Ukraine: Partisans and Collaborators

As a result of the present confrontation in Ukraine, much discussion has taken place about the possibility of an insurgency against Russian forces. At the same time, the extent of far-right entanglement with the post-Euromaidan Ukrainian government, driven in part by Putin’s stated intention of “de-nazification”, has been renewed as a topic of interest. In order to coherently understand these circumstances and the role of the West in bringing them about, the history of Ukraine since 2014 needs to be laid bare.

Euromaidan is commonly portrayed as a rising of ordinary Ukrainians that ousted a corrupt administration and established a democratic, Western-aligned government. This viewpoint, however, is seriously mistaken. Ukrainian-German researcher Volodymyr Ischenko and his team constructed a database of protest events and concluded that the far-right party Svoboda, with the help of moderate opposition parties, was the most active in the protests alongside the neo-Nazi Right Sector. Ukrainian-Canadian political scientist Ivan Katchanovski reached a similar conclusion and has also argued that, based on a massive range of videos, audio recordings, and witness accounts, the alleged massacre of protesters by government snipers was orchestrated by far-right and opposition parties.

During the protests, Senator John McCain met with the leader of Svoboda, Oleg Tyahnybok, who had been excluded from the moderate opposition in 2004 for demanding Ukrainians fight against the “Muscovite-Jewish mafia” (a view he explicitly stood by during the 2012 elections). Additionally, the National Endowment for Democracy and U.S. Agency for International Development, both of which have extensive histories of cooperation with the intelligence community, as well as the networks of billionaires Pierre Omidyar and George Soros, provided funding for Center UA, specifically its New Citizen initiative, which played a major role in organizing protests in Kiev.

Following the overthrow of Yanukovych, multiple members of Svoboda were appointed to cabinet positions. Neo-Nazi activity has flourished since then. The neo-Nazi group C14, which grew out of Svoboda and is known for attacking Roma camps, received financial support from the Ukrainian government. C14 works with security services to harass separatists as well as for construction companies to clear Roma camps. The former deputy commander of the Azov Battalion, Vadym Troyan, was appointed chief of police for Kyiv Oblast. Deep ties also exist between Arsen Avakov, an influential post-Maidan minister, and Andriy Biletsky, a key figure in the Ukrainian reactionary universe.

Connections are not limited to national politics alone. In 2017 photos were released showing Azov Battalion and U.S. military representatives shaking hands, one of the former wearing a Wolfsangel patch. Weapons manufactured by American company AirTronic surfaced in Donbas as part of a deal later confirmed to have taken place in “very close coordination with the U.S. Embassy, with the U.S. State Department, with the U.S. Pentagon, and with the Ukrainian government.” Members of the far-right organization Centuria, which has carried out bombings, proudly admit to having been trained by American, British, German, and Canadian instructors. Strong evidence also exists that Israel has provided arms and training to Azov militants.

In addition to support from official agencies, Ukrainian reactionaries have developed connections with Western paramilitary neo-Nazi formations, especially Atomwaffen and The Base. Atomwaffen branches are present in North America and Eastern Europe as well as Germany and Australia. A significant number of Atomwaffen members are active-duty military. The Department of Defense and military bureaucracy have little to no interest in combating this presence despite being aware that openly violent formations are able to acquire weapons and new members.

Investigating state connections to Atomwaffen and its network leads to Joshua Caleb Sutter, an FBI informant of nearly two decades who operated Martinet Press, a publishing outfit closely affiliated with not only Atomwaffen but the Order of Nine Angles, a multinational neo-Nazi formation with a Satanist bent. Sutter was paid more than $140,000 for the information he provided. Predictably, there have been multiple instances of active-duty soldiers affiliating with O9A and its offshoots. One member of O9A’s Canadian branch, Northern Order, was in training with the Canadian Armed Forces and was also in contact with Rinaldo Nazzaro, founder of The Base. Another member of the Canadian Armed Forces associated with Atomwaffen trafficked handguns, assault rifles, grenades, and RPG-7s from the Balkans to Marseille. There are also indications that O9A is connected to ritual murder and narcotics trafficking in Russia. North American Base and O9A cells have been involved in manufacturing psychedelics for ritual use.

Rinaldo Nazzaro, the aforementioned founder of The Base who maintains connections to Atomwaffen and O9A through training camps in North America, has an extensive history with the United States government. His earliest known connection is his contribution to Strategic Assessment 1998: Engaging Power for Peace, a report on world politics produced by the National Defense University, an arm of the Department of Defense that educates “future national security leaders.” In 1999, he briefly interned at the National Defense Council Foundation, an influential right-wing pressure group. The NDCF and its founder F. Andy Messing, a decorated Vietnam veteran and retired Major in the Special Forces Reserve, were participants in the Iran-Contra affair, with Messing having personally delivered $23,000 in cash to the contras. Messing was a close friend of Oliver North who had extensive connections to the White House and Pentagon, briefing Vice President George Bush on counterinsurgency. Messing was preoccupied with irregular warfare and in 1982 proposed with John K. Singlaub, a Spetsnaz-inspired force for use in low-intensity conflicts. In March 1999 Messing and Nazzaro co-wrote an op-ed arguing against the legalization of marijuana.

From 2004 to 2006 Nazzaro worked for the Department of Homeland Security as an intelligence analyst. Shortly before then he was engaged to a woman employed in the psychological operations division at Fort Bragg. In 2009, Nazzaro founded Omega Solutions International LLC in New York, which was also CAGE code, assigned to Department of Defense contractors, though no contracts are publicly listed. OSI’s now-defunct website listed counterterrorism and counterinsurgency consulting as available services. OSI also offered Watchtower, an “analytical software for law enforcement and military operations.” In 2014, Nazzaro briefed members of SOCOM on counterterrorism in the Middle East and had a top-secret security clearance. Nazzaro also worked as an FBI analyst at an undisclosed date.

At various points Nazzaro has claimed to have been a CIA field officer and also to have served as a contractor in Iraq and Afghanistan for about five years. A photograph exists of Nazzaro in front of the Victory Arch in Baghdad. The camera quality and the fact that Arch was partially dismantled between 2007 and 2011 indicates that Nazzaro was in Iraq sometime prior to 2007. Nazzaro having been a CIA field officer in the Middle East from roughly 2001 to 2004 before moving between various federal agencies and the private sector would complete the timeline of his activities since 1998. At the time of writing, however, his CIA employment has not been definitively confirmed.

Additionally, Atomwaffen, The Base, and O9A have long histories with child pornography and sexual violence. Multiple members of Atomwaffen have been charged with possessing and sharing explicit material involving children. Another member, who was part of a cell along with three Marines stationed at Camp Lejeune (one of whom later became a contractor for the Air Force and Navy), had starred in pornographic films portraying sexual abuse. Sonnenkrieg Division, Atomwaffen’s British branch, has featured multiple pedophiles among its ranks. A British member of O9A raped a 14-year-old girl and kidnapped a young man to sexually abuse him. A teenage boy influenced by O9A, also British,sexually assaulted two young girls.

To conclude, three of the most important groups in the modern far-right, all of which are heavily intertwined, are connected to a figure with an extensive history in the military-intelligence milieu, especially counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations. These formations are connected to far-right organizations in Ukraine which were influential in the Western-supported Maidan movement, have deep connections to the current Western-supported Ukrainian government, and are themselves the beneficiaries of Western military-intelligence support. It is very likely that the neo-Nazi paramilitary universe is being cultivated by Western militaries and intelligence services to produce deniable assets for deployment to Ukraine as insurgents. That the groups that comprise this universe promote the consumption and production of child pornography is both an organic result of their politics and perhaps a “screen” to eliminate incompetent members. Evidence also exists that cells engage in arms and narcotics trafficking to finance their operations, a shared characteristic with the historical Gladio network.

In light of recent tensions the military-intelligence community has made it clear that a potential insurgency in Ukraine would receive Western support. President Biden, however, has explicitly stated that no American troops would be deployed to Ukraine. Whether or not the new secret armies are used to fill this gap remains to be seen.