Ukraine Merges Nazis and Islamists

From the Archive: Many defenders of Ukraine’s post-coup government dismiss reports about neo-Nazis playing key roles in the U.S.-backed regime, but even the most enthusiastic Western propagandists have occasionally glimpsed that reality and worse, as Robert Parry reported last July.

By Robert Parry (Originally published on July 7, 2015)

In a curiously upbeat account, The New York Times reported that Islamic militants have joined with Ukraine’s far-right and neo-Nazi battalions to fight ethnic Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine. It appears that no combination of violent extremists is too wretched to celebrate as long as they’re killing Russ-kies.

The article by Andrew E. Kramer reported that there were three Islamic battalions “deployed to the hottest zones,” such as around the port city of Mariupol. One of the battalions is headed by a former Chechen warlord who goes by the name “Muslim,” Kramer wrote, adding:

The insignia of the Azov battalion, using the neo-Nazi symbol of the Wolfsangel.

The insignia of the Azov battalion, using the neo-Nazi symbol of the Wolfsangel.

“The Chechen commands the Sheikh Mansur group, named for an 18th-century Chechen resistance figure. It is subordinate to the nationalist Right Sector, a Ukrainian militia. Right Sector formed during [2014] street protests in Kiev from a half-dozen fringe Ukrainian nationalist groups like White Hammer and the Trident of Stepan Bandera.

“Another, the Azov group, is openly neo-Nazi, using the ‘Wolf’s Hook’ symbol associated with the [Nazi] SS. Without addressing the issue of the Nazi symbol, the Chechen said he got along well with the nationalists because, like him, they loved their homeland and hated the Russians.”

As casually as Kramer acknowledged the key front-line role of neo-Nazis and white supremacists fighting for the U.S.-backed Kiev regime, his article did mark an aberration for the Times and the rest of the mainstream U.S. news media, which usually dismiss any mention of this Nazi taint as “Russian propaganda.”

During the February 2014 coup that ousted elected President Viktor Yanukovych, the late fascist Stepan Bandera was one of the Ukrainian icons celebrated by the Maidan protesters. During World War II, Bandera headed the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists-B, a radical paramilitary movement that sought to transform Ukraine into a racially pure state. At times coordinating with Adolf Hitler’s SS, OUN-B took part in the expulsion and extermination of tens of thousands of Jews and Poles.

Though most of the Maidan protesters in 2013-14 appeared motivated by anger over political corruption and by a desire to join the European Union, neo-Nazis made up a significant number and spearheaded much of the violence against the police. Storm troopers from the Right Sektor and Svoboda party seized government buildings and decked them out with Nazi insignias and a Confederate battle flag, the universal symbol of white supremacy.

Then, as the protests turned bloodier from Feb. 20-22, the neo-Nazis surged to the forefront. Their well-trained militias, organized in 100-man brigades called “sotins” or “the hundreds,” led the final assaults against police and forced Yanukovych and many of his officials to flee for their lives.

In the days after the coup, as the neo-Nazi militias effectively controlled the government, European and U.S. diplomats scrambled to help the shaken parliament put together the semblance of a respectable regime, although four ministries, including national security, were awarded to the right-wing extremists in recognition of their crucial role in ousting Yanukovych.

At that point, virtually the entire U.S. news media put on blinders about the neo-Nazi role, all the better to sell the coup to the American public as an inspirational story of reform-minded “freedom fighters” standing up to “Russian aggression.” The U.S. media delicately stepped around the neo-Nazi reality by keeping out relevant context, such as the background of national security chief Andriy Parubiy, who founded the Social-National Party of Ukraine in 1991, blending radical Ukrainian nationalism with neo-Nazi symbols. Parubiy was commandant of the Maidan’s “self-defense forces.”

Barbarians at the Gate

At times, the mainstream media’s black-out of the brown shirts was almost comical. In February 2015, almost a year after the coup, a New York Times article about the government’s defenders of Mariupol hailed the crucial role played by the Azov battalion but managed to avoid noting its well-documented Nazi connections.

That article by Rick Lyman presented the situation in Mariupol as if the advance by ethnic Russian rebels amounted to the barbarians at the gate while the inhabitants were being bravely defended by the forces of civilization, the Azov battalion. In such an inspirational context, it presumably wasn’t considered appropriate to mention the Swastikas and SS markings.

Now, the Kiev regime has added to those “forces of civilization” , resisting the Russ-kie barbarians , Islamic militants with ties to terrorism. In September 2014, Marcin Mamon, a reporter for the Intercept, reached a vanguard group of these Islamic fighters in Ukraine through the help of his “contact in Turkey with the Islamic State [who] had told me his ‘brothers’ were in Ukraine, and I could trust them.”

The Times article avoided delving into the terrorist connections of these Islamist fighters. But Kramer did bluntly acknowledge the Nazi truth about the Azov fighters. He also noted that American military advisers in Ukraine “are specifically prohibited from giving instruction to members of the Azov group.” [That prohibition was lifted in U.S. legislation passed in late 2015.]

Nazi symbols on helmets worn by members of Ukraine's Azov battalion. (As filmed by a Norwegian film crew and shown on German TV)

Nazi symbols on helmets worn by members of Ukraine’s Azov battalion. (As filmed by a Norwegian film crew and shown on German TV)

While the U.S. advisers were under orders to keep their distance from the neo-Nazis, the Kiev regime has been quite open about its approval of the central military role played by these extremists whether neo-Nazis, white supremacists or Islamic militants. These extremists are considered very aggressive and effective in killing ethnic Russians.

The regime has shown little concern about widespread reports of “death squad” operations targeting suspected pro-Russian sympathizers in government-controlled towns. But such human rights violations should come as no surprise given the Nazi heritage of these units and the connection of the Islamic militants to hyper-violent terrorist movements in the Middle East.

But the Times treated this lethal mixture of neo-Nazis and Islamic extremists as a good thing. After all, they were targeting opponents of the “white-hatted” Kiev regime, while the ethnic Russian rebels and the Russian government wear the “black hats.”

As an example of that tone, Kramer wrote: “Even for Ukrainians hardened by more than a year of war here against Russian-backed separatists, the appearance of Islamic combatants, mostly Chechens, in towns near the front lines comes as something of a surprise, and for many of the Ukrainians, a welcome one. Anticipating an attack in the coming months, the Ukrainians are happy for all the help they can get.”

So, the underlying message seems to be that it’s time for the American people and the European public to step up their financial and military support for a Ukrainian regime that has unleashed on ethnic Russians a combined force of Nazis, white supremacists and Islamic militants (considered “brothers” of the Islamic State).

[For more on the Azov battalion, see’s “US House Admits Nazi Role in Ukraine.”]

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

13 comments for “Ukraine Merges Nazis and Islamists

  1. Todd
    February 1, 2016 at 10:45

    “a Confederate battle flag, the universal symbol of white supremacy.”

    Why do such myopic and universal statements have to make their way in to otherwise eloquent and insightful articles?

    • Abe
      February 1, 2016 at 23:25

      Symbols of racism were visible among the Euromaidan protesters well before the neo-Nazi coup d’etat in February 2014.

      The Kiev City State Administration (Ukrainian: Київська міська державна адміністрація or КМДА) is the national-level branch of the Government of Ukraine that administers the capital of Ukraine.

      Kiev is a city with special status within Ukraine compared to the other administrative subdivisions of the country. The most significant difference is that the city is subordinated directly to the national-level branches of the Government of Ukraine, skipping the regional level authorities of Kiev Oblast.

      In December 2013, during the Euromaidan protesters, the Kiev City State Administration building was occupied by protesters.

      The building occupiers included members of the far right Social-National Party of Ukraine (rebranded as Svoboda).

      Political experts observe that the name “Social National” is an intentional reference to “National Socialism”, the ideology claimed by the Nazi Party.

      Video of the building interior from December 2013 clearly shows the Svoboda banner:

      The video shows two other flags hanging next to the Svoboda banner:

      — The Confederate battle flag

      — Odin’s Cross

      Odin’s Cross is also called a Celtic Cross by white supremacists. Its origins date to the pre-Christian “sun cross” or “wheel cross” in ancient Europe. Norwegian Nazis used a version of the symbol in the 1930s and 1940s. After World War II, a variety of white supremacist groups and movements adopted the symbol. Today, this verson of the Celtic Cross is used by neo-Nazis, racist skinheads, Ku Klux Klan members and virtually every other type of white supremacist. It has also achieved notoriety as part of the logo of Stormfront, the oldest and largest white supremacist website in the world.

  2. Abe
    January 30, 2016 at 21:46

    Poroshenko used the full force of tanks, rockets, bombers and helicopter gunships to kill people in eastern Ukraine.

    Once the regime in Kiev illegally seized power through terrorist violence in February 2014, it moved rapidly to take control of the Ukrainian Armed Forces everywhere but in Crimea and Donbass.

    Having failed to prevent a referendum in Crimea, Kiev launched the criminal ATO to crush any hope for referendum for the people of Donbass.

    Former President Yanukovych never called out the Ukrainian Army and Air Force to attack the people.

    Prompted by Washington, Poroshenko used military force with no constraint.

  3. Petro
    January 30, 2016 at 02:31

    Here we go again.Nazi-Mania. In order to re-direct the attrocities perpetuated by the Russian government on the Ukrainian people and the murdering of 2,269 Ukrainian soldiers. Total 9,000 dead in eastern is necessary to re-emphazise the so-called nazi-influence in Ukraine.What about the neo-nazis in Russia and Eastern Ukraine.can nothing be said of them? Nooooooooooo! The are just victims of circumstance! They go on murdering, torturing and killing people mercilessly in eastern ukraine.
    What a joke that your web site lets some individuals just present issues that are one-sided and in the interest of the Russian government..

    • Стенька Разин
      January 30, 2016 at 18:18

      Petro, wasn’t it Poroshenko who said that the children of Donbass (Eastern part of Ukraine) will live in cellars? Because the Ukrainian army will force them? You, Ukrainian “svidomiis” (the true patriotic Ukrainians), always blame Russians for your faults. Kravchuk (your first president) said you would be second France in 10 years after you separate yourselves from the USSR. Did it happen? Yushenko said that you need to be more pro-Ukrainian to be more successful. Did it help? Now you blame Russia for your soldiers shelling your Eastern provinces. Russians dind’t blame Turkey nor Saudia Arabia for 200,000 people dead in the Chechen Wars. Why do you do it?

      No extreme nationalism (Nazism or whatever you prefer to call it) in Ukraine? Read/watch this!
      – One, (UPA – No comments, I have Jewish ancestry, we remember these times, Ukrainian cossacks attacked Jews even during WWI, some fled to Russia; the peak was, of course, during UPA – Poles will tell more)
      – Two, (Nazi Trezub on Azov’s banner)
      – Three, read – comments in any section (do Google translate), you’ll see what people think
      – Three, (Shariy’s video, Kievan journalist in exile since Yanukovich times – you can see many neo-Nazis fighting in the East)
      – Four, (Dad suggests the girl to “cut Russian throats” when she grows up – and there are more examples in the internet; I haven’t seen similar Russian videos from say Siberia where parents teach children to kill Ukrainians, Americans or whomever you may think)
      – Five, (Nazi parades with torches in Kiev and other major cities on main holiday of the year, the New Year – December, 31 – January, 1).

      I’m amazed by the zeal, with which some people from Ukraine try to persuade others there are no nationalists in their country. Yeah, sure, European / North American democracies organize multi-thousand pro-Nazi parades on their man holidays (Christmas) every year. I’ve been to Europe never seen it :-)

      But, as I posted before, please, DO NOT HATE Ukrainians, I do neither. Russians and Ukrainians have the same Slavic ancestry, and we are brothers by blood, history, religion and traditions. I sincerely wish our mutual relations improve in future, and Ukrainians will awaken from their slumber and start surpassing the achievements of their ancestors and Soviet times, and not leave Ukraine with the first chance to get third-grade jobs in Europe (as their current patriots propagate). Some people even created a website to promote Ukrainian-Russian friendship amidst the crisis:

    • Abe
      January 30, 2016 at 20:55

      2,269 Ukrainian soldiers died in Donbass because Petro Poroshenko launched the unnecessary and criminal so-called Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO).

      Poroshenko launched his brutal ATO military attack on the people of Donbass in order to prevent a referendum on the jurisdiction of the post-coup Kiev regime.

      The Kiev regime violated the Ukrainian constitution and illegally seized power in Kiev after perpetrating the Maidan massacres of February 20, 2014.

      Poroshenko killed his own people in eastern Ukraine.

      Yes, Russian volunteer forces have supported the people of Donbass in defending themselves from Poroshenko’s ATO military attacks.

      According to UN agencies, at least 9,000 people (Ukrainian servicemen, volunteers and civilians) have been killed, more than 20,000 people injured, and countless homes and other properties destroyed.

      Their blood is on the hands of Poroshenko and his sponsors.

      The neo-Nazi influence in the Ukrainian ATO forces is an undeniable reality.

      Confronted with the reality of Poroshenko’s ongoing brutal ATO assault on Donbass and other crimes, including repeated violations of the Minsk agreements, the Kiev regime must rely the shrill propagandist hysterics of commenter Petro (Poroshenko?) and his ilk.

  4. alex
    January 29, 2016 at 19:35

    Nazis? You want to know where the Nazi’s are? Go to the Russian news website and read the comments from the Russian posters. One disgusting anti-Semitic post after another. After all these years celebrating the achievements of Russian Soviet power, Russians now try to say that the bad parts of the Soviet era were the fault of Georgians, Ukrainians ( after all Kruschev was Ukrainian! LOL!) and most of all they blame JEWS! Yes the very same people who accuse Ukrainians of being Nazis are the most ANTI SEMITIC people on earth today. They are so completely anti Semitic that they accuse the Ukrainian president and foreign minister of being UNDERCOVER JEWS! And they’re so completely brainwashed that they actually say things like “Ukraine is run by Nazi Jews!” In the West if someone said something that stupid he’d be laughed out of here, but Russians say things like that all the time! As for WWII and who fought for the Nazis go and Google the Vlasov Army. It was an entire army of Russian soldiers that gladly fought for Hitler and wore GERMAN UNIFORMS! That’s how much hatred there was for Stalin and communism in Russia as well as in Ukraine. But the Russians conveniently forget to mention the Vlasov Army when they try to tar all Ukrainians with the Nazi brush.

    • Abe
      January 29, 2016 at 20:34

      Again, the Ukrainian fascist government and its neocon BFFs in Washington are scraping the bottom of the propaganda barrel, desperately spinning fanciful yarns about what did and didn’t happen during World War II.

      Here are the facts about the Vlasov Army:

      Russian volunteers who enlisted into the German Army (Wehrmacht Heer) wore the patch of the Russian Liberation Army, an army which did not yet exist but was presented as a reality by Nazi propaganda. These volunteers (called Hiwi, an acronym for Hilfswilliger, roughly meaning “volunteers”) were not under any Russian command or control; they were exclusively under German command carrying out various noncombat duties. A number of them were employed at the Battle of Stalingrad, where it was estimated that as much as one quarter of the 6th Army’s strength were Soviet citizens. Soon, several German commanders began forming small armed units out of them for various tasks, including combat against Soviet partisans, driving vehicles, carrying wounded, and delivering supplies.

      Adolf Hitler allowed the idea of the Russian Liberation Army to circulate in propaganda literature so long as no real formations of the sort were permitted. As a result, some Red Army soldiers surrendered or defected in hopes of joining an army that did not yet exist. Many Soviet prisoners of war volunteered to serve under the German command just in order to get out from Nazi POW camps.

      The captured Soviet general Andrei Andreevich Vlasov, along with his German and Russian allies, was desperately lobbying the German high command, hoping that a green light would be given for the formation of a real armed force that would be exclusively under Russian control. Hitler’s staff repeatedly rejected these appeals with hostility, refusing to even consider them.

      Irrespective of the political wrangling over Vlasov and the status of the ROA, the reality by mid-1943 was several hundred thousand ex-Soviet volunteers were serving in the German forces, either as Hiwis or in Eastern volunteer units (referred to as Osteinheiten or landeseigene Verbände). These latter were generally deployed in a security role in the rear areas of the armies and army groups in the East, where they constituted a major part of the German capacity to counter the activity of Soviet partisan forces, dating as far back as early 1942. The Germans were, however, always concerned about their reliability, and with the German setbacks in the summer of 1943 this situation took a turn for the worse.

      It was considered that it would improve the “Eastern” battalions reliability if they were removed from contact with the local population, it was decided to send them to the West, which the majority of them were in late 1943 and early 1944. A large number of these battalions were hence integrated into the Divisions in the West. A number of such soldiers were on guard in Normandy on D-Day, and without the equipment or the motivation to fight the Allies, most promptly surrendered.

      The Russian Liberation Army (Russian: Русская освободительная армия, Russkaya osvoboditel’naya armiya, abbreviated in Cyrillic as РОА, in Latin as ROA, also known as the Vlasov army) did not officially exist until autumn of 1944. Heinrich Himmler finally persuaded a very reluctant Hitler to permit the formation of 10 Russian Liberation Army divisions.

      On 14 November in Prague, Vlasov read aloud the anti-communist Prague Manifesto before the newly created Committee for the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia (in Russian: Комитет Освобождения Народов России, abbreviated as КОНР, KONR). The city was chosen because all major Russian cities at this point were already under Soviet control, and Prague was a Slavic city. Ironically, six months later the first division of the Russian Liberation Army participated in the liberation of Prague from the Nazi occupying forces in concert with Czech partisans.

      The Prague Manifesto stated 14 “democratic” points including “a real right for national development, self determination, self rule, and governmental independence”, many of the same rights that were already guaranteed by the text of the existing Soviet Constitution. Many aspects of the Prague Manifesto closely resemble the political program of the Russian emigre organization NTS, of whom several of Vlasov’s key men were members.

      The only active combat the Russian Liberation Army undertook against the Red Army was by the Oder on 11 April 1945, done largely at the insistence of Himmler as a test of the army’s reliability. After three days, the outnumbered 1st Division had to retreat.

      On 28 January 1945, it was officially declared that the Russian divisions no longer formed part of the German Army, but would directly be under the command of the KONR.

      Vlasov then ordered the first division to march south to concentrate all Russian anticommunist forces loyal to him. As the army, he reasoned, they could all surrender to the Allies on “favorable” (no repatriation) terms. Vlasov sent several secret delegations to begin negotiating a surrender to the Allies, hoping they would sympathise with the goals of ROA and potentially use it in an inevitable future war with the USSR.

      During the march south, the first division of the ROA came to the help of the Czech insurgents to support the Prague uprising which started on May 5, 1945, against the German occupation. Vlasov was initially reluctant, but ultimately did not resist General Bunyachenko’s decision to fight against the Germans.

      The first division engaged in battle with Waffen-SS units that had been sent to level the city. The ROA units armed with heavy weaponry fended off the relentless SS assault, and together with the Czech insurgents succeeded in preserving most of Prague from destruction. Due to the predominance of communists in the new Czech Rada (“council”), the first division had to leave the city the very next day and tried to surrender to US Third Army of General Patton.

      The Allies, however, had little interest in aiding or sheltering the ROA, fearing such aid would severely harm relations with the USSR. Soon after the failed attempt to surrender to the Americans, Vlasov and many of his men were caught by the Soviets.

      More than a thousand soldiers were initially taken into allied custody by the 44th Division and other U.S. troops. They were then forcefully extradited to the Soviets by the Allies, due to a previous agreement between Churchill and Stalin that all ROA soldiers be returned to the USSR. Vlasov was in this group, but the Soviets claimed his capture. The Allied command kept this secret for many years. However, some allied officers who were sympathetic to the ROA soldiers permitted them to escape in small groups into the American controlled zones.

      The Soviet government labelled all ROA soldiers (vlasovtsy) as traitors. The ROA soldiers who were repatriated were tried and sentenced to detention in prison camps. Vlasov and several other leaders of the ROA were tried and hanged in Moscow on August 1, 1946.

    • Evangelista
      January 29, 2016 at 21:08

      There was an amusing picture that circulated shortly after the Maidan Coup, showing Victoria Nuland standing in a conference room giving instructions and orders to the leaders of the three primary Ukrainian Nazi parties/private armies.

      The picture would have made Hitler’s ashes whirl into a dust-devil, but, as they say, the more things change… The object of the Western Ukraine campaign, after all, is to gain control of the property and its potential, by whatever means.

      The people, as the new American Ukrainian finance minister noted in a candid moment, will not be affected. A bankruptcy of the nation will be between the owners and the creditors, the nation and the lenders. With the people no more than chattels… …once again…

    • Abe
      January 29, 2016 at 21:11

      The Red Army’s 322nd Rifle Division, consisting of Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Armenian and other Soviet soldiers, liberated the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp on 27 January 1945 as part of the Vistula-Oder offensive.

      International Holocaust Remembrance Day, an international memorial day on 27 January commemorating the victims of the Holocaust, was designated by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 60/7 on 1 November 2005 during the 42nd plenary session.

      In January 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that all attempts to revise Russia’s contribution to the victory in the fight against Nazism during World War II should be viewed as a glorification of Nazi crimes.

    • MG
      January 29, 2016 at 22:17

      //try to tar all Ukrainians with the Nazi brush//
      What is your take on the insignia of the Azov battalion?
      Or swastikas on helmets?

      It is not 1941, it is 2014-2016. It is now.
      Do your best to explain.

  5. Abe
    January 29, 2016 at 18:33

    The “Snipers’ Massacre” on the Maidan in Ukraine
    By Ivan Katchanovski, Ph.D.

    This 79-page analysis of the Maidan sniper attacks was presented by Dr. Katchanovski at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, San Francisco, Sept 3-6, 2015.

    The February 2014 coup d’etat in Kiev was the result of a massacre organized by Maidan supporters.

    Detailed analysis of video footage, TV and Internet broadcasting, radio intercepts, and physical evidence, including bullet holes in trees and other places, confirms the presence of “snipers,” spotters, and their coordinators in the Maidan-controlled Hotel Ukraina, Zhovtnevyi (October) Palace, Kinopalats, Finbank, and Trade Union buildings.

    For example, videos show one of these groups of armed shooters led by a special Maidan company commander, entering and leaving the hotel Ukraina in presence of Svoboda deputies during the time when protesters were massacred from the hotel.

    Professor Ivan Katchanovski teaches at the School of Political Studies at the University of Ottawa. He was Visiting Scholar at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University, Visiting Assistant Professor at the Department of Politics at the State University of New York at Potsdam, Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto, and Kluge Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Kluge Center at the Library of Congress. He received his Ph.D. from the School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs at George Mason University.

    • Abe
      January 29, 2016 at 18:49

      This academic investigation concludes that the massacre was a false flag operation, which was rationally planned and carried out with a goal of the overthrow of the government and seizure of power.

      It found various evidence of the involvement of an alliance of the far right organizations, specifically the Right Sector and Svoboda, and oligarchic parties, such as Fatherland. Concealed shooters and spotters were located in at least 20 Maidan-controlled buildings or areas.

      The various evidence that the protesters were killed from these locations include some 70 testimonies, primarily by Maidan protesters, several videos of “snipers” targeting protesters from these buildings, comparisons of positions of the specific protesters at the time of their killing and their entry wounds, and bullet impact signs. The study uncovered various videos and photos of armed Maidan “snipers” and spotters in many of these buildings.

      The paper also presents implications of these findings for understanding the nature of the change of the government in Ukraine, the civil war in Donbas, Russian military intervention in Crimea and Donbas, and an international conflict between the West and Russia over Ukraine.

      The new government that came to power largely as a result of the massacre falsified its investigation, while the Ukrainian media helped to misrepresent this mass killing of the protesters and the police.

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