senior Euro­pean offi­cial, Mr. Putin was weigh­ing whether to launch his full-scale inva­sion when he met with the head of one of Russia’s main spy ser­vices, who told him that the C.I.A., togeth­er with Britain’s MI6, were con­trol­ling Ukraine and turn­ing it into a beach­head for oper­a­tions against Moscow.

    But the Times inves­ti­ga­tion found that Mr. Putin and his advis­ers mis­read a crit­i­cal dynam­ic. The C.I.A. didn’t push its way into Ukraine. U.S. offi­cials were often reluc­tant to ful­ly engage, fear­ing that Ukrain­ian offi­cials could not be trust­ed, and wor­ry­ing about pro­vok­ing the Krem­lin.

    Yet a tight cir­cle of Ukrain­ian intel­li­gence offi­cials assid­u­ous­ly court­ed the C.I.A. and grad­u­al­ly made them­selves vital to the Amer­i­cans. In 2015, Gen. Valeriy Kon­dratiuk, then Ukraine’s head of mil­i­tary intel­li­gence, arrived at a meet­ing with the C.I.A.’s deputy sta­tion chief and with­out warn­ing hand­ed over a stack of top-secret files.

    That ini­tial tranche con­tained secrets about the Russ­ian Navy’s North­ern Fleet, includ­ing detailed infor­ma­tion about the lat­est Russ­ian nuclear sub­ma­rine designs. Before long, teams of C.I.A. offi­cers were reg­u­lar­ly leav­ing his office with back­packs full of doc­u­ments.

    ...

    As the part­ner­ship deep­ened after 2016, the Ukraini­ans became impa­tient with what they con­sid­ered Washington’s undue cau­tion, and began stag­ing assas­si­na­tions and oth­er lethal oper­a­tions, which vio­lat­ed the terms the White House thought the Ukraini­ans had agreed to. Infu­ri­at­ed, offi­cials in Wash­ing­ton threat­ened to cut off sup­port, but they nev­er did.

    “The rela­tion­ships only got stronger and stronger because both sides saw val­ue in it, and the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv — our sta­tion there, the oper­a­tion out of Ukraine — became the best source of infor­ma­tion, sig­nals and every­thing else, on Rus­sia,” said a for­mer senior Amer­i­can offi­cial. “We couldn’t get enough of it.”
    ...

    And accord­ing to this nar­ra­tive, the CIA’s rela­tion­ship with Ukraine start­ed imme­di­ate­ly in the wake of the Maid­an rev­o­lu­tion in Feb­ru­ary of 2014. A nar­ra­tive that con­ve­nient­ly leaves out any West­ern intel­li­gence role in those events. And as we can see, the new spy chief imme­di­ate­ly after the fall of the Yanukovych gov­ern­ment, Valen­tyn Naly­vaichenko, con­ve­nient­ly hap­pened to have played a sim­i­lar role in start­ing a part­ner­ship with the CIA while serv­ing as spy chief under Vik­tor Yuschenko. So the CIA/Ukrainian rela­tion­ship that ‘start­ed in Feb­ru­ary 2014’ was start­ed by a spy chief who already start­ed a rela­tion­ship with the CIA under the Yuschenko admin­is­tra­tion. Also, note the lack of any men­tion of how Naly­vaichenko is tied to the neo-Nazi Right Sector/Pravy Sek­tor, because of course that was left out:

    ...
    The details of this intel­li­gence part­ner­ship, many of which are being dis­closed by The New York Times for the first time, have been a close­ly guard­ed secret for a decade.

    ...

    The C.I.A.’s part­ner­ship in Ukraine can be traced back to two phone calls on the night of Feb. 24, 2014, eight years to the day before Russia’s full-scale inva­sion.

    ...

    The government’s new spy chief, Valen­tyn Naly­vaichenko, arrived at the head­quar­ters of the domes­tic intel­li­gence agency and found a pile of smol­der­ing doc­u­ments in the court­yard. Inside, many of the com­put­ers had been wiped or were infect­ed with Russ­ian mal­ware.

    ...

    He went to an office and called the C.I.A. sta­tion chief and the local head of MI6. It was near mid­night but he sum­moned them to the build­ing, asked for help in rebuild­ing the agency from the ground up, and pro­posed a three-way part­ner­ship. “That’s how it all start­ed,” Mr. Naly­vaichenko said.

    ...

    To the C.I.A., the unknown ques­tion was how long Mr. Naly­vaichenko and the pro-West­ern gov­ern­ment would be around. The C.I.A. had been burned before in Ukraine.

    Fol­low­ing the breakup of the Sovi­et Union in 1991, Ukraine gained inde­pen­dence and then veered between com­pet­ing polit­i­cal forces: those that want­ed to remain close to Moscow and those that want­ed to align with the West. Dur­ing a pre­vi­ous stint as spy chief, Mr. Naly­vaichenko start­ed a sim­i­lar part­ner­ship with the C.I.A., which dis­solved when the coun­try swung back toward Rus­sia.
    ...

    Then we get to this remark­able admis­sion regard­ing the inves­ti­ga­tion into the down­ing of Malaysia Air­lines Flight 17 in July of 2014: we are told the Oba­ma White House was deeply con­cerned about pro­vid­ing intel­li­gence sup­port that would cross a line and pro­voke Rus­sia. So in response, Valen­tyn Naly­vaichenko tapped Gen­er­al Valeriy Kon­dratiuk to serv­er as head of coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence and the two pro­ceed­ed to cre­ate a new para­mil­i­tary unit that could be deployed behind ene­my lines and gath­er intel­li­gence that the CIA or MI6 refused to pro­vide them. That para­mil­i­tary unit, the Fifth Direc­torate, was appar­ent­ly the unit that, with­in hours, pro­duced tele­phone inter­cepts and oth­er intel­li­gence that pinned the blame for the down­ing of the air­line on the sep­a­ratists. This is a good time to recall how the offi­cer in charge of that inves­ti­ga­tion for Ukraine, Vasi­ly Vovk, called for the destruc­tion of “the Jews” in 2017. Some­how all men­tion of the extrem­ist nature of the fig­ures play­ing lead­ing roles in this inves­ti­ga­tion got left out of this nar­ra­tive. But it is still inter­est­ing to learn that the unit that osten­si­bly pro­vid­ed the key evi­dence in that inves­ti­ga­tion is the Fifth Direc­torate, and the CIA was appar­ent­ly so impressed with this intel­li­gence that it respond­ed by pro­vid­ed the unit secure com­mu­ni­ca­tions gear and spe­cial­ized train­ing:

    ...
    Mr. Bren­nan returned to Wash­ing­ton, where advis­ers to Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma were deeply con­cerned about pro­vok­ing Moscow. The White House craft­ed secret rules that infu­ri­at­ed the Ukraini­ans and that some inside the C.I.A. thought of as hand­cuffs. The rules barred intel­li­gence agen­cies from pro­vid­ing any sup­port to Ukraine that could be “rea­son­ably expect­ed” to have lethal con­se­quences.

    ...

    In Kyiv, Mr. Naly­vaichenko picked a long­time aide, Gen­er­al Kon­dratiuk, to serve as head of coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence, and they cre­at­ed a new para­mil­i­tary unit that was deployed behind ene­my lines to con­duct oper­a­tions and gath­er intel­li­gence that the C.I.A. or MI6 would not pro­vide to them.

    Known as the Fifth Direc­torate, this unit would be filled with offi­cers born after Ukraine gained inde­pen­dence.

    ...

    That sum­mer, Malaysia Air­lines Flight 17, fly­ing from Ams­ter­dam to Kuala Lumpur, blew up in midair and crashed in east­ern Ukraine, killing near­ly 300 pas­sen­gers and crew. The Fifth Direc­torate pro­duced tele­phone inter­cepts and oth­er intel­li­gence with­in hours of the crash that quick­ly placed respon­si­bil­i­ty on Russ­ian-backed sep­a­ratists.

    The C.I.A. was impressed, and made its first mean­ing­ful com­mit­ment by pro­vid­ing secure com­mu­ni­ca­tions gear and spe­cial­ized train­ing to mem­bers of the Fifth Direc­torate and two oth­er elite units.
    ...

    By the the sum­mer of 2015, the rela­tion­ship between Ukrain­ian intel­li­gence and the CIA appears to deep­en sig­nif­i­cant­ly. First, fol­low­ing the fir­ing of Naly­vaichenko, Gen­er­al Kon­dratiuk was appoint­ed to the head of the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary intel­li­gence agency, the HUR, which had the author­i­ty to col­lect intel­li­gence out­side of the coun­try, includ­ing Rus­sia. Inter­est­ing­ly, it appears that Kon­dratiuk ini­tial­ly reached out to his Amer­i­can coun­ter­part at the Defense Intel­li­gence Agency (DIA), but DIA offi­cials were sus­pi­cious and dis­cour­aged build­ing clos­er ties. Why were they sus­pi­cious? We aren’t told. But it turns out Kon­dratiuk had already been estab­lish­ing deep­er ties with the CIA and by Jan­u­ary of 2016, the CIA agreed to mod­ern­ize the HUR in exchange for the shar­ing of the raw intel­li­gence it was gath­er­ing:

    ...
    In the sum­mer of 2015, Ukraine’s pres­i­dent, Petro Poroshenko, shook up the domes­tic ser­vice and installed an ally to replace Mr. Naly­vaichenko, the C.I.A.’s trust­ed part­ner. But the change cre­at­ed an oppor­tu­ni­ty else­where.

    In the reshuf­fle, Gen­er­al Kon­dratiuk was appoint­ed as the head of the country’s mil­i­tary intel­li­gence agency, known as the HUR, where years ear­li­er he had start­ed his career. It would be an ear­ly exam­ple of how per­son­al ties, more than pol­i­cy shifts, would deep­en the C.I.A.’s involve­ment in Ukraine.

    Unlike the domes­tic agency, the HUR had the author­i­ty to col­lect intel­li­gence out­side the coun­try, includ­ing in Rus­sia. But the Amer­i­cans had seen lit­tle val­ue in cul­ti­vat­ing the agency because it wasn’t pro­duc­ing any intel­li­gence of val­ue on the Rus­sians — and because it was seen as a bas­tion of Russ­ian sym­pa­thiz­ers.

    Try­ing to build trust, Gen­er­al Kon­dratiuk arranged a meet­ing with his Amer­i­can coun­ter­part at the Defense Intel­li­gence Agency and hand­ed over a stack of secret Russ­ian doc­u­ments. But senior D.I.A. offi­cials were sus­pi­cious and dis­cour­aged build­ing clos­er ties.

    The gen­er­al need­ed to find a more will­ing part­ner.

    Months ear­li­er, while still with the domes­tic agency, Gen­er­al Kon­dratiuk vis­it­ed the C.I.A. head­quar­ters in Lan­g­ley, Va. In those meet­ings, he met a C.I.A. offi­cer with a jol­ly demeanor and a bushy beard who had been tapped to become the next sta­tion chief in Kyiv.

    ...

    The sta­tion chief had not yet arrived when Gen­er­al Kon­dratiuk hand­ed over to the C.I.A. the secret doc­u­ments about the Russ­ian Navy. “There’s more where this came from,” he promised, and the doc­u­ments were sent off to ana­lysts in Lan­g­ley.

    The ana­lysts con­clud­ed the doc­u­ments were authen­tic, and after the sta­tion chief arrived in Kyiv, the C.I.A. became Gen­er­al Kondratiuk’s pri­ma­ry part­ner.

    Gen­er­al Kon­dratiuk knew he need­ed the C.I.A. to strength­en his own agency. The C.I.A. thought the gen­er­al might be able to help Lan­g­ley, too. It strug­gled to recruit spies inside Rus­sia because its case offi­cers were under heavy sur­veil­lance.

    ...

    In Jan­u­ary 2016, Gen­er­al Kon­dratiuk flew to Wash­ing­ton for meet­ings at Scat­ter­good, an estate on the C.I.A. cam­pus in Vir­ginia where the agency often fetes vis­it­ing dig­ni­taries. The agency agreed to help the HUR mod­ern­ize, and to improve its abil­i­ty to inter­cept Russ­ian mil­i­tary com­mu­ni­ca­tions. In exchange, Gen­er­al Kon­dratiuk agreed to share all of the raw intel­li­gence with the Amer­i­cans.

    ...

    It can often take years for the C.I.A. to devel­op enough trust in a for­eign agency to begin con­duct­ing joint oper­a­tions. With the Ukraini­ans it had tak­en less than six months. The new part­ner­ship start­ed pro­duc­ing so much raw intel­li­gence about Rus­sia that it had to be shipped to Lan­g­ley for pro­cess­ing.

    ...

    The C.I.A. and the HUR have built two oth­er secret bases to inter­cept Russ­ian com­mu­ni­ca­tions, and com­bined with the 12 for­ward oper­at­ing bases, which Gen­er­al Kon­dratiuk says are still oper­a­tional, the HUR now col­lects and pro­duces more intel­li­gence than at any time in the war — much of which it shares with the C.I.A.
    ...

    And then we get to what sound like Glad­io-style prepa­ra­tions: start­ing in 2016, the CIA over­saw some sort of spy train­ing pro­gram called Oper­a­tion Gold­fish. Ukraine’s CIA-trained spies were then deployed to 12 new­ly-built for­ward oper­at­ing bases build­ing along the Russ­ian bor­der for the pur­pose of gath­er­ing intel­li­gence inside Rus­sia. But they weren’t just trained for oper­a­tions inside Rus­sia. They were also trained to act as sleep­er agents on Ukrain­ian ter­ri­to­ry for the pur­pose of launch­ing gueril­la oper­a­tions in case of occu­pa­tion:

    ...
    The C.I.A. began send­ing equip­ment in 2016, after the piv­otal meet­ing at Scat­ter­good, Gen­er­al Dvoret­skiy said, pro­vid­ing encrypt­ed radios and devices for inter­cept­ing secret ene­my com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

    Beyond the base, the C.I.A. also over­saw a train­ing pro­gram, car­ried out in two Euro­pean cities, to teach Ukrain­ian intel­li­gence offi­cers how to con­vinc­ing­ly assume fake per­sonas and steal secrets in Rus­sia and oth­er coun­tries that are adept at root­ing out spies. The pro­gram was called Oper­a­tion Gold­fish, which derived from a joke about a Russ­ian-speak­ing gold­fish who offers two Esto­ni­ans wish­es in exchange for its free­dom.

    ...

    The Oper­a­tion Gold­fish offi­cers were soon deployed to 12 new­ly-built, for­ward oper­at­ing bases con­struct­ed along the Russ­ian bor­der. From each base, Gen­er­al Kon­dratiuk said, the Ukrain­ian offi­cers ran net­works of agents who gath­ered intel­li­gence inside Rus­sia.

    C.I.A. offi­cers installed equip­ment at the bases to help gath­er intel­li­gence and also iden­ti­fied some of the most skilled Ukrain­ian grad­u­ates of the Oper­a­tion Gold­fish pro­gram, work­ing with them to approach poten­tial Russ­ian sources. These grad­u­ates then trained sleep­er agents on Ukrain­ian ter­ri­to­ry meant to launch guer­ril­la oper­a­tions in case of occu­pa­tion.

    ...

    Before the inva­sion, the C.I.A. and MI6 had trained their Ukrain­ian coun­ter­parts on recruit­ing sources, and build­ing clan­des­tine and par­ti­san net­works. In the south­ern Kher­son region, which was occu­pied by Rus­sia in the first weeks of the war, those par­ti­san net­works sprang into action, accord­ing to Gen­er­al Kon­dratiuk, assas­si­nat­ing local col­lab­o­ra­tors and help­ing Ukrain­ian forces tar­get Russ­ian posi­tions.
    ...

    But the CIA was­n’t just train­ing Ukraine’s spies. It was also train­ing Unit 2245, an elite Ukrain­ian com­man­do force. And as we can see, when the Ukraini­ans want­ed to engage in actions that the US saw as too provoca­tive to direct­ly assists — like plant­i­ng explo­sives on an air­field in Crimea — it was Unit 2245 that the Ukraini­ans turned to. So the CIA trained the com­man­do unit the Ukraini­ans use for actions that are deemed too provoca­tive for the CIA to have its fin­ger­prints on it:

    ...
    Around 2016, the C.I.A. began train­ing an elite Ukrain­ian com­man­do force — known as Unit 2245 — which cap­tured Russ­ian drones and com­mu­ni­ca­tions gear so that C.I.A. tech­ni­cians could reverse-engi­neer them and crack Moscow’s encryp­tion sys­tems. (One offi­cer in the unit was Kyry­lo Budanov, now the gen­er­al lead­ing Ukraine’s mil­i­tary intel­li­gence.)

    ...

    First, Gen­er­al Kon­dratiuk was annoyed when the Amer­i­cans refused to pro­vide satel­lite images from inside Rus­sia. Soon after, he request­ed C.I.A. assis­tance in plan­ning a clan­des­tine mis­sion to send HUR com­man­dos into Rus­sia to plant explo­sive devices at train depots used by the Russ­ian mil­i­tary. If the Russ­ian mil­i­tary sought to take more Ukrain­ian ter­ri­to­ry, Ukraini­ans could det­o­nate the explo­sives to slow the Russ­ian advance.

    When the sta­tion chief briefed his supe­ri­ors, they “lost their minds,” as one for­mer offi­cial put it. Mr. Bren­nan, the C.I.A. direc­tor, called Gen­er­al Kon­dratiuk to make cer­tain that mis­sion was can­celed and that Ukraine abid­ed by the red lines for­bid­ding lethal oper­a­tions.

    Gen­er­al Kon­dratiuk can­celed the mis­sion, but he also took a dif­fer­ent les­son. “Going for­ward, we worked to not have dis­cus­sions about these things with your guys,” he said.

    Late that sum­mer, Ukrain­ian spies dis­cov­ered that Russ­ian forces were deploy­ing attack heli­copters at an air­field on the Russ­ian-occu­pied Crimean Penin­su­la, pos­si­bly to stage a sur­prise attack.

    Gen­er­al Kon­dratiuk decid­ed to send a team into Crimea to plant explo­sives at the air­field so they could be det­o­nat­ed if Rus­sia moved to attack.

    This time, he didn’t ask the C.I.A. for per­mis­sion. He turned to Unit 2245, the com­man­do force that received spe­cial­ized mil­i­tary train­ing from the C.I.A.’s elite para­mil­i­tary group, known as the Ground Depart­ment. The intent of the train­ing was to teach defen­sive tech­niques, but C.I.A. offi­cers under­stood that with­out their knowl­edge the Ukraini­ans could use the same tech­niques in offen­sive lethal oper­a­tions.

    At the time, the future head of Ukraine’s mil­i­tary intel­li­gence agency, Gen­er­al Budanov, was a ris­ing star in Unit 2245. He was known for dar­ing oper­a­tions behind ene­my lines and had deep ties to the C.I.A. The agency had trained him and also tak­en the extra­or­di­nary step of send­ing him for reha­bil­i­ta­tion to Wal­ter Reed Nation­al Mil­i­tary Med­ical Cen­ter in Mary­land after he was shot in the right arm dur­ing fight­ing in the Don­bas.
    ...

    Jump­ing for­ward to the incom­ing Trump admin­is­tra­tion, and we find not just full sup­port for the Ukraini­ans but a dra­mat­ic expan­sion of that sup­port as the ‘Rus­si­a­Gate’ sto­ry about Russ­ian inter­fer­ence in 2016 elec­tion roiled Wash­ing­ton DC. And what do we find but claims that, as part of a joint CIA-HUR oper­a­tion, the HUR tricked a Russ­ian intel­li­gence offi­cer into pro­vid­ing infor­ma­tion that allowed the CIA to con­nect “Fan­cy Bear” to the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment. Think about that for a moment: the evi­dence that Fan­cy Bear was a Rus­sia gov­ern­ment oper­a­tion appar­ent­ly came from the HUR. Keep in mind that the US was blam­ing the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment for the hack of the DNC right out of the gate in the sum­mer of 2016, pre­sum­ably many months before this HUR trick­ery appar­ent­ly took place under the Trump admin­is­tra­tion:

    ...
    But what­ev­er Mr. Trump said and did, his admin­is­tra­tion often went in the oth­er direc­tion. This is because Mr. Trump had put Rus­sia hawks in key posi­tions, includ­ing Mike Pom­peo as C.I.A. direc­tor and John Bolton as nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er. They vis­it­ed Kyiv to under­line their full sup­port for the secret part­ner­ship, which expand­ed to include more spe­cial­ized train­ing pro­grams and the build­ing of addi­tion­al secret bases.

    The base in the for­est grew to include a new com­mand cen­ter and bar­racks, and swelled from 80 to 800 Ukrain­ian intel­li­gence offi­cers. Pre­vent­ing Rus­sia from inter­fer­ing in future U.S. elec­tions was a top C.I.A. pri­or­i­ty dur­ing this peri­od, and Ukrain­ian and Amer­i­can intel­li­gence offi­cers joined forces to probe the com­put­er sys­tems of Russia’s intel­li­gence agen­cies to iden­ti­fy oper­a­tives try­ing to manip­u­late vot­ers.

    In one joint oper­a­tion, a HUR team duped an offi­cer from Russia’s mil­i­tary intel­li­gence ser­vice into pro­vid­ing infor­ma­tion that allowed the C.I.A. to con­nect Russia’s gov­ern­ment to the so-called Fan­cy Bear hack­ing group, which had been linked to elec­tion inter­fer­ence efforts in a num­ber of coun­tries.
    ...

    But this isn’t just a sto­ry about the rela­tion­ship between the CIA and Ukrain­ian intel­li­gence. A secret coali­tion against Rus­sia emerged fol­low­ing a secret meet­ing at the Hague, where rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the HUR, CIA, MI6, Dutch intel­li­gence, and oth­er unnamed agen­cies agreed to pool more of their intel­li­gence on Rus­sia. This is well before the inva­sion of Feb­ru­ary 2022:

    ...
    Gen­er­al Budanov, whom Mr. Zelen­sky tapped to lead the HUR in 2020, said of the part­ner­ship: “It only strength­ened. It grew sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly. The coop­er­a­tion expand­ed to addi­tion­al spheres and became more large-scale.”

    The rela­tion­ship was so suc­cess­ful that the C.I.A. want­ed to repli­cate it with oth­er Euro­pean intel­li­gence ser­vices that shared a focus in coun­ter­ing Rus­sia.

    The head of Rus­sia House, the C.I.A. depart­ment over­see­ing oper­a­tions against Rus­sia, orga­nized a secret meet­ing at The Hague. There, rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the C.I.A., Britain’s MI6, the HUR, the Dutch ser­vice (a crit­i­cal intel­li­gence ally) and oth­er agen­cies agreed to start pool­ing togeth­er more of their intel­li­gence on Rus­sia.

    The result was a secret coali­tion against Rus­sia — and the Ukraini­ans were vital mem­bers of it.
    ...

    A secret anti-Russ­ian intel­li­gence coali­tion that is secret no more. Well, ok, it’s par­tial­ly secret. We still don’t know who all the mem­bers are of this secret coali­tion. Per­haps we’ll get more details on dur­ing the next major nar­ra­tive update.

    But, for now, it’s clear from this report that Ukraine is no longer just to be seen as a vic­tim of Russ­ian aggres­sion. It’s also a vital mem­ber of the New Cold War and will remain vital for years, or decades, to come. That’s the mes­sage deliv­ered to the pub­lic in this report. Which also serves as a reminder that the Hot War inside Ukraine right now might be the end of what we think of as mod­ern Ukraine, but it’s also just the start of the long Cold War to fol­low, assum­ing the con­flict can be end­ed with­out some sort of Russ­ian-NATO con­fla­gra­tion. Extend­ed con­flict. That’s the plan. It’s not a good plan, but it’s the plan, with nar­ra­tives to be updat­ed accord­ing­ly.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 2, 2024, 5:07 pm
  7. Wow, they real­ly don’t want to just let this gross scan­dal qui­et­ly skulk away: It turns out there’s an update to Canada’s Yaroslav Hun­ka scan­dal. He got anoth­er award. This time it was the “hon­orary award of the Ternopil Region­al Coun­cil for ser­vices to the Ternopil Region,” pre­sent­ed to Hunka’s great-niece, Olga Vitkovs­ka, on March 19, Hunka’s 99th birth­day. The per­son pre­sent­ing the award hap­pened to be Oleh Syrotyuk, the local leader of Svo­bo­da. And it turns out this award is also known as the “Yaroslav Stet­sko medal.” So the local leader of Svo­bo­da, the par­ty that is basi­cal­ly the con­tem­po­rary ver­sion of the OUN‑B, award­ed Hun­ka — a mem­ber of the 14th Waf­fen SS divi­sion — with a medal named after one of the most influ­en­tial OUN‑B lead­ers. As the fol­low­ing arti­cle reminds us, Stet­sko was not only an enthu­si­as­tic backer of the Holo­caust but he went on to lead the “Anti-Bol­she­vik Bloc of Nations” for decades in the post-war era and was even received by the Rea­gan White House in 1983.

    So if you want­ed to iden­ti­fy a lead­ing Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tor who nev­er real­ly had to face the con­se­quences for his hor­rif­ic lega­cy, you almost could­n’t find a bet­ter exam­ple than Yaroslav Stet­sko. In that sense, award­ing Hun­ka with the Stet­sko medal is weird­ly appro­pri­ate, if giv­en with a sense of grim irony. But, of course, that’s not the spir­it this medal was giv­en in. This was intend­ed to be a great hon­or. Just as Hun­ka was hon­ored by the gov­ern­ment of Cana­da.

    As the fol­low­ing arti­cle also notes, the uproar of Hun­ka is far from the first time Cana­da has had to deal with these kinds of con­tro­ver­sies. Notably, there was Deschênes Com­mis­sion formed back in 1985 after it was dis­cov­ered that Albert Hel­mut Rau­ca, a known Nazi war crim­i­nal the West Ger­man gov­ern­ment had been search­ing for for decades, had been liv­ing open­ly in Cana­da under his real name for over three decades. That com­mis­sion pre­dictably end­ed in a farce, con­clud­ing not only that Cana­da had no such prob­lem with Nazi war crim­i­nal liv­ing in its midst but that it was inap­pro­pri­ate to assume that some­one was a Nazi war crim­i­nal just because they were a mem­ber of a group like Hunka’s 14th Waf­fen SS divi­sion.

    But as we’re going to see, the com­mis­sion had a very notable dis­senter: Alti Rodal, the lone his­to­ri­an assigned to the com­mis­sion and giv­en the near­ly impos­si­ble task of review­ing Canada’s post-war his­to­ry with war crim­i­nals. Rodal found exten­sive evi­dence of the Cana­di­an gov­ern­ment turn­ing a blind eye to bla­tant war crim­i­nals. But she also explored the cru­cial issue at the cen­ter of whole Hun­ka affair about whether or not we can con­clude that the indi­vid­u­als who signed up for groups like the 14th Waf­fen SS divi­sion knew what they were sign­ing up for. As Rodal saw it, there was no way some­one sign­ing up for the 14th Waf­fen SS divi­sion in 1943 — the year Hun­ka joined — did­n’t real­ize that they were sign­ing up to slaugh­ter Jews. It’s just not pos­si­ble giv­en what had been tran­spir­ing.

    It turns out the Deschênes Com­mis­sion, pre­dictably and seem­ing­ly by design, ran out of time to com­plete its work and asked for a six month exten­sion in Decem­ber of 1985. That exten­sion was grant­ed, and yet Rodal’s con­tract was not extend­ed. Despite that, she con­tin­ued her research with­out pay and pre­sent­ed the com­mis­sion with a report in May of 1986. The report was accept­ed by the com­mis­sion, and all indi­ca­tions are that Judge Deschênes read the report. And yet none of its con­clu­sions made it into the final com­mis­sion report.

    So that’s the grim and gross update on the Hun­ka sto­ry. Thanks to Svo­bo­da, Hun­ka has a new award and the rest of the West has a new Ukrain­ian Nazi scan­dal to sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly ignore:

    The Maple

    SS Vet­er­an In Par­lia­ment Scan­dal Receives Award Named After Nazi Col­lab­o­ra­tor

    The award was pre­sent­ed by a region­al leader of a mod­ern day far-right polit­i­cal par­ty.

    by Tay­lor C. Noakes
    March 26, 2024

    Yaroslav Hun­ka, the Waf­fen SS vet­er­an hon­oured by the Cana­di­an Par­lia­ment as a “hero” last Sep­tem­ber, was recent­ly award­ed a medal named after a Ukrain­ian Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tor.

    The award was pre­sent­ed by a region­al offi­cial who is a mem­ber of a mod­ern day far-right polit­i­cal par­ty in Ukraine.

    The Yaroslav Stet­sko medal, whose offi­cial title can be trans­lat­ed to the “hon­orary award of the Ternopil Region­al Coun­cil for ser­vices to the Ternopil Region,” was pre­sent­ed by Oleh Syrotyuk to Hunka’s great-niece, Olga Vitkovs­ka, on March 19, Hunka’s 99th birth­day.

    Hunka’s com­men­da­tion was brought to atten­tion by Ukrain­ian-Cana­di­an polit­i­cal sci­en­tist and Uni­ver­si­ty of Ottawa pro­fes­sor Ivan Katchanovs­ki.

    Ukrain­ian state broad­cast­er Sus­pilni Novyny report­ed that the cer­e­mo­ny took place in the West­ern Ukrain­ian city of Ternopil, and that the region­al coun­cil approved the award on Feb­ru­ary 6.

    Accord­ing to Katchanovs­ki, Syrotyuk is the head of the Ternopil Region­al Council’s stand­ing com­mis­sion on legal affairs and the for­mer gov­er­nor of the Ternopil Oblast. He is also the local leader of the far-right Svo­bo­da Par­ty.

    ...

    Orig­i­nal­ly from Ternopil, Stet­sko was a vir­u­lent­ly anti­se­mit­ic Ukrain­ian ultra­na­tion­al­ist who, along with Stepan Ban­dera, was one of the lead­ers of the mil­i­tant and col­lab­o­ra­tionist Ban­dera fac­tion of the Orga­ni­za­tion of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists (OUN‑B).

    Bandera’s fac­tion sup­port­ed the cre­ation of the Ukrain­ian Nation­al Gov­ern­ment on June 22, 1941, the day Nazi forces began their inva­sion of the Sovi­et Union, unleash­ing the first phase of the Holo­caust in the region. It was Stet­sko who announced the cre­ation of a col­lab­o­ra­tionist Ukrain­ian state in Lviv eight days lat­er.

    “Stet­sko was the ide­o­logue of the OUN‑B and self-pro­claimed Prime Min­is­ter of their abort­ed, June 30, 1941 state,” said Per Anders Rudling, a his­to­ri­an at Lund Uni­ver­si­ty and an expert on nation­al­ism and ide­o­log­i­cal his­to­ry in the post-Sovi­et suc­ces­sor states and their over­seas dias­po­ras.

    “He was one of the most rad­i­cal of the OUN‑B activists, endors­ing the exter­mi­na­tion of the Jews, and eugenic engi­neer­ing, among oth­er things.”

    Rudling detailed Stetsko’s fer­vent anti­semitism and thoughts on eugen­ics in the con­text of the rad­i­cal Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist tra­di­tion in a 2019 arti­cle in the jour­nal Sci­ence In Con­text.

    Katchanovs­ki told The Maple that the Stet­sko Medal is, region­al­ly speak­ing, akin to receiv­ing an award from the Leg­isla­tive Assem­bly of Ontario.

    The medal was award­ed for Hunka’s “sig­nif­i­cant per­son­al con­tri­bu­tion to the pro­vi­sion of assis­tance to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, active char­i­ty and pub­lic activ­i­ty.”

    State broad­cast­er Sus­pilni Novyny indi­cat­ed Hun­ka was con­cerned he would be extra­dit­ed after the scan­dal in Par­lia­ment last fall and fled to an undis­closed loca­tion in Latin Amer­i­ca in late 2023. He has since returned to Cana­da, accord­ing to the report.

    Scan­dal Rever­ber­ates

    After Hun­ka received a stand­ing ova­tion in Par­lia­ment dur­ing Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s vis­it to Ottawa, jour­nal­ists dis­cov­ered Hunka’s fond online rec­ol­lec­tions of his time vol­un­teer­ing for the 14th Waf­fen-SS “Gali­cia” Divi­sion.

    ...

    Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau ini­tial­ly denied hav­ing any knowl­edge of Hun­ka or his invi­ta­tion to Par­lia­ment, and Antho­ny Rota took respon­si­bil­i­ty for the inci­dent by resign­ing from his posi­tion as house speak­er.

    But new reports this year revealed that Trudeau invit­ed Hun­ka to attend a Zelen­skyy ral­ly in Toron­to, an invi­ta­tion made at the request of the Ukrain­ian Cana­di­an Con­gress (UCC).

    The UCC has long been alleged to rep­re­sent Ukrain­ian ultra­na­tion­al­ists, a polit­i­cal sec­tion that includes devo­tees of wartime Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors like Stet­sko and Ban­dera.

    Accord­ing to Katchanovs­ki, Stet­sko stat­ed his Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment would close­ly coop­er­ate with the Nazis, includ­ing in the elim­i­na­tion of the local Jew­ish pop­u­la­tion. In his Act of Restora­tion of the Ukrain­ian State, Stet­sko vowed to “work close­ly with Nation­al-Social­ist Greater Ger­many under the lead­er­ship of Adolf Hitler.”

    Forty-two years lat­er in 1983, Stet­sko, by then leader of the “Anti-Bol­she­vik Bloc of Nations,” was warm­ly received at the White House by then U.S. pres­i­dent Ronald Rea­gan as the “last pre­mier of a free Ukrain­ian state.”

    “Stet­sko expressed his sup­port for Nazi ‘meth­ods of exter­mi­nat­ing Jew­ry’ to the Ger­mans in July of 1941,” said Katchanovs­ki.

    “This occurred after the Ban­dera fac­tion of the OUN and oth­er OUN-led mili­tias orga­nized large-scale pogroms in Lviv and many oth­er loca­tions in West­ern Ukraine.”

    Sev­er­al thou­sand Jews were mas­sa­cred by Ukrain­ian ultra­na­tion­al­ists dur­ing the Lviv Pogrom of 1941.

    Lev Golinkin report­ed for The For­ward in 2021 that Stet­sko and Ban­dera, along with oth­er Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors and SS vol­un­teers, con­tin­ue to be well com­mem­o­rat­ed through­out West­ern Ukraine.

    “There are many mon­u­ments and streets named after Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors from the OUN and the UPA (Ukrain­ian Insur­gent Army) and the SS Gali­cia Divi­sion in the Ternopil Region,” said Katchanovs­ki.

    The OUN, UPA and SS Gali­cia were all direct­ly com­plic­it in war crimes dur­ing the Sec­ond World War, includ­ing the Holo­caust. They were also respon­si­ble for the mass mur­der and eth­nic cleans­ing of as many as 100,000 Poles, as well as Jews, Rus­sians, Belaru­sians, oth­er Ukraini­ans and oth­er minor­i­ty groups in the region.

    The Gali­cia Divi­sion, Hunka’s old unit, was con­tro­ver­sial­ly deter­mined to not be respon­si­ble for war crimes by Cana­di­an jus­tice Jules Deschênes when he was tasked by the Mul­roney gov­ern­ment in the 1980s to inves­ti­gate alle­ga­tions that war crim­i­nals were liv­ing in Cana­da.

    Deschênes’ deci­sion opposed estab­lished inter­na­tion­al crim­i­nal prece­dent dat­ing back to the post-war Nurem­berg tri­als, which had deter­mined the entire­ty of the SS to be a crim­i­nal orga­ni­za­tion that was col­lec­tive­ly respon­si­ble for the Holo­caust.

    The exact num­ber of SS vet­er­ans, Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors and oth­er assort­ed fas­cists accused of war crimes who found refuge in Cana­da after the Sec­ond World War is still unknown, as much of the Deschênes Commission’s final report remains secret.

    ———-

    “SS Vet­er­an In Par­lia­ment Scan­dal Receives Award Named After Nazi Col­lab­o­ra­tor” by Tay­lor C. Noakes; The Maple; 03/26/2024

    “The Yaroslav Stet­sko medal, whose offi­cial title can be trans­lat­ed to the “hon­orary award of the Ternopil Region­al Coun­cil for ser­vices to the Ternopil Region,” was pre­sent­ed by Oleh Syrotyuk to Hunka’s great-niece, Olga Vitkovs­ka, on March 19, Hunka’s 99th birth­day.”

    The Yaroslav Stet­sko medal. It’s quite an hon­or. If you’re a Nazi. But that’s the hon­or bestowed upon Yaroslav Hun­ka by the Ternopil Region­al Coun­cil, months after the uproar in Cana­da over a sim­i­lar hon­or. And it was­n’t just that this West­ern Ukrain­ian town decid­ed to bestow the Stet­sko medal hon­or upon Hun­ka, but also the fact that the local leader of Svo­bo­da is the per­son who did the bestow­ing. This was­n’t sub­tle. It was an embrace of Hun­ka by the con­tem­po­rary man­i­fes­ta­tion of OUN‑B net­work:

    ...
    Ukrain­ian state broad­cast­er Sus­pilni Novyny report­ed that the cer­e­mo­ny took place in the West­ern Ukrain­ian city of Ternopil, and that the region­al coun­cil approved the award on Feb­ru­ary 6.

    Accord­ing to Katchanovs­ki, Syrotyuk is the head of the Ternopil Region­al Council’s stand­ing com­mis­sion on legal affairs and the for­mer gov­er­nor of the Ternopil Oblast. He is also the local leader of the far-right Svo­bo­da Par­ty.

    ...

    Katchanovs­ki told The Maple that the Stet­sko Medal is, region­al­ly speak­ing, akin to receiv­ing an award from the Leg­isla­tive Assem­bly of Ontario.

    The medal was award­ed for Hunka’s “sig­nif­i­cant per­son­al con­tri­bu­tion to the pro­vi­sion of assis­tance to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, active char­i­ty and pub­lic activ­i­ty.”
    ...

    But, of course, the stench asso­ci­at­ed with these groups isn’t lim­it­ed to their enthu­si­as­tic role as exe­cu­tion­ers of the Naz­i’s Holo­caust in Ukraine. There’s also the fact that Stet­sko was nev­er pun­ished for his role as a lead­ing Ukrain­ian Nazi func­tionary but instead went on to serve as the leader the “Anti-Bol­she­vik Bloc of Nations.” He was even warm­ly received at the Rea­gan White House in 1983:

    ...
    Orig­i­nal­ly from Ternopil, Stet­sko was a vir­u­lent­ly anti­se­mit­ic Ukrain­ian ultra­na­tion­al­ist who, along with Stepan Ban­dera, was one of the lead­ers of the mil­i­tant and col­lab­o­ra­tionist Ban­dera fac­tion of the Orga­ni­za­tion of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists (OUN‑B).

    Bandera’s fac­tion sup­port­ed the cre­ation of the Ukrain­ian Nation­al Gov­ern­ment on June 22, 1941, the day Nazi forces began their inva­sion of the Sovi­et Union, unleash­ing the first phase of the Holo­caust in the region. It was Stet­sko who announced the cre­ation of a col­lab­o­ra­tionist Ukrain­ian state in Lviv eight days lat­er.

    “Stet­sko was the ide­o­logue of the OUN‑B and self-pro­claimed Prime Min­is­ter of their abort­ed, June 30, 1941 state,” said Per Anders Rudling, a his­to­ri­an at Lund Uni­ver­si­ty and an expert on nation­al­ism and ide­o­log­i­cal his­to­ry in the post-Sovi­et suc­ces­sor states and their over­seas dias­po­ras.

    “He was one of the most rad­i­cal of the OUN‑B activists, endors­ing the exter­mi­na­tion of the Jews, and eugenic engi­neer­ing, among oth­er things.”

    Rudling detailed Stetsko’s fer­vent anti­semitism and thoughts on eugen­ics in the con­text of the rad­i­cal Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist tra­di­tion in a 2019 arti­cle in the jour­nal Sci­ence In Con­text.

    ...

    Accord­ing to Katchanovs­ki, Stet­sko stat­ed his Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment would close­ly coop­er­ate with the Nazis, includ­ing in the elim­i­na­tion of the local Jew­ish pop­u­la­tion. In his Act of Restora­tion of the Ukrain­ian State, Stet­sko vowed to “work close­ly with Nation­al-Social­ist Greater Ger­many under the lead­er­ship of Adolf Hitler.”

    Forty-two years lat­er in 1983, Stet­sko, by then leader of the “Anti-Bol­she­vik Bloc of Nations,” was warm­ly received at the White House by then U.S. pres­i­dent Ronald Rea­gan as the “last pre­mier of a free Ukrain­ian state.”
    ...

    But it was­n’t just the Rea­gan White House seem­ing­ly suf­fer­ing from his­tor­i­cal amne­sia about Stesko and the move­ments he lead back in the 1980s. Canada’s Deschênes Com­mis­sion, formed in 1985, oper­at­ed as a de fac­to coverup of Canada’s exten­sive embrace of Nazi war crim­i­nals:

    ...
    The Gali­cia Divi­sion, Hunka’s old unit, was con­tro­ver­sial­ly deter­mined to not be respon­si­ble for war crimes by Cana­di­an jus­tice Jules Deschênes when he was tasked by the Mul­roney gov­ern­ment in the 1980s to inves­ti­gate alle­ga­tions that war crim­i­nals were liv­ing in Cana­da.

    Deschênes’ deci­sion opposed estab­lished inter­na­tion­al crim­i­nal prece­dent dat­ing back to the post-war Nurem­berg tri­als, which had deter­mined the entire­ty of the SS to be a crim­i­nal orga­ni­za­tion that was col­lec­tive­ly respon­si­ble for the Holo­caust.

    The exact num­ber of SS vet­er­ans, Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors and oth­er assort­ed fas­cists accused of war crimes who found refuge in Cana­da after the Sec­ond World War is still unknown, as much of the Deschênes Commission’s final report remains secret.
    ...

    So to get a bet­ter idea of just how gross of a coverup the Deschênes Com­mis­sion was, almost 40 years ago, here’s a recent look back at the com­mis­sion and the hero­ic efforts of Alti Rodal, the lone his­to­ri­an assigned to the com­mis­sion and giv­en an impos­si­ble time­line for inves­ti­gat­ing the Cana­di­an gov­ern­men­t’s post-war rela­tion­ship with WWII war crim­i­nals. As we’re going to see, Rodal not only uncov­ered exten­sive evi­dence that the Cana­di­an gov­ern­ment had been sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly allow­ing known war crim­i­nals — some who was active­ly being sought be West Ger­many over their war crimes — into the coun­try but also, cru­cial­ly, inves­ti­gat­ed the often made claims in defense of the mem­bers of these units that one can­not con­clude some­one was a Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tor just because they were a mem­ber of group like Hunka’s 14th Waf­fen SS. As Rodal con­clud­ed, there was sim­ply no way to plau­si­bly sug­gest the peo­ple sign­ing up for these units did­n’t know they were sign­ing up to slaugh­ter the Jews and oth­er tar­get­ed groups, espe­cial­ly in 1943, the year Hun­ka vol­un­teered.

    These were the find­ings of Rodal’s report, which were all ignored and nev­er made it into the final Com­mis­sion report. In fact, as evi­dence of how lit­tle inter­est the com­mis­sion had in Rodal’s research, they actu­al­ly sub­mit­ted for a six month exten­sion in Decem­ber of 1985 after it became clear the com­mis­sion was­n’t going to have enough time to com­plete its goals (which was obvi­ous from the begin­ning because not near­ly enough time was giv­en), but did NOT extend Rodal’s appoint­ment. Yep. And yet, Rodal con­tin­ued her research and sub­mit­ted a report to the com­mis­sion in May of 1986. Again, none of her find­ings made it into the com­mis­sion’s offi­cial find­ings. Because, again, this was a Cana­di­an gov­ern­ment coverup that was nev­er intend­ed to arrive at any­thing oth­er than the con­clu­sion that there were no Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors in Cana­da and if any were found they were unfair­ly accused:

    Cana­di­an Dimen­sion

    Strong vibes from a qui­et source

    How Cana­da earned a world­wide rep­u­ta­tion as a major haven for war crim­i­nals

    Sol Littman / March 20, 2024

    The fol­low­ing arti­cle by Sol Littman (1920–2017), a soci­ol­o­gist turned jour­nal­ist and com­mu­ni­ty activist who tracked Nazi war crim­i­nals and was the Cana­di­an rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the Simon Wiesen­thal Cen­ter, orig­i­nal­ly appeared in a 1987 edi­tion of Cana­di­an Dimen­sion. It casts a crit­i­cal eye on the Deschênes Com­mis­sion, offi­cial­ly known as the Com­mis­sion of Inquiry on War Crim­i­nals in Cana­da, which was estab­lished by the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment in 1985 to inves­ti­gate claims that Cana­da had become a haven for Nazi war crim­i­nals. As Littman writes, the com­mis­sion played a role in white­wash­ing Nazi crimes while show­ing a seem­ing indif­fer­ence to the thou­sands of alleged war crim­i­nals who slipped through Canada’s post-war immi­gra­tion screen and found refuge here, almost entire­ly free from pros­e­cu­tion.

    To the lawyer-politi­cians who staffed the Deschênes Inquiry on War Crim­i­nals in Cana­da, his­to­ri­an Alti Rodal must have looked like a pushover.

    Slight and shy, the chron­i­cal­ly over­bur­dened moth­er of six was expect­ed to serve the com­mis­sion humbly and self-effac­ing­ly as befits a mar­gin­al, con­tract staff mem­ber. Cer­tain­ly, com­mis­sion coun­sel­lors Michael Meighen and Yves Forti­er were not shop­ping for some­one who would expose malfea­sance in the ranks of the RCMP, igno­rance and indif­fer­ence in the Immi­gra­tion Depart­ment, con­spir­a­cy and coverup in the intel­li­gence ser­vices, and chi­canery in the fed­er­al cab­i­nets of McKen­zie King and Louis St. Lau­rent.

    Above all, no one expect­ed her to pro­vide data that would chal­lenge the find­ings of the com­mis­sion itself and the judge­ments of its Com­mis­sion­er, Jus­tice Jules Deschênes of the Québec Supreme Court.

    ...

    By dig­ging deep­er than expect­ed, by stay­ing with the job when Forti­er and Meighen were urg­ing her to pack it in, she man­aged to spell out the details of some of Canada’s more shame­ful post-war episodes, and cast doubt on the con­clu­sions of the com­mis­sion appoint­ed to inves­ti­gate them.

    The Deschênes Com­mis­sion was appoint­ed by Order-in-Coun­cil on Feb­ru­ary 7, 1985, because the gov­ern­ment could no longer keep up the pre­tence that there were no war crim­i­nals in Cana­da. Or, as Exter­nal Affairs and Jus­tice Depart­ment offi­cials used to insist, “If there are any, they must be small fry, minor offend­ers hard­ly worth both­er­ing with.”

    The Rau­ca case

    ...

    In 1982, the nation was shocked to learn that Albert Hel­mut Rau­ca, a mass mur­der­er respon­si­ble for the exter­mi­na­tion of 10,500 inno­cent men, women and chil­dren in Kau­nas, Lithua­nia, had been liv­ing cheer­ful­ly in our midst for 30 years. Even more dis­turb­ing: he was the object of a world­wide search launched by the West Ger­man gov­ern­ment.

    In 1962, the Ger­mans advised the Cana­di­an gov­ern­ment that they were cer­tain Rau­ca was some­where in Cana­da. Yet, despite the fact that Rau­ca was liv­ing open­ly under his own name, car­ried a Cana­di­an pass­port and an Ontario driver’s license, and received an old age pen­sion, it took the RCMP twen­ty years to locate him. Had Solic­i­tor Gen­er­al Robert Kaplan not per­son­al­ly inter­est­ed him­self in the case, the Moun­ties would not have found him to this day.

    Rau­ca was clear­ly no minor war crim­i­nal. It was also evi­dent that he was far from the only war crim­i­nal to slip through our indif­fer­ent post-war immi­gra­tion screen.

    The ques­tion was how many more Rau­cas were there? Jew­ish orga­ni­za­tions claimed Cana­da had earned a world­wide rep­u­ta­tion as a major haven for war crim­i­nals. The Sovi­et, Czech, Dutch and Pol­ish gov­ern­ments accused Cana­da of ignor­ing repeat­ed requests for the extra­di­tion of con­vict­ed war crim­i­nals. The government—both Trudeau’s and Mulroney’s—pooh-poohed the charges, attrib­uted them to Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da and insist­ed there could be no more than a hand­ful of them in Cana­da, sure­ly no more than 40.

    The Deschênes Com­mis­sion

    The Deschênes Com­mis­sion was appoint­ed to silence the hounds. It was designed to prove to the world that there was no sig­nif­i­cant gath­er­ing of war crim­i­nals in Cana­da, that there had been no col­lab­o­ra­tion with Nazis, no look­ing the oth­er way on war crimes by Cana­di­an offi­cials. Or, in the words of Jus­tice Deschênes, “Cana­di­an pol­i­cy on war crimes was not worse than that of sev­er­al West­ern coun­tries which dis­played a lack of inter­est.”

    Deschênes was charged with the task of deter­min­ing how many war crim­i­nals lived in Cana­da, how they got in, and what legal mea­sures could be tak­en against them by the gov­ern­ment if the gov­ern­ment had a mind to take mea­sures. The bulk of the com­mis­sion staff con­sist­ed of lawyers, police inves­ti­ga­tors and admin­is­tra­tors.

    Alti Rodal, a well-trained his­to­ri­an with the equiv­a­lent of a Ph.D. from Oxford, was hired to pro­vide the com­mis­sion with a dash of his­tor­i­cal per­spec­tive, a rough guide to the war­ring par­ties, and an intro­duc­tion to the fas­cist par­ties that beset pre-war Europe.

    A sec­ond assign­ment was the review the his­to­ry of Canada’s refugee pol­i­cy, par­tic­u­lar­ly as it affect­ed the entry of dis­placed per­sons and war crim­i­nals from 1945 to the present.

    Indif­fer­ence to war crimes

    Hired in March 1985, Rodal was giv­en the almost impos­si­ble task of com­plet­ing both reports before the commission’s man­date expired in Decem­ber 1985. Giv­en the con­straint of time, the best she could do was to slap togeth­er a num­ber of sec­ondary sources, inter­view a few knowl­edge­able peo­ple, and thumb through the most promis­ing files at the Pub­lic Archives of Cana­da.

    But integri­ty took over. Rodal couldn’t bring her­self to do a half-heart­ed job.

    The fur­ther she bur­rowed into depart­men­tal files, the more instances she found of indif­fer­ence to war crimes and hos­til­i­ty to Jews. In the years imme­di­ate­ly fol­low­ing the war, blonde, blue-eyed Balts and Volks­deutsche were favoured by Cana­di­an immi­gra­tion offi­cials. What­ev­er their sins dur­ing the war, what­ev­er degree of col­lab­o­ra­tion they had giv­en the Nazis, this was regard­ed as less impor­tant than the fact that they were bit­ter­ly and irre­deemably anti-com­mu­nist.

    Our visa con­trol officers—RCMP offi­cers assigned to the Immi­gra­tion Department—were unfa­mil­iar with Euro­pean polit­i­cal move­ments and couldn’t tell a fas­cist from a fakir. The Moun­ties regard­ed the Roy­al Hun­gar­i­an Gen­darmerie, which had com­mit­ted the unfor­giv­able sin of round­ing up Hungary’s Jews and deliv­er­ing them to Eich­mann and the gas cham­bers of Auschwitz in 1944, as good fel­lows like them­selves. After all, they also were des­ig­nat­ed as “roy­al,” rode hors­es, and patrolled the coun­try­side.

    But if Rodal were to meet her dead­line, there was no time to fol­low these intrigu­ing trails. All of this promis­ing mate­r­i­al would have to be set aside unless she could buy more time. She applied for a three month exten­sion. It was refused. Forti­er advised her to pack it in.

    By now it was gen­er­al­ly known that the com­mis­sion was behind sched­ule and would not com­plete its work by its orig­i­nal Decem­ber 1985 dead­line. Deschênes request­ed and received a six month exten­sion of his man­date. The lawyers and inves­ti­ga­tors on staff remained on the pay­roll. Rodal, how­ev­er, was dropped. The his­to­ri­an was super­flu­ous.

    Rodal wavered. Should she wrap up her work and leave them with a super­fi­cial sum­ma­ry, or work on with­out pay to pro­duce a doc­u­ment wor­thy of the events? She decid­ed to con­tin­ue. She met with Deschênes the fol­low­ing May 1986, and pre­sent­ed him with the full draft of her report. Deschênes read it, seemed to approve, and promised he would try to get her some mon­ey for her effort.

    The judge kept his promise and Rodal did receive some addi­tion­al com­pen­sa­tion. But curi­ous­ly Deschênes seems to have made no use what­ev­er of the his­tor­i­cal facts she put before him in writ­ing his report. As a result, Rodal’s account of events is clear­ly at odds with the commissioner’s in sev­er­al key instances.

    The ques­tion of num­bers

    First and fore­most, there is the ques­tion of num­bers. Deschênes exco­ri­at­ed Simon Wiesen­thal and oth­ers who claimed that more than 1,000 war crim­i­nals had man­aged to make their home in Cana­da. He scolds them for exag­ger­at­ing the num­bers. He pro­nounces that they are off by 400 per­cent.

    In his own report, Deschênes offers a mea­gre list of 20 pri­or­i­ty cas­es and a fur­ther list of 218 that bear fur­ther inves­ti­ga­tion.

    Rodal doesn’t seem to buy this.

    There are more of them out there, she sug­gests, than Deschênes has on his list. Their names are not read­i­ly avail­able because, from the begin­ning, the Allies were ambiva­lent about the appre­hen­sion and pun­ish­ment of Nazi war crim­i­nals, and lit­tle was done dur­ing the war years to pre­pare for their tri­al in the post-war peri­od:

    Lack of resources, coor­di­na­tion, and, in effect, inter­est on the part of the Allies per­mit­ted many crim­i­nals to avoid iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and appre­hen­sion… The dom­i­na­tion of post-war pol­i­cy by Cold War imper­a­tives, more­over, fur­ther reduced the West­ern Allies’ will and moti­va­tion to take action, whether in rela­tion to denaz­i­fi­ca­tion in the rebuild­ing of West Ger­many; in rela­tion to Aus­tria; or in deal­ing with war crim­i­nals of East­ern Euro­pean ori­gin who had tak­en shel­ter in the West. As a result, many of those involved in the per­pe­tra­tion of crimes were able to join the post-war stream of Euro­pean immi­gra­tion to new lands of set­tle­ment, includ­ing Cana­da.

    In addi­tion to the Ger­man and Aus­tri­an offi­cials of the Reich, she points out, “there was large-scale par­tic­i­pa­tion in the per­pe­tra­tion of crimes and in the car­ry­ing out of the Nazi pro­gram of geno­cide by native bureau­cra­cies, mil­i­tary for­ma­tions and indi­vid­u­als in the var­i­ous ter­ri­to­ries occu­pied by the Nazis.”

    Sub­stan­tive doc­u­men­ta­tion and tes­ti­mo­ny, she says, proves that thou­sands of Slo­vaks, Hun­gar­i­ans, Roma­ni­ans, Croa­t­ians, Ukraini­ans, Byel­lorus­sians, Cau­casians, Geor­gians, Lat­vians, Esto­ni­ans and Lithua­ni­ans enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly joined the Nazis in the slaugh­ter of Jews and Gyp­sies. No gun was held to their head. They rushed to offer their ser­vices as police­men, they joined semi-mil­i­tary police bat­tal­ions that wiped out whole vil­lages, and vol­un­teered to fight in Waf­fen-SS divi­sions com­mand­ed by Ger­man offi­cers. They helped put down the War­saw Ghet­to upris­ing, they staffed Auschwitz, Sobi­bor and Tre­blin­ka, they rav­aged their neigh­bours and sent their own young peo­ple to slave labour camps. With­out them, Rodal says, the Nazis would nev­er have been able to car­ry out their pro­gram.

    In a key para­graph, Rodal states:

    Dur­ing the peri­od from 1946 to 1967 some 620,000 immi­grants from Euro­pean coun­tries where par­tic­i­pa­tion in war crimes was exten­sive were admit­ted to Cana­da. In view of the large num­ber of peo­ple involved in the per­pe­tra­tion of war crimes who merged with dis­placed per­sons in the gen­er­al immi­gra­tion stream; in view of the inad­e­qua­cy of the screen­ing per­formed by inter­na­tion­al agen­cies and Cana­di­an offi­cials in the post-war years; and in view of the Cana­di­an government’s pol­i­cy of eth­nic pref­er­ence (for Balts and Volks­deutsche) in immi­gra­tion, and of con­cen­tra­tion, inso­far as secu­ri­ty screen­ing and pol­i­cy were con­cerned, on the weed­ing out of Com­mu­nists, it would be rash to assume that sig­nif­i­cant num­bers of war crim­i­nals and Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors did not enter Cana­da.

    Rodal quotes a star­tling­ly frank RCMP doc­u­ment which states:

    It is rea­son­able to assume, giv­en the sit­u­a­tion in Europe fol­low­ing World War II regard­ing lost, destroyed, stolen and seized iden­ti­ty papers, that cer­tain per­sons undoubt­ed­ly came to Cana­da under assumed iden­ti­ties. The fact we do not have cer­tain war criminal’s names list­ed on our land­ing records does not pre­clude the pos­si­bil­i­ty of cer­tain of their num­bers liv­ing in Cana­da under assumed iden­ti­ties.

    The Moun­ties might well have added, “or under their own true names.” Rodal points to Rau­ca as a case in point. At war’s end, the SS mas­ter sergeant was tak­en into cus­tody by the Amer­i­can forces and held in a deten­tion camp for SS offi­cers from 1945 to 1948. Nev­er­the­less, all records of his stay have dis­ap­peared and Rau­ca had no dif­fi­cul­ty rep­re­sent­ing him­self to Cana­di­an author­i­ties as a “sales­man” when he applied for a visa and received secu­ri­ty clear­ance at Karl­sruhe. He was gen­er­ous­ly assist­ed by the Cana­di­an Chris­t­ian Coun­cil which paid his pas­sage. No one chal­lenged him when he arrived, no one asked to see the SS tat­too under his arm. Despite the fact that he was on at least two war crim­i­nal lists, the Cana­di­an gov­ern­ment didn’t hes­i­tate to con­fer Cana­di­an cit­i­zen­ship on him when he applied.

    “There was noth­ing excep­tion­al,” in Rauca’s case, Rodal insists. Although she avoids sug­gest­ing any num­bers, it is clear that thou­sands of oth­ers, with equal­ly heinous records, gained entry with equal ease.

    Cast­ing doubt on the Haly­chy­na Divi­sion

    ...

    Var­i­ous­ly known as the 14th Grenadier Vol­un­teer Waf­fen-SS Divi­sion (Gali­cian), 14th Waf­fen-SS Divi­sion (Ukrain­ian) and 1st Ukrain­ian Divi­sion of the 1st Ukrain­ian Army, they are regard­ed by the Sovi­ets as “mur­der­ers” and “cut-throats,” and have been described by British offi­cials as “quis­lings” and “trai­tors.”

    The Rus­sians claim that the divi­sion par­tic­i­pat­ed in wip­ing out dozens of Ukrain­ian and Pol­ish vil­lages and mur­der­ing thou­sands of inno­cent civil­ians. They are accused of hav­ing played a dirty role in the sup­pres­sion of the 1944 anti-Nazi Slo­vak Upris­ing, and of wel­com­ing into their ranks a Ukrain­ian police unit which helped put down the sec­ond War­saw Upris­ing in 1944.

    But divi­sion vet­er­ans, some 2,000 of whom came to Cana­da in 1950 by spe­cial dis­pen­sa­tion of the Cana­di­an gov­ern­ment, claim they have been maligned by the Sovi­et pro­pa­gan­da appa­ra­tus; that they com­mit­ted no crimes against human­i­ty, burned down no vil­lages, and guard­ed no con­cen­tra­tion camps.

    Their sup­port­ers claim that the Haly­chy­na were nev­er Nazis, but patri­ots fight­ing for an inde­pen­dent Ukraine against the Bol­she­vik hordes. Their des­ig­na­tion as “Waf­fen-SS,” they insist, was strict­ly acci­den­tal, a mat­ter of form imposed by the Ger­mans and nev­er a mat­ter of ide­ol­o­gy or con­vic­tion.

    Their inno­cence is evi­denced, they claim, by the fact that they were twice cleared of war crimes, by the Rus­sians in 1945 and by the British in 1948. Deschênes, too, declares them with­out sin.

    “The Gali­cia Divi­sion should not be indict­ed as a group,” he declares in his report. “The mem­bers of the Gali­cia Divi­sion were indi­vid­u­al­ly screened for secu­ri­ty pur­pos­es before admis­sion to Cana­da. Charges of war crimes against mem­bers of the Gali­cia Divi­sion have nev­er been sub­stan­ti­at­ed… In the absence of evi­dence of par­tic­i­pa­tion or knowl­edge of spe­cif­ic war crimes, mere mem­ber­ship in the Gali­cia Divi­sion in insuf­fi­cient to jus­ti­fy pros­e­cu­tion.”

    Again, Rodal’s find­ings cast doubt on Deschênes’ con­clu­sions. It is log­i­cal to assume, she says, that when the divi­sion was formed in 1943 fol­low­ing two years of bru­tal Ger­man occu­pa­tion of Ukraine, many of the recruits were drawn from the ranks of the police and semi-mil­i­tary units that had assist­ed the Nazis in the slaugh­ter of the Jews that fol­lowed the inva­sion.

    “The pres­ence of Ukrain­ian guards in the course of the depor­ta­tion of Jews… and on duty at ghet­tos and con­cen­tra­tion camps has been attest­ed to by many sur­vivors and doc­u­ment­ed by many schol­ars,” she writes. The Orga­ni­za­tion of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists’ Nachti­gall detach­ment entered Lvov in July 1941 and launched “the mas­sacre of three thou­sand mem­bers of the Pol­ish intel­li­gentsia and hun­dreds of Jews from Lvov.”

    In time, the mem­bers of many of the police units and the Nachti­gall Detach­ment made their way into the divi­sion. “It is clear,” she says, that there was “con­ti­nu­ity between the 1941–1943 Ukrain­ian police/military for­ma­tions and the divi­sions.”

    She gives short shrift to the divi­sion mem­bers who claim they vol­un­teered “not because of love of the Ger­mans but because of their hatred of the Rus­sians and their Com­mu­nist tyran­ny.” What­ev­er their moti­va­tion, she says, by 1943 they had seen the Jews in the region mur­dered and observed the “suf­fer­ing and dis­lo­ca­tion for many Ukraini­ans,”

    Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the fight against Com­mu­nism was, all too often, per­ceived in Ukraine as a war against the Jews. The Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist vol­un­teers made lit­tle or no dis­tinc­tion between Bol­she­vik hordes and the Jews in their home town. Rodal observes that the equa­tion of Jews and Com­mu­nists was cur­rent in Ukraine long before the Nazis marched in. Nation­al­ist orga­ni­za­tions passed res­o­lu­tions denounc­ing “the Jews in the USSR [who] con­sti­tute the most faith­ful sup­port of the rul­ing Bol­she­vik regime.” The appeal for vol­un­teers to the divi­sion called on Ukraini­ans to fight “Mus­covite-Jew­ish Bol­she­vism” and the “Jew­ish-Bol­she­vik mon­ster.”

    From these com­ments alone, it is clear that the mem­bers of the divi­sion knew full well what they were sign­ing up for when they joined the ranks of the SS. They were ful­ly aware that they were being recruit­ed to kill Jews, enslave their own peo­ple, and fight shoul­der to shoul­der with the Ger­man sol­diers in build­ing a Greater Reich.

    Their SS affil­i­a­tion was any­thing but pro for­ma; they were in every sense ful­ly Waf­fen-SS. Their oath of alle­giance was to Hitler, and bound them to absolute obe­di­ence to his will, she points out. Oth­er authors have point­ed to the SS and swasti­ka sym­bols they dis­played on their ban­ners. Their dis­ci­pline, awards, titles and ide­o­log­i­cal indoc­tri­na­tion were all Waf­fen-SS rather than Wehrma­cht (Ger­man army).

    A very porous screen

    Nor was the Divi­sion screened for war crimes, either by the British or the Rus­sians. A Sovi­et screen­ing par­ty did vis­it the divi­sion in 1945 after it had sur­ren­dered to the British and been interned at Rim­i­ni. How­ev­er, the Rus­sians were inter­est­ed pri­mar­i­ly in deter­min­ing which of the men were Sovi­et cit­i­zens eli­gi­ble for repa­tri­a­tion under the Yal­ta Agree­ment. The Russ­ian inspec­tion team was giv­en a rough time by the camp’s res­i­dents and went away emp­ty hand­ed.

    In 1947, a British offi­cial, Hal­dane Porter, was dis­patched to Rim­i­ni to screen the divi­sion. But Porter con­fess­es in his report that he spoke no Ukrain­ian and had to depend entire­ly on what­ev­er he was told by the division’s offi­cers. Porter admit­ted he knew noth­ing of the division’s his­to­ry, had no doc­u­ments or ros­ters to refer to, and suc­ceed­ed in inter­view­ing only a small cross-sec­tion of the division’s mem­bers.

    ...

    Sad­ly, Jus­tice Deschênes chose to excul­pate the mem­bers of the divi­sion after hear­ing evi­dence only from Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist groups. The Simon Wiesen­thal Cen­tre twice offered to pro­vide evi­dence against the divi­sion, but was refused each time.

    In effect, the Deschênes Report is an inad­e­quate and incom­plete doc­u­ment unless it is read side by side with the Rodal Report. Yet, what author­i­ty does the Rodal Report com­mand? Is it an offi­cial part of the Deschênes Com­mis­sion Report? Or is it just a work­ing paper of “con­sid­er­able mer­it” which the Jus­tice Depart­ment is free to ignore? Did the gov­ern­ment have the right to cen­sor Rodal’s report, to excise whole pages and vital case his­to­ries? Or is this an unmit­i­gat­ed inter­fer­ence with an historian’s right to pub­lish her research?

    Cer­tain­ly the Rodal Report deserves wider cir­cu­la­tion than it is now receiv­ing. The gov­ern­ment has cho­sen to lim­it its cir­cu­la­tion by keep­ing it in type­writ­ten man­u­script form. It has not been sent to the gov­ern­ment print­er and deliv­ered to gov­ern­ment book­shops. The only way you can receive a copy today is by apply­ing to the access offi­cer of the Pub­lic Archives of Cana­da, enclos­ing a $60 check to cov­er pho­to­copy­ing costs.

    ...

    ————

    “Strong vibes from a qui­et source” Sol Littman; Cana­di­an Dimen­sion; 03/20/2024

    “The Deschênes Com­mis­sion was appoint­ed by Order-in-Coun­cil on Feb­ru­ary 7, 1985, because the gov­ern­ment could no longer keep up the pre­tence that there were no war crim­i­nals in Cana­da. Or, as Exter­nal Affairs and Jus­tice Depart­ment offi­cials used to insist, “If there are any, they must be small fry, minor offend­ers hard­ly worth both­er­ing with.””

    The Cana­di­an gov­ern­ment could no longer ignore the grow­ing mael­strom around the ‘dis­cov­ery’ that Albert Hel­mut Rau­ca, a noto­ri­ous Nazi war crim­i­nal, had been liv­ing in Cana­da for decades. Liv­ing under his own name. He even received a pen­sion. Some­how, it took the RCMP 20 years to find him despite the West Ger­man gov­ern­men­t’s world­wide search and their cer­tain­ty that Rau­ca was hid­ing some­where in Cana­da. Or bare­ly hid­ing, as the case may be:

    ...
    Above all, no one expect­ed her to pro­vide data that would chal­lenge the find­ings of the com­mis­sion itself and the judge­ments of its Com­mis­sion­er, Jus­tice Jules Deschênes of the Québec Supreme Court.

    ...

    In 1982, the nation was shocked to learn that Albert Hel­mut Rau­ca, a mass mur­der­er respon­si­ble for the exter­mi­na­tion of 10,500 inno­cent men, women and chil­dren in Kau­nas, Lithua­nia, had been liv­ing cheer­ful­ly in our midst for 30 years. Even more dis­turb­ing: he was the object of a world­wide search launched by the West Ger­man gov­ern­ment.

    In 1962, the Ger­mans advised the Cana­di­an gov­ern­ment that they were cer­tain Rau­ca was some­where in Cana­da. Yet, despite the fact that Rau­ca was liv­ing open­ly under his own name, car­ried a Cana­di­an pass­port and an Ontario driver’s license, and received an old age pen­sion, it took the RCMP twen­ty years to locate him. Had Solic­i­tor Gen­er­al Robert Kaplan not per­son­al­ly inter­est­ed him­self in the case, the Moun­ties would not have found him to this day.

    Rau­ca was clear­ly no minor war crim­i­nal. It was also evi­dent that he was far from the only war crim­i­nal to slip through our indif­fer­ent post-war immi­gra­tion screen.

    The ques­tion was how many more Rau­cas were there? Jew­ish orga­ni­za­tions claimed Cana­da had earned a world­wide rep­u­ta­tion as a major haven for war crim­i­nals. The Sovi­et, Czech, Dutch and Pol­ish gov­ern­ments accused Cana­da of ignor­ing repeat­ed requests for the extra­di­tion of con­vict­ed war crim­i­nals. The government—both Trudeau’s and Mulroney’s—pooh-poohed the charges, attrib­uted them to Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da and insist­ed there could be no more than a hand­ful of them in Cana­da, sure­ly no more than 40.
    ...

    And as we can see, the com­mis­sion was fixed from its incep­tion. It was­n’t intend­ed to explore the top­ic. It was designed to be a coverup, hence the near­ly impos­si­ble task assigned to Alti Rodal, the lone his­to­ri­an work­ing for the com­mis­sion. Rodal was­n’t giv­en enough time to do her work because that was the point. And yet, she per­sist­ed:

    ...
    The Deschênes Com­mis­sion was appoint­ed to silence the hounds. It was designed to prove to the world that there was no sig­nif­i­cant gath­er­ing of war crim­i­nals in Cana­da, that there had been no col­lab­o­ra­tion with Nazis, no look­ing the oth­er way on war crimes by Cana­di­an offi­cials. Or, in the words of Jus­tice Deschênes, “Cana­di­an pol­i­cy on war crimes was not worse than that of sev­er­al West­ern coun­tries which dis­played a lack of inter­est.”

    ...

    Hired in March 1985, Rodal was giv­en the almost impos­si­ble task of com­plet­ing both reports before the commission’s man­date expired in Decem­ber 1985. Giv­en the con­straint of time, the best she could do was to slap togeth­er a num­ber of sec­ondary sources, inter­view a few knowl­edge­able peo­ple, and thumb through the most promis­ing files at the Pub­lic Archives of Cana­da.

    But integri­ty took over. Rodal couldn’t bring her­self to do a half-heart­ed job.

    The fur­ther she bur­rowed into depart­men­tal files, the more instances she found of indif­fer­ence to war crimes and hos­til­i­ty to Jews. In the years imme­di­ate­ly fol­low­ing the war, blonde, blue-eyed Balts and Volks­deutsche were favoured by Cana­di­an immi­gra­tion offi­cials. What­ev­er their sins dur­ing the war, what­ev­er degree of col­lab­o­ra­tion they had giv­en the Nazis, this was regard­ed as less impor­tant than the fact that they were bit­ter­ly and irre­deemably anti-com­mu­nist.
    ...

    Then, when the com­mis­sion pre­dictably falls behind its impos­si­ble sched­ule, the dead­line was extend­ed in Decem­ber of 1985 for six months but Rodal was dropped. Despite this, Rodal con­tin­ued work­ing, unpaid, and sub­mit­ted her report in May of 1986. The report was read and clear­ly com­plete­ly ignored. Because, again, this was­n’t a real inves­ti­ga­tion. It was a coverup:

    ...
    Our visa con­trol officers—RCMP offi­cers assigned to the Immi­gra­tion Department—were unfa­mil­iar with Euro­pean polit­i­cal move­ments and couldn’t tell a fas­cist from a fakir. The Moun­ties regard­ed the Roy­al Hun­gar­i­an Gen­darmerie, which had com­mit­ted the unfor­giv­able sin of round­ing up Hungary’s Jews and deliv­er­ing them to Eich­mann and the gas cham­bers of Auschwitz in 1944, as good fel­lows like them­selves. After all, they also were des­ig­nat­ed as “roy­al,” rode hors­es, and patrolled the coun­try­side.

    But if Rodal were to meet her dead­line, there was no time to fol­low these intrigu­ing trails. All of this promis­ing mate­r­i­al would have to be set aside unless she could buy more time. She applied for a three month exten­sion. It was refused. Forti­er advised her to pack it in.

    By now it was gen­er­al­ly known that the com­mis­sion was behind sched­ule and would not com­plete its work by its orig­i­nal Decem­ber 1985 dead­line. Deschênes request­ed and received a six month exten­sion of his man­date. The lawyers and inves­ti­ga­tors on staff remained on the pay­roll. Rodal, how­ev­er, was dropped. The his­to­ri­an was super­flu­ous.

    Rodal wavered. Should she wrap up her work and leave them with a super­fi­cial sum­ma­ry, or work on with­out pay to pro­duce a doc­u­ment wor­thy of the events? She decid­ed to con­tin­ue. She met with Deschênes the fol­low­ing May 1986, and pre­sent­ed him with the full draft of her report. Deschênes read it, seemed to approve, and promised he would try to get her some mon­ey for her effort.

    The judge kept his promise and Rodal did receive some addi­tion­al com­pen­sa­tion. But curi­ous­ly Deschênes seems to have made no use what­ev­er of the his­tor­i­cal facts she put before him in writ­ing his report. As a result, Rodal’s account of events is clear­ly at odds with the commissioner’s in sev­er­al key instances.
    ...

    Rodal’s report was basi­cal­ly a com­plete refu­ta­tion of the com­mis­sion’s con­clu­sions, filled with details includ­ing the fact that Rau­ca’s relo­ca­tion to Cana­da was assist­ed by the Cana­di­an Chris­t­ian Coun­cil despite his name appear­ing on at least two war crim­i­nal lists. The guy even has an SS tat­too under his arm. No ques­tions were asked and cit­i­zen­ship was offered when request­ed:

    ...
    Rodal quotes a star­tling­ly frank RCMP doc­u­ment which states:

    It is rea­son­able to assume, giv­en the sit­u­a­tion in Europe fol­low­ing World War II regard­ing lost, destroyed, stolen and seized iden­ti­ty papers, that cer­tain per­sons undoubt­ed­ly came to Cana­da under assumed iden­ti­ties. The fact we do not have cer­tain war criminal’s names list­ed on our land­ing records does not pre­clude the pos­si­bil­i­ty of cer­tain of their num­bers liv­ing in Cana­da under assumed iden­ti­ties.

    The Moun­ties might well have added, “or under their own true names.” Rodal points to Rau­ca as a case in point. At war’s end, the SS mas­ter sergeant was tak­en into cus­tody by the Amer­i­can forces and held in a deten­tion camp for SS offi­cers from 1945 to 1948. Nev­er­the­less, all records of his stay have dis­ap­peared and Rau­ca had no dif­fi­cul­ty rep­re­sent­ing him­self to Cana­di­an author­i­ties as a “sales­man” when he applied for a visa and received secu­ri­ty clear­ance at Karl­sruhe. He was gen­er­ous­ly assist­ed by the Cana­di­an Chris­t­ian Coun­cil which paid his pas­sage. No one chal­lenged him when he arrived, no one asked to see the SS tat­too under his arm. Despite the fact that he was on at least two war crim­i­nal lists, the Cana­di­an gov­ern­ment didn’t hes­i­tate to con­fer Cana­di­an cit­i­zen­ship on him when he applied.

    “There was noth­ing excep­tion­al,” in Rauca’s case, Rodal insists. Although she avoids sug­gest­ing any num­bers, it is clear that thou­sands of oth­ers, with equal­ly heinous records, gained entry with equal ease.
    ...

    But the val­ue of Rodal’s work isn’t just the evi­dence of the Cana­di­an gov­ern­men­t’s embrace of Nazi war crim­i­nals. She also inves­ti­gat­ed the rou­tine­ly heard claims from the defend­ers of Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors that they weren’t all Nazis but mere­ly anti-Com­mu­nists who had no role in the Holo­caust. As Rodal con­clud­ed, these claims were con­ve­nient non­sense. It was­n’t a mys­tery what they were enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly vol­un­teer­ing to do. Mass mur­der of Jews and oth­er tar­get­ed groups was unam­bigu­ous­ly the task at hand and the peo­ple who staffed these units embraced that task. If they had­n’t, they would­n’t have signed up in the first place. They weren’t just enthu­si­as­tic for the Naz­i’s Holo­caust but vital for its oper­a­tions:

    ...
    First and fore­most, there is the ques­tion of num­bers. Deschênes exco­ri­at­ed Simon Wiesen­thal and oth­ers who claimed that more than 1,000 war crim­i­nals had man­aged to make their home in Cana­da. He scolds them for exag­ger­at­ing the num­bers. He pro­nounces that they are off by 400 per­cent.

    ...

    There are more of them out there, she sug­gests, than Deschênes has on his list. Their names are not read­i­ly avail­able because, from the begin­ning, the Allies were ambiva­lent about the appre­hen­sion and pun­ish­ment of Nazi war crim­i­nals, and lit­tle was done dur­ing the war years to pre­pare for their tri­al in the post-war peri­od:

    Lack of resources, coor­di­na­tion, and, in effect, inter­est on the part of the Allies per­mit­ted many crim­i­nals to avoid iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and appre­hen­sion… The dom­i­na­tion of post-war pol­i­cy by Cold War imper­a­tives, more­over, fur­ther reduced the West­ern Allies’ will and moti­va­tion to take action, whether in rela­tion to denaz­i­fi­ca­tion in the rebuild­ing of West Ger­many; in rela­tion to Aus­tria; or in deal­ing with war crim­i­nals of East­ern Euro­pean ori­gin who had tak­en shel­ter in the West. As a result, many of those involved in the per­pe­tra­tion of crimes were able to join the post-war stream of Euro­pean immi­gra­tion to new lands of set­tle­ment, includ­ing Cana­da.

    In addi­tion to the Ger­man and Aus­tri­an offi­cials of the Reich, she points out, “there was large-scale par­tic­i­pa­tion in the per­pe­tra­tion of crimes and in the car­ry­ing out of the Nazi pro­gram of geno­cide by native bureau­cra­cies, mil­i­tary for­ma­tions and indi­vid­u­als in the var­i­ous ter­ri­to­ries occu­pied by the Nazis.”

    Sub­stan­tive doc­u­men­ta­tion and tes­ti­mo­ny, she says, proves that thou­sands of Slo­vaks, Hun­gar­i­ans, Roma­ni­ans, Croa­t­ians, Ukraini­ans, Byel­lorus­sians, Cau­casians, Geor­gians, Lat­vians, Esto­ni­ans and Lithua­ni­ans enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly joined the Nazis in the slaugh­ter of Jews and Gyp­sies. No gun was held to their head. They rushed to offer their ser­vices as police­men, they joined semi-mil­i­tary police bat­tal­ions that wiped out whole vil­lages, and vol­un­teered to fight in Waf­fen-SS divi­sions com­mand­ed by Ger­man offi­cers. They helped put down the War­saw Ghet­to upris­ing, they staffed Auschwitz, Sobi­bor and Tre­blin­ka, they rav­aged their neigh­bours and sent their own young peo­ple to slave labour camps. With­out them, Rodal says, the Nazis would nev­er have been able to car­ry out their pro­gram.

    In a key para­graph, Rodal states:

    Dur­ing the peri­od from 1946 to 1967 some 620,000 immi­grants from Euro­pean coun­tries where par­tic­i­pa­tion in war crimes was exten­sive were admit­ted to Cana­da. In view of the large num­ber of peo­ple involved in the per­pe­tra­tion of war crimes who merged with dis­placed per­sons in the gen­er­al immi­gra­tion stream; in view of the inad­e­qua­cy of the screen­ing per­formed by inter­na­tion­al agen­cies and Cana­di­an offi­cials in the post-war years; and in view of the Cana­di­an government’s pol­i­cy of eth­nic pref­er­ence (for Balts and Volks­deutsche) in immi­gra­tion, and of con­cen­tra­tion, inso­far as secu­ri­ty screen­ing and pol­i­cy were con­cerned, on the weed­ing out of Com­mu­nists, it would be rash to assume that sig­nif­i­cant num­bers of war crim­i­nals and Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors did not enter Cana­da.

    ...

    Cru­cial­ly, when it comes to the case of Yaroslav Hun­ka and the asser­tion — backed by the Deschênes Com­mis­sion — that we can’t jump to any con­clu­sions based on some­one’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in a group like the 14th Waf­fen-SS Gali­cian Divi­sion, Rodal found exten­sive evi­dence of the unit’s direct par­tic­i­pa­tion in the slaugh­ter of Ukrain­ian Jews. So much so that Rodal con­clud­ed that there was no way some­one could have signed up to the unit with­out know­ing what they were sign­ing up for. Despite that, Cana­da allowed some 2,000 vet­er­ans from the Gali­cian divi­sion into Cana­da in 1950 as part of a spe­cial dis­pen­sa­tion of the Cana­di­an gov­ern­ment, based large­ly on these unsup­port­ed claims about the mem­bers of these units just being inno­cent vic­tims of com­mu­nist smears:

    ...
    Var­i­ous­ly known as the 14th Grenadier Vol­un­teer Waf­fen-SS Divi­sion (Gali­cian), 14th Waf­fen-SS Divi­sion (Ukrain­ian) and 1st Ukrain­ian Divi­sion of the 1st Ukrain­ian Army, they are regard­ed by the Sovi­ets as “mur­der­ers” and “cut-throats,” and have been described by British offi­cials as “quis­lings” and “trai­tors.”

    The Rus­sians claim that the divi­sion par­tic­i­pat­ed in wip­ing out dozens of Ukrain­ian and Pol­ish vil­lages and mur­der­ing thou­sands of inno­cent civil­ians. They are accused of hav­ing played a dirty role in the sup­pres­sion of the 1944 anti-Nazi Slo­vak Upris­ing, and of wel­com­ing into their ranks a Ukrain­ian police unit which helped put down the sec­ond War­saw Upris­ing in 1944.

    But divi­sion vet­er­ans, some 2,000 of whom came to Cana­da in 1950 by spe­cial dis­pen­sa­tion of the Cana­di­an gov­ern­ment, claim they have been maligned by the Sovi­et pro­pa­gan­da appa­ra­tus; that they com­mit­ted no crimes against human­i­ty, burned down no vil­lages, and guard­ed no con­cen­tra­tion camps.

    Their sup­port­ers claim that the Haly­chy­na were nev­er Nazis, but patri­ots fight­ing for an inde­pen­dent Ukraine against the Bol­she­vik hordes. Their des­ig­na­tion as “Waf­fen-SS,” they insist, was strict­ly acci­den­tal, a mat­ter of form imposed by the Ger­mans and nev­er a mat­ter of ide­ol­o­gy or con­vic­tion.

    Their inno­cence is evi­denced, they claim, by the fact that they were twice cleared of war crimes, by the Rus­sians in 1945 and by the British in 1948. Deschênes, too, declares them with­out sin.

    “The Gali­cia Divi­sion should not be indict­ed as a group,” he declares in his report. “The mem­bers of the Gali­cia Divi­sion were indi­vid­u­al­ly screened for secu­ri­ty pur­pos­es before admis­sion to Cana­da. Charges of war crimes against mem­bers of the Gali­cia Divi­sion have nev­er been sub­stan­ti­at­ed… In the absence of evi­dence of par­tic­i­pa­tion or knowl­edge of spe­cif­ic war crimes, mere mem­ber­ship in the Gali­cia Divi­sion in insuf­fi­cient to jus­ti­fy pros­e­cu­tion.”

    Again, Rodal’s find­ings cast doubt on Deschênes’ con­clu­sions. It is log­i­cal to assume, she says, that when the divi­sion was formed in 1943 fol­low­ing two years of bru­tal Ger­man occu­pa­tion of Ukraine, many of the recruits were drawn from the ranks of the police and semi-mil­i­tary units that had assist­ed the Nazis in the slaugh­ter of the Jews that fol­lowed the inva­sion.

    “The pres­ence of Ukrain­ian guards in the course of the depor­ta­tion of Jews… and on duty at ghet­tos and con­cen­tra­tion camps has been attest­ed to by many sur­vivors and doc­u­ment­ed by many schol­ars,” she writes. The Orga­ni­za­tion of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists’ Nachti­gall detach­ment entered Lvov in July 1941 and launched “the mas­sacre of three thou­sand mem­bers of the Pol­ish intel­li­gentsia and hun­dreds of Jews from Lvov.”

    In time, the mem­bers of many of the police units and the Nachti­gall Detach­ment made their way into the divi­sion. “It is clear,” she says, that there was “con­ti­nu­ity between the 1941–1943 Ukrain­ian police/military for­ma­tions and the divi­sions.”

    She gives short shrift to the divi­sion mem­bers who claim they vol­un­teered “not because of love of the Ger­mans but because of their hatred of the Rus­sians and their Com­mu­nist tyran­ny.” What­ev­er their moti­va­tion, she says, by 1943 they had seen the Jews in the region mur­dered and observed the “suf­fer­ing and dis­lo­ca­tion for many Ukraini­ans,”

    Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the fight against Com­mu­nism was, all too often, per­ceived in Ukraine as a war against the Jews. The Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist vol­un­teers made lit­tle or no dis­tinc­tion between Bol­she­vik hordes and the Jews in their home town. Rodal observes that the equa­tion of Jews and Com­mu­nists was cur­rent in Ukraine long before the Nazis marched in. Nation­al­ist orga­ni­za­tions passed res­o­lu­tions denounc­ing “the Jews in the USSR [who] con­sti­tute the most faith­ful sup­port of the rul­ing Bol­she­vik regime.” The appeal for vol­un­teers to the divi­sion called on Ukraini­ans to fight “Mus­covite-Jew­ish Bol­she­vism” and the “Jew­ish-Bol­she­vik mon­ster.”

    From these com­ments alone, it is clear that the mem­bers of the divi­sion knew full well what they were sign­ing up for when they joined the ranks of the SS. They were ful­ly aware that they were being recruit­ed to kill Jews, enslave their own peo­ple, and fight shoul­der to shoul­der with the Ger­man sol­diers in build­ing a Greater Reich.

    Their SS affil­i­a­tion was any­thing but pro for­ma; they were in every sense ful­ly Waf­fen-SS. Their oath of alle­giance was to Hitler, and bound them to absolute obe­di­ence to his will, she points out. Oth­er authors have point­ed to the SS and swasti­ka sym­bols they dis­played on their ban­ners. Their dis­ci­pline, awards, titles and ide­o­log­i­cal indoc­tri­na­tion were all Waf­fen-SS rather than Wehrma­cht (Ger­man army).
    ...

    Final­ly, one last piece of evi­dence of the gross coverup at work with this com­mis­sion, when the Simon Wiesen­thal Cen­tre twice offered to pro­vide evi­dence of the Gali­cian divi­son’s crimes, it was turned down both times:

    ...
    Sad­ly, Jus­tice Deschênes chose to excul­pate the mem­bers of the divi­sion after hear­ing evi­dence only from Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist groups. The Simon Wiesen­thal Cen­tre twice offered to pro­vide evi­dence against the divi­sion, but was refused each time.

    In effect, the Deschênes Report is an inad­e­quate and incom­plete doc­u­ment unless it is read side by side with the Rodal Report. Yet, what author­i­ty does the Rodal Report com­mand? Is it an offi­cial part of the Deschênes Com­mis­sion Report? Or is it just a work­ing paper of “con­sid­er­able mer­it” which the Jus­tice Depart­ment is free to ignore? Did the gov­ern­ment have the right to cen­sor Rodal’s report, to excise whole pages and vital case his­to­ries? Or is this an unmit­i­gat­ed inter­fer­ence with an historian’s right to pub­lish her research?

    Cer­tain­ly the Rodal Report deserves wider cir­cu­la­tion than it is now receiv­ing. The gov­ern­ment has cho­sen to lim­it its cir­cu­la­tion by keep­ing it in type­writ­ten man­u­script form. It has not been sent to the gov­ern­ment print­er and deliv­ered to gov­ern­ment book­shops. The only way you can receive a copy today is by apply­ing to the access offi­cer of the Pub­lic Archives of Cana­da, enclos­ing a $60 check to cov­er pho­to­copy­ing costs.
    ...

    The Com­mis­sion had a con­clu­sion it intend­ed to arrive at and no amount of facts or evi­dence was going to get in its way. And yet, it’s not like the Rodal Report does­n’t exist. It’s there, sit­ting in the Pub­lic Archives of Cana­da. Wait­ing for a pub­lic that rec­og­nizes the vital impor­tance of under­stand­ing its own past. In oth­er words, wait­ing until it crum­bles to dust, large­ly unread.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 27, 2024, 4:53 pm
  8. Rodal’s coura­geous efforts, though ignored at the time, have since been released on the gov­ern­ment of Cana­da web­site. One can find it eas­i­ly by googling: Rodal Report. It’s long, but cru­cial to under­stand­ing the long­time coverup and amne­sia that helped pro­duce the Hun­ka affair in the first place.

    Posted by Brad | March 28, 2024, 9:01 am
  9. Denis Kapustin — leader of the Russ­ian Vol­un­teer Corps (RVC/RDK) known for car­ry­ing out attacks inside Russ­ian on behalf of Ukraine — has no prob­lem admit­ting that he likes being seen as ‘the bad guy’. It was a child­hood dream, in fact, as he admit­ted in the fol­low­ing Politi­co arti­cle. Nor does he seem shy about shar­ing with the reporter an anec­dote about a trip to South Africa that left him with the impres­sion that life was much bet­ter there under Apartheid. Kapustin was also hap­py to share how he did­n’t actu­al­ly speak with any black South Africans and would­n’t allow a black per­son (or a gay or trans­gen­dered per­son) to serve in his unit. And sure, he runs a far right appar­el line of T‑shirts and caps with nation­al­ist and xeno­pho­bic images and Nazi sym­bols like “88”.

    And sure, he co-host­ed a 2021 pod­cast with Robert Run­do, of the Cal­i­for­nia-based Rise Above Move­ment (RAM). Recall how Azov leader Sergey Korotkikh report­ed­ly host­ed RAM mem­bers in Kyiv in 2018 and how RAM mem­bers were also report­ed­ly net­work­ing with Azov spokesper­son Ole­na Semenya­ka. And yes, Ger­man author­i­ties have labeled him one of the lead­ing neo-Nazis in Europe.

    Sure, he’s done all that. But don’t call him a Nazi. He does­n’t like that label. No, Kapustin would pre­fer to describe him­self as “def­i­nite­ly con­ser­v­a­tive, def­i­nite­ly tra­di­tion­al­ist, def­i­nite­ly right wing-ish,” but he’s not a Nazi.

    That’s the troll­ish nature of the fol­low­ing Politi­co inter­view of Kapustin. But the trolling does­n’t end there. Because at the same time Kapustin was adamant about his non-Nazi sta­tus, he appeared to be absolute­ly rev­el­ing in how con­flict­ed West­ern jour­nal­ism is when it comes to cov­er­ing Nazis like him­self dur­ing a time when the West has come to rely on them to fight the war in Ukraine. As the arti­cle puts it, Kapustin “rel­ish­es spar­ring with West­ern jour­nal­ists, see­ing how awk­ward many of them feel inter­view­ing him, torn between dis­ap­proval of his far-right ide­ol­o­gy and hooli­gan his­to­ry and their sym­pa­thy for Ukraine, not want­i­ng to put the coun­ty in a bad light for West­ern lib­er­al audi­ences.

    Or as Kapustin him­self put it, “It is a very fun­ny posi­tion for you and your col­leagues because you all have been try­ing hard to put us in a bad light for years. Neo-Nazis, racist, white suprema­cists, ter­ri­ble guys, blah, blah, blah. And then the dark­est hour in Ukraine’s mod­ern day his­to­ry arrives. And all of a sud­den the eter­nal bad guys turn out to be brave, coura­geous, deter­mined, stub­born and heroes. And they’re like, ‘damn, how should I write about them?’

    We don’t usu­al­ly see this degree of frank­ness in how the West­ern press has han­dled Ukraine’s Nazi phe­nom­e­na. But here it is, thanks large­ly to Kapustin’s eager trolling about the West­’s kid glove treat­ment:

    Politico.eu

    Ukraine embraces far-right Russ­ian ‘bad guy’ to take the bat­tle to Putin

    Ger­many describes Denis Kapustin as a top neo-Nazi, and his role in the war is a dou­ble-edged sword for Kyiv.

    Russ­ian fight­ers aligned with Ukraine claim respon­si­bil­i­ty for cross-bor­der attack in Russia’s Bel­go­rod region

    April 3, 2024 4:00 am CET
    By Jamie Dettmer

    KYIV —“We’re the bad guys but fight­ing real­ly evil guys,” wise­cracks Denis Kapustin.

    For now, Ukraine is will­ing to embrace his form of bad guy. As a Russ­ian mil­i­tant who led eye-catch­ing para­mil­i­tary raids into Rus­sia from Ukrain­ian ter­ri­to­ry this year and last, Kyiv sees Kapustin has a role to play as an ally against Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin.

    But there are haz­ards in hold­ing him too close. Ger­man author­i­ties say Kapustin — some­times known as Denis Nikitin — is “one of the most influ­en­tial neo-Nazi activists” on the Euro­pean con­ti­nent, and that’s a god­send to Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­dists, who are seek­ing to white­wash their mur­der­ous inva­sion of Ukraine as an attempt to “de-Naz­i­fy” Kyiv.

    “Think of ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,’” adds Kapustin, who leads the Russ­ian Vol­un­teer Corps (RVC), the largest of three anti-Krem­lin Russ­ian mili­tias fight­ing for Ukraine. “Before, you just had good guys and bad guys dressed in black in cow­boy movies, and then Clint East­wood comes along and he’s dressed in black and fight­ing for good,” he says.

    Kapustin is indeed dressed in black for his dis­cus­sion with POLITICO in a down­town Kyiv hotel — though his cloth­ing is free of any neo-Nazi logos or flash­es. That’s despite the fact he runs a far-right appar­el line of T‑shirts and caps embla­zoned with white nation­al­ist and xeno­pho­bic imagery as well as the Nazi sym­bol 88 — the eighth let­ter of the alpha­bet twice being a not-so-sub­tle code for “Heil Hitler.”

    “I walk a thin line,” Kapustin says, dis­put­ing the neo-Nazi label and not­ing, almost teas­ing­ly, that he doesn’t put swastikas on any of the T‑shirts he flogs, as though that proves any­thing.

    Russ­ian state media rel­ish point­ing to Kapustin’s ori­gins as a far-right foot­ball hooli­gan as it bol­sters their pre­text for the war.

    Moscow’s con­tin­u­al attempt to cast their strug­gle as a rerun of World War II against Nazism rings hol­low in real­i­ty, how­ev­er. Not only is Ukraine’s pres­i­dent Jew­ish but far-right extrem­ist par­ties have near neg­li­gi­ble sup­port in nation­al rep­re­sen­ta­tive pol­i­tics.

    If that weren’t enough, Moscow’s insis­tence that Ukraine’s forces are Nazis over­looks the fact that avowed neo-Nazi groups are fight­ing for Rus­sia too. Includ­ing the noto­ri­ous Rusich mili­tia, which hap­pi­ly dis­plays Nazi flash­es, advo­cates racist ide­ol­o­gy and has been accused of bat­tle­field atroc­i­ties in Ukraine and Syr­ia, and the white suprema­cist Russ­ian Impe­r­i­al Move­ment, des­ig­nat­ed a “ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion” by the Unit­ed States.

    In 2022, Germany’s BND intel­li­gence ser­vice said the Russ­ian mil­i­tary has wel­comed neo-Nazi groups in its ranks, ren­der­ing “the alleged rea­son for the war, the so-called de-Naz­i­fi­ca­tion of Ukraine, absurd.”

    Yet, none of that stops the Rus­sians ignor­ing Nazis in their own ranks and focus­ing on Kapustin, who goes by the nom de guerre “White Rex,” just like his cloth­ing label.

    Kapustin’s RVC and two oth­er Ukraine-based anti-Putin para­mil­i­tary groups — Free­dom of Rus­sia Legion and the newest for­ma­tion, the Siber­ian Bat­tal­ion — are in the news again after launch­ing on March 12 their biggest cross-bor­der raids of the war around Kursk and Bel­go­rod, remain­ing on Russ­ian soil and fight­ing for more than two weeks. Pri­or to that, their biggest raid was in May 2023, when they stormed vil­lages and towns in the Bel­go­rod region.

    Alex­ei Bara­novsky of the Free­dom of Rus­sia Legion claimed at a press con­fer­ence last week that the lat­est raids “dis­rupt­ed the plans of the Russ­ian army and caused sig­nif­i­cant dam­age to it.”

    Mili­tias’ murky sta­tus

    ...

    Bara­novsky claims his group is “a reg­u­lar unit of the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” telling POLITICO at last week’s press con­fer­ence: “When we are on the ter­ri­to­ry of Ukraine — we are ser­vice­men of the Ukrain­ian army, equal in all rights and duties to all oth­er ser­vice­men of Ukraine. When we go to the ter­ri­to­ry of Rus­sia — we are no longer Ukrain­ian ser­vice­men, we are Russ­ian cit­i­zens who have tak­en up arms.

    Some in Ukraine’s reg­u­lar army frown on the tie-up between the mili­tias (espe­cial­ly the RVC) and Ukraine’s mil­i­tary intel­li­gence (HUR), argu­ing it offers the Rus­sians a pro­pa­gan­da oppor­tu­ni­ty.

    “And for what?” asked an offi­cial who sits on Ukraine’s Nation­al Secu­ri­ty and Defense Coun­cil but who asked not to be named in this arti­cle to be able to speak freely. “These mili­tias are a sideshow. They can’t influ­ence the war’s dynam­ics. Maybe they dis­rupt a bit behind the lines and are embar­rass­ing for the Krem­lin but that doesn’t out­weigh the over­all pro­pa­gan­da dis­ad­van­tages of using them,” the offi­cial added.

    The whole enter­prise is a pet project of Kyry­lo Budanov, the head of HUR. As the cross-bor­der raids unfold­ed last month, Budanov praised the Russ­ian para­mil­i­taries as “good war­riors” on a nation­al news­cast. “They’ve been help­ing us since the first day … They have fought in many of Ukraine’s hottest spots. We’re going to try and help them as much as we can,” he said.

    As far as HUR sees it, their enemy’s ene­my is their friend.Accord­ing to Andriy Yusov, a HUR spokesman: “Ukraine should obvi­ous­ly also assist those Rus­sians who are fight­ing against the Putin regime to free Rus­sia.” He said the mili­tias don’t act in Rus­sia on the direct orders of Kyiv, and their actions just go to show “the Krem­lin is once again not in con­trol of the sit­u­a­tion in Rus­sia.”

    Maybe so, but it depends on how you define “under orders.”

    Kapustin says the mili­tias have free­dom of action once across the bor­der but the raids are close­ly coor­di­nat­ed with the HUR, which pro­vides logis­ti­cal assis­tance, vets their oper­a­tional plans and arms and pays them. All three mili­tias are for­mal­ly part of the Ukrain­ian armed forces, enlist­ed in the Inter­na­tion­al Legion, says Kapustin. “We are an offi­cial part of Ukrain­ian army but we have seri­ous polit­i­cal ambi­tions and polit­i­cal agen­da — to get rid of Putin,” he adds.

    From foot­ball fields to the bat­tle­field

    The 40-year-old Kapustin was born in Moscow. He moved with his par­ents at the age of 17 to Cologne, Ger­many, where he quick­ly estab­lished a fear­some rep­u­ta­tion as a street-brawl­ing white-pow­er skin­head always up for a punch-up with every­one, espe­cial­ly Antifa activists. He tells POLITICO he was unhap­py with the move and missed his friends and felt dis­con­nect­ed.

    He’s long been promi­nent on the Euro­pean foot­ball hooli­gan­ism and far-right mar­tial arts fight club scene — par­tic­i­pat­ing in the riots at the UEFA Euro 2016 foot­ball tour­na­ment in the French port city of Mar­seille. After he moved to Kyiv, Ger­many can­celed his res­i­den­cy in 2019 and imposed a Schen­gen-entry ban on him for “efforts against the lib­er­al demo­c­ra­t­ic con­sti­tu­tion.”

    He has links with Amer­i­can neo-Nazi groups, and in 2021 co-host­ed a pod­cast with Robert Run­do, founder of the Rise Above Move­ment, which par­tic­i­pat­ed in the Char­lottesville white suprema­cist ral­ly.

    Nonethe­less, Kapustin bris­tles at being called a neo-Nazi him­self, even though he is hazy about what he is. He rel­ish­es spar­ring with West­ern jour­nal­ists, see­ing how awk­ward many of them feel inter­view­ing him, torn between dis­ap­proval of his far-right ide­ol­o­gy and hooli­gan his­to­ry and their sym­pa­thy for Ukraine, not want­i­ng to put the coun­ty in a bad light for West­ern lib­er­al audi­ences.

    “Will you try to remain unbi­ased?” he asks. “It is a very fun­ny posi­tion for you and your col­leagues because you all have been try­ing hard to put us in a bad light for years. Neo-Nazis, racist, white suprema­cists, ter­ri­ble guys, blah, blah, blah. And then the dark­est hour in Ukraine’s mod­ern day his­to­ry arrives. And all of a sud­den the eter­nal bad guys turn out to be brave, coura­geous, deter­mined, stub­born and heroes. And they’re like, ‘damn, how should I write about them?’

    Kapustin thor­ough­ly savors his noto­ri­ety. “Through­out my life, I always want­ed to be the Hol­ly­wood-style bad guy. Darth Vad­er is my ulti­mate inspi­ra­tion. At the age of sev­en, I watched Star Wars, and was like, ‘wow this guy’s so cool,’” he says.

    So if he’s not a neo-Nazi, what is he?

    “Def­i­nite­ly con­ser­v­a­tive, def­i­nite­ly tra­di­tion­al­ist, def­i­nite­ly right wing-ish,” he says.

    “It’s eas­i­er for me to say what I detest, oppose in the mod­ern world than to name my per­son­al polit­i­cal views,” he adds. “I con­sid­er myself a big part of the right-wing move­ment. But when we say right-wing move­ment, what does that mean? Would that mean me agi­tat­ing for beat­ing up immi­grants or things like that? No, I’m a grown up per­son. And if I had my time as a young­ster fight­ing with immi­grants on the street, that time is long gone. We were think­ing the immi­grant is the ene­my. This is not the prob­lem. The prob­lem is Putin’s gov­ern­ment,” he adds.

    Above all, he says, he’s a Russ­ian nation­al­ist, hence fight­ing for Ukraine because Russ­ian nation­al­ists should be against Putin. “Being a patri­ot, being a nation­al­ist, obvi­ous­ly means wish­ing the best for your own peo­ple, for your own kids, for your coun­try. But I know exact­ly that Putin is the worst that could hap­pen to Rus­sia. So that’s why guys, my for­mer com­rades, who are fight­ing for him, and they con­sid­er them­selves nation­al­ist, they’re the worst ene­my for me. They con­sid­er me a trai­tor. I con­sid­er them trai­tors,” he explains.

    For Kapustin, Putin’s regime is not nation­al­is­tic enough. He com­plains: “You can have a French Nation­al Foot­ball Asso­ci­a­tion in Rus­sia … But you can nev­er have a tru­ly Russ­ian one. When­ev­er you say, I want to start a Russ­ian nation­al club for some­thing you get told, ‘Your grand­fa­ther was fight­ing against Nazis and now you are a neo-Nazi!’”

    On a trip to South Africa, Kapustin claims he found that most peo­ple thought life was bet­ter under Apartheid — though he admits he didn’t speak to Black South Africans.

    “My trip to South Africa was very sig­nif­i­cant for me because I real­ized what it used to be and what it is now, this decay, it’s obvi­ous­ly very pity to see that.” He con­cedes, “I didn’t talk to the Blacks. So I’m being open. I was just say­ing how it was.”

    Kapustin start­ed the RVC with just five mem­bers. Like the com­man­ders of the oth­er two Ukrain­ian-based Russ­ian mili­tias, the Free­dom of Rus­sia Legion and Siber­ian Bat­tal­ion, he won’t say how many fight­ers he has now, though Rus­sia last month said more than 2,000 fight­ers were involved in the raids in Kursk and Bel­go­rod.

    “We are an offi­cial part of Ukrain­ian army but we have seri­ous polit­i­cal ambi­tions and polit­i­cal agen­da — to march to Moscow and dis­man­tle the Putin regime. That is obvi­ous­ly in the inter­ests of Ukraine,” Kapustin says. He doesn’t explain what sys­tem of gov­ern­ment he would like to see in Rus­sia.

    ...

    He says the three mili­tias have dif­fer­ent polit­i­cal stances. “And because of that we do have dif­fer­ent approach­es to recruit­ment, to how we run our units. We have lec­tures in ide­ol­o­gy in my corps, not just mil­i­tary craft, not just phys­i­cal edu­ca­tion, because from my point of view ide­ol­o­gy is some­thing that for­ti­fies a unit,” he says.

    “One of your col­leagues tried to cor­ner me recent­ly and asked if we would take a Black, or homo­sex­u­al or trans­gen­der who want­ed to join the corps. And I said: ‘No, because he wouldn’t feel com­fort­able around us, and we would not feel com­fort­able around him.’”

    ———-

    “Ukraine embraces far-right Russ­ian ‘bad guy’ to take the bat­tle to Putin” By Jamie Dettmer; Politico.eu; 04/03/2024

    But there are haz­ards in hold­ing him too close. Ger­man author­i­ties say Kapustin — some­times known as Denis Nikitin — is “one of the most influ­en­tial neo-Nazi activists” on the Euro­pean con­ti­nent, and that’s a god­send to Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­dists, who are seek­ing to white­wash their mur­der­ous inva­sion of Ukraine as an attempt to “de-Naz­i­fy” Kyiv.”

    Yes indeed, there are haz­ard in hold­ing noto­ri­ous neo-Nazis “too close”. There’s no short­age of obvi­ous haz­ards asso­ci­at­ed with ele­vat­ed and mil­i­tar­i­ly arm­ing a lead­ing neo-Nazi. And not haz­ards to Europe. As we can see, Denis Kapustin co-host­ed a 2021 pod­cast with Robert Run­do, of the Cal­i­for­nia-based Rise Above Move­ment (RAM). Recall how Azov leader Sergey Korotkikh report­ed­ly host­ed RAM mem­bers in Kyiv in 2018. RAM mem­bers were also report­ed­ly net­work­ing with Azov spokesper­son Ole­na Semenya­ka. So when we find Kapustin co-host­ing a pod­cast with Amer­i­can neo-Nazi Robert Run­do , keep in mind that this is just one facet of a much larg­er inter­na­tion­al neo-Nazi move­ment with deep roots in Ukraine. It’s haz­ardous. But, as we should expect, the pri­ma­ry haz­ard the West­ern media and gov­ern­ments seem to focus on is the pro­pa­gan­da oppor­tu­ni­ties these groups pro­vide to Rus­sia:

    ...
    The 40-year-old Kapustin was born in Moscow. He moved with his par­ents at the age of 17 to Cologne, Ger­many, where he quick­ly estab­lished a fear­some rep­u­ta­tion as a street-brawl­ing white-pow­er skin­head always up for a punch-up with every­one, espe­cial­ly Antifa activists. He tells POLITICO he was unhap­py with the move and missed his friends and felt dis­con­nect­ed.

    He’s long been promi­nent on the Euro­pean foot­ball hooli­gan­ism and far-right mar­tial arts fight club scene — par­tic­i­pat­ing in the riots at the UEFA Euro 2016 foot­ball tour­na­ment in the French port city of Mar­seille. After he moved to Kyiv, Ger­many can­celed his res­i­den­cy in 2019 and imposed a Schen­gen-entry ban on him for “efforts against the lib­er­al demo­c­ra­t­ic con­sti­tu­tion.”

    He has links with Amer­i­can neo-Nazi groups, and in 2021 co-host­ed a pod­cast with Robert Run­do, founder of the Rise Above Move­ment, which par­tic­i­pat­ed in the Char­lottesville white suprema­cist ral­ly.
    ...

    Kapustin was­n’t exact­ly hid­ing his extrem­ism dur­ing the inter­view, as his anec­dote about his trip to South Africa makes clear. It also gives us a taste of the kind of Rus­sia he would try to cre­ate giv­en the oppor­tu­ni­ty. And whether or not he ever suc­ceeds in over­throw­ing the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment, he’s undoubt­ed­ly rad­i­cal­iz­ing the mem­bers of his unit with ide­ol­o­gy lec­tures. It’s like a Russ­ian ver­sion of Azov oper­at­ing out of Ukraine:

    ...
    On a trip to South Africa, Kapustin claims he found that most peo­ple thought life was bet­ter under Apartheid — though he admits he didn’t speak to Black South Africans.

    “My trip to South Africa was very sig­nif­i­cant for me because I real­ized what it used to be and what it is now, this decay, it’s obvi­ous­ly very pity to see that.” He con­cedes, “I didn’t talk to the Blacks. So I’m being open. I was just say­ing how it was.”

    ...

    He says the three mili­tias have dif­fer­ent polit­i­cal stances. “And because of that we do have dif­fer­ent approach­es to recruit­ment, to how we run our units. We have lec­tures in ide­ol­o­gy in my corps, not just mil­i­tary craft, not just phys­i­cal edu­ca­tion, because from my point of view ide­ol­o­gy is some­thing that for­ti­fies a unit,” he says.

    “One of your col­leagues tried to cor­ner me recent­ly and asked if we would take a Black, or homo­sex­u­al or trans­gen­der who want­ed to join the corps. And I said: ‘No, because he wouldn’t feel com­fort­able around us, and we would not feel com­fort­able around him.’”
    ...

    And that brings us to open gaslight­ing Kapustin is engag­ing in dur­ing this inter­view, where he seem­ing­ly rel­ish­es in insist­ing to West­ern jour­nal­ists that he’s not a neo-Nazi, know­ing full well that these jour­nal­ists are going to be very torn about whether or not they can hon­est­ly and accu­rate­ly acknowl­edge his neo-Nazi sta­tus with­out hand­ing Rus­sia a pro­pa­gan­da vic­to­ry. Kapustin open­ly mocks West­ern jour­nal­ists in this inter­view over the “fun­ny posi­tion” they find them­selves in while inter­view­ing some­one like him:

    ...
    “Think of ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,’” adds Kapustin, who leads the Russ­ian Vol­un­teer Corps (RVC), the largest of three anti-Krem­lin Russ­ian mili­tias fight­ing for Ukraine. “Before, you just had good guys and bad guys dressed in black in cow­boy movies, and then Clint East­wood comes along and he’s dressed in black and fight­ing for good,” he says.

    Kapustin is indeed dressed in black for his dis­cus­sion with POLITICO in a down­town Kyiv hotel — though his cloth­ing is free of any neo-Nazi logos or flash­es. That’s despite the fact he runs a far-right appar­el line of T‑shirts and caps embla­zoned with white nation­al­ist and xeno­pho­bic imagery as well as the Nazi sym­bol 88 — the eighth let­ter of the alpha­bet twice being a not-so-sub­tle code for “Heil Hitler.”

    “I walk a thin line,” Kapustin says, dis­put­ing the neo-Nazi label and not­ing, almost teas­ing­ly, that he doesn’t put swastikas on any of the T‑shirts he flogs, as though that proves any­thing.

    ...

    Nonethe­less, Kapustin bris­tles at being called a neo-Nazi him­self, even though he is hazy about what he is. He rel­ish­es spar­ring with West­ern jour­nal­ists, see­ing how awk­ward many of them feel inter­view­ing him, torn between dis­ap­proval of his far-right ide­ol­o­gy and hooli­gan his­to­ry and their sym­pa­thy for Ukraine, not want­i­ng to put the coun­ty in a bad light for West­ern lib­er­al audi­ences.

    “Will you try to remain unbi­ased?” he asks. “It is a very fun­ny posi­tion for you and your col­leagues because you all have been try­ing hard to put us in a bad light for years. Neo-Nazis, racist, white suprema­cists, ter­ri­ble guys, blah, blah, blah. And then the dark­est hour in Ukraine’s mod­ern day his­to­ry arrives. And all of a sud­den the eter­nal bad guys turn out to be brave, coura­geous, deter­mined, stub­born and heroes. And they’re like, ‘damn, how should I write about them?’
    ...

    And, of course, the report had to include some sort of seemign­ly oblig­a­tory attempt at ‘both­sidesism’ with neo-Nazis, tak­ing pains to empha­size that neo-Nazis can be found in Russ­ian mili­tias while dis­miss­ing Ukraine’s far right as hav­ing “near neg­li­gi­ble sup­port in nation­al rep­re­sen­ta­tive pol­i­tics”, a gross white­wash­ing of the immense influ­ence these groups have wield­ed in Ukraine over the last decade despite a lack of elec­toral suc­cess. Influ­ence like how Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Vlodymyr Zelen­sky had to face off with angry mem­bers of Azov demand­ing “No to Capit­u­la­tion” in Octo­ber of 2019 in response to Zelen­sky pos­si­bly pur­su­ing nego­ti­a­tions to end Ukraine’s civ­il war. Sure, both sides have neo-Nazis fight­ing on their behalf, but only one side has spent the last decade embrac­ing these units as nation­al­ist heroes while incor­po­rat­ing their lead­ers into offi­cial posi­tions of pow­er and influ­ence. Only one side is fac­ing the per­pet­u­al and grow­ing threat of far right coup if the Nazis get too unhap­py:

    ...
    Russ­ian state media rel­ish point­ing to Kapustin’s ori­gins as a far-right foot­ball hooli­gan as it bol­sters their pre­text for the war.

    Moscow’s con­tin­u­al attempt to cast their strug­gle as a rerun of World War II against Nazism rings hol­low in real­i­ty, how­ev­er. Not only is Ukraine’s pres­i­dent Jew­ish but far-right extrem­ist par­ties have near neg­li­gi­ble sup­port in nation­al rep­re­sen­ta­tive pol­i­tics.

    If that weren’t enough, Moscow’s insis­tence that Ukraine’s forces are Nazis over­looks the fact that avowed neo-Nazi groups are fight­ing for Rus­sia too. Includ­ing the noto­ri­ous Rusich mili­tia, which hap­pi­ly dis­plays Nazi flash­es, advo­cates racist ide­ol­o­gy and has been accused of bat­tle­field atroc­i­ties in Ukraine and Syr­ia, and the white suprema­cist Russ­ian Impe­r­i­al Move­ment, des­ig­nat­ed a “ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion” by the Unit­ed States.

    In 2022, Germany’s BND intel­li­gence ser­vice said the Russ­ian mil­i­tary has wel­comed neo-Nazi groups in its ranks, ren­der­ing “the alleged rea­son for the war, the so-called de-Naz­i­fi­ca­tion of Ukraine, absurd.”

    Yet, none of that stops the Rus­sians ignor­ing Nazis in their own ranks and focus­ing on Kapustin, who goes by the nom de guerre “White Rex,” just like his cloth­ing label.
    ...

    Then there’s the ques­tion of what role did Kapustin’s unit, and the oth­er two Russ­ian units based in Ukraine, play in the Moscow con­cert hall attacks. As we’ve seen, all three of the Russ­ian units oper­at­ing out of Ukraine were engaged in cross bor­der oper­a­tions start­ing on March 12 and last­ing more than two week, which means they were oper­at­ing in Russ­ian ter­ri­to­ry dur­ing the March 22 con­cert hall ISIS‑K attacks that involved an attempt­ed escape route into Ukraine. As we’ve also seen, the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment seems to have an alarm­ing­ly cozy rela­tion­ship with jihadist groups like ISIS as long as they are focused on attack­ing Rus­sia. So when we see Alex­ei Bara­novsky of the Free­dom of Rus­sia Legion assert that these units are only under the Ukrain­ian chain of com­mand while in Ukraine, and oper­ate inde­pen­dent­ly while inside Rus­sia, we have to ask if there was any ‘inde­pen­dent’ action involv­ing those ISIS‑K attacks:

    ...
    Kapustin’s RVC and two oth­er Ukraine-based anti-Putin para­mil­i­tary groups — Free­dom of Rus­sia Legion and the newest for­ma­tion, the Siber­ian Bat­tal­ion — are in the news again after launch­ing on March 12 their biggest cross-bor­der raids of the war around Kursk and Bel­go­rod, remain­ing on Russ­ian soil and fight­ing for more than two weeks. Pri­or to that, their biggest raid was in May 2023, when they stormed vil­lages and towns in the Bel­go­rod region.

    Alex­ei Bara­novsky of the Free­dom of Rus­sia Legion claimed at a press con­fer­ence last week that the lat­est raids “dis­rupt­ed the plans of the Russ­ian army and caused sig­nif­i­cant dam­age to it.”

    ...

    Bara­novsky claims his group is “a reg­u­lar unit of the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” telling POLITICO at last week’s press con­fer­ence: “When we are on the ter­ri­to­ry of Ukraine — we are ser­vice­men of the Ukrain­ian army, equal in all rights and duties to all oth­er ser­vice­men of Ukraine. When we go to the ter­ri­to­ry of Rus­sia — we are no longer Ukrain­ian ser­vice­men, we are Russ­ian cit­i­zens who have tak­en up arms.
    ...

    And those claims of ‘inde­pen­dent action’ once these units are oper­at­ing inside Rus­sia brings us to the inter­est­ing admis­sion by Kapustin that the mili­tias have free­dom of action once across the bor­der but the raids are close­ly coor­di­nat­ed with the HUR, which pro­vides logis­ti­cal assis­tance, vets their oper­a­tional plans and arms and pays them. So they are ‘inde­pen­dent­ly’ car­ry­ing out plans vet­ted and assist­ed by the HUR:

    ...
    Some in Ukraine’s reg­u­lar army frown on the tie-up between the mili­tias (espe­cial­ly the RVC) and Ukraine’s mil­i­tary intel­li­gence (HUR), argu­ing it offers the Rus­sians a pro­pa­gan­da oppor­tu­ni­ty.

    “And for what?” asked an offi­cial who sits on Ukraine’s Nation­al Secu­ri­ty and Defense Coun­cil but who asked not to be named in this arti­cle to be able to speak freely. “These mili­tias are a sideshow. They can’t influ­ence the war’s dynam­ics. Maybe they dis­rupt a bit behind the lines and are embar­rass­ing for the Krem­lin but that doesn’t out­weigh the over­all pro­pa­gan­da dis­ad­van­tages of using them,” the offi­cial added.

    The whole enter­prise is a pet project of Kyry­lo Budanov, the head of HUR. As the cross-bor­der raids unfold­ed last month, Budanov praised the Russ­ian para­mil­i­taries as “good war­riors” on a nation­al news­cast. “They’ve been help­ing us since the first day … They have fought in many of Ukraine’s hottest spots. We’re going to try and help them as much as we can,” he said.

    As far as HUR sees it, their enemy’s ene­my is their friend.Accord­ing to Andriy Yusov, a HUR spokesman: “Ukraine should obvi­ous­ly also assist those Rus­sians who are fight­ing against the Putin regime to free Rus­sia.” He said the mili­tias don’t act in Rus­sia on the direct orders of Kyiv, and their actions just go to show “the Krem­lin is once again not in con­trol of the sit­u­a­tion in Rus­sia.”

    Maybe so, but it depends on how you define “under orders.”

    Kapustin says the mili­tias have free­dom of action once across the bor­der but the raids are close­ly coor­di­nat­ed with the HUR, which pro­vides logis­ti­cal assis­tance, vets their oper­a­tional plans and arms and pays them. All three mili­tias are for­mal­ly part of the Ukrain­ian armed forces, enlist­ed in the Inter­na­tion­al Legion, says Kapustin. “We are an offi­cial part of Ukrain­ian army but we have seri­ous polit­i­cal ambi­tions and polit­i­cal agen­da — to get rid of Putin,” he adds.
    ...

    Final­ly, in case it’s not clear that a Rus­sia under the influ­ence of neo-Nazis like Kapustin would be a night­mare for the world, note his big com­plaint about the Putin gov­ern­ment: Putin isn’t nation­al­is­tic enough. That’s the spin he deploys while try­ing to pass him­self off as just a ‘tra­di­tion­al­ist con­ser­v­a­tive nation­al­ist’:

    ...
    Kapustin thor­ough­ly savors his noto­ri­ety. “Through­out my life, I always want­ed to be the Hol­ly­wood-style bad guy. Darth Vad­er is my ulti­mate inspi­ra­tion. At the age of sev­en, I watched Star Wars, and was like, ‘wow this guy’s so cool,’” he says.

    So if he’s not a neo-Nazi, what is he?

    “Def­i­nite­ly con­ser­v­a­tive, def­i­nite­ly tra­di­tion­al­ist, def­i­nite­ly right wing-ish,” he says.

    “It’s eas­i­er for me to say what I detest, oppose in the mod­ern world than to name my per­son­al polit­i­cal views,” he adds. “I con­sid­er myself a big part of the right-wing move­ment. But when we say right-wing move­ment, what does that mean? Would that mean me agi­tat­ing for beat­ing up immi­grants or things like that? No, I’m a grown up per­son. And if I had my time as a young­ster fight­ing with immi­grants on the street, that time is long gone. We were think­ing the immi­grant is the ene­my. This is not the prob­lem. The prob­lem is Putin’s gov­ern­ment,” he adds.

    Above all, he says, he’s a Russ­ian nation­al­ist, hence fight­ing for Ukraine because Russ­ian nation­al­ists should be against Putin. “Being a patri­ot, being a nation­al­ist, obvi­ous­ly means wish­ing the best for your own peo­ple, for your own kids, for your coun­try. But I know exact­ly that Putin is the worst that could hap­pen to Rus­sia. So that’s why guys, my for­mer com­rades, who are fight­ing for him, and they con­sid­er them­selves nation­al­ist, they’re the worst ene­my for me. They con­sid­er me a trai­tor. I con­sid­er them trai­tors,” he explains.

    For Kapustin, Putin’s regime is not nation­al­is­tic enough. He com­plains: “You can have a French Nation­al Foot­ball Asso­ci­a­tion in Rus­sia … But you can nev­er have a tru­ly Russ­ian one. When­ev­er you say, I want to start a Russ­ian nation­al club for some­thing you get told, ‘Your grand­fa­ther was fight­ing against Nazis and now you are a neo-Nazi!’”

    ...

    Is a hyper-nation­al­is­tic Rus­sia ruled by neo-Nazis seen as prefer­able to Vladimir Putin? Appar­ent­ly. This is a good time to recall the nation­al­ist roots of the West­’s pre­vi­ous­ly go-to Russ­ian regime change agent: Alex­ei Naval­ny. Also recall how one of the oth­er Russ­ian groups oper­at­ing in Ukraine, Free­dom for Rus­sia, has a ‘decol­o­niza­tion’ vision of break­ing Rus­sia up into dozens of eth­nic statelets, which is the kind of end game sce­nario that could poten­tial­ly appeal to neo-Nazis like Kapustin who would pre­fer the cre­ation of eth­ni­cal­ly ‘pure’ states.

    Has the West arrived at the con­clu­sion that hyper-nation­al­ism is the most effec­tive means of tam­ing Rus­sia as a geopo­lit­i­cal enti­ty? It’s not like we should be shocked if that’s the under­ly­ing strat­e­gy, but is it? A strat­e­gy of neu­tral­iz­ing Rus­sia by Naz­i­fy­ing it and hop­ing that blows it apart? Let’s hope that’s not the strat­e­gy, but Denis Kapustin appears to feel that’s the case. And he’s clear­ly lov­ing it.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 4, 2024, 8:29 pm
  10. Oooof. This is a rough sto­ry for any­one sym­pa­thet­ic to US librar­i­ans and the increas­ing­ly politi­cized envi­ron­ment they’ve been forced to oper­ate in over the last decade: The Amer­i­can Library Asso­ci­a­tion (ALA) has a new scan­dal to deal with. And unlike most of these ‘scan­dals’ in recent years — which have large­ly been focused on right-wing hys­te­ria over LGBTQ con­tent in libraries — this is a real scan­dal involv­ing a gen­uine­ly tox­ic book.

    In Jan­u­ary of this year, the ALA pub­lished its list of Best His­tor­i­cal Mate­ri­als for 2023, which includ­ed Ene­my Archives: Sovi­et Coun­terin­sur­gency Oper­a­tions and the Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ist Movement—Selections from the Secret Police Archives, a com­pendi­um of Sovi­et era doc­u­ments. And the co-edi­tors of this book just hap­pen to be Lubomyr Luciuk — pro­fes­sor at the Roy­al Mil­i­tary Col­lege of Cana­da — and Volodymyr Via­tro­vych. Yep, the same and Volodymyr Via­tro­vych who was the head of the Ukrain­ian Insti­tute of Nation­al Mem­o­ry and noto­ri­ous for exten­sive white­wash­ing of the WWII lega­cy of Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tion by Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist groups like the OUN‑B. That’s the guy who co-edit­ed a book on Sovi­et Archives about Ukrain­ian nation­al­ism. A book that was cho­sen by the ALA for an award ear­li­er this year.

    The book’s co-edi­tor, Lubomyr Luciuk, is a pro­fes­sor at the Roy­al Mil­i­tary Col­lege of Cana­da, the Cana­di­an equiv­a­lent of West Point. He actu­al­ly pub­lished an excerpt of the book in the Nation­al Post in Feb­ru­ary of 2023, prompt­ing a com­plaint by the Simon Wiesen­thal Cen­ter over the way the piece was pro­mot­ing Holo­caust denial­ism. As we’re going to see, the Nation­al Post’s edi­tor in chief actu­al­ly admit­ted to the Simon Wiesen­thal Cen­ter that the arti­cle “includ­ed a para­graph dis­put­ing the view that the Sec­ond World War era Orga­ni­za­tion of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists were Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors. How­ev­er, we rec­og­nize that this col­lab­o­ra­tion has been estab­lished by pri­or schol­ar­ship.” So an excerpt from this book prompt­ed a Holo­caust denial­ism com­plaint almost a year before it was select­ed for ALA’s ‘Best His­tor­i­cal Mate­ri­als for 2023’ list.

    Oh, and it turns out Luciuk was extreme­ly upset about the pub­lic out­rage over the Cana­di­an par­lia­men­t’s hon­or­ing of Jarowlav Hun­ka. Luciuk was adamant that any asso­ci­a­tions to the Nazis was com­plete­ly inap­pro­pri­ate and that Hun­ka deserved an apol­o­gy. Again, Luciuk is a pro­fes­sor at a Cana­di­an mil­i­tary acad­e­my. This is a good time to recall how the Cana­di­an gov­ern­ment engaged in a mas­sive coverup of thou­sands of import­ed WWII war crim­i­nals in the post-war peri­od which remains under­ap­pre­ci­at­ed to this day. Also, Hun­ka has sub­se­quent­ly been award­ed the “Yaroslav Stet­sko medal” by a local Svo­bo­da leader in the Ternopil Region.

    But the white­wash­ing of the Ukrain­ian Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors in this sto­ry isn’t lim­it­ed to the co-edi­tors of this book. When the ALA pub­lished its list, a brief review was writ­ten for each book, with South­ern Mis­sis­sip­pi pro­fes­sor Jen­nifer Bran­nock writ­ing the Ene­my Archives review. And accord­ing to Bran­nock, the doc­u­ments in the book “cov­er top­ics such as the Sovi­et claim that the Ukrain­ian under­ground pro­mot­ed fas­cism and col­lab­o­rat­ed with the Nazis.” So every­one read­ing this ALA list of the top his­tor­i­cal works in 2023 got a lit­tle dose of Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tionist white­wash­ing in the process.

    That’s all part of the con­text of the ALA’s unfor­tu­nate deci­sion. But there is one pos­i­tive turn in this oth­er­wise sad episode: The pub­li­ca­tion of the fol­low­ing piece in The Nation by Lev Golinkin lay­ing out the alarm­ing facts in this sto­ry prompt­ed the ALA to remove the book from its awards list. This actu­al­ly hap­pened! It’s kind of amaz­ing when you think about it. So while the white­wash­ing of Ukrain­ian WWII his­to­ry is quite exten­sive at this point, it’s not yet com­plete. Just almost com­plete. Hooray?:

    The Nation

    Why Is the Amer­i­can Library Asso­ci­a­tion White­wash­ing the His­to­ry of Ukrain­ian Nazis?

    In hon­or­ing a book depict­ing Ukrain­ian vol­un­teers in the Waf­fen SS as heroes and patri­ots, the group reveals his­tor­i­cal ignorance—or indif­fer­ence to anti­semitism.

    Lev Golinkin
    April 10, 2024

    Edi­tors note: Short­ly after pub­lish­ing this arti­cle, the Amer­i­can Library Asso­ci­a­tion removed Ene­my Archives from its Best His­tor­i­cal Mate­ri­als List 2023 and issued this state­ment: “The com­mit­tee will be review­ing the award man­u­al and pro­ce­dures. We apol­o­gize for the harm caused by the work’s ini­tial inclu­sion on the list.”

    America’s largest library asso­ci­a­tion, which annu­al­ly hands out pres­ti­gious lit­er­ary prizes such as the John New­bery Medal for children’s lit­er­a­ture, the Calde­cott Medal for pic­ture books for chil­dren, the Stonewall Award for LBGTQ+ books for young read­ers, and the Coret­ta Scott King award for African Amer­i­can authors and illus­tra­tors, has recent­ly hon­ored two authors with a track record of white­wash­ing Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors.

    This Jan­u­ary, the Amer­i­can Library Asso­ci­a­tion (ALA) pub­lished a list of Best His­tor­i­cal Mate­ri­als for 2023, which includes Ene­my Archives: Sovi­et Coun­terin­sur­gency Oper­a­tions and the Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ist Movement—Selections from the Secret Police Archives.

    This com­pendi­um of Sovi­et doc­u­ments was edit­ed by Volodymyr Via­tro­vych and Lubomyr Luciuk. Via­tro­vych, who is cur­rent­ly a deputy in the Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment, is noto­ri­ous for draft­ing laws glo­ri­fy­ing Ukrain­ian Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors and Holo­caust per­pe­tra­tors. He’s been con­demned by Jew­ish orga­ni­za­tions as well as the gov­ern­ments of Poland and Israel. Luciuk, a pro­fes­sor in Canada’s elite mil­i­tary col­lege, has defend­ed a Third Reich divi­sion accused of war crimes.

    ...

    This isn’t the ALA’s first scan­dal over skew­ing his­tor­i­cal nar­ra­tives. A 2022 pan­el mus­ing about the legit­i­ma­cy of books about Holo­caust denial neces­si­tat­ed an apol­o­gy clar­i­fy­ing that Holo­caust denial is, indeed, a means of dis­in­for­ma­tion and there­fore not appro­pri­ate. In 2019, the group part­nered with the US Holo­caust Memo­r­i­al Muse­um on a trav­el­ing exhib­it for libraries.

    Yet the selec­tion of Ene­my Archives places any com­mit­ment to avoid both-sides-ing WWII in doubt. One of the book’s edi­tors has described sol­diers from an SS divi­sion as “war vic­tims,” while the oth­er demand­ed that the Cana­di­an par­lia­ment apol­o­gize for call­ing an SS vet­er­an a Nazi.

    In 2015, Kyiv trig­gered inter­na­tion­al head­lines after pass­ing laws declar­ing two World War II–era para­mil­i­tary groups—the Orga­ni­za­tion of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists (OUN) and its off­shoot the Ukrain­ian Insur­gent Army (UPA)—to be Ukrain­ian nation­al heroes and mak­ing it ille­gal to deny that hero­ism. The OUN col­lab­o­rat­ed with the Nazis in mas­sacring tens of thou­sands of Jews, while the UPA liq­ui­dat­ed thou­sands of Jews and 70,000–100,000 Poles.

    The laws insti­tu­tion­al­iz­ing the OUN/UPA cult across Ukraine were the brain­child of Volodymyr Via­tro­vych, who at the time head­ed the Ukrain­ian Insti­tute of Nation­al Mem­o­ry (UINM), a depart­ment in the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment.

    The leg­is­la­tion was only the begin­ning: Viatrovych’s sys­tem­at­ic cam­paign trans­form­ing killers of Jews into free­dom fight­ers became so endem­ic he was men­tioned by name in the annu­al report on glob­al anti­semitism issued by Israel. The 2015 laws and the UINM’s white­wash­ing were con­demned by the US Holo­caust Memo­r­i­al Muse­um (USHMM). Arti­cles such as “How Ukraine’s New Mem­o­ry Com­mis­sar Is Con­trol­ling the Nation’s Past” in The Nation and “The His­to­ri­an White­wash­ing Ukraine’s Past” in For­eign Pol­i­cy exposed a pat­tern of dis­tor­tion. In 2017, Via­tro­vych was barred from enter­ing Poland.

    When Israeli Pres­i­dent Reuven Rivlin called out Ukraine’s Holo­caust revi­sion­ism dur­ing a 2018 vis­it, Via­tro­vych attacked him for “spread­ing the Sovi­et myth about the OUN’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Holo­caust,” (the OUN’s involve­ment is an estab­lished his­tor­i­cal fact). And when Ukrain­ian Jew­ish leader Eduard Dolin­sky warned of the institute’s excess­es, Via­tro­vych accused him of claim­ing anti­semitism in order to prof­it. These smears echoed long-stand­ing racist tropes of Jews car­ry­ing water for the Krem­lin and con­coct­ing false acts of anti­semitism to make mon­ey.

    Via­tro­vych, who was fired as the head of UINM by Pres­i­dent Volodymyr Zelen­sky in 2019, is now a deputy in the Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment.

    Viatrovych’s coed­i­tor, Luciuk, is a pro­fes­sor at the Roy­al Mil­i­tary Col­lege of Canada—the country’s equiv­a­lent of West Point. Last year, he pub­lished an edit­ed excerpt from Ene­my Archives in the Nation­al Post, a major Cana­di­an paper. The arti­cle described the OUN as hav­ing been maligned by the USSR, which “rou­tine­ly por­trayed mem­bers of this Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist move­ment as war crim­i­nals, Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors, fas­cists and so on, a trope regur­gi­tat­ed reg­u­lar­ly by the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion.”

    The piece made it sound as if the OUN’s col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Third Reich was Sovi­et pro­pa­gan­da, instead of estab­lished his­tor­i­cal fact. The Simon Wiesen­thal Cen­ter (SWC) denounced the Nation­al Post for pro­vid­ing “space to Lubomyr Luciuk who con­tin­ues to spread Holo­caust dis­tor­tion and dis­in­for­ma­tion.”

    In respond­ing to SWC, the Nation­al Post’s edi­tor in chief admit­ted that the arti­cle “includ­ed a para­graph dis­put­ing the view that the Sec­ond World War era Orga­ni­za­tion of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists were Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors. How­ev­er, we rec­og­nize that this col­lab­o­ra­tion has been estab­lished by pri­or schol­ar­ship.”

    Luciuk has also vocif­er­ous­ly defend­ed the 14th Waf­fen Grenadier Divi­sion of the SS (1st Gali­cian), com­mon­ly known as SS Gal­izien. This was a for­ma­tion in the SS—the para­mil­i­tary arm of the Nazi Par­ty and the chief per­pe­tra­tor of the Holo­caust.

    SS Gal­izien was armed, trained, and com­mand­ed by Ger­man SS offi­cers. Its sol­diers, who were over­whelm­ing­ly vol­un­teers, swore an oath to Hitler. A video clip from USHMM archives shows the Ger­man high com­mand stag­ing elab­o­rate, Nurem­berg-style enlist­ment cer­e­monies with beam­ing recruits march­ing under SS ban­ners. In 1944, the divi­sion was vis­it­ed by SS head Hein­rich Himmler—the mas­ter­mind of the Holocaust—who praised the fight­ers’ will­ing­ness to slaugh­ter Poles. Indeed, pri­or to Himmler’s vis­it, SS Gal­izien sub­units dis­tin­guished them­selves by burn­ing 500–1,000 Pol­ish vil­lagers alive.

    Luciuk has writ­ten numer­ous defens­es of SS Gal­izien, stat­ing that “they weren’t pro-Nazi, they weren’t anti-Semit­ic and they didn’t engage in war crimes.”

    Last fall, on the occa­sion of a vis­it by Zelen­sky, the speak­er of the Cana­di­an Par­lia­ment rec­og­nized SS Gal­izien vet­er­an Yaroslav Hun­ka, who was present, prompt­ing a stand­ing ova­tion by par­lia­men­tar­i­ans. The ensu­ing scan­dal led to the speaker’s res­ig­na­tion, an apol­o­gy from Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau, and con­dem­na­tion from Cana­di­an Jew­ish orga­ni­za­tions.

    Luciuk dis­agreed. The pro­fes­sor employed by the Cana­di­an military—which lost over 45,000 men in the war against Nazi Ger­many—claimed that “mem­bers of Par­lia­ment joined an exe­crable cho­rus of zealots and prats who gib­bet­ed Hun­ka for some­one he nev­er was —‘a for­mer Nazi.’ I’d say the House owes our fel­low Cana­di­an, and an inno­cent man, a pub­lic apol­o­gy.”

    ...

    The annu­al Best His­tor­i­cal Mate­ri­als list is pub­lished by the Ref­er­ence and User Ser­vice Asso­ci­a­tion, an ALA divi­sion. The 2023 list con­tains 12 titles, each with a brief review by a schol­ar. The Ene­my Archives review is signed by Uni­ver­si­ty of South­ern Mis­sis­sip­pi pro­fes­sor Jen­nifer Bran­nock. Telling­ly, her review states that the doc­u­ments in the book “cov­er top­ics such as the Sovi­et claim that the Ukrain­ian under­ground pro­mot­ed fas­cism and col­lab­o­rat­ed with the Nazis.”

    ———–

    “Why Is the Amer­i­can Library Asso­ci­a­tion White­wash­ing the His­to­ry of Ukrain­ian Nazis?” by Lev Golinkin; The Nation; 04/10/2024

    “This com­pendi­um of Sovi­et doc­u­ments was edit­ed by Volodymyr Via­tro­vych and Lubomyr Luciuk. Via­tro­vych, who is cur­rent­ly a deputy in the Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment, is noto­ri­ous for draft­ing laws glo­ri­fy­ing Ukrain­ian Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors and Holo­caust per­pe­tra­tors. He’s been con­demned by Jew­ish orga­ni­za­tions as well as the gov­ern­ments of Poland and Israel. Luciuk, a pro­fes­sor in Canada’s elite mil­i­tary col­lege, has defend­ed a Third Reich divi­sion accused of war crimes.”

    That’s quite a book to make it onto the ALA a list of Best His­tor­i­cal Mate­ri­als for 2023: A com­pendi­um of Sovi­et doc­u­ments co-edit­ed by the one-time head of the Ukrain­ian Insti­tute of Nation­al mem­o­ry, Volodymyr Via­tro­vych, the man who was basi­cal­ly Ukraine’s offi­cial his­tor­i­cal revi­sion­ist for years.

    But it’s not like this deci­sion came out of nowhere. The ALA had to apol­o­gy over mus­ings that took place dur­ing a 2022 pan­el when two lit­er­ary experts sug­gest­ed that oppo­si­tion to book bans — which has become a polit­i­cal­ly charged top­ic in recent years due to the GOP’s fix­a­tion on LBGTQ book con­tent — would require the accep­tance of all books includ­ing books that deny the Holo­caust. So the ALA man­aged to fol­lowup its 2022 inci­dent Holo­caust denial­ism inci­dent with the selec­tion of book that engages in WWII ‘both-sides-ing’ and out­right white­wash­ing. Even the ALA’s brief review of the book includ­ed white­wash­ing state­ments like the state­ment that the book will “cov­er top­ics such as the Sovi­et claim that the Ukrain­ian under­ground pro­mot­ed fas­cism and col­lab­o­rat­ed with the Nazis.” The OUN-B’s col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Nazis nev­er hap­pened. It was just a Nazi claim. That’s the mes­sage every­one got in this brief review found in a list of the ‘Best His­tor­i­cal Mate­ri­als for 2023’:

    ...
    This Jan­u­ary, the Amer­i­can Library Asso­ci­a­tion (ALA) pub­lished a list of Best His­tor­i­cal Mate­ri­als for 2023, which includes Ene­my Archives: Sovi­et Coun­terin­sur­gency Oper­a­tions and the Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ist Movement—Selections from the Secret Police Archives.

    ...

    This isn’t the ALA’s first scan­dal over skew­ing his­tor­i­cal nar­ra­tives. A 2022 pan­el mus­ing about the legit­i­ma­cy of books about Holo­caust denial neces­si­tat­ed an apol­o­gy clar­i­fy­ing that Holo­caust denial is, indeed, a means of dis­in­for­ma­tion and there­fore not appro­pri­ate. In 2019, the group part­nered with the US Holo­caust Memo­r­i­al Muse­um on a trav­el­ing exhib­it for libraries.

    Yet the selec­tion of Ene­my Archives places any com­mit­ment to avoid both-sides-ing WWII in doubt. One of the book’s edi­tors has described sol­diers from an SS divi­sion as “war vic­tims,” while the oth­er demand­ed that the Cana­di­an par­lia­ment apol­o­gize for call­ing an SS vet­er­an a Nazi.

    ...

    The annu­al Best His­tor­i­cal Mate­ri­als list is pub­lished by the Ref­er­ence and User Ser­vice Asso­ci­a­tion, an ALA divi­sion. The 2023 list con­tains 12 titles, each with a brief review by a schol­ar. The Ene­my Archives review is signed by Uni­ver­si­ty of South­ern Mis­sis­sip­pi pro­fes­sor Jen­nifer Bran­nock. Telling­ly, her review states that the doc­u­ments in the book “cov­er top­ics such as the Sovi­et claim that the Ukrain­ian under­ground pro­mot­ed fas­cism and col­lab­o­rat­ed with the Nazis.”
    ...

    And when we see Via­tro­vych accus­ing Eduard Dolin­sky — head of Ukrain­ian Jew­ish Com­mit­tee — of mak­ing up inci­dents of anti­semitism in order to prof­it, this is a good time to recall how Face­book once banned Dolin­sky in 2018 for post­ing images of anti­se­mit­ic graf­fi­ti in Odessa under the pre­tense that he was pro­mot­ing anti­semitism. This is the kind of dement­ed ‘up is down, left is right’ envi­ron­ment fig­ures like Dolin­sky have been forced to deal with both inside and out­side Ukraine:

    ...
    When Israeli Pres­i­dent Reuven Rivlin called out Ukraine’s Holo­caust revi­sion­ism dur­ing a 2018 vis­it, Via­tro­vych attacked him for “spread­ing the Sovi­et myth about the OUN’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Holo­caust,” (the OUN’s involve­ment is an estab­lished his­tor­i­cal fact). And when Ukrain­ian Jew­ish leader Eduard Dolin­sky warned of the institute’s excess­es, Via­tro­vych accused him of claim­ing anti­semitism in order to prof­it. These smears echoed long-stand­ing racist tropes of Jews car­ry­ing water for the Krem­lin and con­coct­ing false acts of anti­semitism to make mon­ey.
    ...

    And then there’s Viatrovych’s co-edi­tor, Lubomyr Luciuk, a pro­fes­sor at the Roy­al Mil­i­tary Col­lege of Cana­da. He actu­al­ly pub­lished an excerpt of the book in the Nation­al Post in Feb­ru­ary of 2023, prompt­ing a com­plaint by the Simon Wiesen­thal Cen­ter over the way the piece was pro­mot­ing Holo­caust denial­ism. This was last year, long before the ALA select­ed this same book to appear on its ‘best his­tor­i­cal works’ list:

    ...
    Viatrovych’s coed­i­tor, Luciuk, is a pro­fes­sor at the Roy­al Mil­i­tary Col­lege of Canada—the country’s equiv­a­lent of West Point. Last year, he pub­lished an edit­ed excerpt from Ene­my Archives in the Nation­al Post, a major Cana­di­an paper. The arti­cle described the OUN as hav­ing been maligned by the USSR, which “rou­tine­ly por­trayed mem­bers of this Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist move­ment as war crim­i­nals, Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors, fas­cists and so on, a trope regur­gi­tat­ed reg­u­lar­ly by the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion.”

    The piece made it sound as if the OUN’s col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Third Reich was Sovi­et pro­pa­gan­da, instead of estab­lished his­tor­i­cal fact. The Simon Wiesen­thal Cen­ter (SWC) denounced the Nation­al Post for pro­vid­ing “space to Lubomyr Luciuk who con­tin­ues to spread Holo­caust dis­tor­tion and dis­in­for­ma­tion.”

    In respond­ing to SWC, the Nation­al Post’s edi­tor in chief admit­ted that the arti­cle “includ­ed a para­graph dis­put­ing the view that the Sec­ond World War era Orga­ni­za­tion of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists were Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors. How­ev­er, we rec­og­nize that this col­lab­o­ra­tion has been estab­lished by pri­or schol­ar­ship.”
    ...

    Final­ly, we find Luciuk angri­ly react­ing to the pub­lic uproar over the Cana­di­an par­lia­men­t’s hon­or­ing of Jarowlav Hun­ka, insist­ing that any asso­ci­a­tion of Hun­ka with the Nazis was com­plete­ly inap­pro­pri­ate. At least he’s con­sis­tent:

    ...
    Luciuk has also vocif­er­ous­ly defend­ed the 14th Waf­fen Grenadier Divi­sion of the SS (1st Gali­cian), com­mon­ly known as SS Gal­izien. This was a for­ma­tion in the SS—the para­mil­i­tary arm of the Nazi Par­ty and the chief per­pe­tra­tor of the Holo­caust.

    ...

    Luciuk has writ­ten numer­ous defens­es of SS Gal­izien, stat­ing that “they weren’t pro-Nazi, they weren’t anti-Semit­ic and they didn’t engage in war crimes.”

    Last fall, on the occa­sion of a vis­it by Zelen­sky, the speak­er of the Cana­di­an Par­lia­ment rec­og­nized SS Gal­izien vet­er­an Yaroslav Hun­ka, who was present, prompt­ing a stand­ing ova­tion by par­lia­men­tar­i­ans. The ensu­ing scan­dal led to the speaker’s res­ig­na­tion, an apol­o­gy from Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau, and con­dem­na­tion from Cana­di­an Jew­ish orga­ni­za­tions.

    Luciuk dis­agreed. The pro­fes­sor employed by the Cana­di­an military—which lost over 45,000 men in the war against Nazi Ger­many—claimed that “mem­bers of Par­lia­ment joined an exe­crable cho­rus of zealots and prats who gib­bet­ed Hun­ka for some­one he nev­er was —‘a for­mer Nazi.’ I’d say the House owes our fel­low Cana­di­an, and an inno­cent man, a pub­lic apol­o­gy.”
    ...

    It sure would be inter­est­ing to know what Pro­fes­sor Luciuk has to say about the stun­ning find­ings of the 1985 Rodal Report on the exten­sive Cana­di­an gov­ern­ment coverup of thou­sands of WWII Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors in the post-war peri­od. Not that we should expect the ques­tion to be posed to Luciuk or any­one else.

    Just as we should­n’t real­ly expect the ALA’s with­draw­al of this award to prompt any sort of broad­er recog­ni­tion of the gross his­tor­i­cal white­wash­ing now entrenched in West­ern nar­ra­tives about this chap­ter of WWII his­to­ry. That’s also part of the con­text of this sto­ry: it’s great news to see the ALA with­draw that award. And awful news that it’s basi­cal­ly non-news that this suc­cess­ful fight against the white­wash­ing of his­to­ry hap­pened at all.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 17, 2024, 4:39 pm
  11. Fol­low­ing up on that remark­able sto­ry of the “Best His­tor­i­cal Mate­ri­als for 2023” award giv­en — but lat­er rescind­ed — by the Amer­i­can Library Asso­ci­a­tion (ALA) to a book that gross­ly white­washed WWII Ukraine nation­al­ist groups like the Gali­cian Divi­sion, here’s a pair of arti­cle excerpts that under­score the increas­ing­ly brazen nature of this his­tor­i­cal white­wash­ing.

    As we saw, the book in ques­tion, Ene­my Archives: Sovi­et Coun­terin­sur­gency Oper­a­tions and the Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ist Movement—Selections from the Secret Police Archives was co-edit­ed by Lubomyr Luciuk — a pro­fes­sor at the Roy­al Mil­i­tary Col­lege of Cana­da — and Volodymyr Via­tro­vych, for­mer head of the Ukrain­ian Insti­tute of Nation­al Mem­o­ry. It was only after Lev Golinkin pub­lished a piece in The Nation about the ques­tion­able nature of this award that the ALA removed the book from its “Best His­tor­i­cal Mate­ri­als for 2023” list.

    So giv­en that the co-edi­tor of this book is a Cana­di­an pro­fes­sor at an elite mil­i­tary insti­tu­tion, the ques­tion is raised as to what Pro­fes­sor Luciuk has to say about the exten­sive evi­dence found in the Rodal Report of the sys­tem­at­ic white­wash­ing of the war crim­i­nal pasts of thou­sands of ‘ex’ Nazis and fel­low trav­el­ers in the post­war peri­od of the 1940s and 50s. White­wash­ing that con­tin­ued with the Deschênes Com­mis­sion set up in 1985 for which the Rodal Report was ini­tial­ly cre­at­ed only to be ignored. A com­mis­sion that was osten­si­bly set up to inves­ti­gate Canada’s han­dling of war crim­i­nals but, in real­i­ty, only served as as fur­ther white­wash­ing of the whole affair. After all, if you’re a Cana­di­an pro­fes­sor of Ukrain­ian his­to­ry, the Rodal Report should weigh heav­i­ly in your analy­sis of this his­to­ry. And yet, as we saw, Luciuk was adamant that the pub­lic out­cry of the fet­ting of Gali­cian Div­ion vet­er­an Yaroslav Hun­ka by the Cana­di­an par­lia­ment was wrong­ly direct­ed and that Hun­ka deserved an apol­o­gy.

    And that brings us to to anoth­er recent update to the Rodal Report affair that is hard to ignore in the con­text of the Hun­ka affair and Pro­fes­sor Luciuk’s vocif­er­ous insis­tence that it is out­ra­geous to asso­ciate Hun­ka with the Nazis just because he was a mem­ber of 14th Waf­fen SS Gali­cian Divi­sion. It turns out the Cana­di­an gov­ern­ment released a new­ly less-redact­ed ver­sion of the Rodal Report back in Feb­ru­ary.

    There’s still 14 pages that remain redact­ed, but we did get to learn some new details. For exam­ple, in 1967, then-jus­tice min­is­ter Pierre Trudeau — father of cur­rent Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau — was faced with a choice on how to han­dle a polit­i­cal­ly del­i­cate case of “Sub­ject F” a Cana­di­an cit­i­zen who had been tried and con­vict­ed in absen­tia of the mur­der of over 5,000 Jews by a court in Riga, Latvia. Trudeau need­ed to decide whether or not to strip Sub­ject F of their Cana­di­an cit­i­zen­ship grant­ed to them in the post­war peri­od. And as we’re going to see, Trudeau deter­mined Cana­da could­n’t risk cre­at­ing the prece­dent, writ­ing in a now-unredact­ed memo, “If we did so, I think we would be forced to con­cede that sim­i­lar steps might be tak­en against any per­son who had obtained a cer­tifi­cate of cit­i­zen­ship if it were found that he had not dis­closed occur­rences in his past which we, the gov­ern­ment now decide to be of suf­fi­cient grav­i­ty as to con­sti­tute con­ceal­ment of cir­cum­stances mate­r­i­al to his grant of cit­i­zen­ship.” So Sub­ject F could­n’t be deport­ed to face jus­tice for his war crimes because the prece­dent would be set for all the oth­er war crim­i­nals grant­ed Cana­di­an cit­i­zen­ship. That’s what we got to learn in Feb­ru­ary of this year.

    Inter­est­ing­ly, this con­tent remained redact­ed when the Cana­di­an gov­ern­ment released a ver­sion of the Rodal Report in June of last year. So it would appear the Hun­ka affair has forced the Cana­di­an gov­ern­ment into releas­ing more on this mat­ter than it would pre­fer. But, again, 14 pages remain redact­ed. There’s more under this rock.

    So giv­en this new set of Rodal Report rev­e­la­tions, we have to ask what Pro­fes­sor Luciuk’s response would be in like of his asser­tion that evi­dence of Hunka’s Nazi asso­ci­a­tions are slim to none. Well, while we did­n’t get a direct response from Luciuk, we did sort of get an indi­rect response in the form of the fol­low­ing opin­ion piece pub­lished last month in the Kyiv Post, sev­en weeks after the last Rodal Report release. As Luciuk argues, any asser­tion that mem­ber­ship in groups like the Gali­cian Divi­sion are indica­tive of Nazi sym­pa­thies are absurd. Why? Because that was the find­ing of the Deschênes Com­mis­sion. Yep, the same Com­mis­sion that has now been thor­ough­ly dis­cred­it­ed by the Rodal Report. Luciuk makes no men­tion of the Rodal Report in his piece.

    Beyond that, Luciuk argues in the piece that a ‘Ukrain­ian Nazi’ is a log­i­cal impos­si­bil­i­ty because true Nazis viewed Ukraini­ans as just anoth­er group of sub-human Unter­men­schen. And while he acknowl­edges that mem­bers of groups like the Gali­cian Divi­sion swore and oath to Adolf Hitler, Luciuk points out that mem­bers of the Ger­man armed forces also swore an oath to Hitler and we obvi­ous­ly would­n’t con­sid­er them to all be Nazis. Yep. Ao not only were none of Naz­i’s east­ern Euro­pean col­lab­o­ra­tors Nazis but the mem­bers of the Ger­man armed forces should­n’t get that label either.

    So that’s sort of our answer to the ques­tion of what Pro­fes­sor Luciuk would have to say about the remark­able find­ings of the Rodal Report. Find­ings that keep get­ting more and more remark­able, and scan­dalous, with each less-redact­ed release. Luciuk has noth­ing to say about the Rodal Report’s find­ings at all, it seems. Which says a lot:

    Kyiv Post

    OPINION: Canada’s Par­lia­ment Should Stop Play­ing a Bro­ken and Dis­cred­it­ed Record

    Why have the charges against Ukrain­ian vet­er­ans of the ‘Gali­cia’ Divi­sion, who were inves­ti­gat­ed and cleared by the Cana­di­an and British author­i­ties, been revived at this del­i­cate time?

    By Lubomyr Luciuk
    March 25, 2024, 2:34 pm

    At the invi­ta­tion of Antho­ny Rota, Canada’s then Speak­er of the House of Com­mons, Yaroslav Hun­ka went to Ottawa on Sep. 22, 2023 to wit­ness the vis­it of Pres­i­dent Volodymyr Zelen­sky.

    When The Jew­ish Dai­ly For­ward sub­se­quent­ly report­ed that Hun­ka had served in the 14 Waf­fen-Grenadier-Divi­sion der SS (gal­izis­che Nr. 1) – more com­mon­ly referred to as the Gali­cia Divi­sion – a con­tro­ver­sy erupt­ed. It con­tin­ues to fes­ter.

    ...

    Deplorably, some Cana­di­ans have bought into Sovi­et-era pro­pa­gan­da about the Gali­cia Divi­sion, as regur­gi­tat­ed by oper­a­tives of the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion and their fel­low trav­el­ers in the West. That has only fur­thered the goals of a KGB cam­paign, known as Oper­a­tion Pay­back, orches­trat­ed to pro­voke ten­sions between the Jew­ish, Baltic and Ukrain­ian dias­po­ras over what hap­pened in east­ern Europe dur­ing the Sec­ond World War.

    I do not know Mr. Hun­ka. How­ev­er, I was around as the Com­mis­sion of Inquiry on War Crim­i­nals, head­ed by Mr. Jus­tice Jules Desche^nes, inves­ti­gat­ed the alleged pres­ence of “thou­sands” of “Nazi war crim­i­nals” in Cana­da. And I was in the “lock­down” when the Min­is­ter of Jus­tice, Ray­mon Hnatyshyn, revealed the Commission’s find­ings to the Baltic, Jew­ish, and Ukrain­ian Cana­di­an com­mu­ni­ties.

    Along with Irwin Cotler, then rep­re­sent­ing the Cana­di­an Jew­ish Con­gress, I wel­comed those results on CBC TV’s The Jour­nal, host­ed by Bar­bara Frum (March 12, 1987). So, I find his community’s cur­rent for­get­ful­ness about the Commission’s con­clu­sions rather puz­zling.

    And how could Mr. Cotler, him­self a for­mer min­is­ter of jus­tice, brand Mr. Hun­ka “a noto­ri­ous Nazi war crim­i­nal?” A per­son is inno­cent until proven guilty. When, where, and by whom was Mr. Hun­ka ever judged and found to be a “Nazi war crim­i­nal?”

    The prin­ci­pled posi­tion tak­en by the Ukrain­ian Cana­di­an com­mu­ni­ty has always been that if cred­i­ble evi­dence of wrong­do­ing by any per­son is pre­sent­ed then the alleged war crim­i­nal, regard­less of his/her nation­al­i­ty, “race” or ide­ol­o­gy, should be brought to jus­tice in a Cana­di­an crim­i­nal court of law.

    To this, I might add that my teenaged moth­er, Maria, was kid­napped in west­ern Ukraine and sent to the Third Reich as a forced labor­er, one of mil­lions of Ukraini­ans enslaved. I have no inter­est in defend­ing Nazi Ger­many or any Nazi who may still be alive.

    Now the truth is that no Ukrain­ian could ever be a “Nazi” because the real Nazis, so-called “Aryans,” den­i­grat­ed all Ukraini­ans and oth­er Slavs as sub-humans (Unter­men­schen).

    And while Mr. Hun­ka swore an oath to Adolf Hitler, so did every­one who served in the Third Reich’s armed forces. Tak­ing that pledge did not trans­form mil­lions of Ger­mans into Nazis, includ­ing about one-quar­ter of a mil­lion Ger­mans who emi­grat­ed to Cana­da in the years fol­low­ing the war’s end.

    ...

    In a let­ter dat­ed Sep. 22, 2015 (years before he became the sub­ject of pub­lic con­tro­ver­sy), he recalled how fam­i­ly mem­bers were deport­ed to Siberia dur­ing the first Sovi­et occu­pa­tion of west­ern Ukraine, adding:

    “In my child­hood and lat­er [I] saw ter­ri­ble atroc­i­ties com­mit­ted on my peo­ple by ALL occu­pants, espe­cial­ly Sovi­ets! Espe­cial­ly when in ‘41 they ran from [the] Ger­mans. In [a] local prison they left hun­dreds+ dead. They were not just killed – they were sav­age­ly muti­lat­ed! Inhu­man­ly! Most of them had some parts of body cut off – like women’s breasts were miss­ing. All that hor­ror was put out for all to see, and I was 16 years old...I hat­ed every­thing Russ­ian – and I still do! So I vol­un­teered to [the] Divi­sion! I was called up in Sep­tem­ber ‘43...for train­ing in anti-air­craft artillery, where I served to the end of the war.”

    After con­sid­er­ing this unit’s wartime record, the Desche^nes Com­mis­sion con­clud­ed:

    “(1) The Gali­cia Divi­sion should not be indict­ed as a group.

    (2) Mem­bers of the Divi­sion were indi­vid­u­al­ly screened for secu­ri­ty pur­pos­es before admis­sion to Cana­da.

    (3) Charges of war crimes against mem­bers of the Divi­sion had nev­er been sub­stan­ti­at­ed, either in 1950 when they were first pre­ferred, or in 1984 when they were renewed, or before the Com­mis­sion.

    (4) In the absence of par­tic­i­pa­tion in, or knowl­edge of spe­cif­ic war crimes, mere mem­ber­ship in the Gali­cia Divi­sion was insuf­fi­cient to jus­ti­fy pros­e­cu­tion.”

    The Com­mis­sion also con­firmed that:

    “(5) No case could be made against mem­bers of the Divi­sion for revo­ca­tion of cit­i­zen­ship or depor­ta­tion since the Cana­di­an author­i­ties were ful­ly aware of the rel­e­vant facts in 1950 and admis­sion to Cana­da was not grant­ed because of any false rep­re­sen­ta­tion, or fraud, or con­ceal­ment of mate­r­i­al cir­cum­stances.”

    So, when Mr. Hun­ka arrived in Cana­da in 1954, he did so legal­ly. His war record was known in Ottawa. Like many oth­er of the Division’s sol­diers, he was screened by British, Cana­di­an, US and Sovi­et inter­roga­tors while held as a pris­on­er of war (POW) in Italy from 1945–1947. No evi­dence of wrong­do­ing on his part has ever been pro­duced.

    ...

    Inves­ti­gat­ing, the High Com­mis­sion­er for Cana­da in the UK, L. Dana Wilgress, dis­missed alle­ga­tions about the Gali­cia Divi­sion as “Com­mu­nist pro­pa­gan­da.” In his 1950 report to Cab­i­net, he observed: “It is inter­est­ing to note that no spe­cif­ic charges of war crimes have been made by the Sovi­et or any oth­er gov­ern­ment against any mem­ber of this group.”

    That astute assess­ment seems to have been for­got­ten.

    Let us return to the known facts of Mr. Hunka’s life. As a teenag­er, he fought in defense of Ukraine. He had noth­ing to do with the per­se­cu­tion of any minor­i­ty com­mu­ni­ty. At the war’s end, he became a POW, lat­er an immi­grant, and final­ly a nat­u­ral­ized Cana­di­an cit­i­zen.

    He served in the Cana­di­an Army (1963–1965, Mili­tia), swear­ing an oath to Her Majesty the Queen. He worked hard, raised a fam­i­ly, paid tax­es, broke no laws, and con­tributed for 70 years to the gen­er­al wel­fare of his adopt­ed coun­try.

    Yet, dis­re­gard­ing the prin­ci­ple of nat­ur­al jus­tice, mem­bers of par­lia­ment joined an exe­crable cho­rus of zealots and prats who gib­bet­ed Hun­ka for being some­thing he nev­er was – “a for­mer Nazi.” I’d say the House owes our fel­low Cana­di­an, and an inno­cent man, a pub­lic apol­o­gy.

    Lubomyr Luciuk is a pro­fes­sor at the Roy­al Mil­i­tary Col­lege of Cana­da. He appeared before the House of Com­mons Stand­ing Com­mit­tee on Pro­ce­dures and House Affairs on 21 March 2024. Excerpts from his book­let, The Gali­cia Divi­sion: They Fought for Ukraine, and from his brief, Cui Bono? were incor­po­rat­ed into this com­men­tary. See his pre­vi­ous inter­view on this sub­ject for Kyiv Post here.

    ————

    “OPINION: Canada’s Par­lia­ment Should Stop Play­ing a Bro­ken and Dis­cred­it­ed Record” By Lubomyr Luciuk; Kyiv Post; 03/25/2024

    Deplorably, some Cana­di­ans have bought into Sovi­et-era pro­pa­gan­da about the Gali­cia Divi­sion, as regur­gi­tat­ed by oper­a­tives of the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion and their fel­low trav­el­ers in the West. That has only fur­thered the goals of a KGB cam­paign, known as Oper­a­tion Pay­back, orches­trat­ed to pro­voke ten­sions between the Jew­ish, Baltic and Ukrain­ian dias­po­ras over what hap­pened in east­ern Europe dur­ing the Sec­ond World War.”

    The asper­sions cast at the Gali­cia Divi­sion are all just deplorable regur­gi­tat­ed Sovi­et-era pro­pa­gan­da, accord­ing to Pro­fes­sor Luciuk. And as evi­dence of the the Gali­cia Divi­sion’s inno­cent nature, Luciuk direct­ly cites the find­ings of the Deschênes Com­mis­sion and the fact that he was among those who were there when the Com­mis­sion’s find­ings were revealed to Baltic, Jew­ish, and Ukrain­ian Cana­di­an com­mu­ni­ties. And, of course, no men­tion of the Rodal Report that revealed the Deschênes Com­mis­sion to be a gross exer­cise in white­wash­ing. Luciuk, to this day, uncrit­i­cal­ly cites the Deschênes Com­mis­sion as a qual­i­ty source and specif­i­cal­ly points to the Com­mis­sion’s find­ings, or non-find­ings, on the Gali­cia Divi­sion in his defense of Jaroslav Hun­ka:

    ...
    I do not know Mr. Hun­ka. How­ev­er, I was around as the Com­mis­sion of Inquiry on War Crim­i­nals, head­ed by Mr. Jus­tice Jules Desche^nes, inves­ti­gat­ed the alleged pres­ence of “thou­sands” of “Nazi war crim­i­nals” in Cana­da. And I was in the “lock­down” when the Min­is­ter of Jus­tice, Ray­mon Hnatyshyn, revealed the Commission’s find­ings to the Baltic, Jew­ish, and Ukrain­ian Cana­di­an com­mu­ni­ties.

    Along with Irwin Cotler, then rep­re­sent­ing the Cana­di­an Jew­ish Con­gress, I wel­comed those results on CBC TV’s The Jour­nal, host­ed by Bar­bara Frum (March 12, 1987). So, I find his community’s cur­rent for­get­ful­ness about the Commission’s con­clu­sions rather puz­zling.

    And how could Mr. Cotler, him­self a for­mer min­is­ter of jus­tice, brand Mr. Hun­ka “a noto­ri­ous Nazi war crim­i­nal?” A per­son is inno­cent until proven guilty. When, where, and by whom was Mr. Hun­ka ever judged and found to be a “Nazi war crim­i­nal?”

    ...

    After con­sid­er­ing this unit’s wartime record, the Desche^nes Com­mis­sion con­clud­ed:

    “(1) The Gali­cia Divi­sion should not be indict­ed as a group.

    (2) Mem­bers of the Divi­sion were indi­vid­u­al­ly screened for secu­ri­ty pur­pos­es before admis­sion to Cana­da.

    (3) Charges of war crimes against mem­bers of the Divi­sion had nev­er been sub­stan­ti­at­ed, either in 1950 when they were first pre­ferred, or in 1984 when they were renewed, or before the Com­mis­sion.

    (4) In the absence of par­tic­i­pa­tion in, or knowl­edge of spe­cif­ic war crimes, mere mem­ber­ship in the Gali­cia Divi­sion was insuf­fi­cient to jus­ti­fy pros­e­cu­tion.”

    The Com­mis­sion also con­firmed that:

    “(5) No case could be made against mem­bers of the Divi­sion for revo­ca­tion of cit­i­zen­ship or depor­ta­tion since the Cana­di­an author­i­ties were ful­ly aware of the rel­e­vant facts in 1950 and admis­sion to Cana­da was not grant­ed because of any false rep­re­sen­ta­tion, or fraud, or con­ceal­ment of mate­r­i­al cir­cum­stances.”
    ...

    But Luciuk does­n’t exclu­sive­ly cite the Deschênes Com­mis­sion in his white­wash­ing of the Gali­cia Divi­sion’s mem­bers. He also cites the 1950 report by the High Com­mis­sion­er for Cana­da in the UK, L. Dana Wilgress, who dis­missed all alle­ga­tions of the Gali­cia Divi­sion’s war crimes “Com­mu­nist pro­pa­gan­da”. Which, again, explains the lack of any acknowl­edge­ment by Luciuk of the Rodal Report and its dis­turb­ing find­ings about the sys­tem­at­ic white­wash­ing of Nazis and Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors by the gov­ern­ment of Cana­da in the post-war years. A 1950 Cana­di­an gov­ern­ment report on the wartime record of the mem­bers of these groups is the last thing any­one should be cit­ing at this point, but here it is in Luciuk’s piece, relayed as an “astute assess­ment” about the nature of the group:

    ...
    So, when Mr. Hun­ka arrived in Cana­da in 1954, he did so legal­ly. His war record was known in Ottawa. Like many oth­er of the Division’s sol­diers, he was screened by British, Cana­di­an, US and Sovi­et inter­roga­tors while held as a pris­on­er of war (POW) in Italy from 1945–1947. No evi­dence of wrong­do­ing on his part has ever been pro­duced.

    ...

    Inves­ti­gat­ing, the High Com­mis­sion­er for Cana­da in the UK, L. Dana Wilgress, dis­missed alle­ga­tions about the Gali­cia Divi­sion as “Com­mu­nist pro­pa­gan­da.” In his 1950 report to Cab­i­net, he observed: “It is inter­est­ing to note that no spe­cif­ic charges of war crimes have been made by the Sovi­et or any oth­er gov­ern­ment against any mem­ber of this group.”

    That astute assess­ment seems to have been for­got­ten.
    ...

    Also note this impor­tant detail about the whole Hun­ka affair: he served in the Cana­di­an mil­i­tary from 1963–65. How many oth­er mem­bers of the Waf­fen SS units were there serv­ing in Canada’s mil­i­tary dur­ing this peri­od? It’s one of the many ques­tions the Cana­di­an gov­ern­ment would pre­fer not to have to answer at this point:

    ...
    Let us return to the known facts of Mr. Hunka’s life. As a teenag­er, he fought in defense of Ukraine. He had noth­ing to do with the per­se­cu­tion of any minor­i­ty com­mu­ni­ty. At the war’s end, he became a POW, lat­er an immi­grant, and final­ly a nat­u­ral­ized Cana­di­an cit­i­zen.

    He served in the Cana­di­an Army (1963–1965, Mili­tia), swear­ing an oath to Her Majesty the Queen. He worked hard, raised a fam­i­ly, paid tax­es, broke no laws, and con­tributed for 70 years to the gen­er­al wel­fare of his adopt­ed coun­try.
    ...

    And when we see Luciuk point to Hunka’s own writ­ings on the atroc­i­ties he wit­nessed, we should­n’t be sur­prised to find no ref­er­ence to how Hun­ka called the years of 1941–43 as the hap­pi­est years of his life and won­dered, as a 16-year-old stu­dent why Jew­ish class­mates were “run­ning away from such a civ­i­lized west­ern peo­ple” as the Ger­mans. Hun­ka pro­fessed hatred of the Sovi­ets does­n’t mean he was­n’t an ide­o­log­i­cal Nazi:

    ...
    In a let­ter dat­ed Sep. 22, 2015 (years before he became the sub­ject of pub­lic con­tro­ver­sy), he recalled how fam­i­ly mem­bers were deport­ed to Siberia dur­ing the first Sovi­et occu­pa­tion of west­ern Ukraine, adding:

    “In my child­hood and lat­er [I] saw ter­ri­ble atroc­i­ties com­mit­ted on my peo­ple by ALL occu­pants, espe­cial­ly Sovi­ets! Espe­cial­ly when in ‘41 they ran from [the] Ger­mans. In [a] local prison they left hun­dreds+ dead. They were not just killed – they were sav­age­ly muti­lat­ed! Inhu­man­ly! Most of them had some parts of body cut off – like women’s breasts were miss­ing. All that hor­ror was put out for all to see, and I was 16 years old...I hat­ed every­thing Russ­ian – and I still do! So I vol­un­teered to [the] Divi­sion! I was called up in Sep­tem­ber ‘43...for train­ing in anti-air­craft artillery, where I served to the end of the war.”
    ...

    And that brings us to the incred­i­ble asser­tion made by Luciuk that no Ukrain­ian could ever be a “Nazi” because the Nazis view Ukraini­ans as just anoth­er type of “Unter­men­schen”. Beyond that, even the mem­bers of the Ger­man army who swore an oath to Hitler weren’t Nazis either. Based on this ‘log­ic’, there were just a hand­ful of ‘real’ Nazis, with every­one else falling into the cat­e­go­ry of Nazi vic­tims:

    ...
    Now the truth is that no Ukrain­ian could ever be a “Nazi” because the real Nazis, so-called “Aryans,” den­i­grat­ed all Ukraini­ans and oth­er Slavs as sub-humans (Unter­men­schen).

    And while Mr. Hun­ka swore an oath to Adolf Hitler, so did every­one who served in the Third Reich’s armed forces. Tak­ing that pledge did not trans­form mil­lions of Ger­mans into Nazis, includ­ing about one-quar­ter of a mil­lion Ger­mans who emi­grat­ed to Cana­da in the years fol­low­ing the war’s end.

    ...

    And, again, let’s not for­get how Pro­fes­sor Luciuk pub­lished a book just last year with none oth­er than Volodymyr Via­tro­vych that is basi­cal­ly a gross white­wash­ing of the WWII his­to­ry of Ukrain­ian nation­al­ism. A book that received the ALA award for being one of the “Best His­tor­i­cal Mate­ri­als for 2023” just back in Jan­u­ary. So, on one lev­el, it’s not sur­pris­ing to see, just two months after receiv­ing that award, Luciuk author­ing a piece that basi­cal­ly argues there could­n’t be any Ukrain­ian Nazis. But on anoth­er lev­el, it is kind of sur­pris­ing from a brazen­ness stand­point.

    And that brings us to the fol­low­ing report from ear­ly Feb­ru­ary, about 7 weeks before Luciuk penned the above Kyiv Post piece. As we’re going to see, Cana­da and the world got an update to the whole Deschênes Com­mis­sion affair with the release of a less-redact­ed ver­sion of the Rodal Report. And as we got to learn from the new­ly unredact­ed mate­r­i­al, it was none oth­er than Justin Trudeau’s father, then-jus­tice min­is­ter Pierre Trudeau, we made the deci­sion in 1967 to not strip an ‘ex’ Nazi of their Cana­di­an cit­i­zen­ship after this indi­vid­ual, Sub­ject F, was tried and con­vict­ed for direct­ing the slaugh­ter of over 5,000 Jews in absen­tia in Latvia two years ear­li­er. Why did Trudeau make this deci­sion? Well, while ‘pri­va­cy con­cerns’ were gen­er­al­ly cit­ed, it appears the fears over set­ting a prece­dent were a pri­ma­ry con­cern. As Trudeau warned, in explain­ing his rea­son­ing, “If we did so, I think we would be forced to con­cede that sim­i­lar steps might be tak­en against any per­son who had obtained a cer­tifi­cate of cit­i­zen­ship if it were found that he had not dis­closed occur­rences in his past which we, the gov­ern­ment now decide to be of suf­fi­cient grav­i­ty as to con­sti­tute con­ceal­ment of cir­cum­stances mate­r­i­al to his grant of cit­i­zen­ship.In oth­er words, Trudeau was con­cerned that there were A LOT more war crim­i­nals that would have to be dealt with too. So many oth­ers that the only pru­dent thing to do was noth­ing:

    CBC News

    Pierre Trudeau opposed strip­ping accused Nazi war crim­i­nal of cit­i­zen­ship, gov­ern­ment doc­u­ment says

    The new­ly released doc­u­ment was unredact­ed at Jew­ish advo­ca­cy group’s request

    Raffy Boud­jikan­ian
    Post­ed: Feb 02, 2024 9:53 AM CST | Last Updat­ed: Feb­ru­ary 2

    As jus­tice min­is­ter in 1967, for­mer prime min­is­ter Pierre Elliott Trudeau argued against revok­ing the cit­i­zen­ship of a Cana­di­an cit­i­zen the Sovi­et Union had con­vict­ed of head­ing a fir­ing squad respon­si­ble for the deaths of 5,128 Jews dur­ing the Sec­ond World War, says a 617-page report pre­pared for the Com­mis­sion of Inquiry on War Crim­i­nals decades ago.

    The doc­u­ment, now large­ly unredact­ed, was released by Library and Archives on Thurs­day. It was orig­i­nal­ly pre­pared for the Deschênes Com­mis­sion, which in the mid-1980s inves­ti­gat­ed Nazi immi­gra­tion into Cana­da.

    The doc­u­ment says a Sovi­et court tried the Cana­di­an in ques­tion, iden­ti­fied only as Sub­ject F, in absen­tia in Riga, Latvia in 1965 and found him guilty.

    It was writ­ten by his­to­ri­an Alti Rodal. A heav­i­ly redact­ed ver­sion under Canada’s Access to Infor­ma­tion Act was ini­tial­ly released to the pub­lic in 1987. Jew­ish human rights orga­ni­za­tion B’nai Brith obtained a less cen­sored copy in June 2023 but Trudeau’s posi­tion on the case was blacked out in that ver­sion.

    In 1967, when Trudeau was jus­tice min­is­ter in the gov­ern­ment of Prime Min­is­ter Lester Pear­son, the Depart­ment of Exter­nal Affairs sought his legal opin­ion on whether there was a sol­id case for deport­ing Sub­ject F, based on the USS­R’s request.

    In July of that year, Trudeau wrote to the depart­ment that, “it could not be estab­lished that Sub­ject F know­ing­ly con­cealed mate­r­i­al cir­cum­stances relat­ing to his good char­ac­ter even if it be assumed that he was, in fact, guilty of the crimes for which he was con­vict­ed in absen­tia.”

    In Novem­ber 1967, Trudeau expand­ed on his thoughts in a let­ter to Paul Mar­tin Sr., who was then sec­re­tary of state for Exter­nal Affairs. In it, Trudeau said he was wor­ried about set­ting a prece­dent that would see oth­ers stripped of their cit­i­zen­ship.

    “There is noth­ing in the Act to indi­cate that an appli­ca­tion for Cana­di­an cit­i­zen­ship is in the nature of a con­fes­sion­al requir­ing the appli­cant to dis­close all pri­or con­duct, whether pub­lic or pri­vate,” he wrote.

    “I might add that while I appre­ci­ate your con­cern for the reper­cus­sions and anx­i­ety which you men­tion [of the Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty and oth­ers con­cerned with inac­tion with regard to war crim­i­nals set­tled in Cana­da], it appears to me, on the oth­er hand, that it would be most ill-advised for the gov­ern­ment to under­take this ven­ture which would involve pub­licly accus­ing a Cana­di­an cit­i­zen of hav­ing com­mit­ted crimes in Latvia in respect of which he was con­vict­ed, in absen­tia, in Rus­sia.”

    “If we did so, I think we would be forced to con­cede that sim­i­lar steps might be tak­en against any per­son who had obtained a cer­tifi­cate of cit­i­zen­ship if it were found that he had not dis­closed occur­rences in his past which we, the gov­ern­ment now decide to be of suf­fi­cient grav­i­ty as to con­sti­tute con­ceal­ment of cir­cum­stances mate­r­i­al to his grant of cit­i­zen­ship.

    “I can­not there­fore, on the basis of my present appre­ci­a­tion of this case, rec­om­mend or con­cur in a course of action designed to strip sub­ject F of his Cana­di­an cit­i­zen­ship.”

    ...

    Push to unseal doc­u­ments

    “It’s hard­ly sur­pris­ing that, as the min­is­ter of jus­tice, [Trudeau] was­n’t just think­ing legal­ly, he was think­ing polit­i­cal­ly,” said David Matas, senior legal coun­sel for B’nai Brith, the Jew­ish advo­ca­cy group that filed the access to infor­ma­tion request that led to the release of the unredact­ed report.

    ...

    There has been a renewed push by Cana­di­an Jew­ish orga­ni­za­tions to unseal doc­u­ments relat­ed to Nazis in Cana­da since the fall. That’s when a high-pro­file vis­it by Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Volodymyr Zelen­skyy to the House of Com­mons turned into an inter­na­tion­al scan­dal after MPs unwit­ting­ly stood to hon­our Yaroslav Hun­ka, a Ukrain­ian immi­grant who fought in a Nazi unit dur­ing the Sec­ond World War.

    Oth­er new­ly unredact­ed parts of Rodal’s report reveal that in 1954, the RCMP was aware that the Unit­ed States was try­ing to reset­tle in Cana­da peo­ple who had aid­ed it in the fight against com­mu­nism.

    Rodal wrote the U.S. told the RCMP that some of these indi­vid­u­als had “crim­i­nal records of which a num­ber arose from cas­es involv­ing moral turpi­tude” — a cat­e­go­ry she claimed includ­ed for­mer Nazis.

    The num­ber of those who did man­age to come through to Cana­da via this pro­gram remains redact­ed in this ver­sion of the report, along with oth­er parts of 14 pages.

    “What we want is a com­plete release of the records,” Matas said.

    His orga­ni­za­tion has also been ask­ing for the gov­ern­ment to pub­lish the sec­ond part of the final Deschênes Com­mis­sion report, which con­tains the names and details of indi­vid­u­als it had want­ed fol­low-up inves­ti­ga­tions on.

    ...

    Miller wel­comes lat­est ver­sion of report

    In a state­ment, Immi­gra­tion Min­is­ter Marc Miller wel­comed the release of the lat­est ver­sion of the Rodal Report, and not­ed some infor­ma­tion still remains pro­tect­ed under the Infor­ma­tion and Pri­va­cy Act.

    “Those who suf­fered under Nazi Ger­many and their descen­dants want trans­paren­cy when it comes to this shame­ful chap­ter in our his­to­ry,” Miller is quot­ed in the state­ment, adding it is why his depart­ment took the step of mak­ing the major­i­ty of the report pub­licly avail­able. “More can and should be done to pro­vide trans­paren­cy.”

    ...

    “Libraries and Archives Cana­da is com­mit­ted to pre­serv­ing and mak­ing his­tor­i­cal records avail­able to the pub­lic to con­tribute to the advance­ment of Cana­da as a free and demo­c­ra­t­ic soci­ety,” Leslie Weir, Librar­i­an and Archivist of Cana­da, said in the state­ment.

    Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau was asked Fri­day why it took the gov­ern­ment so long to unseal the records and when it would release the rest of them.

    “I think peo­ple under­stand that this is both an impor­tant part of the his­tor­i­cal record, but also one that has impli­ca­tions around pri­va­cy, around com­mu­ni­ty cohe­sion, around the kind of coun­try we are,” he said. “These deci­sions are ones that are tak­en respon­si­bly and nev­er light­ly.”

    In response to ques­tions from CBC News to Library and Archives Cana­da, IRCC spokesper­son Aïs­sa Diop said in a state­ment that the lat­est release of the Rodal Report con­tains unredact­ed infor­ma­tion pre­vi­ous­ly held for a num­ber of rea­sons under Cana­di­an law.

    These range from some infor­ma­tion being obtained in con­fi­dence from a for­eign gov­ern­ment. Some of it had also been deemed inju­ri­ous to inter­na­tion­al affairs, inju­ri­ous to the enforce­ment of any law in Cana­da, or under Solic­i­tor-Client priv­i­lege.

    A Cana­di­an Press sto­ry from 1987 said Trudeau was con­front­ed with the alle­ga­tion that he pri­vate­ly opposed the pros­e­cu­tion of Nazi crim­i­nals, and he deflect­ed the charge, stat­ing then-Lib­er­al MP Robert Kaplan, solic­i­tor gen­er­al in the ear­ly 1980s, was in a bet­ter posi­tion to explain gov­ern­ment pol­i­cy.

    The arti­cle also cit­ed Rodal say­ing her research showed Trudeau’s pri­vate veto, and that he had polit­i­cal rea­sons for not pur­su­ing pros­e­cu­tions.

    ———–

    “Pierre Trudeau opposed strip­ping accused Nazi war crim­i­nal of cit­i­zen­ship, gov­ern­ment doc­u­ment says” by Raffy Boud­jikan­ian; CBC News; 02/02/2024

    “The doc­u­ment, now large­ly unredact­ed, was released by Library and Archives on Thurs­day. It was orig­i­nal­ly pre­pared for the Deschênes Com­mis­sion, which in the mid-1980s inves­ti­gat­ed Nazi immi­gra­tion into Cana­da.

    As we can see, it was ear­ly Feb­ru­ary — sev­en weeks before Pro­fes­sor Luciuk wrote his col­umn that relied heav­i­ly on the Deschênes Com­mis­sion to excuse vir­tu­al­ly all mem­bers of the Gali­cian Divi­sion — when the Cana­di­an gov­ern­ment released a less-redact­ed ver­sion of the Rodal Report. And as we got to learn in the fresh­ly unredact­ed con­tent, it was 1967 when then-jus­tice min­is­ter Pierre Trudeau decid­ed to block the strip­ping of an accused Nazi war crim­i­nal for what appear to be pri­mar­i­ly polit­i­cal rea­sons. This infor­ma­tion was redact­ed in the ver­sion of the Rodal Report released just back in June of 2023. It appears the Hun­ka affair basi­cal­ly forced the Cana­di­an gov­ern­ment into mak­ing this very belat­ed admis­sion:

    ...
    The doc­u­ment says a Sovi­et court tried the Cana­di­an in ques­tion, iden­ti­fied only as Sub­ject F, in absen­tia in Riga, Latvia in 1965 and found him guilty.

    It was writ­ten by his­to­ri­an Alti Rodal. A heav­i­ly redact­ed ver­sion under Canada’s Access to Infor­ma­tion Act was ini­tial­ly released to the pub­lic in 1987. Jew­ish human rights orga­ni­za­tion B’nai Brith obtained a less cen­sored copy in June 2023 but Trudeau’s posi­tion on the case was blacked out in that ver­sion.

    In 1967, when Trudeau was jus­tice min­is­ter in the gov­ern­ment of Prime Min­is­ter Lester Pear­son, the Depart­ment of Exter­nal Affairs sought his legal opin­ion on whether there was a sol­id case for deport­ing Sub­ject F, based on the USS­R’s request.

    In July of that year, Trudeau wrote to the depart­ment that, “it could not be estab­lished that Sub­ject F know­ing­ly con­cealed mate­r­i­al cir­cum­stances relat­ing to his good char­ac­ter even if it be assumed that he was, in fact, guilty of the crimes for which he was con­vict­ed in absen­tia.”
    ...

    And as we can see in a Novem­ber 1967 memo by Trudeau, it was­n’t the fate of Sub­ject F that was Trudeau’s pri­ma­ry con­cern. It was all the oth­er war crim­i­nals liv­ing in Cana­da that had Trudeau wor­ried about set­ting a prece­dent

    ...
    In Novem­ber 1967, Trudeau expand­ed on his thoughts in a let­ter to Paul Mar­tin Sr., who was then sec­re­tary of state for Exter­nal Affairs. In it, Trudeau said he was wor­ried about set­ting a prece­dent that would see oth­ers stripped of their cit­i­zen­ship.

    “There is noth­ing in the Act to indi­cate that an appli­ca­tion for Cana­di­an cit­i­zen­ship is in the nature of a con­fes­sion­al requir­ing the appli­cant to dis­close all pri­or con­duct, whether pub­lic or pri­vate,” he wrote.

    “I might add that while I appre­ci­ate your con­cern for the reper­cus­sions and anx­i­ety which you men­tion [of the Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty and oth­ers con­cerned with inac­tion with regard to war crim­i­nals set­tled in Cana­da], it appears to me, on the oth­er hand, that it would be most ill-advised for the gov­ern­ment to under­take this ven­ture which would involve pub­licly accus­ing a Cana­di­an cit­i­zen of hav­ing com­mit­ted crimes in Latvia in respect of which he was con­vict­ed, in absen­tia, in Rus­sia.”

    “If we did so, I think we would be forced to con­cede that sim­i­lar steps might be tak­en against any per­son who had obtained a cer­tifi­cate of cit­i­zen­ship if it were found that he had not dis­closed occur­rences in his past which we, the gov­ern­ment now decide to be of suf­fi­cient grav­i­ty as to con­sti­tute con­ceal­ment of cir­cum­stances mate­r­i­al to his grant of cit­i­zen­ship.

    “I can­not there­fore, on the basis of my present appre­ci­a­tion of this case, rec­om­mend or con­cur in a course of action designed to strip sub­ject F of his Cana­di­an cit­i­zen­ship.”
    ...

    And then there’s a new­ly unredact­ed part of the Rodal report that revealed how, in 1954, the RCMP was aware of how the Unit­ed States was try­ing to reset­tle Nazis and their fel­low trav­el­ers in Cana­da, which is a reminder that Cana­da was­n’t just pro­tect­ing its own inter­na­tion­al rep­u­ta­tion by cov­er­ing this up:

    ...
    Oth­er new­ly unredact­ed parts of Rodal’s report reveal that in 1954, the RCMP was aware that the Unit­ed States was try­ing to reset­tle in Cana­da peo­ple who had aid­ed it in the fight against com­mu­nism.

    Rodal wrote the U.S. told the RCMP that some of these indi­vid­u­als had “crim­i­nal records of which a num­ber arose from cas­es involv­ing moral turpi­tude” — a cat­e­go­ry she claimed includ­ed for­mer Nazis.
    ...

    And note how there’s still at least 14 pages that remain redact­ed. You have to won­der what’s under that rock? Pre­sum­ably more evi­dence of the white­wash­ing of war crim­i­nals. The worst, most embar­rass­ing evi­dence:

    ...
    The num­ber of those who did man­age to come through to Cana­da via this pro­gram remains redact­ed in this ver­sion of the report, along with oth­er parts of 14 pages.

    “What we want is a com­plete release of the records,” Matas said.

    His orga­ni­za­tion has also been ask­ing for the gov­ern­ment to pub­lish the sec­ond part of the final Deschênes Com­mis­sion report, which con­tains the names and details of indi­vid­u­als it had want­ed fol­low-up inves­ti­ga­tions on.
    ...

    And that brings us to the reveal­ing state­ments we got from both Immi­gra­tion Min­is­ter Marc Miller and Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau when direct­ly asked about the prospect of fur­ther releas­es of more of this redact­ed infor­ma­tion. Both Miller and Trudeau made ref­er­ences to con­cerns around pri­va­cy, with Trudeau also warn­ing about the impli­ca­tions to “com­mu­ni­ty cohe­sion, around the kind of coun­try we are”. And then Miller’s spokesper­son, Aïs­sa Diop, list­ed some of the rea­sons this infor­ma­tion has­n’t been released already. Rea­sons that include some of the infor­ma­tion being “inju­ri­ous to inter­na­tion­al affairs, inju­ri­ous to the enforce­ment of any law in Cana­da.” These sure sound like admis­sions that the full release of this infor­ma­tion would cre­ate both nation­al and inter­na­tion­al scan­dals the gov­ern­ment would pre­fer to not deal with:

    ...
    In a state­ment, Immi­gra­tion Min­is­ter Marc Miller wel­comed the release of the lat­est ver­sion of the Rodal Report, and not­ed some infor­ma­tion still remains pro­tect­ed under the Infor­ma­tion and Pri­va­cy Act.

    “Those who suf­fered under Nazi Ger­many and their descen­dants want trans­paren­cy when it comes to this shame­ful chap­ter in our his­to­ry,” Miller is quot­ed in the state­ment, adding it is why his depart­ment took the step of mak­ing the major­i­ty of the report pub­licly avail­able. “More can and should be done to pro­vide trans­paren­cy.”

    ...

    Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau was asked Fri­day why it took the gov­ern­ment so long to unseal the records and when it would release the rest of them.

    “I think peo­ple under­stand that this is both an impor­tant part of the his­tor­i­cal record, but also one that has impli­ca­tions around pri­va­cy, around com­mu­ni­ty cohe­sion, around the kind of coun­try we are,” he said. “These deci­sions are ones that are tak­en respon­si­bly and nev­er light­ly.”

    In response to ques­tions from CBC News to Library and Archives Cana­da, IRCC spokesper­son Aïs­sa Diop said in a state­ment that the lat­est release of the Rodal Report con­tains unredact­ed infor­ma­tion pre­vi­ous­ly held for a num­ber of rea­sons under Cana­di­an law.

    These range from some infor­ma­tion being obtained in con­fi­dence from a for­eign gov­ern­ment. Some of it had also been deemed inju­ri­ous to inter­na­tion­al affairs, inju­ri­ous to the enforce­ment of any law in Cana­da, or under Solic­i­tor-Client priv­i­lege.
    ...

    And, again, this scan­dalous set of rev­e­la­tions was pub­licly released by the gov­ern­ment of Cana­da sev­en weeks before Pro­fes­sor Luciuk wrote that piece in the Kyiv Post cit­ing the Deschênes Com­mis­sion as the final word on the his­tor­i­cal assess­ment of the Gali­cian Divi­sion. So as we can see, while the Rodal Report may indeed be a damn­ing indict­ment on this chap­ter of his­to­ry and the ongo­ing white­wash­ing of that his­to­ry, it’s an option­al indict­ment. You can ignore it if you want and, for the most part, no one is real­ly going to point it out. It’s how white­wash­ing works.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 18, 2024, 6:03 pm
  12. Fol­low­ing up on the sto­ry about Canada’s ongo­ing strug­gling in pub­licly acknowl­edg­ing its exten­sive his­to­ry of cod­dling WWII war crim­i­nals, we got an update back in Feb­ru­ary on anoth­er Cana­di­an project for the inves­ti­ga­tion and pub­lic dis­clo­sure of the gov­ern­men­t’s han­dling of war crim­i­nals try­ing to get into Cana­da. The War Crimes Project was set up in 1998, with a mis­sion of not just explor­ing Canada’s han­dling of WWII war crim­i­nals but also “mod­ern” war crim­i­nals. The project was giv­en an annu­al bud­get of $15.6 mil­lion and released annu­al reports from 1998–2008. Then, from 2009–2015, only two reports were released. Since then, zero reports. Same bud­get, zero reports, and no expla­na­tion. Well, we sort of get an expla­na­tion about the Project plan­ning on updat­ing its web­site, but no real expla­na­tions have been giv­en.

    Why the silence for the past 9 years? We have no idea. But it’s hard not to notice that this peri­od of zero report­ing just hap­pens to over­lap with the Ukrain­ian civ­il war and all of the mil­i­tary assis­tance pro­vid­ed to a num­ber of units that are very like­ly filled with mod­ern day war crim­i­nals. Recall how the Ukrain­ian far right Cen­turia group bragged on social media back in 2021 about being trained by the Cana­di­an mil­i­tary in Cana­da. We were then told after the Cen­turia inci­dent that Cana­da doesn’t do the vet­ting on its own of the for­eign sol­diers it trains. And not long after the reports on the Cen­turia group’s Cana­di­an adven­tures, we got to learn about a pair of 2018 train­ing events in Ukraine where Cana­di­an offi­cers end­ed up meet­ing and hav­ing pic­tures tak­en with the Azov Bat­tal­ion. And this meet­ing hap­pened a year after Canada’s Joint Task Force Ukraine pro­duced a brief­ing on the Azov Bat­tal­ion, acknowl­edg­ing its links to Nazi ide­ol­o­gy. “Mul­ti­ple mem­bers of Azov have described them­selves as Nazis,” the Cana­di­an offi­cers warned in their 2017 brief­ing. Records show the pri­ma­ry con­cerns fol­low­ing the 2018 meet­ing were relat­ed to whether or not the pic­tures would be pub­licly released.

    So when we are learn­ing about how the War Crimes Project just went silent for close to a decade now, it’s not just the extreme sen­si­tiv­i­ties over the all the WWII crim­i­nals allowed into Cana­da and the ongo­ing qua­si-coverup of Deschênes Com­mis­sion and the still-par­tial­ly redact­ed Rodal Report. There’s also the fact that Cana­da has an ongo­ing mil­i­tary rela­tion­ship with the orga­ni­za­tion­al descen­dants of those same Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors. It’s why the Hun­ka affair was such a polit­i­cal fias­co. Because all indi­ca­tions are of a much larg­er scan­dal hid­ing under that fias­co involv­ing the ongo­ing mil­i­tary sup­port of mod­ern day Nazis. It’s not great optics. Hence, pre­sum­ably, the War Crimes Pro­jec­t’s com­plete lack of optics since 2015:

    The Cana­di­an Press

    Why has Canada’s war crim­i­nal unit not pub­lished a report in over 8 years?

    By Mia Rab­son
    Post­ed Feb­ru­ary 21, 2024 8:53 pm

    A fed­er­al gov­ern­ment unit tasked with keep­ing war crim­i­nals out of Cana­da has not pub­lished a report on its activ­i­ties in more than eight years, and its bud­get hasn’t been adjust­ed in more than two decades.

    The War Crimes Pro­gram has a man­date to pre­vent Cana­da from becom­ing a safe haven for peo­ple accused of com­mit­ting atroc­i­ties includ­ing geno­cide and crimes against human­i­ty.

    It is a joint effort by the depart­ments of jus­tice and immi­gra­tion, the RCMP and the Cana­da Bor­der Ser­vices Agency.

    Between the program’s launch in 1998 and 2008, it report­ed annu­al­ly on its activ­i­ties, doc­u­ment­ing hun­dreds of cas­es in which sus­pect­ed war crim­i­nals were inves­ti­gat­ed, along with the results of those probes.

    It has pro­duced only two reports since then, and none since 2015. When asked about the miss­ing data, a spokesman did not pro­vide a rea­son for the lack of reports.

    “The War Crimes Pro­gram is cur­rent­ly work­ing to mod­ern­ize its pub­lic report­ing prac­tices col­lect­ing data from 2016 to present with a view to updat­ing the web­site,” Ian McLeod said in an email.

    He also said the annu­al bud­get is $15.6 mil­lion. That is the same allo­ca­tion the pro­gram received annu­al­ly between 1998 and 2015, accord­ing to the reports that were pub­lished.

    David Matas, a senior lawyer for B’nai Brith Cana­da, said the lack of report­ing is a prob­lem.

    But he said it’s not over­ly sur­pris­ing because the pro­gram has also suf­fered from a lack of fund­ing.

    ...

    The pro­gram arose about 11 years after a report from the Deschênes Com­mis­sion on war crim­i­nals.

    The com­mis­sion was launched in 1985 fol­low­ing the pub­li­ca­tion of news­pa­per sto­ries in Cana­da and the Unit­ed States that noto­ri­ous Nazi doc­tor Josef Men­gele had applied for land­ed immi­grant sta­tus in Cana­da.

    While it even­tu­al­ly con­clud­ed that Men­gele had not sought entry to Cana­da, it found evi­dence that hun­dreds of for­mer Nazis may be liv­ing in Cana­da and rec­om­mend­ed fur­ther inves­ti­ga­tions.

    At first, both the Jus­tice Depart­ment and the RCMP cre­at­ed spe­cial sec­tions to deal with war crimes, but in 1998 the actu­al War Crimes Pro­gram itself was launched, bring­ing the Immi­gra­tion Depart­ment into the mix. The Cana­da Bor­der Ser­vices Agency joined in 2003.

    The pro­gram had two dif­fer­ent streams, includ­ing one deal­ing with Sec­ond World War cas­es and one for what it deemed “mod­ern day” cas­es, or events that occurred lat­er.

    The avail­able reports show that as of 2008, Cana­da had inves­ti­gat­ed more than 1,800 cas­es relat­ed to the Sec­ond World War, and 28 result­ed in some kind of action, includ­ing attempts to pros­e­cute, revoke cit­i­zen­ship or deport.

    Most of those peo­ple died before the cas­es con­clud­ed, but cit­i­zen­ship was revoked in five cas­es, two peo­ple were deport­ed and two left vol­un­tar­i­ly.

    As of 2007, the War Crimes Pro­gram had reviewed more than 33,000 cas­es involv­ing the “mod­ern day” war crimes alle­ga­tions, includ­ing peo­ple try­ing to come to Cana­da and those already here.

    The pro­gram said it had pre­vent­ed the entry of 3,721 peo­ple, denied asy­lum claims to near­ly 600 peo­ple and deport­ed 443.
    Canada’s efforts to expel or pros­e­cute war crim­i­nals have been under increased scruti­ny since Par­lia­ment applaud­ed a man last Sep­tem­ber who was lat­er iden­ti­fied as hav­ing fought with a Nazi unit in Ukraine dur­ing the Sec­ond World War.

    That scruti­ny includ­ed renewed calls for the gov­ern­ment to ful­ly release all the pages from both the Deschênes report and what’s known as the Rodal report, a his­tor­i­cal account­ing of war crim­i­nals in Cana­da writ­ten for the Deschênes com­mis­sion by his­to­ri­an Alti Rodal.

    Both reports have been released in bits and pieces over the last three decades, includ­ing 15 new pages of the Rodal report unredact­ed by Immi­gra­tion Min­is­ter Marc Miller ear­li­er this month.

    Matas, who has pushed for the release of the full reports for years, said Cana­da must learn what it did wrong before to pre­vent his­to­ry from repeat­ing itself.

    The coun­try still has a prob­lem admit­ting accused war crim­i­nals, he said, and one of the rea­sons why is “we haven’t been releas­ing this.”

    Miller told The Cana­di­an Press last week that because Cana­da has no offi­cial declas­si­fi­ca­tion regime gov­ern­ing how his­tor­i­cal records are declas­si­fied and released pub­licly, he has to review the reports and decide what gets released on an ad hoc basis.

    ...

    He said he has asked the War Crimes Pro­gram to look at what fil­ter has been applied to each report to date, which ele­ments still haven’t been released and what legal inter­ests must still be pro­tect­ed.

    But he said releas­ing the list of names of peo­ple accused of war crimes in the Deschênes report is tricky because doing so could be harm­ful to the accused’s fam­i­lies.

    “This is a con­sid­er­a­tion that should not be exag­ger­at­ed or min­i­mized, but is there a pro­tec­tion of peo­ple that have passed and their fam­i­lies, who would have asper­sions cast upon them?” said Miller.

    “And they would be car­ry­ing the sins of their, pre­sum­ably, fathers that may or may not have com­mit­ted war crimes. And so that is a very sen­si­tive con­sid­er­a­tion that we have to look at.”

    Matas said that’s not how Canada’s jus­tice sys­tem works.

    ...

    “When the courts are open, jus­tice itself is on tri­al. The notion that we should have courts closed because it might embar­rass rel­a­tives or descen­dants of the peo­ple on tri­al is pre­pos­ter­ous.”

    ———–

    “Why has Canada’s war crim­i­nal unit not pub­lished a report in over 8 years?” by Mia Rab­son; The Cana­di­an Press; 02/21/2024

    “The pro­gram had two dif­fer­ent streams, includ­ing one deal­ing with Sec­ond World War cas­es and one for what it deemed “mod­ern day” cas­es, or events that occurred lat­er.

    Canada’s War Crimes Pro­gram isn’t just about iden­ti­fy­ing war crim­i­nals from WWII. Mod­ern day war crimes cas­es are part of its man­date too. That’s part of what makes the lack of any report­ing since 2015 extra puz­zling. Are there mod­ern day war crim­i­nals that Cana­da real­ly does­n’t want to talk about?

    Again, we have to recall how the Ukrain­ian far right Cen­turia group bragged on social media back in 2021 about being trained by the Cana­di­an mil­i­tary in Cana­da. We were then told after the Cen­turia inci­dent that Cana­da doesn’t do the vet­ting on its own of the for­eign sol­diers it trains. And not long after the reports on the Cen­turia group’s Cana­di­an adven­tures, we got to learn about a pair of 2018 train­ing events where Cana­di­an offi­cers end­ed up meet­ing and hav­ing pic­tures tak­en with the Azov Bat­tal­ion. And this meet­ing hap­pened a year after Canada’s Joint Task Force Ukraine pro­duced a brief­ing on the Azov Bat­tal­ion, acknowl­edg­ing its links to Nazi ide­ol­o­gy. “Mul­ti­ple mem­bers of Azov have described them­selves as Nazis,” the Cana­di­an offi­cers warned in their 2017 brief­ing. Records show the pri­ma­ry con­cerns fol­low­ing the 2018 meet­ing were relat­ed to whether or not the pic­tures would be pub­licly released. So when we are read­ing about how Canada’s War Crimes Project stopped report­ing after 2015 for seem­ing­ly inex­plic­a­ble rea­sons, it’s impor­tant to keep in mind that the Cana­di­an mil­i­tary began train­ing self-declared Ukrain­ian Nazis in the fol­low­ing years. From 1998 to 2008, the War Crimes project was pro­duc­ing reports annu­al­ly. Then just two between 2009 and 2015. And then noth­ing since, despite the ongo­ing $15.6 mil­lion annu­al bud­get. Noth­ing beyond a hap­less expla­na­tion about plans for ‘updat­ing the web­site’:

    ...
    Between the program’s launch in 1998 and 2008, it report­ed annu­al­ly on its activ­i­ties, doc­u­ment­ing hun­dreds of cas­es in which sus­pect­ed war crim­i­nals were inves­ti­gat­ed, along with the results of those probes.

    It has pro­duced only two reports since then, and none since 2015. When asked about the miss­ing data, a spokesman did not pro­vide a rea­son for the lack of reports.

    “The War Crimes Pro­gram is cur­rent­ly work­ing to mod­ern­ize its pub­lic report­ing prac­tices col­lect­ing data from 2016 to present with a view to updat­ing the web­site,” Ian McLeod said in an email.

    He also said the annu­al bud­get is $15.6 mil­lion. That is the same allo­ca­tion the pro­gram received annu­al­ly between 1998 and 2015, accord­ing to the reports that were pub­lished.

    David Matas, a senior lawyer for B’nai Brith Cana­da, said the lack of report­ing is a prob­lem.

    But he said it’s not over­ly sur­pris­ing because the pro­gram has also suf­fered from a lack of fund­ing.
    ...

    And note how the War Crimes Project is a direct out­growth of Deschênes Com­mis­sion and all of the fall out from the com­mis­sions find­ings. Find­ings that, as we’ve seen, were sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly cov­ered up by the Com­mis­sion and only belat­ed­ly released in the still-par­tial­ly redact­ed Rodal Report. That ongo­ing qua­si-cov­er-up of the Rodal Report’s find­ings is a big part of the con­text of the War Crimes Projects mys­te­ri­ous silence for the past 9 years:

    ...
    The pro­gram arose about 11 years after a report from the Deschênes Com­mis­sion on war crim­i­nals.

    The com­mis­sion was launched in 1985 fol­low­ing the pub­li­ca­tion of news­pa­per sto­ries in Cana­da and the Unit­ed States that noto­ri­ous Nazi doc­tor Josef Men­gele had applied for land­ed immi­grant sta­tus in Cana­da.

    While it even­tu­al­ly con­clud­ed that Men­gele had not sought entry to Cana­da, it found evi­dence that hun­dreds of for­mer Nazis may be liv­ing in Cana­da and rec­om­mend­ed fur­ther inves­ti­ga­tions.

    At first, both the Jus­tice Depart­ment and the RCMP cre­at­ed spe­cial sec­tions to deal with war crimes, but in 1998 the actu­al War Crimes Pro­gram itself was launched, bring­ing the Immi­gra­tion Depart­ment into the mix. The Cana­da Bor­der Ser­vices Agency joined in 2003.
    ...

    So we’ll see if the War Crimes Pro­jec­t’s web­site ever gets its update. But don’t count on that update includ­ing any actu­al updates on the sta­tus of Canada’s Nazi cod­dling. Espe­cial­ly the ongo­ing cod­dling.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 24, 2024, 4:43 pm
  13. Are NATO troops head­ing to Ukraine? It appears so, with France report­ed­ly plan­ning on send­ing a few dozen instruc­tors to Ukraine, fur­ther blur­ring the lines between this being a con­flict between Rus­sia and Ukraine vs Rus­sia and NATO. But as we’re going to see in the fol­low­ing set of arti­cle, there’s anoth­er line-blur­ring tak­ing place that could prove to be even more provoca­tive: The US has approved Ukrain­ian strikes inside Rus­sia using US-sup­plied weapons.

    So far, the new pol­i­cy only allows for strikes along Rus­si­a’s bor­der with Ukraine near Kharkiv, where Russ­ian forces have been car­ry­ing out attacks from inside Russ­ian ter­ri­to­ry. Forces inside Rus­sia prepar­ing to attack Kharkiv can now be struck with US-sup­plied weapons.

    While that pol­i­cy shift is being pre­sent­ed as only a minor mod­i­fi­ca­tion to the exist­ing US ban on strikes inside Rus­sia, it’s also acknowl­edged that this is like­ly just a first step, with Ukraine and mem­bers of Biden admin­is­tra­tion already lob­by­ing for the per­mis­sion for deep­er strikes inside Rus­sia. In oth­er words, it’s just a mat­ter of time before a fur­ther ‘loos­en­ing’ of those restric­tions. This is a first step.

    We’re also told that the US’s deci­sion to make this pol­i­cy shift was only arrived at a few weeks ago in mid-May. And yet, as we’re going to see in the sec­ond arti­cle excerpt below, the US secret­ly approved of the ship­ment of longer-range ATACMS to Ukraine back in Feb­ru­ary. Pre­vi­ous­ly, the ATACMS pro­vid­ed by the US had a range of 100 miles. The new­er ver­sion have a 190 mile range. So sev­er­al months before the US offi­cial­ly made this pol­i­cy shift, longer-range ATACMS were secret­ly shipped to Ukraine. That sounds like a plan that’s been play­ing out for sev­er­al months now. With more plans pre­sum­ably under­way.

    Final­ly, as we’re also going to see in a recent New Repub­lic piece, while all these weapons ship­ments are only exac­er­bat­ing the US’s deplet­ed stock­piles of all sorts of mil­i­tary hard­ware and espe­cial­ly mis­siles, there’s anoth­er issue grow­ing more and more acute as the war in Ukraine (and the war in Gaza, for that mat­ter) drags on: war prof­i­teer­ing.

    The explo­sion of war prof­i­teer­ing is obvi­ous­ly due, in part, to the sup­ply and demand imbal­ance cre­at­ed by the war. But there’s also the real­i­ty that the US mil­i­tary indus­tri­al com­plex has been allowed to con­sol­i­date itself into an oli­gop­oly. As a result, only a hand­ful of defense con­tract­ing giants sup­ply many of the key weapons sys­tems used by the US mil­i­tary and explod­ing prof­its are reflect­ing this con­sol­i­da­tion. For exam­ple, in 1991, a sin­cle Stinger mis­sile cost $25,000 to pro­duce. Today, Raytheon is mak­ing $400,000 per Stinger. Keep in mind that Defense Sec­re­tary Lloyd Austin sat on Raytheon’s board before becom­ing Defense Sec­re­tary. Last year, the Defense Depart­ment released its first review of con­tract financ­ing since 1985. Cash paid to share­hold­ers in div­i­dends and stock buy­backs was up 73 per­cent com­pared to the pre­vi­ous decade, accord­ing to the review. Which is pret­ty incred­i­ble when you con­sid­er the vol­umes US mil­i­tary spend­ing of that pri­or ‘War on Ter­ror’ decade.

    And that’s all why we should prob­a­bly expect a lot more ‘loos­en­ing’ of the US’s restric­tions on strikes insid­er Rus­sia, along with a lot more reports about deep­en­ing short­ages of weapons stock­piles. And, of course, the ever-deep­en­ing pock­ets of the mil­i­tary indus­tri­al com­plex. We’ve been warned. Over and over:

    Reuters

    Biden tip-toes deep­er into Ukraine con­flict with arms deci­sion

    By Phil Stew­art, Jonathan Lan­day and Max Hun­der
    May 31, 2024 3:50 PM CDT
    Updat­ed

    WASHINGTON/KYIV, May 31 (Reuters) — Pres­i­dent Joe Biden’s deci­sion to relax some restric­tions on Ukraine’s use of U.S. weapon­ry inside Rus­sia is a small but sig­nif­i­cant step deep­er into the two-year-old war that experts say could help blunt Rus­si­a’s cross-bor­der Kharkiv offen­sive.

    Since Rus­si­a’s 2022 inva­sion of Ukraine, Biden’s admin­is­tra­tion had argued it was too risky to allow Ukraine to strike tar­gets on Rus­sia ter­ri­to­ry with U.S.-supplied weapons. It feared a major Ukrain­ian attack could trig­ger direct con­flict with nuclear-armed Rus­sia.

    It was a rule that fit neat­ly with oth­er U.S. pro­hi­bi­tions on sup­ply­ing high­er-end weapon­ry to Kyiv that have also since crum­bled, from advanced U.S. fight­er jets to long-range ATACM mis­siles.

    Biden admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials say the lat­est deci­sion, which went into effect on Thurs­day, was nar­row­ly tai­lored to the bat­tle in the Kharkiv region. U.S. offi­cials say it allows Kyiv to use U.S.-supplied weapons to fire back against Russ­ian forces “attack­ing them or prepar­ing to attack them” from across the bor­der.

    That gives Ukraini­ans on the front­lines a green light to fire over the bor­der at Russ­ian forces using U.S.-supplied High Mobil­i­ty Artillery Rock­et Sys­tem (HIMARS) launch­ers armed with Guid­ed Mul­ti­ple Launch Rock­et Sys­tem (GMLRS) mis­siles, and oth­er weapon­ry, experts say.

    “This can sta­bi­lize the front­line and pos­si­bly cre­ate con­di­tions to push back (Rus­sians) from Kharkiv region before they have dug in,” said Myko­la Bielieskov, research fel­low at the Ukrain­ian Nation­al Insti­tute for Strate­gic Stud­ies, an offi­cial think-tank in Kyiv.

    Philip Ingram, a for­mer British mil­i­tary intel­li­gence offi­cer, said Biden’s deci­sion will reduce Kyiv’s need to draw troops away from crit­i­cal bat­tle fronts in the east­ern Don­bas region.

    ...

    SLOW-CHURN DECISION

    Biden’s deci­sion-mak­ing process dates back weeks.

    Ukraine raised its request to use U.S. weapons across the bor­der in the Kharkiv region dur­ing a secure video con­fer­ence on May 13 with White House Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Direc­tor Jake Sul­li­van, Defense Sec­re­tary Lloyd Austin, and Chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen­er­al C.Q. Brown, a U.S. offi­cial said, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty.

    Sul­li­van, Austin and Brown devel­oped a rec­om­men­da­tion in favor of relax­ing the restric­tions, which Sul­li­van took to Biden on May 15. Biden agreed Ukraine should be able to strike back against Russ­ian forces attack­ing them from the safe­ty of Russ­ian soil, the offi­cial said. Biden’s admin­is­tra­tion had been final­iz­ing the deci­sion since then.

    ...

    Rob Lee, a senior fel­low at the For­eign Pol­i­cy Research Insti­tute’s Eura­sia Pro­gram, said Rus­sia had been exploit­ing Biden’s pro­hi­bi­tion on strikes inside Russ­ian ter­ri­to­ry by using it as a safe­haven to launch attacks in Kharkiv region.

    Kharkiv, Ukraine’s sec­ond largest city, is just 19 miles (30 km) from the bor­der.

    “Rus­sia could keep its artillery right across the bor­der. It could keep air defense, elec­tron­ic war­fare, com­mand and con­trol (there),” Lee said. “It had maybe a degree of kind of sanc­tu­ary.”

    Still, Lee and oth­er experts this deci­sion on its own may not alter the front­lines any­time soon.

    “I don’t think (the deci­sion) is going to change the move­ment of the front­line that much, if at all. But it will make it more dif­fi­cult for Rus­sia to con­tin­ue this kind of cross-bor­der oper­a­tion,” Lee said.

    Ingram said Rus­sia lacks enough troops for a major push into Kharkiv.

    “The Rus­sians don’t have the abil­i­ty to gen­er­ate suf­fi­cient com­bat capa­bil­i­ty to prop­er­ly threat­en Kharkiv from the north­east,” he said. “To do that, it would denude their troops in east­ern com­bat areas.”

    DEEPER STRIKES IN RUSSIA?

    Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin has warned NATO mem­bers against allow­ing Ukraine to fire their weapons into Rus­sia and on Tues­day once again raised the risk of nuclear war.

    Still, Ukraine appears ready to seek to expand its abil­i­ty to use U.S. weapon­ry else­where in Rus­sia in the weeks and months to come, par­tic­u­lar­ly after a dif­fi­cult year in which Rus­sia seized the momen­tum on the bat­tle­field.

    On Fri­day, less than a day after Wash­ing­ton announced its pol­i­cy shift, Zelen­skiy was quot­ed in an inter­view with the Guardian news­pa­per call­ing for U.S. approval to hit tar­gets deep inside Russ­ian ter­ri­to­ry.

    Mark Can­cian, a for­mer Pen­ta­gon offi­cial now at the Cen­ter for Strate­gic and Inter­na­tion­al Stud­ies think-tank in Wash­ing­ton, said Biden’s move was just a first step.

    “It’s not a rad­i­cal depar­ture (in pol­i­cy). But it’s a step,” Can­cian said.

    “Ukraini­ans and offi­cials in the admin­is­tra­tion will argue for the next step: To strike a broad­er set of tar­gets — maybe tar­gets in Rus­sia that are not direct­ly threat­en­ing Kharkiv, but are in oth­er areas.”

    U.S. Sec­re­tary of State Antony Blinken, speak­ing on Fri­day in Prague, declined to say whether the Biden admin­is­tra­tion could expand its pol­i­cy to allow strikes else­where in Rus­sia. But he did not rule it out.

    “Going for­ward, we’ll con­tin­ue to do what we’ve been doing, which is as nec­es­sary adapt and adjust,” Blinken said.

    ———–

    “Biden tip-toes deep­er into Ukraine con­flict with arms deci­sion” By Phil Stew­art, Jonathan Lan­day and Max Hun­der; Reuters; 05/31/2024

    “U.S. Sec­re­tary of State Antony Blinken, speak­ing on Fri­day in Prague, declined to say whether the Biden admin­is­tra­tion could expand its pol­i­cy to allow strikes else­where in Rus­sia. But he did not rule it out.

    It’s just a first step, but pre­sum­ably the first of many to come. That’s the con­clu­sion experts arrived at in part thanks to Antony Blinken’s refusal to rule out a fur­ther ‘loos­en­ing’ of restric­tions on the use of US weapons to strike inside Rus­sia. It’s cur­rent­ly just Russ­ian forces amassed on the Ukrain­ian bor­der, but that’s going to change by all appear­ances. It’s just a mat­ter of time:

    ...
    Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin has warned NATO mem­bers against allow­ing Ukraine to fire their weapons into Rus­sia and on Tues­day once again raised the risk of nuclear war.

    Still, Ukraine appears ready to seek to expand its abil­i­ty to use U.S. weapon­ry else­where in Rus­sia in the weeks and months to come, par­tic­u­lar­ly after a dif­fi­cult year in which Rus­sia seized the momen­tum on the bat­tle­field.

    On Fri­day, less than a day after Wash­ing­ton announced its pol­i­cy shift, Zelen­skiy was quot­ed in an inter­view with the Guardian news­pa­per call­ing for U.S. approval to hit tar­gets deep inside Russ­ian ter­ri­to­ry.

    Mark Can­cian, a for­mer Pen­ta­gon offi­cial now at the Cen­ter for Strate­gic and Inter­na­tion­al Stud­ies think-tank in Wash­ing­ton, said Biden’s move was just a first step.

    “It’s not a rad­i­cal depar­ture (in pol­i­cy). But it’s a step,” Can­cian said.

    “Ukraini­ans and offi­cials in the admin­is­tra­tion will argue for the next step: To strike a broad­er set of tar­gets — maybe tar­gets in Rus­sia that are not direct­ly threat­en­ing Kharkiv, but are in oth­er areas.”

    ...

    Also note how experts don’t actu­al­ly expect this new pol­i­cy allow­ing for the strik­ing of Russ­ian forces on the imme­di­ate bor­der to actu­al­ly change the strate­gic sit­u­a­tion. Which is all the more rea­son to assume a fur­ther loos­en­ing of those restric­tions is just a mat­ter of time:

    ...
    Rob Lee, a senior fel­low at the For­eign Pol­i­cy Research Insti­tute’s Eura­sia Pro­gram, said Rus­sia had been exploit­ing Biden’s pro­hi­bi­tion on strikes inside Russ­ian ter­ri­to­ry by using it as a safe­haven to launch attacks in Kharkiv region.

    Kharkiv, Ukraine’s sec­ond largest city, is just 19 miles (30 km) from the bor­der.

    “Rus­sia could keep its artillery right across the bor­der. It could keep air defense, elec­tron­ic war­fare, com­mand and con­trol (there),” Lee said. “It had maybe a degree of kind of sanc­tu­ary.”

    Still, Lee and oth­er experts this deci­sion on its own may not alter the front­lines any­time soon.

    “I don’t think (the deci­sion) is going to change the move­ment of the front­line that much, if at all. But it will make it more dif­fi­cult for Rus­sia to con­tin­ue this kind of cross-bor­der oper­a­tion,” Lee said.
    ...

    And while we are told the Biden admin­is­tra­tion made this deci­sion over just the last few weeks, it also turns out the US start­ed secret­ly ship­ping longer-range ATACMS to Ukraine back in Feb­ru­ary. Unlike the pre­vi­ous­ly sup­plied ATACMS that had a range of around 100 miles, these new­er mis­siles can go around 190 miles. So while this pol­i­cy shift is being pre­sent­ed as a recent reac­tion to des­per­ate Ukrain­ian appeals, the secret ship­ping of longer-range ATACMS capa­ble of strik­ing much deep­er inside Rus­sia would sug­gest plans for this pol­i­cy shift have been in the works for a while. Which, again, also sug­gests plans for a fur­ther loos­en­ing of this pol­i­cy are already in the works:

    The New York Times

    U.S. Secret­ly Shipped New Long-Range Mis­siles to Ukraine

    Ukrain­ian forces for the first time used a longer-range ver­sion of weapons known as ATACMS, strik­ing an air­field in Crimea and Russ­ian troops in south­east­ern Ukraine.

    By Eric Schmitt
    Report­ing from Wash­ing­ton
    April 24, 2024

    The Unit­ed States last week secret­ly shipped a new long-range mis­sile sys­tem to Ukraine, and Ukrain­ian forces imme­di­ate­ly used the weapons to attack a Russ­ian mil­i­tary air­field in Crimea last Wednes­day and Russ­ian troops in the country’s south­east overnight on Tues­day, accord­ing to a senior U.S. offi­cial.

    The Unit­ed States pre­vi­ous­ly sup­plied Ukraine with a ver­sion of the Army Tac­ti­cal Mis­sile Sys­tems — known as ATACMS — armed with wide-spread­ing clus­ter muni­tions that can trav­el 100 miles.

    But Ukraine has long cov­et­ed the system’s longer-range ver­sion, with a range of about 190 miles. That can reach deep­er into occu­pied Ukraine, includ­ing Crimea, a hub of Russ­ian air and ground forces, and sup­ply nodes for Moscow’s forces in the country’s south­east.

    Overnight Tues­day, Ukraine used the longer-range mis­siles to strike Russ­ian troops in the port city of Berdian­sk on the Sea of Azov, the senior U.S. offi­cial said, speak­ing on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty to dis­cuss oper­a­tional mat­ters.

    Last Wednes­day, social media accounts in Ukraine report­ed large fires and explo­sions at a mil­i­tary air­field in Dzhankoi, Crimea, which the senior admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial said was also a long-range ATACMS tar­get. In an address that evening, Pres­i­dent Volodymyr Zelen­sky thanked Gen. Olek­san­dr Syrsky, the top Ukrain­ian com­man­der, but did not elab­o­rate on the attack.

    In a major pol­i­cy shift, Pres­i­dent Biden secret­ly approved the deci­sion to send more than 100 of the longer-range mis­siles in mid-Feb­ru­ary, the senior U.S. offi­cial said, as well as more of the clus­ter muni­tion vari­ant. They were part of a $300 mil­lion ship­ment of weapons to Ukraine in March, the first new aid pack­age for the coun­try since fund­ing ran out in late Decem­ber.

    Admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials kept the ship­ment secret to avoid tip­ping off the Rus­sians. When the Unit­ed States has pro­vid­ed long-range weapons to Ukraine in the past, the Ukraini­ans have ini­tial­ly inflict­ed severe dam­age on Russ­ian forces. But the Rus­sians then pull back their forces and arms depots out of the weapons’ range until Ukraine can employ a new donat­ed sys­tem with longer reach. The longer-range ATACMS were among the last major weapons sys­tems that Kyiv want­ed and the Unit­ed States was reluc­tant to give.

    Mr. Biden and his top aides dropped their reluc­tance to donate the longer-range mis­siles for sev­er­al rea­sons, the offi­cial said. The Army decid­ed to keep more of the mis­siles rather than sell­ing them to oth­er coun­tries, eas­ing Pen­ta­gon con­cerns about short­ages. Russia’s increas­ing use of bal­lis­tic mis­siles and more attacks against crit­i­cal infra­struc­ture also bol­stered Ukraine’s plea for weapons that could help counter those threats.

    Addi­tion­al longer-range mis­siles were also includ­ed in the $60.8 bil­lion of aid for Ukraine that was part of leg­is­la­tion Pres­i­dent Biden signed on Wednes­day. In prais­ing the infu­sion of mil­i­tary assis­tance, includ­ing the new mis­siles, law­mak­ers and Mr. Zelen­sky have made no men­tion of the fact that Ukraine already received and employed a small num­ber of the weapons, pre­sum­ably to keep their use secret from Rus­sia.

    The ini­tial strike using the new mis­siles made a fiery impact. Videos post­ed online by res­i­dents last Wednes­day showed fires erupt­ing after the attack. The videos have not been inde­pen­dent­ly ver­i­fied. Four hours after the strike, Crimean Wind, a group mon­i­tor­ing local social media posts that also cites res­i­dents, wrote that ammu­ni­tion was still blow­ing up. They said win­dows were blown out in hous­es near the air­field. Its account also could not be inde­pen­dent­ly ver­i­fied.

    Lat­er, the Ukrain­ian Gen­er­al Staff released a video of the mis­sile strike detail­ing what Ukrain­ian secu­ri­ty offi­cials said had been hit — four S‑400 sur­face-to-air mis­sile sys­tems, three radar sta­tions, an air defense com­mand post and a Fundament‑M air defense com­mand and con­trol sys­tem.

    The $300 mil­lion arms pack­age announced last month was cob­bled togeth­er from sav­ings on con­tracts that came in under bid and includ­ed air defense inter­cep­tors, artillery rounds and armor sys­tems, senior defense offi­cials said.

    Biden admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials acknowl­edged that the arms pack­age in March was a stop­gap mea­sure at best, pro­vid­ing Ukraine with only a few weeks’ worth of arms and ammu­ni­tion. Ukraine is in need of air defense sys­tems, as Rus­sia has con­tin­ued its bom­bard­ment of towns, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the east.

    Key mem­bers of Con­gress were noti­fied at the time that the secret ship­ment of ATACMS was includ­ed in that pack­age, but Biden admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials made no pub­lic men­tion that either type of ATACMS was bound for Ukraine.

    ...

    The strike last week fol­lowed a num­ber of suc­cess­ful Ukrain­ian attacks on mil­i­tary tar­gets inside Rus­sia. The day before the strike, for exam­ple, the Ukrain­ian secu­ri­ty ser­vice claimed to have destroyed a long-range radar locat­ed 434 miles beyond Ukraine’s bor­der. But those used kamikaze-type drones pro­duced in Ukraine.

    Amer­i­can mil­i­tary offi­cials have warned that their arse­nal of ATACMS is rel­a­tive­ly small, and the mis­siles have been com­mit­ted for oth­er Pen­ta­gon war plans, in places includ­ing the Kore­an Penin­su­la. Only about 4,000 ATACMS have been man­u­fac­tured since the mis­sile was devel­oped in the 1980s, accord­ing to Lock­heed Mar­tin, the system’s man­u­fac­tur­er.

    Still, many advo­cates of arm­ing Ukraine have dis­missed the Biden administration’s fear of esca­lat­ing the con­flict with Rus­sia and have urged the White House to give Kyiv the weapons Ukrain­ian offi­cials say they need to win.

    Short­ly after Ukraine launched its coun­terof­fen­sive last sum­mer, House Repub­li­cans called on the Biden admin­is­tra­tion to “imme­di­ate­ly” send ATACMS to Ukraine, not­ing that oth­er allies like Britain and France had already donat­ed long-range mis­siles.

    ...

    ———-

    “U.S. Secret­ly Shipped New Long-Range Mis­siles to Ukraine” By Eric Schmitt; The New York Times; 04/24/2024

    In a major pol­i­cy shift, Pres­i­dent Biden secret­ly approved the deci­sion to send more than 100 of the longer-range mis­siles in mid-Feb­ru­ary, the senior U.S. offi­cial said, as well as more of the clus­ter muni­tion vari­ant. They were part of a $300 mil­lion ship­ment of weapons to Ukraine in March, the first new aid pack­age for the coun­try since fund­ing ran out in late Decem­ber.”

    It was a major pol­i­cy shift. A secret major pol­i­cy shift that we only learned about a cou­ple of months after the fact. As a result, almost all of the weapon sys­tems the Ukraini­ans have been clam­or­ing for that the US did­n’t ini­tial­ly want to hand over have ulti­mate­ly been hand­ed over. Almost all of them. There’s still more to go:

    ...
    But Ukraine has long cov­et­ed the system’s longer-range ver­sion, with a range of about 190 miles. That can reach deep­er into occu­pied Ukraine, includ­ing Crimea, a hub of Russ­ian air and ground forces, and sup­ply nodes for Moscow’s forces in the country’s south­east.

    ...

    Admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials kept the ship­ment secret to avoid tip­ping off the Rus­sians. When the Unit­ed States has pro­vid­ed long-range weapons to Ukraine in the past, the Ukraini­ans have ini­tial­ly inflict­ed severe dam­age on Russ­ian forces. But the Rus­sians then pull back their forces and arms depots out of the weapons’ range until Ukraine can employ a new donat­ed sys­tem with longer reach. The longer-range ATACMS were among the last major weapons sys­tems that Kyiv want­ed and the Unit­ed States was reluc­tant to give.

    ...

    Still, many advo­cates of arm­ing Ukraine have dis­missed the Biden administration’s fear of esca­lat­ing the con­flict with Rus­sia and have urged the White House to give Kyiv the weapons Ukrain­ian offi­cials say they need to win.

    Short­ly after Ukraine launched its coun­terof­fen­sive last sum­mer, House Repub­li­cans called on the Biden admin­is­tra­tion to “imme­di­ate­ly” send ATACMS to Ukraine, not­ing that oth­er allies like Britain and France had already donat­ed long-range mis­siles.
    ...

    But it’s not like the US has an end­less sup­ply of mis­siles. ATACMS haven’t been man­u­fac­tured since the 1980s with Lock­heed Mar­tin as the sole sup­pli­er. They aren’t going to be cheap to replace. And yet, we are told the $300 mil­lion arms pack­age that includ­ed these mis­siles was paid for thanks to Pen­ta­gon con­tracts that came in under bid. Take a moment to think about that claim. So many Pen­ta­gon con­tracts came in under bid that the mon­ey was found for a $300 mil­lion arms pack­age. Because Pen­ta­gon con­tracts often come in under bid, right? It’s not exact­ly a com­pelling nar­ra­tive. But that’s the nar­ra­tive what they went with for some rea­son:

    ...
    Mr. Biden and his top aides dropped their reluc­tance to donate the longer-range mis­siles for sev­er­al rea­sons, the offi­cial said. The Army decid­ed to keep more of the mis­siles rather than sell­ing them to oth­er coun­tries, eas­ing Pen­ta­gon con­cerns about short­ages. Russia’s increas­ing use of bal­lis­tic mis­siles and more attacks against crit­i­cal infra­struc­ture also bol­stered Ukraine’s plea for weapons that could help counter those threats.
    ...

    The $300 mil­lion arms pack­age announced last month was cob­bled togeth­er from sav­ings on con­tracts that came in under bid and includ­ed air defense inter­cep­tors, artillery rounds and armor sys­tems, senior defense offi­cials said.

    ...

    Amer­i­can mil­i­tary offi­cials have warned that their arse­nal of ATACMS is rel­a­tive­ly small, and the mis­siles have been com­mit­ted for oth­er Pen­ta­gon war plans, in places includ­ing the Kore­an Penin­su­la. Only about 4,000 ATACMS have been man­u­fac­tured since the mis­sile was devel­oped in the 1980s, accord­ing to Lock­heed Mar­tin, the system’s man­u­fac­tur­er.
    ...

    And that absur­dist nar­ra­tive about the $300 mil­lion the Pen­ta­gon just hap­pened to find from under bid con­tracts brings us to the fol­low­ing piece about a trend that appears poised to only grow as the West gives Ukraine more and more high end weapons sys­tems and risks pro­vok­ing a much larg­er con­flict: war prof­i­teer­ing is out of con­trol and get­ting worse as the war in Ukraine drags on and US’s deplet­ed stock­piles get more and more deplet­ed:

    The New Repub­lic

    How to Stop War Prof­i­teer­ing

    Weapons con­trac­tors are rak­ing in bil­lions from America’s sup­port for Israel and Ukraine. It’s time to rein them in.

    Indi­go Olivi­er
    May 22, 2024

    Last fall, Pres­i­dent Joe Biden began using a phrase first deployed by Franklin D. Roo­sevelt a year before the bomb­ing of Pearl Har­bor. In a 1940 radio address, Roo­sevelt deemed the Unit­ed States the “arse­nal of democ­ra­cy”: At the time, the Unit­ed States wasn’t yet send­ing troops to Europe to repel the Nazis, but its indus­tri­al capac­i­ty was key to the fight against fas­cism. In Feb­ru­ary, while call­ing on Con­gress to pass a $95 bil­lion mil­i­tary aid pack­age for Israel, Ukraine, and Tai­wan, Biden insist­ed that it was nec­es­sary to reaf­firm the nation’s role as the “arse­nal of democ­ra­cy.” When the Sen­ate approved the aid pack­age in April, Biden insist­ed it was good for­eign and domes­tic pol­i­cy.

    “While this bill sends mil­i­tary equip­ment to Ukraine,” he said in Feb­ru­ary, “it spends the mon­ey right here in the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca in places like Ari­zona, where the Patri­ot mis­siles are built; and Alaba­ma, where the Javelin mis­siles are built; and Penn­syl­va­nia, Ohio, and Texas, where artillery shells are made.”

    As it sold the leg­is­la­tion to skep­tics in the House, the Biden admin­is­tra­tion pushed a famil­iar nar­ra­tive: Mil­i­tary spend­ing, which takes up more than half of the fed­er­al dis­cre­tionary bud­get, helps boost the econ­o­my. His admin­is­tra­tion has even dis­trib­uted a map show­ing which states ben­e­fit from weapons ship­ments to Ukraine.

    But a huge por­tion of the $95 bil­lion aid pack­age, which was signed by Biden on April 24, will end up ben­e­fit­ing a hand­ful of enor­mous arms man­u­fac­tur­ers who spend mil­lions lob­by­ing Con­gress to ensure that fed­er­al mil­i­tary spend­ing con­tin­ues to flow. As Biden push­es Con­gress to send more weapons to Ukraine and Israel, calls for greater over­sight and account­abil­i­ty into an indus­try that has become syn­ony­mous with waste, fraud, and cor­rup­tion have grown loud­er.

    Begin­ning in Feb­ru­ary, Sen­a­tor Bernie Sanders has been lead­ing the call to rein­state the World War II–era Tru­man Com­mit­tee to inves­ti­gate war prof­i­teer­ing and put an end to “cor­po­rate wel­fare.” A bipar­ti­san con­gres­sion­al com­mit­tee could, accord­ing to Sanders, “rein in defense con­trac­tors, close­ly over­see mil­i­tary con­tracts, and take back exces­sive pay­ments.” He has made the Stinger mis­sile the cen­ter­piece in his case for more over­sight.

    With­in the first 48 hours of Russia’s inva­sion, the mis­sile became “the star of the show,” accord­ing to one exec­u­tive at Raytheon. These mis­siles had been out of pro­duc­tion for two decades, yet the Unit­ed States has sent rough­ly 2,000 anti-air­craft Stingers from its stock­piles to Ukraine over the last two years. While one mis­sile cost $25,000 in 1991, it costs tax­pay­ers $400,000 to build today. Raytheon, now RTX Cor­po­ra­tion, is its sole pro­duc­er and stands to gain hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars in rev­enue as it ramps up Stinger pro­duc­tion.

    ...

    The Pen­ta­gon has failed six con­sec­u­tive audits and has been unable to account for over half of its assets, yet Biden in Decem­ber signed a defense bill of near­ly a tril­lion dol­lars. But rel­a­tive­ly lit­tle of this mon­ey is find­ing its way to workers—nor, for that mat­ter, is it being spent on weapons pro­duc­tion. Last year, the Defense Depart­ment released the first com­pre­hen­sive review of con­tract financ­ing since 1985 and found that cash paid to share­hold­ers in div­i­dends and stock buy­backs was up 73 per­cent com­pared to the pre­vi­ous decade. At the same time, the indus­try has seen a steady decline in invest­ments in research, devel­op­ment, or pro­duc­tive capac­i­ty. This is due, in part, to extreme con­sol­i­da­tion in the indus­try.

    In the last 30 years, the num­ber of the Pentagon’s prime con­trac­tors has shrunk from 51 com­pa­nies to just five. The Defense Department’s own reports have said that this con­sol­i­da­tion pos­es a risk to nation­al secu­ri­ty. In March, Sen­a­tor Eliz­a­beth War­ren and mem­bers of the Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee echoed these con­cerns in a let­ter to Defense Sec­re­tary Lloyd Austin, urg­ing him to reform the industry’s merg­ers and acqui­si­tions prac­tices.

    Austin is also an embod­i­ment of the chal­lenges that pro­gres­sive law­mak­ers face in mak­ing sub­stan­tive changes. Pri­or to assum­ing his role, Austin served as a board mem­ber for Raytheon, which also employed his pre­de­ces­sor, Mark Esper, as a weapons lob­by­ist. At least a dozen law­mak­ers “own stock or have some oth­er direct finan­cial invest­ment in the defense indus­try,” accord­ing to the Project on Gov­ern­ment Over­sight. A 2022 report found that mem­bers of the Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee trad­ed more stocks than those of any oth­er con­gres­sion­al com­mit­tee.

    ...

    In Feb­ru­ary, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Rashi­da Tlaib intro­duced a bill called the Stop Politi­cians Prof­it­ing From War Act to pro­hib­it mem­bers of Con­gress or their spous­es from own­ing or trad­ing defense stocks, prac­tices that raise urgent ques­tions about the moti­va­tions behind leg­isla­tive deci­sion-mak­ing and bud­getary pri­or­i­ties. “The Amer­i­can peo­ple deserve rep­re­sen­ta­tives who vote in the best inter­est of our coun­try and our fam­i­lies, not their stock port­fo­lios,” Tlaib said.

    How­ev­er, efforts to con­strain defense con­trac­tors and address con­flicts of inter­est with­in Con­gress have faced for­mi­da­ble obsta­cles in the past. Defense spend­ing is embed­ded in near­ly every con­gres­sion­al dis­trict and is guard­ed by a pow­er­ful lob­by that has often suc­cess­ful­ly resist­ed even minor reforms.

    Pre­vi­ous attempts to intro­duce trans­paren­cy and mean­ing­ful­ly reduce mil­i­tary spend­ing have so far been unable to pass Con­gress. Efforts to address war prof­i­teer­ing in the wake of America’s inva­sions of Afghanistan and Iraq went nowhere, even when pushed by mod­er­ate Democ­rats. But there are signs that the con­sen­sus on defense spend­ing is break­ing down.

    In 2023, Sen­a­tor War­ren rein­tro­duced the Stop Price Goug­ing the Mil­i­tary Act with bipar­ti­san sup­port, fol­low­ing a CBS inves­ti­ga­tion that found “con­trac­tors over­charge the Pen­ta­gon on almost every­thing.” The bill address­es loop­holes in the acqui­si­tion process, ties finan­cial incen­tives to per­for­mance, and increas­es trans­paren­cy in pric­ing. Debates over defense spend­ing have also emerged in recent years dur­ing bud­get nego­ti­a­tions.

    ...

    Amid grow­ing dis­il­lu­sion­ment with America’s role in Ukraine and Israel, pub­lic opin­ion reflects a bipar­ti­san desire to address unchecked defense spend­ing. A recent sur­vey from Data for Progress found that an 80 per­cent major­i­ty of like­ly vot­ers believe increas­es to the defense bud­get should be con­di­tioned on the Pentagon’s abil­i­ty to pass an audit. Sev­er­al polls have found that an over­whelm­ing major­i­ty sup­port a ban on stock trad­ing for mem­bers of Con­gress.

    As Biden nav­i­gates these tur­bu­lent polit­i­cal waters, his administration’s abil­i­ty to piv­ot from the rhetoric of demo­c­ra­t­ic arse­nals to tan­gi­ble, equi­table eco­nom­ic ben­e­fits will be crit­i­cal. Pub­lic dis­ap­proval of Biden’s han­dling of for­eign pol­i­cy and the econ­o­my under­scores the imper­a­tive to reassess bud­get pri­or­i­ties, rebuild trust in Con­gress, and present a vision of a gov­ern­ment that pri­or­i­tizes the wel­fare of the coun­try over the inter­ests of pri­vate com­pa­nies. Biden would do well to lis­ten to the oft-repeat­ed advice hand­ed down to him from his father: “Don’t tell me what you val­ue. Show me your bud­get, and I’ll tell you what you val­ue.”

    ———

    “How to Stop War Prof­i­teer­ing” by Indi­go Olivi­er; The New Repub­lic; 05/27/2024

    With­in the first 48 hours of Russia’s inva­sion, the mis­sile became “the star of the show,” accord­ing to one exec­u­tive at Raytheon. These mis­siles had been out of pro­duc­tion for two decades, yet the Unit­ed States has sent rough­ly 2,000 anti-air­craft Stingers from its stock­piles to Ukraine over the last two years. While one mis­sile cost $25,000 in 1991, it costs tax­pay­ers $400,000 to build today. Raytheon, now RTX Cor­po­ra­tion, is its sole pro­duc­er and stands to gain hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars in rev­enue as it ramps up Stinger pro­duc­tion.

    Yes, mis­siles have been ‘the star of the show’ in the war in Ukraine from the very begin­ning. The kind of stars that only a hand­ful of defense con­trac­tors sup­ply and only at exor­bi­tant­ly marked up prices. There’s effec­tive­ly an unchecked mis­sile man­u­fac­tur­ing oli­gop­oly:

    ...
    But a huge por­tion of the $95 bil­lion aid pack­age, which was signed by Biden on April 24, will end up ben­e­fit­ing a hand­ful of enor­mous arms man­u­fac­tur­ers who spend mil­lions lob­by­ing Con­gress to ensure that fed­er­al mil­i­tary spend­ing con­tin­ues to flow. As Biden push­es Con­gress to send more weapons to Ukraine and Israel, calls for greater over­sight and account­abil­i­ty into an indus­try that has become syn­ony­mous with waste, fraud, and cor­rup­tion have grown loud­er.

    ...

    In the last 30 years, the num­ber of the Pentagon’s prime con­trac­tors has shrunk from 51 com­pa­nies to just five. The Defense Department’s own reports have said that this con­sol­i­da­tion pos­es a risk to nation­al secu­ri­ty. In March, Sen­a­tor Eliz­a­beth War­ren and mem­bers of the Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee echoed these con­cerns in a let­ter to Defense Sec­re­tary Lloyd Austin, urg­ing him to reform the industry’s merg­ers and acqui­si­tions prac­tices.
    ...

    And note how not only was Lloyd Austin a Raytheon board mem­ber, but his pre­de­ces­sor Mark Esper also worked as a Raytheon lob­by­ist. The sys­tem is a high­ly lucra­tive giant con­flict of inter­est:

    ...
    Austin is also an embod­i­ment of the chal­lenges that pro­gres­sive law­mak­ers face in mak­ing sub­stan­tive changes. Pri­or to assum­ing his role, Austin served as a board mem­ber for Raytheon, which also employed his pre­de­ces­sor, Mark Esper, as a weapons lob­by­ist. At least a dozen law­mak­ers “own stock or have some oth­er direct finan­cial invest­ment in the defense indus­try,” accord­ing to the Project on Gov­ern­ment Over­sight. A 2022 report found that mem­bers of the Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee trad­ed more stocks than those of any oth­er con­gres­sion­al com­mit­tee.
    ...

    But while we’re see­ing monop­oly-like prices com­ing from this hand­ful of mis­sile sup­pli­ers, it’s worth keep­ing in mind that this is kind of a monopoly/monopsony sit­u­a­tion. The US gov­ern­ment is the only buy­er too. One might hope such a dynam­ic could lead to some sort of nego­ti­at­ing price san­i­ty. But that’s obvi­ous­ly not what has hap­pened, with the Pen­ta­gon fail­ing one audit after anoth­er. It’s not a new prob­lem. Quite the oppo­site. And with over­whelm­ing majori­ties of US elec­torate in favor of crack­ing down on mil­i­tary price goug­ing and con­gres­sion­al insid­er trad­ing, it’s turn­ing into quite a polit­i­cal oppor­tu­ni­ty for any par­ty will­ing to take on the Mil­i­tary Indus­tri­al Com­plex:

    ...
    The Pen­ta­gon has failed six con­sec­u­tive audits and has been unable to account for over half of its assets, yet Biden in Decem­ber signed a defense bill of near­ly a tril­lion dol­lars. But rel­a­tive­ly lit­tle of this mon­ey is find­ing its way to workers—nor, for that mat­ter, is it being spent on weapons pro­duc­tion. Last year, the Defense Depart­ment released the first com­pre­hen­sive review of con­tract financ­ing since 1985 and found that cash paid to share­hold­ers in div­i­dends and stock buy­backs was up 73 per­cent com­pared to the pre­vi­ous decade. At the same time, the indus­try has seen a steady decline in invest­ments in research, devel­op­ment, or pro­duc­tive capac­i­ty. This is due, in part, to extreme con­sol­i­da­tion in the indus­try.

    ...

    Amid grow­ing dis­il­lu­sion­ment with America’s role in Ukraine and Israel, pub­lic opin­ion reflects a bipar­ti­san desire to address unchecked defense spend­ing. A recent sur­vey from Data for Progress found that an 80 per­cent major­i­ty of like­ly vot­ers believe increas­es to the defense bud­get should be con­di­tioned on the Pentagon’s abil­i­ty to pass an audit. Sev­er­al polls have found that an over­whelm­ing major­i­ty sup­port a ban on stock trad­ing for mem­bers of Con­gress.
    ...

    Of course, if pop­u­lar pol­i­tics alone were what dic­tat­ed the actions of mem­bers of con­gress, the mil­i­tary indus­tri­al com­plex would­n’t exist. Instead, it’s arguably big­ger and more pow­er­ful than ever. Sys­temic fes­ter­ing cor­rup­tion that only deep­ens, now fes­ter­ing at an accel­er­at­ed pace thanks in large part to a war that is also only allowed to fes­ter and deep­en.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 4, 2024, 3:36 pm
  14. They used to be Nazis, but not any­more. Let’s give them weapons!

    That’s more or less the deci­sion just made by the US State Depart­ment over the arm­ing of the Azov Bat­tal­ion. A long­stand­ing ban based on the “Leahy Law” — which bans US mil­i­tary assis­tance from going to for­eign units cred­i­bly found to have com­mit­ted major human rights vio­la­tions — has been lift­ed fol­low­ing a “thor­ough review” that con­clud­ed the unit has not been respon­si­ble for any such vio­la­tions. Azov can now receive any of the weapons sys­tems get­ting sent to Ukraine. It sounds like the deci­sion was made fol­low­ing the vis­it to Kyiv by Sec­re­tary of State Antony Blinken last month.

    As the fol­low­ing arti­cle notes, this “Leahy Law” State Depart­ment ban is actu­al­ly sep­a­rate from the ban that was suc­cess­ful­ly passed by the US Con­gress in 2018. Recall how Con­gress­man Ro Khan­na man­aged to get the ban pushed through con­gress in 2018, only to get slammed in the US press for being a Russ­ian dupe. And as we also saw, that ban was set to expire in 2025. But as pre­dict­ed by Gior­gi Kuparashvili — an Azov co-founder who led an Azov del­e­ga­tion tour of the US that includ­ed meet­ing with at least 50 mem­bers of Con­gress Sep­tem­ber 2022 — that ban was going to be lift­ed even soon­er. It turns out Kuparashvili was cor­rect. Sort of. Because it sounds like this State Depart­ment deci­sion has effec­tive­ly lift­ed that con­gres­sion­al ban too.

    This is a good time to recall the Pentagon’s deci­sion to invite an Azov-led team of Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary ath­letes to the War­rior Games held at Dis­ney World in August of 2022. An event where the Azov mem­ber of the team with a large Nazi tat­too on his elbow won the “spir­it of the team” award. It was just one of the many exam­ples of a whole scale nor­mal­iza­tion of Ukraine’s Nazis in the West in recent years.

    And regard­ing the deliv­ery of west­ern weapons direct­ly to Azov, also recall that report from May of 2023 describ­ing how Azov units have been one of the main recip­i­ents of NLAW anti-tank mis­siles from the UK. The deci­sion was pred­i­cat­ed on the con­clu­sion that Azov was no longer a neo-Nazi unit. And yet, as we also saw, Azov founder Andriy Bilet­sky claimed at that time to be in com­mand of an Azov spe­cial forces group, the 3rd Sep­a­rate Assault Brigade, and all of the com­man­ders on the unit are either vet­er­ans of the Azov move­ment or oth­er far right groups like Right Sec­tor and Cen­turia. Just weeks ago, Boris John­son led a UK del­e­ga­tion of MPs that wel­comed Azov mem­bers as heroes. The lift­ing of this US weapons ban has long seemed inevitable. The writ­ing has been on the wall for a while. And here we are:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    U.S. lifts weapons ban on Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary unit

    The deci­sion was made fol­low­ing a State Depart­ment review of the Azov Brigade, a one­time mili­tia now part of Ukraine’s Nation­al Guard.

    By Michael Birn­baum, Siob­hán O’Grady and Alex Hor­ton
    Updat­ed June 11, 2024 at 6:32 p.m. EDT|Published June 10, 2024 at 8:20 p.m. EDT

    The Biden admin­is­tra­tion will allow a Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary unit with a check­ered past to use U.S. weapon­ry, the State Depart­ment said Mon­day, hav­ing lift­ed a ban imposed years ago amid con­cerns in Wash­ing­ton about the group’s ori­gins.

    The Azov Brigade, known for its tena­cious but ulti­mate­ly unsuc­cess­ful defense of the Azovstal steel mill in Mar­i­upol ear­ly in Russia’s full-scale inva­sion of Ukraine, is regard­ed as a par­tic­u­lar­ly effec­tive fight­ing force. But it was barred about a decade ago from using Amer­i­can arms because U.S. offi­cials deter­mined that some of its founders espoused racist, xeno­pho­bic and ultra­na­tion­al­ist views, and U.N. human rights offi­cials accused the group of human­i­tar­i­an vio­la­tions.

    Now the brigade, a one­time vol­un­teer mili­tia absorbed into the Ukrain­ian Nation­al Guard in 2015, will have access to the same U.S. mil­i­tary assis­tance as any oth­er unit. The pol­i­cy shift was dis­closed as Kyiv starts the sum­mer fight­ing sea­son and faces down a Russ­ian mil­i­tary that has inten­si­fied its pres­sure on objec­tives in east­ern Ukraine and the country’s ener­gy infra­struc­ture.

    The State Depart­ment has been unclear about the ori­gins and tim­ing of the restric­tions on Azov. Asked Mon­day about a recent pol­i­cy shift enabling Azov to use U.S. weapons, the agency pro­vid­ed a state­ment say­ing that “after thor­ough review, Ukraine’s 12th Spe­cial Forces Azov Brigade passed Leahy vet­ting as car­ried out by the U.S. Depart­ment of State.”

    The state­ment was refer­ring to the “Leahy Law,” which pre­vents U.S. mil­i­tary assis­tance from going to for­eign units cred­i­bly found to have com­mit­ted major human rights vio­la­tions. It is named for for­mer sen­a­tor Patrick J. Leahy (D‑Vt.), who wrote the leg­is­la­tion. The State Depart­ment found “no evi­dence” of such vio­la­tions, its state­ment says.

    A State Depart­ment spokesman declined to answer fol­low-up ques­tions, includ­ing when the ban was lift­ed and whether U.S. weapon­ry had already reached Azov per­son­nel.

    A sep­a­rate ban pre­vent­ing the “Azov Bat­tal­ion” from receiv­ing U.S. mil­i­tary assis­tance has been writ­ten into U.S. appro­pri­a­tions laws for years, the result of con­gres­sion­al con­cerns about the group’s ori­gins. The State Depart­ment has said it does not believe that con­gres­sion­al ban should apply to Azov as it is cur­rent­ly con­sti­tut­ed.

    The brigade received word of a review’s results in a let­ter from the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv that said an inspec­tion had deter­mined it was eli­gi­ble for U.S. secu­ri­ty assis­tance, Lt. Col. Svi­atoslav Pala­mar, the brigade’s deputy com­man­der, told The Wash­ing­ton Post on Tues­day. The brigade has not yet received any U.S. weapons but hopes to soon, he said. They are eager for all vari­eties of U.S. equip­ment — from tanks and infantry vehi­cles to air defense sys­tems.

    ...

    Pala­mar said he first learned his unit was banned from receiv­ing U.S. train­ing and weapons near­ly a decade ago, when oth­er Nation­al Guard troops were invit­ed to train abroad and Azov was not. Instead, Azov troops down­loaded NATO man­u­als online and taught them­selves pro­to­cols from open source mate­ri­als, he said.

    ...

    Although some West­ern weapons were deliv­ered to Azovstal to help Ukrain­ian troops defend the plant, they were deliv­ered to oth­er troops defend­ing the plant — not to Azov, Pala­mar said. Since then, his brigade — which has engaged in intense bat­tles on the war’s front line — has not received U.S. weapon sys­tems, he said.

    Can­cel­ing the ban had been a pri­or­i­ty for Ukrain­ian offi­cials, who say the brigade could have been more effec­tive dur­ing its defense of Azovstal if it had access to U.S. equip­ment. A Ukrain­ian offi­cial, who spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty because of the sen­si­tiv­i­ty of nego­ti­a­tions, said For­eign Min­is­ter Dmytro Kule­ba raised the top­ic of the ban with Sec­re­tary of State Antony Blinken when the top U.S. diplo­mat vis­it­ed Kyiv last month.

    “The deci­sion on lift­ing the restric­tions under the Leahy vet­ting process required thor­ough con­sid­er­a­tions and diplo­mat­ic efforts,” said Rus­lan Muzy­chuk, spokesman for Ukraine’s Nation­al Guard, not­ing that a wide vari­ety of units car­ry out oper­a­tions on the front line. “Under­stand­ing by our allies how impor­tant it is to help each of these units is anoth­er impor­tant step on the way of our strug­gle for inde­pen­dence.”

    ...

    The brigade’s lead­er­ship says that it long ago shed those asso­ci­a­tions and that its com­man­ders have ful­ly turned over since that era. “Now that the ban is lift­ed, it brings us to a full under­stand­ing of how poi­so­nous Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da is,” Pala­mar said.

    With­in Ukraine, the brigade’s name has become syn­ony­mous with the country’s last stand in the besieged city of Mar­i­upol. Ukraine even­tu­al­ly ordered the remain­ing troops in the steel fac­to­ry to sur­ren­der to Russ­ian forces to sur­vive. As of ear­ly May, more than 900 remained in cap­tiv­i­ty.

    The plight of the remain­ing Azov pris­on­ers has cap­tured the hearts and minds of Ukraini­ans, and “Free Azov” has become a com­mon ral­ly­ing cry in protests in Kyiv.

    Azov seized on its new sta­tus as a brigade last year and launched an inten­sive recruit­ment cam­paign across the coun­try that brought in more than 5,000 new troops in about two months. Sur­vivors from Azovstal were among those inter­view­ing and train­ing the recruits, who were grilled on their moti­va­tions, back­ground and phys­i­cal fit­ness before selec­tion.

    ———–

    “U.S. lifts weapons ban on Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary unit” By Michael Birn­baum, Siob­hán O’Grady and Alex Hor­ton; The Wash­ing­ton Post; 06/10/2024

    Now the brigade, a one­time vol­un­teer mili­tia absorbed into the Ukrain­ian Nation­al Guard in 2015, will have access to the same U.S. mil­i­tary assis­tance as any oth­er unit. The pol­i­cy shift was dis­closed as Kyiv starts the sum­mer fight­ing sea­son and faces down a Russ­ian mil­i­tary that has inten­si­fied its pres­sure on objec­tives in east­ern Ukraine and the country’s ener­gy infra­struc­ture.”

    It has long seemed pret­ty inevitable that we would reach this point and here we are. The main­stream­ing and nor­mal­iza­tion of Azov is com­plete, at least offi­cial­ly. There’s “no evi­dence” of any vio­la­tion of the “Leahy Law” ban­ning weapons going to groups cred­i­bly accused of human rights vio­la­tions. Which, notably, does­n’t real­ly appear to be a state­ment about the ide­ol­o­gy of the group. Also note how it sounds like this deci­sion was arrived at by the US State Depart­ment fol­low­ing lob­by­ing by Ukraine dur­ing Sec­re­tary of State Antony Blinken’s vis­it last month:

    ...
    The State Depart­ment has been unclear about the ori­gins and tim­ing of the restric­tions on Azov. Asked Mon­day about a recent pol­i­cy shift enabling Azov to use U.S. weapons, the agency pro­vid­ed a state­ment say­ing that “after thor­ough review, Ukraine’s 12th Spe­cial Forces Azov Brigade passed Leahy vet­ting as car­ried out by the U.S. Depart­ment of State.”

    The state­ment was refer­ring to the “Leahy Law,” which pre­vents U.S. mil­i­tary assis­tance from going to for­eign units cred­i­bly found to have com­mit­ted major human rights vio­la­tions. It is named for for­mer sen­a­tor Patrick J. Leahy (D‑Vt.), who wrote the leg­is­la­tion. The State Depart­ment found “no evi­dence” of such vio­la­tions, its state­ment says.

    A State Depart­ment spokesman declined to answer fol­low-up ques­tions, includ­ing when the ban was lift­ed and whether U.S. weapon­ry had already reached Azov per­son­nel.

    ...

    Can­cel­ing the ban had been a pri­or­i­ty for Ukrain­ian offi­cials, who say the brigade could have been more effec­tive dur­ing its defense of Azovstal if it had access to U.S. equip­ment. A Ukrain­ian offi­cial, who spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty because of the sen­si­tiv­i­ty of nego­ti­a­tions, said For­eign Min­is­ter Dmytro Kule­ba raised the top­ic of the ban with Sec­re­tary of State Antony Blinken when the top U.S. diplo­mat vis­it­ed Kyiv last month.
    ...

    And note how the ban lift­ed is just the State Depart­men­t’s ban. It’s NOT the con­gres­sion­al ban passed in 2018. Recall how Con­gress­man Ro Khan­na man­aged to get the ban pushed through con­gress in 2018, only to get slammed in the US press for being a Russ­ian dupe. And as we also saw, that ban was set to expire in 2025. But as pre­dict­ed by Gior­gi Kuparashvili — an Azov co-founder who led an Azov del­e­ga­tion tour of the US that includ­ed meet­ing with at least 50 mem­bers of Con­gress Sep­tem­ber 2022 — that ban was going to be lift­ed even soon­er. It turns out Kuparashvili was sort of cor­rect. Because it sounds like this move by the State Depart­ment is effec­tive­ly lift­ing that con­gres­sion­al ban too:

    ...
    A sep­a­rate ban pre­vent­ing the “Azov Bat­tal­ion” from receiv­ing U.S. mil­i­tary assis­tance has been writ­ten into U.S. appro­pri­a­tions laws for years, the result of con­gres­sion­al con­cerns about the group’s ori­gins. The State Depart­ment has said it does not believe that con­gres­sion­al ban should apply to Azov as it is cur­rent­ly con­sti­tut­ed.
    ...

    Now, regard­ing the assur­ances that the group’s lead­er­ship has long ago aban­doned its Nazi roots, recall that report from May of 2023 describ­ing how Azov units have been one of the main recip­i­ents of NLAW anti-tank mis­siles from the UK. The deci­sion was pred­i­cat­ed on the con­clu­sion that Azov was no longer a neo-Nazi unit. And yet, as we also saw, Azov founder Andriy Bilet­sky claimed at that time to be in com­mand of an Azov spe­cial forces group, the 3rd Sep­a­rate Assault Brigade, and all of the com­man­ders on the unit are either vet­er­ans of the Azov move­ment or oth­er far right groups like Right Sec­tor and Cen­turia. Also recall that March 2022 puff piece in the Finan­cial Times that includ­ed an inter­view of Bilet­sky and claims that Nazi sym­bols used by the unit’s mem­bers were real­ly just pagan sym­bols, one of many west­ern media puff pieces on Azov in recent years seem­ing­ly designed to white­wash the group’s ide­ol­o­gy. So when we see fur­ther asser­tions in this arti­cle about how Azov shed its Nazi ide­ol­o­gy long ago, it’s the same song and dance:

    ...
    The brigade’s lead­er­ship says that it long ago shed those asso­ci­a­tions and that its com­man­ders have ful­ly turned over since that era. “Now that the ban is lift­ed, it brings us to a full under­stand­ing of how poi­so­nous Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da is,” Pala­mar said.
    ...

    Final­ly, keep in mind that this is only going to help Azov recruit even more vol­un­teers at the same time Ukraine is increas­ing­ly depen­dent on ‘press gang’ forced con­scrip­tions. In oth­er words, expect Azov’s influ­ence inside Ukraine’s mil­i­tary to only grow:

    ...
    With­in Ukraine, the brigade’s name has become syn­ony­mous with the country’s last stand in the besieged city of Mar­i­upol. Ukraine even­tu­al­ly ordered the remain­ing troops in the steel fac­to­ry to sur­ren­der to Russ­ian forces to sur­vive. As of ear­ly May, more than 900 remained in cap­tiv­i­ty.

    The plight of the remain­ing Azov pris­on­ers has cap­tured the hearts and minds of Ukraini­ans, and “Free Azov” has become a com­mon ral­ly­ing cry in protests in Kyiv.

    Azov seized on its new sta­tus as a brigade last year and launched an inten­sive recruit­ment cam­paign across the coun­try that brought in more than 5,000 new troops in about two months. Sur­vivors from Azovstal were among those inter­view­ing and train­ing the recruits, who were grilled on their moti­va­tions, back­ground and phys­i­cal fit­ness before selec­tion.
    ...

    Final­ly, keep in mind that this is all hap­pen­ing at the same time the US is loos­en­ing the over­all restric­tions on what types of weapons can be sent to Ukraine, with Ukraine now receiv­ing longer-range mis­siles and oth­er plat­forms that can strike deep inside Rus­sia. So with the Azov bat­tal­ion now slat­ed to receive the same weapons as the rest of Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary, we have to ask: are any of those weapons sys­tems capa­ble of strik­ing deep inside Rus­sia going to be hand­ed over to into Azov? Because at this point it’s hard to imag­ine a bet­ter guar­an­tee of this con­flict mor­ph­ing into a for­mal Rus­sia vs NATO con­flict than hand­ing Azov the abil­i­ty to strike sen­si­tive sites inside Rus­sia. A night­mare out­come that has also seemed inevitable for a while now. And again, here we are, one big step clos­er to that seem­ing­ly inevitable night­mare.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 12, 2024, 4:22 pm
  15. Are we wit­ness­ing the begin­ning of the end for Rus­si­a’s occu­pa­tion of Crimea? Yes, accord­ing to the hyped up reports tout­ing some appar­ent­ly stun­ning suc­cess­es in the use of the recent­ly deliv­ered US-pro­vid­ed long-range ATACMS against air defense sys­tems in Crimea. Accord­ing to these reports, Ukraine crip­pled mul­ti­ple S‑400 air defense sys­tems in Crimea with­out hav­ing a sin­gle mis­sile shot down. While the reports haven’t been con­firmed, it’s already being gid­di­ly cit­ed by West­ern mil­i­tary ana­lysts as a sign of things to come. With the S‑400, Rus­si­a’s top of the line air defense sys­tem, seem­ing­ly unable to stop ATACMS, the plans appears to be to first take out the air defens­es, then the rest of the over 100 mil­i­tary tar­gets will get hit and, even­tu­al­ly, Crimea will be made mil­i­tar­i­ly unus­able for Rus­sia. That’s the plan.

    We’re also get­ting a bet­ter sense of how read­i­ly this sit­u­a­tion can esca­late. Because while the has US secret­ly already sent 100 of these longer-range ATACMS to Ukraine in recent months, it sounds like there’s still around 1,140 “expired” ATACMS in the US’s stock­piles. It’s unclear how many of those “expired” mis­siles are still usable, but it’s still an indi­ca­tion that this mis­sile-based strat­e­gy could rapid­ly esca­late sig­nif­i­cant­ly.

    And let’s not for­get that the US isn’t the only gov­ern­ment with mis­siles to spare. The UK is already pledg­ing to send more Stormshad­ow mis­siles. And while Ger­many has so far refused to send Tau­rus mis­siles, we are told in a recent Radio Free Europe that the Tau­rus would be even more appro­pri­ate than the ATACMS at tak­ing out the Kerch Bridge and the hope is that the US’s deci­sion to deliv­er these ATACMS will per­suade the Ger­man gov­ern­ment. Recall how the UK gov­ern­ment report­ed­ly devised a plan for blow­ing up the Kerch Bridge, although it was­n’t the plan Ukraine ulti­mate­ly used. So it would appear that plans for mis­sile attacks on that bridge are under­way.

    Now, it’s impor­tant to keep in mind that we’ve heard this “game chang­er” nar­ra­tive before, whether it’s tanks or jets. And yet it’s hard to ignore the real­i­ties that large deliv­er­ies of longer-range high pre­ci­sion mis­siles capa­ble of strik­ing any tar­get in Crimea real­ly could change the sit­u­a­tion. Of course, it’s high­ly unlike­ly to change the sit­u­a­tion in a man­ner that some­how results in a Ukrain­ian ‘vic­to­ry’. But it could esca­late the sit­u­a­tion sig­nif­i­cant­ly.
    And let’s also not for­get that, when it comes to esca­la­to­ry changes to the cur­rent war dynam­ic, we’re not just talk­ing about large scale mis­sile attacks on Crimea. With the US loos­en­ing its restric­tions on attacks inside Rus­sia, it’s just a mat­ter of time before these mis­siles start hit­ting sen­si­tive sites inside the rest of Rus­sia. So while it’s hard to take seri­ous­ly the pre­emp­tive cel­e­bra­tion over the rout­ing of Rus­sia from Crimea, it’s not hard to take seri­ous­ly the prospects for a much more intense con­flict involv­ing more and more pow­er­ful weapon sys­tems on both sides. It’s hard to see why a dra­mat­ic esca­la­tion will be great for Ukraine, but it should be an incred­i­ble pay­day for West­ern defense con­trac­tors in the mis­sile-build­ing busi­ness:

    Busi­ness Insid­er

    Ukraine’s big strike on Crimea shows how its old­er mis­siles can take out Rus­si­a’s most advanced air defens­es

    Sinéad Bak­er
    Jun 12, 2024, 6:50 AM CDT

    * Ukraine appeared to take out a Russ­ian S‑400 sys­tem in Crimea with West­ern ATACMS mis­siles.
    * The much-feared S‑400 air-defense sys­tem is more advanced than the much old­er ATACMS.
    * Experts told BI that S‑400s are Rus­si­a’s best, but their per­for­mance in Ukraine has been mixed.

    Ukraine’s lat­est claimed strike on Crimea is like­ly anoth­er exam­ple of how its old­er, West­ern-sup­plied mis­siles can foil even Rus­si­a’s most advanced air-defense sys­tems.

    Ukraine’s Gen­er­al Staff said Ukrain­ian forces hit a Russ­ian S‑400 anti­air­craft mis­sile unit and two S‑300 anti­air­craft mis­sile units on the Rus­sia-annexed penin­su­la overnight on Sun­day into Mon­day, and that they imme­di­ate­ly stopped work­ing.

    It did not say what type of mis­siles were used, but Wash­ing­ton DC-based think tank the Insti­tute for the Study of War said it was “like­ly with ATACMS” — US-made tac­ti­cal bal­lis­tic mis­siles.

    Rybar, an influ­en­tial Russ­ian mil­i­tary blog­ger, said on Mon­day that Ukraine had attacked Crimea with at least 12 ATACMS mis­siles.

    The S‑400 is Rus­si­a’s most advanced air defense sys­tem. It first became oper­a­tional in 2007, more than two decades after the ATACMS, which have been in ser­vice since 1986.

    Ukraine said none of its mis­siles were downed in the attack, while mock­ing Rus­si­a’s descrip­tions of its own air defens­es.

    ...

    The S‑400 is Rus­si­a’s best

    Rajan Menon, direc­tor of the Grand Strat­e­gy pro­gram at the US think tank Defense Pri­or­i­ties, described the S‑400 to BI ear­li­er this year as Rus­si­a’s “top-of-the-line air defense sys­tem.”

    But he said its per­for­mance in Ukraine has been “mixed,” with Ukraine able to take some out.

    Ukraine’s Gen­er­al Staff said on Wednes­day that it destroyed anoth­er S‑400 and anoth­er S‑300 in Crimea, with­out detail­ing what it used in the attack.

    The S‑400 was devel­oped as a rival to the US’ Patri­ot sys­tem, and the head of Rosoboronex­port, the Russ­ian state-owned mil­i­tary com­pa­ny that over­sees much of Rus­si­a’s mil­i­tary exports, has called it the “best long-range air defense sys­tem in the world.”

    Experts told BI that the sys­tem is clear­ly very capa­ble and feared by Ukraine.

    But they said it has proved vul­ner­a­ble in Rus­si­a’s ongo­ing inva­sion, and cred­it­ed Ukraine with using skilled and cre­ative tac­tics to go after the weapons.

    Last Novem­ber, the UK Min­istry of Defence said that Ukraine had like­ly destroyed at least four of the sys­tems in just a week.

    A Russ­ian Telegram chan­nel that claims to have sources in Rus­si­a’s police and mil­i­tary agen­cies said at the time that ATACMS were used.

    Ian Williams, the for­mer deputy direc­tor of the Mis­sile Defense Project at the Cen­ter for Strate­gic and Inter­na­tion­al Stud­ies, said last year that the S‑400s “seem to have strug­gled against Storm Shad­ows,” refer­ring to mis­siles sup­plied to Ukraine by the UK and France, which were first used in 2003.

    Fredrik Mertens, an ana­lyst at the Hague Cen­ter for Strate­gic Stud­ies, told BI that “we clear­ly know that Ukrain­ian mis­siles are get­ting through and at rates that they real­ly pose a prob­lem for the Rus­sians.”

    Mean­while, George Bar­ros, a Rus­sia ana­lyst at the Insti­tute for the Study of War, told BI this week that the prob­lem could actu­al­ly become worse for Rus­sia.

    He said that new per­mis­sions giv­en by some allies to allow Ukraine to use West­ern-donat­ed weapons to strike mil­i­tary tar­gets in Rus­sia will put its S‑400s and oth­er air defens­es — those once out­side Ukraine’s strike range — at risk.

    Crimea at renewed risk

    At the same time, Ukraine said last month that it used West­ern-sup­plied ATACMS to strike the Russ­ian Kerch fer­ry cross­ing into Crimea.

    ...

    ———-

    “Ukraine’s big strike on Crimea shows how its old­er mis­siles can take out Rus­si­a’s most advanced air defens­es” by Sinéad Bak­er; Busi­ness Insid­er; 06/12/2024

    “The S‑400 is Rus­si­a’s most advanced air defense sys­tem. It first became oper­a­tional in 2007, more than two decades after the ATACMS, which have been in ser­vice since 1986.”

    Rus­si­a’s most advanced air defense sys­tems are appar­ent­ly quite vul­ner­a­ble to decades-old ATACMS. While experts acknowl­edge that the S‑400 is indeed high­ly capa­ble, it’s also high­ly vul­ner­a­ble to these old US-pro­vid­ed mis­siles. That’s the sto­ry we’re get­ting:

    ...
    Rajan Menon, direc­tor of the Grand Strat­e­gy pro­gram at the US think tank Defense Pri­or­i­ties, described the S‑400 to BI ear­li­er this year as Rus­si­a’s “top-of-the-line air defense sys­tem.”

    But he said its per­for­mance in Ukraine has been “mixed,” with Ukraine able to take some out.

    ...

    The S‑400 was devel­oped as a rival to the US’ Patri­ot sys­tem, and the head of Rosoboronex­port, the Russ­ian state-owned mil­i­tary com­pa­ny that over­sees much of Rus­si­a’s mil­i­tary exports, has called it the “best long-range air defense sys­tem in the world.”

    Experts told BI that the sys­tem is clear­ly very capa­ble and feared by Ukraine.

    But they said it has proved vul­ner­a­ble in Rus­si­a’s ongo­ing inva­sion, and cred­it­ed Ukraine with using skilled and cre­ative tac­tics to go after the weapons.

    ...

    Ian Williams, the for­mer deputy direc­tor of the Mis­sile Defense Project at the Cen­ter for Strate­gic and Inter­na­tion­al Stud­ies, said last year that the S‑400s “seem to have strug­gled against Storm Shad­ows,” refer­ring to mis­siles sup­plied to Ukraine by the UK and France, which were first used in 2003.

    Fredrik Mertens, an ana­lyst at the Hague Cen­ter for Strate­gic Stud­ies, told BI that “we clear­ly know that Ukrain­ian mis­siles are get­ting through and at rates that they real­ly pose a prob­lem for the Rus­sians.”

    Mean­while, George Bar­ros, a Rus­sia ana­lyst at the Insti­tute for the Study of War, told BI this week that the prob­lem could actu­al­ly become worse for Rus­sia.

    He said that new per­mis­sions giv­en by some allies to allow Ukraine to use West­ern-donat­ed weapons to strike mil­i­tary tar­gets in Rus­sia will put its S‑400s and oth­er air defens­es — those once out­side Ukraine’s strike range — at risk.
    ...

    And it’s not just these recent suc­cess­ful attacks that experts are cit­ing. There have been claims of suc­cess­ful ATACMS attacks on Crimean instal­la­tions for months now:

    ...
    It did not say what type of mis­siles were used, but Wash­ing­ton DC-based think tank the Insti­tute for the Study of War said it was “like­ly with ATACMS” — US-made tac­ti­cal bal­lis­tic mis­siles.

    Rybar, an influ­en­tial Russ­ian mil­i­tary blog­ger, said on Mon­day that Ukraine had attacked Crimea with at least 12 ATACMS mis­siles.

    ...

    Ukraine said none of its mis­siles were downed in the attack, while mock­ing Rus­si­a’s descrip­tions of its own air defens­es.

    ...

    Ukraine’s Gen­er­al Staff said on Wednes­day that it destroyed anoth­er S‑400 and anoth­er S‑300 in Crimea, with­out detail­ing what it used in the attack.

    ...

    Last Novem­ber, the UK Min­istry of Defence said that Ukraine had like­ly destroyed at least four of the sys­tems in just a week.

    A Russ­ian Telegram chan­nel that claims to have sources in Rus­si­a’s police and mil­i­tary agen­cies said at the time that ATACMS were used.

    ...

    At the same time, Ukraine said last month that it used West­ern-sup­plied ATACMS to strike the Russ­ian Kerch fer­ry cross­ing into Crimea.
    ...

    And that report tout­ing this alleged­ly stun­ning­ly suc­cess­ful ATACMS attack, with none of the mis­siles inter­cept­ed, brings us to the fol­low­ing Radio Free Europe report from a cou­ple of weeks ago describ­ing the plans on using these attacks to make Crimea mil­i­tar­i­ly unus­able. And as the arti­cle notes, while 100 ATACMS have been sent so far, there’s still anoth­er 1,140 “expired” ATACMS sit­ting in US stock­piles poten­tial­ly avail­able:

    Radio Free Europe

    With ATACMS In Hand, Ukraine Looks To Neu­tral­ize Putin’s Fortress In Crimea

    April 29, 2024 14:05 GMT
    By Todd Prince

    Ever since Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale inva­sion of Ukraine in Feb­ru­ary 2022, his armed forces have pound­ed Ukraine with mis­siles and drones fired from the rel­a­tive­ly safe con­fines of Crimea.

    Fol­low­ing his occu­pa­tion of the Ukrain­ian Black Sea penin­su­la in 2014, the Krem­lin leader poured bil­lions of dol­lars into mil­i­ta­riz­ing Crimea, expand­ing bases and con­struct­ing depots and oth­er infra­struc­ture.

    Now fortress Crimea faces a sig­nif­i­cant new threat that could neu­tral­ize its cru­cial role in the 26-month-old war: U.S. long-range ATACMS, or Army Tac­ti­cal Mis­sile Sys­tems. After near­ly two years of hes­i­ta­tion, the Unit­ed States ear­li­er this month deliv­ered ver­sions of the pow­er­ful bal­lis­tic mis­siles that can trav­el 300 kilo­me­ters — essen­tial­ly reach­ing any of the more than 100 mil­i­tary tar­gets on the penin­su­la.

    “The deliv­ery of ATACMS is a big break­through. It could basi­cal­ly make Crimea mil­i­tar­i­ly worth­less,” Philip Kar­ber, a Wash­ing­ton-based mil­i­tary ana­lyst who focus­es on Ukraine, told RFE/RL.

    Crimea is home to Rus­si­a’s Black Sea fleet, six air bases, com­mand-and-con­trol cen­ters, arms depots, docks, bar­racks, and more. It is also dot­ted with air-defense radars and anti-mis­sile sys­tems to pro­tect the facil­i­ties.

    ...

    ‘An Unsink­able Air­craft Car­ri­er’

    Crimea also serves as a key logis­tics hub for Putin’s war effort. Rus­sia moves crit­i­cal sup­plies such as ammu­ni­tion, heavy armor, fuel, food, and med­ical equip­ment from the Krasnodar region to Crimea by road, rail, and fer­ries and oth­er ships. Much of the sup­plies and man­pow­er move north through the penin­su­la into the Russ­ian-occu­pied parts of the Kher­son and Zapor­izhzhya regions.

    “Right now, Crimea is like an unsink­able air­craft car­ri­er for the Rus­sians, launch­ing drones and air­craft and pro­vid­ing logis­ti­cal sup­port to their forces in south­ern Ukraine,” Ben Hodges, a retired U.S. Army lieu­tenant gen­er­al who com­mand­ed U.S. forces in Europe, told RFE/RL.

    Ukraine struck sev­er­al key mil­i­tary tar­gets on the penin­su­la –includ­ing air bases and the 19-kilo­me­ter Crimea Bridge, the only phys­i­cal con­nec­tion between Rus­sia and Crimea and a crit­i­cal mil­i­tary sup­ply route — even before the lat­est deliv­er­ies of ATACMS were approved by the Unit­ed States on April 24.

    Though Rus­sia reg­u­lar­ly shuts down the bridge due to threats, Moscow con­tin­ues to deliv­er sub­stan­tial sup­plies to Crimea across the link as well as via fer­ries, Kar­ber said. Ships also car­ry car­go to Sev­astopol, the head­quar­ters of Rus­si­a’s Black Sea fleet locat­ed on the penin­su­la’s south­west coast.

    Zelen­skiy for months had been urg­ing the Biden admin­is­tra­tion to send the longer-range ATACMS, which car­ry a 230-kilo­gram war­head, in order to hit mil­i­tary tar­gets far behind Russ­ian lines, espe­cial­ly those in Crimea. Ukraine pro­duces a only small num­ber of long-range mis­siles, though it hopes to begin ramp­ing up out­put this year.

    The Unit­ed States last autumn sent a short­er-range ver­sion of the ATACMS with a reach of 165 kilo­me­ters that sprays bomblets when it explodes. Ukraine suc­cess­ful­ly used them for the first time in Octo­ber against tar­gets in east­ern Ukraine.

    Short­ly after receiv­ing the longer-range ATACMS ear­li­er this month, Ukraine on April 17 report­ed­ly used them to strike Dzhankoi air base in north­east Crimea, dam­ag­ing Russ­ian heli­copters, an S‑400 strate­gic sur­face-to-air plat­form, the coun­try’s most advanced air-defense sys­tem, and an aero­space sur­veil­lance com­plex used as a com­mand-and-con­trol cen­ter. The reports could not be inde­pen­dent­ly ver­i­fied.

    The Num­bers Game

    The Unit­ed States has not announced how many of the longer-range ATACMS it has already sent to Ukraine or how many more Ukraine could receive in the com­ing months.

    The New York Times, cit­ing uniden­ti­fied U.S. offi­cials, said more than 100 of the longer-range ATACMS were deliv­ered to Ukraine. Mul­ti­ple ATACMS may be need­ed to destroy or severe­ly dam­age a sin­gle tar­get, Kar­ber and Hodges said.

    Col­by Bad­hwar, an inde­pen­dent defense ana­lyst, said in a post on X, for­mer­ly Twit­ter, that the Unit­ed States could plau­si­bly give Ukraine 200 of the long-range ATACMS and pos­si­bly more if the rough­ly 1,140 “expired” mis­siles in U.S. stocks are still usable.

    Ukraine pos­sess­es oth­er West­ern-made mis­siles though those sup­plies are dwin­dling. The Unit­ed King­dom last year sent Ukraine its Storm Shad­ow pre­ci­sion cruise mis­siles that can hit tar­gets as far away as 250 kilo­me­ters. Last week, Lon­don announced it would be send­ing more.

    Proof Of Con­cept

    In the span of 10 days in Sep­tem­ber 2023, Ukraine used its sup­ply of Storm Shad­ows to hit two tar­gets in Crimea: a ship­yard and the Black Sea Fleet’s head­quar­ters in Sev­astopol. Ukraine has destroyed or dam­aged about 24 Russ­ian ves­sels in the Black Sea — includ­ing the flag­ship Mosk­va, which was sunk in April 2022 — using a com­bi­na­tion of domes­tic and West­ern weapons.

    Less than two weeks after the strike on the head­quar­ters, Rus­sia with­drew the bulk of its Black Sea Fleet from the penin­su­la to the Russ­ian port of Novorossiysk.

    ...

    In an inter­view with the Wash­ing­ton Post last month, Zelen­skiy said the ATACMS would enable Ukraine to dri­ve the Russ­ian Air Force from the penin­su­la.

    ...

    Bad­hwar said ATACMS, which trav­el at much greater speeds than Storm Shad­ows and can reach their tar­gets in min­utes, are bet­ter suit­ed for use against time-sen­si­tive tar­gets like mobile, ground-based air and mis­sile-defense sys­tems, air­craft on the ground, logis­ti­cal assets engaged in the load­ing and unload­ing of sup­plies, and artillery and mis­sile launch­ers.

    How­ev­er, he said the Ger­man Tau­rus cruise mis­sile is bet­ter suit­ed than ATACMS to tar­get the Crimea Bridge. Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Olaf Scholz has so far resist­ed pres­sure to give Ukraine the pow­er­ful mis­sile, though West­ern offi­cials hope the U.S. deci­sion to sup­ply the ATACMS will force the Ger­man lead­er’s hand.

    Nowhere To Hide

    Now that Ukraine is armed with ATACMS, Hodges said, there is nowhere for Russ­ian forces in Crimea to hide. Ukraine’s armed forces “know every square meter” of the penin­su­la, he said. Dur­ing his vis­it to the Munich Secu­ri­ty Con­fer­ence in Feb­ru­ary, Zelen­skiy said he showed U.S. offi­cials which tar­gets he want­ed to strike with ATACMS.

    “The first big step toward the lib­er­a­tion of Crimea is mak­ing it unten­able. And long-range, pre­ci­sion strike capa­bil­i­ty will give Ukraine the oppor­tu­ni­ty to do that,” Hodges said.

    ...

    While Kar­ber said Ukraine would also like­ly launch ATACMS against Russ­ian mil­i­tary facil­i­ties in the occu­pied east­ern parts of the coun­try where Moscow has been mak­ing progress and is gear­ing up for an offen­sive, Hodges said Crimea is the key to vic­to­ry.

    “Crimea is what we would call the deci­sive ter­rain of this board. Who­ev­er con­trols Crimea is going to be the win­ner here,” Hodges said.

    ...

    ————-

    “With ATACMS In Hand, Ukraine Looks To Neu­tral­ize Putin’s Fortress In Crimea” By Todd Prince; Radio Free Europe; 04/29/2024

    “Now fortress Crimea faces a sig­nif­i­cant new threat that could neu­tral­ize its cru­cial role in the 26-month-old war: U.S. long-range ATACMS, or Army Tac­ti­cal Mis­sile Sys­tems. After near­ly two years of hes­i­ta­tion, the Unit­ed States ear­li­er this month deliv­ered ver­sions of the pow­er­ful bal­lis­tic mis­siles that can trav­el 300 kilo­me­ters — essen­tial­ly reach­ing any of the more than 100 mil­i­tary tar­gets on the penin­su­la.

    All of the mil­i­tary tar­gets of Crimea are now in reach of US-sup­plied ATACMS, accord­ing to this analy­sis. As one ana­lyst puts it, “The deliv­ery of ATACMS is a big break­through. It could basi­cal­ly make Crimea mil­i­tar­i­ly worth­less.” And while it’s pre­pos­ter­ous to imag­ine Rus­sia will allow itself to be ‘pushed out’ of Crimea, it’s not hard to imag­ine this real­ly does rep­re­sent a sig­nif­i­cant esca­la­tion in this con­flict:

    ...
    “The deliv­ery of ATACMS is a big break­through. It could basi­cal­ly make Crimea mil­i­tar­i­ly worth­less,” Philip Kar­ber, a Wash­ing­ton-based mil­i­tary ana­lyst who focus­es on Ukraine, told RFE/RL.

    ...

    “Right now, Crimea is like an unsink­able air­craft car­ri­er for the Rus­sians, launch­ing drones and air­craft and pro­vid­ing logis­ti­cal sup­port to their forces in south­ern Ukraine,” Ben Hodges, a retired U.S. Army lieu­tenant gen­er­al who com­mand­ed U.S. forces in Europe, told RFE/RL.

    ...

    Short­ly after receiv­ing the longer-range ATACMS ear­li­er this month, Ukraine on April 17 report­ed­ly used them to strike Dzhankoi air base in north­east Crimea, dam­ag­ing Russ­ian heli­copters, an S‑400 strate­gic sur­face-to-air plat­form, the coun­try’s most advanced air-defense sys­tem, and an aero­space sur­veil­lance com­plex used as a com­mand-and-con­trol cen­ter. The reports could not be inde­pen­dent­ly ver­i­fied.

    ...

    While Kar­ber said Ukraine would also like­ly launch ATACMS against Russ­ian mil­i­tary facil­i­ties in the occu­pied east­ern parts of the coun­try where Moscow has been mak­ing progress and is gear­ing up for an offen­sive, Hodges said Crimea is the key to vic­to­ry.

    “Crimea is what we would call the deci­sive ter­rain of this board. Who­ev­er con­trols Crimea is going to be the win­ner here,” Hodges said.
    ...

    And with those rough­ly 100 mil­i­tary tar­gets in mind, note the read­i­ly avail­able pool of ATACMS that could still be sent to Ukraine: on top of the 100 mis­siles already sent, there are still 1,140 “expired” ATACMS still in the US’s stock. And that’s on top of the mis­siles sent by the UK and poten­tial­ly Ger­many. The mis­sile-inten­sive phase of this war could get a lot more intense as the west­ern restric­tions on what can be sent to Ukraine con­tin­ues to ‘loosen’. For exam­ple, note how the Ger­man Tau­rus mis­sile is cit­ed as being more appro­pri­ate than the ATACMS for attack­ing the Kerch Bridge. Also recall how the UK gov­ern­ment report­ed­ly devised a plan for blow­ing up the Kerch Bridge. Crip­pling that bridge is a long­stand­ing goal of the West and it sounds like it will be a lot eas­i­er to accom­plish with all these new mis­siles:

    ...
    The Unit­ed States has not announced how many of the longer-range ATACMS it has already sent to Ukraine or how many more Ukraine could receive in the com­ing months.

    The New York Times, cit­ing uniden­ti­fied U.S. offi­cials, said more than 100 of the longer-range ATACMS were deliv­ered to Ukraine. Mul­ti­ple ATACMS may be need­ed to destroy or severe­ly dam­age a sin­gle tar­get, Kar­ber and Hodges said.

    Col­by Bad­hwar, an inde­pen­dent defense ana­lyst, said in a post on X, for­mer­ly Twit­ter, that the Unit­ed States could plau­si­bly give Ukraine 200 of the long-range ATACMS and pos­si­bly more if the rough­ly 1,140 “expired” mis­siles in U.S. stocks are still usable.

    Ukraine pos­sess­es oth­er West­ern-made mis­siles though those sup­plies are dwin­dling. The Unit­ed King­dom last year sent Ukraine its Storm Shad­ow pre­ci­sion cruise mis­siles that can hit tar­gets as far away as 250 kilo­me­ters. Last week, Lon­don announced it would be send­ing more.

    ...

    Bad­hwar said ATACMS, which trav­el at much greater speeds than Storm Shad­ows and can reach their tar­gets in min­utes, are bet­ter suit­ed for use against time-sen­si­tive tar­gets like mobile, ground-based air and mis­sile-defense sys­tems, air­craft on the ground, logis­ti­cal assets engaged in the load­ing and unload­ing of sup­plies, and artillery and mis­sile launch­ers.

    How­ev­er, he said the Ger­man Tau­rus cruise mis­sile is bet­ter suit­ed than ATACMS to tar­get the Crimea Bridge. Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Olaf Scholz has so far resist­ed pres­sure to give Ukraine the pow­er­ful mis­sile, though West­ern offi­cials hope the U.S. deci­sion to sup­ply the ATACMS will force the Ger­man lead­er’s hand.
    ...

    Also note that when we see ref­er­ences to the ear­li­er short­er-range ATACMS deliv­er­ies that spray bomblets, recall how clus­ter muni­tions have been used in Ukraine since 2014, with civil­ians as one of the pri­ma­ry vic­tims. Which is a reminder that the more this con­flict esca­lates, the more civil­ian deaths we should expect. Includ­ing civil­ians in Crimea and East­ern Ukraine that, in the­o­ry, are to be rein­cor­po­rat­ed back into Ukrain­ian soci­ety after some sort of neb­u­lous ‘Russ­ian defeat’ has been achieved:

    ...
    Zelen­skiy for months had been urg­ing the Biden admin­is­tra­tion to send the longer-range ATACMS, which car­ry a 230-kilo­gram war­head, in order to hit mil­i­tary tar­gets far behind Russ­ian lines, espe­cial­ly those in Crimea. Ukraine pro­duces a only small num­ber of long-range mis­siles, though it hopes to begin ramp­ing up out­put this year.

    The Unit­ed States last autumn sent a short­er-range ver­sion of the ATACMS with a reach of 165 kilo­me­ters that sprays bomblets when it explodes. Ukraine suc­cess­ful­ly used them for the first time in Octo­ber against tar­gets in east­ern Ukraine.
    ...

    How many more clus­ter muni­tion mis­siles is the US plan­ning on send­ing? We’ll see, but more mis­siles is clear­ly the plan. Espe­cial­ly if it turns out all the hype over the S‑400’s trou­bles is accu­rate. We’ve reached the esca­la­to­ry mis­sile phase of this con­flict.

    And in relat­ed news, the US just announced plans to send anoth­er bat­tery of Patri­ot mis­siles to Ukraine. Which is a reminder that Rus­sia has mis­siles too. As well as a reminder that it’s the Ukrain­ian peo­ple, and not their West­ern ‘allies’, who are going to be on the receiv­ing end of those mis­siles as this con­flict con­tin­ues to fes­ter and esca­late with­out any real­is­tic end in sight.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 13, 2024, 5:06 pm

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