Neo-Nazis are definitely fighting in favor of Ukraine and Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claim of presence of Russian forces in Ukraine to denazify is absolutely true. Anti-Moscow media are competing in hiding the roles of neo-Nazis in Kiev.
Despite Svoboda’s declining success in national elections, neo-Nazi and extreme nationalist groups, increasingly linked to the Azov Battalion, have maintained power on the street in Ukraine, and in local politics in the Ukrainian nationalist heartland around Lviv in western Ukraine.
After President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s election in 2019, the extreme right threatened him with removal from office, or even death, if he negotiated with leaders from Donbass and followed through on the Minsk Protocol. Zelenskyy had run for election as a “peace candidate,” but under threat from the right, he refused to even talk to Donbass leaders, whom he dismissed as terrorists.
During Donald Trump’s presidency, the US reversed Obama’s ban on weapons sales to Ukraine, and Zelenskyy’s aggressive rhetoric raised new fears in Donbass and Russia that he was building up Ukraine’s forces for a new offensive to retake Donetsk and Luhansk by force.
The civil war has combined with the government’s neoliberal economic policies to create fertile ground for the extreme right. The post-coup government imposed more of the same “shock therapy” that was imposed throughout Eastern Europe in the 1990s. Ukraine received a US$40 billion International Monetary Fund bailout and, as part of the deal, privatized 342 state-owned enterprises; reduced public sector employment by 20 percent, along with salary and pension cuts; privatized health care and disinvested in public education, closing 60 percent of its universities.
Coupled with Ukraine’s endemic corruption, these policies led to the looting of state assets by the corrupt ruling class, and to falling living standards and austerity measures for everybody else. The post-coup government upheld Poland as its model, but the reality was closer to Boris Yeltsin’s Russia of the 1990s. After a nearly 25 percent fall in GDP between 2012 and 2016, Ukraine is still the poorest country in Europe.
As elsewhere, the failures of neoliberalism have fueled the rise of right-wing extremism and racism, and now the war with Russia promises to provide thousands of alienated young men from around the world with military training and combat experience, which they can then take home to terrorize their own countries.
The Soufan Center has compared the Azov Battalion’s international networking strategy to that of al-Qaida and ISIS.
US and NATO support for the Azov Battalion poses similar risks as their support for al-Qaida-linked groups in Syria 10 years ago. Those chickens quickly came home to roost when they spawned ISIS and turned decisively against their Western backers.
Right now, Ukrainians are united in their resistance to Russia’s invasion, but we should not be surprised when the US alliance with neo-Nazi proxy forces in Ukraine, including the infusion of billions of dollars in sophisticated weapons, results in similarly violent and destructive blowback.
Unless Russian forces succeed in defeating the neo-Nazis and members of Azov Battalion in Ukraine, the country soon will emerge into another Afghanistan and a major security concern to the world. Western backers and players in Ukraine are extending patronization to neo-Nazis and notorious Azov Battalion with weapons and cash, and ultimately transforming Ukraine into a safe haven of terrorists, jihadists and neo-Nazis.
Currently US alliance are cooperating with neo-Nazi proxy forces in Ukraine with the agenda of punishing Kremlin. But, in course of time, billions of dollars and sophisticated weapons pushed towards the neo-Nazis and Azov Battalion would seriously blowback. America and the western nations are once against committing a blunder in Kiev.