Fighting Nazism in Ukraine and the West’s Standoff with Russia

*Mikhail Noskov

Far-right activists march through the streets of Kiev in torch-lit processions on the occasion of Stepan Bandera’s birthday, January 2022

In just a few days comes the 77th anniversary of the decisive victory over Nazi Germany in World War II in which the Soviet Union played a pivotal role. This is a reminder to all of those – first and foremost in the West – who for far too long have been indulging in historical revisionism trying to play down the Soviet soldier’s heroism in putting an end to the Nazi death machine. The Great Patriotic War – a term used in Russia to refer to the bloodiest conflict in the history of mankind – raged between June 1941 and May 1945 and took, as you know, a drastic toll on the Soviet people with a number of 27 million deaths.

Clearly, Russia doesn’t forget about large arms, raw materials, food and military equipment supplies to the Soviet Union sent by the Allies. We appreciate Iceland’s participation in organizing the Arctic convoys for lend-lease aid to the Soviet Union that started off in August 1941.

However, what is indisputable is that it was the Red Army that took most of the hardship in combating Nazism in Europe. There is almost no family in Russia that wasn’t suffered in the Great Patriotic War. Therefore, it’s in our DNA that the people of Russia find the hateful Nazi ideology completely intolerable.

Over the decades, the memory of the Nazis atrocities and crimes against humanity during World War II remained a powerful tool hindering the spread of their hideous ideas across the globe. Now, as painful as it must be to admit, those ideas seem to have re-emerged in Ukraine’s current political landscape – and that happened in a country whose people together with other peoples of the USSR fought against Nazi Germany during the Great Patriotic War.

The ultra-right groups in modern Ukraine who, with officials turning a blind eye to them or even approving of their deeds, have long been promoting Nazi ideology and anti-Russian sentiment, “russophobia”, among our brothers. To that end, chief Ukrainian nationalists such as Symon Petliura, Stepan Bandera, Yevhen Konovalets, Roman Shukhevych, Yaroslav Stestsko and Andriy Melnyk have been insistently praised as new “moral beacons.” Ukraine at the state level has been honoring these so-called “war heroes” since 2014. On October 14, they celebrate the so called “Day of Defenders and Defendresses of Ukraine” coinciding with the founding day of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army which in World War II sided with Nazi Germany. On this day, far-right activists march through the streets of Kiev and other Ukrainian cities in torch-lit processions bearing hostile, primarily russophobic, banners.

The first legislative initiatives of the Kiev regime that came to power in 2014 backed by radical neo-Nazi groups were aimed at restricting the rights of the Russian-speaking people in south-eastern Ukraine discriminating them on the ethnicity and language grounds.

A question we’ve been asked a lot is how many Russian-speaking people are there in Ukraine? Most of the numbers given by Ukrainian pollsters are inadequate and have been obtained under pressure. Feared of physical assaults by neo-Nazis, many Ukrainians didn’t tell the truth. Yet, even those polls estimated Ukrainian citizens who consider Russian as their mother tongue at 35–40% while those who speak Russian in their day-to-day life at over 65%. Meanwhile, a most interesting take on the matter was provided by a 2013 Gallup poll when participants were mailed letters with two questionnaires – one in Russian and the other in Ukrainian. The questions in their own right turned out irrelevant while what mattered was which questionnaire – Russian or Ukrainian – people filled in. 83% of respondents picked the Russian one.

Cancelling the law making Russian a regional language in Ukraine, ban of the Russian television channels, persecution of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and independent media sparked mass protests and large-scale rallies in Dnepropetrovsk, Donetsk, Lugansk, Kharkov, Odessa, and other cities where people consider Russian their mother tongue.

Several punitive actions were taken against dissenters. In Kharkov, Odessa, Dnepropetrovsk and some other cities, dozens of activists from pro-Russian movements were exterminated. More recently, threats against the opposition have been followed by sanctions imposed by the Ukrainian authorities against their own people.

Concurrently, the most favorable environment was created to promote the rise of neo-Nazi paramilitary units, such as the “Azov”, “Aidar”, and “Tornado” battalions, among others. Incidentally, Ukraine is the only OSCE member in which Nazi units are incorporated into the security forces. The “Azov” battalion, which is part of Ukraine’s National Guard, wears the symbols of Hitler’s Nazi party and some SS units as insignia with the Ukrainian authorities doing nothing to stop that.

Since 2014 the Ukrainian policies have been strongly influenced by revisionism pursued by authorities that came to power following a coup basically backed by certain Western countries. Their overtures with nationalist groups have spiraled into militant “russophobia“, nationalism and xenophobiacultivated in the younger generation and public glorification of the “national liberation movement” members who in reality collaborated with the Nazis and killed and sent thousands of people, including Ukrainians, to death camps.

There are numerous documented human rights violations and war crimes by the Kiev regime. Since 2014, the Russian Investigative Committee has launched about 800 criminal cases concerning the tragic incidents in Donbass and Ukraine which  involved high-ranking military and political leaders.

Throughout the past eight years, people in Donbass have been violently abused – killed, crippled, tortured. Their homes have been continuously shelled, using artillery and aviation among other weapons.

Those people had no choice but to stand up to defend their homes. Former miners, workers, teachers, and doctors took up arms and entered into an unequal battle with the Ukrainian military units, which included the so-called “punitive battalions” consisting of neo-Nazis and ultranationalists.

On February 11–12, 2015 Minsk hosted a summit that welcomed the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France, and Germany. The high-ranking meeting resulted in a set of provisions needed to implement the Minsk agreements aimed at resolving the ongoing Ukrainian crisis. Ukraine and the Donbass Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk (DPR and LPR) made a commitment to cease fire and withdraw their forces from the contact line. Ukraine was also supposed to adopt a law granting the special status to certain areas of Donetsk and Lugansk regions and run local elections there taking into account the position of the DPR and LPR officials.

An OSCE monitoring mission was to report on the developments in Ukraine (including the parties fulfillment of the agreements). From that point, it confirmed hundreds of thousands ceasefire violations on the Ukrainian part. On April 14, 2014 – December 31, 2021 the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) confirmed over 14,000 deaths including at least 152 children. A memorial for those children known as “Alley of Angels” was erected in Donetsk on June 1, 2015.

During the years of the conflict Russia, not being a party to it, did everything it possibly could to have the Minsk agreements fully implemented, as soon as them being the only real alternative to the military scenario. Yet, every year it was getting clearer and clearer that officials in Kiev didn’t plan on taking any action to stop the long-lasting suffering of the Donbass people. And that was happening with the West silent approval, looking to make Ukraine the “anti-Russia” and stir up hatred between our nations.

Kiev anti-Russian policy, indulging neo-Nazis, incapability to prevent their atrocities against the civilians living in Donbass, undermining the Minsk agreements and as a result the reality of the security threats for Russia itself taking into account the active “mastering” of the Ukrainian territory by the NATO member-states as well as officially announced intentions to neglect the non-nuclear status of Ukraine led to the official recognition of the DPR and the LPR as independent states on February 21, 2022 by the Russian leadership. On February 24, 2022, in accordance with Article 51, Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, with the approval of the Upper Chamber of the Russian Parliament and at the request of the leaders of DPR and LPR, the Russian Federation launched a special military operation on demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine, aimed at protecting people of Donbass(it’s worth mentioning that hundreds of thousands of them have Russian citizenship) and eliminating threats to Russia’s security.

Regretfully, most Western countries, including Iceland, simply didn’t mention or pretended not to mention the fact that Ukraine had been consistently preparing to execute a forceful scenario. A massive ground offensive against Donbass that would escalate into an attack against Russia’s Crimea was just a matter of time. Documents obtained by Russian military during the special operation confirm just that.

Besides, there have been revealed the facts proving that the Kiev regime tried to cover up the traces ofa military biological program run by Ukraine and funded by the US Department of Defense. On February 24, the day the Russian military special operation started, Kiev tried to urgently destroy particularly dangerous pathogens of plague, anthrax, tularemia, cholera and other deadly diseases in those biolaboratories. This makes anyone, even the one not being an expert in bio-weapons, assume that in the immediate vicinity of Russia, Ukraine developed military biological components. On March 24, Russia submitted to the UN Security Council the evidence of the Kiev’s criminal activities involving production of biological weapons in Ukraine.

These embarrassing findings have not gained the attention they deserve in the Western media. In Russia, it is no longer a surprise how the West overlooks everything that does not fit into the meticulously shaped image of the Ukrainian “defenders of freedom and democracy”. After all, in the West one cannot admit that these “heroes”, as they are portrayed by their policymakers, would be capable of killing their own people, targeting residential areas with heavy artillery, planting mines there and using civilians as human shields. As they would never torture or execute captured and unarmed Russian soldiers, stage provocations to discredit Russian military, carry out punitive raids against civilians with so-called “territorial defense units” and other forms of violence against civilians. Nor would they prepare terrorist acts to get rid of prominent Russian journalists. The crimes committed by the Ukrainian side are silenced down. As it was with their attacks on Donetsk and Kramatorsk with Tochka-U tactical missiles, which resulted in numerous civilian losses. This is why the existence of neo-Nazi groups openly operating across Ukraine and the facts of genocide against people of Donbass have been denied.

Instead, since the very first days of Russia’s special operation in Ukraine, Western countries have declared an unprecedented information war on Russia, with fake news as its main instrument. Every day, false and misleading interpretations of military forces Russia and the republics of Donbass motives and actions dominate the public space. The Western global media also relentlessly maintain the level of anti-Russian hype publishing stories featuring staged provocations.

The examples of such hoaxes are well-known. The “living dead” from Snake Island (who did not die, but voluntarily surrendered to Russian troops), the airstrike on a maternity hospital in Mariupol, in which, as it turned out later, a Ukrainian model and blogger played the role of “a victim”, the orchestrated provocation about the alleged killing of civilians by Russian servicemen in Bucha, just outside Kiev, and other examples of “blatant cruelty” of Russians aimed at discrediting the image of our country.

Meanwhile, reports exposing Kiev’s fake stories are blocked for allegedly being unreliable. Given these circumstances, people are deprived of the possibility to have an objective and unbiased coverage on that is going on in Ukraine. In fact, Western countries have completely blocked themselves from alternative points of view, which is contrary to their declared fundamental ideals of freedom of speech.

However, in this particular situation it makes no sense in appealing to such ideals. No politician in the West is going to consider them when the goal is to take advantage of Ukraine to undermine Russia. This plan has long been in the making. That is exactly why the US and NATO turned down a discussion on legally binding security guarantees put forward by Russia in December 2021. That is why Western partners of the current Kiev regime continue supplying it with weapons and military equipment in an effort to drag on Russia’s special operation and prevent peace in Ukraine.

Beside media clashes, economic sanctions are the second weapon of choice used by “Western democracies” against unwelcome states. Western countries are convinced that their chosen policy of strangling the Russian economy is the right one, turning a blind eye to the inevitable losses suffered by their own people. One shouldn’t forget that the unlawful sanctions imposed by the West against Russia are a double-edged sword, and those who are responsible for these sanctions have already been facing the implications of their actions. In March, the average inflation rate in the EU reached 7.5%, with food prices rising by 5% and energy prices by almost 45%. This rapid increase has already been compared to what happened in Europe during the 1973 world energy crisis.

The desire to put pressure on Russia and unleash the “russophobia” that has been building up over the years prevails over common sense and makes it impossible to accept the fact that the so-called “measures of influence” on our country – blatant anti-Russian propaganda, sanctions and suspension of cooperation in virtually all areas – are not paying off. I am positive that, sooner or later, Western leaders will come to realize that without proper cooperation and respect for the Russian interests, the today world cannot exist.

No one can “cancel” Russia considering its cultural, economic, scientific and political influence too strong to be neglected. Our country will thrive on the pressure as it always did throughout its history. Russia is rich not only in natural resources, but also in talented, dedicated people who are ready to make every effort to develop their country and move it forward.

As for the goals and objectives of Russia’s special military operation to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine, they will certainly be achieved despite large-scale arms and military equipment supplies provided by NATO to the Kiev regime. Threats to Russia’s security from Ukraine will be eliminated.

*Russian Ambassador to Iceland