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Back in the 1960s and ‘70s during the war in Vietnam, everybody knew about the “credibility gap,” which morphed into Credibility Gulch as the official story stretched ever-farther from reality. We’re seeing it again in the current war between the United States/NATO and Russia, being fought out mainly in Ukraine. It’s becoming “the Mother of All Energy Wars,” according to Charlotte Dennett, who highlights U.S. determination to cut western Europe off from Russian gas and oil. She also links it to the recent endless wars to control the world’s energy supply in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and Iran, and to dominate the Eurasian landmass with its enormous deposits of fossil fuels and other rich resources.

So when Joe Biden says he’s doing “everything within my power” to address “Putin price hikes,” it’s good to have some context. He’s really saying we need to endure higher prices for gas – and food, rent, clothes, and everything else – because of the reckless draconian sanction war on Russia. It’s an economic war of attrition against Russia, but it’s hitting the whole world. So far western Europe is suffering more than Russia, and the poorest people in the world, especially in Africa and the Middle East, are likely to be hurt the most.

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About the war itself, there’s just one acceptable narrative: that it’s an unprovoked and illegal aggression by Russia. Any alternative views are “far-fetched claims from Russia” to “discredit international concerns about… war crimes,” in words from the April 12 NY Times. In the online version of that article Ben Norton, editor of Multipolarista.com, is shown with a red line across his face, tweeting on Chinese media. It says Norton “claimed that a coup sponsored by the United States government took place in Ukraine in 2014 and that U.S. officials had installed the leaders of the current Ukrainian government.”

How far-fetched is this claim?

According to Scott Ritter, the former Marines intelligence officer who served as a UN inspector of “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq, it’s exactly what happened. He takes it further back: in World War II, he says “many Ukrainians joined the Waffen SS and fought for the Germans. They murdered, committed atrocities against Poles, Russians and Jews. In Babiyar more than 30,000 Jews were gunned down.” In this interview with Joe Lombardo of the United National Antiwar Coalition and Margaret Flowers of PopularResistance.org, Ritter tells of the Ukrainian fascist movement led by Stephan Bandera, who today has become an official hero to the far-right Ukrainian government. After 1944, Ritter says Bandera began a resistance against the Soviets, which killed over 300,000 Russians.”

The U.S. CIA continued to fund, support and nurture the Bandera movement as part of their anti-Soviet activity right up to 1990, Ritter says. All this is well-documented: “CIA intervention in Ukraine has been taking place for decades,” as detailed by Richard Breitman and Norman Goda in Hitler’s Shadow War, published by the U.S. National Archives. In “Seven Decades of Nazi Collaboration: America’s Dirty Little Ukraine Secret,” in The Nation March 28, 2014, Paul Rosenberg and Foreign Policy In Focus say “the key organization in the coup that took place [in Kiev in January 2014] was the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists [OUN], or a specific branch of it known as the Banderas [OUN-B]. They’re the group behind the Svoboda party, which got a number of key positions in the new… regime.” The report says the U.S. has had a longstanding tie to the OUN. In 2004 they became part of the so-called Orange Revolution, heavily funded by the U.S., which brought Viktor Yushchenko, a close Svoboda ally, to the presidency from 2005 to 2010. “The United States was very aggressive in trying to keep the nationalists in power, but they lost the election. The U.S. was spending money through the National Endowment for Democracy,” the Nation article says.

Ritter summarizes, saying of the Ukrainian far right, “The CIA grew it, owned it, controlled it.” He says the U.S. organized a coup d’etat in early 2014 on the heels of the rightist protests demanding European Union membership for Ukraine. He highlights that U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland was caught in a phone call that was recorded, handpicking the U.S. choice to lead Ukraine. “We brought in the Banderistas,” Ritter says. “They came in armed, and overnight they turned a peaceful demonstration into a violent revolution that killed scores of people – horrible acts of violence. That’s what an insurrection looks like; it was orchestrated by the U.S. Biden got on the phone and told [the elected president]] he ‘had to go.’ Now you’ve empowered these neo-nazis, immediately passing laws at the expense of Russian language and culture. Slaughter in Odessa, attack on Crimea, move on Donbas. Thus began the Ukrainian civil war in Donbas.”

Former NATO miliary analyst backs up Ritter

Jacques Baud, a former officer in the Swiss armed forces who was the head of doctrine for United Nations peace operations, backs up Scott Ritter’s analysis and takes it further. He says “Western countries have… clearly created and supported Ukrainian far-right militias. In October 2021, the Jerusalem Post sounded the alarm by denouncing the Centuria project. These militias have been operating in the Donbas since 2014, with Western support,” Baud says. “These militias, stemming from the far-right groups that led the Euromaidan revolution in 2014, are made up of fanatical and brutal individuals. The best known of these is the Azov regiment, whose emblem is reminiscent of that of the 2nd SS Das Reich Panzer Division… So the West supports and continues to arm militias that have been guilty of numerous crimes against civilian populations since 2014: rape, torture and massacres.”

There was no “denazification” of these militias when they were integrated into Ukraine’s official armed forces, Baud says. This can be seen from the insignia of the Azov Regiment:

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These forces occupied the port city of Mariopol on the Azov Sea. It is strategically located at the southwestern edge of the Donbas, on the highway to Crimea and Odessa. Mariopol has a significant Russian majority, and the 15,000 troops of the Azov regiment deployed there (but who do not live there) are seen as brutal occupiers, Ritter said. The Russians have done everything possible to create humanitarian corridors, in accord with international law, Ritter said. “But the Ukrainian government and Azov have tried to close them. Azov used civilians as human shields, which meant the Russians had to assault residential buildings. The Ukrainians have said it’s ‘indiscriminate shelling’ – like the case of the maternity hospital, which is off limits by international law ‘unless used for unpermitted purposes,’ for instance, as a civilian target. Azov was using it for military purposes.” Jacques Baud cites the testimony of civilians from Mariupol who said that the maternity hospital was taken over by the militias of the Azov regiment, who chased out the civilian occupants, threatening them with their weapons.

The other case is a large historic theater in Mariopol. Ritter said the narrative is that 1000-plus civilians were there; the Russians said “we know they’re there and ordered our military to not attack it. No airplanes flew over the theater.” Ritter said Azov blew off the roof to create a scandal of atrocity. “When you examine forensically the destruction doesn’t look like the result of a bomb but of explosives in the roof – a false flag operation,” he said.

“Most of the civilians are dying because Ukrainians are digging into civilian neighborhoods, forcing the Russians to blow up buildings, put down artillery barrages, and so on, killing civilians,” Ritter said. “But the numbers would be even lower if the Ukrainians obeyed the law of war… There’s one side that says we’re trying to preserve civilian lives and civilian infrastructure. We have the other side that says ‘if you collaborate with the Russians you will be killed’.”

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Whose war crimes?

The cases of Bucha and Kramatorsk are especially notable. In both cases the Ukrainian government accused Russians of unspeakable atrocities, which were immediately echoed by Western governments, politicians and media, calling for Putin to be tried in The Hague for war crimes. What really happened?

In late February Russian and Ukrainian troops fought on the outskirts of Bucha, south of Kiev. Russian troops took control of the city, then on March 30 the Russians withdrew. While they were there for several weeks, Ritter says the Russians “had good relations with the local people. It was peaceful. The Russians said ‘we traded our dry rations for their dairy products.’ The citizens of Bucha would give them eggs, milk and cheese, and the Russians would give them dry rations ‒ flour, salt, sugar, meat, and so on. This was going on, then the Russians left. Anybody who engaged in that type of interaction with the Russians was now viewed as a collaborator,” Ritter said.

On March 31 Bucha’s Mayor declared the city “liberated” from Russians, calling it a major victory for Ukrainian defenders, with no Russian troops left in Bucha. The announcement made no mention of murdered civilians in the locality. On April 1 – two days after the Russians left – the Ukrainian national police announced they were going into Bucha “to carry out a cleansing operation to liquidate the collaborators.” Ritter said there’s a videotape of a senior political figure announcing on social media to the citizens of Bucha, ‘stay in your homes. The national police are carrying out a cleansing operation. Do not panic. Stay in your homes.’ She repeats it over and over again. Why? Because the police are in the streets, gunning people down, kicking in doors of people who were collaborating, and killing them.”

On April 2 the Ukrainian foreign minister claimed Russian troops shot and killed civilians before they left on March 30. Within minutes Western politicians were condemning Russian “war crimes” before looking at evidence and before there could be an investigation. The Russian government immediately demanded a UN Security Council meeting and called for a forensic investigation. The UK, as interim president of the Security Council, blocked the request.

Western media photos of the Bucha massacre show most of the deceased bodies wearing white armbands. Civilians used these to signal they were not hostile to Russia. The corpses were lying next to bags of humanitarian aid provided by Russian forces. In some photos fresh blood is visible, Ritter observed – the corpses had not been there for days.

On April 8 in Kramatorsk, a small Donbas city, a missile in use by Ukrainian forces hit a train station while civilian populations were evacuating. Reports said 50 people died and another 100 were wounded. Kiev immediately blamed the attack on Russia, but pictures of the missiles quickly made their way onto social media and were identified as Tochka-U missiles, which are currently used only by Ukrainian forces. Following this attack, the Investigative Committee of Russia announced they would open a criminal case to investigate the premeditated dissemination of false news about the Russian armed forces at the site.

Who’s to blame?

Jacques Baud says “the American and European political leaders deliberately pushed the Ukraine into a conflict that they knew was lost in advance – for the sole purpose of dealing a political blow to Russia… The objective was the closure of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, announced on February 8 by Joe Biden, during the visit of Olaf Scholz; and which was followed by a barrage of sanctions.”

Now the question is when and how will it end. The U.S. and its NATO allies are rushing weapons and other equipment, including anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles, and drones to Ukraine. Military officials, politicians and the press mainly talk of sending more weapons – not of finding a lasting, diplomatic solution to the crisis.

Biden has said “this battle will not be won in days or months, either. We need to steel ourselves for the long fight ahead.” That was after declaring Russian President Putin “cannot remain in power.” This was public confirmation that the U.S. goal in Ukraine is “regime change” in Russia, no matter how long, or how many Ukrainian and Russian lives it may take – or how many people become refugees, or how the world economy will be damaged.

There is also a danger the war will expand. All too many U.S. and NATO politicians are ready to send troops into Ukraine, risking nuclear war. Meanwhile, the U.S. also seems poised to extend the war to include China. These options are recipes for even greater disaster. Russia will continue to defend Russian speakers in eastern and southern Ukraine who have been victimized by neo-nazi assaults. It will stop when Ukraine has been demilitarized and “de-nazified.”

It’s possible the people of western Europe will press for an end to the sanctions, which threaten to strangle their economies. The Chinese view is that “the EU will become the biggest victim of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. It will have to bear the brunt of the conflict. Therefore, as the Ukraine crisis develops, the differences between the U.S. and Europe will become inevitable once the public opinion in major EU countries changes.”

China may have a role as mediator, based on its very significant trading relations with all parties to the conflict. That could help.

CodePink’s recipe remains urgently relevant: “The U.S., which played a major role in exacerbating the conflict that led up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, must now play a major role in the negotiations between Ukraine and Russia to achieve a ceasefire.” The U.S. must make compromises and support negotiations between Ukraine and Russia, committing to no NATO expansion, recognizing Ukraine as a neutral and demilitarized country, lifting the sanctions on Russia, supporting an international security agreement to protect the interests of all people in Europe and keep the continent free from war and occupation, and supply humanitarian aid to all refugees from this war, and all the other recent NATO wars.