May 3rd, 2017 – Fort Russ News –
It is not very often that a documentary film can set a new paradigm about a recent event, let alone, one that is still in progress. But the new film Ukraine on Fire has the potential to do so – assuming that many people get to see it.
Usually, documentaries — even good ones — repackage familiar information in a different aesthetic form. If that form is skillfully done, then the information can move us in a different way than just reading about it.
A good example of this would be Peter Davis’s powerful documentary about U.S. involvement in Vietnam, Hearts and Minds. By 1974, most Americans understood just how bad the Vietnam War was, but through the combination of sounds and images, which could only have been done through film, that documentary created a sensation, which removed the last obstacles to America leaving Indochina.
Ukraine on Fire has the same potential and could make a contribution that even goes beyond what the Davis film did because there was very little new information in Hearts and Minds. Especially for American and Western European audiences, Ukraine on Fire could be revelatory in that it offers a historical explanation for the deep divisions within Ukraine and presents information about the current crisis that challenges the mainstream media’s paradigm, which blames the conflict almost exclusively on Russia.
Key people in the film’s production are director Igor Lopatonok, editor Alex Chavez, and writer Vanessa Dean, whose screenplay contains a large amount of historical as well as current material exploring how Ukraine became such a cauldron of violence and hate. Oliver Stone served as executive producer and conducted some high-profile interviews with Russian President Vladimir Putin and ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
The film begins with gripping images of the violence that ripped through the capital city of Kiev during both the 2004 Orange Revolution and the 2014 removal of Yanukovich. It then travels back in time to provide a perspective that has been missing from mainstream versions of these events and even in many alternative media renditions.
A Longtime Pawn
Historically, Ukraine has been treated as a pawn since the late Seventeenth Century. In 1918, Ukraine was made a German protectorate by the Treaty of Brest Litovsk. Ukraine was also a part of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939 signed between Germany and Russia, but violated by Adolf Hitler when the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941.
The reaction of many in Ukraine to Hitler’s aggression was not the same as it was in the rest of the Soviet Union. Some Ukrainians welcomed the Nazis. The most significant Ukrainian nationalist group, Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), had been established in 1929. Many of its members cooperated with the Nazis, some even enlisted in the Waffen SS and Ukrainian nationalists participated in the massacre of more than 33,000 Jews at Babi Yar ravine in Kiev in September 1941. According to scholar Pers Anders Rudling, the number of Ukrainian nationalists involved in the slaughter outnumbered the Germans by a factor of 4 to 1.
But it wasn’t just the Jews that the Ukrainian nationalists slaughtered. They also participated in massacres of Poles in the western Ukrainian region of Galicia from March 1943 until the end of 1944. Again, the main perpetrators were not Germans, but Ukrainians.
According to author Ryazard Szawlowksi, the Ukrainian nationalists first lulled the Poles into thinking they were their friends, then turned on them with a barbarity and ferocity that not even the Nazis could match, torturing their victims with saws and axes. The documentary places the number of dead at 36,750, but Szawlowski estimates it may be two or three times higher.
OUN members participated in these slaughters for the purpose of ethnic cleansing, wanting Ukraine to be preserved for what OUN regarded as native Ukrainians. They also expected Ukraine to be independent by the end of the war, free from both German and Russian domination. The two main leaders in OUN who participated in the Nazi collaboration were Stepan Bandera and Mykola Lebed. Bandera was a virulent anti-Semite, and Lebed was rabidly against the Poles, participating in their slaughter.
After the war, both Bandera and Lebed were protected by American intelligence, which spared them from the Nuremburg tribunals. The immediate antecedent of the CIA, Central Intelligence Group, wanted to use both men for information gathering and operations against the Soviet Union. England’s MI6 used Bandera even more than the CIA did, but the KGB eventually hunted down Bandera and assassinated him in Munich in 1959. Lebed was brought to America and addressed anti-communist Ukrainian organizations in the U.S. and Canada. The CIA protected him from immigration authorities who might otherwise have deported him as a war criminal.
The history of the Cold War was never too far in the background of Ukrainian politics, including within the diaspora that fled to the West after the Red Army defeated the Nazis and many of their Ukrainian collaborators emigrated to the United States and Canada. In the West, they formed a fierce anti-communist lobby that gained greater influence after Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980.
This history is an important part of Dean’s prologue to the main body of Ukraine on Fire and is essential for anyone trying to understand what has happened there since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. For instance, the U.S.-backed candidate for president of Ukraine in 2004 — Viktor Yushchenko — decreed both Bandera and Lebed to be Ukrainian national heroes.
Bandera, in particular, has become an icon for post-World War II Ukrainian nationalists. One of his followers was Dmytro Dontsov, who called for the birth of a “new man” who would mercilessly destroy Ukraine’s ethnic enemies.
Bandera’s movement was also kept alive by Yaroslav Stetsko, Bandera’s premier in exile. Stetsko fully endorsed Bandera’s anti-Semitism and also the Nazi attempt to exterminate the Jews of Europe. Stetsko, too, was used by the CIA during the Cold War and was honored by Yushchenko, who placed a plaque in his honor at the home where he died in Munich in 1986. Stetsko’s wife, Slava, returned to Ukraine in 1991 and ran for parliament in 2002 on the slate of Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine party.
Stetsko’s book, entitled Two Revolutions, has become the ideological cornerstone for the modern Ukrainian political party Svoboda, founded by Oleh Tyahnybok, who is pictured in the film calling Jews “kikes” in public, which is one reason the Simon Wiesenthal Center has ranked him as one of the most dangerous anti-Semites in the world.
Another follower of Bandera is Dymytro Yarosh, who reputedly leads the paramilitary arm of an even more powerful political organization in Ukraine called Right Sektor. Yarosh once said he controls a paramilitary force of about 7,000 men who were reportedly used in both the overthrow of Yanukovych in Kiev in February 2014 and the suppression of the rebellion in Odessa a few months later, which are both fully depicted in the film.
This historical prelude and its merging with the current civil war is eye-opening background that has been largely hidden by the mainstream Western media, which has downplayed or ignored the troubling links between these racist Ukrainian nationalists and the U.S.-backed political forces that vied for power after Ukraine became independent in 1991.
The Rise of a Violent Right
From Executive Intelligence Review, February 20, 2015
by Jeffrey Steinberg
Feb. 17—As of midnight on Feb. 15, a ceasefire went into force in eastern Ukraine. The deal that was hammered out among Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President François Hollande, and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko—i.e., without the direct involvement of the Obama Administration and the U.K. government—after 17 hours of non-stop negotiations in Minsk last week, is fragile, to say the least.
The immediate danger lies with an identifiable force—the neo-Nazi militias who are an integral part of the Kiev government, which came to power one year ago in a Nazi-driven coup d’état. Those Nazis are acting as protected assets of the Obama Administration, specifically Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland.
These neo-Nazi forces have officially rejected the ceasefire. The battalions they control in southeastern Ukraine are not fully under the control of the central government in Kiev, but are armed by Ukraine’s “oligarchs”—big businessmen such as Dnepropetrovsk Governor Ihor Kolomoysky. They are the offshoot of the Bandera movement, which was fascist in its own right even before World War II, then welcomed Hitler’s invasion of Ukraine and carried out atrocities against the people of Ukraine and Poland that should have landed them in the dock at the Nuremberg war crimes tribunal. Instead, they were recruited by British and American intelligence services for the Cold War against the Soviet Union.
The neo-Nazi representatives within the government in Kiev are also out to sabotage any peace agreement. According to Russian media, former Commandant of the Maidan and current First Deputy Speaker of the Ukrainian parliament (the Supreme Rada) Andriy Parubiy is coming to Washington this week. A cofounder of the neo-Nazi Svoboda party and of one of the paramilitary groups that became the Right Sector spearhead of the February 2014 coup, Parubiy today is a leader in the People’s Front, the political party of the man Victoria Nuland hand-picked as Ukraine’s post-coup prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk.
Speaking Feb. 14 on Ukrainian TV, Parubiy announced the purpose of the trip: to get weapons. He said that Ukraine needs to strengthen its armed Forces and get “the USA to give us highly precise modern weaponry.” He added,
“Next week I am going to the United States, to discuss this in a very concrete and targeted way.”
The possibility that the U.S. would arm Ukraine—a move Moscow would see as an act of war—is precisely what impelled the leaders of France and Germany to work frenetically to get a ceasefire in Ukraine. It would be a step to World War III.
The Rush for a Ceasefire
President Hollande and Chancellor Merkel saw the Minsk talks as existential. They agreed that, if there were no diplomatic breakthrough, the Obama Administration would begin arming the Ukrainian military and this would escalate the crisis. Over the past weeks, more and more strategic analysts and policymakers have come to view the Ukraine crisis as a potential trigger for thermonuclear war between the United States and Russia. Articles headlining the danger have appeared in Germany’s Der Spiegel and even Britain’s Daily Telegraph.
The specter of a war of annihilation starting in the center of Europe was a powerful incentive for Merkel and Hollande to team up to preempt the U.S. weapons flows by the last-ditch diplomacy.
On the eve of the Minsk talks, Chancellor Merkel flew to Washington on Feb. 9 to confer with President Obama. She delivered a blunt message, according to German and American sources. First, she told the President that Europe was adamantly opposed to the U.S. arming the Ukrainian Army. Second, she told Obama that the lack of a direct dialogue between him and Russian President Putin was putting the world at risk. Only the leaders of the two nations with the thermonuclear arsenals that could destroy the planet could be the ultimate guarantors of mankind’s survival. They had to resume a direct, personal dialogue, Merkel insisted.
Her admonition appears to have had some impact. On Feb. 11, on the eve of the Minsk talks, Obama called Putin, and the two men had a 90-minute conversation, the content of which has been kept secret. According to Spiegel Online, which published a detailed account of Merkel’s and Hollande’s diplomatic efforts, the mere fact that the phone call took place demonstrated that Washington was deeply interested in the outcome of the Minsk talks.
At one point in the marathon diplomatic session, according to the Spiegel account, Putin, in private, spoke by phone to the heads of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR). He secured their agreement to the ceasefire terms. In addition, Kremlin aide Vladislav Surkov shuttled between the Hollande-Merkel-Poroshenko-Putin meeting and the Minsk contact group, which also met through the night at another location in Minsk (because Poroshenko refused to speak with the DPR/LPR delegation directly). It was the contact group, consisting of Alexander Zakharchenko (DPR), Igor Plotnitsky (LPR), Ukrainian ex-President Leonid Kuchma, Russian Ambassador to Kiev Mikhail Zurabov, and OSCE negotiator Heidi Tagliavini, who actually signed the 10-point Minsk accord.
In the previous months of renewed fighting in eastern Ukraine, after the September 2014 ceasefire broke down, the DPR/LPR forces captured an additional belt of territory, especially within the Donetsk Region, as they moved to push the Kiev battalions out of the range from which they could shell Donetsk and other cities. While the Minsk talks were proceeding, the DPR/LPR militias had nearly encircled 6,000 to 8,000 Ukrainians in the town of Debaltseve, the major rail junction between Donetsk and Lugansk. With growing defections, collapsing morale, and widespread draft evasion, the Ukraine Armed Forces were already at a break-point. For Merkel and Hollande, the idea of arming such a disintegrating army was a grave mistake, reflecting a lack of understanding of the reality of the Ukraine crisis in official Washington.
The Nuland Factor
Indeed, the policy of the Obama Administration towards Ukraine and Russia has been hijacked from day one by a collection of neo-conservatives and humanitarian interventionist ideologues—led by Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland. The wife of neo-con Robert Kagan, Nuland served as a foreign policy advisor to then-Vice President Dick Cheney, before being appointed as the Bush Administration’s Ambassador to NATO.
Nuland publicly boasted that the U.S. had poured $5 billion into the “democracy” movement in Ukraine since the end of the Cold War, and she made clear, in an infamous taped phone call in January 2014, that the man who is now Ukrainian Prime Minister, Yatsenyuk, was owned by Washington. She is responsible for covering up the powerful role of the Banderite Nazis in the Maidan coup and the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Nuland’s current role in sabotaging efforts for peace was highlighted in a Feb. 15 article in Germany’s Der Spiegel, entitled “America’s Riot Diplomat.” The column stated that Nuland poses a threat to America’s allies, and that while she is supposed to solve the crisis of Ukraine and relations with Russia, “in the crisis, Nuland herself has become the problem.”
Der Spiegel described a closed-door meeting, apparently reported anonymously both to it and to the Bild newspaper, held by Nuland at the Munich Security Conference one week ago, with “perhaps two dozen U.S. diplomats and Senators.” There Nuland gave instructions to “fight against the Europeans” on the issue of arming Ukraine to fight Russia. She was described as referring “bitterly” to the German Chancellor’s and French President’s meeting with President Putin as “Merkel’s Moscow junk,” and “Moscow bullshit,” and she welcomed a Senator’s calling German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen the “Defeatism Minister.”
These reports give the lie to Nuland’s claim on the morning of Feb. 11, when the Minsk Agreement was announced, that “we [the United States] enthusiastically support it.”
Der Spiegel says that Nuland does not stop short of calling for “heavy weapons” to be given by NATO to Ukraine.
Raising the Alarm
In a statement issued on Feb. 14, Lyndon LaRouche warned that the war danger would persist until Nuland was fired and her links to hardcore Banderite Nazis exposed publicly (see box).
The larger threat of thermonuclear war, stemming from the Ukraine crisis, was a dominant theme behind the scenes at the annual Munich Security Conference. On the eve of that meeting, three national security specialists, former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.), former Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, and former British Secretary of State for Defence Des Browne, wrote an op-ed calling for an overhaul of the Euro-Atlantic security architecture, with an inclusive role for Russia.
The same view was echoed in two other high-visibility venues. On Feb. 11, Jack Matlock, who was President Reagan’s ambassador to the Soviet Union during the closing days of the Cold War, told a packed audience at the National Press Club in Washington that the West had violated some of the most essential agreements with Moscow, those which had allowed for the peaceful demise of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union, and that the danger of a world war was grave (see transcript in this Feature).
Two days later, Markus Becker, writing about the Munich Security Conference in Spiegel Online, warned that the “Threat of War Is Higher than in the Cold War.” He presented some of the same arguments as the Nunn-Ivanov-Browne article.
Unless LaRouche’s demand for Nuland’s ouster is acted upon swiftly, the chances of the neo-Nazis in Ukraine wrecking the fragile peace are immense. Nuland’s ouster must be followed by the agreement among governments to disqualify and remove the Nazi elements now running rampant, and participating in government, in Ukraine. This demand has been raised repeatedly by the Russian government, and by LaRouche.
If the cycle of violence in eastern Ukraine resumes full-force, the prospects of escalation into a direct Russia-U.S. military confrontation are very high.
Richard Burt, who was one of the chief U.S. arms control negotiators with the Soviets, told Spiegel Online (Feb. 9) that the danger of nuclear war is very great. “Both American and Russian nuclear arms are essentially on a kind of hair-trigger alert. Both sides have a nuclear posture where land-based missiles could be authorized for use in less than 15 minutes.” He acknowledged that the kind of “hybrid warfare” now underway in eastern Ukraine adds greatly to the danger of miscalculation into thermonuclear confrontation. Former Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov concurred, telling Spiegel, “Now the threat of a war is higher than during the Cold War.”
It must be understood, in addition, that the primary driver for war is the bankruptcy of the trans-Atlantic financial system, centered in London and Wall Street. The desperation of financier circles over the looming doom of their system and the collapse of their political power is driving the war danger. As Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has observed in recent statements, if there had been no Ukraine crisis, some circles in the West would have created one—to deal with the larger collapse they are facing.
 Der Spiegel article is here (in German):
The leader of the US Sponsored Nightingale group was Stepan Bandera.
From Washington’s Blog, May 5, 2014
American Government Backed Ukrainian Nazis … Same Group Supported By the Leader of the Protests which Toppled the Ukrainian Government In February
Oliver Stone’s documentary Untold History notes:
Truman approved the creation of a guerrilla army code-named “Nightingale” in Ukraine. Originally setup by the Nazis in 1941, it was made up of ultra-nationalists. They would, as Stone describes, wreak havoc on the “famine-wrecked region where Soviet control was loose, carrying out the murder of thousands of Jews, Soviets and Pols, who opposed a separate Ukrainian state.” The CIA would parachute “infiltrators” into the country as well to further “dislodge Soviet control.”
Sounds nuts, right?
One group that particularly attracted CIA attention and support was the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), a political-military underground movement that had long fought for Ukrainian independence—first against the Poles in the 1920s when Poland controlled the Ukraine and after 1939 against the Soviets. ‘Though violently anti-Russian, the OUN was itself totalitarian and Fascist in character. as well as anti-Semitic. The Nazis poured money into the OUN after the German invasion of Russia and pretended to support the goal of Ukrainian national independence. In return, a large OUN militia, code-named Nachtigall, or Nightingale, provided local administrators, informers, and killers for the German invaders. Nazi-sponsored OUN police and militia formations were involved in “thousands of instances of mass murders of Jews and of families suspected of aiding Red Army partisans.”
When the Germans were driven out of the Ukraine, many OUN members who had served the Nazis’ police formations and execution squads fled with them, but several thousand retreated into the Carpathian Mountains to fight another day against the hated Soviet government. It was this remaining Nightingale group that fascinated the CIA and was recruited essentially en bloc. To bring its leaders to the United States for training and indoctrination required special bureaucratic exertions, as well as an immigration law permitting the admission of one hundred such immigrants per year, provided the Director of the CIA, the Attorney General, and the Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service all personally stated that the action was vital to national security.” As one army intelligence officer noted sardonically, one wing of the CIA was hunting Ukrainian Nazis to bring them to trial at Nuremberg, while another wing was recruiting them.
After training in the United States, the Nightingale leaders were parachuted into the Ukraine to link up with their compatriots and to carry out measures of subversion, agitation, and sabotage, including assassination.
[United States Secretary of the Navy and Secretary of Defense James Forrestal] vigorously supported the program and presumably participated in the approval of the basic NSC charters as a member of the National Security Council.
The leader of the Nightingale group was Stepan Bandera.
The leader of the “protests” in February 2014 which ousted the president of Ukraine is a neo Nazi and follower of Stepan Bandera.
In other words, 70 years ago, the U.S. supported the types of fascists who are now in control of Ukraine.
Postscript: Another little known historical fact is that – in 1997 – a former U.S. national security advisor and high-level Obama policy advisor called for the U.S. to take Ukraine away from Russia.
And almost a month before the Ukrainian president was ousted in February, a high-level State Department official – Assistant US Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia Victoria Nuland, wife of arch Neocon Robert Kagan – announced plans to promote a “new government” in Ukraine.