by Gordon M. Hahn
As in almost any war, especially civil war, there have been terrible war crimes committed by both sides in the Ukrainian civil war (usually called ‘Putin’s war’). Now Americans might hear from the U.S. mainstream media about the atrocities committed on one side in the conflict – those of the pro-Russian Donbass resistance fighters. All but a handful will ever hear of the democratic Maidan regime’s war crimes. The average American might accidentally stumble on a European or Russian mainstream media source and accidentally push Google translation to English, but not likely. To the point: Although there is little evidence that regular Ukrainian army forces have committed a large number of such crimes, there is a mountain of evidence that National Guard battalions and Kiev’s more independent neofascist-infused volunteer battalions have.
Recently, one Western newspaper, the German newspaper Der Speigel, actually bothered itself with exposing some of the Maidan neo-fascists’ war crimes in an all too brief expose.’ True, this is not the first such report. The OSCE, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch have all reported on war crimes by both sides, including Kiev’s use of cluster bombs against civilian targets. However, the new report is rather instructive of the kind of atrocities ignored by the West and the Obama administration in particular.
In particular, Der Speigel covered the crimes committed by two Ukrainian neo-fascist entities. First, it discusses the charges against the volunteer battalion ‘Tornado’, discussed briefly on this site a month ago. Second, it discusses the neo-fascist Right Sector party and its battalions under its Ukrainian Volunteer Corps (UVC), covered on this exhaustively.
Excerpts and summaries from Der Spiegel’s article:
Tornado’s commander Ruslan Onischenko’s “fast-paced career” saw him rise “from the criminal to hero and back again.” Onischenko commanded 150 men in the Ukrainian volunteer unit which fought at the front in eastern Ukraine against the pro-Russian separatists.
“The unit behaved apparently in accordance with its name: unpredictable and destructive. Onischenko and several more men are now standing trial. The prosecution’s documents speak of illegal deprivation of liberty, gang rape and torture. Anatoly Matois, chief military prosecutor of the country, read the accusations on (Ukrainian) television: The fighters had prisoners’ tortured by means of an object similar to a power generator. The prisoners were held in the basement, stripped naked, placed on a concrete wall and doused with water. Then they were touched with live wires to various body parts, such as at the temple, the genitals and the testicles.”
According to a statement of a former prisoner, prisoners “were forced under threat of death to rape another prisoner.”
“Two of around a dozen arrested Tornado fighters are said to have planned to shoot the Kiev below regional police chief. One of them is a sniper. Only a few months ago commander Onischenko was a publicly celebrated hero. Filaret, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, had awarded him with a medal.”
“Other units have committed war crimes. Thus, in May a unit of the nationalist guard Right Sector caught a separatist fighter in eastern Ukraine after an engagement. They threw the man around before later chopping off both his forefingers.” Internet photos posted by Rights Sector fighters “show the prisoners shortly after the battle. In some of the shots stumps of cutoff finger can be seen. The wounds are fresh.”
“A Right Sector fighter boasted about this fact on his Facebook page. The battle, he wrote, was ‘good training for the offensive on Donetsk.’ Ilya Bogdanov, a Right Sector commander confirmed the mutilation. The fact discredited his troops. ‘The bastard of my unit who cut off the prisoners’ index finger is working for Putin,’ he wrote on Facebook.”
“Tatjana Masur of Amnesty International stressed in Ukraine, there is no evidence of systematic abuse by the Ukrainian side: ‘But there are such cases and they are spreading.’”
Ukraine’s Military Prosecutor Anatoly Matios charged Interior Minister Arseniy Avakow with co-responsibility. One “could have saved many lives if the Interior Ministry made the right personnel decisions’. The “Tornado” unit was – placed under the police – at least on paper. But warnings were ignored. The domestic security service SBU had arrested “Tornado” fighters in November. They were with machine guns and hand grenades on the road, but not on the front, but in the capital Kiev.”
“Tornado commander Ruslan Onischenko had several prior convictions several times, but for his political supporters that was no reason for caution. On the contrary, the nationalist Radical Party’s boss Oleh Lyashko wants to send even more criminal offenders to the front; offenders would simply ‘fight better’.”
By arresting and trying Tornado’s fighters, the Maidan regime is now trying to cover up its tracks, betraying at least these particular neo-fascist fighters (and perhaps some more innocent volunteers who got themselves caught up in the neo-fascists’ bacchanalia). That bacchanalia was whipped up by ‘strategic communications’ and propaganda from officials, media and ‘think’ tanks in Kiev, Washington, and Brussels, replete with claims of Putin’s “fascism” and an imminent Russian march on Europe through Ukraine to “restore the Soviet empire.” Moreover, it is very likely that in Kiev, if not elsewhere, the deployment of ultra-nationalist- and neofascist- infused volunteer battalions was immediately conceptualized as a temporary meaure that would provide the Maidan regime with a layer of insulation and thus deniability regarding any direct responsibility for the battalions’ atrocities and war crimes, while allowing it to unleash these elements on the ‘koloradoes’ and ‘vatniki’ in the Mongolid east.
Nevertheless, the arrest and criminal charges leveled by the Maidan regime against forces like the Tornado battalion raises perhaos even more disturbing questions: Why have no charges been leveled against any leaders or fighters from Right Sector? After all, Right Sector has committed much worse atrocities than those alleged against Tornado: the 20 February 2014 sniper attacks (see below), the April 2014 slaughter of some 20 policemen in Mariupol, the 2 May Odessa terrorist pogrom, the recent attack on police and contrabandists in Mukachevo, and likely the recent bombings of two police headquarters in Lviv (Lvov) wounding two policeman. In the case of the Mukachevo shootout, an official Right Sector spokesman recently stated it is now hiding from law enforcement those involved in the shooting. Thus, the group is openly defying the law by obstructing an investigation and aiding and abetting criminal activity, but Yarosh and its leaders roam free, holding congresses, meetings, and press conferences. Only a few of Right Sector members have ever been detained for the hundreds of cases of murders, beatings thefts, and harassment. One in connection with the Mukachevo affair and another in connection with an attack on a gay parade in Kiev in June.
Could it be that one or more high-place Maidan regime officials are protecting Right Sector – some in the SBU or MVD, Prime Minister Yatsenyuk, Defense and Security Council Chairman and former Maida regime acting president Oleksandr Turchynov? Or is the regime reluctant to move against Right Sector because oligarch and former Dnepropetrovsk governor Ihor Kolomoiskii remains its most powerful sponsor? Kolomoiskii and Ukrainian President Poroshenko were locked in a standoff several months ago which ended in Kolomoiskii’s resignation for the governorship and his sudden travel to the U.S.
Shortly after the Poroshenko-Kolomoiskii dustup, Poroshenko fired SBU chief Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, who had been one of Yarosh’s patrons. Nalyvaichenko visited a Right Sector training camp, and Yarosh was a non-staff advisor of Nalyvaichenko’s when he was a deputy in Ukraine’s parliament, the Supreme Rada.
Could Kolomoiskii be (and Nalyvaichenko before him have been) under the protection of some in the Obama Administration, such as Victoria Nuland, requiring Poroshenko to leave Kolomoiskii be? Upon his return to Ukraine, Right Sector undertook the Mukachevo attack. Note that the U.S. congress recently forbade any U.S. military training or weapons being supplied to the neo-fascist Azov battalion, but has not subjected Right Sector to such a ban.
So where lies and how much of the overall responsibility lies on the Barack Obama administration, the State Department, Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Payet, and their numerous mouthpieces in the American think tank and journalistic community? Simple. The Maidan regime deliberately recruited criminal and neo-fascists in to the volunteer batalions and helped fund and arm neo-fascist groups like Right Sector that brought the regime to power. All this was openly discussed in the media and described by Maidan regime leaders such as President Petro Poroshenko, Prime Minister Arsenii Yatsenyuk, SBU chief Vitaliy Nalyvaichenko, MVD chief Arsen Avakov, neo-fascist Radical Party leader Oleh Lyashko, and Right Sector leader Dmitro Yarosh. While knowing full well that the Maidan regime was organizing and then had unleashed these and many other criminal and neo-fascist volunteer battalions on the Donbass people, they either denied or remained silent on the issue, as these units raped, killed, and mamed. Moreover, the same neo-fascists actually transformed the Maidan demonstrations from peaceful protest into a violent revolution and who seized power by force, deploying snipers to shoot at police and protestors.
US officials have spent all of their energy covering up for the neo-fascist element in the Maidan revolt. For example, US Congressman Dana Rohrbacher inquired whether there were any neo-fascists on the Maidan –Nuland refused to respond to the question, and arrogantly repeated that there were “mothers, grandmothers, and veterans…all colors of Ukraine, including ugly colors” on the Maidan and that the violence is “subject to investigation.” But, as I noted above and detailed elsewhere, the snipers were from the ranks of the neo-fascists, who have never been investigated for these crimes by any official entity in Washington, Brussels, or Kiev, despite one Estonian official’s “sense” that elements tied to the Maidan regime were behind the sniper attacks. Nuland tries to insinuate that Russia was behind the sniper attacks by referring to “outside agitators” about whom there is “good evidence” of their role, she claims, though neither Washington, Brussels, nor Kiev has ever presented such evidence. Thus, using its dual-use (regime change by transition or revolution), ‘democracy-promotion’ political technology, the West politically and financially supported forces that both sought to overthrow Yanukovich and thus paved the way for the neofascist-led overthrow of freely and fairly elected Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich.
The new ‘democratic’ Maidan regime refused to negotiate with the Donbass rebels and immediately declared its ‘anti-terrorist’ operation (ATO) against them using heavy artillery, tanks, and bombing from the air against civilians. Neither Nobel Peace Prize recipient President Obama nor any other American official, nor any U.S. mainstream media criticized the Maidan regime for failing to negotiate or took any steps to pressure them to do so. Given the Maidan regime’s desperate economic situation and total dependence on US political and military support, a few simple words on or around 14 April 2014 could have forced negotiations: ‘no negotiations, no money.’ Not a word was said; the Obama administration clearly preferred an intra-Slavic war to intra-Slavic peace. The blood and tears of six thousand deaths, tens thousand wounded, and a million refugees are therefore in good part on its hands. ‘Putin’s war’ in Ukraine is as much, if not more, the West’s war in Donbass.
 Gordon M. Hahn, “One Day in the Life of Ukrainian Democracy,” Gordonhahn.com Russian and Eurasian Politics, 21 June 2015, http://gordonhahn.com/2015/06/21/one-day-in-the-life-of-ukrainian-democracy/.
 Just Google-translate at the link http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/ukraine-prozess-gegen-pro-ukrainischer-kaempfer-a-1045801.html.
 See, Gordon M. Hahn, “Saving Maidan Ukraine From Itself: Mukachev’s Implications,” Gordonhahn.com Russian and Eurasian Politics, 13 July 2015, http://gordonhahn.com/2015/07/13/saving-maidan-ukraine-from-itself-mukachevos-implications/; Gordon M. Hahn, “Ukraine’s Neo-Fascist Right Sector: Preparing a Revolt?,” Gordonhahn.com Russian and Eurasian Politics, 14 July 2015, http://gordonhahn.com/2015/07/14/ukraines-neo-fascist-right-sector-preparing-a-revolt/; Gordon M. Hahn, “Right Sector and the Impotence of Ukraine’s Weimar Maidan Regime,” Gordonhahn.com Russian and Eurasian Politics, 22 July 2015, http://gordonhahn.com/2015/07/22/right-sector-and-the-impotence-of-ukraines-weimar-maidan-regime/.
 Gordon M. Hahn, “Poroshenko – 1, Kolomoiskii – 0,” Gordonhahn.com Russian and Eurasian Politics, 27 March 2015, http://gordonhahn.com/2015/03/27/poroshenko-1-kolomoiskii-0/.
 See the comments of Ukrainian political analyst Mikhail Pogrbenskii about 20 minutes in to his interview on “Kiev ne gotov k miru,” ‘Arena Sobytii,’ Online TV, 31 July 2015, http://www.onlinetv.ru/video/2449/?autostart=1.
 Gordon M. Hahn, “Violence, Coercion and Escalation in the Ukrainian Crisis: Escalation Point 6: The ‘Snipers of February,” Gordonhahn.com Russian and Eurasian Politics, 8 May 2015, http://gordonhahn.com/2015/05/08/violence-coercion-and-escalation-in-ukraines-maidan-revolution-escalation-point-6-the-snipers-of-february/ and Ivan Katchanovski, “The ‘Snipers’ Massacre’ on the Maidan in Ukraine (Revised and Updated Version),” Academia.edu, 20 February 2015, www.academia.edu/8776021/The_Snipers_Massacre_on_the_Maidan_in_Ukraine or Johnson’s Russia List, #33, 21 February 2015, Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs053/11 02820649387/archive/1102911694293.html.
Gordon M. Hahn is an Analyst and Advisory Board Member of the Geostrategic Forecasting Corporation, Chicago, Illinois; Senior Researcher, Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), Akribis Group, San Jose, California Analyst/Consultant, Russia Other Points of View – Russia Media Watch; and Senior Researcher and Adjunct Professor, MonTREP, Monterey, California. Dr Hahn is author of three well-received books, Russia’s Revolution From Above (Transaction, 2002), Russia’s Islamic Threat (Yale University Press, 2007), which was named an outstanding title of 2007 by Choice magazine, and The ‘Caucasus Emirate’ Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus and Beyond (McFarland Publishers, 2014). He also has authored hundreds of articles in scholarly journals and other publications on Russian, Eurasian and international politics and wrote, edited and published the Islam, Islamism, and Politics in Eurasia Report at CSIS from 2010-2013. Dr. Hahn has been a Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (2011-2013) and a Visiting Scholar at both the Hoover Institution and the Kennan Institute.