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    1. #111
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      ‘Gods of War’: How the US weaponized Ukraine against Russia

      T. J. Coles | The Grayzone 1 april 2022


      Since the US-engineered 2013-14 coup in Ukraine, American forces have taught Ukrainians, including neo-Nazi units, how to fight in urban and other civilian areas. Weaponizing Ukraine is part of Washington’s quest for what the Pentagon calls “full spectrum dominance.”

      “[I]f you can learn all modalities of war, then you can be the god of war,” so said a Ukrainian artillery commander in 2016 while receiving training from the US Army.

      The unnamed commander was quoted by Lt. Claire Vanderberg, a mortar platoon leader training soldiers as part of the Pentagon’s Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine. The training has taken place at the absurdly named International Peacekeeping and Security Center, which sits close to the border with Poland near the Ukrainian town of Yavoriv. Western media reported Russia’s recent cruise missile attack on the base, but chose not to mention what has taken place inside.

      The relationship described above is a snapshot of a decades-long US-NATO effort to not only pull Ukraine from Russia’s orbit, but to actively weaponize the country against Moscow.

      US national security state acknowledges “Russia is pushing back,” not pushing first

      In their internal documents, the Pentagon and other arms of the US national security state reiterate the same arguments the anti-war left does when it explains how Ukraine has been used to provoke Russia into a military escalation. The principal difference is that the Pentagon speaks from an unabashedly imperialist perspective in which such provocations are seen as an important component of US power projection.

      Recently, the US Director of National Intelligence’s Annual Threat Assessment reported: “Russia is pushing back against Washington where it can—locally and globally—employing techniques up to and including the use of force.” Note: Russia is “pushing back,” not pushing first.

      A report from 2021 by the National Intelligence Council concedes of Russia and China: “Neither has felt secure in an international order designed for and dominated by democratic powers,” with “democratic” meaning the US and friends. Both Russia and China “have promoted a sovereignty-based international order that protects their absolute authority within their borders and geographic areas of influence.”

      In October 2017, US Army Field Artillery School Assistant Commandant, Col. Heyward Hutson, who is responsible for training Ukrainians, explained: “Ukraine wants to become a NATO nation, but Russia doesn’t want them to be a NATO nation. Russia wants to have a buffer zone.” He added that another “problem is a lot of Eastern Ukraine is pro-Russia so the civilian population there is divided.” A 2016 US Army War College report reiterated: “Russia’s basic national security strategy is to keep its ‘neighboring belt stable’, NATO weak, China close, and the United States focused elsewhere.”

      Another, from 2007, explains that the “pro-reform forces in power since the Orange Revolution” (read: pro-US forces) “would like to move Ukraine squarely into the Euro-Atlantic community with only limited deference to Russia.”

      The document goes on to note that, at the time, the “Ukrainian political and military leadership has remained divided over the question of whether Ukraine should pursue a collective security approach or retain its neutral status.” It concluded that, while “[m]ost senior [Ukrainian] commanders have pro-reform credentials… there are still large numbers of senior leaders within the Main Defense Forces who have no or only limited exposure to Western training and operations.”

      The US-sponsored coup of 2013-14 enabled Washington to smooth over that contradiction by launching an extensive program to train units of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.



      NATO is “not an exercise in diplomacy and deterrence as before”

      When the Soviet Union collapsed, so too did its military alliance, the Warsaw Pact. But the West not only refused to disband its alliance—the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)—it expanded up to Russia’s borders.

      NATO’s own records state that in 1992, “Just four months after Ukraine’s declaration of independence” from the USSR, “NATO invited its representative to an extraordinary meeting of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, the body set up to shape cooperation between NATO and the states of the former Warsaw Pact.”

      Russia did not propose a similar pact with America’s neighbors.

      In 1994, Ukraine joined the so-called Partnership for Peace (PFP). Citing the UN Charter, the PFP states that signatories agree “to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, to respect existing borders and to settle disputes by peaceful means.” A US State Department primer reveals that the PFP had an ulterior motive. Its real aim was not neutrality but to move Ukraine and other signatories closer to NATO. “Participation in PFP does not guarantee entry into NATO, but it is the best preparation for states interested in becoming NATO members.”

      The primer also lists the 52 actual and planned military exercises in which PFP members initially engaged on or near Russia’s borders.

      Bill Clinton-era policymakers explained that “NATO is not merely an exercise in preventive diplomacy and deterrence as before.” NATO expansion had a political agenda. They considered “NATO enlargement [a]s a democratization policy.” As above, “democratization” means pro-US. Citing President Clinton’s 1996 campaign speeches, the report notes that in their minds NATO “will provide the stability needed for greater economic development in Central and Eastern Europe.” In other words, post-USSR NATO was designed, in part, to guarantee US led-“free markets” (which are often neither free nor markets, but monopolies,) in ex-Soviet nations where state-ownership of businesses was the norm.

      In 1997, NATO and Ukraine signed the Charter on a Distinctive Partnership. The Charter was a prima facie violation of the PFP in that it compromised Ukraine’s political independence. It proposed several areas of NATO-Ukraine cooperation, “including civil emergency planning, military training and environmental security.” NATO brags: “cooperation between NATO and Ukraine quickly developed” in the form of “retraining for former military officers … and invit[ing] Ukraine to participate in NATO-led exercises.”

      Making Ukraine a “military partner of the US”

      The US Army says: “Ukraine has been a military partner of the U.S. dating back to the mid 1990s.” In 1998, America’s Special Operations Command Europe hosted a Special Operations Forces (SOF) conference in Stuttgart, Germany. The US Army reports: “This benchmark even brought military personnel from Moldova, Georgia, and the Ukraine together to view U.S. SOF demonstrations and discuss opportunities for future Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) and Joint Contact Team Program (JCTP) events.”

      In June 2000, the US Marines reported that the Navy’s amphibious warship, the USS Trenton, had sailed from the Aegean to the Black Sea and had docked in Odessa (Ukraine). The 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) “got to experience some of Odessa’s history first hand when they climbed the Prymorsky, or ‘Maritime’, Stairs.” In addition to the pleasantries, “the focus for MEU personnel and USS Trenton crew [was] NATO’s next exercise – Cooperative Partner 2000 (CP00) – of which Ukraine is the host nation.”

      In addition to Ukraine’s participation in the US-led NATO training and exercises, Ukrainian soldiers fought in American-led wars. After 9/11, they participated in the occupation of Afghanistan via NATO’s so-called International Security Assistance Force. Ukrainian troops also aided the US-British-occupation of Iraq. In 2008, the Army lauded their comrades: “More than 5,000 Ukrainian troops have served in Iraq during Ukraine’s five years of service in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.”

      (...)

    2. #112
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      After backing 2014 coup, US provides “lethal security assistance”

      Established in 2014 during the US-backed coup, the Ukraine component of the US State Department and Pentagon’s Global Security Contingency Fund (GSCF) provides tens of millions of dollars-worth of training and equipment to “develop the tactical, operational, and institutional training capacities of its Ministry of Defense and National Guard.” The State Department says: “The GSCF has also supported Ukrainian Special Operations Forces in developing tactical and institutional capabilities that are compatible with Western models.”

      According to one Pentagon-linked journal: “Arsen Avakov, the Minister of Internal Affairs from 2014 to 2021 [, …] enabled the expansion and later integration of paramilitary forces into the National Guard,” including the nazi Azov Battalion.

      From 2015, the Pentagon’s European Command oversaw the Joint Multinational Task Force-Ukraine (JMTF-U), in which the US Army and National Guard trains the Ukrainian Armed Forces. In addition, officers were trained in the US through the International Military Education and Training program. The Congressional Research Service reports that, “[s]eparately, U.S. Special Operations Forces have trained and advised Ukrainian special forces.” In addition, the US participates in the annual NATO Partnership for Peace exercise, Rapid Trident.

      In November 2015, supposedly at the request of the new pro-US regime, the Obama administration sent two AN/TPQ radar systems to Ukraine. “President Petro Poroshenko had the opportunity to review the equipment, and was briefed by U.S. military personnel on its capabilities.”

      The US Army later revealed that the radar system was not purely defensive. A team from US Army Europe, Fort Sill’s Fires Center of Excellence (FCoE), and the Army Security Assistance Training Management Organization (SATMO) “conducted four weeks of operator training.”

      Since the initial delivery, “Ukraine received four additional Q-36 radars … and training by U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command with support from the FCoE and USSATMO.” The publication quoted one trainer as saying that “the U.S. team showed their brigade, battalion and platoon commanders how to tactically employ the radar system to support fire and maneuver efforts.”

      Since 2016, SATMO’s Doctrine Education Advisory Group (DEAG) “has advised Ukrainian Security Forces at the operational level to revise doctrine, improve professional military education, enhance NATO interoperability and increase combat readiness.” In January this year, DEAG brought the first load of $200m-worth of “lethal security assistance, including ammunition for the frontline defenders of Ukraine.”


      US trains Ukrainians to “blend into the local populace” waging warfare in civilian-heavy areas

      One of the more immoral US actions in Ukraine has been the training of armed forces to fight in civilian areas, goading Russia to fight in densely-populated locations with the effect of scoring anti-Russia propaganda points when Russians kill Ukrainian civilians.

      In 2015, the US Marines implied that American service personnel would travel to Ukraine to fight. “Unofficial travel (leave or liberty) to any country in Africa or the following European countries [including Ukraine and its neighbors] requires command O-6 level approval … The countries are subject to change based on the Foreign Clearance Guide (FCG), Department of State (DOS), Combatant Command, and/or Intelligence threat notifications.” This suggests preparation for “irregular” warfare.

      An undated document published by the US Special Operations Center of Excellence (SOCE), apparently from around 2017, states that “the United States should learn from the Chechnya rebels’ reaction” to Russia’s invasion of Chechnya in the ‘90s. It explains that the “rebels” engaged in “decentralized operations,” using social media to “blend into the local populace.” Russia’s enemies used “misinformation” to manipulate Russians into killing the rebels’ enemies.

      The SOCE paper goes on to note that the Army Special Operation Forces “are trained to thrive in these environments.” The document explicitly advocates for the US to train irregular forces to provoke Russia: “The United States should form an interagency working group with the Department of State, members of the intelligence community and SOCOM,” the Special Operations Command, which would “serv[e] as the DoD lead/representative.” It suggests that such a working group “understand that SOCOM actions will need to be unconventional and irregular in order to compete with Russian modern warfare tactics.”

      By bolstering Ukraine’s armed forces and goading Russia, US elites have openly used Ukrainian civilians as pawns. For many years, Ukrainian forces were trained in urban combat by US personnel: i.e., to fight Russians in densely-populated civilian areas. “Task Force Illini” is comprised of 150 soldiers from the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the Illinois Army National Guard.

      In September 2020, the US Army says: “The GSCF has also supported Ukrainian Special Operations Forces in developing tactical and institutional capabilities that are compatible with Western models.”

      According to one Pentagon-linked journal: “Arsen Avakov, the Minister of Internal Affairs from 2014 to 2021 [, …] enabled the expansion and later integration of paramilitary forces into the National Guard,” including the nazi Azov Battalion.

      From 2015, the Pentagon’s European Command oversaw the Joint Multinational Task Force-Ukraine (JMTF-U), in which the US Army and National Guard trains the Ukrainian Armed Forces. In addition, officers were trained in the US through the International Military Education and Training program. The Congressional Research Service reports that, “[s]eparately, U.S. Special Operations Forces have trained and advised Ukrainian special forces.” In addition, the US participates in the annual NATO Partnership for Peace exercise, Rapid Trident.

      In November 2015, supposedly at the request of the new pro-US regime, the Obama administration sent two AN/TPQ radar systems to Ukraine. “President Petro Poroshenko had the opportunity to review the equipment, and was briefed by U.S. military personnel on its capabilities.”

      The US Army later revealed that the radar system was not purely defensive. A team from US Army Europe, Fort Sill’s Fires Center of Excellence (FCoE), and the Army Security Assistance Training Management Organization (SATMO) “conducted four weeks of operator training.”

      Since the initial delivery, “Ukraine received four additional Q-36 radars … and training by U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command with support from the FCoE and USSATMO.” The publication quoted one trainer as saying that “the U.S. team showed their brigade, battalion and platoon commanders how to tactically employ the radar system to support fire and maneuver efforts.”

      Since 2016, SATMO’s Doctrine Education Advisory Group (DEAG) “has advised Ukrainian Security Forces at the operational level to revise doctrine, improve professional military education, enhance NATO interoperability and increase combat readiness.” In January this year, DEAG brought the first load of $200m-worth of “lethal security assistance, including ammunition for the frontline defenders of Ukraine.”


      (...)

    3. #113
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      “Thunderbirds” train Ukrainian in full-scale vehicular combat

      The Oklahoma-based “Thunderbirds” have gone through several incarnations over the last century. The army unit was originally known as the 45th Infantry Division and is now the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. By early-2017, the JMTG-U mission fell under the 7th Army Training Command and US Army Europe, which paired Thunderbirds from the 1st Battalion, 179th Infantry Regiment with soldiers from the Ukrainian 28th Mechanized Brigade and 79th Airborne Brigade. Their goal was to prepare Ukrainians for full-on vehicular combat.

      Putin claims that Ukraine is a pawn of NATO. US propaganda rejects the notion, attempting to prove it by publicly ruling out Ukraine’s membership in the Alliance. But in April 2017, the US Army admitted that under the JMTG-U, the Thunderbirds’ mission was “to train the Ukrainian army to NATO standards, develop their noncommissioned officer corps, and help them to establish a combat training center, so that in the future, they can continue to train themselves.” So, if the Ukrainian military is trained to NATO standards and is overseen by a US puppet president, it might as well be part of NATO, minus the US obligation to come to its defense.

      The proposed center became the Yavoriv Combat Training Center. The US Army reported that in October 2017, “a new grenade range was opened. Maj. Montana Dugger said: “We’ve helped them build long-range maintenance plans so they’ll be able to use these facilities for the next 20, 30-plus years.”

      Seemingly ignorant of the comical doublespeak, the US Army also explained that Ukrainian’s Combat Training Center “is being established at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center near Yavoriv.” Also ironic is that while the Thunderbirds train a military incorporating neo-Nazi units to fight Russians in Ukraine, its pre-1930s insignia was a swastika, which its Oklahoma-based museum describes as “an Ancient American Indian symbol of good luck.”



      CIA covert operations’ goal: “kill Russians”

      In addition to the overt but under- or non-reported events outlined above, the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has run a covert, eight-year training program. Why the need for covert ops in the face of extensive overt projects? The CIA specializes in assassination, proxy warfare, psychological operations, and false flags. This suggests that their efforts include tactics prohibited by the Geneva Conventions.

      Yahoo! News reported that in 2014, under a doctrine called “covert action funding,” “a small, select group of veteran CIA paramilitaries made their first secret trips to the frontlines to meet with Ukrainian counterparts.” The training was conducted by the CIA’s Special Activities Center, which suggests that even if the officers were “ex-CIA” and Special Forces, they were given access to Langley at high-levels, making it a de facto official mission.

      One operative is quoted as saying that the officers attempted to Talibanize the Ukrainian paramilitaries in the sense that the Afghan Taliban had no sophisticated hardware that was vulnerable to enemy blinding. Ergo, basic, non-tech warfare training was required. The report says that the trainers:

      “taught their Ukrainian counterparts sniper techniques; how to operate U.S.-supplied Javelin anti-tank missiles and other equipment; how to evade digital tracking the Russians used to pinpoint the location of Ukrainian troops, which had left them vulnerable to attacks by artillery; how to use covert communications tools; and how to remain undetected in the war zone while also drawing out Russian and insurgent forces from their positions, among other skills, according to former officials.”

      In addition, one former senior source said (paraphrased by the reporter): “The agency needed to determine the ‘backbone’ of the Ukrainians … The question was, ‘Are they going to get rolled, or are going to stand up and fight?”

      So who tends to have “backbone,” i.e., a ruthless and psychopathic fighting spirit? Fascists and ultra-nationalists. Indeed, it has been widely reported by even US corporate media that the Ukrainian Armed Forces and paramilitary units were infested with Nazis. Today, the same media refer to the Nazis as mere nationalists.

      Beginning 2015, the CIA’s Ground Department arranged for Ukrainians to be trained in the US south. The operations continue to the present and have been expanded under the Biden administration. “The multiweek, U.S.-based CIA program has included training in firearms, camouflage techniques, land navigation, tactics like ‘cover and move,’ intelligence and other areas.” One senior officer is quoted as saying: “The United States is training an insurgency … to kill Russians.”

      In February this year, shortly before the Russian invasion, it was reported that the CIA had been “preparing Ukrainians to mount an insurgency against a Russian occupation.” Against an occupation? Or an insurgency to provoke an occupation?

      In addition to the CIA, the US military has its own covert operations. Under the Resistance Operating Concept started in 2018, the Pentagon appears to have been training territorial defense units comprised of Ukrainian civilians. This seems to have led to the creation by Ukraine’s Special Operations Forces creating a National Resistance Center that teaches civilians guerrilla tactics.

      Ukraine military build-up brings the world to the brink

      After Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, pro-Russian eastern protests erupted in Donetsk and Luhansk. The Congressional Research Service (CRS) noted: “The government in Kyiv responded with military force and employed local militias to help push back the separatists.” The CRS added that the US leads Britain, Canada, and Lithuania in the Multinational Joint Commission on Defense Reform and Security Cooperation. The Pentagon’s European Command had a European Reassurance Initiative at the time, which is now called the European Deterrence Initiative. Under this program, dozens of Ukrainians were trained in Huntsville, Alabama, in RQ-11B, hand-launched Raven drone operations. Seventy-two drones were sent to Ukraine in 2016.

      A January 2016 UK House of Commons Library research briefing states: “Fighting between Ukrainian government forces and Russian-backed separatists has killed more than 9,000 people since April 2014 and injured more than 20,000.” The briefing goes on to note that after the UN Security Council-backed Minsk II agreement, which called for a ceasefire and the withdrawal of frontline forces on both sides, the Ukrainian parliament granted special status and enhanced autonomy to parts of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions.

      The Royal United Services Institute is a UK Ministry of Defense-linked think-tank. One of its reports concedes that Russia had a largely “defensive policy” when it came to Ukraine. It says: “Russian officials have become alarmed by expanding and overlapping Western alliances from an enlarged NATO and EU, to AUKUS and the Coalition of Democracies promoted by both the US and the UK.”

      Part of Russia’s strategy has its roots in the US-led destruction of Libya in 2011, the report explains. The NATO bombing of Libya and overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi “underscored how strong Western alliances were able to bypass or manipulate the [UN Security Council] UNSC, essentially circumventing a forum where Russian interests could be protected.”

      Indeed, on February 27th, 2022, the UNSC adopted Resolution 2623, which states: “the lack of unanimity of its permanent members at the 8979th meeting has prevented it from exercising its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.”

      The absence of international diplomacy, the weakness of a domestic anti-war movement in the US, and the cheerleading for war by many leftists and liberals under the doctrine that Putin is an evil villain has pushed the world as close to terminal nuclear disaster as it has been since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis; perhaps even closer. Many Russians have taken to the streets to clamor for a ceasefire. After looking the other way as their leaders spent the past 8 years weaponizing Ukraine against Russia, Western publics have yet to demand the same.



    4. #114
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      A new Eurasian far right rising – Reflections on Ukraine, Georgia, and Armenia

      April Gordon, Senior Program Associate, Europe & Eurasia | Freedom House Special Report january 2020


      Far-Right Groups in Ukraine: Professionalized with mainstream visibility

      Since the Revolution of Dignity of 2014, Ukraine has been widely viewed as an important leader and symbol of democratic values and reform across Eastern Europe and Eurasia1. However, in recent years the country’s significant democratic gains have been paralleled by a dramatic increase in the activity of far-right groups. While radical far-right groups have existed in Ukraine since the 1920s, they now represent a sophisticated and politically influential element of society2.
      In electoral politics, the Svoboda (Freedom) party is considered the most developed political arm of Ukraine’s far right. The party’s greatest political victory came in 2010, when it received 10 percent of the vote in parliamentary elections and several ministerial positions in the Ukrainian government. The Revolution of Dignity and outbreak of war with Russia in 2014 gave further momentum and mainstream legitimacy to nationalist political narratives, driving large numbers of patriotic Ukrainians to support more extreme measures to safeguard the country’s independence and security3.

      Electoral support for Svoboda and other openly nationalist political parties waned in the years that followed; Svoboda took only 4.5 percent of the vote in 2014, and a Svoboda- led coalition of right-wing parties failed to enter parliament in 2019 after taking only 2.15 percent of the vote. However, the narrow vision of pro-Ukrainian nationalist orthodoxy and vehement anti-Russian rhetoric championed by Svoboda and its allies became a dominant political narrative, variants of which are increasingly common in mainstream political discourse. With his slogan “Army, language, faith!” former President Petro Poroshenko helped to popularize an exclusivist brand of patriotism that continues to draw significant support from both moderate and radical segments of society4. Poroshenko’s political rhetoric ultimately culminated in a series of severe legal measures purporting to preserve Ukrainian identity, but which often infringe upon the rights of the country’s minority groups5.

      Far-right groups are also highly active outside the formal political arena. Emboldened by the struggle with Russia and greater societal acceptance of a radical and intolerant brand of patriotism, these groups target perceived internal threats and “impure” elements of society – including Roma, LGBT+ people, and religious and linguistic minorities – that do not align with their exclusive “traditional” vision of Ukrainian identity6. Their methods range from brutal violence, such as pogroms on Roma camps, to aggressive efforts to prevent the LGBT+ community from using public spaces and participating in public life7. According to recent data from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the number of hate-motivated incidents in Ukraine has grown steadily in recent years, with 178 incidents recorded by the police in 2018 alone8.

      The war in the east has provided newfound social legitimacy to far-right groups, bringing with it unprecedented levels of sophistication, funding, recruitment, and organizational capacity. According to Vyacheslav Likhachev, a Kyiv-based expert on right-wing groups in Ukraine, the activity and visibility of these groups has increased significantly since the war’s outbreak, drawing new members from a generation of youth who have come of age in a new era of war patriotism9.

      As the hot conflict against the external Russian threat has wound down, many young people have turned to far-right paramilitary groups in search of new ways to prove themselves, seeing membership as offering opportunities to defend the Ukrainian homeland against supposed internal enemies.

      Worryingly, Ukraine’s far-right groups are not sustained on ideology alone: their activities are supported by various homegrown commercial and political operations, which regularly hire out the groups’ services as paid thugs. The Ukrainian government itself is one of many stakeholders that draws on far right groups’ violent skillset both formally and informally, even going so far as to integrate right-wing paramilitary groups into the Ukrainian armed forces10. Likhachev observes that the establishment of far-right violence as a lucrative industry in Ukraine has resulted in greater fragmentation and radicalization of these groups, as they compete amongst themselves for resources and prestige. Thus, the instrumentalization of far-right groups by various actors pursuing personal gain has actually made the far right more dangerous to their ideological opponents by reinforcing the violent character of their activities11.

      Violence and intimidation by far-right groups has taken place with near-total impunity, as Ukrainian law enforcement has rarely taken meaningful action to hold perpetrators accountable in recent years12. This is primarily due to a lack of political will among policymakers and the Ukrainian public to take a stand on this issue in the context of the ongoing war. This failure of political will is complex and stems from many sources, ranging from genuine popular support for these groups as defenders of threatened Ukrainian identity, to powerful interest groups who stand to gain from the thriving industry of far-right thuggery. A weak legal framework to combat hate-motivated violence also aggravates the problem; existing articles in the criminal code do not provide investigators and prosecutors with the tools they need to hold perpetrators accountable for hate-motivated violence and are inconsistent with international standards13.

      The election of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in April 2019 on an anticorruption and rule of law platform raised hopes that the government would take a firmer stance on this issue14. While it is too early to assess the full impact of the new government’s policies, it is clear that some short-term progress has been achieved since Zelenskyy took office. According to Likhachev, the activity of the far right has become less prominent in recent months, with fewer violent incidents reported in 2019 than in 2018. Likhachev credits this change to a renewed commitment to maintaining law and order among law enforcement bodies – a key campaign promise of the Zelenskyy administration15.

      However, it is doubtful if this dynamic can hold in the longer term, particularly as individuals with strong interests in sustaining far-right activity continue to hold positions of power in the new government16, and the weak legal framework for bringing perpetuators to justice remains unchanged. Rather than truly disappearing from the scene, it may be that Ukraine’s far right is instead channeling their energies into sectors less visible to the public eye while they assess the changing political landscape under Zelenskyy17.

      - - -

      1 According to Freedom House’s 2018 Nations in Transit report on Ukraine, the country has achieved important democratic gains since 2014, including in corruption and local democratic governance. See “Ukraine Country Profile,” Freedom House, Nations in Transit, 2018, https://freedomhouse.org/report/nati.../2018/ukraine; Alexander Motyl and Dennis Soltys, “Ukraine’s Democracy is (Almost) All Grown Up,” Foreign Policy, August 28, 2019, https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/08/28...-all-grown-up/.

      2 A 2018 study by UNDP Ukraine revealed that, even though Ukrainians favor and support equality in society, a significant percentage of them approve restricting the rights of vulnerable communities. See “Ukraine,” OSCE ODIHR Hate Crime Reporting, Ukraine | HCRW.

      3 A 2018 study by UNDP Ukraine revealed that, even though Ukrainians favor and support equality in society, a significant percentage of them approve restricting the rights of vulnerable communities. See “Ukraine,” OSCE ODIHR Hate Crime Reporting, Ukraine | HCRW.

      4 Vyacheslav Likhachev, personal interview, December 2019; Leonid Ragozin, “Why ethnopolitics doesn’t work in Ukraine,” Aljazeera, April 9, 2019, https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/op...093526620.html.

      5 April Gordon, “In Ukraine and Beyond, Democracy Requires Both Freedom and Security,” March 2019, https://freedomhouse.org/blog/ukrain...m-and-security.

      6 ECRI Report on Ukraine, September 2017, https://rm.coe.int/fifth-report-on-ukraine/16808b5ca8.

      7 Marc Behrendt, “Neo-nazis are often unwelcome guests at civil society events in Ukraine,” Freedom House, May 30 2019, https://freedomhouse.org/blog/neo-na...events-ukraine.

      8 OSCE ODIHR Hate Crime Reporting Ukraine, Ukraine | HCRW

      9 Vyacheslav Likhachev, personal interview, August 2019.

      10 Vyacheslav Likhachev, “Far Right Extremism is a Threat to Ukrainian Democracy,” Freedom House, Nations in Transit, May 2018, https://
      freedomhouse.org/report/special-reports/far-right-extremism-threat-ukrainian-democracy

      11 Vyacheslav Likhachev, personal interview, August 2019; “Ukraine’s ultra-right increasingly visible as election nears,” AP News, March 27, 2019, https://apnews.com/e971db860c7a4c12a5240fc08ce6c95e

      12 On July 11, the Rada’s Temporary Investigative Commission (TIC), which was formed in November 2018 to investigate attacks against civic activists, released its final report to the Rada. The TIC’s key conclusions were that “activists in Ukraine are in need of protection by law enforcement and MPs” and that “criminal cases on attacks against activists are closed without due cause.” See “’Activists need protection from law enforcement’: Verkhovna Rada approves TSC report,” Zmina, July 2019, https://zmina.info/news/aktivisti_po...dila_zvit_tsk/.

      13 Article 161 prohibits violations of equality based on several characteristics, though sexual orientation and gender identity are not explicitly included.

      14 “Ukraine’s New Leadership: Challenges and Opportunities,” Gina Lentine, Freedom House, July 9, 2019, https://freedomhouse.org/blog/ukrain...d-human-rights.

      15 Vyacheslav Likhachev, personal interview, August 2019; “Full Text of Volodymyr Zelenskyy's First Speech as President of Ukraine,” Hromadske International, May 20, 2019, https://en.hromadske.ua/posts/ full-text-of-volodymyr-zelenskyys-first-speech-as-president-of-ukraine.

      16 Minister of the Interior Arsen Avakov is widely rumored to be closely connected with far right militia groups.
      See Marc Bennett, “Ukraine's National Militia: 'We're not neo-Nazis, we just want to make our country better,'” Guardian, March 2018,
      https://www.theguardian.com/world/20...neo-nazi-links ;
      Josh Cohen, “Commentary: Ukraine’s neo-Nazi problem,” Reuters, March 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-c...-idUSKBN1GV2TY ;
      “Ukraine’s Ministry of Vetrerans Affairs Embraced the Far Right – With Consequences to the US,” Bellingcat Anti-Equality Monitoring, November 11 2019,
      https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-a...es-to-the-u-s/

      17 Oleksandra Delemenchuk, personal interview, August 2019.

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    • Je mag geen bijlagen toevoegen
    • Je mag jouw berichten niet wijzigen
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