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On the frontline with the Right Sector militia I spent a week with a Ukrainian nationalist unit

"Kuts" sees himself as a modern Cossack

"Kuts" sees himself as a modern Cossack


June 18, 2022   20 mins

The sun is beginning to set over the Donbas front line, and I’m hurtling down hedgerow-lined roads eerily reminiscent of English country lanes at 100km an hour, bouncing around in the back of a civilian SUV spray-painted dark green as the burly fighters in the front neck cans of Monster and buckle on their tactical helmets. We’ve entered the grey zone, the no-man’s land of abandoned villages and contested territory in the steppe landscape of eastern Ukraine; as we enter a stretch of road where the hedgerows thin out, making us visible to the Russian positions on the nearby hillside, the driver accelerates and screeches down the road until we’re safely back in the cover of the trees.

The platoon commander, “Pedro” — soldiers here all use noms de guerre, a tradition drawn from Ukraine’s long history of resistance to foreign occupation — turns to me, nodding at the treeline at the edge of the field. “That’s it,” he says. “This is the closest road I can take. The Russians are behind those trees.”

We park, reversing the SUV under an oak tree to keep it hidden from Russian drones, and hurry, crouching through the long grass, to the mortar section. The steppe landscape of the Donbas region is rippled with folds and gullies; the copses of tall oaks that have taken root in these shallow nooks provide perfect cover for guerrilla war, an archipelago in the endless sea of grass and ripening wheat. The mortar team have been concealed here for two days, in a tiny salient almost fully encircled by the Russian advance, observing enemy positions with their quadcopter and getting ready to strike.

 

Pedro points at a white house about a kilometre away at the edge of the Russian-held town of Svitlodarsk. It’s the Russian base. “Our Intelligence found a location with Russian mortar positions and an ammunition dump, so now the plan is to go, prepare the mortar, fire and leave immediately,” Pedro had told me as we were leaving. “With a quadcopter you can find a position to hit in 20 minutes — but once we fire, it will only take the Russians a couple of minutes to find our position and return fire.”

It is strangely tranquil, lying in the long  grass fragrant with wild herbs, listening to the cuckoos and the rustle of the oak leaves — until the radios crackle and the mortar squad shout out their orders. Now. In just a few minutes of furious activity, the 120mm mortar belches out a dozen rounds in bursts of flame, as the quadcopter operator sits cross-legged in the grass, ordering them to adjust their elevation, then grins at his tablet screen as the rounds land directly on the Russian position.

The mortar team on a fire mission in no-man’s land

Then it’s time to go: we race to the SUV and drive off at high speed, bouncing over bumpy dirt tracks until we reach the village road, as the retaliatory Russian artillery rounds land harmlessly on the road behind us. Pedro lights a cigarette, watching the road anxiously until the mortar squad join us in their pick-up truck.

Today was a good day for Pedro. He’s brought all his men back unharmed from another mission, and the target was destroyed. The following day, Pedro, who has an ongoing social media feud with mercenaries from the far-Right Russian Wagner Group on the other side of the frontline, in which they threaten to kill each other, would show drone footage of the Russian soldiers in their trenches getting obliterated by his mortar fire on his phone, overlaid with a death metal soundtrack and cry-laughter emojis. Welcome to war in 2022.

I spent a week in rural Donbas with Pedro’s platoon, fighters from the Ukrainian Volunteer Corps or DUK, the militia of the nationalist Right Sector party, on their first mission since they were formally absorbed into the Ukrainian army as a special forces unit just a couple of weeks earlier. Formed during the Maidan revolution, in which they played a prominent role fighting the police and unseating Ukraine’s then pro-Russian government, Right Sector has since played a starring role in Russian propaganda as evidence of Ukraine’s takeover by Right-wing radicals.

It’s nonsense, Volodymyr Demchenko told me, back at their rear base in central Ukraine. Known as “Fransuz” or “Frenchman” (because his great-grandfather served in the French army after World War One), Demchenko is a 33-year-old documentary filmmaker from Kyiv with a hipster haircut and an engaging manner, who’s also become something of a Twitter celebrity since detaining the journalist John Sweeney for breaking curfew in Kyiv earlier in the war.

“Right Sector is a Christian, conservative organisation. Okay? Done,” he told me in his office cluttered with piles of books — Aristotle, Kafka, Umberto Eco — a postcard of Ernst Jünger propped on his bookcase next to the cafetiere and scent diffuser. “Like, I’m a liberal. I support LGBT, I have, like, all the time conversations about that here with the guys, and you know what, here I have freedom of speech to say that.”

Fransuz insisted that far-Right political movements were stronger in Western Europe than in Ukraine, citing the strong showing of those parties in the West compared to their marginality here. Yet Western journalists fixate on the far-Right symbols occasionally worn by Right Sector fighters, he told me with a weary sigh, “but I don’t think it’s a very interesting story, to be honest. They just want to be badass, it’s fucking cosplay, man. But if you’re talking person to person and try to find this ideology in him you wouldn’t. But here we don’t tell you what you can wear or what you can’t wear, because it’s bad for morale, every man can explain these things for himself.”

Formed as a coalition of Right-wing organisations during the Maidan Revolution, Right Sector suffered from an internal split when Andriy Biletskiy broke away to found the more radical Azov movement in spring 2014, which has since surpassed Right Sector in numbers and media attention — both good and bad. Part of the rift between them was Right Sector’s clampdown on far-Right symbolism, an aesthetic Azov leant heavily into until its recent rebranding.

A mortar team on the frontline.

Neither fascist nor National Socialist, despite the lurid reputation it has been given in Russian media, Right Sector instead draws a line of descent from both Ukraine’s early 20th century OUN nationalist movement for independence from the Soviet Union (whose red and black flag, for the rich Ukrainian soil and the blood shed for it, it has adopted) and from the anarchic, freewheeling Cossack war bands of Early Modern Ukraine. At times, the government has found the group a little too anarchic for comfort: in 2015, Ukraine’s previous president Petro Poroshenko futilely ordered them to disarm after a shootout with police in the western city of Mukachevo.

While foreign journalistic depictions of the group tend to flicker inconsistently between “Right-wing” and “far-Right,” Right Sector has always rejected the latter label, while Ukrainian academic specialists on Right-wing politics have stressed that the group’s electoral programme “does not contain any specifically ultra-Right or ultra-nationalistic ideas” and instead “seems to reflect a rather liberal worldview”. The group’s mission statement on its website asserts that its goal is “Ukraine’s liberation from both external — Kremlin’s — and internal occupation of clan-oligarchic groups, as well as struggle against the imposition of extreme-liberal, cultural-Marxist ideas upon the Ukrainian society.”

In a recent statement aimed at an English-language audience, the party’s leader Andriy Tarasenko insisted that Right Sector “is a nationalist formation; we unequivocally stand against all the fascist or Nazi things that Putin attributes to us. This is purely Russian propaganda, and we have nothing to do with such ideological positions.” Characteristically, the statement also notes that “We consider president Putin a liar and in general our people call him a ‘dickhead.’”

Three months and much fighting into his DUK career, Fransuz was a constant presence in the group’s rear base. One day I saw him staggering along beneath boxes of Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite internet receivers, which have won great publicity for their use by Ukrainian forces. These must be useful at the front, I suggested. He looked at me like I was an idiot. “This? No way man, if we took them to the front, as soon as we turned them on the Russians would send a missile right on top of us, as soon as they see all this data going up into the sky.” He shook his head and carried on with his endless bustling around.

Fransuz joined DUK at the beginning of the war, taking part in the defence of Kyiv, and then the heavy fighting in Barvinkove, where they destroyed dozens of Russian tanks in close fighting, and lost their battalion commander and 13 men to Russian shelling. In Barvinkove alone, they destroyed 64 Russian armoured vehicles in their two-month deployment. “We had a position on the road and they kept sending tanks, and we kept destroying them, every day — it was like a cemetery for tanks”, laughed Hasid, the group’s officer in charge of reconnaissance (he comes from the town of Uman, a pilgrimage site for Hasidic Jews, hence the name). “We saw one column, 600 vehicles. We let them keep coming, then we hit them from the front and kept hitting them from all directions and then we escaped in this car, driving over fields,” he said, pointing at a battered Skoda Octavia.

“Soviet tactics are just to use mass, lots of tanks and lots of artillery, infantry aren’t important in their doctrine,” Hasid added. “We instructed our new volunteers to use small groups in cars that are very mobile and can ambush huge columns — this technique will be in the handbooks now, I’m sure.” Have the Russians learned from their earlier mistakes? “No, No, No,” he replied. “Fear and panic. Even if the soldiers learned, their commanders still give them the same orders — and if they disobey, they shoot them.”

But in the Donbas, the Russians do seem to have learned from their mistakes: massing their troops together behind a devastating wall of artillery fire, the invaders are creeping forward every day, taking ground and eroding the Ukrainian army’s ability to fight. With the Ukrainians suffering up to 200 soldiers killed and 500 wounded each day, according to President Zelenskiyy, the next few weeks in the Donbas may decide the outcome of an increasingly brutal war.

“I was on the frontline from 2014, but now the situation is really crazy, fuck, lots of planes, artillery, everything,” “Veloshka”, the commander of DUK’s medical unit and wife of Right Sector’s leader Andriy Tarasenko, told me. A big woman with bleached blond hair and sleeve tattoos, Veloshka smokes and swears incessantly. “When you’re killed,” she told me, “I’ll be really upset, fuck, it will be an international scandal. Fuck, maybe I should just give you a puppy and send you away home,” she added, nodding at the litter of sleeping puppies on a nearby bed.

DUK’s two ambulances, named Hope and Pikachu, veterans of the Maidan revolution, are now serving with their crews on the Donbas frontline, painted dark green and hidden under trees in a secret location near Bakhmut. Soon I would join them, to meet and live with the DUK fighters on the frontline. Scrolling through Twitter in the meantime, watching Russian drone videos of Ukrainian positions being obliterated by accurate artillery fire, was not a reassuring experience.

The DUK battalion has deployed a company-sized formation to the Bakhmut frontline, divided into an HQ element and a number of small sections living in deserted cottages among the local Russian-speaking population. I was sent to live with 1 Section, a squad of artisanal craftsmen, farmers, writers and eccentrics, most from the West-Central Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia, who had joined up together at the start of the war. On my arrival in the courtyard of their cottage, I was seated down at their table under the trees and given a bowl of meaty borsch, by Kuts, a lean, heavily tattooed 48-year-old with a Cossack chub haircut and long drooping moustaches.

Kuts, a jeweller and swordsmith turned fighter

Kuts — the name refers to a type of benign devil in Ukrainian folk belief — is a jeweller and traditional swordsmith from Kharkiv. He showed me a medieval longsword on his Facebook page he was in the process of completing when the war began: “I didn’t get to finish it because of the katsabs (butchers),” he told me. Pulling out his self-forged, oak-handled combat knife from his assault vest, Kuts told me that the oak is a tree of great significance in Ukrainian folk culture, and that he saw his service in DUK as following the traditions of his ancestors. “Right Sector is like a modern Cossack Sich,” he told me. “Different people have gathered together from all walks of life in a time of need. We don’t care about gender, preferences, age. We learn a lot about our traditions, our ancestors, our family values, in order to not lose our connection to our Ukrainian culture, because those traditions are what make us Ukrainians. And now we have to fight for them.”

What is their political orientation, then, I asked? “Cossack Sich,” replied Kuts. “It’s a movement that doesn’t tolerate any political oligarchies, it stands only for the interests of the nation,” added “Bayonet,” a shy, humorous middle-aged man with a long reddish beard. “We are the Cossacks who will give our lives for Ukraine, without question, or we’ll take the enemy’s life. The Russians have a 10 to 1 advantage in this offensive, but every one of us can take out 100 Russians.” And what if Russia wins the war? “Impossible! No, No, Never!” replied Kuts in English, “Our motto is Ukraine or death, so they would have to kill us all.”

“The Russians will never be able to win a war here without using mercenaries,” he added. “They want to eradicate us because they fear us. Ukraine was always the best nation at fighting, and now we have confirmed that we Ukrainians are warriors at heart, and not any of this other bullshit.” Will postwar Ukraine be different, I asked. “Yes!” said Kuts, “We must kill the internal enemies, the fucking separatists. We are not the ones that just talk, and sit at home, the ones that have a ‘practical solution.’ We always look our enemy straight in the eyes, even the dead ones.”

Like other nationalist battalions, Right Sector’s deployment in the long-running Donbas conflict has long been controversial: they were accused of human rights abuses against suspected separatists by Amnesty International in the war’s 2014 opening months, a period characterised by the kind of intimate brutalities typifying civil wars. It is difficult to gauge how they are viewed by locals in the Donbas. “When I heard Right Sector were going to liberate my village, I was like ‘Uh, we’re all going to die,” one former Donbas resident, Sasha, told me, laughing at the memory: now she fights as a member of the group.

But for now, the Ukrainian government has embraced Right Sector. Previously used as a deniable proxy to seize strategically important positions from the separatist forces during the long years of frozen conflict in the Donbas, it has been formally incorporated in the Ukrainian army as a special forces unit, tasked with harassing the advancing Russians. It’s a mixed relationship, DUK fighters told me, in which the disadvantage of increased bureaucracy is outweighed by the sudden flow of new weapons donated by Western countries. I sat at the table one day as the group prepared a shopping list of new equipment — sniper scopes, night vision goggles, thermal weapons sights — to obtain from the government following a request from Pedro.

“It’s OK now we’re in the army,” 22-year-old Anna, or “Athena” told me in flawless English, with a remarkably posh accent acquired from watching Dr Who and Torchwood. “It’s a way of getting our weapons and doing our job more effectively, so it’s worth the extra regulations. The regular infantry have in some ways a more difficult job. We go on special missions and the rest of the time are just chilling, but they spend all their time in foxholes under constant shelling. It’s a very difficult job.”

Anna, 22, was a poet and professional English translator before the war.

The group is recruiting heavily, with its rear base in Central Ukraine crammed with new recruits training for combat beneath the tall trees, and learning how to use the new heavy machine guns donated by the West. Most seem apolitical: when asked why he joined DUK, one recruit, the local sales manager for a large German company, told me it was simply because he didn’t want his wife to be raped and murdered by Russian soldiers, “like in Bucha”.

Most have joined DUK for the chance to see combat as soon as possible, without the petty regulations of regular army life. Unlike the regular army, DUK has an anarchic, democratic atmosphere in which soldiers discuss orders with their commanders and feel free to add their own suggestions. “No-one here asks if you’re a nationalist, or an anarchist,” Athena told me. Like Fransuz and most DUK fighters I spoke to, she’s not a member of the Right Sector party. “We’re all just here to do our job.”

Brought up in a Russian-speaking Catholic family in Vinnytsia, the daughter of a surgeon, Athena was a poet and English translator before the war, with a sideline writing essays for American college students. She first volunteered for frontline service at age 18, straight from university. With her black hair cut in a neat bob, she was a distinctive presence whenever she returned from special missions in her baggy, second-hand British uniform, shrugging off her heavy body armour and ammunition pouches, and leaning her heavily-customised assault rifle against the table as she lit up a cigarette.

“I’m not a feminist,” she told me. “I don’t like modern feminism, they march around but don’t have solutions for anything.” A child prodigy, she was a contestant on the Russian version of Britain’s Brainiest Kid aged 11, and recently published a letter to the host, a Putin supporter, condemning the Russian invasion. In a perfect illustration of the complexities of the Ukraine war, Athena’s Russian husband, a political dissident, is currently fighting as a member of the Ukrainian army, while her uncle was a senior officer in the Russian army.

“Me and my husband would quarrel with these sweet little grannies who’d call us butchers and fascists at Victory Day parades in Kyiv, when they’d be shouting ‘Donbas, we are with you!’” she told me. “And we were war veterans — I remember one little granny calling us butchers and baby killers,” she tutted, dragging on her cigarette.

But the current war in the Donbas is not going well for Ukraine. Concentrating its resources in one front, the Russian army is now driving through Ukrainian lines like a slow, unstoppable bulldozer. In his secret cottage headquarters elsewhere in the village, I met the company commander “Tuman” (“Fog”), a map of the ever-encircling frontline spread out across the coffee table in front of him. A 29-year-old veteran of the French Foreign Legion, who had fought in Mali, Tuman had flown back to Ukraine from his job selling cars in Provence just before the war broke out, leaving his eight-month pregnant wife at home.

“It’s like the first part of World War I here,” he told me, “when massive artillery started to appear but there were still no trenches. During my service abroad in the Legion I’ve never seen such intensity of fire. But taking into account the intensity of fighting we cannot just wait around. We are taking part here in active defence, we are doing counter-artillery and counter-sabotage work. All we can do is slow down the Russian advance.”

The disparity of materiel between the opposing forces was total, Tuman told me. “Russia uses almost all the resources they have, strategic aviation and submarines. It’s a force created for a war against Nato and now they use it all against us.” But he had no option but to fight, Tuman told me. A member of Right Sector since the very beginning, in the Maidan revolution, he told me: “I fight for freedom. My country is just a bit older than I am, but Ukraine is ready and I’m ready. Now we have the majesty of fighting, even though it sounds pathetic. We are not helpless. We can fight!”

Tuman’s deputy in holding back the Russian onslaught is his platoon commander Pedro, a giant of a man, covered in tattoos of ancient Ukrainian warriors and kings, the solar wheel of Slavic paganism on his chest, and a rosary around his neck — he’s a practicing Catholic from the Western city of Ivano-Frankivsk. Fighting alongside his younger brother “Bob”, Pedro plans and leads the missions into no-man’s land to take some of the pressure off the regular troops struggling to hold the line.

“Admin” writes “Crimea is Ukraine” on his bombs.

I joined Pedro’s mortar team on another mission, jostled in the back of his SUV as the fighters in the front nodded along to heavy metal on Ukraine army radio, swerving at top speed to avoid the pheasants scuttling along the country lanes, the driver scrolling through his mobile phone for the latest checkpoint password. The Russians had spotted the mortar position, I was told, and now was the last chance to hit them from the location before it was abandoned. Hidden in the undergrowth, the mortar squad had laid out a dozen heavy mortar rounds ready to be fired: “Admin”, a young Tatar Muslim from Russian-annexed Crimea, and a chef before the war, showed me where he had scrawled “Crimea is Ukraine” on them in marker pen.

As the sun began to dip over the steppe, the squad fired the heavy rounds at the Russians in quick succession, as other fighters pointed at the sound of munitions buzzing dully through the air around us. “Is that ours?” one asked, to a shrug. The layout was confusing: the Russians were more or less everywhere around. The Russian return fire landed harmlessly in the fields a few hundred metres away, a couple of mortar shells exploding in scattershot puffs of grey dust. My driver, “Kolos”, pointed at the thick plumes of black smoke now rising from the white building on the edge of Svitlodarsk where the Russian target was based. “Good work,” he said.

But for DUK’s fighters, their mission in the Donbas is frustrating. Their semi-guerrilla war of harassing Russian troops is necessary, but not what they came here for: they want to be assaulting the Russians head on. Unlike the infantry forces holding the trench positions on the first lines, they are based in a location where they can reach any sector of the Bakhmut front within a short drive, but which is itself strangely free of Russian artillery fire.

Driving around Bakhmut’s outskirts, you see the forested hillsides wreathed in smoke, and the flashes of cluster munitions as the Russians rain death on the Ukrainian defenders. But DUK have been deployed in what they see as a frustratingly boring island of rural peace at the heart of the largest war in Europe since 1945. The roar of outgoing Ukrainian artillery is constant, and the sound of incoming Russian artillery, the different rocket launcher types discernable from the pitter-patter tempo of their munitions, punctuates the day as it falls on nearby Ukrainian lines. But only once, when an incoming Russian missile made the windows quake, and sent me out for an unnerved 3am cigarette under the stars with the sentries, did Russian artillery feel like more than an offstage menace. “It’s no good just sitting on your ass,” Petrik complained to me, “I need to work.”

But apart from their combat missions, the squad lived lives of quiet rural domesticity, cooking, cleaning and smoking endless cigarettes, watching the Netflix show Euphoria on their phones, and enjoying the cool breeze in the trees. For Ukraine’s industrial heartland, the Donbas is strangely bucolic. Sitting under the cherry trees, the long days spent with them were like something from a Russian novel: one day we went to the village banya together, where a crop-headed boy shoved chopped wood into the furnace as we sweated ourselves clean in the steam (“Now you are one of us,” Athena told me afterwards). They bought jugs of raw milk from local farmers, and accepted big enamel bowls of cherries from the villagers, brought as gifts. “You know what they say,” Athena told me, “our soil is so fertile because of the dead bodies of our enemies.” One day, I went mushroom-picking in a nearby forest with the medical unit, as bursts of machine gun fire echoed dimly through the trees from somewhere nearby. “Thor,” a chubby, kindly paramedic pointed angrily at a pile of trash local picnickers had left under a tree: “Fucking human pigs,” he said.

With a tattoo of a Carpathian mountain scene on one arm, and the portrait of Ukraine’s national poet Taras Shevchenko on the other, Thor had joined up with his pink-haired wife “Iren” who he was serving alongside in the medical unit: “I would feel sad if we were apart,” he told me. For Thor, love of Ukraine was not just for the abstractions of flags and borders, but for its mountains and forests, lush meadows and broad flowing rivers. He told me that he had joined Right Sector at the beginning of the war because he liked its ideology, and because of its reputation from Maidan: “My mama likes Right Sector,” he smiled. What was its ideology, I asked? “Killing Russian bitches!” interrupted “Lektor,” a 19-year-old medical student from Lviv. Thor waved him away smiling. “It is following the example of our ancestors, our grandfathers who created this country, for the independence of our nation, for living by our own rules. We don’t need foreign things from anyone, and we won’t take what is not ours from anyone. This is our war of independence.”

If there’s one thing that bothers DUK’s fighters most of all, it’s Right Sector’s reputation in Russian media — and often in the West — as extreme Right-wing radicals. Tuman was furious the day I arrived because a French journalist who had visited them at their rear base for a day described them as neo-Nazis, an epithet based on the self-consciously edgy frontline aesthetic of a minority of their fighters rather than their words or deeds. “Just write what you see,” he replied, when I asked him how he would describe their ideology, “We want truth, just as it is. We can allow ourselves the truth.” Some of their  tattoos give off a fearsome appearance, though one belied by the gentleness and hospitality of the soldiers themselves The rare Nazi-adjacent markings were written off as legacies of youthful dalliances with more hardline groups; pressed on their beliefs, all the fighters disavowed any extreme sentiment:

“We’re not fascists, you might sometimes see people wearing these symbols but it’s not serious, we do it to troll the Russians because they call us Nazis,” Athena insisted. “We understand in reality that the Nazis were as bad for Ukraine as the Communists were. Me and my husband have got anarchist friends, fascist friends, nationalist friends, lesbian friends — that’s just how it is here in Ukraine. Before you go to war, you’re into Right-wing politics, political violence and stuff, and then when you come back having seen it, you just want to drink cocktails in Kyiv and spend time with your family, enjoying life.”

“A lot of notions about Right Sector come from liberal left propaganda, but in reality we are just ordinary Ukrainians defending our country, our sovereignty, and our Christian values,” Lis or “Fox,” the section commander, a taciturn blond-bearded 27-year-old solicitor from Vinnytsia told me. A fan of death metal, Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, and the Warhammer 40k gaming universe, Lis is the local head of Right Sector in Vinnytsia. “2014 was a hybrid war, and this is a Great War,” he told me. “But it doesn’t matter which war, the Russians will die either way. You have to believe in the [40k] God-Emperor,” he grinned.

Lis joined DUK along with Athena, Petrik and “Boroda” or “Beard,” a dark-complexioned hipster with a top knot hair style and long black beard. A beekeeper and mead brewer, Boroda missed his hives. “It’s very relaxing working with the bees. When I’m with them I forget about everything else. When I lived in an apartment in Vinnytsia, I kept them on my balcony,” he smiled shyly.

“Boroda,” 33, was a beekeeper and mead brewer before the war.

“We call him “Moldova” because perhaps he is a gypsy,” laughed Athena, “but he’s a good gypsy.” “I’m a quarter gypsy,” Boroda replied. “All gypsies are cockroaches,” replied Kuts, spitting on the floor, as they all laughed, Boroda included. Like all soldiers, especially in elite units, the squad roasted each other mercilessly. The highlight of each evening was Petrik’s phone calls to a drunkard wannabe recruit, entirely unfit for service, in which he pretended to be a strict colonel imparting life advice as they all clustered around the blue glow of his mobile phone stifling their laughter. They’d play fight constantly, fencing with metal pipes, each taking turns to cook and clean, and talking about the first drink they’d have when they got home: alcohol is strictly forbidden on the front line, its place filled by luridly colored energy drinks. Petrik, who had just bought a 32-acre farm, was angry at the Russians for — along with everything else — preventing him from sowing his first cabbage crop.

Athena, too, is resigned to the conflict between her desire to fight and her dream of an ordinary middle-class European life. “Ukraine has always been a country at war. It’s just geographical determinism, I guess,” she told me. “It was weird going back to Kyiv the first time after the frontline, but I guess that’s what we’re fighting for. I want people to drink iced lattes, smoke weed, make love. After the war I want to live my best life, because I had lots of friends who can’t do that any more.”

But instead of living their best lives at home, they are billeted in the far east of Ukraine in a war now turning in Russia’s favour, among a local Russian-speaking population with whom relations are at times strained, many of whom would prefer to live under Russian rule. While some local farmers smile and wave, and bring gifts of food, others are distinctly unfriendly. “Some are friendly, some not, some are enemy. You won’t know until they kill you,” cautioned “Paul”, a softly-spoken middle-aged tour guide from Kyiv turned paramedic.

Walking through the long grass and undergrowth of the semi-abandoned village to the local shops with the heavily armed soldiers, to buy energy drinks and ice creams from a pointedly unfriendly shopkeeper, Athena highlighted the eerie atmosphere of dereliction. “It’s weird out here, it’s almost as bad as Detroit,” she said with wonder — Athena had spent a year in a Michigan high school as an exchange student. All from elsewhere in Ukraine, they were fighting among a local population whose loyalty to the nation was not guaranteed, and found it a strange and frustrating experience.

“In the majority of countries, there’s one national language, but the problem here is that people refuse to use the national language,” Kuts said. Kuts had grown up in a Russian-speaking family in the border city of Kharkiv, he told me, but now he disavowed the language in search of his Cossack roots. He had been a Young Pioneer under Communism, he told me in broken English: “Shit. Fuck Communism, Fuck Lenin.” “Hora”, a young commercial filmmaker, added that because he was from Western Ukraine, he had never been bothered by the language question, but seeing people here refusing to speak Ukrainian distressed him.

“I want to make a big explosion in Moscow,” Bayonet, who had lived a few years working in Balham, suddenly announced in English. “Voronezh, Rostov and the Kuban [in southern Russia] are Ukrainian lands,” he continued. “We stand for historical justice, and we have to return these lands to the nation.” But Ukrainian forces are struggling simply to maintain their foothold in the Donbas. If and when the Right Sector fighters get their wish and tackle the Russians head on, many, perhaps most of them will die over the course of the summer. “We know that if the Russians capture us, as Right Sector, they will kill us straight away, on the spot,” Athena told me. “And for me, as a woman, well… you understand what would happen. That’s why we each carry a grenade with us.”

Returning to Dnipro, a haven of charming cafes and hipster cocktail bars a five-hour drive west from the front, the hotel bellboy who guided me through the blacked-out corridors to my room had a Right Sector screensaver on his phone; he beamed with pride when told we had just spent time with them. Catching up with a liberal Ukrainian friend, I told her I had just been at the front with Right Sector: “Yeeees!” she replied, “They are super cool!”

“Compared to other nationalist movements,” Lis told me, “Right Sector didn’t mess up like the others. Right Sector is the best nationalist movement in Ukraine.” But while vital in war, they know they are a marginal presence in peace. “The government will try to eradicate us after the war,” Petrik warned, “because they are afraid of us, because we stand for the truth. The politicians are afraid of revenge.” Tuman, too, sees the war as a watershed moment for Ukraine and for Right Sector, the greatest clarifying moment since independence in 1991. “This is like our postponed war for independence,” he told me. “Maybe we could have had war in 1991 and a peaceful 2022. But Ukraine didn’t introduce fierce wartime laws. The economy wasn’t transformed. After this war everything must change.”


Aris Roussinos is an UnHerd columnist and a former war reporter.

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Judy Englander
Judy Englander
2 years ago

Because its centre of political gravity has moved so far to the left, ‘the West’ no longer understands the spectrum of right wing thought. Anything to the right of liberal progressivism is seen as ‘n***i’ or ‘f*****t’. The west can no longer comprehend socially conservative, non-imperialistic nationalism.

Last edited 2 years ago by Judy Englander
Martin Butler
Martin Butler
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

What was Brexit? Is that progressive lefty stuff? What is Johnson’s government?

JJ Barnett
JJ Barnett
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

Johnson’s government is definitely “progressive lefty stuff”, yes.

Which is why the Tory base are so angry right now. 3 times in a row a majority of voters have indicated they would like a conservative government, and 3 times in a row they cannot get one. David Cameron, Theresa May, then Boris Johnson — the party moves further to the left with each change of leader …but they are not taking the public with them.

The UK now has three left wing parties of various degrees, and no centre right or right parties, despite the voters still being largely small ‘c’ conservative in outlook. The coalescence of all main parties around the soft-left, green, woke, globalist position is causing a huge distortion in the ability for our democracy to function. Voting should keep a lid on public anger by offering a release valve, but when all parties are effectively the same party once they get into office, then the steam builds up in the pot, and that’s what’s happening now.

I think Judy Englander is right, the Overton window has moved so far out to the left that it’s hard to even have any sensible discourse on key topics the public feel strongly about. There is just 1 acceptable view, and everything else [the public may wish to discuss] is verboten. Not good.

James Kirk
James Kirk
2 years ago
Reply to  JJ Barnett

The article is about Ukraine fighters not Boris. They don’t seem to be fighting for a government but their country. Like the EU, Starmer and Davey would betray them in a heartbeat.

JJ Barnett
JJ Barnett
2 years ago
Reply to  James Kirk

Thank you James, I’m aware of the article topic, as I read it before getting to the comments.

And then I have responded to Martin’s comment, as I believe we are permitted to do. Having a chat with each other in the comments section is sort of the point of the comments section, no?

Jeff Andrews
Jeff Andrews
2 years ago
Reply to  James Kirk

They’re shooting at Russians because they don’t want them ruining there way of life, they’re anarchists. They hate there own authorities as much.The last 8 years has suited them fine, they get a retainer from some oligarch to go and cause trouble in the Donbass, return to there squats and crack houses and go back when they need some more money.
Theres scores of different groups in Ukraine, the DPR militia was mainly the Ukraine army who switched sides and took there eqpt which is why they needed to hire so many foreign mercs.

Josie Bowen
Josie Bowen
2 years ago
Reply to  JJ Barnett

Couldn’t agree more. It’s the same here in Ireland, a bit worse in fact.

Nikki Hayes
Nikki Hayes
2 years ago
Reply to  JJ Barnett

I still see people on social media calling the Conservatives “hard right”, “far right” or even “ultra right”! I do wonder if we are living in the same country – all the parties at the moment appear to be one homogenous left wing liberal blob, there is no real choice for the voter any longer.

David Brock
David Brock
2 years ago
Reply to  Nikki Hayes

Are you being serious ?! You have a very different view to what constitutes “left wing liberal” than I do if you see the Tories as representative!

Kelly Richards
Kelly Richards
2 years ago
Reply to  JJ Barnett

Gerat

Last edited 2 years ago by Kelly Richards
R Wright
R Wright
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

Boris is a socially progressive free market obsessed libertarian like nearly all Tories. They haven’t been conservative since the 19th century.

Ann Kronick
Ann Kronick
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

Very good observation and I think true. The left are absolutistic thinkers. They see only in black and white. As a result they’re ignorant of the right and it’s classical liberalism roots. The far left also due to it’s basically irrational perspective fails to recognize the power of the people which lies in their common sense. As my Father said “never underestimate the people.”

Saul D
Saul D
2 years ago

Top quality journalism. For a discussion site, the actual, factual, warts and all, on-the-ground journalism on Ukraine has been peerless.

Tom Watson
Tom Watson
2 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

Agree. I find Patrikarakos’s prose to be gratingly purple, but really like what Roussinos does – he weaves the complexity of the characters he meets into the bigger picture very well indeed. It’s a tremendous shame there’s no way in hell the R*ssians would ever let him embed himself with one of their units for a few weeks to see the other side.

Jeff Andrews
Jeff Andrews
2 years ago
Reply to  Tom Watson

I think I’ll write to him and suggest it. I bet they would but it would never be published or Unherd would be in trouble.

Neven Curlin
Neven Curlin
2 years ago

among a local Russian-speaking population with whom relations are at times strained, many of whom would prefer to live under Russian rule

Dear me, that sounds interesting. Any chance Roussinos or Patrikarakos will be speaking to those people?

What an utterly depressing read, by the way. Maybe these Right Sector people/kids aren’t exactly Neonaughties, but it confirms my suspicion that they live above the law, looking for kicks, just doing what they like, and then rationalise this behaviour with things like nationalism and plain Russophobia. As they freely admit themselves, they leave the dying in the trenches to the blue-collared cannon fodder.

It’s exactly this kind of people you need for a war. Without them, the elites – using war to make a profit and/or increase power – would be nowhere.

If Roussinos or Patrikarakos had the journalistic ethic and ingenuity to speak to the other side, they would probably be able to write exactly the same pieces about LPR/DPR militias, interspersed with puff pieces about westernized hipsters in Donetsk and Lugansk.

But they still choose to be a part of the polarizing black and white, good vs evil machine. Now, Patrikarakos is obviously untalented and ideological, but why can’t Roussinos find a way out of this cul-de-sac? Reading between the lines, I feel he wants to. He’d do himself and his readers a great service.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago
Reply to  Neven Curlin

Many journalists have tried to speak to the “other side”, all have had their requests for interviews refused

JJ Barnett
JJ Barnett
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Patrick Lancaster uploads his streams on Youtube and speaks to lots of the locals, the normal people living there, some of who seem to support Ukraine and others who support Russia.

His footage is not edited into fancy videos, it’s really just him asking the people questions and letting them answer at length, so it’s been informative to hear the various perspectives of the locals in their own words.

zee upītis
zee upītis
2 years ago
Reply to  JJ Barnett

Yet he himself, is of course, Kremlin’s useful idiot.

JJ Barnett
JJ Barnett
2 years ago
Reply to  zee upītis

Is he? …in what way?

He’s live streaming in most cases, and seems (from what I’ve seen) to show both sides of the story without editing the outcomes. Could you share some info about why you say he is an agent of the Kremlin? — I’ve not heard anyone make that claim before.

Jeff Andrews
Jeff Andrews
2 years ago
Reply to  zee upītis

The really useful,idiots are the ones who still believe in western MSM

David Brock
David Brock
2 years ago
Reply to  zee upītis

Absolutely Zee . Can’t believe the level of right wing nutters taking over this forum .

Michael Dubin
Michael Dubin
2 years ago
Reply to  zee upītis

What are taking about? Try watching some of his videos. He has shown damage to Churches, schools, apartments, houses, etc. And all the people he talks to say Ukraine has been attacking them for years.

David Brock
David Brock
2 years ago
Reply to  JJ Barnett

Patrick Lancaster is the Lord Haw Haw of this war …… let’s hope he meets the same end .

Michael Dubin
Michael Dubin
2 years ago
Reply to  David Brock

Try watching his videos instead of making silly remarks

Michael Dubin
Michael Dubin
2 years ago
Reply to  David Brock

Nonsense. Try watching his videos

Michael Dubin
Michael Dubin
2 years ago
Reply to  JJ Barnett

I watched dozens of his videos and nobody in donbass supports Ukraine. Why would they when everyone he talks to says that Ukraine is attacking them?

Rob Bryant
Rob Bryant
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Try UKColumn.org for views from the Russian, LPR and DPR side, as well as those fighting them.

Last edited 2 years ago by Rob Bryant
Martin Butler
Martin Butler
2 years ago
Reply to  Neven Curlin

The fact that Russia is invading Ukraine doesn’t count for anything when working out who might have the edge in the moral high ground stakes?

Rob Bryant
Rob Bryant
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

You ignore the EU/US-engineered and funded violent 2014 regime change which installed a government intent on persecuting the Russian speaking 30% of the Ukraine population, abolishing the use of Russian from the start.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago
Reply to  Neven Curlin

A bizarre interpretation!

Russia’s base case for invasion was denatzification. There are many Russian apologists in the West who seem to grant that motivation some credence. Most of us, who knew little about Ukraine before this started, have no idea. “Journalists,” all over the west, have either started from an ideological position and worked back to a description of these elements- patriots or n***is, or ignored the issue altogether.

Aris has gone to the war zone and spent time with this crew, and Azov, and brings us first hand accounts of the actual people, rather than the myth. What could be better journalism than that?

Russophobia! What part of a territorial invasion by conventional forces, repeated public threats to use nuclear weapons against the West, and well documented atrocities, did you miss?

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago
Reply to  Neven Curlin

You appear to be arguing from within that same polarised situation, so why should we listen to you?

Edwin Blake
Edwin Blake
2 years ago

Truly phenomenal reporting. I really appreciate the realism and effort and risk it takes to provide it.

Neven Curlin
Neven Curlin
2 years ago

I’ve decided to take that half-SS and Wolfsangel tattoo, like the guy in the picture at the top of the article. Looking forward to going to the beach this summer and explain to people I’m just trolling. Maybe I’ll take a red towel with a white circle in it, and in that circle a black fertility symbol.

If people don’t believe me, I’ll call Aris Roussinos so he can vouch for me.

Last edited 2 years ago by Neven Curlin
Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago
Reply to  Neven Curlin

You could also tell everybody your belief that Putins forces butchering civilians in Ukraine is somehow justified. I think you’ll find yourself in a minority somehow

Irene Polikoff
Irene Polikoff
2 years ago
Reply to  Neven Curlin

Right. Also, if anyone questions your motives, tell them that some of your friends are fascists and some are lesbians. As a modern tolerant person, you accept that there are different views and preferences.

Neven Curlin
Neven Curlin
2 years ago
Reply to  Irene Polikoff

Yes, except for Russian Orcs, of course. Gotta hate those.

‘Yes, I have a Swastika on my arm, but I hope that Moscow gets obliterated by nukes, so that cancels each other out, right?’

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago
Reply to  Neven Curlin

Jeez you really are obsessed – Belsen was a gas – look it up.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago
Reply to  Neven Curlin

You’ve never heard of the punk movement have you? Wearing nazi insignia, including uniforms and even singing songs about gas chambers was merely trolling of the establishment. We all knew that, and only blue rinse old fogies in the Daily Mail would get upset about it. Maybe you’ll find some brethren there?

Neven Curlin
Neven Curlin
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

Anarchy in the Ukray?

Harry Phillips
Harry Phillips
2 years ago

Sound like a great bunch of lads – any chance they can open a few branch offices around Europe?
If they value their culture and history, they may want some input on that fast-track membership for the EU being mooted recently.

Tom Watson
Tom Watson
2 years ago
Reply to  Harry Phillips

“We consider president Putin a liar and in general our people call him a dickhead.” The Cossack spirit lives on!

Irene Polikoff
Irene Polikoff
2 years ago

I stopped reading after the author translated katsabs as butchers. This is a very well known derogatory, pejorative term for Russians. Using it is analogous to saying kikes instead of Jews.
The etymology of the word is not 100 certain. Most commonly it believed to be a derivative of the old slavic word for a goat, likening a stereotypically bearded Russian man to a goat. There are other theories, including that it comes from an arabic word for a butcher. An ordinary person has no clue about the origin of this word, it is simply used by Ukrainians as a disparaging term for Russians. I wonder why the author is trying to present it as something else.

Neven Curlin
Neven Curlin
2 years ago

Neither fascist nor National Socialist, despite the lurid reputation it has been given in Russian media, Right Sector instead draws a line of descent from both Ukraine’s early 20th century OUN nationalist movement for independence from the Soviet Union

It draws a line of descent from something that is patently fascist and National Socialist. All one has to do, is follow that link to Wikipedia:

“The OUN’s stated immediate goal at the time of the German invasion of the Soviet Union was to re-establish a united, independent, Nazi-aligned, mono-ethnic Nation state in a territory that included parts of modern-day Russia, Poland, and Belarus.”

It was the primary perpetrator of the ethnic cleansing of Poles in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia.

If I walk around in a Gestapo uniform, handing out leaflets to ask people to become part of my new nationalist movement, will people believe me when I tell them I have nothing to do with Nazi ideology?

Has this become the same as you yourself determining what your sex is? Doesn’t anything mean anything anymore?

R Wright
R Wright
2 years ago

What a fantastic piece of journalism.

“a postcard of Ernst Jünger propped on his bookcase next to the cafetiere and scent diffuser”
Details like this are brilliant. I’m very impressed by these troops.

Neven Curlin
Neven Curlin
2 years ago

I keep thinking about this paragraph:

But instead of living their best lives at home, they are billeted in the far east of Ukraine in a war now turning in Russia’s favour, among a local Russian-speaking population with whom relations are at times strained, many of whom would prefer to live under Russian rule.

I think this is the most interesting and relevant part of the article. Many, many people in the east and south are fed up with the ‘rats and snakes’ in Kiev. Of course, there’s a price to pay, given that the Ukrainians use civilian structures as part of their guerilla tactics.

I don’t think the Russians will cross the Dniepr, but it would be interesting to see if the Ukrainians would continue these tactics if it means their own settlements get totally destroyed. They obviously don’t care one bit about the Orc inhabitants of Donbass.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago

Their was an interesting interview on the BBC in the week with Sergei Lavrov about your claims of Ukrainian genocide in the Donbas, amongst other areas regarding Russias invasion of Ukraine. Below is a section of that article.

”Russia has accused Ukraine of genocide. However, in 2021, eight civilians were killed in the rebel-held areas, according to self-proclaimed pro-Russian “officials”, and seven the year before. While every death was a tragedy, I said, that did not constitute a genocide.

I suggested that if genocide really had taken place, then the Luhansk and Donetsk separatists would have been interested in us going there. Why were we not let in, I asked.

“I don’t know,” said Mr Lavrov.”

If those puppet leaders in charge of the breakaway regions have claims of Ukrainian genocide, you’d think they’d provide evidence would you not? It took a matter of days for Ukraine to show the world Russias atrocities towards the civilian population as they retreated, so it stands to reason if the Ukrainians were guilty of the same we’d have some evidence of it by now. Russia would be doing all it could to justify its invasion and dampen western support for Ukraine, yet so far they’ve showed us nothing

Andy E
Andy E
2 years ago

Good luck to the guy if/when he’s got caught by Dinetsk Russians with those kiddy swastikas all over his body.

rob monks
rob monks
2 years ago

this is really good writing and good character insights. I saw these Ukranian fighters as individuals and you present the wider issues. this is v. good non ficiton narrative writing. you took us there with you. there is an immediacy that I like about it.
my one main criticism is I would like to see the Russian separatists side of the story and the Russian army as I think that is a much neglected (and avoided) perspective.
you need to present the other side.eg. People in Donbass who want to be aligned with Russia, who have been attacked not by Russia but the Ukraine army.
How do people in Moscow feel with all these Nato missiles aimed at them. another perspective.
Also a lot of Ukranians don’t think the conservatives ideas are good. eg privatization of land. Zelensky was falling sharply in the polls before the Russians arrived..

Ben C
Ben C
2 years ago

Trying to save money, so I’m not buying anything none vital. I cancelled my unherd subscription last night… and renewed this evening, immediately after reading this.

M. Gatt
M. Gatt
2 years ago

I see these same top-knotted tattooed hipsters hanging about the sidewalk in the artsy section of my city. Shallow romantic losers in my opinion who now have a license to kill. What a silly person this Aris is.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
2 years ago

Perhaps our political advisors planning to invoke a ” total smoking ban” in nu britn ” by 2040″ need to be interviewed by these soldiers?!!!

Michael Dubin
Michael Dubin
2 years ago

The article states “Neither fascist nor National Socialist, despite the lurid reputation it has been given in Russian media, Right Sector instead draws a line of descent from both Ukraine’s early 20th century OUN nationalist movement for independence from the Soviet Union (whose red and black flag, for the rich Ukrainian soil and the blood shed for it, it has adopted) and from the anarchic, freewheeling Cossack war bands of Early Modern Ukraine.
Yet the guy photographed is covered in Nazi tattoos. Above his left wrist and on his shoulders is the Wolfsangel, and above his nipples is the Life Rune, both widely used by neo-Nazis. Both are considered hate symbols by the anti defamation league.
https://www.adl.org/resources/hate-symbol/wolfsangel
https://www.adl.org/resources/hate-symbol/life-rune
On his right arm is a goat with an upside down star, a satanic tattoo. And we haven’t seen the rest of him. Seems like a nice fellow. The sad thing is no one in the comments noticed this. Western people too lazy to think critically about anything – it took me 3 minutes on Google to find this stuff. Either the writer is just as lazy as his readers or he thinks his readers are idiots. With the latter, he’s definitely right.

Vladimir Makarenko
Vladimir Makarenko
2 years ago

Wow, I regret this “reporter” didn’t have chance to write something similar about SS divisions. Because Russians turned them in fertilizer. So will be soon with Right Sector.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago

How many poor young conscripts will it cost Russia to do so?

Peanut Arbuckle
Peanut Arbuckle
2 years ago

Fascinating article.

My main takeaway is, that Ukraine-supporting liberals and progressives in the US/EU will be getting maximum bang for their buck once this war ends. If even the “far-right” battalion is full of weed, iced latte, and Netflix’s “Euphoria” enjoyers, who only have antipathy for Russia, the Russian language, Marxism, and third-way feminism, then post-war rump Ukraine seems set to become indistinguishable from Latvia or Lithuania—post-Soviet states that have accepted all the liberal and progressive mores of the US and Western Europe, pride parades and all, with their only distinct local flavor being an ongoing Kulturkampf against Russian stuff (communist monuments included). The Ukraine flag and sunflower emoji-having Twitterati doesn’t even have to worry about post-war Ukraine turning into something like Hungary–a state that is illiberal even when not dealing with the linguistic minorities (in the EU, you get a mulligan for that).

Phil Mack
Phil Mack
2 years ago

Whoosh!

Toby Webster
Toby Webster
2 years ago

Beautifully written. At one point near the beginning, as he waited in the long grass for the mortar team to commence it’s fire mission, he evokes Owen;

“Marvelling they stood, and watched the long grass swirled by the May breeze,
Murmurous with wasp and midge,
For though the summer oozed into their veins
Like an injected drug for their bodies’ pains,
Sharp on their souls hung the imminent ridge of grass,
Fearfully flashed the sky’s mysterious glass.”

Last edited 2 years ago by Toby Webster
John Weingarten
John Weingarten
2 years ago

This is the best frontline article I’ve read on the Ukraine War. Love the small interesting details, the humanization of people other media outlets paint in a two-dimensional light, and the photographs.

Greene Tolstoy
Greene Tolstoy
2 years ago

Gosh, this journal leaves most others in the dust. Fine stuff!

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago

If and when this conflict ends, more than likely with Ukraine losing Donbas, the rest of Ukraine should be admitted to NATO if they wish to prevent Russia’s march westward. Putins actions deserve nothing less than having his whole eastern border in an alliance preventing his imperialist ambitions

Jeff Andrews
Jeff Andrews
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

I’ll tell you where NATO will end up, in the rubbish heap of history.

Iris C
Iris C
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Andrews

The problem is that NATO is not an association of equals – America dominates which is not necessarily in Europe’s interest.

Last edited 2 years ago by Iris C
Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago
Reply to  Iris C

Why is that a problem? NATO is voluntary, nobody is forced to join they do so because there’s strength in numbers

Rob Bryant
Rob Bryant
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Yeah! Right on, Billy Bob!
Strength in numbers!
That’s why everyone has to get vaxxed to beat that virus that doesn’t exist.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
2 years ago
Reply to  Iris C

If it weren’t for America, there wouldn’t be a Europe.
It would all be called Germania.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Andrews

If Putin hadn’t decided to invade his neighbours you’d probably be correct, however his actions in Ukraine have shown that NATO is still relevant especially for those smaller Baltic states of Eastern Europe. None of those are strong enough to stop Russia individually, so unless the rest of Europe want a hostile Russias borders creeping ever westward then NATO is the only solution

Jeff Andrews
Jeff Andrews
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

The Baltic states aren’t planning any invasions, doing any ethnic cleansing of Russians, haven’t got American nukes on there soil, just normal country’s, unlike country 404.
The Poles aren’t a threat to anyone, as for the Romanians they ended up joining Russia in WW2. Maybe Ukraine will do likewise?
Anyway back to NATO, if NATO was any use to anyone they’d be fighting Russia in right now. Anyway you tell me, why is the Pentagon reluctant? I don’t think it’s because of the risk of nuclear war,that may be a blessing anyway if they limited it to a few selected cities, namely DC and London.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Andrews

You believe Ukraine was planning an invasion of Russia do you? If so you live on a different planet to the rest of us. They’re struggling to hold an invading Russia so what on earth makes you think they’d try and attack them on Russian soil?
As for your ethnic cleansing, what evidence do you have of this? The puppets leaders in charge of the self declared republics in the east claim eight civilians were killed there last year, and seven the year before. If there was evidence of genocide or ethnic cleaning don’t you think they would show us? It took a matter of days for us to see Russian atrocities in Bucha after all.
Finally to NATO, why would they be fighting Russia right now? They’re a defensive alliance, and none of their members have been attacked so why would they be going after the Russians, despite Putins despicable behaviour?

Andy E
Andy E
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

The so-called Butcha atrocities apparently happen to be a masterpiece only at the first glance. Only a dumb brainwashed moron can’t see, lets’ call them – irregularities. And yes, a different planet, I agree. Three planets, actually. Two for blind/deaf guys for each side directly plugged into either CNN or Pravda and the third for whose who actually think and not automacally swallow what’s stuffed. “Robot man is a wonderful creature..”

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago
Reply to  Andy E

That was possibly the most incoherent rant I’ve ever read on this site. Are you suggesting the bodies and mass graves discovered after the Russians retreat from Bucha was faked?

Andy E
Andy E
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

I am miles form being apologetic to either side. Dig the facts. See things for youself. I had to google things like rigor mortis, and I am not doing this work for you. I’ve spent quite some time and even talked to a doctor. My view – yep, quite a lot of what was shown — does not sum up with the narrative.

John McKee
John McKee
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Why weren’t they noted immediately after the Russian withdrawal from Bucha? The Mayor said nothing about atrocities in his initial speech to the press, a glaring omission if there were bodies all over the city.

Andy E
Andy E
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

You should consider that the war Russia manages in Ukraine is very different from what it would be against the Pols or Baltics. With Ukraine it goes along the lines “Ukranians are also Russians”, so there are no deliberate hostilities against civilians and there are visible attempts to minimize collateral deaths. Well, yeah, I know.. When possible… It’s the main reason why it goes slowly. With Baltics it would be done American style — level to dust first, troops enter second. Or you think Russians don’t have bombs to annihilate Kiiv?
I correct myself: primary reason it goes slowly — of course Ukranians bravely fighting for their country. But still.

Last edited 2 years ago by Andy E
Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago
Reply to  Andy E

Visible attempts to minimise civilian deaths? That would be why they have been indiscriminately shelling cities full of civilians then I’m guessing?
As much I’m not going to defend the Americans, compare Kabul and Baghdad after the campaigns to Mariupol.

Andy E
Andy E
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Jeez start listening to both sides! Everybody is pouring lies. Every side is pulling the propaganda blanket. Think. Read some war manuals. It would be NO Harkiiv or Kiiv on the map if they would not care about civilians. Pardon my negatives.

Nikki Hayes
Nikki Hayes
2 years ago

Excellent article – a rare and seemingly unbiased look inside one of Ukraine’s “nationalist” battalions. I am ashamed that some here in the UK, and elsewhere in the West, believe the Russian propaganda about “nazis” – these people are incredibly brave and deserve all the support we can give them whilst fighting for their beautiful country of Ukraine. Slava Ukraini!

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
2 years ago
Reply to  Nikki Hayes

I think you are naive. It appears that many of these cool, chain smoking hipsters, who claim “Christian values” will gut you like a pig, with a dull knife, if you believe that everyone should live peacefully together, like most of the West does. One of them even admits in the article his aim to to kill all Russians. I vehemently disagree with woke abortion activists, but certainly don’t want to kill anyone over it.