Monday, October 26, 2020

Why Was The American Government Training Neo-Nazis In Ukraine?

 All I wanted to know was "Who owns farmland in Ukraine since the IMF ordered the market opened to foreigners as a condition for one of their loans?"

That's all.

I mean we knew there were Nazis involved in the 2014 events, but thought they were Russian.

Anyhoo, from the DailyBeast, July 4, 2015:

Is America Training Neonazis in Ukraine?
Published Jul. 04, 2015 12:01AM ET
There are no doubts about the neo-Nazi and white supremacist background of the Azov Battalion, a militia that has positioned itself at the forefront of the fight against Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. As the founder and head of the battalion Andriy Biletsky once put it, “The historic mission of our nation in this critical moment is to lead the White Races of the world in a final crusade for their survival.”

That Russian President Vladimir Putin and his propagandists exploit this fact, using it to build support for their aggression and to undermine the international effort to help Ukraine defend its independence, is undeniable. But knowing that, and wanting to resist that, does not resolve some very important questions about the basic facts.

What is the relationship of the U.S. government to these people? Is it training them? Might it arm them? Is this, like the Afghan war of the 1980s, one of those cases where we aid and abet the kind of monsters who eventually become our enemies? Concerns about that possibility have been growing on Capitol Hill.

Because of uncertainties surrounding the Azov Battalion’s role in the U.S. training initiative and worries about the possible supply of shoulder-held anti-aircraft missiles to such characters, the House unanimously adopted bipartisan amendments to H.R. 2685, the “Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2015.” And one of them specifically blocks training of the “Ukrainian neo-Nazi paramilitary militia ‘Azov Battalion.’” Representatives John Conyers and Ted Yoho sponsored the amendment to the bill, which was passed unanimously by Congress.

This is in addition to criteria established in an amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, originally sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy, known as “the Leahy Vetting Process.” The Leahy process consists of screening foreign forces applying for U.S. Government training and support to certify that they haven’t committed any “gross human rights violations.” If they are found to have done so, support is withheld.

But the highly problematic truth is that the U.S. currently has no real way of ensuring that members of neo-Nazi groups like the Azov Battalion are not being trained by U.S. forces, because most, if not all, have not committed a “gross human rights violation.” Even more difficult to determine is whether ex-U.S. military are training crypto-Nazis in a private capacity, and the issues speaks volumes about the complexities that have to be confronted by the United States in its efforts to help Ukraine defend itself from the Russian-supported secessionists.

In an interview with The Daily Beast, Sgt. Ivan Kharkiv of the Azov battalion talks about his battalion’s experience with U.S. trainers and U.S. volunteers quite fondly, even mentioning U.S. volunteers engineers and medics that are still currently assisting them. He also talks about the significant and active support from the Ukrainian diaspora in the U.S. As for the training they have and continue to receive from numerous foreign armed forces. Kharkiv says “We must take knowledge from all armies… We pay for our mistakes with our lives.”

Those U.S. officials involved in the vetting process obviously have instructions to say that U.S. forces are not training the Azov Battalion as such. They also say that Azov members are screened out, yet no one seems to know precisely how that’s done. In fact, given the way the Ukrainian government operates, it’s almost impossible.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Interior brings what one U.S. official calls a “mishmash” of troops, consisting of volunteers, members of militia battalions and official army to be trained, and the Leahy process exists to check and see if any have committed a “gross violation of human rights,” which most likely they have not—at least not yet. But much less care is given to the question of ideology. When officials are asked for details of any kind regarding how the vetting process actually functions, answers are ambiguous, details are scarce and the explanations become contradictory.

In an interview with The Daily Beast, the U.S. Army Public Affairs Officer from the 173rd Airborne Brigade training Ukrainian forces in Lviv in western Ukraine, Capt. Steven Modugno, says that no one from the Azov Battalion or Right Sector is being trained in Lviv because the embassy uses the Leahy vetting process, which is in place to make sure no one has committed any kind of gross human rights abuses. When asked about members of the Azov Battalion who have not committed gross human abuses, more specifically how they are screened out, he says, “You know that’s actually a great question. It’s one the State Department would need to answer.”

The Daily Beast then interviewed State Department representative, Press Officer Yarina Ferentsevych of the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine. Ferentsevych told us, “At this point, as far as we are aware, no”—that is, no members of Azov. “Whether or not some may be in the lineup, that is possible. But frankly, you know, our vetting screens for human rights violations, not for ideology. Neo-Nazis, you know, can join the U.S. army too. The battalions that are in question have been integrated as part of Ukraine’s National Guard, and so the idea is that they would be eligible for training, but in all honesty I cannot tell you if there are any on the list we train. There were not any in the first rotation as far as I am aware.”
Ferentsevych confirms that it is practically impossible to know which trainees are from which battalion, “It’s a mishmash of folks: volunteers, soldiers, war heroes, Maidan veterans—I mean I couldn’t tell you, you know, short of investigating the background of each guy.”....


Here's the Huffington Post:

The Neo-Nazi Question in Ukraine
03/11/2014 12:44 am ET Updated May 11, 2014

The Obama administration has vehemently denied charges that Ukraine’s nascent regime is stock full of neo-fascists despite clear evidence suggesting otherwise. Such categorical repudiations lend credence to the notion the U.S. facilitated the anti-Russian cabal’s rise to power as part of a broader strategy to draw Ukraine into the West’s sphere of influence. Even more disturbing are apologists, from the American left and right, who seem willing accomplices in this obfuscation of reality, when just a cursory glance at the profiles of Ukraine’s new leaders should give pause to the most zealous of Russophobes.

In a State Department “fact sheet“ released last week the U.S. accused Putin of lying about the Ukrainian government being under the sway of extremist elements. The report stated that right wing ultranationalist groups “are not represented in the Rada (Ukraine’s parliament),” and that “there is no indication the government would pursue discriminatory policies.”

It isn’t too surprising that conservative outlets like FOX News would downplay Russian allegations but the so-called “liberal” press has also contributed to the American disinformation campaign. Celestine Bohlen from The New York Times considers harsh epithets, like the word “neo-Nazi,” which Putin has hurled at the demonstrators in Kiev as part of a Russian propaganda effort to tarnish Ukraine’s revolutionary struggle against authoritarianism.

Yet after simply Googling the terms “Ukraine” and “Neo-Nazi,” the official position of the United States government along with the stance taken by many in the American media both now seem quite dubious, if not downright ridiculous, especially considering that one would be hard-pressed to machinate the lineup that now dominates Ukraine’s ministry posts....

A year later, June 2015 we see this at Consortium News: 

U.S. House Admits Nazi Role in Ukraine

Exclusive: The U.S. House of Representatives has admitted an ugly truth that the U.S. mainstream media has tried to hide from the American people that the post-coup regime in Ukraine has relied heavily on Nazi storm troopers to carry out its bloody war against ethnic Russians, reports Robert Parry.....MORE

Finally, in March 2018 we read at The Hill:

Congress bans arms to Ukraine militia linked to neo-Nazis

And I still don't have an up-to-date answer to the "Who owns Ukraine" question.

More on that tomorrow.