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Kiev’s neo-Nazis

Posted by Charles II on September 10, 2014

Shaun Walker of The Guardian had an interesting story:

But there is an increasing worry that while the Azov and other volunteer battalions might be Ukraine’s most potent and reliable force on the battlefield against the separatists, they also pose the most serious threat to the Ukrainian government, and perhaps even the state, when the conflict in the east is over. The Azov causes particular concern due to the far right, even neo-Nazi, leanings of many of its members.

Dmitry claimed not to be a Nazi, but waxed lyrical about Adolf Hitler as a military leader, and believes the Holocaust never happened. Not everyone in the Azov battalion thinks like Dmitry, but after speaking with dozens of its fighters and embedding on several missions during the past week in and around the strategic port city of Mariupol, the Guardian found many of them to have disturbing political views, and almost all to be intent on “bringing the fight to Kiev” when the war in the east is over.

The battalion’s symbol is reminiscent of the Nazi Wolfsangel, though the battalion claims it is in fact meant to be the letters N and I crossed over each other, standing for “national idea”. Many of its members have links with neo-Nazi groups, and even those who laughed off the idea that they are neo-Nazis did not give the most convincing denials.

Indeed, much of what Azov members say about race and nationalism is strikingly similar to the views of the more radical Russian nationalists fighting with the separatist side.

The Ukrainian armed forces are “an army of lions led by a sheep”, said Dmitry, and there is only so long that dynamic can continue. With so many armed, battle-hardened and angry young men coming back from the front, there is a danger that the rolling of heads could be more than a metaphor. Dmitry said he believes that Ukraine needs “a strong dictator to come to power who could shed plenty of blood but unite the nation in the process”.

Many in the Azov battalion [and other batallions] with whom the Guardian spoke shared this view

Anti-Semitism and strongman worship are so common in parts of the world that one hesitates to call them abnormal. They are part of the air that people breathe. But the part about the Azov fighters and others like them might turn on the Poroshenko government should give Washington pause. It’s crazy that the US has sided with Kiev given its use of neo-Nazi elements.

Posted in Russia, totalitarianism, Ukraine | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Read these

Posted by Charles II on August 13, 2014

Blame Turkey for arming ISIS.

[This is not to say Turkey is primarily to blame. This sounds like a narrative to blame Turkey for something the US either approved or acceded to.]

How US destroyed Iraq

Patrick Cockburn on ISIS.

And especially this:

In the face of these failures Iraq’s Shia majority is taking comfort from two beliefs that, if true, would mean the present situation is not as dangerous as it looks. They argue that Iraq’s Sunnis have risen in revolt and Isis fighters are only the shock troops or vanguard of an uprising provoked by the anti-Sunni policies and actions of Maliki. Once he is replaced, as is almost certain, Baghdad will offer the Sunnis a new power-sharing agreement with regional autonomy similar to that enjoyed by the Kurds. Then the Sunni tribes, former military officers and Baathists who have allowed Isis to take the lead in the Sunni revolt will turn on their ferocious allies. Despite all signs to the contrary, Shia at all levels are putting faith in this myth, that Isis is weak and can be easily discarded by Sunni moderates once they’ve achieved their goals. One Shia said to me: ‘I wonder if Isis really exists.’

Unfortunately, Isis not only exists but is an efficient and ruthless organisation that has no intention of waiting for its Sunni allies to betray it. In Mosul it demanded that all opposition fighters swear allegiance to the Caliphate or give up their weapons. In late June and early July they detained between 15 to 20 former officers from Saddam Hussein’s time, including two generals. Groups that had put up pictures of Saddam were told to take them down or face the consequences. ‘It doesn’t seem likely,’ Aymenn al-Tamimi, an expert on jihadists, said, ‘that the rest of the Sunni military opposition will be able to turn against Isis successfully. If they do, they will have to act as quickly as possible before Isis gets too strong.’

It would be a really good time to cut a deal with Putin, Assad, Abbas, and Rouhani, and get back to the business of repressing the really dangerous people in that part of the world. Too bad we don’t have a Congress intelligent enough to see this.

Posted in Conflict in the Middle East, Iran, Iraq war, Russia, Syria, terrorism | 6 Comments »

NYT notices Ukraine’s neo-Nazis. In the last paragraph.

Posted by Charles II on August 10, 2014

Andrew Kramer, NYT:

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.

This via Robert Parry, who culls the items showing the role of neo-Nazis in the removal of the elected president, Viktor Yanukovych and in the violent confrontations that followed.

Kramer notes that the Ukrainian strategy is based on the theory that the Russians are going to let them overrun the nationalists and consolidate their hold on power. I would guess that the reason we are not already hip deep in Iraq has to do less with Obama’s restraint and more with fears that the Russians are just waiting for the right moment.

Also interesting: in the coup, the confederate flag was reportedly amid Nazi symbols (although this is not as evident from the video as Flounders implies).

Posted in Iraq war, Russia | 4 Comments »

Stating the obvious

Posted by Charles II on July 30, 2014

Ray McGovern et al., Consortium News:

If the U.S. has more convincing evidence than what has so far been adduced concerning responsibility for shooting down Flight 17, we believe it would be best to find a way to make that intelligence public …

We reiterate our recommendations of May 4, that you remove the seeds of this confrontation by publicly disavowing any wish to incorporate Ukraine into NATO …

These are actual intelligence analysts, telling us that it looks like the intelligence and facts are being fixed around the policy.

So, of course, the corporate media can’t interview them.

Posted in Russia | Comments Off

More on Malaysian airliner

Posted by Charles II on July 23, 2014

My take at DK here.

The Al Jazeera flavor is this:

U.S. intelligence officials said Tuesday they have no evidence of direct Russian government involvement in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. The statements, made anonymously to The Associated Press and Reuters, came after a train carrying the remains of many of the 298 victims of the Malaysian Airlines passenger jet – brought down over Ukraine’s restive east – arrived in government-controlled territory on Tuesday, and as experts began to examine the plane’s black boxes, which separatist rebels handed over to Malaysian officials.

U.S. intelligence officials said Tuesday that they believe pro-Russian separatists likely shot down the plane “by mistake,” and that they have no evidence the Russian government was directly involved.

The yahoos won’t admit it, but this is a huge climbdown. From ABC News:

Secretary of State John Kerry told American TV viewers that rebels shot down the plane with Russian weaponry

Except they’re not even sure that it was the rebels, and have no idea whether the weapon was supplied by the Russians or was pilfered from Ukrainian stores.

Just 14 hours ago, the Washington Post published this (granted, an OpEd by a postdoc who is probably busily eating his words at this moment):

Russian personnel may well have been involved in the decision to shoot down a civilian aircraft despite Putin’s early attempts to deny any role.

The bottom line is that Russian decision-makers are either guilty of gross negligence or have blood on their hands. If Russian personnel were involved in the decision to bring down MH17, Moscow’s own forces helped authorize and/or execute an operation which tragically resulted in 298 innocent civilian deaths.

What I hear at Daily Kos–which amounts, thanks to the lack of critical reasoning by some people, to a summary of the media narrative being pushed by corporate media and the State Department–that Russian military fired the missile deliberately, or that they trained the rebels to fire the missile and they supplied the missile, or that it doesn’t matter if the rebels fired it by accident because it’s murder all the same.

But what if the rebels procured the missile from Ukrainian stores and, through accident, incompetence, or recklessness, fired the missile at what they believed to be a Ukrainian military aircraft? Is that really worth starting the Cold War over?

Robert Parry has a different take. His sources say that the guys who fired the missile were wearing Ukrainian uniforms.

I think that getting to the most likely scenario is pretty easy. Is the Russian military a very cautious, top-down, centrally-controlled organization? Yes.
Would the Russians benefit from shooting down a civilian aircraft? No.
Suppose a Russian adviser was in charge of a battery manned by Ukrainian rebels. Would he shoot down a civilian aircraft? Certainly not if he were regular military. Possible if he were a Cossack volunteer. But still, unlikely.
So, is it likely that the Russians deliberately shot down the aircraft? No.
Repeat the same analysis with the Ukrainian rebels and the regular Ukrainian army. One of the two sounds a lot more plausible. A deliberate shootdown is unlikely, but if it were, the Ukrainian military is the only one with a plausible motive to do so.

Posted in Russia | 6 Comments »

“There’s a lot that points at the need for Russia to be responsible.” –John Kerry

Posted by Charles II on July 21, 2014

Kerry always did know how to stumble over a phrase, but what a telling stumble. Parry:

Kerry: “So there’s a stacking-up of evidence here which Russia needs to help account for. We are not drawing the final conclusion here, but there is a lot that points at the need for Russia to be responsible [for the downing of MH17].

Kerry cited evidence, none of which he is willing to attribute to US intelligence:

Kerry presented no verifiable proof from the U.S. government, no images of the 150-vehicle convoy, no support for the claims about the rebels possessing the SA-11 Buk system (beyond allusions to “social media”), no countervailing information about the Buk systems possessed by the Ukrainian military, no effort to allow for contrary explanations for comments made during the confusion that followed the crash within a disorganized rebel organization that has poor command and control, no demands for cooperation from the Kiev regime.

Also, there was no explanation for why Kerry’s statements were at variance with public remarks by senior U.S. military personnel. For instance, the Washington Post’s Craig Whitlock reported on Saturday that Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, U.S. commander of NATO forces in Europe, said last month that “We have not seen any of the [Russian] air-defense vehicles across the border yet.”

Whitlock also reported that “Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said defense officials could not point to specific evidence that an SA-11 surface-to-air missile system had been transported from Russia into eastern Ukraine.”

Maybe the Russians, either directly or through their proxies, shot down MH17. After the Iraq War, though, we deserve better from “the most transparent Administration in history.

Posted in Russia | 2 Comments »

See more Parry

Posted by Charles II on July 20, 2014

Parry, The Consortium:

In the heat of the U.S. media’s latest war hysteria – rushing to pin blame for the crash of a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet on Russia’s President Vladimir Putin – there is the same absence of professional skepticism that has marked similar stampedes on Iraq, Syria and elsewhere – with key questions not being asked or answered.

The dog-not-barking question on the catastrophe over Ukraine is: what did the U.S. surveillance satellite imagery show? It’s hard to believe that – with the attention that U.S. intelligence has concentrated on eastern Ukraine for the past half year that the alleged trucking of several large Buk anti-aircraft missile systems from Russia to Ukraine and then back to Russia didn’t show up somewhere.

Yes, there are limitations to what U.S. spy satellites can see. But the Buk missiles are about 16 feet long and they are usually mounted on trucks or tanks. Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 also went down during the afternoon, not at night, meaning the missile battery was not concealed by darkness.

So why hasn’t this question of U.S. spy-in-the-sky photos – and what they reveal – been pressed by the major U.S. news media?

What I’ve been told by one source, who has provided accurate information on similar matters in the past, is that U.S. intelligence agencies do have detailed satellite images of the likely missile battery that launched the fateful missile, but the battery appears to have been under the control of Ukrainian government troops dressed in what look like Ukrainian uniforms.

The source said CIA analysts were still not ruling out the possibility that the troops were actually eastern Ukrainian rebels in similar uniforms but the initial assessment was that the troops were Ukrainian soldiers. There also was the suggestion that the soldiers involved were undisciplined and possibly drunk, since the imagery showed what looked like beer bottles scattered around the site, the source said.

In recognition of the key role played by the neo-Nazis, who are ideological descendants of Ukrainian militias that collaborated with the Nazi SS in World War II, the new regime gave these far-right nationalists control of several ministries, including the office of national security which is under the command of longtime neo-Nazi activist Andriy Parubiy

Could we please see the evidence before reaching a conclusion about who shot down MH17

Posted in Russia | 5 Comments »

See also Parry

Posted by Charles II on July 20, 2014

Parry on MH17 shootdown in Ukraine.

Posted in Russia | 1 Comment »

Rachel Maddow exposes the hollowness of the reporting on MH17, an airliner downed over Ukraine

Posted by Charles II on July 19, 2014

See here.

Posted in Russia | 3 Comments »

Which side are we on in Ukraine?

Posted by Charles II on May 6, 2014

Robert Parry, The Consortium:

As much as the coup regime in Ukraine and its supporters want to project an image of Western moderation, there is a “Dr. Strangelove” element that can’t stop the Nazism from popping up from time to time, like when the Peter Sellers character in the classic movie can’t keep his right arm from making a “Heil Hitler” salute.

This brutal Nazism surfaced again on Friday when right-wing toughs in Odessa attacked an encampment of ethnic Russian protesters driving them into a trade union building which was then set on fire with Molotov cocktails. As the building was engulfed in flames, some people who tried to flee were chased and beaten, while those trapped inside heard the Ukrainian nationalists liken them to black-and-red-striped potato beetles called Colorados, because those colors are used in pro-Russian ribbons.

As the fire worsened, those dying inside were serenaded with the taunting singing of the Ukrainian national anthem. The building also was spray-painted with Swastika-like symbols and graffiti reading “Galician SS,” a reference to the Ukrainian nationalist army that fought alongside the German Nazi SS in World War II, killing Russians on the eastern front.

Our State Department:

QUESTION: As the number of casualties in the east of Ukraine is rising, does the U.S. still support Kyiv’s action against the east?

MS. HARF: Kyiv’s actions of the – which actions are you referring to?

QUESTION: The anti-terrorist operation against the protestors in the east.

MS. HARF: Well, what we’ve said is that – we have clearly said the Ukrainian Government has showed great restraint in the face of overwhelming challenges, but that they also have a responsibility to maintain law and order for their own people – I think that’s probably as much as I want to say on that – and that the onus really is on the Russian Government to pull back, to pull their folks out of eastern Ukraine, and to take de-escalatory steps as we move towards the elections which need to happen on the 25th.

QUESTION: But what Kyiv is doing now, does it qualify as restraint?

MS. HARF: Well, absolutely, Kyiv has shown enormous restraint. And if you’re referring to what happened on Friday in Odesa, obviously, I put out a statement about that on Friday.

The United States today mourns with all Ukrainians the heartbreaking loss of life in Odesa. Today the international community must stand together in support of the Ukrainian people as they cope with this tragedy.

The violence and mayhem that led to so many senseless deaths and injuries is unacceptable. We call on all sides to work together to restore calm and law and order, and we call on the Ukrainian authorities to launch a full investigation and to bring all those responsible to justice.

The events in Odesa that led to the deadly fire in the Trade Union Building dramatically underscore the need for an immediate de-escalation of tensions in Ukraine. The violence and efforts to destabilize the country must end. We again call for the immediate implementation of the commitments made in Geneva on April 17. The United States stands ready to support this implementation.[in other words, old news, both sides do it, the Russians are responsible for the pro-Russians getting burned to death]

But any loss of life is horrible, and we understand that there will be an investigation. The prime minister has actually taken punitive action against some of the police folks who led the police forces in Odesa after this horrific incident.

So – but again, that started because pro-Russian forces and separatists started basically mob action attacking protestors. So going forward we think that restraint is important, but so is keeping law and order.

QUESTION: But it doesn’t matter how many people die; those people brought it upon themselves, it’s their fault. Is it what you are saying?
[emphasis added]

MS. HARF: No, I’m not saying that at all. In no way am I saying that. I’m saying that the fact pattern of what happens here matters. What I also said is that I – we applauded Prime Minister Yatsenyuk’s steps that he took (a) to start an independent and thorough, credible investigation; and also to fire, I think, the police chief there that didn’t take steps to protect these innocent civilians regardless of who they supported. But the fact pattern of how this started and who started the escalation, who started the mob violence matters if we’re talking about how to prevent it in the future.

QUESTION: Marie, can I just ask you on that specifically? The foreign ministry in Russia, in Moscow has come out today and said that there are towns in eastern Ukraine which have been encircled by Ukrainian troops, and they – which are apparently facing a humanitarian disaster due to shortages of medicine and food. And they’re also listing what they call a massive – mass-scale rights violations by what they say are ultra-nationalists in Ukraine. Could you comment on those reports, please?

MS. HARF: Well, I think this is just the latest in the Russian version of events not matching up with what we see on the ground. The Ukrainian Government has taken enormous steps to protect their people, to provide what they need to their people. [emphasis added] We provided a bunch of assistance as well to the Ukrainian Government to provide for their people during this very trying time.

It’s the Russian forces and the pro-Russian forces who crossed a border into another country [emphasis added; note that Russian troops did not cross a border to enter Crimea] who’ve been attempting to undermine that country’s sovereignty. They’re the ones who are committing these kinds of violations we’ve seen. Look, any report of violations – even under the former President Yanukovych, we saw many – we take them all seriously. But what we’ve seen is the Ukrainians repeatedly standing up for their own people and the Russians really doing the opposite.

QUESTION: So you dispute that there’s humanitarian shortages, aid shortages in these towns and –

MS. HARF: I can check and see if there are. I just am not sure that the fact pattern laid out there about the reason is accurate. I’m happy to check, though.

Ukraine?

QUESTION: One more, one more. Yes. When you say “pro-Russian” – yes, these people are pro-Russian, they feel strong ties with Russia. But how do you connect –

MS. HARF: Supported, sent by the Russian Government [emphasis added; there is no evidence that any but possibly a handful of Russian soldiers are in Eastern Ukraine, and these may have arrived on their own, without the permission of their government].

QUESTION: — them with Moscow? Yes, but how do you connect them? What’s –

MS. HARF: Uh-huh. A lot of them have weapons that are only available to Russian security forces. Many of them, when you interview them on camera, say they’re there because the Russian security forces have sent them. It’s just like what President Putin said when he first –

QUESTION: What interviews are you referring to?

MS. HARF: — denied that there were forces in Crimea, and then three weeks later he said, “Just kidding,” there were.

QUESTION: But there is a base there, that – the troops had been there for a long time.

MS. HARF: No, beyond the base – beyond the base, the other folks as well that attempted and then annexed Crimea. So again, there are all of these pro-Russian separatists who the Russian Government has an enormous amount of control over, and should press them to de-escalate. They should press them to come out of the buildings. They should press them to pull back. And they should, by the way, pull their troops back from the border as well. There’s not a lot of credence when they say these aren’t their folks when everything they’ve done shows otherwise.

Let’s be clear. The Russian actions in Crimea are illegal and need to be reversed. However, they are not all that different from what was done in our name in Bahrain. The difference was that the troops sent in to protect the US base were Saudi. We used force against Panama to protect the Canal and the troops that guard it. Great Powers do these things to protect their imperial interests.

But why have we not condemned neo-Nazi elements in the Kiev government? Why is our State Department coddling these people? The high road would be to condition aid to Ukraine on suppressing the neo-Nazi faction. We have chosen the low road, one paved with double standards and hypocrisy.

Posted in Russia, State Department | 4 Comments »

 
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