Much has been said in the left media in recent weeks and much more was said in the mainstream media before the Russian invasion of Ukraine about the presence of hardline ideological Nazi battalions in the Ukrainian armed forces. This is, of course, true. What had been ultra-nationalist armed militias before the Maidan coup of 2014 have been incorporated by the Ukrainian interior ministry into the Ukrainian Army. Yet, this fact has become something of a thorn for western governments and media since 24 February (2022) when the Russian premier Vladimir Putin listed ‘denazification’ as one of the objectives of his ‘special military operation.’ In an instant, the western take on this problem switched to one of downplaying it, accompanied by a veritable chorus from Holocaust memorial institutions and Jewish organisations around the world condemning Mr Putin for distorting the history of the Shoah in order to justify an illegal invasion. Yet, the Russian president did not actually say anything the western media had not already said about Nazism in Ukraine after the 2014 far-right Maidan coup.
Aware of the weakness of this performative outrage and no doubt aware of the politically compromised nature of most Holocaust memorial bodies — NATO member states (including the United States, Germany, and Britain) and the State of Israel fund the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation to the tune of €162.5 million a year, efforts to minimise the power of the Ukrainian Nazis turned to the fact Volodymyr Zelenskyy is himself Jewish — and he is. President Zelenskyy is a third generation Holocaust survivor who belongs to the long and rich history of Jewry in Ukraine and western Russia. His grandfather fought the Nazis in the 57th Guards Motor Rifle Division of the Soviet Red Army, and he shared with the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, the story of how his great-grandparents and three of his grandfather’s brothers were murdered by a Nazi SS-Einsatzgruppe that massacred the Jews of their village.
We have no grounds whatsoever to dismiss these stories. These, sadly, are typical Jewish memories of life in Ukraine during the Second World War. Ukraine and Poland had the largest Jewish population in the world before 1941, and the Ukrainian countryside is littered with massacre sites where Jewish men, women, and children in their hundred and thousands were gathered and shot into trenches. Over one and a half million Jews were murdered by the Nazis in Ukraine — in shtetl razzias, in regional massacres, in ghettos, and in extermination camps. Volodymyr Zelenskyy is Jewish. He is a Ukrainian Jew and he is part of this history of Ukrainian Jewry, but does any of this — the fact that the Ukrainian president is Jewish — mean that Ukraine cannot be, as is being said by the left-wing media, a Nazi-dominated state? It certainly sounds far-fetched. Why would a Nazi-dominated state elect a Jew as president in a democratic election?
When we take a closer look at Ukraine, however, we quickly discover that not all is as it seems. Things are not quite as the western media narrative would have us believe. Ukraine — particularly western Ukraine (from Kyiv to Lviv, west of the Dnieper) — has, and has always had, one of the highest levels of antisemitism in Europe. In a survey conducted by the Anti-Defamation League in 2019, a breathtaking forty-six percent of adults were found to hold anti-Semitic opinions — with seventy-two percent of those surveyed answering that it was ‘probably true’ Jews have too much power in business. Since 2014 Ukraine has had an openly Nazi Deputy Prime Minister, Attorney General, and Minister of Defence. Ideological Nazis — not ‘neo-Nazis’ — have been put in positions at every level of the state civil service and the military, and cities and towns — including Kyiv — have mandated Nazi paramilitary groups such as Right Sector, C14, and the now infamous Azov Battalion to form auxiliary police forces to clean up the perceived Roma problem. Frequently, the Ukrainian national police has been implicated in cover ups after Nazi auxiliary raids on Romani camps and — worryingly — when these auxiliaries have been involved in the murder of young Roma men.
Nazi paramilitary groups have, since 2014, been sanctioned by the Kyiv regime to fight so-called pro-Russian ‘separatists’ in the Donbas Oblast where they have been found to be waging a state-sponsored terror campaign against the civilian population. The outrages of one group in particular were so monstrous the government in Kyiv was forced to arrest and prosecute both its commanders and soldiers. The ‘Tornado battalion’ used rape and torture as weapons of war — a war Zelenskyy’s government has been waging against the people of Donetsk and Luhansk. The state seized mobile phones from battalion members which were found to contain videos — mementos — of their crimes. In one video used in the case against a group of Tornado Nazi soldiers a young mother and her baby are dragged into a room where the soldiers repeatedly rape the woman and beat her child, threatening to kick it to death if she continues to resist. In another, a mother and father are forced to watch as soldiers rape their teenaged daughter before beating her unconscious. One former member of the Aidar battalion, Tanya Chornovil, said to the media: ‘they are animals, not human beings.’
Many of the same accusations have been made against the Azov battalion. At Mariupol, during the siege, Greek expatriates in the city, speaking via Skype to SKAI News in Athens, gave the same general picture of ‘animals’ terrorising the civilian population. Videos shared on social media by Mariupol residents have shown Azov soldiers refusing to allow civilians to leave the city through the Russian humanitarian corridor, with one woman being told by a soldier she is ‘lucky not to be shot for asking.’ Another video, captured by a man on his mobile phone, shows a shot-out car with dead civilian passengers inside. He explains how Azov battalion troops were shooting at people and cars attempting to leave the city by night. This too was corroborated by the Greeks. One man, Kiouranas,
When asked by SKAI News if he planned to leave the city, responded: ‘How can I leave? When you try to leave you run the risk of running into a patrol of the Ukrainian fascists, the Azov Battalion. They would kill me and [they] are responsible for everything.’
How can this be — how can this be an accurate picture of reality in Ukraine when the president is Jewish? Quite easily, in fact. Volodymyr Zelenskyy has not been president for three years (he assumed office on 20 May 2019). He is an actor and comedian with precisely zero political experience who ran on a platform of anti-corruption and tackling the oligarchs — things he has singularly failed to deliver. During the presidential campaign, the former president, Petro Poroshenko, gave us a not insignificant clue as to who and what Mr Zelenskyy is — ‘Kolomoyskiy’s puppet.’
Billionaire Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskiy — who we will return to shortly — bankrolled Zelenskyy’s 2019 election campaign; providing him with his own bodyguard, legal team, and transportation. And whether or not calling him a puppet is harsh, Zelenskyy was most definitely Kolomoyskiy’s actor. It was Kolomoyskiy’s network that picked up the popular Ukrainian joker and made him a movie star — in a film in which he played a young sexy president of Ukraine. Zelenskyy’s great role is quite actually life imitating art. The real story as to why a Jew could become president in a country as deeply infiltrated by old school OUN Nazis with an unbroken organisational history reaching to the death camps as Ukraine is this man — Ihor Kolomoyskiy.
We know, ever since the leaked 2014 conversation between US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and US Ambassador to Ukraine Jeffery Pyatt — you know, the ‘Fuck the EU’ conversation,’ that Ukraine doesn’t exactly get to pick its own government. It is quite evident the White House has been doing that for the people of Ukraine since the coup. If not this, then we can be sure at the very least Washington has a Tweedism operation running in Kyiv. Point being, Volodymyr Zelenskyy would never have been in the running without the green light from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Zelenskyy is Washington’s man in Kyiv, and this somehow or another involves this billionaire Kolomoyskiy. But why would the United States want a political neophyte, an actor and comedian without an ounce of political experience to be president of Ukraine. More confusingly, why would Uncle Sam want a Jew to be president in a country like Ukraine — with the kind of baggage it has?!
Kolomoyskyi is certainly a go-between, a cat’s paw for the White House. Like Zelenskyy, Kolomoyskyi is Jewish. He is a political zionist with close ties to the State of Israel — another cat’s paw for US foreign policy (and we shall get to this in a moment). As the president of the United Jewish Community of Ukraine, he promised a ‘donation’ of $14 million to the president of the European Council of Jewish Communities to step aside and let him take the job. Other ECJC board members were not at all happy with this, describing it as a ‘putch’ and a ‘Soviet-style takeover.’ Ultimately, Kolomoyskyi resigned in protest and funded the establishment of the European Jewish Union — later to become the European Jewish Parliament — which assumes the role of representing the interests of European Jewish communities and facilitates EU-Israeli relations.
Now, Israel’s relationship with Ukraine is strange to say the least. During a NATO training programme, soldiers of the openly Nazi Azov battalion were photographed with their standard issue IWI Tavor TAR-21 assault rifles, and that is an Israeli made and Israeli-government supplied assault rifle — a revelation that caused a storm in the Knesset. In July 2018, a group of more than forty Israeli human rights activists filed a case against the State of Israel in the Supreme Court in Jerusalem demanding that the state quit supplying weapons to Ukraine. Their argument being that these weapons ‘serve forces that openly espouse a neo-Nazi ideology,’ citing evidence that ‘the right-wing Azov militia, whose members are part of Ukraine’s armed forces, are supported by the country’s ministry of internal affairs.’
Israel does not want to be supplying weapons to Nazis; most definitely not to official Nazis sanctioned by an actual state. But Israel often does what it does not want to do when the United States asks it to, and Israel has done this before — supplying weapons to brutal US or CIA-backed regimes Congress has sanctioned. In March 2018, a provision was inserted into the 2,232-page US government spending bill that bans ‘U.S. arms from going to the Azov Battalion, a controversial ultranationalist militia in Ukraine that has openly accepted neo-Nazis into its ranks.’ So, officially the United States cannot supply weapons to the Azov battalion, but the CIA has a long relationship with these ultra-nationalists reaching back to the Truman administration and it needs to keep these ideologically anti-Russian soldiers trained and armed. They are the best and most reliable fighters the Agency has in Ukraine for a planned gruelling and long insurgency against Russia.
The solution to this problem is an intermediary. The United States can’t send arms to the Azov battalion, but there is nothing prohibiting the United States’ ally Israel — the recipient of the largest US military aid package by far — supplying them.
According to the principle of following the money, we can begin to piece together the US-Israel-Kolomoyskiy-Zelenskyy connection. The United States cannot supply Ukrainian Nazis with arms, and neither can the ‘greatest democracy in the world’ be implicated in interfering in the elections of another country (well, not in a European country’s elections — you know, ‘Fuck the EU’). Israel doesn’t really want to get caught doing this either — Israel is not exactly Europe’s favourite ‘partner,’ and Ukrainians have a bit of a problem with Jews at the best of times. In 2018, the rabbi of Lviv, a city where swastika graffiti is a common feature on public buildings and Jewish grave stones, had to hire personal security. So, where the US needs Israel to do its dirty work, Israel needs to do a bit of delegating of its own. Enter Ihor Kolomoyskiy and his little star who can deliver a line!
So, why a Jew? The answer to that should be obvious by now. A Jewish president of Ukraine in the context of a war with Russia serves a number of functions — and that is what Volodymyr Zelenskyy is, a US-NATO functionary: he’s the cost the Ukrainian Nazis have to pay the Americans and Israelis who are left feeling a little dirty after being in bed with them, he is clueless and will do what he is told (or, at least, do nothing), and he is the perfect cover in a propaganda war where Vladimir Putin has hit the nail right on the head by identifying the connection between the US and the Nazis — How can Ukraine be a Nazi-captured state when its president is Jewish? The real machinery of the United States’ proxy war with Russia is a Nazi-captured state, because these are the ideological warriors who will never capitulate, and the temporary cover for this is a Russian speaking Jewish [crisis] actor who is only too happy to go dancing with the stars … and stripes.
Jason Michael McCann, M.Phil. (TCD) Conflict Studies The author holds a postgraduate degree in Race, Ethnicity and Conflict from the University of Dublin, Trinity College, and an academic fellowship in the study of conflict from the University of West Flanders. He has published on the history of the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp and the murder of the Hungarian Jews in 1944.
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