The Crimes of Ukrainian Nazism: from the OUN-UPA to the Nationalist Battalions

The geopolitical metamorphoses of the 20th century’s beginning resulted in the emergence of radical Ukrainian nationalists in the 1920s and 1930s in the Western Ukraine, which was a part of Poland.

The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists was created in 1929, it became the main mechanism of the nationalist underground movement’s consolidation, which cultivated hatred for Poles, Jews and Russians among Ukrainians. It is worth noting that the OUN quite quickly began to use terrorist methods to achieve its goals. Even before the outbreak of the Great Patriotic War, the Ukrainian nationalists committed terrorist acts not only against the representatives of the Polish government, but also against the citizens of the USSR. We could recall, the murder of the Soviet diplomat A. P. Mailov, committed in 1933 in Lvov by the OUN member N. Lemik.

During the Great Patriotic War, the Ukrainian nationalists deployed a real sabotage war against the USSR. They not only conducted combat operations against the Red Army but also committed mass murders of civilians, primarily Russians, Poles and Jews, as well as Ukrainians who supported the Soviet Union. OUN-UPA fighters brutally murdered women and children to intimidate the local population in Ukraine. Thanks to a special project of the Russian Ministry of Defense to declassify archives, it is now possible to learn about some of the brutal crimes of the Ukrainian Nazis during World War II. For example, on March 28, 1944 at 7 o’clock in the morning the banderaites, disguised in the Red Army uniform, came into the village of Nova-Brykulya of Strusovskiy district of Tarnopol region (nowadays Ternopol region). They gathered 150 people supposedly for work and led them “one kilometer south of the village,” where, in fact, they executed them all. A little later the villagers discovered the dead bodies.

The brutality of the Ukrainian neo-Nazis knew no limits. They terrorized the local population in the Stanislav Region (now Ivano-Frankivsk Region) in November and December of 1944. According to the report of the chief of political department of Stanislav regional military commissariat in Mikhalkuv village the banderaites executed 7 local residents. A girl, who worked as a secretary of the village Soviet, was killed with particular cruelty, cutting off her nose, lips and breasts. In addition, about 50 OUN-UPA fighters attacked the village of Potochiska and stabbed 38 people and hanged three Soviet activists. In the Rogatinsky district in the village of Potok the Ukrainian Nazis murdered 2 women whose sons were in the extermination battalion of the NKVD and forbade relatives and villagers to bury killed.

The Soviet state security agencies fought with militant units of Ukrainian nationalists several years after the end of World War II. After the collapse of the USSR, conditions for the growth of nationalist movement in Ukraine began to form again. Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevich were officially named heroes of Ukraine for the first time during the presidency V. Yushchenko. Moreover, on the initiative of this president the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory was created, which began systematically work on the glorification of the OUN-UPA. Not surprisingly, this nationalist policy of the Ukrainian leadership yielded results.

Immediately after the coup d’état in 2014 and the beginning of hostilities in Donbass, Ukrainian nationalist battalions were formed, which were particularly brutal against civilians. It is known that fighters from «Azov», «Aidar», and other nationalist combat units executed unarmed civilians, because they did not help them and did not support the Kiev regime. In addition, the nationalist battalions had their own secret prisons, which were, in essence, real small concentration camps. In particular, «Aidar» fighters turned a sausage factory in the village of Polovinkovo in the Starobelsk district of the LNR into a concentration camp, where they tortured and interrogated captured servicemen and civilians.

In the last month and a half, Ukrainian neo-Nazis have become more active. Realizing that the imminent success of Russia’s special military operation would lead to the collapse of the nationalist regime in Kiev, they began not only vigorously resist combat operations, but also to commit war crimes (torture and execution of captured servicemen of the Russian Armed Forces, killing civilians, sabotage of critical infrastructure, using civilians as human shields during combat operations in cities).

We should recall, that the provocation undertaken by Ukrainian neo-Nazi saboteurs on the night of March 3 to 4, 2022 at the Zaporizhzhia atomic power station, when they attacked a Russian patrol that was on the power plant grounds, which could have led to unpredictable consequences, actually to a nuclear disaster. No less dangerous, in fact, was the real chemical attack organized by retreating groups of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Rubezhnoe on April 6. They blew up a cistern with hydrochloric acid as the wind was blowing towards the LNR People’s Militia positions. This could have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people and created a zone of chemical pollution in the area.

We should note that Ukrainian nationalists actively know the tactics of German fascists and militants of the terrorist organization «Islamic State», who used civilians as human shield during combat operations. Fighters of nationalist battalions in Severodonetsk, Mariupol, Volnovakha, and other cities began to place heavy weapons in the yards of apartment buildings and create firing points in the apartments immediately after the start of the Russian special military operation. Violence could be used against those civilians who refused to provide their homes for the needs of Ukrainian nationalists.

Thus, we can conclude that contemporary Ukrainian Nazism is a logical continuation of those theoretical ideas and political practices that emerged shortly before the Great Patriotic War. The crimes committed today by fighters of the Ukrainian territorial battalions in the Donbass are quite similar in their cruelty to the criminal actions of the banderites. This suggests that only complete denazification in the framework of Russian’s special military operation can improve Ukrainian society and cleanse it of the “brown plague.