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

For The Record  

FTR #804 Walkin’ the Snake in Ukraine, Part 2

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

Lis­ten: MP3

Side 1  Side 2

This descrip­tion con­tains infor­ma­tion not includ­ed in the orig­i­nal broad­cast.

Intro­duc­tion: This broad­cast extends our dis­cus­sion of the cri­sis in Ukraine.

(We have cov­ered the ascen­sion of the OUN/B heirs in the Ukraine in a num­ber of pro­grams: FTR #‘s 777778779780781782, 783784794800, 803.)

Expand­ing mate­r­i­al high­light­ed in FTR #803, this pro­gram presents fur­ther analy­sis of the down­ing of Malaysian Air­lines MH 17.

The first part of the pro­gram devel­ops infor­ma­tion about Michael Boci­urkiw at greater length. (Boci­urkiw heads the OSCE’s Spe­cial Mon­i­tor­ing Mis­sion in Ukraine. He is the “Go-to-Guy” for much of the media cov­er­age of events relat­ed to the shoot­down of the plane.)

After review Boci­urki­w’s close asso­ci­a­tion with the polit­i­cal and his­tor­i­cal milieu of the OUN/B, the pro­gram details Boci­urki­w’s net­work­ing with a Malaysian Mus­lim Broth­er­hood milieu that over­laps the polit­i­cal ele­ments that fig­ure in the inves­ti­ga­tion into the dis­ap­pear­ance of Malaysian Air­lines Flight 370. That same Mus­lim Broth­er­hood milieu also net­works with Louis Far­rakhan and the Nation of Islam.

In order to fur­ther illus­trate the fas­cist char­ac­ter of the Malaysian Mus­lim Broth­er­hood milieu with which Boci­urkiw net­works, we exam­ine Far­rakhan’s “pol­i­tics of slav­ery.” In addi­tion to blam­ing African-Amer­i­can slav­ery on the Jews, Far­rakhan has been open­ly excul­pa­to­ry of Mus­lim Broth­er­hood-con­nect­ed regimes in Africa that prac­tice slav­ery today.

Sup­ple­ment­ing infor­ma­tion pre­sent­ed in FTR #803, we learn that a web­site cater­ing to glob­al busi­ness trav­el­ers pre­sent­ed infor­ma­tion point­ing to Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary per­son­nel as the “perps” of the shoot­down of MH 17.

This alle­ga­tion sup­ple­ments infor­ma­tion devel­oped by Robert Par­ry con­cern­ing aer­i­al sur­veil­lance by U.S. spy satel­lites show­ing what appeared to be [pos­si­bly drunk­en] Ukrain­ian sol­diers hav­ing fired the mis­sile that brought down the plane.

The glob­al trav­eler web­site also notes an impor­tant last minute change of course by the MH 17 plane, appar­ently ordered by Ukrain­ian air con­trollers.

A last minute change of course of the doomed plane was con­firmed by an Air India air­craft near­by. That change of course brought the plane into the killing ground.

In FTR #803, we high­light­ed the Azov Bat­tal­ion, one of many Nazi/fascist com­bat­ant mili­tias fight­ing as part of the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary. Anoth­er use­ful post from german-foreign-policy.com high­lights the fact that the Azov Bat­tal­ion was formed by Oleg Lyashko, who also heads the Rad­i­cal Par­ty. That par­ty looms large as the sin­gle most pop­u­lar polit­i­cal par­ty in Ukraine.Together with Swo­bo­da and Pravy Sek­tor, it forms a dom­i­nant fas­cist polit­i­cal axis in Ukraine.

Lyashko also revealed that, in addi­tion to Michael Skillt (whom we dis­cussed in FTR #803), the unit con­tained sev­er­al for­eign snipers, some of whom were present dur­ing the Maid­an protests and appeared to have fired at Ukrain­ian police units. This would make the vio­lence that led to the ouster of Yanukovych the out­growth of a provo­ca­tion.

This also places what, for lack of a bet­ter term, a “polit­i­cal con­text of provo­ca­tion” with­in which the down­ing of MH 17 must be viewed.

As the world’s atten­tion is focused on the “inves­ti­ga­tion” into MH 17, Ukrain­ian secu­ri­ty per­son­nel (read “Swo­bo­da,” “Pravy Sek­tor” and “Social Nation­al Assem­bly”) formed an anony­mous informer appa­ra­tus to iden­ti­fy col­lab­o­ra­tors with the rebels.

Pro­gram High­lights Include: Review of John Lof­tus’ work head­ing the OSI (rou­tine­ly dis­par­aged in the Ukrain­ian Week­ly); review of Anwar Ibrahim’s links to both the Inter­na­tion­al Insti­tute of Islam­ic Thought and Zaharie Shah, the pilot of Malaysian Air­lines Flight 370; the pres­ence of a large con­tin­gent of AIDS researchers on MH 17; the unlike­ly coin­ci­dence of Dutch cyclist Maarten de Jong, who was booked to fly on both Malaysia Air­lines Flight 370 and MH 17; activism on behalf of the Chechen rebels by mem­bers of the Roy­al Fam­i­ly of the Nether­lands; spec­u­la­tion about pos­si­ble links between the Chechen sup­port of the Roy­al Fam­i­ly, Maarten de Jonge and the UNA/UNSO’s appar­ent par­tic­i­pa­tion in Chech­nya; a call by Ger­man offi­cials for an EU/Bundeswehr mil­i­tary inter­ven­tion in Ukraine after the down­ing of MH 17; the direct polit­i­cal evo­lu­tion of Pravy Sek­tor from the OUN/B.

1. Michael Boci­urkiw was one of the first “inves­ti­ga­tors” at the crash site. He heads the OSCE’s Spe­cial Mon­i­tor­ing Mis­sion in Ukraine.

“Malaysia Air­lines MH17: Michael Boci­urkiw Talks about Being First at the Crash Site”; CBC News; 7/29/2014.

Michael Boci­urkiw was among the very first peo­ple to reach the Malaysian jet’s wreck­age

A per­son­al hand­writ­ten note penned by a pas­sen­ger remind­ing them­selves to stay on bud­get dur­ing their vaca­tion. Sci­en­tif­ic lit­er­a­ture belong­ing to a pas­sen­ger en route to a major inter­na­tion­al AIDS con­fer­ence in Aus­tralia.

These are just a few of the things that Michael Boci­urkiw, a Ukrain­ian-Cana­di­an mon­i­tor with the Orga­ni­za­tion for Secu­ri­ty and Coop­er­a­tion in Europe (OSCE), has seen up close at the crash site of Malaysia Air­lines Flight MH17.

Boci­urkiw and one oth­er col­league were the first inter­na­tion­al mon­i­tors to reach the wreck­age after the jet was shot down over a rebel-held region of east­ern Ukraine July 17.

With no oth­er over­sight on scene, the two men became the de fac­to eyes and ears of all those who watched in hor­ror from around the world. More than ten days lat­er, he’s still one of a select group of indi­vid­u­als who has been to crash site almost dai­ly. . . . .

2. In the wake of the rhetorical/political firestorm over the down­ing of Malaysian Air­lines Flight MH17, we note that the OSCE (Orga­ni­za­tion for Secu­ri­ty and Coop­er­a­tion in Europe) is front and cen­ter in the “inves­ti­ga­tion” into the event.

“OSCE Describes Process for Iden­ti­fy­ing Bod­ies from MH17 Attack” by Simon San­tow; ABC  News; 7/21/2014.

The OSCE has told AM it has final­ly obtained bet­ter access on the ground near the site where MH17 was shot down in east­ern Ukraine. The spokesman for the Spe­cial Mon­i­tor­ing Mis­sion to Ukraine, Michael Boci­urkiw, says they have seen some remains and bod­ies stored in refrig­er­at­ed rail wag­ons in the town of Tores. He says after the ear­li­er chaos, there’s now greater co-oper­a­tion but there are still plen­ty of con­cerns about get­ting access for crash inves­ti­ga­tors and of secur­ing the perime­ter of the area 24 hours a day.

3a. We put the quo­ta­tion marks around “inves­ti­ga­tion” because the OSCE’s Spe­cial Mon­i­tor­ing Mis­sion is head­ed by one Michael [“Mykhai­lo”] Boci­urkiw. A Cana­di­an cit­i­zen of Ukrain­ian extrac­tion, he was an assis­tant edi­tor for the Ukrain­ian Week­ly.

Issues of the peri­od­i­cal avail­able online point to a “pro-OUN/B” bias.

PDF copies of issues are avail­able at their web­siteThis issue appears fair­ly rep­re­sen­ta­tive, and man­i­fests a def­i­nite anti-OSI, pro Repub­li­can Her­itage Groups Coun­cil bias. (The RHGC is the Nazi/ABN wing of the GOP, dis­cussed at length in FTR #465, among oth­er pro­grams. It heav­i­ly over­laps the OUN/B.

A 1987 let­ter from the World Jew­ish Con­gress’ gen­er­al coun­sel notes an appar­ent anti-OSI bias on the part of arti­cles writ­ten by Boci­urkiw. Note that the Office of Spe­cial Inves­ti­ga­tions was the Jus­tice Depart­ment unit charged with inves­ti­gat­ing Nazi war crim­i­nals liv­ing the U.S.

The unit was for­mer­ly head­ed by John Lof­tus, who resigned his posi­tion as head of OSI as the Rea­gan admin­is­tra­tion was tak­ing office because many of the peo­ple he was inves­ti­a­gat­ing held staff posi­tions with Rea­gan.

Boci­urki­w’s posi­tion with the OSCE appar­ent­ly places yet anoth­er OUN/B advo­cate in the mix, charged with “inves­ti­gat­ing” actions tak­en by a gov­ern­ment inex­tri­ca­bly linked with OUN/B heirs such as Swo­bo­da, Pravy Sek­tor and the Ukrain­ian Nation­al Con­gress.

Feb­ru­ary 2, 1987


Ms. Janet Ben­don

Direc­tor of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions

Cana­di­an Jew­ish Con­gress

1590 Avenue Doc­teur Pen­field

Mon­tre­al, Que­bec H3G 1C5


Re: Michael Boci­urkiw

Dear Janet:

Enclosed, in accor­dance with your request of this date, is a near­ly com­plete run of The Ukrain­ian Week­ly (Jer­sey City, N.J.) from Vol. LIII, No. 40 (Octo­ber 6, 1985) through Vol. LV, No. 4 (Jan­u­ary 25, 1987).  These 61 issues come from my per­son­al library, and I appre­ci­ate your assur­ance that they will be returned to me by couri­er at your ear­li­est oppor­tu­ni­ty.

As I indi­cat­ed on the phone, Michael Boci­urkiw is a fre­quent con­trib­u­tor to the news­pa­per.  Indeed, one of his arti­cles appears on the front page of the old­est of the enclosed issues (Octo­ber 6, 1985), under the byline “Mykhai­lo” Boci­urkiw.  Vol. LIII, issue no. 50 (Decem­ber 15, 1985) reports that he has been named Assis­tant Edi­tor of the news­pa­per.  As you can see, I have made a prac­tice of not­ing on the front page of each issue those pages which con­tain arti­cles of inter­est (which, of course, would include all arti­cles, edi­to­ri­als, opin­ion pieces, adver­tise­ments, etc. regard­ing Nazi crimes and their per­pe­tra­tors).  Where more than one arti­cle of inter­est appears on a par­tic­u­lar page, I gen­er­al­ly have not­ed this fact through the use of par­en­thet­i­cals.  I am con­vinced, by the way, that many of the unby­lined “Nazi sto­ries” were penned by Mr. Boci­urkiw.  In any event, the anti-OSI, anti-Nazi pros­e­cu­tion bias in Boci­urki­w’s writ­ten out­put and in the news­pa­per gen­er­al­ly will be read­i­ly appar­ent as you read through the enclosed issues. . . .

Sin­cere­ly yours,

Eli M. Rosen­baum

Gen­er­al Coun­sel

3b. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive of The Ukrain­ian Week­ly’s pro-OUN/B cov­er­age is this obit­u­ary of OUN/B leader Jaroslav Stet­sko (also “Stet­zko”). Note that the OUN/B is also known as the OUN’s “rev­o­lu­tion­ary fac­tion.”

Nowhere in this sto­ry do you see any­thing about OUN/B’s mur­der­ous col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Nazis, nor the fas­cist nature and Third Reich ori­gin of the Anti-Bol­she­vik Bloc of Nations.

“Yaroslav Stet­zko, Nation­al­ist Leader and For­mer Prime Min­is­ter Dies” by Ihor Dia­bo­ha; The Ukrain­ian Week­ly; 7/13/1986.

Yaroslav Stet­zko, head of the Orga­ni­za­tion of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists (rev­o­lu­tion­ary fac­tion) and prime min­is­ter of Ukraine dur­ing World War II, died Sat­ur­day at the age of 74 after a pro­longed ill­ness. He is sur­vived by his wife Sla­va, head of the ABN Cor­re­spon­dence. . . .

. . . In Feb­ru­ary, 1940, fol­low­ing the split in the OUN, Mssrs. Ban­dera and Stet­zko assumed the lead­er­ship of the OUN’s rev­o­lu­tion­ary lead­er­ship.

Plans were imme­di­ate­ly set in motion to pro­claim the estab­lish­ment of Ukraine’s inde­pen­dence. This was fur­ther expand­ed with oth­er polit­i­cal par­ties through  Mr. Stetzko’s role in the Ukrain­ian Nation­al Com­mit­tee.

Inde­pen­dence was pro­claimed on June 30, 1941, less than two weeks after Nazi Ger­many invad­ed Sovi­et Russ­ian occu­pied ter­ri­to­ries. Mssrs. Ban­dera and Stet­zko, the rev­o­lu­tion­ary lead­er­ship and oth­er nation­al­is­tic fig­ures were impris­oned in con­cen­tra­tion camps by the Nazis. Mr. Stet­zko’ s work on behalf of the Ukrain­ian nation and its inde­pen­dence con­tin­ued after the war.

In 1947 he was elect­ed chair­man of the Anti-Bol­she­vik Bloc of Nations, which had its roots in the clan­des­tine Con­fer­ence of Cap­tive Nations con­vened by Gen­er­al Taras Chupryn­ka in 1943. Mr. Stet­zko served as its only chair­man.

In 1968, Mr. Stet­zko was elect­ed head of the OUN® cen­tral lead­er­ship.

Mr. Stetzko’s anti-Com­mu­nist activ­i­ty extend­ed beyond Ukrain­ian affairs. As chair­man of the Euro­pean Free­dom Coun­cil and a mem­ber of the pre­sid­i­um of the World Anti-Com­mu­nist League. Mr. Stet­sko met with inter­na­tion­al lead­ers and var­i­ous states­men impress­ing on them the need to wage a free­dom cam­paign on behalf of cap­tive nations.

Among the West­ern lead­ers he met were Pres­i­dent Ronald Rea­gan and Vice-Pres­i­dent George Bush.

The funer­al litur­gy was to be offered on Sat­ur­day, July 12, at the Ukrain­ian catholic cathe­dral in Munich. Bur­ial was to fol­low at the Wal­fried­hoff Ceme­tery.

4a. Boci­urkiw has net­worked with a Malaysian Mus­lim Broth­er­hood-con­nect­ed milieu that over­laps the Inter­na­tion­al Insti­tute of Islam­ic Thought and–by extension–that of the pilot of Malaysian Air­lines Flight 370.

Inter­est­ing­ly and, per­haps sig­nif­i­cant­ly, Boci­urkiw edit­ed a puff-piece book about Dr. Mahathir Mohammed,  a hard­line fun­da­men­tal­ist Mus­lim and–like promi­nent Malaysian Mus­lim Broth­er Anwar Ibrahim–a for­mer Malaysian Prime Min­is­ter. Mahathir Mohammed is a rav­ing anti-Semi­te, as are the OUN/B knock-off groups like Swo­bo­da and Pravy Sek­tor.

The book is titled: Mahathir: 22Years, 22Voices.

In addi­tion to an intro­duc­tion writ­ten by Michael Boci­urkiw, anoth­er was writ­ten by Abdul­lah Badawi. Both Mahathir Mohammed and Abdul­lah Badawi were pro­teges of Muham­mad M. Abdul Rauf, a Malaysian Mus­lim Broth­er and a per­son­al stu­dent of Mus­lim Broth­er­hood founder Has­san El-Ban­na.

In turn, Abdul Rauf was very close to the IIIT, one of the orga­ni­za­tions raid­ed in the Oper­a­tion Green Quest Raids of 3/20/2002. The IIIT is an off­shoot of the Al-Taqwa nexus, hav­ing been found­ed by the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood fol­low­ing a 1977 meet­ing at Al-Taqwa direc­tor Ali Galeb Him­mat’s home in Lake Lugano. The Oper­a­tion Green Quest raids were insti­tut­ed after an inves­ti­ga­tion of Sami Al-Ari­an, who declined to give grand jury tes­ti­mo­ny about the IIIT, out of fear for his safe­ty.

Malaysian Air­lines Flight 370 was pilot­ed by Zaharie Shah, a devo­tee of Anwar Ibrahim, anoth­er for­mer Malaysian Prime Min­is­ter and promi­nent Malaysian Mus­lim Broth­er. Ibrahim was also a co-founder of the IIIT and a lob­by­ing client of Grover Norquist. Recall that the flight com­put­er on 370 appears to have been re-pro­grammed in the cock­pit.

For more about Shah, Ibrahim and the down­ing of Flight 370, see FTR #790.

Also worth not­ing is the fact that Rauf has net­worked with the milieu of Louis Far­rakhan and the Nation of Islam!

As strange as it might appear to be at first, a jihadist/Nazi link vis a vis Rus­sia is not strange at all. Rus­sia appears to be under­go­ing a pin­cers move­ment, with West­ern intel­li­gence-con­nect­ed fas­cist ele­ments dri­ving East through Ukraine and West­ern intel-backed jihadists com­ing from the south.

It should be remem­bered that there is evi­dence that West­ern intel­li­gence ele­ments appear to sup­port jihadists in Chech­nya and else­where in the Cau­ca­sus. The IIIT and the El Hara­main char­i­ty dis­cussed in FTR #381 are linked to Al-Taqwa. The Oper­a­tion Green Quest raids–with the IIIT at the epi­cen­ter of the SAAR net­work raid­ed in that oper­a­tion, is inex­tri­ca­bly linked to Al-Taqwa and Third Reich intel­li­gence agent Youssef Nada. Al-Taqwa, in turn, dove­tails with the Under­ground Reich in a num­ber of ways.

“Name: Muham­mad M. Abdul Rauf”; Unmask­ing the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood in Amer­i­ca.


  • Strong­ly advo­cat­ed estab­lish­ment of sharia law in Amer­i­ca
  • Estab­lished Islam­ic “trust” con­trol­ling land and man­age­ment of New York Islam­ic Cul­tur­al Cen­ter, which employed at least two Egypt­ian MB imams, that, after 9/11 blamed the atroc­i­ties on Israel. One said Amer­i­can would “exter­mi­nate” the Jew­ish peo­ple like Hitler if they knew.
  • Co-authored book and reg­u­lar­ly col­lab­o­rat­ed with hard line MB leader Ismaʾil R. Al-Faruqi, a mid 1980s co-founder of the Hern­don, Va.-based IIIT, long sus­pect­ed of broad­ly fund­ing ter­ror.
  • Reg­u­lar­ly col­lab­o­rat­ed with IIIT and Asso­ci­a­tion of Mus­lim Social Sci­en­tists (AMSS), both among the 29 “friends” list­ed in the 1991 Mohammed Akram inter­nal MB mem­o­ran­dum out­lin­ing secret plans to replace U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion­al democ­ra­cy with sharia law.
  • Instruct­ed hard-line Islam­ic leader Abdul­lah Ahmad Badawi, who served as Malaysian prime min­is­ter from 2003 to 2009.
  • Close asso­ciate and friend of for­mer Malaysian prime min­is­ter and active anti-Semi­te Mahathir Mohamad, who in 2002, incit­ed glob­al anti-West finan­cial war as a “jihad worth fight­ing for.” . . . .
  • Rauf also great­ly admired the “accom­plish­ments” of Amer­i­can Mus­lim Soci­ety (AMS) founder W. D. Mohammed (Oct. 30, 1933–Sept. 9, 2008), the for­mer Nation of Islam leader  who reg­u­lar­ly met Mus­lim Broth­er­hood lead­ers, attend­ed their meet­ings and accept­ed gifts from their chief donors. In July 1997, Mohammed attend­ed the 22nd annu­al Islam­ic Cir­cle of North Amer­i­ca con­ven­tion in Pitts­burgh. In 2000 Mohammed joined Mus­lim Broth­er and Islam­ic Soci­ety of North Amer­i­ca (ISNA) gen­er­al sec­re­tary Sayyid Say­eed in wel­com­ing Louis Far­rakahn into the “main­stream” of Amer­i­can Sun­ni Islam.

5. In order to bet­ter under­stand the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood-con­nect­ed Malaysian Islamist polit­i­cal milieu with which Micael Boci­urkiw is net­work­ing, exam­in­ing the polit­i­cal char­ac­ter of Louis Far­rakhan may prove use­ful.

In addi­tion to blam­ing African Amer­i­can slav­ery on–you guessed it–the Jews, he has ardent­ly defend­ed Arabs in the Sudan and Mau­ri­ta­nia against con­dem­na­tion for their active, ongo­ing enslave­ment of black Africans.

Here in the Bay Area, the rip­ples are sub­sid­ing after Far­rakhan drew a stand­ing ova­tion from an African Amer­i­can audi­ence at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia at Berke­ley. Crit­i­cized from many quar­ters, Far­rakhan’s appear­ance was defend­ed by the school admin­is­tra­tion under the rubric of “free speech.”

It seems that a tree-blight is spread­ing through the groves of acad­eme.

(Short­ly after 9/11, a close friend coun­seled me that, if I con­tin­ued in this line of research, I should be pre­pared to clash intel­lec­tu­al­ly to an increas­ing degree with Holo­caust deniers. Promi­nent “Truther” Jim Fet­zer has indeed attempt­ed to open the debate on that sub­ject to “both sides.” Blam­ing African Amer­i­can slav­ery on “Da Jooz” is of the same intel­lec­tu­al fab­ric. So is the con­trolled demo­li­tion of the World Trade Center/cruise mis­sile hit the Pen­ta­gon dri­v­el. I’m now braced for the onslaught of the Holo­caust deniers–“But what about this?”)

It appears that Far­rakhan’s defense of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood regime in Sudan, which has pur­sued the slavery/genocide against the black pop­u­la­tion of that unfor­tu­nate coun­try is based on a pro­fes­sion­al rela­tion­ship with that mur­der­ous regime.

When Far­rakhan’s defense of black African slav­ery was shat­tered by jour­nal­ists, many of them were ter­ror­ized by his goons.

“Far­rakhan’s Secret Rela­tion­ship” by Charles Jacob; The Dai­ly Cal­i­forn­ian; 5/16/2012.

Nation of Islam leader Louis Far­rakhan addressed an esti­mat­ed 600 stu­dents at UC Berke­ley last Sat­ur­day, and told  Black stu­dents not to befriend any Jew with­out first read­ing The Secret Rela­tion­ship Between Blacks and Jews, a book whose the­sis is that “the Jews” were behind the black slave trade.  Heck of a way to start up a friend­ship!

Schol­ars both black and white have exposed the NOI book as a pack of lies, a mod­ern day calum­ny which, much like their medieval ana­logues — “the Jews poi­soned the wells,” “the Jews make mat­zo with the blood of Chris­t­ian chil­dren” –is meant to incite hatred for Jew­ish peo­ple.  Dan­ger­ous hatred. The Dai­ly Cal­i­forn­ian reports that Jew­ish stu­dents were hurt and shocked.  No doubt.

But what will be more shock­ing per­haps is Min­is­ter Farrakhan’s own semi-secret rela­tion­ship with the mod­ern day slav­ing of African Blacks by peo­ple, and in coun­tries, that the NOI leader has an inter­est to pro­tect.  In 1994, an African Mus­lim from Mau­ri­ta­nia  – Mohammed Athie — and I broke the sto­ry of a mod­ern day slave trade in Mau­ri­ta­nia and Sudan, in The New York Times.  We report­ed that “per­haps 300,000” African Mus­lims were still serv­ing Arab/Berber mas­ters. “Black Africans in Mau­ri­ta­nia were con­vert­ed to Islam more than 100 years ago,” we wrote, “but while the Koran for­bids the enslave­ment of fel­low Mus­lims, in this coun­try race out­ranks reli­gious doc­trine. These peo­ple are chat­tel: used for labor, sex, and breed­ing. They may be exchanged for camels, trucks, guns or mon­ey. Their chil­dren are the prop­er­ty of the mas­ter.”

In Sudan, Africa’s largest coun­try, we report­ed that slav­ery was “mak­ing a come­back, the result of a 12-year-old war waged by the Mus­lim north against the black Chris­t­ian and ani­mist south. Arab mili­tias, armed by the Gov­ern­ment, raid vil­lages, most­ly those of the Din­ka tribe, shoot the men and enslave the women and chil­dren. These are kept as per­son­al prop­er­ty or marched north and sold.” We based our reports on gov­ern­ment doc­u­ments, human rights pub­li­ca­tions  and a stun­ning inter­view with a UN offi­cial .

The op-ed shocked many. We were encour­aged to launch the Amer­i­can Anti-Slav­ery Group (AASG) which would doc­u­ment a mod­ern day slave trade around the globe, but would focus on Sudan and Mau­ri­ta­nia as the worst case of slav­ery, and the most con­tro­ver­sial, and there­fore least like­ly to be cov­ered by oth­ers.

PBS’s Tony Brown Show, the most pop­u­lar Black news pro­gram at the time, invit­ed Mohammed and me to speak about slav­ery. Imme­di­ate­ly after our appear­ance, we were attacked by Farrakhan’s spokesman  who denied that Blacks served Arab mas­ters in Sudan or – worse from NOI’s point of view, that Black Mus­lims served Arab Mus­lim mas­ters in Mau­ri­ta­nia. Farrakhan’s “call­ing,” after all, fund­ed in part by Arab dic­ta­tor Muam­mar Khadafy,  was to break the Black/Jewish civ­il rights alliance while teach­ing Amer­i­can Blacks that Islam was their path to free­dom. Not in Sudan and Mau­ri­ta­nia it wasn’t!

NOI was seri­ous about shut­ting us up.  Samuel Cot­ton, a black reporter for the City Sun, NY’s sec­ond largest black paper con­duct­ed a thor­ough inves­ti­ga­tion that result­ed in a five part series. “Arab Mas­ters, Black Slaves”  screamed across the front page in NYC’s news kiosks. NOI warned Sam. They fol­lowed and men­aced him when he spoke in Chica­go, not far from their head­quar­ters. Sam’s book, Silent Ter­ror, has become an under­ground clas­sic.

At a press con­fer­ence in D.C in 1996, Far­rakhan was asked about reports of slav­ery in Sudan. Accord­ing to the NY Times , he angri­ly chal­lenged them: “If slav­ery exists, go … to Sudan, and come back and tell the Amer­i­can peo­ple what you found.” The Bal­ti­more Sun sent two reporters to Sudan. They found and lib­er­at­ed slaves and pub­lished a spe­cial four page insert in the paper’s week­end edi­tion. Far­rakhan refused their request for an inter­view — and pret­ty much went radio silent on slav­ery issues… until fair­ly recent­ly. . . .

6. “Calyp­so Louie” (as Far­rakhan used to call him­self) has gone out of his way to stig­ma­tize the black African vic­tims of con­tem­po­rary slav­ery for the col­or of their skin and their kinky hair!!

“Geno­cide and Slav­ery in the Sudan: The Far­rakhan Con­nec­tion” by Sabit Abbe Alley; www.iabolish.org; p. 56.

. . . This was clear­ly demon­strat­ed dur­ing his Sav­ior Day address on Feb­ru­ary 25, 1996, and in sub­se­quent speech­es, where the Min­is­ter graph­i­cal­ly described the peo­ple of South Sudan as being very, very, very . . . very dark with kinky hair as com­pared to the brown (white!) North­ern Arabs, who accord­ing to Far­rakhan, looked exact­ly like him! He used the adverb -very- 15 times to empha­size his col­or prej­u­dice against the South­ern Sudanese. . . .

7. We also note in pass­ing that MH 17 went down with an impor­tant group of AIDS researchers on board, viewed by some observers as great­ly set­ting back inter­na­tion­al AIDS research. Nei­ther the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood nor the OUN/B milieu are sym­pa­thet­ic to gays. (The Euro­Maid­an demon­stra­tions fea­tured the beat­ing of a num­ber of gays, although it received lit­tle pub­lic­i­ty.)

It is also worth not­ing in pass­ing that there is dis­turb­ing evi­dence that AIDS was delib­er­ate­ly cre­at­ed. IF any of the now-deceased researchers was aware of, and/or inves­ti­gat­ing this, that would have pro­vid­ed motive for the Under­ground Reich ele­ments that appear to have cre­at­ed the dis­ease to dis­pose of them.

“Del­e­gates to Mel­bourne AIDS Sum­mit on Doomed Flight 17” by Rick Mor­ton; The Aus­tralian; 7/18/2014.

More than 100 AIDS activists, researchers and health work­ers bound for a major con­fer­ence in Mel­bourne were on the Malaysia Air­lines flight downed in the Ukraine.

It is believed that del­e­gates to the 20th Inter­na­tion­al AIDS Con­fer­ence, due to begin on Sun­day, will be informed today that 108 of their col­leagues and fam­i­ly mem­bers died on MH17.

Stunned researchers, activists and devel­op­ment work­ers arriv­ing at Mel­bourne Air­port paid trib­ute to AIDS researcher Joep Lange and the oth­er atten­dees believed killed aboard MH17. . . .

8. Sup­ple­ment­ing infor­ma­tion pre­sent­ed in FTR #803, we learn that a web­site cater­ing to glob­al busi­ness trav­el­ers pre­sent­ed infor­ma­tion point­ing to Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary per­son­nel as the “perps” of the shoot­down of MH 17.

This alle­ga­tion sup­ple­ments infor­ma­tion devel­oped by Robert Par­ry con­cern­ing aer­i­al sur­veil­lance by U.S. spy satel­lites show­ing what appeared to be [pos­si­bly drunk­en] Ukrain­ian sol­diers hav­ing fired the mis­sile that brought down the plane.

The glob­al trav­el­er web­site also notes an impor­tant last minute change of course by the MH 17 plane, appar­ent­ly ordered by Ukrain­ian air con­trollers.

“Ukraine Air Traf­fic Con­troller Sug­gests Kiev Mil­i­tary Shot Down Pas­sen­ger Plane”; eTN Glob­al Trav­el Indus­try News; 7/17/2014.

 ETN received infor­ma­tion from an air traf­fic con­troller in Kiev on Malaysia Air­lines flight MH17.

This Kiev air traf­fic con­troller is a cit­i­zen of Spain and was work­ing in the Ukraine. He was tak­en off duty as a civ­il air-traf­fic con­troller along with oth­er for­eign­ers imme­di­ate­ly after a Malaysia Air­lines pas­sen­ger air­craft was shot down over the East­ern Ukraine killing 295 pas­sen­gers and crew on board.

The air traf­fic con­troller sug­gest­ed in a pri­vate eval­u­a­tion and bas­ing it on mil­i­tary sources in Kiev, that the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary was behind this shoot down. Radar records were imme­di­ate­ly con­fis­cat­ed after it became clear a pas­sen­ger jet was shot down.

Mil­i­tary air traf­fic con­trollers in inter­nal com­mu­ni­ca­tion acknowl­edged the mil­i­tary was involved, and some mil­i­tary chat­ter said they did not know where the order to shoot down the plane orig­i­nat­ed from.

Obvi­ous­ly it hap­pened after a series of errors, since the very same plane was escort­ed by two Ukrain­ian fight­er jets until 3 min­utes before it dis­ap­peared from radar.

Radar screen shots also show an unex­plained change of course of the Malaysian Boe­ing. The change of course took the air­craft direct­ly over the East­ern Ukraine con­flict region. . . .

9. A last minute change of course of the doomed plane was con­firmed by an Air India air­craft near­by. That change of course brought the plane into the killing ground.

“Air India Flight Was 90 Sec­onds Away When Mis­sile Struck Malaysian Air­lines Flight MH117” by Man­ju V.; Times of India; 7/20/2014.

. . . . An Air India Dream­lin­er flight going from Del­hi to Birm­ing­ham was in fact less than 25km away from the Malaysian air­craft, a dis­tance cov­ered by a Dream­lin­er or Boe­ing 777 in about 90 sec­onds, when the lat­ter was hit. Because of this close­ness, the Dnipropetro­vsk (local Ukrain­ian) air traf­fic con­troller asked the AI pilots to try and estab­lish con­tact with pilots of the Malaysian air­craft who had stopped respond­ing to its calls.

Min­utes before the crash caused by a mis­sile strike, the AI pilots had also heard the con­troller give the Malaysian air­craft MH17 what is called “a direct rout­ing”. This per­mits an air­craft to fly straight, instead of track­ing the reg­u­lar route which is gen­er­al­ly a zig-zag track that goes from one ground-based nav­i­ga­tion aid or way point to anoth­er. “Direct rout­ing saves fuel and time and is pre­ferred by pilots. In this case, it proved fatal,” said an air­line source. . . .

10a. Pos­si­bly apoc­ryphal under the cir­cum­stances, we note the unlike­ly coin­ci­dence of a Dutch cyclist who was booked to fly on both Malaysia Air Flight 370 and MH17. While pos­si­ble, it is unlike­ly from an actu­ar­i­al stand­point. Might there be more to Mr. De Jong than meets the eye? (De Jong, by the way, is one of the most com­mon of Dutch sur­names, not unlike “Smith” in Eng­lish. This would be use­ful IF he were an oper­a­tive of some kind.

“Dutch Cyclist Maarten de Jonge Cheats Death Twice after Chang­ing Flights from Both Malaysia Air­lines MH17 and MH370” by Adam With­nall; The Inde­pen­dent [UK]; 7/20/2014. 

A Dutch cyclist has revealed how he twice cheat­ed death after chang­ing his plans to fly on both the Malaysia Air­lines pas­sen­ger jets involved in inter­na­tion­al avi­a­tion dis­as­ters over the past four months.

Maarten de Jonge, 29, has to trav­el around the world to com­pete for Malaysia’s Tereng­ganu cycling team – and in doing so has now had two extra­or­di­nary near miss­es. . . . .

. . . . The cyclist said that he only decid­ed to swap flights at the last minute, after dis­cov­er­ing that trav­el­ling via Frank­furt today would prove cheap­er.

Tweet­ing a link on Thurs­day to a Dutch arti­cle about the MH17 dis­as­ter, De Jonge said: “Had I depart­ed today, then…”

Dur­ing his inter­view with the local broad­cast­er, the cyclist revealed some­thing even more remark­able – that he had also been plan­ning to trav­el on flight MH370, the Malaysia jet which van­ished on 8 March and which remains miss­ing some­where in the Indi­an Ocean. . . .

11. In a pre­vi­ous post, we not­ed the Under­ground Reich her­itage of the Dutch Roy­al Fam­i­ly, stretch­ing back to for­mer SS offi­cer and I.G. Far­ben spy Prince Bern­hard. The fam­i­ly through gen­er­a­tions appears to have “kept the faith,” so to speak.

Bern­hard’s grandaugh­ter is Mabel Smits, the daugh­ter-in-law of a for­mer Wehrma­cht sol­dier, Prince Claus.

Prince Friso’s wife Mabel Smits has been an active sup­port­er of Islamist caus­es (oper­at­ing under the rubric of human­i­tar­i­an aid). Specif­i­cal­ly, she has been active on behalf of Bosnia and Chech­nya.

Mabel Smits is a pro­tege of George Soros, the so-called left­ist, who in real­i­ty gives every indi­ca­tion of being a “Bor­mann Jew,” hav­ing got­ten his start in busi­ness aid­ing the Nazis with the “Aryaniza­tion” of Jew­ish prop­er­ty dur­ing the Holo­caust in Hun­gary. Smits’ char­i­ta­ble out­let in Chech­nya may well have been lend­ing sup­port to the Islamist com­bat­ants in Chech­nya, which has led to the sus­pen­sion of that chap­ter of the orga­ni­za­tion.

Some key ques­tions: Is there any con­nec­tion between Mabel Smits’ appar­ent pro-Chechen activism and Maarten de Jong? In turn, we note the appar­ent pres­ence of UNA/UNSO fight­er in Chech­nya.  Are they part of an anti-Russ­ian pha­lanx, attack­ing with Islamists from the South to break up Rus­sia?

“Mabel: Wife Of Comatose Dutch Prince Resigns As CEO Of Anti Semit­ic, Anti Israel and Anti Amer­i­can Think Tank ‘The Elders’”; Mil­i­tant Islam Mon­i­tor; 5/8/2012.

. . . She was the chair­woman of the EU branch of George Soros’ Open Soci­ety Insti­tute and also chaired a char­i­ty called ‘War Child’.”….the ‘char­i­ty’ (whose Dutch branch founder Mabel Wisse Smit (employed by George Soros), went from being the lover of jailed Bosn­ian for­eign min­is­ter Muhammed Sacir­bey, to the wife of Prince Friso of Holland,has announced they ‘have decid­ed to stop all sup­port to their part­ner organ­i­sa­tion in Chech­nya ...euphemisti­cal­ly say­ing that they ‘could no longer guar­an­tee the effec­tive and con­trolled man­ag­ing of War Child project activ­i­ties’ .Trans­la­tion: the mon­ey was ‘find­ing it’s way’ into the hands of ter­ror­ists.” . . .

12. In FTR #803, we high­light­ed the Azov Bat­tal­ion, one of many Nazi/fascist com­bat­ant mili­tias fight­ing as part of the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary. Anoth­er use­ful post from german-foreign-policy.com high­lights the fact that the Azov Bat­tal­ion was formed by Oleg Lyashko, who also heads the Rad­i­cal Par­ty. That par­ty looms large as the sin­gle most pop­u­lar polit­i­cal par­ty in Ukraine.Together with Swo­bo­da and Pravy Sek­tor, it forms a dom­i­nant fas­cist polit­i­cal axis in Ukraine.

Lyashko also revealed that, in addi­tion to Michael Skillt (whom we dis­cussed in FTR #803, the unit con­tained sev­er­al for­eign snipers, some of whom were present dur­ing the Maid­an protests and appeared to have fired at Ukrain­ian police units. This would make the vio­lence that led to the ouster of Yanukovych the out­growth of a provo­ca­tion.

This also places what, for lack of a bet­ter term, a “polit­i­cal con­text of provo­ca­tion” with­in which the down­ing of MH 17 must be viewed.

“Ukrain­ian Patri­ots”; german-foreign-policy.com;  7/30/2014.

Five months after the Kiev coup, vig­or­ous­ly sup­port­ed by Berlin, a rightwing extrem­ist par­ty may become pro-West­ern Ukraine’s strongest polit­i­cal force. Accord­ing to a recent sur­vey, the Rad­i­cal Par­ty, of the ultra-rightwing politi­cian, Oleh Lyashko, could cur­rent­ly expect 23.2 per­cent of the votes. Lyashko made him­self a name with his bru­tal­i­ty against the Kiev regime’s east­ern Ukrain­ian oppo­nents. He is also co-founder and sup­port­er of the Azov Bat­tal­ion, a mili­tia of over one hun­dred — main­ly fas­cist — com­bat­ants, includ­ing a Swedish Neo-Nazi sniper. He has report­ed that oth­er snipers had already been in action for the oppo­si­tion dur­ing the Maid­an protests. It has nev­er been revealed, who fired the fatal shots on Feb­ru­ary 20. In this high­ly charged atmos­phere, the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment is tak­ing steps that indi­cate a polit­i­cal cul­tur­al devel­op­ment even fur­ther to the right. It is plan­ning to cen­sure films and books from Rus­sia or to restrict their sales. . . .

Near­ly a Third for the Ultra-Right

Five months after the Kiev coup, vig­or­ous­ly sup­port­ed by Berlin, an extreme rightwing par­ty may become pro-West­ern Ukraine’s strongest polit­i­cal force. Accord­ing to a sur­vey by the Kiev Inter­na­tion­al Insti­tute of Soci­ol­o­gy, the Rad­i­cal Par­ty of the ultra-rightwing politi­cian, Oleh Lyashko, could cur­rent­ly expect 23.2 per­cent of the vote — more than any oth­er party.[1] Already at the pres­i­den­tial elec­tions on May 25, Lyashko received 8.3 per­cent — a sur­prise suc­cess, prac­ti­cal­ly out of nowhere. His pop­u­lar­i­ty has grown through his pub­lic dis­play of bru­tal­i­ty against the Kiev regime’s east­ern Ukrain­ian oppo­nents. On his web­site, on May 7, for exam­ple, he pub­lished a video of him inter­ro­gat­ing a near­ly naked, bleed­ing East­ern Ukrain­ian insur­gent pris­on­er. In last May’s munic­i­pal coun­cil elec­tions, lead­ing mem­bers of the fas­cist orga­ni­za­tions Social-Nation­al Assem­bly (SNA) and “Patri­ot of Ukraine” ran on the elec­toral list of Lyashko’s Rad­i­cal Par­ty. Accord­ing to the sur­vey, the fas­cist Svo­bo­da par­ty would receive 5.7 per­cent and the mil­i­tarist Pravy Sec­tor 1.9 per­cent of the votes. Togeth­er with the 23.2 per­cent for the Rad­i­cal Par­ty, ultra-rightwing par­ties would poll near­ly one third of the votes.

Free­dom of Expres­sion

Typ­i­cal for the Berlin sup­port­ed Kiev gov­ern­ment are its efforts to elim­i­nate as much Russ­ian influ­ence as pos­si­ble. Ben­e­fit­ting from the cur­rent right-wing trend, it is plan­ning cul­tur­al restric­tions. The State Film Agency has announced that, in the future, it will close­ly “exam­ine” Russ­ian films before they may be shown in the Ukraine. Sev­er­al films have already fall­en vic­tim to this cen­sor­ship. Restric­tions will also affect the sale of books. Accord­ing to the Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Olek­san­dr Sych, so far only one fifth of the books sold in the coun­try are of Ukrain­ian pro­duc­tion. In fact, through­out the ex-Sovi­et region, Russ­ian books have been wide­ly sold because of the still wide­spread knowl­edge of the Russ­ian lan­guage. The Deputy Prime Min­ster affirms that the gov­ern­ment is “forced to pro­tect the Ukrain­ian con­sumers from xeno­pho­bic pub­li­ca­tions.” The gov­ern­ment is now “intro­duc­ing licens­ing for Russ­ian books and a quo­ta for for­eign books.”[2] Sych is a mem­ber of the fas­cist Svo­bo­da par­ty. This par­ty’s chief, Oleh Tiah­ny­bok, once made head­lines, when he announced that Ukraine must be “lib­er­at­ed” from a “Jew­ish mafia from Moscow.”[3] . . . .

“Lib­er­a­tion of the White Race”

. . . . While efforts are made to out­law the CPU, the “Social Nation­al Assem­bly” (SNA) has noth­ing com­pa­ra­ble to wor­ry about. Found­ed in 2008 as a merg­er of var­i­ous fas­cist orga­ni­za­tions, it had been very engaged in cre­at­ing the Right Sec­tor in Novem­ber 2013 dur­ing the Maid­an protests. Accord­ing to its own admis­sion, it is strug­gling “for the lib­er­a­tion of the entire white race from the dom­i­na­tion of inter­na­tion­al­ist spec­u­la­tive cap­i­tal” — a well-known anti-Semit­ic code­word — and “to pun­ish severe­ly sex­u­al per­ver­sions and any inter­ra­cial con­tacts that lead to the extinc­tion of the white man.”[4] Anton Gerashchenko, a high-rank­ing advi­sor of the Ukrain­ian Min­is­ter of the Inte­ri­or, explic­it­ly affirmed that the Social Nation­al Assem­bly is “not a neo-Nazi orga­ni­za­tion,” but rather a “par­ty of Ukrain­ian patri­ots.” He felt called upon to make this clar­i­fi­ca­tion to a BBC jour­nal­ist’s state­ment about a leader of the assem­bly, Andriy Bilet­sky, who is cur­rent­ly a com­man­der of the Azov Bat­tal­ion, a unit of sev­er­al hun­dred, which was found­ed and armed for war­fare in East­ern Ukraine by Kiev’s Min­istry of the Inte­ri­or. In fact, numer­ous activists from the Social Nation­al Assem­bly and its “Patri­ot of Ukraine” para­mil­i­tary wing are mem­bers of the Asov Bat­tal­ion. “Patri­ot of Ukraine” was com­mand­ed in the 1990s by Andriy Paru­biy. Today, Paru­biy, in his func­tion as Sec­re­tary of Ukraine’s Nation­al Secu­ri­ty and Defense Coun­cil, bears a major respon­si­bil­i­ty for the war in the coun­try’s east.


The Azov Bat­tal­ion recent­ly caused an inter­na­tion­al stir, when it was report­ed that neo-Nazis from var­i­ous oth­er Euro­pean coun­tries e.g. from Italy, France and Swe­den, are also mem­bers of the unit. Appar­ent­ly, the bat­tal­ion is being trained pro­fes­sion­al­ly. A Geor­gian spe­cial forces train­er is said to be among the instructors.[5] The Azov Bat­tal­ion is one of three spe­cial com­man­dos — with the Dnipro and Don­bass Bat­tal­ions — being set up in pro-west­ern Ukraine.[6] The Swedish neo-Nazi Mikael Skillt is a mem­ber of the Azov Bat­tal­ion. Skillt, a mem­ber of the fas­cist Sven­skar­nas Par­ti (Par­ty of the Swedes), says that he has “at least” three pur­pos­es in the unit: com­man­der of “a small recon­nais­sance unit,” a “sniper” and some­times he works “as a spe­cial coor­di­na­tor for clear­ing hous­es and going into civil­ian areas.” The per­son, who is rumored to have been cap­tured by East Ukrain­ian insur­gents, had been a sniper for six years in the Swedish mil­i­tary. He says, he has only been engaged in the Ukrain­ian con­flict since March. He admits, how­ev­er, to hav­ing spo­ken to at least two snipers, who, dur­ing the Maid­an protests had shot at police from the Trade Union House in Kiev — at the time, the head­quar­ters of the pro­tes­tors. “Their mis­sion was to take out Berkut’s snipers,” explained Skillt.[7] The dead­ly shots from the Maid­an, which in West­ern pro­pa­gan­da had been used to legit­imize the over­throw of Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych, have nev­er been inves­ti­gat­ed by the putsch regime, and Berlin has nev­er applied pres­sure for an inves­ti­ga­tion.

Polit­i­cal Pris­on­ers

The Azov Bat­tal­ion has close ties to Oleh Lyashko, whose “Rad­i­cal Par­ty,” would cur­rent­ly be able to poll a fourth of the votes if elec­tions were held. Lyashko is con­sid­ered to be one of the Azov’s founders. For inter­net videos, he allows him­self to be filmed at joint actions with Asov com­bat­ants. The Azov Bat­tal­ion’s sec­ond in com­mand, Ihor Mosiy­chuk, had been elect­ed to Kiev’s Munic­i­pal Coun­cil on the elec­toral list of Lyashko’s Rad­i­cal Par­ty. This was not the first time Lyashko had inter­vened on his behalf. Jan­u­ary 10, 2014, Mosiy­chuk and two oth­er fas­cists had been found guilty and sen­tenced to sev­er­al years in prison for a planned August 2011 bomb­ing attack. On the evening of Jan­u­ary 10, ultra-right-wingers staged demon­stra­tions protest­ing the sen­tence. The demon­stra­tions degen­er­at­ed into vio­lent con­fronta­tions with the police. These con­fronta­tions, in turn, were then used by Berlin, Brus­sels and Wash­ing­ton to accuse Yanukovych of exces­sive use of force on the “move­ment fight­ing for democ­ra­cy.” The protests were unsuc­cess­ful. How­ev­er, imme­di­ate­ly after the Kiev coup, Mosiy­chuk and his accom­plices prof­it­ed from the amnesty, the pro-west­ern Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment grant­ed on Feb­ru­ary 24, 2014 to “polit­i­cal pris­on­ers”. Due to Lyashko’s deci­sive engage­ment, Mosiy­chuk prof­it­ed from the amnesty, was lib­er­at­ed from prison and could par­tic­i­pate in the orga­ni­za­tion the Azov Bat­tal­ion. . . .

. . . . . [1] Jakov Dev­cic: Jazen­juks Rück­trittsver­such. www.kas.de 29.07.2014.
[2] Ukraine will rus­sis­che Kul­tur zurück­drän­gen. www.n‑tv.de 29.07.2014.
[3] S. dazu Ter­min beim Botschafter.
[4] Dina New­man: Ukraine con­flict: “White pow­er” war­rior from Swe­den. www.bbc.co.uk 16.07.2014.
[5] Daniel McLaugh­lin: For­eign­ers join far-right mili­tias in Ukraine’s fight against rebels. www.irishtimes.com 17.07.2014.
[6] Hal Fos­ter: A spe­cial-forces unit, start­ed from scratch, wins a key bat­tle in Ukraine. en.tengrinews.kz 21.06.2014.
[7] Swede Patrols Ukraine’s Streets with Right-wing Para­mil­i­taries. www.friatider.se 26.03.2014.

13a. Insight into the nature of the “lib­er­a­tion” man­i­fest­ed by the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment forces occu­py­ing Slovyan­sk can be gleaned by read­ing between the lines of the fol­low­ing sto­ry. In FTR #803, we not­ed that the Pravy Sek­tor flag was fly­ing over the Inte­ri­or Min­istry build­ing after the city was cap­tured by gov­ern­ment forces.

“A Test for Ukraine in City Retak­en from Rebels” by Andrew Hig­gins; The New York Times; 8/1/2014.

. . . . The new author­i­ties, promis­ing anonymi­ty, have set up a hot­line for res­i­dents to inform on rebel col­lab­o­ra­tors, and they have print­ed fliers warn­ing that a new law man­dates up to 15 years in jail for sep­a­ratism. “Of course peo­ple are afraid,” Dr. Glushenko said. “They are fright­ened of being pun­ished.” . . . .

13b. Illus­trat­ing the direct line of insti­tu­tion­al evo­lu­tion from the OUN/B to the present, Pravy Sek­tor is the polit­i­cal arm of the UNA-UNSO, the lat­est iter­a­tion of the OUN/B’s mil­i­tary cadre, the UPA. It elect­ed Yuriy Shukheyvch as its head. Shukheyvch is the son of OUN/B com­man­der Roman Shukhevych, declared a “Hero of Ukraine” by the Yuschenko gov­ern­ment. Roman also head­ed the Nachti­gall Bat­tal­ion in their liq­ui­da­tion of the Lvov Ghet­to in 1941.

Note that the UNA/UNSO organization–the polit­i­cal par­ent of Pravy Sektor–has appar­ent­ly been active in Chech­nya as well.

“The Dura­bil­i­ty of Ukrain­ian Fas­cism” by Peter Lee; Strate­gic Cul­ture; 6/9/2014.

. . . . One of Bandera’s lieu­tenants was Roman Shukhevych.  In Feb­ru­ary 1945, Shukhevych issued an order stat­ing, “In view of the suc­cess of the Sovi­et forces it is nec­es­sary to speed up the liq­ui­da­tion of the Poles, they must be total­ly wiped out, their vil­lages burned … only the Pol­ish pop­u­la­tion must be destroyed.”

As a mat­ter of addi­tion­al embar­rass­ment, Shukhevych was also a com­man­der in the Nachti­gall (Nightin­gale) bat­tal­ion orga­nized by the Wehrma­cht.

Today, a major pre­oc­cu­pa­tion of Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist his­tor­i­cal schol­ar­ship is beat­ing back rather con­vinc­ing alle­ga­tions by Russ­ian, Pol­ish, and Jew­ish his­to­ri­ans that Nachti­gall was an impor­tant and active par­tic­i­pant in the mas­sacre of Lviv Jews orches­trat­ed by the Ger­man army upon its arrival in June 1941. . . .

. . . . Yuriy Shukhevych’s role in mod­ern Ukrain­ian fas­cism is not sim­ply that of an inspi­ra­tional fig­ure­head and reminder of his father’s anti-Sovi­et hero­ics for proud Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists.  He is a core fig­ure in the emer­gence of the key Ukrain­ian fas­cist for­ma­tion, Pravy Sek­tor and its para­mil­i­tary.

And Pravy Sektor’s para­mil­i­tary, the UNA-UNSO, is not an “unruly” col­lec­tion of week­end-war­rior-wannabes, as Mr. Hig­gins might believe.

UNA-UNSO was formed dur­ing the tur­moil of the ear­ly 1990s, large­ly by eth­nic Ukrain­ian vet­er­ans of the Sovi­et Union’s bit­ter war in Afghanistan.  From the first, the UNA-UNSO has shown a taste for for­eign adven­tures, send­ing detach­ments to Moscow in 1990 to oppose the Com­mu­nist coup against Yeltsin, and to Lithua­nia in 1991.  With appar­ent­ly very good rea­son, the Rus­sians have also accused UNA-UNSO fight­ers of par­tic­i­pat­ing on the anti-Russ­ian side in Geor­gia and Chech­nya.

After for­mal Ukrain­ian inde­pen­dence, the mili­tia elect­ed Yuriy Shukhevych—the son of OUN‑B com­man­der Roman Shukhevych– as its leader and set up a polit­i­cal arm, which lat­er became Pravy Sek­tor. . . .

14. After the down­ing of MH 17, there were calls in Ger­many for mil­i­tary action to be tak­en by the EU in Ukraine. This sto­ry also notes a his­to­ry of error and/or delib­er­ate mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the con­text of civil­ian air­lin­er shoot­downs.

With 25% of the world’s proven nat­ur­al gas reserves in Ukraine–most of them con­cen­trat­ed in the East­ern part of the country–we should not for­get the cooked intel­li­gence that led to the bloody mis­ad­ven­ture in Iraq.

“Estab­lish Facts”; german-foreign-policy.com; 7/21/2014.

After a jet­lin­er was shot down over East­ern Ukraine, influ­en­tial Ger­man for­eign pol­i­cy experts have begun call­ing for a mil­i­tary inter­ven­tion, which may include Ger­man Bun­deswehr units. “A Blue Hel­met mis­sion under the umbrel­la of the Unit­ed Nations” should now be tak­en into con­sid­er­a­tion, declared Andreas Schock­en­hoff, Co-Chair of the CDU/CSU Group in the Bun­destag. “Ger­many may also be asked” to con­tribute troops. For the Chair­man of the Bun­destag’s Defense Com­mis­sion, Hans-Peter Bar­tels (SPD), a Blue Hel­met mis­sion is also “con­ceiv­able.” It is yet unclear, who bears respon­si­bil­i­ty for down­ing the jet­lin­er. This is not an essen­tial ques­tion for him, as past expe­ri­ence with West­ern inter­ven­tions have shown: The EU and the USA must polit­i­cal­ly estab­lish the facts. The war against Yugoslavia was jus­ti­fied with a mas­sacre. Sub­stan­tial doubts about cen­tral aspects of this mas­sacre still per­sist. The sniper killings on Kiev’s Maid­an Square on Feb­ru­ary 20 have nev­er been elu­ci­dat­ed, once they served as legit­i­ma­tion for over­throw­ing the gov­ern­ment of Pres­i­dent Yanukovych. Sus­pi­cions per­sist that sec­tors of today’s gov­ern­ing Maid­an oppo­si­tion may have played deci­sive roles in these mur­ders; how­ev­er that is of no inter­est to the West. On the con­trary, there have nev­er been polit­i­cal con­se­quences for a US war­ship’s down­ing of an Iran­ian air­lin­er in 1988.

No Proof

Sev­er­al days after the Malaysia Air­lines Boe­ing 777 was shot down over East­ern Ukraine, killing 298 peo­ple, it is still unclear, who bears the respon­si­bil­i­ty. US intel­li­gence agen­cies claim that Rus­sia had recent­ly deliv­ered a BUK anti-air­craft mis­sile sys­tem to the rebels in East­ern Ukraine and that move­ments have been reg­is­tered over the past few days to bring that sys­tem back to Rus­sia. How­ev­er, those same agen­cies have, in the past, repeat­ed­ly lied to jus­ti­fy going to war. For exam­ple, it has been proven that, under the Sad­dam Hus­sein gov­ern­ment, the alle­ga­tions that Iraq pos­sessed weapons of mass destruc­tion and sup­port­ed Al Qae­da were lies. The Russ­ian defense min­istry has report­ed that, right at the time of the down­ing of the jet­lin­er, it had reg­is­tered rel­e­vant activ­i­ties of Ukrain­ian air-defense forces, which do pos­sess “Buk” anti-air­craft sys­tems; and that it is quite con­ceiv­able that inex­pe­ri­enced sol­diers may have caused the crash through incor­rect han­dling of that high­ly sophis­ti­cat­ed sys­tem. Also for this alle­ga­tion, there is no proof, albeit the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary has actu­al­ly made such a mis­take. On Octo­ber 4, 2001, they acci­den­tal­ly shot down a Tupolev of the Siber­ian Air­lines en route from Tel Aviv to Novosi­birsk, killing all 78 peo­ple on board.

Jump­ing to Con­clu­sions

On Thurs­day, Chris­t­ian Mölling, an expert in the Secu­ri­ty Pol­i­cy Research Group of Berlin’s Insti­tute for Inter­na­tion­al and Secu­ri­ty Affairs (SWP), had already warned against jump­ing to con­clu­sions. He rec­om­mends cau­tion in deal­ing with all of the infor­ma­tion about the down­ing of the jet­lin­er — par­tic­u­lar­ly infor­ma­tion prop­a­gat­ed by offi­cial sources. “Both sides will seek to pin the blame on the other.”[1] This has been ful­ly con­firmed, not only by the dec­la­ra­tions of politi­cians. Ger­man media is ped­dling, with­out com­ment, US intel­li­gence reports, while at times open­ly dis­cred­it­ing Russ­ian infor­ma­tion as “con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries.” In a region­al news­pa­per, the Chair of Ger­many’s Fed­er­al Press Con­fer­ence pre­empt­ed the results of future inves­ti­ga­tions. “Evi­dent­ly, they want­ed to down anoth­er Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary trans­port plane.”[2] Refer­ring to the polit­i­cal con­se­quences, he said, “the world­wide out­rage over this act of ter­ror increas­es the pres­sure on Putin.”[3]

Manip­u­la­tion of Pub­lic Opin­ion

Pre­vi­ous cas­es used by the West to jus­ti­fy mil­i­tary inter­ven­tions, show that an impar­tial inves­ti­ga­tion of the down­ing of the Malaysian Boe­ing — being now used to call for a mil­i­tary inter­ven­tion — can hard­ly be expect­ed. The alle­ga­tion that Iraq pos­sessed weapons of mass destruc­tion was an excep­tion. It has been proven to be a com­plete fab­ri­ca­tion. A sec­ond excep­tion was the so-called Oper­a­tion Horse­shoe. The Ger­man gov­ern­ment used this lie to jus­ti­fy its war on Yugoslavia. It had claimed to pos­sess a doc­u­ment, which showed how Bel­grade was deploy­ing its army in the form of a horse­shoe to eth­ni­cal­ly cleanse the Alban­ian-speak­ing pop­u­la­tion from Koso­vo and that this was con­firmed by infor­ma­tion from intel­li­gence ser­vices. Through­out the war, Ger­man media con­tin­u­ous­ly repeat­ed this alle­ga­tion with­out ver­i­fi­ca­tion. It helped to pro­voke pub­lic out­rage at the Yugoslav gov­ern­ment that can still be felt today. In the mean­time “Oper­a­tion Horse­shoe” is gen­er­al­ly seen as a fic­tion. Already back in 2005, “Inter­na­tionale Poli­tik,” a jour­nal close to the gov­ern­ment wrote that “the min­is­ter of defense had manip­u­lat­ed pub­lic opin­ion by false­ly claim­ing in par­lia­ment that Serbs have devel­oped the so-called Oper­a­tion Horseshoe.”[4]

Unproven but Effec­tive

Strong doubts per­sist about the so-called Racak Mas­sacre (mid-Jan­u­ary 1999), which the Ger­man For­eign Min­is­ter, Josef Fis­ch­er, pri­mar­i­ly used to jus­ti­fy the aggres­sion against Yugoslavia. On Jan­u­ary 16, 1999, the US diplo­mat, William Walk­er pre­sent­ed 45 dead Koso­vo Alba­ni­ans to the press in the vil­lage of Racak, claim­ing they were the vic­tims of a Yugoslav army exe­cu­tion. West­ern media exten­sive­ly echoed this sto­ry with­out fur­ther inves­ti­ga­tion. Evi­dence that the deaths had not been the result of an exe­cu­tion, but rather of mil­i­tary com­bat between Yugoslav army units and units of UCK mili­tia were dis­re­gard­ed. This evi­dence was already acces­si­ble and has since been doc­u­ment­ed by The Hague Tri­bunal (ICTY) as well as else­where. Ger­man ret. Brig. Gen. Heinz Loquai, who had been dis­patched to Koso­vo at the begin­ning of 1999, accus­es Walk­er of being more inter­est­ed in find­ing rea­sons to go to war, than in inves­ti­gat­ing the civ­il war already rag­ing. “With his unver­i­fied ver­sion of what had hap­pened in Racak, Walk­er lit the fuse lead­ing to the war on Yugoslavia.”[5]

No Inter­est

Respon­si­bil­i­ty for the fatal sniper fire at the Maid­an Square in Kiev, last Feb­ru­ary 20 is still unre­solved, to say the least. At first the shots were attrib­uted to snipers work­ing for the Yanukovych gov­ern­ment, which con­tributed to the legit­i­ma­cy of it being over­thrown. Since March, how­ev­er, there have been rea­son­able grounds for the sus­pi­cion that sec­tors of the Maid­an oppo­si­tion at the time — which is now part of the cur­rent gov­ern­ment — were involved in fir­ing the fatal shots. This sus­pi­cion aris­es from a secret­ly record­ed tele­phone con­ver­sa­tion between the Eston­ian For­eign Min­is­ter and the EU head of for­eign pol­i­cy, Cather­ine Ash­ton, as well as from con­sid­er­able research under­tak­en by the Ger­man TV pro­gram “Mon­i­tor.” (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[6]) The regime brought to pow­er in Kiev by the putsch, so far has con­sis­tent­ly refused to allow an inde­pen­dent inves­ti­ga­tion into the killings. And the West is obvi­ous­ly not inter­est­ed in pres­sur­ing Kiev into revers­ing its stand. An inves­ti­ga­tion pos­si­bly would impli­cate its own sup­port­ers.

Ambigu­ous Basis

In the case of the recent­ly downed jet­lin­er, the focus is again on the respon­si­bil­i­ty of the insur­gents in East­ern Ukraine and, above all, of Rus­sia, regard­less of the evi­dence. Polit­i­cal facts are once more being estab­lished on an ambigu­ous basis — for exam­ple, the debate con­cern­ing a UN Blue Hel­met mis­sion in Ukraine, with the pos­si­ble par­tic­i­pa­tion of the Bundeswehr.[7] Should these accu­sa­tions against the insur­gents and Rus­sia lat­er prove to be found­ed, the West will savor its tri­umphant. How­ev­er should they prove false, it will car­ry no con­se­quences.

Dou­ble Stan­dards

The ques­tion must be raised as to the stan­dards used by Berlin, Brus­sels and Wash­ing­ton in their judg­ment. July 3, 1988, a US Navy war­ship that was tres­pass­ing in Iran’s ter­ri­to­r­i­al waters, shot down a civil­ian Air­bus A300 Iran Air jet­lin­er. The jet­lin­er- like the Malaysia Air­lines Boe­ing 777 — was clear­ly rec­og­niz­able as a civil­ian plane. 290 pas­sen­gers lost their lives. There have nev­er been polit­i­cal con­se­quences for this. On the con­trary, upon leav­ing the mil­i­tary, the ship’s com­man­der was explic­it­ly dec­o­rat­ed with the Legion of Mer­it for his activ­i­ties dur­ing his ser­vice in the Per­sian Gulf. Fol­low­ing the down­ing of the Malaysia Air­lines Boe­ing 777, Ger­many’s for­eign min­is­ter declared, “If the inves­ti­ga­tions do actu­al­ly show that one of the par­ties to the con­flict has the lives of hun­dreds of per­fect­ly inno­cent peo­ple on its con­science, it would be an atroc­i­ty beyond all imag­in­ing. No one respon­si­ble for such an atroc­i­ty any longer has any right to push for their own inter­ests in the name of humanity.”[8] There has nev­er been a com­pa­ra­ble West­ern dec­la­ra­tion fol­low­ing the down­ing of the civil­ian Iran­ian Air­lines jet­lin­er. . . .


26 comments for “FTR #804 Walkin’ the Snake in Ukraine, Part 2”

  1. Here’s a Swedish report on the Swedish neo-Nazis oper­at­ing in the Azov bat­tal­ion. While Swedish police con­firmed their pres­ence in the unit, Ukrain­ian author­i­ties decid­ed­ed to “stay tight-lipped” on mat­ter:

    The Local Swe­den edi­tion
    Swedish neo-Nazis join fight in Ukraine

    30 Jul 2014, 15:57
    Four Swedes are fight­ing with the Ukrain­ian task force Azov — a squad which flies a flag with Nazi sym­bols and, accord­ing to one Swedish sol­dier, fights for “a white Ukraine”.

    Azov is a spe­cial force of about 300 sol­diers, includ­ing mul­ti­ple vol­un­teer sol­diers from across Europe. The force was estab­lished by the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment, but does not fight along­side the nation­al army and is instead steered by ultra-nation­al­ists.

    Four Swedes are in the group. Neo-Nazi Mikael Skillt is one of them.

    “They are not fight­ing for a demo­c­ra­t­ic Ukraine,” Anton Shekhotsov, a Ukrain­ian polit­i­cal sci­en­tist who research­es right extrem­ist move­ments in Europe, told Sveriges Radio (SR). “Their vision of Urkaine is a fas­cist dic­ta­tor­ship.”

    The squad, which wields a yel­low and black flag dec­o­rat­ed by the Wolf­san­gel sym­bol, is a pow­er­ful weapon against pro-Russ­ian sep­a­ratists. But they have their own pri­or­i­ties.

    The bat­tal­ion’s com­man­der, Andrij Belit­skij, is also the leader of the Social-Nation­al Assem­bly (SNA), which lists among its goals the end of “sex­u­al per­ver­sions and con­tact between races”.

    Skillt, a mem­ber of the neo-Nazi Par­ty of the Swedes (Sven­skar­nas par­ti), seems to agree.

    “My goal is a white Ukraine,” Skillt told news­pa­per Sven­s­ka Dag­bladet (SVD) last week. “I am a nation­al­ist and I want there to still be white Euro­peans in Europe.”

    The Swede is orig­i­nal­ly from Sundsvall, and has been in Ukraine since Feb­ru­ary. Skillt has con­firmed on social media as well as for Swedish media that he fights in the Azov bat­tal­ion — and that he does so in Swedish uni­form.

    The Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment, how­ev­er, denied that any for­eign­ers fight in their units.

    Anton Gerashenko, advi­sor at the Ukrain­ian Min­istry of Home Affairs, dodged ques­tions from Swedish media on Wednes­day.

    “I”ll stay tight-lipped on this one,” he said to SR. “It’s for­bid­den by law for for­eign cit­i­zens to fight. You seem like a sen­si­ble per­son. So there is noth­ing more to say.”

    Swedish nation­al police have also con­firmed their pres­ence.

    “We do not know exact­ly how many Swedes are fight­ing in Ukraine, but we know there are sev­er­al,” police super­in­ten­dent Sören Cler­ton told SVD.

    Shekhotsov warned that the bat­tal­ion may not be sat­is­fied sim­ply by sep­a­ratist defeat.

    He report­ed that the SNA has been behind mul­ti­ple attacks against sex­u­al and eth­nic minori­ties in Kiev. He also expressed con­cern that, although Azov may not suc­cess­ful­ly instate dic­ta­tor­ship, the force may still block the con­struc­tion of a demo­c­ra­t­ic Ukraine.

    His fears seemed con­firmed by Swedish sol­dier Skillt, who called the strug­gle in Ukraine a war based on race.

    “This can be the grounds for some­thing much big­ger,” he told SR. “It’s not impos­si­ble that the Kiev gov­ern­ment will fall.”


    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 4, 2014, 2:05 pm
  2. Over 300 Ukrain­ian troops crossed into Rus­sia dur­ing heavy fight­ing near the bor­der. Rus­sia claims they’re defec­tors. Kiev states oth­er­wise. Either way, a new set of very awk­ward nego­ti­a­tions between Rus­sia and Ukraine over the fates of those troops is now on the agen­da:

    Many Ukraine sol­diers cross into Rus­sia amid shelling
    4 August 2014 Last updat­ed at 12:54 ET

    More than 300 Ukrain­ian troops have crossed into Rus­sia dur­ing heavy fight­ing with pro-Russ­ian sep­a­ratists.

    A Ukrain­ian secu­ri­ty spokesman, Andriy Lysenko, said the 311 sol­diers and bor­der guards “had to cross into Russ­ian ter­ri­to­ry” at the Guko­vo check­point in east­ern Ukraine.

    Ukraine is try­ing to get them back now through diplo­mat­ic chan­nels, he said.

    Ear­li­er a Russ­ian secu­ri­ty offi­cial said 438 Ukrain­ian troops had been giv­en refuge in Rus­sia as “defec­tors”.

    The bor­der area is very tense amid Ukrain­ian alle­ga­tions that Russ­ian forces have been help­ing the sep­a­ratists with rock­et bar­rages.

    Rus­sia has announced that it will hold an air force exer­cise this week near the bor­der. A Russ­ian defence min­istry spokesman said 100 air­craft would take part in the oper­a­tion.

    The Russ­ian for­eign min­istry mean­while accused Ukrain­ian forces of deploy­ing tac­ti­cal mis­siles and launch­ers near the city of Donet­sk.

    In his state­ment on the Ukrain­ian troops at the bor­der Mr Lysenko, spokesman for Ukraine’s Nation­al Secu­ri­ty and Defence Coun­cil (SNBO), dis­missed Rus­si­a’s claim that the troops had defect­ed.

    He also denied reports that the sep­a­ratists had cap­tured some Ukrain­ian Nation­al Guard ser­vice­men dur­ing the fight­ing.

    Anoth­er Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary spokesman said the group of sol­diers had retreat­ed into Rus­sia after run­ning out of ammu­ni­tion and oth­er sup­plies dur­ing the fight­ing. He said they belonged to the 72nd motorised brigade.

    Recent­ly Kiev has been gain­ing ground against the rebels and claims to have retak­en more than 60 towns in Donet­sk and Luhan­sk.

    Prepar­ing for siege

    Civil­ians are prepar­ing for a siege as gov­ern­ment forces close in on the rebel-held cities of Donet­sk and Luhan­sk.

    Res­i­dents are stock­pil­ing food and sup­plies and are sleep­ing in base­ments, with reports sug­gest­ing Luhan­sk is vir­tu­al­ly sur­round­ed and with­out pow­er.


    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 4, 2014, 2:30 pm
  3. It’s look­ing like a very big bat­tle is about to be waged over Donet­sk and which is pret­ty omi­nous since it’s not at all clear that Ukraine’s forces will be able to retake the city with­out inflict­ing heavy civil­ian casu­al­ties. For­tu­nate­ly, escape cor­ri­dors are set up up for flee­ing civil­ians so Hope­ful­ly as many civil­ians as pos­si­ble are tak­ing that option because, based on the inten­si­ty of bat­tles lead­ing up to Donet­sk, the inva­sion of Donet­sk might turn into an extend­ed siege with heavy casu­al­ties:

    Wash­ing­ton Post
    Ukraine’s army posi­tion­ing to move on rebels in Donet­sk

    By Car­ol Morel­lo and Michael Birn­baum August 4 at 5:15 PM

    KIEV, Ukraine — The Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary on Mon­day appeared to be ready­ing a long-await­ed major assault on the rebel strong­hold of Donet­sk, warn­ing civil­ians to leave as troops tight­ened their ring around the city amid heavy fight­ing.

    Extra evac­u­a­tion cor­ri­dors were set up for cars bear­ing white flags, said Andriy Lysenko, a mil­i­tary spokesman. The Donet­sk city gov­ern­ment post­ed the cor­ri­dor routes on its Web page and not­ed: “As prac­tice shows, such mes­sages are dis­trib­uted before the start of active com­bat oper­a­tions.”

    Lysenko also announced that troops had tak­en the town of Yasynu­va­ta, home to a key rail­way con­trol cen­ter between Donet­sk and Luhan­sk.

    The mil­i­tary has almost encir­cled the two large cities, where rebels have declared “people’s republics.” Intense fight­ing was report­ed Mon­day in the Donet­sk sub­urb of Marin­ka. Mem­bers of a vol­un­teer mili­tia called the Azov bat­tal­ion post­ed pho­tos on Face­book pur­port­ing to show them advanc­ing on Donet­sk with the Shakhtarsk bat­tal­ion, but map­ping tech­nol­o­gy sug­gests that the pho­tos were tak­en in Marin­ka.

    Res­i­dents intent on remain­ing in Donet­sk crowd­ed gro­cery stores to stock up, but the streets were oth­er­wise emp­ty. Two per­form­ing dol­phins at an enter­tain­ment com­plex were trans­ferred to a facil­i­ty in the city of Kharkiv.

    In a sign of Russia’s intense focus on the devel­op­ments, its For­eign Min­istry on Mon­day accused Ukraine of mov­ing Tochka‑U bal­lis­tic mis­sile sys­tems and Smerch and Ura­gan rock­et launch­ers toward Donet­sk, imply­ing that they may soon be used against the dense­ly pop­u­lat­ed region­al cap­i­tal. U.S. offi­cials, in turn, have said that Rus­sia is ship­ping sim­i­lar heavy-rock­et sys­tems to rebels over the bor­der, which Moscow denies. Ukraine has denied pos­sess­ing bal­lis­tic mis­siles, say­ing they were destroyed in the 1990s.

    In recent days, there have been increas­ing calls in Moscow for the Krem­lin to step up sup­port for the rebels in Ukraine as they con­tin­ue to lose ter­ri­to­ry to a slow-mov­ing but relent­less mil­i­tary advance.

    Ukraine and the West have expressed alarm over an appar­ent Russ­ian buildup along the bor­der. On Mon­day, the Russ­ian air force announced mil­i­tary exer­cis­es involv­ing more than 100 air­craft, among them bombers, fight­er jets and heli­copters. The Inter­fax news agency report­ed that the exer­cis­es will include mis­sile-fir­ing prac­tice.

    There also were indi­ca­tions that not every­thing was going Ukraine’s way on the bat­tle­field.

    Russ­ian offi­cials said hun­dreds of Ukrain­ian sol­diers had crossed into Rus­sia overnight Sun­day, though 180 were said to have returned Mon­day.

    The ITAR-TASS news agency said many were from the 72nd Mech­a­nized Brigade, which is posi­tioned at the bor­der and has expe­ri­enced intense artillery and mor­tar fire. It quot­ed the brigade com­man­der as say­ing that the troops were exhaust­ed after going two weeks with­out much ammu­ni­tion, food or fuel.

    Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary offi­cials con­firmed that some sol­diers had crossed into Rus­sia. But they did not shed light on the pos­si­ble moti­va­tions or say whether the troops are expect­ed to return to Ukraine.


    In anoth­er sign of how long this con­flict could poten­tial­ly go for, the Pen­ta­gon is rush­ing more aid or Ukraine that includes armored per­son­nel car­ri­ers and patrol vehi­cles. It also includes a pro­pos­al to send US mil­i­tary train­ers, start­ing in 2015:

    Pen­ta­gon sends more equip­ment and aid to Ukraine
    Jar­rad Saf­fren and Tom Van­den Brook, USA TODAY 7:21 p.m. EDT August 1, 2014

    WASHINGTON —The Pen­ta­gon is rush­ing new aid — includ­ing armored vehi­cles and increased train­ing — to bol­ster Ukrain­ian forces fight­ing Russ­ian-backed sep­a­ratists, the Defense Depart­ment announced Fri­day.

    The gear includes armored per­son­nel car­ri­ers, car­go and patrol vehi­cles, binoc­u­lars, night vision gog­gles and small patrol boats, said Eileen Lainez, a Pen­ta­gon spokes­woman. The equip­ment is val­ued at $8 mil­lion and fol­lows a sim­i­lar $7 mil­lion pack­age of equip­ment shipped in April.

    Ear­li­er on Fri­day, the Pen­ta­gon also announced a pro­posed $19 mil­lion aid pack­age to help train Ukraine’s Nation­al Guard forces. The mon­ey will help train four com­pa­nies of sol­diers and a head­quar­ters ele­ment, Navy Rear Adm. John Kir­by said. The pro­pos­al requires con­gres­sion­al approval and would begin in 2015. Train­ers would come from U.S. forces in Europe or the Cal­i­for­nia Nation­al Guard, which has part­nered with Ukrain­ian troops in the past.

    On Thurs­day, Sen. Carl Levin, D.-Mich., the chair­man of the Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee, said Ukraine’s mil­i­tary needs weapons. Russ­ian aggres­sion must be con­front­ed in the wake of the down­ing of Malaysia Air­lines Flight 17 in east­ern Ukraine last month, Levin said. Almost 300 peo­ple died when it was blown from the sky with what U.S. offi­cials have said was a Russ­ian-sup­plied sur­face-to-air mis­sile.

    Ukraine’s mil­i­tary has made progress in push­ing back Russ­ian-backed rebels, Levin said. He called on the White House to autho­rize ship­ments of anti-tank weapons.

    “These are defen­sive weapons, not provoca­tive weapons,” Levin said.


    The request of anti-tank weapons is a reminder that the upcom­ing urban war­fare in Donet­sk is prob­a­bly going to include tanks. On both sides. Let’s hope peo­ple get the hell out of there soon. Dit­to Luhan­sk.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 4, 2014, 6:14 pm
  4. The shelling of Donet­sk con­tin­ues, one blown up piece of crit­i­cal civ­il infra­struc­ture at a time:

    Globe and Mail
    Dead­ly day in rebel-held Donet­sk as clash­es erupt at Kiev protest site


    DONETSK, UKRAINE — The Asso­ci­at­ed Press

    Pub­lished Thurs­day, Aug. 07 2014, 10:05 AM EDT

    Last updat­ed Thurs­day, Aug. 07 2014, 10:07 AM EDT

    Sus­tained shelling in the main rebel strong­hold in east­ern Ukraine struck res­i­den­tial build­ings and a hos­pi­tal, killing at least four peo­ple and wound­ing 10 oth­ers, offi­cials said, as gov­ern­ment forces pressed for­ward in their cam­paign to rout the sep­a­ratists.

    Mor­tar fire struck the Vish­nevskiy Hos­pi­tal in Donet­sk on Thurs­day morn­ing, killing one and wound­ing five oth­ers, Donet­sk city coun­cil spokesman Max­im Roven­sky told The Asso­ci­at­ed Press. “There was a sud­den explo­sion,” wit­ness Dr. Anna Kravtso­va said. “A mor­tar round flew through the win­dow.”

    The shelling, which destroyed an array of equip­ment in the den­tistry unit, also hit three near­by apart­ment build­ings.

    It fol­lowed a night of shelling in anoth­er neigh­bour­hood as the fight­ing between the gov­ern­ment and pro-Russ­ian sep­a­ratists is inch­ing ever clos­er to the city cen­tre. The mayor’s office said in a state­ment post­ed on its web­site that three peo­ple had been killed, five wound­ed and sev­er­al res­i­den­tial build­ings destroyed dur­ing those attacks.

    The gov­ern­ment denies it uses artillery against res­i­den­tial areas, but that claim has come under sub­stan­tial strain in the face of mount­ing evi­dence to the con­trary.


    Clash­es erupt­ed in cen­tral Kiev, the cap­i­tal of Ukraine, as city author­i­ties sought to clear away the rem­nants of a tent colony erect­ed by demon­stra­tors involved in the street upris­ing against pro-Rus­sia Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych. At the time, pro­test­ers were angry about endem­ic cor­rup­tion and want­ed clos­er ties with the Euro­pean Union.

    In scenes rem­i­nis­cent of that revolt, which cli­maxed with Yanukovych’s ouster in Feb­ru­ary, demon­stra­tors set alight tires in their face­off against a vol­un­teer bat­tal­ion over­see­ing the cleanup oper­a­tion.

    Dark plumes of acrid smoke from burn­ing rub­ber rose above Inde­pen­dence Square as work­ers in high-vis­i­bil­i­ty vests worked fast to dis­man­tle bar­ri­cades sur­round­ing the main stage.

    The square and sur­round­ing streets were the site of huge win­ter protests that led to Yanukovych’s ouster. Despite the elec­tion in May of a suc­ces­sor – 48-year old bil­lion­aire con­fec­tionery tycoon Petro Poroshenko – many said they would con­tin­ue to squat on the square to ensure the new author­i­ties lived up to their promise to ush­er in an era of trans­par­ent and account­able rule.

    Many Kiev res­i­dents have fumed over the months-long sit-in, how­ev­er, com­plain­ing that it severe­ly dis­rupts traf­fic and blights the city’s main thor­ough­fare.

    City author­i­ties have been nego­ti­at­ing with the pro­test­ers to clear the square since a new may­or was elect­ed, but have met strong resis­tance from the sev­er­al hun­dred demon­stra­tors still camped out there.

    While many bar­ri­cades were removed Thurs­day, numer­ous tents remain in place.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 7, 2014, 2:23 pm
  5. The rebels in Donet­sk are call­ing for a human­i­tar­i­an cease-fire while vow­ing to turn the city into a new “Stal­in­grad” if the Kiev forces try to take the city. And since there’s no indi­ca­tion so far that Kiev is inter­est­ed in a cease-fire, that prob­a­bly means there’s a lot more shelling in Donet­sk’s future, along with a lot more calls for human­i­tar­i­an cease-fires:

    Rebel leader calls for cease-fire in besieged Donet­sk
    Doug Stan­glin, 2:48 p.m. EDT August 9, 2014

    A top sep­a­ratist leader on Sat­ur­day admit­ted that Ukrain­ian forces had sur­round­ed Donet­sk, the strong­hold of Russ­ian-backed rebels, and called for a cease­fire on human­i­tar­i­an grounds.

    “We are ready for a cease­fire in order to avert the human­i­tar­i­an cat­a­stro­phe grow­ing,” Alexan­der Zakharchenko, prime min­is­ter of the self-styled Donet­sk Peo­ple’s Repub­lic, said in a state­ment post­ed on a rebel web­site, accord­ing to the Asso­ci­at­ed Press and AFP news agency.

    Igor Girkin, a top com­man­der of the pro-Rus­sia mil­i­tants, also acknowl­edged Sat­ur­day that Donet­sk was sur­round­ed and con­ced­ed that Ukrain­ian troops had got­ten the upper hand in east­ern Ukraine after four months of fight­ing.

    The appeal by Zakharchenko comes as Rus­sia is press­ing to send a human­i­tar­i­an con­voy into Ukraine to parts of the besieged east­ern regions, an offer that the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment has labeled a ploy to cov­er a mil­i­tary inva­sion.

    Although West­ern coun­tries says Moscow has assem­bled some 20,000 troops just across the bor­der, Rus­sia has denied it .

    Zakharchenko — who took over as prime min­is­ter of of the DPR last week — warned that rebels were deter­mined the defend Don­estk if Ukrain­ian forces tried to cap­ture the city of one mil­lion peo­ple.

    “The fight will be for every street, for every house, for every meter of our land,” Zakharchenko said, and would turned the city into a new “Stal­in­grad,” a ref­er­ence to the Sovi­et Union’s refusal to sur­ren­der the city of Stal­in­grad to the Nazis dur­ing World War II.

    Zakharchenko acknowl­edged that the sit­u­a­tion was “dif­fi­cult and tense” but said “the troops’ morale is strong,” the AFP news agency reports.

    A spokesman for the Donet­sk city admin­is­tra­tion said at least one per­son was killed and sev­er­al injured in shelling of the city’s south­ern area on Sat­ur­day. Spokesman Max­im Rovnin­sky also told the AP that about 30 apart­ment blocks came under fire dur­ing the night. Explo­sions were also heard Sat­ur­day on the north­ern out­skirts near the city’s air­port. Ukrain­ian offi­cials denied that they are shelling civil­ians.

    The Ukrain­ian For­eign Min­istry on Sat­ur­day strong­ly object­ed to Rus­sia send­ing a “human­i­tar­i­an con­voy” over the bor­der into east­ern Ukraine.

    “Bear­ing in mind numer­ous vio­la­tions by the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion of the state bor­der regime of Ukraine and con­tin­ued ille­gal sup­ply of weapons, armored vehi­cles and mer­ce­nar­ies from Rus­sia, Ukraine has sol­id grounds for con­cerns that the con­voy may trig­ger fur­ther esca­la­tion and lead to dete­ri­o­ra­tion of the sit­u­a­tion for the peo­ple in Don­bas,” the min­istry said in a state­ment said, accord­ing to Ukrin­form.

    The Inter­na­tion­al Com­mit­tee of the Red Cross has acknowl­edged the Russ­ian pro­pos­al to orga­nize aid con­voys and said “any human­i­tar­i­an ini­tia­tive is wel­come” but added that any Red Cross “action will be tak­en in strict adher­ence to our fun­da­men­tal work­ing prin­ci­ples of neu­tral­i­ty, impar­tial­i­ty, and inde­pen­dence.”

    Rus­si­a’s For­eign Min­is­ter Sergei Lavrov spoke with U.S. Sec­re­tary of State John Ker­ry Sat­ur­day and called for “urgent mea­sures for pre­vent­ing an impend­ing human­i­tar­i­an cat­a­stro­phe” in east­ern Ukraine, the For­eign Min­istry said in a state­ment. It added that Ker­ry “con­firmed such work is being car­ried out with the Kiev author­i­ties.”

    Girkin, who is also known as Strelkov, also said the town of Kras­nyi Luch, which lies on one of the two main roads between Donet­sk and the rebel-held east­’s oth­er main city of Luhan­sk, “has been tak­en by the ene­my.”

    A spokesman for the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary oper­a­tion, Andriy Lysenko, told reporters Sat­ur­day that he could not con­firm that Kras­nyi Luch was under the con­trol of Ukrain­ian forces.

    In Luhan­sk, which is in far east­ern Ukraine about 20 miles from the Russ­ian bor­der, the city coun­cil said in a state­ment Sat­ur­day that its sit­u­a­tion remains crit­i­cal, with the city going with­out elec­tric­i­ty, water, or most com­mu­ni­ca­tions for a week. The report said only about 250,00 peo­ple remain in the city with a nor­mal pop­u­la­tion of 425,000.

    “Most of the shops are closed, only a few phar­ma­cies are open. Despite the absence of elec­tric­i­ty Luhan­sk bak­eries con­tin­ue to work,” the coun­cil’s report said, accord­ing to Inter­fax-Ukraine. “Fuel reserves have been exhaust­ed, there are no new sup­plies,” the report reads.


    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 9, 2014, 3:17 pm
  6. Kiev’s strat­e­gy appears to revolve around play­ing chick­en with the bear:

    The New York Times
    Ukraine Strat­e­gy Bets on Restraint by Rus­sia

    By ANDREW E. KRAMERAUG. 9, 2014

    DONETSK, Ukraine — The warn­ings from the North Atlantic Treaty Orga­ni­za­tion and the White House over the past week could not have been graver in tone: The Russ­ian Army, they said, had massed enough forces on the bor­der with Ukraine to invade.

    The last time Russ­ian troops appeared to men­ace Ukraine, in the spring, the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary quick­ly halt­ed attacks on pro-Russ­ian sep­a­ratists to avoid the chance of touch­ing off a new war in Europe. Not this time.

    Buoyed by suc­cess­es against the sep­a­ratists over the past two months — and not­ing that the Rus­sians have threat­ened an inva­sion in the region before with­out fol­low­ing through — Ukrain­ian com­man­ders have pressed ahead with an offen­sive to dri­ve the rebels from their strong­hold in Donet­sk in the east.

    The army con­tin­ued to fire artillery into the city night­ly, and para­mil­i­tary groups raid­ed out­ly­ing vil­lages despite warn­ings from Pres­i­dent Vladimir V. Putin of Rus­sia that he could inter­vene at any time to pro­tect Ukraini­ans who favor clos­er ties with his coun­try. And the Ukraini­ans have flaunt­ed their vic­to­ries.

    When pro-Ukrain­ian mili­ti­a­men reclaimed the vil­lage of Marin­ka from pro-Russ­ian forces, they cap­tured the action with a GoPro cam­era mount­ed on a fighter’s shoul­der. The video showed them march­ing into the vil­lage, yelling and wav­ing their rifles in the air, fir­ing wild­ly.

    Despite grow­ing jit­ters in the West, Ukraine’s mil­i­tary lead­ers say they are mak­ing a well-cal­cu­lat­ed gam­ble, bet­ting that Mr. Putin feels he has too much to lose to invade, includ­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty of crip­pling inter­na­tion­al sanc­tions. So while West­ern offi­cials view each new Ukrain­ian artillery bar­rage in Donet­sk as draw­ing the coun­try clos­er to the brink, the Ukraini­ans see their unchecked advance as fur­ther con­fir­ma­tion that Mr. Putin is mobi­liz­ing troops only as a scare tac­tic to keep them from reclaim­ing ter­ri­to­ry.

    The gov­ern­ment in Kiev is “call­ing Putin’s bluff,” said Oleh Voloshyn, a for­mer Ukrain­ian diplo­mat, who said polit­i­cal lead­ers dis­missed Mr. Putin’s moves as “psy­cho­log­i­cal pres­sure.”

    “If we pause, it would show Putin that any time he puts troops on the bor­der, we will stop,” Mr. Voloshyn said.

    Ukraine was giv­en just that option on Sat­ur­day when a sep­a­ratist leader, Alek­san­dr Zakharchenko, offered what appeared to be an uncon­di­tion­al cease-fire to pre­vent a large-scale “human­i­tar­i­an cat­a­stro­phe.” On Sat­ur­day night, a senior advis­er to Ukraine’s min­is­ter of the inte­ri­or said Ukraine would not halt its offen­sive.

    As Ukraine con­tin­ued its all-out assault, the inter­na­tion­al maneu­ver­ing over Ukraine’s fate con­tin­ued.


    If the Ukraini­ans’ cal­cu­la­tions about Mr. Putin’s will­ing­ness to engage direct­ly are wrong, Mr. Oba­ma and oth­er West­ern lead­ers will face yet anoth­er cri­sis at a time of mount­ing dan­ger in Iraq and as hos­til­i­ties between Israel and Hamas con­tin­ue.

    So far, despite grow­ing anx­i­ety, the West seems loath to try to stop the Ukraini­ans, par­tic­u­lar­ly after the down­ing of Malaysia Air­lines Flight 17, for which the Unit­ed States blames the sep­a­ratists.

    There are plen­ty of rea­sons for Mr. Putin to be wary about com­mit­ting troops to a war.

    The sep­a­ratist zones of east­ern Ukraine that were well defined just sev­er­al months ago are now amor­phous, with the front lines shift­ing after the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary retook 75 per­cent of the ter­ri­to­ry ini­tial­ly seized by pro-Russ­ian rebels.

    Beyond that, loy­al­ties in east­ern Ukraine are split, increas­ing the risk that the por­tion of the pop­u­la­tion that sup­ports Kiev would aid any insur­gency against Rus­sia should it invade. An inva­sion would also be cost­ly, not only because of the like­li­hood of stiff­ened sanc­tions, but because it could plunge the region into an eco­nom­ic free-fall, bleed­ing funds from whichev­er coun­try wins on the bat­tle­field.

    But West­ern lead­ers and ana­lysts remain uncon­vinced Mr. Putin will be will­ing to be taunt­ed end­less­ly or to per­mit exten­sive deaths of pro-Russ­ian civil­ians. The Unit­ed Nations said recent­ly that at least 1,543 civil­ians and com­bat­ants on both sides have died since mid-April.


    For the moment, it is clear the Ukraini­ans are embold­ened.

    A spokesman for the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary oper­a­tion in the east, Col. Alek­sei Dmi­trashkivsky, said morale is high. “The threats to send Russ­ian peace­keep­ers into Ukraine have been around since April, but noth­ing hap­pens,” he said. “The Ukrain­ian Army is learn­ing quick­ly how to fight. Vol­un­teers who join the army want to defend this land. We are not afraid.”

    The Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary strat­e­gy, com­man­ders say, cen­ters on encir­cling Donet­sk to squeeze off the life­line of sup­plies from the oth­er sep­a­ratist strong­hold, the city of Luhan­sk, and from the Russ­ian bor­der. On Sat­ur­day, a rebel web­site, cit­ing the sep­a­ratist mil­i­tary com­man­der Igor Strelkov, said the Ukrain­ian Army had cut off resup­ply routes.

    The fight­ing for Donet­sk has tak­en on a lethal pat­tern: The reg­u­lar army bom­bards sep­a­ratist posi­tions from afar, fol­lowed by chaot­ic, vio­lent assaults by some of the half-dozen or so para­mil­i­tary groups sur­round­ing Donet­sk who are will­ing to plunge into urban com­bat.

    Offi­cials in Kiev say the mili­tias and the army coor­di­nate their actions, but the mili­tias, which count about 7,000 fight­ers, are angry and, at times, uncon­trol­lable. One known as Azov, which took over the vil­lage of Marin­ka, flies a neo-Nazi sym­bol resem­bling a Swasti­ka as its flag.

    In press­ing their advance, the fight­ers took their orders from a local army com­man­der, rather than from Kiev. In the video of the attack, no restraint was evi­dent. Ges­tur­ing toward a sus­pect­ed pro-Russ­ian posi­tion, one sol­dier screamed, “The bas­tards are right there!” Then he opened fire.

    In anoth­er devel­op­ment relat­ing to the need to get human­i­tar­i­an aid into Donet­sk, it sounds like Angela Merkel has been in nego­ti­a­tions with Petro Poroshenko to get Ger­many to play a role in over­see­ing the trans­fer of aid from Rus­sia to Donet­sk via Ukrain­ian run check­points:

    Ukraine Demands Rebels In Donet­sk Sur­ren­der
    Post­ed: 08/10/2014 3:41 pm EDT Updat­ed: 08/10/2014 3:59 pm EDT

    DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) — Fight­ing raged in the city of Donet­sk on Sun­day, as gov­ern­ment forces con­tin­ued to close in on the rebel strong­hold and pro-Russ­ian insur­gents backed away from an uncon­di­tion­al cease-fire offer that they announced just the day before.

    With a string of mil­i­tary suc­cess­es and broad sup­port for its cam­paign from the West and most of its domes­tic base, Kiev has tak­en a hard line against the rebel forces and promised it will only relent when the sep­a­ratists sur­ren­der. Donet­sk remained a ghost town on Sun­day, with few civil­ians dar­ing to ven­ture out­side as explo­sions rang out every few min­utes and burnt-out bus­es and build­ings smol­dered from the night before.

    In a state­ment Sat­ur­day, new­ly elect­ed rebel leader Alek­san­dr Zakharchenko appeared to call for a cease-fire with­out stat­ing any pre­con­di­tions. But on Sun­day, rebel spokes­woman Ele­na Nikiti­na repeat­ed the rebels’ ear­li­er stance, telling the Asso­ci­at­ed Press that talks on the con­flict could only begin if the Ukrain­ian army with­drew from the region — some­thing Kiev is unlike­ly to do.

    She also denounced the gov­ern­ment as “inca­pable of nego­ti­at­ing.”

    Ukraine’s Nation­al Secu­ri­ty and Defense Coun­cil spokesman Andriy Lysenko said that the only way for the rebels in Donet­sk to save their lives would be to “lay down their arms and give up.” He said the Ukrain­ian side had­n’t seen the rebels show any real will­ing­ness to coop­er­ate.

    “If white flags come up and they lay down their arms, nobody is going to shoot at them,” he said. “(But) we have not seen any prac­ti­cal steps yet, just a state­ment.”

    Lysenko added that the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary’s recent suc­cess­es in encir­cling Donet­sk had bred “pan­ic and chaos in the ranks of the rebels,” and said the Kiev gov­ern­ment had infor­ma­tion about rebels “desert­ing their posts en masse.”

    Con­di­tions were clear­ly dete­ri­o­rat­ing in Donet­sk, the largest rebel strong­hold in east­ern Ukraine. Asso­ci­at­ed Press reporters heard 25 loud explo­sions in as many min­utes around noon. Accord­ing to city coun­cil spokesman Max­im Rovin­sky, at least one per­son was killed and 10 injured in shelling overnight, as more than 10 res­i­den­tial build­ings, a hos­pi­tal and a shop were heav­i­ly dam­aged in the fight­ing.

    Rovin­sky said that he believed 100,000 peo­ple had left the city of one mil­lion in the past week alone — adding to the 300,000 who were already esti­mat­ed to have fled. He said at least 10,000 peo­ple were with­out elec­tric­i­ty, and that the local gov­ern­ment was work­ing hard to pre­serve access to gas, elec­tric­i­ty, and phone ser­vice and “avoid a human­i­tar­i­an cri­sis.” More than 1,300 peo­ple have died in the con­flict since April, accord­ing to a U.N. esti­mate.


    Rebel leader Zakharchenko’s appar­ent call for a cease-fire Sat­ur­day was met with sup­port from Rus­sia, where For­eign Min­is­ter Sergey Lavrov was quot­ed by news agency ITAR TASS as say­ing a truce was “not only pos­si­ble, but nec­es­sary.”

    “We believe the ques­tion is urgent and there can be no delay, and the issue is under the con­trol of the Russ­ian pres­i­dent,” he said. Lavrov said that Rus­sia was reach­ing out to the Red Cross and the U.N. to dis­cuss the pos­si­bil­i­ty of deliv­er­ing human­i­tar­i­an aid to the region.

    How­ev­er, the rebels’ request was met war­i­ly by gov­ern­ment offi­cials in Kiev and in the West. Those lead­ers expressed con­cern that the move could be aimed at increas­ing inter­na­tion­al pres­sure on Ukraine to allow in a Russ­ian aid mis­sion. The West says that could be used as a pre­text to bring Russ­ian sol­diers into Ukraine — and says 20,000 of them are massed near the Russ­ian bor­der with Ukraine.

    Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko and West­ern lead­ers have repeat­ed­ly accused Rus­sia of pro­vid­ing arms and exper­tise to the rebels, some­thing Rus­sia denies.

    He issued a state­ment late Sat­ur­day say­ing that Ukraine was pre­pared to accept human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance in east­ern Ukraine. But he said the aid must come in with­out mil­i­tary assis­tance, pass through bor­der check­points under Ukrain­ian con­trol and be an inter­na­tion­al mis­sion.

    Poroshenko said he and Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel dis­cussed Ger­man par­tic­i­pa­tion in such a mis­sion.

    On Sun­day, Ger­man For­eign Min­is­ter Frank-Wal­ter Stein­mer expressed “great con­cern” that the human­i­tar­i­an sit­u­a­tion for civil­ians in Donet­sk and Luhan­sk is get­ting worse. He said Ger­many is already work­ing with the ICRC and U.N. agen­cies to ensure that exist­ing aid is coor­di­nat­ed and gets deliv­ered where it is need­ed.

    He said was “good that there seems to be basic agree­ment about the deliv­ery of human­i­tar­i­an goods between Ukraine and Rus­sia,” but said that Russ­ian aid “must only be deliv­ered with the express agree­ment of the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment” and under the super­vi­sion of inter­na­tion­al orga­ni­za­tions.


    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 10, 2014, 7:00 pm
  7. And what do you do when the war is over and you get vet­er­ans from Azov swag­ger­ing down your high street, and in your own lives?

    The Tele­graph
    Ukraine cri­sis: the neo-Nazi brigade fight­ing pro-Russ­ian sep­a­ratists
    Kiev throws para­mil­i­taries – some open­ly neo-Nazi — into the front of the bat­tle with rebels

    By Tom Parfitt, Urzuf

    9:00AM BST 11 Aug 2014

    The fight­ers of the Azov bat­tal­ion lined up in sin­gle file to say farewell to their fall­en com­rade. His pal­lid corpse lay under the sun in an open cas­ket trimmed with blue vel­vet.

    Some of the men placed car­na­tions by the body, oth­ers ros­es. Many struck their chests with a closed fist before touch­ing their dead friend’s arm. One fight­er had an SS tat­too on his neck.

    Sergiy Grek, 22, lost a leg and died from mas­sive blood loss after a radio-con­trolled anti-tank mine explod­ed near to him.

    As Ukraine’s armed forces tight­en the noose around pro-Russ­ian sep­a­ratists in the east of the coun­try, the west­ern-backed gov­ern­ment in Kiev is throw­ing mili­tia groups – some open­ly neo-Nazi — into the front of the bat­tle.

    The Azov bat­tal­ion has the most chill­ing rep­u­ta­tion of all. Last week, it came to the fore as it mount­ed a bold attack on the rebel redoubt of Donet­sk, strik­ing deep into the sub­urbs of a city under siege.

    In Marin­ka, on the west­ern out­skirts, the bat­tal­ion was sent for­ward ahead of tanks and armoured vehi­cles of the Ukrain­ian army’s 51st Mech­a­nised Brigade. A fero­cious close-quar­ters fight ensued as they got caught in an ambush laid by well-trained sep­a­ratists, who shot from 30 yards away. The Azov irreg­u­lars replied with a squall of fire, fend­ing off the attack and seiz­ing a rebel check­point.

    Mr Grek, also known as “Bal­a­gan”, died in the bat­tle and 14 oth­ers were wound­ed. Speak­ing after the cer­e­mo­ny Andriy Bilet­sky, the battalion’s com­man­der, told the Tele­graph the oper­a­tion had been a “100% suc­cess”. “The bat­tal­ion is a fam­i­ly and every death is painful to us but these were min­i­mal loss­es,” he said. “Most impor­tant of all, we estab­lished a bridge­head for the attack on Donet­sk. And when that comes we will be lead­ing the way.”

    The mil­i­tary achieve­ment is hard to dis­pute. By secur­ing Marin­ka the bat­tal­ion “widened the front and tight­ened the cir­cle”, around the rebels’ cap­i­tal, as anoth­er fight­er put it. While Vladimir Putin, Russia’s pres­i­dent, pre­var­i­cates about send­ing an inva­sion force into Ukraine, the rebels he backs are los­ing ground fast.

    But Kiev’s use of vol­un­teer para­mil­i­taries to stamp out the Russ­ian-backed Donet­sk and Luhan­sk “people’s republics”, pro­claimed in east­ern Ukraine in March, should send a shiv­er down Europe’s spine. Recent­ly formed bat­tal­ions such as Don­bas, Dnipro and Azov, with sev­er­al thou­sand men under their com­mand, are offi­cial­ly under the con­trol of the inte­ri­or min­istry but their financ­ing is murky, their train­ing inad­e­quate and their ide­ol­o­gy often alarm­ing.

    The Azov men use the neo-Nazi Wolf­san­gel (Wolf’s Hook) sym­bol on their ban­ner and mem­bers of the bat­tal­ion are open­ly white suprema­cists, or anti-Semi­tes.

    “Per­son­al­ly, I’m a Nazi,” said “Phan­tom”, a 23-year-old for­mer lawyer at the cer­e­mo­ny wear­ing cam­ou­flage and hold­ing a Kalash­nikov. “I don’t hate any oth­er nation­al­i­ties but I believe each nation should have its own coun­try.” He added: “We have one idea: to lib­er­ate our land from ter­ror­ists.”

    The Tele­graph was invit­ed to see some 300 Azov fight­ers pay respects to Mr Grek, their first com­rade to die since the bat­tal­ion was formed in May. An hon­our guard fired vol­leys into the air at the battalion’s head­quar­ters on the edge of Urzuf, a small beach resort on Ukraine’s Azov Sea coast. Two more mili­ti­a­men died on Sun­day fight­ing north of Donet­sk. Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine’s pres­i­dent, called one of them a hero.

    Each new recruit receives only a cou­ple of weeks of train­ing before join­ing the bat­tal­ion. The inte­ri­or min­istry and pri­vate donors pro­vide weapons.


    Mr Bilet­sky, a mus­cu­lar man in a black T‑shirt and cam­ou­flage trousers, said the bat­tal­ion was a light infantry unit, ide­al for the urban war­fare need­ed to take cities like Donet­sk.

    The 35-year old com­man­der began cre­at­ing the bat­tal­ion after he was released from pre-tri­al deten­tion in Feb­ru­ary in the wake of pro-west­ern protests in Kiev. He had denied a charge of attempt­ed mur­der, claim­ing it was polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed.

    A for­mer his­to­ry stu­dent and ama­teur box­er, Mr Bilet­sky is also head of an extrem­ist Ukrain­ian group called the Social Nation­al Assem­bly. “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,” he wrote in a recent com­men­tary. “A cru­sade against the Semi­te-led Unter­men­schen.”

    The bat­tal­ion itself is found­ed on right wing views, the com­man­der said in Urzuf, and no Nazi con­vic­tions could exclude a recruit. “The most impor­tant thing is being a good fight­er and a good broth­er so that we can trust each oth­er,” he said.

    Inter­est­ing­ly, many of the men in the bat­tal­ion are Rus­sians from east­ern Ukraine who wear masks because they fear their rel­a­tives in rebel-con­trolled areas could be per­se­cut­ed if their iden­ti­ties are revealed.

    Phan­tom said he was such a Russ­ian but that he was opposed to Moscow sup­port­ing “ter­ror­ists” in his home­land: “I vol­un­teered and all I demand­ed was a gun and the pos­si­bil­i­ty to defend my coun­try.”

    Asked about his Nazi sym­pa­thies, he said: “After the First World World War, Ger­many was a total mess and Hitler rebuilt it: he built hous­es and roads, put in tele­phone lines, and cre­at­ed jobs. I respect that.” Homo­sex­u­al­i­ty is a men­tal ill­ness and the scale of the Holo­caust “is a big ques­tion”, he added.

    Stepan, 23, anoth­er fight­er, said that if lead­ers of the pro-Russ­ian sep­a­ratists were cap­tured they should be exe­cut­ed after a mil­i­tary tri­bunal.

    Such notions seem a far cry from the spir­it of the “Maid­an” protests that peaked in Kiev in Feb­ru­ary with the oust­ing of Mr Yanukovich, who had refused to sign a trade agree­ment with the Euro­pean Union. Young lib­er­als led the way but the upris­ing, which end­ed with the pres­i­dent flee­ing to Rus­sia, pro­voked a huge patri­ot­ic awak­en­ing that sucked in hard­line groups.

    Azov’s extrem­ist pro­file and slick English–language pages on social media have even attract­ed for­eign fight­ers. Mr Bilet­sky says he has men from Ire­land, Italy, Greece and Scan­di­navia. At the base in Urzuf, Mikael Skillt, 37, a for­mer sniper with the Swedish Army and Nation­al Guard, leads and trains a recon­nais­sance unit.

    “When I saw the Maid­an protests I recog­nised brav­ery and suf­fer­ing,” he told the Tele­graph. “A war­rior soul was awak­ened. But you can only do so much, going against the ene­my with sticks and stones. I had some expe­ri­ence and I though maybe I could help.”

    Mr Skillt says he called him­self a Nation­al Social­ist as a young man and more recent­ly he was active in the extreme right wing Par­ty of the Swedes. “Now I’m fight­ing for the free­dom of Ukraine against Putin’s impe­ri­al­ist front,” he said.


    Ukraine’s gov­ern­ment is unre­pen­tant about using the neo-Nazis. “The most impor­tant thing is their spir­it and their desire to make Ukraine free and inde­pen­dent,” said Anton Gerashchenko, an advis­er to Arsen Avakov, the inte­ri­or min­is­ter. “A per­son who takes a weapon in his hands and goes to defend his moth­er­land is a hero. And his polit­i­cal views are his own affair.”

    Mark Gale­ot­ti, an expert on Russ­ian and Ukrain­ian secu­ri­ty affairs at New York Uni­ver­si­ty, fears bat­tal­ions like Azov are becom­ing “mag­nets to attract vio­lent fringe ele­ments from across Ukraine and beyond”. “The dan­ger is that this is part of the build­ing up of a tox­ic lega­cy for when the war ends,” he said.

    Extrem­ist para­mil­i­tary groups who have built up “their own lit­tle Freiko­rps” and who are fun­da­men­tal­ly opposed to find­ing con­sen­sus may demand a part in pub­lic life as vic­tors in the con­flict, Mr Gale­ot­ti added. “And what do you do when the war is over and you get vet­er­ans from Azov swag­ger­ing down your high street, and in your own lives?”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 11, 2014, 11:04 am
  8. This is some­what fas­ci­nat­ing: Rus­sia has announced that it’s going to be send­ing in a human­i­tar­i­an aid con­voy to Donet­sk this week in coor­di­na­tion with the Red Cross, but over oppo­si­tion from the West and with an unclear com­mit­ment from the Red Cross. At the same time, Kiev appears to be coor­di­nat­ing its own human­i­tar­i­an aid con­voy to Donet­sk with the West while NATO’s chief expressed fears that this is real­ly a plan to set up a pre­text for a Russ­ian inva­sion. So there’s now a com­pli­cat­ed inter­na­tion­al con­voy com­pe­ti­tion to get aid to the peo­ple of Donet­sk while pre­vent­ing the oth­er side from get­ting there first. Con­sid­er­ing all of the oth­er devel­op­ments that have tak­en place in this crazy con­flict, and assum­ing we’re not about to see the sit­u­a­tion spi­ral out of con­trol and into a WWIII sce­nario, it could be worse:

    Rus­sia send­ing aid con­voy to Ukraine despite West­ern warn­ings of ‘inva­sion pre­text’

    By Adri­an Croft and Sergei Karpukhin

    BRUSSELS/DONETSK Mon Aug 11, 2014 6:48pm EDT

    (Reuters) — Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin said on Mon­day Rus­sia is send­ing an aid con­voy to east­ern Ukraine despite urgent West­ern warn­ings against using human­i­tar­i­an help as a pre­text for an inva­sion.

    With Ukraine report­ing Rus­sia has massed 45,000 troops on its bor­der, NATO said there was a “high prob­a­bil­i­ty” that Moscow could inter­vene mil­i­tar­i­ly in the coun­try’s east, where Kiev’s forces are clos­ing in on pro-Russ­ian sep­a­ratists.

    West­ern coun­tries believe that Putin — who has whipped up the pas­sions of Rus­sians with a nation­al­ist cam­paign in state-con­trolled media since annex­ing Crimea from Ukraine in March — could now send his forces into the east to head off a humil­i­at­ing rebel defeat.

    Thou­sands of peo­ple are believed to be short of water, elec­tric­i­ty and med­ical aid due to the fight­ing, but U.S. Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma told his Ukrain­ian coun­ter­part that any Russ­ian inter­ven­tion with­out Kiev’s con­sent would be unac­cept­able and vio­late inter­na­tion­al law.

    Euro­pean Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent Jose Manuel Bar­roso deliv­ered a blunter mes­sage direct­ly to Putin in a tele­phone call on Mon­day. “Pres­i­dent Bar­roso warned against any uni­lat­er­al mil­i­tary actions in Ukraine, under any pre­text, includ­ing human­i­tar­i­an,” the Com­mis­sion said in a state­ment.

    The Krem­lin, in its own account of the con­ver­sa­tion, made clear that Moscow would indeed send help to large­ly Russ­ian-speak­ing east­ern Ukraine.

    “It was not­ed that the Russ­ian side, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Inter­na­tion­al Com­mit­tee of the Red Cross, is send­ing an aid con­voy to Ukraine,” the Krem­lin state­ment said, with­out reveal­ing when the con­voy was going.

    In a cau­tious response, the Inter­na­tion­al Com­mit­tee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it had sub­mit­ted a doc­u­ment to Russ­ian and Ukrain­ian offi­cials on deliv­er­ing aid. How­ev­er, the inde­pen­dent agency stressed in a state­ment that it need­ed agree­ment from all par­ties as well as secu­ri­ty guar­an­tees to car­ry out the oper­a­tion, as it does not use armed escorts.

    “The prac­ti­cal details of this oper­a­tion need to be clar­i­fied before this ini­tia­tive can move for­ward,” said Lau­rent Cor­baz, head of ICRC oper­a­tions for Europe and Cen­tral Asia.

    Accord­ing to U.N. agen­cies, more than 1,100 peo­ple have been killed includ­ing gov­ern­ment forces, rebels and civil­ians in the four months since the sep­a­ratists seized ter­ri­to­ry in the east and Kiev launched its crack­down.


    Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko came out in sup­port of an aid mis­sion but made clear it had to be an inter­na­tion­al effort under the aegis of the ICRC, involv­ing the Euro­pean Union as well as Rus­sia.

    He won Oba­ma’s back­ing when they spoke by phone on Mon­day.

    The White House quot­ed Oba­ma as say­ing that any Russ­ian inter­ven­tion with­out the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­men­t’s agree­ment would be “unac­cept­able” and a vio­la­tion of inter­na­tion­al law.

    Ear­li­er, Kiev said it was in the “final stages” of recap­tur­ing the east­ern city of Donet­sk — the main base of the sep­a­ratist rebels — in a bat­tle that could mark a turn­ing point in a con­flict that has caused the biggest con­fronta­tion between Rus­sia and the West since the Cold War.

    An indus­tri­al metrop­o­lis with a pre-war pop­u­la­tion of near­ly 1 mil­lion, Donet­sk rocked to the crash of shells and gun­fire over the week­end, and heavy guns boomed through the night into Mon­day from the out­skirts of the city.

    NATO Sec­re­tary-Gen­er­al Anders Fogh Ras­mussen said there was no sign Rus­sia had with­drawn the troops it had massed at the Ukrain­ian fron­tier. Asked in a Reuters inter­view how he rat­ed the chances of Russ­ian mil­i­tary inter­ven­tion, Ras­mussen said: “There is a high prob­a­bil­i­ty.”

    “We see the Rus­sians devel­op­ing the nar­ra­tive and the pre­text for such an oper­a­tion under the guise of a human­i­tar­i­an oper­a­tion, and we see a mil­i­tary build-up that could be used to con­duct such ille­gal mil­i­tary oper­a­tions in Ukraine,” he said.


    NATO fears Moscow would use any aid mis­sion as a cov­er to save the rebels, who are fight­ing for con­trol of two provinces under the ban­ner of “New Rus­sia”, a term Putin has used for south­ern and east­ern Ukraine, where most­ly Russ­ian is spo­ken.

    Ukraine appears to be press­ing ahead with its offen­sive, unde­terred by the pres­ence of what NATO says are about 20,000 Russ­ian troops massed on the near­by bor­der for a poten­tial ground inva­sion.


    Lysenko said Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment forces had final­ly suc­ceed­ed in cut­ting off the road between Donet­sk and Luhan­sk, the oth­er main rebel-held city, which is clos­er to the Russ­ian bor­der. Kiev and its West­ern allies say the route has been the prin­ci­pal means of sup­ply­ing the rebels in Donet­sk with weapons.

    Fight­ing in recent weeks has focused on the route, near where Malaysia Air­lines flight MH17 crashed in July, killing all 298 peo­ple on board. Wash­ing­ton says the plane was almost cer­tain­ly shot down acci­den­tal­ly by rebels using an advanced Russ­ian mis­sile. Moscow denies this.

    “The forces of the anti-ter­ror­ist oper­a­tion are prepar­ing for the final stage of lib­er­at­ing Donet­sk,” Lysenko told Reuters. “Our forces have com­plete­ly cut Donet­sk off from Luhan­sk. We are work­ing to lib­er­ate both cities, but it’s bet­ter to lib­er­ate Donet­sk first — it is more impor­tant.”

    The leader of the rebels in Donet­sk, Alexan­der Zakharchenko, a local man who took over the lead­er­ship from a Russ­ian cit­i­zen last week, said the fight­ers were con­sid­er­ing mount­ing a counter-attack against gov­ern­ment forces in the next two or three days.

    And a vol­un­teer gov­ern­ment fight­er sug­gest­ed claims that gov­ern­ment forces were about to take Donet­sk were inflat­ed. “Tak­ing the town is an extreme­ly com­pli­cat­ed busi­ness and painful ... It will take, at the very least, sev­er­al weeks,” said Andriy Belet­sky, com­man­der of the so-called Azov bat­tal­ion.

    Munic­i­pal author­i­ties in Donet­sk said artillery shelling knocked out pow­er sta­tions in the city and hit a high-secu­ri­ty prison, killing one inmate and allow­ing more than 100 crim­i­nals to escape.

    Note the sen­ti­ment expressed by the com­man­der of the Azov bat­tal­ion at the end: “Tak­ing the town is an extreme­ly com­pli­cat­ed busi­ness and painful ... It will take, at the very least, sev­er­al weeks”. Also keep in mind that the neo-Nazi infest­ed Azov bat­tal­ion is tasked with clear­ing urban areas for Kiev. It’s a reminder that the talk by Ukraine’s gov­ern­ment of the army being in the ‘final stages’ of recap­tur­ing Donet­sk should prob­a­bly not be inter­pret­ed as sug­gest­ing that this will be over quick­ly. When the leader of the crazy neo-Nazi death squad is say­ing that it will take “at the very least, sev­er­al weeks”, we should prob­a­bly assume that a mul­ti-month long peri­od of shelling and block­ades is in store for Donet­sk, if not worse. And since groups like the Azov bat­tal­ion are lead­ing the charge in the urban com­bat, that means that in addi­tion to all the shelling there could be sev­er­al months of neo-Nazi death squads fight­ing across Donet­sk in intense urban com­bat in a city still filled with civil­ians. The ‘con­voy com­pe­ti­tion’ between Moscow and the West could grow quite a bit more com­pli­cat­ed going for­ward.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 11, 2014, 7:40 pm
  9. The con­voy com­pe­ti­tion is turn­ing into a con­voy show­down:

    Ukraine says may block Russ­ian aid con­voy

    By Pavel Poli­tyuk and Dmit­ry Zhdan­nikov

    KIEV/MOSCOW Tue Aug 12, 2014 2:57pm EDT

    (Reuters) — A Russ­ian con­voy of trucks car­ry­ing tonnes of human­i­tar­i­an aid left on Tues­day for east­ern Ukraine, where gov­ern­ment forces are clos­ing in on pro-Russ­ian rebels, but Kiev said it would not allow the vehi­cles to cross onto its ter­ri­to­ry.

    Kiev and West­ern gov­ern­ments warned Moscow against any attempt to turn the oper­a­tion into a mil­i­tary inter­ven­tion by stealth in a region fac­ing a human­i­tar­i­an cri­sis after four months of war­fare.

    “This car­go will be reloaded onto oth­er trans­port vehi­cles (at the bor­der) by the Red Cross,” Ukrain­ian pres­i­den­tial aide Valery Chaly told jour­nal­ists.

    “We will not allow any escort by the emer­gen­cies min­istry of Rus­sia or by the mil­i­tary (onto Ukrain­ian ter­ri­to­ry). Every­thing will be under the con­trol of the Ukrain­ian side,” he said.

    Rus­sia said it would trans­fer the con­voy to the aegis of the Inter­na­tion­al Com­mit­tee of the Red Cross, but made no ref­er­ence to the demand the goods be reloaded. The Euro­pean Union said the aid would have to be ver­i­fied.

    “No polit­i­cal or any oth­er objec­tives must be pur­sued,” EU human­i­tar­i­an aid com­mis­sion­er Kristali­na Georgie­va told a news con­fer­ence. “The con­tent of human­i­tar­i­an aid must be exact­ly that, human­i­tar­i­an aid, and obvi­ous­ly can­not be tak­en on face val­ue.”

    Russ­ian media said the col­umn of 280 trucks had left from near Moscow and it would take a cou­ple of days for it to make the 1,000 km (620 mile) jour­ney to Ukraine’s east­ern regions where rebel fight­ers seek union with Rus­sia.

    West­ern coun­tries believe that Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, who has whipped up nation­al­ist fer­vor in Rus­sia through the state-con­trolled media since annex­ing Crimea in March, might be spurred to fresh action since sep­a­ratists in their main redoubt of Donet­sk are now encir­cled by Kiev gov­ern­ment forces.

    Rossiya 24 TV showed a 3‑km long line of con­tain­ers and trucks loaded with crates of drink­ing water and oth­er prod­ucts stretched along a road with work­ers load­ing sacks of aid. A Russ­ian ortho­dox priest marched across a line of trucks, spray­ing them with holy water before they left.

    “It has all been agreed with Ukraine,” Busi­ness FM radio quot­ed Putin’s spokesman, Dmit­ry Peskov, as say­ing of an oper­a­tion pub­li­cized with fan­fare on Russ­ian TV chan­nels.

    The U.S., French and Aus­tralian gov­ern­ments voiced con­cern that Rus­sia, sole inter­na­tion­al sup­port­er of rebels in Ukraine’s Russ­ian-speak­ing east, could use the human­i­tar­i­an deliv­er­ies to car­ry out a covert oper­a­tion to help fight­ers who appear to be on the verge of defeat.


    With Ukraine report­ing Rus­sia has massed 45,000 troops on its bor­der, NATO said on Mon­day that there was a “high prob­a­bil­i­ty” Moscow might now inter­vene mil­i­tar­i­ly in Ukraine.[ID:nL6N0QH2YV]

    Itar-Tass news agency said the con­voy car­ried 2,000 tonnes of human­i­tar­i­an aid. It includ­ed 400 tonnes of cere­als, 100 tonnes of sug­ar, 62 tonnes of baby food, 54 tonnes of med­ical equip­ment and med­i­cine, 12,000 sleep­ing bags and 69 gen­er­a­tors.

    Thou­sands of peo­ple are believed to be short of water, elec­tric­i­ty and med­ical aid in Donet­sk and in the bor­der town of Luhan­sk due to bit­ter fight­ing, involv­ing air strikes and mis­sile attacks.

    U.N. agen­cies say well over 1,000 peo­ple have been killed, includ­ing gov­ern­ment forces, rebels and civil­ians, in the con­flict in which a Malaysian air­lin­er was downed on July 17 with the deaths of all 298 peo­ple on board.

    A fur­ther six Ukrain­ian sol­diers were killed in action overnight, mil­i­tary spokesman Andriy Lysenko said, bring­ing to more than 570 the num­ber of gov­ern­ment forces killed since con­flict erupt­ed in April.

    Kiev and its West­ern allies say Rus­sia, which oppos­es the new lead­er­ship’s pro-West­ern poli­cies, has been fun­nel­ing tanks, mis­siles and oth­er heavy weapons to the rebels for months. Moscow denies this.


    Now that the con­voy show­down is poised to heat ten­sions up even more, it might be a good time to recall that even if the cri­sis in Ukraine is mirac­u­lous­ly resolved tomor­row, the cri­sis in Ukraine is far from the only unre­solved con­flict cur­rent­ly push­ing Rus­sia and the West towards some sort of larg­er con­flict. Espe­cial­ly if the ‘Russ­ian Aggres­sion Act’ becomes US law:

    The Nation
    The GOP’s Utter­ly Reck­less ‘Russ­ian Aggres­sion Act’ Will Only Wors­en the Ukrain­ian Cri­sis

    The bill reads like a wish list for NATO and Kiev.
    James Car­den
    August 12, 2014

    If there was any doubt that the war hawks in Con­gress are itch­ing to take flight over Moscow, they need only page through Sen­a­tor Bob Corker’s Russ­ian Aggres­sion Pre­ven­tion Act of 2014 (S.2277). Sub­mit­ted to the Sen­ate Com­mit­tee on For­eign Rela­tions just as the num­ber of civil­ian casu­al­ties and refugees in east­ern Ukraine began to tick ever high­er in mid-May, the bill is, in essence, a GOP wish list not only for their new friends in Kiev but for both NATO and the entire for­mer Sovi­et space as well.

    Some of the bill’s pro­posed mea­sures are fair­ly ano­dyne, if only because they are so com­plete­ly unre­al­is­tic. One sec­tion seeks to pro­mote ‘Strength­ened US-Ger­man Coop­er­a­tion on Glob­al and Euro­pean Secu­ri­ty Issues’ and would allo­cate $5 mil­lion annu­al­ly to go towards a US-Ger­man Secu­ri­ty Work­ing Group. I would esti­mate that, giv­en the con­tin­ued rev­e­la­tions of US intel­li­gence activ­i­ties in Ger­many that there’s exact­ly zero-appetite for a ‘work­ing group’ of this nature in Berlin at the present time.

    A num­ber of the bill’s sec­tions are tak­en up with sati­at­ing the depress­ing­ly famil­iar Con­gres­sion­al mania for democ­ra­cy pro­mo­tion abroad. The State Depart­ment is direct­ed to increase its efforts “direct­ly or through non­govern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions” to improve democ­ra­cy and civ­il soci­ety in Rus­sia. This pro­vi­sion would seem, giv­en the fact that the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment expelled the USAID Mis­sion in the lat­ter half of 2012, to be lit­tle more than a ploy with which to aggra­vate Vladimir Putin than a seri­ous attempt to spread “our val­ues”. Worse, it nev­er seems to occur to our polit­i­cal estab­lish­ment that fund­ing pro-democ­ra­cy orga­ni­za­tions dur­ing times of height­ened US-Rus­sia ten­sions may put the very orga­ni­za­tions they wish to assist in dan­ger giv­en the For­eign Agents reg­is­tra­tion law that was passed by the Duma last year. Lest you think the bill would con­fine its “pro-democ­ra­cy” agen­da to Rus­sia, sev­er­al sec­tions lat­er we are informed that the State Depart­ment would be direct­ed to expand their cru­sade to “the coun­tries of the for­mer Sovi­et Union” at the cost of $25 mil­lion annu­al­ly over the next three years.

    As coun­ter­pro­duc­tive as the afore­men­tioned pro­pos­als would be; the major­i­ty of the act is tak­en up with respond­ing to the cur­rent cri­sis in Ukraine, and in the worst pos­si­ble way. It would impose “imme­di­ate new sanc­tions” which would tar­get major Russ­ian banks, ener­gy com­pa­nies and arms man­u­fac­tur­ers, along with their “Russ­ian-owned sub­sidiaries and senior Russ­ian exec­u­tives.” That sanc­tions may have the oppo­site of their intend­ed effect seems to have dawned on even some of the shriller mem­bers of Washington’s pun­dit class, but Con­gress, if this bill is any­thing to go by, is stick­ing to what it thinks it knows.

    The bill also seeks to fur­ther “strength­en” what is, by com­mon con­sen­sus, by far the world’s most pow­er­ful mil­i­tary alliance: NATO. The call to accel­er­ate the deploy­ment of mis­sile defense sys­tems to East-Cen­tral Europe, for instance, was, giv­en the bill’s prove­nance, entire­ly expect­ed; the pro­pos­al to treat Ukraine, Moldo­va and Geor­gia as “major non-NATO allies”, how­ev­er, is cause for alarm. As of today, these three coun­tries, along with nine­teen oth­ers, are mem­bers of NATO’s Part­ner­ship for Peace (PfP), a pro­gram begun under the Clin­ton admin­is­tra­tion to encour­age bilat­er­al rela­tions with NATO, but real­ly not much more. Even Rus­sia is a mem­ber of the PfP. But the des­ig­na­tion of “major non-NATO ally” is some­thing alto­geth­er dif­fer­ent; this would give Ukraine, Geor­gia and Moldo­va, three coun­tries with unre­solved ter­ri­to­r­i­al dis­putes with Rus­sia, the same sta­tus vis à vis the alliance as Aus­tralia, South Korea, Japan and Israel. It would, among oth­er things, exempt these coun­tries from any of the pro­vi­sions of the Arms Con­trol Export Act and allow for access to Amer­i­can financ­ing for weapons pur­chas­es.

    Almost as reck­less as the afore­men­tioned sec­tion, oth­er parts of the act would com­pel the admin­is­tra­tion to “use all appro­pri­ate ele­ments of Unit­ed States nation­al power…to pro­tect the inde­pen­dence, sov­er­eign­ty, and ter­ri­to­r­i­al and eco­nom­ic integri­ty of Ukraine and oth­er sov­er­eign nations in Europe and Eura­sia from Russ­ian aggres­sion.” (Ital­ics mine). In oth­er words, Con­gress would autho­rize the admin­is­tra­tion to make NATO-like secu­ri­ty guar­an­tees to dozens of coun­tries through­out Eura­sia with whom we pre­vi­ous­ly had not had any alliance com­mit­ments with what­ev­er. The bill would autho­rize the sec­re­tary of State to spend up to $100 mil­lion “to pro­vide direct mil­i­tary assis­tance to Ukraine, includ­ing anti-tank and anti-air­craft weapons and small arms.” In essence, Cork­er and his twen­ty-six co-spon­sors are urg­ing the Unit­ed States to wade ever deep­er (we are already send­ing mil­i­tary advis­ers to Kiev) into a proxy war with Rus­sia.

    What this bill exem­pli­fies is Congress’s chron­ic inabil­i­ty to either address a for­eign pol­i­cy prob­lem with­out turn­ing first to a mil­i­tary solu­tion or to con­sid­er whether past Amer­i­can poli­cies have in any way con­tributed to the cur­rent crises. Fur­ther, the bill, in its urg­ing for clos­er inte­gra­tion of Ukraine, Geor­gia and Moldo­va with NATO, sig­nal­ly fails to dis­tin­guish between core and periph­er­al Amer­i­can inter­ests abroad.


    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 12, 2014, 12:02 pm
  10. With a dozen peo­ple report­ed­ly killed from a Right Sec­tor bat­tal­ion and Dmytro Yarosh vow­ing revenge, here’s anoth­er arti­cle indi­cat­ing that the plan is for these “vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions” to play a key, front-line role in exe­cut­ing the street-to-street fight­ing in the urban areas fol­low­ing shelling by Kiev’s artillery:

    Wall Street Jour­nal
    Ukraine’s Mot­ley Vol­un­teers Blend Patri­o­tism With Brava­do
    Rag­tag Bat­tal­ions Include Some With Check­ered Pasts

    By Philip Shishkin

    Aug. 13, 2014 4:05 p.m. ET

    MARIUPOL, Ukraine— Rus­lan Abal­maz, a mar­tial-arts enthu­si­ast with intri­cate tat­toos run­ning down his arms, spent sev­en years in jail on extor­tion charges. He’s now a police offi­cer, a switch that would have seemed laugh­able to him just months ago.

    “It’s a para­dox,” Mr. Abal­maz said as he raced a green-and-black van filled with men car­ry­ing auto­mat­ic weapons through the streets of this sea­side town, on their way to bat­tle with pro-Rus­sia insur­gents.

    The rebel­lion that began last spring ini­tial­ly made Ukraine look help­less on the bat­tle­field. As rebels took over east­ern cities, some oppo­nents of sep­a­ratism were kid­napped, tor­tured, and killed.

    Ukraine respond­ed in part with vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions, tap­ping into patri­o­tism and anger unleashed by what many saw as for­eign aggres­sion.

    Fight­ing along­side reg­u­lar troops and heavy artillery, these bat­tal­ions are a cross-sec­tion of Ukrain­ian soci­ety. But they also include extreme nation­al­ists and peo­ple like Mr. Abal­maz, who aren’t prone to show­ing restraint.

    On a recent day, Mr. Abal­maz showed a munic­i­pal ID from a small town where his men had just fought. The card pic­tured a gray-haired man who looked to be in his 60s.

    “He’s lying some­where rot­ting,” Mr. Abal­maz said, describ­ing the man as a sep­a­ratist. “We don’t need him alive.”

    Asked if the man had been armed, Mr. Abal­maz said, “No, he had no weapon, but they get their weapons at night.” Lat­er, Mr. Abal­maz said the man did have a pis­tol in his car and was try­ing to escape.

    As Kiev press­es its mil­i­tary offen­sive against the sep­a­ratists, these vol­un­teers are play­ing a key role. They go into insur­gent ter­ri­to­ry soft­ened up by Ukrain­ian artillery and con­duct block-by-block clear­ance oper­a­tions, which bring them into con­tact with the civil­ian pop­u­la­tion as well.

    Any ret­ri­bu­tion against those deemed to have col­lab­o­rat­ed with the insur­gents would risk under­min­ing the broad­er bat­tle for hearts and minds in east­ern Ukraine, an indus­tri­al region where many peo­ple are leery of the rebels yet wor­ried about Kiev’s mil­i­tary cam­paign.


    After a par­tic­u­lar­ly dis­as­trous insur­gent attack this sum­mer, Mr. Abal­maz’s crew fled to Dnipropetro­vsk, the cap­i­tal of a neigh­bor­ing region. There, they pre­sent­ed them­selves to Gen­nady Kor­ban, an aide to Ihor Kolo­moisky, a wealthy bank­ing tycoon and now region­al gov­er­nor, who has been financ­ing Ukrain­ian vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions.

    Mr. Abal­maz’s crim­i­nal past did­n’t spook Mr. Kor­ban, who says the coal mer­chant is just one of many peo­ple who had prob­lems with the police under the pre­vi­ous, alleged­ly cor­rupt regime, often in trumped-up cas­es. Mr. Abal­maz’s recent­ly formed Min­er Bat­tal­ion is financed part­ly through Mr. Kolo­moisky’s largess.

    The vol­un­teers are inte­grat­ed into the Min­istry of Inte­ri­or, which makes them police offi­cers. Mr. Abal­maz says he ran into resis­tance from the reg­u­lar police. “They said, ‘He was dan­ger­ous in peace­time, don’t give him weapons now,’ ” Mr. Abal­maz recalls. He was even­tu­al­ly cleared though, and became a police sergeant.

    Vik­tor Che­lo­van, who super­vis­es the bat­tal­ions at the Min­istry of Inte­ri­or, notes that at the out­set of the sep­a­ratist upris­ing, reg­u­lar police, though unblem­ished by crim­i­nal records, refused to fight and many col­lab­o­rat­ed with the insur­gents. So new kinds of peo­ple were need­ed. Despite his past, Mr. Abal­maz “proved him­self to be a patri­ot and a good com­man­der,” he said.

    Mr. Che­lo­van said he had no evi­dence of ille­gal activ­i­ties or abus­es by the vol­un­teers in ter­ri­to­ries retak­en from the sep­a­ratists.


    Giv­en the out­sized role the far right groups were giv­en in new Kiev gov­ern­ment as a sort of reward for their out­sized role in the Maid­an Square protests, what kind of perks will this kind of role win them?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 13, 2014, 12:34 pm
  11. The con­voy show­down just got vio­lent: Kiev announced that it destroyed most of a col­umn of Russ­ian mil­i­tary vehi­cles that report­ed­ly cross into Ukraine last night. Rus­sia claims this is a fan­ta­sy and that the vehi­cles weren’t from the Russ­ian mil­i­tary but hired by pri­vate busi­ness­men. Mean­while, the Russ­ian aid con­voy is report­ed­ly still stuck at the bor­der with Kiev’s mil­i­tary first claim­ing it has begun inspec­tions but lat­er deny­ing that, say­ing they did not have the prop­er paper­work detail­ing the trucks’ con­tents. Addi­tion­al­ly, Kiev’s mil­i­tary spokesman claimed that it was­n’t Kiev’s artillery that shelled down­town Donet­sk. It was the rebels that did it. No expla­na­tion for that was giv­en. So the sit­u­a­tion con­tin­ues to become vio­lent­ly sur­re­al in Ukraine while the aid con­voys remain in place and the shelling of Donet­sk con­tin­ues:

    The New York Times
    Ukraine Says It Destroyed Mil­i­tary Vehi­cles Cross­ing Bor­der From Rus­sia


    KAMENSK-SHAKHTINSKY, Rus­sia — NATO and Ukraine said that a col­umn of mil­i­tary vehi­cles crossed into Ukraine from Rus­sia last night and that most of them had been destroyed by Ukrain­ian artillery fire. It was not clear whether Russ­ian sol­diers or rebel sep­a­ratists were dri­ving the vehi­cles.

    Pres­i­dent Petro O. Poroshenko of Ukraine said in a state­ment on his web­site that he could con­firm some West­ern news reports that the col­umn had crossed into Ukraine last night.

    “The pres­i­dent informed that the giv­en infor­ma­tion was trust­wor­thy and con­firmed because the major­i­ty of the machines had been elim­i­nat­ed by Ukrain­ian artillery at night,” the state­ment said.

    In Copen­hagen, the sec­re­tary-gen­er­al of NATO, Anders Fogh Ras­mussen, said that the alliance had detect­ed an “incur­sion” of vehi­cles from Rus­sia last night, adding: “What we have seen last night is the con­tin­u­a­tion of what we have seen for some time.”


    Mean­while, the con­voy of more than 260 trucks that Rus­sia says are filled with food and oth­er aid for civil­ians caught up in the fight­ing in east­ern Ukraine remained stalled inside Rus­sia on Fri­day amid con­fu­sion over when inspec­tions would start. Ukraine and its West­ern allies want to ensure that the car­go con­tains only relief sup­plies and not items that could help pro-Russ­ian fight­ers bat­tling to sur­vive a Ukrain­ian offen­sive.

    A state­ment ear­ly Fri­day by the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary said bor­der guards had start­ed exam­in­ing the trucks, but the military’s spokesman, Andriy Lysenko, lat­er denied this and said inspec­tions could not begin until the Ukrain­ian author­i­ties received doc­u­ments detail­ing the trucks’ con­tents.

    Mr. Lysenko said Ukraine had sent bor­der guards and cus­toms offi­cials to a Russ­ian bor­der town to exam­ine the trucks but was still wait­ing for the nec­es­sary doc­u­men­ta­tion from the Inter­na­tion­al Com­mit­tee of the Red Cross. The Red Cross, for its part, said Rus­sia had yet to pro­vide a detailed inven­to­ry and called for a speedy res­o­lu­tion of the prob­lem.

    In the inter­im, Red Cross staff mem­bers, rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Orga­ni­za­tion for Secu­ri­ty and Coop­er­a­tion in Europe and more than 50 Ukrain­ian bor­der guards already on site had noth­ing to do.

    In a state­ment issued in Gene­va, the Red Cross said swift action was need to allow “con­fir­ma­tion of the strict­ly human­i­tar­i­an nature of the car­go.”


    The trucks were in a bor­der zone close to sev­er­al mil­i­tary bases, where columns of armored mil­i­tary vehi­cles dri­ving in the direc­tion of the Ukrain­ian bor­der are a com­mon sight. Two West­ern jour­nal­ists report­ed see­ing 23 armored vehi­cles cross­ing a bor­der post into Ukraine on Thurs­day evening.

    Ukraine and the Unit­ed States have accused Rus­sia of covert­ly arm­ing pro-Russ­ian rebels in east­ern Ukraine.

    Russ­ian news agen­cies quot­ed an uniden­ti­fied spokesman for the bor­der guard ser­vice as say­ing that the ser­vice, run by the F.S.B. — the suc­ces­sor agency to the K.G.B. — had deployed more mobile teams near the bor­der. The spokesman said this was a response to increased infil­tra­tion by Ukrain­ian ser­vice­men into Rus­sia and more fre­quent shelling across the bor­der. He denied that any vehi­cles had crossed the bor­der, call­ing such reports “com­plete­ly untrue.”

    Sergey Kar­avayt­sev of Russia’s Min­istry for Emer­gency Sit­u­a­tions denied that the trucks in the con­voy were from the mil­i­tary and said they were hired through pri­vate busi­ness­es. Masked guards who said they were mil­i­tary police offi­cers also appeared at the camp site late Thurs­day evening. Mem­bers of the Red Cross were also at the convoy’s field camp on Fri­day, Mr. Kar­avayt­sev said.

    In Kiev, Mr. Lysenko said that an agree­ment had been reached to allow the inspec­tion of the con­voy, and the search­es would start once the dis­pute over paper­work was resolved. “Help is need­ed and we accept­ed it,” he said, adding that Ukrain­ian inspec­tors had already trav­eled to Donet­sk, a small Russ­ian town that has the same name as a sep­a­ratist strong­hold in east­ern Ukraine, to begin their work. “But we can’t start the pro­ce­dure because we don’t have doc­u­ments.”

    While back­ing away from the angry denun­ci­a­tions that char­ac­ter­ized Ukraine’s ini­tial response to Moscow’s relief effort, Mr. Lysenko repeat­ed ear­li­er Ukrain­ian accu­sa­tions that Rus­sia was send­ing mil­i­tary assis­tance across the bor­der to pro-Russ­ian rebels. He said unspec­i­fied mil­i­tary equip­ment had been moved into Ukraine from Rus­sia through a bor­der area con­trolled by the pro-Russ­ian sep­a­ratists.

    Stung by accu­sa­tions that it is stalling the deliv­ery of Russ­ian relief sup­plies to the east­ern city of Luhan­sk and is not doing enough to improve the plight of res­i­dents caught up in the fight­ing, Ukraine is send­ing its own aid con­voys to the besieged city. Mr. Lysenko said 71 Ukrain­ian trucks had been sent to the con­flict zone with food, water, tea, soap and oth­er sup­plies. He said 390 tons of Ukrain­ian aid had already arrived in Luhan­sk.

    He denied rebel claims that Ukrain­ian forces were respon­si­ble for the shelling on Thurs­day of down­town Donet­sk. Mr. Lysenko blamed rebels for the shelling, accus­ing them of fir­ing into the city from posi­tions near the Donet­sk train sta­tion, but did not explain why the rebels would fire into a city they con­trol.

    Rus­sia announced that Sergey V. Lavrov, the for­eign min­is­ter, had spo­ken by tele­phone with his Ger­man coun­ter­part, Frank-Wal­ter Stein­meier, about speed­ing the pas­sage of the con­voy. Aside from the urgent need to get the sup­plies across the bor­der, the two men also agreed to work toward estab­lish­ing a cease-fire while the aid is deliv­ered, the For­eign Min­istry state­ment said.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 15, 2014, 10:18 am
  12. Dmytro Yarosh is threat­en­ing to “cam­paign in Kiev” if the gov­ern­ment does­n’t give in to his demands:

    17 August 2014 Last updat­ed at 10:19 ET
    Ukraine cri­sis: Russ­ian aid con­voy arrives at bor­der

    Lor­ries from a Russ­ian con­voy car­ry­ing aid to east­ern Ukraine have reached a bor­der post con­trolled by sep­a­ratists.

    But they seem unlike­ly to cross into Ukraine imme­di­ate­ly as the Red Cross said it had still not received secu­ri­ty guar­an­tees for the con­voy to con­tin­ue.

    Ear­li­er Ukraine’s mil­i­tary said that sep­a­ratists had shot down a gov­ern­ment fight­er jet near the rebel-held city of Luhan­sk in the east of the coun­try.

    A mil­i­tary spokesman said the pilot had eject­ed and was safe.

    In oth­er devel­op­ments:

    * Ukrain­ian Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil spokesman Andriy Lysenko says gov­ern­ment forces have tak­en a rebel-con­trolled police sta­tion in Luhan­sk and raised the Ukrain­ian flag “after a bat­tle for... a res­i­den­tial dis­trict”. If con­firmed, this would be the first time gov­ern­ment forces have entered the city since the rebels seized con­trol
    * Rebel sources say 10 civil­ians had been killed in the city of Donet­sk over the past 24 hours as gov­ern­ment forces con­tin­ue an offen­sive
    * Mr Lysenko says a con­voy of rock­et launch­ers has been seen cross­ing from Rus­sia into Ukraine, days after two West­ern jour­nal­ists report­ed see­ing mil­i­tary hard­ware enter­ing from Rus­sia. Rus­sia has denied send­ing any weapons
    * Ger­man For­eign Min­is­ter Frank-Wal­ter Stein­meier says a new polit­i­cal impe­tus is need­ed to resolve the cri­sis and to avoid fur­ther esca­la­tion
    * The Russ­ian, Ukrain­ian, Ger­man and French for­eign min­is­ters are sched­uled to hold talks on the east­ern Ukraine cri­sis in Berlin lat­er on Sun­day

    More than 2,000 civil­ians and com­bat­ants have been killed since mid-April, when Ukraine’s gov­ern­ment sent troops to put down an upris­ing by pro-Russ­ian sep­a­ratists in the Donet­sk and Luhan­sk regions.

    But it faced a new chal­lenge on Sun­day as the leader of the ultra-nation­al­ist Right Sec­tor threat­ened to with­draw vol­un­teers fight­ing on the gov­ern­ment side.

    Dmytro Yarosh said Right Sec­tor would launch a “cam­paign in Kiev” if its demands, includ­ing the release of detained mem­bers, were not met with­in 48 hours.

    He called on Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko to “imme­di­ate­ly bring order” to the Inte­ri­or Min­istry, which he accused of har­bour­ing “revan­chist forces”.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 17, 2014, 6:58 pm
  13. Here’s a good arti­cle on the ongo­ing hush-hush­ing of extreme­ly rel­e­vant his­to­ry:

    Con­sor­tium News
    The Hushed-Up Hitler Fac­tor in Ukraine
    August 16, 2014

    Behind the Ukraine cri­sis is a revi­sion of World War II his­to­ry that seeks to hon­or east­ern Euro­pean col­lab­o­ra­tors with Hitler and the Holo­caust by repack­ag­ing these right­ists as anti-Sovi­et heroes, a real­i­ty shield­ed from the U.S. pub­lic, as Dovid Katz explains.

    By Dovid Katz

    Would Amer­i­ca sup­port any type of Hit­lerism in the course of the State Department’s effort to turn the anti-Russ­ian polit­i­cal class­es of East­ern Europe into paragons of PR per­fec­tion that may not be crit­i­cized, how­so­ev­er mild­ly?

    It was frankly dis­con­cert­ing to see Sen. John McCain, R‑Arizona, embrac­ing the leader of Ukraine’s far right, anti-Semit­ic, pro-fas­cist Svo­bo­da par­ty last Decem­ber. It was dis­turb­ing to learn of the neo-Nazi ele­ments that pro­vid­ed the “mus­cle” for the actu­al Maid­an takeover last Feb­ru­ary (BBC’s News­night was among the few major West­ern out­lets to dare cov­er that open­ly).

    Most dis­turb­ing of all has been the main­stream West­ern media’s almost Sovi­et-grade wall some­how erect­ed against crit­i­cal men­tion of the far-right com­po­nent of Ukraine’s 2014 his­to­ry, ren­der­ing any such thought as wor­thy of ridicule on New York Times opin­ion pages last spring.

    Most hilar­i­ous was the Times’s May 2014 pub­li­ca­tion of an (obvi­ous­ly ghost-writ­ten, State Depart­ment-script­ed) op-ed by Ukrain­ian pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Yulia V. Tymoshenko which quotes Churchill writ­ing to Roo­sevelt, “Give us the tools, as we will fin­ish the job,” rum­bling on about “the just and open democ­ra­cy that is America’s great­est bequest to the world.”

    This, from the far right politi­cian who had short­ly before that expressed geno­ci­dal mus­ings for the mil­lions of Russ­ian-speak­ing cit­i­zens of her coun­try, and who was, dur­ing her tenure as prime min­is­ter, a prime devo­tee of the wartime fas­cist leader Stepan Ban­dera, whose orga­ni­za­tion slaugh­tered tens of thou­sands (many his­to­ri­ans put it at hun­dreds of thou­sands) of Pol­ish and Jew­ish civil­ians based on eth­nic­i­ty, in the Aryanist dri­ve for an eth­ni­cal­ly pure state pre­cise­ly on the Nazi mod­el.

    It was there­fore refresh­ing to read in last Saturday’s Times a report that had, albeit buried near the end, a sin­gle line inform­ing read­ers that “One [mili­tia active in the Kiev government’s mil­i­tary cam­paign] known as Azov, which took over the vil­lage of Marin­ka, flies a neo-Nazi sym­bol resem­bling a Swasti­ka as its flag.” By con­trast, London’s right-of-cen­ter Dai­ly Tele­graph ran a whole report Mon­day titled “The neo-Nazi brigade fight­ing pro-Russ­ian sep­a­ratists,” right­ly includ­ing the obser­va­tion that the neo-Nazi forces being used by the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment to do mil­i­tary heavy lift­ing “should send a shiv­er down Europe’s spine.”

    This goes to the heart of what is being kept from so many West­ern, and espe­cial­ly Amer­i­can read­ers. Putin — for all his author­i­tar­i­an­ism, anti-demo­c­ra­t­ic bent and revan­chism — is not the cause of the Ukrain­ian conun­drum (though he is cer­tain­ly exploit­ing it). There is a gen­uine divide in Ukraine between a nation­al­ist-dom­i­nat­ed west and a Russ­ian-speak­ing east.

    Any­body who has trav­eled the coun­try will tell you that these “Rus­sians” in the east, and wher­ev­er else they are to be found, would much rather be liv­ing in a Euro­pean Union-type coun­try than in a Rus­sia-type coun­try. What then is the prob­lem? They do not want to live in an ultra­na­tion­al­ist-dom­i­nat­ed state that is anti-Russ­ian in a 1930s Aryanesque sense of eth­ni­cal­ly and lin­guis­ti­cal­ly pure Ukrain­ism. They much pre­fer the Rus­sia-mod­el state to that.

    Now those anti-racist val­ues, includ­ing the rever­ing of the Anglo-Amer­i­can-Sovi­et alliance that brought down Hitler, and the dis­dain of soci­eties found­ed on mod­els of racist puri­ty, are in fact also Amer­i­can val­ues. But that affin­i­ty between West­ern val­ues and the east­ern­ers would nev­er even be guessed at in the avalanche of Cold War II news­feed com­ing our way.

    Inci­den­tal­ly, some West­ern reports that car­i­ca­ture the Putin­ist press’s use of the word “fas­cists” for Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists don’t appre­ci­ate the col­lo­qui­al Russ­ian usage where it refers not nec­es­sar­i­ly to swasti­ka-wield­ing thugs but even to high soci­ety that holds in esteem the likes of Ban­dera and oth­er World War II-era Nazist fas­cists as sup­posed myth­i­cal “free­dom fight­ers” to be revered today by the state, in street names, stat­ues, muse­ums, and more.

    That is not to say that America’s allies among the west­ern Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists are all pro-fas­cist. They are not. But there are two salient issues that go beyond Ukraine and cov­er all of “anti-Russ­ian” East­ern Europe, par­tic­u­lar­ly the new mem­ber states of NATO and the EU.

    The first is casu­al accep­tance of neo-Nazi ele­ments, sym­bol­ism and ide­ol­o­gy as part of any kind of sup­pos­ed­ly cen­trist main­stream. In Latvia and Esto­nia, this is exem­pli­fied by tac­it (or not so tac­it) state sup­port for hon­ors for those coun­tries’ Waf­fen SS divi­sions. In Lithua­nia, it can be man­i­fest in state-spon­sored shrines to the Lithuan­ian Activist Front (LAF) killers who unleashed the Holo­caust on Jew­ish neigh­bors before the first Ger­man sol­diers had quite arrived.

    But there is a sec­ond issue that is much deep­er, and has noth­ing to do with these more osten­ta­tious kinds of Nazi wor­ship. That issue is his­to­ry.

    ‘His­to­ry’ Alive

    While World War II is indeed “his­to­ry” for the West, it is very much part of Now in East­ern Europe. State-spon­sored insti­tu­tions in the three Baltic coun­tries, Lithua­nia, Latvia and Esto­nia, espe­cial­ly, and also at times in Croa­t­ia, Roma­nia and else­where have invest­ed a for­tune in a kind of Holo­caust revi­sion­ism that would white­wash their own nation­al­ists’ col­lab­o­ra­tion with Hitler and turn the Sovi­et Union into the real Hitler.

    Known as “Dou­ble Geno­cide,” it posits the absolute the­o­ret­i­cal equal­i­ty of Nazi and Sovi­et crimes. Its con­sti­tu­tion is the 2008 “Prague Dec­la­ra­tion,” which most Amer­i­cans have nev­er heard of, that sports the word “same” five times in ref­er­ence to Nazi and Sovi­et crimes. Even few­er Amer­i­cans know that one of its demands, that the world accept a uni­tary mix-and-match day of remem­brance for Nazi and Sovi­et vic­tims, was snuck under the radar into last June’s con­gres­sion­al mil­i­tary appro­pri­a­tions bill.

    The issue across the board is the choice made by nation­al­ist elites in East­ern Europe to con­struct nation­al myths not on the mer­its of a country’s great artists, poets, thinkers and gen­uine free­dom fight­ers, but all too often, on the basis of Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors whose claim to fame is that they were also “anti-Sovi­et patri­ots.”

    The fact of the mat­ter is that vir­tu­al­ly all of Hitler’s col­lab­o­ra­tors in East­ern Europe were “anti-Sovi­et.” In fact, the Sovi­et Union was the only pow­er putting up resis­tance to Hitler in East­ern Europe. If the Sovi­ets had not pushed the Nazi armies back by the spring of 1944, at huge sac­ri­fice to all the Sovi­et peo­ples, there would have been no D‑Day or open­ing of a West­ern front.

    Whether it is hero-wor­ship of Hungary’s Mik­lós Hor­thy, lead­ers of Croatia’s Hit­lerist Ustasha, the Nazis’ Waf­fen SS divi­sions in Latvia and Esto­nia, or the likes of Ukraine’s Ban­dera and his OUN and UPA, and the Waf­fen SS, it is an offense to West­ern val­ues that a NATO or EU state, or NATO/EU-aspir­ing state, would dis­burse state funds on the dis­tor­tion of his­to­ry, obfus­ca­tion of the Holo­caust and con­struc­tion of soci­eties that admire the worst of history’s racists.

    To do so quite sim­ply implies that all the minor­i­ty cit­i­zens they butchered, or whose butcher­ing they sup­port­ed, were quite unwor­thy of con­tin­ued exis­tence. Inci­den­tal­ly, all these coun­tries have real heroes from that dark­est moment in their his­to­ry: those (often the sim­plest of peo­ple) who just did the right thing and risked all to res­cue a neigh­bor from the Nazist estab­lish­ment col­lab­o­ra­tionist lead­er­ship of their own nation­al­ists.


    Any viable solu­tion needs to take into account that it is a deeply divid­ed coun­try even in the absence of (ever-present) Putin­ist mis­chief. It there­fore needs to also take into account the many mil­lions of Russ­ian speak­ers who oppose the racial chau­vin­ism of some of the nation­al­ist elite now in or close to the gov­ern­ment, and who have very dif­fer­ent ideas about Twen­ti­eth Cen­tu­ry his­to­ry.

    That is the way for­ward, not the Cold War II non­sense of spread­ing the word that the west­ern­ers are pure angels and the east­ern­ers pure demons, not the neo­con non­sense that America’s great­ness depends on end­less for­eign mil­i­tary mis­ad­ven­tures in regime change that lead to long , unpre­dictable, and uncon­trol­lable cycles of vio­lence.

    That Amer­i­ca shares with Rus­sia the mag­nif­i­cent lega­cy of hav­ing in tan­dem brought down Hitler’s empire is a her­itage worth invok­ing for build­ing bet­ter under­stand­ing, not a fact to be buried in def­er­ence to the far-right revi­sion of Holo­caust his­to­ry with which much of nation­al­ist East­ern Europe is so obsessed.

    Also: Shh­h­hh....

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 18, 2014, 9:05 am
  14. With nei­ther side show­ing an inter­est in nego­ti­a­tions the street to street fight­ing and urban war­fare rages on:


    Dozens killed in Ukraine as army bat­tles to break rebels
    By Nico­las Gau­dichet with Dmytro Gor­shkov in Kiev

    Fierce fight­ing between gov­ern­ment forces and pro-Russ­ian rebels left dozens of civil­ians dead on Wednes­day with artillery pound­ing cen­tral Donet­sk as Ukrain­ian troops pushed on with a bloody offen­sive.

    Dead­ly bat­tles to crush the ail­ing rebel­lion appeared to inten­si­fy ahead of a fresh round of diplo­ma­cy that will see the pres­i­dents of Rus­sia and Ukraine meet next week for the first time in months.

    Clash­es in and around the besieged main rebel strong­hold of Donet­sk killed 43 civil­ians in the past 24 hours, local author­i­ties said.

    AFP jour­nal­ists saw fierce mor­tar fire tear through the cen­tre of the city close to the state-of-the-art sta­di­um of foot­ball team Shakhtar Donet­sk, as Ukrain­ian troops tight­ened the vice on insur­gents holed up in the min­ing hub.

    Street bat­tles were rag­ing in Ilo­vaysk, a key rail­way hub some 45 kilo­me­tres (30 miles) east of Donet­sk, with author­i­ties say­ing nine sol­diers died in the area in the last 24 hours, includ­ing a US nation­al who fought for a Ukrain­ian vol­un­teer bat­tal­ion.

    In the city of Makiyiv­ka, adjoin­ing Donet­sk, res­i­dents were wok­en up by shelling in the ear­ly hours of Wednes­day.

    “What bas­tards,” said local 81-year-old Maria Semy­onov­na, who said she was plan­ning to go out in the morn­ing but was stopped by sounds of explo­sions.

    “We are at home here and they are bomb­ing us,” she told AFP. “When is it going to stop? Where can one go?”

    The renewed offen­sive comes as Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko gears up for a meet­ing in Min­sk with Rus­si­a’s Vladimir Putin, the heads of Belarus and Kaza­khstan, and EU offi­cials next week.

    That encounter will come after Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel jets in to Kiev on Sat­ur­day for her first vis­it to Ukraine in a show of sup­port for the coun­try’s pro-West­ern lead­er­ship.

    Poroshenko this week said the army was regroup­ing to con­tin­ue its push on the sep­a­ratist hubs of Donet­sk and Lugan­sk and to frag­ment the rebel-held ter­ri­to­ry to stop the flow of weapons from Rus­sia.

    “Both (Kiev and Moscow) are try­ing to improve their start­ing posi­tions” ahead of their Min­sk encounter, said polit­i­cal ana­lyst Olek­siy Gol­ubut­skyi. “If Ukraine man­ages to gain con­trol over Lugan­sk or even Donet­sk before these talks, then the issue of demil­i­taris­ing them dis­ap­pears.”

    - Russ­ian arms flow­ing? -

    Kiev has accused Moscow of ratch­et­ing up arms flows to help bol­ster the sep­a­ratists as Ukrain­ian forces have pushed deep­er into dwin­dling rebel ter­ri­to­ry with clash­es killing around 2,200 peo­ple since April.

    West­ern pow­ers also fear Putin could be prepar­ing to send in the 20,000 troops NATO says he has massed on the bor­der as a last roll of the dice.

    A Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary spokesman could not con­firm claims from a com­man­der in the field that a mas­sive con­voy of Russ­ian armoured vehi­cles had entered the sec­ond-largest insur­gent city of Lugan­sk.

    Igor Voronchenko, head of mil­i­tary oper­a­tions around the city, told local tele­vi­sion on Tues­day that tanks, Grad rock­et launch­ers, artillery and over 1,200 fight­ers were seen enter­ing the city after cross­ing over from Rus­sia.

    Ukrain­ian forces say they have wrest­ed back con­trol over “a sig­nif­i­cant part” of Lugan­sk over the past few days. Res­i­dents have endured over two weeks with­out water and food and author­i­ties have warned of pos­si­ble infec­tu­ous epi­demics.


    - Aid still stuck -

    There seemed to be some signs of progress in the week-long saga that has seen some 300 Russ­ian lor­ries with human­i­tar­i­an aid parked up at the bor­der with Ukri­ane’s Lugan­sk region.

    Kiev fears that the con­voy may be attacked if allowed to cross into rebel ter­ri­to­ry and could give the Krem­lin a pre­text to invade.

    Rus­sia said on Wednes­day that it had agreed with the Inter­na­tion­al Com­mit­tee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to “begin move­ment” of the con­voy despite wor­ries over safe­ty guar­an­tees.

    An ICRC spokes­woman in Moscow Vik­to­ria Zotiko­va con­firmed a “very small” advance group of Red Cross offi­cials had dri­ven into east­ern Ukraine to test the route.

    “They have to check road and secu­ri­ty con­di­tions to pre­pare the con­voy’s move­ment” before decid­ing on its depar­ture time, she said.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 20, 2014, 12:55 pm
  15. Here’s some back­ground on Mark “Franko” Paslawsky, the Ukrain­ian-Amer­i­can mem­ber of the Don­bas Bat­tal­ion that died yes­ter­day while try­ing to cap­ture the town if Ilo­vaysk. In addi­tion to an intense hatred of the Rus­sians, Pawlawsky was report­ed­ly moti­vat­ed by a deep oppo­si­tion to endem­ic cor­rup­tion, and pre­dict­ed that, once the war is over, the vol­un­teer Bat­tal­ions will set their sights on the author­i­ties in Kiev with a “Maid­an 3.0”:

    The Only Amer­i­can Fight­ing For Ukraine Dies in Bat­tle

    By Simon Ostro­vsky
    August 20, 2014 | 2:20 pm

    Mark Gre­go­ry Paslawsky, the sole Amer­i­can fight­ing on the Ukrain­ian side of the war in the east of the coun­try, died from injuries sus­tained in bat­tle in the town of Ilo­vaysk on Tues­day.

    Known by the code­name “Franko,” the 55-year-old invest­ment banker was a Man­hat­tan native, and had a slight limp and a pro­nounced New York accent, mak­ing him seem an unlike­ly can­di­date for a sol­dier in an east­ern Euro­pean war that has already claimed more than 2,000 lives.

    VICE News inter­viewed Paslawsky in ear­ly August in the Luhan­sk region where he had been deployed with the vol­un­teer Don­bas Bat­tal­ion. He said he decid­ed to take up arms against the sep­a­ratist Rus­sia-backed rebel­lion because of his fam­i­ly’s Ukrain­ian back­ground, as well as the frus­tra­tion and help­less­ness that came with watch­ing news reports on Ukraine’s dete­ri­o­rat­ing sit­u­a­tion after Moscow’s annex­a­tion of Crimea.

    Paslawsky worked in the finan­cial sec­tor and was based out of Kiev, Kharkiv, and Moscow for many years before he joined the Euro­maid­an protests that gripped the Ukrain­ian cap­i­tal last win­ter. Most recent­ly, he was an inde­pen­dent invest­ment advi­sor.

    “Giv­en what I saw, the lev­el of incom­pe­tence, the cor­rup­tion, the lack of activ­i­ty — I just decid­ed that I need­ed to go and par­tic­i­pate. If there was ever a time to help Ukraine this was the time to do it,” he told VICE News.

    After grad­u­at­ing from West Point, Paslawsky served in the US Army Rangers until he was 32 years old.


    Paslawsky could also be mer­ci­less, how­ev­er. Lex explained that after cap­tur­ing eight sep­a­ratists, half of whom were Russ­ian, a Ukrain­ian sol­dier gave one of the pris­on­ers a drag from a cig­a­rette and Paslawsky burst into a rage. “He said, ‘Why don’t you pour him a shot of vod­ka as well. These are the guys try­ing to kill us!’ ” Lex recalled. “He real­ly hat­ed the Rus­sians. We all hate the Rus­sians.”

    How­ev­er, Paslawsky and the oth­er mem­bers of the Don­bas Bat­tal­ion weren’t just moti­vat­ed to take up arms by events in the east, which have result­ed in chunks of Ukrain­ian ter­ri­to­ry being declared inde­pen­dent statelets by armed men from both Rus­sia and Ukraine. Many see anoth­er ene­my in the cul­ture of cor­rup­tion among Ukraine’s elite.

    “When you hear the dis­cus­sion among the guys — extreme­ly pas­sion­ate — and it all boils down to this whole thing of cor­rup­tion and the fact that we’ve not seen change for 20 years,” Paslawsky told VICE News.

    He pre­dict­ed that the vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions — which have emerged as a for­mi­da­ble force along­side reg­u­lar Ukrain­ian troops — would set their sights on the Kiev author­i­ties with a “Maid­an 3.0,” as he called it, to push for reforms after the war was over.

    In a pre-inter­view before going on cam­era, Paslawsky also warned that the vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions could emerge as a dan­ger­ous, uncon­trol­lable force that ought to be dis­band­ed and replaced with reg­u­lar army sol­diers mobi­lized from the gen­er­al pop­u­la­tion.

    He also added a quick, “Man, I don’t know,” a deep sigh, and “I hope this whole thing can be over before the end of August.” For Franko at least, it now is.

    “He pre­dict­ed that the vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions — which have emerged as a for­mi­da­ble force along­side reg­u­lar Ukrain­ian troops — would set their sights on the Kiev author­i­ties with a “Maid­an 3.0,” as he called it, to push for reforms after the war was over.” Now where did he get that idea...:

    Kiev Post
    Right Sec­tor and inte­ri­or min­is­ter make up after pub­licly trad­ing threats, accu­sa­tions
    Aug. 18, 2014, 7:49 p.m. | Oleg Sukhov

    The Right Sec­tor ultra­na­tion­al­ist par­ty on Aug. 18 resolved its dis­agree­ments with the Inte­ri­or Min­istry after the group’s leader Dmytro Yarosh backed down on his threat to march on Kyiv on the pre­vi­ous day.

    The Right Sec­tor, a major group behind the upris­ing that over­threw Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych in Feb­ru­ary, threat­ened on Aug. 16 to with­draw its fight­ers from the war zone in east­ern Ukraine. The par­ty said it would bring them to Kyiv to attack the Inte­ri­or Min­istry after mem­bers of the group were arrest­ed for ille­gal pos­ses­sion of arms.

    The state­ment high­light­ed the Right Sector’s long-run­ning con­flict with Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Arsen Avakov and its unhap­pi­ness with what it deems as a lack of progress on lus­tra­tion and anti-cor­rup­tion efforts – key demands of last winter’s Euro­Maid­an rev­o­lu­tion.

    Anton Gerashchenko, an advi­sor to Avakov, wrote on Face­book on Aug. 18 that Avakov and Borislav Bery­oza, head of the Right Sector’s infor­ma­tion depart­ment, had held a meet­ing and dis­cussed “ille­gal arms traf­fic” from the war zone and coop­er­a­tion between the Inte­ri­or Min­istry and the nation­al­ist group.

    “Avakov respects Right Sec­tor activists’ con­tri­bu­tion to the war on ter­ror­ism,” Gerashchenko wrote.

    But Avakov also said that the Right Sec­tor should legal­ize its mil­i­tary arm as a unit with­in the Inte­ri­or Min­istry, Defense Min­istry or State Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice. Until now, the unit has oper­at­ed in the war zone ille­gal­ly, and with­out any for­mal coor­di­na­tion with the offi­cial Anti-Ter­ror­ist Oper­a­tion run by the gov­ern­ment.

    The Right Sec­tor set up the Ukrain­ian Vol­un­teer Corps, head­ed by Andrei Stem­pit­sky, in July.

    Yarosh said in a YouTube video pub­lished on Aug. 17 that all Right Sec­tor detainees had been released, and that First Deputy Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Vladimir Yev­doki­mov would be fired – a key demand by the right-wing par­ty. Yarosh called this a “small vic­to­ry” of the Right Sec­tor.

    He said that 15 mem­bers of the par­ty had been detained in Kyiv, and some activists had also been arrest­ed in Dnipropetro­vsk. Yarosh claimed that some of them had been tor­tured.

    Yarosh also wrote on Face­book that Right Sec­tor fight­ers had been pro­hib­it­ed from bring­ing weapons, ammu­ni­tion and explo­sives from the war zone.

    Avakov con­firmed on the same day that a request for Yevdokimov’s res­ig­na­tion had been sent to the Cab­i­net for approval two weeks ago but denied that it was his con­ces­sion to the Right Sector’s demands.

    The Right Sec­tor has also demand­ed Avakov’s res­ig­na­tion since Olek­san­dr Muzy­chko, a promi­nent activist of the group, was killed in March. The Inte­ri­or Min­istry has stat­ed that Muzy­chko com­mit­ted sui­cide when he was chased by police offi­cers, while the Right Sec­tor says he was shot by police.

    Ear­li­er this month police also clashed with the group near the city of Stryi in the Lviv region, where police offi­cers shot at the wheels of a vehi­cle car­ry­ing Right Sec­tor activists. Six mem­bers of the par­ty were arrest­ed, and grenade launch­ers, machine guns and assault rifles were con­fis­cat­ed from the vehi­cle.

    Yarosh has been very out­spo­ken in his crit­i­cism of the gov­ern­ment.

    “Cur­rent­ly, in addi­tion to Russia’s open aggres­sion, inter­nal coun­ter­rev­o­lu­tion has also been stepped up,” the Right Sec­tor said on Aug. 16, before threat­en­ing to march into Kyiv. “Its avant-garde is the revan­chist forces in the Inte­ri­or Min­istry, includ­ing high-rank­ing offi­cials.”

    The par­ty point­ed the fin­ger at Police Colonel Gen­er­al Yev­doki­mov.

    “This group of police­men and ban­dits is head­ed by Gen­er­al Yev­doki­mov, an accom­plice of sep­a­ratists and a pup­pet of Moscow,” the par­ty said. “It is he and his hench­men who are doing every­thing to destroy the achieve­ments of our rev­o­lu­tion and pave the way to Kyiv for sep­a­ratist and ter­ror­ist groups.”

    The group said that “those who stood against us on Hru­shevsky and Insti­tut­ska streets” dur­ing the rev­o­lu­tion had start­ed a coun­ter­at­tack against the Right Sec­tor, using the fact that its fight­ers were on the front­line.

    “If our demands are not met, with­in 48 hours we will have to with­draw all our units from the front­line, announce total mobi­liza­tion of our reserve bat­tal­ions and start a march on Kyiv in order to car­ry out “speedy reforms” at the Inte­ri­or Min­istry,” the Right Sec­tor said. “The Right Sector’s columns will be ful­ly armed dur­ing the march.”

    The Right Sector’s announce­ment echoes a state­ment by Valentin Likholit, chief of staff of the Aidar vol­un­teer bat­tal­ion, made in ear­ly August. He said then that the Aidar, Azov and Don­bass vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions, which com­prise most­ly Euro­maid­an sup­port­ers, would come back to Kyiv with arms and help Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko fight cor­rup­tion


    React­ing to the group’s state­ment, Avakov harsh­ly crit­i­cized Yarosh in a Face­book post dat­ed Aug. 17.

    “His PR is larg­er than life, his pose is even big­ger,” he said. “Yarosh, your prob­lem is that, thanks to your buf­foon­ery of a bru­tal patri­ot, you deceive many peo­ple who have joined your effec­tive­ly ille­gal armed groups – with­out any rules or prin­ci­ples, with­out law and order,” he said.

    He also blamed Yarosh for the 32 peo­ple who were either killed or tak­en pris­on­er near Donet­sk on Aug. 12, say­ing that this hap­pened because of his “incom­pe­tent com­mand.”

    Avakov also said he doubt­ed that the Right Sec­tor had actu­al­ly par­tic­i­pat­ed in any mil­i­tary oper­a­tions.

    “Maybe (Yarosh) should say where his ‘units on the front­line’ are and by what log­ic and plan they oper­ate in the war?” he wrote, adding that “nobody had real­ly seen them, oth­er than on pho­tos and videos.”

    The Right Sector’s spokesman Arty­om Sko­ropad­sky dis­missed Avakov’s claims as “non­sense” and said by phone that the min­is­ter would be “held respon­si­ble for each word.” He said that the gov­ern­ment was to blame for the death of the Right Sec­tor activists because they were trav­el­ing by bus and were not pro­vid­ed by the army with nec­es­sary pro­tec­tion.

    “Let Avakov remem­ber that we have not hid­den our rev­o­lu­tion­ary red and black flag,” he said. “And if (ex-Pres­i­dent Vik­tor) Yanukovych-style cor­rup­tion remains, the Right Sec­tor might come back to Kyiv.”

    Yes, one of Right Sec­tor’s main demands is that it be allowed to keep the weapons it cap­tures in the bat­tle­field, and if those demands aren’t met, Dmytro Yarosh threat­ens to make an armed march of Kiev. He’s quite a nego­tia­tor.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 20, 2014, 5:19 pm
  16. @Pterrafractyl–

    The rela­tion­ship between the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment and Pravy Sek­tor’s “Maid­an Bat­tal­ions” sounds some­what sim­i­lar to that of the Ger­man fas­cists who spon­sored Hitler and the SA of Ernst Rohm.

    Whether there is some sort of “Ukrain­ian Night of the Long Knives,” or some kind of accom­mo­da­tion can be effect­ed between the aus­ter­i­ty oli­garchs in Kiev and their EU/German allies/controllers remains to be seen.



    Posted by Dave Emory | August 20, 2014, 6:04 pm
  17. @Dave: Part of what make a future show­down between the oli­garchs and the neo-Nazi com­po­nents of the “vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions” seem so like­ly is that if the rebels man­age to with­stand the assaults on Luhan­sk and Don­est­sk long enough to force a nego­ti­at­ed peace the entire “anti-ter­ror­ism” cam­paign is pos­si­bly going to be viewed as a mas­sive bloody fail­ure by the pop­u­lace at large. And that could empow­er groups like Right Sec­tor, espe­cial­ly if the the fight­ing goes on for an extend­ed peri­od and the civil­ian casu­al­ties keep build­ing. But if they suc­ceed at quelling the rebels, jubi­lant bat­tal­ions of neo-Nazis are prob­a­bly still going to con­verge on Kiev for “anti-cor­rup­tion” cam­paigns and tran­si­tion into a “Maid­an 3.0″-mode any­ways. What’s going to stop them at that point? Maybe more high lev­el gov­ern­ment appoint­ments could halt their ambi­tions, but for how long? It’s anoth­er sit­u­a­tion­al par­al­lel with the rise of the Nazis: a thor­ough grass­roots rejec­tion of the far-right by the Ukrain­ian pop­u­lace at large is, at this point, prob­a­bly the best hope going for­ward. Once the elites start try­ing to use and prof­it from the cra­zi­est far-right ele­ments of soci­ety, any insti­tu­tion mech­a­nisms that might have pre­vi­ous­ly pre­vent­ed a Nazi-like takeover have already been com­pro­mised.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 20, 2014, 7:19 pm
  18. The con­voy show­down has entered a new stage: the “get it out or there will be con­se­quences” stage:

    U.S. says Rus­sia must pull con­voy from Ukraine or face more sanc­tions

    By Natalia Zinets and Dmit­ry Madorsky


    (Reuters) — The Unit­ed States demand­ed Moscow remove an aid con­voy it sent into rebel-held east­ern Ukraine with­out per­mis­sion on Fri­day, accus­ing Rus­sia of a fla­grant vio­la­tion of the sov­er­eign­ty of its for­mer Sovi­et neigh­bor and threat­en­ing more sanc­tions.

    Moscow, which has thou­sands of troops close to the Russ­ian side of the bor­der, warned against any attempt to “dis­rupt” the con­voy, which it said was pure­ly human­i­tar­i­an. It did not say what action it might take if the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary inter­vened.

    NATO’s top mil­i­tary com­man­der said the move­ment of trucks looked like a dis­guised attempt to rein­force sep­a­ratist forces.

    The West­ern defense alliance said Russ­ian troops had been fir­ing artillery across the bor­der and with­in Ukraine in a major esca­la­tion of mil­i­tary sup­port for pro-Moscow rebels since mid-August, a defac­to charge that Rus­sia was already wag­ing war.

    White House Deputy Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Advi­sor Ben Rhodes said Wash­ing­ton planned to dis­cuss the sit­u­a­tion with the U.N. Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil on Fri­day and that if the con­voy was not pulled out, the Rus­sians would face “addi­tion­al costs”.

    “We have seen the use of Russ­ian artillery in Ukraine in the past days,” he said, when asked about the NATO state­ment.

    Moscow denies back­ing the rebels mil­i­tar­i­ly but the Unit­ed States and Euro­pean Union have imposed sanc­tions and the Krem­lin has retal­i­at­ed, renew­ing some of the chill of the Cold War. NATO has deployed extra troops in mem­ber states bor­der­ing Rus­sia, includ­ing for­mer Sovi­et Baltic states and ex-com­mu­nist Poland.

    Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko described the entry of the trucks with­out Kiev’s per­mis­sion as a “fla­grant vio­la­tion of inter­na­tion­al law”. But a senior secu­ri­ty chief said Ukrain­ian forces would let them pass to avoid “provo­ca­tions”.

    Kiev called on inter­na­tion­al allies to unite in “a deci­sive con­dem­na­tion of ille­gal and aggres­sive actions” by Rus­sia.

    NATO also said Rus­sia risked fur­ther inter­na­tion­al iso­la­tion. It has ruled out inter­ven­ing mil­i­tar­i­ly on behalf of Ukraine, which is not a mem­ber, and Europe has been reluc­tant to step up sanc­tions due to trade ties and its need for Russ­ian gas.

    Rus­sia said it was not breach­ing inter­na­tion­al law and that Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin had told Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel in a tele­phone call Moscow had been unable to wait any longer for Kiev’s green light to help peo­ple in dis­tress.

    Merkel, who also spoke to Poroshenko, expressed her great con­cern, prais­ing the Ukraini­ans for a “pru­dent” reac­tion and call­ing for a speedy cease­fire and shoring up of the fron­tier.



    The large­ly Russ­ian-speak­ing Donet­sk and Luhan­sk regions both declared inde­pen­dence after a plebiscite deemed ille­gal by Kiev. The regions have seen intense fight­ing in recent weeks as rebels have been dri­ven back into pock­ets.

    Moscow, at odds with Ukraine since pro-West­ern protests over­threw a pro-Russ­ian pres­i­dent in Feb­ru­ary, had ear­li­er expressed impa­tience with delays with the con­voy, which left the Moscow region around Aug. 13.

    “We warn against any attempts to dis­rupt this pure­ly human­i­tar­i­an mis­sion,” the Russ­ian for­eign min­istry said. “Respon­si­bil­i­ty for any pos­si­ble con­se­quences of provo­ca­tions ... will lie, com­plete­ly and entire­ly, with those who are pre­pared to fur­ther sac­ri­fice human lives for the sake of their ambi­tions and geo-polit­i­cal ploys.”

    The Inter­na­tion­al Com­mit­tee of the Red Cross, which both Moscow and Kiev had agreed should super­vise the con­voy, said it was not escort­ing it “due to the volatile secu­ri­ty sit­u­a­tion”.

    The entry of the trucks ran counter to the arrange­ment agreed with the ICRC and was a clear vio­la­tion of the bor­der, said Sebastien Bra­bant, spokesman for the Euro­pean Union’s for­eign pol­i­cy chief, Cather­ine Ash­ton.

    NATO went a step fur­ther. “These devel­op­ments are even more wor­ry­ing as they coin­cide with a major esca­la­tion in Russ­ian mil­i­tary involve­ment in east­ern Ukraine since mid-August, includ­ing the use of Russ­ian forces,” Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al Anders Fogh Ras­mussen said.

    NATO Mil­i­tary Com­man­der Gen­er­al Philip Breedlove com­pared the con­voy to Russ­ian human­i­tar­i­an and peace­keep­ing moves in Geor­gia, Moldo­va and Crimea. “We have seen how they proved to be decep­tions,” he said.

    Kiev has been using troops, artillery and air pow­er to try to quell a sep­a­ratist rebel­lion that broke out soon after Rus­sia annexed the Crimean penin­su­la from Ukraine in March.

    The last few weeks have seen a string of rebel defeats in a con­flict that has killed more than 2,000 peo­ple.

    A Reuters cam­era­man said it had been pos­si­ble to see inside some of the vehi­cles on Fri­day. The car­goes vis­i­ble con­sist­ed of card­board box­es with tinned food, pal­lets of bot­tled water, gen­er­a­tors and oth­er sup­plies.

    Poroshenko said on Thurs­day he would call on Putin to rein in pro-Russ­ian sep­a­ratists when the two meet next week and told the Krem­lin chief he had “a strong coun­try, a strong army”.

    Merkel is sched­uled to vis­it Kiev on Sat­ur­day to show her sup­port for Poroshenko — but diplo­mats say she is also bear­ing a mes­sage that he should con­sid­er call­ing a cease­fire so as not to incur a back­lash from Putin.


    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 22, 2014, 2:26 pm
  19. With a mil­i­tary parade in Kiev show­ing off the mil­i­tary hard­ware about to head east and a par­al­lel pris­on­er march in Donet­sk fol­low­ing the sur­prise con­voy run to Luhan­sk, it can be hard to imag­ine the ten­sions get­ting much high­er in Ukraine any time soon. The 50% increase in defense spend­ing over the next three years that was just announced by Pres­i­dent Poroshenko makes it much less hard to imag­ine those ten­sions ris­ing:

    Rebels parade cap­tured Ukrain­ian sol­diers in east
    PETER LEONARD and LAURA MILLS, Asso­ci­at­ed Press | August 24, 2014 | Updat­ed: August 24, 2014 10:47am

    DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) — Pro-Russ­ian insur­gents on Sun­day parad­ed cap­tured Ukrain­ian sol­diers through the streets of the rebel strong­hold Donet­sk as bystanders shout­ed abu­sive slurs and tossed eggs, bot­tles, and toma­toes at them.

    The dis­play came as Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko vowed to raise defense spend­ing to defeat the rebels dur­ing an osten­ta­tious pro­ces­sion of tanks and weapon­ry through down­town Kiev, meant to mark Ukraine’s 23rd anniver­sary of inde­pen­dence from the Sovi­et Union.

    The devel­op­ments under­score the increas­ing divi­sions in Ukraine as it gears up for what could be many more months of con­flict. While sup­port and mobi­liza­tion for Kiev’s cam­paign against the sep­a­ratists has only grown in many parts of the coun­try, resent­ments fes­ter in much of the east, where civil­ian casu­al­ties and shelling have become a part of dai­ly life.


    Resent­ment has grown in the east as res­i­den­tial areas have increas­ing­ly come under fire in recent weeks, with the civil­ian death toll ris­ing to at least 2,000 since April, accord­ing to a Unit­ed Nations report. In Donet­sk, an esti­mat­ed 300,000 of the city’s pop­u­la­tion of 1 mil­lion have fled the fight­ing, and many of those who remain have gone weeks with­out elec­tric­i­ty or run­ning water and spent days staked out in bomb shel­ters.

    Ear­ly Sun­day, artillery shells struck sev­er­al res­i­den­tial build­ings as well as a major hos­pi­tal and morgue in down­town Donet­sk, although nobody was report­ed killed. The gov­ern­ment has denied that Ukraine’s forces were respon­si­ble for the shelling of any res­i­den­tial build­ings or hos­pi­tals.

    The sit­u­a­tion is even direr in Luhan­sk, a city clos­er to the Russ­ian bor­der whose war-reduced pop­u­la­tion of a quar­ter-mil­lion peo­ple has suf­fered under con­stant fight­ing in recent weeks. Andriy Lysenko, spokesman for the Ukrain­ian Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil, told jour­nal­ists Sun­day said 68 civil­ians had been wound­ed there in the past 24 hours, but could not con­firm whether any­one had been killed.

    The scene in Donet­sk proved a strik­ing con­trast to the fan­fare in Kiev, where more than 20,000 peo­ple, many wav­ing the coun­try’s blue and yel­low flags or don­ning tra­di­tion­al embroi­dered shirts, watched the parade on Kiev’s Inde­pen­dence Square, where months of protests ear­li­er this year end­ed in the ouster of the coun­try’s for­mer pro-Russ­ian pres­i­dent.

    Poroshenko announced he would raise mil­i­tary spend­ing by 40 bil­lion hryv­nia ($3 bil­lion) through 2017, an effec­tive 50 per­cent increase from cur­rent bud­get tar­gets.

    “It is clear that in the fore­see­able future there will always, unfor­tu­nate­ly, be the threat of war,” he said in an address to the high­ly mil­i­ta­rized inde­pen­dence ral­ly. “And we not only have to learn to live with that. We must always be pre­pared to defend our inde­pen­dence.”

    Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary lead­ers have plead­ed for extra resources as they face a poten­tial­ly pro­tract­ed fight against sep­a­ratists. In recent weeks, Kiev’s troops have scored heavy gains in ter­ri­to­ry and encir­cled the east­’s region­al cap­i­tals of Luhan­sk and Donet­sk.

    Lysenko said Sun­day that 722 mem­bers of Ukraine’s armed forces have died in the fight­ing, with five killed and eight wound­ed in the past day alone.

    In anoth­er sym­bol­ic move, Poroshenko trav­eled south to the pre­dom­i­nant­ly Russ­ian-speak­ing port city of Odessa to give a sec­ond speech on Sun­day. Ukrain­ian tele­vi­sion showed footage of navy ships bob­bing by the shore on a stormy, tur­bu­lent sea. Ukraine lost much of its coast­line when the Black Sea penin­su­la of Crimea was annexed by Rus­sia in March, and the loy­al­ty of local author­i­ties in Odessa to Kiev has been a top pri­or­i­ty for the new gov­ern­ment.


    Even more alarm­ing­ly, as the arti­cle below sug­gests, the cap­ture of Donet­sk and Luhan­sk is turn­ing out to be far more dif­fi­cult than Kiev’s mil­i­tary plan­ners were pre­dict­ing sev­er­al weeks ago. It’s now look­ing like the cities are either going to have to be lev­eled to the ground with artillery or a lot more street-to-street fight­ing using with light infantry units like the Azov Bat­tal­ion is going to be required. Or maybe both:

    Wall Street Jour­nal
    Ukraine Show­cas­es Mil­i­tary Might in Inde­pen­dence Day Cel­e­bra­tion
    Parade Draws Mixed Reac­tion as Con­flict Con­tin­ues in East

    By Anton Troianovs­ki in Kiev And
    Alan Culli­son in Moscow

    Updat­ed Aug. 24, 2014 11:20 a.m. ET

    Sol­diers, rock­ets and armored vehi­cles parad­ed through cen­tral Kiev on Sun­day, some of them on their way to the front lines in the east, as Ukraine cel­e­brat­ed its Inde­pen­dence Day with a crisp dis­play of mil­i­tary might that stood in con­trast to a grind­ing con­flict in which the Ukrain­ian offen­sive appears to be los­ing momen­tum.

    Mean­while, sep­a­ratists marched Ukrain­ian pris­on­ers of war at bay­o­net-point through their strong­hold of Donet­sk, as both sides gird­ed for a con­tin­u­ing bat­tle despite West­ern efforts at diplo­ma­cy.


    While the fall of rebel strong­holds of Donet­sk and Luhan­sk were thought to be immi­nent a few weeks ago, progress has appeared to stall.

    After rebels fled their strong­hold of Slovyan­sk at the start of July, Mr. Poroshenko hailed a turn­ing point in the bat­tle to flush sep­a­ratists out of the east. Since then, Ukrain­ian troops have recap­tured dozens more towns, and have shrunk the ter­ri­to­ry con­trolled by the rebels to half its orig­i­nal size.

    At the same time, their attempts to close the bor­der and shut off what Ukrain­ian and West­ern offi­cials say is a steady flow of arms and fight­ers from Rus­sia have failed. At least 100 kilo­me­ters of the bor­der remains out of Kiev’s con­trol, and sev­er­al Ukrain­ian units sus­tained heavy loss­es after get­ting cut off along the bor­der and tak­ing mor­tar and rock­et fire from rebels and the Russ­ian side of the bor­der, offi­cials said

    The porous bor­der has allowed Moscow to inten­si­fy deliv­er­ies of armor and artillery into the coun­try amid grow­ing indi­ca­tions that Russ­ian mil­i­tary units are also in the fight, accord­ing to West­ern offi­cials. Rus­sia has dis­missed those alle­ga­tions and not­ed West­ern offi­cials have pre­sent­ed lit­tle hard evi­dence to back up their claims.

    The task of tak­ing the cities of Donet­sk and Luhan­sk may also be far big­ger than some Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary plan­ners had expect­ed, requir­ing more man­pow­er and a dif­fer­ent kind of fight­ing than Kiev has faced so far.

    Until recent­ly, the Ukraini­ans enjoyed an immense advan­tage over sep­a­ratists because of Kiev’s supe­ri­or­i­ty in artillery and air­craft, pul­ver­iz­ing entrenched rebel posi­tions in any pitched bat­tle. But those advan­tages aren’t avail­able in any fight for a city, unless Kiev is will­ing to reduce Donet­sk and Luhan­sk to rub­ble, as the Rus­sians did in the cap­ture of Grozny when it was fight­ing Chechen rebels in the 1990s.

    A mas­sive loss of civil­ian life in east­ern Ukraine would erode del­i­cate sup­port in the West and could also give excuse for an out­right inter­ven­tion to Moscow, whose state-con­trolled media already pounces on any loss of civil­ian life as evi­dence that the Ukraini­ans are com­mit­ting geno­cide in east­ern Ukraine. To retake the cities, Ukraine will have to sum­mon a large num­ber of troops for bloody house-to-house fight­ing with­out the sup­port of much heavy weapon­ry.


    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 24, 2014, 6:17 pm
  20. Along with Kiev declar­ing that Rus­sia sent a col­umn of tanks into the Ukraine today but were stopped by Kiev’s mil­i­tary, new elec­tions were just announced with an eye on replac­ing any MPs that backed for­mer pres­i­dent Yanukovych:

    Ukraine cri­sis: Pres­i­dent calls snap vote amid fight­ing
    25 August 2014 Last updat­ed at 15:30 ET

    Ukraine’s pres­i­dent has dis­solved par­lia­ment and called snap elec­tions, as gov­ern­ment forces con­tin­ue to fight pro-Russ­ian rebel forces in the east.

    Petro Poroshenko said many cur­rent MPs were back­ers of oust­ed Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych and that the major­i­ty of Ukraini­ans want­ed a new par­lia­ment.

    Elec­tions would be held on 26 Octo­ber, he said in a TV address.

    Sep­a­rate­ly, Ukraine’s mil­i­tary says it clashed with rebel armoured vehi­cles that entered the coun­try from Rus­sia.

    It said a col­umn of 10 tanks and two armoured per­son­nel car­ri­ers was head­ing towards the south-east­ern port of Mar­i­upol but was stopped. Two tanks were report­ed­ly destroyed.


    To use Poroshenko’s lan­guage, the par­lia­ment needs a “cleans­ing”:

    Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent signs decree to dis­solve par­lia­ment

    Kiev — Reuters

    Pub­lished Mon­day, Aug. 25 2014, 3:06 PM EDT

    Last updat­ed Mon­day, Aug. 25 2014, 4:53 PM EDT

    Ukraine’s pres­i­dent on Mon­day dis­solved par­lia­ment and called for ear­ly elec­tions in Octo­ber as his coun­try con­tin­ues to bat­tle a pro-Russ­ian insur­gency in its east­ern regions.

    In a state­ment on his web­site, Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko said snap elec­tions would be held Oct. 26.

    Poroshenko said the dis­so­lu­tion, which was pre­fig­ured by the breakup of the major­i­ty coali­tion last month, was in line with “the expec­ta­tions of the vast major­i­ty of the cit­i­zens of Ukraine” and called it a move toward “cleans­ing” the par­lia­ment.

    Many mem­bers of par­lia­ment “are allies of the mil­i­tants-sep­a­ratists,” Poroshenko said, refer­ring to the pro-Russ­ian rebels who have bat­tled gov­ern­ment troops in the country’s east since April.

    The Par­ty of Regions, which is backed by much of the country’s indus­tri­al, Russ­ian-speak­ing east and was sup­port­ed by pro-Russ­ian ex-pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych, was the largest par­ty in par­lia­ment before Yanukovych fled the coun­try in the wake of mas­sive protests in Feb­ru­ary, and still has a sub­stan­tial pres­ence.

    Most of these mem­bers “accept­ed dic­ta­to­r­i­al laws that took the lives of the Heaven’s Hun­dred,” he said, using the com­mon term for those killed dur­ing the protests against Yanukovych, many by sniper fire.

    He empha­sized the need to elect new lead­ers from the war-torn areas of east Ukraine in order to rep­re­sent the region in the new gov­ern­ment. It wasn’t clear how it would be pos­si­ble to con­duct elec­tions at such short notice in Donet­sk and Luhan­sk, where hun­dreds of thou­sands have fled their homes and shelling between rebel and gov­ern­ment forces con­tin­ues dai­ly.


    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 25, 2014, 2:08 pm
  21. Giv­en the ear­li­er threats of Dmytro Yarosh to “cam­paign in Kiev”, and with the vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions’ for­tunes rapid­ly revers­ing this week, one of the open ques­tions going for­ward is what’s going to hap­pen to those bat­tal­ions if retreat becomes the only viable option? Are they going to dis­band or will retreat, itself, become the jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for a far right “cam­paign in Kiev”? If this arti­cle from ear­li­er in the week is any indi­ca­tion of what to expect, with the com­man­der of the Don­bas bat­tal­ion pub­licly plead­ing for more sup­port from Kiev on Face­book, any retreat back to Kiev on Face­book, fol­lowed by claims of Kiev’s betray­al. It’s a ten­sion worth keep­ing in mind if a per­ma­nent retreat becomes a real­i­ty:

    Pro-Rus­sia Forces Gain Ground as Ukraine’s Vol­un­teer Bat­tal­ions Decry Kiev Lead­ers

    By Har­ri­et Salem
    August 27, 2014 | 5:20 pm

    As Rus­sia forces push for­ward towards the south­east­ern Ukraine coastal city of Mar­i­upol and evi­dence mounts of direct Russ­ian mil­i­tary sup­port to the insur­gent fight­ers, besieged vol­un­teer units of “patri­ots” lead­ing the way in the coun­try’s fight back say they are not receiv­ing enough sup­port from Kiev to win the war.

    “We have rein­force­ments, but it’s not enough, it’s like a drop in the sea,” Alex­ey, a com­man­der of the Dnipro Bat­tal­ion, told VICE News this evening. “We need arma­ment, what we have is not enough. We need anti-tanks artillery to hold the city.”

    Today, the fierce bat­tle for Novoa­zovsk raged for a third con­sec­u­tive day as a fresh bom­bard­ment of artillery fire hit the east­ern out­skirts of the town just 25 miles from Mar­i­upol, a strate­gi­cal­ly impor­tant port city on Ukraine’s south­east Azov coast.


    By the after­noon, how­ev­er, Ukrain­ian forces appeared to have retreat­ed again, this time deci­sive­ly, as reports came in on social media that a col­umn of tanks belong­ing to the pro-Rus­sia forces had entered the town on the east­ern road. Mem­bers of pushed back vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions told VICE News that the ene­my fight­ers were dig­ging in artillery posi­tions, and they feared a fur­ther advance overnight.

    At a new­ly estab­lished Ukrain­ian road block­ade in the vil­lage of Bez­i­menne, halfway along the west­ern road back to Mar­i­upol, a fight­er in the Dnipro Bat­tal­ion going by the nom de guerre “Kamil” said that they could not hold their posts.

    “We were told to hold Novoa­zovsk at all costs but were unable to do so,” he told VICE News. “We only have small arms and a few RPGs [rock­et pro­pelled grenade launch­ers] but noth­ing sub­stan­tial — we can’t fire back at the artillery so we keep get­ting pushed back.”

    “This big mil­i­tary parade in Kiev is like a slap in the face when we have noth­ing,” he added, in ref­er­ence to the pro­ces­sion of 145 mil­i­tary vehi­cles and 2,500 ser­vice­men that marched through the cap­i­tal in cel­e­bra­tion of the coun­try’s Inde­pen­dence Day on Sun­day.

    Andrei Lysenko, spokesper­son for the Kiev backed anti-ter­ror oper­a­tion in the coun­try’s east this after­noon claimed Ukrain­ian forces still con­trolled Novoa­zovsk, but admit­ted that all the vil­lages to the north had been lost.

    Speak­ing by tele­phone, Kon­stan­tin Batozsky, an advi­sor to gov­er­nor of Donet­sk Sergey Taru­ta — who has been based in Mar­i­upol since the rebels took the region’s admin­is­tra­tive cap­i­tal — told VICE News that port city of 460,000 remained “calm,” despite the encroach­ing fight­ing. But Batozsky admit­ted that there was lit­tle that could be done in the face of a full-scale Russ­ian inva­sion.

    “The objec­tive is to fur­ther open our bor­der, and to expose us on anoth­er front,” he added.

    If inside the lim­its of Novoa­zovsk, pro-Rus­sia forces are now with­in artillery fir­ing range of Mar­i­upol.

    Back in May, the city wit­nessed heavy clash­es inside its lim­its. In one of the first seri­ous actions of the Kiev-backed anti-ter­ror oper­a­tion, Ukrain­ian armored per­son­nel car­ri­ers roared through the streets of the coastal city and snipers opened fire, in a bat­tle that oust­ed the pro-Rus­sia sep­a­ratists, who had seized the city’s admin­is­tra­tion and police build­ings. At least sev­en civil­ians were killed in the clash­es.

    Mean­while the rebels also appeared to be mak­ing oth­er cru­cial gains across Ukraine’s war-torn east. This morn­ing in Ilovi­ask, where a fierce bat­tle has been rag­ing for days, Don­bas Bat­tal­ion Com­man­der Semy­on Semy­onchenko post­ed des­per­ate pleas for sup­port from Kiev on Face­book, say­ing that today would be a deci­sive moment in who con­trols town, 47 miles east of the rebels’ cap­i­tal in Donet­sk, would be “deci­sive.”

    But by after­noon, any hope for the encir­cled Ukraini­ans fight­ing inside the town seemed to have all but van­ished, as the com­man­der made anoth­er post stat­ing that the bat­tal­ion had been “betrayed” by the “many-starred gen­er­als in Kiev,” and could “wait no longer.”

    “The respon­si­bil­i­ty for this lies with the min­is­ter of defense and the ATO [anti-ter­ror oper­a­tion] com­mand,” he added, warn­ing that Ilovi­ask would become a “mass grave” for Ukrain­ian forces.

    In a final post, Semy­onchenko said that the claims of ATO spokesper­son Andrei Lysenko that rein­force­ments had been sent to Ilovi­ask were untrue.

    “This is a fairy­tale [that is] more like a hor­ror film,” he wrote.

    Author­i­ties in Kiev have, how­ev­er, con­ced­ed that they today lost Starobe­sheve, a vil­lage south of rebel-held Donet­sk, after sev­er­al days of clash­es in the area. Rebels claimed to have over­run near­by Oleniv­ka as well.

    The rip­pling advance of pro-Rus­sia forces comes just three days after Ukraine’s Inde­pen­dence Day, when the new­ly appoint­ed rebel prime min­is­ter of the so-called Donet­sk Peo­ple’s Repub­lic thanked Rus­sia for its sup­port, and warned that fight­ers had been prepar­ing spe­cial units of tanks, artillery, and snipers for a fresh offen­sive.

    And here’s a piece from today updat­ing the sit­u­a­tion: it’s still a grow­ing dis­as­ter for the vol­un­teers and they appear to still feel very betrayed:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post
    28 vol­un­teer sol­diers trapped in Ukrain­ian town by sep­a­ratists escape, offi­cials say
    By Annie Gowen August 30 at 1:25 PM

    MARIUPOL, Ukraine — A group of Ukrain­ian vol­un­teer sol­diers man­aged to escape Sat­ur­day from Ilo­vaysk, a south­east­ern town that has been besieged by pro-Russ­ian sep­a­ratists for almost a week, Ukrain­ian offi­cials said.

    Ukraine’s inte­ri­or min­is­ter, Arsen Avakov, announced that 28 of the more than 200 fight­ers trapped in the town had escaped, but the mil­i­tary did not explain how that had been accom­plished — or offer details about plans to evac­u­ate the rest of the troops.

    “There’s an oper­a­tion to with­draw our mil­i­tary from there,” spokesman Col. Andriy Lysenko said Sat­ur­day. “The major task now is to evac­u­ate our mil­i­tary with the least loss­es.”

    The sol­diers have been cor­nered in the town since Mon­day, sur­round­ed by sep­a­ratists they say have been fresh­ly sup­plied with troops and high-tech weapons from Rus­sia. Food and ammu­ni­tion have dwin­dled, and the death toll has been mount­ing.

    The sol­diers’ plight and their appar­ent dis­patch into bat­tle with lit­tle train­ing and inad­e­quate equip­ment has sparked scorn across Ukraine in recent days. Vol­un­teer com­man­ders vent­ing on Face­book have denounced what they say is the government’s neglect, and pro­test­ers have gath­ered in the cap­i­tal, Kiev, chant­i­ng “Weapons for patri­ots.”

    The episode is sig­nif­i­cant because it expos­es the weak­ness of Ukraine’s armed forces — the result of years of neglect — as the coun­try piv­ots from a civ­il con­flict to face a far more for­mi­da­ble foe, its neigh­bor to the east.


    Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin focused inter­na­tion­al atten­tion Fri­day on the sol­diers trapped in Ilo­vaysk by call­ing in a state­ment for a pro­tect­ed route to allow them to retreat, even as evi­dence mount­ed of a broad incur­sion into Ukraine by Russ­ian troops and mil­i­tary vehi­cles.

    “I call on the rebel forces to open a human­i­tar­i­an cor­ri­dor for the Ukrain­ian troops who are sur­round­ed, so as to avoid unnec­es­sary casu­al­ties and to give them the oppor­tu­ni­ty to with­draw from the zone of oper­a­tions,” Putin said.

    The state­ment opened a day on which Ukraine raised the prospect of join­ing NATO in hopes of deter­ring an out­right Russ­ian inva­sion and Putin likened the sep­a­ratists’ Ukrain­ian antag­o­nists to the Nazi forces that invad­ed Rus­sia in World War II.

    By Fri­day evening, Lysenko said no cor­ri­dor had mate­ri­al­ized near Ilo­vaysk, and the spokesman for one of the largest mili­tia bat­tal­ions said the fight­ers had come under heavy fire through­out the day as they tried to break through a dou­ble ring of rebels. The day’s death toll was not known.

    “Fights are being con­duct­ed. There are dead peo­ple. There are wound­ed. But there is hope,” said Vasil­isa Trofi­movich, the bat­tal­ion spokesman.
    ‘Now I under­stand’

    One vol­un­teer sol­dier, who gave his name only as Vladimir for safe­ty rea­sons, said he and oth­er mem­bers of his unit had been hun­kered down in a base­ment, rationing the bul­lets for their aging assault rifles and killing farm chick­ens to sur­vive. Mean­while, he said, they were being attacked from all sides by sep­a­ratists and Rus­sians armed with sophis­ti­cat­ed guns and tanks.

    “For a while, I thought they wouldn’t aban­don us,” he said of Ukraine’s gov­ern­ment, speak­ing by tele­phone. “But now I under­stand what’s real­ly going on.”

    The bat­tal­ions were launched in spring after the onset of ten­sions between Russ­ian-backed sep­a­ratists, large­ly based in the east, and Ukraini­ans who want the coun­try to ally itself with Europe and the West.

    As fight­ing began, cit­i­zens scram­bled to defend the coun­try against the sep­a­ratist upris­ing after it became appar­ent that the armed forces had been enfee­bled by years of cost-cut­ting and neglect. A text-mes­sage cam­paign seek­ing funds for mil­i­tary defense brought in mil­lions.

    Will­ing but ill-pre­pared

    At the same time, for­mer pro­test­ers who had helped oust a pres­i­dent in Feb­ru­ary hun­gered to join the fight. The nation­al gov­ern­ment estab­lished vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions as a way to help would-be fight­ers get to the front under some form of gov­ern­ment aus­pices. More than 7,000 vol­un­teer sol­diers now serve in 10 bat­tal­ions under the Min­istry of Inter­nal Affairs. By con­trast, rebel forces say they have about 12,000 vol­un­teer sol­diers.

    One for­mer small-busi­ness own­er from the south­east­ern city of Donet­sk, who said he had nev­er picked up a gun, said he joined up to fight after his city descend­ed into chaos and he was forced to close his busi­ness.

    “I real­ized it had to be me who was going to defend my city,” said the busi­ness­man, who spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty for safe­ty rea­sons.

    He found him­self in a one-month train­ing course with lawyers, doc­tors and oth­er pro­fes­sion­als, includ­ing a chef from one of Kiev’s finest hotels. At the end of train­ing, he was giv­en a Sovi­et-era Kalash­nikov assault rifle. But the snipers in his unit fared worse: They left train­ing with car­tridges that dat­ed to World War II.

    The vol­un­teers were told their role was to secure cities in the wake of the country’s reg­u­lar armed forces, but they quick­ly real­ized they were going to be involved in full-scale com­bat.

    A spokesman for the military’s Nation­al Secu­ri­ty and Defense Coun­cil, Bog­dan Voron, reject­ed the idea that the vol­un­teer brigades were unpre­pared.

    “A lot of these vol­un­teers had [manda­to­ry] mil­i­tary ser­vice. They are police­men, for­mer ser­vice­men,” he said. “They have a real­ly good back­ground to serve their coun­try.”


    And here’s a peak at what we might expect for Ukraine if the vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions end up suc­cess­ful­ly “cam­paign­ing in Kiev”:

    For­eign Pol­i­cy
    Prepar­ing for War with Ukraine’s Fas­cist Defend­ers of Free­dom
    On the front­lines of the new offen­sive in east­ern Ukraine, the hard­core Azov Bat­tal­ion is ready for bat­tle with Rus­sia. But they’re not fight­ing for Europe, either.

    BY Alec Luhn
    AUGUST 30, 2014

    MARIUPOL, Ukraine — Blue and yel­low Ukrain­ian flags fly over Mar­i­upol’s burned-out city admin­is­tra­tion build­ing and at mil­i­tary check­points around the city, but at a sport school near a huge met­al­lur­gi­cal plant, anoth­er sym­bol is just as promi­nent: the wolf­san­gel (“wolf trap”) sym­bol that was wide­ly used in the Third Reich and has been adopt­ed by neo-Nazi groups.

    The Azov Bat­tal­ion — so named for the Sea of Azov on which this indus­tri­al city is locat­ed — is one of dozens of vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions fight­ing along­side pro-gov­ern­ment forces in east­ern Ukraine. After sep­a­ratist troops and armor attacked from the near­by Russ­ian bor­der and took the neigh­bor­ing town of Novoa­zovsk, this open­ly neo-Nazi unit has sud­den­ly found itself defend­ing the city against what Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko called a Russ­ian inva­sion.

    Pro-Russ­ian forces have said they are fight­ing against Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists and “fas­cists” in the con­flict, and in the case of Azov and oth­er bat­tal­ions, these claims are essen­tial­ly true.

    With the incur­sion from the Russ­ian bor­der, Mar­i­upol, which had been peace­ful since pro-Russ­ian pro­tes­tors were forced out in May, has become a third the­ater in the east­ern Ukrain­ian con­flict along with the rebel strong­holds of Donet­sk and Luhan­sk. Pro-Russ­ian forces claim this week’s advance along the coast has been made by sep­a­ratist rebels, but Oleh Odnorozhenko, deputy com­man­der of the Azov Bat­tal­ion, com­prised of some 500 men, said the Ukraini­ans are fac­ing thou­sands of reg­u­lar Russ­ian Army troops. He claimed that his men have cap­tured dozens of Russ­ian sol­diers over the past week and destroyed a Russ­ian fight­ing infantry vehi­cle.


    Odnorozhenko said the city’s defend­ers are “first and fore­most vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions,” with num­bers of Nation­al Guard and reg­u­lar Ukrain­ian Army troops play­ing a small­er role. Over­all, there are more than 50 vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions fight­ing in east­ern Ukraine, he said. The per­va­sive­ness of these para­mil­i­tary units has raised con­cerns about their influ­ence over the gov­ern­ment. Nation­al Guard spokesman Rus­lan Muzy­chuk said the vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions play a role in the city’s defense but insist­ed that “all the bat­tal­ions in the anti-ter­ror­ist oper­a­tion coop­er­ate accord­ing to the mil­i­tary chain of com­mand.”

    The con­flict in east­ern Ukraine has come, in some ways, to resem­ble a bat­tle between Ukrain­ian and Russ­ian nation­al­ists. Vol­un­teers from the nation­al­ist groups who clashed with riot police on Kiev’s Inde­pen­dence Square this past win­ter have filled out the ranks of the many bat­tal­ions fight­ing along­side Ukraine’s small, dilap­i­dat­ed reg­u­lar army in the east, includ­ing Azov.

    Mean­while, the pro-Russ­ian forces are striv­ing to reunite what they say are his­tor­i­cal­ly Russ­ian lands to cre­ate Novorossiya (“New Rus­sia”). Each side refus­es to see any­thing of itself in the oth­er. The pro-Rus­sians call the Ukraini­ans fas­cists, who in turn por­tray their oppo­nents as impe­ri­al­ists. Odnorozhenko said the con­flict involved “peo­ple with a Euro­pean iden­ti­ty fight­ing with Soviet­ness.”

    But the “Euro­pean iden­ti­ty” to which Odnorozhenko aspires is one estranged from main­stream Euro­pean and Amer­i­can lib­er­al­ism. The Azov Bat­tal­ion, whose emblem also includes the “Black Sun” occult sym­bol used by the Nazi SS, was found­ed by Andriy Bilet­sky, head of the neo-Nazi groups Social-Nation­al Assem­bly and Patri­ots of Ukraine. Although the Social-Nation­al Assem­bly web­site linked to by the Azov Bat­tal­ion’s social net­work pages said its pro­gram was under­go­ing “devel­op­ment and mod­ern­iza­tion,” oth­er mate­ri­als on the site give a clear idea of the group’s polit­i­cal lean­ings.

    “Unfor­tu­nate­ly, among the Ukrain­ian peo­ple today there are a lot of ‘Rus­sians’ (by their men­tal­i­ty, not their blood), ‘kikes,’ ‘Amer­i­cans,’ ‘Euro­peans’ (of the demo­c­ra­t­ic-lib­er­al Euro­pean Union), ‘Arabs,’ ‘Chi­nese’ and so forth, but there is not much specif­i­cal­ly Ukrain­ian,” read one text. “The rea­son for this sit­u­a­tion is the mass pro­pa­gan­da of trans-myths that are for­eign to us through adver­tis­ing, tele­vi­sion, laws and edu­ca­tion. It’s unclear how much time and effort will be need­ed to erad­i­cate these dan­ger­ous virus­es from our peo­ple.”

    Accord­ing to Odnorozhenko, the bat­tal­ion’s polit­i­cal plat­form sup­ports the nat­siokratiya, a sys­tem of gov­ern­ment devised by the Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists of the 1930s and 1940s, who fought Sovi­et forces but were also guilty of atroc­i­ties such as the mur­der of thou­sands of Jews and Poles. It sup­ports a nation­al gov­ern­ment based on syn­di­cates rep­re­sent­ing dif­fer­ent class­es of the pop­u­la­tion, as well as a strong for­eign pol­i­cy includ­ing the nuclear re-arma­ment of Ukraine, he said.

    The bat­tal­ion has a num­ber of for­eign vol­un­teers, includ­ing numer­ous Rus­sians, four Swedes and one Cana­di­an, but no Amer­i­cans, Odnorozhenko said — as two jeeps full of tanned fight­ers in sun­glass­es and ban­dan­nas rolled into base, a wolf­san­gel paint­ed on each side.

    Although he declined to pro­vide details, Odnorozhenko said the Ukrain­ian forces are deploy­ing armor, build­ing for­ti­fi­ca­tions, and “acti­vat­ing dif­fer­ent mil­i­tary groups” in the Mar­i­upol area. Local activists have been dig­ging trench­es in some places out­side the city and orga­niz­ing “civ­il defense” forces.

    Ukrain­ian forces have been falling back in the face of the Russ­ian advance. Accord­ing to var­i­ous reports, they had retreat­ed to the west of the town of Bez­i­menne (“No Name”), which would put them with­in 20 miles of Mar­i­upol itself.

    Besides a strong defense, Ukraine needs the sup­port of the West to defeat the invaders, Odnorozhenko argued. He called for the Europe and the Unit­ed States to take a more aggres­sive stance on Rus­sia and begin ship­ping weapons to Ukrain­ian pro-gov­ern­ment forces. Odd­ly enough, he com­pared the con­flict to World War II, when his bat­tal­ion’s ide­o­log­i­cal fore­bears were fight­ing Sovi­et and West­ern troops.


    Yes, it was rather odd to hear the head of the Azov bat­tal­ion liken­ing the con­flict to WWII giv­en the obvi­ous his­tor­i­cal con­no­ta­tions asso­ci­at­ed with that anal­o­gy. Far less sur­pris­ing was Vladimir Putin’s use of the same anal­o­gy on Fri­day, although the glob­al reminder that Rus­sia has nukes and should­n’t be “messed with” was some­what alarm­ing:

    The Los Ange­les Times
    Putin, defi­ant toward West, likens Ukraine con­flict to WWII
    By Car­ol J. Williams, Paul Richter, Isabel Gorst
    August 29,2014, 6:57 PM

    Evok­ing star­tling images of siege and empire, Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin on Fri­day struck a defi­ant pose over the deploy­ment of troops and tanks in east­ern Ukraine, declar­ing that Rus­sia has no plans for “large-scale con­flicts” but remind­ing the world that he pre­sides over a nuclear-armed state.

    “It’s best not to mess with us,” Putin said, refer­ring to Russ­ian sep­a­ratist fight­ers in Ukraine with a term that dates back to the era of the Russ­ian empire — “New Rus­sia mili­tia” — and liken­ing their bat­tle with Ukrain­ian army forces to Sovi­et cit­i­zens’ hero­ic resis­tance dur­ing the Ger­man Nazi siege of Leningrad.

    His com­ments, designed to cast the Ukraine con­flict as a World War II-like aggres­sion inspired by the West, came a day after Pres­i­dent Oba­ma warned of the mount­ing costs to Rus­sians as their gov­ern­ment deep­ens its involve­ment in east­ern Ukraine.

    The Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion’s new appeal to Russ­ian pub­lic opin­ion prob­a­bly reflects grow­ing doubt that the U.S. can bring Putin to the nego­ti­at­ing table over Ukraine, as the Krem­lin leader wages his own cam­paign designed to stoke Rus­sians’ nation­al­ist pride and nos­tal­gia for its the lost super­pow­er sta­tus.

    Thank God, I think no one is think­ing of unleash­ing a large-scale con­flict with Rus­sia. I want to remind you that Rus­sia is one of the lead­ing nuclear pow­ers,” Putin said dur­ing a vis­it to a Krem­lin-spon­sored youth camp, clear­ly aim­ing to mar­shal pub­lic sup­port for a mil­i­tary cam­paign that has brought inter­na­tion­al iso­la­tion and increas­ing­ly strin­gent eco­nom­ic sanc­tions.

    Oba­ma on Thurs­day warned that stricter sanc­tions would be forth­com­ing after NATO released satel­lite sur­veil­lance images show­ing Russ­ian armored columns cross­ing into south­east­ern Ukraine.

    nd the U.S. ambas­sador to the Unit­ed Nations, Saman­tha Pow­er, called up images of the human cost like­ly to be borne by the Russ­ian mil­i­tary south of its bor­ders. “In Rus­sia, fam­i­ly mem­bers of Russ­ian sol­diers are hold­ing funer­als for their loved ones who have been killed in the fight­ing in Ukraine,” she told the U.N. Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil on Thurs­day.


    In the Krem­lin view, Rus­sia is a brave force will­ing to stand up to the West to pro­tect Russ­ian speak­ers in east­ern Ukraine from repres­sion and to with­stand the unjust sanc­tions imposed on it for its noble actions, Olik­er said.

    Putin clear­ly sought to rein­force that nar­ra­tive Fri­day as state tele­vi­sion cam­eras cap­tured his chore­o­graphed exchange with the young campers.

    “Small vil­lages and large cities are sur­round­ed by the Ukrain­ian army, which is direct­ly hit­ting res­i­den­tial areas with the aim of destroy­ing the infra­struc­ture,” he said. “It sad­ly reminds me of the events of the Sec­ond World War, when Ger­man fas­cist ... occu­piers sur­round­ed our cities.”

    EU for­eign min­is­ters meet­ing Fri­day in Milan debat­ed calls for step­ping up eco­nom­ic sanc­tions on Moscow, which to date have tar­get­ed a few dozen Krem­lin offi­cials and tight­ened Rus­si­a’s access to inter­na­tion­al finan­cial insti­tu­tions.

    “We have to be aware of what we are fac­ing: We are now in the midst of a sec­ond Russ­ian inva­sion of Ukraine with­in a year,” said Swedish For­eign Min­is­ter Carl Bildt, refer­ring to Rus­si­a’s seizure of Crimea. Cit­ing the Russ­ian forces’ open­ing of a new front along Ukraine’s Sea of Azov this week, Bildt said Rus­si­a’s hand in the Ukraine vio­lence was indis­putable and that it was time “to call a spade a spade.”

    Euro­pean Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent Jose Manuel Bar­roso called Putin on Fri­day to con­demn the “sig­nif­i­cant incur­sions into and oper­a­tions on Ukrain­ian soil by Russ­ian mil­i­tary units” and warned that fur­ther intru­sions would “car­ry high costs,” his office report­ed.

    But there is divi­sion among the 28 EU mem­ber states on the extent to which sanc­tions can suc­ceed in chang­ing Rus­si­a’s behav­ior, and resis­tance on the part of those heav­i­ly depen­dent on ener­gy sup­plies from Rus­sia. The EU diplo­mats were to dis­cuss tight­en­ing sanc­tions at a meet­ing Sat­ur­day in Brus­sels, but they dis­closed no specifics of which addi­tion­al eco­nom­ic sec­tors might be tar­get­ed.

    So we have Kiev clam­or­ing to be let in to NATO, which would basi­cal­ly guar­an­tee WWIII at this point, Rus­sia threat­en­ing “don’t mess with us”, and vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions that are poised to turn on Kiev if the con­flict end. As far as night­mare sce­nar­ios go, that’s pret­ty night­mar­ish. And yet, if the con­flicts aren’t end­ed soon, the night­mares for the civil­ians in the east will just go on and on. If we see peace in the east under rebel rule, we might see the vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions wage a war on Kiev (and pos­si­bly a far right pro-Russ­ian gov­ern­ment in the east too). But if we see Kiev tak­ing the east, the secu­ri­ty of that eth­nic Russ­ian pop­u­la­tion is very unclear giv­en the overt­ly anti-Russ­ian nature of the vol­un­teer. Yep, a night­mare sce­nario.

    Part of what makes this sit­u­a­tion so dire is the fact that if Ukraine joins the EU, NATO mem­ber­ship will even­tu­al­ly fol­low and NATO and, at this point, NATO is basi­cal­ly an anti-Russ­ian alliance. So here’s a thought that might be a lit­tle too out­landish, but what­ev­er: Let east­ern Ukraine become a sep­a­rate, inde­pen­dent buffer state, and then make a joint offer to Rus­sia, West Ukraine and East Ukraine to all join NATO togeth­er. All at once or none at all. Yes, Rus­sia can join NATO. Two retired Ger­man gen­er­als (includ­ing a for­mer Chair­man of the NATO Mil­i­tary Com­mit­tee) made just such a pro­pos­al back in 2010 which would include the with­draw­al of both US and Russ­ian tac­ti­cal nukes and devel­op­ment of a join mis­sile shield, so it’s not an unthink­able idea. There could be lots of polit­i­cal reform strings attached and get­ting cur­rent­ly war­ring par­ties to sign onto a mutu­al­ly defense-pact could be a big step towards cre­at­ing the kind of glob­al NATO human­i­ty needs to end all war in an age of super-weapons. After all, there’s already a glob­al war against human­i­ty and most life on earth cur­rent­ly being waged by our­selves via cli­mate change and eco-col­lapse. Maybe we should all be focus­ing on that war instead?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 30, 2014, 6:31 pm
  22. Andrei Belet­sky, leader of Avoz Bat­tal­ion, just made an announce­ment on Face­book that should sur­prise no one:

    Oh, good, neo-Nazi Andrei Belet­sky, leader of Azov Bat­tal­ion, is going to run for par­lia­ment https://t.co/VzSvfUw6s7 pic.twitter.com/eRmI8xIRHj— Alec Luhn (@ASLuhn) Sep­tem­ber 13, 2014

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 13, 2014, 6:17 pm
  23. So this just hap­pened:

    This is fuck­ing crazy: Ukraine’s pres­i­dent just hailed fas­cist UPA— mass-mur­der­ers of Jews in Holocaust—as “heroes” https://t.co/Bpv6B8MB8y— Mark Ames (@MarkAmesExiled) Sep­tem­ber 25, 2014

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 25, 2014, 8:25 am
  24. #Pter­rafractyl–

    No sur­prise, here. Poroshenko’s advi­so­ry team were Yuschenko’s old cronies.

    Roman Svarych, Jaroslav Stet­sko’s per­son­al sec­re­tary in the ear­ly 1980’s, is one of his top advis­ers.

    Check out FTR #800:




    Posted by Dave Emory | September 25, 2014, 3:10 pm
  25. The BBC has quite an update on the inves­ti­ga­tion into the Maid­an square sniper mys­tery and the dif­fer­ing accounts of Andre Paru­biy, then the head of secu­ri­ty for the Maid­an pro­tes­tors, a one of the snipers:

    The untold sto­ry of the Maid­an mas­sacre
    By Gabriel Gate­house BBC News

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

    11 Feb­ru­ary 2015 Last updat­ed at 19:51 ET

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

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

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

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

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

    “I did­n’t shoot to kill”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    What hap­pened in Maid­an Square: A pho­tog­ra­pher’s sto­ry

    Sergei’s account also dif­fers from Paru­biy’s.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

    Con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries abound

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “ ‘Your time will come,’ he said.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 12, 2015, 11:02 pm
  26. @Pterrafractyl–

    Of course, NEVER lose sight of the fact that Paru­biy is not only from the Svo­bo­da par­ty of OUN/B heirs, but is the for­mer defense min­is­ter under the pro­vi­sion­al gov­ern­ment that came to pow­er dur­ing the Maid­an coup.

    He is now deputy speak­er of the Ukraine par­lia­ment.



    Posted by Dave Emory | February 13, 2015, 7:48 pm

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