By ALEXANDER RUBINSTEIN AND MAX BLUMENTHAL
While Western media deploys Volodymyr Zelensky’s Jewish heritage to refute accusations of Nazi influence in Ukraine, the president has ceded to neo-Nazi forces and now depends on them as front line fighters.
Back in October 2019, as the war in eastern Ukraine dragged on, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky traveled to Zolote, a town situated firmly in the “gray zone” of Donbas, where over 14,000 had been killed, mostly on the pro-Russian side. There, the president encountered the hardened veterans of extreme right paramilitary units keeping up the fight against separatists just a few miles away.
Elected on a platform of de-escalation of hostilities with Russia, Zelensky was determined to enforce the so-called Steinmeier Formula conceived by then-German Foreign Minister Walter Steinmeier which called for elections in the Russian-speaking regions of Donetsk and Lugansk.
In a face-to-face confrontation with militants from the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion who had launched a campaign to sabotage the peace initiative called “No to Capitulation,” Zelensky encountered a wall of obstinacy.
With appeals for disengagement from the frontlines firmly rejected, Zelensky melted down on camera. “I’m the president of this country. I’m 41 years old. I’m not a loser. I came to you and told you: remove the weapons,” Zelensky implored the fighters.
Once video of the stormy confrontation spread across Ukrainian social media channels, Zelensky became the target of an angry backlash.
Andriy Biletsky, the proudly fascist Azov Battalion leader who once pledged to “lead the white races of the world in a final crusade…against Semite-led Untermenschen”, vowed to bring thousands of fighters to Zolote if Zelensky pressed any further. Meanwhile, a parliamentarian from the party of former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko openly fantasized about Zelensky being blown to bits by a militant’s grenade.
Though Zelensky achieved a minor disengagement, the neo-Nazi paramilitaries escalated their “No Capitulation” campaign. And within months, fighting began to heat up again in Zolote, sparking a new cycle of violations of the Minsk Agreement.
By this point, Azov had been formally incorporated into the Ukrainian military and its street vigilante wing, known as the National Corps, was deployed across the country under the watch of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry, and alongside the National Police. In December 2021, Zelensky would be seen delivering a “Hero of Ukraine” award to a leader of the fascistic Right Sector in a ceremony in Ukraine’s parliament.
A full-scale conflict with Russia was approaching, and the distance between Zelensky and the extremist paramilitaries was closing fast.
This February 24, when Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukrainian territory on a stated mission to “demilitarize and denazify” the country, US media embarked on a mission of its own: to deny the power of neo-Nazi paramilitaries over the country’s military and political sphere. As the US government-funded National Public Radio insisted, “Putin’s language [about denazification] is offensive and factually wrong.”
In its bid to deflect from the influence of Nazism in contemporary Ukraine, US media has found its most effective PR tool in the figure of Zelensky, a former TV star and comedian from a Jewish background. It is a role the actor-turned-politician has eagerly assumed.
But as we will see, Zelensky has not only ceded ground to the neo-Nazis in his midst, he has entrusted them with a front line role in his country’s war against pro-Russian and Russian forces.
The president’s Jewishness as Western media PR device
Hours before President Putin’s February 24 speech declaring denazification as the goal of Russian operations, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “asked how a people who lost eight million of its citizens fighting Nazis could support Nazism,” according to the BBC.
Raised in a non-religious Jewish family in the Soviet Union during the 1980’s, Zelensky has downplayed his heritage in the past. “The fact that I am Jewish barely makes 20 in my long list of faults,” he joked during a 2019 interview in which he declined to go into further detail about his religious background.
Today, as Russian troops bear down on cities like Mariupol, which is effectively under the control of the Azov Battalion, Zelensky is no longer ashamed to broadcast his Jewishness. “How could I be a Nazi?” he wondered aloud during a public address. For a US media engaged in an all-out information war against Russia, the president’s Jewish background has become an essential public relations tool.
A few examples of the US media’s deployment of Zelensky as a shield against allegations of rampant Nazism in Ukraine are below (see mash-up above for video):
- PBS NewsHour noted Putin’s comments on denazification with a qualifier: “even though President Volodymyr Zelensky is Jewish and his great uncles died in the Holocaust.”
- On Fox & Friends, former CIA officer Dan Hoffman declared that “it’s the height of hypocrisy to call the Ukrainian nation to denazify — their president is Jewish after all.”
- On MSNBC, Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner said Putin’s “terminology, outrageous and obnoxious as it is — ‘denazify’ where you’ve got frankly a Jewish president in Mr. Zelensky. This guy [Putin] is on his own kind of personal jihad to restore greater Russia.”
- Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn said on Fox Business she’s “been impressed with President Zelensky and how he has stood up. And for Putin to go out there and say ‘we’re going to denazify’ and Zelensky is Jewish.”
- In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Gen. John Allen denounced Putin’s use of the term, “de-Nazify” while the newsman and former Israel lobbyist shook his head in disgust. In a separate interview with Blitzer, the so-called “Ukraine whistleblower” and Ukraine-born Alexander Vindman grumbled that the claim is “patently absurd, there’s really no merit… you pointed out that Volodymyr Zelensky is Jewish… the Jewish community [is] embraced. It’s central to the country and there is nothing to this Nazi narrative, this fascist narrative. It’s fabricated as a pretext.”
Behind the corporate media spin lies the complex and increasingly close relationship Zelensky’s administration has enjoyed with the neo-Nazi forces invested with key military and political posts by the Ukrainian state, and the power these open fascists have enjoyed since Washington installed a Western-aligned regime through a coup in 2014.
In fact, Zelensky’s top financial backer, the Ukrainian Jewish oligarch Igor Kolomoisky, has been a key benefactor of the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion and other extremists militias.
Backed by Zelensky’s top financier, neo-Nazi militants unleash a wave of intimidation
Incorporated into the Ukrainian National Guard, the Azov Battalion is considered the most ideologically zealous and militarily motivated unit fighting pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Donbass region.
With Nazi-inspired Wolfsangel insignia on the uniforms of its fighters, who have been photographed with Nazi SS symbols on their helmets, Azov “is known for its association with neo-Nazi ideology…[and] is believed to have participated in training and radicalizing US-based white supremacy organizations,” according to an FBI indictment of several US white nationalists that traveled to Kiev to train with Azov.
Igor Kolomoisky, a Ukrainian energy baron of Jewish heritage, has been a top funder of Azov since it was formed in 2014. He has also bankrolled private militias like the Dnipro and Aidar Battalions, and has deployed them as a personal thug squad to protect his financial interests.
Ukraine is a “democracy” where Nazi gangs shoot at members of political parties, meet with the Jewish president, and openly advertise their services to beat your opponents up on your behalf. pic.twitter.com/ZIPrjz6Tfz
— Richard Hanania (@RichardHanania) March 5, 2022
There is almost zero corporate press reporting on Ukraine's Azov Battalion, the neo nazi enterprise that is officially recognized as part of the country's military. Horrific whitewashing of a fascist militia that is going around committing war crimes on a regular basis.
— Jordan Schachtel @ dossier.substack.com (@JordanSchachtel) March 6, 2022
I might remind some that the US had Stalin and the Soviet Union as an ally against Hitler and the Axis. Why? Because we HAD to. Of course, FDR was very sympathetic to Stalin, but the USSR would not have survived without US aid.
Hell, the US even used the Mafia to help control labor at the ports. In dire circumstances, you do what you have to do, no matter how distasteful.
A little reminder that gunfire was heard in kiev just hours after the invasion, the Russians were not close to kiev at that point.
The Nazi units are kidnapping torturing and killing members of parliment, mayors ect.
Stalin was not so much an ally, Hitler attacked them cause they got to close to his fuel supply.
Ukraines tiny nazi army is nearly surrounded. Let it be over for the people of Ukraine.
If taken a choice I choose for the Ukrainian people those who dont call for the population of the earth to be culled to 5 million enslaved and constantly monitored people.
Under the pretext of bringing and defending democracy, these three men, Bush Clinton and Obama attacked 9 countries in 25 years, killing 11 million civilians.
I don’t deny that and that is my point.
Problem solved. They served a purpose and won’t stain the rest of the country any longer.
The ideology is systemic through the army, population and politics, pollution that began in 2014 with the NGO (ie Soros, the unrepentant Nazi) funded coup. They want to purge all other ethnic groups. Ukrainian purity is Job 1.
Those that call Putin a Nazi or compare him to Hitler are truly insane. Putins Russia has about 300 ethnic groups.
People sold those handed out like candy fully auto weapons for about 200 bucks. They needed money for food or to escape.
The enemy of my enemy….
The US equipped the Mujahadeen in the 80’s