Ukrainian Left: Fight Russian Invasion and Say No to NATO - pt 1/2

Denys Gorbach,  a member of the editorial collective of the Ukrainian socialist website “Commons,” says while NATO expansion should be opposed, it’s not why Russia invaded. 

Paul Jay

Hi, welcome to, I’m Paul Jay. We’ll be back in just a few seconds with Denys Gorbach, who’s coming to us from Paris. He’s a Ukrainian activist and academic, and he’s going to talk to us about the current situation in Ukraine. Be back in just a few seconds.

I’ve been wanting, for some time, to talk to a progressive Ukrainian about what’s going on in Ukraine. Today I am joined by a Ukrainian academic and activist who studied the Ukrainian working class Ukrainian trade unions, and his name is Denys Gorbach. He’s a doctoral candidate at the Institute of Political Studies known as Sciences Po in Paris. His research focuses on the politics of the Ukrainian working class. He’s a member of the editorial collective of Commons, a Ukrainian Socialist website. Previously, he worked as an economic journalist in the Ukrainian press. Thanks very much for joining me, Denys.

Denys Gorbach

Thank you for having me.

Paul Jay

So first of all, thanks very much for doing it. I know this is a hell of a time. When were you last in Ukraine?

Denys Gorbach

The last time was during my fieldwork, which I was doing in 2019. Afterwards, I didn’t have a chance.

Paul Jay

And you’ve been mostly living in Paris then for a while?

Denys Gorbach

Afterwards, yes, the last three years, mostly Paris, otherwise other cities of France.

Paul Jay

So there’s a lot of discussion in the West or even around the world about the reason for the Russian invasion of Ukraine. They call it [Vladimir] Putin’s invasion more than they say Russia’s invasion. I guess that’s another question. At any rate, the expansion of NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] is the underlying cause of the invasion.

You hear terms, even in the Left, a term I heard— which I find a little alarming the way it was phrased, but a tactical error on Putin’s part, an overreaction on Putin’s part, but that the prime underlying cause of the conflict is the expansion of NATO. What’s your assessment of that argument?

Denys Gorbach

Sadly, this narrative has been bought very much. It’s very persuasive for a number of reasons, for the global Left and for the realist school of thought, for more Rightish realists in American foreign policy studies.

Paul Jay

People like John Mearsheimer.

Denys Gorbach

Exactly. So these are quite unlikely, but fellows that concur that. It is all the more curious because this narrative, this explanation, is not exactly the preferred explanation, even for Putin himself. Even the Russian leadership has used this argument rather manipulatively at the beginning of this year and at the end of last year. In the days preceding the invasion, the last several speeches made by Putin have completely abandoned this topic. Instead, they focus on the more nationalist view. So Putin spent several hours speaking into the camera about how Ukraine is an artificial entity created by the evil Bolsheviks. So it was nothing about so-called security guarantees of Russia but more about the explicit desire to expand its own geopolitical areas.

Paul Jay

Well, I saw this, I have to say, a rather bizarre meeting that Putin had with a group of stewardesses. I don’t know if you saw this. It was a very strange thing because they looked more like models in stewardess uniforms. They were all stunningly beautiful. There were about 15 or 20 of them around this big table, and Putin explained why— one of the stewardesses, if she is a stewardess, asked why did this war begin? His argument was primarily about the threat of Ukrainian militarization and the expansion of NATO. He even talks about whether Ukraine was in NATO or even if it wasn’t, someday there could be missiles in Ukraine pointed at Russia. It seems to me that’s the main explanation I’ve been hearing, and I think what the Russian people have been hearing, no?

Denys Gorbach

Yeah, so there is this narrative of Russia being constantly encircled, yes. This is a part of the dominating discourse. It is not exactly the narrative that helps us understand the conflict. It helps to perhaps analytically distinguish two different scales, chronological scales. If we think in decades or if we think in terms of the last half-century, in that sense, of course, NATO and, more precisely, the U.S., with its military and political interest, has certainly been a force whose influence is extremely important for structuring the whole picture of global capitalism and the global political conjunction as well.

In that sense, yes, it had the agency of the U.S.. and of American imperialism, if you want to put it that way. It certainly affected Putin’s view of things as well as everything else in the world. However, if we want to look for reasons for the Ukrainian/Russian conflict and if we want to make a scale of the last, let’s say 20 years, it is safe to say that in this respect, the perspective of Ukraine’s NATO membership has not been on the table since 2008. Since the famous Bucharest summit, when the leaders of Ukraine, Georgia, and I believe Moldova filed a formal request for being granted and planned for NATO membership.

This request was not supported by NATO. So despite the pleas from President [Viktor] Yushchenko of Ukraine, at that time, this was the very extremely pro-Western President. So at that point, it had already become extremely clear for everyone, including Putin, that this was not going to happen because of the West’s considerations for Putin’s so-called security guarantees or zones of influence. 

It is true that since then, especially since 2014, after the beginning of the war, actually, Ukraine has been pushed. If you look at the development of these events, it was pushed by the actions of the Russian invasion into the arms of Washington in terms of political and military cooperation. This still does not make it any more probable that Ukraine would ever have been considered a member of NATO. This process of military cooperation has been growing closer and closer, and the public opinion in Ukraine has been warmer and warmer towards NATO. So around 2008, the share of Ukrainians who were favourable to membership in NATO was very small. So it was maybe 20% around that figure. In recent years, it has grown upward to 62%, and obviously, after the invasion, it is extremely high.

Paul Jay

Part of the argument goes— you kind of talked a bit about it. The argument goes that even if NATO was never going to actually allow Ukraine to become a full member (the term now is a de facto member), people are saying that because more than a billion dollars of military support and equipment, starting with [Donald] Trump, then under [Joe] Biden, now, of course, that ain’t the same because there’s no Article Five. Still, the extent of the militarization of Ukraine, these people argue, was legitimately seen as a threat. They say the Americans would never allow a pro-Russian Canada to get so armed or Mexico. So was that not a provocation?

Denys Gorbach

I mean, it’s all fine discussing security guarantees of Russia, who is entitled to have legitimate security guarantees, which is apparently not the case for Ukraine, whose security guarantees have been discarded. So they existed in the form of the Budapest Memorandum from 1994. I mean, I’m sure you know this story. It was even mentioned by President [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy just before the invasion, where he reminded us that Ukraine refused to keep its nuclear weapons in exchange for the guarantees that then were trampled by Russia.

Recent history shows us what happens when Ukraine is demilitarized. Since the early ’90s until the early 2010s (for two decades), Ukraine has been disarming itself because it’s not exactly a very rich country, as you might guess. Its budget was structured to ensure the less privileged received funds. This led the country into the 2014 situation where the Russian forces annexed Crimea without much fuss. Then they were able to successfully establish military and political domination and made them break away. So the only logical lesson that Ukrainians take out of this whole history is that you should be armed to the teeth. You should pick the strongest bully in the neighbourhood, which happens to be the United States, to protect yourself from the bully right next door. Unfortunately, this is the Ukrainian perspective. This is the point of view of its security guarantees if we want to speak in that language.

Paul Jay

Why did, prior to the invasion or the lead-up to it, why did Ukrainians think that Russia was the bully? And partly the whole issue of Donbas. What is your take on that? Because you would think at least some of the people in Donbas who have declared independence recently, they saw Russia as a defender, not a bully.

Denys Gorbach

Well, there are two opposing views on the conflict around Donbas, the war that started in 2014. Ukrainian nationalists react extremely angrily when you call the situation a civil war / civil conflict. They only agreed to acknowledge the agency of the Russian government, and the other side is only willing to acknowledge the agency of the working class, or whatever you might call them, the people who suddenly found their new national identity in Donbas. Certainly, there are two dimensions to this story. There was certainly an inner conflict at the time of Euromaidan (2013-2014). There were people in Donbas who did not agree with what was happening in Kyiv. The situation would never have accelerated to the extent to which it did were it not for the factor of Russia, which sent its troops and escalated the conflict to the state of actual war, of actual military hostilities.

Paul Jay

I’ve talked to progressive Russians who are very opposed to the war and the invasion. They argue that the forces in Donbas, if I understand it correctly, at least in 2014, were just asking for a Federated model of Ukraine, to have sort of the rights like Quebec within Canada. They didn’t get anywhere with that and then started wanting real autonomy, and then they got the Minsk agreement. According to the progressive Russians I’m talking to, the Ukrainian government did not try to implement this at all, which would have respected the autonomy.

There’s a split even in the Russian-Left over the war. A section of the Russian Left sees the Ukrainian government and the forces around it as right-wing and, in fact, suppresses the Ukrainian Left, of which you’re part of. They’re mixed about all this because even though they don’t like Putin and don’t see him as a progressive force, they see the Ukrainian government as a more right-wing force in this particular situation. Still, it all surrounds the issue of Donbas. I know you grew up in a Russian-speaking family. What’s your take on the truth of all this, because it gets very contradictory.

Denys Gorbach

Well, like I said, yes, I will not deny the existence of genuine popular participation in those present at the early stage of 2014. Were they legitimate? Were they right to demand federalization and whatnot? Language, rights, autonomy? Sure. That, in principle, this sounds completely fine and legitimate. In principle, I agree that the Euromaidan, with its scary pictures, with its new government that did not find anything better to do in the very first days after it seized power than to dismantle the law about languages which was a purely symbolic step. I mean, it didn’t change anything in practice, but it did create a certain atmosphere.

Paul Jay

So for people who don’t know this was a law that would have outlawed the use of Russian, I don’t think it ever was implemented, but that sort of expressed an attitude.

Denys Gorbach

I mean, if you want, we can actually go slightly back even in this regard.

Paul Jay

Go ahead.

Denys Gorbach

In principle, Ukraine is a heterogeneous country linguistically and ethnically. It doesn’t make it exotic. It doesn’t make it illegitimate. There are plenty of countries like that, and it was not always a political issue. It has become politicized explicitly, starting from the 2000s when these identities— so the competition of the so-called ethnic Ukrainian identity and the so-called East Slavic. So, more of a post-imperial identity that emphasizes the Russian language, Orthodox Church and Soviet symbolism. This competition between these two national projects was the artifact imposed by the logic of parliamentary competition in the 2000s. So this was the framework founded by the oligarchic forces, which was the easiest for them to use for their competition and the parliamentary politics in the party politics. Afterwards, this framework has got a logic of its own, which means that the spiral of polarization started to unfold. Eventually, it started getting out of the control of these politicians themselves. 

In 2012, we had President [Viktor] Yanukovych, who was the embodiment of this pro-Russian or East Slavic identity. In order to reinforce his political domination, he bet on the further polarization by passing the law on languages which did not change anything. It was sold to the population as this big change that finally established historical justice for the Russian speakers. In fact, this was basically about the language on the beer bottles, whether you should double it, like in Canada, for example. So it definitely was not about making everyone speak one language or the other. It led to great celebrations on the part of the pro-Russian politicians and to great protests and outrage, not strikes but pickets, on the part of the Ukrainian nationalists. 

Then one and a half years later, you have this revolution. You have the politicians representing the other identitarian camp seizing power, and then what do they do? They grabbed this useless law, and they canceled it very publicly and very loudly. Which, again, does not change anything in the practical function of the languages. Still, even now in Ukraine, you can speak— like most of the Ukrainian Army, in fact, is Russophone, speaks Russian. So it’s not outlawed or anything, but it sends a signal. The signal is perceived with triumph by one camp and with horror by the other camp. So the polarization makes another step. The Ukrainian nationalists say yes, we will send our militarized units to Crimea to show them who’s the boss there. Obviously, this is immediately grabbed and reproduced on the internet to mobilize Russian speakers in Crimea and elsewhere. So you have this identitarian conflict that gets out of control and which finally allows a foreign force to intervene on the grounds of protecting the Russian speakers from the genocide. 

Paul Jay

The Ukrainian nationalists, many of them are virtual or even overt Nazis. Again, my Russian friends tell me there was a good reason to fear what they might have done or did do in Crimea. Thousands of people, apparently, over the last eight years, were killed in Donbas, and they say by the Ukrainian nationalist forces in the Ukrainian military. Then you combine that with this new militarization of Ukraine. There was reason to believe that this build-up of the Ukrainian military prior to the build-up of the Russian encirclement and then invasion, that there was a reason for Russia to believe that this rearming, if you can say, Ukrainian military might try to go into Donbas and crush the movement for autonomy and independence. Was that a legitimate concern on Russia’s part?

Denys Gorbach

Okay, I did not exactly get your intention initially when you first asked this question because this discourse is evidently only present in Russia. It is so far from what people were speaking about and how they saw the situation in Ukraine over the last year.

Paul Jay

This is what large sections of the Left all around the world is sort of what one is hearing.

Denys Gorbach

I mean, I’m not going to be an advocate of whatever nationalist bullshit the Ukrainian government, after the Euromaidan and up to maybe now, has been doing. So, I’m not going to explain everything that is written in those language laws. I find it utterly ridiculous the very idea that Ukraine, at any point in its recent history, whether under President Zelenskyy or under more nationalist, certainly very nationalist President [Petro] Poroshenko, previously, was ever intending to seriously invade Crimea and to take it by force, Crimea or Donbas. I mean, there is a difference in forces. With the full-scale Russian invasion, which has been muddling on for three weeks, the whole world is looking at it in disbelief. How come the Russian Army seems to be so weak? What has happened to all of our analysis? Now, we might have the new information to reconsider, but so far, this was common knowledge in the whole world, including in Ukraine, that no, Russia is completely unbeatable, and it would be suicide for anyone who would want to do that.

So, yes, there was this re-militarization because you can imagine a country that spent eight years in the situation of low-intensity war because this was not a frozen conflict, but there were deaths. If not every day, certainly every week. So yes, there was certainly a re-militarization of the economy, and the Army was building up. Still, even among the most radical nationalists, hardly even the super nazi Ukrainian far-right flank would ever dream of actually launching an offensive against Russian controlled territories.

Paul Jay

So if it’s not NATO expansion, in reality, that motivates this invasion, and I’ve always thought that too because it was clear Ukraine could never get into NATO. This unique consensus in NATO to allow a new country in, and I think enough countries had made it very clear that they were never going to let Ukraine into NATO. If the de facto, as people call it, NATO-ization of Ukraine, the military build-up, it was certainly there, but if it’s not an actual threat to Russia in an offensive way. You’re saying even to Donbas, it was not a threat, and thus then, the defence of Donbas isn’t really a motivating factor for the invasion, then what the hell is? What is this about?

Denys Gorbach

I don’t know if there is a political scientist [foreign language 00:28:27] among your Russian friends, your Russian Leftist friends. If not, I highly recommend. He’s a very bright person, and I owe it to him; this argument. It seems that we all have been kind of blind to the possibility of real ideological politics existing, especially in the post-Soviet space. This part of the world, after the breakup of the Soviet Union, has been utterly cynical in terms of ideologies. This is true for the population. I mean, everybody perceives politics, principles, and ideologies as smoke and mirrors, as lies, which are only used to mask real intentions, which lie somewhere in the economy and economic control sphere. 

This whole story seems to show us, as strange as it may seem, the Russian leadership is not crazy. It acts rationally from the point of view of its ideologized worldview. This worldview is informed by the agenda of the restoration of military and political might of the empire, even if it comes at the cost of economic well-being and at the cost of good political standing. We can see that the Russian government has made conscious steps towards marginalizing itself on the political scene. It is a rational step within the framework of the empire that famously, as the expression goes, stands up from its knees, that shows its military might, is not afraid to face the ultimate boss, the United States, and so on. So I think we face the return of the ideology to this part of the world.

Paul Jay

Certainly underpinning that, and I’ll say this twice, I am not comparing Putin to [Adolph] Hitler. The invasion of Ukraine, while I think, is a violation of international law, and I emphasize that, whereas some people are paying lip service to that. I remember a conversation before the Iraq war. One of my guests on a show I had was saying to an Iraqi who was saying, you got to help us overthrow Saddam Hussein because he’s such a terrible dictator. My guest said you know what? That’s your problem. My problem is international law. My problem is the world doesn’t unravel into total militarized chaos. So you want to get rid of Saddam? Go ahead, but don’t ask us to completely break down international law that was established after World War II.

So I have three concerns here. One international law which I think has been violated grossly. Two, everything I look at these days, I look at the issue of climate change as the most important critical threat we have and all of this is completely taking the most recent IPCC report off the table for even talking about it. A report that’s apocalyptic in its language. And three, the threat of nuclear war, because whatever the hell happens in Ukraine, we’re getting closer to the threat of nuclear war. Accidental, I doubt deliberate, but when you start getting this tense, shit happens. We don’t have room for shit happens with this.

All that being said, the underlying reasons have to be economic. It seems to me, I think anyway, it’s very similar to the rise of fascism in Germany. Germany deserved to be a major power in Europe. After World War I, the West didn’t want it to be, of course, until they did. They wanted to point it at the Soviet Union, and they helped those forces within Germany that they thought were so anti-communist, so fascist that it would serve them. Then, of course, be careful what you wish for. This refusal of the West to recognize that Russia has to have a space within the capitalist world, assuming you want a capitalist world and I don’t, but we got one. Russia deserves to be a major power of Europe, including having more access to the European markets than the United States does. It’s not a bloody European country. Clearly, that’s got to be the base of which this great need to reinvigorate and call upon all the ideology of empire.

Denys Gorbach

Well, Germany’s story is very well known. It’s very well analyzed in terms of Marxist conceptual operators. So you have all this talk of financial capital, imperialism in the lending sense of expanding finances. In this sense, so far, at least, it’s been hard for me to grasp Russian imperialism in these classical terms. Although if you speak about the loss, about the humiliation of the empire, this is certainly true. The ambitions that are frustrated, the zones of influence or zones of exclusive interest that are negated, suddenly, this is all taking place.

In terms of purely economic dimension, what we can say for sure is the importance of Ukraine economically to Russia. We have seen that, and we can trace it back to the very beginning of the independent existence of Ukraine in 1991, when it was part of the shared economic space, and it had trouble leaving it. Then the reintegration attempts began around 2010-2011, with the projects of the Eurasian Economic Union, which was supposed to become an entity akin to the European Union. So a competent entity, geopolitical and geo-economic entity.

Putin was adamant about trying to get Ukraine into that Union. 

Ukraine is a metalogical producer that competes with Russia. Currently, it competes with Russia in the agrarian commodity markets. If these two major producers are joined into one, certainly it will, of course, be a major improvement in terms of the Russian terms of trade for its economic standing globally. This is precisely why the Ukrainian ruling class was so hesitant despite its cultural proximity. It was the Ukrainian oligarchs who have been mostly promoting this pro-Russian, this so-called East Slavic identity on the internal political scene. They were very reluctant to agree to any of these integration projects because these projects did not give them any promises of survival. If you have to combine the two powers, then it is the Russian bourgeoisie that gets the goods, and the Ukrainian bourgeoisie do not get any place of its own in the picture. So this is what I could say in terms of the economy.

Paul Jay

You talked earlier about agency, and most of the analysis that gets done everywhere is about the interest and motivations of the Russians, the interest and motivation of the Americans. There isn’t a heck of a lot of talk about the interest and motivation of the Ukrainians; other than these days, Zelensky is sort of a hero standing up to the brutes. First of all, I want to talk about the Ukrainian people, but let’s first start with the Ukrainian oligarchy, which doesn’t get talked about these days. They’re not monolithic. They have their own agendas, and maybe the analysis really should start from them.

Denys Gorbach

There is this rather weird formation of the ruling class, which is typical for the post-Soviet space. I mean, elsewhere, oligarchs is a rude word. This is how I see it is perceived today in the anglosphere. Also, in France, people don’t understand why you’re calling them oligarchs. You are just probably mad at them. That’s why I use this word.

Paul Jay

Well, let me just say Bernie Sanders correctly called American billionaires oligarchs. So when I say oligarchs, I include Americans.

Denys Gorbach

In places like Russia and Ukraine, oligarchs are a term that is more defined, which is more strict and even neutral. So it simply means someone who has an enormous concentration of wealth, who uses this economic wealth to conserve an enormous amount of political power, and the two depend on each other. So this is where perhaps I would see, in fact, a difference between the super-rich and super politically powerful people in the U.S.

Paul Jay

I don’t think they’re so different, but that’s another topic.

Denys Gorbach

If we use the liberal language, the language of liberal economists, this is about property rights. In Ukraine, the oligarchs, if they fall out of grace, they can be extinguished economically as well, which might not be the case in the U.S.

Paul Jay

Yeah, not so easy.

Denys Gorbach

So this is the definition of an oligarch. So people who own political and economic power. These two types of capital are used interchangeably to support each other and whose property is guaranteed by their proximity to the political centre of gravity. This class first saw the light of day in Russia in the ’90s, after the privatization, because Russia privatized more abruptly. It was a quicker and more brutal story in Russia than in Ukraine. By 1996, you had this reelection of [Boris] Yeltsin, which was organized and massively falsified by these oligarchs.

In Ukraine, this story begins rather in the second presidential term of President [Leonid] Kuchma in the first half of the 2000s. When this aforementioned President admitted explicitly that he had in mind the creation of a national bourgeoisie, the creation of a national property class. With this vision in mind, he conducted privatization by limiting access to foreign bidders by selling the industrial assets cheaply to insiders. So, for example, one of the oligarchs is his son-in-law. Thereby creating the ruling class because before that there was only him. So there was the political administration and the industrial administration known as re-directors. So the directors of state-owned factories. After the privatization, we got this new elite of oligarchs, so the super-rich people that control all of the economy. There is only, I mean, you can count them on the fingers of one hand, maximum two hands. Contrary to Russia, this class has not been evocated out of the political competition because currently, there are still certainly oligarchs in Russia. They certainly participate in some politics, but in a very implicit manner; some undercover, behind-the-scenes negotiations.

In Ukraine, starting from the 2000s, we see the system which has been called oligarchic democracy in this somewhat paradoxical manner. So the parliamentary democracy, which is nevertheless mostly the competition of political machines controlled by the oligarchs. So the parties are not grassroots parties. They are not what you have elsewhere. These are vertical mechanisms that are glued by the forces of patronage, clientelism and so on.

The other important factor in Ukraine, which is not the case anymore in Russia, is the control over the media. In Russia, the competition between the media has been, I think, has evaporated already in the early Putin years. In Ukraine, this is still the case that an oligarch is a person who is not only wealthy and politically influential but also a person who is mediatically influential, who owns at least one TV channel. So this competition is perpetuated in the public sphere by way of competing narratives in the media.

Paul Jay

We’re going to do a part two of this conversation which we’re going to post as quickly as we can after part one. Just before we end it here, I just want to get back to the real world here because once one gets into the analysis of the situation, it’s easy to kind of lose sight of the savagery of the invasion and the suffering of the people. So just to end this part, what are you hearing about what’s happening now? And then in part two, we’re going to continue talking about the history, and we’re going to talk about just what happened in 2014. First of all, what are you hearing about what’s happening on the ground?

Denys Gorbach

So from the latest reports, it looks like Kyiv is still under artillery shelling. Episodically not constantly, but there are residential districts in Kyiv that are under fire. It is much more so the case for Kharkiv, which is incidentally the most Russophone, the most Russian-speaking city in Ukraine in the east, which is still not under siege. Not besieged yet, but the Russian forces are trying to close in around it, and there is massive destruction there. The third place where it’s been extremely hot is Mariupol’, a port city in southeastern Ukraine that is besieged, which is extremely important strategically for the Russians to capture. Therefore this is currently the scene of the most brutal war crimes.

Paul Jay

In part two, we’re going to continue some of the historical conversation as well as some of the questions of just what motivated the invasion and what’s happening in terms of the politics amongst the people, which is not monolithic either. So please join us for part two of the conversation, and thanks for joining us.

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Denys Gorbach received his Master’s degree in June 2017 from the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology at Central European University, Budapest. Previously, he received his BA in political science and MA in philosophy from Kyiv-Mohyla Academy in Ukraine and worked as an economic journalist. His research interests include political economy, social movements, and working-class formation in the post-Soviet region. For his master’s project, Denys studied hegemonic configurations at the workplace and national level that prevented trade unions from becoming channels of radical political mobilization. His current research project is focused on national populism in today’s Ukraine – both as the basis of dominant national public discourses and as the defining factor of the country’s national variety of capitalism. theme music

written by Slim Williams for Paul Jay’s documentary film “Never-Endum-Referendum“.  


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  1. Hi Paul,

    I share a number of sentiments with other commenters on this one, and after listening to most of the podcast, it was unclear whether Denys acknowledged the civil war in Donbas since 2014, which I am getting confirmation from a number of sources, including Wikipedia. A Ukrainian perspective is a good idea, but this guest contradicts some of what I understand about the conflict. It may the case that he is describing part of the picture, while Russian or Western sources compete to supply the rest of the picture on Ukraine.

    I have a couple more requests for questions/interview topics:
    * Due to the Ukraine conflict, I have been finding more independent media sites I visit support the US narrative of “Putin evil, shun Russia” without offering a rounded picture. It seems like not just corporate media, but independent media sites are being targeting by the US gov’t or corporate donors to be watered down or share the official narrative. Are you able to discuss gov’t or corporate pressure on independent media with a guest, especially if you have experienced any yourself?
    *Strength of Russian army: This follows from my request above, because I have gotten info from an interview on Grayzone with Col Macgregor that Russia has a highly effective army that has crippled the Ukrainians, but Counterpunch, for example, has articles stating the Russian equipment is old, breaking down and they are ready for defeat. I’m inclined to believe the Grayzone interview, but wow, I did not expect such conflicting sources in otherwise progressive media.

  2. Take a look at who we are supporting in Ukraine.

    Part of the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory. A rewrite and white washing of Ukraine’s fascism.

    Representative of the important Nazi role in Ukrainian national security affairs is the appointment of former Pravy Sektor chief Dymytro Yarosh as an adviser to the commander in chief of Ukraine’s armed forces.

    (Pravy Sektor, or Right Sector, is one of the OUN/B successor groups in Ukraine. Its Nazi/fascist character is generally whitewashed in the MSM.)

    Yarosh wrote about his appointment on Facebook: “By order of Lieutenant General Valery Zaluzhny, I was appointed an adviser to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. . . .”

    The presence of Nazi/fascist members and/or alumni of groups like Azov Battalion, Pravy Sektor are the norm in Ukraine.

    Telling the truth about this gets one labeled as a “Russian dupe” or “Putin propagandist.”
    Yarosh is a follower of Stephan Bandera, making him a direct line of evolution from the Nazi-collaborationist OUN/B.

    Pravy Sektor, itself, is the political front for the UNA-UNSO, the final incarnation of the UPA.

    1. “Ex-leader of Right Sector Yarosh appointed adviser to Armed Forces’ Commander-in-Chief”;; 11/02/2021.
    The Commander of the Ukrainian Volunteer Army, ex-leader of the Right Sector movement Dmytro Yarosh, said that he had been appointed an adviser to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. He wrote about this on Facebook.

    “By order of Lieutenant General Valery Zaluzhny, I was appointed an adviser to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Thank you for your trust! We will win together!” Yarosh wrote. . . .

    2. “Dymytro Yarosh;”
    . . . . Yarosh calls himself a follower of Stepan Bandera [39] . . . .
    3. “The Durability of Ukrainian Fascism” by Peter Lee; Strategic Culture; 6/9/2014.

    . . . . Yuriy Shukhevych’s role in modern Ukrainian fascism is not simply that of an inspirational figurehead and reminder of his father’s anti-Soviet heroics for proud Ukrainian nationalists. He is a core figure in the emergence of the key Ukrainian fascist formation, Pravy Sektor and its paramilitary.
    And Pravy Sektor’s paramilitary, the UNA-UNSO, is not an “unruly” collection of weekend-warrior-wannabes, as Mr. Higgins might believe.

    UNA-UNSO was formed during the turmoil of the early 1990s, largely by ethnic Ukrainian veterans of the Soviet Union’s bitter war in Afghanistan. From the first, the UNA-UNSO has shown a taste for foreign adventures, sending detachments to Moscow in 1990 to oppose the Communist coup against Yeltsin, and to Lithuania in 1991. With apparently very good reason, the Russians have also accused UNA-UNSO fighters of participating on the anti-Russian side in Georgia and Chechnya.

    After formal Ukrainian independence, the militia elected Yuriy Shukhevych—the son of OUN B commander Roman Shukhevych– as its leader and set up a political arm, which later became Pravy Sektor. . . .”

    Post-Maidan Ukraine is the world’s only nation to have a neo-Nazi formation in its armed forces. The Azov Battalion was initially formed out of the neo-Nazi gang Patriot of Ukraine. Andriy Biletsky, the gang’s leader who became Azov’s commander, once wrote that Ukraine’s mission is to “lead the White Races of the world in a final crusade…against the Semite-led Untermenschen.” Biletsky is now a deputy in Ukraine’s parliament.

    In the fall of 2014, Azov—which is accused of human-rights abuses, including torture, by Human Rights Watchand the United Nations—was incorporated into Ukraine’s National Guard.

    While the group officially denies any neo-Nazi connections, Azov’s nature has been confirmed by multiple Western outlets: The New York Times called the battalion“openly neo-Nazi,” while USA Today, The Daily Beast, The Telegraph, and Haaretzdocumented group members’ proclivity for swastikas, salutes, and other Nazi symbols, and individual fighters have also acknowledged being neo-Nazis.

    In January 2018, Azov rolled out its National Druzhinastreet patrol unit whose members swore personal fealty to Biletsky and pledged to “restore Ukrainian order” to the streets. The Druzhina quickly distinguished itself by carrying out pogroms against the Roma and LGBTorganizations and storming a municipal council. Earlier this year, Kiev announced the storming unit will be monitoring polls in next month’s presidential election.

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  3. Who is this person and why should I give a toss what they think? This kind of content is next to worthless in my opinion. Missing the forest for the trees, which is bound to happen here. Don’t let some false sense of not taking sides pigeonhole you from rather obvious truths, Paul. The bigger picture is more important. A whole system analysis is more valuable.

    The bigger picture I’m starting to get a sense of is Putin has sealed Russia’s fate in the East, regardless of what’s to happen with his administration. He is very aware of this dynamic if American strategy predicated on peeling Russia away from China, the reverse Kissenger. Well, you’ve got utter lunatics in the Biden administration like Blinken, this deranged mad man is going to start ww3 and needs to be replaced ASAP, who made this impossible, along with the beast which has grown on it’s own which is the US domestic political dynamics, ie Russia gate, and just this whole “looking tough” thing in general. What Putin has done is sealed the deal.

  4. First, I mostly agree with Arun Mukherjee.

    Second, what I am hearing now is a mobilization of supposed “Left” voices trying to go on Leftist websites and channels trying to propagandize about how everything in the Left media is wrong, and then proceeding with whatever narrative the spokesperson can muster, most of them sound weak and insinsere, or like Right-wing pundits trying to shout everyone else down.

    Finally what this seems like to me is ultimately is that Zelensky has destroyed his country and let people’s lives be disrupted or ruined all to save his hero status and his job and position in Ukraine. The only thing it ever made sense to do once Russia made itself clear that it was tired of talking to the wall and going to act was to let NATO’s the US’s and Ukraines bluff be called and agree to Russia’s fairly reasonable demands …

    1. Change Constitution to not join NATO.
    2. Cede Crimea.
    3. Cede as yet un-negotiated areas, Donbass, around the Sea of Azov to Russia.
    4. Remove the neo-Nazi threat to Ukraine and Russian citizens.

    What Zelensky tried to do with Western help, money, weapons and propoaganda was to push the world to confront Russia and risk nuclear war so he and the West could have a little victory and Zelensky could pretend to be a hero.

    I think Zelensky is a not a Ukrainian hero, and that he is in fact a puppet of the West, and not a smart or strategic man at all. He has brought death and destruction – first by not maintaining a good relationship with Russia, putting in the Ukrainian Constitution a mandate to join NATO, and then to not end the war – why? thinking he could win it, or hold off indefinitely while the country becomes a battleground? Aside of BS heroics in the Western Media, that is not in the best interests of his country or his people … because he knows what Russia wants and he is just being a puppet of the West taking a gamble.

    All of this scramble to ship billions in weapons and alienating Russia from the world markets … these have all been seen and responded to as acts of war in the past. Is anyone in any responsible position thinking at all?

    1. “War is God’s way of teaching Americans geography.”

      Many American people are unable to find countries and major cities on a map, so this remains a wise sardonic comment about the cartographical ignorance of the American people.

      Especially for the bead clutching liberals so concerned about people in a country they never even knew existed. Ukraine.

      It has been attributed to both Ambrose Bierce and Mark Twain.

      History repeating itself?

  5. I am somewhat disappointed listening to the conversation. The interviewer’s questions about the Ukrainian Nazis and their integration in the army and police was basically not answered. The 8 year long conflict in the Donbass and Donetsk region was also not discussed in depth. Did 13,000 civilians there die or not? I didn’t get a straight answer. Secondly, Russia’s fears were pooh poohed. So if Gorbach thinks that the Ukrainian forces would never have been able to attack Crimea and take it back, what about Britain building a military base on the Black Sea? Would that not have changed the equation? Plus, didn’t the Russians take Crimea because of their fear that NATO would take over Savastopol (sp?)? Re the question of language, I was astounded to hear that the passing of laws against Russian did not change the ground reality. Was not Russian banned in schools? Weren’t Russian tv channels closed? I also would like to know about the killing of one of the negotiators for being a traitor. And the terrorizing of other opposition politicians. Hope your second part answers some of these questions.

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