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  • 9 min read

No Nazis in Ukraine, huh?

Opinion by Maria Zakharova

Some people are asking about the connection between Ukrainian neo-Nazis and NATO’s expansion towards Russia’s border. Actually, the connection is much closer than it may seem at first glance. It is a complicated issue, and to understand it, it is necessary to examine it from the perspective of historical processes. Then a real epic, lasting almost 80 years, will unfold. There are many characters in that drama, but the idea underlying it is very simple: for several decades now, the West has been using Nazi ideology and supporting the far-right forces in Ukraine to turn it into a seat of instability spearheaded against Russia. So, let’s go back to page one of that historical drama.

May 9, 1945. Berlin has surrendered, and the Nazi Reich has been condemned by the peoples liberated by Soviet soldiers and allied nations. Soon, the Nuremberg Trials will begin, condemning Nazism as a criminal and misanthropic ideology. Collaborators and Nazi accomplices in Ukraine are facing a difficult choice: should they continue fighting the Soviet regime on the liberated territory, or escape to the West?

Some Ukrainian fascists and their leaders decided to stay, including the leader of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) Roman Shukhevich, who was up to his elbows in the blood of Polish Jews and Roma, and Ivan Yurkiv (Jurkiw), a lieutenant in the Ukrainian People’s (National) Republic and an anti-Soviet fighter. Thousands of peaceful Soviet citizens lost their lives in terrorist attacks after the war, before the last collaborators were routed in the Carpathian forests during MGB (KGB) operations in the 1950s.

Some of the more astute collaborators and traitors fled to Europe. It was becoming clear that the next post-war global confrontation would be between the Soviet Union and the Western world, and they decided, with good reason, that their hatred of the Soviet Union and everything associated with Russia would be useful to the Western powers.

The collaborators who didn’t want to stand trial in the Soviet Union chose Poland and West Germany. Some of them later went over to the United States and Canada, closer to the “good empire” and the bulwark of the Cold War against the Soviet Union.

The brightest of those adepts of the Nazi ideology was Stepan Bandera, the Ukrainian nationalist leader during the war and a die-hard fighter against the Soviet Union. He regarded the victory of the Soviet Union as a personal tragedy, dreamed of revenge, and for many generations of Ukrainian nationalists, he became the icon of the terrorist struggle against everything that is Russian.

Yaroslav Stetsko, deputy leader of Stepan Bandera’s Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), was less popular but much more important to the West. Bandera and Stetsko settled in West Germany, where they attracted the attention of former Nazis in the employ of the German defence and security agencies in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

You might ask how Nazi criminals came to hold responsible positions in the government agencies of democratic West Germany. But this question is better addressed to Washington, which moulded the new image of the West German government and could find no better partners than, for example, Reinhard Gehlen, a general in Hitler’s army, founder of the West German Federal Intelligence Service (BND), and a partner of the CIA, after the war. The Americans also recruited Nazi army officer Adolf Heusinger, who became Chairman of the NATO Military Committee after the war. The Americans saw that their potential could be utilised for subversive activities against the Soviet Union and its East European partners. Washington was not concerned about their Nazi past any more than it was about its own obligations regarding the denazification of Germany.

Here we can also mention Theodor Oberlander, the political adviser to the Ukrainian Nachtigall Battalion controlled by the Abwehr. After the war, he came into close contact with Yaroslav Stetsko. The two helped create the World Anti-Communist League, a legal ultra-right organisation with a mission to fight the USSR. We can also recall Theodore’s namesake, Helmut Oberlander, an executioner responsible for crimes against dozens of residents of Soviet Ukraine during the occupation, who spent the rest of his life peacefully in Canada.

In addition to the Ukrainian nationalist leaders, many ordinary militants also fled to the West. Among them was the anti-Semitic propagandist Mikhailo Khomyak who also moved to Canada, as well as many others. The children born in such fugitives’ families in the 1950s and 1960s were brought up in an atmosphere of total Russophobia and hostility towards everything Russian. The authorities in Western countries never forgot about them. These new foreign generation “Ukrainians” include Oleg Romanyshyn (Yaroslav Stetsko’s nephew), Roman Zvarych and Irena Chalupa – activists of the World Anti-Communist League; Kateryna Chumachenko, whose parents, after captivity in Nazi Germany, chose to flee to the United States rather than go home, as well as George Harry Jurkiw (the son of the Carpathian militant Ivan Yurkiv).

By that time, the World Anti-Communist League, supported by the United States, Canada and Germany, had become the main centre of attraction for Ukrainian neo-Nazis. The Western powers kept this Ukrainian Nazi trump card up their sleeve over the few short decades of the Cold War, not persecuting but supporting them. In particular, Irena Khalupa was given a job with Radio Liberty, where she conducted anti-Soviet propaganda.

The nationalists were also supported by the so-called old Western Ukrainians who had moved there during the Civil War – in particular, by American Ukrainian Lev Dobriansky, diplomat under the Ronald Reagan administration, who headed a department at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. His lectures became popular with Ukrainian émigrés. For example, Kateryna Chumachenko under his influence became one of the agents of the American soft power in the 1980s, and his daughter, Paula Dobriansky, even served as US Under Secretary of State.

Others, such as George Harry Jurkiw, found themselves managing American defence companies, working to increase NATO’s military potential. All of them naturally retained the fierce hatred towards the Soviet Union and everything Russian which they had retained since the 1940s, and they communicated this to their entourage.

With the collapse of the USSR, the West finally got the chance to use the asset they had been storing for decades to establish a pro-Nazi regime in Ukraine, stained with Russophobic ideology and hatred of everything Russian. The West failed to do this under Leonid Kuchma, but the first attempts to send Western nationalist emissaries to Ukraine were made at that time. Slava Stetsko, the wife of the old anti-Soviet and Nazi propagandist Yaroslav Stetsko, became a Verkhovna Rada deputy where she opened and closed parliamentary sessions as a “respected elected people’s representative.”

Nationalists had new opportunities as Viktor Yushchenko’s pro-Western government came to power. To begin with, he married American Katerina Chumachenko, a student of Lev Dobriansky, and appointed Roman Zvarych, a functionary of the World Anti-Communist League, Minister of Justice. At the same time, descendants of Ukrainian collaborationists, who fled to the US, were making careers in the West.

Canadian citizen Chrystia Freeland, a granddaughter of Mikhailo Khomyak, had the most successful career. She was appointed Deputy Prime Minister of Canada. Indicatively, at one time, George Soros supported her as a potential participant in the global behind-the-scenes struggle against Moscow’s influence. Alexandra Chalupa who received an appointment in the US presidential administration used her position to consistently work against improving Russian-US relations.

Incidentally, in addition to Kateryna Chumachenko, many descendants of Ukrainian émigrés in America made a name for themselves in soft power. Thus, Chalupa’s sister Andrea Chalupa became a screenwriter promoting an emphatically anti-Russia (and unscientific) approach to Holodomor.

A Canadian of Ukrainian origin, Marco Suprun, a colleague of Radio Liberty correspondent Irena Chalupa, became a producer of anti-Russia political clips. He married Ulana-Nadia Suprun (Jurkiw), but we’ll talk about her later. Another person among the Ukrainian diaspora, Adrian Karatnycky, joined the editorial teams of the US expert societies Freedom House and Atlantic Council. He focused on studying the practice of overthrowing regimes (primarily in the former Warsaw treaty member countries and in the post-Soviet space). He could be called a theorist on colour revolutions.

The latest round of Ukrainian Nazification with direct NATO support occurred in 2014. After the coup and subsequent unlawful overthrow of the legitimately elected President, the radicalisation of pro-Western Ukrainian nationalists reached a peak. Former Minister of Justice and former US citizen Roman Zvarych became the leader of the civilian corps of the Azov neo-Nazi volunteer battalion while George Harry Jurkiw’s daughter Ulana-Nadia Suprun was appointed Acting Minister of Health. It was common knowledge that her husband was a supporter of overt neo-Nazis and a Russophobic propagandist, but this was not the only reason Ms Suprun was important to Washington.

It was when she held this position that the Americans further developed their military bio-programme in both quality and scale and launched projects on studying biological WMDs in Ukraine. They were using the Russophobic attitudes of the Suprun-Jurkiw couple. There are reports that the CIA directly coordinated Ms Suprun’s activities via her cousin Taras Voznyak.

It was the “Western” Ukrainians that supported the most rabid nationalists in Ukraine. They could hardly hope to gain skyrocketing popularity without NATO’s assistance. Thus, American ideologist Andrea Suprun became an associate of Sviatoslav Yurash, a Ukrainian producer of Fox News. In turn, he headed the press service of Dmitry Yarosh, the leader of the Right Sector.

Thus, they have come full circle. Ukrainian Nazis that fled from fair trial 75 years ago have returned to the place they were expelled from by Soviet soldiers via their children and with direct support from the West.