We have noted yet more anti-Russia initiatives prompted by the current Ukrainian leadership.
In addition to the recent resolution approved by the Verkhovna Rada on including Stepan Bandera’s birthday in the list of 2019 public holidays, President of Ukraine Petr Poroshenko has decided to once again cater to Ukrainian nationalists. Without any doubt or twinge of conscience, he signed a bill on awarding the status of military veterans to the militants of the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. Now there is no room for doubt as to who supported the arrival of the incumbent authorities in their posts and what serves as the basis for their election campaign. This is an event that must be appreciated by the nationalist and fascist elements, which are the target audience of the current Kiev regime. Now Hitler’s former henchmen have equal rights and benefits as veterans of the Great Patriotic War. Red Army fighters who liberated the world from the brown plague could never imagine that many years later, the Ukrainian authorities would be glorifying the accomplices of the Nazis and praising an ideology full of xenophobia and anti-Semitism.
This is how the current Ukrainian officials, not even slightly embarrassed by their nationalist inclinations and promoting the slogans that glorify the Nazi sidekicks, are paving the way to the ‘common European house.’ It is sad to see that lately, this house has turned a blind eye to its supervisees’ rather dangerous play with the ideas of National Socialism.
With all this happening, Kiev continues to make provocative statements. Specifically, Secretary of the Ukrainian Security Council Alexander Turchinov announced for the entire world to hear that Ukraine is preparing a new provocative act in the Kerch Strait. This time, Ukraine plans to involve NATO and OSCE representatives as observers of their venturesome plans. Apparently, they did not learn their lesson from the recent incident with Ukrainian sailors who became hostages of the Maidan authorities’ aggressive politics.
We expect that Ukraine’s Western curators will not only refrain from participating in this insane initiative but will find ways to reign in the ruling regime in Kiev and make it drop any incautious steps that could lead to another escalation in the region.
As I have already said, just a few days ago the Verkhovna Rada included the birthday of the odious Ukrainian nationalist Stepan Bandera (January 1) on the list of official celebrations in 2019. Earlier, the Lvov Region administration passed a resolution to declare 2019 as the “Year of Stepan Bandera” in that part of Ukraine.
Let me just take a moment to tell you whose name will be celebrated in Ukraine on January 1 so that you have a better understanding who this person was. In fact, many have no idea who this is all about.
The name of Stepan Bandera is used by the Kiev regime as a foundation for building the state ideology of today’s Ukraine by presenting him as a hero and patriot and imposing this image on Ukrainian society. At the same time, evidence of collaboration by Stepan Bandera and his acolytes with the Nazi regime and crimes against civilians are either denounced as fakes, swept under the carpet or derided. However, no matter what the Kiev regime does, the truth about Stepan Bandera and his Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists is well known. Let me remind you a few facts.
In the late 1930s, the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) maintained close cooperation with the secret services of Hitler’s Germany. In August 1939, the Abwehr (German military intelligence) created a 600-strong subversive operations unit, consisting of OUN members, code named “Bergbauernhilfe” (“peasant’s help”). It was tasked with engineering an anti-Polish insurgency in Western Ukraine and cleansing the territory of “unwanted elements,” meaning Polish and Jewish people. After the invasion of Poland, these members were assigned to police units in the eastern part of the occupied Poland. It did not take long before the OUN was granted a legal status by the Nazis, and its members were sent to guard industrial sites on the Polish territory. In the spring of 1940, the Master Plan for the OUN Insurgency Headquarters was prepared. It was aimed at staging an anti-Soviet armed insurgency in Western Ukraine, and was used as a guide to action by the so-called Krakow Krajowa Egzekutywa OUN, headed by Stepan Bandera. Guided by this document, OUN fighters operating in Western Ukraine compiled the so-called blacklists of people belonging to ethnic minorities “hostile to the insurgency” (Jews, Russians, Poles), as well as those who cooperated with the Soviet government, Red Army officers, members of the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs (NKVD) and those who came from eastern Ukraine. This is what lies at the core of the ideology and policy currently promoted by Kiev. No one is even trying to hide this. So Stepan Bandera is viewed as a hero. The problem is that everything that was done within this framework in the late 1930s happened under the direct supervision of the Nazis. But now everything is done to conceal these links, so that no one remembers about it.
In April 1941, the OUN broke up when its most radical leaders followed Bandera to form the OUN-B, while more moderate members supported Andriy Melnyk and came to be known as the OUN-M. In May 1941, the OUN-B developed a new insurgency plan titled The OUN Struggle and Operation During the War. It contained special provisions on “neutralising” Russians, Jews and Poles as the main supporters of “the NKVD forces and Soviet power in Ukraine.”
Marching units were formed within the OUN-B even before the hostilities broke out. Their mission was to follow Wehrmacht’s advancing forces. A special unit headed by OUN-B leader Yaroslav Stetsko was sent to Lvov. In the morning of June 30, the Nachtigall (Nightingale) Battalion of Ukrainian nationalists, formed by the German Abwehr and commanded by Roman Shukhevych, followed by Yaroslav Stetsko’s group, entered Lvov. Posters of the local OUN-B branch appeared on the walls around the city. I will not quote word for word what these posters said, but the message was to call on the people to remember that Moscow, Poland, the Magyars as well as other ethnic groups were the enemy that was subject to extermination. The posters also said that the Ukrainian nationalists from the OUN were to take control, and declared Stepan Bandera as the leader of this force. This is a historical fact that must not be forgotten. This is not a monument that can be destroyed. This is something that will always remain part of the history of the Second World War.
The roughnecks under the OUN-B banners (the so-called “militias”) started Jewish pogroms in the city. At the same time, special groups were formed within the Nachtigall Battalion tasked with eliminating people on the blacklists that I have already mentioned. Within just a few days about 4,000 Jews were killed in Lvov by Ukrainian nationalists in cooperation with members of Einsatzgruppe B. German documents show that in addition to Lvov, the Ukrainian nationalists staged anti-Jewish campaigns in a number of other major communities. For example, a campaign comparable in scale to what happened in Lvov took place on July 2 and 3 in Zolochev (Złoczów), Lvov Region, where some 3,500 civilians were killed.
In August 1941, the Abwehr decided to stop supporting the OUN-B since Hitler saw no benefit in the emergence of an independent Ukrainian state. Nevertheless, the OUN-B continued to declare its allegiance to the Nazis. For example, Yaroslav Stetsko called on Ukrainians “to help the German army defeat Moscow and Bolshevism throughout the land.” In December 1941, the OUN‑B sent a memorandum to the Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories Alfred Rosenberg, offering its assistance in fighting the “covert agents” of the “Bolshevik Moscow.” They did not come up with anything new. All they could think of was to use the old models and schemes.
In the autumn of 1942, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) was formed from OUN-B’s paramilitary units. According to witness accounts, the need to fight Soviet partisans was one of the reasons that pushed the nationalists to create the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. It also declared the Polish population in the Volhynia region as its enemy. In the summer of 1943, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army carried out ethnic cleansing in the Polish communities, killing 40,000 people, according to Polish historians, in what came to be known as the “Volhynian slaughter.” Jews, Roma and Red Army soldiers who had fled from captivity and were hiding in Ukrainian villages were also targeted.
When the Eastern Front reached a turning point at the end of 1943, the Nazi command revived the idea of making use of the Ukrainian nationalists and contacted the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. When the Nazi troops were pushed out of Ukraine, the Third Reich’s secret services continued to use the Banderovites in subversion and intelligence operations behind the Red Army lines. Stepan Bandera gave his go ahead to subversion operations carried out in the Red Army’s rear. He visited Abwehr’s training schools for intelligence officers to give instructions. An officer of the German military intelligence S. Muller confirmed during interrogation that in early April 1945 Stepan Bandera, acting on the instructions of the Reich Main Security Office (Reichssicherheitshauptamt), formed Ukrainian nationalists into combat units as part of Volkssturm to defend Berlin from the Red Army offensive.
In 2007, Chairman of the Soviet Officer’s Union of Crimea Sergey Nikulin asked German Chancellor Angela Merkel to help find data on the casualties suffered by Nazi troops from the OUN-UPA (https://ria.ru/20141015/1028407140.html). This request was forwarded to a number of major German research institutions, and the answer was that they did not have any information on the losses suffered by Wehrmacht’s combat units from the OUN-UPA. This is a telling example in the context of the attempts by the Kiev authorities to portray the Banderovites as fighters against Nazi occupation.
What conclusions can be drawn from all this? First, terror campaigns carried out by Ukrainian nationalists and Banderovites against the Jewish, Polish, Russian and Ukrainian population were planned in advance rather than spontaneous. This is what many prominent historians believe. Preparations for exterminating the unwanted elements were underway even before the outbreak of the Great Patriotic War, as confirmed by the OUN’s internal documents. Stepan Bandera as the OUN’s leader was aware of and approved all the pre-war plans and instructions to liquidate the unwanted population in Western Ukraine and people on all the blacklists. For this reason, all claims that Stepan Bandera was not aware of these plans or, for example, did not sanction the massacres in Lvov and other cities in Western Ukraine in the summer of 1941, and all the crimes committed by his subordinates later during the war, are absurd. They are nothing but lies.
Second, from the very outbreak of the Second World War and until its very end in Europe Stepan Bandera and the OUN-B were obedient tools in the hand of Hitler’s forces, who used the Banderovites when they deemed fit. Even when the OUN-B was out of favour with the Germans, its leaders nevertheless continued to take their cues from Berlin and did not engage in any active combat action against the German occupants. Stepan Bandera later resumed his cooperation with the Nazis, which continued until the very last days of the Third Reich.
“The Year of Bandera” in Lvov is an insult to the beautiful city, where one of the worst pogroms in history was carried out at the orders of the leader of Ukrainian nationalists. Celebrating Stepan Bandera’s birthday is an insult to the people of Ukraine, since Banderovites killed thousands of their ancestors. All this mayhem is an insult to all those who liberated the world from the Brown Plague.
We have taken note of the recent Dutch media reports, including by the Telegraaf newspaper, about Dutch service members expressing support for the Nazi ideology. Journalists write that Dutch military personnel exchanged extremist views via a messenger, used the swastika and other Nazi symbols in their correspondence, and expressed interest in the ideas of Hitler and his collaborators and in Nazi literature.
Any attempts to glorify Nazism, which has brought incalculable suffering and pain to the European people, including the Dutch, are unacceptable and must be universally condemned. It is especially alarming that this time the Nazism virus has likely been revealed in the Dutch armed forces. In 2016, the Dutch Ministry of Defence carried out an investigation into reported radical sentiments among the military. This time, the ministry had to launch three investigations into the unacceptable behaviour of service members who presumably made racist and unacceptable statements in relation to Nazi Germany.
The Russian Foreign Ministry wrote in its 2018 report Neo-Nazism – a Dangerous Threat to Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law that the activity of right-wing politicians in the Netherlands is creating conditions for the spread of racism and xenophobic sentiments. In light of this, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance urged the Netherlands to draft a national strategy to combat racism in all walks of life. The Netherlands failed to produce such a strategy. The local authorities see no need for such a strategy because they have a 2010 action plan against discrimination.
We hope that this condonation of the spread of far-right radicalism in the Dutch armed forces will be promptly and firmly condemned not only in the country but also by the international community, in particular, by the states of the former anti-Hitler coalition.
This is especially important now that the Kingdom is preparing to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands from Nazi occupiers.
Question: Could you provide an update on our colleagues in Ukraine, in particular Kirill Vyshinsky.
How do you explain the EU authorities’ tolerance and indifference to the reemergence of a kind of Nazism, to the fact that Nazism is welcomed, as you have just described. In particular, I would like to mention that the same thing is happening in Washington, where the Jewish lobby is quite strong in matters of politics, in Ukraine, in Poland, where the Warsaw government is waging war against the Soviet soldiers who died in that country.
Maria Zakharova: I cannot agree with your statement that Nazism is welcomed in a number of European capitals. This is not so, either in form or in content. We have never heard any European or world capital make statements praising or promoting neo-Nazi ideology.
In official papers, international documents, official statements and plans for domestic and foreign policy, everyone seems unanimous that the tragedy of the 20th century should not be repeated, and everyone should be committed to the conclusions and lessons learned by the world community from the outcome of World War II. There is a different problem through – neo-Nazi manifestations are not condemned at the appropriate level, and sometimes not condemned at all.
Yet another concern, there is no proper reaction (and sometimes none at all) to certain obvious attempts at rewriting history. Again, I cannot say it is being done for the sake of glorifying neo-Nazism or fascism, or for the reincarnation of Nazism in the form of neo-Nazism – no, but they are changing the nuances. This is what is really typical of Europe (Western Europe and, unfortunately, Eastern too), and our transatlantic partners. We regularly see these trends.
To give specific examples, we have seen the demolition of Red Army memorials and the alteration of plaques at memorials that cannot be demolished because they are protected as historical landmarks, either by international law or simply by the residents of a particular town; we have seen changes in the perception of history. There are piles of false materials, not exactly fakes, but classical misinformation that changes the essence of the Red Army’s role in World War II. And we have regularly pointed out the total indifference of some countries to those nationalist, neo-nationalist, neo-Nazi, and fascist tendencies in Ukraine.
Your question was why, under the current regime, Ukraine is building such an agenda. We have answered it today. I can discuss it briefly, although much has been written about this. It happens because it is always very difficult to unite a nation, difficult to build a new state. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine began emerging as a new, young state. It is difficult to do this while relying on a constructive agenda – implementing economic reforms, sometimes unpopular, but necessary, developing a unification agenda, smoothing controversy between people of different income groups, from different strata of society and different political views. Another point is that building a state based on its people’s historical experience is much more difficult than rewriting history. It is very difficult. It is much easier (almost as simple as ABC) to take a nationalist idea built on the simplest explanation of all life phenomena, such as, you lack something because it is taken by someone else who has a different nationality, religion, hair or skin colour, ear or nose shape. This is the most banal, simple and inherently the most easily accessible explanation of all human problems. This model, unfortunately, has been exploited by many in Ukraine over the past decades. And the current Kiev regime has made it official policy. It is very difficult (really daunting) to rally the various regions of Ukraine, which have a different historical past, different cultural priorities, even, perhaps, a different vision of the future. That would have taken effort. It would have required the work of historians, scientists, cultural experts, futurologists, and philosophers. That would have been a consolidation of society involving dialogue and work to minimise these disagreements. Once again I say, that takes work, and it is difficult.
Ukraine has chosen a different and much simpler way. We can see where this has led them. We can see it because the borders of Ukraine have changed so much as a result of its exit, actually because Crimea just fled, realising what would happen. The situation has changed within society in Ukraine, which used to be peaceful and focused on peaceful development. That kind of society, that version of Ukraine seceded from the Soviet Union or emerged after its collapse. The most interesting thing is that after the Soviet Union collapsed, few post-Soviet republics emerged with little or no major problems. Each dealt with controversy – territorial and ethnic issues, internal agendas, bloodshed that could not be stopped for many years, or conflicts moving into a more calm, yet unresolved phase. We often talk about this at briefings.
Ukraine was one of the most prosperous states, which seemed to have an absolutely cloudless future. It is a beautiful land, with amazing people, access to the sea, a neighbour that offered different development vectors and potential for their harmonisation. But politicians did what they did with that bright future. Today, a country with a complex history, but without any conflicts in active phase has become a country with internal confrontation. Try talking to political analysts living in Ukraine now – few will give you any guarantees of how the situation will develop further. That’s all.
I highly recommend watching an old film today, which I think sheds light on very many aspects of nationalism, on the Nazism you asked about – Triumph Over Violence. I think it should be watched and revisited as often as possible. And many things will become clear. This film has been around for decades, it has been made on the basis of facts and is more relevant than ever before.