Ukraine War! What Is It Good For? The Historical Background (Part 1)
POSTED BY: IAIN MARCH 7, 2022
Russia has launched a military campaign inside Ukraine. This has been called an invasion by Western mainstream media (MSM), by the politicians loyal to the transatlantic alliance, and by the EU and NATO.
Currently it appears there have been clashes in Eastern Ukraine, around Kharkiv in the north and Odessa in the south. However, it isn’t clear that the fighting is anywhere near as extensive as is being reported by the Western MSM.
Russia has certainly targeted air bases and military infrastructure with air strikes. At this stage, Russia’s intentions appear to be reasonably straightforward. Russia has reiterated that it has no plans to occupy Ukraine.
Speaking on 24th February, President Vladimir Putin outlined the objectives of Russia’s so-called 'special military operation:'
"With NATO’s eastward expansion the situation for Russia has been becoming worse and more dangerous by the year. Any further expansion of the North Atlantic alliance’s infrastructure or the ongoing efforts to gain a military foothold of the Ukrainian territory are unacceptable for us.
The leading NATO countries are supporting the far-right nationalists and neo-Nazis in Ukraine, those who will never forgive the people of Crimea and Sevastopol for freely making a choice to reunite with Russia. They will undoubtedly try to bring war to Crimea just as they have done in Donbas.
The purpose of this operation is to protect people who, for eight years now, have been facing humiliation and genocide perpetrated by the Kyiv regime.
To this end, we will seek to demilitarise and denazify Ukraine, as well as bring to trial those who perpetrated numerous bloody crimes against civilians, including against citizens of the Russian Federation.
It is not our plan to occupy the Ukrainian territory. We do not intend to impose anything on anyone by force"
From what little is known in the West, which has seen a remarkable lack of reporting from inside the country, as of 4th March Russian forces have seemingly engaged in operations in the DPR and LPR and in territory north of the Crimea. They are said to be close to surrounding the northern cities of Kharkiv and Kyiv and to have moved northwest from Odessa to secure territory along the border between the Odessa Oblast and Moldova.
Claimed Russian incursion 04-03-2022
This military action by Russia is part of a much larger geopolitical, economic and globalist picture. [We will explore this background in detail in Part 2]
The conflict is rapidly evolving, and there is no way to accurately predict what will happen. The risks couldn’t be higher. By the time you read this, the situation on the ground may be radically different.
NATO’s rejection of Ukrainian calls to attempt to establish a no-fly zone has perhaps assuaged fears of the conflict spreading beyond Ukrainian borders in the immediate-to-short term.
Vladimir Putin has stated that Russia would view this as an act of war. Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General of NATO, said:
We are not part of this conflict, and we have a responsibility to ensure it does not escalate and spread beyond Ukraine because that would be even more devastating and more dangerous, with even more human suffering. [. . .] NATO is not seeking a war with Russia.
In this series, we will first explore some of the modern historical influences in Ukraine leading up to the Russian attack. In Part 2 and 3 we will consider the wider implications within the context of a globalist transformation of the international rules-based order (IRBO).
It is left to us to explore the evidence. The MSM in the West is a partner of Western governments and serves as nothing but their propaganda machine. The objectives of the MSM in the East are largely identical, although there is at least greater plurality of opinion allowed in Russia. From a Western perspective however, the Eastern MSM sells the official alternative narrative.
Necessarily, in trying to discern reality, we have to rely upon both the West-aligned and East-aligned MSM to some extent. Contrasting their depiction of events may be helpful as long as we understand that neither are trustworthy and that both should be read with critical thinking in mind.
Ukrainian Recent Modern History
Ukraine is an ancient land with a rich history. However, the boundaries of the nation state we recognise today first emerged with the Ukrainian Peoples Republic (1917-1920). Civil war with the West Ukrainian People’s Republic (Eastern Galicia) saw a brief period where the south eastern Ukraine broke away.
The anarchist free territory of Makhnovshchina (Makhnovia 1918-1921) was established. Defended by the Black Army of Nestor Makhno, in 1918 he wrote a public letter to the people and announced:
Together we will destroy the slave system in order to bring ourselves and our comrades onto the path of the new system. We organize it on the basis of a free society, the content of which will allow the entire population, not exploiting the labor of others, to build their entire social and social life in their own communities, completely freely and independently of the state and its officials
Liberation by the Black Army was liberation in the true sense of the word. When a town or city was won, they would post notices that read:
This army does not serve any political party, any power, any dictatorship. [. . .] It strives to protect the freedom of action, the free life of the workers, against all exploitation and domination. The Makhnovist Army does not, therefore, represent any authority. It will not subject anyone to any obligation whatsoever. Its role is confined to defending the freedom of the workers. The freedom of the peasants and the workers belong to themselves, and should not suffer any restriction.
The people of Makhnovia functioned perfectly well without any government, lived in relative peace and enjoyed a busy catallaxy. But the regional powers were utterly opposed to its existence, and the Bolshevik Red Army crushed it in 1921.
With a government back in control, what followed was inevitable violence and destruction.
The Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (UkrSSR) was formed in 1922. Due to the Soviets agricultural policies (collectivism) between 1931 and 1934, more than 5.5 million people starved to death in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR, or Soviet Union). This entirely government-created famine was at its worst during 1932 and 1933, particularly in Ukraine, where an estimated 4 million people perished during the Holodomor.
In June 1941, the German Army opened up the eastern front of WWII with Operation Barbarossa. Its invasion of the USSR created suffering on an unimaginable scale. Losses of such magnitude are difficult to quantify, but Germany lost approximately 5.5 million troops and nearly 2 million civilians. Polish civilian losses were similar.
Throughout WWII, the Soviet Union lost 25–35 million soldiers and civilians—nearly 14% of its entire population. An estimated 4 million of them were in Ukraine.
In 1945 the UkrSSR became one of the founding members of the United Nations. In 1954, its territory expanded when then-USSR President Nikita Khrushchev ceded the Crimea to the UkrSSR.
The Crimea had become Russian territory in 1783, when the Ottoman Empire, having been decisively defeated by Russian Tsarist forces at the 1774 Battle of Kozludzha, lost the peninsula to Imperial Russia (1721–1917). In 1944, the Tartar, Armenian, Bulgarian and Greek populations had been forcibly deported from the Crimea by Stalin, who encouraged further Russian settlement there.
Up to 1945, the Crimea was an independent republic of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR). With the forced relocation of the Tartar population, the Crimea became an RSFSR oblast (region). By 1954, approximately 75% of the then-1.1 million people living in the Crimea were ethnic Russians and 25% Ukrainian.
In January 1991, in anticipation of the forthcoming Ukrainian independence referendum, approximately 93% of Crimean voters chose to retain Crimean independence. With an 80% turnout, this represented 74% of the electorate. This was subsequently recognised by the UkrSSR Rada, which, on the 12th February 1991, passed a law establishing Crimea as an autonymous republic within the borders of the Ukraine.
In December 1991 the national referendum declared Ukrainian sovereignty. The lowest turnout in any Ukrainian oblast was in Crimea. Of the 65% of the Crimean electorate who voted, just 54% of them opted for Ukranian independence. Thus, only 35% of Crimeans eligible to vote supported Ukrainian independence from the Russian Federation.
In March 1994, as political turmoil between the governments of Kyiv and Simferopol (the Crimean capital) became increasingly heated, another referendum again saw the people of Crimea overwhelmingly choose further independence from Kyiv and closer ties to Russia. Tensions between Kyiv and Simferopol rumbled on for the remainder of the 20th century and into the first two decades of the 21st.
The ethnic mix in Crimea has changed in recent decades. Many Tartars returned after the dissolution of the USSR. Today, approximately 68% are ethnic Russian, 16% are Ukrainians and 13% are Crimean Tartars. The remaining 3% are Belarusians, Armenians and Jews. The population has grown to an estimated 2.4 million.
Map of Ukraine between 1654 and 2013
The Ukrainian Neo-Nazis
In 2010, then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko posthumously bestowed state honours on one of the WWII leaders of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), Stepan Bandera. Yushchenko declared Bandera to be a “Hero of Ukraine.”
In 1922, the modern Ukrainian oblasts of Lviv and Volhyn were part of the Second Polish Republic. Consequently, during the 1920s and ’30s, a Ukrainian nationalist movement emerged in eastern Poland. Its members formed the Ukrainian Military Organization (UVO), which waged a terrorist campaign in the region.
Between 1929 and 1934, the UVO gradually transitioned to become the foundation of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN).
Following the outbreak of WWII, the OUN split into the OUN-M, under the leadership of Andriy Melnyk, and OUN-B under Stepan Bandera.
Stepan Bandera was a Nazi collaborator, ultra-nationalist and rabid anti-Semite. In 1941, working with the Nazi death squads (Einsatzgruppen), Bandera embarked on coordinating a series of pogroms, starting in the city of Lvov, where 4,000 Jews were massacred in a few horrific days. A death-threat pamphlet, authorised by Bandera prior to the slaughter, read, “We will lay your heads at Hitler’s feet.”
Bandera’s OUN-B hoped to create an ethnically pure Ukraine. Poles, Jews and the Russians were their targets for extinction.
The northern and particularly the western Ukrainian oblasts welcomed the Nazis as liberators from Soviet rule. Many ethnic Ukrainians joined the German “liberators.” Military units such as the 14th SS-Volunteer Division (Galician) and the Nachtigall and Roland Battalion were largely formed from followers of the OUN and UPA. (More on them shortly.)
An estimated 1 million Jewish Ukrainians, Ukrainian Russians and Poles were systematically murdered during the years of the Holocaust. On just two days in September 1941, at the Babi Yar ravine in Kyiv, approximately 34,000 Jewish men, women and children were put to death.
Though arrested by the Germans in July 1941, after declaring Ukrainian statehood and pledging to support the 4th Reich, Bandera continued to inspire his Banderite followers. The OUN-B formed the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). Between 1941 and 1945, the UPA systematically tortured and massacred an estimated 100,000 Poles in the western oblasts of modern-day Ukraine.
CIA documents released in 2007 reveal that after the war Bandera worked with British intelligence, running agents inside the UkrSSR. The relationship between the Western powers and the Ukrainian far right has continued ever since.
The CIA didn’t work directly with Bandera but instead worked with other members of the OUN and its splinter organisations. Eventually, while collaborating with West German intelligence (the BND), which was heavily infiltrated by the KGB (the foreign intelligence service of the USSR), Bandera was assassinated by the Soviets in 1959.
Following the USSR’s victory in Ukraine in 1944, the OUN continued to resist, most notably in the Eastern Galician oblasts of modern Ukraine. The OUN fought a guerilla war until the mid-1950s. Ironically, Bandera was neither the most prominent nor the most powerful of the OUN leaders. However, his assassination made him a martyr for Ukrainian nationalists and a symbol for their neo-Nazi ideology.
In 1991, Oleh Tyahnybok became one of the founding members of Svoboda, the Social-National Party of Ukraine (SNPU). He urged the Ukrainian ultranationalists (ultras) to rid the country of Jews and Russians. In 1998, there was sufficient popular support for Tyahnybok to be elected to the Ukranian parliament (the Verkhovna Rada), where he served as a member of the Peoples Movement of Ukraine faction. Following his 2002 re-election to the Rada, he became Svoboda leader in 2004.
Svobodo minor political success inspired other neo-Nazis such as Dmitro Yarosh, who co-founded Trizub (Trident) in 1994, becoming its leader in 2005. In 2013, Yarosh became the assistant consultant to the deputy leader of the Rada opposition, Valentyn Nalyvaichenko. This coincided with Yarosh’s elevation to the leadership of the ultra-neo-Nazi Right Sector, with Trizub at its core.
Nalyvaichenko had previously served in Washington from 2001 to 2005, first as consul advisor, then as director of the consular service in the Ukrainian embassy. He was the head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) between 2006 and 2010 and was appointed to that position again in 2014.
The other SNPU founder was Andriy Parubiy. The SNPU became Svoboda in 2004 and Parubiy, who was leader of its paramilitary wing, called the Patriots of the Ukraine, between 1998 and 2004, publicly transitioned from militancy to politics.
Parubiy’s political career included his 2014 appointment to Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine and his 2016 election to the position of chairman (speaker) of the Rada.
When Viktor Yushchenko officially recognised Bandera as a hero, many members of the EU were outraged. It was Parubiy who appealed to them to support Yushchenko’s decision.
Perhaps, in conferring that honour upon Bandera, Yushchenko was calculating his potential future political prospects. The neo-Nazis were a minor but disproportionately powerful force in Ukrainian politics. This was acknowledged by the comments of Bandera’s namesake and grandson who, on hearing the news of his grandfather’s deification, reportedly said:
[T]he president acted wisely, he could have done it earlier, but that would have been perceived as an attempt to win votes.
This in no way suggests that the majority of Ukrainians or their government are fascists. Despite some limited electoral successes, the Ukrainian far right remains on the fringes of Ukrainian politics.
Ukrainian electoral history shows that traditional socialism—democratic socialism rather than national socialism—is the dominant political ideology. Nonetheless, it would be disingenuous to pretend that Ukrainian ultra-nationalism doesn’t have notable popular support, especially in the western oblasts.
The neo-Nazis’ political influence in Ukraine exceeds their electoral reach only because of the significant support they receive from the NATO-aligned Western hegemony. Ukraine, as it stands today, became a truly independent sovereign nation for the first time in 1991, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Ethnically, linguistically, politically and culturally it is a country of two halves.
The predominantly Russian-speaking populations in the southern and eastern oblasts have consistently voted for socialists or communist candidates and have staunchly advocated maintaining a close relationship with Russia. On the grand chessboard of geopolitics, both sides of Ukraine, east and west, have been exploited by the foreign great powers.
Russia’s current military action in the Ukraine is born out of that international political struggle. Make no mistake: The Western MSM and its political class are wholly complicit in precipitating the crisis.
In Part 2 we will explore this subject in depth. First, though, we must look to the circumstances leading up to and surrounding the civil unrest of the 2013–2014 Euromaidan coup, the alleged annexation of Crimea and the setting for the subsequent war in the Donbas.
Right Sector & Svoboda Flags
The Euromaiden Coup
Ukraine presidential elections in 2004 saw the West-backed Viktor Yushchenko vie for head of state against Russia-backed Victor Yanukovich. The election was extremely close, illustrating the deep division in Ukrainian society. Yanukovich was initially announced the winner by a narrow margin.
However, amidst widespread and credible allegation of electoral fraud, Yushchenko supporters wouldn’t accept the result. On the 22nd November 2004, they began to amass in the central Maidan square in Kyiv, waving orange banners (hence the name “Orange Revolution”) and demanding a rerun of the election.
The entirely peaceful protesters maintained their vigil for a month, electoral reforms were made and a rerun saw Yushchenko duly elected. But he failed to make the promised economic reforms. Consequently, Ukrainians elected Yanukovich in 2010. Despite a protest to the Supreme Administrative Court by his opponent Yulia Tymoshenko, Yanukovich took office.
The 2010 presidential election was deemed to be free and fair by international observers. The parliamentary elections in 2012 consolidated the political authority of Yanukovich’s Party of Regions; that party increased its seats to 185. And, as is indicative of the ongoing divisions in Ukrainian society, the 2012 election also saw Svoboda, under Tyahnybok, increase its seats to 37, making it the fourth-largest party in the Rada.
2010 Election Results
During this period of political change, preceding and up to the Euromaiden coup of 2013/14, Yanukovich was the democratically elected leader of the Ukraine. This is a crucial fact to remember as we move on to discuss the subsequent events that have, in part, led to the current Russian military action.
Following the 2012 elections, the Yanukovich government approved the draft of the European Union–Ukraine Association Agreement. In response to that agreement, Russia heaped pressure on the Ukrainian government, warning of a breach of a still-existing agreement signed in 1997. Given that Russia is Ukraine’s largest creditor and trade partner, Yanukovich wavered on signing the trade element of the EU deal. That element was called the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA).
The Ukrainians had reason to question the EU’s proffered DCFTA deal. Their existing main trade agreements were with the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), and it wasn’t clear how they would be compensated by the EU for the loss of this trade. Concerned about a potential dramatic fall in industrial productivity, Deputy Prime Minister Yuriy Boiko announced a halt to negotiations until the issue could be clarified with the EU.
Caught between the economic and financial might of the EU and Russia and with rising unrest at home, Yanukovitch tried to negotiate a package of debt restructuring. With Russian approval, he offered a tri-party agreement between the EU, Ukraine and Russia. The EU declined the deal and the IMF refused to restructure Ukraine’s debt obligations.
Numerous statements from Party of Regions representatives, including Yanokovich and Boika, insisted that the deal was not dead, that negotiations were ongoing and that they intended to sign the deal. However, Reuters and many other Western media outlets completely ignored EU and IMF intransigence and instead cast Yanukovich as the villain, claiming he had “vetoed” EU attempts to save the deal. In reality, as later admitted by the MSM, it was the EU who had shut the door.
In November 2013, pro-EU demonstrations started to build in Independence (Maidan) Square in Kyiv. Initially the protests were peaceful, as they had been in 2004 during the colour revolution known as the Orange Revolution.
The Western MSM then threw their weight behind the protests and were joined in their reporting on Maidan by a newly created gaggle of Ukrainian media outlets. Between 21st and 24th November, three of them—Espreso.tv, Spilno.tv and hromadske.tv— took to the airwaves, instantly becoming an online phenomenon among Ukrainian audiences.
Peaceful Pro-EU Protests
Day after day, all these segments of the media continued to stoke resentment towards Ukraine’s democratically elected government and towards Yanukovich in particular. For instance, they claimed the world was witnessing “the birth of a nation” instead of a coup.
As a result, the protests gathered in numbers and in strength. Though hostility towards Yanukovich was increasing, the protests remained overwhelmingly peaceful.
The peace was shattered on 30th November, when special riot police (the Berkut) were accused