Top KGB defector begged Margaret Thatcher to secure release of his family

Oleg Gordievsky told the prime minister that without his wife and young daughters his “life has no meaning”, papers released by the National Archives show

Oleg Gordievsky, the most prominent Soviet agent to defect to Britain during the Cold War, personally pleaded with Margaret Thatcher to help secure the release of his family from Moscow.
The KGB colonel told the prime minister that without his wife and young daughters, who were prevented from following him to London, his “life has no meaning”.
Files released by the National Archives reveal that MI6 secretly sought to broker a deal with the Russians to secure the safe passage of his family. When the offer was rejected, Mrs Thatcher insisted on expelling every KGB agent in Britain.
Mr Gordievsky, who was one of the most important spies during the Cold War, provided Britain with reports on Soviet operations for more than a decade.
When he issued his appeal to Mrs Thatcher in 1985, she responded personally in an emotive note on Sept 7 1985 urging him to have hope.
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“Our anxiety for your family remains and we shall not forget them,” she said. “Having children of my own, I know the kind of thoughts and feelings which are going through your mind each and every day. But just as your concern is about them, so their concern will be for your safety and well-being.
“Please do not say that life has no meaning. There is always hope. And we shall do all to help you through these difficult days.”
Mrs Thatcher went on to suggest that the pair should meet when the “immediate situation” – the public announcement of Mr Gordievsky’s defection to Britain – had passed.
Her personal involvement was greeted with extreme gratitude by Christopher Curwen, the MI6 chief who had arranged Mr Gordievsky’s extraction from Moscow.
Curwen said: “The reassurance that his family would not be forgotten provided the help and support which he most needs at this difficult time.”
Her comments “greatly assisted” MI6’s dealings with Mr Gordievsky at a “very dificult time,” he added.
Mr Gordievsky arrived in London as a result of an emergency extraction sanctioned by Mrs Thatcher in the summer of 1985. Originally recruited in 1974, Mr Gordievsky became Britain’s star source inside the KGB after being posted to the Soviet secret service’s London bureau.
However, on May 17 1985, having just been promised the job of head of station in London, he was suddenly summoned back to Moscow and subsequently accused of being a spy. He eventually escaped to London with the help of MI6, who smuggled him across the border into Finland, after giving his KBG minders the slip.
When she formally announced Mr Gordievsky’s defection Mrs Thatcher said she hoped that “on humanitarian grounds” the Soviet authorities would agree to his request for his family to join him in London.
However it was another six years before he was reunited with his wife Leila and children. His elder daughter Mariya was 11 on her arrival in London in 1991, and his second child Anna was 10.
The National Archives files show that the prime minister took a close interest in Mr Gordievsky’s well-being, asking his handlers “whether he has some sort of companion to talk to and confide in at what is obviously a very difficult time for him.”

By Edward Malnick7:00AM GMT 30 Dec 2014

Find this story at 30 December 2014

© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2015

Inside Toronto’s secret Cold War History

In the 50s and 60s, Soviet and American spies waged a secret war of espionage across the city of Toronto.

At the height of the Cold War, Toronto was the site of an elaborate game of espionage played between the U.S and the Soviet Union, declassified CIA documents show.
The records provide new details about how the CIA and the KGB spied on the city’s growing community of eastern European immigrants.
And those details came as a surprise to at least one Toronto target who learned she was the subject of the CIA investigations.
“I’m amazed. I’m absolutely in shock,” says Ukrainian-born Natalie Bundza, 78, who worked as a travel agent at an agency on Bloor St. when the CIA first began to monitor her travels.
Because of her line of work, Bundza was used to being singled out by Soviet authorities. But when the Star showed her the declassified CIA file bearing her name, Bundza was stunned. The depth and breadth of the information that had been collected on her was startling.
In one of Bundza’s trips to Ukraine in the late ’60s, the CIA had amassed enough intelligence to describe everything from the people she met with overseas to the content of her suitcase, even going as far as to mention the art books she had packed.
“Took many books to Ukraine: several copies of Archipenko’s monograph Hnizdovsky monograph, poetry collections of the New York group, a Bible for Ivan Mykolaychuk,” the file reads.
As a young travel agent in her early 30s, Bundza, who now lives in a bungalow in Etobicoke, would often accompany performance groups and tourists across the Iron Curtain and to the Soviet Union. She believes her job and her friends in the art world made her an attractive target for CIA spies.
Mykolaychuk, an actor, and her other friends, she says, were part of what she calls the “Ukrainian intelligentsia.”
They included famous sculptor Ivan Honchar, poet Ivan Drach, and prominent political activist Dmytro Pavlychko — names which were all dutifully noted by the CIA spy.
“I was constantly followed (by the Soviets). They just knew my background. They knew I was a patriot, that I wasn’t a communist,” she says.
She kept abreast of news from her home country, and she wasn’t afraid to take risks. In her early 30s, Bundza was “all guts, no brains,” she remembers. “I would have knocked on the president’s door if I had to.”
“We were great tourist guides. We took no BS from (the Soviets),” she says.
During one of her organized trips, she noticed that a Soviet customs official had been eyeing the stack of Bibles she carried with her. And so, without prompting, Bundza handed him a copy.
Still, as far as Bundza remembers, she never divulged the minutiae of her travels to anyone — let alone an American spy. How, then, was the CIA able to monitor her travels?
In Toronto, many served as the agency’s eyes and ears.
“This was a period of time when the United States did not know nearly as much about the Soviet Union, whether it be its intentions or its capabilities,” said Richard Immerman, a Cold War historian at Temple University in Philadelphia. For the CIA, the goal was to “put different pieces (together) in the hope that one pattern would emerge.”
Eyewitness accounts were deemed especially important by American intelligence officials.
At the time, it was not uncommon for those venturing beyond the Iron Curtain to spy on behalf of the CIA, says Immerman. “Our aerial surveillance was limited (so) in many cases, those who did travel to the Soviet Union willingly co-operated with the CIA to provide information — whatever information,” he says. “These could be tourists. These could be businessmen. This was not a time when thousands of people from the West would travel to the Soviet Union.”
But for the CIA, Toronto was also rife with potential enemies. In a 1959 declassified file, an American spy describes how 18 Canadians, 11 of whom lived in Toronto, were suspected of working for the KGB. According to the CIA agent, the Canadians had secretly travelled to the Soviet Union and received special training, only to return years later as undercover KGB operatives.
Other suspected KGB spies, such as Ivan Kolaska, had apparently immigrated to Toronto as part of a bold Soviet plan to infiltrate Ukrainian communities overseas. Kolaska, along with other alleged KGB operatives, one of whom lived a double life as a Toronto City Hall employee, regularly met with Soviet diplomats in Toronto, the files say.
In one of those meetings with Soviet embassy staff, the files say, Kolaska revealed the identities of dozens of Ukrainian students who had held a secret meeting in Kyiv. They were later arrested by Soviet authorities, according to the files.
In many of the declassified documents, the CIA’s informants are named. Bundza’s file contains no such information, leaving only one clue as to the identity of the mysterious spy: Bundza’s full name.
There is no mention of a “Natalie Bundza” in the file. Her name is listed as “Natalka” instead.
Only another Ukrainian, she says, would have known her as “Natalka.”
“It must have been someone from the community here.”

By: Laurent Bastien Corbeil Staff Reporter, Published on Thu Jul 02 2015

Find this story at 2 July 2015

© Copyright Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd. 1996-2015

The Spy Among Us

Jack Barsky held a job at some of the top corporations in the U.S. and lived a seemingly normal life — all while spying for the Soviet Union

The following is a script from “The Spy Among Us” which aired on May 10, 2015. Steve Kroft is the correspondent. Draggan Mihailovich, producer.

Tonight, we’re going to tell you a story you’ve probably never heard before because only a few people outside the FBI know anything about it. It’s a spy story unlike any other and if you think your life is complicated, wait till you hear about Jack Barsky’s, who led three of them simultaneously. One as a husband and father, two as a computer programmer and administrator at some top American corporations and three as a KGB agent spying on America during the last decade of the Cold War.

The FBI did finally apprehend him in Pennsylvania but it was long after the Soviet Union had crumbled. What makes Jack Barsky’s story even more remarkable is he’s never spent a night in jail, the Russians declared him dead a long time ago, he’s living a quiet life in upstate New York and has worked in important and sensitive jobs. He’s now free to tell his story…as honestly as a former spy ever can.

Jack Barsky CBS NEWS
Steve Kroft: So who are you?
Jack Barsky: Who am I? That depends when the question is asked. Right now, I’m Jack Barsky. I work in the United States. I’m a U.S. citizen. But it wasn’t always the case.

Steve Kroft: How many different identities do you have?

Jack Barsky: I have two main identities. A German one, and an American one.

“Who am I? That depends when the question is asked. Right now, I’m Jack Barsky. I work in the United States. I’m a U.S. citizen. But it wasn’t always the case.”
Steve Kroft: What’s your real name?

Jack Barsky: My real name is Jack Barsky.

Steve Kroft: And what name were you born with?

Jack Barsky: Albrecht Dittrich. Say that three times real fast.

Steve Kroft: Just say it once slowly…(laughs)

Jack Barsky: Albrecht Dittrich.

How Albrecht Dittrich became Jack Barsky is one of the untold stories of the Cold War, an era when the real battles were often fought between the CIA and the KGB. Barsky was a rarity, a Soviet spy who posed as an American and became enmeshed in American society. For the 10 years he was operational for the KGB, no one in this country knew his real story, not even his family.

Steve Kroft: Did you think you were going to get away with this?

Jack Barsky: Yeah, otherwise I wouldn’t have done it (laughs).

Young Jack Barsky
What Barsky did can be traced back to East Germany, back to the days when he was Albrecht Dittrich. A national scholar at a renowned university in Jena, Dittrich was on the fast track to becoming a chemistry professor, his dream job.
Jack Barsky: Didn’t work out that way, because I was recruited by the KGB to do something a little more adventurous.

Steve Kroft: Spy?

Jack Barsky: We called it something different. We used a euphemism. I was going to be a “scout for peace.”

Steve Kroft: A KGB “scout for peace”?

Jack Barsky: That is correct. The communist spies were the good guys. And the capitalist spies were the evil ones. So we didn’t use the word spy.

He says his spying career began with a knock on his dorm room door one Saturday afternoon in 1970. A man introduced himself, claiming to be from a prominent optics company.

Jack Barsky: He wanted to talk with me about my career, which was highly unusual. I immediately, there was a flash in my head that said, “That’s Stasi.”

Steve Kroft: East German secret police?

Jack Barsky: East German secret police, yeah.

It was a Stasi agent. He invited Dittrich to this restaurant in Jena where a Russian KGB agent showed up and took over the conversation. The KGB liked Dittrich’s potential because he was smart, his father was a member of the Communist party and he didn’t have any relatives in the West. Dittrich liked the attention and the notion he might get to help the Soviets.

Steve Kroft: And what did you think of America?

Jack Barsky: It was the enemy. And, the reason that the Americans did so well was because they exploited all the third-world countries. That’s what we were taught, and that’s what we believed. We didn’t know any better. I grew up in an area where you could not receive West German television. It was called the “Valley of the Clueless.”

For the next couple of years, the KGB put Dittrich through elaborate tests and then in 1973 he was summoned to East Berlin, to this former Soviet military compound. The KGB, he says, wanted him to go undercover.

Jack Barsky: At that point, I had passed all the tests, so they wanted, they made me an offer.

Steve Kroft: But you had been thinking about it all along, hadn’t you?

Jack Barsky: That’s true. With one counterweight in that you didn’t really know what was going to come. Is– how do you test drive becoming another person?

It was a difficult decision, but he agreed to join the KGB and eventually found himself in Moscow, undergoing intensive training.

Jack Barsky: A very large part of the training was operational work. Determination as to whether you’re being under surveillance. Morse code, short wave radio reception. I also learned how to do microdots. A microdot is, you know, you take a picture and make it so small with the use of microscope that you can put it under a postage stamp.

The Soviets were looking to send someone to the U.S. who could pose as an American. Dittrich showed a command of English and no trace of an East German accent that might give him away. He learned a hundred new English words every day.

Jack Barsky: It took me forever. I did probably a full year of phonetics training. The difference between “hot” and “hut.” Right? That, that’s very difficult and, and most Germans don’t get that one.

Steve Kroft: Did you want to go to the United States?

Jack Barsky: Oh yeah. Sure. There was New York, there was San Francisco, you know, we heard about these places.

Steve Kroft: Your horizons were expanding…

Jack Barsky: Oh, absolutely. Now I’m really in the big league, right?

Dittrich needed an American identity. And one day a diplomat out of the Soviet embassy in Washington came across this tombstone just outside of D.C. with the name of a 10-year-old boy who had died in 1955. The name was Jack Philip Barsky.

Jack Barsky: And they said, “Guess what? We have a birth certificate. We’re going to the U.S.”

Steve Kroft: And that was the Jack Barsky birth certificate.

Jack Barsky: The Jack Barsky birth certificate that somebody had obtained and I was given. I didn’t have to get this myself.

Steve Kroft: Did you feel strange walking around with this identity of a child?

Jack Barsky: No. No. When you do this kind of work, some things you don’t think about. Because if you explore, you may find something you don’t like.

The newly minted Jack Barsky landed in New York City in the fall of 1978, with a phony back story called a legend and a fake Canadian passport that he quickly discarded. The KGB’s plan for him was fairly straightforward. They wanted the 29-year-old East German to get a real U.S. passport with his new name, then become a businessman, then insert himself into the upper echelons of American society and then to get close to National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski so that he could spy on him.

Jack Barsky: That was the plan. It failed.

Steve Kroft: Why?

Jack Barsky: Because I was not given very good instructions with regard to how to apply for a passport.

When he went to apply for a passport at Rockefeller Center, Barsky was thrown off by the list of questions.

Jack Barsky: Specific details about my past, for which I had no proof. So I walked out of it.

Steve Kroft: Did the KGB have a pretty good grasp on the United States and how things worked there?

Jack Barsky: No.

Steve Kroft: No?

Jack Barsky: Absolutely not. They made a number of mistakes in terms of giving me advice, what to do, what not to do. They just didn’t know.

Left to fend for himself in a country the KGB didn’t understand, he got himself a cheap apartment and tried to make do with a birth certificate and $6,000 dollars in cash the Soviets had given him. His spying career at that point more resembled the bumbling Boris Badenov than James Bond…

Steve Kroft: So you were working as a bike messenger?

Jack Barsky: Right.

Steve Kroft: That doesn’t sound like a promising position for a spy.

Jack Barsky: No. But there were a lot of things that I didn’t know…

Steve Kroft: So how close did you ever get to Brzezinski?

Jack Barsky: Not very.

To get a Social Security card, which he would need if he wanted a real job, Barsky knew he would have to do some acting.

Jack Barsky: It was unusual for a 30-plus-year-old person to, to say, “You know, I don’t have a Social Security card. Give me one.” So in order to make my story stick I made my face dirty. So I looked like somebody who just came off a farm. It worked! The lady asked me, she said, “So how come you don’t, you don’t have a card?” And when the answer was, “I didn’t need one.” “Why?” “Well, I worked on a farm.” And that was the end of the interview.

The Social Security card enabled him to enroll at Baruch College in Manhattan, where he majored in computer systems. He was class valedictorian but you won’t find a picture of him in the school yearbook. In 1984, he was hired as a programmer by Metropolitan Life Insurance where he had access to the personal information of millions of Americans.

Steve Kroft: You were writing computer code?

Jack Barsky: Right. Yes. Lots of it. And I was really good at it.

What he didn’t write, he stole, on behalf of the KGB.

Steve Kroft: What was the most valuable piece of information you gave them?

Jack Barsky: I would say that was the computer code because it was a very prominent piece of industrial software still in use today.

Steve Kroft: This was IBM code?

Jack Barsky: No comment.

Steve Kroft: You don’t want to say?

Jack Barsky: No. It was good stuff. Let’s put it this way, yeah.

Steve Kroft: It was helpful to the Soviet Union…

Jack Barsky: It would’ve been helpful to the Soviet Union and their running organizations and, and factories and so forth.

Steve Kroft: How often did you communicate with the Russians?

Jack Barsky: I would get a radiogram once a week.

Steve Kroft: A radiogram, meaning?

Jack Barsky: A radiogram means a transmission that was on a certain frequency at a certain time.

Every Thursday night at 9:15 Barsky would tune into his shortwave radio at his apartment in Queens and listen for a transmission he believed came from Cuba.

Jack Barsky: All the messages were encrypted that they became digits. And the digits would be sent over as, in groups of five. And sometimes that took a good hour to just write it all down, and then another three hours to decipher.

During the 10 years he worked for the KGB, Barsky had a ready-made cover story.

Steve Kroft: When somebody’d ask you, you know, “Where you from Jack?,” what’d you say?

Jack Barsky: I’m originally from New Jersey. I was born in Orange. That’s it. American. Nobody ever questioned that. People would question my, “You have an accent.” But my comeback was, “Yeah, my mother was German and we spoke a lot of German at home.”

Steve Kroft: You had to tell a lot of lies.

Jack Barsky: Absolutely. I was living a lie.

Steve Kroft: Were you a good liar?

Jack Barsky: The best.

You had to be a good liar to juggle the multiple lives he was leading. Every two years while he was undercover for the KGB, Barsky would return to East Germany and Moscow for debriefings. During one of his visits to East Berlin he married his old girlfriend Gerlinde and they had a son.

Steve Kroft: Did that complicate matters?

Jack Barsky: Initially it wasn’t complicated at all, it got complicated later.

Steve Kroft: Because?

Jack Barsky: Because I got married in the United States to somebody else.

Steve Kroft: Did she know about your other wife in Germany?

Jack Barsky: No.

Steve Kroft: Did your wife in Germany know about the…

Jack Barsky: Not at all.

Steve Kroft: So you had two wives?

Jack Barsky: I did. I’m, I was officially a bigamist. That’s, that’s the one thing I am so totally not proud of.

Steve Kroft: Being a spy was all right. Being a bigamist…

Jack Barsky: In hindsight, you know, I was a spy for the wrong people. But I, this one hurt because I had promised my German wife, that you know, we would be together forever. And I broke that promise. And the one way I can explain it to myself is I had separated the German, the Dittrich from the Barsky to the point where the two just didn’t know about each other.

Not only did he have two different identities, and two wives, he had a son named Matthias in Germany and a daughter named Chelsea in America. And by November 1988, a radiogram from the KGB would force him to make an excruciating choice.

Jack Barsky: I received a radiogram that essentially said, “You need to come home. Your cover may soon be broken and you’re in danger of being arrested by the American authorities.”

Barsky was given urgent instructions from the KGB to locate an oil can that had been dropped next to a fallen tree just off this path on New York’s Staten Island. A fake passport and cash that he needed to escape the United States and return to East Germany would be concealed inside the can.

Jack Barsky: I was supposed to pick up the container and go on, leave. Not even go back home to the apartment, just disappear. The container wasn’t there. I don’t know what I would have done if I had found it, but I know what I did when I didn’t find it. I did not tell them, “repeat the operation.” I made the decision to stay.

Steve Kroft: Why?

Jack Barsky: Because of Chelsea.

Steve Kroft: Your daughter.

Jack Barsky: Yes. If Chelsea’s not in the mix, that’s a no brainer, I’m outta here.

Barsky had chosen Chelsea over Matthias.

Jack Barsky: I had bonded with her. It was a tough one because on the one hand I had a wife and child in Germany but if I don’t take care of Chelsea, she grows up in poverty.

Steve Kroft: This may be a little harsh but it sounds like the first time in your life that you thought about somebody besides yourself.

Jack Barsky: You’re absolutely right. I was quite an egomaniac. I was.

Jack Barsky was still left with the not insignificant matter of telling the KGB that he was staying in America. In a moment, we’ll tell you how he duped the KGB and how the FBI changed his life.

At the end of 1988, Jack Barsky’s 10-year run as a clandestine KGB agent in the United States was about to come to an end. He had ignored Soviet warnings that his cover had been blown and decided to remain in America and not return to his native East Germany. He was taking a chance that no one in America would ever find out who he really was. And he was taking a bigger chance that the KGB wouldn’t retaliate for disobeying an order. The urgency with which the Soviets seemed to view the situation became clear one morning in Queens.

Jack Barsky says he was on his way to work in December 1988, standing and waiting for an “A” train on this subway platform when a stranger paid him a visit.

Jack Barsky: There’s this character in, in a black coat and he sidles up to me and he whispers in my ear, he says, “You gotta come home or else you’re dead.” And then he walked out.

Steve Kroft: Russian accent?

Jack Barsky: Yes.

Steve Kroft: That’s an incentive.

Jack Barsky: It’s an incentive to go.

Steve Kroft: I mean spies get killed all the time.

Jack Barsky: They do. But not me. The entire time I always had this childlike belief that everything would be all right.

“There’s this character in, in a black coat and he sidles up to me and he whispers in my ear, he says, ‘You gotta come home or else you’re dead.’ And then he walked out.”
Steve Kroft: So what are you going to tell the Russians?

Jack Barsky: Well, I (sighs) I sent them, this “Dear John” letter, the goodbye letter in which I stated that I had contracted AIDS and that the only way for me to get a treatment would be in the United States.

Steve Kroft: You just wrote them a letter and said, ‘I can’t come back. I’ve got AIDS”?

Jack Barsky: There’s three things I tell people that the Russians were afraid of. AIDS, Jewish people and Ronald Reagan. And they were deathly…

Steve Kroft: In that order?

Jack Barsky: I think Ronald Reagan took the top spot. They thought he would push the button.

The AIDS letter apparently worked because in East Berlin the Soviets told his German wife Gerlinde he wasn’t coming back.

Jack Barsky: They went to Gerlinde and told her that I had died of AIDS. So I think they just wrote me off completely.

Steve Kroft: You were officially dead in East Germany?

Jack Barsky: Right. After five years she was able to declare me dead.

Once the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union fell apart, Barsky was a man without a country. No one would want him back. He felt his secret was safe in America. He became a family guy, with a wife, two kids, Chelsea and Jessie, and a job. He burrowed himself into suburbia, keeping a low profile.

Jack Barsky: I was settling down, I was living in the, in rural Pennsylvania at the time, in a nice house, with two children. I was, like, typical middle class existence.

And his life would have stayed quiet if a KGB archivist named Vasili Mitrokhin hadn’t defected to the West in 1992 with a trove of notes on the Soviets’ spying operations around the world. Buried deep in his papers was the last name of a secret agent the KGB had deployed somewhere in America: Barsky.

Joe Reilly: We were concerned that he might be running an agent operating in the federal government somewhere. Who knows? In the FBI, the CIA, the State Department. We had no idea.

Joe Reilly was an FBI agent when the bureau got the Mitrokhin tip, and the Barsky case quickly became serious enough that FBI director Louis Freeh got personally involved. The FBI didn’t know who or where he was, but the best lead seemed to be a Jack Barsky who was working as an I.T. specialist in New Jersey, with a suburban home across the border in Mount Bethel, Pennsylvania.

Steve Kroft: Aside from his name was there anything else that made you suspicious and make you think that this was the guy you were looking for?

Joe Reilly: Yes. One thing was the fact that he had applied for a Social Security number late in life. Especially someone like him who was educated and intelligent.

The FBI began following Barsky, and when this surveillance photo caught him talking to a native of Cuba, the bureau grew increasingly concerned.

Joe Barsky: There were some indications that I could possibly be the head of a international spy ring, because I had a friend who was originally from Cuba. And it so happened that this friend owned an apartment that was rented to a Soviet diplomat. So that one and raised all kinds of flags and they investigated me very, very, very carefully.

FBI agent Joe Reilly went so far as to set up an observation post on a hillside behind Barsky’s house. This is a picture he took of his view.

Joe Reilly: I got a telescope and binoculars, as if I was a birdwatcher. But I was looking at his backyard and at him. Over time, I learned a great deal about him.

Steve Kroft: Like what?

Joe Reilly: …just watching him. Well, I became convinced that he loved his children. And that was important because I wanted to know if he would flee. There was less chance of that if, if he was devoted to his children. And he was.

But that wasn’t enough for the FBI. The bureau bought the house next door to get a closer look at the Barskys.

Steve Kroft: Did you get a good deal?

Joe Reilly: I think we paid what he was asking. And we had agents living there so that we could be sure who was coming and going from his house without being too obvious in our surveillance.

Steve Kroft: You had no idea the FBI was living next door to you?

Jack Barsky: No.

Steve Kroft: Never saw…

Jack Barsky: No.

Steve Kroft: …Joe Reilly up on the hill with the binoculars?

Jack Barsky: Absolutely not.

When the FBI finally got authorization from the Justice Department to bug Barsky’s home, the case broke wide open.

Joe Reilly: Within, I’d say, the first two weeks that we had microphones in his house, he had an argument with his wife in the kitchen. And during the course of that dispute, he readily admitted that he was an agent, operating from the Soviet Union.

It was all the FBI needed to move in on Barsky. They set a trap for him at a toll bridge across the Delaware River as he drove home from work late one Friday afternoon in May of 1997.

Jack Barsky: I’m being waved to the side by a state trooper. And he said, “We’re doing a routine traffic check. Would you please get out of the car?” I get out of the car and somebody steps up from, from behind and shows me a badge. And he said, “FBI. We would like to talk to you.”

Joe Reilly: His face just dropped. And we told him that he had to go with us.

Jack Barsky: The first words out of my mouth were, “Am I under arrest?” And the answer was, “No.” Now that took a big weight off of me, so I figured there was a chance to get out of this in one piece. And the next question I asked, “So what took you so long?”

The FBI had rented an entire wing of a motel off Interstate 80 in Pennsylvania for Barsky’s interrogation.

Joe Reilly: But on the way to the motel, I remember turning to him. And I, I told him that this didn’t have to be the worst day of his life. And he immediately realized that he had an out.

Jack Barsky: I said to them, “Listen, I know I have only one shot out of this and that means I need to come clean and be 100 percent honest and tell you everything I know.”

The FBI questioned Barsky throughout the weekend and gave him a polygraph test that he passed. Convinced that his spying days were over, and that his friendship with the Cuban was just that, the FBI decided to keep the whole thing quiet and allowed Barsky to go back to work on Monday morning.

Steve Kroft: Was he charged with something?

Joe Reilly: No.

Steve Kroft: Even though he confessed to being a Soviet spy?

Joe Reilly: Yes.

Steve Kroft: That seems odd.

Joe Reilly: Well, we wanted him to cooperate with us. We didn’t want to put him in jail. He was no use to us there.

Barsky continued to meet not only with the FBI but with the National Security Agency to offer his first-hand insights into the KGB and the Russians.

Jack Barsky: I was able to provide them with a lot of valuable information how the KGB operated.

The only people who were aware of his secret were the FBI and Penelope, his wife in America, who subsequently filed for divorce. His daughter Chelsea, then a teenager, knew only that he wanted to tell her something when she turned 18. That day finally arrived on a four-hour drive to St. Francis University.

Chelsea: He started chuckling to himself and he said, “Well, I’m a, I was a spy. I was a KGB spy.” I was like “What? Really?”

Jack also revealed to Chelsea why he had decided to stay in America.

Chelsea: He said that, you know, he fell in love with me and my, my curls when I was a little baby. And then I cried.

Steve Kroft: Did he tell you everything?

Chelsea: No, he didn’t. He didn’t tell me 100 percent the whole truth. He left some things out at that point.

Jack Barsky: I told her everything that you can tell in four hours that is age appropriate. She was still a teenager. I may not have told her that I was married in Germany.

He waited another two years before he matter-of-factly dropped another bombshell about his past.

Chelsea: He just looked straight ahead at the TV. And he said, “Did I tell you you have a brother?” And I turned my head. I’m like, “What? Are you serious?”

The half brother was Matthias, the boy Jack had left behind in Germany. Chelsea was determined to find him. Jack didn’t like the idea.

Jack Barsky: I did not feel comfortable getting in touch with him. I did not feel comfortable with my acknowledging my German past.

After a year of trying to track him down online, Chelsea finally got a reply from Matthias…

Chelsea: The subject line said, “Dear little sister.” And when I saw, “Dear little sister,” I just started weeping, because that meant everything to me. That meant that he accepted me.

Matthias: And this is me…

A month later, Matthias was in Pennsylvania visiting Chelsea and her brother Jessie. They hit it off. Matthias wasn’t interested in seeing his father, then changed his mind.

Barsky’s children, from left: Jessie, Matthias and Chelsea
Steve Kroft: Was it awkward?
Jack Barsky: I just remember he stared at me for a couple of minutes. He just stared at me.

Steve Kroft: I mean he had reason to be angry with you.

Jack Barsky: When I told him the dilemma that I was faced with, he actually said, “I understand.”

Steve Kroft: And what’s your relationship like with Matthias now?

Jack Barsky: He feels like he’s my son.

Gerlinde, the wife in Germany who thought he was dead, wants nothing to do with Jack today – or with 60 Minutes.

He has remarried and has a four-year-old daughter. They live in upstate New York where Jack has worked as director of software development for a company that manages New York’s high voltage power grid, a critical piece of U.S. infrastructure. When he told his employer recently that he had once been a KGB spy, he was placed on a paid leave of absence. Before becoming an American citizen last year, he had been given a clean bill of health by the FBI and U.S. intelligence agencies. But in the world of espionage it’s often difficult to tell what’s true and what’s legend.

Steve Kroft: Are you telling the truth right now?

Jack Barsky: I am, absolutely. The truth as far as I know it. Yes.

Steve Kroft: As far as you know it?

Jack Barsky: Well, you know, sometimes memory fails you. But I am, I am absolutely not holding back anything.

Steve Kroft: Why tell the story now?

Jack Barsky: I want to meet my maker clean. I need to get clean with the past. I need to digest this fully.

The FBI agent who apprehended him, Joe Reilly, still believes in Barsky. And in yet another twist to this story, the two are good friends and golfing buddies.

Joe Reilly: He’s a very honest person. And if you want to find out how honest someone is, play golf with them.

Steve Kroft: But you’re a former FBI guy and he’s a former spy. What’s the bond?

Joe Reilly: It’s personal. He credits me for keeping him out of prison.

After nearly 30 years, Jack Barsky went back to visit a unified Germany, first in October, then again last month.

[Jack Barsky: So that was essentially the very beginning of my career…]

He showed his kids where this improbable tale began and some other key settings in his odyssey. And he caught up with old classmates who knew him as Albrecht Dittrich.

Barsky in Germany with his American children CBS NEWS
Steve Kroft: When you’re here in Germany…
Jack Barsky: Yeah…

Steve Kroft: …are you Albrecht or are you Jack?

Jack Barsky: No, I’m Jack. I am 100 percent Jack. You know, the, I let the Albrecht out and sometimes he interferes, but they, they get along very well now (laughs)…

The Berlin wall, which once divided east and west, is now gone except for a section that has been turned into an art display. Checkpoint Charlie, once the epicenter of the Cold War, is now a tourist attraction, full of kitsch. Statues of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels still stand in the eastern part of Berlin, relics of another era as is the man who straddled two worlds and got away with it.

2015 May 10 CORRESPONDENT Steve Kroft

Find this story at 10 May 2015

© 2015 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Huurlingen voor Oekraïne

De onafhankelijke republiek Oekraïne heeft, na een revolutie die zijn pro-Russische president verjoeg, nu in het oosten van zijn grondgebied een conflict met burgers van Russische afkomst waarbij aan beide zijden huursoldaten worden ingezet.

Begin dit jaar hield de Russische bevolking van het schiereiland Krim een referendum dat door de regering van Oekraïne niet werd erkend, maar wel door de regering van Rusland. Het referendum resulteerde in de onafhankelijkheid en daarna de aansluiting van het gebied bij Rusland. Dit zeer tegen de wens van de autochtone bewoners van het schiereiland, de Krim-Tataren en de regering in Kiev.

Korte tijd later kwamen inwoners van steden in het oosten van het land in opstand tegen het regime in Kiev. Men wilde zich afscheiden om zich vervolgens aan te kunnen sluiten bij Rusland. Op het Maidanplein in Kiev vond op 20 februari 2014 een slachting onder pro-Westerse burgers plaats. Wie daarvoor verantwoordelijk was, maakt deel uit van de propagandaoorlog die gaande is in Oekraïne.

In de stad Odessa kwam het tot bloedvergieten tussen soldaten van onbekende herkomst en pro-Russische burgers waarbij veel slachtoffers vielen. Wat de situatie nog meer verward, is een oproep van Oekraïense Krim-Tataren die meevechten in de Syrische opstand. Eén van hun leiders riep op tot een Jihad, een heilige oorlog, tegen de Russen in de Oekraïne. Pro-Russische Tartaren aan de andere kant lijken het te hebben gemunt op de Tartaarse minderheid op het schiereiland.

Mengt Rusland zich in het conflict?

In het Westen wordt geroepen dat Rusland de rebellen zou steunen. Die steun was op de Krim duidelijk, daar waren echter ook Russische troepen gelegerd. In het Oosten van Oekraïne is de situatie veel onduidelijker. Wat wel duidelijk is geworden, is dat er Russen meevechten met de Pro-Russische separatisten. Sommige hebben zich ook opgeworpen als commandant of bestuurder van de onafhankelijke Donetsk People’s Republic en de Luhansk People’s Republic. Dat onder deze vrijwilligers Russische militairen meevechten, is waarschijnlijk. Maar dat zegt nog niets over een officiële Russische ondersteuning van de opstand in het Oosten van Rusland.

Ditzelfde geldt voor de inzet van militair materieel van de Russen. Russische militairen die sympathiseren met de separatisten zullen materieel hebben meegenomen zodra ze daartoe in staat zijn geweest. De Russische grensbewakers zullen daarbij een oogje hebben dichtgeknepen, maar van structurele en grootschalige Russische ondersteuning lijkt vooralsnog geen sprake. De separatisten hebben ook nog een enkele militaire bases en politiebureaus overvallen waarbij wapens zijn buitgemaakt, het merendeel van Russische makelij.

Van onomstotelijk bewijs voor directe Russische ondersteuning van de separatisten in Oost-Oekraïne lijkt echter geen sprake. Wel zijn er veel huurlingen in het gebied actief. Over de aanwezigheid van Tsjetsjeense strijders van het ‘leger’ van de leider van Tsjetsjenië, Ramzan Kadyrov, is door verschillende bronnen bericht. Zij zouden deel uitmaken van het Vostok Bataljon. Er zouden ook Ossetiërs, Oezbeken, Servische Chetniks en vrijwilligers van andere nationaliteiten meevechten met de Pro-Russen. Ook Oekraïners, zowel burgers als militairen, maken deel uit van de separatisten.

Aan de kant van de regeringsgetrouwe Oekraïense troepen ligt de zaak zo mogelijk nog iets gecompliceerder. De Russen hebben meermaals het Westen ervan beschuldigd zich in het conflict te hebben gemengd. Begin juni werden deze beschuldigingen concreter en riep de Russische overheid de VS op haar huurlingen van private bedrijven terug te trekken. In maart doken de eerste berichten over Amerikaanse huurlingen aan Oekraïense zijde op. De pro-Russische krant Russia Today sprak van 300 tot 400 huurlingen, afkomstig van het particuliere bedrijf Academi (voorheen Xe Services en Blackwater). De huurlingen zouden zijn ingezet door de Oekraïense regering om demonstranten in het zuidoosten van het land te bestrijden.


Het private Academi, dat taken van het Amerikaanse leger uitvoert, ontkende de beschuldigingen en beschuldigde op haar beurt een ‘onverantwoordelijke blogger’ en een ‘internetjournalist’ ervan de geruchten te hebben verspreid. Het bedrijf stelde op 17 maart dit jaar dat haar medewerkers niet actief zijn in Oekraïne. Waarom het bedrijf in haar persbericht het woord ‘onverantwoordelijk’ gebruikt, is onduidelijk. Het persbericht, inmiddels van hun website verwijderd, belicht vooral de reputatie van Academi en haar geschiedenis met namen als Blackwater, Xe Services en Erik Prince.

Nadat de storm was geluwd, vroeg Rusland begin april nog opheldering over de aanwezigheid van Amerikaanse huurlingen, maar ook daarop kwam geen antwoord. De meeste media besteedden er geen aandacht aan. Pas toen de Duitse krant Bild am Sonntag begin mei berichtte dat 300 of 400 huurlingen van het bedrijf Academi meevochten tegen de separatisten, explodeerde de Duitse media. Van Der Spiegel tot de Aachener Nachrichten namen het bericht over. Dit had te maken met de claim van Bild dat de Duitse Bondskanselier Angela Merkel door de Bundes Nachrichten Dienst (BND), de Duitse inlichtingendienst, op de hoogte was gesteld van het feit dat 400 Amerikaanse huursoldaten meevochten. Volgens Bild am Sonntag was die informatie aan de BND ter beschikking gesteld door de Amerikaanse inlichtingendienst NSA.

Opnieuw reageerde Academi met de verwijzing naar onverantwoordelijke media en dat het bedrijf niet aanwezig zou zijn in Oekraïne. Vervolgens ging het persbericht vooral over de namen Academi en Blackwater, die van Erik Prince en Xe Services komen niet langer voor. Ditmaal voelde het Witte Huis zich geroepen de aanwezigheid van de Amerikaanse huurlingen te ontkennen, waarbij de woordvoerder van de US National Security Council naar de website van Academi verwees. De Duitse krant Südwest Presse haalde op 22 mei een leverancier en bekende van Blackwater-baas Eric Prince aan die anoniem wenste te blijven. Volgens deze bron zouden er wel degelijk Amerikaanse huurlingen betrokken zijn bij talrijke vuurgevechten met pro-Russische separatisten.

De beschuldigingen ten aanzien van de aanwezigheid van Amerikaanse huurlingen, maar ook helikopters van het Amerikaanse leger, volgen elkander in rap tempo op. De Russen herhaalden hun klacht in juni en augustus van dit jaar. Naast Academi, zouden ook Greystone Limited, onderdeel van Academi, en Cubic Applications International, actief zijn in Oekraïne. Zowel de Russische legercommandant Valeri Guerassimov als de onderminister van Buitenlandse Zaken Ryabkov, spreken van tientallen Amerikaanse huurlingen die mee zouden vechten met het Oekraïense leger, en westerse beveiligingsbedrijven die paramilitaire taken uitvoeren in Oekraïne.


In het weekend van 12 en 13 april is de CIA-directeur John Brennan op een missie in Kiev geweest. Brennan kwam op het moment dat verschillende Oekraïense soldaten hun wapens overdroegen aan de pro-Russische rebellen. Het verhaal deed de ronde dat de Russen een geheime operatie uitvoerden in het gebied en het Oekraïense leger af bluften. Duidelijk was wel dat Kiev aan de verliezende hand was. De precieze strekking van de conversaties van de CIA-baas met de Oekraïners is niet duidelijk, maar Forbes magazine duidde de Amerikaanse hulp als ‘non-lethal help’. Gezien de intensieve relatie tussen Amerika en Oekraïne zal de CIA bepaalde informatie met het Oekraïense leger delen, zeker over de positie van Russische eenheden, maar ook over de separatisten.

De slechte moraal van het Oekraïense leger en de bluf van de Russen zullen zeker hebben geleid tot een groot aantal verliezen. Verschillende militaire helikopters en vliegtuigen zijn door de rebellen uit de lucht geschoten in mei en juni van dit jaar. Op 19 mei beweerde de separatistische burgemeester van de Oost-Oekraïense stad Slavyansk dat de rebellen van de opstandige steden in het oosten 650 Oekraïense militairen zouden hebben gedood, verwond of gevangen hebben genomen. Onder hen 70 buitenlanders, zoals 13 CIA-operators en 14 medewerkers van Greystone, terwijl diverse medewerkers van de CIA en private bedrijven gewond zouden zijn geraakt.

Deze beweringen en cijfers van verliezen aan de Oekraïense, maar ook aan de Pro-Russische zijde, zijn moeilijk te verifiëren. Wel is duidelijk dat het Oekraïense leger in eerste instantie op verschillende plaatsen in het oosten van het land zware verliezen heeft geleden. Na de aanslag op vlucht MH17 werden de Pro-Russische rebellen teruggedrongen en rukte het Oekraïense leger op. Of er buitenlanders zijn omgekomen aan beide zijden van het slagveld is nog onduidelijker.

Brennan’s bezoek aan Kiev en het langzaam terugkerende vertrouwen bij het Oekraïense leger, duiden erop dat er ‘adviseurs’ aan het werk zijn. Het is dan ook niet gek dat de Russische wapenexpert Andrey Klintsevitsj in de Glavnoye Weekly News van 18 juni stelt dat er Amerikaanse specialisten aanwezig zijn in het conflictgebied om het Oekraïense leger te coördineren. Natuurlijk kan alles worden gezien in het licht van de Russische propaganda, maar dit geldt evenzeer voor de Amerikaanse ontkenningen over de aanwezigheid van Amerikaanse huurlingen.

Ook de directeur van het Russische Instituut voor Strategische Studies, Leonid Resketnikov, beweert dat er Westerse troepen actief zijn. Hij stelt dat er Amerikaanse en Poolse sluipschutters worden ingezet in Donetsk. Ook Igor Strelkov (Igor Girkin), de minister van Defensie van de Donetsk People’s Republic, vertelde op een persbijeenkomst in juli dat een pro-Kiev checkpoint tussen Ilovaisk en Amvrosiyevka wordt bemand door Poolse huurlingen. Volgens hem droegen de soldaten kleding met emblemen van het Poolse leger.

De Poolse regering ontkent de beschuldigingen, maar de voormalige baas van de Tsjechische militaire inlichtingendienst stelde in juni dat hij zich kon voorstellen dat er huurlingen aan het strijden zijn in Oekraïne. Hoewel hij geen informatie had over Tsjechische huurlingen in het land, vertelde hij over Tsjechen in Irak die waren gesneuveld en dat het niet de eerste keer zou zijn dat er huurlingen meevechten in een conflict binnen Europa of elders in de wereld.

Het bewijs voor de aanwezigheid van Amerikaanse, Poolse of Tsjechische huurlingen is vooralsnog bepaald niet overtuigend. Er is een vage film op Youtube te zien van een gevangen genomen man die roept dat hij ‘US-citizen’ is. Ook andere nationaliteiten zouden meevechten.

Volgens de Israëlische krant The Times of Israel vochten op het moment dat de regering in Kiev omvergeworpen werd door de huidige machthebbers – verschillende voormalige Israëlische militairen van Oekraïense afkomst die naar hun thuisland waren teruggekeerd – mee tegen het oude regime van Janoekovitsj. Een van hen zou Delta heten en het commando hebben over een eenheid van veertig mannen en vrouwen. Delta zou al in februari rond het protest op het Maidanplein actief zijn geweest.

De foto van Delta maakt echter duidelijk hoe moeilijk de bewijslast is voor de aanwezigheid van huurlingen aan beide zijden van het slagveld. De meeste militairen dragen een bivakmuts en militaire uniformen lijken gemakkelijk uitwisselbaar. Tenzij mensen zelf aangeven dat zij meedoen aan de strijd in Oekraïne of huurlingen organiseren voor het slagveld, blijft het speculeren.


In deze gepolariseerde oorlog waarbij de feiten vaak moeilijk te checken zijn en bronnen al evenmin, vinden regelmatig gebeurtenissen plaats die slechts binnen een van de ‘kampen’ wordt gerapporteerd. Zoals het bericht van Anonymous Ukraine, een website die in maart beweerde enkele e-mails te hebben onderschept van een Amerikaanse militair attaché in Kiev en een Oekraïense commandant die met elkaar communiceren. Daaruit blijkt dat de VS met hulp van Special Forces aanvallen zouden willen uitvoeren onder valse vlag op doelen in Oekraïne met de bedoeling de Russen hiervan de schuld te geven.

De gehackte mails zijn niet verder onderzocht, maar Anonymous Ukraine zegt zich in te willen zetten om de wereld te tonen dat volgens hen de fascisten de macht hebben overgenomen in Oekraïne. De groep hackte daartoe eind februari allerlei Poolse websites en plaatste een ‘nazi-alert’ op de voorpagina’s. Hiermee doelt Anonymous Ukraine op extreem-rechtse partijen in het bestuur van het land. Svoboda en de SNA zijn na de ‘Maidan revolutie’ toegetreden tot de regering en Svoboda heeft de controle over ongeveer een kwart van de ministeries volgens Foreign Policy. Svoboda leverde de minister van Defensie, de vice-premier, de openbare aanklager en de vice-voorzitter van de nieuwe regering.

De ‘revolutionaire’ regering in Kiev wordt door zijn tegenstanders, vooral de Russen, daarom ‘Bandera Nazi’s’ genoemd. Stepan Bandera was een Oekraïense nationalist die aan het einde van de Tweede Wereldoorlog vocht tegen Polen, de nazi’s en het Rode Leger. Bandera bleef tot in de jaren ’50 met zijn nationalistische rebellenbeweging militair actief. Vervolgens werd hij door een KGB-agent in München vermoord. Bandera werd in het westen van Oekraïne gezien als een held, terwijl het in het door Russen gedomineerde oosten van het land juist andersom was.

Op 5 juli publiceerde de internetsite een artikel genaamd The war on truth waarin wordt beweerd dat de protesten in het begin van dit jaar tegen president Janoekovitsj dubieus waren. Tijdens de zogeheten ‘Euromaidan-protesten’ werd een bloedbad aangericht waarbij zowel politiemensen als demonstranten zijn gedood. Uit nader onderzoek van de Oekraïense autoriteiten zou volgens de auteur zijn gebleken dat de slachtoffers aan beide zijden zijn gevallen door kogels afkomstig uit dezelfde vuurwapens.

Ook het Duitse tv-programma Monitor van 10 april plaatste vraagtekens bij de ‘officiële’ versie van de gebeurtenissen op 20 februari 2014. Was het wel zo zeker dat de speciale eenheid Berkut verantwoordelijk is geweest voor het bloedbad en de vlucht van voormalig president Janoekovitsj? Het programma schetst een beeld van een onderzoek naar een bloedbad waarvan de conclusie bij voorbaat al vaststaat. Het leidt tot onduidelijkheid bij de slachtoffers en nabestaanden, terwijl een officier van justitie van de extreem-rechtse Svoboda duidelijk niet geïnteresseerd is in waarheidsvinding.

‘Maidan’ en de gevlucht Janoekovitsj vormen een keerpunt in de Oekraïense ‘revolutie’. De interim-regering die vervolgens werd gevormd, werd door zowel de VS als de EU snel erkend. De ‘ware’ toedracht op het Maidanplein en de opkomst van Svoboda is voor geen enkele Westers regime reden geweest om vragen te stellen over de legitimiteit van het huidige gezag in Oekraïne.

Geld maakt macht

Na ‘Maidan’ volgden de ontwikkelingen zich snel op. Eerst was er de strijd om de Krim en vervolgens Oost-Oekraïne. Het conflict in Oost-Oekraïne is echter van een ander kaliber dan de onafhankelijkheid van de Krim. Dat heeft niet alleen met de aanwezigheid van de Russische vloot te maken in de Zwarte Zee. Oost-Oekraïne is niet alleen bevolkt met merendeel etnische Russen, het is tevens het welvarende deel van het land met de aanwezigheid van grondstoffen en industrie. Zo zullen er bij het zenden van troepen naar het Zuid-Oosten van het land om de opstand neer te slaan naast nationalistische motieven ook economische motieven ten grondslag hebben gelegen.

De gouverneur van de regio Dnepropretovsk, de oligarch Igor Kolomoisky, is één van de rijkste personen van het land. Hij heeft belangen in het geïndustrialiseerde oosten, waar tevens vele mijnen aanwezig zijn. Kolomoisky werd op 15 mei door de krant Russia Today genoemd als opdrachtgever van de massamoord in Odessa, waarbij tientallen pro-Russische betogers werden aangevallen en vermoord. De Britse krant The Independent gaf begin mei al aan dat Kolomoisky een geldbedrag had ingezet op elke gevangen genomen Russische ‘agent’.

Kolomoisky is ook één van de financiers – sommigen zeggen samen met de VS – van een bijzondere legereenheid die onder bevel staat van het ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken. Op 15 juni noemde de Russische minister van Buitenlandse Zaken Lavrov in The Voice of Russia Kolomoisky hem als financier van dit speciale bataljon. Volgens een artikel dat op 1 juni verscheen op de website van het Canadese Global Research is ook de VS financier van deze eenheid, genaamd het Azov Bataljon. Wie de eenheid financiert, lijkt minder belangrijk dan de samenstelling van de groep.

Azov bataljon

De Fransman Gaston Besson, die eerder vocht als vrijwilliger in Birma, Laos, Suriname, Kroatië en Bosnië, was in juni en juli ter plaatse en fungeerde als contactpersoon voor geïnteresseerde vrijwilligers. Volgens Besson zijn er al Zweden, Italianen, Finnen en Tsjechen in de eenheid opgenomen. Hoewel de Tsjechische regering in een artikel begin juni in de Prague Post ontkent dat zijn onderdanen meevechten, wezen de opstandelingen al eerder op het feit dat er Polen en Tsjechen in het Azov Bataljon streden.

Global Research openbaarde op 28 mei dat Poolse contractors en Oekraïense rechts-extremisten in Polen zijn opgeleid om burgerprotesten neer te slaan. Dat er Italianen en Zweden aanwezig zijn, blijkt uit diverse artikelen van Al-Jazeera over de aanwezigheid van Italiaanse en Zweedse fascisten. Ook werd bekend dat de neo-nazi Francesco Saverio Fontana in dienst gekomen is van de eenheid. Op 22 juli publiceerde Gaston Besson een krantenartikel op zijn Facebook-pagina waaruit blijkt dat een Zweedse neo-nazi in dienst van het Azov Bataljon gevangen genomen was door de separatisten. Het ging hier om Mikael Skillt, die de functie vervulde van sluipschutter.

Het Azov Bataljon rekruteert actief buitenlandse vrijwilligers die moeten gaan dienen naast een substantiële hoeveelheid Oekraïense Russen die curieus genoeg al in de eenheid aanwezig zijn. Naast het Azov Bataljon zijn er nog enige andere bataljons die op soortgelijke manier georganiseerd zijn; de Dniepr en Donbass Bataljons. Op 20 juni verklaarde Lavrov in de Russia and CIS Military Weekly dat Azov een sleutelrol heeft vervuld bij de aanval op de Russische ambassade in Kiev medio juni.

Social Nationalist Assembly

Het Azov Bataljon is georganiseerd door de extreem-rechtse politieke partij Social Nationalist Assembly (SNA) die een wolfsangel gebruikt als embleem. Deze partij maakt deel uit van een coalitie van extreem-rechtse groepen, waar ook kozakken en de politieke straatbende White Hammer deel van uitmaken. Het geheel werd bekend onder de naam Pravyi Sektor (Right Sector). Het Azov Bataljon zelf heeft ook als embleem een omgekeerde wolfsangel, die erg veel lijkt op het embleem van de Waffen-SS divisie Das Reich, met op de achtergrond een ander nazi-teken, het zonnerad.

Svoboda en SNA zijn niet hetzelfde, maar hebben grote overeenkomsten. SNA heeft zich eind 2013 aangesloten bij een groep van extreem-rechtse clubs in Oekraïne onder de naam Right Sector. Dmytro Yarosh van de Right Sector, Deputy Secretary of National Security van het land, stelde dat Right Sector en Svoboda veel vergelijkbare ideologische standpunten innemen. Hij beschuldigde Svoboda er echter wel van racistisch te zijn, maar leden van Right Sector worden ook genoemd bij aanvallen op Russen en joden.

SNA-leider Andriy Biletskyy, die zijn eigen groep binnen Right Sector leidt, is ook de leider van het Azov Bataljon. Biletskyy zat enige maanden geleden nog in de gevangenis in zijn woonplaats Charkov op verdenking van moord. Nu is de 34-jarige oud-historicus en ultranationalist aanvoerder van een elite-eenheid die vuile klusjes moet opknappen voor de regering.

In een interview op 17 juni op de Oekraïense website Ukrayinska Pravda vertelt Biletskyy dat niet magnaat Kolomoisky de eenheid financiert, maar verschillende zakenmensen uit de stad Mariupol. Volgens hem is de eenheid onafhankelijk en worden veel uitgaven als voedsel en onderdak door leden van de eenheid zelf bekostigd. Er zouden zo’n 30 tot 50 procent etnische Russen dienen in zijn bataljon.

Waarom Azov zo’n belangrijke rol kan spelen en ingezet wordt aan het front, komt volgens Bileskyy omdat zijn eenheid bestaat uit vrijwilligers die graag willen vechten. Volgens hem zijn de leden van politie-eenheden en het leger juist in dienst gegaan om een onbezorgd leventje te kunnen leiden. Azov maakt in theorie onderdeel uit van de Nationale Garde, meldde de Eurasia Review van 29 juni.

In dienst van de revolutie

Gaston Besson geeft in een op zijn Facebook-pagina gepubliceerde bericht aan dat een basis van de SNA zal fungeren als contactplaats voor arriverende buitenlandse vrijwilligers. Deze vrijwilligers zullen, net zoals de Oekraïense vrijwilligers in de eenheid, niet worden betaald. Daarna volgt een lijst met gegevens die moeten worden doorgegeven, zoals leeftijd, woonplaats, motivatie en militaire ervaring. Voor instructeurs is er een minimum dienstverband van twee maanden en voor vrijwilligers die actief willen dienen in het bataljon is er een dienstverband van vier tot zes maanden.

Besson: “We zijn socialist, nationalist en radicaal!”, en even verder: “We hebben sterke ideeën voor de toekomst van de Oekraïne en Europa.” Wat deze ideeën zijn, licht hij niet toe. Na weken van strijd tussen separatisten en speciale bataljons van de regering in Kiev, schrijft Besson op zijn Facebook-pagina: ‘Ukraine : De la Revolution a la Guerre […] Du ” Maidan ” au Pravyi Sektor , au S.N.A. et pour finir le Bataillon Azov sur le Front de l Est […] Et demain ? La grande reconquete Europeenne […] Gloire a l ‘Ukraine !’ De grote herovering van Europa!

Op 22 juli vermeldt de Facebook-pagina van Besson een oproep om geld te storten voor Azov met de toevoeging ‘for all other matters’ het mailadres van Besson. Dat Azov daadwerkelijk wordt ingezet en meevecht aan het front mag ook blijken uit een artikel van 7 juli van Agence France Presse. De separatistenleider Denis Pushikin geeft in het artikel aan dat zijn mannen tientallen leden van Azov hebben gedood bij gevechten in de regio Saur-Mogila.


Aan beide zijden van de burgeroorlog vechten huurlingen mee. Zo wordt een proxy-oorlog gevoerd. Rusland is officieel geen partij, maar knijpt een oogje toe bij materieel dat over de grens rolt. Strijders uit het land melden zich vrijwillig aan en gaan vechten voor de pro-Russische separatisten. Rusland stelt zich ambivalent op, maar dat doet ook het Westen.

Aan de andere kant van het slagveld vechten ook huurlingen, maar deze huurlingen zijn anders dan aan pro-Russische zijde niet alleen gemotiveerd door een territoriale oorlog. Het zijn fascisten die deel uitmaken van een huurlingenleger dat ook extreem-rechtse connecties heeft in de politiek. De val van de regering van Oekraïne zal niet veel veranderen aan deze strijdgroepen.

Deze extreem-rechtse groepen zijn gemachtigd door de regering in Kiev om een eigen legertje te organiseren en die zorgen niet alleen in het oosten van het land voor spanningen. Veel joodse inwoners van het land zijn deze extreem-rechtse paramilitaire groepen een angstige voorbode in een land waar joden-vervolgingen vóór en tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog berucht en zeer omvangrijk waren. De aanvragen voor emigratie naar Israël stromen dan ook binnen.

Of deze groepen actief door het Westen worden gesteund is even onduidelijk als de steun van de Russen voor de separatisten, maar Amerika en de EU leggen deze groepen geen strobreed in de weg. Oekraïne is er alles aan gelegen aansluiting te zoeken bij het rijke Westen. De EU en de Verenigde Staten is er echter ook alles aan gelegen om Oekraïne in hun invloedssferen te krijgen. Hierbij zullen zowel geopolitieke als economische motieven een rol spelen. Welke rol het Westen precies heeft gespeeld bij het afzetten van president Janoekovitsj en de steun aan de ultra-nationalisten zal waarschijnlijk nooit duidelijk worden, evenmin wat er op het Maidanplein is gebeurd.

De ultranationalisten zijn nodig om het vuile werk op te knappen in een proxy-oorlog tussen twee grootmachten. Zij spelen een rol tijdens en vlak na een revolutie die met behulp van onduidelijke paramilitairen en private contractors voor de uitbreiding van de NAVO en om de bodemschatten uit de oostelijke Oekraïne toegankelijk maakt voor het Westen.

Deze proxy-oorlog is ook een totale propaganda-oorlog geworden, waarbij waarheidsvinding als eerste wordt geslachtofferd. George Restle van het Duitse tv-programma Monitor postte op 30 juli een kort statement onder de titel ‘Oekraine: Alstublieft zwart – wit!’ Hij constateert dat in het huidige sociale media tijdperk, met de hoeveelheid aan overheidswoordvoerders, het niet langer gaat om waarheidsvinding, maar om een meningsvorming zonder onderzoek, waarbij nuancering niet past. Wie beide zijden van een conflict bekritiseert, hoort nergens meer bij…

Rende van de Kamp

Driven by far-right ideology, Azov Battalion mans Ukraine’s front line

A volunteer military unit is confronting Russia in the east, but future clashes with pro-Western Kiev may lie ahead

URZUF, Ukraine — From his watch post overlooking the sandy beaches of the Azov Sea, Nemets is charged with guarding the shoreline against a possible Russian incursion.

“Twenty minutes by boat, and you’re in Russia,” the 30-year-old said, as he squinted into the midday sun and shrugged to adjust the heavy bulletproof vest weighing down his narrow shoulders in the summer heat.

Nemets, who prefers to go only by his nom de guerre, comes from the central Ukrainian city of Kirovohrad and is a member of the all-volunteer Azov Battalion, one of Ukraine’s many paramilitary groups formed in response to the government’s struggle against pro-Russian separatists in the country’s east, the territory where a Malaysia Airlines jet was shot down on July 17.

“This is war, and this is how people become a nation,” he said. “This is the process in which we are learning who is strong and who isn’t.”

The pro-Kiev battalion was named after the blue waters of this southeastern Ukrainian sea that Nemets now guards. More than half of the battalion’s fighters are Russian-speaking eastern Ukrainians, who were brought up in the region now being fought over and who may have spent summer holidays swimming in the sea’s warm waters.

Many of the Azov Battalion members are, by their own description, ultra-right Ukrainian nationalists. Ideologically, they are aligned with the Social-National Assembly, a confederation of groups in Ukraine that have drawn heavy criticism for their radical form of nationalism since the start of the protest movement in Kiev last November, which eventually ousted the Kremlin-friendly President Viktor Yanukovych.

But in Ukraine’s current war the lines have blurred between patriotism and extreme nationalism in this former Soviet republic, now deeply divided as it muddles through its worst political crisis since the breakup of the Soviet Union. At times, the government has coordinated with groups accused of extreme nationalism in its military operation against what it says is a Moscow-sponsored separatist movement. The fighters of the Azov Battalion are a symbol of that alliance, and it is a coordination that some analysts say should be watched carefully.

“Modern history shows that any opportunistic cooperation of the authorities with the extreme right in the end results in problems for the government and society,” wrote Anton Shekhovtsov, an expert on Ukraine’s far right and a Ph.D. student at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies at University College London, in his blog last month.

The Azov Battalion is recognized as part of the Ministry of the Interior’s troops and has been actively engaged in battles in key areas of what the government calls an “anti-terrorist operation,” or ATO. It has included fights for Mariupol, the largest of the port cities on the Azov Sea, on May 9 and June 13.

The battalion has adopted symbols and slogans that come close to those used by neo-Nazis, drawing alarm from many moderate Ukrainians and fueling the fire of Russian media accusations that the current Kiev government is a “fascist junta.”

Oleh Odnorozhenko, the chief ideologist of the Social-National Assembly and a member of the Azov Battalion, insists that they and their sister organization the Right Sector are not neo-Nazis or neo-fascist, as the Russian media have depicted them.

“That is all Putinism propaganda,” Odnorozhenko said about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claims that the groups are elements of an anti-Russian fascism determined to eradicate ethnic Russians from Ukraine. “We aren’t anti-Russian here. Two-thirds of the guys speak Russian. But we are anti-Putin.”

For all the controversy surrounding the government’s association with paramilitary groups like Azov, some argue that it is a necessary evil in extreme times.

“The country is quite radicalized on both sides now,” said Vasyl Arbuzov, a Donetsk native and an aide to the Kiev-appointed governor of the province, Sergei Taruta. “These aren’t the kind of guys I hang out with on the weekend, but at the moment they are the kind of guys we need because they are willing to fight.”

When the battle for Ukraine’s east erupted in April, the country found that its defense forces were in a parlous state after decades of budgetary neglect. Ukraine, it turned out, was not prepared to wage a war on its own soil, particularly what the government claims is a fight against the heavily funded Russian military.

“I’m not sure their nationalistic ideology is taken that seriously by the guys at the battalion, but it’s the thing that binds them together at the moment. It’s the tissue that’s holding them together as they fight for Ukraine,” Arbuzov said. “They aren’t here to protect the white race. They are here to protect the state of Ukraine against oppressors, which today is the Russian Federation.”

The 300 or so troops of the Azov Battalion are living and training in the ousted president’s former summer residence here, a collection of multistoried beach homes in a landscaped setting atop a picturesque cliff overlooking the Azov Sea.

On the training grounds, men run drills on storming buildings and urban fighting in an open space in the middle of the seaside resort’s territory. Nearby, there is a common building housing sleeping quarters and a cafeteria.

While some of the men were on a training course, others were working out with free weights in makeshift outdoor gyms, or tinkering with the battalion’s military vehicles, including its own makeshift armored personnel carrier. A fighter who goes only by his nom de guerre, Malik, said he designed the APC himself, using welded steel to create attack-proof side panels on an old Russian Kamaz heavy truck.

Malik said he was a motorcycle mechanic before he joined the battalion in May, after his native Crimea was annexed by Russia. His APC creation survived an attack during a fight in Mariupol last month. “Everyone wants one now. The Right Sector tried to copy my design, but they couldn’t do it,” Malik said. “But we need more equipment here, particularly technical weapons and body armor.”

While the battalion is recognized by the Interior Ministry and provided with some arms, it is largely funded by charity from Ukrainians, wealthy businessmen, the Ukrainian diaspora and other European far-right groups.

Its ideological alignment with other far-right, social-nationalist groups has attracted volunteers from Sweden, Italy, France, Canada and Russia.

Lemko, a Canadian volunteer whose roots are Ukrainian, said he came to the Azov Battalion several weeks ago because he was concerned about the direction in which Ukraine was heading. He said he was a national socialist — though he rejected the term neo-Nazi — and was a member of far-right groups in Canada, many of which, he said, face problems with the Canadian government because of their political beliefs.

The Canadian volunteer said he was fighting not just against the pro-Russian separatists in the east but for Ukraine’s future; that is, a future that does not include joining the European Union. Joining the EU would destroy Ukraine’s national identity, just as it destroyed the national states of the rest of Europe by admitting economic refugees across borders, he said.

“Ukraine should be for Ukrainians,” Lemko said. “We don’t need the European idea of multicultural extremism here. Ukraine must protect its cultural and ethnic integrity.”

Such sentiments — which go directly opposite to what the pro-European leadership in Kiev and many of its supporters want — might bode ill for the future of the alliance between the far right and Ukraine’s current government.

Nor is Lemko alone. Sitting in a plastic lawn chair with a Kalashnikov resting on his lap, he discussed Ukraine’s future with two volunteer fighters from Sweden. They all agreed that Ukraine is a wealthy country whose economic potential was stolen by oligarchs. But recently elected President Petro Poroshenko was just another oligarch replacing the previous regime, they said.

“I’m here to support a national idea of Ukraine. I’m willing to die helping them get these bandits out,” said Sevren, 28, from Gothenburg, Sweden.

Lemko agreed. “We actually have two enemies now, the EU on one side and the Russian Federation on the other. But first, we need to deal with the separatists,” he said.

July 24, 2014 5:00AM ET
by Sabra Ayres @SabraAyres

Find this story at 24 July 2014

Neo-fascists train to fight Ukrainian rebels

© 2014 Al Jazeera America

Ukraine crisis: the neo-Nazi brigade fighting pro-Russian separatists

Kiev throws paramilitaries – some openly neo-Nazi – into the front of the battle with rebels
Phantom, 23, a fighter in the Azov battalion, outside its HQ in the Ukrainian seaside town of Urzuf

The fighters of the Azov battalion lined up in single file to say farewell to their fallen comrade. His pallid corpse lay under the sun in an open casket trimmed with blue velvet.
Some of the men placed carnations by the body, others roses. Many struck their chests with a closed fist before touching their dead friend’s arm. One fighter had an SS tattoo on his neck.
Sergiy Grek, 22, lost a leg and died from massive blood loss after a radio-controlled anti-tank mine exploded near to him.
As Ukraine’s armed forces tighten the noose around pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country, the western-backed government in Kiev is throwing militia groups – some openly neo-Nazi – into the front of the battle.
The Azov battalion has the most chilling reputation of all. Last week, it came to the fore as it mounted a bold attack on the rebel redoubt of Donetsk, striking deep into the suburbs of a city under siege.
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Andriy Biletsky, in black T-shirt, commander of Ukraine’s Azov battalion (Tom Parfitt)
In Marinka, on the western outskirts, the battalion was sent forward ahead of tanks and armoured vehicles of the Ukrainian army’s 51st Mechanised Brigade. A ferocious close-quarters fight ensued as they got caught in an ambush laid by well-trained separatists, who shot from 30 yards away. The Azov irregulars replied with a squall of fire, fending off the attack and seizing a rebel checkpoint.
Mr Grek, also known as “Balagan”, died in the battle and 14 others were wounded. Speaking after the ceremony Andriy Biletsky, the battalion’s commander, told the Telegraph the operation had been a “100% success”. “The battalion is a family and every death is painful to us but these were minimal losses,” he said. “Most important of all, we established a bridgehead for the attack on Donetsk. And when that comes we will be leading the way.”
The military achievement is hard to dispute. By securing Marinka the battalion “widened the front and tightened the circle”, around the rebels’ capital, as another fighter put it. While Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, prevaricates about sending an invasion force into Ukraine, the rebels he backs are losing ground fast.
But Kiev’s use of volunteer paramilitaries to stamp out the Russian-backed Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics”, proclaimed in eastern Ukraine in March, should send a shiver down Europe’s spine. Recently formed battalions such as Donbas, Dnipro and Azov, with several thousand men under their command, are officially under the control of the interior ministry but their financing is murky, their training inadequate and their ideology often alarming.
The Azov men use the neo-Nazi Wolfsangel (Wolf’s Hook) symbol on their banner and members of the battalion are openly white supremacists, or anti-Semites.

The Azov battalion uses the neo-Nazi Wolfsangel (Wolf”s Hook) symbol on its banner (Tom Parfitt)
“Personally, I’m a Nazi,” said “Phantom”, a 23-year-old former lawyer at the ceremony wearing camouflage and holding a Kalashnikov. “I don’t hate any other nationalities but I believe each nation should have its own country.” He added: “We have one idea: to liberate our land from terrorists.”
The Telegraph was invited to see some 300 Azov fighters pay respects to Mr Grek, their first comrade to die since the battalion was formed in May. An honour guard fired volleys into the air at the battalion’s headquarters on the edge of Urzuf, a small beach resort on Ukraine’s Azov Sea coast. Two more militiamen died on Sunday fighting north of Donetsk <>. Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine’s president, called one of them a hero.
Each new recruit receives only a couple of weeks of training before joining the battalion. The interior ministry and private donors provide weapons.
The HQ is a seaside dacha compound dotted with pines that once belonged to the ousted president of Ukraine, Vladimir Yanukovich, when he was governor of this region. Families in swimsuits with towels and inflatable rings walk past gate-guards toting automatic rifles.
Parked inside among wooden gazebos overlooking the sea are the tools of Azov’s trade – two armoured personnel carriers, a converted truck with retractable steel shutters to cover its windows, and several Nissan pick-ups fitted with machine-gun mounts.

A converted truck with steel shutters used by the Azov battalion and known to the fighters as ‘the Lump of Iron’ (Tom Parfitt)
Mr Biletsky, a muscular man in a black T-shirt and camouflage trousers, said the battalion was a light infantry unit, ideal for the urban warfare needed to take cities like Donetsk.
The 35-year old commander began creating the battalion after he was released from pre-trial detention in February in the wake of pro-western protests in Kiev. He had denied a charge of attempted murder, claiming it was politically motivated.
A former history student and amateur boxer, Mr Biletsky is also head of an extremist Ukrainian group called the Social National Assembly. “The historic mission of our nation in this critical moment is to lead the White Races of the world in a final crusade for their survival,” he wrote in a recent commentary. “A crusade against the Semite-led Untermenschen.”
The battalion itself is founded on right wing views, the commander said in Urzuf, and no Nazi convictions could exclude a recruit. “The most important thing is being a good fighter and a good brother so that we can trust each other,” he said.
Interestingly, many of the men in the battalion are Russians from eastern Ukraine who wear masks because they fear their relatives in rebel-controlled areas could be persecuted if their identities are revealed.
Phantom said he was such a Russian but that he was opposed to Moscow supporting “terrorists” in his homeland: “I volunteered and all I demanded was a gun and the possibility to defend my country.”
Asked about his Nazi sympathies, he said: “After the First World World War, Germany was a total mess and Hitler rebuilt it: he built houses and roads, put in telephone lines, and created jobs. I respect that.” Homosexuality is a mental illness and the scale of the Holocaust “is a big question”, he added.

Fighters of the Azov battalion say farewell to their first comrade to die in the war against Russia-backed rebels (Tom Parfitt)
Stepan, 23, another fighter, said that if leaders of the pro-Russian separatists were captured they should be executed after a military tribunal.
Such notions seem a far cry from the spirit of the “Maidan” protests that peaked in Kiev in February with the ousting of Mr Yanukovich, who had refused to sign a trade agreement with the European Union. Young liberals led the way but the uprising, which ended with the president fleeing to Russia, provoked a huge patriotic awakening that sucked in hardline groups.
Azov’s extremist profile and slick English–language pages on social media have even attracted foreign fighters. Mr Biletsky says he has men from Ireland, Italy, Greece and Scandinavia. At the base in Urzuf, Mikael Skillt, 37, a former sniper with the Swedish Army and National Guard, leads and trains a reconnaissance unit.
“When I saw the Maidan protests I recognised bravery and suffering,” he told the Telegraph. “A warrior soul was awakened. But you can only do so much, going against the enemy with sticks and stones. I had some experience and I though maybe I could help.”
Mr Skillt says he called himself a National Socialist as a young man and more recently he was active in the extreme right wing Party of the Swedes. “Now I’m fighting for the freedom of Ukraine against Putin’s imperialist front,” he said.
His unit is improving fast under his tutelage. “What they lack in experience, they make up in balls,” he said. Once he is done with Azov –where he claimed he receives a nominal GBP100 a month – Mr Skillt plans to go to Syria to fight for President Bashar al-Assad as a hired gun earning “very good money”.
Such characters under Kiev’s control play straight into the hands of Russian and separatist propaganda that portrays Ukraine’s government as a “fascist junta” manipulated by the West.
“These battalions are made up of mercenaries, not volunteers,” said Sergei Kavtaradze, a representative of the rebel authorities in Donetsk. “They are real fascists who kill and rape civilians.” Mr Kavtaradze could not cite evidence of his claim and the battalion says it has not harmed a single civilian.
Ukraine’s government is unrepentant about using the neo-Nazis. “The most important thing is their spirit and their desire to make Ukraine free and independent,” said Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Arsen Avakov, the interior minister. “A person who takes a weapon in his hands and goes to defend his motherland is a hero. And his political views are his own affair.”
Mark Galeotti, an expert on Russian and Ukrainian security affairs at New York University, fears battalions like Azov are becoming “magnets to attract violent fringe elements from across Ukraine and beyond”. “The danger is that this is part of the building up of a toxic legacy for when the war ends,” he said.
Extremist paramilitary groups who have built up “their own little Freikorps” and who are fundamentally opposed to finding consensus may demand a part in public life as victors in the conflict, Mr Galeotti added. “And what do you do when the war is over and you get veterans from Azov swaggering down your high street, and in your own lives?”

By Tom Parfitt, 11 Aug 2014

Find this story at 11 August 2014

© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2014

Foreigners join far-right militias in Ukraine’s fight against rebels

Fears that nationalist Azov Battalion and others could ultimately turn on new rulers

Sitting in the shade of a broad pine tree and a pink-and-orange umbrella, two Swedes and a Canadian explain why they are ready to kill, and be killed, for the future of a free Ukraine.

They are members of the Azov Battalion, one of several units of volunteers fighting alongside Ukraine’s military and national guard against separatist rebels – allegedly backed by Moscow – who want the country’s eastern regions to join Russia.

The battalion is based by the Sea of Azov in southern Donetsk province, in a beachside complex formerly used as a holiday home by the family of Viktor Yanukovich, who was ousted as Ukraine’s president in February.
The unit was formed by the Social National Assembly, a Ukrainian nationalist group described by critics as violently racist, and its emblem includes variations on the “black sun” and “wolf’s hook” symbols long associated with Nazism.

Lurid propaganda

The ideology of Azov is a gift to the Kremlin, which has used lurid propaganda to discredit Ukraine’s revolution as a fascist coup that threatens the country’s tens of millions of Russian-speakers and, more broadly, Europe.
There are also growing fears in Ukraine that Azov and other far-right militias could ultimately turn on its new rulers, whom they see not as representatives of the revolution but of a venal oligarchy that has dominated the country for decades.

Russia’s annexation of Crimea and covert support for rebels in Donetsk and Luhansk regions has fuelled radicalism in a Ukraine already reeling from the revolution, and stoked national passions in a country that feels attacked by its huge neighbour and largely abandoned by its supposed allies in the West.
Azov now plans to expand its ranks from 300 to 500 men, and a French supporter called Gaston Besson – who fought for Croatian independence in the 1990s – is forming a brigade of foreigners willing to take up arms for Ukraine’s freedom and territory.
“Volunteers have come from Russia, France, Italy, Belarus, Canada, Sweden, Slovenia – many countries,” said Oleg Odnorozhenko, a self-proclaimed ideologue of the Social National Assembly.
“We have had about two dozen foreigners so far. Lots more want to come but we select those with relevant experience,” he added, noting that a Georgian special forces trainer was working “semi-officially” with Azov.
The shouts of children on the beach drifted through Yanukovich’s old compound on a warm sea breeze, as three of Azov’s foreign contingent discussed why they were here, far from home, and ready to spill and shed blood for Ukraine.
“I was sick of the television pictures from CNN and Russia Today, so I decided to come to Ukraine and see for myself. I found a great people, who desire freedom, being used in a tug-of-war,” said Severin (28) from Gothenburg in Sweden.
“I would love to solve Ukraine’s problems with political discussions. But that’s impossible now,” he added.
“I am in favour of a free European people. And I am here to help these European people live in freedom.”
Severin calls himself a national socialist, but rejects the connotations that he says come with the term “neo-Nazi”. He wanted to serve in the Swedish army “to protect my land and people” but was rejected due to his political beliefs.

Like the two men alongside him, Mikola from Stockholm and a man from Canada who uses the nickname “Lemko”, Severin is against immigration, multiculturalism, globalisation and the rampant capitalism and liberalism he sees ruining the modern world.
The three men share a faith in the strength of ethnically pure nations, living according to their traditions.
Lemko, who hails from Canada’s large Ukrainian diaspora, said he believed in a “Ukraine for the Ukrainian people” and saw the western social model as just as great a threat to the country’s future as the antipathy of the Kremlin. “I lived in western Europe for 11 years, so I know,” said Lemko, who is in his 30s. “Ukraine has two enemies – Russia and the EU.”
Disillusioned by a western world that they regard as feckless, decadent and enslaved by high finance, the men saw an inspiring sense of purpose, patriotism and self-sacrifice in the tent camp on Kiev’s Independence Square, where the revolution played out last winter.
First combat
Severin saw his first combat action on June 13th, when the Azov Battalion fought separatist militants in the nearby port city of Mariupol.
“On the way there, I thought this would be a special day. But it was harsh, and after experiencing that no one would say war was beautiful. Mortars went off close by and two of my comrades were injured. But I was proud to serve.”
Lemko has no plans to return to Canada and Severin says he could be here for “two months or years”, while Mikola hopes to return to Sweden in the near future to continue his psychology studies.
“I’m here to deal with the separatists,” Mikola said. “After that, let’s see.”
The foreigners, like the local members of Azov, are derisive of Ukraine’s billionaire president, Petro Poroshenko, the pro-EU government in Kiev and western states that have been deeply reluctant to take a tough stand against Russia.
“A split is a definite possibility,” Lemko said of fears that the various units fighting the rebels today will one day clash over political differences, and over who exactly controls these increasingly large and well-armed paramilitary battalions.
What is clear is that Azov’s extreme nationalism does not have widespread support in Ukraine: three far-right candidates mustered barely 10 per cent of votes between them in May’s presidential election, even during a deep national crisis.
Desire to defend
Vasyl Arbuzov, an adviser to Donetsk governor Sergei Taruta, said Ukraine’s nationalists were bound far less by ideology than by a desire to defend the country.
“These aren’t the kind of guys I hang out with on the weekend but, at the moment, they are the kind of guys we need because they are willing to fight,” he said.
Inside their seaside base, Kalashnikovs on their laps, three of Azov’s foreigners said they were ready for anything.
“How much talking can you do?” said Lemko.
“Whatever it takes – there’s no turning back now.”

Daniel McLaughlin
Thu, Jul 17, 2014, 01:01

Find this story at 17 July 2014


Interview with the Radio Sweden Concerning the Azov Battalion in Ukraine

My Interview with the Radio Sweden Concerning the Azov Battalion in Ukraine

What is Azov Battalion?
This is a paramilitary/special police formation organized about 2 months ago by the Social- National Assembly (SNA) and its paramilitary wing, called Patriot of Ukraine (PU), with support of a leader of the Radical Party and the Ukrainian government. It was called a battalion, but initially it included only about 60 men. They are also called “black men” because of black uniform that they wear.
Who’s in charge of Azov battalion?
The battalion is formally subordinated to the Minister of Internal Affairs. But it is de facto subordinated to the Social National Assembly and it is commanded by leaders of the SNA/PU. The de facto commander of the battalion is Andrii Biletski, the leader of Patriot of Ukraine.
Who’s fighting for them? (ideologically uninterested citizens, far right radicals etc.)
The battalion mostly includes members of the SNA/PU, football ultras from Dynamo Kyiv, and other far right radicals. There are also far right sympathizers and some other Maidan activists.
If comprised of far right radicals mainly, how important is the ideology for this group?
The ideology is central to the battalion. Its new members give their oath in presence of the SNA/PU leaders and the SNA/PU flag, depicting Wolfsangel, a neo-Nazi symbol. During such a recent ceremony, they also recited a prayer honoring Stepan Bandera and other leaders of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, a radical nationalist and semi-fascist organization.
If many of them are so-called neo-fascists, in what way exactly?
The SNA/PU advocate a neo-Nazi ideology along with ultranationalism and racism. The same applies to the SNA/PU commanders and members of the Azov battalion and many football ultras and others who serve in this formation. Biletsky is called the “White Leader.” He and several other commanders of the battalion were imprisoned on murder or terrorism charges, but they were released after the fall of Yanukovych. The SNA/PU are one of the founders of the Right Sector.
What happened in Mariupol last week? Is there any truth behind pro-Russian allegations of pro-Ukrainian forces harming civilians in Mariupol?
The Azov battalion took control last week over Mariupol after a brief fight with a relatively small number of pro-Russian separatists. Their videos indicate that they assault civilians and torture their prisoners, but these cases are not investigated or prosecuted. The Azov battalion along with other formations also stormed the police headquarters in this city on May 9th when 9

people were killed, including the attackers, policemen, and civilians. But it is difficult to say if these civilians were killed by the battalion, since there are no investigations.
How many foreigners is estimated to fighting with the Azov battalion?
The precise numbers are difficult to know. But various reports suggest that at least several foreigners are in the battalion, including at least one from Sweden.
Do you have any information of the swede fighting for them, Mikael Skillt?

Skillt came to Ukraine during the Euromaidan protests last winter. He then joined C14, a neo- Nazi organization affiliated with Svoboda, a major far right party which plays important role in the current government. Skillt now joined the Azov battalion.

by Ivan Katchanovski
June 19, 2014

Find this story at 19 June 2014

Academia © 2014

Ukraine conflict: ‘White power’ warrior from Sweden

The appearance of far-right activists, both foreign and home-grown, among the Ukrainian volunteers fighting in east Ukraine is causing unease.

Mikael Skillt is a Swedish sniper, with seven years’ experience in the Swedish Army and the Swedish National Guard. He is currently fighting with the Azov Battalion, a pro-Ukrainian volunteer armed group in eastern Ukraine. He is known to be dangerous to the rebels: reportedly there is a bounty of nearly $7,000 (£4,090; 5,150 euros) on his head.

In a telephone conversation from an undisclosed location, Mr Skillt told me more about his duties: “I have at least three purposes in the Azov Battalion: I am a commander of a small reconnaissance unit, I am also a sniper, and sometimes I work as a special coordinator for clearing houses and going into civilian areas.”

As to his political views, Mr Skillt prefers to call himself a nationalist, but in fact his views are typical of a neo-Nazi.

“It’s all about how you see it,” he says. “I would be an idiot if I said I did not want to see survival of white people. After World War Two, the victors wrote their history. They decided that it’s always a bad thing to say I am white and I am proud.”

‘One stray liberal’
Mr Skillt believes races should not mix. He says the Jews are not white and should not mix with white people. His next project is to go fight for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad because he believes Mr Assad is standing up to “international Zionism”.

Mikael Skillt in Ukraine
Mikael Skillt in Ukraine
Not all of Mr Skillt’s views are widely shared in the Azov Battalion, which is about 300-strong in total.

He says his comrades do not discuss politics much, though some of them may be “national socialists” and may wear swastikas. On the other hand, “there is even one liberal, though I don’t know how he got there”, he adds, with a smile in his voice.

Mr Skillt says there is only a handful of foreign fighters in the Azov Battalion and they do not get paid. “They see it as a good thing, to come and fight,” he explains. However, Mr Skillt is expecting more foreigners to join soon: he says there is now a recruiter who is looking for “serious fighters” from outside Ukraine.

The key figures in the Azov Battalion are its commander, Andriy Biletsky, and his deputy, Ihor Mosiychuk.

Andriy Biletsky is also the leader of a Ukrainian organisation called the Social National Assembly. Its aims are stated in one of their online publications:

“to prepare Ukraine for further expansion and to struggle for the liberation of the entire White Race from the domination of the internationalist speculative capital”
“to punish severely sexual perversions and any interracial contacts that lead to the extinction of the white man”
This, according to experts, is a typical neo-Nazi narrative.

‘Foreign journalists’
The Azov Battalion was formed and armed by Ukraine’s interior ministry. A ministerial adviser, Anton Gerashchenko, got angry when I asked him if the battalion had any neo-Nazi links through the Social National Assembly.

Azov Battalion fighters parading with flags in Kiev, 3 June
Azov Battalion fighters parading with the Wolfsangel banner favoured by neo-Nazis
Young women say goodbye to Azov Battalion fighters in Kiev, 23 June
Young women saying goodbye to Azov Battalion fighters in Kiev last month
Azov fighters guarding suspected rebels in Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, 13 June
Azov fighters guarding suspected rebels in Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, last month
“The Social National Assembly is not a neo-Nazi organisation,” he said.

“It is a party of Ukrainian patriots who are giving their lives while the rich Europeans are only talking about supporting Ukraine. When, may I ask, will English people come here and help us fight terrorists sent by Russia’s President [Vladimir] Putin, instead of lecturing us on our moral values or people’s political affiliations?”

Mr Gerashchenko was adamant, however, that there were no foreign citizens fighting in the Azov Battalion.

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Neo-Nazis are as dangerous as pro-Russia extremists in Eastern Ukraine”

Anton Shekhovtsov
Expert on far right in Europe
“There are foreign journalists, from Sweden, Spain and Italy, who have come to report on the heroic achievements of the fighters in their struggle against terrorism,” he said.

He insisted he had never heard of Mikael Skillt, the Swedish sniper.

Ukraine is a democratic state, which held a democratic election in May, where the far right and nationalist parties got hardly any votes. These views are not popular with the electorate.

But Anton Shekhovtsov, a prominent expert on far-right and neo-Nazi movements in Europe, believes the Ukrainian government should be clear about whom it is arming to fight for Ukraine’s democratic cause.

“It is a pressing concern, especially with regards to the anti-terrorist operation,” he said. “In my view, the war against pro-Russia separatists is the war for democratic values. Neo-Nazis are as dangerous as pro-Russia extremists in eastern Ukraine.”

6 July 2014
By Dina Newman

Find this story at 6 July 2014

Swedish neo-nazi Mikael Skillt is fighting in the Azov Battalion against separatist 

BBC © 2014

Why CIA Director Brennan Visited Kiev: In Ukraine The Covert War Has Begun

Ukraine is on the brink of civil war, Vladimir Putin has said, and he should know because the country is already in the midst of a covert intelligence war. Over the weekend, CIA director John Brennan travelled to Kiev, nobody knows exactly why, but some speculate that he intends to open US intelligence resources to Ukrainian leaders about real-time Russian military maneuvers. The US has, thus far, refrained from sharing such knowledge because Moscow is believed to have penetrated much of Ukraine’s communications systems – and Washington isn’t about to hand over its surveillance secrets to the Russians.

If you have any doubts that the battle is raging on the ‘covert ops’ front just consider today’s events in Pcholkino where Ukrainian soldiers from the 25th Airborn Division handed over their weapons and APC’s to pro-Russian militiamen and pretty much surrendered. The Ukrainian commander was quoted as saying “they’ve captured us and are using dirty tricks”. This is the kind of morale-busting incident that can spread quickly. It doesn’t happen spontaneously and it often begins with mixed messages, literally – messages purporting to come from the chain of command but actually originate from the enemy’s dirty tricks department.

So what kind of conversations did Brennan have during his visit? There’s no way of knowing for sure of course. But, according to my sources, and based on my experience of reporting on the Russian invasion of Georgia, the US-Ukraine information exchange would go a lot further than simply tracking numbers and motions of Russian tanks and soldiers. The operative term here is ‘non-lethal’ help – that remains Washington’s official position. But in today’s digital and virtual battlefield, the game can be over before the first shot gets fired. And if Moscow’s mastery over the digital domain can be countered, Putin might think twice about risking the expensive hardware that he has invested billions in upgrading since the Georgian war.

In that conflict, the US refused to sell air-cover missiles (Manpads) to Tbilisi while the Israelis deactivated the ones they’d sold after Putin threatened them with retaliation by selling Hezbollah comparable weapons. So Georgia was left with the Ukraine-made missiles it had purchased, which proved effective but not numerous enough. The Russians have undoubtedly rectified that vulnerability, especially as they and Ukraine share the same weapons systems. In effect, Russian warplanes have likely found ways to jam targeting vectors or to create illusory electronic clusters to decoy the manpads.

So Brennan might have shared data on how to get past the jamming. The same kind of forensic struggle applies to aerial combat, a rare thing these days but one that may become decisive if ground-based missiles prove ineffectual. Since the Russians can hack into any kind of long-distance chatter about such details between the US and Kiev, Brennan probably had to physically hand them over to his Ukrainian interlocutors. That is, to fully vetted individuals, because as we’ve seen repeatedly during the current crisis, not least in the Maidan, Russian spies masquerading as Ukrainian patriots are not uncommon. Ukraine’s politicians and military personnel (though not nearly as much) have a long history of divided loyalties.

Digital conflict, by its very nature, is a shadow conflict and therefore fundamentally psychological. If you lose touch with central command or you suspect the enemy is messing with your communications, you become isolated. You fire at your own side, shoot down your warplanes. In fact, you’re likely to stop shooting altogether, out of confusion and paralysis, as happened in some military bases in Georgia. And now is happening in Ukraine. You don’t know if the coded messages telling you to refrain from firing are a feint or genuine. In a modern war between two sides with hardware i.e. not a guerilla war, line-of-sight engagements occur less often than you’d think. Tanks and planes and artillery get knocked out from afar. Digital certainty is everything. The absence of it spells disaster.

So Brennan needed to reassure his hosts above all on that matter. Or perhaps vice-versa. They might need to reassure the US that Ukraine’s military position is not hopeless. If the US assessed the Ukrainian armed forces as too electronically compromised to use heavy weapons systems, then Washington might discourage a confrontation, might refuse to help in crucial ways, as happened in Georgia. Or Washington might suggest alternate methodologies, low-tech or asymmetrical alternatives, to create enough confusion or humiliation as to tarnish Putin’s popularity. The Russian side has clearly initiated such tactics already. Brennan will try to shore up the security of Ukraine’s military signals systems. He will suggest ways to retaliate in kind by hacking into the pro-Moscow militia’s comms.

To get an idea of how crucial is this stage of the confrontation, just witness how images of Ukrainian armored vehicles now driven by militias have gone global. Moscow will trumpet the news, claiming that even Ukrainian soldiers don’t want to fight, that the US is stoking artificial hatred. The government in Kiev will find itself snookered – either to admit that its signals channels are hopelessly compromised and therefore cannot mount a convincing military operation or that such incidents are spontaneous but limited. A tough position either way. One thing is certain, the war has begun.

Melik KaylanMelik Kaylan
WASHINGTON 4/16/2014 @ 4:30PM 9,980 views

Find this story at 16 April 2014


The foreigners who flocked to join the fight – in Ukraine

Military leaders in Ukraine charged Russia was deepening its foray into Ukrainian territory and sending new troops to the Crimean border.
Aug. 27, 2014 Bystanders watch a fire consuming a school in downtown Donetsk after being hit by shelling. Several civilians died when their car was completely burned after being hit by shell fragments in central Donetsk, the rebel-held city in eastern Ukraine. Francisco Leong/AFP/Getty Images
View Photo Gallery —Refugees flee the violence, some seeking shelter in Russia, while Ukraine says its army has penetrated the rebel stronghold of Luhansk in what could prove to be a breakthrough development in the months-long conflict.

Foreign fighters have become central to the narrative of the Islamic State and its fighting in Syria and Iraq: Just this week the distinct British accent of the man believed to have called American journalist James Foley was a grim reminder that thousands of foreigners have traveled to the Middle East to join the fight. It’s a big concern for many governments.

But foreigners have also flocked to other world conflicts, notably Ukraine.

This point was brought home this week, with the death of an American fighting in Ukraine. Mark Gregory Paslawsky, a 55-year-old born in New York, is believed to be the only U.S. citizen who has fought in Ukraine until he died in fighting on Aug. 19. His death was announced in a Facebook post by Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser Anton Herashchenko.

Paslawsky, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, grew up in a Ukrainian-American family. He had moved to Ukraine decades ago, but his decision to fight in the Ukrainian Army’s volunteer Donbas Battalion this year earned him the fascination of the global media. Vice Media produced a documentary about him just a few weeks ago, which you can watch below:

Paslawsky was far from the only fighter with a foreign nationality in Ukraine: There seem to have been many from Russia and South Ossetia among the separatist ranks. But there are also reports of more unexpected guests.

Last month the BBC profiled Mikael Skillt, a Swedish military veteran who had joined the pro-Ukrainian volunteer force Azov Battalion. While Paslawsky’s decision to fight seems to have been motivated by an understandable Ukrainian nationalism, Skillt’s decision seemed to be motivated by something more extremist, even neo-Nazi.

“After World War II, the victors wrote their history,” Skillt told the BBC. “They decided that it’s always a bad thing to say I am white and I am proud.”

The force Skillt reportedly fights for, the Azov Battalion, has become a source of controversy for its use of neo-Nazi symbols and rhetoric. The commander of the group has told reporters that he has fighters from Ireland, Italy, Greece and Scandinavia, with as many as two dozen foreigners fighting for it by mid-summer. There were also reports that an exclusively Polish militia was fighting in Ukraine, though the Polish government later released a statement saying that the information it has “does not corroborate such allegations.”

The numbers may be small when compared to those who have gone to the Middle East, where there are estimated to be as many as 12,000 foreign fighters, but they are a reminder that foreign fighters are not a uniquely Islamist issue.

You certainly have to wonder if attracting fringe far right groups, even in small numbers, is a positive for Ukraine. The BBC says Interior Ministry adviser Herashchenko became angry when asked about the Azov Battalion’s alleged extremist links and denied foreigners were fighting with the group. It also plays into the early Kremlin narrative that the Euromaidan protests were influenced by outside forces – months ago, the Russian Foreign Ministry accused a private firm of sending American mercenaries to fight separatists in Ukraine, though those claims were deemed “rubbish” by the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt.

Pro-Russian separatist forces have some unlikely foreign allies too, however. Earlier this month Reuters reported that a number of Spanish “civil war nostalgics” were fighting alongside pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine. Two Spanish men, Rafael Muñoz Perez and Ángel, published a video on YouTube explaining their motivation for heading to Ukraine.

“We are here to defend civil people,” Muñoz Perez explains.

By Adam Taylor August 22

Find this story at 22 august 2014


Israeli militia commander fights to protect Kiev

Delta, a Ukrainian-born former IDF soldier, heads a force of 40 men and women, most of whom are not Jewish, against gov’t forces

Ukraine appeals to UNSC over Russian invasionKerry warns Russia against intervention in UkraineYanukovych blames fascists, West for Ukraine chaosUkraine Reform shul defaced by anti-Semitic graffitiSwitzerland, Austria freeze Yanukovych’s assetsUnidentified armed men patrol Crimea airport

He calls his troops “the Blue Helmets of Maidan,” but brown is the color of the headgear worn by Delta — the nom de guerre of the commander of a Jewish-led militia force that participated in the Ukrainian revolution. Under his helmet, he also wears a kippah.

Delta, a Ukraine-born former soldier in the Israel Defense Forces, spoke to JTA Thursday on condition of anonymity. He explained how he came to use combat skills he acquired in the Shu’alei Shimshon reconnaissance battalion of the Givati infantry brigade to rise through the ranks of Kiev’s street fighters. He has headed a force of 40 men and women — including several fellow IDF veterans — in violent clashes with government forces.

Several Ukrainian Jews, including Rabbi Moshe Azman, one of the country’s claimants to the title of chief rabbi, confirmed Delta’s identity and role in the still-unfinished revolution.

The “Blue Helmets” nickname, a reference to the UN peacekeeping force, stuck after Delta’s unit last month prevented a mob from torching a building occupied by Ukrainian police, he said. “There were dozens of officers inside, surrounded by 1,200 demonstrators who wanted to burn them alive,” he recalled. “We intervened and negotiated their safe passage.”

The problem, he said, was that the officers would not leave without their guns, citing orders. Delta told JTA his unit reasoned with the mob to allow the officers to leave with their guns. “It would have been a massacre, and that was not an option,” he said.

The Blue Helmets comprise 35 men and women who are not Jewish, and who are led by five ex-IDF soldiers, says Delta, an Orthodox Jew in his late 30s who regularly prays at Azman’s Brodsky Synagogue. He declined to speak about his private life.

Delta, who immigrated to Israel in the 1990s, moved back to Ukraine several years ago and has worked as a businessman. He says he joined the protest movement as a volunteer on Nov. 30, after witnessing violence by government forces against student protesters.

“I saw unarmed civilians with no military background being ground by a well-oiled military machine, and it made my blood boil,” Delta told JTA in Hebrew laced with military jargon. “I joined them then and there, and I started fighting back the way I learned how, through urban warfare maneuvers. People followed, and I found myself heading a platoon of young men. Kids, really.”

Anti-government protesters take a break on a barricade at Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Friday, Feb. 21, 2014 (photo credit: AP/ Marko Drobnjakovic)
Anti-government protesters take a break on a barricade at Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Friday, Feb. 21, 2014 (photo credit: AP/ Marko Drobnjakovic)

The other ex-IDF infantrymen joined the Blue Helmets later after hearing it was led by a fellow vet, Delta said.

As platoon leader, Delta says he takes orders from activists connected to Svoboda, an ultra-nationalist party that has been frequently accused of anti-Semitism and whose members have been said to have had key positions in organizing the opposition protests.

“I don’t belong [to Svoboda], but I take orders from their team. They know I’m Israeli, Jewish and an ex-IDF soldier. They call me ‘brother,’” he said. “What they’re saying about Svoboda is exaggerated, I know this for a fact. I don’t like them because they’re inconsistent, not because of [any] anti-Semitism issue.”

The commanding position of Svoboda in the revolution is no secret, according to Ariel Cohen, a senior research fellow at the Washington DC-based Heritage Foundation think tank.

“The driving force among the so-called white sector in the Maidan are the nationalists, who went against the SWAT teams and snipers who were shooting at them,” Cohen told JTA.

Still, many Jews supported the revolution and actively participated in it.

Earlier this week, an interim government was announced ahead of election scheduled for May, including ministers from several minority groups.

Volodymyr Groysman, a former mayor of the city of Vinnytsia and the newly appointed deputy prime minister for regional policy, is a Jew, Rabbi Azman said.

“There are no signs for concern yet,” said Cohen, “but the West needs to make it clear to Ukraine that how it is seen depends on how minorities are treated.”

On Wednesday, Russian State Duma Chairman Sergey Naryshkin said Moscow was concerned about anti-Semitic declarations by radical groups in Ukraine.

But Delta says the Kremlin is using the anti-Semitism card falsely to delegitimize the Ukrainian revolution, which is distancing Ukraine from Russia’s sphere of influence.

“It’s bullshit. I never saw any expression of anti-Semitism during the protests, and the claims to the contrary were part of the reason I joined the movement. We’re trying to show that Jews care,” he said.

Anti-government protesters lob stones during clashes with riot police outside Ukraine’s parliament in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014. (photo credit: AP/Efrem Lukatsky)
Anti-government protesters lob stones during clashes with riot police outside Ukraine’s parliament in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014. (photo credit: AP/Efrem Lukatsky)

Still, Delta’s reasons for not revealing his name betray his sense of feeling like an outsider. “If I were Ukrainian, I would have been a hero. But for me it’s better to not reveal my name if I want to keep living here in peace and quiet,” he said.

Fellow Jews have criticized him for working with Svoboda. “Some asked me if instead of ‘Shalom’ they should now greet me with a ‘Sieg heil.’ I simply find it laughable,” he said. But he does have frustrations related to being an outsider. “Sometimes I tell myself, ‘What are you doing? This is not your army. This isn’t even your country.’”

He recalls feeling this way during one of the fiercest battles he experienced, which took place last week at Institutskaya Street and left 12 protesters dead. “The snipers began firing rubber bullets at us. I fired back from my rubber-bullet rifle,” Delta said.

“Then they opened live rounds, and my friend caught a bullet in his leg. They shot at us like at a firing range. I wasn’t ready for a last stand. I carried my friend and ordered my troops to fall back. They’re scared kids. I gave them some cash for phone calls and told them to take off their uniform and run away until further instructions. I didn’t want to see anyone else die that day.”

Currently, the Blue Helmets are carrying out police work that include patrols and preventing looting and vandalism in a city of 3 million struggling to climb out of the chaos that engulfed it for the past three months.

But Delta has another, more ambitious, project: He and Azman are organizing the airborne evacuation of seriously wounded protesters — none of them Jewish — for critical operations in Israel. One of the patients, a 19-year-old woman, was wounded at Institutskaya by a bullet that penetrated her eye and is lodged inside her brain, according to Delta. Azman says he hopes the plane of 17 patients will take off next week, with funding from private donors and with help from Ukraine’s ambassador to Israel.

“The doctor told me that another millimeter to either direction and she would be dead,” Delta said. “And I told him it was the work of Hakadosh Baruch Hu.”

BY CNAAN LIPHSHIZ February 28, 2014, 9:37 pm 50

Find this story at 28 February 2014


400 US mercenaries ‘deployed on ground’ in Ukraine military

About 400 elite mercenaries from the notorious US private security firm Academi (formerly Blackwater) are taking part in the Ukrainian military operation against anti-government protesters in southeastern regions of the country, German media reports.

The Bild am Sonntag newspaper, citing a source in intelligence circles, wrote Sunday that Academi employees are involved in the Kiev military crackdown on pro-autonomy activists in near the town of Slavyansk, in the Donetsk region.

On April 29, German Intelligence Service (BND) informed Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government about the mercenaries’ participation in the operation, the paper said, RIA Novosti reported. It is not clear who commands the private military contractors and pays for their services, however.

In March, media reports appeared suggesting that the coup-imposed government in Kiev could have employed up to 300 mercenaries.That was before the new government launched a military operation against anti-Maidan activists, or “terrorists” as Kiev put it, in southeast Ukraine.

At the time, the Russian Foreign Ministry said then that reports claiming Kiev was planning to involve “involve staff from foreign military companies to ‘ensure the rule of law,’” could suggest that it wanted “to suppress civil protests and dissatisfaction.”

In particular, Greystone Limited, which is currently registered in Barbados and is a part of Academi Corporation, is a candidate for such a gendarme role. It is a similar and probably an affiliated structure of the Blackwater private army, whose staff have been accused of cruel and systematic violations of human rights in various trouble spots on many occasions.

“Among the candidates for the role of gendarme is the Barbados-registered company Greystone Limited, which is integrated with the Academi corporation,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “It is an analogue, and, probably and affiliated body of the Blackwater private army, whose employees have repeatedly been accused of committing grievous and systematic human rights abuses in different troubled regions.”

Allegations increased further after unverified videos appeared on YouTube of unidentified armed men in the streets of Donetsk, the capital of the country’s industrial and coalmining region. In those videos, onlookers can be heard shouting “Mercenaries!”“Blackwater!,” and “Who are you going to shoot at?”

(FILES) A picture taken on July 5, 2005 shows contractors of the US private security firm Blackwater securing the site of a roadside bomb attack near the Iranian embassy in central Baghdad. (AFP Photo / Ahmad Al-Rubaye)(FILES) A picture taken on July 5, 2005 shows contractors of the US private security firm Blackwater securing the site of a roadside bomb attack near the Iranian embassy in central Baghdad. (AFP Photo / Ahmad Al-Rubaye)

Academi denied its involvement in Ukraine, claiming on its website that “rumors” were posted by “some irresponsible bloggers and online reporters.”

“Such unfounded statements combined with the lack of factual reporting to support them and the lack of context about the company, are nothing more than sensationalistic efforts to create hysteria and headlines in times of genuine crisis,” the US firm stated.

The American security company Blackwater gained worldwide notoriety for the substantial role it played in the Iraq war as a contractor for the US government. In recent years it has changed its name twice – in 2009 it was renamed Xe Services and in 2011 it got its current name, Academi.

The firm became infamous for the alleged September 16, 2007 killing of 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad. The attack, which saw 20 others wounded, was allegedly without justification and in violation of deadly-force rules that pertained to American security contractors in Iraq at the time. Between 2005 and September 2007, Blackwater security guards were involved in at least 195 shooting incidents in Iraq and fired first in 163 of those cases, a Congressional report said at the time.

Published time: May 11, 2014 15:04
Edited time: May 12, 2014 21:59 Get short URL

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Einsatz gegen Separatisten Ukrainische Armee bekommt offenbar Unterstützung von US-Söldnern

400 US-Söldner sollen in der Ostukraine gegen die Separatisten kämpfen. Das berichtet “Bild am Sonntag” und beruft sich dabei auf Geheimdienstinformationen. Die Kämpfer kommen demnach vom Militärdienstleister Academi, früher bekannt als Blackwater.

Berlin – Es war ein eindeutig formuliertes Dementi. “Unverantwortliche Blogger und ein Onlinereporter” hätten “Gerüchte” verbreitet, wonach Angestellte der Firma Academi in der Ukraine im Einsatz seien. Das sei falsch und nichts mehr als ein “sensationalistischer Versuch, eine Hysterie zu kreieren”. So äußerte sich der US-Militärdienstleister, ehemals unter dem Namen Blackwater zu unrühmlicher Bekanntheit gelangt, am 17. März auf seiner Webseite.

Die staatliche russische Nachrichtenagentur “Ria Novosti” legte freilich am 7. April nach: Blackwater-Kämpfer agierten in der Ostukraine – und zwar in der Uniform der ukrainischen Sonderpolizei “Sokol”. Eine unabhängige Bestätigung dafür gab es nicht.

Ein Zeitungsbericht legt nun nahe, dass an der Sache womöglich doch etwas dran sein könnte: Laut “Bild am Sonntag” werden die ukrainischen Sicherheitskräfte von 400 Academi-Elitesoldaten unterstützt. Sie sollen Einsätze gegen prorussische Rebellen rund um die ostukrainische Stadt Slowjansk geführt haben. Demnach setzte der Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) die Bundesregierung am 29. April darüber in Kenntnis. Wer die Söldner beauftragt habe, sei noch unklar.

Die Informationen sollen vom US-Geheimdienst stammen und seien während der sogenannten Nachrichtendienstlichen Lage, einer regelmäßigen Besprechung unter Leitung von Kanzleramtschef Peter Altmaier (CDU), vorgetragen worden. An dem Treffen hätten auch die Präsidenten der Nachrichtendienste und des Bundeskriminalamts, der Geheimdienstkoordinator des Kanzleramts und hochrangige Ministeriumsbeamte teilgenommen.

Angeblich Luftraum gezielt verletzt

Die Zeitung berichtet aus der Runde weiterhin, dass die US-Geheimdienstler auch über Informationen verfügten, wonach russische Flugzeuge absichtlich den Luftraum der Ukraine verletzt hätten. Die Regierung in Moskau hatte das dementiert. Der BND habe aber Informationen der Amerikaner, dass Moskaus Militärpiloten den Einsatzbefehl bekommen hätten, gezielt in den ukrainischen Luftraum einzudringen.

Eine Bestätigung für den Bericht gibt es bisher nicht. Der BND habe eine Stellungnahme abgelehnt, so “Bild am Sonntag”. Private Sicherheitsfirmen wie Academi gerieten insbesondere während des Irak-Kriegs in die Kritik. In den USA stehen mehrere ehemalige Blackwater-Angestellte im Zusammenhang mit der Tötung von irakischen Zivilisten vor Gericht. Academi hat sich mit einer Millionenzahlung von Ermittlungen in den USA freigekauft.
11. Mai 2014, 08:10 Uhr

11. Mai 2014, 08:10 Uhr

Find this story at 11 Mai 2014


PRIVATE US-SICHERHEITSFIRMA ACADEMI Wer steckt hinter der Söldnertruppe?

Ukrainer, Russen oder doch auch US-Amerikaner? Wer kämpft wirklich auf welcher Seite im ukrainischen Bürgerkrieg?
Am Wochenende sorgte ein Bericht der „BILD am SONNTAG“ für Aufregung, wonach die ukrainischen Sicherheitskräfte von 400 Söldnern der US-Firma Academi unterstützt würden. Der Bundesnachrichtendienst habe die Bundesregierung am 29. April darüber in Kenntnis gesetzt. Die Informationen sollen vom US-Geheimdienst stammen.
Das Dementi kam prompt:
Academi habe nirgendwo in der Ukraine Personal präsent oder im Einsatz, sagte Vizeunternehmenschefin Suzanne Kelly „Zeit Online“. Es sei auch nicht geplant, in der Ukraine präsent zu sein oder einen Einsatz zu starten.

Doch wer steckt wirklich hinter Academi?
Das Unternehmen bezeichnet sich selbst als Anbieter von Sicherheitsdienstleistungen. Es verweist auf seine Erfahrung in den gefährlichsten Regionen der Welt, ein erstklassiges, weltweites Netzwerk von Sicherheitsexperten und seine vertrauensvolle Partnerschaft mit staatlichen und privaten Kunden.
Academi ist aus der 1997 gegründeten privaten US-Sicherheitsfirma Blackwater hervorgegangen.
Das Unternehmen erlangte traurige Berühmtheit, als im Irak-Krieg Blackwater-Mitarbeiter, die dort im Auftrag des Pentagon tätig waren, am 16. September 2007 im Westen von Bagdad 17 irakische Zivilisten erschossen. Zudem sollen Söldner an Folter-Verhören in Geheimgefängnissen der CIA beteiligt gewesen sein.
Blackwater wurde 2009 in Xe Services umbenannt, was laut Beobachtern dabei helfen sollte, die Makel der Vergangenheit zu loszuwerden. 2010 kaufte eine private Investorengruppe die Firma. Der Gründer Erik Prince, ein früherer Marinesoldat und Millionenerbe, verließ das Unternehmen.
VergrößernDer frühere Blackwater-Chef Erik Prince, Archivbild von 2007
Der frühere Blackwater-Chef Erik Prince, Archivbild von 2007
Foto: Reuters
2011 erfolgte die erneute Umbenennung in Academi. Geleitet wird die Firma nun vom Ex-Brigadegeneral der US Army, Craig Nixon. Im Aufsichtsrat sitzt auch der ehemalige Justizminister unter Präsident George W. Bush, John Ashcroft.
Das Management betont, rein gar nichts mehr mit Blackwater und Prince zu tun zu haben. Es sei „unglaublich unverantwortlich“, den Eindruck zu erwecken, Academi und Blackwater seien ein und dasselbe, schimpfte Vizechefin Kelly.
Doch in seiner auf der Webseite des Unternehmens abrufbaren Image-Broschüre verweist Academi auf seine langjährige, über ein Jahrzehnt zurückreichende Erfolgsgeschichte.
VergrößernMitarbeiter der privaten US-Sicherheitsfirma Blackwater schützen Paul Bremer, den zivilen US-Verwalter im Irak (Mitte), in Bagdad, Irak. Archivbild vom 8. September 2003
Mitarbeiter der privaten US-Sicherheitsfirma Blackwater schützen Paul Bremer, den zivilen US-Verwalter im Irak (Mitte), in Bagdad, Irak. Archivbild vom 8. September 2003
Foto: dpa
Das Unternehmen erhält weiterhin lukrative Aufträge der US-Regierung, unter anderem als Betreiber von Militäranlagen in Afghanistan.
Die Firma gibt an, pro Jahr rund 20 000 Mitarbeiter zu Aufträgen zu entsenden. Kunden seien Regierungen und private Einrichtungen. Nach brasilianischen Medienberichten schulte Academi zuletzt die Polizei des Landes für den Umgang mit terroristischen Bedrohungen bei der anstehenden Fußball-Weltmeisterschaft.
Ob tatsächlich Academi-Söldner in der Ukraine im Einsatz sind, lässt sich schwer nachprüfen. Auf den bereits im März bei Youtube hochgeladenen Videos, die als „Beweis“ angeführt werden, sind lediglich maskierte, schwer bewaffnete Männer zu sehen. Aus einer wütenden Menge sind „Blackwater“-Rufe zu hören.

Seit dem Erscheinen der Videos wird immer wieder spekuliert, dass Söldner die pro-westliche ukrainische Regierung unterstützen.
Die russische Nachrichtenagentur Interfax verbreitete die Äußerungen eines russischen Diplomaten in Kiew, wonach 300 Söldner bereits in der ukrainischen Hauptstadt eingetroffen seien. Die meisten seien aus den USA und zuvor im Irak und in Afghanistan im Einsatz gewesen. Dabei wird auch immer wieder die private US-Sicherheitsfirma Greystone genannt – früher ebenfalls ein Tochterunternehmen von Blackwater.
Die britische „Daily Mail“ fragte den Sicherheits-Experten Dr. Nafeez Amad vom unabhängigen Londoner Institut für Politikforschung und -entwicklung (IPRD), ob es sich bei den im Video gezeigten Soldaten um US-Söldner handeln könnte.
Seine Antwort: „Schwer zu sagen. Es ist sicherlich im Bereich des Möglichen.“ Die Uniformen der Männer glichen denen von US-Söldnern. Die Männer sähen auch nicht wie russische Söldner aus.
Andererseits sei die Frage, warum sich die Männer in dem Video so öffentlich zur Schau stellen, wird Dr. Amad weiter zitiert.
„Natürlich ist auch möglich, dass das alles russische Propaganda ist.“

14.05.2014 – 22:33 Uhr

Find this story at 14 Mai 2014


Alleged CIA Spy in Germany May Have Worked for Russia All Along

Edward Snowden revealed the NSA had been tapping Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone.
Germany has expelled the U.S. CIA’s station chief in the country, in a dramatic turn of events set into motion after a low-level German intelligence official was caught offering his spying services to Russia.

Cooperation between Germany and the U.S. requires “mutual trust and openness,” German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement Thursday. “The federal government is ready to continue this and expects the same from its closest partners.”

Germany was first unsettled by U.S. spying practices after documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA had been tapping Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone and conducting surveillance inside Germany.

Tensions rekindled last week after German authorities arrested a low-level employee of the Federal Intelligence Service, or BND, on suspicion of offering to spy for Russia.

The BND official later admitted that he had previously worked for the CIA, but that the U.S. spy body lost interest after two years of service during which the man reportedly leaked more than 200 classified documents, news reports said.

The man then reportedly approached the Russian consulate in Munich with an offer to spy for Moscow, but was caught by Germany’s anti-espionage officials.

German espionage-affairs analyst Erich Schmidt-Eenboom told Germany’s Deutsche Welle after the scandal broke out that the BND official might have been spying for Russia from the very beginning, even if he believed he was selling documents to the CIA.

“In the intelligence business, it is possible to be recruited under false pretenses,” Schmidt-Eenboom was quoted as saying. “Meaning he could have been told he was working for an American agency by people actually working for Russian intelligence. That’s indeed possible in this business.”

In a timely coincidence, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday lashed out at spying practices by some nations — which he did not name — against their allies.

“As for the aforementioned cyber espionage, this is not only blatant hypocrisy in relations between allies and partners, but also a direct infringement against state sovereignty and a violation of human rights, interference in private lives,” Putin said in an interview published on the Kremlin website Friday.

By Anna Dolgov Jul. 11 2014 09:59 Last edited 09:59
Francois Lenoir / Reuters

Find this story at 11 July 2014

© Copyright 1992-2014. The Moscow Times

Inside Putin’s East European Spy Campaign

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s well-organized espionage operations from the Baltic Sea to the Caucasus are described as “soft power with a hard edge,” but his efforts across the region have been more systematic than the unrest in Ukraine suggests

On Sept. 8, 2012, the Russian Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky participated in the opening of a Russian nationalist organization called the Izborsky Club in the monastery town of Pskov, just across the border from Estonia. His speech itself was not particularly memorable, but the Russian official’s presence at the affair was not lost on the Estonian Internal Security Service, which believes the club’s imperialist message and outreach to ethnic Russians across the border are part of an anti-Estonian influence operation run by Moscow.

The head of the club, Aleksandr Prokhanov, seemed to confirm the Estonian suspicions later that month when he declared, “Our club is a laboratory, where the ideology of the Russian state is being developed. It is an institute where the concept of a breakthrough is created; it is a military workshop, where an ideological weapon is being forged that will be sent straight into battle.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has many such weapons in his irredentist arsenal. The rapid collapse of the pro-Moscow government of Victor Yanukovich in Ukraine brought some of them, like paramilitary force, to the attention of the western public. But Putin’s efforts across the region have been far more systematic and carefully thought out than the recent chaos in Ukraine suggests. Over the last decade, Putin has established a well-organized, well-funded and often subtle overt and covert operation in the vast swath of neighboring countries, from Estonia on the Baltic Sea to Azerbaijan in the Caucuses, say western and regional government officials. “He’s implementing a plan that he’s had all along,” says Clifford Gaddy, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and co-author of a biography of Putin.

The operation has been described by local intelligence officials as “soft power with a hard edge” and includes a range of Cold War espionage tools. His Baltic neighbors say, for example, that he has deployed agents provocateurs to stir up their minority ethnic Russian groups which make up 25% of the population in Estonia and as much as 40% of the population in Latvia. They say he has established government-controlled humanitarian front organizations in their capitals, infiltrated their security services and energy industry companies, instigated nationalist riots and launched cyber attacks. The goal, says the Estonian Ambassador to the U.S., Marina Kaljurand, is “to restore in one form or another the power of the Russian Federation on the lands where Russian people live.”

The operation has the secondary, larger goal of undermining and rolling back western power, say U.S. and European officials. And while the greatest threat is to his immediate neighbors, his activities also challenge Europe and the U.S. All NATO countries have committed to each other’s mutual defense, which means the U.S. is treaty-bound to come to Russia’s NATO neighbors, like Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, if Putin were to attack.

For now, Putin seems unlikely to risk a direct conflict with NATO. But his espionage efforts in relatively weak NATO countries can be as effective as military action. “If you look at the complex sort of strategy that Moscow has employed in Crimea and in Ukraine it becomes much less clear what constitutes an invasion or measures to destabilize,” neighboring countries, says Sharyl Cross, director of the Kozmetsky Center at St. Edward’s University. That uncertainty about what kind of invasion the Baltics might face could make a strong NATO response impossible.

That in turn, says former CIA chief John McLaughlin, could be even more damaging to the U.S. and Western Europe by fatally undermining one of the most successful peacetime alliances in history. “If he were to challenge NATO in some way that paralyzed us over an Article Five issue, that would be a dagger to the heart of the alliance,” McLaughlin says.

The espionage confrontation between Russia and its Western neighbors started with their independence back in the early 1990s, but it escalated in 2007. In one particularly bad incident, the Estonian government removed a statue of a Russian soldier from central Tallinn in April that year, sparking riots by ethnic Russians. In the wake of the riots, Amb. Kaljurand, who was then the Estonian ambassador to Moscow, was attacked in her car by a mob on her way to a press conference. Days later a massive Distributed Denial Of Service cyber attack was launched against the computer systems of the Estonian government and major Estonian industries. In private meetings with the U.S. Ambassador to Estonia, top Estonian officials said Russia was behind the organization and implementation of all the attacks, according to confidential cables sent to Washington by the U.S. embassy and published by Wikileaks.

The war in Georgia in August 2008, sharpened NATO’s focus on Putin’s threat. Russia declared it was protecting ethnic Russians from a hostile Georgian government, an assertion that was taken as a direct warning by other countries in the region with Russian minorities, including the Baltic States and Ukraine. Around the world, intelligence agencies noticed a shift in Russian behavior, according to other Wikileaks cables. In a meeting between a State Department intelligence officer and his counterpart from the Australian government in Canberra in mid-November 2008, for example, the Australian warned the U.S. that Russia was launching a regional program to destabilize its neighbors and advance its interests. In a secret cable back to Washington, the State official said his Australian counterpart “described the Baltic states and Ukraine as ‘countries that are in Russia’s sights,’ with the dangerous similarities in Moscow’s view of the ethnically Russian population and strategic geography of Crimea to those which motivated its recent actions against Georgia.”

In response to the war in Georgia, the U.S. agreed for the first time that NATO should draw up contingency plans to respond to a Russian attack against the Baltic states. The alliance set about expanding plans known as Operation Eagle Guardian, which were developed to defend Poland, to include Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Russia for its part also stepped up its game. Putin encouraged the Russian parliament to pass a law authorizing him to intervene in other countries to protect ethnic Russians. More subtly, in 2008, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs established a national agency dedicated to advancing Russian interests especially in the former Soviet Union, now known as the Commonwealth of Independent States, and to engaging with and organizing what Moscow calls “compatriots living abroad.” Called Rossotrudnichestvo, the agency performs a variety of traditional cultural roles at embassies around the world. It also helps organize local ethnic Russian groups abroad in ways that unsettle host governments.

According to a report by the Estonian security services, membership in one local ethnic Russian group in Estonia, “Coordination Council of Russian Compatriots” is approved by the Russian Embassy and its activities are guided by the embassy. The purpose of the group “is to organize and coordinate the Russian diaspora living in foreign countries to support the objectives and interests of Russian foreign policy under the direction of Russian departments,” according to the most recent report of the Estonian Internal Security Service. “The compatriot policy aims to influence decisions taken in the host countries, by guiding the Russian-speaking population, and by using influence operations inherited from the KGB,” the report says.

Last October, Mother Jones magazine said the FBI had interviewed Americans who had accepted travel stipends from the office of Russotrudnichestvo in Washington as part of an investigation into potential spying by the Russian agency. The head of the Rossotrudnichestvo office denied the charges and called on the U.S. government to distance itself from the allegations. The FBI and other U.S. agencies declined to comment on the report.

Russia also targets regional businesses and businessmen to establish influence over key sectors, especially energy. Recently, Latvian intelligence identified a top businessman in the energy sector holding clandestine meetings with a Russian intelligence officer operating under diplomatic cover out of the Russian embassy, according to an official familiar with NATO and Latvian intelligence. When Latvian security services reached out to the businessman in an attempt to work with him, his meetings with the Russian official stopped, but his trips to Russia increased. The Latvian intelligence services concluded he was meeting with his Russian handler out of their view, the official says.

Putin has also used his intelligence advantage in neighboring countries to go after NATO itself. After Estonia arrested the former head of its National Security Authority, Herman Simm, in 2009 on charges of spying for Moscow, the Atlantic alliance uncovered and expelled two alleged Russian co-conspirators working at its headquarters in Brussels.

Most recently during the crisis in Ukraine, Putin has stepped up the traditional use of media propaganda, especially on television. The propaganda peaked with outlandish and false accusations of attacks against Russians and Russian speakers in Ukraine. Russia’s neighbors have taken a variety of approaches to countering the propaganda, from outright censorship to counter-programming. On Mar. 21, Lithuania banned broadcasts of Gazprom-owned NTV Mir station after it showed a movie that the government said “spread lies about” Lithuania’s move to declare independence from the Soviet Union in early 1991. On Apr. 3, Latvia’s National Electronic Mass Media Council suspended the broadcast rights of Rossiya RTR for three weeks, claiming the station was peddling “war propaganda.”

Estonia, for its part, considered banning Russian broadcasts but opted to leave Russian channels on and instead to compete with a barrage of “counter-programming” through Russian language TV, radio and print media. “If you ban things it creates more interest,” says Amb. Kaljurand, “The better way is to give better facts and the point of view of the West.”

The U.S. and its allies are hardly innocents in the international spy game. The U.S. government uses overt and covert means to influence and organize pro-Western groups in many of the same countries Putin is targeting. It works through cultural and diplomatic channels to recruit intelligence sources around the world and in eastern Europe, and the Ukraine crisis has only heightened that work. Says CIA spokesman Dean Boyd, “The Agency’s strong partnerships throughout the region enable cooperation on a variety of intelligence issues. When a foreign crisis erupts, it’s normal for the CIA to shift into overdrive to ensure that our officers have access to the best available information to support the policy community.”

It is also true that Russia’s western neighbors include some with anti-Russian and anti-Semitic views that are occasionally reflected in political debate. Lithuania and Latvia in particular are noted in repeated U.S. diplomatic cables from the region to Washington for the presence of “strident” anti-Russian and anti-Semitic voices in politics, some of them belonging to powerful figures.

In late April the U.S. deployed 600 troops to the Baltics and Poland, and U.S. and other NATO countries increased air patrols in the Baltics. The largely symbolic deployment was intended to reassure all four countries that the U.S. takes its Article 5 obligations seriously, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said at the time. Likewise, Kirby said, “If there is a message to Moscow, it is the same exact message that we take our obligations very, very seriously on the continent of Europe.”

Even the most nervous Russian neighbors believe Putin’s use of force is likely to stop in Ukraine, but his espionage program is likely to continue. “[He] is using the soft power tools and other forms of indirect coercion and influence against the Baltics states,” says the official familiar with NATO and Latvian intelligence, “He will use all of these tactics.”

That is a particular concern for Moscow’s neighbors as Russians everywhere prepare to celebrate on May 9 Russia’s victory over Nazi Germany. “If we have a little bit of rioting that will make people become scared and they’ll say maybe we need to find an accommodation with the Russians,” the official says.

Massimo Calabresi @calabresim May 7, 2014

Find this story at 7 May 2014

Copyright Time

How MI5 and CIA Can Fight the Russian Threat

After years reorienting itself toward counter-terrorism operations and hiring speakers of Urdu and Pashto, MI5, Britain’s domestic security and counterespionage agency, is now looking for Russian-speaking intelligence analysts. Meanwhile, a contact of mine suggested that the Russia desks in several European intelligence agencies are hastily expanding, with agents and analysts being transferred in from other sections. Yesterday, they were reading reports on North African politics and scanning the Chinese press. Now they are poring over YouTube footage of Russian armor on exercises near the Ukrainian border.

All of a sudden, as talk of a new Cold War dominates opinion pages all over the world, Western intelligence and security agencies are rushing to regain capacities lost during the 1990s and 2000s. After all, those were the days of the “peace dividend.” During this period, Russia seemed at best a partner and at worst an irrelevance. But suddenly, the big, bad specter of al-Qaida and jihadi terrorism seemed the greater menace.

I remember talking to a veteran of the U.S. intelligence community, who had experienced two purges. First, as a Russia hand, she had seen her section decimated after the Soviet collapse. Having managed to reinvent herself as a specialist in dealing with transnational organized crime — especially the Russian mob — she then saw the best and brightest of her unit summarily transferred to counter-terrorism work after 9/11.

Now, the West is worried about the Russian threat again, and it is painfully aware of the deficiencies in its intelligence capacities in this region.

Paradoxically, Western security agencies themselves have been warning for years of an upsurge in the scale and aggressiveness of Russian espionage operations.

What’s more, there has been a steady stream of Russian espionage cases. Some were more Austin Powers than James Bond, such as the cell of Foreign Intelligence Service sleeper agents uncovered in the U.S. in 2010, best known for Anna Chapman. But others were very serious breaches of Western security. Jeffrey Delisle, a Canadian naval officer who offered his services to GRU, Russia’s military intelligence, had access to top-secret material from around the world. Herman Simm, a long-time Russian agent, was head of the Estonian Defense Ministry’s security department. And there are others in these categories.

Yet for all this, there seems to have been an unwillingness to take the security breaches seriously. The Chapman case — and how galling it must be for other, more professional members of the cell to have been relegated by posterity into mere extras in her story — was more the grounds for titillation and entertainment than serious consideration. Other incidents tended to be five-day wonders at the most in the media.
This was not because Western security agencies were not expressing their concerns. Indeed, back in 2010, MI5 issued a statement, saying “the threat from Russian espionage continues to be significant and is similar to the Cold War.” Rather, it reflected their political masters’ determination to classify Russia as a second-rate, has-been state. The other factor was the Western security agencies’ narrow focus on terrorism, as if ragged gangs of religious fanatics dodging drones from cave to cave halfway across the globe represented an existential threat to the Western order.

It has taken the Ukrainian crisis to change attitudes. Last month, I attended the Lennart Meri Conference on Baltic security in Tallinn. There, the mood was tinged with more than a little of the “told you so,” especially among representatives from Central Europe. To them, the “western West” had for years been content to underestimate Russian intentions and capacities and to rely on bromides about “partnerships” and “restarts.” The West is only now realizing its mistake.

Of course, the West has always spied on Russia and tried to counter its intelligence operations. But there is no escaping the damage done by nearly 25 years of neglect. Rebuilding counterintelligence assets, let alone agent networks on the ground and the analytic capacity at home, cannot be done quickly.

Meanwhile, we must remember that democracies in particular have a tendency to lurch from one over-compensation to another. The West was too quick to write Russia off in the miserable 1990s. Will it now go to the other extreme and consider Russia as an existential enemy in the 2010s? If so, this would clearly exacerbate tensions with Moscow even further. It would also likely mean that the West’s spies once again become obsessed with Russian military capacities.

The threat to Europe, though, is not that Russia will send its tanks into the Baltics, Poland or Romania. Even in its current emaciated condition, NATO is capable of delivering a devastating response to any Russian aggression in Europe. Nor is the problem that Russia’s unidentified special forces — aka “little green men” — will suddenly crop up in Estonia’s Russian-speaking city of Narva or among the Russian tourists in Karlovy Vary.

Rather, the problem is that Russia could try to render the West impotent. First, it could divide Western leaders over the issue of how to best deal with the Russian threat. Germany is perhaps the best example of a country already divided over the “Russian problem.” Russia could also infiltrate Western financial institutions through cyberwarfare or dirty money. The question is whether Western security agencies, as they desperately scramble to respond to the new perceived challenge after running down their Cold War capabilities, will simply seek to recreate these again. That would be a mistake. What is needed is not a revival of the old, but the creation of new capabilities to respond to a new era of diffuse, complex asymmetric competition.

Mark Galeotti is professor of global affairs at New York University.

By Mark GaleottiMay. 06 2014 20:45 Last edited 20:46

Find this story at 6 May 2014

© Copyright 1992-2014. The Moscow Times

Todesschüsse in Kiew+ Wer ist für das Blutbad vom Maidan verantwortlich

Georg Restle: „Die Krise in der Ukraine ist noch lange nicht vorbei. Dies haben uns die Bilder aus dem Osten des Landes von dieser Woche gelehrt. Und auch die Propagandaschlacht geht weiter. Eine der zentralen Fragen ist dabei, wer ist verantwortlich für das Blutbad, dem im Februar Dutzende Demonstranten und Polizisten zum Opfer fielen, und das schließlich zum Sturz des Präsidenten Janukowitsch führte? Wer also waren die Todesschützen auf dem Kiewer Maidan? Die vom Westen unterstützte Übergangsregierung hat sich letzte Woche festgelegt: Präsident Janukowitsch und seine Sonderkommandos tragen demnach allein die Schuld für die Toten. Doch an dieser Version gibt es jetzt erhebliche Zweifel, wie die Recherchen von Philipp Jahn, Olga Sviridenko und Stephan Stuchlik zeigen.”

Was geschah am 20. Februar 2014 in Kiew? Aufgeheizte Stimmung, aus den ursprünglich friedlichen Demonstrationen ist ein Bürgerkrieg geworden. Teile der Demonstranten haben sich bewaffnet, rücken in Richtung Regierungsgebäude vor. In einzelnen Trupps versuchen die Demonstranten, auf die Instituts-Straße zu gelangen. Der blutige Donnerstag: Einzeln werden Demonstranten erschossen, viele von den Dächern umliegender Gebäude. Aber wer genau waren diese Scharfschützen, die auf die Demonstranten schossen?

Diese Frage beschäftigt die Kiewer bis heute, zu Hunderten kommen sie täglich an den Platz des Massakers.

Als wir ankommen, sechs Wochen danach, ist anscheinend noch nicht einmal die grundsätzliche Beweisaufnahme abgeschlossen. Sergeij, ein Waffenexperte, ist einer der vielen unabhängigen Ermittler, die eng mit der Staatsanwaltschaft zusammenarbeiten und die Ermittlungen in Gang halten. Vor unseren Augen sichert er noch Patronenhülsen. Danach alarmiert er die staatlichen Ermittler, die den Ort nach eigener Aussage schon gründlich untersucht haben. Erstaunlich, während sie noch arbeiten, hat sich ihre vorgesetzte Behörde in einer Pressekonferenz schon festgelegt, wer die Schuldigen sind.

Oleg Machnitzki, Generalstaatsanwalt Ukraine (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Mit dem heutigen Tag klagt die Staatsanwaltschaft 12 Mitglieder der Spezialeinheit Berkut des Mordes an friedlichen Demonstranten an. Der damalige Präsident Janukowitsch befehligte direkt diese Spezialeinheit Berkut.“

Die neue Regierung sagt also, die alte Regierung Janukowitsch wäre für das Blutbad verantwortlich.

Doch was geschah wirklich am 20 Februar? Fest steht, die Demonstranten rückten auf der Institutsstraße Richtung Regierungsgebäude vor. Von gegenüber gerieten sie unter Feuer, vom Dach des Ministerkabinetts, der Zentralbank und weiteren Regierungsgebäuden. Doch schon früh gab es Hinweise, dass sie auch im Rücken getroffen wurden, von ihrer eigenen Zentrale aus, vom Hotel Ukraina.

Aber welche Beweise gibt es dafür? Zum einen ist da dieses Video, das augenscheinlich beweist, dass der Oppositionelle mit dem Metallschild von hinten getroffen wird. Der Mann in Gelb auf dieser Aufnahme geht sogar noch weiter. Er gehörte zu den Demonstranten, war an diesem Tag stundenlang auf der Institutsstraße. Er heißt Mikola, wir treffen uns mit ihm am Ort des Geschehens. Er sagt uns, es wurde sogar mehrfach in den Rücken der Opposition geschossen.

Mikola (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Ja, am zwanzigsten wurden wir von hinten beschossen, vom Hotel Ukraina, vom 8. oder 9. Stock aus.“

Reporterin (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Von der achten oder neunten Etage?“

Mikola (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Ja, auf jeden Fall fast von ganz oben.“

Reporterin (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Von da oben?“

Mikola (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Ja, da standen Leute oben und haben geschossen und aus der anderen Richtung hier wurden wir auch beschossen.“

Reporter (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Und wer hat von oben geschossen?“

Mikola (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Das weiß ich nicht.“

Reporterin (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Haben Sie eine Ahnung?“

Mikola (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Das waren Söldner, auf jeden Fall Profis.“

Das Ukraina-Hotel hier war das damalige Zentrum der Demonstranten. Hat sich der Augenzeuge geirrt? Wir sind nachts unterwegs mit Ermittler Sergej. Er zeigt uns mit einem Laser, dass es nicht nur Schusskanäle aus Richtung der Regierungsgebäude gibt. Einige Kanäle in den Bäumen deuten in die entgegengesetzte Richtung, wenn man durch Austrittsloch und Einschussloch leuchtet, oben ins Hotel Ukraina, damals die Zentrale der Opposition. Das aber passt schlecht zur Version des Generalstaatsanwalts, der uns nach Tagen Überzeugungsarbeit endlich empfängt. Er ist von der neuen Regierung eingesetzt, gehört dem rechtsnationalen Flügel der damaligen Opposition an, der umstrittenen Svobóda-Partei.

Oleg Machnitzki, Generalstaatsanwalt, Ukraine (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Wir können wirklich heute schon sagen, nach allen Beweismitteln und Expertisen, die wir in der Hand haben, wer prinzipiell Schuld an den Sniper-Attacken ist: der damalige Präsident Viktor Janukowitsch, der ehemalige Verwaltungschef und der ehemalige Innenminister Sacharchenko.“

Reporter (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Sie wissen auch, dass es Sniper vom Hotel Ukraina gab?“

Oleg Machnitzki, Generalstaatsanwalt, Ukraine (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Wir untersuchen das.“

Die Scharfschützen also alles Janukowitsch-Leute? Es gibt noch weitere Beweise, die diese These in Frage stellen. Wir treffen uns mit einem Radio-Amateur, der an diesem Tag aufgezeichnet hat, wie sich Janukowitsch-Scharfschützen untereinander unterhalten. Ihr Funkverkehr beweist: Da schießt jemand auf Unbewaffnete, jemand den sie nicht kennen.

1. Scharfschütze (Übersetzung MONITOR): „He, Leute, ihr da drüben, rechts vom Hotel Ukraina.“

2. Scharfschütze (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Wer hat da geschossen? Unsere Leute schießen nicht auf Unbewaffnete.“

1. Scharfschütze (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Jungs, da sitzt ein Spotter, der zielt auf mich. Auf wen zielt der von der Ecke. Guckt mal!“

2. Scharfschütze (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Auf dem Dach vom gelben Gebäude. Auf dem Kino, auf dem Kino.“

1. Scharfschütze (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Den hat jemand erschossen. Aber nicht wir.“

2. Scharfschütze (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Miron, Miron, gibt es da noch mehr Scharfschützen? Und wer sind die?“

Wir halten fest: Es gab neben den Regierungs-Scharfschützen also noch andere unbekannte Schützen, die auf unbewaffnete Demonstranten geschossen haben. Und, wer immer vom Hotel Ukraina schießt, hat – so legt dieses Video nahe – auch diese Milizionäre getroffen. Dass Janukowitsch auf die eigenen Leute hat schießen lassen, ist unwahrscheinlich.

Gab es also Scharfschützen der damaligen Opposition? Fest steht, es gab neben den vielen friedlichen Demonstranten durchaus eine Gruppe Radikaler mit professionellen Waffen, wie diese Aufnahmen zeigen.

Und, das Hotel am Morgen des 20. Februar war fest in der Hand der Opposition. Wir sprechen mit Augenzeugen aus dem Hotel Ukraina, Journalisten, Oppositionelle. Sie alle bestätigen uns, am 20. Februar war das Hotel von der Opposition schwer bewacht. Es hätte sich also schwerlich ein Scharfschütze der Regierung einschleichen können.

Haben also radikale Oppositionelle am Ende selbst geschossen, um Chaos zu erzeugen? Um Janukowitsch die Schuld anzuhängen? Die russischen Fernsehsender verbreiten Bilder, auf denen genau das zu sehen sein soll. Unsere Recherchen bestätigen, dass die Aufnahmen tatsächlich im Hotel Ukraina gemacht wurden. Aber wer da genau auf wen schießt, lässt sich nicht endgültig klären.

Fest steht nur, es wurde nicht nur auf Oppositionelle, sondern auch auf die Milizen der Regierung geschossen. Vielleicht sogar von denselben Leuten? Wir treffen einen der wenigen Ärzte, der die Verwundeten beider Seiten versorgt hat.

Oleksandr Lisowoi, Krankenhaus Nr. 6, Kiew (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Die Verwundeten, die wir behandelt haben, hatten denselben Typ Schussverletzungen, ich spreche jetzt von dem Typ Kugeln, die wir aus den Körpern herausoperiert haben, die waren identisch. Mehr kann ich nicht sagen.“

Reporterin (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Aber die haben Sie…“

Oleksandr Lisowoi, Krankenhaus Nr. 6, Kiew (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Bei der Miliz und bei der Opposition gefunden.“

Warum geht die Staatsanwaltschaft solchen Fragen nicht nach? Der deutsche Außenminister und die Europäische Union haben bereits im Februar per Abkommen festgestellt, dass die Schuldfrage in der Ukraine ein politisch zentrales Thema sei, die Aufarbeitung sollte „ergebnisoffen“ sein, um das Vertrauen in die neue ukrainische Regierung zu stärken. Doch mittlerweile mehren sich die Zweifel, ob wirklich sachgerecht ermittelt wird, auch bei den eigenen Mitarbeitern. Wir sprechen mit einem hochrangigen Mitglied der Ermittlungskommission. Er erzählt uns Unglaubliches.

Zitat: „Das, was mir an Ergebnissen meiner Untersuchung vorliegt, stimmt nicht mit dem überein, was die Staatsanwaltschaft erklärt.“

Wurden also Beweismittel unterdrückt oder sogar unterschlagen? Auch die Rechtsanwälte, die die Angehörigen der Toten vertreten, alle eigentlich auf Seiten der neuen Regierung, beklagen sich, dass sie überhaupt nicht darüber informiert werden, womit genau sich die Staatsanwaltschaft beschäftige.

Roman Titikalo, Anwalt der Nebenklage (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Wir haben nicht gesagt bekommen, welcher Typ Waffen, wir bekommen keinen Zugang zu den Gutachten, wir bekommen die Einsatzpläne nicht. Die anderen Ermittlungsdokumente haben wir auch nicht, die Staatsanwaltschaft zeigt uns einfach keine Papiere.“

Reporter (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Haben Sie ballistische Gutachten?“

Roman Titikalo, Anwalt der Nebenklage (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Nein.“

Reporter (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Rechtsmedizinische Gutachten?“

Roman Titikalo, Anwalt der Nebenklage (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Ich durfte in den Obduktionsbericht reingucken, aber nicht kopieren, ballistische Gutachten habe ich nicht bekommen.“

Ein Anwalt der Verletzten geht sogar noch weiter:

Oleksandr Baschuk, Anwalt der Geschädigten (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Wir kommen alle an keine Ermittlungsprotokolle ran und wenn Sie mich fragen, gibt es dafür einen einfachen Grund, es wird nicht richtig ermittelt. Ich als Anwalt der Verletzten sage Ihnen, die Staatsanwaltschaft ermittelt nicht richtig, die decken ihre Leute, die sind parteiisch, so wie früher. Die wollen wie in der Sowjetunion oder unter Janukowitsch alles unter der Decke halten, so ist das.“

Der blutige Donnerstag: Über 30 Menschen werden an diesem Tag in Kiew ermordet, ein Blutbad im Zentrum einer europäischen Großstadt. Unsere Recherchen zeigen, dass in Kiew schon Schuldige präsentiert werden, obwohl es auch zahlreiche Hinweise gibt, die in Richtung Opposition weisen. Spuren, die nicht verfolgt werden. Und möglicherweise gibt es auch noch andere Kräfte, die an den Schießereien beteiligt waren. Die Kiewer Generalstaatsanwaltschaft ist sich in ihrer Einschätzung sicher, wir sind es nicht.

Georg Restle: „Bei allen offenen Fragen, dass ein Vertreter der nationalistischen Svoboda-Partei als Generalstaatsanwalt die Aufklärung des Kiewer Blutbads ganz offensichtlich behindert, wirft ein schlechtes Bild auf die neue Übergangsregierung – und damit auch auf all jene westlichen Regierungen, die die neuen Machthaber in Kiew unterstützen.“ – Monitor –

Find this story at 10 April 2014

© WDR 2014

It’s not Russia that’s pushed Ukraine to the brink of war

The attempt to lever Kiev into the western camp by ousting an elected leader made conflict certain. It could be a threat to us all

‘The reality is that after two decades of Nato expansion, this crisis was triggered by the west’s attempt to pull Ukraine decisively into its orbit … ‘ Illustration: Matt Kenyon
The threat of war in Ukraine is growing. As the unelected government in Kiev declares itself unable to control the rebellion in the country’s east, John Kerry brands Russia a rogue state. The US and the European Union step up sanctions against the Kremlin, accusing it of destabilising Ukraine. The White House is reported to be set on a new cold war policy with the aim of turning Russia into a “pariah state”.

That might be more explicable if what is going on in eastern Ukraine now were not the mirror image of what took place in Kiev a couple of months ago. Then, it was armed protesters in Maidan Square seizing government buildings and demanding a change of government and constitution. US and European leaders championed the “masked militants” and denounced the elected government for its crackdown, just as they now back the unelected government’s use of force against rebels occupying police stations and town halls in cities such as Slavyansk and Donetsk.

“America is with you,” Senator John McCain told demonstrators then, standing shoulder to shoulder with the leader of the far-right Svoboda party as the US ambassador haggled with the state department over who would make up the new Ukrainian government.

When the Ukrainian president was replaced by a US-selected administration, in an entirely unconstitutional takeover, politicians such as William Hague brazenly misled parliament about the legality of what had taken place: the imposition of a pro-western government on Russia’s most neuralgic and politically divided neighbour.

Putin bit back, taking a leaf out of the US street-protest playbook – even though, as in Kiev, the protests that spread from Crimea to eastern Ukraine evidently have mass support. But what had been a glorious cry for freedom in Kiev became infiltration and insatiable aggression in Sevastopol and Luhansk.

After Crimeans voted overwhelmingly to join Russia, the bulk of the western media abandoned any hint of even-handed coverage. So Putin is now routinely compared to Hitler, while the role of the fascistic right on the streets and in the new Ukrainian regime has been airbrushed out of most reporting as Putinist propaganda.

So you don’t hear much about the Ukrainian government’s veneration of wartime Nazi collaborators and pogromists, or the arson attacks on the homes and offices of elected communist leaders, or the integration of the extreme Right Sector into the national guard, while the anti-semitism and white supremacism of the government’s ultra-nationalists is assiduously played down, and false identifications of Russian special forces are relayed as fact.

The reality is that, after two decades of eastward Nato expansion, this crisis was triggered by the west’s attempt to pull Ukraine decisively into its orbit and defence structure, via an explicitly anti-Moscow EU association agreement. Its rejection led to the Maidan protests and the installation of an anti-Russian administration – rejected by half the country – that went on to sign the EU and International Monetary Fund agreements regardless.

No Russian government could have acquiesced in such a threat from territory that was at the heart of both Russia and the Soviet Union. Putin’s absorption of Crimea and support for the rebellion in eastern Ukraine is clearly defensive, and the red line now drawn: the east of Ukraine, at least, is not going to be swallowed up by Nato or the EU.

But the dangers are also multiplying. Ukraine has shown itself to be barely a functioning state: the former government was unable to clear Maidan, and the western-backed regime is “helpless” against the protests in the Soviet-nostalgic industrial east. For all the talk about the paramilitary “green men” (who turn out to be overwhelmingly Ukrainian), the rebellion also has strong social and democratic demands: who would argue against a referendum on autonomy and elected governors?

Meanwhile, the US and its European allies impose sanctions and dictate terms to Russia and its proteges in Kiev, encouraging the military crackdown on protesters after visits from Joe Biden and the CIA director, John Brennan. But by what right is the US involved at all, incorporating under its strategic umbrella a state that has never been a member of Nato, and whose last elected government came to power on a platform of explicit neutrality? It has none, of course – which is why the Ukraine crisis is seen in such a different light across most of the world. There may be few global takers for Putin’s oligarchic conservatism and nationalism, but Russia’s counterweight to US imperial expansion is welcomed, from China to Brazil.

In fact, one outcome of the crisis is likely to be a closer alliance between China and Russia, as the US continues its anti-Chinese “pivot” to Asia. And despite growing violence, the cost in lives of Russia’s arms-length involvement in Ukraine has so far been minimal compared with any significant western intervention you care to think of for decades.

The risk of civil war is nevertheless growing, and with it the chances of outside powers being drawn into the conflict. Barack Obama has already sent token forces to eastern Europe and is under pressure, both from Republicans and Nato hawks such as Poland, to send many more. Both US and British troops are due to take part in Nato military exercises in Ukraine this summer.

The US and EU have already overplayed their hand in Ukraine. Neither Russia nor the western powers may want to intervene directly, and the Ukrainian prime minister’s conjuring up of a third world war presumably isn’t authorised by his Washington sponsors. But a century after 1914, the risk of unintended consequences should be obvious enough – as the threat of a return of big-power conflict grows. Pressure for a negotiated end to the crisis is essential.

Seumas Milne
The Guardian, Wednesday 30 April 2014 21.01 BST

Find this story at 30 April 2014

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