The Russian leader – I guess we can call him Bibi, it being somewhat easier to pronounce than Vladimir and without losing any of the acrid taste of war criminality - when announcing the declaration of war, but describing it as something else, stated that the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine were two of his main objectives. There can be no hiding place for Ukrainian Nazis the world was assured, even in maternity hospitals where they will be exterminated as soon as they emerge from their mothers’ birth canals, their SS blood group genetically programmed while they were still zygotes so that it would appear on their armpits once born.
The Ukrainians have a competent military as is evidenced by the difficulty the Russians have had in applying their military writ. The Ukrainian fighting skills have been honed as a result of the warring in Donbas. It has been postulated that Putin struck before it could further grow in strength. Still, sounds more like an excuse than a reason.
The remaining question is whether there are any Nazis in Ukraine worth bothering about or is it all a huge Kremlin spoof?
Not much excavating in the fact mine is required to produce evidence that the Kremlin is not contriving the presence of Nazis although it is most certainly exaggerating their threat. The world has seen this sort of fabrication before when, for example, Israel, prior to embarking on some special military operation in Gaza – a Goebbels-type euphemism for murder mission – grossly inflates the existential threat posed by Hamas.
Three years ago, writing in The Nation, the Ukrainian born journalist Lev Golinkin observed of the Maidan Uprising five years previous that it:
ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, to the cheers and support of the West. Politicians and analysts in the United States and Europe not only celebrated the uprising as a triumph of democracy, but denied reports of Maidan’s ultranationalism, smearing those who warned about the dark side of the uprising as Moscow puppets and useful idiots. Freedom was on the march in Ukraine. Today, increasing reports of far-right violence, ultranationalism, and erosion of basic freedoms are giving the lie to the West’s initial euphoria. There are neo-Nazi pogroms against the Roma, rampant attacks on feminists and LGBT groups, book bans, and state-sponsored glorification of Nazi collaborators.
Golinkin stressed that while it might not have acquired parliamentary success it had what “Marine Le Pen could only dream of—paramilitary units and free rein on the streets.” More alarming:
Post-Maidan Ukraine is the world’s only nation to have a neo-Nazi formation in its armed forces. The Azov Battalion was initially formed out of the neo-Nazi gang Patriot of Ukraine. Andriy Biletsky, the gang’s leader who became Azov’s commander, once wrote that Ukraine’s mission is to “lead the White Races of the world in a final crusade…against the Semite-led Untermenschen.”
The Azov Battalion became a regiment when integrated into the country’s national guard in 2014. At the time they were hailed by the President of the day as “our best warriors … Our best volunteers.”
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights would later find that Azov was responsible for serious violations of international law in 2015 and 2016.
But, to revisit the Maidan Uprising and its far right participation, Branko Marcetic writing in The Jacobin, described it as:
a messy event that isn’t easy to categorize but is far from what Western audiences have been led to believe. It’s a story of liberal, pro-Western protesters, driven by legitimate grievances but largely drawn from only one-half of a polarized country, entering a temporary marriage of convenience with the far right to carry out an insurrection against a corrupt, authoritarian president. The tragedy is that it served largely to empower literal neo-Nazis while enacting only the goals of the Western powers that opportunistically lent their support.
In Ireland the alarm blares loudly each time the far right makes an appearance, and properly so. Yet, the Irish far right is risible and ineffectual compared to the power and influence that is wielded by its Ukrainian counterpart. If a major European security firm was providing military training for Síol na hÉireann, it would result in a seismic political scandal.
While giving unqualified support to the citizenry of the country in its struggle against Russian aggression and barbarism, there should be no pretence that the very large elephant in the Ukrainian room with a swastika draped over its frame is somehow going to shrink into the rat that the far right in Ireland currently is. The words of Berthold Brecht echo ominously:
Do not rejoice in his defeat, you men. For though the world has stood up and stopped the bastard, the bitch that bore him is in heat again.
⏩ Follow on Twitter @AnthonyMcIntyre.