By Scott Taylor
On July 11, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will head to the NATO Summit in Brussels and apparently his single point of concern for his fellow leaders will be that of continued support for Ukraine. There is nothing new in this approach as Canada has long been on the ‘Russia bad, Ukraine good’ oversimplified foreign policy bandwagon for some time now.
What is new, and worth noting is that even some of the most strident voices who have been chorusing that same sentiment are now starting to admit some reservations about the rise of neo-Nazism in Ukraine.
In the past, anyone who even mentioned the participation of far right extremists in Ukraine’s 2014 political revolution, were denounced by NATO cheerleaders as propagators of Russian ‘fake news’.
The Atlantic Council by its very definition and mission statement is NATO’s standard-bearer and pitbull protector all rolled into one. That’s why a June 20 editorial published by the Atlantic Council was so noteworthy. Entitled “Ukraine’s Got a Real Problem with Far Right Violence”, the subject was so far off previous scripts that the editor added the subhead “(and no, RT [Russia Today] Didn’t Write this Headline”.
The article details how neo-Nazi group C-14 is receiving tax funds from the Ministry of Youth and Sports to run a children’s camp. It also catalogues a litany of attacks by the neo-Nazi Azov battalion and the Right sector extremists. Their victims have been Roma, anti-Fascist demonstrators, LGTBQ2 events and even environmental activists. According to the Atlantic Council “In only a few of these cases did police do anything to prevent the attacks and in some they even arrested peaceful demonstrators rather than the actual perpetrators.”
The situation was assessed by Amnesty International as that of “Ukraine sinking into a chaos of uncontrolled violence posed by radical groups and their total impunity. Practically no one in the country can feel safe under these conditions.”
While this level of admission on the part of the Atlantic Council is a departure from the norm, the fact is that these same neo-Nazi groups were very much at the forefront of the Euromaidan protests. Anyone watching those riots unfold in the streets of Kiev back in 2014 would have seen the Right sector thugs battling police with bats, chains, Molotov cocktails and even guns.
I recall watching one particularly violent encounter when neo-Nazis were using a fire hose to flail the ranks of police officers. The heavy brass nozzle made for an incredibly lethal weapon when used in such a brutal fashion.
One of the most blood-thirsty of the Right sector leaders was a career mercenary named Oleksander Muzychko aka Sashko Bilyi. his battle cry was a vow to fight “communists, Jews, and Russians for as long as blood flows in [his] veins.”
Of course mainstream western media and the Atlantic Council did not highlight the contributions made by Sashko Bilyi and the Right sector in the overthrow of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych.
They would rather have us believe that all came about with a peace-loving crowd of candle lighting demonstrators. You know, the same ones who marched arm in arm through the streets of Kiev with Canada’s then Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird prior to the ouster of Yanukovych.
As with most private militia groups during times of civil unrest, once established, they are difficult to disarm.
The Atlantic Council is suggesting immediate action in Ukraine, urging President Petro Poroshenko to implement a zero tolerance policy on unsanctioned vigilantism. To illustrate just how deeply rooted this problem is, they also suggest Poroshenko should remove Sergei Korotkykh from his post due to his far right alliances. Korotkykh just happens to be the head of Ukraine’s National Police head of security for sites of strategic importance.
Trudeau’s message at the NATO Summit needs to reflect the reality of Ukraine’s growing trend of far right violence. It is time for plain talk and bad manners with Poroshenko: “Get rid of your Nazis.”