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Ukrainians Are Not Nazis—and They Need Our Help

It’s one thing for libertarians to argue against helping Ukraine with weaponry, but it is quite another to call Ukrainians neo-Nazis and anti-Semitic [1], giving credence to the barrage of propaganda on Russian TV, and to try to defame their struggle. There are some elements that could be so described, especially in the Azov Brigade, [2] which fought key battles with the separatists and Russian invaders. But the national election last May showed them winning only 1 percent of the national vote and being decisively defeated. [3]

Let’s see: America allied with Stalin to defeat Hitler. We then gave succor to former Nazi scientists to help build our rockets. Today we are aiding the terrorist Kurdish PKK against ISIS in Syria (WSJ 7/25/15); [4] we are now on the same side as the Iranians to defeat ISIS in Iraq; and we sustained many assorted dictators during the Cold War. Think of the Saudis, too: we now help Saudi Arabia’s dictators (even refueling their bombers) to target and kill Yemenis who never did America any harm—indeed, they are al-Qaeda’s enemies.

Ukrainian history is bloody and complicated. After the Soviets killed some 7 million [5] Ukrainians, is it a wonder that many survivors welcomed the Germans? And their leader, Stepan Bandera [6], went on fighting for years. Resisting Ukrainians and Poles were only finally suppressed by Stalin five years after the end of the Second World War, in 1950. Anne Applebaum’s book Gulag [7] movingly describes how survivors in the labor camps revolted and killed their guards after Stalin’s death. They weren’t the intellectuals and peasants who filled the camps in the 1930s, who didn’t know how to fight and kill.

So now we have some conservatives and libertarians [8] unfortunately parroting and spreading Putin’s Russian accusations that a few hundred men who appeal to the mottos of the old resistance discredit all the millions of Ukrainians. And that therefore Ukraine should be abandoned.

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They’re wrong. But what should American policy be, and what are some possible avenues for compromise? Former Canadian intelligence officials [9] have put forth a very good analysis that explains, “Washington and its NATO allies have only the fuzziest idea of what they want to achieve but are nonetheless taking military measures apparently oblivious to their potential impact on Russian security interests. As Sun Tzu observed, ‘Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat’. In Europe, the noise people hear is the rumble of Russian mechanized forces preparing to move on Mariupol, Kharkiv and maybe Kiev.”

First, we should recognize that before Yanukovych’s ouster and the present crisis Russian interests were overly pressed and prejudiced [10] by European Union officials who “would have forced Ukraine to decide between Russia and the European Union [11], flatly rejecting Putin’s offer of a tripartite arrangement”—between Russia, Ukraine, and the EU—“that would allow Ukraine to sustain its ties with Russia.” There was even a proposal to change Ukraine’s railroad gauge from Russian to West European widths so trains could not easily travel into Russia, Ukraine’s main trading partner. The Association Agreement [12] between the EU and Ukraine alludes to “military-technological co-operation” and repeatedly addresses “mutual security” and defense. Small wonder that Russia felt threatened.

Most of these initiatives came from lower-level officials, perhaps even without the knowledge of Obama and Germany’s Chancellor Merkel. What’s more, Obama’s State Department European chief is a neoconservative, Victoria Nuland, inherited from Cheney’s gang of “rule-the-worlders.” It has been said of Western dealings with Ukraine that no grown-ups were in charge.

Putin’s actions in seizing Crimea and destabilizing Ukraine, however, needed a strong response. That doesn’t preclude negotiation: at a recent meeting of the Washington Oil & Gas Forum, [13] a speaker explained that Putin only has liquid reserves—some $200 billion—to carry on another two years before sanctions and the decline in oil prices cause real havoc with the Russian economy. He said that Russian officials lately seemed more open to compromise. In another context, Obama recently praised Putin for helping in the Iran negotiations.

But the Russians also require convincing that they cannot continue slicing up Ukraine without severe consequences. America should help the Ukrainians: defensive weapons, especially against tanks and artillery, should be on the table. First, however, Washington should reach out to Putin with diplomacy, especially now, after its successful beginning with Iran.

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has reported on a feasible structure of compromise. Russia would keep Crimea through “buying” a 99-year lease, paying with discounted gas deliveries to Ukraine. Ukraine would end its blockade, recognize the lease, and sell water and electricity to the peninsula. Free transit of citizens and goods of both nations would be guaranteed, and Russia would respect past property rights in place at the time of its invasion.

The breakaway East Ukraine would have some kind of federalist semi-autonomy within the nation. (Indeed, federalism could be a reform of tremendous significance for the prosperity of many nations afflicted by corruption and overly centralized governments, including Russia.) Ukraine would be part of both the European Union, through an association agreement, and belong to the Russian customs union. Europe and Russia would end their trade and investment restrictions and travel bans.

There is an encouraging example from the past, that of Austria after World War II. Russia and the West agreed that it would be neutral, with no foreign military bases or alliances: “neutrality on the Swiss model.” It worked very well. Austria prospered with peace and as a middle ground for commerce between East and West.

An agreement would be the crowning achievement of Obama—diplomacy and peace with Iran and Russia. Admittedly, diplomacy is tough for Republicans. Ever since the Civil War they have thought winning means demanding unconditional surrender. Most of their leaders think blockade and bombing should be the first measures in any dispute with other nations. (Former American Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Chas Freeman has written an excellent appeal for and explanation of diplomacy [14]. It explains why diplomacy is vital, especially for preventing and ending wars. It should be read by all Republicans in Congress.)

Finally, Washington should address the lies coming out of Russian media [15], including into America through RT. Google searches give prominence and credibility to Russian state-controlled “media” and bloggers who often promote disinformation. CNN in Russia has shut down because of the censorship and danger to its journalists. Anne Applebaum has suggested various ways to empower silenced Russian journalists [16] to help get their voices out to the Russian people.

I lectured in three Ukrainian cities years ago on “Free Market Lessons from Asia and Latin America [17],” sponsored by the American Foreign Policy Council [18] with a grant from CIPE [19]The Atlas Network [20] sponsored a special mission last fall to explain and promote free market, anti-corruption measures to the new government. Students for Liberty [21] held a special conference in Kiev. All the participants spoke of the idealistic young people working for Ukraine to emulate Europe rather than Putin’s Russia. Since Russians took over Crimea they have shut down Western television reception and curtailed the free Internet. Believe me, most Ukrainians do not want to come under the rule of modern Russian police state.

Jon Basil Utley is publisher of The American Conservative.

36 Comments (Open | Close)

36 Comments To "Ukrainians Are Not Nazis—and They Need Our Help"

#1 Comment By EngineerScotty On August 10, 2015 @ 2:47 am

Quite a bit of the TAC commentariat seems to be fond of the “Ukranians are Nazis” meme, and a few writers I can think of here seem to view Putin as a hero, for opposing the decadent liberals (gays, among others) within Russia.

But this has to be one of the better summaries of the present situation I’ve read, one that doesn’t attempt to reduce anyone involved to cardboard mustache-twirling villains.

#2 Comment By Tom On August 10, 2015 @ 2:49 am

Dual-association for Ukraine, guaranteed gas supplies, federalization — these are all good ideas. However, Crimea is different. How can Putin give it back without putting his own Presidency in jeopardy?

A 99 year lease over Crimea would have been a good idea if it had been proposed in 2013. However, Crimea is now a part of Russia. It is a much bigger deal to hand Crimea back to Ukraine.

We had to kill ten thousand Serbs in bombing raids before they would give up Kosovo. That was for a piece of territory that was full of Albanians. Crimea is full of Russians.

#3 Comment By Buzz Baldrin On August 10, 2015 @ 6:07 am

Communism’s command economy killed 7 million Ukrainians, a fraction of what it massacred in Red China.

The Cold War peace agreement put an end to the former Soviet Union’s deadly command economy. That threat is over.

And the peace agreement significantly reduced the chances of a nuclear war.

But the agreement, according to the primary negotiators, Baker and Gorbachev, stipulated that NATO would not expand eastward from Germany.

In my opinion, whatever gains Utley hopes to realize from Victoria Nuland’s American coup in the Ukraine is not worth resuming the Cold War with this blatant violation of the peace agreement.

As Pat Buchanan has pointed out, if threatened in Ukraine, Russia will most likely put its nukes on a tripwire because Russia’s conventional defenses cannot counter NATO’s.

Perhaps America’s future would be brighter if its leaders concentrated more on restoring America’s middle-class economy and its citizens’ quality of life than provoking a formidable nuclear power.

#4 Comment By Philip Giraldi On August 10, 2015 @ 7:24 am

Sorry Jon but “Putin’s actions in seizing Crimea and destabilizing Ukraine, however, needed a strong response” hardly qualifies as a good or even sensible reason for the United States to get involved in a very dangerous game with a nuclear armed Russia. Particularly as we created the problem in the first place by expanding NATO and spending $5 billion to overthrow an elected government that we apparently disapproved of.

And one might also point out that well intentioned U.S. interventions over the past fifteen years have not turned out very well, so why should this one be any more successful? All of this is not to suggest that Putin is any better than he seems to be but risking returning to the Cold War over Ukraine is just not a very good idea.

#5 Comment By Brett Champion On August 10, 2015 @ 7:50 am

Ukraine is of no strategic importance to the United States. Ukraine has always been in the Russian orbit, no matter how awful the regime in Moscow/St. Petersburg might have been. Our relationship with Russia is far, far more important than anything that has happened so far in Ukraine. Even open war between Russia and Ukraine would not change that.

The US rarely misses an opportunity to butt out and let the rest of the world deal with their own problems in their own way.

#6 Comment By Mel Profit On August 10, 2015 @ 8:14 am

The charge is not that the “Ukrainian people” are Neo-Nazis but that a powerful–perhaps too powerful–contingent of arguably Neo-Nazi paramilitaries is putting enormous pressure on the current president, whose political weakness makes him vulnerable, to reject the Minsk Agreement and resume all-out effort against the “Breakaway East”. This is regularly reported in German and other European publications but almost never in the American press. One can ily understand why.

#7 Comment By John On August 10, 2015 @ 9:18 am

But the Russians also require convincing that they cannot continue slicing up Ukraine without severe consequences. America should help the Ukrainians: defensive weapons, especially against tanks and artillery, should be on the table.

First, what weapons are these specifically?

Second, what assurance would we have that they would be used only against military targets rather than civilian ones? By itself, a handful of shoulder-fired rocket launchers is just a good way to get your few dozen partisans killed against a column of armor supported by infantry and helicopter gunships; a more intelligent Ukrainian guerrilla force might try using them against a civilian target instead. How will we negotiate with Russia if the recipients of our weapons commit acts of terror against Russian civilians or civilians in allied populations throughout Ukraine?

Third, why do we think that these weapons are any less prone to resale or theft than weapons with which we have flooded other conflicts? ISIS has done a lot of damage with weapons we have given to forces allied with the central government in Iraq. Why would this be different?

#8 Comment By Johann On August 10, 2015 @ 10:38 am

What Tom and Philip said. The only thing I would add is that “getting” Ukraine is like getting a free puppy. We and/or the EU would have to feed it and clean up its messes.

#9 Comment By David On August 10, 2015 @ 10:49 am

“Since Russians took over Crimea they have shut down Western television reception and curtailed the free Internet.” Can you please provide some evidence for this? On the contrary, it would appear to be the West that is trying to isolate Crimea from the Internet, as Apple, Google, PayPal, MasterCard, Visa and numerous others have all been forced by Western sanctions to suspend services in Crimea. And how has Western television reception been “shut down” by the Russians in Crimea? As far as I am aware, much of it was via satellite; are the Russians now blocking satellite transmissions?

#10 Comment By Andrew W On August 10, 2015 @ 11:43 am

[22] Unless the BBC is now a wing of RT I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the Ukrainian far right as just a few hundred men.

A diplomatic solution would be nice, it would give Putin and Obama an out, but Ukraine ultimately has to know in no uncertain terms that the United States isn’t going to come in and drive out the Russians if they just hold out long enough.

#11 Comment By Mark Thomason On August 10, 2015 @ 11:46 am

All Ukrainians are not Nazis and are not antisemitic.

Some are. Some important ones are. Some in government, and some of the more effective military units.

This is troubling. Denial is wrong, and can only get us in trouble.

#12 Comment By John Sobieski On August 10, 2015 @ 11:48 am

Three points:

Re: Stepan Bandera, it needs to be remembered that he also fought against the Nazis, and spent time in prison as a result.

Re: some kind of neutral status for Ukraine. Putin will never accept a neutral Ukraine as Kiev is central to the Russian national founding myth.

Re: semi-autonomy for east Ukraine, nothing would be more perfect for Putin. He doesn’t want east Ukraine to be a part of Russia. He wants east Ukraine to be a cancer within Ukraine that he controls.

#13 Comment By KD On August 10, 2015 @ 11:49 am

It is very unfair to compare the Ukrainians to the Nazi’s. The Ukrainians are the new Palestians, and the nice proposals batted about are akin to the “two-state” solutions being batted about. Like all dreams of peaceful co-existence, they seem to be lacking a sword that would bring them into reality.

Sadly, I think Russia views Ukraine as essential to its National Security (the way we might react if Canada became a Chinese satellite), and the US views this as muscle flexing (what is our national interest in Ukraine). Russia is much more likely to play nuclear chicken than the US on this issue, and I don’t think the US has the stomach. We can play the yippey-dog for a while, but the dog will get kicked if it seriously thwarts the geopolitical calculus of Russia.

#14 Comment By Fran Macadam On August 10, 2015 @ 12:35 pm

Anne Applebaum has been vociferous in advocating externally imposed “regime change” in Russia, even calling for “total war” against it. She is married to the former Polish Foreign Minister and became a Polish citizen in 2013. Her interests are skewed in the same way that a former American is now the Israeli ambassador to Washington, an advocate for foreign goals, not ours, that is, not those of the actual American people.

Another blind spot is not recognizing that it is not a “Russian invasion” that millions of ethnic Russians are citizens within Ukraine and comprise a majority of the eastern part of the country. The coup was a U.S. neocon regime change operation, classic divide and conquer, encouraging conflict between the country’s citizens. The easterners would not have rebelled against the U.S. backed new regime in Kiev had they not been threatened with loss of autonomy and being considered internal enemies, with complete loss of representation. There can be no doubt they were met with repression, simply because they are ethnically Russian – not surprising, given that Russia itself was birthed in Kiev, so they are hardly recent immigrants to the Ukraine, but the descendants of its founders.

It’s very clear that the Crimea is essential to Russian military defense, which makes it a coveted prize in the balance of power between the U.S. and Russia, one in which the U.S. has not been shy in pursuing dominance and ultimately the goal of a subservient Russian client state. That the goal is rather “freedom” and “democracy” for Russians, rather than the goal of a nation whose leadership would be compliant, is belied by current military, economic and political support for dictatorships like Egypt’s highly repressive Sisi, who himself overthrew a democracy and imprisons, tortures and executes thousands, including journalists. One might as well propose returning the military base of Guantanamo to the country in which it resides, Cuba, to see whether all this talk about self determination is even-handed or simply is a ruse to mask power ambitions by what amounts to one set of oligarchs against another. There would have indeed been a U.S. military base in the Crimea’s Sebastopol supplanting that of Russia; that was in fact the strategic military goal.

It is rather hard to expect Russia’s journalists to be any less advocates for the Russian view, when our own mainstream courtiers to power, owned by a few corporations who also are the oligarchical donorists who choose and vet our politicians, are little more than stenographers of partisan government propaganda as well.

#15 Comment By Cesar Jeopardy On August 10, 2015 @ 12:43 pm

It doesn’t matter what “deal” is made by the west with Russia. They U.S. will break any deal within 5 years. The fact is, Russia response to the west’s subversion of the Ukrainian government has been quite restrained. It appears that there was approval of this subversion was approved at the top–otherwise Nuland would have been replaced ASAP after the coup. I’ve read that Nuland might very well be made SoS if Jeb Bush were elected as POTUS, which admitedly seems unlikely. There seem to be no grownups in charge of any U.S. foreign policy. .

#16 Comment By Dan Phillips On August 10, 2015 @ 12:50 pm

Libertarians and authentic conservatives should not support foreign aid to any country based on first principles. This should be a no brainer. Foreign aid is also unconstitutional on enumerated powers grounds. While you could arguably justify certain payments that are part of doing business internationally as a legitimate constitutional expenditure, aid for humanitarian reasons or as generalized influence buying is not authorized.

#17 Comment By ADL On August 10, 2015 @ 1:14 pm

“Washington and its NATO allies have only the fuzziest idea of what they want to achieve but are nonetheless taking military measures apparently oblivious to their potential impact on Russian security interests.”

I thought this whole thing began when the West tried to pull Ukraine from out of the “Russian sphere of influence” so Putin countered by destabilizing Ukraine with a border war that keeps it out of NATO (I understand that NATO treaty forbids any border disputes with neighboring countries as a precondition of membership).

As for US strategy, I don’t know if there are any options beyond keeping Russia bogged down in eastern Ukraine: offer enough support to the Ukrainians that allows them to make Russia bleed from a thousand paper cuts, while the US sends out signals to the FSB/army that Russian economy would improve if Putin and his cronies were pushed out. Maybe even the US would look the other way if the Donensk region became the new GDR– but only if Putin got packed off to Switzerland.

#18 Comment By Aaron Paolozzi On August 10, 2015 @ 1:47 pm

Brett Champion said it well

This article is part of the “freedom agenda” whether it realizes it or not. The argument here is that we should be opposing Putin because he is oppressive and the poor Ukrainians have been Russia’s whipping boy for some time. Both of these things are true, but you have no at any point told me how this helps the United States of America in any other way than feeling like we punched a kids bully for him.

What I find incredulous is that some people might have just read what I said about the bully and then go “how can you not say that is a good enough reason to et involved” I can say that because its not a good enough reason to go to war. People are killed in war, our people, their people, but more importantly our people.

Russia will not listen to us when it comes to Ukraine, that is like Russia lecturing us about how to deal with Canada or Mexico, we would laugh and continue doing what we were doing.

Ukraine has nothing to offer aside from death and the feeling that we did the right thing, and if the deaths don’t outweigh that feeling then someone you love probably doesn’t serve in the military, and if they do then you really don’t understand the magnitude of a war with Russia. It will be bad, period.

Every American thinking that we should be apart of any military activity against Russia right now is thinking this is the mid to late nineties Russia. Guess what, Russia has modernized much of its military, and they have sharpened their command structure by learning from errors in their roflstomp of Georgia, and they will be ready for any fight coming their way. We don’t want to fight China, because it would be nasty, we should be thinking the same thing about Russia.

Even with all of these arguments, its come back to one thing. It’s just not worth it. Ukraine has nothing to offer us.

#19 Comment By Andrew W On August 10, 2015 @ 2:46 pm

I would point out as well that we’re not talking about splitting Ukraine in half. Even without the Crimea and the areas in revolt Ukraine would be one o the largest countries in Europe, would retain Odessa (Kiev and Lviv are not even remotely threatened) and without the pro-Russian vote amongst ethnic Russians in the east might see less of the east/west push pull.

I would also recommend that people in the US speculating on the relationship between Ukrainians and Russians spend some time with the expat community here in the USA. Russians and Ukrainians living in the US often socialize together as quickly and easily as Americans and Canadians do when we’re expatriated. (One does not see this with Baltic people or non-Russians from central Asia) Putin won’t live forever and odds are that culturally Ukraine will gravitate back into Russia’s camp.

#20 Comment By Siberian Conservative On August 10, 2015 @ 4:05 pm

Of course the Ukrainians (vast majority of them) are not Nazis but I cannot agree with a phrase “After the Soviets killed some 7 million Ukrainians, is it a wonder that many survivors welcomed the Germans?”. Most Ukrainians fight with Hitler’s Germany along with Russians and Americans. As for Stepan Bandera, he could not be their leader because he and his followers were from the Western Ukraine that was not part of the Soviet Union at the time of those tragic events.

#21 Comment By Kurt Gayle On August 10, 2015 @ 5:15 pm

John Basil Utley advances a proposal that holds the key to the current Ukraine crisis:

“There is an encouraging example from the past, that of Austria after World War II. Russia and the West agreed that it would be neutral, with no foreign military bases or alliances: ‘neutrality on the Swiss model.’ It worked very well. Austria prospered with peace and as a middle ground for commerce between East and West.”

But Mr. Utley — (1) having acknowledged the role of the West (especially the US) in engineering the Ukraine crisis and (2) having agreed that “first, however, Washington should reach out to Putin with diplomacy” – then lends implicit support to the Republican House and Senate bills for sending so-called “defensive weapons” to Kiev by proposing that “America should help the Ukrainians: defensive weapons, especially against tanks and artillery, should be on the table.”

Not a helpful suggestion, Mr. Utley!

As Pat Buchanan warned back on June 23rd:

“Congress is voting to give Kiev a green light and the weaponry to attempt a recapture of Donetsk and Luhansk from pro-Russian rebels, who have split off from Ukraine, and Crimea, annexed by Moscow. If the Pentagon…is about to provide arms to Kiev to attack the rebels in East Ukraine, we are headed for a U.S.-Russian confrontation unlike any seen since the Cold War…We are today risking a collision with Russia in…Ukraine, where no vital U.S. interest has ever existed and where our adversary enjoys military superiority…If NATO ups the military ante, Moscow can readily trump it. Moscow has significant advantages in conventional forces—backed by potent tactical nuclear weapons and a stated willingness to use them to sustain advantages or avoid defeat. The last thing NATO wants is to look weak or lose a confrontation. And NATO losing any such confrontation is the likely outcome of the collision provoked by the Pentagon and John McCain.”

Buchanan’s key words — “Ukraine, where no vital U.S. interest has ever existed and where our adversary enjoys military superiority” – make Mr. Utley’s proposal for a neutral Ukraine “with no foreign military bases or alliances” the much-preferred solution to the current crisis.

#22 Comment By antheros On August 10, 2015 @ 5:21 pm

“Washington and its NATO allies have only the fuzziest idea of what they want to achieve…”

That is a great argument for doing nothing until the situation clarifies and we decide what we want to accomplish.

#23 Comment By Nick On August 10, 2015 @ 5:29 pm

“CNN in Russia has shut down…” It is working since 29th April, the problem was in moneys as usual. CNN didnt pay for license in time. This part of artocle is catastrophic failure.

#24 Comment By alexei On August 10, 2015 @ 6:23 pm

I am inpressed by quality of the comments here. I hope they reflect a mainstream thinking. Some forums look too simplified and the discussions are between just few nicks. I think if one reads all comments here, he will be aware of essential arguments and facts that make conflicting positions so difficult to reconcile.

#25 Comment By SmoothieX12 (aka Andrew) On August 10, 2015 @ 6:28 pm

As Sun Tzu observed, ‘Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat’.

Sun Tzu also observed “Know Thy Enemy”. I don’t observe any efforts on this front in US and do not consider them likely in a future, the same as application of the other Sun Tzu’s dictum “Know Thy Self”.

#26 Comment By alexei On August 10, 2015 @ 7:15 pm

I am impressed by the quality of comments here. I hope they reflect mainstream thinking of one side in the discussion. If one reads them all, he would be aware of major arguments that are made by both conflicting sides.

#27 Comment By EliteCommInc. On August 10, 2015 @ 9:22 pm

“Putin’s actions in seizing Crimea and destabilizing Ukraine, however, needed a strong response. That doesn’t preclude negotiation . . .”

If you could explain to me why a Ukrainian revolution, violent and uncontrolled was neccessary in the first place, maybe I could bend.

Up until this article I had not heard the Ukrainians called Nazis. Sounds “silly.” But it does reflect a form of rhetoric floating around constanty to disparage people. I would certainly agree that we need to support the Ukrainians as we do all struggling democracies. But arminn them to take on the Russians seems an easy trap to sidestep.

I also not inclined to let slide the outright contend that Russia seized the Ukraine. If the Ukrainians desire the support of the US, then they should exercise patience with the democratic process. It is slow and messy. That means they are going to have to have a sit down with their fellow Ukrainians up north and resolve the issues that spilled over as the result of the revolution, in my view.

Furthermore, since the EU encouraged the matter and exist on station . . . their silence is deafening as is their aide.

#28 Comment By Michael On August 11, 2015 @ 8:23 am

There are Nazis in the Ukraine, and they have more of an effect on the situation than Putin. People in the Donbass region want to be free from Ukrainian tyranny, and this new illegitimate government that overthrew a democratically elected government in an illegal coup. Just think if the Republicans had a coup in the US and overthrew Obama or the Democrats overthrew Bush or any other president in the US. This would likely cause a civil war. That is exactly what is occurring in Eastern Ukraine.

#29 Comment By brians On August 11, 2015 @ 10:55 am

Good article as far as what’s there, but the gaping hole here is that it doesn’t address the U.S. role in the destabilization of Ukraine prior to the Russian annex of Crimea.

Great comments, both sides. Putin’s no saint, but U.S. leadership is evil to the core. Putin seems to represent his own people’s interest much better than U.S. leadership does.

#30 Comment By Jeremy On August 11, 2015 @ 12:53 pm

It’s kind of hard to buy the accusations of Nazism and fascism against Euromaidan and Ukraine’s current government when neo-Nazis and far-right types in general outside of Ukraine think Putin is just great. Then you have the Golden Dawn guy I saw in a Russia Today video clip (I can’t seem to find it online) who called Euromaidan Nazis and fascists who were also controlled by Jews, which made me wonder if Godwin’s law had collapsed in on itself or had reached it logical conclusion.

Of course, one could argue that neo-Nazis and fascists are clueless idiots anyway and Putin is far from a Nazi himself (no self-respecting Russian nationalist would be), but it still seems like a case of the pot calling the kettle black, not to mention that Putin is still quite happy to exploit his Western anti-EU far-right admirers to his advantage.

#31 Comment By Rossbach On August 11, 2015 @ 1:13 pm

Who cares whether the leadership in Ukraine is “Nazi” or not? Why is this our problem? The US has no vital interests in Ukraine. Why risk a major European war because of a border dispute between 2 nations on the other side of the world? Haven’t we got better things to do?

#32 Comment By sglover On August 11, 2015 @ 6:28 pm

There are Nazis in the Ukraine, and they have more of an effect on the situation than Putin. People in the Donbass region want to be free from Ukrainian tyranny, and this new illegitimate government that overthrew a democratically elected government in an illegal coup.

There are factions in Ukraine that seem to have a fetish for Nazi-ish thinking and fashions. There are other factions (overlapping with the first in some ways) that seem to delight in idiotically sticking their thumbs in the eyes of Russophilic easterners, i.e., their neighbors. Both of these camps have more sway than they should, and they will only cause Ukraine difficulties.

But they do not hold complete sway in Ukraine, not even close. It’s a big, complicated society. Talk about “Ukrainian tyranny” is excessive.

It’s kind of hard to buy the accusations of Nazism and fascism against Euromaidan and Ukraine’s current government when neo-Nazis and far-right types in general outside of Ukraine think Putin is just great.

There’s a weird grudge-based proto-ideology that cuts across conventional ideological lines. It’s all over the world, not just in Ukraine. Call it “young male resentment against modernity”, for lack of a better name. Anyway, I’ll bet a month’s pay that if you took a platoon of the Azov battalion and another from the Donestk People’s Republic militia, and put them together in some neutral location, you’d find that their mindsets would be more than nine-tenths identical.

#33 Comment By Fabian On August 13, 2015 @ 6:12 pm

So many things to say about the situation there but congratulations to promote diplomacy over yet another war and to be assertive enough to recognize the Russian point of view. However, what’s missing and is typically big Western country thinking; what do people say in the East and in Crimea? Nobody seems to care about those who effectively live there. I’d tend to think that this revolt is still going on not so much because of the Russian support but because of population support and in Crimea there isn’t even a revolt.

#34 Comment By Maxine On August 13, 2015 @ 8:50 pm

Oh, so yet another country in which the US should intervene and bring into NATO or the EU?

Really, how necessary is it for Europe and the U.S. to do ANYTHING about Ukraine? What is so wonderful about Ukraine, while the US is overstretched and in debt?

How many more wars? Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, ISIS, and more are not enough?

What American lobby wants these wars?

#35 Comment By EstonianWolf On August 16, 2015 @ 10:37 am

Why does US have to be involved in Ukraine? Hmm, doesn’t anyone remember that back in 1994, US was one of the guarantors of Ukraine’s territorial integrity via Budapest memorandum? Without that, Ukraine would still be a very major nuclear power. Therefore US is *anyway* involved, if it wants to be or not.

Regarding Nazis and “Nazis” one should remind that even true Ukrainian Nazis never participated in any atrocities against Russian-speaking civilians in WWII. Very simple reason – there were no Russian speaking civilians, where the controversial UPA and OUN were active. Western Ukraine had NEVER been under Russian rule until 1939. Therefore, the whole story of “Ukrainian Nazis again threatening Russian(speaking) civilians” is generally a nonsense with zero historical background.

What everyone should follow, though, is the position of Polish government and public towards the possible Ukrainian neo-Nazis. There were well-known massacres against *Polish* civilians in W Ukraine that has been a very painful topic in Polish minds for decades. One can be sure that if the “wrong” heroes would be promoted (there have been attempts), Poland will react. So far, if it’s OK for Poland, it should be OK for everyone else, too.

One more note: attempts to show the conflict in Ukraine, as a struggle between Russian-speaking and Ukrainian-speaking populations shows total incompetence about the circumstances. In fact, the main language spoken does not matter much in Ukraine. The situation is rather similar to that in (Northern) Ireland, where even the fiercest nationalist is likely to speak the language of the “old enemy” as the mother tongue. Pretty much the same in Ukraine, for example, “Azov” and “Donbass” bataillons are mostly Russian-speaking.

#36 Comment By Markus On August 23, 2015 @ 8:01 pm

Without American/EU neocon/neoliberal “help” (Kagan, Nuland, McCain, Soros etc.) there’d be no civil war in Ukraine. And no 10k or 50k+ (as per German FAZ media) dead in the country.