The accuracy of this commentary’s title is borne out by statements made and actions taken by the Ukrainians themselves. In 2020 millions of people around the world protested against racism in the wake of the police murder of George Floyd. Ukrainians made it clear that they were not to be included amongst that mass of humanity and in fact expressed their support for white supremacy.
In June 2020, a group of football fans at a match in Ukraine unfurled a banner reading, “Free Derek Chauvin.” Chauvin is the man who murdered George Floyd. Not to be outdone, members of the neo-Nazi group Nazionalny Sprotyv, National Resistance, marched on October 14, 2020 with a banner that made the point very clear. The words “White Lives Matter” were written in English and in much larger type than the name of the organization which appeared in small type below. October 14 is celebrated as the Day of the UPA, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, which fought alongside Nazi Germany after it invaded Ukraine during World War II. The words in the pink graphic on the video read, “On the march of UPA Nazis carefully burned the poster of BLM.” Nazionalny Sprotyv is known for its racist, anti-Russian, anti-LGBTQ, and anti-Communist beliefs.
The war propaganda disseminated by the Biden administration and its friends in corporate media tells us to ignore the swastikas, Hitler salutes, and other clear indicators of Nazi sympathies when they appear in Ukraine. Suddenly symbolism which we were told to abhor as indisputable signs of hate speech are now to be accepted or explained away as figments of our collective imagination.
Nazi regalia and symbolism should make assistance to the Ukrainian government an automatic deal breaker. But the U.S. has always been rather flexible in its approach to Nazism. After World War II an intelligence program known as Operation Paperclip brought more than 1,600 German scientists to the U.S. to fight in the new cold war against the Soviet Union. Their links to the Nazi party were covered up so that they might be of assistance to the U.S. Werner von Braun and other Nazi linked scientists were instrumental in creating the U.S. space program.
Ukraine was a divided nation from its very beginnings after World War I, with half of the country hating the Soviet Union so much that they sided with and fought alongside the Germans. January 1 is officially celebrated not just as the first day of the year but as the birthday of Ukraine’s chief Nazi collaborator, Stepan Bandera. The 2023 celebration was no exception but not without embarrassment. The Ukrainian parliament was forced to delete a Twitter post featuring a photo of army commander General Valerii Zaluzhny juxtaposed with an image of Bandera. Bandera massacred thousands of Poles during the war and the Ukrainians had to be reminded through diplomatic channels that everyone isn’t as forgiving as clueless Americans. Just as Operation Paperclip is an inconvenient and rarely discussed truth, Ukraine’s continuing Nazi and white supremacist connections are now hushed up by the U.S. state and its media partners.
It is indeed awkward for Joe Biden to greet president Zelensky at the white house and for him to speak in congress if these facts are openly discussed. Of course Zelensky is president because the Obama administration helped to engineer a coup against an elected Ukrainian president in 2014. Members of congress like senator Chris Murphy and the late John McCain are among those who traveled to Kiev and addressed rallies sponsored by the right wing Svoboda and Right Sector parties and aided in the coup effort.
The Biden administration invitation to Zelensky was an effort to ensure that an additional $45 billion was allocated to Ukraine before the congressional session ended. The standing ovations and blue and yellow flags and cries of “Slava Ukraini!” were orchestrated to get more buy-in at a time when many Americans are asking why their needs go unmet and why Ukraine can’t resume the negotiations it was holding months ago with Russia. It has been reported that the U.S. sent the then prime minister of the UK, Boris Johnson, to tell Zelensky that any talk of peace had to end. Russia was ready to withdraw in exchange for security guarantees and an end to Ukraine’s efforts to secure NATO membership. But Ukraine is the latest U.S. forever war and its people have to suffer and die because of its dictates.
Perhaps the saddest sight of the night of Zelensky’s congressional speech was the adulation he received from some members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). CBC members Sheila Jackson-Lee and Barbara Lee eagerly sought to shake his hand. Perhaps they are unaware of Ukraine’s white supremacist leanings. But that can’t be true. After all, in 2015 their CBC colleague, the late John Conyers, co-sponsored an amendment that would have barred U.S. funding to the Azov battalion and other Ukrainian neo-Nazi groups. The amendment was ultimately removed from the final spending bill.
CBC member Gregory Meeks is Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs committee and said, “This war is about Russian aggression against Ukraine and the security of Europe, and it is also about democracy over tyranny, and freedom over oppression.” Ukraine has banned left wing parties and collective bargaining rights. Its people are openly racist. Barbara Lee, now elbowing her colleagues to get a little Zelensky facetime, was the only member of congress to have voted against the authorization to invade Afghanistan in the wake of the September 11 attacks. Now she brags about her role in securing more funding for a white supremacist state.
White lives matter just as much in the U.S. as they do in Ukraine. Even Black politicians go along with supremacist ideology. As the war grinds on, and casualties and public spending go ever upward, it is wise to remember that there are very few anti-racists in positions of authority anywhere in the world. Apparently the war propagandists are right. The U.S. and Ukraine are united in every way.