From Fort Russ
January 11, 2017 – Fort Russ Exclusive –
Translated by Jafe Arnold (J. Arnoldski)
The following exclusive material was sent to Fort Russ by a self-declared representative of the anti-fascist movement in Ukraine from Kharkov, whom for safety reasons we have agreed to call “Andrey Anon.” Andrey has been living and working behind Ukrainian lines since the war began and has come into close contact with numerous personalities ranging from Poroshenko’s former business associates to Ukrainian officers and conscripts. In this astonishing tell-all, Andrey shares his knowledge of the dirty underbelly of the Poroshenko regime, the seething sentiments of conscript soldiers and civilians in occupied Donbass, and his impressions of the future of the Kiev junta and the war. Fort Russ is gratified to have been confided in with this material which the author wishes to have spread as far and wide as possible to reveal the truth of the horrific corruption and war that have gripped his country since February 2014. Andrey and Fort Russ have left out and changed certain names to protect sources and the people involved. – J. Arnoldski
I am a resident of Kharkov, the first capital of Soviet Ukraine. Although this city has lost the status of the political capital of Ukraine, it is still considered the scientific and industrial capital of the country. Kharkov was founded and settled in the 17th century and belonged to the Russian (Muscovite) Tsars. It was the administrative center of the vast region of Slobozhanshchina (“Sloboda Ukraine”) where the Cossacks from Ukraine fled after being defeated by Polish troops during the Khmelnitsky uprising (the rebellion of Ukrainian cossacks and peasants in the mid-17th century). The descendants of the Cossack families of Sloboda Ukraine served the Russian Tsars, while the Cossack leaders became part of the Russian nobility. This brief historical digression will allow the reader to understand that Kharkov, by virtue of its origin and identity, is a Russian city, not a Ukrainian one.
The overwhelming majority of Kharkovians, even those with Ukrainian surnames, feel themselves to be Russians. The mentality of the people of Kharkov is much closer to that of the neighboring Russian regional centers of Belgorod and Kursk than to that of the cities of Western or even Central Ukraine. Bandera and Skhukhevych, the leaders of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and its military wing, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army which is “famous” for its genocide against the Polish population of Volhynia, are national heroes for Galicia and Volhynia. But Kharkov’s heroes are the Russian Tsars, Empress Catherine the Great, and the legendary partisan of the Second World War who fought against the Hitlerite fascists and their Ukrainian henchmen, Sydir Kovpak.
February 21st, 2014 was a black day for Kharkov and all of Ukraine. On this day, the coup d’etat took place which was backed from the beginning by the governments of Germany, France, Poland, as well as the Democratic administration of the US. The current Ukrainian authorities are none other than those conspirators and criminals who overthrew the country’s legal president, Viktor Yanukovych. It is a fact that “President” Poroshenko was one of the founders of the Party of Regions of which Yanukovych was the leader. Poroshenko was also a minister in Yanukovych’s government. Immediately after the coup d’etat, the Party of Regions was declared illegal and disbanded. When has Poroshenko ever been honest? When he created a party that was then declared criminal? When he served Yanukovych? Or when he financed the coup d’etat in Ukraine?
I’ve had the opportunity to talk with people who were once Petro Poroshenko’s business associates. According to them, he is a genuinely intelligent and experienced businessmen who indeed established a successful business. His business acumen and capabilities are undoubtable. But these same people also asserted that Poroshenko’s main, distinguishing feature is his unbridled love for money. Poroshenko can make money literally out of thin air.
Now a number of Western publications are publishing revelatory exposés on corruption under Poroshenko. Poroshenko’s former business partner and deputy of the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine’s parliament), Alexander Onishchenko, has fled to England and given a number of interviews on the illegal financial and political schemes of President Poroshenko. One of Onishchenko’s revelations is that Poroshenko has extracted major financial benefits from secretly trading with the “separatists” of Donbass. In Ukraine, it is a kind of open secret that “gray” trading schemes exist between Ukraine and the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. This trade is covered by the Ukrainian Army (UAF) or the Ukrainian neo-Nazi paramilitary battalions. However, they are just the cogs in someone else’s game. The main customer and patron of this shadow trade are the Ukrainian authorities and specifically President Poroshenko.
When Time magazine published Onishchenko’s revelations, including his story of the shadow trade with “separatists” from which Poroshenko extracts profits, I remembered what my friends, who were in contact with Poroshenko the businessmen long before he became president and a simple politician, said: for Poroshenko, the main and only goal is money.
For almost three years already, dissidents in Ukraine have been subjected to political terror. Any sympathies for Russia can earn one a prison sentence or physical violence. Even those people who dared to bring flowers to the Russian embassy as a sign of condolence over the death of the Tu-154 passengers and crew were beaten. In Washington and New York, people expressed their condolences to Russia and sang the Russian anthem. But in Ukraine and in my native Kharkov, this is unimaginable. This would have ended in the death of brave people.
President Poroshenko is a Ukrainian patriot in words. But he does not like, but rather hates and despises Ukrainians. To start with, he is not a Ukrainian by origin, but a Jew. During the Maidan, a video spread across Ukraine which captured Poroshenko, the main sponsor of the Maidan among the Ukrainian oligarchs, insulting his associates on religious grounds. I think that’s when we saw the real face of the future president of Ukraine.
Poroshenko loves to deliver speeches dressed up in a vyshivanka, the traditional Ukrainian embroidered shirt. Yet he still does business with Russia which he constantly accuses of occupying Ukraine. It’s hardly possible that Poroshenko actually believes in what he says but, in the least, this doesn’t hinder him from owning his own factory in the Russian town of Lipetsk and paying taxes into the budget of the “aggressor country.” I’ve already mentioned Poroshenko’s business with the “separatists” of Donbass.
Ukraine followed the elections in the US for all of 2016. The Ukrainian authorities’ sympathy was entirely on the side of Hillary Clinton. Poroshenko even tried to contribute to help her win. For example, he reported on the supposed corrupt ties between people from Donald Trump’s entourage and the electoral headquarters of Viktor Yanukovych. Yet Poroshenko is closely linked to the Obama Democratic Administration and Vice President Joe Biden personally. The American Vice President’s son, Hunter Biden, and the ex-president of Poland, Aleksander Kwasniewski, were put on the board of directors of the Ukrainian oil and gas company Burisma Holdings which was preparing to begin oil extraction in the Slavyansk region where fierce fighting subsequently broke out with the Donbass “separatists.” We’ve even heard rumors that the war was needed by Ukrainian and American oligarchs to clear out the population of Slavyansk to commence oil operations.
Another member of the board of directors was Devon Archer, an adviser to the presidential campaign of current US Secretary of State John Kerry. I’m no specialist on the intricacies of American politicians and this information can be found on the internet by looking up Burisma Holdings, but it turns out that Poroshenko is just as much a member of the Democratic administration of the US as Joe Biden, albeit one standing immeasurably lower in rank. Another senior Ukrainian politician and Kharkov-native, Arsen Avakov, even went so far as to insult Donald Trump, who he called a politician only in quotes. He also wrote open threats against Trump on his Facebook account.
It is difficult to convey in words the panic which has gripped Ukrainian politicians since the news of Donald Trump’s victory. The Ukrainian elite is scared to death – probably not without reason, since Poroshenko, Biden, and other members of this team’s corruption schemes could be exposed. Arsen Avakov, according to rumors, has been released from his post of minister of foreign affairs and has fled Ukraine.
Just before the New Year, I had the chance to meet with a former classmate in Kharkov. For safety reasons, I will leave out the exact name and rank of this friend of mine and omit all the details that could reveal his identity. My friend – let’s call him Evgeny – finished military school back in the 1990’s and started serving as an officer in the Ukrainian Army. He had just recently returned from the ATO on leave when we met almost by accident. Initially, he didn’t want to talk about his service, but then the ice of mutual distrust melted away and he told me many details about his service and the situation in the Ukrainian Army.
Evgeny is a high-ranking officer in the UAF who said that he feels less danger in the ATO from the “separatists” (the DPR and LPR militias) than he does from behind him. Behind him are paramilitary units of Ukrainian neo-Nazis that are called “volunteer battalions” in Ukraine. Besides idealistic neo-Nazis, their ranks include a large number of criminals who were let out of jail to fight in Donbass. In Evgeny’s words, the slightest breach of orders on his part could lead to being shot from behind. He openly admitted that he has to fear “volunteers” more than “separatists.”
Contrary to Poroshenko’s assurances, Evgeny told of how untrained youth are sent to the ATO. Contrary to the reports of the Ukrainian command that only military-trained recruits are sent to the combat zone, the Ukrainian Army often sends 18-year-old conscripts who have never held a weapon in their hands before. When the militia’s artillery opens fire, these untried soldiers, almost children, go into real panic. Heavy losses among UAF soldiers are due to the lack of basic military training, as kids from are sent immediately from conscription points to the frontline.
I openly told the UAF officer my opinion that the war in Donbass is profitable only for a bunch of oligarchs in Kiev among whom there are almost no Russians or Ukrainians. They need the war in Donbass to further enrich themselves with military sales and to divert public attention from Poroshenko’s failed economic policies. Evgeny agreed with my evaluation of the Poroshenko regime and admitted that the entire army literally hates Petro. He told me a lot about the colossal theft of weapons and equipment, and the disgusting state of the supplies of the army fighting in Donbass. If he didn’t have officer’s duty, Evgeny would have long ago left service.
According to Evgeny, only the poor who are unable to pay off military service end up in the ranks of the Ukrainian Army. Those who have money bribe military commissars responsible for conscription or go to other countries, including Russia. The most profitable business in Ukraine revolves around the army: bribing commissars, stealing money, weapons, and equipment, and robbing soldiers in the ATO zone.
Evgeny agreed with me that low discipline reigns in the Ukrainian Army’s ranks. Surprisingly enough, the officer agreed that the Donbass army is better than the UAF in terms of discipline. He only added that this low discipline is a man-made process, that it is deliberately made and kept this way by the military and political leadership of Ukraine. The ruling regime in Kiev, in his words, fears the emergence of a strong, combat-efficient army and the emergence of a popular military leader who could turn troops on Kiev. As follows, the Ukrainian leadership is not interested in victory over the DPR and LPR. The Poroshenko regime’s goal is directing the attention of the army and volunteer units from domestic political problems to an external enemy, be it the Donbass republics or Russia. Poroshenko profits if the war continues as long as possible, as long as the army and volunteer battalions can’t overthrow the ruling regime. As long as they are busy with the war in Donbass, Poroshenko’s regime feels relatively safe.
I’d already heard this opinion earlier from the tongues of other Ukrainian soldiers of lower rank. Yet Evgeny is a rarity among Ukrainian officers, a kind of intellectual and morally responsible person. In December, I closely talked with a different kind of Ukrainian troops. Even though their intelligence and rank were very different from Evgeny’s, their thinking was about the same.
Evgeny’s general attitude is deeply pessimistic. He didn’t say this aloud, but I had the impression that Evgeny doesn’t believe in victory. And this view is widespread among officers in the ATO zone….
Continued in Part 2