The following contains researched material made available to the Ukrainian community to swiftly counter cases of defamation and calumny against Ukraine and Ukrainians.
“Project FACTS” Backgrounder: Conflicting Disinformation
The Ukrainian Resistance/Liberation Movement led by the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) had been accused by both Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia of supporting the opposing side during World War II.
FACTS: This conflicting disinformation that was promoted by Hitler’s and Stalin’s propaganda machines is reflected in countless documents of the time. To witness:
“Ukrainian people, take notice!…Moscow gives orders to the OUN! Moscow’s agents, who receive and carry out orders from bloodthirsty Stalin and his Jewish henchmen, took root in the leadership of OUN…We know the leaders of these bandit groups. They are Moscow’s hirelings…The OUN and Bolshevism [Sovietism] are one and the same – that is why both must be destroyed! German Administration” (From German leaflets dropped from planes over Ternopil oblast (province), Ukraine, July 1943)
“[…] Your enemy is also the gang of German-Ukrainian nationalists. Having sold themselves to Hitler, all those [Stepan] Banderas, [Andriy] Melnyks and [Taras] Bulbas [Ukrainian insurgency leaders during WWII] are helping to subjugate our people, our Ukraine… They are setting up armed groups of fake partisans [UPA] with fake allegations that these units are to fight against the Germans… The Ukrainian-German nationalists are really Hitler’s accomplices. They want to break the brotherly bond between the Ukrainian and Russian peoples, to tear Soviet Ukraine away from the family of Soviet nations… And this is what they call creating ‘independence’ for Ukraine […]. Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine [Nikita Khrushchev and other Soviet officials]” (From a Soviet Government Appeal to Ukrainians, Kyiv, 12 January 1944)
The above two conflicting accusations point to the FACT that the OUN-UPA, its leaders and membership constituted an independent, never beholden to ANY THIRD PARTY PLAYERS, resistance/liberation movement of the Ukrainian people. This is documented by a vast number of Nazi and Soviet documents, as well as massive OUN/UPA archives assembled both in Ukraine and abroad. The following OUN Appeal to the Ukrainian people (early 1943) “What Should We Be Fighting For?” addresses the above-made point:
“[…] It is already almost two years that a second imperialist war is raging in the East. This is not a war for peoples’ interests. Two imperialisms, those of Berlin and Moscow, entangled themselves to satisfy their predatory appetites. The war between Moscow and Germany is first of all a war over a resources-rich Ukraine – for our grain, coal and iron… What is then the goal and a way out of this current extremely difficult situation? The goal is – a Ukrainian Independent United State. And the road to it – a National Revolution of the Ukrainian people against the invaders… Ukraine was and shall be independent!…The battle for Ukraine’s statehood is led by the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists under the leadership of Stepan Bandera…Ukrainian farmers, workers and working intelligentsia: Join the ranks of the Ukrainian independence movement under the OUN banner!…Death to the invaders of Ukraine and their hirelings! […].”
Unfortunately for historical FACTS and TRUTH, the disinformation campaign and outright lies targeting Ukraine’s national aspirations launched by Stalin’s Russia linger to this very day in the world information space, mainly because of the subversive efforts of Putin’s Russia and its fellow travellers and enablers in the West.
To set the record straight is the purpose of our “Project FACTS” – BASED ON FACTS!
“Between Hitler and Stalin. Ukraine in World War II: The Untold Story” (2013).
“The Third Reich and the Ukrainian Question: Documents, 1934-1944” (1991).
“Wolodymyr Kosyk, The Third Reich and Ukraine” (1993).
Part I – Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists
Question: Soviet Union and Nazi Germany: Allies or Foes?
Allies and partners in crime in the first phase of World War II, 1939-1941.
— On August 23, 1939, the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany signed the Non-Aggression Pact, which also partitioned the eastern part of Europe in their respective “spheres of influence”.
— On September 1, 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Poland from the west, which marked the start of World War II, and, on September 17, 1939, Soviet Russia invaded Poland from the east. As a result, Eastern Europe was partitioned between Moscow and Berlin, as agreed upon by the two powers on August 23, 1939.
— On September 22, 1939, Soviet and Nazi troops met in the city of Brest-Litovsk (today’s Belarus) for a Joint Victory Parade after the defeat and partition of the Polish state.
— On September 28, 1939, the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany signed the Treaty of Friendship and Borders recognizing the “legitimacy” of each other’s claim to the territories they had just jointly overrun, and their division of Eastern Europe into respective “spheres of influence”.
— In all, during the first phase of World War II (1939-1941), 13 European countries were overrun: 8 by Hitler, 5 by Stalin.
— Moreover, long before the start of World War II, elements of Germany’s armed forces trained in the Soviet Union, which, in turn, the latter also provided the German armament industry with military-grade goods and supplies. This arrangement between the Nazis and the Soviets allowed Berlin to circumvent the limitations on Germany’s rearmament imposed by the victors after its defeat in World War I.
— The second phase of World War II began on June 22, 1941, when Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union – possibly upstaging a coming attack by the Soviet Union on Nazi Germany.
— These twin totalitarian superpowers did have a rich history of learning from each other on how best to oppress and commit genocide. After all, Hitler’s National Socialism (NAZI) and Stalin’s own brand of “Socialism in One Country” (that is, National Socialism) were two sides of the same coin.
After Ukraine’s loss of its War of Independence in 1918-1921, the country fell again under the control of neighbouring powers, namely: Soviet Russia, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Romania. This set the stage for the emergence of a massive Ukrainian Liberation/Resistance Movement spearheaded first by the Ukrainian Military Organization (UVO) and then by the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), which during World War II directed its struggle against Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany. Ukraine became the main battlefield between those two totalitarian superpowers, and where their violence was especially and unprecedentedly extreme.
According to Ukrainian government statistics, Ukraine’s human losses in World War II were up to 10 million dead: 4.1 – military and 5.9 – civilian, which remains the highest casualty rate among all combatant nations in World War II.
During the German occupation of Ukraine (1941-1944) up to 10,000 members of the Ukrainian Resistance Movement (OUN and UPA members) and hundreds of thousands of its supporters were killed by the Nazis.
Disinformation: The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) was “totalitarian” , “xenophobic”, “extremist”, “fascist”, “anti-Semitic”.
— At its founding Assembly in Vienna (28 January- 2 February 1929) the OUN adopted a farsighted resolution (No 7) defining the concept of what constitutes a nation. In a time of ethnocentric understanding of nationhood in Europe between World War I and World War II, the founders of the OUN provided perhaps the first modern definition of a political nation: “On the road to its self-realization in a […] historical sense, a given nation numerically increases its biophysical strength […by] an intrinsic process of continuous transformation of diverse ethnic components into a synthesis of organic national unity. From this functional perspective, a nation continually finds itself in a state of its own growth.”
The above definition of nation unmistakably reflects the motto inscribed in the Great Seal of the United States: “E PLURIBUS UNUM – FROM MANY ONE”.
— The Ukrainian Resistance Movement, spearheaded by the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) during World War II, remained true to the above principle, as reflected in the composition of its vast membership: besides ethnic Ukrainians, there were Ukrainians of diverse ethnic ancestry – Polish, Russian, Jewish, Greek, Crimean Tatar, Swedish, et al., who inhabited Ukraine for centuries. Moreover, the UPA welcomed into its ranks fighting units organized on a nationality basis, among them Uzbek, Azerbaijani, Georgian, and Crimean Tatar. The OUN-UPA Liberation Movement never defined its enemies on racial, religious or ethnic grounds, but whether a given individual or group supported Ukraine’s struggle for independence and freedom – or not, by siding with Ukraine’s oppressors. To be sure, among the enemy’s casualties in this fight were also ethnic Ukrainians who found themselves on the wrong side of history.
— The OUN-UPA Ukrainian Liberation Movement applied the same standard methodology in its struggle as any other of the many national liberation movements across the world, among them: The Maquis (French Resistance), the Polish Military Organization and the Home Army (AK), the Irish Republican Army, the 26th of July Movement (Cuba), the Sandinista National Liberation Movement (Nicaragua), Haganah (Israel), the African National Congress (South Africa), the Vietnamese Nationalist Party and the Viet-Cong.
Part II – Stepan Bandera, Yaroslav Stetsko
Stepan Bandera was born on 1 January 1909 and died on 15 October 1959. He was a revolutionary and gifted strategist of the struggle for Ukraine’s statehood.
Born into a clerical family (his father Reverend Andriy was a priest in the Ukrainian church) , from his early days Bandera was always active in Ukrainian community affairs, was a member of the Ukrainian scouting organization Plast, and an agronomy student at the Lviv Politechnical Institute.
He became a member of the Ukrainian Military Organization (UVO) in 1927, and of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) in 1929. In the OUN he rose very quickly to top positions of leadership in the Homeland Executive of the organization, namely: chief of the Directorate for Publications and Propaganda (1930-32); deputy head of the Homeland Executive (1932); head of the Homeland Executive (1933-June 1934).
For his revolutionary activities he was incarcerated several times in the 1930s by the Polish occupation authorities of western Ukraine, and ultimately sentenced to death on 13 January 1936
at the so-called Warsaw Trial. However, his death penalty was commuted to life imprisonment. He was freed from prison on the fall of the Polish state when World War II broke out on 1 September 1939.
From his position of leadership in the 1930s, Bandera expanded the OUN network in western Ukraine, directing its revolutionary militancy against both Polish and Soviet Russian occupation of the western and eastern parts of Ukraine respectively. Thus, in October 1933 an OUN operative, Mykola Lemyk, assassinated Joseph Stalin’s personal envoy, Alexander Mailov, in Lviv in protest against the Holodomor – the Famine Genocide unleashed by Moscow in Soviet Ukraine in 1932-1933. In October 1941, Mykola Lemyk, a leading member of the OUN resistance against the Nazis, was executed by the Gestapo in the town of’ Myrhorod, Poltava province, eastern Ukraine. In June 1934 an OUN operative, Hryhoriy Matsieiko, assassinated Poland’s Minister of Internal Affairs, Bronislaw Pieracki, in Warsaw for his repressive anti-Ukrainian policies.
On the eve of the beginning of the German-Soviet war in 1941, by staying in contact with those German military circles favorably disposed to Ukrainian statehood, Bandera initiated the formation of a Ukrainian military legion, the Nachtigall and Roland battalions (of which Hitler and the Nazi party leadership were not aware). The OUN under his leadership also organized Expeditionary Groups (some 2,000 strong) with the aim of penetrating every possible region of Ukraine to promote with active members Ukraine’s independence and statehood — just as it happened in Lviv on 30 June 1941 with the Act of Proclamation of the Restoration of Ukrainian Statehood, and the formation of a Ukrainian Government headed by Yaroslav Stetsko.
Taken by surprise, the Germans demanded that Bandera and Stetsko rescind the Act of Proclamation. For their refusal to do so, Bandera was arrested by the Nazis on 5 July 1941 and Stetsko on 12 July 1941- along with other key members of the Ukrainian government.
Bandera (and Stetsko) spent most of World War II in Nazi prisons, in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp (1941- 27 September 1944) and then in Berlin until their escape (with the help of the OUN underground in Germany) in 1945 from Gestapo custody during an Allied bombing raid in the city.
Stepan Bandera remained leader of the OUN until his violent death on 15 October 1959 in Munich, Germany. He was assassinated by Soviet agent Bogdan Stashynsky on direct orders from the top leadership of the Soviet Union – Secretary-General Nikita Khrushchev and KGB chief Alexander Shelepin.
In Ukrainian national memory, Stepan Bandera and the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists under his leadership – the OUN (B) – became symbols of the revolutionary struggle for Ukraine’s independence and statehood.
On the fate of Stepan Bandera’s family: After Stepan Bandera’s death, his wife Yaroslava and their three children settled in Canada for personal safety reasons. Stepan Bandera’s father, Reverend Andriy Bandera, was executed by the Soviet secret police (NKVD) in Kyiv on 10 July 1941. (A version has it that he was actually crucified by his executioners for being a priest in the
Ukrainian church). Stepan Bandera’s two brothers, Alexander and Vasyl, perished in a Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz; his sisters Volodymyra, Marta-Maria and Oksana were sent to Soviet concentration camps and exiled without the right to ever return to Ukraine.
Yaroslav Stetsko was born on 19 January 1912 and died on 5 July 1986.
He was a Ukrainian political leader, ideologue of the revolutionary Ukrainian national liberation movement, and a gifted interpreter of political and social phenomena, world affairs and the dynamics of international relations. He studied at the Faculty of Law in Poland (Cracow University) and at the Faculty of Humanities in western Ukraine (Lviv University).
He joined the underground Ukrainian Military Organization (UVO), and when the UVO merged with the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) in 1929, he became one of the OUN’s leading members in the 1930s: ideological and field instructor of the OUN Youth Branch and editor of its journal “Youth”; and editor of the “Bulletin of the OUN Homeland Executive”. He became a member of the Central Executive of the OUN in 1938.
For his underground activities he was arrested several times in the 1930s by the Polish occupation authorities in western Ukraine.
In 1940 he became one of the leading members of the Revolutionary Leadership faction of the OUN headed by Stepan Bandera (OUN (B)). At the OUN (B) Grand Assembly held in early 1941 in Cracow, Poland, he was elected Bandera’s second – in- command.
On the eve of the German-Soviet war (which erupted on 22 June 1941) he participated in the organization of the OUN Expeditionary Groups tasked to penetrate all regions of Ukraine to actively promote and organize “in the field” the struggle for Ukraine’s independence. As the head of one such group he reached the City of Lviv, where at the National Assembly of Ukrainian community and Church representatives the restoration of Ukrainian statehood was officially proclaimed by the “Act of 30 June 1941”. Yaroslav Stetsko was elected by the National Assembly to be the Head of the Ukrainian government, called the Ukrainian State Administration.
As extant documents in Ukraine’s state archives attest to, the Act of Proclamation of the Restoration of Ukrainian Statehood on 30 June 1941 and the Ukrainian government headed by Yaroslav Stetsko were supported by the people at spontaneous meetings and rallies in THOUSANDS of locations across Ukraine.
For refusing to rescind the Act of Proclamation, Stetsko was arrested by the Nazis in Lviv on 12 July 1941. He was first taken to Berlin and then incarcerated in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp along with Stepan Bandera and many other leading members of the OUN (B) resistance movement.
After the arrest of Stetsko and Bandera and/or arrest and execution of most members of the Ukrainian State Administration, the Germans unleashed in the Fall of 1941 a massive crackdown
against the Ukrainian Liberation Movement citing the following reason in the order of 25 November 1941 to Nazi security forces: “…the Bandera organization is preparing an uprising in
Reichkommissariat Ukraine with the aim of establishing an independent Ukrainian state. All members of Bandera’s organization must be arrested and … executed….”.
The resistance movement led by the OUN and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), commanded by Deputy Minister of Defense in the Stetsko government, General Roman Shukhevych, fought first against the Nazis and then against the Soviets – precisely to uphold and defend their latest attempt at establishing an independent Ukrainian State on 30 June 1941. That historical event has also been recognized by the Ukrainian state authorities of today’s independent Ukraine and the Ukrainian people at large as a daring attempt at nation-building.
In the Fall of 1944 Stetsko and Bandera were transferred from the Sachsenhausen concentration camp to Berlin in an unrelenting effort to force them to cooperate with the German war effort. Still they refused.
During an Allied bombing raid on Berlin in early 1945 , Stetsko and Bandera managed (with the assistance of the OUN network in Germany) to escape from Gestapo custody, go underground, and eventually make their way to Ally-controlled parts of Western Europe.
After World War II Yaroslav Stetsko settled in Munich, West Germany, joined the Central Executive of the OUN (B) and became active in the world anticommunist movement: In 1946 he became the founding member of the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations (ABN) and its lifelong leader. He became a founding member of the World Anti-Communist League (WACL) in 1971 and the founder of the European Freedom Council (UFC) in 1967 and honorary member of its leadership.
At the Fourth Grand Assembly of the OUN (B) in 1968, he was elected head of its Central Executive, a post he held until his death.
Yaroslav Stetsko’s interpretation of what the Ukrainian version of nationalism is and of what a nation is had always been: “Ukrainian nationalism is homegrown… not an imitation of extraneous doctrines and theories… Ukrainian nationalism, for example, rejects as a matter of principle, the racist component of the (former) German nazism. That is to say, it does not link the idea of a nation with particular physical and racial attributes of its members. But it always lends primacy to the spiritual core of a given nation”.
On the international stage Yaroslav Stetsko earned the respect of a statesman who advocated relentlessly the national interests of Ukraine and all other captive nations under Soviet Russian and communist domination. He met and established personal relationships with up to 30 world leaders on all continents.
Shortly before his death on 5 July 1986 he accurately foresaw that the Chornobyl disaster in Ukraine on 26 April 1986 would mark the beginning of the demise of the Soviet Russian empire – the USSR.
During his political lifetime Yaroslav Stetsko was repeatedly the target of Soviet “active measures”: several failed assassinations and kidnapping attempts, provocations, and disinformation campaigns.
Yaroslav Stetsko shared his political activism with his dedicated wife Anna Yevhenia Muzyka (Slava Stetsko, b 1920 – d 2003) – a charismatic personality, an able political organizer, a skilled politician and diplomat in her own right. Together they travelled the world to promote freedom and independence for the captive nations under Soviet Russian and communist rule.
Yaroslav Stetsko’s collected writings on ideological, political and social issues, and world affairs have been published in 3 volumes in Ukraine, along with his memoirs “30 June 1941”. A volume of his selected writings was also published in English.
Disinformation: The leader of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, Stepan Bandera, “collaborated” with Hitler.
On June 30, 1941, the Nachtigall Battalion reached Lviv, and OUN leaders headed by Yaroslav Stetsko declared the restoration of Ukrainian statehood and formed a government. Stepan Bandera and Yaroslav Stetsko were arrested by the Germans in early July 1941 for refusing to withdraw the official Declaration of Restoration of Ukrainian Statehood of June 30, 1941 in Lviv. They spent most of WWII in Germany’s Sachsenhausen concentration camp in a special block for political prisoners. Bandera’s two brothers ( Alexander and Wasyl) died in Nazi Germany’s Auschwitz concentration camp. Bandera and Stetsko were released in the fall of 1944, placed under house arrest in Berlin, but refused to collaborate with the Nazis. In 1945 Bandera and Stetsko escaped during a bombing raid on Berlin, and went underground until the war was over.
Disinformation 1: Bandera was Hitler’s puppet.
At the start of World War II in September 1939, Stepan Bandera was freed from the Polish prison where he had been serving a life sentence for organizing the assassination of Bronislaw Pieracky, Minister of Internal Affairs of Poland, the organizer of repressions in the 1930s against Ukrainians in Polish-occupied western Ukraine.
In February of 1940, the OUN organization split into two wings, one led by Stepan Bandera named OUN (b) (Banderite) and the other led by Col. Andriy Melnyk named OUN (m) (Melnykite) over policy issues regarding liberation activities of the OUN in Ukraine. Bandera insisted that Ukrainians must rely solely on themselves, and that any collaboration with Berlin would only be situational and transactional.
Anticipating war against the USSR, in the spring of 1941 the OUN (b) came to an agreement with Admiral Wilhelm Canaris of the German Abwehr [intelligence service] to create a Ukrainian legion consisting of 800 men grouped into two battalions, Nachtigall and Roland. Pointedly these men swore fealty to the Ukrainian nation and not Hitler. The Nazi leadership was not made aware of this plan.
On the night of June 29, 1941, the Nachtigall battalion entered Lviv along with other Wehrmacht divisions. On the very next day, Bandera’s associates, headed by Yaroslav Stetsko, proclaimed the “Act of Restoration of Ukrainian Statehood”. The newly formed Ukrainian government would join Germany in the common struggle against Moscow – but only if Ukrainian independence was recognized.
Hitler adamantly opposed this development and gave orders to “crush anyone who empowers this Slavic trash.” Members of the OUN(b) were rounded up and Bandera was arrested in Krakow on July 5, 1941 and Stetsko in Lviv on July 12. Both refused to retract the declaration and were imprisoned in the concentration camp in Sachsenhausen, spending more than three years in a high security block for high value “political persons.” The OUN (b) and the newly formed (1942) Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) became enemies to the occupying Germans.
Facing defeat, the Germans released Bandera and Stetsko from the concentration camp on September 25, 1944, brought them to Berlin and asked for their support in the war against the Soviets. They refused and remained in German confinement until their escape (with the help of the OUN underground active in Germany) during an Allied bombing raid on Berlin in 1945.
Stepan Bandera’s two brothers – Alexander and Wasyl – were murdered in Auschwitz in July 1942. Both were also leading members of the OUN.
Disinformation: West German agents, or rival Ukrainian nationalists murdered Bandera.
On October 15, 1959, KGB agent Bohdan Stashynskiy met Stepan Bandera in the hallway of his apartment building in Munich and killed him with a special pistol firing an ampule filled with prussic acid (potassium cyanide). The OUN security service and West German police had foiled four previous attempts on the life of the nationalist leader. In a secret decree, Stashynskiy was awarded the Order of the Red Banner by the USSR.
The Soviet Union tried to lay the blame for Bandera’s assassination on the German Special Service, composing an elaborate story that he possessed some compromising materials about West German Federal Minister Theodor Oberländer and had tried to blackmail him.
Two years later, Stashynskiy surrendered to the German Special Service on his own recognizance, confessed to this murder as well as the murder of another Ukrainian leader, Lev Rebet, and was sentenced to eight years in prison. Regardless of the growing international scandal, Moscow continued to officially deny any involvement in the death of Bandera up until the era of “perestroika” in the late 1980s before the collapse of the USSR in 1991.
Part III – OUN, UPA
Disinformation: The OUN / UPA (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists / Ukrainian Insurgent Army) were collaborators with the German Nazi regime.
An image had been created that somehow, in contrast to WW1, the Second World War in Europe was actually a “good” war. Today we realize that in its essence this war was a conflict of two imperialist tyrannies: the German Third Reich and the Soviet Union. Other WWII combatants found themselves allied to one or the other side. Very few fighting forces can claim to have fought simultaneously against both tyrannies. The Ukrainian Insurgent Army, the UPA, mobilized by the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists to fight for an independent state for the Ukrainian nation, was one such major force. The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) was the underground political organization that struggled for that same goal and, as such, maintained contacts with many states including England, Japan, Italy, Lithuania as well as Germany for a decade before the war. The June 30, 1941 Proclamation of the restoration of Ukrainian statehood and proposed anti-Soviet alliance was a surprise and a challenge to the Third Reich. It took the German leadership but a week to begin arresting the OUN leadership and participants in that Proclamation. Hitler was thus forced to show his hand much earlier in his campaign than he would have liked.
It was under German occupation that the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) was formed in 1942. Its operations were so effective that large swaths of the countryside became so-called “insurgent republics” free of foreign forces (eg. the Kolky, Antonivetska, Winter, and Proud Hutsul “republics”). To dislodge these UPA forces the Germans often resorted to the use of armour and aircraft. Researchers have calculated that the Germans and their allies lost over 12,000 men killed in battles with the UPA.
Disinformation: The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) were “Nazi collaborators”.
At the height of the German occupaton of Ukraine (1942-1944) the UPA conducted 2,526 armed engagements against the Nazi forces. Nazi losses: 12,427 – killed; 2047 – wounded; 2448 – taken prisoner. UPA losses: 2,251 – killed; 475 – wounded; 534 – taken prisoner.
In some instances areas of Ukraine that were liberated and held by the UPA were called “insurgent republics,” and in many respects they functioned as mini “underground states.”
One of the best known was the “Kolky Republic,”which covered an area of roughly 2,500 square kilometers, located in the UPA-North military district, in the Volyn region. The “Kolky Republic” remained under UPA control until November 1943, when it was overrun by German troops using tanks, artillery and aircraft.
At the same time, the UPA was so effective that in 1943 the Nazis admitted that in western Ukraine they had no control over 75% of the arable land and 52% of the livestock. Hitler’s forces led many anti-insurgency campaigns against the UPA and in order to discredit the Ukrainian nationalist movement, German propaganda called the insurgent leaders “agents of Moscow.”
From July 1941 to the end of World War II on May 8, 1945, up to 10,000 members of the OUN were killed in their resistance against the Germans or perished in Nazi concentration camps. Total tally of losses of the OUN-UPA Ukrainian Resistance Movement: up to 13,000 dead and missing in action.
After the war, a number of survivors of the anti-Nazi resistance settled in Canada, the U.S.A. and other Western countries.
Disinformation: The UPA was “Hitler’s henchmen” and did not fight against the Nazis.
Extremely brutal occupation policies of the Nazis forced the OUN (b) leadership to mobilize the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) by October 1942. The first regular UPA company (military unit) went into action on February 7, 1943, by overrunning the German commandant’s base in the district center Volodymyrets, Rivne oblast (province), Volyn oblast, and northwestern Ukraine.
In the spring of 1943, the UPA constantly increases the extent of resistance. Their fiercest clashes with the Germans happened near Lutsk, Kovel, Horokhiv, Rivne, Kremenets, Kostopil, Sarny and Lanivtsi (Volyn oblast). During March 1943, the insurgents seized regional centers five times. At the end of the first spring month, the German officials reported to Reichskommissar Erichlast Koch that only two areas in Volyn were free of “gangs”.
The occupation administration began undertaking extensive anti-partisan operations involving armor and aircraft. At the end of April, a division for fighting the UPA was redeployed to Berezne, Lyudvypil, Mizoch, Ostroh, Shumsk, and Kremenets (Volyn oblast).
The Nazis counterinsurgency actions proved to have little effect. While in March the UPA units attacked the German economic targets only 8 times, in April there were already 57 attacks, and 70 in May.
Heinrich Schoene, Nazi General Commissar of Volyn-Podillya, reported at a meeting in Rivne June 5, 1943 to Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories Alfred Rosenberg that “Ukrainian nationalists cause more difficulties than the Bolshevik gangs” to his administration.
The Soviet partisans’ leadership also recognized this fact later. Petro Vershyhora, commander of Soviet partisans, reported to the Soviet Ukrainian Partisan Movement Headquarters on March 4, 1944, “We cannot make the same mistake in Poland as we did in Volyn by passing the leadership of a popular uprising against the Germans into the hands of counterrevolutionary groups of nationalists.”
The available Nazi forces were not enough to suppress resistance. Therefore, Erich von dem Bach, commander of anti-partisan forces in the East, took charge of the struggle against the UPA in July 1943. He commanded the 8th SS Cavalry Division Florian Geyer (10,000 soldiers) and 10 mechanized infantry battalions with artillery. The grouping was covered by 27 aircraft from the air and 50 tanks and armored vehicles on the ground.
However, UPA units outmaneuvered the Germans and gave the enemy no chance to destroy them. Overall, in July the insurgents attacked German bases 295 times, and supply facilities 119 times.
In early August 1943, von dem Bach was sent to another area. The German pressure weakened, and the UPA intensified their anti-German operations: 391 assaults on garrisons and 151 attacks on enterprises.
But soon, Hans-Adolf Prützmann, senior SS leader, organized a new attack on the UPA. This attack lasted from August 23 to September 9, 1943 in South Volyn. First, aircraft bombed the village of Antonivtsi, which was the headquarters of the UPA “Bohun” group. Then the punitive expedition attacked the UPA camp in Kremenets forests. The UPA battalions had to split into small units and break out of the encirclement.
In the summer of 1943 the anti-Nazi insurgency movement spread over to the Galicia region. On August 18, the Ukrainian People’s Self-Defense (UNS, the original name of UPA in Galicia) attacked the German stone quarry in Skole, Lviv region. The nationalists freed 150 forced laborers and killed the camp security guards.
Autumn 1943 was the beginning of larger scale battles between the insurgents and the Nazis. On September 3, UPA soldiers routed a German battalion that was travelling by narrow-gauge rail in the mountains near the town of Dolyna. The invaders left about 200 soldiers dead on the battlefield. On September 25-29, the UPA company “Trembita” repelled a punitive attack on their camp on Mount Stovba.
On November 29-30, 1943, there was heavy fighting between 1.5-2 thousand Germans and the UPA “Kryvonis-II” battalion near the village of Nedilna, Sambir district. The insurgents retreated with considerable losses, almost the entire command and the leader of the battalion were killed in action.
The Germans undertook the last major counterinsurgency action in Volyn in November 1943. On November 2-3, aircraft bombed the town of Stepan and ousted the units of the UPA ”Zahrava” regiment to the north. Simultaneously, on November 3 German planes bombed and shelled the town of Kolky, where the UPA had formed the “Kolky Undrground Republic”. It should be noted that the Nazis could not seize the “republic” from June to early November 1943, and then they carried out a mop up operation, killing 600 civilians.
In October-November 1943, the UPA-UNS conducted 47 combat operations against German occupiers, and the UPA village self-defense units clashed with them 125 times. The Nazis lost more than 1,500 soldiers.
The Nazis failed to suppress the UPA resistance completely. The approaching Soviet-German front drained their military forces. Therefore, the German generals stopped undertaking actions against insurgents in Volyn. In Galicia, the confrontation lasted until the end of summer 1944. Ukrainian People’s Self Defense (UNS) was re-formed into the UPA-West. In March-May 1944, the UPA defended Ukrainian villages against looting by the Germans. In May, the Wehrmacht defeated the UPA “Halaida” and “Siromantsi” companies in Lviv oblast.
From May 31 to June 6, 1944, the units of the Wehrmacht’s 7th Armored Division fought against the UPA in the Chornyi Lis area. By mid-summer the confrontation in Galicia peaked.
The biggest clashes of the UPA-West with German troops took place around Mount Lopata on the boundary between Drohobych and Stanislav (now Ivano-Frankivsk) regions. These events were also detailed in written reports of the Polish anti-Nazi resistance. From July 6 through July 16, 1944, heavy fighting took place – both with artillery engagement and close-quarters combat. Insurgents under Vasyl Andrusyak’s command won the day. Fifty Ukrainians were killed. The invaders lost 200 soldiers and retreated.
By November, under pressure of the Red Army the Wehrmacht left Ukraine. The UPA continued to attack and disarm German units until early fall 1944.
There were episodes in the history of the Ukrainian insurgency movement when some commanders tried on their own initiative to negotiate with German commanders using the formula “neutrality in exchange for weapons” or “food in exchange for weapons.” Several cases are known when from 80 to 100 small arms were handed over to the insurgents using the above formula. But the Ukrainian underground leadership strictly prohibited such arrangements. In some cases, it even led to severe punishment. In March 1944, the UPA field court martial sentenced an UPA officer, Porphyriy Antoniuk, the first initiator of such an unauthorized negotiation, to death. In April 1944, another officer, Mykola Oliynyk, was sentenced to death by the UPA martial court. Both were executed by a firing squad in the presence of their units.
However, the talks with the German occupation officials were subsequently held by the OUN (b) leadership. The Germans wanted the OUN and UPA to stop fighting against them so they could focus on repelling the Soviet Army’s advance. The OUN members sought to secure the release of prisoners of concentration camps (Stepan Bandera, Yaroslav Stetsko and many others) as well as to obtain weapons. Meetings between OUN-UPA leaders and German authorities took place in March, April, June and July 1944. As a result of them, the insurgents received some weapons, and in September – October 1944 Bandera and other Ukrainian nationalists were released from concentration camps, though they remained in Gestapo custody.
As a result, the insurgents decreased the intensity of their anti-German actions (mainly in Volyn), but did not stop them.
According to researchers, 12 thousand German invaders and their allies were killed by UPA insurgents. The Ukrainian underground and its insurgent units also lost 10-12 thousand people during the armed confrontation with the occupiers.
On August 25, 1943, Hans-Adolf Prützmann, senior SS leader, sent the following telegram: “To the Commander of the Army Group ‘South’. Due to the fact that the Reichsführer-SS ordered to send strong teams of military units previously assigned to me to the front, I have to limit myself to the remnants of these units to suppress the Ukrainian national uprising in Volyn. Since this results in large uncontrolled areas in the north of Ukraine, in the near future there will be increased pressure from gangs in the south sector.”
A German summary overview of the OUN-UPA armed resistance against the Nazis (as of 31 December 1943)
Report on the current status of the gangs (i.e. Ukrainian OUN-UPA Resistance) and the political mood in western Ukraine.
“The report presented below is a general survey of the current status of the gangs and a portrayal of political moods in western Ukraine. This report was compiled on the basis of the information provided by different trustworthy individuals. It can be considered with confidence that all the addresses are already aware of most of the issues at hand.
Nevertheless, we consider it essential to record in writing this account, so none of the details or interesting observations would be lost.”
“The Bandera Gang. As of today, this is the most powerful bandit movement in Ukraine whose positions continue to strengthen. It is led exclusively by the OUN (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists). Their main political goal – an independent Ukraine. Their slogans are uncompromising, and the anti-German sentiments of the supporters of this grouping are more and more on the rise. According to the latest reports, this gang tries to gain control over all Ukrainian ethnic territories (for example, in Romania, Transnistria, Bukovyna (province in southwestern Ukraine), Carpatho-Ukraine, and so forth). Recently, they began naming themselves as the UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army).”
“The Bandera gangs. Here we must distinguish two main groupings:
1. a strong grouping on the territory of Volyn (province in northwestern Ukraine);
2. a grouping based in the Carpathian mountains, whose strength, as of late, has markedly increased.
The Volyn grouping. Currently their numbers consist of 120,000 to 130,000 men commanded by older OUN members with professional military training. Basically, there are three known types of these groupings: 1) combat groups(…); 2) support groups [supply and medical services] (…); 3) concealed groups [intelligence gathering] (…).
All of these groups maintain among themselves the tightest possible intercommunication and are subject to a centralized military Command […]. There also are the so-called mobile groups [OUN Mobile Task Groups} which scour large territories and organize in all propitious localities new bandit groups.
There they would leave behind several ready [for duty] individuals, and the new groups would then move on, and in a different direction, pursing the same goal.”
“Experts on Ukrainian mentality consider that with the steady growth of the Bandera movement […] the active part of the Ukrainian population will rise up in the rebellion, akin to a popular uprising.”
Source: Document facsimile, Bundesarchiv – Militärarchiv, Freiburg, Germany (RH 2/v. 2339), in Volodymyr Kosyk (comp.), Ukraine in the Second World War in Documents: Collection of German Archival Materials (1942-1943) ,v.3, Lviv (1999), p.361-66.
A full English-language translation of this collection of documents is forthcoming.
Part IV – Roman Shukhevych, Stepan Bandera, Nachtigall and Roland
General Roman Shukhevych, nom de guerre Taras Chuprynka (17 July 1907 – 5 March 1950)
Military service: Polish army (1928-1929)
Roman Shukhevych joined the Ukrainian Military Organization (UVO) in 1923 and the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) in 1929. He became one of OUN’s leading members as chief of its combat branch.
In 1936 he was imprisoned by the Polish authorities for his revolutionary activities against Polish occupation of western Ukraine. During 1938-1939, as staff officer of the nascent armed forces of the Ukrainian Carpathian Republic, he fought against the Nazi-supported invasion of the republic by Hungarian troops.
In February 1941 the OUN reached an agreement (without Hitler’s knowledge) with the German Abwehr (military intelligence) and the Wehrmacht (army) as to the creation of a Ukrainian legion – the battalions Nachtigall and Roland. The two battalions were front-line units, subordinated only to the Wehrmacht command, and, pointedly swore loyalty only to Ukraine. The OUN hoped, that should Germany recognize Ukraine’s right to statehood, the two battalions would become a nucleus for the creation of a Ukrainian army.
In April 1941 the OUN ordered Roman Shukhevych to join the Nachtigall battalion to become its OUN liaison and political and commanding officer. The relationship between the OUN and the Germans was always transactional, pragmatic and, therefore, ad hoc, with either side pursuing its own aims.
Therefore, when the Germans suppressed by force the Declaration of Restoration of Ukrainian Statehood on 30 June 1941 in Lviv along with the arrest of the Ukrainian government headed by Yaroslav Stetsko, the Ukrainian commanders and soldiers of Nachtigall and Roland openly protested and opposed Germany’s actions. As a result, on 13 August 1941 the rebellious battalions were pulled from the front line, disarmed, and sent back to their Neuhammer base in Germany.
In October 1941 the Nachtigall and Roland battalions were merged to form Schutzmannschaftbattaillon #201 (auxiliary police battalion) on a “contractual” basis. Shukhevych became a company commander in the battalion, which saw action in Belarus against Soviet partisans. When in 1942 the soldiers of the battalion refused to “renew” their “contract ” for further service, the battalion was disarmed and demobilized, and its officers
arrested. Shukhevych managed to escape, went underground, and joined the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), which was already fighting against the Germans.
Upon joining the UPA, he became leader of the OUN Home Leadership and Commander-in-Chief of the UPA in 1943, and in 1944 was elected Secretary-General of the Ukrainian Supreme Liberation Council (which in effect was an underground Ukrainian national parliament with representatives from a wide political spectrum and all regions of Ukraine).
The OUN – UPA Resistance movement NEVER defined its enemies on racial, religious, or ethnic grounds, but whether a given individual or group (INCLUDING ethnic Ukrainians) supported Ukraine’s right to statehood, independence and freedom from foreign rule — or NOT, by siding with the enemy during the liberation struggle. The wide popular base of the OUN – UPA Resistance is reflected in the composition of its vast and varied membership: Alongside the ethnic Ukrainian base, there were large numbers of Ukrainians of diverse ethnic ancestry and national origins, who joined the struggle – namely Polish, Russian, Jewish, Greek , Crimean Tatar, Swedish, Uzbek, Azerbaijani, Georgian, et al. Some of these groups were so numerous, that the UPA command organized them in separate national combat battalions. At the height of the struggle (1943-1945) the UPA, in effect, presented itself as a multinational armed force.
During the Nazi occupation of Lviv, the future Commander-in-Chief of the UPA, Roman Shukhevych, and his wife Natalia sheltered (September 1942 – February 1943) a Jewish girl, Irene Reichenberg, under the assumed name of Iryna Vasylivna Ryzhko. When Natalia was arrested by the Gestapo in 1943 (later freed from German custody by OUN operatives and going underground), Roman Shukhevych arranged for Iryna’s sanctuary at a convent of the Basilian Order of nuns. Iryna Reichenberg – Ryzhko survived the Holocaust, raised a family and died in Kyiv in 2007 at the age of 72.
Roman Shukhevych’s son Yurii, born in 1933, who was Iryna’s childhood friend in Lviv, met several times with Iryna’s son Volodymyr Hushcha – the last time in 2017. Yurii Shukhevych spent 35 years in Soviet prisons and concentration camps (where he became totally blind) for refusing to denounce his father and the Ukrainian national liberation movement. His mother, Natalia Shukhevych, was sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment. They were both arrested by the Soviets in 1945.
General Roman Shukhevych was killed in combat against Soviet security forces on 5 March 1950 in Bilohorshcha, near the city of Lviv.
Disinformation: Stepan Bandera, Roman Shukhevych and all members of OUN(b) (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists) were agents of Gestapo, SS, SD (intelligence agency of the SS and of the Nazi party) or Abwehr (military intelligence organization). They were carrying out the orders of these services. The Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) was established by the special services of the Third Reich and was fighting alongside Hitler supporters.
In the 1930s the OUN started cooperating with Germany for geopolitical reasons – as Germany was a strategic opponent of Poland and Russia. Back in the 1920s the Ukrainian Military Organization (UVO, a predecessor to the OUN) was in touch with intelligence services of the democratic Weimar Republic. After the Nazis came to power, Germany actively pursued its intention to change the Versailles system. This coincided with the position of the OUN, as countries that were the winners of World War I failed to consider Ukrainian independence. It was the Paris Peace Conference that in fact legitimized the Polish state and its occupation of western Ukraine. Germany thus became a logical situational “ally”.
Relations between OUN and Germany were never smooth. After the German-Polish Non-Aggression Pact was signed in 1934, OUN leader Yevhen Konovalets relocated from Berlin to Switzerland. That same year Germany extradited to Poland the OUN activist Mykola Lebid who was in hiding after the assassination of the Polish Interior Minister Bronisław Pieracki. Finally, Hitler agreed to the Hungarian occupation of the nascent independent Transcarpathian Ukrainian Republic in March 1939 and on Aug. 23, 1939 to the proposed Soviet occupation of western Ukraine (Molotov – Ribbentrop Pact). OUN’s relations with Lithuania, who was also Poland’s enemy, were much better (large swaths of Lithuania including the capital Vilnius were then part of the Polish state as well).
However, Germany remained the only real power capable of ever challenging Poland and the USSR. Even after the split of the OUN (into OUN(b) headed by Stepan Bandera and OUN(m) headed by Andriy Melnyk), both factions continued their contacts with the Germans.
OUN(b) managed to set up military training for members of its organization using its contacts with German intelligence, the Abwehr, and with certain German army generals who sympathized with the Ukrainian Resistance Movement.
Moreover, the OUN always had an underground military training program of its own for its members, which functioned independently from any external agencies.
In February 1941 Bandera reached an agreement with the chief of the Abwehr, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, and the commander of Wermacht’s ground forces, Walther von Brauchitsch, as to the creation of a Ukrainian legion. Two battalions subordinated to Wehrmacht command – Nachtigall and Roland were formed from OUN members. Pointedly they did not swear loyalty to Germany or Hitler, but swore loyalty only to Ukraine. Nachtigall’s Ukrainian commander was Roman Shukhevych. The Nachtigall battalion was subordinated to the Wehrmacht command.
On the night of June 29, 1941, the Nachtigall battalion entered Lviv along with other Wehrmacht units. On June 30, Bandera’s associates, headed by Yaroslav Stetsko, proclaimed the “Act of Restoration of Ukrainian Statehood”. The newly formed Ukrainian government declared its readiness to cooperate with Germany in the common struggle against Moscow – but only if Ukrainian independence was recognized. The Nazis were taken by surprise and were forced to reveal their true intentions towards Ukraine.
Members of the OUN(b) were rounded up and Bandera was arrested in Krakow on July 5, 1941 and Stetsko in Lviv on July 12. Both refused to retract the declaration and were imprisoned in the concentration camp in Sachsenhausen, spending more than three years in its high security block.
In August 1941 the Nachtigall soldiers learned about the arrest of the government headed by Yaroslav Stetsko, in which their commander Roman Shukhevych had the post of the deputy defense minister. The soldiers of the Nachtigall battalion put forward a demand to release Ukrainian state officials. On August 13, the rebellious battalions were removed from the front and sent to the rear – to the Neuhammer base. They then issued a written memorandum from Neuhammer calling to release the arrested OUN(b) members and members of the Ukrainian government as well as to return the battalion back to the Eastern front. These demands were not met and the battalions were dissolved and reorganized into one unit – 201st police battalion that was contract-based. The battalion was sent to Belarus for security duties.
On December 1, 1942, at the end of their contract, the police battalion members refused to continue their service. Germans dissolved the unit and arrested the officers. Shukhevych succeeded in escaping. He became the head of the military section of OUN(b) and later the head of the organization itself.
The relationship of the OUN(b) with the Germans was transactional, pragmatic and ad-hoc, with both sides pursuing their own aims. As early as April 1941 Gestapo chief Heinrich Müller said to his colleague from SD Walter Schellenberg that “Ukrainian nationalistic leaders are moving to their goals in an uncontrolled way.” A day after the German offensive against the USSR began on June 22, 1941, the OUN(b) sent the Reich Chancellery a memorandum (written on June 15) on how the Ukrainian issue should be handled after the dissolution of the USSR. The document stated: “Even if German troops, after they enter Ukraine, are greeted as liberators, the situation might change quickly if Germany does not come to Ukraine with the aim of restoring Ukrainian statehood … A new European order without a Ukrainian independent state is unthinkable …”
The OUN(b) already foresaw the possibility of anti-German armed resistance should Germany adopt an unfriendly position towards Ukraine’s independence.
Between September 15, 1941 and the end of that year the Germans arrested about 1,500 OUN (b) members. On November 25, 1941, the German security police even issued an order to arrest and execute the activists of the “Bandera group” who “were about to stage an uprising in the Reich Commissariat Ukraine aiming at establishing an independent Ukrainian state.”
The highly trained veterans of Nachtigall and Roland joined the UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army formed by the OUN(b) in 1942) as instructors and commanders taking part in its combat operations against German forces during their occupation of Ukraine. Large areas of Ukraine were liberated and held by the UPA. Such “insurgent republics” functioned in many respects as small “underground states.” One of the best known was the “Kolky Republic,” which covered an area of 2,500 square kilometers, located in the UPA-North military district, in the Volyn region. The “Kolky Republic” remained under UPA control until November 1943, when it was overrun by German troops using tanks, artillery, and aircraft.
At the height of the German occupaton of Ukraine (1942-1944) the UPA conducted 2,526 armed engagements against the Nazi forces. Nazi losses: 12,427 – KIA; 2047 – WIA; and 2448 – taken prisoner.
Disinformation: The UPA, the Nachtigall Battalion (and the Roland Battalion), and the Galicia Division are organizations that were created by the Germans out of so-called “traitors of the Soviet fatherland.”
As a result of long-term Russian disinformation, the names and affiliations of different Ukrainian political and military organizations have been mixed together.
A common misconception is that the Nachtigall Battalion belonged to the SS – it didn’t. This formation was created as a result of the agreement between the OUN and Abwehr, the German military intelligence service. Nachtigall’s officers and soldiers would not swear their loyalty to Germany and when the battalion was disbanded in December 1, 1942, many of them escaped from German arrest, including its leader Roman Shukhevych, and joined the ranks of the UPA to fight against Nazi Germany.
The Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) fought against both the Germans and the Soviets. The UPA’s initial goal was to resist German occupation in order to protect the population from Nazi terror. As the invader of Ukraine, Germany was considered to be the enemy. Throughout 1943 the UPA staged successful combat operations against the Germans and was able to establish its control in the Volynian region countryside, leaving only towns in German hands. One of the UPA’s major military confrontations with the Germans lasted from July to September 1943. The Germans, commanded by SS General Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski, who in 1944 would command the suppression of the Warsaw Uprising, committed a massive amount of manpower and materiel to the effort. At his disposal General von dem Bach-Zelewski had the following units: 10 battalions of motorized SS troops with heavy weapons and artillery; 10,000 German and Polish police; 2 regiments of the Hungarian Army; 3 battalions of Cossacks, organized from among the Soviet prisoners of war; 50 tanks, 27 planes, and 5 armored trains. Despite this commitment of resources, the operation was largely a failure for the Germans. The UPA lost 1,237 combatants, dead or wounded, in the fighting, while the losses inflicted on German forces by the UPA were significant. The Germans suffered more than 3,000 casualties. Bach-Zelewski’s brutal campaign was also responsible for the murder of more than 5,000 civilians. The UPA fought against the Germans until November 1944, when the last Nazi forces left Ukrainian territory.
The motivation behind forming a Ukrainian military unit – the Galicia Division – within Germany’s armed forces was greatly influenced by the experience of WW1. At the beginning of WW1 Ukrainians living in Galicia (province of western Ukraine) under the Habsburg Empire formed their own regiment, the Sich Riflemen, within the Austro-Hungarian armed forces. The war in the east ended with the front lines in Ukraine, and soldiers and officers of the regiment soon formed the core of the nascent army of the newly declared Ukrainian National Republic. These experienced and disciplined soldiers allowed the UNR to fight off Soviet Russian and Polish opposing armies for three years (1918-1920) despite a total lack of support from the West. It was therefore calculated that if WW2 ended with front lines in Ukraine, or if Allied forces of the west were to invade the Soviet Union, then a highly trained, well equipped fighting force would be an effective argument for an independent Ukrainian state. Sadly, neither scenario came true, but while stationed in Slovakia, the Galicia Division saved the lives of thousands of Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Soviet onslaught. It is important to note that prior to the end of WW2, the Division was renamed the First Division of the Ukrainian National Army, and surrendered to the British and Americans as such. In Canada the Deschesne Commission found that this elite fighting unit committed no war crimes. (The Waffen SS, the SS and the Impala SS were three different organizations.)
It is important to note, that during and after the Battle of Brody (July 13-22, 1944 in western Ukraine) against the advancing Soviet Army, an estimated 3 to 4 thousand soldiers of the Galicia Division (attached at the time to the 13th German Army Corps) joined the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) still battling the Nazi forces occupying western parts of Ukraine.
Disinformation: The Commander-in-Chief of the UPA Roman Shukhevych had a military rank of an SS-Hauptsturmführer and was decorated by Hitler with one or even two Iron Crosses (German military award) for taking part in the massacre of civilians.
The Nachtigall and Roland battalions (Legions of Ukrainian Nationalists – DUN) resulted from the agreement between OUN and German military intelligence (Abwehr); they were seen by Ukrainian nationalists as a core for the future independent armed forces. They were not related to the SS structure and were operationally subordinate to the Wehrmacht.
It was clear for OUN(b) that they were negotiating with a totalitarian state following its own interests. In order not to become an instrument in their hands, the leaders of OUN(b) put forward their conditions: Ukrainian military units would be under their political guidance, while being subordinated to the German command in terms of military tactics and training. Ukrainian soldiers were not swearing loyalty to Germany. OUN(b) also preserved the right to grant military ranks to the soldiers and to define the unit’s internal structure. Both battalions were trained to fight on the Eastern front and could not be used against the Western allies under any circumstances. OUN negotiated the right to have its own military chaplains in the two battalions. At the same time, there would be no Nazi propaganda in the DUN units.
In spring 1941 Roland and Nachtigall were trained in military camps Neuhammer and Seibersdorf (in Poland and Austria respectively). From the very first hours of the Soviet-German war on June 22, 1941 Nachtigall was taking part in combat operations. The Roland commander from the Ukrainian side was Major Yevhen Pobihushchyi, the Nachtigall commander was Captain Roman Shukhevych.
On June 30, 1941, Nachtigall reached Lviv. All the battalion’s soldiers were given week-long leaves. At the same time, a group of OUN(b) members headed by Yaroslav Stetsko reached Lviv, where they were tasked to proclaim the restoration of Ukrainian statehood. The event took place in the evening on the same day – on June 30, 1941.
In August 1941 the Nachtigall soldiers learned about the arrest of the government headed by Yaroslav Stetsko, in which Roman Shukhevych took the post of the deputy defense minister. Soldiers of the Nachtigall battalion put forward a demand to release Ukrainian state officials. On August 13, the rebellious battalions were removed from the front and sent to the rear – in Neuhammer.
They issued a written memorandum from Neuhammer calling to release the arrested OUN(b) members and members of the Ukrainian government as well as to return the battalion back to the Eastern front. Their demands were not met and the battalions were dissolved.
In autumn 1941 both battalions were reorganized into one unit – 201st battalion that was contract-based. After additional training, the battalion was sent to Belarus for security duties.
On December 1, 1942, the contract expired, and battalion members refused to swear loyalty to Adolf Hitler. The battalion was taken to Lviv where the officers got arrested. Roman Shukhevych succeeded to escape and in November 1943 became the UPA’s Commander-in-Chief.
Roman Shukhevych did not serve in any of the SS units. The Nachtigall battalion was subordinated to the Wehrmacht command. Nachtigall was not mentioned at the Nuremberg trial of Nazi war criminals after WWII (1945-1946).
The story about Shukhevych allegedly receiving an Iron Cross from Hitler is an outright provocation. It was spread in 2007 by the leader of the Communist Party of Ukraine Pyotr Symonenko during a parliamentary session. In 2010 a Ukrainian court made Symonenko withdraw the false accusation. Nevertheless, the myth of “Shukhevych’s Iron Crosses” is still being actively used by anti-Ukrainian provocateurs.
What actually happened is Shukhevych was awarded military service crosses not by Hitler but by the clandestine Ukrainian parliament – the Ukrainian Supreme Liberation Council. These were Ukrainian not German awards: the 1st class Golden Cross for combat achievements and the 1st class Golden Cross for achievements that was awarded posthumously to the UPA commander in 1950.
Disinformation: UPA General Roman Shukhevych received the Iron Cross from Hitler.
This is total fiction. This disinformation was spread in 2007 by the leader of the Communist Party of Ukraine, Pyotr Symonenko, during a parliamentary session. In 2010 Symonenko admitted in court that the allegation was false. There is an official registry of people who received this medal, and Roman Shukhevych is not on the list. Shukhevych had never met Hitler and did not serve in the Galicia Division or any other SS formation.
Roman Shukhevych received two awards from the Ukrainian Supreme Liberation Council – the 1st Class Golden Cross for combat achievements and the 1st Class Golden Cross for overall achievements, awarded posthumously to the UPA commander in 1950.
Part V – Ukrainian Police
The Issue of the Ukrainian Police Under the Nazi German Occupation of Ukraine during World War II
There were TWO police organizations: The Ukrainian National Militia (UNM) formed by the Ukrainian National Government (also known as the Ukrainian State Administration) established by the Act of Restoration of Ukrainian Statehood (ARUS) on 30 June 1941 in Lviv (western Ukraine), and the so-called Ukrainian Auxiliary police (UAP) formed by the Germans. Nevertheless, frequently these two forces are lumped together.
The UNM was tasked to secure law and order and facilitate Ukrainian nation-building. The UAP, which along with Ukrainians was also staffed with members of other ethnic backgrounds, was forced to assist the German occupational regime in its repressive activities in Ukraine. To be sure, the membership of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) led by Stepan Bandera (which initiated the ARUS) were under strict orders NOT to join the German controlled UAP.
After the suppression of the Ukrainian National Government and incarceration of its leading members in concentration camps in the beginning of July 1941, the UNM was also slated for liquidation by the German security forces. Its members were arrested or went underground to join the resistance. Numerous German field reports from Nazi-occupied Ukraine attest to these facts.
1. Berlin, 3 July 1941:
— “On July 2 and 3, 1941, Einsatzgruppe B reported on the attempts of the Ukrainians headed by Bandera to confront the Germans with a fait accompli to proclaim a Ukrainian republic and organize a Ukrainian national militia”.
2. Berlin, 31 July 1941:
— “Presently, the Einsatzkommandos are engaged in the dissolution of the so- called public services created by the OUN, and the formation of a NEW MILITIA [UAP]”.
3. Berlin, 22 August 1941:
— “The underground activity is continuing. A leaflet urging the dissolved militia not to hand in its arms is presently being circulated […] ‘Down with foreign rule! Long live Stepan Bandera!’”.
4. Berlin, 28 August 1941:
–“The dissolution of the Ukrainian militia is now taking place everywhere […]”.
5. Berlin, Report, 1-15 September 1941:
— “The activity of the western Ukrainian Bandera group has an increasingly detrimental effect on the remaining Ukrainian regions […]. They present an acute danger to German interests both in the present time and in the future”.
6. Berlin, 8 December 1941:
–“The assignments of the arrested OUN members correspond exactly to the recently reported attempts of this political group: The formation of a Ukrainian militia, the appointment of mayors and commanders of the militia, the dismissal of officials not authorized by the Bandera group […]”.
7. Berlin, 3 July 1942:
–“It was also established that the Bandera organization has ordered its members not to join the [Ukrainian Auxiliary] police. A member of the Bandera movement is automatically excluded from the movement if he joins the police”.
( Sources: Bundesarchiv. Federal Archives. Koblenz, Germany; Auswartiges Amt.
Foreign Ministry Archives, Bonn, Germany)
Part VI – Galicia Division
Disinformation: The 14th Waffen SS Galicia Division was a “collaborationist criminal fascist” formation and participated in various war crimes during WW2.
Between 1943 and 1945, TWENTY-FOUR non-German divisions were formed in various Nazi-occupied European countries due to a shortage of German manpower, among them: Ukraine, Holland, Denmark, Belgium, Italy, France, Norway and others.
All of these military units were designated as Waffen SS divisions. To be sure, the Waffen SS divisions participated in military operations ONLY, and NOT in police actions.
After much debate, the Ukrainian Central Committee (UCC located in Krakow, Poland) acceded to the German “proposal” of forming a Ukrainian division to be officially called “14 Waffen Grenadier Division der SS, Galizische Nr. 1” – or the “Galicia Division”. Moreover, it was agreed that the Ukrainian division was to be deployed for service ONLY on the EASTERN FRONT against the Soviets. The UCC also hoped that this enterprise might help improve the treatment of Ukrainians, whom the Nazis also considered “Untermenschen” (“sub human”). The Galicia Division and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) were two separate military entities with different origins and immediate objectives.
The motivation behind forming a Ukrainian military unit within Germany’s armed forces was greatly influenced by the experience of WW1. At the beginning of WW1 Ukrainians living in western Ukrainian provinces under the Austrian Empire were able to form their own regiment, the Sich Riflemen (Sichovi Striltsi), within the Austro-Hungarian armed forces. The war in the east ended with the front lines in Ukraine, and soldiers and officers of the Sichovi Striltsi soon formed the core of the nascent army of the newly declared Ukrainian National Republic (UNR). These experienced and disciplined soldiers allowed the UNR Army to fight off the invading Soviet Russian and Polish armies for three years (1918-1920) despite a total lack of support from the West. It was therefore surmised that if WW2 ended with the front lines in Ukraine, or if Allied forces of the West were to engage the Soviet Union, then a highly trained, well equipped fighting force would be an effective argument for an independent Ukrainian state. Sadly, neither scenario came true, but while stationed in Slovakia, the Galicia Division saved the lives of thousands of Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Soviet onslaught. It is important to note that prior to the end of WW2, the Division became the core of the Ukrainian National Army, commanded by General Pavlo Shandruk, and surrendered to the British and Americans as such on May 8-11, 1945. After being investigated by the Allies and cleared of any crimes during the war, its members settled in Great Britain, Canada, the USA and other countries. In Canada the Deschenes Commission (February 1985 – December 1986) also found that this fighting unit committed NO war crimes.
Part VII – Killing of Jews in Lviv, Babyn Yar
Disinformation: During World War II Ukrainian nationalists as so-called “Nazi collaborators” took part in the massive killing of Jews, particularly in Lviv and Babyn Yar in Kyiv.
The myth presenting the OUN (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists) and the UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army) as the main actors in the killing of Jews was actively exploited by Soviet, and later Russian, disinformation to justify the campaign that Russia was waging against these organizations.
An attempt was made to create a logical sequence to deceive the public, suggesting that during WWII Ukrainians who stood for an independent Ukraine were also nationalists, and at the same time Ukrainian nationalists were killing Jews. This makes all those who stood for an independent Ukrainian state anti-semites and criminals.
In fact, the mass and systematic killing of Jews during World War II in Ukraine was conducted not by Ukrainian nationalists but by Nazi troops and their militarized units – the security service, the SS and the police.
Disinformation: Members of the OUN and the Nachtigall Battalion were the main organizers and executors of the pogrom against Jews in Lviv.
Representatives of the German security service and the SS arrived in Lviv on July 1, the next day after the German army took the city. During this time, a Jewish pogrom took place in the city.
In April 1941 the leadership of OUN(b) issued resolutions passed at their II Congress clearly stipulating that the main goal of the Organization is fighting for Ukraine’s independence, and that Jewish pogroms are the enemy’s attempts to distract the attention of Ukrainians from attaining this goal.
As a military unit, Nachtigall neither organized nor carried out the pogrom. Moreover, the documents from the archive of the Committee for State Security (KGB) demonstrate that KGB accusations against the battalion soldiers were part of a special disinformation operation against West German Minister Theodor Oberlander in 1959-1960 by the Soviet security service. The murders of Jews, Polish intelligentsia, and Soviet sympathizers in the first days of the occupation of Lviv, known as the “Slaughter of the Lviv Professors” (Lviv Civilian Massacre), were the work of the German security units (the SD, Einsatzgruppe B). In 1997 a special Ukrainian government commission on OUN/UPA activities during WWII also confirmed this fact.
We do know that in reaction to the proclamation of the “Act of Restoration of the Ukrainian State”, Nachtigall personnel were given a week off, and their German advising officer, Theodor Oberländer, was demoted and called back to Prague.
After the Red Army retreated from Lviv, no less than 2466 victims, Ukrainians, Poles and Jews, murdered by the Russians were found in the city’s prisons. Roman Shukhevych’s brother Yuriy was among those executed. Thousands more were killed in prisons in other western Ukrainian cities. They had been executed by the agents of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD) of the USSR between June 22 and June 28, prior to the Soviet retreat. Similar mass executions occurred in other western Ukrainian cities: Drohobych – 1,101; Stanislaviv (now Ivano-Frankivsk) – 1,000; Ternopil – 674; Rivne – 230; and many others.
Disinformation: Members of the OUN and the Nachtigall Battalion were the main organizers and executors of the pogrom against Jews in Lviv.
Representatives of the German security service and SS arrived in Lviv on July 1, the next day after the German army took the city. During this time, a Jewish pogrom took place in the city.
In April 1941 the leadership of OUN(b) issued resolutions passed at their II Congress clearly stipulating that the main goal of the Organization is fighting for Ukraine’s independence, and that Jewish pogroms are the enemy’s attempts to distract the attention of Ukrainians from attaining this goal.
As a military unit, Nachtigall neither organized nor carried out the pogrom. Moreover, the documents from the archive of the Soviet Committee for State Security (KGB), the status of which was recently changed from secret to public, demonstrated that KGB accusations of the battalion fighters were part of a special operation in 1959-1960 by the Soviet security service against Ukrainian émigré leaders.
After the Red Army retreated from Lviv, thousands of victims killed by the Russians were found in the city’s prisons. They were arbitrarily executed by members of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD) prior to the retreat. It caused massive anger on the part of the city’s population, while the Germans used it to direct the anger and aggression towards the Jews, despite the fact that the Jews themselves were among the victims of terror. One should also remember that Ukrainians constituted a minority in Lviv at that time.
Disinformation: Members of the OUN took part in the mass killing of Jews in Babyn Yar.
In Kyiv a mass killing of Jews took place in Babyn Yar. After the German troops occupied the city, on September 29-30, 1941, the Sonderkommando headed by Paul Blobel and the German police killed over 33 thousand Jews. The Jews were also massively killed in the first half of October. Soviet and Russian propaganda often attributes one of the key roles in this killing to the “Banderites” from the “Bukovynsky” Battalion and from the supporting police units in Kyiv. Active use of this message in the mid-1980s coincided with the beginning of the large-scale propaganda campaign in the USSR on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Nuremberg trials. However, the “Bukovynsky” Battalion had nothing to do with the OUN(b). Moreover, the fighters of the unit came to Kyiv only in the first half of November, over a month after the killing of Jews in Babyn Yar, so they could not have been involved in the killing.
The total number of Ukraine’s citizens murdered at Babyn Yar during the German occupation was over 150,000 people – including many members of the Ukrainian resistance, among them a renown poetess and OUN (m) member Olena Teliha.
The commander of the Kyiv police was Anatoliy Konkel. The police itself was mostly composed of Soviet prisoners of war and did not take part in the atrocities. The German Sonderkommando and German police were responsible for killing the Jews. The Kyiv population and OUN members did not take part in the killing of Jews in Babyn Yar. German war-time documents mention that the Jewish pogroms and anti-Jewish actions did not have support among the population.
OUN (b) operatives in central and eastern Ukraine, including Kyiv, were providing false passports to Jews or hiding them from the Germans. Among those who saved Jews during World War II were members of OUN, including the wife of General Roman Shukhevych (UPA’s Commander-in-Chief), Natalia, the Ukrainian priest Omelyan Kovch (OUN member since the 1930s), who died a martyr in Auschwitz for helping Jews, and Fedir (Feodor) Vovk, the Nykopol (today Dnipro oblast) district OUN (b) leader and vice-president of the Ukrainian Supreme Liberation Council (In 2002, he was awarded posthumously by Yad Vashem the title of “Righteous Among the Nations”).
Part VIII – Ukraine, Crimea, Revolution of Dignity
Disinformation: Ukraine is and always was a part of Russia. The Ukrainian state is a recent “invention” and has no actual history.
“The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names” (Confucius). The lands around today’s Moscow were on the north-eastern periphery of the Rus’ Empire, an early Ukrainian realm with its capital in Kyiv from the 9th to the 13th centuries. The invading Mongol Horde took this northern periphery in 1237 before devastating the heartland of Rus’, including Kyiv in 1240. The northern periphery with its capital in Moscow became an Ulus (province) of the Golden Horde. Kyiv and the core of the original Rus’ realm became incorporated into the Lithuanian Commonwealth, which adopted the Rus’ (Ruthenian) language and its codex of laws. The Duchy (later Tsardom) of Muscovy was greatly influenced both genetically and culturally by the Horde, and over time occupied all the lands of the Golden Horde. Muscovy was renamed by Tsar Peter I as Rossia (Latin for Rus’), as late as 1721. It was only in the 18th century that Muscovy-Rossia fully incorporated Kyiv and the core lands of Rus’ by ultimately destroying the Ukrainian Cossack State (16th-18th centuries). The Ruthenians (Rusyny) of the core Rus’ lands (Ukraine) near the Dnipro River began calling themselves Ukrainians as early as in the 12th century. However, as in the case of other modern European countries (Germany, Italy, Spain, and others), the adoption of “Ukraine” as a common name for the Ukrainian people and its land as a whole was a centuries-long incremental process, which came to a close for all of these nations – including Ukraine – as late as in the 19th century.
The word Ukraine (Ukrayina) is Ukrainian for country. Ukrainians re-established their independence from the Muscovite-Russian Empire in 1918. They lost this independence in 1921, but, after several unsuccessful attempts, fully regained it again in 1991 and were recognized as independent by all member-states of the United Nations. Indeed, Ukraine (as the Ukrainian SSR in 1945) joined the United Nations as one of its founding member-countries.
Disinformation: Ukraine is and always was a part of Russia. The Ukrainian state is a recent “invention” and has no actual history.
“The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names” (Confucius). The lands around today’s Moscow were on the north-eastern periphery of the Rus’ Empire, an early Ukrainian realm with its capital in Kyiv from the 9th to the 13th centuries. The invading Mongol Horde took this northern periphery in 1237 before devastating the heartland of Rus’, including Kyiv in 1240. The northern periphery with its capital in Moscow became an Ulus (province) of the Golden Horde. Muscovy was renamed as Rossia (Greek for Rus’) hundreds of years later by Czar Peter in 1721 after Muscovy fully annexed Kyiv and the core lands of Rus’. The word Ukraine (Ukrayina) is simply Ukrainian for country and was used as early as the 12th century. However, as in the case of other modern European countries (Germany, Romania, Belarus, Italy, Spain, and others), the adoption of “Ukraine” as a common name for the Ukrainian people and its territory as a whole was an incremental process, which came to a close in the early 20th century. Ukrainians re-established their independence from the Muscovite-Russian Empire in 1918. They lost this independence in 1921, but, after several unsuccessful attempts, fully regained it again in 1991 and were recognized as independent by all member-states of the United Nations.
Disinformation: Ukraine isn’t a country.
During the NATO Summit in Bucharest, Romania, Russian President Vladimir Putin said to then U.S. President George W. Bush: “You have to understand, George, that Ukraine is not even a country.” While this opinion fits nicely with the Kremlin’s view of the world, the facts shows it to be another myth. Ukraine within its present borders, including the Russian-annexed territory of Crimea, is an internationally recognized state, and a member of the United Nations. Indeed, Ukraine joined the United Nations as one of its founding member-countries in 1945, while Russia did not – it was represented as part of the Soviet Union.
Disinformation: Kyiv is the mother of Russian cities.
Kyiv was the capital of the ancient Kyivan Rus Realm centered in Ukraine, which broke up in the 13th century, long before any state known as “Russia” came to exist. The modern Russian state directly precedes from Tsarist Russia, which itself proceeded from the Grand Duchy of Moscow, or Muscovy, with its capital in Moscow. Thus the “mother city” of modern Russia is, in fact, Moscow.
Disinformation: The Ukrainian language is a dialect of the “Great Russian” language.
Within the Slavic language group, Russian is in fact the odd one out. If you could have heard an ancient East Slavic tribesman, his speech would have sounded much more like Ukrainian than Russian. Indeed, Ukrainian shares many more linguistic features with Belarusian, Czech, Slovak, Polish and Serbo-Croat than it does with Russian. Ukrainian and Russian are not mutually intelligible – the standard linguistic test for determining whether a language is a full-fledged language in its own right, and not a dialect of another. While many people in Ukraine have Russian as their first language, most people are bilingual in Ukrainian and Russian, and will switch languages depending on who they are speaking to. Politics aside, the language issue has never been problematic in Ukraine.
Disinformation: The Ukrainian language is a dialect of the “Great Russian” language.
The Ukrainian language is a separate Slavic language just as are Polish, Slovak, Czech, Serbian, Croat, Belarusian and Bulgarian. In terms of mutual intelligibility and lexicon, Ukrainian is closest to Belarusian and Slovak. The Muscovite language is closest to Bulgarian, reflecting the influence of Old Bulgarian scripture on the formation of that language. Most Muscovite speakers find that they cannot understand someone who speaks proper Ukrainian and vice-versa.
Disinformation: Ukraine is “deeply divided along ethnic and linguistic lines.”
Since regaining its independence in 1991, Ukraine, as a modern European political nation, has mostly been a peaceful, ethnically and linguistically varied state, home to speakers of not only Ukrainian, but Russian, Eastern Yiddish, Rusyn, Romanian, Belarusian, Crimean Tatar, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Polish, Armenian, German and Greek. While Ukrainian is the language most commonly spoken, Russian is also widely used, and many Ukrainians are equally proficient in both. Moreover, Ukrainians will switch between the two as the situation requires, sometimes using different languages to address the members of a single conversational group. Politics had muddied the issue, but ethnic Ukrainians can be heard speaking Russian as well as Ukrainian. It is a mistake to identify a Russian-speaking Ukrainian as a “Russian,” just as it would be a mistake to say an American, Canadian, Australian, Irish person or Scot was “English” because they speak English.
Disinformation: Crimea is a Russian land.
While Russia absorbed Crimea into its empire in the 18th century after one of its many wars with the Ottoman Empire (based in Turkey), Crimea has a long history that had little to do with Russia. Geographically, the Crimean Peninsula is an integral part of Ukraine’s mainland. The people with the greatest claim to call Crimea home, are, of course, the Crimean Tatars, an ethnos that actually developed in Crimea over at least 8 centuries, but that population was repressed and deported during the time that the Russian Empire and later Soviet Union were in control of the peninsula. Things changed for the better after Ukraine gained independence, and Crimea gained autonomy within the unitary state of Ukraine, with Crimean Tatars returning to their homeland from their places of deportation in Central Asia. Ethnic Ukrainians and Russians also inhabit Crimea but describing it as “Russian land” is to ignore a vast portion of its history, both recent and ancient. Today, Crimean Tatars want Crimea to be returned to Ukraine. Some have been killed while others are being imprisoned, along with Ukrainians, by the Russians since their 2014 military invasion and illegal occupation of the peninsula.
Disinformation: Crimea was part of Russia and was “gifted” to the Ukrainian SSR by Nikita Khrushchev in 1954.
Crimea was annexed by the Russian Empire in 1783. Until then it had never been part of the empire. But conquest does not beget the right of possession. Even when it was part of the Russian Empire (nineteenth–early twentieth centuries) Crimea was economically bound more to Ukraine, especially through transport links and Ukrainian workers. The real motive behind the purely propagandistic “transfer to Ukraine” in 1954 was the terrible consequences of Russian “management,” Stalin’s deportation of the peninsula’s indigenous peoples, the ruinous state of the economy, and the need to supply fresh water from the Dnipro River, which operation began in 1957 with the construction of the North Crimean Canal.
The veracity of these historical explanations is confirmed by today’s water crisis in the peninsula: As soon as Russia annexed Crimea, water instantly disappeared. The conclusion here is that without Ukraine and without water Crimea cannot exist, and sooner or later it will be returned to Ukraine.
Disinformation: The conflict in eastern Ukraine is a spontaneous uprising mounted by the local Russian-speaking population against the Ukrainian state.
There is nothing “spontaneous” in history. The Russo-Ukrainian confrontation has deep historical roots. The absorption of Ukraine and its material and human resources is one of the key prerequisites for the deployment of the Russian imperial project. The origins of the current Russo-Ukrainian war dates to the period marked by the formation of the Russian Empire and its conflict with the Ukrainian state—the Hetmanate. The subsequent process of the formation and expansion of imperial Russia was always accompanied by wars against Ukraine. Russia sought to destroy our subjectness. The history of the Ukrainian–Russian relations is a chronicle of wars, liberation uprisings mounted by the Ukrainians, and the consistent policies of the Russification and assimilation of Ukrainians.
The current armed conflict is known as a “hybrid” war, representing a new way of implementing aggressive policies. But practically all its instruments (the attempt to consolidate Russia’s influence in the Ukrainian lands by providing support to loyal Ukrainian political milieus, creating an internal-political rift in Ukrainian society with the aid of propaganda, and, finally, open military intervention and the attempt to portray aggression as an internal, civil conflict) were tested by Russian leaders back in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The most striking scenario was used by the Bolsheviks against the Ukrainian National Republic during the Ukrainian Revolution of 1917–1921.
The Russian Federation is conducting a large-scale “hybrid” war by deploying to Ukrainian territory units of the RF’s regular armed forces as well as irregular forces, armed gangs, and groups of mercenaries that were created, commanded, and financed by Russia. These actions on the part of Russia correspond to Points, A, B, C, D, E, and G of Article 3, Resolution 3314 (XXIX) of the United Nations General Assembly’s “Definition of Aggression” adopted 14 December 1974, which makes them crimes of armed aggression against Ukraine.
Disinformation: The Revolution of Dignity on the Maidan in 2013–2014 was a “fascist putsch that toppled the lawfully elected President of Ukraine.”
Recourse to rebellion against tyranny and oppression is one of the basic human rights, and it is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations on 10 December 1948. According to the Constitution of Ukraine, Ukrainians have the right to rebel. This follows from several provisions of the Constitution. Article 22 states: “Human and civil rights and freedoms are enshrined in this Constitution and are not exhaustive. Constitutional rights and freedoms are guaranteed and cannot be abolished.” In other words, the Constitution loses its meaning if its highest value—human rights—is being supplanted in Ukraine and if the system of Ukrainian statehood is not oriented in favor of its citizens and the implementation of their rights and freedoms. All bodies of state power are obliged to recognize, uphold, and protect the rights of all Ukrainian citizens.
The events that took place in Ukraine a few years before February 2014 may be easily defined as the “usurpation of power and the violation of citizens’ rights to freedom and dignity.” This period saw the toppling of the constitutional order. The power structures began to exert pressure on citizens and lay criminal charges against them. The number of crimes that the regime perpetrated against citizens increased, and their rights and freedoms were violated. The non-implementation and absence of any actions on the part of the state gave the people the legitimate right to rebel.
The grounds determining the lawfulness of the uprising against the regime were the following circumstances:
1. The violation by the government of the principles of democracy, its usurpation of power.
2. The violation by the government of the Constitution and human rights, in particular, the right to life, the right of social service, freedom, the right to privacy, etc.
3. The government showed itself as an aggressor that encroached on the common good of the people.
4. Abuse of the law on the part of the public authorities.
5. Neglect of the state’s independence, the fugitive President Yanukovych’s invitation to the Russian aggressors; in other words, state treason.
In these circumstances, the rebelling people were saving Ukraine from annihilation. After Yanukovych’s escape, his associates published the following statement: “We, the Party of Regions faction in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and our fellow party members, decisively condemn the criminal orders that led to the loss of life, an empty treasury, immense debts, and shame before the Ukrainian people and the whole world, as a result of which our country has ended up on the edge of a precipice, the threat of disunion, and the loss of our national sovereignty.”
The Revolution of Dignity on the Maidan was not a “fascist putsch” but a nationwide uprising in which millions of Ukrainian citizens ACROSS Ukraine took part.
Disinformation: The Revolution of Dignity on the Maidan in 2013–2014 was a CIA plot.
If you Google the words “Maidan” and “CIA,” you will see only postings by Russian propaganda channels. Not a single serious piece of fact-based research exists in this connection. Thus, the theory of the “hand of the CIA” is, from beginning to end, an invention of Russian propagandists.
The historical significance of the Ukrainian Revolution of Dignity lies above all in the fact that it succeeded in halting the threat of destruction of Ukraine’s independence and safeguarding its European aspirations and Ukrainians’ freedom and dignity. The French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy declared that Ukrainians “practically with their bare hands forced the Berkut to retreat, and with the determined action worthy of great nations inflicted a historic defeat on tyranny, and therefore they are not simply Europeans but the best of Europeans, not only in terms of history but also blood that has been shed.”