The Genocidal Violence of Ukrainian Nationalists


The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (Orhanizatsiia Ukraїns’kykh Natsiona-listiv, OUN) and its Ukrainian Insurgent Army (Ukraїns’ka Povstans’ka Armiia, UPA) were the most violent 20th-century Ukrainian nationalist movement. Their violence became genocidal, and it substantially influenced the history of Ukraine, the history of Ukrainian and Polish Jews, the history of the Holocaust, Polish his-tory, and the history of East Central Europe and the Soviet Union. Because the Ukrainian nationalists were anti-Soviet, resisting and being defeated by the Soviet Union, and because the German occupiers committed worse crimes in Ukraine than the Ukrainian nationalists, Cold War historians such as John Armstrong, Ukrainian and Polish dissidents, and German historians of Eastern Europe denied or marginalized the violence of this movement or portrayed them as an anti-Soviet “liberation movement.” The denial of the collaboration of the Ukrainian nationalists in the Holocaust was interrelated with the denial of the fascistization of Ukrainian nationalism and of the creative invention of a genuine form of Ukrainian fascism that fostered genocidal violence in Ukraine.

Although Jewish historians who survived the Holocaust in western Ukraine, such as Philipp Friedman, Shmuel Spector, and Aharon Weiss, were already investigating the genocidal violence of the Ukrainian nationalists in the 1950s, their research was rejected first by Cold War historians and later by the Ukrainian historians in independent Ukraine and German historians of Ukraine and Eastern Europe. While Ukrainian historians deliberately denied the violence of the Ukrainian nationalists, German historians concentrated on the violence committed by the German occupiers. These selective approaches to the histories of the Second World War and Holocaust in Ukraine did not allow many Ukrainian, German, and Polish historians to understand the nature and the extent of the violence used by the Ukrainian nationalists before, during, and after the Second World War. However, the genocidal violence of Ukrainian nationalists is essential to understand the modern history of Ukraine, the history of the Holocaust and fascism in East Central Europe, and the history of collaboration in the Age of Extremes.

A very fruitful approach to studying the violence of the Ukrainian nationalists is Saul Friedländer’s concept of integrated history. In contrast to German historians, who concentrated on the German perpetrators and the “German aspects” of the Holocaust, Friedländer pleaded for the investigation of all involved actors, analyzing their perspectives and the documents that they left. Besides me, three other historians—Omer Bartov, John-Paul Himka, and Kai Struve—have applied this concept to investigate the violence in western Ukraine in recent years. While Bartov wrote the history of Buczacz, Himka and Struve investigated the pogroms in Ukraine in 1941. All of them showed how the Ukrainian nationalists and ordinary Ukrainians collaborated with the Germans in the Holocaust. A decade before them, the Polish historian Grzegorz Moytka showed how the OUN and UPA murdered Poles in 1943 and 1944, and Jeffrey Burds and Alexander Statiev showed how the Ukrainian nationalists murdered civilians during the brutal conflict with the Soviet Union.

I will focus on the radical form of Ukrainian nationalism and explain how the OUN and UPA used genocidal violence to achieve their political goals. This outlines three central aspects of the history of genocidal violence in East Central Europe. First, it demonstrates how violence was used to establish ethnically homogenous states with fascist regimes. Second, it shows that violence was absolutely central for minor nationalist movements that claimed to “liberate” their countries. Third, it makes clear that the concentration on the main perpetrator (in this case, Nazi Germany) is insufficient to obtain a comprehensive under-standing of genocidal violence during the Holocaust.

Multiethnic Ukraine between East and West

Ukraine appeared as a state only in 1991, but the Ukrainians shaped the history of what today is known as Ukraine for centuries. Although the modern Ukrainian identity took shape only in the late 19th century, pre-modern Ukrainians, who were known as Ruthenians or Cossacks, lived in the Kingdom of Galicia-Volhynia, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Habsburg Empire, the Russian Empire, the Second Polish Republic, and the Soviet Union. Because of the numerous colonizations by and interactions with Poland, Austria, and Russia, as well as the settlement of Jews, Ukraine became a multiethnic territory. While western Ukraine was inhabited by Ukrainians, Poles, and Jews, central and eastern Ukraine was the home of Ukrainians, Russians, Jews, and Poles. Because of their political history, western Ukraine and east-central Ukraine were, by the beginning of the Second World War, two different states rather than one united country. The OUN and UPA felt at home only in western Ukraine, which can best be described as the regions of eastern Galicia and Volhynia.8

Eastern Galicia and Volhynia were inhabited by Ukrainians, Poles, and Jews for centuries. Although Ukrainians made up the majority of the population in these two regions, they were less present in cities such as Lviv than in villages and small towns. Before the Second World War, Jews amounted in both regions to about 10 percent of all inhabitants, Poles about 25 percent in eastern Galicia and 15 percent in Volhynia, and Ukrainians 60 percent in eastern Galicia and70 percent in Volhynia. As a result of the first and second partitions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1772 and 1793, eastern Galicia was incorporated into the Habsburg Empire and Volhynia into the Russian Empire, which also held southern, central, and eastern territories of Ukraine. This geopolitical order remained until the First World War. In November 1917, Ukrainians proclaimed a state in Kyiv and in November 1918 in Lviv, but they did not succeed in keeping either of them. In 1921, eastern Galicia and Volhynia were officially incorporated into the Second Polish Republic, and almost all other Ukrainian territories constituted the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.

As a result of the new political order, during the interwar period, about 20 percent of all Ukrainians lived in the Second Polish Republic and 80 percent in the Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic. Poland was a multiethnic state which dis-criminated against Ukrainians and other minorities and treated them as second-class citizens. During the 1920s, the Ukrainians in Soviet Ukraine were exposed to the policy of “Ukrainization” and the New Economic Policy, which improved the economy, strengthened the use of the Ukrainian language, and promoted Ukrainian culture in public life. However, this changed dramatically in the early1930s. The collectivization of agriculture caused a famine, which resulted in the deaths of 2.5—3.9 million people in Soviet Ukraine in 1932/33. The OUN functioned, during the interwar period, only in Poland.

Internal Politics, Racism, Antisemitism, and Fascism

Before the Ukrainian veterans of the Great War established the OUN in Vienna in1929, they had created the Ukrainian Military Organization (UVO, Ukraїns’ka Viis’-kova Orhanizatsiia) in Prague in 1920. Unlike the OUN, the UVO did not become a mass movement but functioned as a terrorist organization with aspirations to transform into a mass movement. The Ukrainian veterans who created the UVO and OUN were Yevhen Konovalets’, Andrii Mel’nyk, Mykola Stsibors’kyi, Roman Sushko, and Richard Iaryi. Before they established the UVO, they served in the Austro-Hungarian army and later fought against the Poles, Bolsheviks, and the anti-revolutionary Russian White Army as soldiers of the Ukrainian People’s Army (Armia Ukraїns’koїNarodnoї Respubliky, AUNR) and the Ukrainian Galician Army (Ukraїns’ka Halyts’ka Armiia, UHA).

The Ukrainian veterans of the First World War, who had established the UVO and OUN, were born around 1890. After the war, they lived in Germany, Lithuania, Italy, Czechoslovakia, and Switzerland. The younger generation of Ukrainian nationalists involved in the UVO and OUN in the late 1920s and early 1930s were born around 1910. This generation was called the Bandera generation after Stepan Bandera. In general, they were more eager than the older generation to use genocidal violence, to transform Ukraine into an ethnically homogenous state. The most important members of this generation besides Bandera were YaroslavStets’ko, Stepan Lenkavs’kyi, Volodymyr Ianiv, and Roman Shukhevych.

The younger generation began to control the homeland executive of the OUN in the early 1930s, while the older generation kept leading the leadership in exile. The first leader of the UVO and OUN was Yevhen Konovalets’. After his assassination in Rotterdam by the NKVD agent Pavel Sudoplatov in 1938, Mel’nyk was elected the leader of the OUN. Although officially subordinated to the leadership in exile, the younger generation were pursuing their own politics. Especially after Bandera began to lead the homeland executive, they assassinated a number of Polish and Ukrainian politicians who tried to reconcile the Poles and Ukrainians. The OUN was also planning a Ukrainian revolution which was supposed to be-come a mass uprising of the Ukrainian population against the authorities of the Polish state. However, this plan failed as Bandera and 800 other OUN members were arrested in June 1934 for assassinating the Polish Interior Minister Bronisław Pieracki.

During the 1920s, 1930s, and the early 1940s, the OUN members understood themselves as both nationalists and fascists. They did not perceive a contradiction between these two notions. Dmytro Dontsov, who never belonged to the UVO and OUN but impacted them substantially, was already arguing in the early 1920s that Ukrainian nationalism and Ukrainian fascism were closely related phenomena. In the article “Are We Fascists?” (Chy my fashysty?), published in 1923 in Zahrava, Dontsov explained the nature of Italian fascism and repeated several times: “If this is the program of fascism, then according to me—we are the fascists!” Yet as much as Dontsov admired fascism, he did not want to be accused of copying it: “Because we stay on a national platform and the fascists on an international one—we cannot be fascists.” Thus, on the one hand, Dontsov claimed that Ukrainian nationalism was fascist. On the other hand, he emphasized the uniqueness of Ukrainian nationalism and argued that it should not be regarded as part of international fascism. In the early 1920s, Dontsov also rejected “fascism” as a name for the Ukrainian movement because the Italians had used it already.

Racist antisemitism appeared in Ukrainian nationalist discourses in the late 1920s and began to dominate in the second half of the 1930s. The OUN ideologist Volodymyr Martynets’ was one of the most important Ukrainian promoters of racist antisemitism. In the brochure The Jewish Problem in Ukraine, published in 1938 in London, he made it clear that he admired the Nuremberg Laws passed in 1935 and felt that Ukrainians needed similar racist regulations. Martynets’ argued that Jews were an alien race in every country in which they lived and thus were a problem for a number of countries around the globe. Those Jews who had assimilated in countries such as Italy and Germany endangered them no less than non-assimilated Jews because they could contaminate the blood of the people. According to Martynets’, no other nation had a more serious problem with the Jews than the Ukrainians because no other country had more Jews living in it than Ukraine. Martynets’ demanded that Ukrainians should begin dealing with this problem immediately and not wait until they established a state. He argued that the “Jewish problem” could be solved only by means of isolation and racial policies. Because Ukrainians did not have a state, they could not pass racist laws and thus should practice isolation and separation. Jews should have their own schools, newspapers, restaurants, cafes, theatres, brothels, and cabarets and should not use Ukrainian ones. Intermarriage between Jews and Ukrainians had to be stopped. This isolation of the “Jewish race” would allow the Ukrainians to achieve two goals. First, the “Jewish race” would not corrupt the Ukrainian race and cause the deterioration of its racial values. Second, isolation would decrease the number of Jews in Ukraine and finish their “parasitic existence.” Ukrainians would then begin taking up such professions as tavern owners, doctors, professors, and traders.

Racism in the context of Ukrainian nationalism was related to the idea of independence (samostiinist’). Racist Ukrainian thinkers argued that Ukraine should become an independent state because it was inhabited by a particular race that needed an independent nation-state to develop all of its features. In 1904, Mikhnovs’kyi presented some points of his political program in the “Ten Commandments of the UNP” for the Ukrainian National Party (Ukraїns’ka Narodna Partia, UNP). In the third commandment, he claimed, “Ukraine for Ukrainians!” and in the tenth, “Do not marry a foreign woman because your children will be your enemies.”

This discourse was brought forward by the Ukrainian geographer Stepan Rudnyts’kyi, who defined the “natural territory” or “living space” of the Ukrainian nation. He argued that “race” was, after “national territory, ”the secondmost important feature of the Ukrainian nation. He claimed that the “Ukrainian race is beautiful” and that the Ukrainians possessed some important features, such as the “ability to live and struggle for the existence of a particular race.” “The Ukrainian race,” Rudnyts’kyi continued, “is very valuable. Tall height (Ukrainians belong to the tallest nations in Europe and on Earth) and a huge chest circumference (perhaps the biggest in Europe) while being slender and agile make a Ukrainian very suitable for all physical work.”

During the interwar period, several Ukrainian nationalist ideologists dis-cussed how to use ethnic and political violence to establish a homogenous nation-state. One of the most important of these ideologists was Mykhailo Kolodzins’kyi, who trained Ukrainian nationalists together with the Croatian Ustaše in a camp in Italy in 1933/34. In this camp, Kolodzins’kyi met Ante Pavelić and began writing “The War Doctrine of the Ukrainian Nationalists,” a document that elaborated on the concept of an “uprising” against the “occupiers” of Ukraine. If, with regard to the Poles, Kolodzins’kyi assumed both expulsion and mass killings, with regard to the Jews, he planned only murder:

The OUN uprising is intended to destroy all living hostile elements in the Ukrainian territory. . . Slaughtering a half million Jews during the uprising will not be possible, as some nationalists say. Obviously, the hatred of the Ukrainian people for the Jews will be particularly horrible. We do not intend to temper this hatred; on the contrary, we should inflate it be-cause the more Jews are killed during the uprising, the better for the Ukrainian state, [and also] because the Jews are the only minority whom we will not be able to denationalize.

Genocidal Violence of the OUN and UPA

The violence of the Ukrainian nationalists can be divided into five stages: 1921–1939, September 1939, June-July 1941, August 1941-beginning of 1943, 1943–1944, and 1944–1955. The violence became genocidal only in 1941, but Kolodzins’kyi and other leaders of the OUN already anticipated ethnically homogenizing Ukraine by means of violence in the middle of the 1930s. The violence altered during the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s because the Ukrainian nationalists adapted to current political circum-stances. Ukrainian nationalists were also not the only force that used genocidal violence in western Ukraine. Two other powers who did this as well were the German National Socialists and the Soviet Union. Both helped the Ukrainian nationalists to homogenize Ukraine. The latter destroyed the OUN and UPA.

During the interwar period, in the first stage of violence, the UVO and OUN tried to assassinate a number of Poles, Ukrainians, Jews, and Russians. Some tar-gets, such as Józef Piłsudski, were attacked because they were significant states-men of the “occupying” Polish state. Others, such as Tadeusz Hołówko, head of the Department for Eastern Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Henryk Józewski, governor of Volhynia, were committed to Polish-Ukrainian reconciliation. Ukrainians such as high school director Ivan Babii and the journalist and political activist Sydir Tverdokhlib did not approve of the measures of the OUN and cooperated with the Polish authorities. After Bandera became the leader of the homeland executive, a number of OUN members, such as Yakiv Bachyns’kyi and Maria Kovaliukivna, were murdered by the organization. The most important person assassinated by the OUN was the already-mentioned Polish Interior Minister Bronisław Pieracki. The actual number of people killed by the Ukrainian nationalists in Poland is not known, but it was at least several hundred. By 1922, the UVO had already set 2,200 Polish farms on fire. In 1937 alone, the OUN carried out 830 violent acts against Polish citizens or their property. Of these offenses,540 were classified by the Security Service of the Polish Interior Ministry as anti-Polish, 242 as anti-Jewish, 67 as anti-Ukrainian, and 17 as anti-communist.

The second stage of violence began with the outbreak of the Second World War on 1 September 1939 and lasted until the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Unionon 22 June 1941. When Germany attacked Poland in 1939, the OUN considered be-ginning a revolution and establishing a Ukrainian state. However, the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact interfered with these plans. On 17 September 1939, the Red Army attacked Poland from the East and occupied eastern Galicia and Volhynia within a few days. Nevertheless, in the first three weeks of September, armed nationalist groups assumed power locally in towns and announced their desire to cooperate with Germans. In September 1939, the OUN murdered approximately 2,000 Poles in eastern Galicia, about 1,000 in Volhynia, and an unknown number of Jews and political opponents.

In Yavoriv, a small town about 50 kilometers west of Lviv, German troops, together with Ukrainian militiamen wearing yellow-and-blue armlets, destroyed the local synagogue and humiliated, tortured, beat, murdered, and otherwise mis-treated the Jews. In the village of Sloviatyn, which was attacked by OUN troops on 17 and 18 September 1939, 49 Poles and one Ukrainian, who tried to help the Poles, were killed. Among the victims were men, women, and children. Although the main target groups of the OUN were Polish soldiers, policemen, and Poles who were settled in Volhynia after 1918 by the Polish government, many Polish and Jewish civilians, like in Yavoriv and Seliatyn, were killed by the Ukrainian nationalists in September 1939.

The next wave of violence began after the German attack on the Soviet Union. The OUN prepared for this event meticulously. When the Soviets incorporated east-ern Galicia and Volhynia into Soviet Ukraine in October and November 1939, several hundred OUN members left these territories and stayed in Cracow and other parts of the General Government. In 1940, the OUN split into the OUN-B (led by Stepan Bandera) and the OUN-M (Andrii Mel’nyk). Both factions collaborated with the German military intelligence organization Abwehr and the Wehrmacht and were involved in the preparation of Operation Barbarossa. In collaboration with the Abwehr, the OUN-B formed the battalions Nachtigall (with 350 soldiers) and Roland (with 330). Both were made up of Ukrainian soldiers led by German and Ukrainianofficers.32The OUN-B also established special task forces (pokhidni hrupy) that united about 800 members.

In April 1941, the leadership of the OUN-B organized the Second General Congress in Cracow, at which the organization was further fascistized. The leadership officially announced Stepan Bandera as the Ukrainian providnyk (equivalent to the German führer or the Italian duce), employed the fascist salute of raising the right arm “slightly to the right, slightly above the peak of the head” while calling “Glory to Ukraine!” (Slava Ukraini!) and responding “Glory to the Heroes!” (Heroiam Slava!), and introduced the red and black flag symbolizing blood and earth (Blut und Boden). The leadership also declared it would combat all democratic and communist Ukrainian parties and organizations and emphasized that Jews, Poles, and Russians were the “enemies of the Ukrainian people.”

While helping the Germans to prepare Operation Barbarossa, the OUN-B worked out the “Ukrainian National Revolution” without coordinating it with the Nazi leadership. The Ukrainian National Revolution was intended to begin on the same day as Operation Barbarossa. It had two interrelated aims. The first was to establish a Ukrainian state with Bandera as its providnyk. The second was to transform the territory of this state into an ethnically homogenous country. For this reason, the leadership of the OUN-B in Cracow wrote very detailed instructions, which were passed to Ivan Klymiv, who headed the OUN in Soviet western Ukraine. The document was called the “Instructions for the Prewar Period, the Time of War and Revolution, and the First Days of State Building.” In June 1941, the OUN-B and OUN-M counted 20,000 members and 30,000 sympathizers. The OUN-B had more members than the OUN-M.38

As Operation Barbarossa and the Ukrainian National Revolution began on22 June 1941, the OUN-B members, organized in special task forces, accompanied the Wehrmacht, which was defeating the Red Army and conquering Ukraine. The members of the task forces helped the local OUN leaders to organize the Ukrainian militia and establish city administrations in numerous cities, towns, and villages in western Ukraine. On30 June 1941, Yaroslav Stets’ko proclaimed the Ukrainian state and asked Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Ante Pavelić, and Francisco Franco to accept it. At the same time, the OUN-B, together with the German occupiers, organized numerous pogroms in western Ukraine and helped the Ein-satzkommandos of Einsatzgruppe C to conduct the first mass shootings. To involve the local population in the anti-Jewish violence, the German occupiers and the Ukrainian nationalists used the corpses of over 8,000 political prisoners whom the NKVD had murdered before they retreated from Ukraine. During the pogroms, about 20,000 Jews were murdered in western Ukraine.

The biggest pogrom in western Ukraine took place in Lviv. It began on 30 June 1941 in the afternoon, a few hours before Stets’ko proclaimed the Ukrainian state, and lasted until the evening of 2 July. The Ukrainian militiamen seized Jews on the streets and in their homes and took them to one of the four prisons in which the NKVD had left the corpses of the murdered political prisoners. The Jews were forced to carry them from the prison buildings to the yards where the Wehrmacht organized the Leichenschau (public viewing of the corpses). Both the Ukrainian militiamen and the Wehrmacht soldiers implied that the local Jews were responsible for killing the prisoners. In this way, they involved local Ukrainians in the public violence against the Jews. Angry Ukrainians forced the Jews to sing Soviet songs, hit them with all manner of objects, such as stones and sticks, or kicked them and punched them with their fists. For two and a half days, the streets of Lviv were full of angry Ukrainians, injured and dead Jews, and Wehrmacht soldiers who filmed these scenes and instructed the local population on how to kill and mistreat the Jews.

Kurt Lewin, who was forced to work in the Brygidki prison, was especially afraid of

an elegantly dressed man in a beautiful embroidered shirt, frequently worn by Ukrainian patriots, who beat with an ironclad cane. After a while, he beat only against the heads. With every hit he wrenched off strips of skin. He put some people’s eyes out, wrenched off ears. When the cane broke, he immediately took a large charred piece of wood and smashed my neighbor’s skull. The skull broke and the brain splattered in all directions, also on my face and clothes.

Eliyahu Yones, who was seized by German soldiers together with other Jews on7 July 1941 and was ordered to spread lime on the earth in one of the yards of the Brygidki prison, was overwhelmed by the extreme stench of decomposing corpses. He noticed that the ground under his feet was as soft as gum, had cracks five centimeters wide, and could not absorb the number of corpses being buried in the yard. On 25 June 1941, the Wehrmacht and the OUN-B organized another pogrom in Lviv in honor of Symon Petliura, who had been killed by Sholom Schwartzbard in Paris on 25 May 1926. A French court acquitted Schwartzbard for this murder because he argued that he had avenged his family members who had been murdered during the pogroms in Ukraine in 1917–1920. These were the largest anti-Jewish massacres prior to the Holocaust. More than 50,000 Jews were murdered in these pogroms.

The third stage of the OUN violence began in August 1941, when the Germans incorporated eastern Galicia as Distrikt Galizien into the General Government and Volhynia into the Reichskommissariat Ukraine. In this stage, which lasted in Volhynia until the end of 1942 and eastern Galicia until the spring of 1943, about 800,000Jews were murdered in western Ukraine. This was half of all Jews killed in Ukraine during the German occupation, although western Ukraine was much smaller than central and eastern Ukraine. In central and eastern Ukraine, more Jews survived because they had more time to flee, the occupation was shorter, and, most important, there was no OUN or UPA in this part of the country. When the Einsatzgruppe finished the mass shootings in late 1941, the systematic murder of Jews began. Of the 500,000 Jews alive in eastern Galicia by the end of 1941, about 250,000 were murdered in the Bełżec extermination camp and about 250,000 in the surroundings of their ghettos. In Volhynia, all Jews, about 200,000, were killed in mass shootings.

The organizers and main perpetrators of the Holocaust in Ukraine were the German occupiers, but they could not have killed over 90 percent of the western Ukrainian Jews without the help of Ukrainian nationalists and ordinary Ukrainians. Although the leadership of the OUN-B, including the providnyk Bandera and his deputy Yaroslav Stets’ko, were detained in Berlin and Sachsenhausen, many Ukrainian nationalists joined the Ukrainian police established by the Germans in August 1941 and helped the German occupiers to kill Jews. They guarded the ghettos, helped to deport the Jews to Bełżec, helped to conduct the mass shootings, and searched for Jews hiding in the ghettos, countryside, and the woods. Because they outnumbered the German policemen, their assistance in the Shoah was essential. By helping the Germans to kill the Jews, the Ukrainian nationalists implemented their own goal of national homogenization through genocide—one could also say homogenizational genocide or genocidal homogenization. Ukrainian nationalists were transforming Ukraine into a homogeneous territory and eliminating the “enemies of the Ukrainian people,” as they called the Jews.

Although the Nazis wanted to purge the Ukrainian police from the OUN in August 1941 due to the political conflict with Bandera, many OUN members remained in the police, concealing their association with the organization. Volodymyr Pitulei, commander of the Ukrainian police, retained many OUN members in the police force, despite the German order to replace them. According to the OUN-B member Bohdan Kazanivs’kyi, there were even many OUN-B members among the commandants of the police school in Lviv in which new policemen were recruited. Eliyahu Yones, who worked in the Kurowice slave-labor camp, wrote in his memoirs that the Ukrainian policemen at his camp were Ukrainian nationalists who were proud to wear blue uniforms and Ukrainian caps. In the spring of 1942, there were over 4,000 Ukrainian policemen in the General Government. In 1942, there were 12,000 Ukrainian policemen and only 1,400 Germans in Volhynia.

When the majority of the Jews in Volhynia and eastern Galicia were killed in late 1942 and early 1943, the OUN-B established the UPA to expel and kill the Poles. This was the fourth stage of violence. In March and April 1943, about 5,000Ukrainian policemen deserted the police force in Volhynia and joined the UPA. The UPA kept killing Jews who had escaped the ghettos and survived by hiding in the woods, villages, and towns. In some regions, the Ukrainian nationalists were even more antisemitic than the German occupiers, causing some Jews to flee from the woods to German forced labor camps. Because the UPA intended to kill all the Jews, only a few thousand survived by the time they were liberated by the Red Army in the summer of 1944. Possibly 80,000 Jews tried to survive the last stage of the occupation of western Ukraine, but more than 60,000 were killed by the German occupiers, Ukrainian nationalists, and ordinary Ukrainians.

However, the main target group of the Ukrainian nationalist in the fourth stage of violence was the Polish population. The UPA conducted a genocide of the Poles in Volhynia in 1943 and in eastern Galicia in 1944. They murdered about100,000 Poles and forced even more to leave western Ukraine. While the majority of the Jews in western Ukraine were murdered by both the German occupiers and the Ukrainian nationalists, the killing and expelling of the Poles was a purely OUN-B project. The OUN-B and UPA applied various methods to murder the Poles. In contrast to the Jews, most Poles were not shot by bullets but hacked to death with axes and hatchets or killed with knives and pitchforks.

Numerous supporters and random Ukrainians were involved in the murder of the Poles by the OUN-B and the UPA. One of the most common methods to kill Poles was to mobilize Ukrainian peasants and order them to surround a village while a group of Ukrainian nationalists went inside to kill the civilians. People who escaped from the village were caught by the peasants and murdered by them. The Ukrainian nationalists were prepared to murder all Poles who would not leave the “Ukrainian territories,” including women and children. They frequently returned on the second or third day after an attack and looked for survivors in order to slaughter them. The UPA regularly demanded that Ukrainians inmixed marriages kill their spouses and children. Poles had lived in Volhynia and eastern Galicia for decades or even centuries and were often bilingual. The UPA partisans frequently could not identify Poles by language. If they could not learn who was Polish from local Ukrainians, they asked the suspect to pray in Ukrainian.

Given that Ukrainian and Polish culture had been intermingled in eastern Galicia and Volhynia for centuries, murdering Poles affected the Ukrainian population. Both the OUN-B and the UPA began issuing directives requiring Ukrainian partners in mixed families to murder their nearest and dearest. Some of the Ukrainians living in such families ignored these requirements; others, however, out of fear of dire consequences, obeyed.58In order to intimidate the Poles and force them to leave Ukraine, Ukrainian nationalists committed many acts of pathological sadism. In May 1943 in the village of Kolonia Grada, for example, UPA partisans killed two families who could not escape as all the others had after they realized that the UPA was attacking the neighboring village of Kolonia Łamane. The partisans killed all the members of these two families, cut open the belly of a pregnant woman, removed the fetus and her innards, and hung them on a bush, probably to leave a message for other Poles who had escaped the attack and might come back to the village.

UPA partisans applied the skills they obtained as Ukrainian policemen during the Holocaust. They would sometimes give candy to Polish children and generally be very polite to the population in order to calm them. They would ask the Poles to go to a meeting, and then they would either take small groups from the meeting and shoot them or burn the entire Polish population of a village in a barn or other building. They would attack on Sundays when the Polish villagers were gathered for a service in a church and either throw grenades into the church, burn it down, or enter and murder everyone inside. They would dig a large grave, take groups of Poles to it, and either shoot the Poles or murder them with sharp implements beside the grave or in it. In July 1943, one of the bloodiest months of the “cleansing,” the UPA attacked 520 localities and killed between10,000 and 11,000 Poles.

Although the leaders of the UPA officially distanced themselves from fascism, forbidding the use of the fascist greeting and announcing a desire for democratization, the mass violence practiced by the UPA and their racist interpretation of nationalism indicate that no democratization occurred within the movement. The “democratization” was mainly a strategic move to start collaborating with the Allies because the Germans were losing the war and the OUN and UPA needed anew ally.

This fifth and last stage of violence began in the summer of 1944, when the Red Army came to western Ukraine and when western Ukraine became a part of Soviet Ukraine again. Ukrainian nationalists regarded Russia and the Soviet Union as their main political opponent and decided to fight against it despite the disparity of forces. Consequently, Soviet military detachments began a wide-ranging operation of liquidating the nationalist underground, aimed not only at members of the OUN and UPA partisans but also at their families, followers, orthose accused of supporting the nationalists. Whereas during the brutal conflict with the Soviet security forces, the OUN and the UPA killed about 20,000 civilians and 10,000 of the security forces, their opponents accounted to have murdered153,000 people in western Ukraine, imprisoned 134,000, and deported 203,000 into the interior of the Soviet Union. Given that Ukrainians fought on both sides, this conflict was to be considered a civil war.62

People in western Ukraine were in a very difficult situation. On the one hand, they were attacked by the Ukrainian nationalists if they took positions in the ad-ministration. On the other, they could be arrested, killed, or deported if they sup-ported the Ukrainian nationalists. The Soviet forces applied brutal methods to defeat the nationalist underground in Ukraine. In the early stage of fighting against the OUN and UPA, they recruited many local Ukrainians and Poles who served in the destruction battalions (istrebitel’nye batal’ony). From 1946, they re-lied more on the secret forces because the units of Ukrainian nationalists became smaller. They used torture to obtain information, practiced public executions, and deported the nationalists’ families to force them to surrender. This, however, only radicalized the violence of the Ukrainian nationalists and alienated them.

In the center of a village in the Rivne region in June 1944, the OUN-UPA hanged a local peasant suspected of collaboration. They then “hacked the corpse of the hanged bandit to pieces with an axe.” In the Lviv region in August 1944, OUN and UPA members gouged out the eyes of members of two whole families, one by one in front of the others, and then hacked them to pieces in front of the villagers. On 3 May 1946 in the village of Mil’s’k, the perpetrators tortured two officials to death, “taking out their eyes, cutting them with knives, burning their bodies with iron, hitting them with a ramrod.” They frequently used axes, hatchets, and other tools, as they had during the genocide in 1943 in Volhynia and in 1944 in eastern Galicia. In the town of Sernyky in the Rivne region, five people from the family of a collective farm were slaughtered with a hatchet in 1948.

The Ukrainian nationalists frequently worked with texts and symbols. On3 September 1944 in Staryi Lysets’, six people were killed. A sign was then posted on a fence: “For the betrayal of the Ukrainian nation, all will die in the same way.” On 11 September 1944, a couple named Marżenko and their four-year-old daughter were killed. The perpetrators left the following note: “Death to the informers of the NKVD—the enemies of the working people. Death to the Bolshevik fascists, imperialists, and capitalists.” On 24 December 1944 in Volia Vysots’ka, 18 families were killed. The inscription “For the betrayal of the Ukrainian nation. Death to the NKVD informers” was left on the bodies. On 31 July 1944, about 20 bandits raided the village of Verbovets’ and went to the house of Teodor Protsiuk. He was not at home, but the bandits found his wife and four children between the ages of four and thirteen. They killed all the children and fatally wounded his wife. Next, they went to the adjacent house of Ivan Ulin, strangled him, and left the following inscription on his corpse: “All traitors and NKVD employees will die such a dog’s death.” Finally, they went to the home of Ivan Kuchera, another member of the village administration, and asked him to give them a ride to the next village. They killed him 300 meters from the village and left the inscription “The Revolutionary Army” on his corpse.


The OUN and UPA were the most violent Ukrainian nationalist movement in the20th century. Their main political goal was to establish an ethnically homogenous Ukrainian state. To achieve this goal, the OUN allied with Nazi Germany, collabo-rated with Fascist Italy and the Croatian Ustaše, and conceptualized a Ukrainian form of fascism. Although it succeeded in proclaiming a state in Lviv, eight days after the beginning of Operation Barbarossa, Adolf Hitler did not approve of these political aspirations and arrested the movement’s leadership, including Bandera and Stets’ko. However, despite this political conflict, the OUN helped the German occupiers to murder 800,000 Jews in western Ukraine, and it murdered about 100,000 Poles in Volhynia in 1943 and eastern Galicia in 1944 without any help from the German occupiers. By murdering Jews as Ukrainian policemen or administration staff and killing Poles, the OUN was implementing its political goal of establishing an ethnically homogenous Ukrainian state, which, however, it never achieved. Between 1944 and 1955, the Soviet authorities destroyed the OUN and UPA in western Ukraine and kept mocking the Ukrainian nationalists after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Because of Soviet propaganda and the lack of appropriate research methods, the violence of the Ukrainian nationalists was perceived as marginal for a longtime. Historians wrongly assumed that the National Socialists murdered the Jews in Ukraine alone, without or with only marginal help from the Ukrainian nationalists. Others perceived the members of the OUN and UPA as anti-Soviet and anti-German freedom fighters. Only in the last two decades have historians such as Grzegorz Motyka, Omer Bartov, John-Paul Himka, Kai Struve, Jeffrey Burds, and Jared McBride demonstrated that the violence of the OUN and UPA was genocidal and that the movement considered violence as an important instrument to implement its policy. Because the studies on the OUN and UPA were fragmented, an additional step was required to connect these studies and demonstrate that the movement did not kill just a few thousand Jews, Poles, and Ukrainians but was involved in the murder of 800,000 Jews and over 100,000 Polish and Ukrainian civilians without any help from the Germans or other powers.

The genocidal violence of the Ukrainian nationalists demonstrates that the OUN and UPA should be taken seriously when conceptualizing the history of Ukraine. The genocidal violence of the Ukrainian nationalists is also an integral aspect of the history of the Holocaust in Ukraine, the history of the Ukrainian and Polish Jews, the history of the Poles in eastern Galicia and Volhynia, Soviet history in western Ukraine, and the history of fascism in Ukraine and East Central Europe. The marginalization or denial of the genocidal violence of the Ukrainian nationalists is unjustified from an academic point of view. On the political level, the denial of the genocidal violence of the OUN and UPA, as well as of the creation of Ukrainian fascism by the OUN in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, has contributed, especially in the last two decades, to the radicalization of conflicts within Ukraine and between Ukraine and Russia, Poland, and Israel. It also hampered the process of inventing a democratic identity and emancipating from Russia.

Grzegorz Rossoliński-Liebe is a Lecturer at the Friedrich-Meinecke Institut, Freie Universität Berlin. His work has met with fierce condemnation from Ukrainian nationalists. This essay originally appeared in Genocidal Violence. Concepts, Forms, Impact (1923).

Featured: Monument to Stepan Bandera in Lviv, Ukraine. Photo credit: Juliëtte Dekker, 2017.

The Russian Art of War: How the West Led Ukraine to Defeat

We are very happy to bring you this excerpt (along with the Table of Contents) from Colonel Jacques Baud’s latest book, The Russian Art of War: How the West Led Ukraine to Defeat (L’art de la guerre russe: Comment l’occident conduire l’ukraine a la echec). This is a detailed study of the two-year old conflict in which the West has brutally used the Ukrainians to pursue an old pipedream: the conquest of Russia.

Please support the work of Colonel Baud and purchase a copy at Amazon, or at Barnes & Noble. And please ask all your family and friends to get a copy of this important and timely book as well.

Russian Military Thought

Throughout the Cold War period, the Soviet Union saw itself as the spearhead of a historical struggle that would lead to a confrontation between the “capitalist” system and “progressive forces.” This perception of a permanent and inescapable war led the Soviets to study war in a quasi-scientific way, and to structure this thinking into an architecture of military thought that has no equal in the Western world.

The problem with the vast majority of our so-called military experts is their inability to understand the Russian approach to war. It is the result of an approach we have already seen in waves of terrorist attacks—the adversary is so stupidly demonized that we refrain from understanding his way of thinking. As a result, we are unable to develop strategies, articulate our forces, or even equip them for the realities of war. The corollary of this approach is that our frustrations are translated by unscrupulous media into a narrative that feeds hatred and increases our vulnerability. We are thus unable to find rational, effective solutions to the problem.

The way Russians understand conflict is holistic. In other words, they see the processes that develop and lead to the situation at any given moment. This explains why Vladimir Putin’s speeches invariably include a return to history. In the West, we tend to focus on X moment and try to see how it might evolve. We want an immediate response to the situation we see today. The idea that “from the understanding of how the crisis arose comes the way to resolve it” is totally foreign to the West. In September 2023, an English-speaking journalist even pulled out the “duck test” for me: “if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck.” In other words, all the West needs to assess a situation is an image that fits their prejudices. Reality is much more subtle than the duck model….

The reason the Russians are better than the West in Ukraine is that they see the conflict as a process; whereas we see it as a series of separate actions. The Russians see events as a film. We see them as photographs. They see the forest, while we focus on the trees. That is why we place the start of the conflict on February 24, 2022, or the start of the Palestinian conflict on October 7, 2023. We ignore the contexts that bother us and wage conflicts we do not understand. That is why we lose our wars…


In Russia, unsurprisingly, the principles of the military art of the Soviet forces inspired those currently in use:

  • readiness to carry out assigned missions;
  • concentration of efforts on solving a specific mission;
  • surprise (unconventionality) of military action vis-à-vis the enemy;
  • finality determines a set of tasks and the level of resolution of each one;
  • totality of available means determines the way to resolve the mission and achieve the objective (correlation of forces);
  • coherence of leadership (unity of command);
  • economy of forces, resources, time and space;
  • support and restoration of combat capability;
  • freedom of maneuver.

It should be noted that these principles apply not only to the implementation of military action as such. They are also applicable as a system of thought to other non-operational activities.

An honest analysis of the conflict in Ukraine would have identified these various principles and drawn useful conclusions for Ukraine. But none of the self-proclaimed experts on TV were intellectually able to do so.

Thus, Westerners are systematically surprised by the Russians in the fields of technology (e.g., hypersonic weapons), doctrine (e.g., operative art) and economics (e.g., resilience to sanctions). In a way, the Russians are taking advantage of our prejudices to exploit the principle of surprise. We can see this in the Ukrainian conflict, where the Western narrative led Ukraine to totally underestimate Russian capabilities, which was a major factor in its defeat. That is why Russia did not really try to counter this narrative and let it play out—the belief that we are superior makes us vulnerable….

Correlation of Forces

Russian military thought is traditionally linked to a holistic approach to warfare, which involves the integration of a large number of factors in the development of a strategy. This approach is materialized by the concept of “correlation of forces” (Соотношение сил).

Often translated as “balance of forces” or “ratio of forces,” this concept is only understood by Westerners as a quantitative quantity, limited to the military domain. In Soviet thinking, however, the correlation of forces reflected a more holistic reading of war:

There are several criteria for assessing the correlation of strengths. In the economic sphere, the factors usually compared are gross national product per capita, labor productivity, the dynamics of economic growth, the level of industrial production, particularly in high-tech sectors, the technical infrastructure of the production tool, the resources and degree of qualification of the workforce, the number of specialists and the level of development of theoretical and applied sciences.

In the military field, the factors compared are the quantity and quality of armaments, the firepower of the armed forces, the fighting and moral qualities of the soldiers, the level of staff training, the organization of the troops and their combat experience, the character of the military doctrine and the methods of strategic, operative and tactical thinking.

In the political sphere, the factors that come into consideration are the breadth of the social base of state authority, its organization, the constitutional procedure for relations between the government and legislative bodies, the ability to take operational decisions, and the degree and character of popular support for domestic and foreign policy.

Finally, when assessing the strength of the international movement, the factors taken into consideration are its quantitative composition, its influence with the masses, its position in the political life of each country, the principles and norms of relations between its components and the degree of their cohesion.

In other words, the assessment of the situation is not limited to the balance of forces on the battlefield, but takes into account all the elements that have an impact on the evolution of the conflict. Thus, for their Special Military Operation, the Russian authorities had planned to support the war effort through the economy, without moving to a “war economy” regimen. Thus, unlike in Ukraine, there was no interruption in the tax and welfare mechanisms.

This is why the sanctions applied to Russia in 2014 had a double positive effect. The first was the realization that they were not only a short-term problem, but above all a medium- and long-term opportunity. They encouraged Russia to produce goods it had previously preferred to buy abroad. The second was the signal that the West would increasingly use economic weapons as a means of pressure in the future. It therefore became imperative, for reasons of national independence and sovereignty, to prepare for more far-reaching sanctions affecting the country’s economy.

In reality, it has long been known that sanctions do not work. Logically enough, they have had the opposite effect, acting as protectionist measures for Russia, which has thus been able to consolidate its economy, as had been the case after the 2014 sanctions. A sanctions strategy might have paid off if the Russian economy had effectively been the equivalent of the Italian or Spanish economy, i.e., with a high level of debt; and if the entire planet had acted in unison to isolate Russia.

The inclusion of the correlation of forces in the decision-making process is a fundamental difference from Western decision-making processes, which are linked more to a policy of communication than to a rational approach to problems.

This explains, for example, Russia’s limited objectives in the Ukraine, where it does not seek to occupy the entire territory, as the correlation of forces in the western part of the country would be unfavorable.

At every level of leadership, the correlation of forces is part of situation assessment. At the operational level, it is defined as follows:

The result of comparing the quantitative and qualitative characteristics of the forces and resources (sub-units, units, weapons, military equipment, etc.) of one’s own troops (forces) and those of the enemy. It is calculated on an operational and tactical scale throughout the area of operations, in the main and other directions, in order to determine the degree of objective superiority of one of the opposing camps. Force correlation assessment is used to make an informed decision about an operation (battle), and to establish and maintain the necessary superiority over the enemy for as long as possible, when decisions are redefined (modified) during military (combat) operations.

This simple definition is the reason why the Russians committed themselves with forces inferior to those of Ukraine in February 2022, or why they withdrew from Kiev, Kharkov and Kherson in March, September and October 2022.


Structure of the Doctrine

The Russians have always attached particular importance to doctrine. Better than the West, they have understood that “a common way of seeing, thinking and acting”—as Marshal Foch put it—gives coherence, while allowing for infinite variations in the conception of operations. Military doctrine is a kind of “common core” that serves as a reference for designing operations.

Russian military doctrine divides military art into three main components: strategy (strategiya), operative art (operativnoe iskoustvo) and tactics (taktika). Each of these components has its own characteristics, very similar to those found in Western doctrines. Using the terminology of French doctrine on the use of forces:

  • The strategic level is that of conception. The aim of strategic action is to lead the adversary to negotiation or defeat.
  • The operative level is that of cooperation and coordination of inter-force actions, with a view to achieving a given military objective.
  • The tactical level, finally, is that of maneuver execution at weapon level as an integral part of the operational maneuver.

These three components correspond to levels of leadership, which translate into leadership structures and the space in which military operations are conducted. For simplicity’s sake, let us say that the strategic level ensures the management of the theater of war (Театр Войны) (TV); a geographically vast entity, with its own command and control structures, within which there are one or more strategic directions. The theater of war comprises a set of theaters of military operations (Театр Военных Действий) (TVD), which represent a strategic direction and are the domain of operative action. These various theaters have no predetermined structure and are defined according to the situation. For example, although we commonly speak of the “war in Afghanistan” (1979-1989) or the “war in Syria” (2015-), these countries are considered in Russian terminology as TVDs and not TVs.

The same applies to Ukraine, which Russia sees as a theater of military operations (TVD) and not a theater of war (TV), which explains why the action in Ukraine is designated as a “Special Military Operation” (Специальная Военая Операция—Spetsialaya). A Special Military Operation” (Специальная Военная Операция – Spetsial’naya Voyennaya Operatsiya—SVO, or SMO in English abbreviation) and not a “war.”

The use of the word “war” would imply a different structure of conduct than that envisaged by the Russians in Ukraine, and would have other structural implications in Russia itself. Moreover—and this is a central point—as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg himself acknowledges, “the war began in 2014” and should have been ended by the Minsk Agreements. The SMO is therefore a “military operation” and not a new “war,” as many Western “experts” claim.


The Special Military Operation in Ukraine

The Correlation of Forces

Consider all the factors that directly or indirectly influence the conflict. Conversely, as we have seen in Ukraine and elsewhere, Westerners have a much more political reading of the war, and end up mixing the two. This is why communication plays such an essential role in the conduct of war: the perception of the conflict plays an almost more important role than its reality. This is why, in Iraq, the Americans literally invented episodes that glorified their troops.

Russia’s analysis of the situation in February 2022 was undoubtedly considerably more pertinent than that of the West. They knew that a Ukrainian offensive against the Donbass was underway and that it could endanger the government. In 2014-2015, after the massacres in Odessa and Mariupol, the Russian population was very much in favor of intervention. Vladimir Putin’s stubborn clinging to the Minsk Agreements was poorly understood in Russia.

The factors that contributed to Russia’s decision to intervene were twofold: the expected support of Ukraine’s ethnically Russian population (which we will call “Russian-speaking” for convenience) and an economy robust enough to withstand sanctions.

The Russian-speaking population had risen up en masse against the new authorities following the coup d’état of February 2014, whose first decision had been to strip the Russian language of its official status. Kiev tried to backtrack, but in April 2019, the 2014 decision was definitively confirmed.

Since the adoption of the Law on Indigenous Peoples on July 1, 2021, Russian speakers (ethnic Russians) are no longer considered normal Ukrainian citizens and no longer enjoy the same rights as ethnic Ukrainians. They can therefore be expected to offer no resistance to the Russian coalition in the eastern part of the country….

Since March 24, 2021, Ukrainian forces have been stepping up their presence around the Donbass and have increased the pressure against the autonomists with their fire.

Zelensky’s decree of March 24, 2021 for the reconquest of Crimea and the Donbass was the real trigger for the SMO. From that moment on, the Russians understood that if there was military action against them, they would have to intervene. But they also knew that the cause of the Ukrainian operation was NATO membership, as Oleksei Arestovitch had explained. That is why, in mid-December 2021, they were submitting proposals to the USA and NATO on extending the Alliance: their aim was then to remove Ukraine’s motive for an offensive in the Donbass.

The reason for the Russian Special Military Operation (SMO) is indeed the protection of the populations of Donbass; but this protection was necessary because of Kiev’s desire to go through a confrontation to enter NATO. The extension of NATO is therefore only the indirect cause of the conflict in Ukraine. The latter could have spared itself this ordeal by implementing the Minsk Agreements—but what we wanted was a defeat for Russia.

In 2008, Russia intervened in Georgia to protect the Russian minority then being bombed by its government, as confirmed by the Swiss ambassador, Heidi Tagliavini, who was responsible for investigating this event. In 2014, many voices were raised in Russia to demand intervention when the new regime in Kiev had engaged its army against the civilian population of the five autonomist oblasts (Odessa, Dnepropetrovsk, Kharkov, Lugansk and Donetsk) and applied a fierce repression. In 2022, it could be expected that the population of Russia would not understand the government’s inaction, after no efforts were made from the Ukrainian and Western sides to enforce the Minsk Agreements. They knew that they did not have the means to launch an economic retaliation. But they also knew that an economic war against Russia would inevitably backfire on Western countries.

An important element of Russian military and political thinking is its legalistic dimension. The way our media present events, systematically omitting facts that could explain, justify, legitimize or even legalize Russia’s actions. We tend to think that Russia is acting outside any legal framework. For example, our media present the Russian intervention in Syria as having been decided unilaterally by Moscow; whereas it was carried out at the request of the Syrian government, after the West had allowed the Islamic State to move closer to Damascus, as confessed by John Kerry, then Secretary of State. Nevertheless, there is never any mention of the occupation of eastern Syria by American troops, who were never even invited there!

We could multiply the examples, to which our journalists will counter with the war crimes committed by Russian forces. This may well be true, but the simple fact that these accusations are not based on any impartial and neutral investigation (as required by humanitarian doctrine), nor on any international one, since Russia is systematically refused participation, casts a shadow over the honesty of these accusations. For example, the sabotage of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines was immediately attributed to Russia, which was accused of violating international law.

In fact, unlike the West, which advocates a “rules-based international order,” the Russians insist on a “law-based international order.” Unlike the West, they will apply the law to the letter. No more, no less.

The legal framework for Russia’s intervention in Ukraine has been meticulously planned. As this subject has already been covered in one of my previous books, I will not go into details here…


The Objectives and Strategy of Russia

On February 23, 2023, Swiss military “expert” Alexandre Vautravers commented on Russia’s objectives in Ukraine:

The aim of the Special Military Operation was to decapitate Ukrainian political and military governance in the space of five, ten, maybe even two weeks. The Russians then changed their plan and their objectives with a number of other failures; so they change their objectives and their strategic orientations almost every week or every month.

The problem is that our “experts” themselves define Russia’s objectives according to what they imagine, only to be able to say that it has not achieved them. So. Let us get back to the facts.

On February 24, 2022, Russia launched its “Special Military Operation” (SMO) in Ukraine “at short notice.” In his televised address, Vladimir Putin explained that its strategic objective was to protect the population of Donbass. This objective can be broken down into two parts:

  • “demilitarize” the Ukrainian armed forces regrouped in the Donbass in preparation for the offensive against the DPR and LPR; and
  • “denazify” (i.e. “neutralize”) the ultra-nationalist and neo-Nazi paramilitary militias in the Mariupol area.

The formulation chosen by Vladimir Putin has been very poorly analyzed in the West. It is inspired by the 1945 Potsdam Declaration, which envisaged the development of defeated Germany according to four principles: demilitarization, denazification, democratization and decentralization.

The Russians understand war from a Clausewitzian perspective: war is the pursuit of politics by other means. This then means that they seek to transform operational successes into strategic successes, and military successes into political objectives. So, while the demilitarization evoked by Putin is clearly linked to the military threat to the populations of the Donbass in application of the decree of March 24, 2021, signed by Zelensky.

But this objective conceals a second: the neutralization of Ukraine as a future NATO member. This is what Zelensky understood when he proposed a resolution to the conflict in March 2022. At first, his proposal was supported by Western countries, probably because at this stage they believed that Russia had failed in its bid to take over Ukraine in three days, and that it would not be able to sustain its war effort because of the massive sanctions imposed on it. But at the NATO meeting of March 24, 2022, the Allies decided not to support Zelensky’s proposition.

Nevertheless, on March 27, Zelensky publicly defended his proposal and on March 28, as a gesture of support for this effort, Vladimir Putin eased the pressure on the capital and withdrew his troops from the area. Zelensky’s proposal served as the basis for the Istanbul Communiqué of March 29, 2022, a ceasefire agreement as a prelude to a peace agreement. It was this document that Vladimir Putin presented in June 2023, when an African delegation visited Moscow. It was Boris Johnson’s intervention that prompted Zelensky to withdraw his proposal, exchanging peace and the lives of his men for support “for as long as it takes.”

This version of events—which I have already presented in my previous works—was finally confirmed in early November 2023 by David Arakhamia, then chief negotiator for Ukraine196. He explained that Russia had never intended to seize Kiev.

In essence, Russia agreed to withdraw to the borders of February 23, 2022, in exchange for a ceiling on Ukrainian forces and a commitment not to become a NATO member, along with security guarantees from a number of countries….

Two conclusions can be drawn:

  • Russia’s objective was not to conquer territory. If the West had not intervened to push Zelensky to withdraw his offer, Ukraine would probably still have its army.
  • While the Russians intervened to ensure the security and protection of the population of the Donbass, their SMO enabled them to achieve a broader objective, which involves Russia’s security.

This means that, although this objective is not formulated, the demilitarization of Ukraine could open the door to its neutralization. This is not surprising since, conversely, in an interview with the Ukrainian channel Apostrof’ on March 18, 2019, Volodymyr Zelensky’s advisor Oleksei Arestovitch cynically explains that, because Ukraine wants to join NATO, it will have to create the conditions for Russia to attack Ukraine and be definitively defeated.

The problem is that Ukrainian and Western analysis is fueled by their own narratives. The conviction that Russia will lose has meant that no alternative contingency has been prepared. In September 2023, the West, beginning to see the collapse of this narrative and its implementation, tried to move towards a “freeze” in the conflict, without taking into account the opinion of the Russians, who dominate on the ground.

Yet Russia would have been satisfied with a situation such as that proposed by Zelensky in March 2022. What the West wants in September 2023 is merely a pause until an even more violent conflict breaks out, after Ukrainian forces have been rearmed and reconstituted.


Ukrainian Strategy

The strategic objective of Volodymyr Zelensky and his team is to join NATO, as a prelude to a brighter future within the EU. It complements that of the Americans (and therefore of the Europeans). The problem is that tensions with Russia, particularly over Crimea, are causing NATO members to put off Ukraine’s participation. In March 2022, Zelensky revealed on CNN that this is exactly what the Americans told him.

Before coming to power in April 2019, Volodymyr Zelensky’s discourse was divided between two antagonistic policies: the reconciliation with Russia promised during his presidential campaign and his goal of joining NATO. He knows that these two policies are mutually exclusive, as Russia does not want to see NATO and its nuclear weapons installed in Ukraine and wanted neutrality or non-alignment.

What is more, he knows that his ultra-nationalist allies will refuse to negotiate with Russia. This was confirmed by Praviy Sektor leader Dmitro Yarosh, who openly threatened him with death in the Ukrainian media a month after his election. Zelensky therefore knew from the start of the election campaign that he would not be able to fulfill his promise of reconciliation, and that there was only one solution left: confrontation with Russia.

But this confrontation could not be waged by Ukraine alone against Russia, and it would need the material support of the West. The strategy devised by Zelensky and his team was revealed before his election in March 2019 by Oleksei Arestovitch, his personal advisor, on the Ukrainian media Apostrof’. Arestovitch explained that it would take an attack by Russia to provoke an international mobilization that would enable Ukraine to defeat Russia once and for all, with the help of Western countries and NATO. With astonishing precision, he described the course of the Russian attack as it would unfold three years later, between February and March 2022. Not only did he explain that this conflict was unavoidable if Ukraine is to join NATO, but he also placed this confrontation in 2021-2022! He outlined the main areas of Western aid:

In this conflict, we will be very actively supported by the West. Weapons. Equipment. Assistance. New sanctions against Russia. Most likely, the introduction of a NATO contingent. A no-fly zone, and so on. In other words, we won’t lose it.

As we can see, this strategy has much in common with the one described by the RAND Corporation at the same time. So much so, in fact, that it is hard not to see it as a strategy strongly inspired by the United States. In his interview, Arestovitch singled out four elements that would become the pillars of the Ukrainian strategy against Russia, and to which Zelensky returned regularly:

  • International aid and arms supplies,
  • International sanctions,
  • NATO intervention,
  • Creation of a no-fly zone.

It should be noted that these four pillars are understood by Zelensky as promises whose fulfillment is essential to the success of this strategy. In February 2023, Oleksiy Danilov, Secretary of Ukraine’s Defense and National Security Council, declared in The Kyiv Independent that Ukraine’s objective was the disintegration of Russia. The mobilization of Western countries to supply Ukraine with heavy weapons then seems to give substance to this objective, which is consistent with what Oleksiy Arestovich had declared in March 2019.

A few months later, however, it became clear that the equipment supplied to Ukraine was not sufficient to ensure the success of its counter-offensive, and Zelensky asked for additional, better-adapted equipment. At this point, there was a certain amount of Western irritation at these repeated demands. Former British Defense Minister Ben Wallace declared that Westerners “are not Amazon.” In fact, the West does not respect its commitments.

Contrary to what our media and pseudo-military experts tell us, since February 2022, it has been clear that Ukraine cannot defeat Russia on its own. As Obama put it, “Russia [there] will always be able to maintain its escalation dominance.” In other words, Ukraine will only be able to achieve its goals with the involvement of NATO countries. This means that its fate will depend on the goodwill of Western countries. So, we need to maintain a narrative that encourages the West to keep up this effort. This narrative will then become what we call, in strategic terms, its “center of gravity.”

As the months went by, the course of operations showed that the prospect of a Ukrainian victory was becoming increasingly remote, as Russia, far from being weakened, was growing stronger, militarily and economically. Even General Christopher Cavoli, Supreme American Commander Europe (SACEUR), told a US congressional committee that “Russia’s air, naval, space, digital and strategic capabilities have not suffered significant degradation during this war.”

The West, expecting a short conflict, is no longer able to maintain the effort promised to Ukraine. The NATO summit in Vilnius (July 11-12, 2023) ended in partial success for Ukraine. Its membership is postponed indefinitely. Its situation is even worse than it was at the beginning of 2022, since there is no more justification for its entry into NATO than there was before the SMO.

Ukraine then turned its attention to a more concrete objective: regaining sovereignty over its entire 1991 territory.

Thus, the Ukrainian notion of “victory” rapidly evolved. The idea of a “collapse of Russia” quickly faded, as did that of its dismemberment. There was talk of “regime change,” which Zelensky made his objective by forbidding any negotiations as long as Vladimir Putin was in power. Then came the reconquest of lost territories, thanks to the counter-offensive of 2023. But here, too, hopes quickly faded. The plan was simply to cut the Russian forces in two, with a thrust towards the Sea of Azov. But by September 2023, this objective had been reduced to the liberation of three cities.

In the absence of concrete successes, narrative remains the only element Ukraine can rely on to maintain Western attention and willingness to support it. For, as Ben Wallace, ex-Defence Minister, put it in The Telegraph on October 1, 2023: “The most precious commodity is hope.” True enough. But Western appraisal of the situation must be based on realistic analyses of the adversary. However, since the beginning of the Ukrainian crisis, Western analyses have been based on prejudice.


The Notion of Victory

Russia operates within a framework of Clausewitzian thinking, in which operational successes are exploited for strategic ends. Operational strategy (“operative art”) therefore plays an essential role in the definition of what is considered a victory.

As we saw during the battle of Bakhmut, the Russians adapted perfectly to the strategy imposed on Ukraine by the West, which prioritizes the defense of every square meter. The Ukrainians thus played into the hands of the attrition strategy officially announced by Russia. Conversely, in Kharkov and Kherson, the Russians preferred to cede territory in exchange for the lives of their men. In the context of a war of attrition, sacrificing potential in exchange for territory, as Ukraine is doing, is the worst strategy of all.

This is why General Zaluzhny, commander of the Ukrainian forces, tried to oppose Zelensky and proposed withdrawing his forces from Bakhmut. But in Ukraine, it is the Western narrative that guides military decisions. Zelensky preferred to follow the path laid out for him by our media, in order to retain the support of Western opinion. In November 2023, General Zaluzhny had to openly admit that this decision was a mistake, because prolonging the war will only favor Russia.

The Ukrainian conflict was inherently asymmetrical. The West wanted to turn it into a symmetrical conflict, proclaiming that Ukraine’s capabilities could be enough to topple Russia. But this was clearly wishful thinking from the outset, and its sole purpose was to justify non-compliance with the Minsk Agreements. Russian strategists have turned it into an asymmetrical conflict.

Ukraine’s problem in this conflict is that it has no rational relationship with the notion of victory. By comparison, the Palestinians, who are aware of their quantitative inferiority, have switched to a way of thinking that gives the simple act of resisting a sense of victory. This is the asymmetrical nature of the conflict that Israel has never managed to understand in 75 years, and which it is reduced to overcoming through tactical superiority rather than strategic finesse. In Ukraine, it is the same phenomenon. By clinging to a notion of victory linked to the recovery of territory, Ukraine has locked itself into a logic that can only lead to defeat.

On November 20, 2023, Oleksiy Danilov, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, painted a gloomy picture of Ukrainian prospects for 2024. His speech showed that Ukraine had neither a plan to emerge from the conflict, nor an approach that would associate a sense of victory with that emergence: he was reduced to linking Ukraine’s victory to that of the West. In the West, however, the end of the conflict in Ukraine is increasingly perceived as a military, political, human and economic debacle.

In an asymmetrical situation, each protagonist is free to define his or her own criteria for victory, and to choose from a range of criteria under his or her control. This is why Egypt (1973), Hezbollah (2006), the Islamic State (2017), the Palestinian resistance since 1948 and Hamas in 2023 are victorious, despite massive losses. This seems counter-intuitive to a Western mind, but it is what explains why Westerners are unable to really “win” their wars.

In Ukraine, the political leadership has locked itself into a narrative that precludes a way out of the crisis without losing face. The asymmetrical situation now working to Ukraine’s disadvantage stems from a narrative that has been confused with reality, and has led to a response that is ill-suited to the nature of the Russian operation.

Featured: Defend Sevastopol, by Vassily Nesterenko; painted in 2005.

Géza Ottlik’s A School at the Frontier: Out of Childhood and into History

Written in 1948, in a shattered Hungary, emerging from the war on the side of the defeated, School at the Frontier was not published until 1959, in a country whose satellization by the Soviets was now complete. Yet there are no references to the dramatic events of recent history in this melancholy work: Géza Ottlik, drawing largely on his own memories, describes the daily life of a group of students entering the first year of a military school in the 1920s. The institution, located near the newly established border separating Hungary and Austria, welcomed the country’s future elite.

In this enclosed, out-of-this-world universe, whose isolation evokes that of the young Hungarian nation in the middle of a continent with which it does not even share the origins of its language, children are preparing to become men. The rigor of instruction, the quasi-Kafkaesque discipline and the constant violence imposed on these still carefree spirits are designed to harden them. If the end of childhood means a break with the sweetness of family life, a break with the carefreeness of rural life and a confrontation with the brutal industrial world of war, it is because Hungary itself has embarked on a transformation that should enable it to catch up with its supposed lag. More than a metaphor for the advent of the twentieth century in a Central Europe brutally roused from its torpor, the fate of these children heralds the disaster to come.

In their own way, each of the young students embodies a figure of the Hungarian, a posture in the face of history and existence. Czako, whose indolence and phlegm in the face of vexations evoke the detachment of the artist or nomad; Medve, combative but naive, recalls the political activist who is revolted by the abuse of power, but whose illusions deprive him of clear-sightedness; Öttzvényi, attached to procedures, rejecting iniquity and concerned with respect for justice, appears as an allegory of the law. The tragic fate that awaits Öttzvényi, guilty of having reported an unjust punishment for the first time in the school’s history, is a reminder that when times get tough, the law can do no more. In this military institution, as in the upcoming dictatorial Hungary, force supersedes law, and authority takes the place of justice.

Told through the memories of a now-adult narrator, this harrowing school year allows us to appreciate, step by step, the slow march of free spirits called upon to see their moral judgment diluted by the strict observance of arbitrary principles. These rules, sometimes tyrannical, often absurd, need no legitimacy. They do not even need rationality. Their existence is their only justification, and is enough to compel compliance: “No one was trying to get us to admit that the aim of the stretching exercises was physical culture; it was simply to get us to start the day, every morning at dawn, with a half-hour bullying session.”

Beyond the Bildungsroman

The precision of the narrative and the meticulous style with which Géza Ottlik, without ever revealing the key to their real meaning, spins out the events that mark this long year, distinguish School at the Frontier from the classic Bildungsroman to which it has often been likened. Psychological developments are rare. Analysis is absent. Only the details of a dull, repetitive daily life allow us, through their subtle and slow alteration over time, to understand the depth of the changes taking place in these young boys. Less masterful than Musil’s The Confusions of Young Törless, more austere than the works of Herman Hesse, School at the Frontier nevertheless manages to depict the fate of this sacrificed European generation with the same cruelty.

Even more so than the fact that introspective reflection is replaced by bare facts, it is the work’s pessimism that sets it radically apart from the Bildungsroman established by the German-language authors of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In Musil, Mann and Hesse, leaving childhood involves its share of drama and wounds, which are the price to pay for true freedom. The post-romantic critique of the triumphant rationality of the Enlightenment remains no less reasonable: if the darkness of ignorance cannot be totally dispelled, it remains necessary to confront it and recognize one’s own imperfection, with the aim of surpassing oneself.

In Ottlik’s work, the pain of coming of age is not compensated for. Illusions dispelled and naiveté lost are replaced only by bitterness and resignation. The world for which the military school prepares its pupils is neither more rational nor more beautiful than the school itself. The same absurdity and violence prevail: growing up means accepting one’s chains and one’s condition: “Among the countless things we held dear, some were reduced to nothing more or less quickly, disintegrated or altered,” observes the narrator. As for the “little moments of pleasure” that endure for better or for worse, from a stay in the infirmary where books can be obtained, to a game of soccer played between two exercises, their brevity and uselessness ultimately rob them of all flavor. They are the last childlike respites the condemned man allows himself to live.

A Tragic Sense of History

In fact, as adults, the narrator and his friend Medve look back on their first year with pain. The vexations they endured have left scars perhaps deeper than the war itself. The sense of waste is heightened by the idea that it was all for nothing, and that there was no justice. The most perfidious of their comrades went on to brilliant careers as officers, or became half-robots. The weakest continued to suffer the ravages of life, even after renouncing their military careers. Once again, history imposes itself as a tragedy. Life kept its disappointing promises. The war, for which they had been prepared, took place. Everything that happened was already there, in germ, in the mind of a child and in the destiny of a country.

As the school year progresses, and in the face of the implacability of History, a question as absurd as it is obvious gradually emerges: what is the point of time passing? Another Hungarian writer, László Krasznahorkai, seems to reply in the opening line of Melancholy of Resistance: “It passes without passing. Like adults whose choices are merely repetitions of childhood echoes, like peoples condemned to reproduce the same acts from generation to generation, schoolchildren “grope blindly in a duration that has… lost its true consistency, and sometimes it [seems to them] to be trampling on, sometimes the events of a recent past seem extremely distant.”

Reflecting the cyclical vision of history so dear to Central and Eastern European literature, this pessimism reminds us that the past haunts the present and determines the future, on the scale of human life as well as major events. For the Hungarian society of the 1960s, which soon ranked School at the Frontier among the great classics of its national literature, this was no doubt self-evident. In many ways, the fate of these schoolchildren repeated the dramas of the defunct Kingdom of Hungary, just as much as they foreshadowed the misfortunes of the Communist dictatorship—with which Gézla Ottlik maintained a distance that, in the context of the Kadar years, was enough to pass for disapproval.

Alexis Bétemps is a Parisian Germanophile and deputy editor-in-chief of PHILITT, through whose courtesy this article appears.

Featured: Mátyás Hunyadi Military School in Kőszeg, in 1926. Géza Ottlik is in the back row, second from the left.

The Polish Question: The West vs. Russia

The article analyzes the Polish Question in the relationship between Russia and the West. The article considers the Polish Question as an instrument of the West’s ideological struggle against Russia. The article traces the main stages of Russian-Polish relations and concludes that since the Livonian War, Polish authors have been the main transmitters of negative myths about Russia as a barbaric, despotic and expansionist power. The article analyzes the role of the Polish factor in the formation of a negative image of Russia in the West during the partitions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and during the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, when the first version of the fake Will of Peter the Great, created by the Polish General Michał Sokolnicki appears. The author analyzes the view of Russia through the prism of the Polish uprisings of 1830-1831 and 1863-1864 and concludes that European Polonophilism had the reverse side of hatred towards Russia. It also concludes that Russia’s suppression of the Polish uprising of 1830-1831 helped to cement its image, not just as an expansionist power, but as a state incompatible with the idea of freedom. It is also noted that despite the fact that after the uprising of 1863-1864 reforms were carried out in Poland, Russia remained the main enemy for new generations of patriotic Poles. The article analyzes the views on Russia of leading European politicians and public figures that were shaped under the influence of the Polish Question. The article also analyzes the racial concepts of Russian inferiority, which were originated by Polish authors, primarily Franciszek Henryk Duchiński, whose ideas had a great influence on the development of European anti-Russian thought.


The relationship between Russia and Poland at different stages of historical development was not just complex, but often dramatic, marked by conflicts, Polish interventions, partitions of Poland, and uprisings. It was connected both with political, or, to put it in modern terms, geopolitical contradictions, and with no less important the religious factor, as the origins of the confrontation between Russia and the West are rooted in the split of the churches and the desire to induce Russia to accept the Union.

Beginning in the 14th century, Poland began to pursue an actively offensive policy in the Russian lands. At the same time, as the national researcher Oleg B. Nemensky rightly notes, as the Catholic country territorially closest to Russia, Poland historically was the main source of information about Russians for Western Europe. In 15th-16th centuries, Polish historians created a concept, according to which Russia has long belonged to Poland by right and for all eternity, since the campaigns to Kiev in the 11th century of Bolesław I the Brave and Bolesław II the Bold [Oleg Nemenski, “Rusofobiya kak ideologiya”—”Russophobia as an Ideology,” in Voprosy natsionalizmaQuestions of nationalism, (1)2013, p. 13]. As a result, Poland already by the middle of the 16th century “had a full-fledged ideology of the conquest of Russia and the destruction of the “schisma,” i.e., Eastern Christianity” [Nemenski, 2013, p. 33].

From the Livonian War to the Partitions of Poland

During the years of the Livonian War (1558-1583), it was Polish publicists who came to be seen as the main experts on Russia. They became the main transmitters of negative myths about Russia as a barbaric, despotic and expansionist power.

As noted by historian Aleksandr I. Filiushkin, during the Livonian War, which Filiushkin calls the first confrontation between Russia and Europe, the idea of immanent hostility of “Asian” Russia to civilized Europe became one of the main aporias of European historical memory. It was the Polish nobility that played a key role in the formation of the myth of Asian and barbaric Muscovy, the antagonist of the Christian world, later picked up in other countries [A. Filyushkin, Kak Rossiya stala dlya Evropy Aziej? (How did Russia become Asia for Europe?), Moscow: Izobreteniye imperii. Yazyki i praktiki, 2011, p. 21]. The development of printing allowed publishing in large print runs of numerous works about Muscovy, which were distributed throughout Europe. According to O.B. Nemensky, the mass appearance of pamphlets that “exposed” the Russian people and its customs, the Moscow state and its rulers turned Muscovy in the minds of the West into “anti-Europe, a terrible and very dangerous country, combining all the known vices of the human race” [A. Filyushkin, Kak Rossiya stala dlya Evropy Aziej? (How did Russia become Asia for Europe?), Moscow: Izobreteniye imperii. Yazyki i praktiki, 2011, рр. 10-48., p. 34].

These were small texts written in simple style, mostly in German and Polish, which were the forerunners of the modern periodicals. They were modeled on the anti-Turkish pamphlets published in large numbers throughout the 16th century. As Belgian researcher Stefan Mund notes, it is not by chance that both were printed in the same printing houses [Review: A. Filyushkin, “Stéfane Mund, ORBIS RUSSIARUM: Genèse et development de la representation du monde “russe” en Occident à la Renaissance,” in Ab Imperio, (1)2004, p. 563]. And it is no coincidence that the Russians were subjected to pejorative characteristics attributed to the Turks, such as “bloody dogs,” “eternal cruel enemies,” and Russians were depicted on engravings in Turkish decorations [.F. Kudryavcev, “Neuznannaya civilizaciya. Zametki po povodu knigi Stefana Munda «Orbis Russiarum.» Genezis i razvitie predstavlenij o «Russkom mire» na Zapade v epohu Vozrozhdeniya” [“Unrecognized civilization. Notes on Stéfane Mund’s book Orbis Russiarum. Genesis and development of ideas about the ‘Russian world’ in the West in the Renaissance”], in Ancient Rus, 3(21)2005, p. 125].

The Vatican was concerned that victory in the Livonian War could lead to Muscovy’s domination in the Baltic and even beyond. In the future, the Vatican assumed that the Polish-Lithuanian kings would create an outer rampart of Europe, which would “stop at its foot all Muscovites and Tatars” [I. Noimann, Ispol’zovanie «Drugogo»: Obrazy Vostoka v formirovanii evropeiskih identichnostei [The Use of the “Other”: Images of the East in the Formation of European identities]. Moscow: New Publishing House, 2004, p. 110]. The long-prepared Brest Church Union in 1597 abolished legal Orthodoxy in Western Russia, and by the beginning of the 17th century Poles appeared in the Moscow Kremlin. And the conquest of Moscow immediately went under the slogan of “affirmation of Uniatism” [Oleg Nemenski, “Rusofobiya kak ideologiya”—”Russophobia as an Ideology,” in Voprosy natsionalizmaQuestions of nationalism, (1)2013, p. 33].

For Europe, the Polish question was a trump card in the struggle with Russia and one of the main arguments for its accusations of expansionism and the desire to subjugate the whole world. These accusations intensified especially after the partitions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (1772, 1793, 1795). In spite of the fact that Russia, Prussia and Austria took part in them, it was Russia who became the main object of accusations of expansionism and the desire to enslave the unfortunate Poland.

It is no coincidence that it was the Polish author, General Michał Sokolnicki, who wrote the original text of the so-called The Will of Peter the Great. Even the American researcher Raymond McNally in 1958, and in 1967 the French researcher Simone Blanc came to the reasonable conclusion that the author of the original text of the document was Sokolnicki, who in 1797 wrote the document, “General Review of Russia” and offered it to the French Directory. It was a passionate appeal to France, which had forgotten its traditional policy of being an ally and protector of Poland, and which did not know that Poland and the whole of Europe was threatened by Russia [S. Blanc, “Histoire d’une phobie : le Testament de Pierre le Grand,” in Cahiers du monde russe et soviétique, 1(3-4)1968, p. 268]. The end of the text contained the “Plan of Peter I,” which, according to the author, was extracted from Russian archives, captured in Warsaw in 1794 [Blanc, 1968, p. 271]. The government of the Directory did not demand this document at that time, because the objectives were different.

However, Sokolnicki was remembered by Napoleon Bonaparte, who became First Consul and then Emperor in 1804, and who himself aspired to world domination, not mythical but real. In 1811, General Sokolnicki was summoned to Paris and took an active part in the secret preparations for war with Russia. It was Napoleon, having viewed and edited the text of Sokolnicki’s “Opinion on Russia,” ordered to include it in the book by Charles-Louis Lesur, Des progrès de la puissance russe: depuis son origine jusqu’au commencement du XIXe siècle (1812), which was to be published just before the beginning of the Russian campaign. The first version of Lesur’s book appeared in 1807, probably on the eve of the Peace of Tilsit. However, the work was actually published in October 1812. In any case, R. McNally has called this work one of the most influential in the history of Russophobia [R. McNally, “The Origins of Russophobia in France 1812-1830,” in American Slavic East and European Review, 3(17)1958, p. 173].

At the end of the chapter devoted to Peter I, a summary of the “Plan of Peter I” was given [Lesur, 1812, pp. 117-179]. As S. Blanc has noted, the summary of Lesur’s book differs only slightly from Sokolnicki’s text [Blanc, 1968, p. 268]. This leaves no doubt that we have before us one and the same “document,” which differed only by minor editing and very small changes.

The Polish Question in the 19th Century: Between the Congress of Vienna and the Polish Uprisings

The Polish Question became a stumbling block at the Congress of Vienna in 1814-1815, as Russia’s allies in the anti-Napoleonic coalition opposed the annexation of the entire territory of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw to Russia. Despite the fact that Russia granted the Grand Duchy of Poland within Russia wide autonomy and constitution, Europe perceived it solely as a propaganda measure to put to sleep the vigilance for further development of Russia’s expansionist plans [N.P. Tanshina, “Pol’skij vopros po zapiskam imperatora Nikolaya I i grafa Sh.-A. Pocco di Borgo” [“The Polish question according to the notes of Emperor Nicholas I and Count S.-A. Pozzo di Borgo”], in Novaya i noveyshaya istoriya, (2)2018, p. 15-26].

Following 1815, the Polish issue continued to be stirred up in Europe, and the ferment of minds was often the result of the hands of the Poles themselves, especially since European public opinion in liberalizing Europe was not in favor of powerful Russia. In particular, in 1829, under the influence of Polish agitation in Paris, L’ Histoire des legions polonaises en Italie sous le commandement du general Dombrovski, in two volumes, (History of the Polish Legions in Italy under the Command of General Dombrowski) was published, written by Leonard Chodzko; the Preface to the book included words about the Russian threat. (Jan Heinrich Dąbrowski (1755-1818), Polish military officer, division general of the Grand Army. After Napoleon’s abdication he returned to Poland).

The July Revolution of 1830 was the catalyst for the revolutionary movement in Europe. On November 29, 1830, an uprising began in Warsaw. The events in Poland went beyond the internal Russian problem and became the object of close attention and political discussions throughout Europe.

For the average Frenchman, supporting the uprising in Poland and favoring the development of the democratic idea in France were roughly the same thing. But King Louis-Philippe of Orleans was not at all inclined to interfere in the events in Poland, seeing it as an internal Russian affair. However, as in the case of the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-1829, government policy diverged from the mood of public opinion. The authorities, of course, were also Polonophile, but Louis-Philippe, wishing to be recognized as a full-fledged monarch who had no intention of fanning the fires of revolution and exporting it, refused to provide armed aid to Poland. Therefore, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Horace François Bastien Sébastiani de La Portam declared France’s non-interference in the affairs of Poland.

Nevertheless, the public did not stop exerting serious pressure on the government, which, in the opinion of the French, was responsible for the current international situation [N.P. Tanshina, Politicheskaya bor’ba vo Francii po voprosam vneshnej politiki v gody Iyul’skoj monarhii (The Political Struggle in France on Foreign Policy Issues During the July Monarchy). Moscow: Prometheus, 2005, pp. 157-159]. In France, there was active propaganda in favor of Poland. Catholics played an important role in this case. For example, in the Catholic publication, L’Avenir, in December 1830, young Count Charles Montalembert (1810-1870) wrote that in the Polish uprising he saw the struggle of oppressed Catholics against Russian Orthodox-oppressors. The liberal Benjamin Constant and the Polish historian, geographer and social activist, Leonard Chodzko (1800-1871), made fiery speeches calling on all friends of freedom to support Poland. Volunteers were sent to Poland from Paris, Lyon, Strasbourg; Poles were helped by doctors; cultural figures organized charity lotteries in favor of the rebels [Charles Corbet, A l’ère des nationalismes. L’opinion française face à l’inconnue russe. 1799-1894 (1967), p. 161].

In the meantime, Field Marshal Ivan F. Paskevich was sent to Poland. He arrived with the troops on the night of June 13-14 and immediately began to prepare an offensive. At the beginning of August, Warsaw was encircled by Russian troops. The commander-in-chief delivered to the besieged an address by Nicholas I, who promised amnesty for the last time on condition of voluntary surrender of arms and submission to the imperial authority. The deputies of the Sejm rejected the proposal. On August 27 (September 7), 1831, after forty-eight hours of bloody fighting, Russian troops triumphantly entered Warsaw. On February 14/26, 1832, the “Organic Statute” was declared. Poland was deprived of the Constitution of 1815, the Sejm was dissolved, the Polish army was liquidated, and independent government was abolished. Poland became part of Russia with provinces instead of traditional voivodships. They retained only the right to some local liberties. According to the “Organic Statute,” Russian representatives were introduced into the Viceroy’s Council. A state of siege was declared in Warsaw. The leaders of the uprising and rebellious generals were exiled to Siberia and deprived of property, and their children were taken to be educated in the Russian army.

From the beginning of September 1831, the front pages of French newspapers were devoted to the events in Poland. When, finally, on September 15, France learned of Warsaw’s surrender, a riot broke out in Paris. In the streets there were shouts of “Long live the republic!” And Parisians broke the windows of the ministries, tried to get into the Palais Royal. For several days, there were anti-Russian popular demonstrations in the capital, which required the intervention of troops to subdue. Under the windows of the hotel building where the Russian embassy was located, shouts were heard: “Down with the Russians! Long live Poland! Revenge!” The windows of the embassy were broken with stones [Blanc, 1968, p. 220].

At times, Paris was covered by popular anger. In March 1831, news spread in the capital that the Russian army had entered Warsaw. Parisians marched on the Champs-Elysees with slogans “Death to the Russians!” The windows of the Russian Embassy were again broken; the police were barely able to protect it.

The French public reacted avidly to the events in Poland. For example, the famous poet, Auguste-Marseille Barthélemy, wrote: “Noble sister! Warsaw! She died for us! Died with weapons in her hands… Without hearing our cry of compassion… Do not talk any more about the glory of our barricades! You want to see the coming of the Russians: they will come.” Abbot Félicité Robert de La Mennais, in his article, “The Taking of Warsaw,” wrote: “Warsaw has fallen! The heroic Polish nation, abandoned by France, rejected by England, fell in the struggle with the barbarian hordes… Glorious nation, our brother in faith and in arms, when you fought for your life, we could only help you with compassion; and now that you are defeated, we can only mourn you. People of heroes, people of our love, rest in the grave where you have ended up because of the crime of some and the meanness of others. But hope is still alive, and the prophetic voice says: You will be reborn!” [A. Dumas (père), Mémoires, vols. 4-6 (1854), pp. 56-63].

Russia’s suppression of the uprising helped to consolidate its image, not just as an expansionist power, but as a state incompatible with the idea of freedom, which was especially used by liberals and radicals of all stripes. According to the American historian Martin Malia, these events produced a real metamorphosis in the perception of Russia and caused a real shock in Europe. Polish patriots were overnight not only suppressed, but also deprived of constitution and autonomy [Martin Malia, Russia under Western Eyes. From the Bronze Horseman to the Lenin Mausoleum (1999), p. 92]. As the researcher noted, for the first time, the system of autocracy was imposed, undoubtedly, on European territory. The West created a new image of Russia as a bastion of aggressive militant reaction [Malia (1999), p. 93].

Russia was reminded of the partitions of Poland and the entry of Russian troops into Paris, as well as the heroic resistance of the Poles. The words of French Foreign Minister Sebastiani, “Order reigns in Warsaw,” were circulated by the opposition and became the caption for a popular cartoon by Granville, which depicted a Cossack trampling the corpses of Poles. As the Swiss researcher Guy Mettan notes, “Nicholas I lost the laurels of the ‘liberator’ of Greece, which had long challenged other powers, and consolidated his reputation as an Asian despot” [Guy Mettan, Zapad—Rossiya: tysyacheletnyaya vojna. Istoriya rusofobii ot Karla Velikogo do ukrainskogo krizisa [The West—Russia: The Thousand-Year War. History of Russophobia from Charlemagne to the Ukrainian Crisis] (2016), p. 249].

The personification of the changes that occurred to Russia was Prince Adam Czartoryski, formerly a friend and minister of Emperor Alexander, now opposed to Nicholas as head of the Provisional Government in Warsaw.

According to Martin Malia, Europeans suddenly realized that “after France, Poland is the most heroic nation in Europe.” With the growth of the liberal movement in Europe, after the July Revolution, Poland was perceived as the main bulwark of all progressive values of the time, and received an additional halo of glory as the most faithful of the great emperor’s allies. As Malia correctly noted, the more Poland seemed to be a martyr, the more Russia seemed to be an executioner [Malia, 1999, p. 93].

After the suppression of the uprising, its leaders and, in general, many Poles emigrated and settled in different countries, mainly in France and in Great Britain [21]. It was Poles in the following years who raised a powerful anti-Russian wave and shaped public opinion about Russia. And since the Livonian War, Poles were the main “experts on Russia” and the main source of information, and such information was very much in the soul of the Polonophile-minded European public (V.F. Ratch, Pol’skaya emigraciya do i vo vremya poslednego myatezha 1831-1863 [Polish emigration Before and During the Last Rebellion of 1831-1863] (1866), p. 15).

The French government was sufficiently concerned about the presence of Poles in France. As early as November 1831, the government of Casimir Perrier, in an effort to remove the restless Polish element from the capital, issued a circular forbidding Poles from entering Paris. As a result, Polish emigrants were placed first in two large and then in several dozen small groups in provincial French towns where “Polish depots” were established, while only the wealthiest and generally moderate elements of the emigration remained in Paris.

In the years that followed, Poland was an important element in the internal political life of France, and the Polish Question did not stray far from the parliamentary agenda. Thus, at the January session of 1834, Narcisse-Achille de Salvandy, a prominent politician of those years, compared Russia’s actions in rebellious Poland to the policy of Genghis Khan and Tamerlane, but found Russia’s policy even more cruel. François Bignon, an opposition politician, solemnly declared that “the day when the Poles themselves will throw off their chains, or the day when other nations will free them from the bloody yoke pressing on them, will be the day when humanity will triumph over barbarism” [Corbet, 1967, p. 169].

At the same time, it cannot be said that European public opinion was unanimously against Russia, even after the July Revolution and the suppression of the Warsaw Uprising. Everything depended on the system of alliances on which European leaders relied within the framework of the “European concert” at any given moment. In particular, in France at that time, the legitimists, i.e., supporters of the overthrown legitimate Bourbon dynasty, were in favor of an alliance with Russia. Thus, the far-right newspaper Le Quotidienne supported Russia in the Polish issue, not without reason noting that the uprising in Warsaw was a consequence of the July Revolution [Corbet, 1967, p. 176].

In 1835, the Polish Question was once again on the pan-European agenda, and this was due to a speech made by Emperor Nicholas I, on October 5, 1835, in the Lazienkowski Palace in Warsaw. Speaking before a deputation of Polish townspeople, the emperor said: “If you obstinately cherish the dream of a separate, national, independent Poland and all these chimeras, you will only bring great misfortunes upon yourselves. At my command a citadel has been erected here, and I declare to you that at the slightest disturbance I will order to crush your city, I will destroy Warsaw and I will certainly not rebuild it again” [3, p. 215]. [3, с. 215]. This speech was perceived extremely negatively in the West. In the report of the Third Department for this year, it was reported: “It is not surprising that this speech neither the British nor the French liked. Having distorted it and given it a wrong meaning, they filled the newspapers with their reprimands, even rude swear words” [M.V. Sidorova, E.I. Shcherbakova, eds., Rocciya pod nadzorom. Otchety III otdeleniya 1827—1869 [Russia Under Surveillance. Reports of the Third Department, 1827-1869] (Moscow: Russian Cultural Foundation, 2006), pp. 129-131].

With this speech, the Emperor put a very powerful weapon in the hands of his detractors. Even if Nicholas’s character had been more accommodating, this speech would still have been the basis for a new wave of propaganda vilifying the Russians.

The famous journalist, politician, and Sorbonne professor Saint-Marc Girardin spoke very harshly of Emperor Nicholas, publishing a scathing article in his newspaper Le journal des débats, on October 10, 1835. Saint-Marc Girardin (Marc Girardin) (1801-1873) was a French politician, writer, journalist, literary critic and publisher, editor of Le Journal des Débats, and a member of the French Academy. A few months later, speaking in Parliament, on January 11, 1836, he declared that by “confiscating” Poland for itself, Russia had destroyed “one of the barriers protecting it” in Europe; and Girardin went on to trundle out the liberals’ favorite song that Russia and freedom are incompatible, and therefore “freedom is the best barrier against Russia.” And quite in the spirit of the already formed tradition, he frightened his fellow parliamentarians with the “Russian threat”: “Russia did not need a hundred years to reach almost to the door of Constantinople from Azov… It took her sixty years to be where she is now… Sixty more years will pass, and where will she be?” [Corbet, 1967, p. 178].

Many such pro-Polish statements were made. In particular, the already mentioned Count Montalembert until the 1860s consistently opposed Emperor Nicholas I and then Alexander II as far as “Holy Poland” was concerned, and from the Polish Question he turned to the Russian issue. On January 6, 1836, speaking in the House of Peers, he enumerated in detail the “atrocities” of Russia against the Polish people, in an attempt to show that the drama of the Poles was well within the general policy of Russia. The conquest of Poland was only a stage in the realization of a gigantic historical plan: the subjugation of the whole of Europe. Therefore, the Poles were defending not only their independence and their interests, but were defending “civilization against barbarism, the long and noble superiority of the West against the new invasion of the Tartars.” In doing so, Montalembert emphasized that Russia found “admirers and devotees everywhere,” but what did it promise Europe? “Darkness instead of light, military despotism instead of civil liberties, the shame of idolatrous schisma instead of the free beliefs of the West” [Corbet, 1967, pp. 179-180].

Every year, when the French Parliament debated the Address in response to the King’s Speech from the Throne, Montalembert used the opportunity to raise the Polish Question and renew his anti-Russian philippics. On November 17, 1840, on the wave of the Eastern crisis and anti-Russian sentiment, he said in the House of Peers: “We are all threatened by an ever-increasing danger, the predominance of Russia in Europe… Russia is already encircling Europe on all sides: its central border is only 200 leagues from the Rhine… From Bukovina to Kotor, the Slavic peoples of Austria profess her religion; she is awaited and called for” [Corbet, 1967, p. 181].

In England, these themes were developed by David Urquhart (1805-1877), whose name later became synonymous with Russophobia. Of course, Urquhart’s Russophobia was the reverse side of his Turkophilia, but Russian policy in Poland was also one of the main objects of his attacks. All the more so, because the documentary basis of the journal he published from November 1835 to 1837 in English and French (Portfolio, or Collection of State Documents … Illustrating the History of our Time) was the diplomatic documents provided to him by Polish emigrants. These were, first of all, the secret correspondence of Russian ambassadors, allegedly taken in 1831 from the chancery of Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich in Warsaw (in fact, most of the documents were forged by Urquhart) [K.V. Dushenko, “Pervye debaty o ‘rusofobii’ (Angliya, 1836–1841)”—”The First Debate about ‘Russophobia’: England, 1836-1841”], in Historical Expertise, 4(2021), p. 230].

Urquhart’s journals had great international resonance and were translated into foreign languages. In 1835, he published a pamphlet “England and Russia” (D.J. Urquhart, England, France, Russia & Turkey), in which he intimidated the reader with the “Russian threat,” emphasizing that for Poland “its space is void in the political map of Europe,” and the powers themselves allowed it, and the French government, moreover, did not help Poland [Urquhart, England & Russia (1835-1856), p. 1-2].

At the same time, in the eyes of Europeans, Poland was a bargaining chip in the defense of their own national interests. Therefore, when Russia was seen as an ally, the Polish Question was interpreted in a completely different way. Such metamorphoses, for example, happened with the famous politician and diplomat, Napoleon’s confessor, Abbé Dominique Dufour de Pradt (1759-1837). From the very beginning of the Restoration regime, he harshly criticized Russian policy, regularly actualizing the theme of the “Russian threat” and intimidating the French that Russia was “fifty leagues from Berlin and Vienna” [D.G.F. Pradt, Système permanent de l’Europe à l’egard de la Russie (1828), p. 6]. However, in 1836, amid the crisis of the French-English “cordial agreement,” Pradt bet on an alliance with Russia and published, Question de l’Orient Sous Les Rapports Généraux Et Particuliers, in which, among other things, he justified Russia’s policy in Poland, emphasizing that at the Congress of Vienna Russia’s demands on Poland were fair, and Poland thanks to Russia received a constitution [Pradt, 1828, pp. 122-123]. He even justified the suppression of the Polish uprising of 1830-1831 and the Warsaw speech of Emperor Nicholas, noting that any sovereign in his place would have done the same [Pradt, 1828, p. 134]. For the politically engaged Pradt, in this text, Russia is Poland’s natural protector, its real guardian angel. However, it should be understood that this was pure conjecture; for in general, the negative view of Russia through the Polish lens was dominant.

In 1839, Leonard Chodzko, mentioned above, a participant of the Polish uprising, published another version of the fake Will of Peter the Great. It was a bestseller, going through six editions from 1839 to 1847, and played a decisive role in popularizing, in European countries, the idea of the conquering intentions of Russian sovereigns [V.P. Kozlov, Tajny fal’sifikacii: Posobie dlya prepodavatelej i studentov vuzov (Secrets of Falsification: A Manual for Teachers and University Students), 1996, p. 81].

In the same year, Marquis de Custine traveled to Russia, writing the most famous book about the country, which to this day is perceived as a bible of Russophobes. Custine, being an outcast in the Parisian salons, had close ties, first of all, with the leaders of the Polish emigration and was a guest in the salon of the wife of Prince Adam Czartoryski. And in Russia, Custine came, according to one version, to advocate for his kind Polish friend Ignacy Gurowski, taking him with him (George Frost Kennan, The Marquis De Custine and His Russia in 1839, p. 24-25).

The most important source of information for Custine was one of the most famous Poles then living in Paris, the poet Adam Mickiewicz (1798-1855). After the suppression of the uprising, he lived in France as a political émigré, and in 1840, thanks to the persistent petition of the famous historian Jules Michelet, received a chair in Slavic languages and literature at the Collège de France. According to Michelet, “Mickiewicz had laid out the general features of Slavic life from above, and, descending into detail, cast deep, admirable glimmers on the true character of Russian government. He would have gone further, but they wouldn’t let him. His chair was nullified [Jules Michelet, Legendes démocratiques du Nord (1854), p. 36] (the authorities were dissatisfied with the preaching of Slavic messianism). This happened in 1844; and in 1849, the wave of Polish propaganda in five volumes was published as a collection of his “lectures”: Slavs [Corbet, 1967, pp. 168-169].

A new outbreak of anti-Russian sentiments occurred in 1846, after the suppression of the Krakow Uprising by Austrian troops, and again during the revolutions of 1848-1849, and especially after Russia suppressed the uprising in Hungary (at the request of the Austrian Emperor). But the apotheosis occurred during the Crimean War (1853-1856) [Nemenski, 2013, pp. 46-51].

On the eve of the war, Jules Michelet, who loved Poland with all his romantic heart and hated Russia just as passionately, wrote a series of articles entitled, Legendes démocratiques du Nord (The Democratic Legends of the North), in which he created a cult of unhappy Poland and the heroic Poles, and dehumanized the Russians, reducing them to the state of not just non-humans, but mollusks at the bottom of the sea. He called Russia’s policy towards Poland deceitful and Jesuitical, emphasizing that Empress Catherine “planned to drag Russia into a religious war, to make the Russian peasants think that it was a question of protecting their brothers in the Greek faith, who in Poland were being persecuted by people of the Latin faith. And this war, continued Michelet, “took on a character of appalling barbarity. Under the impetus of this atheist woman, who preached the crusade, populations and entire villages were tortured and burned alive in the name of tolerance” [11, с. 301]. According to Michelet, Catherine’s true goal was the destruction of Poland [Legendes démocratiques, pp. 53-54].

A similarly powerful anti-Russian wave swept over Europe during the Polish uprising of 1863-1864. Michelet worked hard this time too, publishing a series of articles entitled, “Martyr Poland,” while the equally illustrious Victor Hugo, also for the umpteenth time, unleashed invectives against Russia. Michelet called Poland, “the heart of the North.” Moreover, for him Poland is France itself: “La Pologne est une France avec tous nos anciens défauts, nos qualités” [Jules Michelet, La Pologne martyr: Russie—Danube, p. xv].

Concepts of Russian Racial Inferiority

It was Poles who stood at the origins of the concept of racial inferiority of Russians. Such ideas were first developed by the Polish historian and public figure, participant in the uprising of 1830-1831, Joachim Lelewel. In the form of a full-fledged theory, these ideas were formulated by the historian and ethnographer Franciszek Henryk Duchiński (1816-1893). After the suppression of the uprising of 1830-1831, he emigrated to France and was a professor of history at the Polish School in Paris. His main idea was that the Great Russians, or “Moskals,” do not belong to the Slavic and even to the Aryan tribe, but are a branch of the Turanian tribe, on par with the Mongols, and who only appropriated the name of Russians, which belongs, properly, only to the Little Russians and Belarusians, close to the Poles in their origin [F. Duhinski, “Osnovy istorii Pol’shi, inyh slavyanskih stran i Moskvy,” in, Russkij vopros v istorii politiki i mysli, antologiya, Pod red. A.Yu. Shutova and A.A. Shirinyanca (“Fundamentals of the History of Poland, other Slavic countries and Moscow,” in The Russian Question in the History of Politics and Thought, anthology, edited by A.Y. Shutov and A.A. Shirinyants], Moscow: Moscow University Press, 2013., p. 479].

Duchiński’s texts, which had no scientific basis, were aimed at justifying the necessity of creating a buffer between “Aryan” Europe and “Turanian” Moscow. This buffer was to be an independent Poland, including Ukraine-Rus, Belarus, Lithuania, the Baltic States, Smolensk and Veliky Novgorod.

Duchiński’s ideas were enthusiastically received by the Polish emigration, which dreamed of the restoration of a “Great Poland from sea to sea,” and his ideas also had a great influence on the Western European thought of the 19th century. In particular, Karl Marx was very interested in the concept of Duchiński and spoke in favor of it: “He claims that the real Muscovites, i.e., the inhabitants of the former Grand Duchy of Moscow, are mostly Mongols or Finns, etc., as well as the parts of Russia located further to the east and its southeastern part… I wish that Dukhinsky (thus in the text—NT) was right, and that at least this view would prevail among the Slavs” [letter dated June 24, 1865, in Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Werke, (Berlin: Dietz Verlag, 1978), vol. 31, pp. 126–127].

Duchiński’s theory was enthusiastically accepted by French intellectuals and politicians—E. Renaud, Aimé Martin, K. Delamar and others [Shutova and Shirinyanca (2013), p. 43]. Thus, the historian, publicist and politician Henri Martin (1810-1883), author of Histoire de France (History of France) in nineteen volumes, characterized by an extremely hostile attitude to Russia, in one of his major works, La Russie et l’Europe (1866) (Russia and Europe) described the Russians as a barbaric people of non-European (Turanian) despotism, who had unjustly appropriated the history of Russia. He considered Duchiński’s concept as “excellent,” and explained the Russian craving for subjugation as follows: “Such a feeling arises in peoples who are at an extremely low stage of cultural development of nations, where an individual person is unable to control his fate and does not even express such a desire” [Shutova and Shirinyanca (2013), p. 382].

Despite the fact that after the uprising of 1863-1864, reforms were carried out in Poland, Russia remained the main enemy for newer generations of patriotic Poles, so that at the end of the 19th century, Józef Piłsudski (1867-1935) proclaimed the main goal of his life as the physical destruction of the Russian state with the subsequent restoration of a new Poland, dominating in Central and Eastern Europe on Russia’s ruins [Shutova and Shirinyanca (2013), p. 45]. In the article “Russia,” first published in 1895, he noted: “The Russian Tsar is the main enemy of the Polish working class. Tsarist autocracy—the main obstacle in our way, now and always” [Shutova and Shirinyanca (2013), p. 514].


As the current situation shows, these ideas did not pass away with Pilsudski—and Poles are still perceived in the West as the main experts on Russia. And, of course, the West willingly believes them, because Polish scary myths about Russia, ideas about Russian “Asianness” and Russians “stealing” history fit very well into the pan-European narrative of a barbaric, despotic and expansionist Russia. And Poles, of course, can speak only “the truth” about Russia, and the West willingly believes in this Polish “truth” and uses it in its ideological and geopolitical confrontation with Russia—without thinking much about the Poles themselves. Only now, Ukraine is the “martyr,” and Western love for Ukraine is the reverse side of hatred for Russia.

Natalia P. Tanshina, is Professor in the Department of General History at the Institute of Social Sciences of the Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration under the President of the Russian Federation, and is Professor at the Department of Modern and Contemporary History of Europe and America, Moscow State Pedagogical University, Moscow. This article appears courtesy of Nauka Obshestvo Oborona.

Featured: Exposed to the world’s contempt, illustration by Udo J. Keppler, Puck, June 17, 1903.

Ukrainian Nationalism: Russian Special Operation— Denazification of Ukraine


This paper presents the results of the analysis of relevant aspects of the history of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) in comparison with the policy of the Kiev regime in 2014-2022, using the secrets revealed with the beginning of demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine during the special military operation of the Armed Forces of Russia. These revelations have increased the amount of evidence that the destruction of Russia is the invariable strategic goal of radical Ukrainian nationalism—Ukronazism—throughout its history and in our times, along with the continuity of goals, ideological positions, anti-people policy and crimes of the Banderites and their modern followers. Attention is drawn to the fact that the OUN actively participated in Hitler’s atrocities against Russia and its people. Their leaders and many other Ukronazis were agents and executors of the will of Hitler’s special services, after the victory over fascism, and of special services of the USA and the West. Maidan usurpers of power under the control and with the participation of the United States and their NATO satellites robbed and destroyed Ukraine, turned it into an anti-Russian bridgehead of the United States and NATO and together with them crossed the red line in creating a military threat to the Russian Federation and preparing aggression against it. Russia has therefore taken measures adequate to this threat to protect its national security, to save the people of the Donbass from genocide and to free the fraternal people of Ukraine from neo-Nazism. The most significant common features of radical Ukrainian nationalism in the 1920s-1940s and 2014-2022 are identified. The main elements of the Russian leadership’s decisions to recognize the Lugansk People’s Republic, Donetsk People’s Republic and to conduct a special military operation in Ukraine are summarized. The necessity of the denazification of Ukraine, including the holding of an international military tribunal, is confirmed by numerous facts and the results of preliminary investigations, which have established the involvement of more than 220 persons in crimes against peace and security of humanity.

Introduction: Decision to Conduct a Special Operation. Its Goal and Objectives

On February 24, 2022, a special military operation of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in Ukraine (special operation) was launched to prevent further civilian casualties and a humanitarian catastrophe in the Donbass, to denazify and demilitarize Ukraine, to prevent Ukraine from becoming a nuclear power and, as a consequence, to protect the state interests and sovereignty of the Russian Federation.

The decision to carry out the special operation was preceded by the Resolution of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation No. 743-8 GD, unanimously adopted by the deputies of the State Duma on February 15, 2022.

The decision to conduct a special operation was preceded by the Resolution, unanimously adopted by the deputies of the State Duma on February 15, 2022, of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, No. 743-8 GD: ” “On the appeal of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation to the President of the Russian Federation, V.V. Putin, on the need to recognize the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic. The appeal noted:

Residents of Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine at the all-Ukrainian referendum on March 27, 1994 agreed to the federal-territorial structure of Ukraine and the consolidation of the Russian language as the state language of Ukraine, along with the Ukrainian language, and also supported the use of the Russian language in the territories of Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine, in the sphere of labor relations, office work, documentation, education, and scientific activities.

The new authorities of Ukraine, glorifying the fascists Bandera, Shukhevych and their followers, became intolerant of the historically established norms of life, as well as the will and religion of the inhabitants of these regions. The actions of the Ukrainian authorities forced residents of certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine to initiate a referendum and vote, in May 2014, for the adoption of the Act of Self-Determination of the Donetsk People’s Republic (89%) and the Act of Self-Determination of the Luhansk People’s Republic (96%).

For eight years, residents of certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine lived under shelling of small- and large-caliber weapons. According to the United Nations, more than 10,000 people have died, more than 50,000 have been injured, more than 1.4 million people are internally displaced within Ukraine, and more than 2.5 million people have arrived en masse in the Russian Federation, seeking emergency asylum. The Ukrainian authorities had stopped paying pensions and social benefits to residents and had established a complete economic blockade of the population and enterprises of certain regions of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine. The actions of the Ukrainian authorities can be regarded as the genocide of their own people.

As it became known from the originals of secret cipher telegrams captured by Russian military personnel during the special operation, on January 22, 2022, the commander of the National Guard of Ukraine, Colonel-General Mykola Balan, ordered the heads of the northern Kiev, southern Odessa and western territorial departments of the National Guard of Ukraine to prepare one of the strike groups for offensive operations in the zone of the “Joint Forces Operation” (JFO) in the Donbass. All activities of combat coordination of the nationalists were ordered to be completed on February 28, 2022, in order to continue to carry out combat missions as part of the Ukrainian “Joint Forces Operation” in the Donbass.

By February 2022, Ukrainian forces multiplied the shelling of the Donbass with prohibited large-caliber artillery weapons. Against the background of false statements about the desire for peace, Kyiv had begun large-scale artillery preparations for an offensive by a strike group of troops pulled into eastern Ukraine, with the support of aviation and missile systems.

On February 21, the leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) Denis Pushilin and Leonid Pasechnik addressed the President of the Russian Federation V.V. Putin with a request to recognize the republics:

  • Denis Pushilin, head of the DPR: “On behalf of the entire people of the DPR, we ask you to recognize the Donetsk People’s Republic as an independent, democratic, legal, social state. We also ask you to consider the possibility of concluding an agreement on friendship and cooperation between the DPR and the Russian Federation, providing for cooperation in the field of defense;”
  • Leonid Pasechnik, head of the LPR: “Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich, in order to prevent the mass death of the civilian population of the republic, 300 thousand of whom are citizens of Russia, I ask you to recognize the sovereignty and independence of the Lugansk People’s Republic.”

On the same day, an unscheduled meeting of the Security Council of the Russian Federation was held in the Kremlin, under the leadership of the head of state, to discuss the appeal and the situation that had developed in the Donbass. Each gave his proposals to the President regarding the appeals of the leaders of the DPR and LPR to Russia, with a request to recognizing their sovereignty, and the resolution of the State Duma of the Russian Federation, calling on the head of state to recognize the independence and sovereignty of the DPR and LPR.

On February 21, the President of the Russian Federation signed Decrees No. 71 “On the Recognition of the Donetsk People’s Republic,” and No. 72 “On the Recognition of the Lugansk People’s Republic.”

On February 22, the State Duma adopted, the Federation Council approved, and the President of the Russian Federation signed and promulgated federal laws No. 15-FZ “On the ratification of the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance between the Russian Federation and the Donetsk People’s Republic,” and No. 16-FZ “On the ratification of the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance between the Russian Federation and the Lugansk People’s Republic.”

On the same day, the President of the Russian Federation submitted to the Federation Council a proposal to adopt a resolution of the Federation Council on consent to the use of the Armed Forces outside the territory of the Russian Federation. On February 22, the Federation Council adopted Decree of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation No. 35-SF “On the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation outside the territory of the Russian Federation.” The decision of the Federation Council was aimed at establishing peace, preventing the continuation of bloodshed and shelling of citizens.

All these acts were adopted in accordance with the Constitution of the Russian Federation, and in compliance with the necessary procedures provided for the activities of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation.

On February 23, the Heads of the DPR (Denis Pushilin) and LPR (Leonid Pasechnik) appealed to the President of the Russian Federation, with a request to provide assistance in repelling aggression from the Armed Forces of Ukraine (APU), in order to avoid civilian casualties and prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in the Donbass. The appeals emphasized the following:

… at present, due to the aggravation of the situation and threats from Kyiv, the citizens of the republics are forced to leave their homes, their evacuation to Russia continues. In the context of ongoing military aggression by the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the republics, the destruction of civilian and industrial infrastructure, schools, hospitals, kindergartens and, worst of all, the death of the civilian population, including children. The actions of the Kyiv regime testify to the unwillingness to stop the war in the Donbass;

Kyiv continues to build up its military presence on the line of contact, while receiving comprehensive support, including military support, from the United States and other Western states. The Kiev regime is focused on the forceful solution of the conflict.

Taking the above into account, the heads of the two republics, in connection with the current situation, as well as in order to prevent civilian casualties and a humanitarian catastrophe, on the basis of Articles 3 and 4 of the treaties of friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance between the Russian Federation and the republics, asked the President of Russia to assist in repelling the aggression of the armed forces and formations of Ukraine.

On February 24, in accordance with the decision of the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, V.V. Putin, the Russian Armed Forces launched a special military operation to protect the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics.

The President announced his decision in an address to the citizens of Russia on February 24 at 06:00 Moscow time:

Circumstances require us to take decisive and immediate action. The people’s republics of Donbass turned to Russia with a request for help.

In this regard, in accordance with Article 51 of Part 7 of the UN Charter, with the sanction of the Federation Council of Russia, and in pursuance of the treaties of friendship and mutual assistance, ratified by the Federal Assembly on February 22 this year with the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic, I have decided to conduct a special military operation.

Its goal is to protect people who have been subjected to bullying and genocide by the Kyiv regime for eight years. And for this we will strive for the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine, as well as bringing to justice those who have committed numerous murderous crimes against civilians, including citizens of the Russian Federation.

In doing so, our plans do not include the occupation of Ukrainian territories. We are not going to impose anything on anyone by force.

When making decisions, as reported by the Chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Federation Armed Forces, First Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Federation Armed Forces, Colonel General Sergey F. Rudskoy, two possible courses of action were considered. The first, to confine ourselves to the territory of the DPR and LPR within the administrative borders of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, which is enshrined in the constitutions of the republics. The first was to limit the territory of only the DNR and LNR within the administrative borders of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which is enshrined in the constitutions of the republics. But at that time there was a high probability that the Ukrainian authorities would constantly support the group involved in the so-called joint forces operation. Therefore, the second option was chosen, providing for actions on the entire territory of Ukraine, with the implementation of measures to demilitarize and denazify it.

Ukrainian Nationalism: Origins, Essence and Content

How did nationalism develop so radically in Ukraine that the Russian army has to solve the task of its denazification? What are the essence, content and origins of nationalism in modern Ukraine?

First of all, let us define the concept of “nationalism.” In the West, it is widely used in the same sense as patriotism. And in Russia these concepts have different content. The patriotism of the multinational Russian people is traditionally combined with respect for the interests, culture and patriotic feelings of the peoples of other countries, and nationalism, especially in extreme, radical forms—chauvinism, fascism, Nazism is condemned as an ideology that opposes peoples and states to each other, sowing enmity and serving an aggressive policy. These features are inherent in radical Ukrainian nationalism. Under the slogans of self-determination and independence, Ukrainian radical nationalists, Ukronazis, throughout the history of their movement have pursued the goal of selling their native Ukraine to foreign colonizers in order to become a privileged collaborationist caste of overseers over their compatriots.

In the early 1930s, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) declared the goal of creating its own “self-styled” state. But realizing that these aspirations were impossible and unattainable, it limited its dreams to being the Ukrainian colony of Germany in the hope of serving the role of henchmen of future colonizers. For the sake of this the OUN fought against full-fledged Ukrainian statehood and for its replacement by the false tinsel of a puppet, self-styled “independence”—and against the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, a full-fledged Ukrainian state, equal among equals with the Soviet federation, and one of the founders of the USSR and the United Nations. And the OUN’s descendants sold for foreign money and cookies the independence of their native Ukraine, obtained with the help of Russia in 1991, together with the huge territories given to it by Russia during the time when both of them were in the United Federation. And the US with its NATO satellites bought Ukraine—along with the sellers—in order to fight against Russia and destroy it.

The roots of terror and genocide in Ukraine in the 21st century are in the ideology and bloody experience of Ukrainian nationalism. In 1900, the “ideologist of Ukrainian sovereign independence” Mykola I. Mikhnovsky, called “the forerunner of strong-willed Ukrainian nationalism,” in a speech, later published in Lvov as a program of the Revolutionary Ukrainian Party (RUP), in the pamphlet Independent Ukraine, proclaimed ultra-radical racist slogans:

  • One, the only, indivisible, free, independent Ukraine from the Carpathians to the Caucasus.
  • Everyone who is not for us throughout Ukraine is against us. Ukraine is for Ukrainians, and as long as at least one foreign enemy remains on our territory, we have no right to lay down our arms” [M. Míkhnovsʹkiy, Samostíyna Ukraí̈na. B/m, 2012. (in Ukrainian). p. 17, 18].

The most amazing maxim of this opus is the assertion that “God himself has become a stranger and does not know (in the original “is not able,” apparently, in the meaning “does not know how”—V.K.) the Ukrainian language.

Having created the Ukrainian People’s Party (UNP), even more radical than the RUP, Mikhnovsky published its “code”—”The Ten Commandments of the UNP.” Some of these later became the basis of the ideology of OUN Ukronazism:

  • One, united, indivisible from the Carpathians right up to the Caucasus, independent, free, democratic Ukraine;
  • All people are your brothers, but Muscovites, Poles, Hungarians, Romanians and Jews are the enemies of our people;
  • Ukraine is for Ukrainians. So, drive out the foreign oppressors from everywhere in Ukraine;”
  • Everywhere and always use the Ukrainian language. Let neither your wife nor your children defile your house with the language of foreign oppressors;
  • Do not take a wife from strangers, because your children will be your enemies. Do not be friends with the enemies of our people, because you give them strength and courage. Do not act (in the original Ukrainian—“do not mess around”—V.K.) together with our oppressors, for you will be a traitor.

Mikhnovsky’s RUP program was published in Lvov. There, as early as 1897, he established close contacts with pro-Ukrainian figures in Galicia. In Galicia, which was part of Austria-Hungary, the anti-Russian, Russophobic orientation of Ukrainian nationalism was formed. From there, the doctrine of aggressive Galician Ukrainianism began to be planted in Malorossiya, even before the emergence of Italian fascism and German Nazism, in their misanthropic, racist spirit, incited hatred. In 1912, the Ukrainian-language magazine Ukrainska Khata (Ukrainian House), published in Kiev, urged:

If you love Ukraine, you must sacrifice your love for other geographical areas. If you love your language, hate the language of your enemy… Know how to hate. If we are talking about Ukraine, we should operate with one word—hatred of its enemies… Revival of Ukraine is synonymous with hatred of your wife—a Muscovite, to one’s children—Katsaps, to one’s brothers and sisters—Katsaps, to one’s father and mother—Katsaps. To love Ukraine means to sacrifice your Katsap kin… If you love Ukraine, if you want it to be—be with it, do not be with its denial” [Ukraí̈nsʹka khata, 1912, No. 6 (in Ukrainian)].

The predecessor of the OUN, the Ukrainian Military (Army) Organization (UVO), founded in 1920 and headed by Yevhen M. Konovalets, responded to the Polish oppression of the indigenous population of Galicia with terror. The most notorious action was the unsuccessful assassination attempt of the chief of the Polish state Józef Pilsudski, on September 25, 1921 (V. Kruzhkov, “Ukrainskiy natsionalizm v Rossiyskoy imperii i na yeyo oblomkakh,”—”Ukrainian nationalism in the Russian Empire and its ruin,” in Mezhdunarodnaya zhizn’ (9)2021).

Soon Konovalets established cooperation with the German intelligence, and the UVO began to receive money from the Germans for espionage against Poland. The headquarters of the UVO was located in Berlin. With the help of German money, the UVO unleashed terror and sabotage in Poland (explosions, attacks, robberies-expropriations, etc.) [Ukrainskiye natsionalisticheskiye organizatsii v gody Vtoroy mirovoy voyny. DokumentyUkrainian nationalist organizations during the Second World War. V 2 (T. 1. M.: ROSSPEN, 2012), pp. 335, 776; 5].

According to one researcher, “The UVO, in which the OUN originated, was a criminal organization. In the criminal sense, this criminality consisted in terrorist murders. Politically, the crime of the UVO, and later of the OUN, was the usurpation of the representation of the entire Ukrainian people. Neither the UVO nor the OUN received such a mandate from the people… never in their activities received the support of the Ukrainian people” (OUN-UPA: mif i real’nost: “Ukrainstvo”—OUN-UPA: Myth and Reality: “Ukrainianness.” Chap. XVII., pp. 142, 143, 143, 143, and V.V. Polishchuk, Gor’kaya pravda. Prestupnost’ OUN-UPABitter Truth. Crimes of the OUN-UPA (Kiev, 2011), pp. 142, 143).

With the establishment of the UVO in 1929, its intelligence service played the dual role of its intelligence and counterintelligence (I.K. Patrylyak, “Sluzhba bezpeky OUN(b),” Entsyklopediya istoriyi Ukrayiny—Security Service of the OUNb. Encyclopedia of the History of Ukraine. Vol. 9. Kiev: Naukova Dumka, 2012, pp. 658-660). Separate from the UVO, the OUN created a control and intelligence reference office in 1932. In Western Ukraine, there was an intelligence branch in the regional executio (Latin “executio”: execution, executive body of the regional wire—the OUN governing body), and intelligence and communications services in the districts (S. Hrab, Sluzhba bezpeky Orhanizatsiyi ukrayinsʹkykh natsionalistivSecurity Service of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. Voyenna Istoriya, 2008, No. 5).

Some Ukrainian authors directly link the explosive growth of terror of the UVO-OUN in the early 1930s—more than 60 attempts and murders, hundreds of acts of sabotage, and dozens of robberies (“expropriations”)—to the formation of nationalist security structures )D. Vyedyenyeyev, V. Yehorov, Mech i tryzub. Notatky do istoriyi Sluzhby bezpeky Orhanizatsiyi ukrayinsʹkykh natsionalistivyu CH.1. “Z arkhiviv VUCHK, HPU, NKVD, K·HB”—Sword and Trident. Notes on the history of the Security Service of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. “Part 1. From the archives of the Vuchk, GPU, NKVD, KGB.” 2(4) 2000, pp. 485–503).

According to the conclusion of one of the researchers, “the UVO, in which the OUN was born, was a criminal organization.” In the criminal sense, the crimes consisted of terrorist murders. Neither the UVO nor the OUN received such mandates from the people; never in their activities did they receive support from the Ukrainian people” [6, pp. 142, 143].

With the creation of the UVO intelligence agency in 1929, the OUN played the dual role of its intelligence and counter-intelligence [7, p. 658-660]. They created a separate control-reconnaissance service in the OUN in 1932. In Western Ukraine, the regional executive (from the Latin “executio”—“the executive organ of the regional branch”—the governing body of the Ukrainian government) had intelligence services, and in the districts—intelligence and communications services.

Some Ukrainian authors directly link the explosive growth of UVO-OUN terror in the early 1930s with the establishment of the security structure of nationalists—more than 60 attempts and murders, hundreds of acts of sabotage, dozens of robberies (“expropriations”).

In 1932, the Galician national clerical newspaper Tsel (The Goal) murderously proclaimed:

Ukrainian nationalism must be prepared for all methods of struggle… not excluding mass physical extermination (annihilation), even if only at the cost of sacrificing millions of human existences (essences, lives) [Tsel’, April 17, 1932, 11, p. 6; V.I. Maslovsky, Z kym i proty koho voyuvaly ukrayinsʹki natsionalisty v roky Druhoyi svitovoyi viyny—With whom and against whom Ukrainian nationalists fought during the Second World War (M.: Slavyanskyy Dyaloh)].

The OUN “Military Doctrine of the Ukrainian Nationalists” of 1938 demanded:

Against the hostile element it is necessary to issue such cruelty… so that the tenth generation would be afraid to look in the direction of Ukraine.
In the future Ukrainian state, there must be a pure national composition… Poles, Russians and Jews must be destroyed.(“Arkhivy OUN: ukrainskiye natsionalisty stavili tsel’yu vyseleniye i unichtozheniye vsekh polyakov—”OUN archives: Ukrainian nationalists aimed to evict and destroy all Poles.” TASS. 01.12.2016)

In the spring of 1941, Bandera and Co. with the briefing, “Struggle and Activities of the OUN During the War,” specified the tasks of genocide and terror: to destroy “hostile” national minorities—”Moskals,” Poles, Jews. They demanded: “Our power must be terrible for its opponents, terrorize foreign enemies and their traitors… The Ukrainian ruler of his own land must from every rank, at every step be promoted.”

The section, “Organization of the Security Service,” listed the enemies of the OUN to be destroyed: “Moskals,” Jews,”outsiders, mainly various Asians, with whom Moscow is colonizing Ukraine, Poles in the western Ukrainian lands”. The Security Service was given “executive power… to destroy elements hostile to Ukraine… as well as… to control social and political life in general” (“OUN v 1941 rotsi.” Dokumenty. V 2-kh ch. CH. 1. Kyiv: Instytut ictopiyi Ukrayiny NAN Ukrayiny—”OUN in 1941.” Documents, in 2 parts. Part 1. Kyiv: Institute of History of Ukraine of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, 2006, pp. 102, 103, 129, 159).

Roman Y. Shukhevych, the SS Hauptsturmführer, and leader of the UPA and the OUN “on Ukrainian lands,” who was elevated to “hero” of the Banderized Ukraine (“Yushchenko awarded the title of Hero of Ukraine to Shukhevich, one of the UPA leaders,” RIA Novosti. 14.10.2007), demanded: “Not to intimidate, but to physically destroy! There is no need to be afraid that people will curse us for our cruelty. Let half of the 40 million Ukrainian population remain—there is nothing terrible in this” (“Kakiye geroi—takaya i derzhava”—”What heroes-such a power,” in Odna Rodina, 04.01.2016).

Ideology of Nationalism in the Service of the Kiev Regime in Modern Ukraine

The anti-Russian hysteria in Ukraine, which began in the years of perestroika, based on Bandera templates, along with the glorification of the OUN-UPA butchers, became the ideological justification for turning the Ukrainian regime into a puppet and anti-Russian tool of the United States and the West. It has intensified since 2004, when one of the leaders of the first Maidan, head of the “Batkivshchyna” party, people’s deputy of Ukraine (this is the constitutional name for the deputies of its Verkhovna Rada, hereinafter, Nardep), future Prime Minister of Ukraine (in 2005 and 2007-2010), Yulia V. Tymoshenko, demanded that the Donbass be with barbed wire and napalm poured on it (A. Moskval, “‘Molyashchemusya’ Poroshenko o nachale voyny v Donbasse”—“’Praying’ Poroshenko about the beginning of the war in Donbass,” in Odna Rodina, 01.06.2018). Back in 2014, she stated: “…it is necessary… to kill these bloody Katsaps together with their leader… so that, damn it, there is not even a scorched field left of this Russia! …it is necessary to shoot them with atomic weapons.”

In December 2014, MPs Yuriy M. Bereza, Andriy M. Levus, and Igor V. Mosiychuk justified the terrorist attack in Grozny and called for similar crimes in Russia with the help of the media (“SK RF vozbudil delo protiv trokh deputatov Verkhovnoy rady za prizyv k terrorizmu”—”Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation opened a case against three deputies of the Verkhovna Rada for calling for terrorism,” in TASS, 12/06/2014). Ex-prime minister Iryna D. Faryon made criminal (according to the forensic conclusion) calls “to destroy Russia as a state and Russians as a group of people on the basis of nationality,” to carry out genocide (“SKR reshil nakazat’ eks-deputata Rady Farion za prizyvy ‘unichtozhat Rossiyu'”—”TFR decided to punish the ex-deputy of the Rada Faryon for calls to ‘destroy Russia,'” in NTV, 08.07.2015). Tyahnybok’s neo-Banderite Svoboda also called for it:

No matter how qualitatively the Russian-speaking amorphous biomass of living stomachs lives—they will not start singing on October 14 (the date of the alleged formation of the UPA, and since 2014 the holiday, “Day of Defenders and Protectors of Ukraine,” which legalized the substitution of the concepts of “heroism” and “betrayal,” the abuse of the memory of the fallen in battles with fascism and the victims of the Banderites: “Gossovet Respubliki Krym prinyal zayavleniye v svyazi s situatsiyey na Ukraine”—”The State Council of the Republic of Crimea adopted a statement in connection with the situation in Ukraine,” in Sayt Gossoveta Respubliki Krym, 22.10.2014—V.K.).” “Oh, there’s a red viburnum in the meadow…” (since 1914, the song of Ukrainian Sich Sagittarius, which is also sung by the UPA: —V.K.), will not pass in torch procession on January 1 (Bandera’s birthday—V.K.). This herd should be liquidated, somewhere around 5-6 million individuals… For 45-million of Ukraine, the disappearance of 6 million will be imperceptible” (“Iz FB Marii Zakharovoy”—”From FB Maria Zakharova,” in Antimaydan, 19.03.2022).

On Maidan 2014 and afterward, neo-Banderites shouted: “Knife the Moskals!” They called for them to be hanged and made their own meme: “Slit Russians!” This was shouted by two-legged predators, with SS symbols, accompanied by shouts of “Sieg Heil!” and raising of hands in the Nazi salute, by children zombified by them. Oleksandr Turchynov, “Bloody pastor,” ex-speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, by whose decree the acting president began the genocide of the people of the Donbass, proclaimed:

We are ready to destroy the Russians wherever we can. It is necessary to beat Russians not only in Ukraine, but also beyond its borders—on the territory of Russia (“Byvshiy spiker Rady Turchinov prizval k genotsidu russkikh—Former speaker of the Rada Turchinov called for the genocide of Russians,” in Komsomol’skaya Pravda, 01.03.2022).

This position of the Ukronazis was declared even during the special operation, on the Ukrainian Channel24, by its employee Fakhrudin M. Sharafmal (“Operatsiya po zakhvatu natsistskogo prestupnika Adolfa Eykhmana (1960)”—”The operation to capture the Nazi criminal Adolf Eichmann (1960),” in RIA Novosti. 11.05.2020). Eloquently and literally, he quoted the words of the Nazi criminal, one of the organizers and executors of Hitler’s holocaust policy:

Eichmann said… to destroy a nation, it is necessary to destroy first of all children, because by killing their parents—children will grow up and will definitely take revenge. If you kill the children, they will never grow up and the nation will disappear (“V Ukraine net natsizma”—”There is no Nazism in Ukraine,” Pikabu).

And Sharafmal continued, flouting the Geneva (and other) conventions, that

when I get a chance to kill Russians, I will… observe the Adolf Eichmann doctrine and make sure that neither you nor your children will ever live on this earth…. you must realize that this is about victory for the Ukrainian people, not peace. We need victory. If that requires slaughtering all of your families, I will be one of the first to do it… And I hope that there will never be another nation like Russia and the Russians on this earth…. If Ukrainians have the opportunity … to crush, slaughter, kill, strangle the Muskalnaya, I hope that everyone will contribute and ‘mop’ at least one Muskal.

Note: Sharafmal threatened to destroy not Russians, but the nation itself—a set of citizens of one state with a common self-consciousness (identity). All citizens of Russia of all nationalities. (In Ukrainian, “Russians,” the nationality and “Russians,” citizens of Russia of all nationalities are referred to by one word – “Russians”). And it is possible to fulfill this threat only by massacres all over Russia. In fact, he called for a total terrorist war in Ukraine and Russia, desired by the United States. But Sharafmal did not go to the front himself. He “fought” on the air.

These incitements were condemned by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (“V UVKPCH OON osudili prizyv ukrainskogo zhurnalista k genotsidu russkikh,”—”UN OHCHR condemned Ukrainian journalist’s call for genocide of Russians, in RIA Novosti, 03/17/2022). The Main Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation opened a criminal case against Sharafmal on the grounds of the crimes stipulated by para. “b” part 2 of article 282 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, “Incitement of hatred or enmity, as well as humiliation of human dignity,” subparagraphs “a,” “c,” part 2 of article 354.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, “Rehabilitation of Nazism.” Ukrainian judiciary is obligated to judge Sharafmal’s incitement under the Criminal Code of Ukraine—Article 2582, “Public calls to commit a terrorist act” (up to five years of imprisonment) and under Article 442 “Genocide,” which provides for up tofive years of imprisonment for public calls for it (Criminal Code of Ukraine, effective from 03/16/2022). But it did not. It seems that justice has disappeared in the Bandarized Ukraine. Acts recognized as crimes by international law, laws of different countries, including Ukraine, have become unpunished demonstrations of “national opinion” (conscience).

It is important to note one more circumstance. The main striking force and organizer of terror, the participation of the Banderites in the fascist genocide of our people was Bandera’s inquisition—the Security Service (SB) of the OUN and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) banned in Russia. (The Ukrainian Insurgent Army, banned in Russia, was an anti-Soviet armed group of Ukrainian nationalists that operated mainly in Western Ukraine, from December 1941 to July 1943—created by Taras-Bulba Borovets. In 1943, the OUNb gangs merged into the UPAb, the Borovets UPA ceased to exist, its members joined the OUNm and UPAb gangs. From 1944-1949, the UPA committed acts of terrorism, sabotage. It was completely liquidated in the early 1950s). The brutal traditions of Bandera’s executioners are continued by their modern-day descendants in Ukraine. Back in 2015, the then head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) Valentyn O. Nalyvaichenko stated that the SBU should be reformed on the model of the Banderite inquisition: “it is important to take as a basis the traditions and approaches to the work of the Security Service of OUN-UPA” (A. Sidorchik, “Inkvizitsiya Bandery. Kak ‘Sluzhba bezpeki’ sozdavala ‘Ukrainu dlya ukraintsev,'”—”Bandera’s Inquisition. How the ‘Security Service’ created ‘Ukraine for Ukrainians,'” in Argumenty i fakty, 02.04.2015).

Tyahnybok of the far-right nationalist party, Svoboda argued:

The Security Service of Ukraine remains the only carrier of the Ukrainian state idea in the 21st century, a kind of link between its past and future. And, accordingly, the leadership of the nationalist movement should be formed primarily from officers of the security services, because there is no other personnel reserve (I. Matveyev, “SSHA i YES rukami VO «Svoboda» gotovyatsya unichtozhat’ russkikh na Ukraine,”—”The US and the EU are preparing to destroy the Russians in Ukraine with the hands of the VO ‘Svoboda,'” in Voyennoye obozreniye, 26.02.2014).

According to the assessment of the Belarusian analyst, the Banderization regime, starting with President Viktor A. Yushchenko, turned the SBU into the “Service of Ukraine’s Banderization” (N. Malishevsky, “Sluzhba banderizatsii Ukrainy”—“The Banderization Service of Ukraine,” in RIA Novosti. 12/01/2014), and with its atrocities in the Donbass has likened the Ukrainian security forces to the OUN and UPA, which were recognized by the Court of Peoples—the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal—as accomplices to the crimes of Hitler’s Germany, which according to Article 6 of the Statute of the Tribunal are responsible for them (Statute of the International Military Tribunal for the trial and punishment of the main war criminals of the European Axis). As the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation pointed out on November 17, 2014, in its decision to declare the UPA and four other Ukrainian organizations extremist and ban their activities in Russia, the Nuremberg Tribunal recognized the OUN and UPA as collaborators. (From the decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, in case No. AKPI14-1292C of November 17, 2014: “…to recognize the Ukrainian organizations ‘Right Sector,’ ‘Ukrainian National Assembly – Ukrainian People’s Self-Defense’ (UNA-UNSO), ‘Ukrainian Insurgent Army’ (UPA), ‘Stepan Bandera’s Trident,’ and ‘Brotherhood’ as extremist and ban their activities on the territory of the Russian Federation.” See: Official website of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation).

Denazification of Ukraine

To compare the goals and deeds of Hitlerites and accomplices of their crimes—the OUN-UPA and usurpers of power of the Maidan-2014, organizers and participants in the genocide of the people of the Donbass, allow evidence collected by law enforcement and the civilian researchers (Obyknovennyy fashizm: voyennyye prestupleniya ukrainskikh silovikov (2014—2016)Ordinary Fascism: War crimes of the Ukrainian security forces (2014-2016). Moscow: Kuchkovo Pole, 2016, p. 431), and the media. These are the documents from archives, investigations and courts.

A lawsuit on the facts of genocide of the population of the Donbass and other acts in Ukraine, based on copies of criminal case files handed over by the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, has been considered by the European Court of Human Rights since July 2021.

“The nationalists who have seized power have unleashed a persecution, a real terror campaign against those who opposed their anti-constitutional actions… A wave of violence swept Ukrainian cities, including a series of high-profile and unpunished murders,” Russian President Vladimir V. Putin stated in an address on February 21, 2022. “One shudders at the memories of the terrible tragedy in Odessa, where peaceful protesters were brutally murdered, burned alive in the House of Trade Unions. The criminals who committed that atrocity have never been punished, and no one is even looking for them. But we know their names and we will do everything to punish them, find them and bring them to justice.”

By February 10, 2022, the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation initiated 467 criminal cases, on the grounds of numerous crimes of the Maidan usurpers of power and their friends against dissenters, on the grounds of genocide of the population of the Donbass, killings and torture of its inhabitants by the agencies of the SBU, the Interior Ministry, the Ukrainian army and nationalist battalions (the Natzbat), which were of a large-scale and systemic nature (Obyknovennyy fashizm. Ukrainskiye voyennyye prestupleniya i narusheniya prav chelovek. 2017-2020Ordinary Fascism. Ukrainian war crimes and human rights violations. 2017-2020. Moscow: Mezhdunarodnyye otnosheniya, 2020, p. 452). Thus, in 2014, a criminal case was opened on suspicion of crimes of the then head of the SBU, V.A. Nalyvaichenko. In April 2022, another criminal case was opened against Nalyvaichenko for calling for violence against the Russian military. 103 perpetrators were prosecuted in absentia. Among them are the former head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, Arsen B. Avakov and the former governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region, Igor V. Kolomoisky. Former Deputy Interior Minister Anton Y. Gerashchenko, was sentenced to six years in prison in absentia. Criminal cases were investigated against ex-Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Oleksandr V. Turchinov, ex-ministers of defense Anatoliy S. Hrytsenko and Valeriy V. Heletey, and ex-Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Victor M. Muzhenko.

On March 18, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov explained the meaning of Ukraine’s denazification. In his opinion, it implies the abolition of not only laws that encourage Nazi ideology and practices, but also laws that discriminate against the Russian-speaking population.

As the course of the special operation confirmed, the strongholds of the Kyiv regime are nationalist units, such as Azov, Aidar, Right Sector and others recognized in Russia as terrorist organizations. In Mariupol alone, they had more than 7,000 militants who “fought” under the cover of civilians, using them as human shields. The Azov militants drove women and children out of basements, threatening them with weapons and directing them towards the advancing DNR units in order to impede the advance of the People’s Militia. This has become a common practice for them.

Russian investigators found out that the Azov unit is made up of people of different ages, education levels and life experiences. But they are united in their unwavering determination to kill innocent people. This is the essence of Azov nationalists. To understand this, it is enough to give a few examples. In early March, in Mariupol, Azov member, Sergei Mikhailenko, and his colleague with the call sign “Drone” were near a residential building. A passenger car with “Children” written in large letters was moving in their direction. Despite this, they opened fire on the car, killing the four family members in it, including a three-year-old child. Another example. Alexei Mozgovoy and his brother Yuri took positions in a five-story building in Mariupol. There were 15 civilians in the basement, among them a man suffering from a serious illness. The nationalist brothers, threatening to kill, forbade civilians to leave the basement, even to bring medicine to the sick man. As a result, the man died. And when civilians, having seen what had happened, wanted to leave the place, the Mozgovs started shooting at them—four more people died. And, unfortunately, there are many such examples.

The testimonies of civilians who came out of the blockaded settlements and of captured Ukrainian servicemen show that the Ukrainian armed forces’ ability to resist is based on fear of reprisals from neo-Nazis. Their representatives are embedded in all troop units.

On 30 March, Russian Education Minister Sergey Kravtsov said that more than 50 experts, teachers and historians had analyzed textbooks and teaching aids used by teachers and children in Ukraine. It turned out that whole pages of history were rewritten in them. All this was financed by foreign countries.

“We could see that this is deliberate work, fabricating a system that distorts historical truth. This is not only aggression and readiness for a military operation against our country, but also the zombification of teachers, schoolchildren—and often violently—against Russia. We will never allow history, geography to be distorted, the facts of the Great Patriotic War, our friendship with Ukraine and other countries. Our country is always open, has always helped brotherly nations, including Ukraine,” emphasized Sergey Kravtsov.

“History textbooks emphasize military topics. The education minister drew attention to the fact that the authors of the manuals emphasized that “modern Ukraine needs a compact mobile army in the conditions of aggression by the Russian Federation… History textbooks name Bandera and Shukhevych as heroes, which are thus cultivated. The children’s nationalist organization “Plast” has been revived—Bandera and Shukhevych were its members. In it, Nazism is directly elevated to an absolute,” said Kravtsov.

After the investigation, the textbooks were handed over to the museum of the “Russia—My History” park, where a corresponding section of the “Liberation” display will be created. Everyone will be able to familiarize themselves with the facts of the distortion of history and geography in Ukrainian educational materials.

On April 2, the Investigative Committee of Russia, continuing to investigate crimes committed by the Ukrainian military and nationalists against the civilian population of the Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics, on the basis of the collected evidence, in addition to the earlier charges under Article 356 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (use of prohibited means and methods of warfare), brought charges in absentia against 22 high-ranking Ukrainian military officers for genocide of the civilian Russian-speaking population (Article 357 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation) of Donbas.

In violation of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and other international legal instruments condemning genocide, Ukrainian military officers in leadership positions gave orders, and others followed them, to completely destroy a national group of Russian-speaking citizens living on the territory of the Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics.

For eight years, Ukrainian security forces have been shelling populated areas in the Donbass using Grad and Uragan multiple-launch rocket systems, cluster-headed unguided aerial missiles, Tochka-U tactical missiles and other types of heavy offensive weapons with indiscriminate effects. As a result, a large number of civilians were killed and injured and civilian infrastructure and life-supporting facilities were destroyed.

Among the Defendants

High-ranking Ukrainian military charged in absentia for genocide of the Russian-speaking population in the Donbass:

  • Ukrainian Defense Minister, Valeriy Geletey (from July 2014 to October 2014);
  • Ukrainian Defense Minister, Stepan Poltorak (from October 2014 to August 2019);
  • First Deputy Minister of Defense of Ukraine, Ivan Rusnak (since September 2014);
  • Deputy Minister of Defense of Ukraine, Oleksandr Dublyan (from October 2015 to December 2016);
  • Deputy Minister of Defense of Ukraine, Igor Pavlovsky (from 2015 to 2019);
  • Deputy Minister of Defense of Ukraine, Oleg Shevchuk (from November 2016 to September 2019);
  • Viktor Muzhenko, chief of the AFU General Staff (from July 2014 to May 2019);
  • Commander of the 13th Army Corps of the AFU Ground Forces (subsequently First Deputy Chief of the AFU General Staff, 2019), Igor Kolesnik;
  • Deputy Chief of General Staff of the AFU, Vladimir Khizhiy (2014);
  • Deputy Chief of General Staff of the AFU, Sergey Bessarab (from 2015 to March 2020);
  • Vasyl Burba, Head of the Main Intelligence Department of the AFU (from 2016 to 2020);
  • Commander of the AFU Ground Forces, Sergey Popko (from 2014 to 2016);
  • Commander of the Air Force of the AFU, Sergey Drozdov (from 2015 to 2021);
  • Commander of the High Mobility Airborne Troops of the AFU, Mikhail Zabrodsky (from 2015 to 2019);
  • Commander of the AFU Special Operations Forces, Igor Lunev (from 2016 to 2020);
  • Commander of the AFU Naval Forces, Igor Voronchenko (from 2016 to 2020);
  • Commander of the troops of the Operational Command “East” of the AFU Ground Forces, Sergey Naev (from 2018 to 2019);
  • Deputy Commander of the troops of the Operational Command “West” of the AFU Ground Forces (since March 22, 2017—commander of the troops of the Operational Command “West” of the AFU Ground Forces), Oleksandr Pavlyuk;
  • First Deputy Commander of the Operational Command “North” of the AFU Ground Forces, Andriy Grishchenko (2016);
  • First Deputy Commander of the troops of the Operational Command “East” of the AFU Ground Forces, Oleksandr Krasnook (2017);
  • First Deputy Commander of the AFU Ground Forces, Oleksandr Lokota (2016);
  • Commander of the 30th separate mechanized brigade of the AFU, Ivan Garaz (2015).

In total, as of July 25, 2022, the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation had opened more than 1,300 criminal cases, in which more than 400 persons are being prosecuted. The preliminary investigation has already established the involvement of more than 220 persons, including representatives of the high command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and commanders of military units that shelled civilians, in crimes against peace and security of humanity that have no statute of limitations. A total of 92 commanders and their subordinates have been charged. A total of 96 individuals, including 51 AFU commanders, are wanted.

On April 3, the chairman of the Investigative Committee of Russia, Alexander I. Bastrykin, supported the initiative of the LPR representatives on the need to hold a tribunal on the war crimes of the Ukrainian regime in Donbas, expressing readiness for its establishment. He noted that the Investigative Committee of Russia has been recording all unlawful actions of the AFU and other Ukrainian nationalist military formations against the peaceful population of the Donbass for eight years. Each fact is given a legal assessment. In future, the evidence gathered by the Russian investigation will be presented to the public, and those involved in committing these crimes will be brought to trial.

Numerous war crimes by Ukrainian nationalists have already been recognized at the international level. For example, on April 6, the American publication The New York Times confirmed the authenticity of a video showing Ukrainian nationalists shooting wounded Russian servicemen, and on April 7, at a press conference in Brussels, the NATO Secretary General called for an investigation into all reports of war crimes in Ukraine, but refused to comment on video footage of Ukrainian nationalists killing Russian prisoners of war—”because he knew nothing concrete about it.”

On June 1, 2022, the chairman of the Committee on Criminal and Administrative Legislation of the People’s Council of the DNR, Elena N. Shishkina, stated that the composition of judges at the international tribunal against Ukrainian militants may include representatives of European countries “who will respond and will not be afraid to openly oppose Nazism, which thrives on the territory of the state of Ukraine,” invitations to which have been sent. She also admitted that the first meeting of the interim “Mariupol tribunal,” whose charter is being drafted, might take place before the end of the summer.

At the same time, as Bastrykin noted on July 25, 2022, “given the position of the ‘collective West,’ which openly sponsors Ukrainian nationalism and supports the Kyiv regime,” the establishment of an international tribunal, under the auspices of the United Nations, “is extremely doubtful in the current perspective. It would be more appropriate to work on this issue with Russian partners in such organizations as the CIS, CSTO, BRICS and SCO. The establishment of the court and its statutes could be formalized by an agreement between Russia, member countries of these organizations and the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics. At the same time, it would also be advisable to involve other countries demonstrating an independent position on the Ukrainian issue, based on the norms of international law, in particular Syria, Iran and Bolivia. The establishment of an international judicial body would demonstrate to the entire international community the inevitability of punishment for crimes against the peace and security of mankind and the determination of Russia and our country’s true partners in eradicating Nazism, nationalism and xenophobia.”

However, the inevitability of the complete denazification of Ukraine and the holding of an international tribunal against the war criminals of the Kyiv regime does not stop the succession of their madness, which extends not only to the civilian population of the Donbass but also to civilians in Ukraine and Russia. Thus, on April 27, at around 11 p.m. Moscow time, the Ukrainian armed forces launched a massive missile strike with Tochka-U ballistic missiles and high-powered multiple-launch rocket systems against residential neighborhoods in the central part of the city of Kherson. The targets of the indiscriminate missile strike by the nationalists were residential neighborhoods near Ushakov Avenue, where kindergartens, schools and many social institutions are also located. Russian air defense units repelled the missile attack by Ukrainian troops on residential areas of Kherson. Twelve high-powered multiple rocket launchers and two Ukrainian Tochka-U ballistic missiles were shot down in the air above the city. Fragments of one of the downed Ukrainian Tochka-U missiles fell in Shevchenko Park. The indiscriminate missile strikes by the Kyiv nationalist regime against residential areas in Izium and Kherson constitute a war crime and a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law.

Another example is the shelling, by units of the Ukrainian armed forces, of the liberated villages of Kiselevka and Shirokaya Balka in the Kherson region on May 1st. The Ukrainian nationalists were firing at purely civilian objects. A school and a kindergarten, in the village of Kiselevka, came under artillery fire. Also, artillery fire was purposefully directed at the cemetery located on the outskirts of Shirokaya Balka, where there were people at that moment. As a result of the shelling, civilians were injured and killed. The buildings of the school, kindergarten and private houses were seriously damaged. Because of the consequences of the shelling by the AFU, the residents of these settlements were partially deprived of electricity.

Since February 25, Ukrainian nationalists have been subjecting civilian infrastructure facilities on the territory of Russia—the Belgorod, Bryansk, Voronezh, Kursk and Rostov regions—to artillery and rocket fire and air strikes. On May 11th, such a criminal act ended in tragedy for the first time: one person was killed and six others injured when Ukrainian troops shelled the village of Solokhi in the Belgorod region of the Russian Federation. Subsequently, instances of death of the population of Russia, as a result of the use of firearms by Ukraine, have been recorded on numerous occasions.

On the territory of the LNR and DNR, nationalists destroyed and partially damaged more than 7,000 civilian infrastructure facilities, including residential houses, schools, kindergartens, and vehicles. During the entire period of investigation in the criminal case of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation by mid-July 2022, more than 216,000 people were questioned; more than 91,000 people were recognized as victims, including 14,072 minors.

It is likely that after the publication of this article, other crimes of the Kiev nationalist regime will be uncovered. The investigation and decisions of the courts and the International Tribunal on the genocide of Russian people during the Great Patriotic War and, in 2014-2022, of the population of Donbass, on terror, murders and pogroms in modern Ukraine will provide new arguments to expose Hitlerism, the OUN and their modern followers, and to carry out the denazification of Ukraine.


Banderites in the service of the Third Reich and their pro-American followers in modern Ukraine are united by a single ideology—radical Ukrainian nationalism, Ukronazism, and its anti-Russian orientation; as well as, immorality and inhumanity; venality and service to foreign suzerains for the sake of benefits, along with a cynical trade in the interests, fates and lives of compatriots, of Ukraine and its people; grave crimes against Ukraine, which have had a massive and systemic character, namely, terror and genocide—fascist terror with the participation of the Banderaites against the people of Russia and neo-Nazi terror against the population of Donbas, and terror against the inhabitants of Odessa (Odessa Khatyn), other towns and villages, in which the Ukronazis left a bloody trail.

After the Great Victory, Ukraine was cleansed of OUN gangs and the underground in a matter of years, because the effective struggle of law enforcers against Ukronazism was accompanied by widespread popular support. The betrayal of Soviet elites in the mid-1950s (the “Adenauer-Khrushchev Amnesty”) allowed former nationalist collaborators to return to Ukraine with a completely clean reputation, almost as heroes and even martyrs.

In 2022, Russia, by giving the lives of its loyal sons for the liberation of Ukraine from nationalism, by destroying and capturing neo-Nazis, by revealing the truth about their crimes and criminal plans, is creating the conditions for the final eradication of Nazism. On July 3, as a result of successful combat operations by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, together with units of the People’s Militia of the LPR, the liberation of the Luhansk People’s Republic was completed. The military victory in the DNR and the international tribunal against the war criminals are approaching.

Both in the liberation of the Donbass and in the denazification of Ukraine, the timing and results of their completion, guarantees against recurrences of Ukronazism and the conditions for reliably ensuring the sovereignty and security of the country, the interests and rights of its population, and the sustainable development of the Ukrainian state and society largely depend on the active participation of the people of Ukraine, their awareness of the danger of radical ideologies and their open condemnation.

Vladimir G. Kiknadze is a Russianhistorian, associate professor and a Colonel in the reserves. He is the author of over 200 published works. This article appears courtesy of Nauka, Obshchestvo, Oborona journal.

Featured: Members of the Azov Battalion, March 11, 2022.

“Russia has Lost the War”

So says Western media… And if all we do is listen to what is published in the West and listen to what the various “strategists” say on all the talk-shows, we would come to the following conclusions:

  • Russia has lost the war, with the capture of Kherson by the Ukrainian army and its offensives in the north of the Donbass.
  • The casualties among the ranks of the Russian army are very considerable and it is demoralized, its generals are incompetent and are dying at the front, if they are not dismissed and arrested.
  • The Russian army has practically no more ammunition left to continue the war and its missiles are unable to reach their targets, thanks to the excellent Ukrainian anti-aircraft defense that intercepts them. And Russia is also running out of missiles.
  • The Ukrainian army has reconquered territory in the Kherson region and its offensives in the north of Donbass, as well as its resistance on the Donetsk front, augur a clear victory of its army which will lead them to reconquer all the territory annexed by Russia, including, of course, Crimea, forcing Russia to sign a peace which will lead its current president, Vladimir Putin, to be tried and sentenced and make recompense for all the expenses undertaken because of the conflict.
  • As for the Russian people, they do not want this war and hope for a quick replacement of their president by one of the opposition leaders, who will be much more liberal and supported by the United States and Europe.
  • Faced with this disaster, Putin and his generals have resorted to wild, indiscriminate shelling of the Ukrainian population, leaving these people without electricity, water and supplies. The Russians do not rule out the use of nuclear weapons, if things get even worse.

Such is the picture painted by the European and Anglo-American mass media, although it must be acknowledged that the latter are making an effort to provide other, more objective analyses in view of the latest developments in the conflict. The intellectual laziness of many information professionals, who limit themselves to reproducing the propaganda reports of Zelensky’s government, if not submitting to the doxa dictated by the media management bodies, as well as the censorship imposed by the authorities and pressure groups, prevent a more impartial knowledge of the real situation of the conflict.

To begin with, Russia cannot lose this war, nor can it give up the territories that since the referendums have been incorporated into the Russian Federation. First of all, it is a question of survival in the face of the Anglo-American world’s determination to put an end to the existence of a Russia that opposes its hegemonic domination and that, on the contrary, is committed to a multipolar world where a balance of forces coexists. Secondly, the Russian society, and even more so the recently annexed populations, and in particular the Donbass regions which have suffered a war for eight years, would never accept to stop being part of Russia.

As for the situation on the ground, if we look at the development of events from the information provided by objective military specialists and analysts, some even coming from armies committed to Ukrainian interests, since the appointment of General Surovikin as Commander-in-Chief of the Armies in the Ukrainian campaign, things have changed quite a lot. His appointment has meant a single command, subordinating the rest of the generals who earlier directed the operations in each of the territories where they acted independently and without coordination with the rest. Since his appointment, a reorganization of the troops assigned to the operation has been carried out, rotating them after the attrition suffered during these nine months of war and reinforcing their material, in particular with artillery pieces and armored vehicles, and massively incorporating observation and destruction drones.

From the tactical point of view, Russia has no need, as Surovikin himself stated, to expose its soldiers uselessly, when it has other means at its disposal to win this war. Russia, because of its demographic situation, cannot afford to send hundreds of thousands of young men to the front, as the Soviets did in World War II, with the result that that entailed. The use of tactical missiles directed against military installations and recently against strategic infrastructures, whose effectiveness is difficult to refute in view of the express acknowledgement by the Ukrainian authorities themselves, is bringing about a substantial change in the course of this conflict.

What some media have considered as a defeat and a withdrawal of the Russian army in Kherson, has been in reality a tactical withdrawal to avoid exposing a significant part of its troops who could have been surrounded in a compromising situation, and thus to better defend themselves. It has been sold that the Ukrainians had defeated the Russians and that this meant that they had practically won the war. The reality is that the Russians have temporarily ceded ground to regroup and organize themselves. They have abandoned the city, transforming it into a ghost town without electricity or water and with a population, albeit a very small one, which the Ukrainian troops will have to feed. At the same time, they have moved, in a successful operation, to the other bank of the Dnieper, turning the river into a natural line of defense very difficult to cross, since at this time, its width is about two kilometers.

So much so that in spite of the fact that the operation had been announced in advance by Surovikin himself, something surprising for a military commander, the Ukrainian forces did not give him credit and delayed their entry into the city until they were certain that it had been abandoned by the Russians, as they believed that it was all a trap. The withdrawal was made without loss of material or men and in an orderly manner, despite the fact that more than 20,000 men were mobilized. Previously, more than 150,000 civilians had been evacuated from the city to the other side, under Ukrainian artillery shelling. They even moved the remains of the founder of the city and mythical person in the history of Russia, Marshal Potemkin, so that his remains would not be desecrated by the Ukrainian troops. Clear proof of this is that we have not seen those images of casualties or destroyed materials that the Ukrainian propaganda media lavished so much on when, at the beginning, they confronted the Russian forces. What has been seen, on the contrary, is a deserted city whose population is trying to survive in hardship and which has been announced that it will be evacuated because of the impossibility of supplying it, while the repressive rearguard forces are engaged in arresting the Russians’ collaborators. In their military history, the Russians have a long experience of strategic retreats that have been successful.

Located on the other bank of the river, with the natural barrier of its width and the difficulty of crossing it under artillery fire, the Russian troops have a considerable advantage. So much so that part of the troops assigned at the time to this front have been transferred to the Donbass front to reinforce the offensive which is being carried out there and which, little by little, is gaining ground despite the difficulty of overcoming the lines of fortifications built by the Ukrainians more than eight years ago and which they have been defending with extraordinary courage and tenacity.

The mobilization of reservists decreed last September and the enlistment of volunteers means the incorporation of 318,000 soldiers and commanders directly on the front line. Unlike the mobilized Ukrainians, who are already in their seventh or eighth mobilization with hardly any training, these troops are undergoing intense military training by veterans of the operation, so that their incorporation will be carried out when they have completed their training and proven their operational capacity. As of today, about 80,000 of them have already joined the front lines, integrating into already hardened units. The rest will do so by mid-December. There has been no haste, and their training is being prioritized to avoid casualties and strengthen their effectiveness.

Meanwhile, on other fronts, Donetsk and Lugansk, Russian troops are advancing slowly, favoring artillery fire both when advancing and retreating, avoiding unnecessary exposure of men and material. The use of observation drones for the localization of enemy forces is being abundantly employed, with excellent results, as this allows for accurate and effective artillery fire. There is abundant filming that proves their use and effectiveness. The practical non-existence of Ukrainian aviation, because it was cancelled at the beginning, and the little effectiveness of its anti-aircraft defenses, in spite of receiving new Western materials, makes Russian aviation have control of the skies and intervene more and more in support of the troops on the ground. Although the equipment provided is not always of the latest generation, the technological complexity also requires trained servants when it comes to more modern systems, which is why the Russians are suspicious of the involvement of NATO troops who covertly handle such equipment.

The Russians are expected to carry out a major offensive when weather conditions permit, i.e., when the ground freezes, because now, with the heavy rains, it is impracticable. The Ukrainians are suffering to a greater extent, because much of the material sent by the Ottoman allies, replacing the Soviet material they had and have been losing, is wheeled, unlike the Russian material, in which tracks predominate. The priority will undoubtedly be focused on recovering the territories of the Donbass up to its territorial limits and, perhaps, on descending from above along the right bank of the Dnieper to recover the territories of Zaporiyia and Kherson. Who knows if they will not go on to Odessa. Nor can the Russians afford to delay their offensive too long, because the longer they delay, the more time the Ukrainian army will have to mobilize and train its levies.

On the other hand, the destruction, by means of tactical missiles, of energy infrastructures, especially power plants and sub-power plants, by the Russian forces, is having considerable effects on the deterioration of the supply on the material fronts, since it prevents their transfer from the borders, slowing down their offensives and weakening their defenses. Although its effects are being felt to a greater extent on the living conditions of civilians, depriving them of electricity and water, the destruction of these infrastructures was something that Russian military officials had been demanding for some time in view of the increase in military aid received by the Ukrainian army from its NATO allies.

Finally, as far as casualties are concerned, the number of deaths in the ranks of the Ukrainian army is staggering. According to American officials, there are about 100,000 dead, to which must be added the wounded in the proportion of three for every one dead. This means that, between the dead and the wounded, they are losing between 300 and 400 men a day on the various fronts. Russian losses are around 48,000 wounded and 16,000 dead, 8,000 of which belong to the Russian army and the rest to the territorial units, Chechen forces and the Wagner group. It should be borne in mind that the brunt of the war has so far been carried out by the territorial units of the Donbass and the special forces on their respective fronts. Initially, the Russian army have started the conflict with between 125,000 and 150,000 troops, to which were added about 60,000 mobilized between the territorial troops of the Donbass and the Chechen special forces and the Wagner Group, with 10,000 troops each. For its part, the Ukrainian army numbered about 600,000 men at the beginning of the conflict. According to UN data, more than 10,000 civilians were killed between the two sides during the eight months of the conflict.

We will probably soon witness a change in the situation, both on the ground and politically, although the media and talk show hosts with careers in the offices of Brussels or NATO headquarters tell us that the Ukrainian army is going to win this war and that they will force Russia to return the annexed territories. American officials have already suggested to Zelensky that he should reconsider negotiating with Russia, and we know that he who pays the piper calls the tune, and American governments have never been known for their unswerving loyalty to the leader of the day. Rather, they have been dedicated to defending their own interests.

Eugenio de Dobrynne writes for El Manifesto, through whose courtesy this article appears.

The Ukrainian Army Promotes War Crimes

The crimes of the Ukrainian army, which we can often see on social networks, horrify the entire civilized world. And if the West is the main financier and logistics-provider for the Ukrainian army, the crimes committed by Ukrainian soldiers appalled even them. After the recent Ukrainian war crime in Makiivka, it was the Western media that put pressure to launch an investigation. Unfortunately, despite the pressure from the West, it is difficult to expect that the Ukrainian army will respect the Geneva Convention in the future. It is more realistic to expect that they will continue to behave like a wild horde.

Therefore, the video of the execution of Russian prisoners of war by Ukrainian troops, which circulated in the media and social networks, is far from the only video recording of war crimes by Ukrainian army.

Since the beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, videos of beaten and stripped prisoners of war and civilians suspected of collaborating with the Russians have appeared on social media. Records of torture also circulated widely.

However, what shocks the public is that official Kyiv promotes the violation of the Geneva Convention and does not care about the promotion of war crimes. What are the reasons for such “public violence,” which greatly compromise both the Ukrainian military and President Zelensky himself?

It is certain that the Russian army in Ukraine also committed some crimes, bearing in mind that it is an armed formation of over 200,000 people. However, the Russian military police has an iron discipline in this matter, and such things are severely punished. And such an order comes from the Kremlin, because President Putin has repeatedly emphasized publicly that Russians and Ukrainians are one nation. And that the Russian army must take into account not only Ukrainian civilians but also captured soldiers.

The above can be confirmed by the fact that since the beginning of the conflict, a large number of independent journalists have been accompanying the Russian army and reporting from the front. It must be emphasized here that the majority of journalists are not from Russia but from the West. This is evidenced by the fact that more than once, due to journalists filming and revealing the positions of the Russian army, there have been losses of equipment in the Russian army.

But Russians are not characterized by cruelty. The main difference between Ukrainian nationalists and Russian fighters is different cultural traditions. In the 80th brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, formed in Lviv from the natives of Western Ukraine, the personnel were brought up in the spirit of the traditions of the Ukrainian underground during the Second World War. Recall that back then the supporters of Stepan Bandera shot pro-Soviet and pro-Polish activists, including doctors and teachers sent to western Ukraine, and also massacred entire Jewish and Polish villages.

In the Russian mentality, mockery and mistreatment of prisoners is unacceptable. You can kill the enemy, but not torture. Russians in their ideology have always opposed themselves to the German Nazis with their concentration camps and gas chambers. So, if someone posted a video of the torture and murder of captured soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the Russian audience would explode with indignation, recognizing the perpetrators of such acts as war criminals.

However, the true reason for the appearance of Ukrainian torture videos lies not even in the different mentality of Ukrainian nationalists and Russians. In fact, Kiev propagandists deliberately give the green light to such videos. This is primarily done to scare Russian soldiers and reservists. And official Kiev does not pay much attention to these crimes.

Take for example the recent Ukrainian war crime in Makiivka. The Ukrainian army immediately began to claim that the video was staged and fake. However, it was the Western experts who confirmed the authenticity of the video and the Western media exerted pressure to launch an investigation.

However, such video-propaganda of cruelty actually has a much more serious purpose. Its main task is to form a stable feeling of hatred between Russians and residents of Ukraine. EU residents have little idea of the mentality of the average Russian. The fact is that many in Russia sincerely consider the current war to be a civil one. Almost all Russians treat Ukrainians either as a very close people or as southwestern Russians. Half of the inhabitants of Ukraine have Russian surnames, relatives in Russia and use Russian as their main language. However, each such video, according to the plan of Kiev radical propagandists, is meant to change the mentality of Russians more and more. They must hate all the inhabitants of Ukraine; stop treating them as “their own” and recognize that reconciliation with Ukraine and a new reunification with it is impossible. Peace will come sooner or later, but a steel wave of hatred will fall between the future Ukraine and Russia. At the same time, Russia’s desire to punish the killers of defenseless prisoners of war and civilians will also prevent the settlement of relations between Moscow and Kyiv for many decades.

The line of military contact between Russia and Ukraine is lengthening; fresh troops and new weapons are coming to the front from both sides. Obviously, the execution in Makiivka will not be the last video demonstrating the complete disregard of Kyiv, for “democratic values,” the Geneva Convention and human rights.

[Warning—this link contains videos and images of extreme cruelty].

However, what appalls observers of the conflict in Ukraine even more is the fact that the Ukrainian army tortures and kills its own citizens. We saw this during the Ukrainian seizure of Izyum and Kherson. After which hundreds of Ukrainian citizens simply disappeared; that is, they were liquidated by the SBU and the Ukrainian army.

The question involuntarily begs itself, does a united Europe need such a Ukraine, proud of the massacres?

Slavisha Batko Milacic is a historian and independent analyst, and writes about the situation in the Balkans and Europe.

How the West Brought War to Ukraine

We are so very pleased to bring you an excerpt from a very crucial book, How the West Brought War to Ukraine, by Benjamin Abelow. To orient readers, we begin by quoting the one-paragraph blurb from the back cover:

According to the Western narrative, Vladimir Putin is an insatiable, Hitler-like expansionist who invaded Ukraine as an unprovoked land grab. That story is incorrect. In reality, the United States and NATO bear significant responsibility for the Ukraine crisis. Through a series of misguided policies, Washington and its European allies placed Russia in an untenable situation for which war seemed, to Mr. Putin and his military staff, the only workable solution. This book lays out the relevant history and explains how the West needlessly created conflict and now labors under an existential threat of its own making.

The book is endorsed by many experts. For example, in the words John J. Mearsheimer: “For anyone interested in understanding the true causes of the disaster in Ukraine, How the West Brought War to Ukraine is required reading.”

Please support the valuable work of Benjamin Abelow and purchase a copy of this book, and spread the word. What follows, copied by permission, is the entire Chapter Seven from this short and readable eight-chapter book.

[Read our review]

How Overly Pessimistic Narratives Become Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

The story of an evil, irrational, intrinsically expansionist Russia with a paranoid leader at its helm, opposed by a virtuous United States and Europe, is a confused and strange confabulation, inconsistent with a whole series of directionally aligned events during the past 30 years—events whose significance and meaning should have been readily apparent. In fact, the predominant Western narrative might itself be viewed as a kind of paranoia.

The provocations that the United State and its allies have directed at Russia are policy blunders so serious that, had the situation been reversed, U.S. leaders would long ago have risked nuclear war with Russia. For U.S. leaders to assert otherwise, as they now are doing, represents a dangerous disregard of reality. In some cases, this disregard surely represents willful demagoguery. But for some policy makers it must be well intentioned, occurring for the simple reason that they continue to interpret new facts in light of the same spent narrative.

Major press outlets also bear responsibility. Rather than seeking to contextualize events properly for their readers, the media have trumpeted the government’s preferred narrative. Whatever its motivations, the mainstream media have implemented, and continue to implement, a regime of propaganda that misinforms the public and can only be perceived by Russia as an affront to the national character of its people. Online providers of information are doing much the same. In fact, as the Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and First Amendment lawyer Glenn Greenwald has shown, massive censorship of dissenting views is now occurring at many levels of society in both the United States and Europe.

Although it is difficult to look at the horrific images coming out of Ukraine without revulsion and anger, succumbing to blind emotion and embracing the dominant Western narrative is a dangerous error. It empowers the worst forces in Washington, including the nexus of bureaucratic power and commercial interest that President Eisenhower, a fivestar Army general, termed the military-industrial complex, about which he warned the American public in his final televised address as U.S. president. This narrative also enables the most Russophobic and militaristic of European leaders, as well as those with the least guts to stand up to misguided American policies. The narrative clouds the minds of American and European citizens, leading to jingoism and war-mongering.

My primary goal in this book is to correct a false narrative, and for a very practical reason: because false narratives lead to bad outcomes. Narratives are inevitably reflected in behaviors; they are both descriptive and generative. By functioning as models of reality, narratives serve as guides for action. Then, through the dynamic of action and reaction, push and pushback, they can produce the results they allege are already present. In this way, a narrative that is overly pessimistic about the intentions of a potential opponent—what I term a “narrative of suspicion”—can potentiate the very threats it purports to mitigate.

This description underlies the classic dynamic of an arms race that culminates in escalation and war. It instantiates not the paradigm of World War II, with its associated images of implacable expansionism and Western appeasement, but of World War I, in which Germany, Britain, Western Europe, and ultimately America sleep-walked into catastrophe. Yet now, because of the nature of nuclear weaponry, catastrophe can happen more easily, and with more devastating effect.

As with World War I, each side, fearing the worst from the other, seeks to make itself invulnerable through a military strategy that necessarily also has offensive potential—a double-edged strategic sword that policy analysts term a “security dilemma.” This is precisely what George Kennan predicted with respect to NATO expansion, and in respect to which he has proven correct. That expansion, which was justified in the name of defense, has been perceived by Russia as an offensive threat and led to actions that are, in turn, perceived by the West as expansionist. In 2014, Richard Sakwa offered a pithy retrospect on the situation that Kennan had anticipated:

In the end, NATO’s existence became justified by the need to manage the security threats provoked by its enlargement. The former Warsaw Pact and Baltic states joined NATO to enhance their security, but the very act of doing so created a security dilemma for Russia that undermined the security of all.

And since Sakwa wrote, the situation has only gotten worse, in good measure because the United States and its allies have carried out a parallel set of military expansions outside of NATO.

Mr. Putin, whatever authoritarian tendencies he might possess, was not born on a set path. In the current zeitgeist, it may be considered heretical to state the obvious: that Mr. Putin, like all human beings, is influenced by a combination of what is within—his psychology, beliefs, and values—and what is without, the dynamic external circumstances that confront him. This is simply a truism. It is likewise a truism that chronic exposure to certain patterns of external events can change a person’s inner tendencies, or, at least, selectively magnify some tendencies at the expense of other,
sometimes opposite tendencies.

Incrementally, in steps small and large, the West has disregarded Russia’s reasonable security concerns, considering them irrelevant, stoking Russian concerns about encirclement and invasion. At the same time, the United States and its European allies have implied that a rational actor would be assuaged by the West’s statements of benign intention: that the weapons, training, and interoperability exercises, no matter how provocative, powerful, or close to Russia’s borders, are purely defensive and not to be feared. In many instances, Western leaders, especially from the United States, have actively disrespected Mr. Putin, sometimes insulting him to his face.

In doing all this, the West has suggested that Mr. Putin is imagining strategic threats where none in fact exist. This Western framing—which posits a lack of legitimate Russian security concerns coupled with implied and explicit accusations of irrationality—underlies much of the currently dominant narrative. It also underlies the ideological position of the Russia hawks who play such a prominent role in Washington. In personal relationships, the combination of threatening actions and accusations of paranoia would be considered gaslighting. Is the situation really so different in the realm of international politics?

During times of war and military threat, even the leaders of free countries lean toward authoritarianism. Sensing great danger, they may tighten the reins of power, imposing top-down control and expanding the categories of domestic action and speech that are considered treasonous. It is not extreme to suggest that the provocations described in this book created in the mind of Mr. Putin and other members of the Russian political and military class an evolving sense of siege and emergency. My point is that one must contemplate the possibility that Western actions contributed not only to Russia’s foreign policies, but to untoward aspects of Russia’s domestic politics as well. In fact, George Kennan predicted this in 1998. NATO expansion, he said, would “have an adverse effect on the development of Russian democracy.”

Political actors, both individuals and corporate actors, such as bureaucracies and nations, are not static entities. Rather, the human decisions we call “policies” emerge from a concatenation of conscious intentions; unconscious motivations; accidents of history; and personal, human interactions, including blatantly threatening, humiliating, and disrespectful interactions and words, such as those that have emanated from the mouth of President Biden. And it is quite possible that the actions of the United States and its European allies exerted, and continue to exert, a more profound effect on the policies of Mr. Putin, including his domestic policies, than some are inclined to think.

The Reunification of Crimea and Sevastopol with the Russian Federation

“The great questions of the day will not be settled by means of speeches and majority decisions but by iron and blood” (Otto Von Bismarck).


Part One of this article sets forth a chronology of events that took place in Ukraine and the Crimean Peninsula, after the collapse of the Soviet Union and prior to Crimea’s reunification with the Russian Federation. This Part is divided into three sections: [1] the period between 1991 and 2000, [2] the period between 2013 and 2014, and [3] the period in Crimea in 2014. Two preceding events merit mention: Catherine the Great’s 1793 integration of Crimea within the Russian empire, and Khrushchev’s transfer of the peninsula to the Ukr. SSR in 1954. The chronology corrects misstatements of fact found in the scholarly literature and popular press, both of which portray an abbreviated version of facts, and a piecemeal application of public international law, to maintain that: [1] Crimea seceded from Ukraine, [2] the purported “secession” was illegal under extant principles of public international law and, [3] the Russian Federation illegally “annexed” Crimea in 2014.

Part Two of this article distils key conclusions drawn from the comprehensive factual chronology found in Part One. Conventional interpretations of the Crimean crisis repose upon faulty factual premises thereby undercutting their profoundly misguided conclusions. Without an accurate statement of facts, the precise legal question to be answered cannot be drawn. In the absence of fully developed facts, the media spreads an unsustainable mythology of Euromaidan shaping public opinion. Part Two also argues that public international law sanctions a monopoly of power by States and lacks rules to resolve matters such as the Crimean case.

Part Three of this article constructs the argument from pragmatism to support the reunification of Crimea with the Russian Federation and to legitimate the redrawn borders of the Republic of Crimea. The pragmatist argument relies upon multiple disciplines: history, economic analysis, and political reasoning; posits that facts drive the application of “international law,” and, asserts that principles of “economic analysis,” exceptionally well-developed within municipal law, have the capacity to reshape public international law to improve an understanding of State behaviour. The redrawn border of the Crimean Peninsula is consistent with logic and what must constitute the ultimate objective of public international law: the end of human suffering.

Part One: History [1991-2000]

The story of Crimea’s separation from Ukraine and re-unification with the Russian Federation begins in 1991, when the Soviet Union was disintegrating, but prior to its formal dissolution. The declarations first of sovereignty and second of independence of the individual republics of the USSR, were acts of secession, as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, at that time, remained in existence and constituted the highest organ of power. These secessions have generated no legal analysis as to their validity under public international law, as the Great Powers of that epoch: The United States and Europe, did not object, as it was in their geo- political interest.

On 26 April 1990, the USSR enacted a law identifying competences of the USSR as a federation and competences held by the Republics. Under the law, autonomous republics had rights of full governance over their territory without direct control of the USSR. Earlier, on 10 April 1990, the law on economic relationships among the republics came into effect. On 3 November 1990, a special commission of the Crimean government announced a project to formulate a temporary decree concerning the procedure of how to conduct a referendum on the territory of the Crimean oblast to permit a vote on re-establishing Crimea as an Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. Subsequently, on 12 November 1990, the Crimean government held a special session, at which Kravchuk was present, and found that the USSR decree of 30 June 1945 and law of the RSSR of 25 June 1946, abolishing the Crimean ASSR was unlawful, and that the Crimean population has the right to re-establish the Crimean ASSR as a subject of the USSR, and participant of the Union Agreement. Simultaneously, the Crimean government decided to hold a referendum, scheduled for 20 January 1991, to decide the legal status of Crimea.

In response to Gorbachev’s planned reforms, on 5 January 1991, the Republic of Crimea prepared for a referendum and published the ballot setting forth the choices to be submitted to voters. On 22 January 1991, the results of the referendum were published: 93.26% of voters elected to become an Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic as a subject of the USSR. On 25 January 1991, the Crimean government reported the results of the referendum to Kiev, asked for freedom from Ukraine to enable integration within the USSR. The request also asked Kiev to modify its constitution and to approve the drafting of a new constitution for Crimea as an ASSR. On 12 February 1991, President Kravchuk issued a law composed of two articles. Article 1 re-established the Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic on the territory of the Crimean oblast within the Ukr. SSR. Article 2 appointed the interim government of Crimean ASSR. Consequently, Kravchuk ignored the results of the referendum and cemented Crimea to Ukraine contrary to the will of the population of Crimea.

On 17 March 1991, the USSR, acting in its federal capacity, held a union-wide referendum asking whether citizens wanted the USSR to continue to exist as a new federation comprised of equal sovereign republics. In Ukraine, 70.5% of those who voted expressed a preference to remain in the revised USSR; noteworthy is that western regions of Ukraine rejected the proposal. Despite this expressed preference, political officials opposed to reform programmes and opposed to the Gorbachev Presidency planned to disintegrate the USSR.

Ignoring legal niceties, on 8 December 1991, Boris Yeltsin [then President of Russia], Leonid Kravchuk [then President of Ukraine], and Stanislav Shushkevich [then President of Belarus], at a meeting in Viskuli, Belarus, close to the Belavezha forest, dissolved the Soviet Union when they signed “The Agreement on the Establishment of a Commonwealth of Independent States,” explicitly stating that “the USSR as a subject of international law and a geopolitical reality ceases its existence.” The Agreement was signed despite the fact that Mikhail Gorbachev was still President of the Soviet Union, and the laws of the individual republics were subordinate to the Union’s laws. At Belavezha, the Head of the Belarusian KGB, Eduard Shirkovsky, in reply to a question posed by Prime Minister Kebich, said: “Of course! We are faced with high treason, betrayal, if we are to call things by their right names. Don’t misunderstand me: I could not help reacting. I swore an oath.” Shortly after signing the “Agreement,” and behind the back of President Gorbachev, Yeltsin called then President George H.W. Bush to inform of the fait accompli: the Soviet Union no longer exists. The coup de grace, then took place on 21 December 1991, in Almaty [then Alma-Ata], Kazakhstan, when representatives of eleven republics signed an Agreement dissolving the USSR and creating the Commonwealth of Independent States, even though Gorbachev still was President of the USSR.

In January 1991, prior to the Alma-Ata accords, Crimea held a referendum [the Crimean Sovereignty Referendum] where voters were asked whether they wanted to re-establish the Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, that had been abolished in 1954. Specifically, the referendum asked whether Crimea wanted to become an Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic as a subject of the USSR, not a subject of Ukraine. Ninety-four percent [94%] of voters approved the referendum. However, Kravchuk, committed to prevent Crimea from seceding from Ukraine, visited Crimea “on the day when its parliament was scheduled to vote on the law regulating the local referendum that was to put the question of the Crimea’s secession to a popular vote.” He “convinced” the “former communist elite, who had worked with Kyiv since 1954, to postpone the vote on the law.” “Their opponents in parliament, represented by the Republican Movement of the Crimea, were outvoted.”

Subsequently, on 24 August 1991, the Supreme Court of Ukr. SSR declared the independence of Ukraine, arbitrarily identifying the Crimean ASSR as a territory of a newly established State, a de facto illegal annexation of Crimea. By doing so, the founders of Ukraine ignored a law requiring a separate referendum to be held in Crimea on the Crimean ASSR’s status within Ukraine. This action was taken deliberately, since Kiev knew perfectly well that the people of Crimea would never vote in favour of becoming part of Ukraine. Since 1991, Crimea and Ukraine have engaged in a continuous struggle and irreconcilable conflict: Crimea’s unambiguous goal of independence as an Autonomous Republic, and Ukraine’s forced subjugation of Crimea.

In February 1992, the Crimean Parliament transformed Crimea into the “Republic of Crimea,” and on 5 May 1992, declared Crimea independent, a decision to be approved by a referendum scheduled for 2 August 1992. In January 1992, the Russian Foreign Ministry and parliament condemned the transfer of Crimea to Ukraine in 1954. In April 1992, Russian Vice President Ruskoi visited Crimea and called for secession from Ukraine. In response, the Ukrainian parliament, on 15 May 1992, annulled the Crimean declaration of independence and ordered the Crimean parliament to cancel the referendum within one week. Ukraine’s actions contradicted the results of the 1991 referendum whereby Crimea expressed its choice to become part of the Russian Federation, and dissolve any relationship with Ukraine.

On 25 September 1992, the Republic of Crimea adopted its first post-Soviet constitution. The preamble states:

“We, the People of Crimea, are free and equal in their rights and dignity of citizens of the Republic of Crimea of all nationalities that make up the people of Crimea, connected to the centuries-old ties of a common historical destiny, unequivocally condemned as criminal and inhuman acts committed by the totalitarian regime against the people of Crimea, recognizing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights based on the desire to ensure social, economic and civil rights of the individual and a decent standard of life for all, affirm the Constitution and declare that the Constitution is the basic law of legal, democratic, secular State of Crimea.”

Article I of Chapter I [General Provisions] provides: the “Republic of Crimea is a legal, democratic, secular state in part of Ukraine” (emphasis mine). Section I, Ch. 3, Article 9 sets forth that all relationships between Crimea and Ukraine were to be governed by treaties between representatives of the respective governments. Article 9 further provides that amendments to the constitution were within the sole province of Crimea, and Article 9 lists explicitly matters under control of Crimea. Article 107 lists the organs of Crimean government: Parliament, President, Executive government, Constitutional Court and High Court. Other key provisions include:

  • Official Government Language (Russian) [Section I, Ch. 1, Art. 6]
  • Right to hold referenda on matters within its jurisdiction [Section I, Ch.3, Art. 9(2)(6)];
  • Can change government deputies within own framework [Section I, Ch. 3, Art. 9(2)(5)];
  • Own budget [Section I, Ch.3, Art. 9(2)(13)];
  • Military bases of Ukraine need approval of Crimean Government [Section I, Chapter 3, Art. 10(1) and (2)];
  • National Guard drawn from population of Crimea [Section I, Chapter 3, Art. 11];
  • Crimea has a Permanent Representative of the State in the capitol of Ukraine [Section I, Ch. 3, Art. 12(3)];
  • Can enter agreements with other States, international organisations; economy, culture, science, health, education, protection of environment and other [Section I, Ch.4, Art. 14]; and
  • Own flag, symbol and anthem [Section II, Art. 15(1)]

In short, excepting the reference to Ukraine, the 1992 constitution established Crimea as a State virtually equal in legal status as Ukraine, with the legal personality to conclude accords with Third States.

Following the adoption of the 1992 Constitution, Ukraine mounted a persistent campaign of interference in Crimean self-rule, with a primary aim to obtain a new constitution under which Crimea would be “under the thumb” of Ukraine. In addition, during the 1990’s, disputes arose over the division of the Black Sea Fleet, frequent anti-Ukraine protests took place, and Ukraine periodically enacted legislation to eliminate the Russian language. In 1993 alone, there were three major protests opposing Ukraine rule. On 10 January 1993, more than 2,000 protestors in the City of Sevastopol called for separation from Ukraine. During 18-20 January 1993, anti- Ukrainian demonstrations took place in Sevastopol and Simferopol. These demonstrations were organised by political groups. Their demands included the transfer of Crimea to Russia and the holding of new elections for all government institutions. Meshkov, the future president of Crimea, led the demonstration in Simferopol supported by 5,000 sympathisers. On 26 July 1993, approximately 2,000 demonstrators demanded the transfer of the Black Sea Fleet from Ukraine to Russia.

Concurrent protests took place regarding the division of the Black Sea Fleet. On 24 May 1993, 115 ships of the Black Sea Fleet raised the Russian flag based on discrepancies between pay received by Russian and Ukrainian sailors. On 1 June 1993, more than 200 ships of the Black Sea Fleet raised the Russian flag. On 29 July 1993, the Conference of Black Sea Fleet Officers protested the proposed division of the fleet. On 5 July 1993, 220 ships out of 223 flew the Russian flag. Disputes regarding the division of the Black Sea Fleet continued until Russia and Ukraine entered the 1997 Partition Treaty on the Status and Conditions of the Black Sea Fleet. Nevertheless, the Black Sea Fleet disputes demonstrate deep divisions between Crimea and Ukraine, and opposition to Ukraine rule over the territory of Crimea.

With unprecedented regularity, discord between Ukraine and Crimea continued during the decade of the 1990’s. In March 1995, the Ukrainian parliament rescinded Crimea’s 1992 constitution and abolished the post of Crimean President. Ukrainian president Kuchma said the region’s parliament could be dissolved if it continued to violate Ukraine’s Constitution. By abolishing the presidency, Ukraine left regional power in Crimea in the hands of its Prime Minister Anatoliy Franchuk. Officials said Ukrainian state ministries, including the military and police, would enforce Ukrainian laws and would dismantle the office of the Crimean president. As a result, unrest continued through May. Contrary to the will of Crimean authorities, Ukraine also recognized the Mejlis as the representative body of the Crimean Tatar people. On 18 March 1997, riot police in Crimea prevented about 1000 protestors from storming the parliament building in Simferopol during a demonstration calling for the return of the peninsula to Russia. Pro-Russian communist groups organized the demonstration attended by about 5000 people.

In 1998, Ukraine finally achieved its goal of effacing Crimean independence, with the adoption of the 23 December 1998 Constitution of the Autonomous Republic of Ukraine. Section I, Ch. 1, Art.1(1) states that the Autonomous Republic of Crimea “is an integral part of Ukraine and, within the limits of the powers defined by the Constitution of Ukraine, it decides issues that are related to its jurisdiction.” However, the 1998 Constitution left nothing to be decided by Crimea without approval by Ukraine. The lack of independence of Crimea is exemplified by the following Constitutional provision: “Acts of the Council of Ministers of the Crimea are abolished by the President of Ukraine,” when opposed by the President. In addition, rights and freedoms of Crimean citizens derived from and were guaranteed by the Constitution and law of Ukraine. The 1998 Constitution also changed the official language of government from Russian to Ukraine. Consequently, the autonomy of the Republic of Crimea was left only in name, and turned the 1992 Constitution on its head. It may be inferred, based on the relentless interference of Kiev in Crimean politics, that the 1998 Constitution was the product of coercion.

In a parallel development, Ukraine unleashed its campaign to eradicate the Russian language. Kuchma initiated a policy to assert control over media using Russian as its language. Kiev ultimately reduced the amount of Russian-language broadcasting to four hours per week. On 15 January 1997, leaders of the Russian community in Crimea responded by claiming that the initiative amounted to a policy of “language aggression’ aimed at driving the Russian language out of Ukraine. Subsequently, on 15 October 1997, the Crimean parliament voted to make Russian the official language in place of Ukraine. On 5 November 1997, Kuchma issued a statement: Ukrainian is the only official language in Ukraine. On 4 February 1998, the Crimean parliament voted overwhelmingly to propose a referendum to include the following questions: [1] the peninsula’s return to Russia, [2] restoration of the 1992 Constitution, and [3] the adoption of Russian language as the official language of Crimea. The ratification of the European Charter on Local Languages and the Language of Minorities failed to settle the language dispute, as the Constitutional Court of Ukraine held that in all spheres of public life and activity, the Ukrainian language was compulsory.

In conclusion, the Autonomous Republic of Crimea never recognised the legitimacy of government by Ukraine. The events of 2013-14 were the logical result of preceding historical circumstances.

History [2013-14]

A chronicle of events in Kiev and in Crimea is required to establish the context of the decision of Crimea to separate from Ukraine and request integration to the Russian Federation. During the period 2013-14, events in Crimea did not occur in isolation, but were responses to the coup d’état that took place in Ukraine. The Euromaidan Revolution, supported by external forces, opened systemic conflicts within Ukraine, and unleashed dormant and ultra-national extreme groups, with the imprimatur of the United States, revealing a vein of ultra-nationalism running the course of Ukraine history. Words cannot replace the filmography and first-hand accounts

found in two documentaries filmed during and after the Euromaidan Revolution. Hence, Part Two recounts only the most salient points of the documentaries and draws upon other sources to reconstruct accurately the 2013-14 “happenings” on Maidan Square.

Preliminarily, relevant Ukrainian history is required to understand the “fascist” roots of Euromaidan. The Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists [OUN] was established in 1929 in Western Ukraine. Stepan Bandera established and developed the ideology of OUN, and its military arm. Bandera’s aim was to purge all non-Ukrainians from the new State of Ukraine. His ideology spread quickly throughout Ukraine. The symbol of the group is a black and red flag. Ukraine openly collaborated with Nazi Germany during World War Two. During WWII, the OUN killed 80,000 Jews in Galicia. In 1941, in collaboration with Nazi Germany, the OUN was responsible for the deaths of 100,000 to 200,000 Jews. OUN also participated in the infamous “Babi-Yar” incident when Ukraine militia killed 33,771 Jews. Bandera did not limit his ethnic cleansing to Jews. The Ukrainian Insurgent Army, the military arm of OUN, massacred 35,000 to 60,000 Polish victims in Volhynia, and 25,000 to 40,000 in Eastern Galicia during the period 1943-44. “Declassified CIA documents and other sources show that the OUN and UPA after the war were used by the US and British intelligence services against the Soviet Union,” until Bandera’s death in Munich in 1959. Ukrainian Nazi’s were not subject to the Nuremburg trials; the CIA granted Bandera and other members of OUN amnesty for their actions, citing “necessity” as the legal justification.

After the USSR collapsed, Ukrainian nationalist and Neo-Nazi organisations proliferated. In 1991, consistent with OUN’s radical nationalism, Oleh Tyahnybok established the Social- National Party [SNP] of Ukraine. The Party’s symbol is the neo-Nazi “Wolfsangel.” In 1994, SNP was renamed “Svoboda” [“Freedom” in Ukrainian]. Other major far right organisations that were formed and played key roles in the Maidan Revolution were: the Right Sector, the Social National Assembly, Trident, the White Hammer, the UNA-UNSO, Bratstvo, and C-14.

Paramilitary factions provided military support for each group. All major far right organisations participated in Euromaidan with one common goal: conduct a national revolution to overthrow the pro-Russian Yanukovych government and to forge a Ukrainian nation in their image. Right-wing political parties played key and violent roles in the Maidan Revolution. Though members of organised far-right political groups comprised a minority of protesters during the 2013-14 Euromaidan Revolution, they nevertheless conducted violent attacks, such as the “Snipers’ Massacre” necessary to overthrow the government of Yanokovich.

US meddling in the internal affairs of Ukraine appeared as early as 1983 with the foundation of the National Endowment for Democracy [NED]. According to then Ukraine Minister of Internal Affairs Zaharchenko, the NED was a CIA entity. The NED pushed US interests, and trained activists and journalists, especially in the art of using social media to advocate political position and to manipulate information and images to go “viral” in support of their cause. The use of NGO’s and other foundations as CIA instruments had its roots in the Reagan era. Foreign journalists, including those in Ukraine, received US grants to encourage and support protests. The US also issued manuals entitled “How to Counter Berkut,” instructing how to pull off helmets, and providing instruction on a tactical manoeuvre entitled “Carpathian Beech” to disarm, defeat, and kill Berkut. Early in November 2013, three new broadcasting channels emerged:,, and, each broadcasting support for the opposition.

In November 2013, President Yanukovich declined to sign an association agreement with the EU, primarily on economic grounds, and after the IMF proposed unacceptable terms for a loan. The President signed an alternative agreement with the Russian Federation providing for greater integration of Ukraine and Russian markets. On 17 December 2013, on the basis of a Russian- Ukraine inter-governmental committee, President Yanukovich and President Putin held a meeting and signed agreements specifying, for example, that Ukraine would construct equipment, commercial vessels, airplanes, and the Kerch Strait bridge. The value of these agreements exceeded billions of dollars of Russian investment in Ukraine. In addition, Ukraine would receive 30% discount on the price of gas. In contrast, the EU did not make any concrete proposals for investment.

In response, on 21 November 2013, the first mass protests took place on Maidan Square. Police, deployed to the square, were unarmed and did not use any force against the protesters. However, radicals representing far right national parties were spotted in the crowd. On 24 November 2013, protesters engaged in the first aggressive action when they attacked a government office and attacked police guarding the building. On 25 November 2013, protesters attacked security officers. Arseniy Yatsenuk, leader of the Fatherland Party, Oleh Tyahnybok, leader of the Svoboda Party, and Vitali Klitschko, leader of the Udar Party, were already present on the square to organise protesters and to incite the crowd to pressure the government.

On 30 November 2013, the first key turning point of Euromaidan, Minister of Internal Affairs Vitaliy Zaharchenko received a telephone call from Aleksandr Popov, Head of Kiev Administration seeking permission to install the annual Christmas tree on Maidan Square. Zaharchenko refused the request, stating that no action should be taken while protesters were on the Square. In addition, President Yanukovich explicitly refused to authorise the police to use force to disperse the protesters. Although initial reports indicated that the crowd began to disperse at approximately 1 a.m., protesters attacked the police and the police used rubber bats against them. Best evidence shows that Serhiy Lyovchki, Head of Presidential Administration, and a close associate of Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt, ordered the use of force. Further, the protesters were expecting the police, and groups of well-trained men arrived on the Square at the same time as police. The trained individuals, members of the Right Sector shipped to Kiev as muscle for the protesters, spread within the crowd and provoked police with insults, stones, and torches. Violence erupted, news of events spread, and the next day more people gathered on the Square.

Subsequently, in December 2013, following a well-known pattern of “Colour Revolutions,” the Euromaidan protest turned from a peaceful demonstration to a violent uprising. According to President Yanukovich, members of neo-Nazi organisations, armed with iron bars, bats, tractors, and Molotov cocktails, arrived on the Square and, with these weapons, attacked the police thereby escalating the violence. Concurrently, during this period, several US officials visited Kiev. Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, went to the Maidan, condemned the actions of police, and voiced support for the protesters. The US Senator from Connecticut, Chris Murphy, also stood on a stage telling the crowd present on Maidan Square that the US and EU jointly supported opposition to the Ukraine government. Moreover, Senator John McCain, a former US presidential candidate, addressed the Maidan crowd, telling them, “[W]e will come here at this square to celebrate with you. Ukraine stands together with the EU and US.” President Yanukovich correctly observed that McCain, and his supporting cast of US officials, openly told the crowd to act against a democratically elected government.

The Euromaidan Revolution did not “happen”; Euromaidan was made, principally by US government foreign policy. On 17 February 2014, BBC News published an article entitled, “Transcript of Leaked Nuland-Pyatt Call.” At the time of the conversation, Victoria Nuland was US Assistant Secretary of State and Geoffrey Pyatt was the US Ambassador to Ukraine. Early in the conversation, Pyatt states, “I think we’re in play. The Klitschko … piece is obviously the complicated electron here.” Reference is made to an announcement that Klitschko, a former World Champion boxer, would serve as Deputy Prime Minister in the new government, a development objected to both by Nuland and Pyatt. Nuland states, “I don’t think Klitschko should go into government. I don’t think it’s necessary. I don’t think it is a good idea.”

Pyatt agrees, and remarks, “The problem is going to be Tyahnybok [Leader of Svoboda] and his guys. [Parenthetically, the fact that Pyatt refers to Yanukovich as President evidences that the telephone conversation preceded 22 February 2014, when Yanukovich was overthrown]. Nuland then breaks in and says, “I think Yats is the guy who’s got the economic experience, the governing experience … what he needs is Klitschko and Tyahnybok on the outside,” providing stealth-like support. Pyatt agrees unreservedly with her planned scenario. Anticipating resistance from Klitschko about his US designated role in the new regime, Pyatt tells Nuland to call him for purposes of “personality management,” and to cut off problems before Yatsenik, Klitschko, and Tyahnybok hold a planned meeting.

The subject matter of the call then turns to a conversation between Nuland and Jeff Feltman, the United Nations Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs, referring to a new appointee, Robert Serry. Nuland states that, “Feltman has arranged, with the approval of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, that Serry will visit Kiev on Monday or Tuesday,” presumably the next week. Having obtained the support of the UN, Nuland states, “Fuck the EU.” Pyatt states that US plans for Ukraine must proceed in haste as he fears “the Russians will be working behind the scenes to torpedo it.” Pyatt mentions that he will work with Yanukovich, while Nuland focuses upon recruiting someone with an “international personality” to come to Kiev, and “help mid-wife this thing.” That “international personality” was US Vice-President Joseph Biden, who already had agreed to visit Ukraine.

Simultaneously, the US opened its campaign to demonise neo-conservatives, identify “sacral victims,” and create “martyrs,” conventional “colour revolution” tactics. These efforts partially were aimed at brainwashing the American public to secure popular support for US activity in Ukraine. The media portrayed Yanukovich in his worst light and blamed the ills of the region upon President Putin and the Russian Federation. In late 2013, there was no shortage of “sacral victims” to maintain protest momentum and to provide a trigger to set the planned chain of events in motion. One hundred victims of Euromaidan were mythologised as the “Heavenly Hundred,” and on 30 November 2013, reports emerged of students being beaten, impliedly by improper police action.

On 25 December 2013, Tetiana Chornovol, a member of the Fatherland Party, and a journalist known for making, not reporting news, was found beaten. Images of her bloodied face quickly spread through social media and world media insisted that the beating was a political act. She became a martyr of the Euromaidan revolution. Her heroic deeds include trespassing upon the President’s summer residence and attacking the “Office of the Region’s Party.” Claiming that the latter comprised a nest of criminals, Euromaidan death squads operated from the building during the “Snipers’ Massacre” in 2014. On 22 January 2014, Sergei Nigoyan, an Armenian/Ukrainian protester, who recited poems on Maidan, was killed and, like Chornovol, became another martyr of the revolution. While police were blamed as his killers, Ukrainian prosecutors, after a two-year investigation, failed to confirm the claim and circumstances of his death remain unknown.

On 20 February 2014, mass killings of protesters took place, preceded by mass killings of police. The “Snipers’ Massacre” arguably was the key turning point in Ukrainian politics. Katchanovski, a political studies expert at Ottawa University, conducted the most extensive investigation of the “Snipers’ Massacre.” He states, “This academic investigation concludes that the massacre was a false flag operation which was rationally planned and carried out with the goal of the overthrow of the government and seizure of power.” He further concludes that “concealed shooters,” most likely drawn from the Right Sector and Svoboda, “were located in at least 20 Maidan controlled buildings or areas.” Quoting an interview given by a Maidan shooter to a Ukrainian newspaper, the Maidan shooter stated that “he was firing upon police from the Music Conservatory building for about 20 minutes around 6:00 a.m. and saw about 10 other Maidan shooters doing the same.” “A BBC investigation includes photos showing Maidan shooters armed with hunting rifles and a Kalashnikov assault rifle inside the Music Conservatory shortly after 8:00 am.” In early morning, shooters from the Music Conservatory wounded at least 5 policeman on the Maidan, as a Berkut commander reported that “his unit’s casualties increased to 21 wounded and three killed within half an hour.” Katchanovski concludes, “a rational explanation … is that the police retreated because of the use of live ammunition by small armed protestor units, who were using live ammunition against the police from concealed positions in these two buildings [the Music Conservatory and Trade Union Buildings].” Similarity of wounds found on protesters killed on Maidan indicate that they were equally victims of Maidan shooters.

Three European Ministers: Laurent Fabius, Frank-Walter Steimeier, and Ridoslav Sikorski came to Kiev, ultimately in vain, to broker a truce between the government and protestors. Opposition leaders clarified immediately that they were unwilling to negotiate with the Yanukovich government. Andriy Parubiy, the self-proclaimed Maidan Commandant and leader of the radical opposition, stated that, “If our demands are not fulfilled,” Maidan intends to take more action. Klitschko informed the crowd “to be alert, to stay strong; we are not going anywhere.” Dmitry Yorosh of the Right Sector stated that the Right Sector will not lower its arms, and will not leave occupied buildings until all demands are met: the primary demand being the resignation of President Yanukovich. The overthrow of the Yanukovich government was sealed.

The next day, 22 February 2014, Yanukovich, without resigning his office, left Kiev for Kharkov. Shortly after, the opposition, armed with weapons, seized the presidential office. Yanukovich asked President Putin for help and Putin agreed. On 23 February 2014, the Ukrainian Parliament announced the appointment of Alexandr Turchinov as acting president. The removal of President Yanukovich did not follow the impeachment procedure, as impeachment required 338 positive votes out of 450 members, while only 328 voted for impeachment. In spite of the illegal overthrow of the democratically elected Ukraine government, the United States immediately called the new Regime legitimate thereby closing any practical possibility to restore Yanukovich to power. Paul Craig Roberts succinctly stated, “What … happened in Ukraine is the United States organised and financed a coup…the coup elements included ultra-right wing nationalists whose roots go back to organisations that fought for Hitler in the Second World War against the Soviet Union.”

The interim government, installed by the United States, consisted of: Interim President, Olexander Turchynov, the deputy leader of Fatherland; Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, also a member of the Fatherland Party; Deputy Prime Minister, Oleksandr Sych, a member of the far-right nationalist Svoboda [Freedom] Party; Interior Minister, Arsen Avolkov, a member of the Fatherland Party; Foreign Minister, Andriy Deshchitsya, a supporter of the Maidan movement; National Security Chief, Andriy Parubiy, a member of the Fatherland Party and the so-called Commander of the protest movement; Deputy National Security Leader, Dmitry Yarosh, leader of the militant ultra-right wing group [Right Sector]; Sports and Youth Minister, Dmytro Bulatov, a businessman and leader of Avtomaidan, a mobile patrol group using cars to protect Euromaidan protesters, and Tetyana Chernovil, exact role unknown, the journalist and activist infamous for her seizure of government buildings. This motley group, and 21 cabinet members drawn mainly Yatsenyuk’s Fatherland Party, were never elected to govern Ukraine.

History [Events in Crimea in 2014]

The Crimean Peninsula, and its predominantly Russian speaking residents, were not insulated from the violent overthrow of the democratically elected Ukraine government. After the opposition took control of Kiev, the nationalists went after anyone who objected to their taking of power, including Crimean residents who had travelled to the Maidan to oppose the Euromaidan movement. The bus convoy, carrying Crimean residents back home, though escorted by police cars was led into an ambush, now called the Korsun massacre. Kondrashov’s interview with drivers and passengers on the busses evidences the illegal killings, property destruction, and the appalling conduct of ultra-nationalist groups involved in the attack.

Roman Yakovlev, the head of the Bus Convoy and Simferopol resident, stated that the convoy of buses was blocked in the Cherkossy region. Alexander Belyi, an auto-mechanic and resident of Simferopol, and Alexander Bochkeryov, deputy regiment commander of the Crimean self-defence forces, both confirmed that the convoy was blocked at both ends thereby preventing its journey to Crimea. According to Bochkeryov, men armed with clubs mounted the buses and started to beat passengers, and a man armed with a gun started shooting people at point blank range. Alexei Grebnev, a bus passenger and Simferopol resident, stated that his bus driver was shot in the head while seated in the driver’s seat. The mob began to smash bus windows and throw stones. They said, “Come out or we’ll burn you alive.” In addition, according to Belyi, the mob forced passengers to sing the Ukrainian national anthem and shout “Glory to Ukraine,” while beating passengers with clubs. Without detailing each act of criminality, seven members of the bus convoy were killed, four of the eight buses were burned, and 20 persons were missing.

Meanwhile, President Putin in Moscow personally conducted the rescue operation of Yanukovich and members of his entourage from southern Ukraine. In response to the outburst of extreme nationalism, President Putin decided that, if necessary, the Russian Federation would help avoid bloodshed and armed conflict in Crimea. Subsequently, Kiev declared Simferopol the “seat of enemies” of Maidan and ordered the demolition of the Lenin monument within 10 days. The ultimatum induced the local population to take to the streets and to form self-defence forces. Sergei Aksyonov, Head of the Republic of Crimea and Leader of the All-Ukrainian Party Russian Unity [2008-2014], held daily training sessions for Crimean self- defence units. Aksyonov was prepared to stop anyone from taking down the monument, a symbol of stability and a challenge to authorities to control the situation.

When Aksyonov announced the “Crimean Spring,” he did not know Russia would support Crimea. Addressing the crowd with a loudspeaker, he stated “Together: we will build our Crimea! Peace to Crimea!” President Putin had never heard of Aksyonov. When he asked the Chairman of the Crimean Parliament about him, the Chairman replied, “he’s like Che Guevara.” On 22 February 2014, Berkut officers returned to Sevastopol and to Simferopol. In Kiev, during Maidan protests, the opposition attacked members of Berkut with fire and guns. Kiev, nevertheless, accused Berkut of sniper fire, an accusation never confirmed after years of investigation. At this time, criminal cases were opened against Berkut officers and commanders throughout Ukraine. Arsen Avokov, appointed Minister of Internal Affairs by the Verkhana Rada, issued an order to disband Berkut, and declared that any army unit that did not obey order would be deemed an illegal armed gang. Only in Crimea were Berkut treated as heroes.

On 22 February 2014, Yuriy Abisov, Commander of the Crimean Berkut battalion, and later appointed Commander of the Special Rapid Response Unit of the Interior Ministry of the Republic of Crimea, stated, “the decision to separate from Ukraine was made on Lenin Square by Crimeans.” After, Abisov called a meeting of all Berkut officers and asked them whether they preferred to maintain allegiance to Kiev or to defend Crimea. The officers unanimously decided to fight against Kiev. After Maidan, the Crimean Berkut introduced new elements to their training regime by modifying the manner of self-protection based on experience in Kiev. In the City of Sevastopol, officers and residents alike expressed unambiguously their objection to the new Regime in Kiev. In December 2013, two months before the Snipers’ Massacre on Maidan Square, Viktor Melnikov, member of the Third Rapid Response Company of Sevastopol, and Afghanistan war veteran, organised a self-defence force. Virtually all residents of Sevastopol joined the self-defence forces. As of this date, the Russian Federation had not provided any support, military or otherwise, to Crimea.

On 26 February 2014, the Supreme Council of Crimea called an emergency meeting to discuss holding a referendum to determine the status of the autonomous region. According to Aksyonov, Kiev instructed leaders of the Crimean Mejlis to prevent the government from holding meetings: the goal being the seizure of the Crimean parliament. Kiev dispatched members of the Right Sector to support Mejlis. A large crowd assembled in front of the Government building in Simferopol. Members of the Right Sector waved “Bandera Flags.” The first clashes began around mid-day. As the crowd pushed and shoved, one old man was trampled to death. Bottles with water, sand, and a “strange powder” were thrown into crowd from areas occupied by Mejlis and the Right Sector, identified by their flags. In addition, men wearing gas masks used nerve gas and threw dust ground from fluorescent lamps into the crowd. Those covered by dust could not see. Approximately 30 people were injured and taken to the hospital. Injured Crimeans pressed back, and the crowd stormed the Parliament.

However, after the crowd entered the building and saw their compatriots sitting in session, the Crimean Tartars got flustered, and did not know what to do. The Mejlis leader, Mustafa Dzhemilev, stopped issuing orders by telephone. The Right Sector did not enter the building. Aksyonov, his face beaten, moved from the central door, and tried to break the fight. Using a loud speaker, he said, “Crimeans are expecting people of all nationalities to come here for holiday, to work, and to be friends.” Enver Kurtamentov, Commander of the 15th Company of the Crimean Self-Defence forces, spoke directly to his compatriot Tartars to counter false statements made by the Mejlis leader and urged them to disband peacefully. The Tartars were told that, if Crimea were returned to Russia, they would be deported to Magadan or the Urals. Kurtamentov said, “your life can’t get worse because it is already as bad as it can be.” The Parliament building never was seized, the protesters left without additional incident, and decided to disobey orders issued by Ukrainian authorities.

On 27 February 2014, the so-called “Friendship Train” departed Kiev for Crimea. Ihor Mosiychuk, a Right Sector leader, said “Crimean separatists would pay for everything.” Mosiychuk was the individual behind the “Friendship Train” initiative. The train was scheduled to arrive in Simferopol by 20:15, after which the Right Sector was to conduct a punitive operation. Having notice of the operation, Mikhail Sheremet, Commander of the Crimean People’s Defence Forces, organised a militia of approximately 1,500 members, to “prevent nationalists from entering our land.” The militia consisted of business people, ordinary workers, and people from all walks of life. The militia carried bats, metal bars, and whatever was available, as they lacked firearms. They also carried tri-coloured painted steel shields forged especially for them by local blacksmiths to help protect them against gunfire, and particularly fire from Molotov cocktails. After waiting on the train platform for three hours, Sheremet received a call that the train was about to arrive. The militia used the shields to form a steel barrier. When the train arrived two hours later, it was empty. Ukrainian Security Service forces alerted the Right Sector that a militia was waiting for them at the train station. Before arriving in Crimea, the Banderites stopped the train and unloaded their weapons.

On 27 February 2014, Samvel Martoyan, the most famous self-defence commander, former Soviet officer, and resident of Crimea, received a combat order from Aksyonov to take control of the Simferopol airport. Earlier, he had formed the 4th Company. Intending to land an assault force in Simferopol, the airport became Crimea’s main threat. Armed only with shovel handles, Martoyan and his militia arrived at the Simferopol airport. They encountered armed police officers standing in their way. The police, sympathetic to local self-defence forces, let Martoyan and his group proceed. Martoyan’s plan was to set fire to fuel barrels that his militia had placed along the runway, making it impossible to land an aircraft. The militia lit the torches, and Martoyan called Aksyonov for orders to proceed. Thirty seconds later, Aksyonov informed Martoyan that Kiev had been informed that the runway had been seized and that landing was impossible.

Immediately after, Ukrainian Security Service forces, and operatives from its Crimean Division who supported the Euromaidan government, arrived on the runway and encountered Martoyan. The Security Service forces were armed with assault rifles. The spokesperson informed Martoyan that he and his militia had entered a restricted area and that the trespass constituted a terrorist act. The Security Service forces were given orders to shoot. Martoyan heard trucks approaching; he did not know who was in the trucks. Martoyan instructed his men to get ready for battle. The trucks pulled up and soldiers jumped out. Martoyan realised that they were Russian soldiers, the “polite little green men.” Commandos from the Black Sea Fleet’s Marine Force arrived from Sevastopol. The Ukrainian Security Service disappeared. The Russian soldiers seized strategic positions and established control over the airport. The seizure of the Simferopol airport was the first Russian armed intervention in Crimea.

President Putin argued that he had to ensure that the Crimean Parliament could operate, convene, meet, and carry out activities prescribed by law. President Putin openly admitted that Russian intelligence was following unsecured communications within Ukraine and that Russia was aware of the institutional structure of military units on ground and Kiev commanders. Vladimir Konstantinov, Head of the State Council of the Republic of Crimea, stated that security was important, so Russian protection was needed and welcomed. Sergei Shoigu, Minister of Defence of the Russian Federation, stated, “soldiers never went to fight but to defend and protect.”

On 27 February 2014, Russian SWAT teams then secured government buildings in Simferopol. Deputies of Parliament voted [68 out of 69] to change completely the members of the Ministry. The MPs elected Sergei Aksenov as Head of Government and Temirgalyev as first Prime Minister. Konstantinov reported that members of Parliament also voted in favour of holding a referendum to decide the future of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. On 1 March 2014, the Ministers of Cabinet decided to take all military on territory of Crimea, under their jurisdiction, and asked for Russian support as peace mission. On the same date, Aksenov asked Putin to provide help to maintain peace on territory of Crimea. Shortly after, Russian military in Sevastopol blocked Ukrainian military vessels from leaving their appointed ports in the same area. On 4 March 2014, Aksenov reported that Russian military were present in Crimea to protect Crimean people; the Russian soldiers blocked the Ukrainian military base near Simferopol, to prevent Ukraine military from entering Crimean territory. These Ukrainian military units were given the option to go back to Ukraine, or to join Russian forces. Starting 2 March 2014, 5,086 Ukraine soldiers present in different bases opted to protect Crimean population.

Russian military forces acted in conjunction with local self-defence forces, Berkut fighters, Cossacks, and myriad volunteer groups committed to preventing Kiev from taking Crimea by assault. For example, the Cossack Kuban Host provided 450 members to help Berkut fighters to seal the border with Ukraine. The Cossacks and Berkut dug trenches and erected barriers to defend the Perekop Peninsula, and the Changar and Turetsky passes. In response, the Right Sector asked Kiev to send reinforcements; troops and multiple rocket launchers were sent to the border. Only then did Putin deploy weapon systems at the border to counteract any action taken by Kiev. Alexander Ovcharenko, Deputy Commander of Berkut Special Police Forces, noted that when Kiev failed to pierce the border, Kiev adopted a new tactic: organise deliveries of equipment to create a Maidan-like event in Crimea. Thus, on 10 March 2014, a Ukrainian military truck, carrying automatic weapons and ammunition, attempted to break through the Turetsky pass, but was stopped by Oleg Gorshkov, a Berkut soldier, who drove his car into the truck.

On 11 March 2014, the Crimean Government made a Declaration of Independence, dependent on outcome of the referendum. The Crimean parliament adopted the Declaration of Independence of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol by 78 votes to 81. The Declaration provided that if, the requisite number of votes are obtained, that the Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol, would become an independent multinational State. The Declaration further provided that the Republic of Crimea, an independent State, then would request that the Russian Federation, by means of an international treaty, integrate the Republic of Crimea as a constituent part of the Russian Federation. Article 137 of Ukrainian Constitution enabled Ukraine to stop the decision of Crimean government by issuing a formal order and petitioning the Constitutional Court to determine whether Crimean decisions were consistent with Constitution. These procedures never were followed and no order ever issued.

On 16 March 2014, Crimea held the referendum. The total number of persons who voted comprised 1,274,096, or 83.10% of those eligible to vote. 1,233,002 voters, or 96.77% of eligible voters voted “Yes” to become part of the Russian Federation. 31,997 [2.51% out of total votes] elected to revise the Constitution of the Republic of Crimea and remain as part of Ukraine. Improperly completed voting ballots amounted to 9097 [0.72%]. On 18 March 2014, the “Treaty between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Crimea on the Acceptance of the Republic of Crimea into the Russian Federation and on the Creation of New Federative Entities within the Russian Federation” was signed thereby incorporating Crimea and the City of Sevastopol into the Russian Federation.

On 27 March 2014, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a non-binding Resolution affirming the General Assembly’s commitment to the territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders and underscored the invalidity of the 2014 Crimean referendum. The non-binding resolution was supported by 100 United Nation Member States; eleven States voted against the Resolution; 58 States abstained; and 24 States were absent and did not vote.

Part Two: Conclusions Drawn and the Poverty of Public International Law

Key Conclusions Drawn from Part One

In 1991, the Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol declared political independence from Ukraine and elected to form an Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (ASSR) as a subject of the USSR. The declaration contained no reference to being part of Ukraine, a Republic of the USSR, as Ukraine had not yet seceded from the USSR. During 1991, three Republics of the USSR: the Russian, Belorussian, and Ukrainian Republics, took it upon themselves, to disintegrate the Soviet Union, contrary to the federal law of the USSR. The Crimean declaration of independence conformed to the planned reform of the USSR and was recognised as legitimate by President Mikhail Gorbachev. Subsequently, in December 1991, Ukraine declared itself a Sovereign State distinct from the USSR.

The Crimean and Ukrainian declarations never have been squared, though they are inconsistent. The Crimean declaration severed ties with Ukraine, as the declaration unquestionably implied a preference to remain part of the Soviet Union. However, without articulating legal grounds, Ukraine swept the ASSR into its territorial compass, without the consent of the Crimean government and population. Subsequently, in 1992, the Republic of Crimea adopted its Constitution. Article 1 states: the “Republic of Crimea is a legal, democratic, secular state in part of Ukraine” (emphasis authors). The Constitution provided that all agreements defining the legal relationship between Crimea and Ukraine were to be embodied in international treaties, with Crimea having the authority to enter treaties with Third party states. While the concept of a “State within a State,” arguably the product of historical vestige, requires reconciliation, nevertheless, the 1992 Constitution established Crimea as a State independent from Ukraine.

In international law, the requirements of statehood are set out in Article 1 of the so-called Montevideo Convention of 1933.A State should possess the following attributes: (a) a permanent population, (b) a defined territory, (c) government, and (d) a capacity to enter relations with other states. In international law, the function of “recognition,” divided into two schools of thought, is a controversial issue in international law and does not require a digression from the present discussion. In 1992, the Republic of Crimea possessed the attributes of a state as defined by the Montevideo Convention of 1933, as confirmed by the 1992 Constitution. The dissolution of the USSR in 1991, the declaration of independence of the Republic of Crimea in 1991, and its 1992 Constitution establishing Crimea as a State were separate events that cannot be conflated.

Consequently, when Ukraine declared its independence from the USSR in late 1991, the inclusion in its territory of the Republic of Crimea comprised an arbitrary decision made by then Ukraine President Kravchuk. It follows that Ukraine incorporated [“annexed”] the Republic of Crimea in 1991 by coercion leading to the conclusion that since 1991, Ukraine has unlawfully occupied the Republic of Crimea. In 1994, Crimeans elected Yuriy Meshkov, a strongly pro-Russian candidate, as their president. A second referendum was held in 1994 whereby 78.4% of those who voted supported greater autonomy from Ukraine; 82.8% supported allowing dual Russian-Ukrainian citizenship; and 77.9% favoured giving Crimean presidential decrees the force of law. The 1992 Constitution provided legal grounds for the election, the office of President, and holding of the Referendum.

In response, in March 1995, the Ukrainian parliament unilaterally abolished the office of President of Crimea and terminated the 1992 Constitution. The Crimean parliament was forced to draft a new Constitution, which the Ukrainian parliament ratified in 1998. The new constitution destroyed the autonomy of the Republic of Crimea, making all critical decisions taken by the Crimean parliament subject to approval of the Ukrainian parliament. No principle of municipal or public international law justified the unilateral decision of President Kuchma to “throw out” the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Crimea, abolish the Crimean office of President, and coerce the Crimean parliament to draft a constitution to subordinate the Peninsula to Ukraine control. Therefore, the 1992 Constitution retained its validity until the Crimean reunification with the Russian Federation.

Consequently, the Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol did not secede from Ukraine in 2014. Rather, the Republic of Crimea regained its independence as a State that had come into existence in 1991-92. The decision by the Crimean government, supported overwhelmingly by the results of the 2014 referendum, to request “annexation” by the Russian Federation was lawful. Moreover, in 2014, the new regime in Kiev never followed constitutional procedures under Article 131 of the Ukraine Constitution to oppose the breaking away of part of its territory [Crimea]. Since formal opposition is a condition precedent to prohibit unilateral secession, then the Republic of Crimea had the right of unilateral secession. Further, it is questionable whether the new regime had legal authority to act as an instrumentality of the State.

Consistent with this interpretation, the Russian Federation did not “invade” the Crimean Peninsula in 2014. The Russian Federation had the right under the 1997 Partition Treaty to maintain troops in the territory of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol, subject to restrictions set forth in the Treaty. In response to the unlawful overthrow of the Yanukovich regime, and the installation of a non-elected regime comprising ultra-nationalists, with the external support of the United States, the population of Crimea formed self-styled militias to fight against subjugation by Kiev and to realise the goal of a twenty-three year Crimean struggle to liberate itself from Ukraine. The self-organised militia, Berkut officers committed to Crimean independence, the Kuban Cossack Host, and informal opposition groups, took the first steps to fend off efforts by the Right Sector and other military arms of far right political parties to occupy Crimea. Illustrative of acts by local militia to fight Kiev extremists, by whatever means necessary, is the “Friendship Train” incident.

First efforts to secure the Simferopol airport from military aircraft arriving from Kiev to assault Simferopol were taken by Samvel Martoyan’s 4th Company on 27 February 2014. Members of his company were armed with shovel handles, and were over-matched by the well-armed Ukrainian Security Service that confronted Martoyan and his militia on the runway of the Simferopol airport. It was on this date, and with the consent of the Crimean parliament, that the Russian military made its first appearance outside military bases to prevent Kiev from delivering weapons to Crimea. The claims of unlawful “invasion” rest upon faulty factual premises. The Russian federation did not violate the “sanctity” of the territory of Ukraine, because, since 1992 the Republic of Crimea was an independent State. The Russian Federation provided military support to Crimea to permit the population of Crimea to exercise political and civil rights in an orderly manner, absent a threat from foreign and armed Ukraine forces present in Crimea, and to avoid a civil war. While the State of Ukraine survived the US supported coup d’état, the Ukraine government, the sole instrumentality through which a State can act, lacked any authority to act as an instrumentality of the State. In this bizarre twist of events, the Russian Federation acted proportionately, under an invitation from Crimea, to protect ethnic Russians and other nationals residing in Crimea, and to avoid a War.

“Interventions aimed at restoring the legitimate government upon invitation have to be distinguished from interventions whose aim is regime change – that is, overthrowing the government in place.” The ICJ decision in the Nicaragua case, “that there is no general right of states to intervene in support of an internal opposition in another state, even if this opposition is deemed to pursue a politically or morally valuable cause,” may be distinguished on the ground that the Crimean conflict in 2014 was international in character.

The extant literature fails to address the legal significance of these facts: [1] the 1991 declaration by the Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol to become an Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (ASSR) under the then existing USSR headed by President Gorbachev; [2] the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Crimea whereby Crimea declared itself a State; [3] the 1995 unilateral termination of the 1992 Constitution by Ukraine and abolition of the Crimean office of President; [4] the adoption of the 1998 Constitution, the product of Coercion exercised by Ukraine against Crimea, effectively subjugating Crimea to Ukraine; [5] the legal effect of the coup d’état, with the demonstrable external support of the United States, and the installation of a non-elected interim government comprising far right-wing nationalists, upon the rights of self-determination and secession of the Crimean population, and [6] the complex history of Crimea and, since 1991 its fierce struggle for independence from Ukraine. Prior to evaluating the legality of Crimea’s “secession” and “annexation” under public international law, the preceding and fundamental questions must be addressed.

The Poverty of Public International Law

The aim of the Crimean referendum in 2014 was not to become a “State” per se, but to join the Russian Federation, an already existing State, with international legal personality, a member of the United Nations, and a State holding the status of a “Great Power.” Crimea wanted to switch “Masters.” However, public international law does not provide a procedure to achieve this objective, as demonstrated by the Åland Islands case. Therefore, Crimea had to go through the formality of a Two-Day State. The extant literature fails to address this precise question and produces uninspiring but endless and futile legal analysis.

Public international law reposes primarily upon the monopoly of State power. Secession is not tolerated for no more complex a reason than that States oppose it. However, since World War II, in raw numbers, the number of states quadrupled from 45 to 195. In addition, there were 55 violent revolutions, 54 non-violent regime changes, and in the last 60 years alone 227 military coups occurred. The “right of self-determination,” exercised by former colonies or non-self-governing territories and peoples, accounts for the proliferation of many, but not all, new states. Doctrines, such as “remedial secession,” have introduced further complexity into the relationship between States and subordinate units seeking independence. Efforts to impose coherence upon public international law have produced tortured legal analyses as demonstrated by decisions such as the ICJ Advisory Opinion in Kosovo and the Canadian Supreme Court opinion in Reference re Secession of Quebec.

The Canadian Supreme Court parsed the question of whether a hypothetical secession of the Province of Quebec would violate the Canadian constitution. Adopting a broad reading of the Canadian Constitution, the Court observed that “a clear majority vote in Quebec on a clear question in favour of secession would confer democratic legitimacy on the secession initiative which all of the other participants in Confederation would have to recognize.” In other words, the terms of secession would be subject to negotiations with all other provinces. The Court’s remark, “Although there is no right, under the Constitution or at international law, to unilateral secession, the possibility of an unconstitutional declaration of secession leading to a de facto secession is not ruled out” is obiter dictum and does not formulate a general principle of international law to follow. The question raised is: why a decision of a municipal Court in Canada is invoked to evaluate the secession in the Republic of Crimea.

The ICJ Advisory Opinion in Kosovo is equally non-dispositive. The UN General Assembly referred the following question to the ICJ: ‘Is the unilateral declaration of independence by the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government of Kosovo in accordance with international law?’” The ICJ found that “State practice during this period points clearly to the conclusion that international law contained no prohibition of declarations of independence.” However, although Kosovo declared itself a State, and certain States recognized Kosovo as a State, the ICJ refused to address the question of statehood. The ICJ expressly observed that the question referred, “does not ask about the legal consequences of that declaration. In particular, it does not ask whether or not Kosovo has achieved statehood.” Likewise, the ICJ skirted the question of whether, outside the context of non-self-governing territories and peoples subject to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation, the international law of self-determination confers upon part of the population of an existing State a right to separate from that State,” and equally refused to address the issue of “remedial secession.”

The individual cases often cited by the paradigmatic argument” do not provide guidance as to the right of secession and cannot distinguish away the Crimean incident. The “stock inventory” cited is: the Åland Islands, Bangladesh, and Kosovo [a client State of the US/EU and non- member of the UN]. The cases share the common ground of a subordinate territory controlled by a malevolent master: an internationally recognized State. Although the minority populations in the cases of Bangladesh and Kosovo suffered atrocities, it would be perverse to order a population, such as the population of Crimea, to undergo wrongs of an equivalent nature before the right of secession comes into existence.

The only point of unambiguity is the obligation of States not to interfere in the internal matters of other States. However, State practice, at least as measured by the behavior of the United States, is that this fundamental obligation is honoured more in the breach than in the observance. It cannot seriously be argued that the United States had a right to support the overthrow of the Yanukovich government.

The Failure to Consider Practical Consequences

Pronouncing that Crimea’s unilateral secession from Ukraine was illegal under international law implies that the Crimean/Russian reunification must be unwound, returning the Republic of Crimea to Ukraine. This argument thus leads to the following result: the population of Crimea, contrary to its will, is to be nailed to a cross of misery, despair, and economic inefficiency, as evidenced by 23 years of misrule under Ukraine. Calls to “give back” Crimea to Ukraine are ambiguous: what exactly is to be given back: the territory of the peninsula, the territory plus its living population, or the territory minus the population and exhumation of the dead. If a strict application of public international law requires a repatriation of Crimea to Ukraine, then public international law fails to fulfil its ultimate objective of international peace and the vindication of individual rights. Additional support for this conclusion is found in the arguably perverse requirement that a population must await atrocity to invoke the right of remedial recession.

If a principal goal of public international law is to mitigate human suffering, the question arises: what should the Russian Federation have done in response to developments in Kiev and Crimea. The paradigmatic argument answers: “do nothing.” However, the inaction of the Russian Federation most likely would have resulted in a civil war in the Republic of Crimea. As President Putin observed, “the Republic of Crimea is not a terra incognito.” In addition, Crimea is located proximate to the territory of the Russian Federation and falls within its domain of national interest.

Part Three: Constructing a Pragmatic Argument for Crimean Independence

The redrawn border of the Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol is consistent with history, politics, and economic analysis. In 1991, the borders of the Republic of Crimea were redrawn by exogenous variables, an unfavourable development under the economic analysis of law, resulting in a heterogeneous population in Ukraine destined for internal and irreconcilable conflict. Aside from theoretical constructs of economic optimisation, Ukraine single- handledly destroyed the economic potential of Crimea: [1] closure and deterioration of seaports, [2] closure and deterioration of industrial enterprises, [3] failure to invest in essential infrastructure such as roads, rail other methods of transportation, and [4] appropriation of public assets of any value. With exceptions of post-2014 Russian investment, Crimea today looks like Crimea in 1991. Taken together, these factors minimalize the force of law requiring a rescission of the 2014 reunification of Crimea and the Russian Federation. When the quality of human like is at stake, the dead hand of the law is marginalised.

The history of Crimea’s connection with Russia dates back over two hundred years to the time of Catherine the Great. In 1991, after the dubious gifting of Crimea to Ukraine in 1954, “more than 67 percent of the population consisted of ethnic Russians, who dominated Crimean politics and culture.” In addition, “There were no Ukrainian language schools in Crimea; few ethnic Ukrainians used the Ukrainian language in everyday life, and only half claimed Ukrainian as their native tongue – an indication that their Ukrainian identity was anything but strong.” “The entire history of the peninsula from the breakup of the Soviet Union to the [2014] has been one of its residents demonstrating time and time again that they are not a natural part of Ukraine and do not feel at home there.” On 17 March 1995, the Verkhovna Rada abolished the May 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Crimea. In 1998, Ukraine finally achieved its goal of effacing Crimean independence, with the adoption of the 23 December 1998 Constitution of the Autonomous Republic of Ukraine.

Support for the reunification of Crimea with the Russian Federation is found in the “economic analysis” of public international law. “[N]ational borders are not taken as given, but are the endogenous outcomes of decisions by agents who interact with each other while pursuing their goals under constraint.” “Borders are not a fixed, given feature of the geographical landscape, but human-made institutions, affected by decisions and interactions of individuals and groups, and can be analyzed as part of the growing field of political economy.” In addition, “A central role for states is the supply of public goods to their citizens: a legal and justice system, security and crime prevention, public health … and protection against catastrophic events.” Defence and security are historically the most important public goods provided by governments.

Economies of scale reduce the cost of providing public goods: bigger is cheaper. Unlike private goods, public goods do not compete in the market, allowing each citizen to consume public goods without reducing consumption by other citizens. Even when the population increases and the total costs of publicly provided services increases, the average cost still decreases because fixed costs are independent of population size. Public goods are cheaper when more taxpayers pay for them. Empirical studies demonstrate that government spending on public goods as a share of GDP decreases as a function of increasing population. Hence, “smaller countries tend to have proportionally larger governments.”

A negative correlation exists between heterogeneous populations and national borders. An artificial state is one whose “political borders do not coincide with a division of nationalities desired by the people on the ground.” Artificial states may result from splitting a single ethnic

group into two distinct states, or by incorporating a distinctly different group into an existing single state. “Consider the long-term effects of the ‘scramble for Africa’ by colonial powers. They find that partitioned ethnic groups have suffered significantly longer and more devastating civil wars.” When borders are drawn to incorporate heterogeneous populations with different languages, religion, culture, and habits, “disagreements over the fundamental characteristics of the State are likely to emerge and render reconciliation more difficult. In short, heterogeneity increases political costs.”

Since 1954, the border of Crimea was drawn by political fiat, an ultimately inexplicable gifting of the peninsula to the State of Ukraine. After the collapse of the USSR, the State of Ukraine exerted control over Crimea, contrary to the democratic preferences of Crimean residents, to vindicate its self-interests, and to exploit assets located on the peninsula. The “coerced annexation” of the Republic of Crimea raised the political costs of border redrawing, as the population of Crimea introduced a significantly high level of heterogeneity into the larger Ukrainian community. Following the logic of economic analysis, this degree of heterogeneity led exactly to what the economic model forecasts: dissension about political leadership and denial of individual preferences. Moreover, the Republic of Crimea did not receive “pubic goods” equivalent to those provided in Ukraine per se. Under Ukrainian rule, the population of Crimea was deprived of reliable provision of public goods, such as water, electricity, and gas required to heat private and commercial properties. The industrial infrastructure of Crimea was dismantled to enrich Ukraine oligarchs, raising the spectre of “rents.” Ordinary people were left to survive in conditions equivalent to those existing in the pre-industrial revolution period.

Heterogeneity costs are associated with the likelihood of civil conflict over domestic polices, including disagreement about borders, leading to separatist wars. Assume the following analytical model. People in different regions have different preferences over types of public goods. One region is dominant and the other region is subordinate. When each region chooses its preferred type of government, everyone’s utility from government services is gi = g, where “g” denotes government, “i” denotes an independent government, and “g” denotes equality between utility and preferences. In contrast, if the “dominant region” imposes a political union upon the subordinate region, then everyone in the “dominant region” gets his/her first-best utility from government services “g,” but citizens in the subordinate region obtain a lower utility gu = g– h < gi, where the parameter h > 0 captures heterogeneity costs. Symmetrically, a union where the “subordinate region” selects its preferred type of government, then everyone in the “subordinate region” receives utility g, while citizens in the dominant region receive utility g– h.

The tenuous ties between Kiev and Simferopol were unsustainable under the economic analysis model. The border of Ukraine incorporating the Republic of Crimea was artificially drawn, leading to the creation of an artificial state, subject to destabilisation due to heterogeneity costs. In addition, the two regions had preferences for different governments, demonstrably true in historical context. Since Ukraine forced its government policies upon the “subordinate region” of the Republic of Crimea, citizens in Crimea received public goods bearing the costs of “h,” and suffered a denial of their preferred type of government.

When transfers and compensation are unavailable, differences are settled by armed conflict. The probability of breakup is “π” where “π” = Ws/Ws + Wd, where “W” denotes military capacity or “weapons” and, for our purposes, “s’ denotes the “subordinate” region and “d” denotes the dominant region. If “Ws” increases relative to “Wd,” then the citizens win the conflict and withdraw from the political union formed by the dominant region. In the case of Crimea, the self-defence forces operating on the territory of Crimea enjoyed a strategic advantage due to the overthrow of the democratically elected government and the installation of a new regime, whose military forces consisted not only of traditional troops but also of paramilitary arms of diverse political groups raising problems of coordination and deployment. The Republic of Crimea also had the advantage of being a peninsula permitting the border to be sealed, preventing Kiev from using military ground transportation. When the Russian Federation intervened, the matter was settled: “Ws” increased exponentially relative to “Wd” thereby sustaining the break-up of Crimea from Ukraine. In the case of Crimea, the armed conflict was hypothetical.

The “economic analysis” model leads to the conclusion that the Republic of Crimea is best suited to governance under the Russian Federation. The Russian Federation has the capacity to provide “public goods” to Crimea without incurring substantial expense, while, at the same time, the Republic of Crimea receives public goods of a superior quality at the same or lower cost than under the sovereignty of the State of Ukraine. Second, integration of the Republic of Crimea into the Russian Federation reduces to zero, the costs posed by heterogeneity. The Republic of Crimea always was Russian in its language, culture, and history. By contrast, the Republic of Crimea never fit the State of Ukraine. Rather, since its independence from the USSR, Ukraine has had an ‘unstable political system,” ‘irrational and impulsive leadership’ and ‘citizens that do not enjoy stable expectations’.

Setting aside analytical models, the Republic of Crimea is better off under Russian Federation governance, as measured against Pareto optimization. The Russian Federation has invested billions of dollars into infrastructural improvements in Crimea: On 27 March 2014, the Russian Federation immediately started paying to pensions, and started to lay fibre optic cables for telephone and internet; the main road between Kerch and Simferopol stretching approximately 100 kilometres has been repaved [prior to pavement, one needed an all-terrain vehicle to navigate the potholes and uneven pavement]; also, additional routes between Kerch and Simferopol are being constructed parallel to the existing main highway. Russia also has begun construction of bridges across the Kerch Strait to connect the Russian mainland to the peninsula at costs exceeding billions of dollars; and the Russian Federation has established “seed” funds to provide financial support to start-ups.


The comprehensive factual restatement of the history of the Republic of Crimea has corrected misrepresentations of fact permeating the media and scholarly analysis of the 2014 reunification of Crimea with the Russian Federation. Legal conclusions found in the extant literature rest on faulty factual premises. Public international law lacks a complete set of rules to deal with the Crimean case. Moreover, under rational choice theory, the Republic of Crimea belongs with the Russian Federation. In any event, the Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol will never be returned to Ukraine. The Crimean population has expressed its preferences for government under the Russian Federation, and these preferences prime abstract legal rules.

The fully annotated version of this essay is also available.

Professor Dr. John J.A. Burke holds a PhD in International Law from the Université de Fribourg, Switzerland; a J.D. from the University of Seton Hall, School of Law; and a B.A. from Columbia College. He has held the position of Professor of Law and Chair of the Law Department at KIMEP University, Kazakhstan from 2008-2014. He now is Professor (elect) within the business school at RISEBA University (Latvia).

Svetlana Panina-Burke is an independent researcher in Kerch, Russia.

Eastern Caesaropapism: History and Critique of a Concept

To understand what “caesaropapism” means, we must compare and contrast this vague term with another, much clearer one, namely, “theocracy.” A theocratic society can be described as one ruled by, and over which “reigns,” God (1 Samuel 8:7), manifesting, directly or indirectly, His will in everything. The word itself, applied to the Jewish people, was created by Josephus Flavius. It fits both the original covenant theocracy embodied in the titanic figure of Moses, the divinely anointed kings of Israel, and the theocracy of the High Priests. The rigidity of the system was only marginally mitigated by the creation of the Levitical priesthood and the emergence of state authority: orders were always given by God, and in His name the prophets and interpreters of the Law spoke. Thomas Hobbes, followed by Spinoza, perfectly described this model: the agreement with God which this model presupposes, and the transfer of legal rights which it imposes. But while the latter declares the age of the prophets over, and warns against the slightest interference by the clergy in affairs of state, the former deduces from the example of Israel a “Christian republic,” in which the ruler “will take the same place as Abraham in his family” and will himself determine “what is the word of God and what is not.” This ruler would become by divine right the “supreme shepherd,” tending his flock and presiding over the Church in his state.

Going beyond Jewish history, these constructions and analyses have led sociologists to distinguish between several types of political organizations based on revelation and closely tied to religion: in some cases, the priests are content to lend legitimacy to secular authority (“hierocracy”); in others, the high priest or head of the community of believers ex officio also possesses supreme authority (theocracy proper); in still others, secular authority subordinates the religious sphere to a greater or lesser degree (forms of caesaropapism). This is how theocracy and caesaropapism, the model of the priest-king and the model of the king-priest, are opposed to each other.

Thus, the word “caesaropapism” stigmatized any “secular” sovereign who claimed to be a pope. The term itself has a sociological character, but it was used with an obvious polemical purpose, within the framework of a general classification that contrasted the theocratic or caesaropapist East with the West, where the independence of the “two powers” was perceived as dogma: in the first case there is confusion; in the second—distinction. Justus Henning Böhmer (1674-1749), professor at the University of Halle, in his textbook on Protestant ecclesiastical law (Jus ecclesiasticum protestantium), devoted an entire passage to the two main types of excesses of power in the religious sphere: “Papo-caesaria” and “Caesaro-papia.” In this way he sought, on behalf of the Reformed Church, to equate and denounce both the pope, who appropriated political power, and secular rulers dealing with religious problems, as Justinian had already done. Of the two opposed terms, only the second term was successful: it was often used in the second half of the nineteenth century, though not so much as a theoretical concept but to stigmatize Byzantium and its Orthodox successors: the “schisma” between the Christian East and the Christian West was said to have been caused by “Constantinian” or “Justinian” interference in matters of faith.

Such an approach turned the distinction between secular and spiritual authority into a complete incompatibility between the two. The vague notion of “caesaropapism” was reduced above all to a murderous-sounding word, which, however, could not be mollified by introducing a more genial definition; it was therefore impossible to raise the meaning of the word beyond the various currents of thought that gave it the derogatory character that has survived to this day. Thus, a brief review of historiography must precede any analysis of the essence of the problem.

To understand the essence of our problem and the ways in which it developed, it is necessary to mention briefly the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation, that struggle of ideas which gave rise to Christian historiography as a reaction to critical reflections on the original truth of Christendom before its immersion in history.

Protestants instinctively disassociated themselves from all historical legitimacy, from that evolution which separated the clergy from all “other Christians, from that tradition which had established the Church in power. In his treatises On the Freedom of a Christian (1520) and On Secular Authority (1523) Luther paradoxizes the difference between the spiritual and the secular, starting from the Augustinian theory of the “two cities”: being part of both the spiritual and the secular cities, the Christian, according to Luther, is at the same time both absolutely free and absolutely enslaved. God created these two cities because only a small minority of true Christians belong to His city, while the vast majority need the “worldly sword” and have to submit to it, according to the covenant of Paul (Rom. 13:1: ” for there is no authority except from God”) and Peter (1 Peter 2:13: “accept the authority of every human institution”). But although worldly princes have their authority from God and although they themselves are Christians, they have no right to claim to “rule as a Christian” and in accordance with the Gospel. “The Christian kingdom cannot extend to the whole world, not even to one single country.” Between religion, understood primarily personally, and State, understood primarily in a repressive way, there can be no mutual accommodation; Luther sneers at those secular rulers who “arrogate to themselves the right to sit on God’s throne, dispose of conscience and faith, and… bring the Holy Spirit to the school pews,” just as he scoffs at popes and bishops “who become secular princes” and claim to be endowed with “authority” and not merely “office.” However, this radical separation of secular and spiritual does not lead to the recognition of the two powers, “since all Christians truly belong to the body of the Church,” and there is no reason to deny secular rulers “the title of priest and bishop.” It was not been easy to abide by these principles, and sometimes turned Lutheranism into a kind of caesaropapism (and Calvinism a kind of theocracy). But this new approach to “religion” undoubtedly carried with it the leaven which began the fermentation process by which the question of the origins of the Christian empire was fundamentally reconsidered in the 19th century.

The Council of Trent (1545-1563) made no determination on this question, but in proclaiming the Church to be the mediator between Christians and God, and giving sacred tradition the same weight as sacred Scripture, this Council brought together what Luther tried to divide. Both at the Council and around it, attempts were made to bring the two powers together rather than to separate them. The policy of the concordat was intended to find a difficult compromise between religious universalism and national churches. The Jesuits, on the other hand, supported the thesis of the “indirect power” of the pope in political affairs. And the justification they found, of course, in history. In thirteen volumes. of the Croatian Lutheran Matthias Vlacic (or Flacius Illyricus) and the Magdeburg “Centuriators” (1559-1575), who boldly called Pope Gregory VII a monster and thereby sowed confusion in the Catholic milieu; Caesar Baronius gave a belated response in twelve volumes of his Annales ecclesiastici (1588-1607). In this history of Christianity loomed the central character—Constantine the Great. Baronius looked upon him through the eyes of his apologist Eusebius of Caesarea, but also took into account orthodox and clerical corrections to the legend, according to which the first Christian emperor was baptized in Rome by Pope Sylvester, and that the popes’ secular authority and their royal prerogatives date back to Constantine’s imperial grant. It is not surprising that the volumes of the Annales, which were devoted successively to secular rulers and to Catholic pontiffs, were warmly received in the Orthodox world, and subjected only to a slight revision by the Russian hierarchs.

The union of secular and ecclesiastical authorities was as little questioned in Catholic Europe as in Eastern Christianity, and Constantine was a symbol of this union. In 1630, Jean Morin, priest of the Oratory, wrote his Histoire de la délivrance de l’Église chrétienne par l’empereur Constantin, et de la grandeur et souveraineté temporelle donnée a l’Église romaine par les rois de France (History of the Liberation of the Christian Church by the Emperor Constantine, and of the Temporal Sovereignty Granted to the Roman Church by the Kings of France), in which he rebutted Baronius, and disputed the fact of Roman baptism and the reality of Constantine’s gift—but all this only in order to claim that the emperor had been converted and had seen the heavenly cross in France, that he had been catechized under French bishops, and that it was the French kings who are the only initiators of the greatness and temporal power of the Holy See.

Ultramontanism and Gallicanism had different goals, but followed almost the same line of in interpreting the beginnings of the Christian Empire. It would take a long time before the Lutheran movement seriously threatened the Constantinian myth; which happened when criticism of the very foundations of “political Christianity” led, in Protestant countries, to the condemnation of caesaropapism. The sharp-eyed detective Santo Mazzarino noticed that a certain Johann Christian Hesse defended at Jena. in 1713. a thesis with a very telling subtitle: “On the Difference between True Christianity and Political Christianity.” And that’s where it all began. From then on, Constantine always served as a scarecrow. He, they say, chose Christianity ex rationis politicis, “for political reasons,” and made it serve the interests that he considered to be his own.

Next the baton was taken up in a book by Jacob Burckhardt, who in 1853 [Die Zeit Constantins des Grossen] rendered judgment on this false Christianity in the service of power; under his pen Constantine’s “psychological portrait” came out even harsher. The historian reproached the emperor for insidiousness and shamelessness, and Eusebius for concealing the truth. As a Western humanist and typical Protestant, Burckhardt believed that between religion and power there could be nothing but a constant friction; he rejected all forms of state Christianity and wrote against it; he was obviously antipathetic to what he called “Byzantinismus” [“Byzantinism”] which was soon to be called “Caesaropapismus.” He likened it to Islam, thereby expelling it from Europe. Historical interpretation played on all possible moral oppositions: between sincerity and opportunism, between religion and politics, between Church and State, and, in the end, between West and East.

In the same manner was the later shift from a moral critique of “political Christianity” to a more fundamental critique of “political theology.” To describe and eradicate this perversion was the task of Erik Peterson in in his brilliant essay, “Monotheism as a Political Problem,” which he published in Leipzig in 1935, under the conditions of Nazi Germany. He wrote about the dangers of monolithic and charismatic power. The reader immediately grasped the allusions that the author himself later revealed in 1947, well after the disaster. Constantine receded into the background and the proscenium was now occupied by Eusebius of Caesarea: the theologian, historian and panegyrist was now turned into a dangerous ideologue (and was disqualified as such), who wanted to make Christianity a continuation of Alexandrian Hellenistic-Judean philosophy and integrate it into Roman history. The notion of divine monarchy as developed by the Arian Eusebius and refuted by trinitarian dogma, was to be interpreted not as a theological reaction to the issue of deity, but as a political reaction to the threat of the demise of the imperium romanum. This is why the delusion of Eusebius is revealing, which is why his rejection of the proclamation of God as simultaneously one and threefold, which took the religion of Christ beyond the boundaries of Judaism, was so liberating. By so doing, it was forbidden to transfer to secular power and to the secular world models of Christian monarchy and “peace,” which could not be other than in the Godhead.

The false eschatology of Eusebius, who exaggerated the importance of the Empire in salvation history, Peterson contrasted with the distinction of the “two cities.” His preference is made all the more evident by the fact that he dedicated his book to the Blessed Augustine. He thus sketched the contradiction, which others would later develop with far less subtlety, between the East, secretly Arian and totalitarian—and the West, which had managed to get rid of political theology brought on by monotheism, and thereby destroyed all grounds for the contamination of the religious with the political.

Erik Peterson was neither the first nor the last in the line of those who made the connection between Arian “subordinatism” and the ideal of a monarch who, like the Byzantine emperor, receives directly from God both the anointing and the covenant to lead His people to salvation. But Peterson was the only one who, departing from this historical perception of caesaropapism, clearly dating back to the fourth century, made a general condemnation of any political speculation based on Christian theology. In 1969-1970 he was critiqued by Karl Schmitt whose text, both confusing and harsh, is not very convincing in which he argues about history and which is more interesting when he demands the sociologist’s right to investigate the process of secularization of Christian concepts and models.

Many historians, whether they have read the 1935 essay or not, assimilated the same perspective and turned Eusebius, whose Arianism was, we note, condemned, into the inspirer and mouthpiece of “Byzantinism,” i.e., caesaropapism; and in so doing they take at face value the opposite myth of the cynic Constantine and contrast the Western “mentality” to the Eastern one. Thus, it seems reasonable to speak of a sequence, from the Reformation to Burckhardt and Peterson (although the latter converted to Catholicism). In this perspective, the concept of caesaropapism is built on a critique of all religious authority; the debunking of “political Christianity” and the defeat of any “political theology.” At the same time. it is difficult to name beyond the university walls the source of this historiographic direction (distinctly French, sometimes tinged lightly with Catholic anticlericalism) that has arrived at a similar result, from an analysis of “modernity. No doubt, it took as its starting point the last chapter of Fustel de Coulanges’s La cité antique (The Ancient City) written in 1864, which set out to demonstrate how Christianity had “changed the conditions of government” and “marked the end of ancient society.” The historian insisted on the universality of the religious idea, which severed the connection of cults to family and polis, as well as the interiorization of faith and prayer which released the individual and allowed him to realize his freedom. What had been the privilege of a tiny elite of Stoic philosophers—the distinction between “private virtues and public virtues”—became the domain of all mankind. [Christianity] preaches that there is nothing in common between state and religion; it separates what throughout antiquity has been mixed. It must be observed, however, that for three centuries the new religion lived absolutely outside the limits of any activity of the state, able to do without its patronage and even to struggle against it—these three centuries dug a chasm between the domain of government and the domain of religion.

Since the memories of this glorious era cannot fade away—the distinction has become an indisputable truth—which even the efforts of some of the clergy cannot shake. History thereby recognizes a certain role in the separation of secular and clerical powers, the function of a certain inhibition is attributed to the church hierarchy, but as a whole is explained by the first principles of Christianity which laid a natural, non-religious foundation for law, for property and for the family; these principles are what has drawn the boundary “which separates ancient politics” from “from the politics of modernity.” With a fervor that led to accusations of his “clericalism,” Fustel de Coulanges briefly jumped through the centuries, leaving others to investigate in detail the phenomenon of caesaropapism, that remnant of antique paganism in the Eastern Christian Empire, the transformation of which was slow and incomplete.

These few pages from La cité antique had nearly the same impact in France as Burckhardt’s book had had in Germanic countries. They have been quoted in many articles and studies on the relations of Church and State. The teacher’s ideas were picked up and developed especially by one of his pupils, Amédée Gasquet, in 1879, in his doctoral dissertation, De l’autorité impériale en matière religieuse à Byzance (On the Power of the Emperor in Religious Matters in Byzantium), which he dedicated to “Academician Mr. Fustel de Coulanges.” The scientific apparatus of this dissertation is somewhat weak; but the mode of expression is sustained in the spirit of academic propriety—the author carefully avoids using the term “caesaropapism.” In any case, the intent of the work is quite clear—”ancient societies,” explains Gasquet, referring to La cité antique, which by that time had already gone through five or six editions, “did not know the division between political and religious power.” The Christian emperors of Byzantium, without renouncing any of the prerogatives of their pagan predecessors, claimed a dominant position not only in the secular but also in the ecclesiastical community; and in so doing they flaunted the title priest-king, and claimed holiness just as the pagan emperors had made the claim to apotheosis. Having embraced Christianity, they were confident that they could reform it at their own whim and adapt to their imagination “the immutable text approved by the Great Councils.” But Rome staged against the Caesars a grandiose revolution, which consisted in the separation of powers; “the pope, the vicar of Christ, deprived the imperial majesty of that power which did not belong to the title.” In the midst of this constant struggle and upheavals caused by the “caprices of the eastern rulers,” “the center of the universal church shifted from Constantinople to Rome.” The contradictions were aggravated. The pope “as a result of a bold usurpation,” began to distribute crowns in the West to those loyal to him. Thus, a political schism took place, soon followed by a religious one. Hence came the modern world, divided into those who remained faithful to the Byzantine tradition, and those who accepted the separation of powers and the supremacy of the spiritual over the secular. This division, boldly carried to its extreme consequences, was the principle which “awakened the Western nations, which grew, dwindling in barbarism.”

Consecration does not necessarily imply assent and patronage, and there is no guarantee that some of Amédée Gasquet’s assertions would have been fully endorsed by Fustel de Coulanges. But it is well to see how a generally fair idea of the inherent distinction between the spiritual and the temporal in Christianity could give rise to the false idea that this was a distinction between “two powers;” and how the image of the modern world, born of such a division, prompts one to declare “caesaropapism” a pagan legacy, preserved in the stagnant East, from which the liberated West quickly separated itself. The term, conciliatory or provocative, is not the least important. The image of an emperor scarcely washed of his paganism and all too used to playing the pontifex maximus runs through virtually all subsequent historiography. To pay tribute to Peterson, it is usually added that the ideology of the Hellenistic king, skillfully applied by the heretic Eusebius of Caesarea to a Christian monarch, served as a mediator and gave an appearance of new religious legitimacy to the successors of Augustus. But the conclusion, whether declared or implied, is always the same: Constantine’s conversion did not lead to a profound Christianization of the Empire; where imperial tradition survived, namely in the East, power remained secretly pagan. This is what polemical literature has always tried to convince the reader of, whether in the days of iconoclasm or the Union of the Churches, to cast as tyrants, persecutors and Antichrists this or that Byzantine emperor, who donned his religious role and tried to uproot the remnants of paganism from the Church.

The more “Romanesque” tradition in historiography makes some important adjustments to this scheme. The abbot Luigi Sturzo, in his book widely circulated in France, takes as his point of departure “the novelty of Christianity in comparison with other religions;” that Christianity had “severed any binding connection between religion, on the one hand, and family, tribe, nation or empire on the other, and also established a personal basis for these connections.” “For the Christian,” he continues, “there was an inherent dualism between the life of the spirit—and the worldly life, the religious and supra-worldly tasks of the Church—and the earthly, natural interests of the State.” But If unification is always harmful, the diarchy, “sealed in facts,” corresponded not so much to the separation of powers, but to their mutual accommodation. “From the Edict of Constantine and up to the formation of the Carolingian Empire, two types of religious and political diarchy developed: the Byzantine Caesaropapist and the organizing Latin.” The first represented “a political-religious system in which the power of the State became for the Church an effective, normal and centralizing power, though external to it; a system in which the Church participated in the exercise of certain worldly power functions; and in a direct form, though not independently.” Such was the position of the Eastern Church after Constantine, which led to a loss of autonomy, to subordination to the State, to the preservation of the economic and political interests of the secular elite and the privileged caste of clerics. In contrast, in the “Latin organizational diarchy,” “the Church, while constantly calling on the aid of the civil authorities and constantly ceding to the rulers some powers, some opportunities and some privileges within the ecclesiastical body, nevertheless almost always protested against any real dependence on them and, when necessary, insisted on its independence.” The author goes on to analyze in detail the Reformation, the Counter-Reformation, the development of national Christian churches, and the politics of the “concordat.” Of course, he fails to draw a line down the centuries between the mixing of powers inherited from antiquity and their differentiation as an innovation of Christianity. However, he draws a distinction between the Eastern model (modern rather than medieval)—and the Western model, which, a better knowledge of the subject, permits him to present in a more nuanced way.

The nuances give way to polemics in literature which more openly declares its confessional character; one of its most recent representatives is Fr. Martin Jugie a great connoisseur of the East, but also a great persecutor of schismatics: “Caesaropapism, as the term itself shows,” he writes, “means a State where civil power, Caesar, substitutes himself for the pope in exercising supreme power over the Church; this is—a totalitarian state, arrogating to itself absolute power both over the mundane and over the sacred, both over the earth and above, practically ignoring the separation of civil and spiritual powers, and at the least subordinating the latter to the former.” The roots of this evil stretch back to the pagan past: “The pagan empire was Caesaropapist in the full sense of the word. It was unfamiliar with the distinction between the two powers. The pagan emperor, who was called summus pontifex, possessed both the fullness of the priesthood and the fullness of authority over the clergy and over sacred matters. This absolute caesaropapism is incompatible with the Christian religion, in which we find a hierarchy endowed with special liturgical powers inaccessible to the laity… The head of the Christian State cannot be analogous to the Roman Pope, for he never had the authority of an ecclesiastical person. He can only usurp the role of the pope in the Catholic Church.” Such invasions have occurred frequently. “But it was in the East that caesaropapism was given a green light; it happened as early as the fourth century, the day after Constantine declared himself the patron of the Christian religion…. The pernicious example set by the first Christian emperor was followed by his successors, especially those who, after the division of the empire into two halves, ruled the eastern part… It is true that imperial caesaropapism often served the interests of the Church… But in terms of the unity of the Church it has had disastrous consequences: such are the nationalization of the Church, the enslavement of the clergy, the muted or open hostility to the popes… Unlike the Western Church, which, in spite of temporary abuses, found in the popes staunch defenders of its independence, the Byzantine Church had very few such fighters, although they were not absent altogether. On the whole, the eastern episcopate showed itself very obedient to dogmatic antagonisms and political heresies of their emperors.” Here we have a really well-stuffed bag of prejudices that, under the influence of the spirit of ecumenism and simple historical objectivity, are somewhat out of fashion and no longer in vogue, even in clerical circles.

The spread of the term “caesaropapism” is of course on the conscience of Roman Catholicism, but reformist Russian Orthodoxy also had a hand in this. In the last decades of the 19th century, Vladimir Solovyov debunked tsarist absolutism and its claims that the Eastern Church “itself gave up its rights” to hand them over to the State. He especially blamed the Syriac Orthodox Church for having become “a national church” and therefore losing the right to represent Christ, to whom all authority on earth and in heaven belonged. “In all countries, the church is relegated to the position of a national church,” he wrote, “and the secular government (whether autocratic or constitutional) enjoys the absolute fullness of all power; the ecclesiastical institutions appear exclusively as a special ministry, dependent on the general state administration. Here again it was pointed to Byzantium, which in the ninth century (in other words, during the time of Photius) claimed to be the center of the universal Church, but in reality gave the impetus to the deviation to nationalism.” Even closer to the present day, Cyril Toumanoff put across the same point of view—according to him the “Byzantine evil” consisted in the absence of a clear distinction between the spiritual and the temporal, in the predominance of the latter over the former, and in “Caesar taking responsibility for divine matters.” In this perspective, he described Russia as a “provincialized and barbarized Byzantium,” noting in passing the fusion of caesaropapism “à la Rousse,” with Protestant ideology, which seemed important to him. This time the problem shifted; and if we are still talking about pagan survivals in the Constantine Empire, now the birth of caesaropapism was attributed to a “later time,” the period of schism and the explosion of “Greek” nationalism, as opposed to Christian universalism.

In response to these many attacks, the wounded “Orientals,” whose beliefs and whose concern for truth had been questioned, attempted to offer resistance. It was not too difficult for them to introduce significant nuances to this black picture of retrograde “Byzantinism,” and to show that “caesaropapism” was a flawed word, an anachronism, incorrectly projecting to the East the Western notion of the papacy, and to the Middle Ages—the concept of separation of powers—applicable only to the New Age. Byzantium never denied the distinction between temporal and the spiritual, never officially allowed that the emperor could be a priest; those autocrats who ventured to suggest such a thing were regarded as heretics, and those who encroached on ecclesiastical rights (or, worse still, on ecclesiastical wealth) were branded as sacrilegious. So goes the rebuttal. But historians have also tried to make a distinction. They said, the interventions of the Empire in the affairs of the Church should not to be lumped together: some of them were permissible (the right of the emperor to summon and preside at councils; the promulgation of laws and canons; the maintenance and modification of the church hierarchy); others were reprehensible (the appointment of bishops; the formulation of the creed).

The global disapproval of Byzantine practice was casuistically dissected thus: The Byzantine emperor did not go beyond his powers if he was content to enforce canons or conciliar decisions; he went only a little beyond these limits when, on his own initiative, he passed laws concerning the Church, if they were in accordance with her own wishes (as Justinian and Leo VI had done in their Novels); the emperor was allowed a harmless violation when he imposed his personal preferences on the Church with her consent—but when he did the same not only without consultation, but sometimes with a minority of bishops against their majority, especially in matters of faith, then this was a flagrant abuse. Only the last two cases were attacks on the independence of the Church—the first two, although based on the same legal principle, at least respected the rules of the game.

Theologians or canonists have always been less tolerant than historians—but they oppose actual interference with a legal division written in the canons and constantly commemorated. They sought and found those responsible for the perversion: the authoritarianism of Constantius II (so as not to offend the inviolable Constantine); the Justinian mania for lawmaking; the “imperial heresy” of the iconoclasts, or the “Scholia” of Balsamon—all of which flirted with the concept of a quasi-priest emperor. Interpretation of canonical heritage, given at the end of the 12th century and taken up by Matthew Blastares, absorbed this stable tradition without any rethinking. Even though there was a deviation, the position of the Eastern Church was not (or was not always) conciliatory; it had to fight the “paganism” that persisted in the imperial ideology. How late it remained there is evidenced by titles like “epistemonarch” or “intercessor.”

At any rate, the word “caesaropapism” is annoying. It sounds like a slap in the face. It is attributed to the “Latins,” without realizing that the physical evidence for the accusation was fabricated throughout the Byzantine Middle Ages. Given the charge of Eastern caesaropapism, an accusation of Western “Papotsarism” is made. On the whole, this is a weak objection: it drags one into a polemic—when what is required is an analysis of the mechanisms, as suggested in our brief historiographical review.

In any case, of course, Byzantium itself is “not without sin;” but of it was made a scapegoat. In the artificially constructed concept of caesaropapism is a mix of contradictory elements. At its inception, Roman fundamentalism entered into a strange alliance with the spirit of the Reformation; the radical distinction between the spiritual and the temporal, which was supposed to purge religion from politics, curiously led to the recognition of the “authority” of the clerics; the founder of the Christian empire was blamed for lack of secular ideals. It is clear that Europe cannot understand medieval Byzantium— this is not allowed by European history, geography and culture.

Without going into detail, let us recall a few obvious truths. The opposition or dialogue between “Church and State” is possible only for a secular power, more or less irreligious and confined to the framework of a single state, and for the Church, identified with its clergy. This opposition reveals the originality of the Christian Empire: its universality (at least theoretically), its place (as a political structure, as a society, and as a historical phenomenon) in the divine government, centered on it, with all its ruptures, with all its reversals, with its past and especially with its completion. The rupture? And what else can one call the Incarnation of Christ, by which the coming of the age of Grace was heralded in the midst of a political regime pleasing to God—for the Empire of Augustus was chosen as the cradle for the new religion. Return? What else was the curious projection of the Jewish past onto the Christian present, when Byzantium and its emperors lived as if on two levels, the level of Old Testament models, read as “images” from the Christian future, and the level of Christian history, which was nothing more than the realization of these “images.” Completion? This is a programmed end, as announced by Daniel and all the Apocalypses, because of it. Christian time, since the reign of Constantine, has become a “countdown.” Within this timeframe, empire is presented as a setting, and the emperor as the principal actor. Notions of “this age,” “the State,” or “worldly power” are useful for delineating the domain of imperial institutions in contrast to the institutionalized Church, handed over to the cares of the clerics. But these same concepts ignore the aforementioned alchemical transformation of time, this sacred history, within which the emperor was something like a High Priest. Back in 1393, Patriarch Anthony IV of Constantinople reminded Prince Vasily of Moscow about the role of emperors in the formation of Orthodoxy, about the unity of the empire and the Church. The idea of two separate powers is not prerogative; but this is where it took the “modern” form, the form of the political revolution that accompanied the separation, later the collapse, of the empire in the fourth and fifth centuries.

In the East, the reaction was neither so rapid nor so unequivocal. The dispute was accompanied inexorably by vestiges of messianism and the expectation of an eschatological denouement. Although the emperors seldom dared to publicly proclaim their priesthood “according to the order of Melchizedek,” they still believed in their special mission: to dispose of that double heritage, Davidic and Levitical, which Christ declared to be His, having come into the world in the flesh, during the first “advent,” but which He will enter into possession of, having finally established His kingdom, when the end of the world, called the second “coming,” will soon come. The royal priesthood in Byzantium was a continuation of the messianic spirit during that interval between the two “comings” which exactly corresponds to the period of the Christian Empire.

Needless to say, in this matter (as in all others), history does not decide who is right and who is wrong. It only allows us to understand past justifications and measure the bias that has been created to date by any history that has become a tradition, and then any tradition that has become an ideology. The West, for which Judaism played almost no role as the main standard and which grew up on the ruins of the Empire, made valor out of necessity. The West underestimated and dismantled that majestic building, which was the result of the meeting of two traditions, Roman and Jewish. It divided the “authorities” in order to create a spiritual power in the backyard of modern states, which was often nothing more than a powerless theocracy. As for the East, it prolonged that grandiose and fruitless dream which was already illusory in the Empire of the Second Rome, a dream which served as an alibi for the retrograde autocracy in the Russian Empire of the Third Rome and which in today’s world often appears under the ugly mask of nationalism. The political aporia “priest and king,” “priest or king” is undoubtedly one of the basic problems of mankind, and its solutions in history grow out of each other in the process of mutual adaptation of cultures.

In conclusion, let us give the floor to Dostoevsky. In one of the first chapters of The Brothers Karamazov, the most Byzantine of his novels, Dostoyevsky sets forth, in the form of a paradox, the problem we have been discussing here. Ivan Karamazov, an intellectual revolutionary and atheist, has written a treatise on church tribunals in which he denies the principle of separation of Church and State. He is questioned about this by the participants in the conversation, who embody the entire spectrum of opinion: Miusov, a secular man, landowner, Westerner, and skeptic; Father Paissy, a worthy representative of Orthodoxy; and an elder who speaks his heart. Ivan justifies his position by explaining that the mixing of Church and State, intolerable in itself, will always exist because there can be no normal relationship between them, “because lies lie at the very heart of the matter.” Instead of asking about the place of the Church in the State, we should instead ask how the Church is to be identified with the State in order to establish the kingdom of God on earth. When the Roman Empire became Christian, it naturally included the Church; but the Church, in order not to renounce its principles, must in turn seek ways of gaining control over the State.

Miusov observes that this is a trivial utopia, “something like socialism.” The elder hesitates for another reason: he fears that in a world where law and love will merge, the criminal will no longer have the right to mercy, as he believes there is no such right in “Lutheran countries” and in Rome, where the Church has proclaimed itself the State; and yet he foresees the distant day when the Church will revive. “What is this really about,” exclaimed Miusov, as if suddenly bursting out, “is the State being eliminated from the earth, and the Church being elevated to the degree of a State. It’s not just ultramontane, it’s arch-ultramontane! This was not even imagined by Pope Gregory VII! Quite the opposite of what you mean!—Father Paissy said sternly.—It is not the Church that turns into a State, understand that. That’s Rome and its dream; that’s the third devil’s temptation! On the contrary, the State converts to the Church, ascends to the Church and becomes the Church in all the earth, which is quite the opposite of both Ultramontaneism and Rome and your interpretation, and is only the great destiny of Orthodoxy on earth. From the East the star shall shine forth” (The Brothers Karamazov, Part 1, Book 2, Chapter 5).

Such debates were waged in Russia in the 1870s-1880s. They somewhat confused the concepts of theocracy and caesaropapism. Here the ideological costs of the church-state may have been anticipated, but they were generally found to be more consistent with the spirit of Orthodoxy than the spiritual betrayal the church-state seemed to represent. The one point on which all agreed was the recognition that the fundamental separation of the two powers rested on a lie.

Gilbert Dagron (1932-2015) was a foremost scholar of Byzantine history, whose best-known work is Emperor and Priest: The Imperial Office in Byzantium.

Featured: Double-headed Eagle, anonymous, from Filenka, ca. 1740s.