These two interconnected decisions make clear New Zealand’s position to support the Kiev government, a regime which is unequivocally militarily and politically supported by neonazi groups like the Azov and Aidar battalions and political groups like the Right Sector, and which for 8 years has been shelling and killing more than 10,000 innocent Ukrainian people in the Donbas simply because they want to speak their native language, Russian (note that these figures are confirmed by the Organisation for Security in Europe (OSCE)
New Zealand equipment and targeting information is undoubtedly also being used by the Kiev military to continue to fire missiles at Donetsk City and its civilian infrastructure.
While the Russian invasion of Ukraine is to be unequivocally condemned, a path to peace must be negotiated which dispassionately examines the reasons for this war and Western governments’ refusal to honour the Minsk agreements signed by Kiev, which would have meant the Russian invasion would never have happened.
While previous Labour administrations like David Lange’s and Norman Kirk’s had the moral courage to push back against the NATO white mans’ club, which continue to drone murder, torture and initiate wars against those who do not wish to ‘compulsorily share’ their resources with the Western world, this Ardern government has cemented its relationship as a NATO ‘ally’ and a key member of the Five Eyes group and continues to enthusiastically facilitate those illegal and immoral activities.
One would have that thought that those who have been victims of white man’s colonialism would have taken some courage and initiative to distance New Zealand from these activities of the white man’s club. New Zealand is, and will increasingly become a pariah state in the South and East while it maintains it enthusiastic support for NATO and the current ‘international rule based order’, which every non Western state recognises as code for the right for the US and its allies to do whatever it wishes , including sanctions, targetted killings and extreme violence against whole populations. Does not the current Labour government have the courage to push back against this ever expanding and dangerous war that NATO is fuelling at the expense of likely hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers, and demand that each side sit down to negotiate firstly a cease-fire and then a peace agreement which is endorsed at the UN?
I sincerely hope that this Labour Government does belatedly recognise that New Zealand’s international and defense policies and actions are currently not on the moral side of rectitude.
Postscript 6th November 2022
The Telegram channel Rybar made the following post on 5th November.
#Ukrainian #Nazi group, within Azov Movement, Karpatska Sich, translated to Ukrainian the New Zealand shooter Manifesto that inspired the #Buffalo White Supremacist shooter.
The Ukrainian-language translation of the Christchurch shooter’s manifesto, flanked by a sticker for Ukrainian neo-Nazi group Karpatska Sich.
The New Zealand shooter Manifesto that inspired the #Buffalo shooter is a “must read” for all #NeoNazis and White Supremacists worldwide. Here a group of #Ukrainian #Nazis from Karpatska Sich holding copies of the book translated to Ukrainian by the Nazi elitist group inside #Azov movement.
Neo Nazi Polish/Ukrainian group Karpatska Sich made a hateful video regarding the Pride marches in the EU the year.
In other words, the New Zealand government’s military is funding, training and likely imbedded with neonazis in Ukraine who are directly implicated in the New Zealand mosque shooting in Christchurch in 2019, which the same NZ government has roundly condemned as a terrorist act.
Exactly how that is the case is not made clear, and why he would be so publicly supposedly removed from office is unexplained, but apparently any opportunity to demean and deride the Chinese Communist party by the West is a good opportunity. But why should that be so?
We are told that Xi Jinping is ‘ruthlessly’ consolidating his power by appointing more of his supporters to his decision-making circle, (something of course that Western politicians never ever do!) after the Chinese Communist Party Congress (representing its 96.71 million members) were somehow intimidated into once again electing the dictator Xi Jingping for a third consecutive term!
And we are told by Western media that China has a ‘very aggressive’ foreign policy. Strangely this view is not reflected by most of the nations of the South, many of whom have benefitted enormously from China’s technical expertise and support for their infrastructure development – in sharp contrast to the predatory practices of the United States and its IMF and World Bank proxies, of dismantling economically vulnerable states for the benefit of American corporations.
The Chinese ‘threat’ therefore is that the long-standing predatory actions of the United States and its Western white allies (what the West likes to call the ‘rule-based order) are under threat.
The pretence is that these actions by the US are designed to impede China’s military aggressive actions. They are in fact designed to ensure China stays a subservient power to the US, economically and militarily. Charles Freeman (ex US diplomat) states it bluntly: ‘This is the equivalent of smoking pot in a hot tub and fantasizing about tripping up competitors in track events, while they are out training and trying out new equipment. It’s conceivable that China will stumble and fall, enabling us effortlessly to “win the future,” but it is imbecilic to count on this. Delusional complacency and reliance on dumb luck or divine intervention will not enable us to outperform China or any other rising power.
And as Counterpunch notes:‘Biden and the Post are talking about a country [China] that has not used military force outside its borders for more than 40 years, and has only one military facility [Djibouti] outside its zone of influence.’. Contrast that with the West’s brutal wars in the last 40 years in Iraq, Syria, and Libya- let alone its unwavering support for Israel’s slow genocide of the Palestinian people or the U.S.’s 750 plus military bases across the world.
Pelosi’s bizarre flight to Taiwan recently to stir up the Republic of China or ROC (colloquially known as ‘Taiwan’) into buying lots more American military equipment they didn’t know they needed, is just one more of many examples of attempts by the US to provoke mainland China so it can be further labelled in the Western (white) media as an aggressive dictatorship and thus not to be trusted. It is after all only the Western white media (and now Zelensky’s PR team) who speak “the truth”!!!
It would seem that those of us in the West are, not so slowly, being brainwashed by a Western media in lock-step with Western corporate ‘interests’ and their politicians, to believe that China and Russia are the evil ones against whom we must fight to the bitter end to maintain our ‘right’ to plunder the rest of the non-white world as we see fit.
And all the while, Gaia will have the last laugh on those petty human squabbles.
The South China Morning Post ( Hong Kong based and not state media ) reported that ‘The episode was not reported in Chinese state media but in its evening newscast on Saturday night state broadcaster CCTV included a shot of the former president voting at the closing ceremony before his exit’.
An erudite and sane perspective on the Ukraine war and international relations by Robert Falk (below)
And Chris Hedges’ beautiful but savage indictment of all war
On June 26th Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s current prime minister, admitted in a TV interview, that New Zealand had been a NATO ‘partner’ -not member (as Ukraine also is) for the past 10 years. The interview was undertaken while Ardern was travelling to make a brief presentation to a NATO meeting in Spain, currently discussing how they can mitigate the Western disaster in Ukraine where Russian and Ukrainian ‘separatists’ are bulldozing through the remnants of Kiev’s army in the Donbass .
Given the admission from Ardern that New Zealand has been a NATO partner for the past 10 years, and has also been part of the Five Eyes alliance since 1956, we are thus a co-conspirator to the Minsk 1 and 2 subterfuges of 2014 and 2015 by Western nations in their pretense to the Donbass residents that a Ukrainian semi-autonomous region for the Russian speakers there was going to happen, and Kiev would stop bombarding Donetsk and Lugansk. New Zealand is also party to the provision of military equipment to the Kiev ‘regime’ (certainly not a ‘democracy’ now that almost all political parties other than Zelensky’s have been banned) which have been used to deliberately target civilian populations in Donetsk city in the past few months.
However if one were to believe Western and New Zealand media, Russia is shelling its own allies in the Donbass!- or as some Kiev residents have liked to call it over the years- the ‘Bombass’.
But let us not over-estimate the intelligence of our (Western) world leaders either!…
For New Zealand to pretend it is not at war with Russia is absurd. New Zealand is aiding its Western ‘allies’ to ensure that as many Ukrainians die for nothing in a war that could easily have been avoided if the West had insisted that Kiev abide by the Minsk agreements it signed in 2014 and not re-armed Kiev and its neonazi groups.
And let us not forget the colossal destruction this war is wreaking on the environment and the staggering amount of human resources wasted building weapons that could have been used to plant trees, and build a sustainable world….Or forget the increasing probability of a ‘hot’ war between Western white countries and China and Russia, which would likely then lead us all to nuclear armageddon.
Recently the U.S. orchestrated yet another Pacific military alliance between the U.S., Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK., strangely titled ‘Partners in the Blue Pacific’ whose purpose is to operate, the U.S. says “according to principles of Pacific regionalism, sovereignty, transparency, accountability, and most of all, [will be] led and guided by the Pacific islands.”. (Strangely those Pacific Island nations are not actually party to this agreement! )
This comes on top of the other new Indo-Pacific military ‘white folks’ agreement signed between Australia the United States and the U.K.; entitled AUKUS, which is intended to break the Pacific nuclear free agreement signed by most Pacific Island nations.
China has recently had the temerity to sign economic and security deals (not military bases) with a number of pacific island countries. If you believed NZ and Australian media and government lurid pronouncements, the ‘red peril’ is once again on the march to take away our democracy and freedom!
Presumably it’s the freedom to colonise vulnerable south pacific countries, to threaten and blackmail governments in the region, and to exploit Pacific Island communities using their cheap labour – dastardly Chinese stuff to try and limit us “good white folks'” exploitative opportunities in the Pacific !
Denis Argall notes from an Australian perspective that ‘the United States is entering into a period of instability at home and overreach abroad. The US’s declared intent to use the Ukraine war to diminish Russia is neither healthy nor attainable. The US provocation of war with China is contrary to our interests as well as common sense’.
I would appreciate if you could publish the following letter
While any invasion of another country is deplorable and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is to be condemned, one needs to remember that prior to this invasion, more than 10,000 Russian speaking Ukrainians have been killed by the Kiev government in the Donbass since 2014; predominantly by neo-nazi groups like the Azov Battalion- the very same neonazi group that Brenton Tarrant , the Christchurch mosque shooter, was an ardent adherent of.
We should all be aware that truth is the first casualty of war, but the level of war hysteria and blatantly distorted propaganda we are seeing across the Western world about this tragedy in Ukraine, is extremely alarming- our media now howls for World War Three.
Our prime minister talks about how New Zealand supports the “rule based international order”; the U.S. imposed version of how they believe the world should be; not United Nation’s rules.
It is time to step back from the brink of a massive, potentially nuclear, war which would involve China Russia and its allies, and the Western camp.
Saner heads need to prevail; we need peace and an effective response to the imminent climate catastrophe unfolding, not this foolish provocation by New Zealand.
The conflict in Ukraine grinds on. The recent talks in Istanbul between Ukrainian Kiev representatives and the Russians indicated some small steps to a peaceful settlement.
However the largest stumbling block in the long-term (aside from further American military involvement in Ukraine after the war ends), is the de-nazification of Ukraine.
While Western media frequently displayed concern prior to 2014 of neo-nazi elements in Ukraine, we are now told that nazis are a figment in the imagination of the Russians- an excuse to invade Ukraine. However the history and evidence of neonazis in Ukraine is unequivocal, dating back to the Ukrainian nationalist movements of the late 19th century, where pride in a Ukrainian state was tied to Ukrainian slavic racial identity- unique (and vastly superior) to either Russians or Poles, and most certainly Jews and Gypsies.
The superiority of one or other of the ‘white’ races was an accepted and normative view of many Western populations and governments after Darwin’s “On the Origins of Species” was published in 1859. What else could explain the ease with which European and American forces could over-run, terrorise, enslave and loot countries in Asia, Africa and South America, if it was not that those races were ‘inferior’?
The Empires of Britain, Belgium, France, Holland and Germany and the United States’ colonies, were proof enough of the ‘white’ man’s superiority! A superiority, they reasoned that was timeless. The ‘science’ of eugenics allowed Western citizens to indulge in a fantasy world that explained and validated their brutality of other countries’ citizens.
The German physician and anthropologist Alfred Ploetz first laid out the major assumptions and definition of “racial hygiene” in his book, entitled “Foundations of a Eugenics” in 1895.
Many clinicians in the United States particularly became passionate eugenicists- eager to ensure that only the ‘purest’ survived. The film “Black Stork” of 1917 epitomises the eugenicist approach.
The current American view of the United States as the ‘exceptional nation’ continues to embody much of these bizarre prejudices.
Adolf Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ book of 1925 simply piggy-backed on the flawed concepts of eugenics- creating an elaborate fantasy about the genetic superiority of the ‘genius’ Aryan race, of which the Germanic tribes were the ultimate and lesser ‘races’ could be exterminated.
In turn, Ukrainian nationalists seized on the ‘principles’ of eugenics and later the racial aspects of National Socialism (Nazism) as a way to ‘purify” Ukraine from the inferior ‘invader’ races; the Jews, Poles, Gypsies and Russians. The Ukrainian nationalist groups,; the OUN-B led by Stepan Bandera ( established in 1929) , and others vacillated between enthusiastically supporting the Nazis in their brutal occupation of Ukraine , and trying to create a Ukrainian state free of both the German Nazis, communists, Jews and Russian speakers.
While Stepan Bandera and many of the other Ukrainian nationalists were eliminated by the Soviet Union after the second world war, their dream of a ‘pure’ Ukraine lived on- largely in Canada in the significant Ukrainian diaspora there, and in the United States.
With the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1992, new opportunities for the Banderites and other Ukrainian nationalists arose, supported through discreet channels in the United States, British and likely Canadian intelligence communities as a way to undermine and dismantle Russia; (which continued to be seen as a potential threat to Western interests, despite no longer being communist).
Once the United States had enabled the Maidan coup in Kiev in 2014 and eliminated any possibility of Russian speaking eastern Ukrainians having a political voice in Ukraine, those extreme nationalist groups were able to consolidate their power, and their para-military groups were formally incorporated into the Ukrainian military’s structure.
The Azov and Aidar battalions particularly were thus able to access the vast amount of NATO weaponry pouring into the country after 2014. (Note that while Ukraine is not, and likely never will be , a NATO ‘member’, it is formally recognised as a NATO ‘ally’, and its military structures and weaponry are completely aligned with NATO structures).
While extreme nationalist parties have not been able to grab a significant proportion of the people’s votes in Ukrainian elections, their influence on the internal mechanics of the ruling political party, Zelensky’s “Servant of the People”, has been considerable. The Jewish and Russian-speaking Zelensky was voted in as Ukrainian President in 2019 on a platform of ending the war in Eastern Ukraine (the Donbass), but promptly had to reverse his position under threat from nationalist leaders.
The Ukrainian Army war (predominantly via the neo-nazi battalions) against the separatist Russian speakers in Eastern Ukraine- (the Donbass), thus dragged on for 8 years after 2014 ,with the loss of 14,000 lives- mainly Russian speakers in the Donbass.
Such sadistic and thuggish views have become endemic in Ukrainian society; particularly, but not exclusively in the Western regions of Ukraine. 8 years of white supremacist propaganda have done their work on the population.
Or perhaps this…
Not only has the Ukrainian population been propagandized into accepting Nazi ideology as ‘normal’ and acceptable in the face of the Russian threat, but Western media has, since the beginning of the war, been simultaneously pumping out denials of the existence of Nazis in Ukraine whilst showing videos of them in the war!
The level of hostility to all things Russian, along with a complete unwillingness to show a Russian perspective about the war in Western media, would indicate that the white Western world is at war with Russia in all but name.
Putin therefore must be depicted as a cartoon mad-man character whose lust for power has resulted in his deranged invasion of little Ukraine.
This does not mean that we should not condemn the Russian invasion in the strongest possible terms- we most certainly should.
But instead of attempting to re-arm the Ukrainians and prolong a dreadful war where millions have been displaced and thousands killed and wounded, we need to acknowledge the enormous threat that a re-energised nazi movement has; not just for Ukraine and Russia, and as Germany once again, re-arms, but for the world, and remove the possibility of a Nazi party ever coming to power again in the world.
We owe that to our children!
We are all humanly equal in this world; we may not all have the same experiences and opportunities in life- but we are indubitably equal and all worthy of kindness, love and respect.
In my ‘neck of the woods’ in New Zealand I am entertained each evening by the propaganda from TVNZ1 -one of our government funded TV channels. In their extensive coverage of the tragedy in Ukraine they somehow fail to mention:
That the Kiev government has been fighting a war with Eastern Ukrainians that they call ‘terrorists’ (or if you’re a neo-nazi, ‘cockroaches’) for 8 years with over 13,000 deaths with active support from NATO; and that Ukrainian shelling of civilian infrastructure in the Donbass is ongoing.
That British, American and German military ‘advisors’ have been training and providing ‘defensive’ weapons to these rabidly anti-Russian groups for those 8 years (and more) (note that there is militarily no such thing as a defensive weapon-anything that makes you safer in war also makes you more capable of fighting offensively)
That civilian casualty figures for the 12 days of war so far are astoundingly low ( 407 in 12 days), in comparison with say America’s ‘shock and awe’ terror campaign in Iraq ( 6,700 deaths in the first 3 weeks)– but noting that every death is a tragedy.
That all the while this hellish Ukraine war is going on, the Americans and the British are actively supporting a decidedly more hellish genocide in Yemen by the Saudis and other gulf states.
That the Russian Army and separatists from the Donbass have now encircled in a ‘cauldron’ the majority of the Ukrainian army in the East.
That the Russians claim to have found evidence of a number of American sponsored Ukrainian biolabs producing germ warfare agents, which the Americans both confess to and deny!
That the Russians claim to have found documental evidence of the Ukrainian Army’s intent to destroy the Donbass separatists in an offensive starting 25h February.
That the maternity hospital in Mariupal had been publicly identified by the Russians as having been turned into a Ukrainian military base 3 days before the shelling by the Russians of the building.
That the Western media’s constant pressure on the Americans and their European allies to implement Zelinsky’s plan for a NATO ‘no fly zone’ over Ukraine would result in shooting war that could easily end in nuclear war. (It would be like America having dog-fights and missile strikes over Canada or Mexico)
I guess TVNZ and the rest of the Western media are just trying to protect me from Russian propaganda- so I really feel quite relieved that I don’t need to know about any of this! Let’s keep it simple after all….
‘The first casualty when war comes is truth’. Hiram W Johnson (1917)
As this horrendous war in Ukraine unfolds, we see the Western media carefully following their politicians’ lines. ‘There is no Nazi problem in Ukraine’, ‘NATO is not a threat to Russia’, “Putin is a madman dictator’ etc etc…
Curiously, as I have noted in a previous blog, these memes were becoming increasingly strident even before Russia recognised the 2 Donbass republics, even in my little country of New Zealand (part of ‘Five Eyes’) we are apparently an enthusiastic supporter of the (neo)- nazi Azov Battalion in the Ukraine and their propaganda videos, should you want to believe our government funded TVNZ ‘news’.
But perhaps the most obscene media article I have seen is this recent Guardian article by a Mr Jason Stanley who states ‘no democratic country is free of far-right nationalist groups, including the United States’, in downplaying the risks of Nazis in Ukraine. What Mr Stanley deliberately omits to say is that Ukraine is the only country in the world where Nazi battalions are an integral part of their army, and whose battalions have been actively involved in killing as many Eastern Ukrainian Russian speakers in the Donbass as possible (13,000 at the last count) – with the full support of the Ukrainian government in Kiev. Let us also not forget the post-Maidan coup Kiev government’s enthusiastic sanctifying of Stepan Bandera, the white (Ukrainian Slav) supremacist and killer of ‘Asiatic’ Russian Slavs, Poles, Gypsies, the LGBTIQ community, Communists and Jews, both during and after the second world war (with support for his OUN-B group and its successors from the Americans).
Mr Stanley’s customary caricature of Putin as the ‘global leader of the far right’ is, to be polite, somewhat strange. Putin is certainly a nationalist, an anti-communist, a Russian Orthodox believer and a fervent conservative (none of those Putin attributes particularly endear him to me; as do most politicians’ ‘values’ in the West or East!), but ‘far right’? -no.
The decision by European countries to constrain Russian economic interest in Europe and beyond is an entirely valid response to Russia’s aggression, but the decision to suppress access to Russian government media like RT and Sputnik in the West indicates a strong wish to ensure the views of only one side of the war are circulated to Western populations; a series of views that are indisputably half-truths in many cases and often lies (e.g. the 4 years of ‘Russia-gate’ fabrications), as noted above. Such repressive actions lead the public to believe right is completely on our side and no compromise is possible with the evil aggressor. A recipe for a third world war, or worse.
And that is not to say that the Russian government and its media are the epitome of truth. The Russian government and its media unequivocally stated that no Ukrainian invasion was planned, while they were preparing for just such an invasion.
Reports from websites that are Russian supporters are as likely to provide a slanted or untrue version of events on the ground in Ukraine as the Western media. Part of that false view can be attributed to the ‘fog of war’ – journalists rely on narratives from people in the war-zone with their own agendas, or from people who are simply making things up to suit their audience. And then there are the journalists in the West, and no doubt in the East as well, who are paid by their various ‘intelligence’ agencies to provide that ‘special’ messaging for a gullible public.
Emotive videos of Ukrainian women filling bottles with petrol to make Molotov cocktails, of a man supposedly holding back a Russian tank, or of an armoured personnel carrier (Russian or more likely Ukrainian) deliberately running over a car, the Snake Island defenders who died but are now resurrected etc etc are all designed to dull our intellectual acuity and make us react with anger and fear rather than a calm consideration of the facts, and make mediation between the warring factions impossible.
The current fad to sanction Russian cats, deprive Russian paralympians of competing, remove access to Russian authors or composers or remove Russian media from the Western world is bizarre. Perhaps a glimpse into this madness can be seen in a recent CNN article by one Oliver Darcy where the Russian website RT is blasted for actually giving a Russian point of view to the Russian invasion! How dastardly is that! We of course should know that there is only one viewpoint to be had on this deadly event, and that is the American official line! Knowledge of any other viewpoint is therefor treasonable an un-American!
We should also note the ‘extraordinary’ levels of white racism that pervade Western media- they imply how shocking that this war could have happened to European, well-dressed educated white people who look just like us!, not those people of darker skins in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
Be warned! The populations of Arab, African, South American and Asian countries who have endured so much pointless war by the U.S. and its allies over the past 50 years are taking due note of the total hypocrisy and racism of Western media.
The enemy is inherently evil and resembles the devil.
We defend a noble cause, not our own interests.
The enemy commits atrocities on purpose; our mishaps are involuntary.
The enemy uses forbidden weapons.
We suffer small losses, those of the enemy are enormous.
Recognized artists and intellectuals back our cause.
Our cause is sacred.
All who doubt our propaganda are traitors.
On the Russian side we hear of the Ukrainian government military using illegal phosphorous shells near Kyev, or prisoners released from jails given automatic weapons, of Azov battalion units using Eastern Ukrainians as human shields in the Donbass – fact or fiction? We may never know.
The increasing practice in both West and East to use legislation to designate foreign media companies as ‘foreign agents’ also exacerbates the considerable risk for governments and their publics to misinterpret, deliberately or otherwise, the intent of a ‘foreign’ government, and thereby increase the risk of war.
After talking to a very frightened and distraught friend in Ukraine over the weekend, I know that the internet is up and running there, that water and electricity are (at least so far) not being destroyed, unlike the terror attacks by the Americans in Korea, Vietnam, Libya and Iraq (to name just a few) that deliberately destroyed all infrastructure (a ‘shock and awe’ war-crime).
This terror and destruction needs to stop -now. Russia needs to negotiate in good faith with the Kiev government; withdraw its troops and compensate for lives lost and destruction caused. In turn, Kiev and NATO need to recognise the very real fears by Russia about the likely destruction of Russia by NATO. A neutral Ukraine (as Austria was during the cold war) is the only solution. A neutral Ukraine will not only be of benefit to Russia, but also Ukraine, its neighbours, and the wider world.
We instead need to mobilise globally now to ‘fight’ catastrophic climate change and species loss . The intensely environmentally destructiveness of armies and wars of aggression need to be replaced with deliberate processes to safely reduce global consumption of commodities, to plant billions of hectares of trees that can grow in perpetuity and restore natural eco-systems – to create a sustainable planet.
Kiev officials continue to describe the Donbass separatists as “terrorists’ even while the Kiev administration has signed up to negotiating with separatists as part of the Normandy and Minsk agreements – but has never actioned that agreement . Defining the separatists as ‘terrorists’ makes it virtually impossible for Kiev to negotiate anything with them. Kiev is supported in this position (at least officially) by Poland, the U.K and U.S.)
The new government in Berlin however appears to be currently more reticent in supporting Kiev in its aggressive stance and has declined Kiev’s request for more weapons. There are real risks to Ukraine’s neighbours of neo-nazi military brigades like the Azov battalion and other extremist groups supported by the Right Sector, that those groups would not only continue to fight against the Donbass separatists , kill Russian speaking Ukrainians in other parts of Ukraine, and, as in the past, Poles and Jews as well as Russian speakers elsewhere, but also foment trouble in disaffected youth in their own countries…
Despite the 9/11 blowback that occurred with the U.S. and U.K support of Saudi and Turkish backed wahhabist extremists in Afghanistan against the Soviets, the strategy of using local extremists continues to be a key item in the U.S. destabilisation playbook. Extensive Ukraine government and Right Sector media has portrayed Western Ukrainian as ‘true slavs’, unlike the Russians in the north and east who are deemed to be lesser beings with eastern mongol genes; a strategy that gives permission for extremist groups like the Azov battalions to exterminate Russian speaking eastern Ukrainians with impunity.
Berlin’s current reticence to fully support the NATO and U.K./U.S. agenda in Ukraine appears to come from a sudden realization that they are hugely reliant on Russian gas. The Nordstream 2 gas pipeline from Russian to Germany was initiated at the insistence of Germany with the understanding that Russian gas would not only be much cheaper than U.S. gas shipped across the Atlantic to Germany, but was also both more reliable and able to be delivered in greater volumes than the Americans could ever provide. Germany’s economy therefore relies on cheap Russian gas, particularly now that its coal fired electricity producers have been largely shut down in response to climate change concerns . The German government therefore walks a tightrope between supporting its NATO allies, and getting the energy it needs for its economy .
The Russians have insisted that the expansion of NATO up to its borders be reversed ( an outcome of the negotiations that led to East Germany and the other Easter European countries becoming independent from Russia in the 1990s, on the verbal understanding that NATO would not expand beyond its 1990s borders). U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken and NATO’s Stoltenberg have insisted that that agreement never existed ( despite multiple citings of evidence of its existence) and that NATO will continue to expand its membership and site weapons wherever it wishes to, regardless of the resultant explicit threat to Russia’s existence..
Exactly what NATOs current purpose is now that communist Soviet Russia has gone, is never explicitly stated, but it is clear that its purpose is to stop Russian ‘aggression’ and intimidate Russia through ongoing military threats. U.S. think tanks have also intimated their wish that Russia be balkanised, so that the carve-up of Russia’s economy can continue from the Yeltsin years, and so that Russia does not have the capacity to militarily oppose any Western military plans (as it has done in Syria).
While Western media and the U.S. continue to hype up the threat of a Russian land invasion of the Ukraine ( with extensive videos of Russian tanks conducting military exercises in Russia), the reality is that it would simply not be worth-while for Russia to invade Ukraine with tanks and troops.
It is possible however, that if the Kiev government or its extremist wings were to launch a large scale attack on the Russian speaking Donbass ( emboldened by Western weapons supplies and bombacity) that Russia would feel obliged to protect its Russian speaking neighbours and respond militarily. Sending columns of Russian tanks into Eastern Ukraine, let alone across the Dnieper River into Western Ukraine, where Ukrainian nationalism is most fierce, would however be a suicidal endeavour; not least because the Ukrainian economy is devastated after years of corruption and mismanagement, and Russia would have to take responsibility for economically supporting 37 million Ukrainians, whilst countering an Eastern Ukrainian insurgency (supported and trained by the U.S. and U.K)
Russian not only wants a NATO pullback, but also the Kiev government to officially adhere to and implement the Minsk agreements they signed up to-i.e. negotiate with the Donbass separatists and agree to their self-government within a Ukrainian federal structure. However the level of Kiev propaganda against the ‘terrorists’ in the East and against Russian speaking people generally, seems to indicate that such a compromise is currently not possible; particularly while the extremist right wing groups hold such sway in Kiev. Those groups would also be fearful that a re-integration of the Donbass population into a federal Ukrainian democratic framework, would tip the balance towards a national government that once again would be more favorable to Russia, and likely result in many of the underhand deals that have occurred since 2014 between the Kiev government and Ukrainian oligarchs, being re-aligned once more towards Russian interests.
Ukraine is in crisis; its young people drifting in the multitudes to more favourable economic conditions in Western Europe, and an accelerating drift towards a centralized autocracy in Kiev driven largely by extremist groups like the Right Sector, with corruption widespread throughout the economy. The loss of revenues from Russia from the Russian gas pipeline which passes through Ukraine to Europe (and the siphoning of some of that gas for Ukraine’s use) with the inevitable advent of the opening of the Nordstream 2 gas pipeline to Germany and beyond, via the Baltic Sea , will only exacerbate this crisis. The Ukrainian ex-comedian President Zelensky’s position is extremely fragile- torn between the demands of the ever-increasing power of the right wing extremists in Kiev and Western Ukraine, and the demands of the U.S and U.K., while his popularity with the majority of Ukrainians plummets. Zelensky has tried to eliminate some of his key political rivals like Petro Poroshenko and Viktor Medvedchuk, with legal challenges of ‘treason’, but the opposition forces are gathering against him.
What options does someone like Zelensky now have in the face of such challenges ? War can so often improve a leader’s political chances..
With the election of the comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Ukraine may possibly be entering a new era- or not….
With no known specific policy agenda items Zelenskiy is a blank canvas, but there are drivers that indicate where the new government may head, based on historical trends.
While promising to eliminate the endemic corruption that has been rampant in Ukraine since the Soviet Union was dismantled on December 25th 1991 ( as have many other recent politicians like Brazil’s new president Bolsonaro or President Trump’s ‘draining of the swamp’) Zelenskiy’s credentials are not promising. His main backer appears to be the Ukrainian /Israeli/Cypriot billionaire ( the second or third richest person in Ukraine) Ihor Kolomoyskiy, who fled Ukraine in 2016 (to Israel?) after being accused by Ukrainian officials of embezzling $5 billion from his now nationalized Privatbank. Once favoured by the post Maidan Ukrainian government and appointed governor of the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Kolomoyskiy is also accused of using his wealth and paramilitary forces to threaten other businesses into submission. Wikipedia notes that: Kolomoyskyi has used Privat’s “quasi-military forces” to enforce hostile takeovers of companies, sending a team of “hired rowdies armed with baseball bats, iron bars, gas and rubber bullet pistols and chainsaws” to forcibly take over a Kremenchuk steel plant in 2006,and has used “a mix of phony court orders (often involving corrupt judges and/or registrars) and strong-arm tactics” to replace directors on the boards of companies he purchases stakes in.[27
You may be amused (or not) of this account of Kolomoyskiy’s behaviour in 2014 in attempting to reclaim his ‘rightful’ ownership of “Ukrtransnafta” a Ukrainian company which manages the transport of oil through the Ukrainian pipeline network.
Kolomoyskiy also owns the TV channel on which Zelenskiy’s comedy programmes were shown and has provided security, lawyers, and vehicles for the candidate. Zelenskiy however, denies, somewhat implausibly, any influence by Kolomoskiy on his political agenda as president.
The former President Poroschenko, the confectionery billionaire and apparent CIA asset, attempted to portray Zelenskiy ( and all the other presidential candidates) as Putin’s stooges; a ploy that has been used extensively by Ukrainian American intelligence assets in the Ukraine since the breakup of the Soviet Union. Zelenskiy, while speaking Russian, does not appear to have the inclination or motivation to break away from these current Ukrainian mindsets, although he has indicated a willingness to at least talk to the Russians about the breakaway primarily Russian speaking oblasts of Donetsk and Lugansk .
Despite a lack of evidence ( somewhat surprising in this age of satellite imagery) Ukraine and many Western governments have continued to insist that Russia is directly militarily involved in the breakaway regions. The Minsk Protocol of 2014, designed to halt the savage war between the breakaway Donbass paramilitaries and the Ukrainian government and paramilitary forces (many of the paramilitary having neo-nazi connections and using nazi-like terms to describe their ‘untermenschen’ Russian speaking opponents) , has failed to stop the fighting, with both sides accusing the other of breaking the agreement. Kolomoisky himself has been accused of ‘funding the Aidar, Azov, Donbas, Dnieper-1, and Dnieper-2 battalions that engaged in a brutal campaign of looting, torture and murder during Kiev’s Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) military action against eastern Ukraine, starting in April 2014 as well as being involved in the burning of Odessa’s Trade Union building with much loss of life . Russia issued a warrant in 2014 for Kolomoyskyi’s arrest for “organizing the killing of civilians”.
Despite monitoring by an independent OSCE force, violations of the ceasefire by both parties continue to occur on a day by day basis. We can be thankful at least that former president Poroschenko’s attempts to further stir up racial hated using the bigotry of the far right groups, have not won the day in Ukraine ( for now). For that, Zelenskiy and the Ukrainian Jewish communities too will be thankful; despite his billionaire sponsor’s apparent support for those groups; Patriots of Ukraine, Right Sector (Pravy Sektor) and White Hammer .
While inflation and unemployment have reduced somewhat since 2017, Ukraine continues to be mired deep in a financial crisis, with the EU and IMF stating that they do not consider Ukraine has done enough to reduce government corruption or government subsidies . Zelenskiy will be caught between the need to satisfy his billionaire supporters, satisfying the demands of the IMF and EU, while appeasing his voters and improving their lot, and somehow reducing the scale of the conflict in the East.
As the media onslaught and historical emnity to ‘foreigners’ and national ‘patriotism’ of western Ukrainians has surged since Soviet days , the window of opportunity for reconciliation between Eastern , largely Russian speaking Ukrainians and the Western EU oriented populations has begun to close. Fears of a Russian invasion have been fanned relentlessly by intelligence operatives from U.S. and U.K. and several other Western European states with Ukrainian media increasingly hyping the perceived threat to the benefit of the oligarchs and political forces. As Ukraine’s biggest trading partner, and with its many hundreds of years of ethnic , religious and language connections , Russia seems unable to counter that spin. For the medium term at least that may mean a Ukrainian nation both divorced from its historical Rus roots, and also unable to to achieve recognition as a European nation.
A nation which can achieve harmonious integration of both of these paths , despite outside interventions , would be the best of futures. Can Zelenskiy begin the perilous journey down that pathway; juggling the competing interests of Russians, Europeans and Americans whilst maintaining Ukrainian independence?- it is just possible….
The current unstable and dangerous situation in the Ukraine where large elements of the Russian speaking part of the Ukrainian population in in Eastern and Southern Ukraine are apparently pushing for Russian annexation can be largely attributed to Ukraine’s turbulent and violent history.
Kiev, the capital city of Ukraine is considered by many Russians to be the birthplace of Russia, or “Kievan Rus” in the thirteenth century. While no longer a predominantly Russian speaking country, its principal connection has been with its more powerful northern neighbour over the last 800 years.
Ukraine ,or “the Ukraine” as it is often known, literally means “borderlands”, an indication of its status as a standalone state entity over the last 1000 years.
Gaining its independence briefly from the Russian Empire in the chaos following the Russian Bolsehvik Revolution of 1917 , Ukraine was forcibly incorporated under Soviet control in 1921 and remained a semi-autonomous republic of the Soviet Union until the collapse of the USSR in 1991, when it once again became independent.
During the rule of Stalin in the USSR in the 1930s, agrarian collectivisation policies were brutally enforced across the entire Soviet Union, but particularly in what has been referred to as the bread-basket of Russia; the Ukraine. Known as Holodomor, the communist collectivist policies resulted in at least 7.5 million deaths with mass starvation occurring amongst the peasantry of western Ukraine particularly. Ukraine has defined the process as genocide, and the brutal process of starvation and loss of lands was instrumental in the rise of right-wing groups in Western Ukraine, (whose populations tend to be more Eurocentred than the South-East), who supported the principles of both Mussolini’s fascist party in Italy and Nazi policies in Germany. The views were largely centred by 1943 in the actions of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army led by Stepan Bandera, in ethnic cleansing of Poles and Jews as well fighting with the Nazis against the Russians . Bandera’s Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN-B) was strongly supported by Western intelligence agencies and particularly the CIA after the second world war .
In addition to those horrors, in 1944 approximately 200,000 Crimean Tatars were forcibly deported to other parts of the USSR because of their presumed alliance with the Nazis, where a large percentage subsequently died of starvation. Those Tatars who have since returned to the Crimea remain fiercely hostile to the Russians and some have been implicated in anti-Russian warfare in other countries and also within Crimea and wider Ukraine.
Jews and Russians were seen to be the cause of the death, destruction and dispossession which occurred in the Holodomor. In retaliation, Ukrainian fascist and Nazi groups were formed which both fought alongside the Nazis against the Russians and also aided in the Nazi’s Jewish progroms in Western Ukraine. The Svoboda party and its activist group, the Pravyi Sekor (Right Sector), are the current manifestations of those nationalist movements. Members of these two groups have also fought alongside Chechnyan separatists and jihadists in Russia in the past few years. In addition the right -wing Ukrainian nationalist private army and political party, the Ukrainian National Assembly – Ukrainian National Self Defence (UNA-UNSO) , a violent and extreme right-wing and anti-Russian organisation, has been implicated in the sniper shootings of both police and demonstrators in Maidan Square in Kiev.
In 1954, Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet President of the day, transferred the Crimea , to the Southeast of Ukraine and previously part of Russia itself , to the Ukraine republic .
The most defining reason for the recent demonstrations in Maidan Square in Kiev, against the corrupt but democratically elected president Viktor Yanukovych, was Yanukovych’s decision to switch from supporting alignment and eventual Ukrainian integration with the European Union (after IMF “re-alignment” of the economy), to alignment with Russia and its $15 billion no-strings loan. It is likely that many of those early demonstrators in Maidan Square saw their chance to escape a Ukraine of poverty, for the wealth and opportunity of Europe, slipping away. However the muscle on the ground at Maidan Square and even since the new government in Kiev was installed, has been the Svoboda Party (whose insignia up until 2003 was the Wolfsangel, both a symbol for the swastika and the acronym for “Heil Hitler”) and its hand-maiden, the ‘Right Sector’.
Alexander Muzychko (Sasha Biliy of the “Right Sector” ) “speaking” to a state prosecutor 27th Feb
While Svoboda has partially dissociated itself from its neo-Nazi past; its offspring, the Rights Sector or “Pravyi Sektor” regards “de-Russification” of Ukraine as its core ideology, along with ensuring the ethnic purity of the Ukrainian population including the exodus of Jewish populations, and good moral values.
Global Research notes that ” Canvas, formerly Otpor, received significant money from the US State Department in 2000 to stage the first successful Color Revolution against Slobodan Milosovic in then-Yugoslavia. Since then they have been transformed into a full-time “revolution consultancy” for the US, posing as a Serbian grass-root group backing “democracy.” While Poland under President Tusk, and Sweden have been pushing for Ukraine’s integration into the EU since the initial “colour revolution”, with the strong backing of the US State Department and CIA, they have perhaps inadvertently been also supporting and subsidizing the far right Ukrainian agenda, who have no interest in EU integration. Ostensibly EU/US support has been for the “technocrats” (ie those who support IMF financial “reforms” ) like ex-boxer Klitschko and the newly appointed acting president Oleksander Turchinov. (of Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland’s “fuck EU” fame”)
However one of the first steps of the new government was to rescind the previous government’s recent legislation to legitimize Russian as an official language of the Ukraine. It is likely that that rescindment, more than any other factor, was the key reason for South-Eastern Ukrainians of Russian descent, many of whom solely speak Russian, to fear for their future in a ‘Ukraine for Ukrainians’.
The other major factor is undoubtedly the fear by Russia that the new Ukrainian government will also rescind the lease recently extended out to 2042 for Russia’s only warm water naval base. As the US is well aware, the Sevastopol base allows the Russians to re-supply its ally President Bashad in Syria against US, Turkish and Saudi funded extremists in the Syrian civil war. Loss of the warm water naval base in in the Crimea would have significant negative strategic impacts for the Russians, as the British and French are also only too aware of, after their battles, in alliance with the Turks to re-capture the Crimea and Sevastopol from the Russians in the Crimean War in 1853.
It should be noted also that the industrial base of Ukraine is predominantly in the South-Eastern parts of the country, where there are significant populations of Ukrainian ethnic Russians, and where it’s heavy industry was a key part of the Soviet economy. As with many ex-Soviet states, the factories are by Western standards, unproductive and out of date, and hence would require massive injections of IMF capital and machinery, along with massive layoffs of superfluous workers; a prospect for which Western industrialists have been rubbing their hands in glee since the Ukrainian Orange Revolution in 2004. (Post-script-see the great analysis of the neo-con plan for acquisition of Ukrainian/Russian assets by Michael Hudson here )
The complex interactions of internal Ukrainian and international players, create the opportunity for war. The Russian decision to send in more troops into the Crimea certainly escalates the situation. Additionally, other South-Eastern Ukrainian cities with varying proportions of Russian speaking populations, are now also rising up against the new Kiev anti-Russian government and establishing self-protection militias against the Right Sector and other far-right Ukrainian groups. How much support those Russophiles will get in the cities of Donetsk, Kharkov, Simferapol, Odessa Lugansk and Kerch, is currently unknown. Russia currently insists that its forces have not left their Crimean bases (25,000 Russian troops are permitted in the Crimea as part of the Ukraine /Russia lease agreement) and that all pro-Russian forces on the ground in Ukraine are pro-Russian Ukrainians – a statement disputed by the EU and the U.S.
Given the tragic history outlined above, it would appear the only rational solution to the problems exacerbated by foreign state actors, is negotiation. In the 1990s the 55-state member Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (the OSCE) was created to deal with détente in Europe and emerging post-cold war problems . The OSCE offers a unique and relatively non-partisan pathway to a negotiated settlement of the complex issues facing Ukraine. The alternative, despite the huff and puff from NATO and the US, may well be the secession of some part of what is now Ukraine to form a Russian speaking autonomous or semi-autonomous state, unless the power and hostility of the far right groups opposed to ethnic Russians in Ukraine can be controlled.