From time to time you might see a Western commentator says that Ukraine does not have a Nazi problem because… fill in your lame reason… Usually they say that explicitly nationalist parties do not score significant electoral victories. That is partially true but when Svoboda was propped up financially under Yanukovych, they actually got seats in the Rada (the national parliament of Ukraine). The whole argument falls apart when you consider that the big oligarch supported parties in Ukraine that form the Rada now have pretty much adopted the nationalist program that consists of forcible Ukrainization, attack on canonical links between the Ukrainian and Russian Orthodox Churches, rehabilitation of Nazi collaborators and the demonisation of the Soviet past, and overall Russophobia.
Another argument that I have heard from Anton Shekhovtsov, an NGO worker that focuses on far right movements, is that the Nazis of the Azov battalion are not really a problem because they are under the control of the Ministry of Interior. Recently, I have watched Anatoly Shariy on the Vladimir Slovyov’s podcast, and he said: “Who cares if the Neonazis get low scores in elections, they have guns.” Well, they literally have tanks. My take on this has been that the West keeps a blind eye on Nazis in Ukraine because:
- Neonazis mean Western policies towards Ukraine may be discredited in the eyes of the Western public and therefore denial, half truths, and accusations of Russian disinformation.
- Ukraine has become something similar to Afghanistan in the eighties. There, Islamic fanatics were mobilised to fight the Soviets, and here Neonazis are mobilised to fight the Russian cultural element in Ukraine, the separatists in the East if not directly the Russian Federation.
Neonazis were instrumental in the victory of the Maidan and radical nationalism is used to repress pro-Russian people, and the Russian cultural element in Ukraine. I do not think the Azov Nazis would last against a Russian military but should the Russians intervene in Ukraine on behalf of the separatists, the West is going to enact sanctions and embargoes. Hence we have a situation where Nazis shell villages in Eastern Ukraine and it makes Russia look bad.
The other day, an interview with a former journalist of RFE/RL, Alexander Orlov for RT came to my attention, particularly because of this passage.
I translate: “There was a story from Ukraine. A story about a youth camp run by the battalion “Azov”, where children with the Wolfsangel rune on their jackets are playing war games. I have made a trailer with the title “From the heart to the Sun. A Neonazi camp youth camp was opened near Kiev.” Everyone was unhappy with it, and the Ukrainian section demanded I be sacked. (To their credit, a number of Western publications reported on the Azov Neonazi summer camp, although I believe the story of Neonazis in Ukraine deserves more attention than it gets)
“You are wrong, you are wrong” – Said [my] colleague Michael, the vice president actually, “Ukraine needs a little bit of this “national socialism” to win.”
One only wonders what they are winning by supporting a bunch of Hitler worshipers? We see a case of presenting American interests, which is to cause problems for Russia, as the interests of the Ukrainian people. But the opposite is the case, enmity with Russia is actually a detriment to the entire region, and it is in the interest of Eastern Europe to shed this enmity and mute the agents of American influence.
As for the brand of “national socialism”, this is basically the violent street culture of the Neonazis, which is not something you want to cultivate in your society. Ukraine has seen the murders of ordinary citizens by Neonazi thugs in recent years, in drunken street brawls, because since they have gained social acceptance, they have become much too bold and now prey on Ukrainian normies. There is some indication that the Ukrainian secret service is making attempts to spread this vile ideology among the youths of Russia but the FSB works rather well at countering it.
PS: Another interesting moment in the Alexander Orlov interview is where he tells that he was chastised for calling members of the Al Qaeda in Syria “terrorists”. Clearly, US is pimping and giving information cover to radical Muslims in Syria, and here you have an answer to why Russia is involved there. These terrorists employed against Assad’s regime will next be employed against Russia and their allies. A similar situation is with Ukraine and sooner or later Russia will be militarily involved there too.