By Brandon Turbeville
While many are concerned with possible flare-ups in places like Syria, Israel, or the South China Sea, another area where there is the distinct potential for a third world war has always been and still remains to be Ukraine.
While the Western media rarely reports on Ukraine except to remind its readers and viewers that Russia “illegally annexed” Crimea and destabilized democratic Ukraine, the fact is that the area is a powder keg that could bring about direct clashes between Russia and the US or NATO.
Although Syria still retains much of the spotlight in the Western press, Ukraine happens to be yet another repeat of the NATO method of using color revolutions and proxy fighters to destroy a central government in order to replace that government with a puppet of their own choosing.
Russian resistance, however, has confounded those plans at least in the east of the country and what has taken place subsequently has resulted in a proxy war between Russia and the United States. To make matters worse, that proxy war is taking place on Russia’s border, making the situation that much more dangerous for the rest of the world.
Western media’s incredibly frightening hysteria and fear-mongering over “Russian meddling,” “Russian spying,” “Russian military involvement” and pretty much anything Russian whatsoever are occasionally highlighted by distorted claims pretending to show that Russia is acting aggressively or has ever acted aggressively in Ukraine.
For Western mainstream media and for Western governments, Russia’s actions in Crimea and Ukraine are nothing more than another example of Russian aggression that is growing worldwide. Virtually the entire Western world is engaging in neo-McCarthyism, this time moving full speed ahead without even the benefit of having at least some credible evidence to back up its case.
Thus, when Russia seized a number of Ukrainian sailors and military ships in the Sea of Azov, the Western media was alight with claims of Russian aggression. Ukranian President Petro Poroshenko declared martial law and called on the rest of the world to support Ukraine militarily. Donald Trump subsequently canceled a planned meeting with Vladmir Putin citing his concerns over the Russian action against Ukrainian forces.
But the story of Russia and Ukraine is much more than the recent incident in the Sea of Azov and it is much different than the way in which Western media has presented it. Given the fact that the Russians and Americans are so close to coming to blows in Ukraine, it is incredibly important to understand the facts surrounding the crisis, not merely the propaganda coming out of the mouths of politicians and major corporations.
Before we take a look at the Sea of Azov incident, we must first correctly orient ourselves to the backstory that brought us to this point.
What happened in Ukraine?
As the U.S. pushed harder and harder in Syria in order to overthrow the secular government of Bashar al-Assad, it was simultaneously pushing eastward in Europe toward one of its major goals, the encirclement of Russia. This saw the U.S. pushing for Ukraine to become yet another Russophobic member of NATO while then-President Viktor Yanukovych had argued that Ukraine should indeed be part of an agreement to defend Europe but not one that Russia was excluded from since Russia is also part of Europe.
Yanukovych attempted to tip-toe his way through a tug of war by the European Union and Russia the former looking to threaten, bully, and ultimately consume the country and the latter looking for genuine cooperation and defense against the European Union/NATO bloc pushing ever closer to its borders. For Yanukovych, the offer was between greater cooperation with Russia on trade and economics or greater cooperation with the EU on those issues which would ultimately see Ukraine flooded with migrants, Soviet-style domination, and the loss of national sovereignty.
This was on top of the fact that the agreement with the EU would have seen Western-backed destabilization agents like Yulia Tymoshenko released from prison and thus likely set loose on the Ukrainian political scene to wreak havoc and weaken the ability of Ukraine to govern itself.
In other words, Russia was offering a carrot while the EU was offering two bloody sticks.
Yanukovych chose Russia.
Protests erupted in Ukraine
Soon after, in 2013, Ukraine began seeing mass demonstrations demanding the ouster of Yanukovych and his “corrupt” government. The protesters rallied against “government corruption,” lack of “dignity,” and “violation of human rights.” Yanukovych was indeed corrupt and, like virtually every government on the face of the earth, there were violations of human rights. However, “Government corruption” and shadowy claims of human rights violations tend to be the hallmark of Western-backed color revolutions which the Euromaidan protests turned out to be.
The Western press howled in its support of the protests (one sure sign the “activists” are not genuine, organic representations of the people) and suddenly painted Yanukovych as a “strong man,” who oppressed the Ukrainian people and yet another dictator who needed to be taken out to protect “democracy.”
The protests grew in size and so did the violence. Before long, it was all out war between the “protesters” and the “security forces” of the government. As has been seen in other successful and attempted color revolutions in the past, snipers appeared on the rooftops firing at police (most likely in order to prompt the police to fire at the “protesters”) as well as indiscriminately into the crowd.
Soon, the Ukrainian government was facing “rebels” and militias of thugs and literal neo-Nazis actively fighting against security forces and terrorizing anyone who dared disagree with them. Many may immediately dismiss the idea that the U.S. was funding Nazi militias in Ukraine given that, in 2018, anyone to the right of Karl Marx is labeled a Nazi. In this context, however, the term is not being used lightly.
Yanukovych was soon overthrown after a “parallel government” was formed by protesters, violence increased to the point of leaving many dead, and Yanukovych finally relinquished control.
A network of NGOs (and George Soros) funded the destruction of Ukraine
Both the US government and its network of NGOs, including those operating and funded by George Soros, were hard at work before, during, and after the Euromaidan protests. As William F. Jasper wrote in his article, “George Soros’ Giant Global Footprint In Ukraine’s Turmoil,” for the New American,
Billionaire investor/activist George Soros has a giant footprint in Ukraine. Similar to his operations in dozens of other nations, he has, over the past couple of decades, poured tens of millions of dollars into Ukrainian non-governmental organizations (NGOs), ostensibly to assist them in transforming their country into a more “open” and “democratic” society.
Many of the participants in Kiev’s “EuroMaidan” demonstrations were members of Soros-funded NGOs and/or were trained by the same NGOs in the many workshops and conferences sponsored by Soros’ International Renaissance Foundation (IRF), and his various Open Society institutes and foundations. The IRF, founded and funded by Soros, boasts that it has given “more than any other donor organization” to “democratic transformation” of Ukraine.
The International Renaissance Foundation’s Annual Report for 2012, the latest available, states that, “IRF provided UAH 63 million in funding to civil society organizations — more than any other donor organization working in this field in Ukraine.” The “UAH” reference used above refers to the Ukraine Hryvnia, Ukraine’s currency, which is worth about 0.11 $US, or 11 cents in U.S. currency. That translates into roughly $6.7 million that IRF provided to Ukrainian groups in 2012; not a huge sum, by comparison to many other political and social campaigns, but more than merely “significant.” In the cash-starved Ukraine, Soros’s dollars go a long way toward seducing and co-opting all legitimate political opposition into the Soros-approved “progressive” camp. (source)
According to the IRF’s own website, this one Soros conduit has funneled over $100 million into Ukrainian NGOs over the years:
Over the period from 1990 to 2010 the International Renaissance Foundation provided more than $100 million in support to numerous Ukrainian non-government organizations (NGOs), community groups, academic and cultural institutions, publishing houses, etc. (source)
The IRF website and annual reports make clear that the Soros funds are targeted at promoting Ukrainian “partnership” with, and “integration” into, the EU. Soros has provided many millions more through his other “philanthropic” spigots. However, Soros’ influence in Ukraine extends far beyond the traceable funding he provides to activist Ukrainian NGOs, academics and think tanks. Equally, if not more, important is the influence he exerts on global opinion through his massive propaganda network (including Project Syndicate and other Soros megaphones) and his direct personal contacts with presidents, prime ministers, parliamentarians, central bankers, media executives, and Wall Street titans.
John McCain and Victoria Nuland were involved
US government officials also played a direct role in supporting the overthrow of Yanukovych. Notorious warmonger John McCain was on hand to cavort with neo-Nazis and visited the Maidan, sharing the stage with Oleg Tyahnybok. McCain promised American-style democracy but only after the country would see Yanukovych replaced and austerity measures introduced by the implementation of the EU’s “bailout” package known as the “Association Agreement.”
Victoria Nuland was just as legendary in her support for the color revolution. US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe, Nuland participated in the protests (all while Obama claimed that the Ukrainian people should have the deciding role in choosing their government) by literally handing out cookies.
Prior to this, Nuland had bragged about the US spending $5 billion over the past ten years to support “democracy” and the creation of around 40,000 NGOs to help spread Western “democracy” in Ukraine. Of course, this “democracy” is simply a code word for neo-liberal economics coupled with authoritarian rule.
Nuland was probably most famous for her “F*ck the EU” comment that had been taped and acquired by Russians and exploited throughout the media. The statement was merely a disagreement between the US and the EU as to who would be the new leader of Ukraine, with Nuland and the US demanding that “Yats,” aka Arseniy P. Yatsenyuk would be the one. Needless to say, “Yats the rat” became Kiev’s new leader and he immediately set to work to implement the IMF-style neo-liberal austerity policies desired by both the EU and the US.
Obama himself would later admit, during the course of an interview, that the US had “brokered a deal” to impose a new leader in Ukraine.
Ukraine was divided
Ukraine has scarcely had its own identity more than a few a decades. The country itself is a relatively new creation that became fully independent during the period in which the Soviet Union was falling apart. The territory that makes up the country has, particularly in the 20th Century, seen tragedy after tragedy of the most horrible kind.
During the period of Soviet rule, the brutal Communist regime held control over Ukraine with the most heavy-handed totalitarianism possible. As was the case with the USSR, Ukrainians were starved, oppressed, and slaughtered wholesale. It is under Soviet rule that the tragedy of the Holodomor took place.
It was the horror of Communism that made many Ukrainians, particularly in Western Ukraine, greet the Germans as liberators. But the Nazis only brought more authoritarianism, more work camps, and more wholesale slaughter. Thus, Ukrainians were caught in the crossfire of a war on their own territory between two of the most psychopathic bloodthirsty regimes of the 20th Century.
It is important to understand the history of Ukraine as well as the geography and demographics of the country in order to understand the current makeup of the country.
Ukraine straddles the cultures of both Europe and Russia. It’s fairly simple to understand and the dividing line can easily be drawn using the Dnieper River. Generally speaking, Ukraine west of the river is more European in its value system and Ukraine to the east of the river is more akin to Russia. Kiev sits slightly on the Western bank of the Dnieper river.
Despite the tragedies that befell Ukraine, this is where loyalties and affinities lie. Remember, the country itself is not even 30 years old.
Because of this, Ukraine, by historical standards, has not yet had an opportunity to develop a deep-seated national identity. It is still coming to grips with its own identity. Even many of Ukraine’s millennials would have been born into the Soviet Union. Thus, Ukraine’s national identity is, by and large, either European or Russian.
Meanwhile in Eastern Ukraine
While Yanukovych was embattled by angry mobs and neo-Nazis in Kiev, the protests were largely supported by the population of West Ukraine, at least at first. This may have been partly due to ignorance as to whom was behind the protests, legitimate frustration with the government, and a desire on the part of many to become and remain Western European as well as the horrific legacy of Russian rule during the Soviet Union.
That being said, the Eastern part of the country was not keen on the idea of becoming subject to National Socialism which views Russians as essentially a sub-species. This negative view of Russians would also encompass Eastern Ukrainians since they are, for all intents and purposes, Russian inasmuch as Western Ukrainians are Eastern Europeans.
Note: To be clear, while sentiment on the Western side of Ukraine is definitively more Western European, this does not imply that Western Ukrainians are Nazis, national socialists, or even in favor of the Western-backed coup. It is simply to point out that the Western Ukrainian identity is culturally more Western European than that of the Eastern half which is culturally more Russian.
Many East Ukrainians simply refused to go along with the new Western puppet regime and fascist thugs who were literally calling for the extermination of Jews, Russians, and Eastern Ukrainians. But Western-backed neo-Nazis would not take no for an answer and, having gained control of the Ukrainian government, began an intimidation campaign that, at first, saw bullying and thuggery but eventually moved to violence and murder.
Then the violence culminated.
The violence of the neo-Nazi militias culminated in the now infamous May 2, 2014 Odessa trade union hall where pro-regime (now that Yanukovych had been toppled and replaced) “militants” chased dissidents into the Odessa Trade Union Hall where the building was set ablaze and the dissidents burned alive.
Outside, as the hall burned, neo-Nazis mocked them by calling them potato beetles and spray painted the hall with swastika symbols and tributes to the Galician SS (the Ukranian command of the German SS during WW2). Writing for Consortium News, the late Robert Parry wrote in his article, “Burning Ukraine’s Protesters Alive,”
In Ukraine, a grisly new strategy bringing in neo-Nazi paramilitary forces to set fire to occupied buildings in the country’s rebellious southeast appears to be emerging as a favored tactic as the coup-installed regime in Kiev seeks to put down resistance from ethnic Russians and other opponents.
The technique first emerged on May 2 in the port city of Odessa when pro-regime militants chased dissidents into the Trade Unions Building and then set it on fire. As some 40 or more ethnic Russians were burned alive or died of smoke inhalation, the crowd outside mocked them as red-and-black Colorado potato beetles, with the chant of “Burn, Colorado, burn.” Afterwards, reporters spotted graffiti on the building’s walls containing Swastika-like symbols and honoring the “Galician SS,” the Ukrainian adjunct to the German SS in World War II.
This tactic of torching an occupied building occurred again on May 9 in Mariupol, another port city, as neo-Nazi paramilitaries organized now as the regime’s “National Guard” were dispatched to a police station that had been seized by dissidents, possibly including police officers who rejected a new Kiev-appointed chief. Again, the deployment of the “National Guard” was followed by burning the building and killing a significant but still-undetermined number of people inside. (Early estimates of the dead range from seven to 20.)
In the U.S. press, Ukraine’s “National Guard” is usually described as a new force derived from the Maidan’s “self-defense” units that spearheaded the Feb. 22 revolt in Kiev overthrowing elected President Viktor Yanukovych. But the Maidan’s “self-defense” units were drawn primarily from well-organized bands of neo-Nazi extremists from western Ukraine who hurled firebombs at police and fired weapons as the anti-Yanukovych protests turned increasingly violent.
But the mainstream U.S. press in line with State Department guidance has sought to minimize or dismiss the key role played by neo-Nazis in these “self-defense” forces as well as in the new government. At most, you’ll see references to these neo-Nazis as “Ukrainian nationalists.” (source)
Another part of this series will discuss how the United States provided their whole-hearted support of the efforts of the neo-Nazis in Ukraine.
The resistance forms
With all of this in mind, it should be clear to anyone why Eastern Ukrainians saw this coup and the use of the “National Guard” as an existential threat. For Eastern Ukrainians, it was no longer a question of politics, ideology, or foreign meddling, it was very much a question of life and death. For this reason, many Eastern Ukranians, particularly in the regions of Lugansk and Donetsk, formed their own militias to defend themselves and their communities from the threat of possible extermination and definitely the threat of totalitarian oppression and even deeper-seated corruption.
These Eastern Ukrainian militias did battle with their Western counterparts on Eastern territory for some time. Soon, however, the Ukrainian military was called in to back up the “National Guard” forces. The battle that ensued saw much more than small arms fire. Instead, it included shelling, missiles as well as regular Ukrainian military vehicles. In other words, a civil war was taking place.
While the situation in Ukraine might be described as a “civil war,” the truth is that the crisis should be more accurately referred to as a proxy war. Here, the United States and NATO are operating in and controlling the West while Russia operates in and works closely with the East. Like in Syria, the United States and NATO used proxy forces to destabilize and replace a central government with a puppet of their own choosing and, also like in Syria, the US and NATO have come up against Russian resistance that has scuppered their plans to enact control over the entire country. One other similarity to Syria is that the Russian position has been purely defensive in nature. The major difference between the situations in Syria and Ukraine, however, is that, due to Ukraine’s proximity to Russia itself, Russia is much more willing to go to greater lengths to defend itself and its interests. (Click to Source)
This article is Part 1 in a series dedicated to the issue of Ukraine.