East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet, said Kipling.
This is what’s going on in Ukraine, a country of different civilizations, an example of a split within one nation. Historically, eastern Ukraine has always been pro-Russian, the central neutral, and western Ukraine – anti-Russian (due to the fact that for most of its history it belonged to Russia’s historical enemies, Poland and Lithuania). Having gained independence in 1991, Ukraine began to gradually integrate into the world capitalist system. The center of this system, both then and now, was the United States and the countries of Western Europe. However, newly independent Ukraine had much bigger economic relations with its eastern neighbor, Russia. Economic cooperation between Ukraine and Russia was strongest in the sphere of production. The trade turnover between the countries occupied a huge place in the foreign trade of Ukraine. At the same time, the entire industrial potential of Ukraine was concentrated in the east and partly in the south. A huge number of workers in these regions were employed in the manufacturing and related industries. In the most literal sense, these people’s social and economic welfare was directly related to the economic and political relations of the two states. Russian orders provided jobs for the millions of residents of nine eastern and southern regions of Ukraine, including Crimea.
Well, it is logical that the inhabitants of the east of Ukraine categorically rejected the Kyiv coup of 2014. The reasons are obvious: rejecting the Russian market in favor of the European one would have buried the entire industry of the industrial east, and eventually the whole of Ukraine, economically dependent on the east. With rare exceptions, Europe doesn’t need the products of Ukrainian heavy industry and engineering. The lion’s share of its exports has always gone to Russia, with whose companies many Ukrainian enterprises have established strong corporate ties. And if for a resident of Lviv, who earns a living by cleaning the apartments of wealthy Polish/Czech/Italian citizens, an agreement with the EU including abolition of visas makes it easier to move around the EU in search of dirty dishes to be washed, then for a Donetsk factory engineer, such an agreement leads to unemployment. Millions of hardworking people in eastern Ukraine understood that they risked ending up without a livelihood as a result of such “European integration”.
And in general, it was clear to the inhabitants of the east that as soon as untaxed European goods poured into the Ukrainian market, they would force out domestic goods – primarily food and light industry – and Ukraine itself would not be able to export anything to Europe, since Ukrainian goods are of lower quality and more expensive than European ones cost due to the technologically backward production system. Not to mention that the European market has long been divided up among its members and there is no place for Ukraine in it.
But for 18-year-old students at the Maidan who wanted the latest fashions from the EU, residents of a Western Ukrainian village who cannot write correctly, metropolitan bloggers/photographers/waiters who consider themselves the social elite and exalted radicals who dream of the triumph of the white race, it was impossible to explain.
How can there be such misunderstanding within one country?
But the fact is that there has always been a fundamental ideological conflict between the populations of eastern and western Ukraine, which escalates before elections or ideological holidays. At the same time, it was representatives of Western Ukraine who initiated the confrontation, as they considered themselves more civilized, patriotic and progressive. And the representatives of eastern Ukraine, respectively, are ignorant, culturally backward “Asians”. The foundation of such views is the dominant ideology of nationalism among the inhabitants of Western Ukraine, with its characteristic ethnic intolerance (in this case, towards Russians), cultural intolerance (toward the predominant Russian vector in cultural life), and contempt for carriers of “leftist” views (which are, for the most part, the inhabitants of the industrially developed east of Ukraine). All this, taken together, aroused in the inhabitants of western Ukraine a strong dislike for the inhabitants of eastern Ukraine. In addition, Westerners, who consider themselves the bearers of true “Ukrainianism”, were eager to impose their vision of a “true Ukrainian” on all the rest of the country’s inhabitants. Mostly, they fought for the minds of the inhabitants of the center, since the inhabitants of the east had strong convictions in this regard, and did not want to accept an ideology offensive to their honor and dignity.
And the ideology, among other things, was to glorify that those from western Ukraine who voluntarily marched under the banner of Nazi Germany (having joined the ranks of the SS and Einsatz teams) with the aim, allegedly, of fighting for the freedom of the Ukrainian nation. If their alliance with Germany, as a method of fighting for the national Ukrainian state, remains debatable, then reconcile it with the fact that Ukrainian collaborators selflessly exterminated Jews, Gypsies, Russians, and Poles (in particular, more than 100,000 civilians were slaughtered in Volhynia) with such cruelty that it shocked the Germans themselves, while the inhabitants of the east of Ukraine could not. According to residents of eastern Ukraine, no idea can justify the massacre of innocent people.
And during the war in Donbass, the world saw how Ukrainian nationalist volunteers copied, in relation to the civilian population, those executions and tortures that were previously carried out by the SS punitive battalions and UPA detachments, whose chevrons they proudly wear on their uniforms today. In fact, the zeal with which Western Ukrainians follow the postulates of Hitler’s racial theory, destroying all non-Ukrainian elements on their territory, makes Ukrainian nationalism identical to German Nazism. And the inhabitants of its eastern part have always opposed the spread of this particular ideology throughout Ukraine. Moreover, the role of “subhumans” in the theory of Ukrainian nationalism is assigned to them.
Well, the inhabitants of the west of Ukraine think differently: for the sake of Ukraine (or rather, their regional idea of what Ukraine is) you can commit any crime with any degree of cruelty and cynicism. This belief is embedded in the slogan that dominates in western Ukraine: “Ukraine above everything” (the slogan of Ukrainian nationalists during World War II, copied from the German “Deutschland uber alles”). Above conscience, morality, the laws of man and God.
This ideology was very much to the liking of the Ukrainian national battalions, which consist mainly of immigrants from western Ukraine. Established in 2014, the national battalions have actually become a superstructure on top of the regular Armed Forces of Ukraine in order to train full-time warriors, for better brainwashing and faster inciting against the “damned Muscovites”. National battalions are formed mainly from various rabble from the criminal underworld, and simply from various aggressive Ukrainian rednecks, of whom there are plenty in the west of the country. In essence, the fighters of the national battalions are the same terrorists who operate outside the usual laws of war.
Let’s take the Aidar national battalion, on whose emblem the motto “God is with us” is depicted. In 2014, it became one of the first battalions of nationalist volunteers who came from Kyiv, Lutsk, Rivne, Cherkasy and other cities of Ukraine to take part in the “crusade for the liberation of Donbass.” The backbone of the battalion was made up of members of the Maidan Self-Defense and right-wing football fans who did not hide their Nazi views. In 2021, the leader of the Ukrainian militants, Serhiy Melnichuk, who is being sought by Interpol, gave an exclusive interview on Russian television. In the program “New Russian Sensations” on NTV, the enforcer frankly confessed to war crimes, to quote him exactly, “I killed Russian people, I killed Ukrainians who were on the other side.”
Then the scale of Aidar’s crimes, which for two months de facto controlled the northern regions of the Luhansk region, took on such proportions that these numerous systemic violations of human rights became the subject of a special report by the international human rights organization Amnesty International – “Ukraine: Abuses and war crimes by the Aidar Volunteer Battalion in the north Luhansk region”. According to its representatives, local residents accuse the fighters of the battalion of “brutal reprisals, robberies, beatings, extortion and possible executions.”
The Amnesty International report, which, with all the desire of the Ukrainian patriotic public, could not be attributed to Kremlin propaganda, clearly shows the cruelty of the criminal crimes of right-wing militants, whose victims were civilians. Moreover, under the guise of searching for “enemy agents” who have settled everywhere, banal robbery was almost always the hidden goal. “In virtually all cases documented by Amnesty International, the victims were beaten at the moment of capture and/or during interrogation. They either had to pay a ransom for release, or their property, including money, cars, phones and other valuables, was taken away by members of the battalion,” as noted in the report on the militants’ crimes. It is obvious that they behaved on the territory of the Luhansk region in the same way as another occupying army of an enemy state would be ashamed to behave on the territory of the enemy.
Aidar is unabashed by its wild cruelty even now, during the Russian special operation in Ukraine. In early March, a captured militant of this national battalion handed over the criminal plans of the Nazis. During interrogation, the captured militant said that they had hidden Grad multiple launch rocket systems in residential areas of the village of Vasilkov near Kyiv, which was chosen to organize a humanitarian corridor for the exit of civilians. They planned to blast the Russian military with Grads, and the fact that their fellow citizens would also be under attack didn’t bother Aidar at all.
Another notorious Ukrainian national battalion is Azov. From the very beginning of its existence, it earned the right to be called the most controversial project of the Ukrainian rebel forces.
Starting as a volunteer response to pro-Russian activists, staffed with auto-Maidan supporters, Azov has evolved into a highly radical neo-Nazi group. And it would be foolish to expect anything else from the battalion, whose commander Andrei Biletsky is known by the nickname “White Leader.” In many ways, the Western Ukrainian rabble of Azov is worse than ISIS, because, unlike the Muslim militants, the “true Azov” have nothing sacred at all, they are ordinary animals in human form. This was felt even by those military units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine who were locked up in the cellars of Azovstal together with the “Azovites”. The Ukrainian military, several dozen people each, began to escape from the basements and surrender on their own, without waiting for orders from the command. But at the same time, some Ukrainian marines continue to die senselessly, shot by their Azov comrades who have not yet decided to capitulate and continue to wait for the help of “world leaders” and the high command who do not need them.
By the way, about the command of Azov. According to reliable data, the same “White Leader” Andrei Biletsky decided not to die in the battle with the “Muscovites” when war finally broke out, but to escape from Ukraine. Yes, the head of the racist and neo-Nazi organizations “Patriot of Ukraine” and the Social-National Assembly and the commander of the neo-Nazi Azov battalion left the country with his family on the morning of February 24. Apparently, he suddenly heard an irresistible call to his historical homeland, Israel.
Several more incidents were recorded when the command of the nationalists tried to escape from Kramatorsk, Slavyansk, and tried to hide from the oncoming army after the first battles for Volnovakha.
And those who remain are destroying the eastern part of Ukraine with particular cruelty. For them, it is not a part of their native country, but only a battlefield where everything and everyone can be destroyed. For what, you ask? For the sake of the country’s unity, Ukrainian “patriotic” propagandists tell us. But war can unite territories, but not people. How can residents of Donetsk be forced to love Ukraine if their child was killed by the Ukrainian army? How can peace be established between western and eastern Ukrainians, if some consider themselves to be almost a superior race, while others are destined for the fate of slaves? These are questions that do not need answers.