America’s Collusion With Neo-Nazis
Neo-fascists play an important official or tolerated role in US-backed Ukraine.
By Stephen F. Cohen
May 2, 2018
That the pogrom-like burning to death of ethnic Russians and others in Odessa shortly later in 2014 reawakened memories of Nazi extermination squads in Ukraine during World War II has been all but deleted from the American mainstream narrative even though it remains a painful and revelatory experience for many Ukrainians.
§ That the Azov Battalion of some 3,000 well-armed fighters, which has played a major combat role in the Ukrainian civil war and now is an official component of Kiev’s armed forces, is avowedly “partially” pro-Nazi, as evidenced by its regalia, slogans, and programmatic statements, and well-documented as such by several international monitoring organizations. Congressional legislation recently banned Azov from receiving any US military aid, but it is likely to obtain some of the new weapons recently sent to Kiev by the Trump Administration due to the country’s rampant network of corruption and black markets.
§ That stormtroop-like assaults on gays, Jews, elderly ethnic Russians, and other “impure” citizens are widespread throughout Kiev-ruled Ukraine, along with torchlight marches reminiscent of those that eventually inflamed Germany in the late 1920s and 1930s. And that the police and official legal authorities do virtually nothing to prevent these neofascist acts or to prosecute them. On the contrary, Kiev has officially encouraged them by systematically rehabilitating and even memorializing Ukrainian collaborators with Nazi German extermination pogroms and their leaders during World War II, renaming streets in their honor, building monuments to them, rewriting history to glorify them, and more. […]
The significance of neo-Nazism in Ukraine and the at least tacit official U.S support or tolerance for it should be clearly understood:
§ This did not begin under President Trump but under President George W. Bush, when then Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko’s “Orange Revolution” began rehabilitating Ukraine’s wartime killers of Jews, and it grew under President Obama, who, along with Vice President Joseph Biden, were deeply complicit in the Maidan coup and what followed. Then too the American mainstream media scarcely noticed. Still worse, when a founder of a neo-Nazi party and now repackaged speaker of the Ukrainian parliament visited Washington in 2017, he was widely feted by leading American politicians, including Senator John McCain and Representative Paul Ryan. Imagine the message this sent back to Ukraine—and elsewhere.
§ Fascist or neo-Nazi revivalism is underway today in many countries, from Europe to the United States, but the Ukrainian version is of special importance and a particular danger. A large, growing, well-armed fascist movement has reappeared in a large European country that is the political epicenter of the new Cold War between the United States and Russia—indeed a movement that not so much denies the Holocaust as glorifies it. Could such forces come to power in Kiev? Its American minimizers say never because it has too little public support (though perhaps more than has Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko today). But the same was said of Lenin’s party and Hitler’s until Russia and Germany descended into chaos and lawlessness. And a recent Amnesty International article reports that Kiev is losing control over radical groups and the state’s monopoly on the use of force.