This story, in Russian, says that Kiev has canceled the military parade for Victory Day on May 9. May 8, however, will be celebrated as a day of remembrance and reconciliation. Will this remembrance include the Polish victims of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (also known by its Ukrainian/Russian acronym, UPA) in World War II? We shall see.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.