Ukraine’s Neo-Nazis Join Forces: Part 2 – Ideological Heritage

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March 17, 2017 – Fort Russ – 

By Eduard Popov – translated by J. Arnoldski –

Continued from Part 1

The common manifesto of the new alliance between three of Ukraine’s neo-Nazi forces, Svoboda, Azov, and Right Sector, deserves attention.

The demand to sever diplomatic and all other relations with Russia is the basic point of the alliance’s program. Since the very beginning, Ukrainian neo-Nazis have demanded that the “Anti-Terrorist Operation” in Donbass be called a war waged by Russia. President Poroshenko himself constantly speaks of Russian aggression, Russian troops in Donbass, etc., but these accusations have never been translated into legal reality and for a reason. Poroshenko perfectly understands the consequences of such for Ukraine itself and his power.

The Nazis, however, have caught Poroshenko in his hypocrisy and contradictions. Recognizing part of Ukraine’s territory as occupied by Russia is what the neo-Nazis seek to achieve, after which the Ukrainian state would be compelled to completely sever diplomatic and trade relations which, despite recent decline, are still rather extensive. In 2016, mutual trade between the two countries dramatically increased. As before, Russia remains one of Ukraine’s main trading partners, the second largest after the combined EU. Therefore, any severing of diplomatic or financial-economic relations with Russia would lead to a serious reduction in Ukraine’s GDP and foreign currency earnings. 

As an experienced businessman, Poroshenko understands the implications of this, but Ukrainian neo-Nazis do not want to. The main principle for them is recognizing Russia as a country engaged in aggression against Ukraine and occupying part of its territory, which in essence means declaring war. Poroshenko is a weak politician, but he is not stupid. He will not opt for this final, fateful step to which the Nazis are pushing him. For this reason, he will always remain an enemy of these neo-Nazis who have christened his regime an “internal occupation.”

The idea of establishing a Baltic-Black Sea bloc expressed in the manifesto is an old idea set forth in the programs of Patriot of Ukraine and the Social National Assembly which yielded Azov and the Azov Civil Corpus. The latter documents discussed the creation of a Central European Confederation centered on Ukraine which would include the countries of the Baltic-Black Sea intermarium (the Baltic states, Ukraine, and Belarus). At the time that this program was developed and adopted (at the turn of the first decade of the 2000’s), this point was seen as political fantasy. Moreover, soon after the program’s adoption, Biletsky was arrested on charges of extremism – yet another parallel with his idol, Hitler, whose influence grew after his trial and brief imprisonment. 

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Meanwhile, today’s events in Ukraine and neighboring Belarus force great attention to be devoted to these goals that Ukrainian neo-Nazis from Azov and its political and social offshoots so persistently push. The predication that Biletsky will be the future leader of Ukraine does not look so fantastical as it did three years ago. In general, the chances of ultra-right forces winning in Ukraine are quite realistic. The social soil for this has already partly been prepared. The worse that the situation is in Ukraine and neighboring countries (Belarus and the Baltics), the higher are the chances of this program being realized. In Belarus, which always seemed to be a left-over of the USSR, Belarusian workers are protesting Lukashenko under the banners of Belorussian neo-Nazis, the ideological brethren of Azov militants. Many Belorussian neo-Nazis were combat hardened in the Azov regiment and other far-right units fighting in Donbass.

A rather curious point in the manifesto refers to the neo-Nazis’ social goals. Ukrainian nationalists, or at least the Dnieper version of Ukrainian nationalism emerged as an alternative to the Galician trend as a left-leaning movement. Petliura himself was not only a Russophobic nationalist, but a leftist who was in the Ukrainian Social-Democratic Party and in general close to the Left, especially the Ukrainian version of the SR’s. In 1996, the infamous Ukrainian National Assembly-Ukrainian National Self-Defense organization even included articles of the Soviet Constitution of 1977 in its electoral program. Patriot of Ukraine, the most dynamic Ukrainian Nazi force before the Euromaidan, also bore strong socialist features and sought not only the overthrow of “foreign oppression” (like the backwards Galician Nazis from Svoboda or Stepan Bandera Trizub) but also the destruction of the oligarchy. 

Now the ultra-right’s social platforms are shadowed by their political and military programs. However, they are no less important and, in simplified form, boil down to the liquidation of oligarchy as a phenomenon (the main slogan of the Euromaidan alongside EU integration) and the construction of a racially and nationally pure “Ukrainian socialism”. The active participation of Azov in the protest movement and its interest in trade unions is no accident, as we have written before

Biletsky’s structures (the Azov regiment, National Corpus Party, and Azov Civil Corps) are actively working in the army and among trade unions. Some parts of the army are already willing to follow the Nazis, as the events of the Donbass blockade recently demonstrated. Therefore, we can assess the chances of this force as exceptionally high.

Admittedly, Biletsky is not only a cruel, but a strong and clever politician, and his force itself is guided by a complex program begin consistently implemented. The essence of this program is rejecting “pure” Nazism or nationalism in favor of a wider social base. This is nothing but the realization of the ideas of German National Socialism in modern Ukrainian conditions.

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Hypothetically allowing for such a possibility, how would a victory of these ultra-fight forces in Ukraine be perceived in Europe? The European Union would quietly accept this victory and accept the “new” Ukraine as an ally in its struggle with Russia. Just like earlier, when the European Union accepted the Baltic states with their SS marches and quietly accepted multiculturalism with the prospects of the Islamization of Europe from within, and much more. In this regard, neo-Nazism would be merely an alternative of the contemporary European project, not an anti-Europe. 

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