American Soldiers Meet Poroshenko in Ukraine

So remember when I blogged last week that the US military is training some units from the Ukrainian military to fight the Russian invaders/rebels of Donbass/brave freedom fighters/evil Putin robot clones bent on Communist world domination/whatever term you want to insert here? Well, that training commenced yesterday and I have hilariously amazing photos culled straight from the Runet (Russian-speaking internet) for you! I found them here, but I’m going to showcase all of them here, with amazing commentary, so you don’t need to even click on that link (unless you really want to, of course).

You know this training has the stamp of approval when US ambassador to Ukraine shows up! Seriously, Geoff, the glasses aren't that great of a look for you. Though Poroshenko seems to like it...
You know this training has the stamp of approval when US ambassador to Ukraine shows up! Seriously, Geoff, the glasses aren’t that great of a look for you. Though Poroshenko seems to like it…
The flags are flying at the same height because they just respect us that much. Or, they just want our money that badly. I'm betting on the latter.
The flags are flying at the same height because they just respect us that much. Or, they just want our money that badly. I’m betting on the latter.
Once I saw a photo of then-Russian president Dmitry Medvedev in the rain. He had a person holding his umbrella. Apparently Poroshenko isn't important enough to have one of those. At least that soldier has a hat, though.
Once I saw a photo of then-Russian president Dmitry Medvedev in the rain. He had a person holding his umbrella. Apparently Poroshenko isn’t important enough to have one of those. At least that soldier has a hat, though.
Lunch in the mess hall! I wish I could have been there for this. I think that soldier to the right of Poroshenko has a Ukrainian last name. Also, please note the uniform Poroshenko is wearing. He never misses an opportunity to wear it...
Lunch in the mess hall! I wish I could have been there for this. I think that soldier to the right of Poroshenko has a Ukrainian last name. Also, please note the uniform Poroshenko is wearing. He never misses an opportunity to wear it…
Geoff Pyatt, US ambassador to Kiev, is standing behind Poroshenko. He looks exhausted. I guess fomenting a revolution in a foreign country and then making sure the preferred party stays in power isn't easy.
Geoff Pyatt, US ambassador to Kiev, is standing behind Poroshenko. He looks exhausted. I guess fomenting a revolution in a foreign country and then making sure the preferred party stays in power isn’t easy.
More lunch. I'm telling you, I wish I could've been there. It would have been so much fun.
More lunch. I’m telling you, I wish I could’ve been there. It would have been so much fun.
No witty comments here because I have no idea what this is. Probably some boring presser.
No witty comments here because I have no idea what this is. Probably some boring presser.

Anyway, this training is supposed to go on for several months, if I remember correctly. If you think about it, the US is sort of fighting Russia right now, by using Ukraine as a proxy. I hope Russia does not return the favor.

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The US Has Sent Troops To Ukraine To Train Ukrainian Military 

So I haven’t researched this extensively, but the Russian-language media is reporting that the United States is sending 290 military instructors to Lvov, Ukraine to train troops there, including members of the Azov, Yaguar, and Omega battalions, among others.

The article is here, if you read Russian. Needless to say, the Russians aren’t too pleased about this. I’m not either, considering that the Azov Battalion is known for being especially nasty. They’re pro-Nazi (they use Nazi imagery; I’ll update this post with photos later) and are a rather odious group in general. If my country is actually helping them—well, that’s just appalling.

Ukraine Recognizes Nazi Collaborators; Poland And Russia Condemn This

Maybe it's just me, but that red and black flag is a bit too similar to a certain modern political party's flag for comfort... Source
Maybe it’s just me, but that red and black flag is a bit too similar to a certain modern political party’s flag for comfort… Source

For what is probably the first time ever, Poland and Russia are on agreement about something. And what did it take for this unprecedented event to take place? Nothing less than an attempt by Ukraine to recognize the legitimacy of certain neo-Nazi groups in WWII-era Ukraine. From the International Business Times:

Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko was greeted by a group of pro-Russian Ukrainians chanting “Murderer!” and “No to fascism!” in Odessa Friday, a day after his bloc in parliament passed a bill recognizing controversial World War II-era partisan groups as so-called freedom fighters, according to the TASS Russia News Agency. The groups are revered by some in Ukraine because they defended ethnic Ukrainians in the chaos of World War II, but many pro-Russian Ukrainians consider them terrorists who willingly collaborated with Nazi Germany to fight the Soviet Union.

[…]

The bill would recognize groups such as the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) and Stepan Bandera’s so-called Banderite as legitimate combatants in World War II and as freedom fighters who fought for Ukrainian independence. Some of those partisan groups are believed to have participated in the ethnic cleansing of Poles in Ukraine, as well as the carrying out of bombings and kidnappings against the country’s postwar Soviet government. If the bill were to become law, it would grant veterans of these groups social benefits and make them eligible for state awards. It would also make it illegal to deny the legitimacy of their actions, according to UAPosition, a Ukraine-centered media site.

Ukraine’s current nationalist elements such as the Right Sector strongly identify with Bandera and his fellow partisans, who they say laid the foundation for Ukrainian nationalism. While most far-right Ukrainain groups are fragmented and remain largely on the fringe of Ukrainian politics, the Right Sector was visible in the Euromaidan movement, and it participated in a handful of volunteer paramilitary brigades that played decisive roles in Ukraine’s fight against pro-Russian separatists in southeastern Ukraine during the past year. Critics of the Euromaidan movement alleged the nationalist presence was indicative of the fascist, anti-Russian principles of the movement and the pro-European government that came into power as a result of it.

What the article doesn’t say—disingenuously, in my opinion—is that Russian politicians aren’t the only ones up in arms about this: some Polish members of parliament are, too. This article from Rossiskaya Gazeta (that literally means “Russian Newspaper”). Politicians from the opposition group “Union of democratic leftist forces” have called for the Polish foreign ministry to officially say something about this law.

And thus, for perhaps the first time ever, Russian politicians, Polish politicians, and I, your humble correspondent, are all in agreement.

Honestly, I think it’s kind of scary that this stuff is debatable here in the West. I’ve read some articles that actually defend the groups that the Ukrainian parties are trying to rehabilitate. Bandera’s forces and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, were, in my opinion, a bunch of nasty collaborators that don’t deserve any of this recognition.

Here’s another interesting idea: ever since this “revolution” took place in Ukraine, people have been telling me, both online and offline, that the far-right elements don’t actually hold sway over many people and aren’t a major player on the political field. I don’t mind considering this idea—I’m open-minded. But when I see stuff like this, I can’t help but think that it looks a lot more like my original thoughts were accurate. Just saying.

Watch Russia’s Latest Crimea Documentary

Remember that Crimea documentary I talked about last week? Well, it aired on Sunday night in Russia and is now online! You can watch it here on YouTube, or watch the embedded version below. Unfortunately, it’s only in Russian. I don’t know if it exists with English subtitles yet, or if it ever will.

I’ve watched the first hour of it and it’s really interesting.

The Crimea Annexation Documentary

If you’re a Russia watcher, you’ve probably heard of the upcoming pro-Russian documentary film called Crimea: The Way Home [Крым: путь на родину]. The Russian TV station set to air it (as of now, there’s no air date) posted a short trailer on the internet this past weekend and the Russia-watching internet blew up (here’s one of many articles about this now-infamous documentary). You see, the trailer is basically just an excerpt from an interview with Putin in which he says that he planned to annex Crimea on February 22, 2014, after Viktor Yanukovych was deposed as president.

You can see the trailer (with English subtitles, hooray!) here. I’ve embedded it below, too, because it’s so important.

Why is it such a big deal that Putin planned the annexation from February 22? Because the actual referendum in which the Crimean people voted to join the Russian Federation took place weeks later.

The documentary looks really good. I’ll certainly watch it when it comes out. I’m probably one of the few people out there whose hobby is watching Russian propaganda films—but that’s why you read this blog, right?

Yuriy Sergeyev’s UN Speech

Remember waaaay back in March, when I asked if anyone had a video of the Ukrainian ambassador to the UN’s speech? Well, I actually found said speech on YouTube last week! No, I haven’t been looking for it ever since then. I forgot about it, then somehow followed a link and stumbled upon it. Here it is, if you’re wondering. It’s in English and Russian.

Or click here to see on YouTube.

Honestly, I’m weirdly thrilled that I found it. Also, Mr. Sergeyev speaks excellent Russian.

Does NATO Have Troops In Ukraine?

So. You may have heard that the war in Ukraine heated up yesterday and today with an attack on Mariupol, a Ukrainian city near Crimea. The pro-Ukrainian people are blaming the Russians, the pro-Russian people are blaming the Ukrainians, and the whole thing is a mess because civilians are getting hurt and dying.

This video is making the rounds in the Ukraine-watching blogosphere. It was shot in Mariupol after the attack. It’s only 40 seconds long, so I’d really appreciate it if you could watch it, especially if you’re a native English speaker. In it, a woman tries to interview a man wearing combat fatigues and carrying an assault rifle. He replies brusquely, “Out of my face, out of my face, please.” And yes, he says that in English. Natively-accented English, I might add. Don’t believe me? Watch the video:

Now, there could be several explanations for this:

  • The video wasn’t actually shot in Ukraine. (How does one explain the Russian spoken in the background then?)
  • The video has been edited and spliced, as in it was shot in Ukraine but a man speaking English was added in. (Possible… but unlikely, in my opinion.)
  • The video was shot in Ukraine and the soldier is Ukrainian and happens to be a brilliant linguist who has eliminated every single trace of a foreign accent from his speech, enabling his pronunciation, cadence, and colloquial vocabulary to fool multiple educated native English speakers. Is this possible? Of course. Is it likely? Absolutely not. Take me for example: I am good at Russian. But even I have a foreign accent in Russian. No matter how much I work on my pronunciation, my cadence and intonation give me away. My point here is not to brag, but simply to say that accents are made up of more than pronunciation of words. A ton of stuff goes into an accent and it is very hard to “fix” all of this to match native speakers of a language you’ve learned later in life.
  • There’s some other logical explanation that I’m not seeing. Always a possibility, of course.
  • Or, finally, the video was indeed shot in Ukraine and there are foreign troops from NATO countries currently there. Since this hasn’t been on the news, one must assume that these troops are clandestinely there, unbeknownst to the public in their native countries, and may have been in Ukraine for some time. In fact, they probably wouldn’t have been noticed at all, had this man not slipped up.

What do you think? Is that soldier a native English speaker? Is he a foreigner from Ukraine? And just where is his accent from? A ton of people on Twitter are saying he’s American. This American writing this has her doubts, though! You see, I hear a trace of a Commonwealth accent there. I’m not sure I’d say British, though there seems to be a British influence, which is why I have talked about NATO troops, not American troops.