Photo Credit: Berliner Verlag Archiv
Ukrainian citizens welcoming the invading German Wehrmacht, June 1941 (Nazi propaganda picture).

Remember when Vladimir Putin suggested he was justified in attacking Ukraine because it was home to neo-Nazis? Did you consider back then that maybe the Russian president was at least partially correct? Almost a year to the day after I said as much on July 3, 2022 (Was Putin Wrong? Ukrainian Ambassador in Hot Water for Praising Nazi Collaborator), the New York Times revealed on Monday that since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, NATO and Ukraine have been busy deleting images of Ukrainian soldiers wearing Nazi symbols, like this one:


Patrick Byrne, who posted the tweet above, put it best: “Gosh, it’s almost as though at some level, the New York Times understands they are engaged in the manufacture of propaganda rather than truth….”

As the Times put it: The photographs, and their deletions, highlight the Ukrainian military’s complicated relationship with Nazi imagery, a relationship forged under both Soviet and German occupation during World War II.”

Complicated, indeed. On March 5, 2022, NBC News reported that “even though Putin is engaging in propaganda, it’s also true that Ukraine has a genuine Nazi problem – both past and present. … It would be a dangerous oversight to deny Ukraine’s antisemitic history and collaboration with Hitler’s Nazis, as well as the latter-day embrace of neo-Nazi factions in some quarters.”

According to the Times, “The iconography of these groups, including a skull-and-crossbones patch worn by concentration camp guards and a symbol known as the Black Sun, now appears with some regularity on the uniforms of soldiers fighting on the front line, including soldiers who say the imagery symbolizes Ukrainian sovereignty and pride, not Nazism.”

The Times also claims that “Ukraine has worked for years through legislation and military restructuring to contain a fringe far-right movement whose members proudly wear symbols steeped in Nazi history.”

Well ahead of the 2022-23 Russia-Ukraine war, Melanie Mierzejewski-Voznyak, an Associate Research Fellow at the Institute of International Relations, Prague, published in Oxford Academic the results of her research titled, “The Radical Right in Post-Soviet Ukraine.” She argues that “During much of Ukraine’s post-Soviet history, the radical right has remained on the political periphery, wielding little influence over national politics. However, from 2009 to 2014, Ukraine saw a radical right-wing party, Svoboda, enter parliament, and from 2014 to 2016 there was an increased social role played by the right-wing radical groups Pravyi Sektor and Azov.

“Thus, the political impact of the far right in Ukraine extends beyond electoral performance and to the activities of extra-parliamentary groups that are beginning to penetrate political life and state institutions. The radical right in Ukraine is intertwined, but not identical, with ethnic Ukrainian nationalism. The direction and development of the Ukrainian far-right have thus been a result of both the historical legacy and cultural context of a nation that was ruled over by others for centuries and is home to competing ethnic nationalisms and geopolitical orientations.”

Michael Colborne, a researcher at the investigative group Bellingcat who studies the international far right, told the Times: “What worries me, in the Ukrainian context, is that people in Ukraine who are in leadership positions, either they don’t or they’re not willing to acknowledge and understand how these symbols are viewed outside of Ukraine. I think Ukrainians need to increasingly realize that these images undermine support for the country.”

Tell that to the Ukrainian ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk next time he tries to extort military assistance from the Jewish State. Israel won’t support a military that brandishes swastikas.


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