The Volhynia Massacre

Of all the volatile issues emanating from Ukraine’s participation in the Second World War, perhaps the most debated has been Ukrainian Insurgent Army’s (UPA) conflict with the Poles, which has been described by Yale historian Timothy Snyder as one of the earliest examples of ethnic cleansing in the 20th century. A landmark of sorts was reached in 2003, the 60th anniversary of the attempted elimination of the Polish population in Volhynia region, when scholars, writers, and journalists on both sides of the border discussed the matter openly, albeit without reaching any firm conclusions. On the level of government politicians, the then opposition leader, Viktor Yushchenko, made some conciliatory remarks to the Poles concerning responsibility for past events. The Ukrainian response at the grassroots level, from those generally sympathetic to the UPA at least, was that there were similar atrocities on both sides, as evidenced by the enforced deportations of populations from both sides of the border and the deliberate targeting of Ukrainian civilians in Operation Vistula.

The discussion differs from the previous ones that have been analyzed in that it has taken on an international hue, with Ukrainians, for the most part, defending the actions of the insurgents against criticism from outsiders. However, while Soviet propaganda prevailed, the Polish question left the UPA vulnerable to attacks from the official media as well. Because of the controversial nature of these events it is logical to reflect first on the existing English versions of the events that are based on careful archival research.

Snyder has noted that in 1939, the Polish population constituted about 16% of the overall population of Volhynia (Volyn and Rivne oblasts), and by 1943 it had decreased to about 8%. He maintains that the UPA mounted a campaign to identify the Volhynian Poles and the Polish government with the occupation regimes of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. He believes that the fury of the actions against the Polish population was the reason for the Polish retaliation against Ukrainians—reflected, for example, in Operation Vistula. They then provided the UPA with an excuse for introducing what Snyder calls “ethnic cleansing” in the territories of Halychyna to the south. However, Poles there were more numerous and better able to defend themselves.

In a related article, Snyder delves into the topic in more detail. In his view, the brutal operations of the Germans against Volhynian Jews provided training for many of the future UPA members for the 1943 actions against Poles. Ukrainians became familiar with violent death on a mass scale, and those who took part in German operations as auxiliary forces subsequently became the main recruits for the creation of the UPA in Volhynia by the OUN-B. The decision to take the latter action was taken following the German defeat at Stalingrad, when in April 1943 OUN SD (Ukrainian Nationalist Organization) leader Mykola Lebed’ proposed to eliminate the entire Polish population in the area of the UPA forces.

Poles were also under intense pressure from Soviet Partisans. Snyder describes members of the OUN-B security forces as extremists and fanatics, with an implacable hatred of people they considered to be enemies of the nation. Thus the Ukrainian political scene in Volhynia came under the domination of “immature and angry men” led by the 33-year-old Lebed’ and practically the entire Ukrainian youth entered the ranks of the UPA (in part, the OUN-B achieved full membership by threatening to kill all those who remained in the service of the Germans). By removing the Poles, they could prevent any possibility of a return to Polish rule in this territory of northwestern Ukraine, and up to 60,000 Poles, mainly civilians, fell victim to this orgy of violence.

Wiktor Poliszczuk’s work is an indictment of the OUN and UPA, and who stresses that, in the spring of 1943, Mykola Lebed’, the head of the OUN-B Provid, along with Shukhevych, carried out the proclamation of the First Congress of the OUN by massacring the Polish civilian population of Volhynia. Up to that time, the deaths of Poles at the hands of Ukrainians had been somewhat random and a result of personal animosities. He notes that in this period, the OUN-B demanded of the Ukrainian police still in the service of the Germans that they flee to the forests taking their weapons with them. Former members of the Schutzmannschaften Battalion 201 arrived in Volhynia from Belarus, having completed the brutal pacification of Belarusian villages on behalf of the Germans. These men, he adds, in a similar vein to Snyder’s account, had experience with the elimination of the Jewish population and were now to make up the foundation of the military forces of the OUN-B, along with the Security Service run by Lebed’. Most of the latter forces were made up of Ukrainians from Halychyna.

Using the basis of the First OUN Congress and the Second OUN Conference, it was Lebed’ who provided the instruction to the troops to undertake the systematic extermination of the Polish population of Volhynia. The deaths ran into the tens of thousands, he writes. Members of the Mel’nyk wing of the OUN, where present, were coerced into the same activity. The picture portrayed is one of ruthless ethnic cleansing led by the nationalist security units that had received training at the German political school in Zakopane in 1939–40…. all those dealing with the OUN-UPA as warriors for an independent Ukraine (particularly those who allege that the two organizations had taken on a more moderate and democratic complexion by 1943), have to come to terms with the events of Volhynia, which appear to contradict such an assessment.

David R. Marples is a Distinguished University Professor of Russian and East European History, University of Alberta. He is the author of sixteen single-authored books, including Understanding Ukraine and Belarus (2020), and Heroes and Villains: Creating National History in Contemporary Ukraine (2008), from which this passage is excerpted.

The Return of the Iron Curtain

The United States extols the virtues of competition, but hates having competitors. It also hates the idea of a multipolar world. The United States emerged from World War II as the great victor, and its entire foreign policy for ages has been to thwart the emergence of rival powers that might threaten its hegemony. Europe having already been neutralized and vassalized, they are left with China and Russia, which they seek to weaken by all means.

In order to do this, they have a first-rate tool at their disposal with the NATO bases. NATO, which should have disappeared at the same time as the Warsaw Pact, has today become the “global NATO;” that is to say, an international police force, charged with protecting American interests all over the world, while exercising on its allies what General De Gaulle called its “heavy tutelage.”

By bringing the former Eastern Bloc countries into NATO, the United States sought to challenge and encircle Russia. High-ranking American political scientists, such as Henry Kissinger, John J. Mearsheimer, George Kennan, Paul Nitze, Robert McNamara and many others had already warned in the 1990s of the dramatic consequences of NATO’s expansion to Russia’s borders, which Kennan called a “fateful mistake.” The Americans have never ceased to assert that Ukraine should also join NATO.

In The Grand Chessboard (1997), Zbigniew Brzezinski explained why: “America must absolutely seize Ukraine, because Ukraine is the pivot of Russian power in Europe. Once Ukraine is separated from Russia, Russia will no longer be a threat.”

The Least Concealed Coup d’état in History

Since Montesquieu, we know that there are those who start wars and those who make them inevitable. The United States and NATO have done everything to make war unavoidable. A war that did not start in February 2022, but in 2014, since 14,000 people were already dead in Donbass when the Russian army intervened.

The coup of February 22, 2014, the so-called Euro-Maidan, prepared, organized and financed by the United States (to the tune of 5 billion dollars)—”the least concealed coup in history,” said the American political scientist George Friedman—was not intended to make Ukraine more democratic, but to make it more Western; that is to say anti-Russian. It allowed the removal of President Yanukovych, legitimately elected in 2010, and to bring to power a team of pro-Westerners whose first legislative act was the abolition of the Russian language as an official language.

In 2019, they were succeeded by a puppet government, corrupt to the core, largely dominated by the underworld and headed by Volodymyr Zelensky, a former show business king. The Americans, during all this time, never ceased to threaten, ignore and humiliate Russia.

True to the Monroe Doctrine, the Americans have never allowed foreign intervention in their sphere of influence, while constantly intervening in those of others. Since the Cuba affair in 1962, it is well known that no American president would accept that Russian rockets be deployed in Canada or Mexico. Why should Putin accept that American rockets be deployed in Poland and at the gates of Russia?

Ukraine’s integration into NATO was an existential threat to the Russian Federation. In other words, a red line that must not be crossed. The West crossed it, leaving Vladimir Putin no choice but to resort to military action to satisfy demands that could never be met by political or diplomatic means. This is what happened on February 24.

The Russian People: The New Pariahs

Putin, who has no intention of recreating the old USSR (which in 2010 even more Ukrainians than Russians regretted: 62% against 45%) knows on the other hand that a country’s security depends largely on the notion of strategic depth, which implies a buffer state. Cutting short a new Ukrainian offensive to retake the Donbass by force, which was planned for late winter, Russia’s “special military operation” had three immediate causes: NATO’s willingness to push right up to Russia’s doorstep; the Kiev government’s stubborn refusal to implement the Minsk agreements of September 2014 and February 2015, which provided for both Ukraine’s territorial integrity and Donbass’ autonomy; and the continued atrocities against the Russian-speaking civilian populations of Donbass.

The Americans, who of course never bombed civilians (Hiroshima), nor attacked a sovereign country (Iraq), nor illegally crossed a sovereign’s country’s borders (Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia), and even less bombed a European capital (Belgrade), reacted according to the usual Anglo-Saxon tactics of sanctions and embargo (which are the modern version of the blockade) and of moral disqualification, accusatory inversion, the dumbing down of public opinion by emotional propaganda, media blitzing and the criminalization of the enemy (Putin mad dictator, paranoid war criminal, new Hitler, bloodthirsty butcher, etc. ). This tactic makes it impossible to return to peace through a negotiated settlement of the conflict, since one does not negotiate with a “criminal” or a “madman.”

In the manner of Cancel Culture, the prevailing Russophobia now discredits everything that is Russian, from Dostoyevsky to Solzhenitsyn, through Gagarin, all victims of the same reductio ad Putinum. Tennis players, musicians, disabled people and even Russian cats are excluded from shows, museums or competitions.

The aim is to turn the Russian people into a new pariah. Hate speech, once decried, is now even allowed on social networks, if it is anti-Russian speech.

The objective is clear. If Russia cannot be vaporized, it is a question of putting it in the dock of nations, of stigmatizing it for eternity, of cutting it off definitively from Germany, France and Western Europe, thanks to a cordon sanitaire that would isolate it from the rest of the world. From this point of view, it is in the interest of the Americans to ensure that the war lasts as long as possible. In Washington, we are ready to fight to the last Ukrainian. In 1956, the Budapest insurgents had no such support.

A New Iron Curtain

It is obviously impossible to say that “we are not waging war on Russia” and at the same time to decree against it sanctions of unprecedented magnitude, to publicly advocate a “total economic and financial war on Russia” (Bruno Le Maire) and to supply arms to the Ukrainians.

The Europeans have obediently accepted to undertake sanctions against Russia, of which they will be the first victims because these sanctions are contrary to their own interests, especially in terms of energy and industry (Russia is more self-sufficient than Europe).

By delivering heavy weapons and airplanes to Ukraine, not to restore peace but to prolong the war, the Western countries have taken the serious risk of being considered as cobelligerents.

We have thus left the post-Cold War era. A new Iron Curtain has been set up; this time at the initiative of the West. The Eurasian continent is again cut in two. Finland and Sweden want to join NATO, Switzerland is abandoning its neutrality, Germany is contributing 100 billion euros, and the European Union is taking on the role of arms supplier, while those who yesterday militated for the abolition of all borders are proclaiming that those of Ukraine are inviolable. A historic turn. The consequences of which will also be historic.

The former Czech president, Václav Klaus, said it bluntly—taken hostage by NATO, Ukraine is from the beginning “only a pawn on the chessboard of a larger game.” The first loser of this affair is indeed the unfortunate Ukrainian people, today bombed by the Russians after having been cynically used as a pawn on the American strategic chessboard.

The other big losers are the Europeans who, by aligning themselves almost unanimously with the American positions, have demonstrated once again that they count for nothing. An independent and non-aligned Europe could have worked for a political settlement of the conflict, for a negotiated agreement, as well as for the reconstruction of a new space of collective security on a continental scale, respecting the interests of Europeans as much as those of Russians. It could also have had the equivalent of the Monroe Doctrine.

But this is not what happened. By flatly aligning itself with Anglo-Saxon diktats and adopting measures that are as much oil on the fire, the European Union has lost all credibility.

We are not Westerners, but Europeans

There are in fact two distinct wars going on at the moment. The first one is a fratricidal war, since it opposes two countries coming from the same historical matrix and which remained associated for centuries—but it is not a civil war. It is not a war between two nationalisms, Russian and Ukrainian; but rather a war between the logic of the nation-state and that of the empire (which has never had an ethnic dimension in Russia).

But it is also a proxy war, a war by proxy of Washington against the Kremlin through Ukraine. This also reveals the deep nature of the second war, that of the United States against Russia.

A war that goes far beyond Ukraine, since it is a war of the worlds—a war for or against liberal hegemony, a war of civilizational states against rootless universalism, of peoples concerned with their historical continuity against “open societies,” of the forces of rootedness against the forces of dissolution, of continental powers against “maritime democracies” (United States, Great Britain, Australia, Canada). A war of global significance. A war for world power.

This means that the appeals to “Western solidarity” of Joseph Robinette Biden, the living dead man in the White House, leave us cold—for the excellent reason that we are not Westerners, but Europeans.

Alain de Benoit is the well-known thinker and philosopher of what is known as the New Right. He is the author of numerous books and articles. This article appears through the kind courtesy of the journal Éléments and Sylvette Imatz.

Featured: “Iron Curtain,” by Lyle Brown, dated 2011.

Ukraine: From Christianity to Satanism—Part 1

I am Ksenia Golub, a Russian journalist, currently living in Belgrade for three years. But my ties to Serbia go back a long way—I first came to the Balkans in 2009 to shoot a documentary. In this article, I want to share my reflections on the background of the current situation in Ukraine. And in this article, I act both as an eyewitness, as I have repeatedly been in the Donbass for a long time, and as an expert—I am a certified specialist in religion.

The processes of transformation of Ukrainian society, which resulted in a special military operation to denazify this once brotherly country of Russia, began long before the coup d’état took place there. The mental revolution took place much earlier.

I can judge this from my trips back in the early 2000s, to my relatives in Donbass. My relatives lived in Gorlovka, Donetsk, Severodonetsk, and Dokuchayevsk—right on line of fire, where they had been since 2014.

Even during those trips, I encountered fits of anti-Russian rage among representatives of central and especially western Ukraine. “Moskals,” as the Russians were derogatorily called, were blamed for all of the country’s problems. These people always saw the Kremlin’s interference in even the smallest matters. It got to be ridiculous—when Putin was blamed for the problem of poor maintenance of property and backyards. Or when the price of Ukrainian-made food rose.

More than once, I faced open accusations and insults when “real Ukrainians” (residents of Donbass have never been considered such in this country) found out that I was from Russia or heard my Russian speech.

So based on my personal experience I can openly state—the problem of hatred towards everything Russian in this state has deep roots. But in this article, I want to draw attention to another aspect of the problem.

The Emergence of Sects in Ukraine

We all know very well that religion has a huge role in the development of society—we see evidence of this in history. Thanks to Orthodoxy, Russia has turned from a principality into a great empire, while its territory has preserved the various religions of its peoples—from Islam to Lamaism. But it is this Christian faith which was able to unite the people around itself, because it is based on the principle of unity, which is very suitable for the Slavic mentality.

That is why the main anti-Russian ideologist of the United States, Zbigniew Brzezinski called Orthodoxy the main enemy of America.

Ukraine has always been an Orthodox country. Of course, the percentage of Greek Catholics in its western part was quite high, but the country had no more than 4 million adherents of the western branch of Christianity. Most of its residents belonged to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.

We all know the phrase: “If you want power, create your own religion.” The fight against Orthodoxy in Ukraine began even earlier than the moment it seceded from the Soviet Union in 1991. Even then, in the late 1980s, representatives of various pseudo-Christian sects, which were closely connected with the Western special services, began to infiltrate the republic.

The word “sect” means to separate or cut off from something. In this case we are talking about the cutting off of believers from the main religion.

In the 2000s, the situation with the activity of various religious and occult organizations in Ukraine reached unbelievable problems. They wrote about it and spoke about it from the rostrum, but their activities remained permissible.

In 2007, Bishop Antony of Boryspil, vicar of the Kiev Metropolitan Church, said that dangerous sects were operating in Ukraine and that their ideology was capable of causing considerable damage to the mental health of the people. An article about this was published in the weekly Dzerkalo Tyzhnya.

In particular, answering the question of what sects in Ukraine can be called the most influential and widespread, the Bishop said: “In the context of our conversation, the word ‘influential’ is identical to the word ‘dangerous’. In brief, we would have to name the Charismatics (Neo-Pentecostals, the most prominent organization, the Embassy of God), Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Church of Scientology, the Krishna Consciousness Society, White Lotus, and the Bogorodichny Center. According to the bishop, these are the most dangerous organizations, based on the level of harm caused to the individual.

In 2009 the Ukrainian portal also published an article on this topic. I will quote part of it.

“Sectologists and psychologists are sounding the alarm: religious organizations, which ‘official churches’ call sects, are developing at a huge pace, with a large influx of neophytes into their ranks expected during the crisis. Recently in Ukraine, several people tried to create a cell of the so-called Islamist sect, which is banned in many countries, but we prevented it,” says SBU spokeswoman Marina Ostapenko. According to her, in the scale and destructiveness the lead is still held by the notorious ‘White Brotherhood,’ which was active in the mid-1990s,” the article said.

Let me remind you of what this association is all about. It was founded in 1990-1991 in Kiev by Yuri Krivonogov and Marina Tsvigun. Later he took the ritual name Yoann Swami (Swami John [the Baptist]) and Tsvigun the name Mary Devi Christos, declaring herself to be the Virgin Mary, the living embodiment of Christ, his mother and bride at the same time.

In 1993 this scandalous sect took over the Orthodox St. Sophia Cathedral in Kiev. The adherents of the White Brotherhood were waiting for the end of the world and were going to perform a last prayer service in the church. Only the intervention of the riot police helped to free the cathedral. The sect organizers were arrested, but were soon released.

The lifestyle of the sectarians was strict: it was forbidden to eat animal food, make phone calls, or watch TV. A person who joined the White Brotherhood had to break off relations with his family, friends, and colleagues. The members of the Brotherhood lived 20-30 people in one apartment and slept no more than four hours a day. Yuri Krivonogov and Marina Tsvigun promoted self-sacrifice. They said that the adherents had to endure pain, torture, and death. The founders themselves pledged that they would also die, but they would be the last to die. In three days, they would be resurrected, and a very different life would begin on earth.

In Russia, this sect was declared extremist, and its activities on the territory of the state were banned. But in Ukraine it continued to exist, even right now.

The Jehovah Witnesses were also very active; they were constantly walking the streets, distributing their “Watchtower” magazines, making door-to-door visits. And it sometimes came to the point of absurdity, when any stranger who rang the doorbell would face aggression from the apartment-owner, who saw a sectarian in everyone.

In Donetsk itself, “houses of prayer” of these organizations could be readily seen during walks around the city. In conversations with local priests, the depth of the problem was even more vivid. They described situations of complete zombification of former Orthodox believers, who even left their families, forgetting about their children and parents, and who signed over their apartments and other property to the sects.

It is not surprising that we, the future religious studies majors, devoted so much attention to events in neighboring countries during our study at the Department of Theology.

To be continued…

Ksenia Golub is a journalist who lives in Belgrade.

Featured: “The Ghost of a Flea,” by William Blake; painted ca. 1819-1820.

Ukraine: Statehood in Question

The dynamics and challenges of state formation in post-Soviet Ukraine can only be understood and appreciated in the context of the history of Ukraine. Its history, like many other nations of Eastern and Central Europe, was marred by failed or circumscribed statehood. Since the period of Kyiv Rus’, Ukraine witnessed two attempts to build an independent polity, both of which to some degree succeeded in establishing an institutional infrastructure, controlling territory, winning the allegiance of its population and gaining international recognition. However, there was hardly any temporal or symbolic continuity between those historical reincarnations of statehood; they differed radically in terms of the form of government, territory, and the conception of “the people.”

The first, the Cossack Hetmanate, was a pre-modern formation, while, the second, during the Ukrainian Revolution, 1917–1921, not only lasted for a short period of time, but also spawned several different embodiments of the Ukrainian state. Under Soviet rule, Ukraine possessed all of the nominal trappings of sovereign statehood, most notably, a full set of republican institutions, like all other Soviet republics. Yet in reality, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic was only a hollow institutional caricature of a sovereign state. In the light of discontinuity and diversity of legal and political institutions, Ukraine’s history does not lend itself to configuration as linear national history modelled on the Western historical narratives of a nation-state, which tend to be centred on dynastic, institutional– administrative and/or territorial continuities.

Post-soviet Ukraine lacks the ‘historical legitimacy’ derived from distinct and ‘identifiable institutional traditions and stable territorial boundaries. Moreover, there is not much else to pin national history onto, because the church, elites, language, and culture were all damaged, disrupted or destroyed and thus could not serve as firm pillars of national history. As von Hagen asserted, “today’s Ukraine is a very modern creation, with little firmly established precedent in the national past.”

As a result of its history, Ukraine emerged as an independent state in 1991 with incompletely articulated and competing ‘grand narratives’ of its past, which glorified conflicting political traditions and historical periods, either pre-communist or Soviet. While few states in Central and Eastern Europe have an unblemished historiographical legitimacy by (ethnocentric) Western standards, the case of Ukraine is particularly complex and interesting because of, firstly, the multiple historical ruptures and, secondly, the advanced erosion of memories of pre-communist statehood. Both of these issues raised the vexed question of what exactly the indigenous political tradition was that Ukraine should embrace upon gaining independence in 1991. History left the elites in post-Soviet Ukraine with a Pandora’s box of constitutional choices when it came to defining the conception of statehood in institutional, territorial and national terms. In particular, the significance of the Soviet rule in Ukraine’s history proved difficult to define with any degree of consensus.

From Kyiv Rus’ to the Hetmanate

The meaning of the name Ukraine, literally “borderland,” reflects its location on the borders of other states, which dominated that part of Europe over the centuries after the disintegration of the first state on the territory of today’s Ukraine—Kyiv Rus’. In the tenth century the Kyivan Rus’ patrimony fostered contacts with Byzantium and converted to Christianity. After the schism within Christendom in 1054, Rus’ became confined to a domain of Orthodox Slavic people. Following the death of Prince Yaroslav the Wise, Kyiv Rus’ disintegrated into many principalities, amongst which the Galician principality to the west was the most powerful. After its demise in 1340 Galicia was incorporated into the Polish state. At the same time, the remaining territory of Kyiv Rus’ fell pray to a Mongol invasion. Undoubtedly, the topography of Ukraine—the flat steppes, which posed no natural boundaries— accounts for the ease and frequency with which the territory of Ukraine was plundered and conquered over centuries, as Ukraine turned into a battle ground for domination by the states which surrounded it, such as the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Ottoman Empire, the Polish– Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Crimean Tatar Khanate, Moscovy, the Russian empire, and the Habsburg empire.

Apart from the Mongol devastation, in the fourteenth centuries Ukraine was incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania to the north, which was simultaneously coming closer to Poland. The dynastic union of Krevo in 1385 between Lithuania and Poland was followed by the 1569 Union of Lublin, which created the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (Rzeczpospolita). The exposure to the gentrified republic resulted in Ukraine’s Polonisation and conversion to Catholicism. This conversion was institutionalised in the Union of Brest in the 1596 when the Uniate Church was created, which recognised the authority of the Pope, but retained Eastern rites. However, as Poland was not strong enough to defend its eastern borders, it had effective control only of the Right Bank of Dnieper. The Left Bank, the so-called “wild fields,” witnessed the rise of a distinctive socio-political formation—the Zaporizhian Host. The ranks of free Cossack warriors swelled from the influx of peasants who had run away from their masters against encroaching serfdom from Polish Ukraine; as Subtelny pointed out: “in newly colonised Ukraine, some of Europe’s most exploitative feudal lords confronted some of its most defiant masses.”

In 1648, Cossack Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytskyi staged a Great Revolt against Polish landlords, inspired also to defend Orthodoxy again Catholic expansion and the autonomous political formation—the Cossack Host—was established on both banks of the Dnieper. Unable to win the war with Poland without help, Khmelnytskyi looked for an ally and in 1654, the Union of Pereiaslav was signed between the Cossack Host and Russia, according to which the Cossacks recognised the authority and obtained the protection of the tsar and the Host joined Russia as an autonomous entity. However, more military struggles followed, and the Treaty of Andrushevo of 1667 split Ukraine: the Left Bank—the so-called Hetmanate—went to Russia, while Poland retained the Right Bank.

In eighteenth century Russia, the Hetmanate developed a separate political identity underpinned by a unique system of government, liberties and rights, which facilitated an emergence of a distinctive Little Russian identity.4 However, the Hetmanate could not survive the strengthening and centralisation of the Russian state and political and cultural differences between Little and Great Russia were gradually ironed out. In 1720 Peter the Great prohibited the publication of books in Ukraine other than religious ones. In addition to halting the development of Ukrainian national culture, which had thrived in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, this retarded Ukraine, in comparison to Russia, in the development of a modern secular culture. In 1775 the Cossack Sich on the Dnieper was destroyed, followed by the abolition of the Hetmanate in 1783 by Catherine the Great.

The subsequent integration of the Ukrainian elites (starshyna) into the Russian nobility led to the loss of their distinct Little Russian identity, as they took advantage of new career opportunities within the Russian states. By 1820s, the starshyna—the main carrier of a Little Russian identity—was Russified and the peasantry was fully enserfed. By the early nineteenth century, Ukraine’s role as a bridge between the West and Russia came to an end, and Ukraine effectively turned into a province within the Russian empire. Although the Cossack Sich—in the form of the Hetmanate—could survive only under protectorate of a more powerful state, Ukraine developed a distinct political and administrative entity, which survived the best part of the eighteenth century. The Sich and the Hetmanate served as a fertile ground for cultivating glorifying myths of a national liberation struggle and a concerted aspiration for national autonomy, which were apparently frustrated by the tsars’ breach of the Pereiaslav Agreement.

However, the legacy of Cossackdom cannot be easily moulded into the “tradition of statehood.” The stabilisation of the Hetmanate associated with the transformation of the Cossack starshyna into gentry contrasted with the anarchistic-individualistic tradition of the Sich and the Haidamak movements, which exemplified a rebellion against the emergence of the modern, centralised state.

The Cossack tradition did not provide an equivocal design for the institutional framework of a modern state. The Hetmanate combined republican and monarchical traits, as a collective deliberative body (Heneralna Rada, and then Rada Starshykh) co-existed with powerful Hetmans. As such this form of government has been interpreted both as a precursor of a presidential system, in which powers are concentrated in a chief executive, and the government by assembly. But even if mythologised as “the tradition of state building,” the Russification of the Cossack starshyna and the strangling of the autonomy of the Hetmanate meant that this episode in the history of Ukraine did not provide the basis for modern Ukrainian statehood.

Beyond the realm of myths and symbols, the actual impact of the Cossack state on the future make-up of the Ukrainian state, in terms of institutional and legal traditions was minimal, with the exception of the intermittent conservative regime of Hetman Skoropadskyi in 1918. In the context of the discontinuity which followed the Cossack period, the intellectual aspirations to political trappings of statehood in Ukraine cannot be traced back firmly beyond the mid-nineteenth.

Ukraine’s National “Awakening” in the Nineteenth Century

Following the partitions of Poland in 1772, 1793 and 1795, the political subordination of Ukraine changed once again. Right-bank Ukraine (Kyiv, Podila, Volynia) was transferred to Russia, hence “re-joining” Left-bank Ukraine, while Galicia became part of the Habsburg Empire. As the modern Ukrainian national movements incubated in parallel in two empires, they developed different traits as a result of diverse political, cultural and socio-economic conditions.

The rise of the modern Ukrainian national movement in the tsarist empire can be conceptualised by using the scheme developed by the Czech historian Miroslav Hroch. Despite its shortcomings, for the purpose of this study, the scheme serves as a useful analytical tool for succinctly outlining developments. Hroch distinguished three phases in the process of national awakening of non-dominant ethnic groups in Eastern Europe: academic, cultural, and political. In the academic stage, from the 1820’s onwards during the so-called Ukrainian Revival, scholars developed an interest in the culture and language of the peasantry, albeit without any defined and articulated political goals.

In the second, cultural stage, a new type of activist embarked on agitation of the ‘ethnographic masses’ in order to win them over to the national cause. In Ukraine, the populists, who rejected the primary historical role of the nobility (especially as by then the Cossack starshyna had been assimilated into the Russian landlord class)11 focused on the masses as an engine of human progress. The work of artist Taras Shevchenko (1814–1861), a redeemed serf, played a pivotal role in this phase. In his writings, Shevchenko used the Ukrainian vernacular to tell of past glories and the present ignominy of Ukraine and its people under foreign yoke.

By the middle of the nineteenth century, the predominantly cultural activities of the populists had developed a political vein. The clandestine Cyrillo–Methodian Society of 1846–1847 and the Hromady in the 1850–1860’s combined populism with demands for cultural autonomy. These political ideas, however moderate, had little resonance beyond a narrow group of urban intellectuals. According to the 1897 census, 93 percent of Ukrainians were peasants, in Kyiv 54 percent of the population were Russians, and only 22 percent Ukrainians. There was hardly any Ukrainian bourgeoisie in Left-bank (that is territories to the east of the Dnieper) Ukraine. While the nascent working class was predominantly Russian and Jewish, ethnic Ukrainians—impoverished, peasant, illiterate, passive, and parochial—were not receptive to ideas of national revival and the assertion of cultural rights.

The cultural stage of the development of national consciousness was frustrated by the slow modernisation under tsarist rule and political repression. The process of raising the national awareness of the masses was given a crushing blow in the 1860–1880s in the form of the banning of the Ukrainian language in the public domain, including schools and publishing. Thus, economic backwardness, the repressive policies of the tsarist regime, and the underdevelopment of the educational and cultural infrastructure seriously thwarted the emergence of third stage—the politicisation of the masses in support of national autonomy. Throughout the second part of the nineteenth century, the nascent intellectual elites in tsarist Ukraine grappled with the conception of ‘the Ukrainian people’. They oscillated between the assertion that Ukrainians were a branch of one people (Russkiy narod), who developed a distinct culture because of their different historical experiences (Mykola Kostomarov, 1817–1885), and the more radical assertion that Ukrainians had distinct roots from Russians (Mykhailo Hrushevskyi, 1866– 1934).

Despite these differences, the intellectuals adhered to the federalist model of statehood, in which Ukraine would be one of the constituting units. This model was most fully formulated in the writings of Mykhailo Drahomanov (1841–1895) who advocated the transformation of the Russian Empire into a democratic, constitutional republic composed of twenty states; the territory of Ukraine was to be organised into four states. As a committed socialist-anarchist Drahomanov doubted the role of the state in securing individual freedoms, and thus rejected the Western European model of a centralised nation-state for democratised Russia in general and Ukraine in particular. In Drahomanov’s view, federalism would ensure not only the optimal conditions for Ukraine’s national emancipation, which the centralised tsarist state hampered, but would also realise the universal principle of the individual freedom and autonomy.

In contrast to the proponents of federalism, by the turn of century, the advocates of separatism, that is supporters of outright independence for Ukraine (samostiinist), such as Mykola Mikhnovskyi, Viacheslav Lypynskyi and Dmytro Dontsov were in a minority in “Russian” Ukraine, although they were stronger in Galicia. The obstacles to the development of national movement, however, were not as pronounced in Galicia, which was incorporated into the Habsburg Empire at the end of the eighteenth century, where Ukrainians were known as Ruthenians.

Although the level of socio-economic development was the same or even lower than in tsarist Ukraine, the Crown provinces of Galicia and, to a lesser extent, Bukovina, benefited from the fledging practices of parliamentarism (after 1867), an educational system in Ukrainian, religious freedoms, the right to use Ukrainian in state institutions, they also developed specifically Ukrainian institutions such as economic co-operatives, reading societies, newspapers, etc. In Eastern Galicia ethnic and religious divides coincided with the key social cleavage, as the Polish landlords ruled the Ukrainian peasantry. As a result, the Ukrainian national movement developed in fierce opposition to Poles (but in loyalty to Vienna). Despite some confusion over the issues of identity in Eastern Galicia, independent statehood (samostiinist) was declared the objective of the Ukrainian national movement once Austria–Hungary crumbled, and Ukrainian nationalists encountered competing Polish claims to Eastern Galicia.

The Ukrainian Revolution, 1917-1921

The collapse of the empires in the course of the First World War presented the Ukrainian elites with a long-awaited chance to realise their socio-economic and political ideals. Yet the international context and the divisions between the elites led to a creation of a string of successive governments: the Central Council, the Hetmanate, the Directory in Dnieper Ukraine, and the Western Ukrainian People’s Republic in Galicia (Halychyna). While all of them claimed to embody Ukrainian statehood, the relations between them were often full of tensions. The period of the Ukrainian Revolution will be briefly presented below in order to argue that the political, military and social context impacted on the attempt at state building to the extent that it is difficult to define the pre-communist tradition of statehood with a high degree of precision.

Taking into account the ideological profile of the Ukrainian elites, separatism was not on the cards, when in the aftermath of the February revolution, in March 1917, the Central Council (Tsentralna Rada) was created in Kyiv by the prominent Ukrainian populist and socialist intellectuals and activists, such as Mykhailo Hrushevskyi, Volodymyr Vynnychenko, Serkhiy Yefremov, and Semen Petliura.17 The Rada, which turned itself into a representative body in the summer of 1917, competed for power with the Bolsheviks and the Provisional Government in Ukraine.18 In April 1917 the Ukrainian elites called for the federalisation of the Russian state with Ukraine as one of its autonomous units.

Following the October Revolution, in its Third Universal (November 1917), the Central Council proclaimed the creation of the Ukrainian People’s Republic (UNR) which was to be joined by federal ties to democratic Russia. It was only the military offensive of the Bolsheviks on Kyiv that forced the Ukrainian elites to accept that “a complete breakup of the Russian imperial state was a more realistic goal than its democratisation and federalisation, and that for Ukraine the alternatives were, indeed, either independent statehood or national annihilation.”

In January 1918 in its Fourth Universal the Rada proclaimed full independence of Russia. However, this accelerated radicalisation of the Ukrainian national movement was not backed by the institutional and human resources necessary to turn proclamations into reality. In particular, the Ukrainian leaders, inexperienced and idealistic as they were, failed to appreciate the need for establishing state institutions and an army to defend its territory. This proved to have pivotal consequences as soon as Ukraine became a theatre of numerous military interventions.

Despite the fact that the Bolsheviks lacked popular support in Ukraine (their power base was limited to the Russian working class), they had a competitive advantage over the Rada thanks to their military, industrial, and organisational superiority. The Bolsheviks refused to recognise the “bourgeois-nationalist” UNR as a legitimate government of Ukraine and staged a war against the new Ukrainian state. In turn, the Central Powers (Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey) recognised the UNR and signed a separate peace treaty in Brest in February 1918. Under the pretext of assisting the UNR against the Bolsheviks, the Germans entered Ukraine in April 1918 and triggered the fall of the Rada on 30 April 1918 (on the very day when the Constitution of the UNR was debated).

Under German tutelage power was taken over by the conservative Hetmanate led by a descendant of a Cossack Hetman, General Pavlo Skoropadskyi, who was supported predominantly by Russified and Russian landowners. Having announced the creation of the “Ukrainian State” (Ukrainska Derzhava), he assumed the role of the Hetman. However, following the defeat of Germany and Austro–Hungary and Skoropadskyi’s decision to enter a federal treaty with (non-Bolshevik) Russia, the Hetmanate was overturned seven months later. The UNR was restored when a new Ukrainian government, the Directory (Dyrektoriat), emerged in November 1918 led by, among others, social-democrats Volodymyr Vynnychenko and Symon Petliura. Soon Petliura assumed the role of Chief Otaman of the republican army in order to lead a military struggle on several fronts. However, mass support for the UNR and revolutionary vigour of the peasantry had evaporated by early 1919, and anarchy and chaos swept Ukraine, with the Bolsheviks, Whites, Denikin, anarchist Makchno and the Ukrainian troops moving across and fighting on its territory.

In Western Ukraine, in November 1918, the collapse of Austro– Hungary prompted the creation of the Western Ukrainian People’s Republic (ZUNR), under the leadership of Yevhen Petrushevych. The ZUNR immediately clashed with Poles who voiced competing claims to Eastern Galicia, and the resulting war with Poland engulfed the larger part of the province. Apart from military actions against the ZUNR, the Polish army simultaneously fought the army of Petliura in Volynia. Thus, before the Directory’s troops were expelled from Kyiv by the Bolsheviks in January 1919, Ukrainian forces consolidated to fight the common enemies.

On 22 January 1919 unification of the UNR and the ZUNR was proclaimed in Kyiv in the “Act of Unity” (Akt Sobornosti). The concept of Sobornist’, which until then referred to the ecclesiastical unity of the Orthodox Church, came to denote the unification of all historical Ukrainian territories into one state. The enlarged Ukrainian state was to be a quasi-federal as Galicia was to maintain its autonomy as a Western Ukrainian Oblast of the UNR (ZOUNR). Yet the scope of this autonomy remained undefined, as actual unification never took place, because of the military struggle on the one hand, and the profound ideological and cultural rift between the revolutionary Dnieper elites and more conservative, legally-minded and nationalist Galician leaders, on the other.

The weakness of Ukrainian forces and their military defeats against the Bolsheviks prompted Petliura to enter an alliance with Poland at the cost of conceding Galicia. According to the Treaty of Warsaw in April 1920, the UNR renounced its authority over Eastern Galicia in favour of Poland in exchange for military help against the Bolsheviks, which by that time had instituted their government in Kharkiv. The treaty was interpreted as treason by Western Ukrainians, who, in retaliation broke off their alliance with Petliura. The joint Ukrainian–Polish forces failed to win their war with Bolshevik Russia, and the Treaty of Riga of 1921 between Poland, Russia and the Soviet Ukraine confirmed the division of Ukraine along the lines defined in the Treaty of Warsaw, which conceded Eastern Galicia and Volynia to Poland.

The bitter disillusionment with the failure to secure independence over 1917–1921 steered some sections of the Ukrainian elites towards an indigenous strand of integral nationalism, the leading ideologist of which was Dmytro Dontsov. It is beyond the scope of this section to debate the causes of the ultimate failure of a state building project. In general, this failure has been attributed to a lack of social basis and incompleteness of the sociological nation; a lack of experience, procrastination, indecisiveness and internal divisions amongst the revolutionary elites; and the ideology of the elites, and neglect of institution building coupled with a lack of international support.

Yet the UNR, the existence of which was punctuated by the regime of Hetman Skoropadskyi in 1918, represented not only the first consolidated effort to organise a Ukrainian state in the modern era, but also a particular framing of statehood, which was nurtured by the conjunction of particular historical, political, socioeconomic and cultural circumstances. In contrast to a centralised, autocratic tsarist regime, the UNR embodied aspirations to radical parliamentarism, decentralisation, and the pluralist conception of a political community. And the socio-economic plight of Ukrainian society shaped the socialist and social-democratic ideas on the state’s role in the socioeconomic transformation. However, the latter ideas were not shared by the Western Ukrainian elites, something that prevented the coming together of the elites from Galicia and Dnieper Ukraine to build a Soborna Ukraina.

The conceptions of statehood, embracing an institutional framework, territorial model and notion of the political community, which were put forward in the period of 1917–1921, will be analysed in more detail below. It will be shown that even if any particular institutional design is difficult to pin down because of disruptions, the overarching principles guiding the Ukrainian leaders can be asserted with some clarity. The principles, however, did not find much support when the renewed state building project was embarked on in 1991.

The Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, 1919-1991

Despite the unmitigated failure to set up an independent state in 1917– 1921, the endeavour advanced the cause of Ukrainian statehood; it compelled the Bolsheviks, who from 1919 onwards consolidated power in Ukraine, to recognise these aspirations. The strength of the centrifugal forces unleashed in the peripheries of the tsarist empire prompted the Bolsheviks to take on the federalist principle of Austro–Marxism; they first set up an “alliance” and then a “union of states,” which in addition to Russia included national republics created of former borderlands of the Russian empire. In order to accommodate the fledging national sentiments of non-Russians in the new state, amongst others Ukrainians were granted their own ethno-territorial homeland—a Soviet Socialist Republic—as:

[T]he embodiment of a compromise between Ukrainian nationalism and Russian centralism—of course not in the sense of a formal, negotiated agreement but rather of a de facto balancing of antagonistic social forces, neither of which was strong enough to assert itself completely.

After two unsuccessful attempts to gain control over Ukraine in 1918 and 1919, the third Soviet Ukrainian government was established in December 1919. The 1919 constitution passed by the Soviet Ukrainian government in Kharkiv guaranteed the sovereignty of Soviet Ukraine and the right to conduct an independent foreign policy. Although the 1920 Treaty between Soviet Ukraine and RSFSR established an economic and military union, and Ukraine surrendered some commissariats to RSFSR, it was still defined as a sovereign and independent republic with rights to maintain direct diplomatic relations with other states.

On the basis of the 1919 constitution, the Ukrainian SSR acted as a constitutive member of the Soviet Union in December 1922, when the treaty was signed by the representatives of the Russian, Belarussian, Transcaucasian and Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republics, as a result of which the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics came into being. Alongside many ethnic groups in the borderland of the tsarist empire, Ukrainians were endowed with all the nominal trappings of statehood but denied sovereignty.

The subsequent republican constitutions of 1926, 1937 and 1978 defined Ukraine as a “sovereign republic,” while the constitutions of the USSR declared that “every union republic shall retain the free right to secession from the USSR” (article 13 of the 1936 constitution and article 72 of the 1977 constitution of the USSR).

The republic was equipped with a complete set of legal and administrative institutions. Moreover, perpetuating the façade of independence, together with Belarus, Ukraine was also granted membership of the United Nations in 1945. Like all other republics, Ukrainian sovereignty was a constitutional figure of speech. The new constitutions of the UkrSSR of 1926, 1937 and 1978 were duly adopted after the passage of the Constitutions of the USSR (in 1924, 1936 and 1977),44 and all the constitutional texts were drafted under the instructions from the centre.

Moscow provided all Soviet republics with an almost identical template of administrative, economic and cultural institutions, such as ministries, academy of sciences, writers’ unions, etc. The republican sovereignty was circumvented by removing decision-making powers from the republican institutions and vesting them with the Communist Party of Ukraine, which constituted an integral part of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in accordance with the principle of democratic centralism. But quite apart from the omnipotent role of the Communist Party, the constitutional provisions explicitly asserted the supremacy of the Union centre over the republics.

Republican institutions, including the Supreme Council, were subordinated to All-Union institutions, which had authority to override the decisions of the republican institutions. The 1936 and 1977 constitutions of the USSR included a provision that ‘in the event of divergence between the laws of the union republics and a law of the Union, the Union law prevails’ (arts. 20 and 74, respectively), while the 1978 constitution of the UkrSSR asserted that ‘the economy of UkrSSR forms an integral part of one economic system, which encompasses all aspects of social production, distribution and exchange on the territory of the USSR’ (art.16). The constitutional subordination of Soviet Ukraine to the Union, and the monopolisation of decision-making process in the Party rendered Ukrainian sovereignty a constitutional fiction. Because of the largely nominal character of the constitutions of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, Sliusarenko and Tomenko, the editors of the post-Soviet compilation of Ukrainian constitutional acts, concluded

All four constitutions of the Soviet Ukraine were political documents and were drafted in the ideological departments of the Central Committee of the CPSU. Taking this into account, as well as Ukraine’s status of quasi-state these [Soviet] constitutional acts can be included in the category of the fundamental laws of the state only with great caution.

Nevertheless, even if the Ukrainian SSR can be defined as a pseudostate at best, it shaped the identity of independent Ukraine in institutional, territorial and national terms. While the Ukrainian Revolution lasted effectively for 4 years, Soviet rule in Ukraine spanned seven decades and left an enduring imprint on society and its political structures.

Territorial Changes and Administrative Division

The Soviet Union created a highly centralised model of statehood. Under Soviet rule, the bulk of ethnographic Ukrainian territories were unified for the first time within the boundaries of the Ukrainian SSR. The republic was initially made up of nine gubernias of the Russian empire: Kyiv, Podila, Volynia, Chernihiv, Poltava, Kharkiv, Katerynoslav, Kherson, Taurida, but without Crimea (that is the territory claimed by the UNR in the Third Universal of July 1917), and it also included some western districts of the Don Army province. In 1924 the Autonomous Socialist Republic of Moldova was created of several raions adjacent to the border with Romania, while some territorial adjustment in favour of the Russian SFSR were made in 1925.

In September 1939 Western Ukraine was annexed by the USSR, as a consequence of the Ribbentrop–Molotov pact, and on 1 November it was officially incorporated into the Ukrainian SSR.51 In 1940 Northern Bukovina and Southern Bessarabia became part of the UkrSSR, while the rest of Bessarabia formed the Moldovan SSR. In 1945 Transcarpathia (also known as Subcarpathia or the Carpathian Rus’) was conceded to Ukraine in a treaty with Czechoslovakia. As result of the 1939–1945 border changes the following oblasts were created: Lvivska, Volynska, Rivenska, IvanoFrankivska, Chernivetska, Ternopilska, Akermanska (Izmail), and Zakarpatska.52 The formation of present day Ukraine was completed with the transfer of the Crimean Oblast (which until 1945 was the Crimean Autonomous Socialist Republic) in 1954.

After 1954, the Ukrainian SSR consisted of 25 oblasts and 2 cities of republican subordination—Kyiv and Sevastopol. Oblasts were purely territorial–administrative units and did not correspond to historical regions. Oblasts were further divided into districts (raion), cities (which were further divided into raiony), and rural settlements.53 Each of those territorial units was represented in a soviet (rada). As pointed above, there was no conceptual distinction between local, territorial and central government as the Soviet Union adhered to the so-called state theory of self-government, and the local and territorial governing bodies formed an integrated part of the state apparatus. In contrast to the Western state tradition of self-government, the councils combined the functions of self-government with state powers, something that effectively denied their autonomy from the central authorities.

The Political Community

The Soviet regime in Ukraine constructed a complex, but essentially contradictory notion of the political community in attempt to reconcile class, ethnicity and territory as the markers of the political community in each republic. The four constitutions of the Soviet Ukraine (1919, 1926, 1937 and 1978) adhered to territory and class rather than ethnicity as the main criteria: “Ukraine (was) a state of all people, expressing the will and interests of the workers, peasants and intelligentsia: the working people of all nationalities of the Republic” (1978 Constitution of the UkrSSR).

At the same time, ethnicity was recognised as an important social category by the very formation of the UkrSSR, as Ukrainians were a titular nationality of a national–territorial administrative unit, after which that unit was named, and enjoyed some privileges conferred by the centre on titular majorities in the Soviet republics. Nationality was also institutionalised at a personal level as an ascriptive, legal category. It was fixed regardless of the place of residence, and, as such, acquired an extra-territorial, ethno-cultural dimension. Thus, as Brubaker argues the Soviet Union institutionalised two distinct models of nationhood: territorial/political and personal/ethnic.

While these categories were overlapping, they were never made fully congruent, as representatives of one nationality did not reside only in their ‘titular’ republics. The UkrSSR was not inhabited exclusively by Ukrainians, and Ukrainians lived in other Soviet republics. Yet the lack of congruence between the ethno-cultural and territorial models did not matter because of the largely symbolic nature of the republican, territorial boundaries. The constitutional fiction of sovereignty made Ukraine’s political community only nominally ‘national’ and fully submerged in the wider community of the Soviet People (Sovietskyi narod). However, once the republican boundaries acquired political significance, this dual conception of a political community could not be sustained and a choice had to be made. The question of what united and turned citizens of independent Ukraine into ‘the people’, and the related questions of attributes of the state, such as state language, symbols, minority rights, proved to be highly sensitive and contentious.


When new states emerge, their apparent newness tends to be underplayed by stressing the historical roots of a new polity; any preceding tradition of statehood, however short and circumstantial, is flagged up in order to boost the historical legitimacy of a new polity and dissipate an image of an artificial construct. Thus, the national past becomes a cognitive point of reference in the renewed process of state building and is often explicitly evoked (most tangibly in the Preamble of constitutions).

The predicament of Ukraine was that its different parts had different pasts. As it was variously ruled by other states, such as the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the tsarist Russia, the Habsburg empire, inter-war Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia, prior to 1954 Ukraine did not exist as a state within its current borders under a uniform set of institutions. Moreover, the indigenous tradition of Ukrainian statehood in the pre-communist period was multivocal as was seen by the Ukrainian People’s Republic, Skoropadskyi’s Hetmanate, and the Western Ukrainian People’s Republic. Their existence was cut short by the formation of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.

The UkrSSR was nominally conceived as a sovereign state, with a fully blown institutional edifice, yet it was a skeleton state with no life of its own and was animated by Moscow. And despite their temporal succession, the UkrSSR was cut off from the traditions of the UNR. Any historical continuity was denied and throughout Soviet rule, the UNR was depicted as a creation of the “Ukrainian bourgeois nationalists,” in spite of the socialist and social-democratic orientation of its leaders.

Also, in terms of institutional design and Marxist–Leninist ideology, Soviet rule spelled a marked departure from the parliamentary, decentralised, and pluralistic traditions of the UNR. Thus, the twentieth century developments were marred by the kind of discontinuity, which characterised Ukraine’s earlier history. With its multiple and disjointed pasts, there were multiple sources of cognitive reference for constitution-makers in post-Soviet Ukraine.

The demise of the USSR posed the question of the historical pedigree of the new state, and made any kind of restoration of pre-communist models in post-Soviet Ukraine onerous. Thus, Ukrainian state building, as reflected in the constitution making which started on the eve of independence, entailed the contest and reconciliation of alternative visions of an idealised political order, which were inspired by different interpretations of the Ukrainian pre-communist and communist past.

Kataryna Wolczuk is an associate fellow of Chatham House’s Russia and Eurasia programme and professor of East European Politics at the Centre for Russian, European and Eurasian Studies (CREES), University of Birmingham. A version of this appeared as a chapter in The Moulding of Ukraine: The Constitutional Politics of State Formation.

Featured: “Knight at the Crossroads,” by Viktor Mikhailovich Vasnetsov; painted in 1882.

Our Interview with Jacques Baud

In this penetrating interview, Jacques Baud delves into geopolitics to help us better understand what is actually taking place in the Ukraine, in that it is ultimately the larger struggle for global dominance, led by the United States, NATO and the political leaders of the West and against Russia.

As always, Colonel Baud brings to bear his well-informed analysis, which is unique for its depth and gravity. We are sure that you will find this conservation informative, insightful and crucial in connecting the dots.

The Postil (TP): We are so very pleased to have you join us for this conversation. Would you please tell us a little about yourself, about your background?

Jacques Baud (JB): Thank you for inviting me! As to my education, I have a master’s degree in Econometrics and postgraduate diplomas in International Relations and in International Security from the Graduate Institute for International relations in Geneva (Switzerland). I worked as strategic intelligence officer in the Swiss Department of Defense, and was in charge of the Warsaw Pact armed forces, including those deployed abroad (such as Afghanistan, Cuba, Angola, etc.) I attended intelligence training in the UK and in the US. Just after the end of the Cold War, I headed for a few years a unit in the Swiss Defense Research and Procurement Agency. During the Rwanda War, because of my military and intelligence background, I was sent to the Democratic Republic of Congo as security adviser to prevent ethnic cleansing in the Rwandan refugee camps.

During my time in the intelligence service, I was in touch with the Afghan resistance movement of Ahmed Shah Masood, and I wrote a small handbook to help Afghans in demining and neutralizing Soviet bomblets. In the mid-1990, the struggle against antipersonnel mines became a foreign policy priority of Switzerland. I proposed to create a center that would collect information about landmines and demining technologies for the UN. This led to the creation of the Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Demining in Geneva. I was later offered to head the Policy and Doctrine Unit of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations. After two years in New York, I went to Nairobi to perform a similar job for the African Union.

Jacques Baud, Darfour.

Then I was assigned to NATO to counter the proliferation of small arms. Switzerland is not a member of the Alliance, but this particular position had been negotiated as a Swiss contribution to the Partnership for Peace with NATO. In 2014, as the Ukraine crisis unfolded, I monitored the flow of small arms in the Donbass. Later, in the same year I was involved in a NATO program to assist the Ukrainian armed forces in restoring their capacities and improving personnel management, with the aim of restoring trust in them.

TP: You have written two insightful articles about the current conflict in the Ukraine, which we had the great privilege to translate and publish (here and here). Was there a particular event or an instance which led you to formulate this much-needed perspective?

JB: As a strategic intelligence officer, I always advocated providing to the political or military decision-makers the most accurate and the most objective intelligence. This is the kind of job where you need to keep you prejudice and your feelings to yourself, in order to come up with an intelligence that reflects as much as possible the reality on the ground rather than your own emotions or beliefs. I also assume that in a modern democratic State decision must be fact-based. This is the difference with autocratic political systems where decision-making is ideology-based (such as in the Marxist States) or religion-based (such as in the French pre-revolutionary monarchy).

Jacques Baud with the New Sudan Brigade.

Thanks to my various assignments, I was able to have an insider view in most recent conflicts (such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Syria and, of course, Ukraine). The main common aspect between all these conflicts is that we tend to have a totally distorted understanding of them. We do not understand our enemies, their rationale, their way of thinking and their real objectives. Hence, we are not even able to articulate sound strategies to fight them. This is especially true with Russia. Most people, including the top brass, tend to confuse “Russia” and “USSR.” As I was in NATO, I could hardly find someone who could explain what Russia’s vision of the world is or even its political doctrine. Lot of people think Vladimir Putin is a communist. We like to call him a “dictator,” but we have a hard time to explain what we mean by that. As examples, people come up invariably with the assassination of such and such journalist or former FSB or GRU agents, although evidence is extremely debatable. In other words, even if it is true, we are not able to articulate exactly the nature of the problem. As a result, we tend to portray the enemy as we wished him to be, rather than as he actually is. This is the ultimate recipe for failure. This explains why, after five years spent within NATO, I am more concerned about Western strategic and military capabilities than before.

Jacques Baud.

In 2014, during the Maidan revolution in Kiev, I was in NATO in Brussels. I noticed that people didn’t assess the situation as it was, but as they wished it would be. This is exactly what Sun Tzu describes as the first step towards failure. In fact, it appeared clear to me that nobody in NATO had the slightest interest in Ukraine. The main goal was to destabilize Russia.

TP: How do you perceive Volodymyr Zelensky? Who is he, really? What is his role in this conflict? It seems he wants to have a “forever war,” since he must know he cannot win? Why does he want to prolong this conflict?

JB: Volodymyr Zelensky was elected on the promise he would make peace with Russia, which I think is a noble objective. The problem is that no Western country, nor the European Union managed to help him realize this objective. After the Maidan revolution, the emerging force in the political landscape was the far-right movement. I do not like to call it “neo-Nazi” because “Nazism” was a clearly defined political doctrine, while in Ukraine, we are talking about a variety of movements that combine all the features of Nazism (such as antisemitism, extreme nationalism, violence, etc.), without being unified into a single doctrine. They are more like a gathering of fanatics.

After 2014, Ukrainian armed forces’ command & control was extremely poor and was the cause of their inability to handle the rebellion in Donbass. Suicide, alcohol incidents, and murder surged, pushing young soldiers to defect. Even the British government noted that young male individuals preferred to emigrate rather than to join the armed forces. As a result, Ukraine started to recruit volunteers to enforce Kiev’s authority in the Russian speaking part of the country. These volunteers ere (and still are) recruited among European far-right extremists. According to Reuters, their number amounts to 102,000. They have become a sizeable and influential political force in the country.

The problem here is that these far-right fanatics threatened to kill Zelensky were he to try to make peace with Russia. As a result, Zelensky found himself sitting between his promises and the violent opposition of an increasingly powerful far-right movement. In May 2019, on the Ukrainian media Obozrevatel, Dmytro Yarosh, head of the “Pravy Sektor” militia and adviser to the Army Commander in Chief, openly threatened Zelensky with death, if he came to an agreement with Russia. In other words, Zelensky appears to be blackmailed by forces he is probably not in full control of.

In October 2021, the Jerusalem Post published a disturbing report on the training of Ukrainian far-right militias by American, British, French and Canadian armed forces. The problem is that the “collective West” tends to turn a blind eye to these incestuous and perverse relationships in order to achieve its own geopolitical goals. It is supported by unscrupulous far-right biased medias against Israel, which tend to approve the criminal behavior of these militias. This situation has repeatedly raised Israel’s concerns. This explains why Zelensky’s demands to the Israeli parliament in March 2022 were not well received and have not been successful.

So, despite his probable willingness to achieve a political settlement for the crisis with Russia, Zelensky is not allowed to do so. Just after he indicated his readiness to talk with Russia, on 25 February, the European Union decided two days later to provide €450M in arms to Ukraine. The same happened in March. As soon as Zelensky indicated he wanted to have talks with Vladimir Putin on 21 March, the European Union decided to double its military aid to €1 billion on 23 March. End of March, Zelensky made an interesting offer that was retracted shortly after.

Apparently, Zelensky is trying to navigate between Western pressure and his far right on the one hand and his concern to find a solution on the other, and is forced into a ” back-and-forth,” which discourages the Russian negotiators.

In fact, I think Zelensky is in an extreme uncomfortable position, which reminds me of Soviet Marshal Konstantin Rokossovsky’s during WWII. Rokossovsky had been imprisoned in 1937 for treason and sentenced to death by Stalin. In 1941, he got out of prison on Stalin’s orders and was given a command. He was eventually promoted to Marshall of the Soviet Union in 1944, but his death sentence was not lifted until 1956.

Today, Zelensky must lead his country under the sword of Damocles, with the blessing of Western politicians and unethical media. His lack of political experience made him an easy prey for those who were trying to exploit Ukraine against Russia, and in the hands of extreme right-wing movements. As he acknowledges in an interview with CNN, he was obviously lured into believing that Ukraine would enter NATO more easily after an open conflict with Russia, as Oleksey Arestovich, his adviser, confirmed in 2019.

TP: What do you think will be the fate of the Ukraine? Will it be like all the other experiments in “spreading democracy” (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, etc.)? Or is Ukraine a special case?

JB: I have definitely no crystal ball… At this stage, we can only guess what Vladimir Putin wants. He probably wants to achieve two main goals. The first one is to secure the situation of the Russian-speaking minority in Ukraine. How, remains an open question. Does he want to re-create the “Novorossiya” that tried to emerge from the 2014 unrests? This “entity” that never really existed, and it consisted of the short-lived Republics of Odessa, Donetsk, Dnepropetrovsk, Kharkov and Lugansk, of which only the Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk “survived.” The autonomy referendum planned for early May in the city of Kherson might be an indication for this option. Another option would be to negotiate an autonomous status for these areas, and to return them to Ukraine in exchange of its neutrality.
The second goal is to have a neutral Ukraine (some will say a “Finlandized Ukraine”). That is—without NATO. It could be some kind of Swiss “armed neutrality.” As you know, in the early 19th century, Switzerland had a neutral status imposed on it by the European powers, as well as the obligation to prevent any misuse of its territory against one of these powers. This explains the strong military tradition we have in Switzerland and the main rationale for its armed forces today. Something similar could probably be considered for Ukraine.

An internationally recognized neutral status would grant Ukraine a high degree of security. This status prevented Switzerland from being attacked during the two world wars. The often-mentioned example of Belgium is misleading, because during both world wars, its neutrality was declared unilaterally and was not recognized by the belligerents. In the case of Ukraine, it would have its own armed forces, but would be free from any foreign military presence: neither NATO, nor Russia. This is just my guess, and I have no clue about how this could be feasible and accepted in the current polarized international climate.

I am not sure about the so-called “color-revolutions” aim at spreading democracy. My take is that it is just a way to weaponize human rights, the rule of law or democracy in order to achieve geo-strategic objectives. In fact, this was clearly spelled out in a memo to Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump’s Secretary of State, in 2017. Ukraine is a case in point. After 2014, despite Western influence, it has never been a democracy: corruption soared between 2014 and 2020; in 2021, it banned opposition media and jailed the leader of the main parliamentary opposition party. As some international organizations have reported, torture is a common practice, and opposition leaders as well as journalists are chased by the Ukrainian Security Service.

TP: Why is the West only interested in drawing a simplistic image of the Ukraine conflict? That of “good guys” and the “bad guys?” Is the Western public really now that dumbed down?

JB: I think this is inherent to any conflict. Each side tends to portray itself as the “good guy.” This is obviously the main reason.

Besides this, other factors come into play. First, most people, including politicians and journalists, still confuse Russia and the USSR. For instance, they don’t understand why the communist party is the main opposition party in Russia.

Second, since 2007, Putin was systematically demonized in the West. Whether or not he is a “dictator” Is a matter of discussion; but it is worth noting that his approval rate in Russia never fell below 59 % in the last 20 years. I take my figures from the Levada Center, which is labeled as “foreign agent” in Russia, and hence doesn’t reflect the Kremlin’s views. It is also interesting to see that in France, some of the most influential so-called “experts” on Russia are in fact working for the British MI-6’s “Integrity Initiative.”

Third, in the West, there is a sense that you can do whatever you want if it is in the name of western values. This is why the Russian offensive in Ukraine is passionately sanctioned, while FUKUS (France, UK, US) wars get strong political support, even if they are notoriously based on lies. “Do what I say, not what I do!” One could ask what makes the conflict in Ukraine worse than other wars. In fact, each new sanction we apply to Russia highlights the sanctions we haven’t applied earlier to the US, the UK or France.

The purpose of this incredible polarization is to prevent any dialogue or negotiation with Russia. We are back to what happened in 1914, just before the start of WWI…

TP: What will Russia gain or lose with this involvement in the Ukraine (which is likely to be long-term)? Russia is facing a conflict on “two fronts,” it would seem: a military one and an economic one (with the endless sanctions and “canceling” of Russia).

JB: With the end of the Cold War, Russia expected being able to develop closer relations with its Western neighbors. It even considered joining NATO. But the US resisted every attempt of rapprochement. NATO structure does not allow for the coexistence of two nuclear superpowers. The US wanted to keep its supremacy.

Since 2002, the quality of the relations with Russia decayed slowly, but steadily. It reached a first negative “peak” in 2014 after the Maidan coup. The sanctions have become US and EU primary foreign policy tool. The Western narrative of a Russian intervention in Ukraine got traction, although it was never substantiated. Since 2014, I haven’t met any intelligence professional who could confirm any Russian military presence in the Donbass. In fact, Crimea became the main “evidence” of Russian “intervention.” Of course, Western historians ignore superbly that Crimea was separated from Ukraine by referendum in January 1991, six months before Ukrainian independence and under Soviet rule. In fact, it’s Ukraine that illegally annexed Crimea in 1995. Yet, western countries sanctioned Russia for that…

Since 2014 sanctions severely affected east-west relations. After the signature of the Minsk Agreements in September 2014 and February 2015, the West—namely France, Germany as guarantors for Ukraine, and the US—made no effort whatsoever to make Kiev comply, despite repeated requests from Moscow.

Russia’s perception is that whatever it will do, it will face an irrational response from the West. This is why, in February 2022, Vladimir Putin realized he would gain nothing in doing nothing. If you take into account his mounting approval rate in the country, the resilience of the Russian economy after the sanctions, the loss of trust in the US dollar, the threatening inflation in the West, the consolidation of the Moscow-Beijing axis with the support of India (which the US has failed to keep in the “Quad”), Putin’s calculation was unfortunately not wrong.

Regardless of what Russia does, US and western strategy is to weaken it. From that point on, Russia has no real stake in its relations with us. Again, the US objective is not to have a “better” Ukraine or a “better” Russia, but a weaker Russia. But it also shows that the United States is not able to rise higher than Russia and that the only way to overcome it is to weaken it. This should ring an alarm bell in our countries…

TP: You have written a very interesting book on Putin. Please tell us a little about it.

JB: In fact, I started my book in October 2021, after a show on French state TV about Vladimir Putin. I am definitely not an admirer of Vladimir Putin, nor of any Western leader, by the way. But the so-called experts had so little understanding of Russia, international security and even of simple plain facts, that I decided to write a book. Later, as the situation around Ukraine developed, I adjusted my approach to cover this mounting conflict.
The idea was definitely not to relay Russian propaganda. In fact, my book is based exclusively on western sources, official reports, declassified intelligence reports, Ukrainian official medias, and reports provided by the Russian opposition. The approach was to demonstrate that we can have a sound and factual alternative understanding of the situation just with accessible information and without relying on what we call “Russian propaganda.”

The underlying thinking is that we can only achieve peace if we have a more balanced view of the situation. To achieve this, we have to go back to the facts. Now, these facts exist and are abundantly available and accessible. The problem is that some individuals make every effort to prevent this and tend to hide the facts that disturb them. This is exemplified by some so-called journalist who dubbed me “The spy who loved Putin!” This is the kind of “journalists” who live from stirring tensions and extremism. All figures and data provided by our media about the conflict come from Ukraine, and those coming from Russia are automatically dismissed as propaganda. My view is that both are propaganda. But as soon as you come up with western data that do not fit into the mainstream narrative, you have extremists claiming you “love Putin.”

Our media are so worried about finding rationality in Putin’s actions that they turn a blind eye to the crimes committed by Ukraine, thus generating a feeling of impunity for which Ukrainians are paying the price. This is the case of the attack on civilians by a missile in Kramatorsk—we no longer talk about it because the responsibility of Ukraine is very likely, but this means that the Ukrainians could do it again with impunity.

On the contrary, my book aims at reducing the current hysteria that prevent any political solution. I do not want to deny the Ukrainians the right to resist the invasion with arms. If I were Ukrainian, I would probably take the arms to defend my land. The issue here is that it must be their decision. The role of the international community should not be to add fuel to the fire by supplying arms but to promote a negotiated solution.

To move in this direction, we must make the conflict dispassionate and bring it back into the realm of rationality. In any conflict the problems come from both sides; but here, strangely, our media show us that they all come from one side only. This is obviously not true; and, in the end, it is the Ukrainian people who pay the price of our policy against Vladimir Putin.

TP: Why is Putin hated so much by the Western elite?

JB: Putin became Western elite’s “bête noire” in 2007 with his famous speech in Munich. Until then, Russia had only moderately reacted to NATO expansion. But as the US withdrew from the ABM Treaty in 2002 and started negotiations with some East European countries to deploy anti-ballistic missiles, Russia felt the heat and Putin virulently criticized the US and NATO.

This was the start of a relentless effort to demonize Vladimir Putin and to weaken Russia. The problem was definitely not human rights or democracy, but the fact that Putin dared to challenge the western approach. The Russians have in common with the Swiss the fact that they are very legalistic. They try to strictly follow the rules of international law. They tend to follow “law-based International order.” Of course, this is not the image we have, because we are used to hiding certain facts. Crimea is a case in point.

In the West, since the early 2000s, the US has started to impose a “rules-based international order.” As an example, although the US officially recognizes that there is only one China and that Taiwan is only a part of it, it maintains a military presence on the island and supplies weapons. Imagine if China would supply weapons to Hawaii (which was illegally annexed in the 19th century)!

What the West is promoting is an international order based on the “law of the strongest.” As long as the US was the sole superpower, everything was fine. But as soon as China and Russia started to emerge as world powers, the US tried to contain them. This is exactly what Joe Biden said in March 2021, shortly after taking office: “The rest of the world is closing in and closing in fast. We can’t allow this to continue.”

As Henry Kissinger said in the Washington Post: “For the West, the demonization of Vladimir Putin is not a policy; it is an alibi for the absence of one.” This is why I felt we need to have a more factual approach to this conflict.

TP: Do you know who was involved and when it was decided by the US and NATO that regime change in Russia was a primary geopolitical objective?

JB: I think everything started in the early 2000s. I am not sure the objective was a regime change in Moscow, but it was certainly to contain Russia. This is what we have witnessed since then. The 2014 events in Kiev have boosted US efforts.

These were clearly defined in 2019, in two publications of the RAND Corporation [James Dobbins, Raphael S. Cohen, Nathan Chandler, Bryan Frederick, Edward Geist, Paul DeLuca, Forrest E. Morgan, Howard J. Shatz, Brent Williams, “Extending Russia : Competing from Advantageous Ground,” RAND Corporation, 2019; James Dobbins & al., “Overextending and Unbalancing Russia,” RAND Corporation, (Doc Nr. RB-10014-A), 2019]. .This has nothing to do with the rule of law, democracy or human rights, but only with maintaining US supremacy in the world. In other words, nobody cares about Ukraine. This is why the international community (that is, Western countries) make every effort to prolong the conflict.

Since 2014, this is exactly what happened. Everything the West did was to fulfill US strategic objectives.

TP: In this regard, you have also written another interesting book, on Alexei Navalny. Please tell us about what you have found out about Navalny.

JB: What disturbed me about the Navalny case was the haste with which Western governments condemned Russia and applied sanctions, even before knowing the results of an impartial investigation. So, my point in the book is not “to tell truth,” because we do not know exactly what the truth is, even if we have consistent indications that the official narrative is wrong.
The interesting aspect is that the German doctors in the Charité Hospital in Berlin, were not able to identify any nerve agent in Navalny’s body. Surprisingly, they published their findings in the respected medical review The Lancet, showing that Navalny probably experienced a bad combination of medicine and other substances.

The Swedish military lab that analyzed Navalny’s blood—redacted the name of the substance they discovered, which is odd since everybody expected “Novichok” to be mentioned.

The bottom line is that we don’t know exactly what happened, but the nature of the symptoms, the reports of the German doctors, the answers provided by the German government to the Parliament, and the puzzling Swedish document tend to exclude a criminal poisoning, and therefore, a fortiori, poisoning by the Russian government.

The main point of my book is that international relations cannot be “Twitter-driven.” We need to use appropriately our intelligence resources, not as a propaganda instrument, as we tend to do these days, but as an instrument for smart and fact-based decision-making.

TP: You have much experience within NATO. What do you think is the primary role of NATO now?

JB: This is an essential question. In fact, NATO hasn’t really evolved since the end of the Cold War. This is interesting because in 1969, there was the “Harmel Report” that was ahead of its time and could be the fundament of a new definition of NATO’s role. Instead, NATO tried to find new missions, such as in Afghanistan, for which the Alliance was not prepared, neither intellectually, nor doctrinally, nor from a strategic point of view.

Having a collective defense system in Europe is necessary, but the nuclear dimension of NATO tends to restrict its ability to engage a conventional conflict with a nuclear power. This is the problem we are witnessing in Ukraine. This is why Russia strives having a “glacis” between NATO and its territory. This would probably not prevent conflicts but would help keep them as long as possible in a conventional phase. This is why I think a non-nuclear European defense organization would be a good solution.

TP: Do you think that NATO’s proxy war with Russia serves to placate internal EU tensions, between conservative Central/Eastern Europe and the more progressive West?

JB: Some will certainly see it that way, but I think this is only a by-product of the US strategy to isolate Russia.

TP: Can you say something about how Turkey has positioned itself, between NATO and Russia?

JB: I have worked quite extensively with Turkey as I was in NATO. I think Turkey is a very committed member of the Alliance. What we tend to forget is that Turkey is at the crossroads between the “Christian World” and the “Islamic World;” it sits between two civilizations and in a key region of the Mediterranean zone. It has its own regional stakes.

The conflicts waged by the West in the Middle East significantly impacted Turkey, by promoting Islamism and stimulating tensions, in particular with the Kurds. Turkey has always tried to maintain a balance between its desire for Western-style modernization and the very strong traditionalist tendencies of its population. Turkey’s opposition to the Iraq War due to domestic security concerns was totally ignored and dismissed by the US and its NATO Allies.

Interestingly, when Zelensky sought a country to mediate the conflict, he turned to China, Israel and Turkey, but didn’t address any EU country.

TP: If you were to predict, what do you think the geopolitical situation of Europe and the world will look like 25 years from now?

JB: Who would have predicted the fall of the Berlin Wall? The day it happened, I was in the office of a National Security Adviser in Washington DC, but he had no clue about the importance of the event!

I think the decay of US hegemony will be the main feature of the next decades. At the same time, we will see a fast-growing importance of Asia led by China and India. But I am not sure Asia will “replace” the US strictly speaking. While US worldwide hegemony was driven by its military-industrial complex, Asia’s dominance will be in the research and technology area.

The loss of confidence in the US dollar may have significant impact on the US economy at large. I don’t want to speculate on future developments in the West, but a significant deterioration could lead the United States to engage in more conflicts around the world. This is something that we are seeing today, but it could become more important.

TP: What advice would you give people trying to get a clearer picture of what is really driving competing regional/national and global interests?

JB: I think the situation is slightly different in Europe than in North America.

In Europe, the lack of quality alternative media and real investigative journalism makes it difficult to find balanced information. The situation is different in North America where alternative journalism is more developed and constitutes an indispensable analytical tool. In the United States, the intelligence community is more present in the media than in Europe.

I probably could not have written my book based only on the European media. At the end of the day, the advice I would give is a fundamental one of intelligence work:

Be curious!

TP: Thank you so very much for your time—and for all your great work.

Featured image: Detail from the “Siege of Sevastopol,” by Franz Roubaud; painted 1902-1904.

Do Russians like Putin?

The following data is provided by the Levada Center, an independent Russian organization that is anything but “Putinist.” It is so little so that it is even included in the list of independent analysis centers in Europe, published by Freedom House.

The data from these polls represents yet another confirmation that the West’s political and military strategy against Russia (a strategy that even penalizes Russian writers, artists and sportsmen) is not only leading to a barbarization of the political and social life of the West itself, but is also acting as a kind of terrible political and economic boomerang—it produces the opposite effects of what is desired by the promoters of such a strategy.

These are the results of the March 2022 Levada Center polls:

  • Compared to February, the President’s approval rating rose from 71% to 83%. The approval for his government rose from 55% to 70%. The Prime Minister’s rose from 60% to 71%. United Russia’s [Putin’s political party] rose from 39% to 54%.
  • 69% of Russians (52% in February) think the country is heading in the right direction, while those who think otherwise have dropped from 38% to 22%.
  • After Putin (44% trust-rate), the most popular politicians (at 15%) are Sergei Shoigu, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Mikhail Mishustin and Sergey Lavrov.
  • 64% of Russians (43% of young people) follow the Ukrainian conflict with interest.
  • 81% (71% of young people) support the military operation; 14% are against it.
  • Specifically, 89% of those who approve of Putin’s policies are in favor of the military operation, while 32% among them disapprove of it.
  • Those who disapprove are either against war and killing civilians (43%), or interfering in another state (19%).
  • Those who approve of the military operation support the need to protect the population of the Donbass (43%), the need to prevent attacks on Russia (25%), the need to denazify Ukraine (21%), the need to discourage NATO (14%).
  • The dominant feelings are national pride (51%), fear (31%), shock (12%). Among young people fear, depression and shock prevail.
  • Condemnation of the war by other countries is explained by obedience to the United States (36%), misinformation in the Western media (29%), prejudice against Russia (27%), violation of international law by Russia (16%), fear of a Russian invasion (15%), and outrage at Russian actions (12%). Among young people, the last three options prevail.
  • 53% of Russians (40% of Muscovites) are not worried about sanctions.
  • 69% do not feel any problems because of the sanctions.
  • 58% (72% of young people, 80% of those on Telegram) have heard about the anti-war protests, but 32% believe that the protesters are paid.

This analysis appears courtesy of El Manifesto.

Ukraine: Air Warfare and Air Defense in High-Density Conflict

On February 24, the Russian armed forces launched a lightning offensive on Ukraine. This attack was preceded by a bombardment carried out by cruise missiles, including 3M14E Kalibr, KH-555 and KH-101, 9M728 Iskander-K semi-ballistic missiles and KH-31P anti-radar missiles. These missiles targeted Ukrainian air bases, ground/air defense sites, air surveillance radar sites and command posts. Barely 4 hours later, Russian ground forces crossed the Ukrainian border while a particularly daring and risky helicopter assault was launched against the Hostomel airport.

Several hundred missiles were launched during these first hours, destroying on the ground a good part of the Ukrainian fighter force—which had been spread over several bases—the main long-range ground/air defense sites made up of S-300 systems, as well as a good number of air surveillance radars. If this first phase strongly resembled the operations carried out by Western forces, the rest was radically different.

Partial and Short-Lived Air Superiority

An offensive preceded by the firing of cruise missiles and anti-radar missiles to eliminate strategic sites and ground/air defenses is not original in itself. It is the prerequisite for all military operations. However, completely neutralizing a ground/air defense and all enemy combat aircraft is generally a long-term operation, lasting from several days to several weeks. And even then, this work is almost never completely finished. During the Kosovo war, despite 58,574 air missions over 78 days—including 4,397 missions to suppress enemy air defenses—neither Serbian fighter aircraft nor ground/air defense were completely neutralized. However, the Serbian ground/air defense and its air force had nothing to compare with what Ukraine can offer, which is much better equipped, both in quantity and quality, not to mention the size of the country.

This first phase of the Russian attack was nevertheless likely to neutralize for a few hours the bulk of the enemy’s fighter and ground/air defense; but it was very far from being able to neutralize all the available means.

The Ukrainian fighter aircraft seem to have been hit hard during this first phase; the number of flights remained relatively low afterwards, which seems to indicate that there were few aircraft left able to take to the air. It is unclear whether the Ukrainian aircraft that continued to fly were operating from their air bases or from secondary runways or routes. In the latter case, the ability to operate the aircraft must have decreased rapidly, as it is very complicated to maintain and refuel sophisticated aircraft, such as combat aircraft outside their support infrastructure. Apart from the losses suffered in combat, this could also explain the slow but gradual disappearance of Ukrainian fighter aircraft from the sky.

The Ukrainian ground/air defense has proven to be much more difficult to neutralize. Not only were not all Ukrainian S-300 systems deployed on the ground—so that a number of the 20 or so S-300 systems in the field were in reserve—but all short- and medium-range systems were generally protected from strikes. In fact, the Ukrainian ground/air defense could still count on a few S-300 batteries and also on several hundred short- and medium-range systems (2K12 KUB (SA-6), 9K37 BUK (SA-11), 9K30 TOR-M1 (SA-15), 9K33M2 Osa-AK (SA-8), 9K35 STRELA-10 (SA-13), and hundreds of MANPADS (SA-7, SA-14, SA-16 and SA-18). Nevertheless, it seems that the air surveillance radar network was durably affected, at least on the eastern part of the country; which means that Ukraine probably did not have a complete air situation anymore. Without this, it is much more difficult to set up a structured anti-aircraft defense. Each weapon system also becomes more vulnerable because it must operate its own surveillance radar and thus reveal its presence, instead of taking advantage of a remote air situation that allows the system to be activated only when a target is in range.

Nevertheless, this partial neutralization and of short duration (a few hours), appeared sufficient for the blitzkrieg hoped for by the Russians. But the failure of the helicopter operation on the Hostomel airport greatly complicated the continuation of the operations.

Russia Facing Ukrainian Ground/Air Defense

As the numerous images broadcast on the internet show, the Ukrainian ground/air defense remains active and is capable of shooting down planes, helicopters and even cruise missiles.

Having engaged its ground forces very quickly without having air superiority, the Russian army found itself very exposed. As a result, Russian helicopters and attack aircraft were forced to take on ground support for the troops, despite the threats, hence the losses suffered. The weather conditions—low ceiling, fog—also hampered air operations. All this may also explain the relative discretion of Russian fighter aircraft during the first days of the conflict.

The lack of guided ammunition also forced the Russian fighter aircraft to operate at low altitude. It should be remembered that a guided munition costs between 100 and 600 times more than an unguided one, and that the Russians have favored the development of bombing calculators, such as the SVP-24 or GeFest-24, which allows for an CEP (circular error probable) of around 5 meters for a maximum release altitude of 5,000 meters. This is certainly much less precise than a guided bomb, but it is undoubtedly sufficient in the majority of cases for a much lower cost. The other advantage is that the stocks of smooth bombs are very large and easy to replenish, contrary to guidance kits which take a long time to produce; but this means that the planes are more exposed to ground/air systems.

After a period of uncertainty during the first two weeks, SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) missions seem to have been implemented more systematically in order to progressively reduce the most dangerous systems. Recurrent images of SU-30 aircraft equipped with KH-31P anti-radar missiles have been posted on the internet and the use of E95M target drones to attack Ukrainian anti-aircraft defenses is also attested. There have also been reports of the transformation of old AN-2 biplanes into drones to play the same role, but their use has not yet been confirmed. The deployment of electronic warfare aircraft has also been noted in Belarus, suggesting that jamming actions against weapons systems will be implemented.

Nevertheless, given the number of ground/air systems in the Ukrainian arsenal and the many very short-range missiles delivered by the West, Russian aircraft are not in a position to operate without any threat on Ukrainian territory, especially for those operating closest to the ground, such as helicopters or SU-25 and SU-34 attack aircraft. Unless such aircraft are not used, attrition will remain inevitable.

Russian Ground/Air Defense

Russia does not seem to have modified its defensive system; only two or three S-400s seem to have been deployed on Belarusian territory and, a priori, one in the north of Donbass; but none on Ukrainian soil. The ground/air defense around Moscow, Saint Petersburg, the Kaliningrad enclave, Crimea, the Murmansk region and the Russian Far East continues to hold the bulk of the S-400 systems. The rest of the country is still mostly protected by S-300P systems, whose replacement by S-350s is just beginning. This may explain why the OTR-21 Tochkaukrainian missiles launched at the Russian air bases of Tarantog and Millerovo were able to get through, knowing that the former had, for any protection, only an old S-300P located 50 km to the east, which was incapable of handling a ballistic missile, and the latter had no ground/air system within 200 km. The missiles could therefore not be intercepted. Although Russia has one of the densest air defense networks in the world, total anti-aircraft protection is impossible, given the vastness of the territory. Only the most strategic sites are systematically protected. This explains why two Ukrainian Mi-24 helicopters were able to carry out a raid on Belgorod, a city with no strategic installations and therefore no particular means of protection. Air defense is not a kind of magic that can create an invisible shield to protect a territory.

With regard to the invading forces, anti-aircraft cover was provided but in a very incomplete manner. As plethoric as the Russian anti-aircraft arsenal is, it is not sufficient to ensure the protection of all deployed forces. Ground/air systems, such as the Tor-M1, the 2K22M1 Tunguska and the old 9K35 Strela-10 and OSA have been supplemented by systems normally used for static protection, such as the Pantsir-S2, but in insufficient numbers to be able to provide protection for all the armored and supply columns.

Another problem is that Russia is now facing an air threat from drones, such as the TB-2, or the locally built Punisher. These relatively small and slow drones are particularly difficult for ground/air systems to detect while in motion. To be effective, the radars must be in a static position. Indeed, the speed of the vehicle and the movements accompanying it considerably hinder the detection of relatively slow targets because they are drowned in the Doppler speeds of the moving environment. These systems were designed to detect aircraft, missiles or helicopters, moving at much higher speeds and not likely to blend in with the environment. Empirically, we can consider that a drone moving at less than 200 km/h will be very difficult to detect by a moving radar. It should be considered that this problem will be aggravated by the arrival of suicide drones that the Americans are planning to deliver to Ukraine.

Russia has also deployed medium-range ground/air systems, such as the BUK-M1-2, whose interception capabilities are more extensive, with even an anti-ballistic missile capability up to 20 km.

All these anti-aircraft systems, far from having been demerited, have been able to shoot down Ukrainian aircraft and TB-2 drones—at the end of March, 35 of the 36 TB-2s delivered would have been shot down (information to be confirmed) when they were in a position to do so, i.e., in operation and in a fixed position. However, the enormous logistical problems encountered by the Russian army, particularly in terms of refueling, meant that a good number of these ground/air systems were “dry,” which meant that they were mechanically inactive due to a lack of electrical power; hence the number of pieces of equipment abandoned on site. Under these conditions, the Ukrainians were able to widely broadcast images of TB-2 drones destroying ground/air systems, which does not mean, however, that they had defeated them.

The other deficit of the Russian army is in the area of air surveillance. While the Russian territory is dotted with numerous air surveillance radars interconnected with anti-aircraft defense, this is not the case in Ukraine, where ground/air systems are generally isolated, which greatly reduces their overall effectiveness, as they are unable to function as a network and do not benefit from depth in surveillance. It would appear that at least two A-50 radar aircraft have been deployed to Belarus to compensate for this lack.


This is the first time since the Second World War that we are witnessing a high-intensity war in the third dimension in Europe, bringing into direct confrontation two armies with a set of first-rate capabilities (air force, dense and relatively modern ground/air defense, drones) and a more or less similar technological level. Three lessons can already be drawn from this conflict:

  1. Faced with a country richly endowed with ground/air systems, it is impossible to completely eliminate the threat. This means that aircraft flying over the protected territory must accept risks, and therefore inevitably suffer losses. Even old systems remain a threat that should not be neglected;
  2. in addition to missiles, the appearance of drones on the battlefield maintains a permanent air threat, practically impossible to suppress, which requires a respectable number of anti-aircraft/anti-drone systems capable of protecting ground forces, notably armored formations and logistical convoys which are particularly vulnerable;
  3. High-intensity warfare requires a very high consumption of ammunition, which implies that the use of guided ammunition, which is in limited supply due to its price, will be reduced over time. As the rate of industrial production is incompatible with the level of consumption, the air forces will have to rapidly accept the use of unguided munitions (much easier and quicker to produce) and therefore to operate at lower altitudes, i.e., within the firing volume of practically all ground/air systems.

Unlike all Western military operations conducted over the past several decades, where air dominance has always been achieved, a high-intensity war will require aircraft to operate in a constantly contested and threatening space. Losses will be inevitable, and therefore sufficient equipment must be available to deal with attrition. This only serves to remind us of what the relative operational comfort of the last few decades has made us forget—that any military equipment that is supposed to go into combat must be considered “expendable,” if not consumable.

Olivier Dujardin is associate researcher at Centre Français de Recherche sur le Renseignement, and his expertise includes intelligence, technology, weapons, electronic warfare, radar signal processing and weapons systems analysis. We are deeply grateful to Centre Français de Recherche sur le Renseignement for their kind generosity. Translated from the French by N. Dass.

Featured image: The MiG-29S.

The Military Situation in the Ukraine—An Update

The Operational Situation

As of March 25, 2022, our analysis of the situation confirms the observations and conclusions made in mid-March.

The offensive launched on February 24 is articulated in two lines of effort, in accordance with Russian operational doctrine:

1) A main effort directed toward the south of the country, in the Donbass region, and along the Azov Sea coast. As the doctrine states, the main objectives are—the neutralization of the Ukrainian armed forces (the objective of “demilitarization”), and the neutralization of ultra-nationalist, paramilitary militias in the cities of Kharkov and Mariupol (the objective of “denazification“). This primary push is being led by a coalition of forces: through Kharkov and Crimea are Russian forces from the Southern Military District; in the center are militia forces from the Donetsk and Lugansk republics; the Chechen National Guard is contributing with engagement in the urban area of Mariupol;

2) A secondary effort on Kiev, aimed at “pinning down” Ukrainian (and Western) forces, so as to prevent them from carrying out operations against the main thrust or even taking Russian coalition forces from the rear.

This offensive follows, to the letter, the objectives defined by Vladimir Putin on February 24. But, listening only to their own bias, Western “experts” and politicians have gotten it into their heads that Russia’s objective is to take over the Ukraine and overthrow its government. Applying a very Western logic, they see Kiev as the “center of gravity” (Schwerpunkt) of Ukrainian forces. According to Clausewitz, the “center of gravity” is the element from which a belligerent derives his strength and ability to act, and is therefore the primary objective of an adversary’s strategy. This is why Westerners have systematically tried to take control of capitals in the wars they have fought. Trained and advised by NATO experts, the Ukrainian General Staff has, predictably enough, applied the same logic, focusing on strengthening the defense of Kiev and its surroundings, while leaving its troops helpless in the Donbass, along the axis of the main Russian effort.

If one had listened carefully to Vladimir Putin, one would have realized that the strategic objective of the Russian coalition is not to take over the Ukraine, but to remove any threat to the Russian-speaking population of the Donbass. According to this general objective, the “real” center of gravity that the Russian coalition is trying to target is the bulk of the Ukrainian armed forces massed in the south-southeast of the country (since the end of 2021), and not Kiev.

Russian Success or Failure?

Convinced that the Russian offensive is aimed at Kiev, Western experts have quite logically concluded that (a) the Russians are stalling, and that (b) their offensive is doomed to failure because they will not be able to hold the country in the long term. The generals who have followed each other on French TV seem to have forgotten what even a second lieutenant comprehends well: “Know your enemy!”—not as one would like him to be, but as he is. With generals like that, we don’t need an enemy anymore.

That being said, the Western narrative about a Russian offensive that is bogged down, and whose successes are meager, is also part of the propaganda war waged by both sides. For example, the sequence of maps of operations, published by Libération from the end of February, shows almost no difference from one day to the next, until March 18th (when the media stopped updating it). Thus, on February 23rd, on France 5 [TV station], the journalist Élise Vincent evaluated the territory taken by the Russian coalition as the equivalent of Switzerland or the Netherlands. In reality, we are more in the area of Great Britain.

As an example, let us observe the difference between the map of the situation on March 25, 2022, as published by Ouest-France:

… and as published by the French Ministry of the Armed Forces:

In addition, it should be noted that Ukrainian forces do not appear on any map (presented in our media) of the conflict-situation. Thus, if the map of the French Ministry of Armed Forces gives a slightly more honest picture of reality, it also carefully avoids mentioning the Ukrainian forces encircled in the Kramatorsk cauldron.

In fact, the situational map, as of March 25, should look more like this:

The Situation as of March 25, 2022. [“Poussée principale”= main thrust;
“poussée secondaire”= secondary thrust].
The bone-shaped, blue area marks the location of the mass of the Ukrainian army (in reality, this “massed” Ukrainian army is split into several smaller cauldrons). The red-lined arrows show the overall offensive of the Russian army. The orange-lined arrows show the thrust of the Donbass forces. The red dotted line shows the maximum advance of Russian coalition forces.

Moreover, Ukrainian forces are never indicated on our maps, as this would show that they were not deployed on the Russian border in February 2022, but were regrouped in the south of the country, in preparation for their offensive, the initial phase of which began on February 16th. This confirms that Russia was only reacting to a situation initiated by the West, by way of the Ukraine, as we shall see. At present, it is these forces that are encircled in the Kramatorsk cauldron and are being methodically fragmented and neutralized, little by little, in an incremental way, by the Russian coalition.

The vagueness maintained in the West about the situation of the Ukrainian forces, has other effects. First, it maintains the illusion of a possible Ukrainian victory. Thus, instead of encouraging a negotiation process, the West seeks to prolong the war. This is why the European Union and some of its member countries have sent weapons and are encouraging the civilian population and volunteers of all kinds to go and fight, often without training and without any real command structure—with deadly consequences.

We know that in a conflict, each party tends to inform in order to give a favorable image of its actions. However, the image we have of the situation and of the Ukrainian forces is based exclusively on data provided by Kiev. It masks the profound deficiencies of the Ukrainian leadership, even though it was trained and advised by NATO military.

Thus, military logic would have the forces caught in the Kramatorsk cauldron withdraw to a line at the Dnieper, for example, in order to regroup and conduct a counteroffensive. But they were forbidden to withdraw by President Zelensky. Even back in 2014 and 2015, a close examination of the operations showed that the Ukrainians were applying “Western-style” schemes, totally unsuited to the circumstances, and in the face of a more imaginative, more flexible opponent who possessed lighter leadership structures. It is the same phenomenon today.

In the end, the partial view of the battlefield given to us by our media has made it impossible for the West to help the Ukrainian general staff make the right decisions. And it has led the West to believe that the obvious strategic objective is Kiev; that “demilitarization” is aimed at the Ukraine’s membership in NATO; and that “denazification” is aimed at toppling Zelensky. This legend was fueled by Vladimir Putin’s appeal to the Ukrainian military to disobey, which was interpreted (with great imagination and bias) as a call to overthrow the government. However, this appeal was aimed at the Ukrainian forces deployed in the Donbass to surrender without fighting. The Western interpretation caused the Ukrainian government to misjudge Russian objectives and misuse its potential of winning.

You don’t win a war with bias—you lose it. And that’s what is happening. Thus, the Russian coalition was never “on the run” or “stopped” by heroic resistance—it simply did not attack where it was expected. We did not want to listen to what Vladimir Putin had explained to us very clearly. This is why the West has thus become—volens nolens—the main architect of the Ukrainian defeat that is taking shape. Paradoxically, it is probably because of our self-proclaimed “experts” and recreational strategists on our television sets that the Ukraine is in this situation today.

The Conduct of Battle

As for the course of operations, the analyses presented in our media come most often from politicians or so-called military experts, who relay Ukrainian propaganda.

Let’s be clear. A war, whatever else it is, is drama. The problem here is that our strategists in neckties are clearly trying to overdramatize the situation in order to exclude any negotiated solution. This development, however, is prompting some Western military personnel to speak out and offer a more nuanced judgment. Thus, in Newsweek, an analyst from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the American equivalent of the Direction du Renseignement Militaire (DRM) in France, noted that “in 24 days of conflict, Russia has carried out some 1,400 strikes and launched nearly 1,000 missiles (by way of comparison, the United States carried out more strikes and launched more missiles on the first day of the Iraq war in 2003).”

While the West likes to “soften up” the battlefield with intensive and prolonged strikes, before sending in ground-troops, the Russians prefer a less destructive, but more troop-intensive approach. On France 5, the journalist Mélanie Tarvant presented the death of Russian generals on the battlefield as proof of the destabilization of the Russian army. But this is a profound misunderstanding of the traditions and modes of operation of the Russian army. Whereas in the West, commanders tend to lead from the rear, their Russian counterparts tend to lead from the front—in the West they say, “Forward!” In Russia, they say, “Follow me!” This explains the high losses in the upper echelons of command, already observed in Afghanistan—but it also tells of the much more rigorous selection of staff-personnel than in the West.

Furthermore, the DIA analyst noted that “the vast majority of the airstrikes are over the battlefield, with Russian aircraft providing ‘close air support’ to ground forces. The remainder—less than 20 percent, according to U.S. experts—has been aimed at military airfields, barracks and supporting depots.” Thus, the phrase “indiscriminate bombing [that] is devastating cities and killing everyone” echoed by the Western media seems to contradict the U.S. intelligence expert, who said, “If we merely convince ourselves that Russia is bombing indiscriminately, or [that] it is failing to inflict more harm because its personnel are not up to the task or because it is technically inept, then we are not seeing the real conflict.”

In fact, Russian operations differ fundamentally from the Western concept of the same. The West’s obsession with having no fatalities in their own forces leads them to operations that are primarily in the form of very lethal air strikes. Ground troops only intervene when everything has been destroyed. This is why, in Afghanistan or in the Sahel, Westerners killed more civilians than terrorists did. This is why Western countries engaged in Afghanistan, the Middle East and North Africa no longer publish the number of civilian casualties caused by their strikes. In fact, Europeans engaged in regions that only marginally affect their national security, such as the Estonians in the Sahel, go there just to “get their feet wet.”

In the Ukraine, the situation is very different. One only has to look at a map of linguistic zones to see that the Russian coalition operates almost exclusively in the Russian-speaking zone; thus, among populations that are generally favorable to it. This also explains the statements of a US Air Force officer: “I know that the news keeps repeating that Putin is targeting civilians, but there is no evidence that Russia is intentionally doing so.”

Conversely, it is for the same reason—but in a different way—that the Ukraine has deployed its ultra-nationalist paramilitary fighters in major cities, such as Mariupol or Kharkov—without emotional or cultural ties to the local population, these militias can fight even at the cost of heavy civilian casualties. The atrocities that are currently being uncovered remain hidden by the French-speaking media, for fear of losing support for the Ukraine, as noted by media close to the Republicans in the United States.

After “decapitation” strikes in the first minutes of the offensive, the Russian operational strategy was to bypass the urban centers, and to envelop the Ukrainian army, “pinned down” by the forces of the Donbass republics. It is important to remember that the “decapitation” is not intended to annihilate the general staff or the government (as our “experts” tend to understand it), but to sunder the leadership structures so as to prevent the coordinated maneuver of forces. On the contrary, the aim is to preserve the leadership structures themselves in order to be able to negotiate a way out of the crisis.

On March 25, 2022, after having sealed the cauldron of Kramatorsk which denied any possibility of retreat to the Ukrainians and having taken most of the cities of Kharkov and Marioupol, Russia has practically fulfilled its objectives—all that remains is to concentrate its efforts on reducing the pockets of resistance. Thus, contrary to what the Western press has claimed, this is not a reorientation or a resizing of its offensive, but the methodical implementation of the objectives announced on February 24.

The Role of the Volunteers

A particularly disturbing aspect of this conflict is the attitude of European governments that allow or encourage their citizens to go and fight in the Ukraine. Volodymyr Zelensky’s call to join the International Legion for the Territorial Defense of Ukraine, which he recently created, has been greeted with enthusiasm by European countries.

Encouraged by the media that present a routed Russian army, many of these young people head off, imagining they are going—literally—on a hunting trip. However, once there, disillusionment is high. Testimonies show that these “amateurs” often end up as “cannon fodder,” without having any real impact on the outcome of the conflict. The experience of recent conflicts shows that the arrival of foreign fighters brings nothing to a conflict, except to increase its duration and lethality.

Moreover, the arrival of several hundred Islamist fighters from the Idlib region, an area under the control and protection of the Western coalition in Syria (and also the area in which two Islamic State leaders were killed by the Americans) should arouse our concern. Indeed, the weapons we are very liberally supplying to the Ukraine are already partly in the hands of criminal individuals and organizations and are already beginning to pose a security problem for the authorities in Kiev. Not to mention the fact that the weapons that are being touted as effective against Russian aircraft could eventually threaten our military and civilian aircraft.

The volunteer proudly presented by the RTBF on the 7:30 p.m. news of March 8, 2022 was an admirer of the “Corps Franc Wallonie,” Belgian volunteers who served the Third Reich; and he illustrates the type of people attracted to the Ukraine. In the end, we will have to ask ourselves, who gained the most—[in this case] Belgium or the Ukraine?

Distributing weapons indiscriminately could well make the EU—volens nolens—a supporter of extremism and even international terrorism. The result—we are adding misery to misery, in order to satisfy the European elites more than the Ukraine itself.

Three Points Deserve to be Highlighted by Way of Conclusion

1. Western Intelligence, Ignored by Policymakers

Military documents found in Ukrainian headquarters in the south of the country confirm that the Ukraine was preparing to attack the Donbass; and that the firing observed by OSCE observers as early as February 16 heralded an imminent outbreak in days or weeks.

Here, some introspection is necessary for the West—either its intelligence services did not see what was happening and they are thus very bad, or the political decision-makers chose not to listen to them. We know that Russian intelligence services have far superior analytical capabilities than their Western counterparts. We also know that the American and German intelligence services had very well understood the situation, since the end of 2021, and knew that the Ukraine was preparing to attack the Donbass.

This allows us to deduce that the American and European political leaders deliberately pushed the Ukraine into a conflict that they knew was lost in advance—for the sole purpose of dealing a political blow to Russia.

The reason Zelensky did not deploy his forces to the Russian border, and repeatedly stated that his large neighbor would not attack him, was presumably because he thought he was relying on Western deterrence. This is what he told CNN on March 20th—he was clearly told that the Ukraine would not be part of NATO, but that publicly they would say the opposite. The Ukraine was thus instrumentalized to affect Russia. The objective was the closure of the North Stream 2 gas pipeline, announced on February 8th, by Joe Biden, during the visit of Olaf Scholz; and which was followed by a barrage of sanctions.

2. Broken Diplomacy

Clearly, since the end of 2021, no effort has been made by the West to reactivate the Minsk agreements, as evidenced by the reports of visits and telephone conversations, notably between Emmanuel Macron and Vladimir Putin. However, France, as guarantor of the Minsk Agreements, and as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, has not respected its commitments, which has led to the situation that the Ukraine is experiencing today. There is even a feeling that the West has sought to add fuel to the fire since 2014.

Thus, Vladimir Putin’s placing of nuclear forces on alert on February 27 was presented by our media and politicians as an irrational act or blackmail. What is forgotten is that it followed the thinly veiled threat made by Jean-Yves Le Drian, three days earlier, that NATO could use nuclear weapons. It is very likely that Putin did not take this “threat” seriously, but wanted to push Western countries—and France in particular—to abandon the use of excessive language.

3. The Vulnerability of Europeans to Manipulation is Increasing

Today, the perception propagated by our media is that the Russian offensive has broken down; that Vladimir Putin is crazy, irrational and therefore ready to do anything to break the deadlock in which he supposedly finds himself. In this totally emotional context, the question asked by Republican Senator Marco Rubio during Victoria Nuland’s hearing before Congress was strange, to say the least: “If there is a biological or chemical weapon incident or attack inside the Ukraine, is there any doubt in your mind that 100% it would be the Russians behind it?” Naturally, she answered that there is no doubt. Yet there is absolutely no indication that the Russians are using such weapons. Besides, the Russians finished destroying their stockpiles in 2017, while the Americans have not yet destroyed theirs.

Perhaps this means nothing. But in the current atmosphere, all the conditions are now met for an incident to happen that would push the West to become more involved, in some form, in the Ukrainian conflict (a “false-flag” incident).

Jacques Baud is a former colonel of the General Staff, ex-member of the Swiss strategic intelligence, and specialist on Eastern countries. He was trained in the American and British intelligence services. He has served as Policy Chief for United Nations Peace Operations. As a UN expert on rule of law and security institutions, he designed and led the first multidimensional UN intelligence unit in the Sudan. He has worked for the African Union and was for 5 years responsible for the fight, at NATO, against the proliferation of small arms. He was involved in discussions with the highest Russian military and intelligence officials just after the fall of the USSR. Within NATO, he followed the 2014 Ukrainian crisis and later participated in programs to assist the Ukraine. He is the author of several books on intelligence, war and terrorism, in particular Le Détournement published by SIGEST, Gouverner par les fake newsL’affaire Navalny. His latest book is Poutine, maître du jeu? published by Max Milo.

This article appears through the gracious courtesy of Centre Français de Recherche sur le Renseignement, Paris. Translated from the French by N. Dass.

Featured image: “Medal in Khankala,” by I.S. Araslanov; painted in 2007. (Photo Credit: Moscow Museum of Modern Art).

The Military Situation In The Ukraine

Part One: The Road To War

For years, from Mali to Afghanistan, I have worked for peace and risked my life for it. It is therefore not a question of justifying war, but of understanding what led us to it. I notice that the “experts” who take turns on television analyze the situation on the basis of dubious information, most often hypotheses erected as facts—and then we no longer manage to understand what is happening. This is how panics are created.

The problem is not so much to know who is right in this conflict, but to question the way our leaders make their decisions.

Let’s try to examine the roots of the conflict. It starts with those who for the last eight years have been talking about “separatists” or “independentists” from Donbass. This is not true. The referendums conducted by the two self-proclaimed Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk in May 2014, were not referendums of “independence” (независимость), as some unscrupulous journalists have claimed, but referendums of “self-determination” or “autonomy” (самостоятельность). The qualifier “pro-Russian” suggests that Russia was a party to the conflict, which was not the case, and the term “Russian speakers” would have been more honest. Moreover, these referendums were conducted against the advice of Vladimir Putin.

In fact, these Republics were not seeking to separate from Ukraine, but to have a status of autonomy, guaranteeing them the use of the Russian language as an official language. For the first legislative act of the new government resulting from the overthrow of President Yanukovych, was the abolition, on February 23, 2014, of the Kivalov-Kolesnichenko law of 2012 that made Russian an official language. A bit like if putschists decided that French and Italian would no longer be official languages in Switzerland.

This decision caused a storm in the Russian-speaking population. The result was a fierce repression against the Russian-speaking regions (Odessa, Dnepropetrovsk, Kharkov, Lugansk and Donetsk) which was carried out beginning in February 2014 and led to a militarization of the situation and some massacres (in Odessa and Marioupol, for the most notable). At the end of summer 2014, only the self-proclaimed Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk remained.

At this stage, too rigid and engrossed in a doctrinaire approach to the art of operations, the Ukrainian general staff subdued the enemy without managing to prevail. The examination of the course of the fighting in 2014-2016 in the Donbass shows that the Ukrainian general staff systematically and mechanically applied the same operative schemes. However, the war waged by the autonomists was very similar to what we observed in the Sahel: highly mobile operations conducted with light means. With a more flexible and less doctrinaire approach, the rebels were able to exploit the inertia of Ukrainian forces to repeatedly “trap” them.

In 2014, when I was at NATO, I was responsible for the fight against the proliferation of small arms, and we were trying to detect Russian arms deliveries to the rebels, to see if Moscow was involved. The information we received then came almost entirely from Polish intelligence services and did not “fit” with the information coming from the OSCE—despite rather crude allegations, there were no deliveries of weapons and military equipment from Russia.

The rebels were armed thanks to the defection of Russian-speaking Ukrainian units that went over to the rebel side. As Ukrainian failures continued, tank, artillery and anti-aircraft battalions swelled the ranks of the autonomists. This is what pushed the Ukrainians to commit to the Minsk Agreements.

But just after signing the Minsk 1 Agreements, the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko launched a massive anti-terrorist operation (ATO/Антитерористична операція) against the Donbass. Bis repetita placent: poorly advised by NATO officers, the Ukrainians suffered a crushing defeat in Debaltsevo, which forced them to engage in the Minsk 2 Agreements.

It is essential to recall here that Minsk 1 (September 2014) and Minsk 2 (February 2015) Agreements did not provide for the separation or independence of the Republics, but their autonomy within the framework of Ukraine. Those who have read the Agreements (there are very, very, very few of those who actually have) will note that it is written in all letters that the status of the Republics was to be negotiated between Kiev and the representatives of the Republics, for an internal solution to the Ukraine.

That is why since 2014, Russia has systematically demanded their implementation while refusing to be a party to the negotiations, because it was an internal matter of the Ukraine. On the other side, the West—led by France—systematically tried to replace the Minsk Agreements with the “Normandy format,” which put Russians and Ukrainians face-to-face. However, let us remember that there were never any Russian troops in the Donbass before 23-24 February 2022. Moreover, OSCE observers have never observed the slightest trace of Russian units operating in the Donbass. For example, the U.S. intelligence map published by the Washington Post on December 3, 2021 does not show Russian troops in the Donbass.

In October 2015, Vasyl Hrytsak, director of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU), confessed that only 56 Russian fighters had been observed in the Donbass. This was exactly comparable to the Swiss who went to fight in Bosnia on weekends, in the 1990s, or the French who go to fight in the Ukraine today.

The Ukrainian army was then in a deplorable state. In October 2018, after four years of war, the chief Ukrainian military prosecutor, Anatoly Matios, stated that Ukraine had lost 2,700 men in the Donbass: 891 from illnesses, 318 from road accidents, 177 from other accidents, 175 from poisonings (alcohol, drugs), 172 from careless handling of weapons, 101 from breaches of security regulations, 228 from murders and 615 from suicides.

In fact, the army was undermined by the corruption of its cadres and no longer enjoyed the support of the population. According to a British Home Office report, in the March/April 2014 recall of reservists, 70 percent did not show up for the first session, 80 percent for the second, 90 percent for the third, and 95 percent for the fourth. In October/November 2017, 70% of conscripts did not show up for the “Fall 2017” recall campaign. This is not counting suicides and desertions (often over to the autonomists), which reached up to 30 percent of the workforce in the ATO area. Young Ukrainians refused to go and fight in the Donbass and preferred emigration, which also explains, at least partially, the demographic deficit of the country.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense then turned to NATO to help make its armed forces more “attractive.” Having already worked on similar projects within the framework of the United Nations, I was asked by NATO to participate in a program to restore the image of the Ukrainian armed forces. But this is a long-term process and the Ukrainians wanted to move quickly.

So, to compensate for the lack of soldiers, the Ukrainian government resorted to paramilitary militias. They are essentially composed of foreign mercenaries, often extreme right-wing militants. In 2020, they constituted about 40 percent of the Ukrainian forces and numbered about 102,000 men, according to Reuters. They were armed, financed and trained by the United States, Great Britain, Canada and France. There were more than 19 nationalities—including Swiss.

Western countries have thus clearly created and supported Ukrainian far-right militias. In October 2021, the Jerusalem Post sounded the alarm by denouncing the Centuria project. These militias had been operating in the Donbass since 2014, with Western support. Even if one can argue about the term “Nazi,” the fact remains that these militias are violent, convey a nauseating ideology and are virulently anti-Semitic. Their anti-Semitism is more cultural than political, which is why the term “Nazi” is not really appropriate. Their hatred of the Jew stems from the great famines of the 1920s and 1930s in the Ukraine, resulting from Stalin’s confiscation of crops to finance the modernization of the Red Army. This genocide—known in the Ukraine as the Holodomor—was perpetrated by the NKVD (the forerunner of the KGB), whose upper echelons of leadership were mainly composed of Jews. This is why, today, Ukrainian extremists are asking Israel to apologize for the crimes of communism, as the Jerusalem Post notes. This is a far cry from Vladimir Putin’s “rewriting of history.”

These militias, originating from the far-right groups that animated the Euromaidan revolution in 2014, are composed of fanatical and brutal individuals. The best known of these is the Azov Regiment, whose emblem is reminiscent of the 2nd SS Das Reich Panzer Division, which is revered in the Ukraine for liberating Kharkov from the Soviets in 1943, before carrying out the 1944 Oradour-sur-Glane massacre in France.

Among the famous figures of the Azov regiment was the opponent Roman Protassevitch, arrested in 2021 by the Belarusian authorities following the case of RyanAir flight FR4978. On May 23, 2021, the deliberate hijacking of an airliner by a MiG-29—supposedly with Putin’s approval—was mentioned as a reason for arresting Protassevich, although the information available at the time did not confirm this scenario at all.

But then it was necessary to show that President Lukashenko was a thug and Protassevich a “journalist” who loved democracy. However, a rather revealing investigation produced by an American NGO in 2020 highlighted Protassevitch’s far-right militant activities. The Western conspiracy movement then started, and unscrupulous media “air-brushed” his biography. Finally, in January 2022, the ICAO report was published and showed that despite some procedural errors, Belarus acted in accordance with the rules in force and that the MiG-29 took off 15 minutes after the RyanAir pilot decided to land in Minsk. So no Belarusian plot and even less Putin. Ah!… Another detail: Protassevitch, cruelly tortured by the Belarusian police, was now free. Those who would like to correspond with him, can go on his Twitter account.

The characterization of the Ukrainian paramilitaries as “Nazis” or “neo-Nazis” is considered Russian propaganda. Perhaps. But that’s not the view of the Times of Israel, the Simon Wiesenthal Center or the West Point Academy’s Center for Counterterrorism. But that’s still debatable, because in 2014, Newsweek magazine seemed to associate them more with… the Islamic State. Take your pick!

So, the West supported and continued to arm militias that have been guilty of numerous crimes against civilian populations since 2014: rape, torture and massacres. But while the Swiss government has been very quick to take sanctions against Russia, it has not adopted any against the Ukraine, which has been massacring its own population since 2014. In fact, those who defend human rights in the Ukraine have long condemned the actions of these groups, but have not been supported by our governments. Because, in reality, we are not trying to help the Ukraine, but to fight Russia.

The integration of these paramilitary forces into the National Guard was not at all accompanied by a “denazification,” as some claim. Among the many examples, that of the Azov Regiment’s insignia is instructive:

In 2022, very schematically, the Ukrainian armed forces fighting the Russian offensive were organized as:

  • The Army, subordinated to the Ministry of Defense. It is organized into 3 army corps and composed of maneuver formations (tanks, heavy artillery, missiles, etc.).
  • The National Guard, which depends on the Ministry of the Interior and is organized into 5 territorial commands.

The National Guard is therefore a territorial defense force that is not part of the Ukrainian army. It includes paramilitary militias, called “volunteer battalions” (добровольчі батальйоні), also known by the evocative name of “reprisal battalions,” and composed of infantry. Primarily trained for urban combat, they now defend cities such as Kharkov, Mariupol, Odessa, Kiev, etc.

Part Two: The War

As a former head of the Warsaw Pact forces in the Swiss strategic intelligence service, I observe with sadness—but not astonishment—that our services are no longer able to understand the military situation in Ukraine. The self-proclaimed “experts” who parade on our screens tirelessly relay the same information modulated by the claim that Russia—and Vladimir Putin—is irrational. Let’s take a step back.

1. The Outbreak Of War

Since November 2021, the Americans have been constantly threatening a Russian invasion of the Ukraine. However, the Ukrainians did not seem to agree. Why not?

We have to go back to March 24, 2021. On that day, Volodymyr Zelensky issued a decree for the recapture of the Crimea, and began to deploy his forces to the south of the country. At the same time, several NATO exercises were conducted between the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea, accompanied by a significant increase in reconnaissance flights along the Russian border. Russia then conducted several exercises to test the operational readiness of its troops and to show that it was following the evolution of the situation.

Things calmed down until October-November with the end of the ZAPAD 21 exercises, whose troop movements were interpreted as a reinforcement for an offensive against the Ukraine. However, even the Ukrainian authorities refuted the idea of Russian preparations for a war, and Oleksiy Reznikov, Ukrainian Minister of Defense, states that there had been no change on its border since the spring.

In violation of the Minsk Agreements, the Ukraine was conducting air operations in Donbass using drones, including at least one strike against a fuel depot in Donetsk in October 2021. The American press noted this, but not the Europeans; and no one condemned these violations.

In February 2022, events were precipitated. On February 7, during his visit to Moscow, Emmanuel Macron reaffirmed to Vladimir Putin his commitment to the Minsk Agreements, a commitment he would repeat after his meeting with Volodymyr Zelensky the next day. But on February 11, in Berlin, after nine hours of work, the meeting of political advisors of the leaders of the “Normandy format” ended, without any concrete result: the Ukrainians still refused to apply the Minsk Agreements, apparently under pressure from the United States. Vladimir Putin noted that Macron had made empty promises and that the West was not ready to enforce the agreements, as it had been doing for eight years.

Ukrainian preparations in the contact zone continued. The Russian Parliament became alarmed; and on February 15 asked Vladimir Putin to recognize the independence of the Republics, which he refused to do.

On 11th February, President Joe Biden announced that Russia would attack the Ukraine in the next few days. How did he know this? It is a mystery. But since the 16th, the artillery shelling of the population of Donbass increased dramatically, as the daily reports of the OSCE observers show. Naturally, neither the media, nor the European Union, nor NATO, nor any Western government reacts or intervenes. It will be said later that this is Russian disinformation. In fact, it seems that the European Union and some countries have deliberately kept silent about the massacre of the Donbass population, knowing that this would provoke a Russian intervention.

At the same time, there were reports of sabotage in the Donbass. On 18 January, Donbass fighters intercepted saboteurs, who spoke Polish and were equipped with Western equipment and who were seeking to create chemical incidents in Gorlivka. They could have been CIA mercenaries, led or “advised” by Americans and composed of Ukrainian or European fighters, to carry out sabotage actions in the Donbass Republics.

In fact, as early as February 16, Joe Biden knew that the Ukrainians had begun shelling the civilian population of Donbass, putting Vladimir Putin in front of a difficult choice: to help Donbass militarily and create an international problem, or to stand by and watch the Russian-speaking people of Donbass being crushed.

If he decided to intervene, Putin could invoke the international obligation of “Responsibility To Protect” (R2P). But he knew that whatever its nature or scale, the intervention would trigger a storm of sanctions. Therefore, whether Russian intervention were limited to the Donbass or went further to put pressure on the West for the status of the Ukraine, the price to pay would be the same. This is what he explained in his speech on February 21.

On that day, he agreed to the request of the Duma and recognized the independence of the two Donbass Republics and, at the same time, he signed friendship and assistance treaties with them.

The Ukrainian artillery bombardment of the Donbass population continued, and, on 23 February, the two Republics asked for military assistance from Russia. On 24 February, Vladimir Putin invoked Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, which provides for mutual military assistance in the framework of a defensive alliance.

In order to make the Russian intervention totally illegal in the eyes of the public we deliberately hid the fact that the war actually started on February 16. The Ukrainian army was preparing to attack the Donbass as early as 2021, as some Russian and European intelligence services were well aware. Jurists will judge.

In his speech of February 24, Vladimir Putin stated the two objectives of his operation: “demilitarize” and “denazify” the Ukraine. So, it is not a question of taking over the Ukraine, nor even, presumably, of occupying it; and certainly not of destroying it.

From then on, our visibility on the course of the operation is limited: the Russians have an excellent security of operations (OPSEC) and the details of their planning are not known. But fairly quickly, the course of the operation allows us to understand how the strategic objectives were translated on the operational level.


  • ground destruction of Ukrainian aviation, air defense systems and reconnaissance assets;
  • neutralization of command and intelligence structures (C3I), as well as the main logistical routes in the depth of the territory;
  • encirclement of the bulk of the Ukrainian army massed in the southeast of the country.


  • destruction or neutralization of volunteer battalions operating in the cities of Odessa, Kharkov, and Mariupol, as well as in various facilities in the territory.

2. Demilitarization

The Russian offensive was carried out in a very “classic” manner. Initially—as the Israelis had done in 1967—with the destruction on the ground of the air force in the very first hours. Then, we witnessed a simultaneous progression along several axes according to the principle of “flowing water”: advance everywhere where resistance was weak and leave the cities (very demanding in terms of troops) for later. In the north, the Chernobyl power plant was occupied immediately to prevent acts of sabotage. The images of Ukrainian and Russian soldiers guarding the plant together are of course not shown.

The idea that Russia is trying to take over Kiev, the capital, to eliminate Zelensky, comes typically from the West—that is what they did in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and what they wanted to do in Syria with the help of the Islamic State. But Vladimir Putin never intended to shoot or topple Zelensky. Instead, Russia seeks to keep him in power by pushing him to negotiate, by surrounding Kiev. Up till now, he had refused to implement the Minsk Agreements. But now the Russians want to obtain the neutrality of the Ukraine.

Many Western commentators were surprised that the Russians continued to seek a negotiated solution while conducting military operations. The explanation lies in the Russian strategic outlook since the Soviet era. For the West, war begins when politics ends. However, the Russian approach follows a Clausewitzian inspiration: war is the continuity of politics and one can move fluidly from one to the other, even during combat. This allows one to create pressure on the adversary and push him to negotiate.

From an operational point of view, the Russian offensive was an example of its kind: in six days, the Russians seized a territory as large as the United Kingdom, with a speed of advance greater than what the Wehrmacht had achieved in 1940.

The bulk of the Ukrainian army was deployed in the south of the country in preparation for a major operation against the Donbass. This is why Russian forces were able to encircle it from the beginning of March in the “cauldron” between Slavyansk, Kramatorsk and Severodonetsk, with a thrust from the East through Kharkov and another from the South from Crimea. Troops from the Donetsk (DPR) and Lugansk (LPR) Republics are complementing the Russian forces with a push from the East.

At this stage, Russian forces are slowly tightening the noose, but are no longer under time pressure. Their demilitarization goal is all but achieved and the remaining Ukrainian forces no longer have an operational and strategic command structure.

The “slowdown” that our “experts” attribute to poor logistics is only the consequence of having achieved their objectives. Russia does not seem to want to engage in an occupation of the entire Ukrainian territory. In fact, it seems that Russia is trying to limit its advance to the linguistic border of the country.

Our media speak of indiscriminate bombardments against the civilian population, especially in Kharkov, and Dantean images are broadcast in a loop. However, Gonzalo Lira, a Latin American who lives there, presents us with a calm city on March 10 and March 11. It is true that it is a large city and we do not see everything—but this seems to indicate that we are not in the total war that we are served continuously on our screens.

As for the Donbass Republics, they have “liberated” their own territories and are fighting in the city of Mariupol.

3. Denazification

In cities like Kharkov, Mariupol and Odessa, the defense is provided by paramilitary militias. They know that the objective of “denazification” is aimed primarily at them.

For an attacker in an urbanized area, civilians are a problem. This is why Russia is seeking to create humanitarian corridors to empty cities of civilians and leave only the militias, to fight them more easily.

Conversely, these militias seek to keep civilians in the cities in order to dissuade the Russian army from fighting there. This is why they are reluctant to implement these corridors and do everything to ensure that Russian efforts are unsuccessful—they can use the civilian population as “human shields. Videos showing civilians trying to leave Mariupol and beaten up by fighters of the Azov regiment are of course carefully censored here.

On Facebook, the Azov group was considered in the same category as the Islamic State and subject to the platform’s “policy on dangerous individuals and organizations.” It was therefore forbidden to glorify it, and “posts” that were favorable to it were systematically banned. But on February 24, Facebook changed its policy and allowed posts favorable to the militia. In the same spirit, in March, the platform authorized, in the former Eastern countries, calls for the murder of Russian soldiers and leaders. So much for the values that inspire our leaders, as we shall see.

Our media propagate a romantic image of popular resistance. It is this image that led the European Union to finance the distribution of arms to the civilian population. This is a criminal act. In my capacity as head of peacekeeping doctrine at the UN, I worked on the issue of civilian protection. We found that violence against civilians occurred in very specific contexts. In particular, when weapons are abundant and there are no command structures.

These command structures are the essence of armies: their function is to channel the use of force towards an objective. By arming citizens in a haphazard manner, as is currently the case, the EU is turning them into combatants, with the consequential effect of making them potential targets. Moreover, without command, without operational goals, the distribution of arms leads inevitably to settling of scores, banditry and actions that are more deadly than effective. War becomes a matter of emotions. Force becomes violence. This is what happened in Tawarga (Libya) from 11 to 13 August 2011, where 30,000 black Africans were massacred with weapons parachuted (illegally) by France. By the way, the British Royal Institute for Strategic Studies (RUSI) does not see any added value in these arms deliveries.

Moreover, by delivering arms to a country at war, one exposes oneself to being considered a belligerent. The Russian strikes of March 13, 2022, against the Mykolayev air base follow Russian warnings that arms shipments would be treated as hostile targets.

The EU is repeating the disastrous experience of the Third Reich in the final hours of the Battle of Berlin. War must be left to the military and when one side has lost, it must be admitted. And if there is to be resistance, it must be led and structured. But we are doing exactly the opposite—we are pushing citizens to go and fight and at the same time, Facebook authorizes calls for the murder of Russian soldiers and leaders. So much for the values that inspire us.

Some intelligence services see this irresponsible decision as a way to use the Ukrainian population as cannon fodder to fight Vladimir Putin’s Russia. This kind of murderous decision should have been left to the colleagues of Ursula von der Leyen’s grandfather. It would have been better to engage in negotiations and thus obtain guarantees for the civilian population than to add fuel to the fire. It is easy to be combative with the blood of others.

4. The Maternity Hospital At Mariupol

It is important to understand beforehand that it is not the Ukrainian army that is defending Marioupol, but the Azov militia, composed of foreign mercenaries.

In its March 7, 2022 summary of the situation, the Russian UN mission in New York stated that “Residents report that Ukrainian armed forces expelled staff from the Mariupol city birth hospital No. 1 and set up a firing post inside the facility.”

On March 8, the independent Russian media, published the testimony of civilians from Marioupol who told that the maternity hospital was taken over by the militia of the Azov regiment, and who drove out the civilian occupants by threatening them with their weapons. They confirmed the statements of the Russian ambassador a few hours earlier.

The hospital in Mariupol occupies a dominant position, perfectly suited for the installation of anti-tank weapons and for observation. On 9 March, Russian forces struck the building. According to CNN, 17 people were wounded, but the images do not show any casualties in the building and there is no evidence that the victims mentioned are related to this strike. There is talk of children, but in reality, there is nothing. This may be true, but it may not be true. This does not prevent the leaders of the EU from seeing this as a war crime. And this allows Zelensky to call for a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

In reality, we do not know exactly what happened. But the sequence of events tends to confirm that Russian forces struck a position of the Azov regiment and that the maternity ward was then free of civilians.

The problem is that the paramilitary militias that defend the cities are encouraged by the international community not to respect the customs of war. It seems that the Ukrainians have replayed the scenario of the Kuwait City maternity hospital in 1990, which was totally staged by the firm Hill & Knowlton for $10.7 million in order to convince the United Nations Security Council to intervene in Iraq for Operation Desert Shield/Storm.

Western politicians have accepted civilian strikes in the Donbass for eight years, without adopting any sanctions against the Ukrainian government. We have long since entered a dynamic where Western politicians have agreed to sacrifice international law towards their goal of weakening Russia.

Part Three: Conclusions

As an ex-intelligence professional, the first thing that strikes me is the total absence of Western intelligence services in the representation of the situation over the past year. In Switzerland, the services have been criticized for not having provided a correct picture of the situation. In fact, it seems that throughout the Western world, intelligence services have been overwhelmed by the politicians. The problem is that it is the politicians who decide—the best intelligence service in the world is useless if the decision-maker does not listen. This is what happened during this crisis.

That said, while some intelligence services had a very accurate and rational picture of the situation, others clearly had the same picture as that propagated by our media. In this crisis, the services of the countries of the “new Europe” played an important role. The problem is that, from experience, I have found them to be extremely bad at the analytical level—doctrinaire, they lack the intellectual and political independence necessary to assess a situation with military “quality.” It is better to have them as enemies than as friends.

Second, it seems that in some European countries, politicians have deliberately ignored their services in order to respond ideologically to the situation. That is why this crisis has been irrational from the beginning. It should be noted that all the documents that were presented to the public during this crisis were presented by politicians based on commercial sources.

Some Western politicians obviously wanted there to be a conflict. In the United States, the attack scenarios presented by Anthony Blinken to the Security Council were only the product of the imagination of a Tiger Team working for him—he did exactly as Donald Rumsfeld did in 2002, who had thus “bypassed” the CIA and other intelligence services that were much less assertive about Iraqi chemical weapons.

The dramatic developments we are witnessing today have causes that we knew about but refused to see:

  • on the strategic level, the expansion of NATO (which we have not dealt with here);
  • on the political level, the Western refusal to implement the Minsk Agreements;
  • and operationally, the continuous and repeated attacks on the civilian population of the Donbass over the past years and the dramatic increase in late February 2022.

In other words, we can naturally deplore and condemn the Russian attack. But WE (that is: the United States, France and the European Union in the lead) have created the conditions for a conflict to break out. We show compassion for the Ukrainian people and the two million refugees. That is fine. But if we had had a modicum of compassion for the same number of refugees from the Ukrainian populations of Donbass massacred by their own government and who sought refuge in Russia for eight years, none of this would probably have happened.

Civilian casualties caused by active hostilities in 2018-2021, per territory

 In territory control- led by the self-pro- claimed “Republics”In Government- controlled territory  In “no man’s land”  TotalDecrease compared with previous year, per cent
Per cent81.416.32.3100.0 
As we can see, more than 80% of the victims in Donbass were the result of the Ukrainian army’s shelling. For years, the West remained silent about the massacre of Russian-speaking Ukrainians by the government of Kiev, without ever trying to bring pressure on Kiev. It is this silence that forced the Russian side to act. [Source: “Conflict-related civilian casualties, United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine.]

Whether the term “genocide” applies to the abuses suffered by the people of Donbass is an open question. The term is generally reserved for cases of greater magnitude (Holocaust, etc.). But the definition given by the Genocide Convention is probably broad enough to apply to this case. Legal scholars will understand this.

Clearly, this conflict has led us into hysteria. Sanctions seem to have become the preferred tool of our foreign policies. If we had insisted that Ukraine abide by the Minsk Agreements, which we had negotiated and endorsed, none of this would have happened. Vladimir Putin’s condemnation is also ours. There is no point in whining afterwards—we should have acted earlier. However, neither Emmanuel Macron (as guarantor and member of the UN Security Council), nor Olaf Scholz, nor Volodymyr Zelensky have respected their commitments. In the end, the real defeat is that of those who have no voice.

The European Union was unable to promote the implementation of the Minsk agreements—on the contrary, it did not react when Ukraine was bombing its own population in the Donbass. Had it done so, Vladimir Putin would not have needed to react. Absent from the diplomatic phase, the EU distinguished itself by fueling the conflict. On February 27, the Ukrainian government agreed to enter into negotiations with Russia. But a few hours later, the European Union voted a budget of 450 million euros to supply arms to the Ukraine, adding fuel to the fire. From then on, the Ukrainians felt that they did not need to reach an agreement. The resistance of the Azov militia in Mariupol even led to a boost of 500 million euros for weapons.

In the Ukraine, with the blessing of the Western countries, those who are in favor of a negotiation have been eliminated. This is the case of Denis Kireyev, one of the Ukrainian negotiators, assassinated on March 5 by the Ukrainian secret service (SBU) because he was too favorable to Russia and was considered a traitor. The same fate befell Dmitry Demyanenko, former deputy head of the SBU’s main directorate for Kiev and its region, who was assassinated on March 10 because he was too favorable to an agreement with Russia—he was shot by the Mirotvorets (“Peacemaker”) militia. This militia is associated with the Mirotvorets website, which lists the “enemies of Ukraine,” with their personal data, addresses and telephone numbers, so that they can be harassed or even eliminated; a practice that is punishable in many countries, but not in the Ukraine. The UN and some European countries have demanded the closure of this site—refused by the Rada.

In the end, the price will be high, but Vladimir Putin will likely achieve the goals he set for himself. His ties with Beijing have solidified. China is emerging as a mediator in the conflict, while Switzerland is joining the list of Russia’s enemies. The Americans have to ask Venezuela and Iran for oil to get out of the energy impasse they have put themselves in—Juan Guaido is leaving the scene for good and the United States has to piteously backtrack on the sanctions imposed on its enemies.

Western ministers who seek to collapse the Russian economy and make the Russian people suffer, or even call for the assassination of Putin, show (even if they have partially reversed the form of their words, but not the substance!) that our leaders are no better than those we hate—for sanctioning Russian athletes in the Para-Olympic Games or Russian artists has nothing to do with fighting Putin.

Thus, we recognize that Russia is a democracy since we consider that the Russian people are responsible for the war. If this is not the case, then why do we seek to punish a whole population for the fault of one? Let us remember that collective punishment is forbidden by the Geneva Conventions.

The lesson to be learned from this conflict is our sense of variable geometric humanity. If we cared so much about peace and the Ukraine, why didn’t we encourage the Ukraine to respect the agreements it had signed and that the members of the Security Council had approved?

The integrity of the media is measured by their willingness to work within the terms of the Munich Charter. They succeeded in propagating hatred of the Chinese during the Covid crisis and their polarized message leads to the same effects against the Russians. Journalism is becoming more and more unprofessional and militant.

As Goethe said: “The greater the light, the darker the shadow.” The more the sanctions against Russia are disproportionate, the more the cases where we have done nothing highlight our racism and servility. Why have no Western politicians reacted to the strikes against the civilian population of Donbass for eight years?

Because finally, what makes the conflict in the Ukraine more blameworthy than the war in Iraq, Afghanistan or Libya? What sanctions have we adopted against those who deliberately lied to the international community in order to wage unjust, unjustified and murderous wars? Have we sought to “make the American people suffer” for lying to us (because they are a democracy!) before the war in Iraq? Have we adopted a single sanction against the countries, companies or politicians who are supplying weapons to the conflict in Yemen, considered to be the “worst humanitarian disaster in the world?” Have we sanctioned the countries of the European Union that practice the most abject torture on their territory for the benefit of the United States?

To ask the question is to answer it… and the answer is not pretty.

Jacques Baud is a former colonel of the General Staff, ex-member of the Swiss strategic intelligence, specialist on Eastern countries. He was trained in the American and British intelligence services. He has served as Policy Chief for United Nations Peace Operations. As a UN expert on rule of law and security institutions, he designed and led the first multidimensional UN intelligence unit in the Sudan. He has worked for the African Union and was for 5 years responsible for the fight, at NATO, against the proliferation of small arms. He was involved in discussions with the highest Russian military and intelligence officials just after the fall of the USSR. Within NATO, he followed the 2014 Ukrainian crisis and later participated in programs to assist the Ukraine. He is the author of several books on intelligence, war and terrorism, in particular Le Détournement published by SIGEST, Gouverner par les fake news, L’affaire Navalny. His latest book is Poutine, maître du jeu? published by Max Milo.

This article appears through the gracious courtesy of Centre Français de Recherche sur le Renseignement, Paris. Translated from the French by N. Dass.

Featured image: “Capitulation,” by Petr Krivonogov, painted in 1946.

The Nazis Of Ukraine

There is an inconvenient truth that those beating the war-drum against Russia love to ignore—namely, the Nazis of Ukraine. We are told that this is all somehow “Russian disinformation/misinformation,” or that Putin loves to call people whom he doesn’t like, “Nazis” (notice, this is what actually is done in the West against opponents of the elite). Of course, no real evidence is ever given to back up these claims, as has now become a sad habit, any self-righteous assertion is considered “truth.”

Here are the facts about Nazis in Ukraine. The drumbeaters have yet to disprove any of them.


When Hitler invaded Ukraine, for many it was a liberation from communism and openly celebrated, and soon led to the creation of the 14th SS-Volunteer Division “Galician” (later, the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS, 1st Galician). It was nearly annihilated in the Lvov–Sandomierz Offensive (1944). What remained was regrouped as the Ukrainian National Army (UNA), under the German High Command (OKH) and led by General Pavlo Shandruk (1889-1979). The UNA numbered some 220,000 volunteers and fought in various theatres throughout Europe with the Wehrmacht, including Austria. What marked all these volunteers was a strong antipathy to the Soviet Union. With the defeat of the Nazis, the UNA surrendered to the British and the US. All the volunteers did not want to be sent back to the Ukraine and sought asylum elsewhere (a large number coming to Canada and the US).

General Shandruk struck a special deal with Poland (with the help of General Władysław Anders), which accepted members of the UNA as “pre-war Polish citizens.” Shandruk was given the Polish Virtuti Militari order, and he settled in Germany, before eventually moving to the US, where he died in 1979.

In effect, in Ukraine, Nazi Germany was not regarded as the enemy; rather, it was an ally in the fight against the Soviet Union, or the “Russians.” And therefore the negativity associated with Nazis and Nazism is weak, if not absent, in the Ukrainian context, where “uncle Hitler” was seen as a liberator from the Soviets.

This positive view of Germany goes back to that bloody period after the Russian Revolution, when Civil War broke out in all parts of what was once the Russian Empire, fueled by resistance to the Bolsheviks. As happened everywhere in the former Russian Empire, regions that did not want to become communist went into armed conflict with the Bolsheviks, including Ukraine, which declared itself independent of Moscow in 1918, with the establishment of the Ukrainian People’s Republic (UPR).

The Bolsheviks did not accept such independence and launched a series of highly successful campaigns in the region that saw the capture of key cities and put the UPR government in a position of total collapse. To prevent such collapse, the UPR turned for help to Germany, which quickly sent in troops and supplies, and bolstered the weak Ukrainian National Army (UNA), and beat back the Reds.

But it was 1918, and Germany itself was exhausted and before long signed the Armistice of November 11, 1918, thus ending the First World War. This left Ukraine to fight on, on its own, until gradually it lost and became part of the Soviet Union, in 1922, as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.
Thus, in the post-1917 Ukrainian psyche, the enemy was always the Soviets, or the Russians, while Germany, whether in the figure of Kaiser Wilhelm or Hitler, was always the friend. Thus, also Nazism carried none of the negative connotations in Ukraine as it carries in the West.

Stepan Bandera

A Nazi-sympathizer, collaborator and murderer, Stepan Bandera is nevertheless a hero for many now fighting the Russians in Ukraine. His statues are proudly displayed and streets are named after him. Who was he? (What follows is summarized from Stepan Bandera: The Life and Afterlife of a Ukrainian Nationalist, by Grzegorz Rossoliński-Liebe.)

Born in Galicia (now Western Ukraine, but then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire), Bandera early showed signs of violence. As a university student in Lvov, he routinely tortured himself in order to toughen himself up for the time when authorities might question him. Such discipline included self-flagellation and slamming a door on his fingers. He was getting ready for his life ahead—as a national revolutionary.

By this time, the Russian Revolution had already happened and new countries came into existence. But in Eastern Europe, the struggle was not simply the winning of a national destiny but also the fight for or against communism; for the Russian Revolution had also unleashed a bloody civil war which would devour entire populations. What was once Galicia now became part of Poland. The eastern portions of Ukraine belonged to the Soviets. Both outcomes stuck in the craw of the nationalists who wanted to unite the western portion and the eastern portions into one unified whole (Ukraine). The eastern portions had already been engaged in a long, bloody war with the Soviets (from 1917 to 1921), a war which was lost.

At the age of 20, Bandera joined the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), in whose ranks he rose quickly, given his penchant for violence. Aside from robberies (to fund the movement), in 1933, he organized an attack on the Soviet embassy in Lvov, killing one of the staff. This was the first of his murders in the thousands. In 1934, he planned and carried out the assassination of Bronisław Pieracki, the Polish Minister of Internal Affairs, as well as other murders. Bandera was arrested by the Poles, tried and given a death sentence, which was commuted to life. But the killings continued. Things got so bad that the Polish government carried out mass arrests of OUN members, which led to further dislike of Poland. Just before the outbreak of the war, the general sentiment was to appeal to Hitler to come and rescue Ukraine.

And in 1939, it seemed Hitler granted the Ukrainians their dearest wish; he invaded Poland. In the fog of war, Bandera escaped from prison and made his way to his allies, the invading Germans. As Bandera declared the “German army as the army of allies.” Once safely among the Nazis, Bandera created a break-away “Bandera faction” of the OUN, known as “OUN-B[andera],” or Banderites, whose goal was to fashion a Nazi Ukraine, under the auspices of Hitler, because Bandera had stated that “German and Ukraine interests” were identical.

The Banderites set up various militias, such as the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) and Ukrainian People’s Militsiya, or the Ukrainian National Militsiya. The Banderites then undertook vicious reprisals and ethnic-cleaning actions, against Poles, communists, “ethnic Russians,” and against Jews. Or, in the words of Bandera: “Muscovites, Poles, and Jews” must be “destroyed.”

It was during this time that a distinct Ukrainian “identity” was also fashioned, one which stated that the “real” Ukrainians were supposed descendants of Vikings who set up Kievan Rus. There is no real historical or genetic basis for this designation, but it was a convenient merging with Nazi ideology. In other words, in the “true Ukraine,” there were the superior humans and the sub-humans. This “Germanic identity” of Ukraine would have tragic consequences down to today.

The inevitable result of all this was mass slaughter of those that were “undesirable,” the bloodiest of which occurred in June and July of 1941, all coordinated by Bandera, and in which some 9,000 people were murdered (Jews, Poles, and “Muscovites”).

Given the success of this violence and thinking that he had the upper hand, Bandera blundered and declared the Ukraine as independent, and so was promptly arrested by his friends, the Nazis, who sent him off to Sachsenhausen concentration camp, where he stayed until 1944, when he was released to coordinate resistance against the Red Army, a task he took up with renewed fervor.

After the war, the Banderites were reorganized by the British (MI6) and the CIA, as a way to fight the Soviets. During this time, Bandera moved about, often in disguise and in secret, and always protected by the many members of the former SS, who had found convenient shelter in Ukraine and who formed an extensive underground network.

During this time, Bandera and his organizations killed thousands; some say hundreds of thousands; and all the while he worked closely with the BND, the Federal Intelligence Service of what was then West Germany.

Finally, Bandera was assassinated by the Soviets in Munich, in 1959. But this did not end the deep influence of Hitler and the Nazis in the aspirations of Ukraine nationalists—so much so that it is now difficult to say where Nazism ends and Ukrainian nationalism begins.

In the new Ukraine, statues of Bandera are everywhere. He is the official, national hero.

Which Ukrainians?

In view of the above, it is important to note that theme of the “Ukrainian people” is again at the center of the current Ukraine-Russia conflict. In the West, this has come to mean an alliance with the “Ukrainians” in order to defeat the Russians who are regarded as aliens and who do not belong to “us.” Such is the legacy of Nazism in Ukraine, in that people repeat its core tenet of the inferior Other, in their “defense” of Ukraine. Russians are not “Western” and so must be fought and defeated. That is the gist of the hysterical Russophobia that now grips the West, where “innocent Ukraine” and the “bully Russia” has become “settled science.”

Few in the grip of this hysteria seem to want to understand the complexity involved, let alone the near-impossibility of separating Ukrainian nationalism from Nazism—for the Banderites never went away—meaning that the Ukraine was never de-Nazified. Rather, the Banderites became inseparable from the country’s power-structures and institutions. This relationship only intensified with the dissolution of the Soviet Union when Ukraine became independent in 1991, and when Ukrainian nationalism gained full legitimacy.

And the myth of a “superior, Germanic Ukrainian” was central to the “new Ukraine,” which in turn was central to Euromaidan and what came later—the relentless slaughter of the “sub-humans” in the Donbas regions, as many have meticulously catalogued from 2014 to today.

And according to current Ukrainian law, there are two kinds of “Ukrainians”—the “Germanic Ukrainians,” along with allied people, the Tatars and Karaites (neither of whom actually live in Ukraine).

Then, there are the undesirable people, who are not legally “Ukrainians.” These are the Slavs, and a few others like the Magyars and the Romani who are denied the use of their own language in public. They have to use the official “Ukrainian” language which officially has nothing to do with Russian (!!).

This is the “Law of the Indigenous Peoples of Ukraine” which states that only Germanic Ukrainians, Tatars and Karaites have “the right to fully enjoy all human rights and all fundamental freedoms.” It was signed into law by the current BFF of the West, President Volodymyr Zelensky, on July 21, 2021. In other words, racial segregation of society into the Uebermenschen and the Untermenschen.

This law is not an aberration; rather it reflects the widespread view of where Ukraine “belongs.” For example, in 2018, a book appeared (which became a bestseller and won the Stepan Bandera Prize) in which wide-ranging claims were made about ancient Aryan Ukrainians who invented all kinds of things, including civilization itself. The book was happily “reviewed” by three professors of history and philology at Lviv University (Iryna Kochan, Viktor Golubko and Iosif Los).

As a further demonstration of this positive understanding of Nazis, recently the Ukrainian Parliament tweeted out a photo, comparing what the Russians were supposedly doing to what happened to Hamburg in 1943. The tweet was subsequently deleted. This could again be naivete. But in the context of Ukraine’s twentieth-century history, this should never be assumed.

Then, there is Hitler as the protector of Ukraine, a trope that appears often in children’s school textbooks. For example, one of the more popular textbooks is Andrei Kozitsky’s История Украины. 1914-2014 (History of Ukraine. 1914-2014), in which Ukrainian patriots often wear Nazi uniforms.

In another such textbook, Hitler is nearly teary-eyed with Ukrainian nationalism: “On April 1, 1939, he [Hitler] said: ‘My soul aches when we see the suffering of the noble Ukrainian people… The time has come to create a common Ukrainian state.'”

In other words, in Ukraine, uncle Hitler was never the bad guy; and Nazis equal real Ukrainian nationalism.

The West’s Grooming Of Nazis

Although the term “Nazi” is tossed about in the West to smear ideological opponents, the West also has a long and sordid history of grooming neo-Nazis in Ukraine.

In 2007, the CIA put together a “conference” of various anti-Russian factions in Ukraine whose purpose seems nothing other than to groom neo-Nazis and jihadists, both groups being solidly anti-Russian. Overseeing the conference was Dmytro Yarosh, who led the Trident and the Right Sector, both neo-Nazi organizations. Yarosh’s career is widely known.

These various neo-Nazi units were organized into anti-Russian fighters, trained by the West, and which were integrated into the Ukrainian army. Victoria Nuland, in 2021, told Zelensky to appoint Yarosh as adviser to the Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian army—because no one can fight Russians better than Nazis, right? After 2014, the West actively protected these neo-Nazi groups

Of course, it is usual to hear that all this is “Russian disinformation,” and that Putin just likes to call people he doesn’t like “neo-Nazis.” The facts, however, are straight-forward enough. Here are the larger units of neo-Nazis, or Banderites currently fighting Russians in Ukraine:

  • Members of Svoboda (formerly the “Nation-Social Party of Ukraine,” which curiously rhymes with Hitler’s “National-Socialist German Workers Party”)
  • The AZOV Battalion (likely now destroyed by the Russians)
  • C14 of Kiev
  • The Aidar Battalion (destroyed recently by the Russians)
  • The Wotanjugend (who are actually Russian in origin)
  • Ukraine Patriot (co-founded by Andriy Parubiy)
  • The National Militia
  • Karpatska Sich
  • Freikorps

There are also many other smaller units (more than 30) that have merged with the larger ones, and all have been integrated into the Ukrainian army. And the various symbols of these organizations are common-place in Ukraine (i.e., the Sonnenrad, the Totenkopf, the Wolfsangel). After 2014, Ukraine also became the main “exporter” of Nazi ideology throughout the world (the mosque shooter in New Zealand was an ardent supporter, for example).

Fighting alongside the neo-Nazis and the Ukrainian army are a slew of jihadis and mercenaries, many of whom are from other Western neo-Nazi groups like the Misanthropic Division. These mercenaries are known as the International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine.

There are some who say that none of this is true because Zelensky is Jewish. There is no need to go into the history of Jewish collusion with the Nazis. Suffice to say that the Azov Battalion, and various other neo-Nazi militias, are funded by the oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky who happens to be Jewish and who, it is said, hand-picked Zelensky. Both men also figure prominently in the Pandora Papers which further explains Zelensky the billionaire, complete with a mansion in Florida, lording it over the poorest nation in Europe.

Trudeau And The Nazis

In 2016, the government of Canada invited Andriy Parubiy to Ottawa, when he was the leader of the Social-National Party of Ukraine (now Svoboda), co-founder of Ukraine Patriot, and at that time Parliamentary Speaker of the Rada (the Ukrainian parliament). And Trudeau met him again in Ukraine later that same year.

In 2018, Parubiy opined about democracy: “I’m a major supporter of direct democracy… By the way, I tell you that the biggest man, who practiced a direct democracy, was Adolf Aloizovich [Hitler—and note the use of the honorific form of Adolf’s name, to show great respect].”

In his inimical way, Trudeau lined up with Ukrainian nationalism in a tweet (here translated from the French): “Five years ago, brave Euromaidan protesters were killed in Ukraine while demanding a better future for their country. Today, we honour the Hundred Heavenly Heroes and their sacrifices for democracy. Canada will always stand with the Ukrainian people.”

Irony aside, from the man who is now dictator of Canada, “the Hundred Heavenly Heroes” refers to protestors during Euromaidan who died, many of whom were neo-Nazis.

This may all be put down to naivete, but it is also clear that when Parubiy was invited to Ottawa, the government was fully briefed about his neo-Nazi credentials. But it seemed not to matter, in the greater game of besting Russia.

Perhaps, therefore, it is not surprising that Trudeau’s prominent role in backing Zelensky does have a precedent, and that neo-Nazis in Ukraine are perfectly acceptable, as long as they fight Russians. This is a very old story in Ukraine.

More recently, the current Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland happily posed with a neo-Nazi banner and posted the photo on Twitter, then removed it and posted another without the banner, while saying that anyone who said that she posed with a neo-Nazi banner was obviously spreading “Russian disinformation.”

The black-and-red banner read: “Slava Ukraini” (“Glory to Ukraine”), and it was the slogan of Banderites and the official slogan of the OUN-B. The colors, black and red, are the banner of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA).

Of course, one should never believe one’s lying eyes. It is better to believe the official narrative. It is also said that Freeland’s own family has connections to Banderites. The point being, not blood-guilt, but the deep-rooted problem of Nazism in Ukraine.

Such images might be seen as “innocent mistakes.” But in the blood-soaked history of Ukrainian nationalism, they carry a lot of weight and are used as valuable currency.

But the West helping Nazis is also nothing new.

More Atrocities

Ever since 2014, the sad litany of atrocities committed by the neo-Nazis, especially the Azov Battalion, are well-known and widely catalogued. And in the recent conflict, it these neo-Nazi units who are at the forefront of committing further atrocities against civilians. And there are also false-flag operations and yet more atrocities. Where will justice for these crimes come from? From the enablers of the Nazis?

But it would seem, few in the West care, as long as we can all collectively hate Putin and his Russians. Hatred is a great unifier, while the West keeps handing out cash and Wunderwaffen, in the hope that a great Volkssturm will sweep the Russians back where they came from. But notice too that the model of such efforts is always Nazi Germany.

And why does no one object to civilians being made into combatants? Is it a tactical Western move to get “bad press” about Russians “killing civilians?” Whatever the case, Zelensky is certainly guilty of a terrible crime against his own people whom he has pitted against a trained, professional army—and how are Russian soldiers to differentiate between combatants and civilians? Such is the face of a war led by Wokists.

Putin famously, at the beginning of Operation Z, said that Ukraine was ruled by a bunch of drug-addicts and Nazis. Others have looked at the wide-spread drug habits of the rulers, and in the Ukrainian army. The neo-Nazis we have outlined here.

Russia will succeed in its objectives, because it is not led by hysterical woke social justice warriors; and Russia will finally ne-Nazify Ukraine, a job long overdue. Here is Konstantin Pulikovsky, the Russian commander who sets the record straight. His is a voice of true sobriety. (You can watch with translation enabled):

C.B. Forde practices permaculture and builds log-houses in remote locations.