On February 27, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a plea for foreigners to fight against the Russian military. In a statement, Zelensky said, among other things, that “This is not just Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This is the beginning of a war against Europe, against European structures, against democracy, against basic human rights, against a global order of law, rules and peaceful coexistence.” He added: “Anyone who wants to join the defense of Ukraine, Europe and the world can come and fight side by side with the Ukrainians against the Russian war criminals.”
In this way, Zelensky portrayed the conflict as one between a Ukraine that defends Western values, human rights and its political system against “Russian war criminals.” This narrative was disseminated to great lengths by Western media, who at the same time scoffed at the idea of a “de-Nazification” of Ukraine.
Omitted from Western media is the fact that openly neo-Nazi groups like the Mariupol-based Azov Battalion are official units of the Republican Guard, which is under the direct command of Ukraine’s Interior Ministry. It also omits that Stepan Bandera, a Nazi collaborator in World War II who encouraged Ukrainians to “destroy” Jews and Poles, leading to tens of thousands of deaths, is being rehabilitated in Ukraine and even had a major avenue in Kiev renamed after him. This is just two examples of the “Nazification” of Ukraine that is being purposefully ignored by the West.
None-the-less, by portraying the war in Ukraine as a struggle of liberalism against authoritarianism, Western liberals are whitewashing the Far Right and other foreign fighters from a myriad of illiberal ideologies as they descend on Ukraine to fight the Russians. According to Kiev, by March 6 at least 20,000 foreign fighters from 55 countries had entered Ukraine to fight against Russians.
The volunteers are a mix of neo-Nazis, radical Islamists, naïve liberals, pan-Turkists and a variety of Russophobes. Although Western media are lionising the foreign fighters, the accounts they give of their time in Ukraine are truly horrifying – from being tortured by Ukrainian soldiers, to being used as cannon fodder, and facing devastating missile strikes from Russian forces.
Full article at INTERNATIONALIST 360°
Image is courtesy of Military Times, slightly enhanced by me.