Tony Greenstein | 19 September 2023 | Post Views:

 The TUC Decision to Support NATO’s Proxy War in the Ukraine is Shameful but Not Surprising Given Its Record of Subservience to the British State

It is no surprise that Gary Smith of the institutionally sexist and racist GMB and an avid Zionist, has backed NATO’s neo-Nazi allies in Ukraine. The fact that Zelensky has approved laws stripping workers of their rights and banning left-wing parties, including Platform for Life, which has 44 seats in the 450-seat Ukrainian parliament, has been no deterrent to Smith, since he also does his best to suppress workers’ struggles.

What is more remarkable is that Sharon Graham, who has a reputation for supporting strikes but declared herself ‘non political’ when she was elected General Secretary, has also got into bed with the Zionists. In particular taking advice from the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, an organisation set up and funded by the Israeli state and the Jewish National Fund, about banning Jeremy Corbyn – The Big Lie. Graham also has given her support to NATO’s proxy war in Ukraine.

One can only hope that the Socialist Workers Party and the Socialist Party, who have both up till now supported Graham, see the error of their ways and reconsider their support for this British chauvinist.

The TUC motion, which was opposed by only two unions – the FBU and Bakers Union with the RMT and NEU abstaining – called for more weapons to be supplied to Ukraine. These reactionary union bureaucrats, fools all, should bear in mind that a large percentage of the arms already supplied have found their way onto the private market. Ukraine is Europe’s most corrupt state.

Azov Demonstration 2014

The United States and Britain have been directly supplying neo-Nazi forces in Ukraine since 2014, despite a Congressional motion cutting aid to Azov in 2018. We face the prospect of a new Libya in Europe with private militias and an ongoing civil war.

There have already been credible threats that if Ukraine doesn’t receive enough weaponry then they will resort to terrorism in Europe. What does NATO think is going to happen when the war ends? Do they think the fascists will disarm? We could see an outbreak of terrorism in Europe which will make ISIS seem like a tea party.

flag of the Ukrainian NPGU mining union courtesy of Skwawkbox

Azov symbol bears remarkable similarity to that of the NPGU mining union

The sonnenrad or sunwheel is one of a number of ancient European symbols appropriated by the Nazis. It bears a remarkable similarity to that of the NPGU mining union which was on display at the TUC Congress

Mark Serwotka of PCS, who has previously been considered on the left, joined the warmongers in offering “unequivocal support for those currently suffering occupation by a brutal Russian invasion”. Serwotka said that ‘We are with the Ukrainian people and for Russia out, only the people of Ukraine should decide what the outcome looks like.”  For Serwotka the activities of open neo-Nazis and the attacks on Russian speaking Ukrainians since 2014 count for nothing.

Paul Massaro is a senior US governmentpolicy advisor for counter-corruption and sanctions

Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary of State in the Biden administration admitted that the US had funded, to the tune of over $5 billion, the overthrow of the elected President Yanukovych in 2014. Fascists were heavily armed when they outgunned the police.

“Our solidarity must know no borders,” said GMB President Barbara Plant. Not a word that the GMB is used to using when it comes to workers nearer home. Unite backed the motion despite its Executive having issued a statement saying that “wars are never in the interest of working people”. One wonders whether Sharon Graham even realises that opposing war and supplying more weapons to Ukraine is a contradiction.

The GMB has never extended solidarity to anyone outside Britain. It has consistently supported Israel’s ethnic cleansing and has repeatedly sided with the Jewish Labour Movement, the British wing of Israel’s racist Israeli Labor Party. At the moment it is trying to expel a former International Officer Bert Schounberg for moving a motion at his branch calling for the disaffiliation of the JLM.

Last year a GMB resolution supported by Unite under its war mongering General Secretary, Sharon Graham, called for increased arms spending. Unbelievably it called on the TUC to back an increase in arms spending to 3 per cent of GDP. This at a time when the NHS and schools are being starved of money. As Chris Nineham of Stop the War Coalition wrote

‘It actually put the TUC to the right of the Tory government which even now only dares to push for 2.5 per cent arms spending.

John McDonnell has thrown in his lot with Ukraine’s neo-Nazi infested armed forces

Andrew Murray wrote

Last year GMB general secretary Gary Smith persuaded the TUC Congress to vote, shamefully if narrowly, to campaign for increased military spending.

At a time of austerity and a cost-of-living crisis, that decision prioritised the arms industry over the vital interests of millions of working people, not least the tens of thousands of GMB members in the beleaguered public services.

It also revealed that Smith believes that the British government can be trusted with more weapons, despite overwhelming evidence that they are used either for wars of aggression or for sale to despotic regimes.

Given Smith’s support for Apartheid Israel, it is no surprise that this appalling reactionary should demand that the Tories divert yet more money from the NHS and their own workers in the health service to feed America’s war industry. It is a shameful comment on the British trade union movement that this motion was passed.

The neo-Nazi credentials of the Azov battalion, which has been integrated into the army and now promoted to brigade status, is well documented. That did not stop Arsen Avakov, Ukraine’s Interior Minister, a man personally responsible for integrating far-right groups into the state from defending them to the online newspaper Ukrayinska Pravda in 2019.

“The shameful information campaign about the alleged spread of Nazi ideology (among Azov members) is a deliberate attempt to discredit the ‘Azov’ unit and the National Guard of Ukraine,”

As even NBC had to admit

even though Putin is engaging in propaganda, it’s also true that Ukraine has a genuine Nazi problem… important as it is to defend the yellow-and-blue flag against the Kremlin’s brutal aggression, it would be a dangerous oversight to deny Ukraine’s antisemitic history and collaboration with Hitler’s Nazis, as well as the latter-day embrace of neo-Nazi factions in some quarters.

NBC went on to remind us that

On the eve of World War II, Ukraine was home to one the largest Jewish communities in Europe, with estimates as high as 2.7 million, a remarkable number considering the territory’s long record of antisemitism and pogroms. By the end, more than half would perish. When German troops took control of Kyiv in 1941, they were welcomed by “Heil Hitler” banners. Soon after, nearly 34,000 Jews — along with Roma and other “undesirables” — were rounded up and marched to fields outside the city on the pretext of resettlement only to be massacred in what became known as the “Holocaust by bullets.”

The Babyn Yar ravine continued to fill up as a mass grave for two years. With as many as 100,000 murdered there, it became one of the largest single killing sites of the Holocaust outside of Auschwitz and other death camps. Researchers have noted the key role locals played in fulfilling Nazi kill orders at the site.

Those locals were led by Stepan Bandera’s Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and its armed wing the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). Ukraine is the only country in the world to have a national holiday in memory of a Nazi collaborator, Stepan Bandera. The Times of Israel described how Hundreds of Ukrainian nationalists march in honor of Nazi collaborator.

Today the British press plays down the threat of the neo-Nazis in Ukraine. However at the time of the Maiden coup in 2014 they were singing a different song. The Guardian described how Azov fighters were both Ukraine’s greatest weapon and its greatest threat.

They quoted Dimitary, a member of the Azov group as saying that

“I have nothing against Russian nationalists, or a great Russia, but Putin’s not even a Russian. Putin’s a Jew.”

You might think that Zionist groups like America’s Anti-Defamation League would be prominent in denouncing these neo-Nazis and anti-Semites. After all they are usually able to spot ‘anti-Semites’ before they have time to unfurl the Palestinian flaga. But strangely enough they have kept remarkable quiet. Even worse they have been excusing and justifying them.

In 2019 – before it became politically necessary to whitewash them – the ADL itself warned that an “extremist group called the Azov Battalion has ties to neo-Nazis and white supremacists” and issued a report on how the Ukrainian militia was trying to “connect with like-minded extremists from the US.”

Ali Abunimah described how the ADL has been turning a blind eye to Hitler’s accomplices in Ukraine and even justifying their record. As Abunimah observed ‘So when Washington goes to war, the lobby will often lend its propaganda services to the cause.’

This shows that the Zionist lobby, of which the ADL is the most prominent, are first and foremost supporters of US imperialism. So now it is rehabilitating the Ukrainian collaborators who helped Hitler exterminate Jews and Poles.

This Holocaust revisionism is motivated by the need to whitewash the present-day, far-right Ukrainian nationalists and neo-Nazis.

The reason the US, NATO and the European Union gives for sending weapons and mercenaries to Ukraine is that they are helping a fellow democracy defend its independence and sovereignty against an illegal invasion by an expansionist, megalomaniacal madman.

Anrdrii Melnyk is currently Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs

It is therefore very awkward from a Western perspective that the Ukrainian regime is underpinned by hard-right fascists and neo-Nazis.

Acknowledging this fact, Western war propagandists fear, would legitimize Putin’s claim that the Russian invasion – which has been overwhelmingly condemned by the UN General Assembly – is justified by a need to “de-Nazify” and demilitarize Ukraine.

The dilemma is summed up in an NBC News headline: “Ukraine’s Nazi problem is real, even if Putin’s ‘denazification’ claim isn’t.”

But most Western media will no longer even go as far as NBC News in acknowledging this reality.

The current war can be traced directly to the 2014 coup in Ukraine, during which the US and its allies supported far-right and neo-Nazi elements. The goal was to install a US-friendly regime that would bring Ukraine into NATO. Moscow has long seen NATO expansion as an existential threat.

Key actors in the US-supported coup were neo-Nazi groups like Right Sector, the Azov Battalion and C14. They are part of a broader Ukrainian nationalist movement that venerates Bandera, the leader of the OUN, which collaborated with Hitler during World War II.

In an interview with Andrew Srulevitch, ADL Director of European Affairs, Professor David Fishman exonerated the UPA and Bandera, who were responsible for the slaughter of 300,000 Jews and Poles. Asked about torchlit marches in Kyiv with red and black flags, Fishman had this to say:

“For Ukrainian nationalists, UPA and Bandera are symbols of the Ukrainian fight for Ukrainian independence. The UPA allied with Nazi Germany against the Soviet Union for tactical – not ideological – reasons…. When Ukrainian nationalists and Jews look at those red and black flags, we see two different things.’

In fact UPA attacks on Jews were so ferocious that Jews sought the protection of the Germans.

The Banderite bands and the local nationalists raided every night, decimating the Jews

a survivor testified in 1948.

Jews sheltered in the camps where Germans were stationed, fearing an attack by Banderites. Some German soldiers were brought to protect the camps and thereby also the Jews.

ADL, which purports to oppose anti-Semitism, carried the interview with Fishman on its website and in its newsletter. Zionist organisations, which are usually so concerned about ‘anti-Semitism’, simply echoed NATO propaganda. As Abunimah observed:

Fishman’s excuse that Bandera and other Nazi collaborators are “symbols” of the “fight for Ukrainian independence” mirrors the claims from American white supremacists that their display of the Confederate battle flag is merely to honor their “heritage” and not to celebrate a regime that went to war to protect its “right” to enslave people from Africa.

Dozens of Ukrainian streets are named after Bandera and in a particularly nice touch Bandera’s street runs right up to the site of Babi Yar.

Daniel Lazare, in a review of Grzegorz Rossoliński-Liebe’s Stepan Bandera: The Life and Afterlife of a Ukrainian Nationalist wrote:

Although Bandera and his followers would later try to paint the alliance with the Third Reich as no more than “tactical,” an attempt to pit one totalitarian state against another, it was in fact deep-rooted and ideological. Bandera envisioned the Ukraine as a classic one-party state with himself in the role of führer, or providnyk, and expected that a new Ukraine would take its place under the Nazi umbrella, much as Jozef Tiso’s new fascist regime had in Slovakia or Ante Pavelić’s in Croatia.

What we are seeing is a cynical attempt to rewrite history in order to portray Bandera and the OUN/UPA as mere Ukrainian nationalists. Why? Because NATO’s Ukrainian friends identify with Bandera’s alliance with Nazi Germany. Bandera saw things differently explaining that Ukrainian nationalism had taken shape “in a spirit similar to the National Socialist ideas”.

That the BBC and the yellow press is engaged in trying to prettify the Azov Battalion and assorted neo-Nazis is one thing (see Ros Atkin’s apologia What untruths is Russia spreading about Nazis in Ukraine?) but for a Zionist organisation which purports to oppose anti-Semitism to do the same is something else.

As Jimmy Dore observed, there are now good Nazis as well as bad Nazis. The good ones are pro-Western and publicly, at least, play down their anti-Semitism.

An example of Azov’s handiwork was the body of a woman found in the basement of Azov’s HQ in Mariupol. She had been tortured and a swastika was scratched into her chest. For which Western media blamed Russians.

Oleksiy Kuzmenko’s Far-Right Group Made Its Home in Ukraine’s Major Western Military Training Hub [George Washington University, September 2021] makes for sombre reading. Kuzmenko wrote that:

…  since 2018, the National Army Academy (NAA), Ukraine’s premier military education institution and a major hub for Western military assistance to the country, has been home to Centuria, a self-described order of “European traditionalist” military officers that has the stated goals of reshaping the country’s military along right-wing ideological lines and defending the “cultural and ethnic identity” of European peoples against “Brussels’ politicos and bureaucrats.” The group envisions a future where “European right forces are consolidated and national traditionalism is established as the disciplining ideological basis for the European peoples.”

The group, led by individuals with ties to Ukraine’s …  Azov movement, has attracted multiple members, including current and former officer cadets of the NAA now serving in the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Apparent members have appeared in photos giving Nazi salutes and made seemingly extremist statements online.

The group has been able to proselytize Ukraine’s future military elite inside the NAA. Members have also gained access to Western military education and training Institutions.

The presence of the far right within the NAA is alarming because that institution is central to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Western support for that country, and Western military presence there. Foreign military instructors routinely engage with the Academy’s cadets at both the Academy proper and the International Peacekeeping and Security Center it oversees….

Azov figures and groups linked to Azov also heaped praise on Centuria and shared its messages online. In January 2019, for example, Eduard Yurchenko, an ideologue of the Azov movement, praised the group on Telegram, where he now has more than 1,100 subscribers. “You should know that this is our legendary future growing,” Yurchenko wrote of Centuria, emphasizing that the group was holding events within the NAA. …

Galician Youth, a group that is linked to the Azov movement and operates in the Western part of Ukraine, similarly shared Centuria propaganda on Telegram in 2019.

In May 2021, the United Jewish Community of Ukraine… accused Galician Youth of spreading anti-Semitic posters in Lviv. The group denied having any connection to anti-Semitic posters and stated that it condemned anti-Semitism and xenophobia. Belying these statements, however, Galician Youth events, patches, etc., feature white nationalist symbols.

The evidence is overwhelming that the AFU is being penetrated at all levels by neo-Nazi groups.

Hope not Hate, which never lost an opportunity to attack anti-racists like Chris Williamson for ‘anti-Semitism’, went out of its way to downplay genuine anti-Semitism in Ukraine. HnH withdrew an award to Joe Solo for having supported Chris, though it ended up with egg on their faces writing that:

Ukraine’s contemporary Jewish community, while facing antisemitism that all Jewish populations sadly receive, has, in the post-communist era, become a thriving community in the country with freedoms and protections written in law.

Eduard Dolinsky, the leader of Ukraine’s Jewish community clearly disagreed:

Our government encourages nationalistic groups. Our government encourages glorification of Nazi collaborator mass murderers and murderers of Jews.

Literally there are hundreds of monuments, streets named after killers of Jews. You can’t imagine in the West… a monument to a policeman who was escorting Jews to Nazi death camps…. We have anti-Semitic incidents every day – vandalism on Holocaust mass graves, vandalism on Jewish monuments. … No one was ever convicted. They always deny the issue.

Zelensky’s Alliance with Ukraine’s Neo-Nazis

Western propaganda uses the fact that Zelenskyy is Jewish to legitimise Ukraine’s Nazis. This is not strange however. Zelensky is a rabid Zionist and Zionism historically has always koshered anti-Semitism. It did so with Nazi Germany.

Less than 3 weeks ago the Israeli  Ambassador to Romania, together with settler leader Yossi Dagan, met with the leader of the far-right Alliance for the Unity of Romanians party. This is a party that openly denies the holocaust and is descended from the Iron Guard who in 1941 staged a pogrom in Bucharest and hung the bodies of Jews from meat hooks in butcher shops. As Ha’aretz observed in its editorial ‘Shared Values’: Netanyahu’s Israel Cements Another Grim Alliance With Europe’s Far Right

Zelensky is a puppet of Ukraine’s fascists who came to power thanks to patronage from Ukrainian oligarch, Ihor Kolomoisky. Kolomoisky funded  Zelensky’s election campaign whilst also funding the Azov Battalion and other far-right militias.

In 2019 Zelensky met with a range of fascist groups telling reporters “I met with veterans yesterday. Everyone was there – the National Corps, Azov, and everyone else.” A few seats away from Zelensky was Yehven Karas, leader of the neo-Nazi C14 gang.

In 2019, Zelensky defended Ukrainian footballer Roman Zolzulya against Spanish fans taunting him as a “Nazi.” Zolzulya had posed beside photos of Bandera and openly supported the AB. Zelensky, described Zolzulya as “not only a cool football player but a true patriot.”

In April 2021 Zelensky tried to appoint the neo-Nazi former head of the Right Sector in Odessa, Serhiy Sternenko as head of Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU). As the former head of the neo-Nazi Right Sector in Odessa, Sternenko was directly implicated in the 2014 Trade Unions House massacre in Odessa, when 46 trade unionists were burnt alive or shot whilst attempting to flee the burning building. It is a massacre that Smith and Graham are remarkably unconcerned or ignorant about.

In November 2021 Dmytro Yarosh, announced that he had been appointed as an advisor to the Commander-in-Chief of the AFU. Yarosh led the Right Sector from 2013-2015, vowing to lead the “de-Russification” of Ukraine.

A month later, as war with Russia drew closer, Zelensky awarded Right Sector commander Dmytro Kotsyubaylo the “Hero of Ukraine” commendation. Kosyubaylo keeps a pet wolf in his frontline base, and likes to joke to visiting reporters that his fighters “feed it the bones of Russian-speaking children.”

On March 1, Zelensky replaced the regional administrator of Odessa with Maksym Marchenko, a former commander of the extreme right Aidar Battalion, which has been accused of an array of war crimes in the Donbas.

Zelensky’s visit to Greece in April 2022 backfired dramatically in a country which was occupied during WWII. Zelensky’s address cut away to broadcast two members of the AB. Both said that they were of Greek heritage. It caused outrage. “Nazis Return to Parliament — Thanks to Mitsotakis” ran one headline referring to the fact that only recently had Greece managed to drive out its own neo-nazis.

The decision of the TUC to give blanket support to NATO’s proxy war in Ukraine, knowing full well that neo-Nazi groups are integrated armed forces is or should be a matter of shame. Clearly Gary Smith and Sharon Graham have no shame.

Tony Greenstein

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Tony Greenstein

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