The US Department of Justice is Suddenly Interested in War Crimes Committed by Nazis in Donbas

From Buzzfeed. There aren’t any Nazis in Ukraine remember that?

The probe involves seven men but is centered on former Army soldier Craig Lang, who is separately wanted in connection with a double killing in Florida and is fighting extradition from Kyiv.

He (Craig Lang) first came in 2015 to fight with a far-right paramilitary unit, defending the country from Russia-backed forces. And he believed that if he were extradited back to the US, he could face war crimes charges.

“Any separatist or Russian soldier that I have killed would be a murder charge” in the US, Lang, 31, said in his gruff North Carolina drawl. “Understand that some of my fellow combatants are under investigation by the FBI for war crimes.”

It would be extremely rare for the US government to investigate its own citizens for alleged war crimes committed on foreign soil — no one, experts say, has ever been prosecuted, let alone convicted, under the US War Crimes Act. 

But now, BuzzFeed News can reveal that the Department of Justice and the FBI have in fact taken the extraordinary step of investigating a group of seven American fighters, including Lang, under the federal war crimes statute. Authorities suspect that while in eastern Ukraine, Lang and other members of the group allegedly took noncombatants as prisoners, beat them with their fists, kicked them, clobbered them with a sock filled with stones, and held them underwater.

You know, there are people, who have been talking about this for years hoping somebody in the West will listen.

The war crimes investigation was detailed in a DOJ appeal for assistance sent to the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine in 2018 along with two Ukrainian documents responding to the appeal the following year. The documents were leaked to an obscure pro-Russian website. BuzzFeed News reviewed and authenticated the documents and interviewed six people, in Kyiv and stateside, with direct knowledge of the US investigation. They include a top Ukrainian law enforcement official; a former Ukrainian National Police official who was involved in gathering information to fulfill the US appeal; and two other people who have assisted the FBI and spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.

That obscure pro-Russian website is UkrLeaks. The owner, Vasily Prozorov, according to my knowledge, was an agent of one of the Ukrainian secret services, who defected to Russia. He has taken many secret documents with him, The man also has a YouTube presence.

BuzzFeed News also interviewed Dalton Kennedy of North Carolina and David Kleman of Georgia, both 24, who had interviews with federal agents and provided proof of those encounters. They, along with Quinn Rickert, 27, of Illinois; Santi Pirtle, 30, of California; Brian Boyenger, 33, of North Carolina; and David Plaster, 37, of Missouri were investigated by the DOJ and FBI in the probe. When they arrived in Ukraine, Lang, Rickert, and Pirtle allegedly joined Right Sector, a volunteer far-right nationalist group that formed in November 2013 and later created a paramilitary force to respond to Russia’s invasion of eastern Ukraine in spring 2014. Human rights groups have accused Right Sector fighters of abusing and torturing civilians and combatants.

The DOJ — based on video and photo evidence, as well as interviews with some of Lang’s fellow American fighters — says in the documents that Lang was the main instigator of the alleged torture of detainees in eastern Ukraine. In April, BuzzFeed News detailed how Lang became increasingly radicalized while fighting in Ukraine and had ties to white supremacists. He now resides with his Ukrainian partner and their child in Kyiv. He was detained by Ukrainian border guards in August 2019, wears an ankle monitor, and is banned from leaving the country while he fights extradition to Fort Myers to face trial in the 2018 killings of Deana and Serafin “Danny” Lorenzo in Florida. Authorities allege that Lang and another former Army soldier who fought with Right Sector in Ukraine lured the couple to a meeting to buy guns — but instead ambushed them and robbed them of $3,000, used to fund Lang’s foreign fighting adventures.

The DOJ appeal doesn’t make clear whether US authorities had interviewed any alleged victims in Ukraine or confirmed that anyone was killed. But based on the evidence gathered, the DOJ appeal says, the Americans “allegedly committed or participated in torture, cruel or inhuman treatment or murder of persons who did not take (or stopped taking) an active part in hostilities and (or) intentionally inflicted grievous bodily harm on them.”

Roughly 40 other Americans have fought on the Ukrainian side, according to BuzzFeed News’ reporting and expert research. Many are veterans or men who had hoped to join the US military but couldn’t, and wanted to help a democratic ally in its fight against Russia’s aggressive authoritarianism. Others are opportunists who see a shot at a once-in-a-lifetime adventure and a fresh start. And several are combat enthusiasts who hop from war to war

…some are far-right extremists who have set their gaze on Ukraine, a place that has become a destination and training ground for such types in the West. As far-right extremism has risen in the US, so has the interest among American white supremacists in militarized right-wing Ukrainian groups that have had success in growing and mainstreaming their organizations and movements. They include violent neo-Nazis like those from the Rise Above Movement who have gone to Ukraine to meet and train with some of the groups — and then export what they learned to the US.

Unlike Buzzfeed, I personally think that most Westerners, who went to fight for Ukraine were motivated by radical nationalism, or were simply soldiers for hire. I do not think that many are democracy fetishists, who came to help Ukraine from Putler. I mean, the vast majority of Ukrainian volunteer battalions were nazi outfits.

That they were involved in banditry is a common knowledge in interested circles.

One thought on “The US Department of Justice is Suddenly Interested in War Crimes Committed by Nazis in Donbas

  1. “motivated by radical nationalism”, this is one thing worth to mention; I think the trouble makers nowadays are either one of these two; the neoliberal democracy fetishists who wish to spread their liberal democracy utopia globally, or the western nationalists who wish to boost their ego. While they tend to restrain themselves from unleashing their bullshit onto any Russian person on a personal, face to face basis, unlike they do to us. They tend to support known Russophobic fractions, from Navalny to Nazis in Ukraine. Neither of them are trustable.

    Like

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