Der Spiegel Tones Down Anti-Putin Hysteria

Exclusive: The mainstream U.S. news media continues to spew out a steady flow of anti-Russian propaganda over the Ukraine crisis, but the prominent German newsmagazine Der Spiegel has begun to temper its belligerent tone, finally reflecting the more nuanced reality, reports Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

Last summer, the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel was swept up in the Western hysteria over Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Ukraine crisis, even running a bellicose cover demanding “Stop Putin Now” and blaming him for the 298 deaths in the July 17 crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in eastern Ukraine.

“Vladimir Putin has shown his true face. Once seen as a statesman, the Russian president has exposed himself as a pariah of the international community. The MH17 dead are also his; he is partially responsible for the shooting down of the flight,” a Der Spiegel editorial declared on July 28. “Nobody in the West continues to harbor serious doubts that the plane was shot down with a Buk surface-to-air missile system — one that was almost certainly provided to the pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine by Russia.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. (Israeli government photo)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. (Israeli government photo)

Actually, by then, a number of people in the West, including U.S. intelligence analysts, were doubting the blame-Putin narrative because they could find no evidence that the Russians had supplied the ethnic Russian rebels with a sophisticated anti-aircraft missile system that could bring down a commercial plane flying at 33,000 feet.

At the time, I was being told by a source briefed by U.S. intelligence analysts that the emerging scenario pointed more toward an extremist group associated with the Ukrainian government although not under the control of Kiev’s senior leadership. But the major media in the U.S. and Europe refused to rethink the early “conventional wisdom.”

However, in October, Der Spiegel quietly reversed itself regarding Moscow supposedly supplying the Buk missiles, reporting that the German foreign intelligence agency, the BND, had concluded that Russia did not supply the battery suspected of bringing down the plane, saying the plane was shot down by a Ukrainian military missile captured by the rebels from a Ukrainian military base (although I was later told by a European official that the BND’s conclusion was less definitive than Der Spiegel reported).

Creating a Crisis

In another reversal of sorts, this leading German-language newsmagazine has acknowledged that the European Union and German leaders were guilty of miscalculations that contributed to the Ukraine crisis, particularly by under-appreciating the enormous financial costs to Ukraine if it broke its historic ties to Russia in favor of a new association with the EU.

In November 2013, Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych learned from experts at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine that the total cost to the country’s economy from severing its business connections to Russia would be around $160 billion, 50 times the $3 billion figure that the EU had estimated, Der Spiegel reported. The figure stunned Yanukovych, who pleaded for financial help that the EU couldn’t provide, the magazine said.

Western loans would have to come from the International Monetary Fund, which was demanding painful “reforms” of Ukraine’s economy, structural changes that would make the hard lives of average Ukrainians even harder, including raising the price of natural gas by 40 percent and devaluing Ukraine’s currency, the hryvnia, by 25 percent.

With Putin offering a more generous aid package of $15 billion, Yanukovych backed out of the EU agreement but told the EU’s Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Nov. 28, 2013, that he was willing to continue negotiating.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel responded with “a sentence dripping with disapproval and cool sarcasm aimed directly at the Ukrainian president. ‘I feel like I’m at a wedding where the groom has suddenly issued new, last minute stipulations,” according to Der Spiegel’s chronology of the crisis.

That was when the U.S. neocons stepped up their strategy of using the popular disappointment in western Ukraine over the failed EU agreement to topple Yanukovych, the constitutionally elected president.

Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, a prominent neocon holdover who advised Vice President Dick Cheney, passed out cookies to anti-Yanukovych demonstrators at the Maidan Square in Kiev and reminded Ukrainian business leaders that the United States had invested $5 billion in their “European aspirations.”

Meanwhile, neocon Sen. John McCain joined Ukrainian rightists onstage at the Maidan urging on the protests, and the U.S.-funded, neocon-led National Endowment for Democracy deployed scores of its Ukrainian political/media operatives in support of the disruptions. Even earlier, NED President Carl Gershman, a leading neocon, had identified Ukraine as “the biggest prize” and an important step toward toppling Putin in Russia. [See’s “Neocons’ Ukraine-Syria-Iran Gambit.”]

By early February, Nuland was telling U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt “fuck the EU” and discussing how to “glue this thing” as she handpicked who the new leaders of Ukraine would be; “Yats is the guy,” she said about Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

As violent disorders at the Maidan spun out of control, the State Department and U.S. news media blamed Yanukovych, setting the stage for his removal. On Feb. 22, a putsch, spearheaded by neo-Nazi militias from the Maidan protests, forced Yanukovych and his officials to flee for their lives.

A Nasty Civil War

Nuland’s “guy” Yatsenyuk became the new prime minister and pushed through both the IMF “reforms” and the EU association agreement. But the price was high, with Ukraine descending into a brutal civil war with ethnic Russians of eastern and southern Ukraine resisting the imposition of the new order in Kiev.

The voters of Crimea overwhelmingly passed a secession referendum and rejoined Russia with the help of Russian troops stationed in Crimea at the naval base at Sebastopol. Two areas of eastern Ukraine also voted to secede but were not accepted by Moscow, though it provided military and non-lethal assistance when the Kiev regime launched an “anti-terrorism operation” that incorporated some of the neo-Nazi storm troopers into “volunteer militias.”

The Ukrainian civil war not only has claimed thousands of lives but revived the specter of a new Cold War. The U.S. State Department pressed the EU to join in economic sanctions against Russia over its annexation of Crimea, a plan that Merkel and the EU adopted after the July 17 shoot-down of MH17, which was hastily blamed on Putin.

Tit-for-tat economic sanctions also pushed the EU toward its third recession since the 2008 financial crisis. They also have contributed to economic pain in Russia. But the worst victims are the Ukrainians who are facing a cold winter with scant supplies of fuel, little money and widespread joblessness.

“In one of the most important questions facing European foreign policy, Germany had failed,” Der Spiegel admitted in its review of how the crisis evolved from the botched negotiations a year ago. The magazine cited a speech last December by the new Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, saying: “We should ask ourselves … whether we have overlooked the fact that it is too much for this country to have to choose between Europe and Russia.”

Der Spiegel also quoted a key figure in the Ukraine talks, European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Stefan Füle, as conceding that the EU confronted Ukraine with an impossible choice. “We were actually telling Ukraine : ‘You know guys, sorry for your geographic location, but you cannot go east and you cannot go west,'” Füle said.

“More than anything, though, the Europeans underestimated Moscow and its determination to prevent a clear bond between Ukraine and the West,” Der Spiegel wrote. “They either failed to take Russian concerns and Ukrainian warnings seriously or they ignored them altogether because they didn’t fit into their own worldview.”

This more tempered assessment by Der Spiegel though a marked improvement from the hysteria of last summer still falls far short of the highest standards of journalistic objectivity. But it suggests that perhaps a more rational attitude toward the Ukraine crisis is finally taking hold in Europe.

U.S. Media Hysteria

That does not appear to be the case in the United States where major news outlets, including the New York Times and the Washington Post, continue to be little more than propaganda megaphones for the hawks in the State Department and the ever-influential neoconservatives.

For instance, on Wednesday, the Post’s neocon editors published a lead editorial aimed at both Putin and President Barack Obama with what you might call neocon trash-talking. In the Post’s print edition, the sneering headline was “The ‘invincible’ Mr. Putin. With no new pressure from the West, the Kremlin acts as if it has nothing to fear.” The online title was even more direct: “Prove to Mr. Putin that he is not ‘invincible.’”

The editorial continued the year-long campaign to demonize Putin and agitate Obama into taking more aggressive action toward destabilizing Russia.

The Post, which has become the neocon flagship publication, was following the neocon strategy of destroying what had been constructive behind-the-scenes cooperation between Putin and Obama on issues such as reaching a political settlement in Syria and achieving a nuclear accord with Iran.

If that Putin-Obama relationship were not obliterated, it carried grave dangers for the overriding neocon strategy of “regime change” across the Middle East, to eliminate nations and movements regarded as threats to Israel.

But the biggest risk to the neocons from Putin and Obama working together would be the possibility that the two leaders could join forces to pressure Israel into a peace agreement with the Palestinians, rather than continue Israel’s inexorable seizure of Palestinian land.

In demanding that Obama ratchet up the confrontation with Putin, the Post’s editors wrote that the current anti-Russian sanctions are “not enough, apparently to deter Mr. Putin from sending more troops to Ukraine, tightening his hold on Abkhazia or declaring himself ‘invincible.”

By the way, what Putin actually said was: “When a Russian feels he is right, he is invincible.” However, by twisting the rather innocuous observation, the Post’s editors could present Putin as delusional while simultaneously baiting Obama into escalating the personal feud between the two leaders, all the better to poison future hopes of cooperation on conflict resolution.

Yet, while the major U.S. media has become one continuous conveyor belt of anti-Russian propaganda, Der Spiegel finally seems to have slowed down the assembly-line manufacturing of lies and exaggerations by offering its readers a bit of honesty about how this crisis began.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and For a limited time, you also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.


20 comments for “Der Spiegel Tones Down Anti-Putin Hysteria

    November 28, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    One of the most factual and rational articles on the Ukrainian situation.

  2. W. R. Knight
    November 28, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    The U.S. administration and its puppet media never admit mistakes. They haven’t even admitted that Vietnam was a mistake or that WMD in Iraq was a mistake. And why should they admit to mistakes when they never make mistakes? Doesn’t might make right? When you’re the biggest, toughest and meanest gorilla in the room, you don’t have to admit to mistakes. You just beat the crap out of anyone accusing you of doing wrong.

  3. F. G. Sanford
    November 28, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    Yes, and European news outlets have just announced the successful testing of a Russian ‘Bulava’ nuclear missile. Back in my day, we called that…”incentive”.

  4. Joe Tedesky
    November 29, 2014 at 2:30 am

    Germany is losing, Ukraine is really losing, and yet Washington & It’s Media going rumbling a long. These sanctions have a huge hidden backlash. Just look at France with the Russian ship order. I read where Ukraine car manufacturing was off by 50%. Germany it self could be more pivotal with the alliance edge they have. Germany’s lean towards the East would be a real game changer.

    There must be something written inside the Empire play book. Something where after all of an empires vast conquence are complete, and then it’s time to attack Russia. Oh, but wait a minute! Shouldn’t one wonder of what battles said empire has won. Starting with Korea, and I mean what have we won. Don’t say Grenada! Have you seen the National Debt, yet? Lastly, many an empire’s fiery last battles were extinguished up against the gates of Russia…just saying!

    When all is said and done, all this empire could have been taken with this country’s soft power. Read the attached article written by an average Russian. Our Russian friend starts out by saying how much they (the young) loved the idea of being more American. Not so much love now though, thanks to the Neocon movement. Please read this Russians article. It’s important.

    • KBK
      November 29, 2014 at 6:08 am

      The real import of Ms. Nuland’s comment to their Ambassador has perhaps dawned on them. Ukraine was just the ‘collateral damage’.

    • Yar
      December 1, 2014 at 1:48 am

      By the way, the translation is much more formalized than the original text. That’s more emotional and human…

  5. toby
    November 29, 2014 at 6:55 am

    Face it, the New York Times and the Washington Post are the propaganda arms of Israel and have the interest of foreigners, not US citizens, at heart. If it is possible for a newspaper to be traitor to the US citizenry…that would be the NYT and WP.

    • Rob Roy
      November 29, 2014 at 5:16 pm

      Here’s a statement from a member of that arrogant Bilderberg Group who have planned the New World Order for decades. The moneyed corporate owners, presidents, bankers, etc. are invited to join…and they always do. (look up the membership, meetings are secret)
      “We are grateful to the Washington Post, The New York Times, Time Magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost 40 years. It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subjected to the lights of publicity during those years. But the world is more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto-determination practiced in past centuries.” – David Rockefeller, Bilderberg, 1991

  6. Peter Loeb
    November 29, 2014 at 7:08 am

    This excellent analysis is a prime example of what the late historian Gabriel
    Kolko called “the perpetual crisis” ( MAIN CURRENTS IN MODERN AMERICAN
    HISTORY, Chapter 10).

    It should be clear that as long as the US pontificates about international law
    applying to the Russians, it diverts attention from the even more egregious
    breaking of considerable international law by the State of Israel. (Its
    aggression, murders, crimes, annexation, extermination policies are not
    detailed here for brevity. They are dealt with elsewhere.)

    —-Peter Loeb, Boston MA, USA

  7. onno
    November 29, 2014 at 7:45 am

    Thank you for this short review of the Ukrainian crisis and the fact that Washington – like many times before – has caused this wonderful nation ending in the hands of Neo-Nazis gang from Lvov under Yatsenyuk, Yarosh, Proshenko and others.

    They are the followers of Bandera who joined the Nazis in 1939 murdering 500.000 fellow Ukrainians and 32,000 Jews at Babi Yar and now murdering innocent women and children with cluster- and gas bombs on homes, hospitals and schools. All with the support and money from Washington. Proving again that the landing on Normandy beaches was NOT to free Europe but to fight the advancing Soviet troops.

    In 70 years Washington’s war policy has not changed and they will not stop until they finally destroy the ‘Evil Empire’ (Ronald Reagan’s words) and its American dream to rule the world such as was initiated by US president Monroe’s doctrine in 1850.

  8. Deschutes Maple
    November 29, 2014 at 10:16 am

    This is one of the best, most impartial articles on the Ukraine crisis I’ve read in a long time. Der Spiegel’s English section has been, without doubt a propaganda megaphone for the neocon Washington ‘narrative’ of the Ukraine crisis. To be honest, I don’t think they’ve toned anything down. Der Spiegel is basically a German tabloid with a very corporate right wing bent, kind of like UK Daily Mail, or any Rupert Murdoch news rag. As for the US media–NY Times, WaPo, NPR, Huffington Post: all of them serve neo-con zionist agendas, they serve the US government neo-con/CIA/deep state agenda of the military-industrial-homeland security establishment. I’ve read that many American journalists in these American newspapers have CIA connections and to be honest I wouldn’t put it past them. As for Ukraine, the best solution would be to split the country in half between the language lines: from Odessa in the south right up to Chernihiv at the north: from these cities east should be Novorussia; from Kiev to Kotovosk to the west can be EU/American economic sphere. Since ALL of southern Ukraine along the Black Sea coast is ethnic Russian, all of it goes to Novorussia–which means the western backed Ukraine will be a landlocked country. Tough crap Poroshenko and Yats: that’s what you get when you start a civil war along ethnic lines!

  9. Abe
    November 29, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Unfortunately, Mr. Parry is seeing mirages in the desert of the German press.

    The November 24 article in Der Spiegel indeed does acknowledge the fact that “Fehler gemacht wurden” with regard to Russia.

    However, the article is mostly a lament, a kind of prequel to explain how badly “f**ked” the Europeans were by Washington’s little trigger pull in Kiev last February. Call it a tactical quibble.

    You see, the Germans have a peculiar fetish for Yulia Tymoshenko, leader of the All-Ukrainian Union “Fatherland” or Batkivshchyna Party. I’m not sure if it’s her Aryan kitsch hair braids or her affection for ethnic cleansing that turns them on.

    Anyway, the story the Germans like to tell themselves is it that the Russian government, after seeing her opposition to Viktor Yushchenko, supported her since late 2008, although Putin denied it.

    Known as “the Gas Princess” due to her having skimmed billions from Russia’s gas-sales to the State, Tymoshenko finished second in the Ukrainian presidential election of 2010 runoff with a 3.5% loss to the winner, Viktor Yanukovych. After the election, a number of criminal cases were brought against her.

    On 11 October 2011 she was convicted of embezzlement and abuse of power, and sentenced to seven years in prison and ordered to pay the state $188 million. The European Union had repeatedly called for release of Yulia Tymoshenko as the primary condition for signing the EU Association Agreement.

    Tymoshenko was released on 22 February 2014, in the concluding days of the Euromaidan revolution, following a revision of the Ukrainian criminal code that effectively decriminalized the actions for which she was imprisoned.She was officially rehabilitated on 28 February 2014. Just after Euromaidan revolution, the Ukrainian Supreme Court closed the case and found that “no crime was committed”.

    In a leaked March 2014 phone conversation with Nestor Shufrych, former deputy secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, Tymoshenko appeared to say in reference to the reunification of Crimea with Russia: “This is really beyond all boundaries. It’s about time we grab our guns and go kill those damn Russians together with their leader; and nuke 8 million Russians who are now exiles in Ukraine.”

    Tymoshenko strongly supports Ukraine joining NATO. In Ukrainian politics, she is supported by the Fatherland Party and the two Neo-Nazi parties. Right Sector and Svoboda.

    In the May 25 presidential election in Ukraine, “Gas princess” Tymoshenko came a distant second behind Washington’s favorite, “Chocolate King” Petro Poroshenko.

    The recent articles in Spiegel suggest not a reduction but a redirection of the anti-Putin hysteria.

    Sorry, Mr. Parry, but there is no silver lining in the dark war clouds hanging over central and eastern Europe. There will be an even more calamitous flare up in eastern Ukraine because Washington wants one and Europe is not sufficiently opposed.

  10. Abe
    November 29, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    It was a Malaysian jet, carrying Malaysian passengers, flown by Malaysian pilots, yet after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine in July 2014, Malaysia has been systematically blocked from participating in the investigation, leaving an overwhelmingly pro-NATO bloc in charge of the evidence, investigation and outcome as well as the manner in which the investigation will be carried out.

    Despite the integral role Malaysia has played during several pivotal moments in the aftermath of the disaster, it appears that the closer to the truth the investigation should be getting, the further Malaysia itself is being pushed from both the evidence and any influence it has on the likely conclusions of the investigation. With the downed aircraft in question being Malaysian, Malaysia as a partner in the investigation would seem a given. Its exclusion from the investigation appears to be an indication that the investigation’s objectivity has been compromised and that the conclusions it draws will likely be politically motivated.

  11. Abe
    November 29, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    In a U.N. vote, on November 21st, only three countries — the United States, Ukraine, and Canada — voted against a resolution to condemn racist facsism, or “nazism,” and to condemn denial of Germany’s World War II Holocaust against primarily Jews.

    This measure passed the General Assembly, on a vote of 115 in favor, 3 against, and 55 abstentions (the abstentions were in order not to offend U.S. President Obama, who was opposed to the resolution).

    The measure had been presented to their General Assembly after a period of more than a decade of rising “neo-Nazi” (i.e., racist-fascist) movements in Europe, including especially in Ukraine, where two Ukrainian nazi parties were installed by the U.S. into high posts in Ukraine’s new government, immediately after the democratically elected Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych was overthrown in a violent coup in Kiev during February of this year. The entire Ukrainian ‘defense’ establishment was then immediately taken over by the leaders of these two nazi parties, which rabidly hate ethnic Russians, and Ukraine is now led by the first — and so far, the only — nazi government to take charge of any country after the end of WW II. Within less than a mere three months after the coup, this new Government began an ethnic-cleansing program in Ukraine’s own ethnic-Russian southeast, where around 90% of the residents had voted for the man who had been overthrown in the coup — this was a campaign to isolate and exterminate those people, so that those voters could never again participate in a Ukrainian national election. Unless those voters would be eliminated, these nazis would be elected out of power — removed from office.

    Ukraine voted no on this resolution because this new Ukrainian Government is the only nazi regime in the world, and they are doing the standard nazi things, and so what they are doing is in violation of numerous international laws, which are not being enforced, but which are re-asserted and re-affirmed in this resolution, though Ukraine and the Ukrainian situation aren’t at all mentioned in the resolution. The United States voted no on it, because the U.S. Government had placed them into power. […]

    Germany abstained from voting on this resolution because their leader, Chancellor Angela Merkel, does not want to offend the U.S. President by voting for a resolution that the U.S. Government strongly opposes; and also because, as today’s leader of the land where nazism started — in the first nazi political party, the Nazi Party of Germany — she does not want Germany to vote against a resolution that condemns Nazism. If Germany were to have voted against this anti-nazi resolution, she would have faced a political firestorm at home. So, Germany abstained, in order not to offend Obama on the one side, and her public on the other.

    Key to understanding the vote on this resolution is knowing the relevant historical background, which has largely to do with the world’s only nazi-led Government: today’s Ukraine.

  12. incontinent reader
    November 29, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    It was only a year ago that the Germans thought they could cash in on Ukraine – i.e., get a piece of the action in energy, pipeline infrastructure and agriculture and also as a high tech and manufacturing export market, (and maybe the most foolish and/or greedy of them even thought they could use Ukraine as a conduit through which they could ship to Russia duty free using both the EU and Customs Union regimes). At least that’s what some of the media were reporting at the time. Instead, they got a bloody nose (Ukraine is imploding and German exports to Russia are down almost 17% and may dip another 3% by year end as they are losing out future market share to Asian vendors) and too many of their people haven’t been buying the narrative peddled by their leaders, and mainstream media, such as Deutsche Welle, Spiegel, Frankfurt Allgemeine Zeitung and Die Welt. Indeed, more and more of those folks have been looking to satiric shows like Die Anstalt causing political embarrassment to the establishment- even more so, with elements of the media suing that show in a vain attempt to shut down the discourse. And look at those audiences. They are not just comprised of young people, but also middle aged baby boomers and old folks.

    It also doesn’t help that a brutal civil war in Ukraine with nazism at its core has been threatening to erupt into something much worse, or that George Soros is now expressing disappointment at the lack of fortitude of the EU, even if he is cashing in on the pain he has been causing every one else- poor George. Unfortunately, Merkel and Steinmeier not only continue to make an issue of Crimea, they are still in denial of their own country’s intentional violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty that helped start it all, which locks them into an impossible position from which to extricate themselves- and, incredibly, they are threatening yet another round of sanctions. Who’s next on the list, Alexander Nevsky?

    In Steinmeier’s case it has been disappointing since he was also in the Administration of Merkel’s predecessor, Gerhard Schroeder, promoting and implementing a policy of closer relations with Russia, with Germany as a bridge between East and West- which he and Merkel have since undone. One wonders what has led these two to embrace a narrative that was so obviously false, and policies so contrary to the UN Charter or the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. Are U.S. control of NATO, and NATO’s control of Germany so overwhelming that it cannot break out of its vassal state strait jacket, or are our intelligence agencies holding on to something politically so embarrassing from the surveillance of Frank’s and Angela’s every move and conversation that they have to walk on Uncle Sam’s eggshells- or, as a matter diplomatic ‘face’ or protocol, is it too difficult for those two to admit they were dead wrong, and not just a little wrong?

    Let’s assume US and NATO will keep trying to expand according to neocon plan, and that the war on Russia (and the European economies- after all the TTIP is still on the agenda) will get worse, perhaps much worse, even as U.S. influence begins to wane and our own economy deteriorates for the 99%, before the bad guys cry uncle and things start to get better, And, if the moneychangers are not thrown out of Congress and Hillary is crowned our very own Queen Esther in 2016, we will be saddled with a very bitter, toxic (and unbalanced) lemon. Obama won’t care. He and his family will be set for life and she’ll have to deal with the problems he’ll be leaving behind (so many of which were of hers and her handlers’ doing anyway- destabilization, chaos, fascism, war, genocide, and more war- Libya, Syria, Iran, Israeli Honduras, and etc.), and maybe even make us forget that he was a foreign policy failure and lost opportunity after opportunity to work with Putin and Xi Jinping to bail us out of our mess.

    • Abe
      November 29, 2014 at 4:24 pm

      The NSA phone tapping of Schröder and Merkel no doubt yielded numerous leverage points, lest the leaders indulge in nutty ideas like asserting national sovereignty.

  13. Abe
    November 29, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    Although the most prominent right-wing and neo-Nazi parties, like Svoboda and the Right Sector, did not win enough votes to enter the Ukrainian Parliament, they remain an ignored and underestimated threat to the future of the country:

    […] they were elected in the single-member districts or they were included, actually, to the lists of centrist parties, particularly even to the party of the incumbent president, Petro Poroshenko Bloc. And some MPs were supported by the People’s Front Bloc, led by incumbent prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. So the mainstream centrist parties were actually supporting some of the far right.

    Moreover, among these new far-right MPs, which are less in number–but nevertheless, some of them are not just the far right; they are real neo-Nazis, without any exaggeration, openly racist activists and members of neo-Nazi organizations. And the most notorious of them is Andriy Biletsky, who was one of the leaders of the Patriot of Ukraine group, known for its racist attacks on the migrants, particularly in arson and in other criminal activities. And he was and he is still the commander of quite infamous Azov Volunteer Battalion, which has now actually [been promoted to] the rank of regiment. And Biletsky was not only elected in the single-member district in Kiev, but he was also appointed to the lieutenant colonel rank in the police structure. And he’s not only one of them; there are at least two other people with neo-Nazi views that were recently appointed to quite high ranks in Ukrainian law enforcement.

    Another guy, Vadym Troyan, he was the deputy commander of the Azov Battalion, and now, in October, he was appointed to the position of the chief of Kiev region police–not of the Kiev City, but of the neighboring province in Ukraine administrative structure. He was–again, he–one of the members of the neo-Nazi Patriot of Ukraine group.

    And another person, Yuri Michalchyshyn, was previously a Svoboda Party MP. He didn’t get into parliament, but he was appointed to be head of strategy and analysis department in the Security Service of Ukraine. Michalchyshyn was actually an ideologue of the radical wing of Svoboda Party, a committed social nationalist. Once he was published in a book, including the text by Joseph Goebbels, ABCs of National Socialism.

    […] electoral support for the far-right parties is just one and only one dimension of the influence on Ukrainian politics, and we should not be so formalistic about that. So we have to look at the other dimensions–on the growth of the far-right party structures, on the paramilitary and even military units very closely connected to the far-right, like Azov Battalion, where the core of this military structure was actually formed by neo-Nazi Patriot of Ukraine activists.

    • Abe
      November 29, 2014 at 9:48 pm

      The Patriot of Ukraine organization constitutes a paramilitary wing of the Social-National Assembly of Ukraine (SNA), an aggregation of Ukrainian Neo-Nazis, right-wing nationalists, direct action radicals, violent street extremists and also some patriotic youth with militaristic and authoritarian leaning.

      Both the Patriot of Ukraine and the SNA engage in political violence against minorities and their political opponents.

      Andriy Biletsky, the leader of the “Patriot of Ukraine” and of the SNA, is also the commander of the notorious Azov Battalion, accused of exercising a genocide over the Russian speaking population of Ukraine.

      Biletsky was awarded by Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko with a military decoration, “Order For Courage”, and promoted to lieutenant colonel of police.

      The first Congress of the Patriot of Ukraine was held in Lviv in 1999 where it was officially adopted by the Social-National Party of Ukraine (SNPU) as its paramilitary youth wing. In the evening, around 1500 members of the SNPU and the “Patriot of Ukraine” staged a torchlight demonstration in the city.

      The first leader of the organization was Andriy Parubiy, who established a long-lasting tradition of torchlight parades, which became an organizational trademark.

      Parubiy became a founding member of his new party People’s Front, created in 2014 with Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Oleksandr Turchynov.

      In late November of 2013 both the SNA and the “Patriot of Ukraine” entered in an association with several other Ukrainian far-right groups which lead to the formation of the Right Sector.

      The SNA is also reported to be close to Svoboda, and Yuriy Zbitnyev, the leader of the nationalist political party New Force.

      In short, Neo-Nazis have thoroughly infiltrated mainstream politics in Ukraine, where their influence exceeds their numbers.

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