UKRAINIAN BLOGGER ARRESTED IN SPAIN FOR EXTRADITION TO UKRAINE

Anatoly Shariy, a popular blogger who opposes Zelensky but also the Russian invasion, accused of being “pro-Russian” and of “high treason” to Ukraine, has been arrested in Spain for extradition to Ukraine, where he has been threatened by nazis. He has also been threatened by Zelensky supporters at his Catalonian address, where he has registered a complaint with the police. Shariy is considered “not a flight risk” by the Spanish State and is out on bail while his extradition warrant is processed. This is at least the second occasion of Spanish State involvement with the Ukrainian authorities against critics – Spanish secret service agents questioned the family and friends of Pablo González, the Basque reporter on the conflict threatened by the Ukrainian intelligence service and later arrested by Poland on charges of “spying” for the Russians, now in his third month of detention without yet a judicial hearing.

Reporting on the arrest and accusations, most right-wing and conservative media outlets follow what has become their standard practice of mirroring Ukrainian official opinion and refer to him as “pro-Russian” in their headlines and it seems clear that if extradited, Shariy would have little chance of a fair trial.

D. Breatnach

5th May 2022

The following is mostly translation by D.Breatnach from article in Castillian Spanish

According to the Ukrainian government, the Spanish National Police arrested the Ukrainian journalist Antoli Sharíy who has been persecuted by the Kyiv government and threatened with death by the fascist groups that operate under its protection.

Anatoli Sharíy and Olga Bondarenko live with their son in Roda de Berà (DB: near Tarragona, Catalonia, Spanish state) and, for two years, have been harassed at their doorstep by people close to the government of Volodomír Zelenski. The Mossos d’Esquadra (DB: Catalonia police) are aware and prevent physical assault but the threatening messages – also in the image of a blood-stained cradle – have not stopped.

All this is related to the public activity of this Ukrainian couple, who have not set foot in their country for several years. Anatoli Sharí has a YouTube channel with almost three million subscribers and is one of the most influential journalists since even before the Maidan revolt in 2014.

Neo-Nazis have not only leaked the address of his home but also posted the identity of the son, a minor to which, according to his mother Olga Bondarenko, only the Ukrainian Consulate could have access. The last protest took place before Easter, but they fear for their safety especially when the men are allowed to leave Ukraine once the conflict ends.

Until now, all the extradition attempts have been unsuccessful, but after Pedro Sánchez’s visit to Kyiv it seems that everything has been reactivated. The Spanish Government has given way to the bizarre accusation made by the Zelensky government: high treason.

Government-connected investigations

Before leaving the Ukraine, Shari was a journalist based in Kiiv who worked for the Obozravatel outlet. He investigated issues related to illegal casinos, the sale of drugs in pharmacies, murders … Some of them, as he explained in an interview given a few days ago to Nació Digital, “had a connection with the Ministry of the Interior, which covered up the crimes.” At that time, Viktor Yanukovych ruled, a president considered pro-Russian and originally from Donbass.

As a result of some pressure, in 2012 Shari went into exile, passing through the Netherlands and ending up in Barcelona. In 2015 he decided to move to Roda de Berà, albeit without refugee status.

the euromaidan

Between the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014, the Euromaidan revolt broke out, a series of protests especially concentrated in the capital that sought to oust the then president, Viktor Yanukovych, to force a rapprochement with the European Union. Anatoli watched it from exile, but it was shortly before he began his careeras a political journalist.

The events of May 2, 2014, in Odessa, in which 48 people were killed by the launch of Molotov cocktails when they took refuge from the neo-Nazis in the so-called “House of Trade Unions”, raised alarms. This mass murder carried out by the Pravy Sektor (‘Right Sector’, neo-Nazi) caused Anatoli to start posting videos on the networks expressing his opinion and at the same time communicating information about his investigations.

Olha Bondarenko and Anatoly Shariy (Photo sourced: Internet)

There has never been as much corruption as now”

Anatoly is accused of treason by supporting Russia on you Tube … but contrary to the accusation, YouTube is known to ban all videos that support Russia.

The first months of the Zelensky government did not meet the expectations of a part of the population, who saw him as a leader who could command respect among the different political outlooks that existed in the country. “We wanted Zelensky to be elected because in Ukraine there are many problems with the battalions and the neo-Nazis,” explains Olga.

Beside her, Anatoli denies that these are few: “It is very easy to control the population with weapons even if they are only 10 out of 100,000.” “They have a lot of power, they have weapons, they attack journalists, a lot of people are afraid and the Government does nothing about them,” he adds. One of the best-known battalions in this sense is the Azov, which has even welcomed among its members different international fighters with extreme right-wing ideology, one of them a resident of Segur de Calafell (DB: in Tarragona, Catalonia).

Break with Zelensky

Although before the elections a good relationship existed between Anatoli Sharí and Volodomír Zelensky, the situation changed drastically in 2020. Cases of corruption, such as speculation with the sale of protective masks that arrived in the country during the pandemic were denounced by Anatoli. He declares that “there has never been as much corruption as there is now, not even with Poroshenko.”

The military operation of the Russian government is considered by Anatoli a “gift” for Zelensky, who was steadily declining in popularity before it occurred. One of his rivals in his political career was Anatoli himself, who since June 2019 has led his own party, with a liberal ideology and a discourse against corruption and against neo-Nazi groups.

Supporters of Shariy’s party in 2019 (Photo sourced: Internet)

“The three main opponents of Zelensky are Viktor Medvedchuk, Poroshenko and Anatoli,” says Olga, who points out that this would be one of the reasons why he was accused of high treason in 2020 and, later, once the war had already started, had his party banned, along with others. “Zelensky is a little tyrant and now he has won the lottery to do whatever he wants,” she says.

The accusation of high treason was used by Zelensky to block Anatoli’s and Olga’s Facebook, YouTube and Instagram profiles, and not only that, but he has also imposed various sanctions such as prohibiting them both and also Olga’s mother from having a bank account.

Alternative media

With the blocking of opponents’ (of Zelensky) social networks, thousands of Ukrainians have had to look for alternatives from which to receive information of all kinds. Views of Anatoli’s YouTube channel every time he uploads a video are almost instantaneous, apart from live broadcasts, and most are either from residents in the country — through VPN services — or from Ukrainians who have had to leave. Through these spaces, they get in touch to help one another, for example when someone needs some medicine, according to Olga.

Meanwhile, the Zelensky government continues to try to narrow Anatoli’s circle more and more. One of his followers, arrested and later fled the country, assured him that, during his arrest, he had been tortured…

************************

Prominent blogger and critic of the Ukrainian government, Anatoly Shariy, has been detained by Spanish police as part of an international operation, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) announced on Thursday.

Shariy was arrested on Wednesday in a joint operation by Spanish and Ukrainian police officers, as well as international “partners”, the SBU said in a statement.

The agency, Kyiv’s successor to the Soviet KGB, said the opposition figure is wanted on charges of treason by Kyiv, among other things. Shariy has been infringing Ukraine’s national security through his media activities, while allegedly acting on behalf of “foreign” forces, it insisted.

The case against the YouTuber with almost 3 million subscribers began in February 2021.

Shariy’s arrest “is one more proof that every traitor to Ukraine will sooner or later receive the deserved punishment from him. It is unavoidable,” the SBU said.

Anatoly Shariy (Photo sourced: Internet)

The Ukrainian announcement was confirmed by the Spanish police

The Ukrainian announcement was confirmed by Spanish police, who told RIA-Novosti that Shariy was arrested in the coastal city of Tarragona on May 4 on an international arrest warrant.

Shariy received political asylum in the EU in Lithuania in 2012. At the time, he said he was fleeing persecution from the government of Viktor Yanukovych, who was branded as pro-Russian by Western media.

Yanukovych was deposed after the Maidan coup in 2014, but the blogger remained a harsh critic of the authorities in Ukraine, be it President Petro Poroshenko or his successor Volodymyr Zelensky.

He condemned Russia’s military operation in Ukraine after it was launched in late February, but continued to point to what he saw as flaws in Kyiv’s conduct during the ongoing conflict.

The blogger’s political asylum was canceled by Lithuania in January this year.

Shariy was absent from social media on Wednesday, but on Thursday he used Telegram to share a photo of his wife feeding parrots in Barcelona, ​​accompanying it with a comment that read: “This is really a comedy.”

In his Twitter account, according to Publico report, in which Shariy related he had been threatened by a Ukrainian government adviser, the blogger commented: “The only crime I have committed is not to have exposed enough thieves.”

end.

REFERENCES

https://elpais.com/espana/2022-05-05/la-policia-detiene-en-tarragona-al-periodista-y-politico-ucranio-anatoli-shari-por-una-orden-de-detencion-cursada-por-kiev.html

https://venezuela-news.com/espana-detienen-a-periodista-ucraniano-por-pedido-de-zelenski/

https://www.publico.es/politica/audiencia-nacional-decreta-libertad-provisional-periodista-ucraniano-acusado-traicion-prorruso.html

https://venezuela-news.com/espana-detienen-a-periodista-ucraniano-por-pedido-de-zelenski/

https://www.publico.es/politica/audiencia-nacional-decreta-libertad-provisional-periodista-ucraniano-acusado-traicion-prorruso.html

NAVIGATING PROPAGANDA TO ARRIVE AT TRUTH

Diarmuid Breatnach

(Reading time main text: 9 mins.)

We are surrounded by propaganda: to favour this or that political and economic system, those products, accept this way of life and to reject that other, to emulate or aspire to be like those people or to reject others …. The propaganda is constant but perhaps most evident in times of conflict: social conflict and wars in particular. We cannot be free of it but we can attempt to navigate it, to reach that fabled destination, the port of Truth.

Political propaganda by Cartoon: Left, Chancellor of the Exchequer Sunak shown as superhero, saving the economy and Right, former Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn shown as a Russian, suggesting he is a communist. (Images sourced: Internet)

OUR OWN PERSONAL BIAS

Firstly, we need to be aware of our own personal bias. Are we for reasons of culture, position, location or habit likely to incline to one side rather than to the other? Of course, that might be the right (or least bad) side but ….. are we being blinded by our own bias?

Our own personal biases are formed through our familial group, our schooling, training and experiences but some are engendered through the wider society, our culture.

Our cultural bias in the western world and, in particular in the English-speaking one, is towards the USA. We watch films in which the admired characters have UStater accents and even employ UStater turns of phrase and idioms1; their life-styles are recogniseably western. These cultural products cover a range from comedy to thriller or tragedy, their situations varying from urban to rural life, their genres from romance to crime to war to science fiction. In fact, both latter genres tend to present us with war-heroes who not only speak like UStaters but evoke the armed forces of the United States, whether in past real armed conflicts or in imagined ones to come. Earlier Irish generations were familiar with the dramatised plight of European settlers in the western regions of the USA being attacked by Indigenous people, only to be saved by the arrival of the US military – in that genre, the US Cavalry.2

Another major cultural influence on the English-speaking world is the UK and, to a lesser extent3, Australia. Although in Ireland there is a certain residual historical resistance to UK acculturation, some UK cultural products gained a large enough following, particularly the Coronation Street and EastEnders series4.

In comics the characters and often their environments are identifiably Western — usually of the USA5 — and even the popular Asian-based ones tend to have their facial features shaded towards European ones. Many of the electronic games also have a Western cultural bias.

And of course, we speak English. A high proportion of the Irish population is English-monoglot and even among Irish/English bilinguals, either the English is dominant or at least easily-accessible. From childhood to adulthood we see signs in English, hear it on the street, use it daily in most places, read it, are educated and instructed through it, access the Internet through it – in fact, we mostly think in English. All of which makes the pathways for accessing US and UK cultural products easy and our acceptance of the dominant discourse more probable.

Dominant discourse is of course a fact of life, some aspects of which are necessary for our social existence but other aspects of which are laden with unhelpful cultural and even political bias. We need to be alert to those aspects and prepared to investigate and analyse them.

Sometimes it looks like just about everyone is in agreement with a particular opinion and it is also the one that accords with our own inbuilt bias. Now we need to be REALLY careful, because those are two factors working together to put us at our ease on one side of a conflict and making it very difficult for us to even investigate the fact that the dominant discourse, on at least this occasion, might be mistaken. And clearly at times in history widely-accepted views HAVE been wrong – the literal seven-day creation belief, the sun going around the earth, the divine right of monarchs, the unsuitability of women for equality, the unnatural inclination of gay and lesbian people ……

OUR SOURCES

In conjunction with being aware of and taking into account our own bias and prejudices, we need to the same with our sources of information, which in industrial and post-industrial cultures – apart from educational establishments — is mostly the mass media: television, newspapers and the Internet (in particular social media).

All the owners of non-State-owned mass media that we access (and that in turn accesses us) are capitalists and not only that but monopoly capitalist. Although he has recently exited his media empire6, this was the situation six years ago: “Denis O’Brien, reputedly Ireland’s richest man, is the largest shareholder in the country’s largest newspaper publisher, Independent News & Media (INM). That company has now agreed a deal to add seven more newspaper titles to its stable by acquiring the Celtic Media Group (CMG). They include the Anglo-Celt in Cavan, the Meath Chronicle and the Connaught Telegraph in Mayo. In all, it extends INM’s footprint to five more counties.

“INM is already the major player at national level. It publishes Ireland’s two largest-selling titles, the Irish Independent and Sunday Independent, plus the Sunday World and the Dublin Herald. It also has 50% of the Irish Daily Star. O’Brien’s other media company, Communicorp, owns Ireland’s two leading commercial radio talk stations: Newstalk and Today FM. In addition, it owns Dublin’s 98FM, SPIN 1038, TXFM and SPIN South West.”7

Media companies in the USA went from 50 1984 only six conglomerates controlling 90% of the United States’s in 2011: GE/Comcast (NBC, Universal), News Corp (Fox News, Wall Street Journal, New York Post), Disney (ABC, ESPN, Pixar), Viacom (MTV, BET, Paramount Pictures), Time Warner (CNN, HBO, Warner Bros.), and CBS (Showtime, NFL.com).8

“Take the UK’s newspaper industry: in a national market of 20 daily and Sunday newspaper titles, just three companies control 90 percent of newspaper circulation. Lord Rothermere’s DMG Media—publishers of the Daily Mail, the Mail on Sunday, the Metro, and the i—accounts for almost 40 percent of all national newspapers sold each week in the UK, while Rupert Murdoch’s News UK and Reach (which publishes the Mirror and Express titles) command one-third and one-fifth of the market, respectively.

“When online readers are included, the same companies control a four-fifths market share among the major newspaper groups, giving these publishers an unparalleled influence for setting the agenda across the rest of the news media.”9

“Most of the social media we use on our laptops, Iphones or tablets is owned by five conglomerates in the USA: Meta Platforms, Inc., doing business as Meta and formerly known as Facebook, Inc., …..is the parent organization of Faecebook, Instragram and WhatsApp among other subsidiaries. Meta is one of the world’s most valuable companies. It is one of the Big Five American companies, alongside Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft.”10

It should not surprise us if that media exhibits a strong bias towards capitalism, for example in praising businessmen (capitalists) and businesses (exploitation operations) and in criticising or slanted reporting on strikes (workers’ resistance) or on what they might term ‘terrorism’ (but is often oppressed people’s resistance).

The State-owned media, in the UK the BBC and RTÉ in Ireland, are not of course the property of capitalists, however the states in question are capitalist states. It would be surprising therefore if such media were to take a stance in opposition to that of their state and their dominant classes and, by an large they do not. If, in times of conflict elements within the program-making sections of the State-owned media veer significantly away from the State’s line, official reprimands, cuts in funding, sackings and outright censorship may follow.11

This mass media, as well as being orientated in defence of monopoly capitalism, is also orientated towards the expansion of monopoly capitalism beyond its origins, i.e imperialism. And imperialists have their alliances, by far the largest of which is the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, or NATO in acronym. That alliance is led by what is still the largest imperialist superpower in the world, the USA.

We may note that the antithesis of capitalism is socialism but a capitalist or imperialist system of one state may be in contention with that of another such state which in fact often happens, even occasionally breaking out in war, as was the case with WWI, when the then-dominant imperialist alliance led by the UK and France was challenged by the weaker one of Germany and Turkey.

And mentioning socialism brings to a consideration of alternative media, including that of the Socialist and Irish Republican movements. Briefly we can note that just because they declare their opposition to the status quo does not mean necessarily a) that they are indeed so opposed, or b) that they have examined and challenged their own bias or c) therefore that their analysis is correct. Indeed both the Irish Socialist and Republican movements have made huge mistakes over the last hundred years or more and, in addition, during the height of the Covid19 pandemic we saw a plethora of misinformation ranging from the fascist and racist to the fantasticaly paranoid from sources opposed to the status quo12.

NAVIGATION

With the preparations and precautions entailed in the above completed, we are ready to sail, to navigate the propaganda ocean on board the MV Investigator. Let us take the stormy propaganda seas around the Ukraine conflict for our voyage.

According to the Russian Government, ethnic Russians were under attack in parts of the Ukraine after a coup overthrew the Ukrainian Government in 2014. Furthermore, it claims that US/NATO supported that coup and, in addition, has been gathering up states to its military alliance to encircle Russia, which it sees as a threat to the existence of the Russian state. In addition, Russia claims the Ukrainian government has fascist elements in its polity including a nazi battalion incorporated into its national military. Therefore it has invaded Ukraine in order to protect its own state and to “de-nazify” the Ukraine.

According to the Ukrainian Government and the USA, along with most Western governments, all of Russia’s claims are lies and just an excuse for it to grab land in the Ukraine, in order to extend its dominion further.

The Western media supports the Ukrainian Government and USA discourse on these issues and, on the rare occasion when it quotes the Russian one, negates it or casts doubt upon it.

So, to the navigation. The first thing is that we cannot trust the Western discourse but on the other hand can we totally discount it? We cannot trust it because it is part of a capitalist and imperialist bloc centred around the USA and NATO. On the other hand, Russia might be lying and the Western media might be correct on this occasion. After all, Russian troops HAVE invaded the sovereign state (something we usually see from the USA or NATO) of Ukraine.

Map showing Nato states in Europe (Image sourced: Internet)

So, let’s investigate! A look at the map will in fact show a large number of states in East Europe that have progressively become part of NATO and Ukraine, which shares a border with Russia, was heading that way, according to even non-Russian analysis.13 And Russia has been complaining about this for years. In addition, the elected neutral Ukrainian government WAS overthrown by a violent coup in 2014, one which was welcomed by western media. And fascists WERE active in that coup and the Azov Battalion IS full of fascists and nazis (even according to US and Canadian government circles along with human rights groups, including in Israel, only a few years ago).

But the Russian regime anti-fascist? That is something else. Far-Right groups including openly Nazi ones have proliferated across Russia since the collapse of the USSR and there is little evidence that the Russian regime has been trying to eliminate them. De-nazification should start in your own territory first, right?

So a reasonable conclusion on the available evidence is that Putin’s statement about de-nazification is mere propaganda for international and domestic consumption but his real and primary motive for the invasion is the security of Russia and the withdrawal of NATO from its borders.

Might there be an element of acquiring some more Ukrainian territory and stragic locations there? Of course there might. So how to test that? What about if NATO agrees to withdraw, Ukraine declares its neutrality but demands withdrawal from its recently-conquered territory? Russia would have to comply or to expose its supposed territorial ambitions.

However, NATO is currently refusing to withdraw from Russia’s borders and the Western media is supporting it ideologically as well as pouring arms into Ukraine; NATO denies Russia’s declared motivation but declines to put it to the test.

Mentioning “land-grabbing” also raises the issues of the Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Those regions had a high proportion of ethnic Russians — the Crimea in particular nearly totally Russian-speaking — and according to numerous sources, came under attack from Ukrainian nationalist forces from 2014. The Western media says that Russia “annexed” the Crimea; however Crimea had an autonomous parliament and voted to secede from the Ukraine – it was not overthrown in a violent coup as was the neutral Ukrainian one. Subsequently Crimea asked for Russian protection from attack by the Ukrainian military (including in particular those Azov fascist fighters). Donetsk and Luhansk regions also asked for protection, according to the Russians while, according to the West, they were also annexed by Russia.

Ethnic map of the region (however not including Gypsies, Jews and Poles). The brown peninsula bottom centre is the Crimea; two top right regions are Donestk and Luhansk. (Image sourced: Internet)

CONTINUING THE NAVIGATION

Those are the fundamental points to think about during the conflict but we will be presented with reports of “kidnapping” of thousands of civilians by the Russians from the battle-zones on the one hand, with the “rescue” of thousands by the Ukrainian military on the other. Of course, any war impacts severely upon civilians in the war zones, as we have seen in conflicts from Vietnam to ireland to the Balkans, from Palestine to Yemen. What is happening in the Ukraine is a war, with bullets and missiles being fired by both sides and, furthermore, most of the fighting is taking place in and around heavily-populated areas. But are civilians and civilian buildings really being targeted by the Russians? They may or may not be but certainly the damage and casualties would be much higher if, as a matter of course, that were the case. Are civilians being used as hostages and shields by the Ukrainian military as some have alleged? They may be but it is difficult to prove or disprove that when the battle is taking place in an urban area.

We have to seek the actual causes of the war, rather than its features, to seek a workable and hopefully long-lasting solution.

WHAT ABOUT CENSORSHIP?

The fact is that all sides are practicing censorship. While the western media was quick to tell us that Russia had banned the BBC’s news service, it took a bit of searching to find out that had occurred after the UK banned RT, the Russian broadcasting service. We now learn that China has also banned Facebook and the BBC – the latter perhaps in response to the banning of RT but Facebook perhaps for lifting its ban and Tier 1 classification14 of Azov, the neo-nazi fighters incorporated into the Ukrainian military.

Currently, as an example of Western censorship, the Oliver Stone documentary Ukraine On Fire (2016) has been taken down off Youtube and according to users, rarely lasts more than a day if posted up anew.

And Naom Chomsky, veteran US-based anti-imperialist, who would normally be widely quoted in the Socialist media, is hardly ever heard or seen. Oh, he’s talking and writing alright but his discourse does not match the dominant one in the West — nor currently in the Western Left — and therefore he is excluded from their media.

Naom Chomsky, linguist and critic of imperialism often quoted by the Western Left but mostly silenced by them during the Ukrainian conflict. (Photo sourced: Internet)

CAN WE MOVE, PROCEED, ACT?

Obviously we cannot proceed through life in a permanent doubt – that would paralyse us, make us incapable of movement in any direction. We must come to a decision, at least for the time being, to allow us to act. But while we proceed on the basis of our certainties or at least assumptions, we need to be able to keep a part of our mind alert, questioning, challenging and – at some point – ready to dissent from the ideological environment in which we find ourselves and ready to consider taking a different – even oppositional – opinion and path.

This is the way we can navigate through the sea and storms of propaganda to a the desired landing on Truth. However, we need to remember that “truth” is an approximation, that it changes shape and what was true yesterday may not be true tomorrow. It is a floating land, not necessarily where it was when last charted, even when the most recent cartographers were not dishonest. Nevertheless, we are required to act, to act in the real world and therefore must reject paralysis. We find the nearest we can to the truth, test it and act upon it – but ready to amend our understanding if necessary.

We set sail.

End.

Chart for navigating the Propaganda Seas (Image: D.Breatnach)

FOOTNOTES

1The interjection of irrelevant “like” in conversations (e.g “I was like just leaving …”), the grammatically incorrect “I’m good” response to query-greetings, ‘hip’ interjections such as “dude” and even the “OK” for positive confirmation (in our lexicon since the 1950s), have all reached us from the USA.

2That film trope has led to a popular saying regarding last-minute deliveration, probably even employed by people who are unaware of its origin: “Saved by the Cavalry”. Of course, the Indigenous, who are having their lands stolen, their way of life and other parts of their culture destroyed and their resistance massacred, never have a last-minute salvation, neither in fiction nor in reality.

3Though we still hear “No worries” in reassurance, a phrase introduced by Australian soap-operas such as “Neighbours” screened on UK television channels in the 1980s and ‘90s.

4These two in particular propagated a very biased view of working class and lower-middle class people in Britain. The Coronation Street (note the monarchical tone of even the title) series, based on the Salford area near Birmingham, despite being an area settled by successive waves of migrants such as Irish (Engels even referred to them in his 1845 Condition of the Working Class in England), Caribbean and South Asian, did not include characters of migrant background for decades and it was not until 2019 that it introduced its first Black family characters. When the British soaps first provided characters of Irish background, both Coronation Street and EastEnders produced negative types without positive Irish characters to balance them.

5In the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s the majority of the comics bought in Ireland were English, from the younger age-orientated Dandy, Beano to the older-orientated range of Bunty, Judy and June for girls and, for boys, Eagle, Hotspur, Victor and the exclusively military Commando and War Picture Library series along with the Amazing Fantasy series. The US contributed super-hero series Marvel Comics and a range of both cartoon and realistic characters in Dell Comics. There was no competition from any Irish-focused publisher (nor is there yet to any real degree).

6https://www.irishtimes.com/business/media-and-marketing/o-brien-exits-irish-media-after-30-years-of-mixed-fortunes-1.4495046

7See News & Current Affairs Monopolies in Sources at the end of this article

8Ibid.

9https://tribunemag.co.uk/2021/04/britains-media-monopoly-is-a-threat-to-democracy

10https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meta_Platforms#:~:text=Throughout%20its%20existence%2C%20Facebook%2C%20Inc,billion%20in%20cash%20and%20stock.

11Perhaps the most extreme (or the most pulblic) such cases were the UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher criticism of the BBC for the content of its drama and current affairs programming, going so far as to ban interviewing of prominent Irish Republicans from 1988 to 1994 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BBC_controversies#1988%E2%80%931994:_Sinn_F%C3%A9in_broadcast_ban, a ban also promulgated by Irish Governments on RTÉ in 1971 and again during the 1976-1994 period https://www.rte.ie/brainstorm/2021/0507/1217560-section-31-broadcasting-ban-censorshop-troubles/

12It is also worth noting that censorship, misrepresentation of different views and verbal abuse towards those who challenge the views of the alternative media make using them to arrive at the truth more than problematic and this has been nowhere more evident than in the coverage and discussion of the conflict in Ukraine.

13In fact we can see a similar US-led encirclement of Russia in the Middle East too.

14 A classification that included ISIS and bars users from engaging in “praise, support, or representation” of blacklisted entities across the company’s platforms.

SOURCES

“Saved by the Cavalry”: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheCavalry

Comics in 1950s and ‘60s Ireland: 1https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/books/just-dandy-26629681.html

https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/the-joys-jolts-and-jingoism-of-old-children-s-books-1.1877172

News & Current Affairs Monopolies

Ireland: https://www.theguardian.com/media/greenslade/2016/sep/07/should-ireland-allow-denis-obriens-media-empire-larger

https://www.irishtimes.com/business/media-and-marketing/o-brien-exits-irish-media-after-30-years-of-mixed-fortunes-1.4495046

USA: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Media_conglomerate#:~:text=By%202011%2C%2090%25%20of%20the,Showtime%2C%20NFL.com).

UK: https://tribunemag.co.uk/2021/04/britains-media-monopoly-is-a-threat-to-democracy

Social Media: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meta_Platforms#:~:text=Throughout%20its%20existence%2C%20Facebook%2C%20Inc,billion%20in%20cash%20and%20stock.

News & Current Affairs Censorship

In the UK: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BBC_controversies#1988%E2%80%931994:_Sinn_F%C3%A9in_broadcast_ban

In the Irish state: https://www.rte.ie/brainstorm/2021/0507/1217560-section-31-broadcasting-ban-censorshop-troubles/

From the USA, over the world: Oliver Stone documentary trailer: https://www.imdb.com/video/vi4058495257?playlistId=tt5724358&ref_=vp_rv_ap_0

Facebook lifting its ban on Azov Batallion: https://theintercept.com/2022/02/24/ukraine-facebook-azov-battalion-russia/

FASCIST PARAMILITARIES TRAINED & SUPPLIED BY ZIONISTS

Diarmuid Breatnach

(Reading time: 7 mins.)

No doubt the Russian ruling class had other motives than “de-nazification” for the invasion of the Ukraine – beating back NATO encirclement, according to some and land-grabbing according to others – but it cannot be said that the smoke is entirely without fire. Not when nine hundred paramilitary nazis are part of the official Ukranian Army and prominent boulevards of Kyiv are named after Ukrainian nazis.

The Azov Battalion is a far-Right paramilitary organisation that was incorporated into the Ukrainian military in 2015. The number of the unit’s fighters is generally estimated at 900 and the mildest description of their ideology is “far Right”. They are in fact nazi, homophobic, white supremacist, anti-Roma and anti-semitic – and they are an integral part of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Azov Battalion giving military instruction to civilians in Kyiv 30 Jan 2022 (Photo: Gleb Garanch/ Reuter)

Founded from far-Right Ukrainian nationalist groups in March 2014 as Azov, they were from the beginning engaged in actions against ethnic minorities including the Russian-speaking people of the Donbas region and Roma, as well as against socialists and LBGT groups. Then-President Petro Poroshenko said at an awards ceremony in 2014: “These are our best warriors …. Our best volunteers.”1

In 2014 Azov were active in overthrowing the elected Ukrainian government of President Yanukovych. That government was characterised as friendly towards Russia and for that reason unpopular with the West; however it was trying to negotiate with both Russia and the EU, with the latter for its agricultural sector and with the former for its industrial sector but the EU insisted on an exclusive agreement in total. When it did not get what it wished the EU, under its Irish President at the time, and the USA supported the overthrow of the government in a coup d’etat.

In that coup, Azoz also carried out attacks on socialists and communists and, despite a highly-politicised debate around the facts there is no doubt that 43 people who took refuge in a trade union building from anti-Russian elements were killed when the building was set on fire.

From November 2015 to February 2016, according to a 2016 Report by the Office of the Human Rights Commissioner of the UN, Azov was responsible for incidents in which they had embedded their weapons and forces in civilian-occupied buildings, displaced residents and looted civilian properties. The report also accused the battalion of raping and torturing detainees in the Donbas region.2

Also in 2015 the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the World Jewish Congress condemned the decision to name central boulevards in Kiev after Nazi collaborators and attempts to re-write the history of Nazi collaborators in Ukraine during WWII.34

Azoz Battalion celebration of new monument to medieval Ukrainian hero Svyatosla in Mariupul, Ukraine in 2015 (Photo credit: Pierre Crom, Getty Images)

In January 2018, Azov rolled out its street patrol unit called National Druzhyna to “restore” order in the capital, Kyiv. Instead, the unit carried out pogroms against the Roma community and attacked members of the LGBTQ community. In April of that year there was a march honoring Ukrainian Waffen SS units which massacred thousands of Jews during World War II.5 In May, Azov marched through Odessa claiming that the Ukraine belongs to Ukrainians, not to Jews and that they would be ridding the country of the latter.6 In June, Ukraine’s chief military prosecutor Anatoli Matios said in an interview that Jews want “to drown Slavs in blood.”7

Ukrainian International soccer player Roman Vyacheslavovych Zozulya had to be let go from Rayo Vallecano FC in 2017 because the anti-fascist and left-wing fan base of the team objected so strenuously to his being on contract. The reason for the uproar was because Zozulya has been on record as supporting Azov.

“In December 2019, a match between the Spanish teams Rayo Vallecano and Albacete (Roman Zozulya’s then-current club) was suspended, when his former club’s fans loudly accused the player of being a sympathizer of Nazi ideology, due to his known support of the Azov Battalion as well as other images he had posted on his Twitter account, which contained references to Nazi symbolism or organizations claimed to support Nazism.”8 Rayo Vallecano was fined and suspended for two games by the Spanish League (La Liga), a decision of at least questionable justice.9

WHITE RULER”, FUNDED BY OLIGARCHS

The Azov unit was led by Andriy Biletsky, who served as the leader of both the “Patriot of Ukraine” organisation (founded in 2005) and of the Social Nationalist Assembly, a nazi organisation founded in 200810. The SNA is known to have carried out attacks on minority groups in Ukraine.

In 2010, Biletsky declared that the national purpose of the Ukraine was to “lead the white races of the world in a final crusade … against Semite-led Untermenschen” [German Nazi term for ‘inferior races’].

Biletsky left Azov formally in order to stand for election to the Ukrainian Parliament, as elected officials must not be members of the military or police force. He was elected to parliament in 2014 and remained an MP until 2019; his nickname among his supporters is “Bely Vozd” (“White Ruler”). In October 2016 Biletsky founded the far-right National Corps party, the core base of which is Azov veterans.

It is not only Russia that has oligarchs but of course it is they alone the Western media is focusing upon. However the Ukrainian fascist forces were privately funded by oligarchs – the best-known being Igor Kolomoisky, an energy magnate billionaire and then-governor of the Dnipropetrovska region. In addition to Azov, Kolomoisky also funded other volunteer battalions such as the Dnipro 1 and Dnipro 2, Aidar and Donbas units11.

Azov also received early funding and assistance from another oligarch: Serhiy Taruta, the billionaire governor of Donetsk region12.

The presence of these nazis in the Ukrainian military is not as in many countries where individual right-wingers and fascists are attracted into the military and police but rather that an already far-Right paramilitary organisation led by nazis has been incorporated into the national armed forces. That argues for a high level of acceptance of fascism among the country’s ruling circles and indeed one finds other examples in certain statements by officials and in historical revisionism of past anti-semitism and nazi collaboration in the country’s history.13

CHANGING ATTITUDES OF THE WEST

In June 2015, both Canada and the United States announced that their own forces will not support or train the Azov regiment, citing its neo-Nazi connections and white supremacist ideology.

However the following year, under pressure from the Pentagon, Congress lifted the ban. In October 2019, 40 members of the US Congress led by Representative Max Rose signed a letter unsuccessfully calling for the US State Department to designate Azov as a “foreign terrorist organisation” (FTO). Last April, Representative Elissa Slotkin repeated the request – which included other white supremacist groups – to the Biden administration.

Azov Battalion members (Photo sourced: Internet)

Facebook About-Face

In 2016, Facebook first designated the Azov regiment a “dangerous organisation” and placed it under its Tier 1 designation, one which includes the Ku Klux Klan and ISIL (ISIS). Facebook users praising or otherwise supporting Tier 1 groups are also banned by the social media company.

However, on February 24 this year, the day Russia launched its invasion, Facebook reversed its ban, saying it would allow praise for Azov. “While Facebook users may now praise any future battlefield action by Azov soldiers against Russia, the new policy notes that ‘any praise of violence’ committed by the group is still forbidden; it’s unclear what sort of nonviolent warfare the company anticipates,” the social media and information technology magazine The Intercept commented14.

THE UKRAINE REGIME “FASCIST”?

Opponents of the Ukraine regime (not all supporters of Putin by any means) have called the regime itself fascist, a claim which its defenders (and some others) have dismissed, citing its President and its Prime Minister being Jewish as evidence to counter the accusation. Ukraine now has the world’s third- or fourth-largest Jewish community, but estimates of its size vary wildly, ranging from 120,000 to 400,000 people, depending on who is counting15.

That the President and Prime Minister are Jewish is far from being the conclusive rebuttal that it might seem, since Zionists are known to have colluded with the Nazis in the 1930s in order to gain settlers for Palestine16. As far back as 2018, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that more than 40 human rights organisations had filed a case with Israel’s High Court of Justice to stop the Zionist state supplying the Ukrainian military because of the latter’s incorporation of anti-semitic fascists.

Azov Battalion on parade (Photo sourced: Internet)

The article also pointed out that past anti-semitic regimes had been supplied by Israel, quoting the Argentinian Generals and the Bolivian regime that included Klaus Barbie; also Israeli instructors are known to be supplying the Azov with training17.

There is certainly some fire beneath all the smoke.

Putin is no anti-fascist and, apart from the failure to tackle the growth of fascist anti-semitic groups in Russia, the Putin regime’s suppression of Muslim resistance in Chechnya contains most features of fascist repression of a population18. The irony now is that, if a video is to be believed, Azoz are dipping bullets in pig fat and telling Chechens who are part of the Russian Army that they will be barred from Muslim heaven when shot. Another irony is that Azov is attracting white fascists and militant right-wing Christians from other countries to swell its ranks, much like Muslim jihadist organisations have been attracting radical muslims from other parts of the world.

Putin has his own reasons for the invasion of the Ukraine which are to do with the interests of the Russian ruling class, whether defensive or aggressive, rather than “de-nazification” but the evidence of fascist elements in the Ukrainian military and ruling circles cannot legitimately be dismissed as supporters of the Ukrainian regime have been doing.

End.

FOOTNOTES

1https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/3/1/who-are-the-azov-regiment

2Quoted in https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/3/1/who-are-the-azov-regiment

3Ibid.

4Active collusion with the Nazi occupation to the extent of whole Ukrainian units fighting alongside the occupiers and wiping out Jews and civilian socialists was notable among Ukrainian nationalists of the time. However, there was also significant anti-Nazi activism, both in partisan activity and in membership of the Red Army. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collaboration_in_German-occupied_Ukraine

5Ibid

6Ibid

7Ibid

8https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Zozulya#Rayo_Vallecano

9https://www.football-espana.net/2020/01/16/explained-rayo-vallecano-roman-zozulya-and-nazi-chants-2

10https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social-National_Assembly

11https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/3/1/who-are-the-azov-regiment

12Ibid

13https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/rights-groups-demand-israel-stop-arming-neo-nazis-in-the-ukraine-1.6248727

14https://theintercept.com/2022/02/24/ukraine-facebook-azov-battalion-russia/

15https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/24/world/europe/volodomyr-zelensky-ukraine-jewish-president.html

16And at times also to undermine left-wing Jewish activists.

17https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/rights-groups-demand-israel-stop-arming-neo-nazis-in-the-ukraine-1.6248727

18First Chechen War (1994-1996) and Second Chechen War (1999-2009) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Chechen_War

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Chechen_War

SOURCES

Azov: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azov_Battalion

https://www.publico.es/internacional/batallon-azov-grupo-paramilitar-nazi-integrado-ejercito-ucrania.html?

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/3/1/who-are-the-azov-regiment

Social National Assembly: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social-National_Assembly

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/2/28/ukrainian-fighters-grease-bullets-against-chechens-with-pig-fat

Maiden massacre allegation: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document//E-8-2017-007088_EN.html

https://khpg.org/en/1407453894

Expulsion of Zozulya from club with antifascist ethos: https://www.publico.es/deportes/zozulya-no-jugara-rayo-evitar-le-recuerden-vallekas-no-lugar-nazis.html

Facebook about-face on Azov: https://theintercept.com/2022/02/24/ukraine-facebook-azov-battalion-russia/

Jewishness of Ukrainian President and Prime Minister and anti-semitism: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/24/world/europe/volodomyr-zelensky-ukraine-jewish-president.html

Israeli supplies to anti-semitic organisations and regimes: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/rights-groups-demand-israel-stop-arming-neo-nazis-in-the-ukraine-1.6248727

USA’s ambitions bring danger of war

Diarmuid Breatnach

(Reading time: 13 mins.)

“Wars and rumours of wars …”1 The sabres are rattling around Eastern Europe. The mass media in our latitudes largely takes the position of the USA under the guise of democracy; however with some text and the use of a few maps I hope to show that Russia’s position is essentially defensive in this regard and that the USA is the main aggressor. I hope to do that without expressing any support for the Russian regime.

WHAT IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING?

The USA sees Russia as its main opponent or competitor in Europe and has been working since the post-WWII decades to neutralise it, earlier under the guise of stopping the spread of “communism” and defending “democracy”. Since the fall of the USSR system the talk is no longer about defeating “communism” but “defending democracy” continues to used in anti-Russian rhetoric. Russia is no democracy but the notion that the US, the world superpower, the biggest imperialist power on the planet since WWII, cares about democracy should make us laugh. It would perhaps, except that the mass media keeps feeding us the USA’s rhetoric and shaping us to support it in war.

The USA is actually squeezing Russia from two directions — from Europe and from the Middle East. NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is a US-led military alliance which now has the membership of most states in the EU, along with the UK and nearly every state of the former USSR to the west of Russia. A look at the map of NATO states will demonstrate that2. Nearly every state in the Middle East is also formally or informally in the sphere of influence of US imperialism3.

“Russia says it wants Western guarantees that Nato will not allow Ukraine and other former Soviet countries to join as members. Moscow has also demanded the alliance halt weapons deployments to Ukraine and roll back its forces from eastern Europe – demands flatly rejected by the West.4

Map NATO & non-NATO countries in Europe, showing also periodic expansion (Source: The Economist)

So the Russian ruling class is naturally worried and feeling besieged. On or near their European borders they only have Sweden, Finland, Moldova, Belarus and Ukraine which are not formally part of NATO and Ukraine has clearly indicated an interest in that direction. Beyond those last three aforementioned, all the states through central Europe are NATO members right through to the UK: Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania actually bordering on Russia, with – heading generally westward and south-westward– Czech Republic, Croatia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Albania, Greece, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France and UK. In addition, some of those states have highly-developed military power such as Germany and two of them have nuclear armament of their own — UK and France – while the US has ready-to-launch nuclear missiles on the lands of many of the NATO states — Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey5.

Sweden, Austria and Switzerland may remain nominally neutral but are in general politically aligned with the EU and the USA rather than with Russia, while non-NATO Finland is definitely, for historical and geographical reasons, extremely wary of its Russian neighbour.

The smaller non-NATO states of the former Yugoslavia – Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Montenegro and Kosovo are in some cases friendly towards Russia (or not overly-friendly towards NATO) but they are completely surrounded by NATO states.

On its borders with the Middle East, Russia is also being squeezed. Turkey has long been a major NATO state in the region and only Georgia is located between it an Russia to the latter’s south-west, with Armenia and Azerbaijan to its south-east. Nearly all of the states in the Middle East are in formal or informal alliance with the West and therefore with the US: Cyprus, Lebanon, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar and United Arab Emirates. Yemen is embroiled in its own Saudi and West-proxy war, while Syria is threatened by Israel, Turkey and NATO. Only Iran is fairly safe for the moment on that part of Russia’s border, which is why Russia will take its side in any conflict with the West, despite the Russian ruling class’ dislike of and vulnerability in some regions, as in Chechnya, to militant fundamentalist Islam.

Middle East states and Russia (Source: Internet)

Syria is next to Iran which is also why Russia has been supporting the Assad regime and why, during the past week, it has warned Israel about its bombing raids into Syria as the latter attacks Hizbollah bases there. In fact we may see the invasions by western alliances of Iraq and Libya as part of huge US/NATO ‘domino’ plan to attack Syria with Iran next; then the pressure on Azerbaijan and Georgia on Russia’s doorstep. While on the eastern side of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan are also allies of the West ….

Further east, there is India which has long been friendly to Russia and in tussles with Pakistan — and China, which is not openly hostile to Russia as a rule but which is not a real friend either, though its competition and contention with the US keeps it friendly enough towards Russia for the moment.

What the Russian ruling class is doing is attempting to bring a halt to its encirclement by NATO at the point of Ukraine. And the US-NATO and EU are issuing a counter-threat – an open one of sanctions and a more veiled one, in the case of US-NATO, of armed action.

This week it appears that some parts of Ukraine have sought to break away from the main part, probably instigated by Russia or at least promised support if they did – which has materialised in Russian diplomatic recognition and in troop movements. This may amount to an annexation or may not but what is clear is that Russia, in the face of what it considers a threat to its existence and NATO intransigence, has decided to take some decisive action.

WHAT IS REPORTED

The western mass media reports the situation painting a picture of big powerful Russia threatening its much smaller neighbour, by threat of invasion seeking to force it into submission to Russia’s regime, in denial of the small nation’s democratic rights. And the democratic West, through NATO, is moving troops to support the Ukraine, warning Russia of consequences.

Russian Tanks and Troops Reportedly entering part of Ukraine (Photo source: The Telegraph)

The picture contains much truth but overall it is a lie. Russia is much bigger than the Ukraine and it is threatening it with troop movements. And NATO is moving troops up to counter-threaten. But to evaluate a situation properly, we need to know its antecedents, what led up to it. We also need to see the situation through the eyes of the participants, whether we agree with them or not. The mass media, apart from a couple of honest analysts tucked away inside a newspaper, far from the headlines, does not supply us with that information.

The Irish Times, one of Ireland’s main daily newspapers, on 12 February reported that “Russia’s military build-up near Ukraine and a surge of Russia’s military activity has fueled fears that Russia could invade the country. Russia denies having any such plans. However a US official has said that the US had picked up intelligence that Russia is looking at Wednesday as a target date for an incursion.”

So on the basis of the quoted paragraph, we were to draw the conclusion that Russia was threatening to invade Ukraine. OK, Russia denied it but then why the military buildup near Ukraine? Finally, the authority voice of the USA, quoting what we are supposed to see as excellent intelligence sources (which we cannot of course question), predicting a probable Russian invasion four days away. So which state are most people in this part of the world likely to believe, the Russians or the US?

Some weeks earlier, on 25th January, another Irish daily newspaper, the Examiner, reported on reactions to a Russian naval fleet exercise in the Atlantic. The Irish Government told the Russians the exercise was not welcome although not illegal6, because the area of the exercise is regarded as international waters. This from the same government that facilitates US military flights via Shannon airport, i.e on its own national territory. And NATO carries out at least one major exercise in European waters annualy, with the UK doing so twice yearly without complaint from the Irish Government.7

The Ukrainian Ambassador to Ireland, Ms Gerasko moved to take advantage of the situation “A plan to hold a major exercise by the Russian navy and air force in the Atlantic off the southwest coast of Ireland is yet another demonstration of the threat that Russia poses for the world,” she said, in a statement to the Irish Examiner.” 8

Attempts were made at the same time to whip up Irish offshore fishermen against the Russians and to whip up the Irish public in defence of “our fishermen”. The latter project failed miserably since the Russian Ambassador to Ireland met and negotiated with the fishermen, leading one of their leaders to comment that the Russians had treated his members better than their own (Irish) government.

We might expect an alternative discourse about the Ukraine crisis from Al Jazeera but its report on the 24th of January, although emphasising US military movements in the area, attached a number of articles which were generally relaying the western line. The Irish Independent carried a much more in-depth explanation, though based on the position of the UK through its premier, Boris Johnson; however it did list the Russian demand that NATO cease pushing towards them and that Russia considered Ukraine joining NATO “an existential threat” while in general still following the general anti-Russian pattern9.

Closing ceremony of Sea Breeze, NATO-Ukraine joint naval exercises in the Black Sea 12 July 2019 (Photo by US Naval Officer)

POSITION OF THE IRISH STATE

An analysis piece in its business section by the Irish State’s national broadcaster, RTÉ, concentrated on the possible economic impact of loss or drastic reduction in gas and oil exports from Russia, either as a direct consequence of conflict or through imposition of sanctions by the West. “Russia produces 11% of global oil supplies and according to David Horgan, managing director of Petrel Resources, any significant loss of Russian energy exports would result in a further spike in prices.”10

Russia is the biggest supplier of gas in the world and the largest to Europe with a third of of its gas pipeline supply to Europe crossing Ukraine. Ireland’s electricity supply is highly dependent on gas for its generating stations so any disruption will impact heavily of prices which “have already gone from $2 to about $30 per million BTU”, according to the Petrel managing director.11

It is clear that while the USA is driving the agenda through its dominance of NATO and the the threat of sanctions on Russia, which the USA regularly insists upon when teaching other countries a lesson, its own economy would suffer little as a result. However, it is a different question for the European states, which would be obliged to bear the weight of economic impact. Mícheál Martin, the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of the Irish State felt obliged to comment on this possibility but, rather than criticise the USA and NATO’s expansionism, spoke about the need to break from their dependence on Russian energy supplies.

Micheál Martin said the EU is unified in responding “very strongly” to any Russian invasion of Ukraine and stated that in Europe’s view the huge build-up of troops by Russia on the Ukraine border is “not justifiable” in any circumstances. While calling for “diplomacy and de-escalation” he clearly sided with the USA in the conflict as both the Irish ruling class and the EU’s would expect of him.12

Despite many criticisms to the contrary, the policy of the Irish state during WWII was essentially one of neutrality in favour of the Allied forces while the government of the Six Counties was of course wholly aligned with the UK. Nevertheless Irish commercial shipping was sunk by Nazi German action and cost many Irish seamen their lives.

So far the Irish state has remained outside NATO but over the past decade there has been discussion envisaging the creation of an EU rapid deployment force made up of personnel contributed from all member states. It would hardly be surprising if such a move appealed to some within the career personnel in the Irish armed forces, envisaging taking part in wider military action, alongside varied forces, employing advanced weapons and systems and with possibly better promotion prospects. Additionally in recent weeks there has been media discussion of greater funding for those forces.

Ireland – and not only the UK’s colony here – can be dragged into war more easily than we perhaps imagine and also into being targeted for retaliatory action. Indeed, the facilitation of US military personnel and materiel through Ireland’s airport at Shannon, along with CIA transport of secret prisoners (“rendition”) has already exposed the State (and succeeding governments) to accusations of military partisanship.

Contrary to popular belief, the Irish State’s ‘neutrality’ is in general a matter of government policy rather than a requirement of the Constitution or Statute law.13 

The principal statute governing the Irish Defence Forces is the Defence Act 1954, which did not oblige members of the Irish Army to serve outside the state (members of the Air Corps and Naval Service are not so excused). A 1960 amendment intended to allow deployment in United Nations Peacekeeping missions requires three forms of authorisation, since the 1990s often described as the “triple lock”:

  1. A UN Security Council Resolution or UN General Assembly Resolution;
  2. A formal decision by the Irish government;
  3. Approval by a resolution of Dáil Éireann (the lower house of the Oireachtas, to which the government is responsible).

From those last two it is clear that the 26 Counties can be put on a war footing by a decision of the Irish Government or even a majority vote in favour in the Dáil. Anyone who believes that the party with most TDs would necessarily vote against such a motion is fooling themselves since the SF party has been at pains to portray itself as a safe pair of hands for Irish capitalism and recently called for greater funding for the armed forces of the Irish state; in addition it has long had an uncritically friendly relationship with the USA, in particular – though not only – with its Democratic Party.

A resolution from the UN Security Council obliging the Irish state to go to war against Russia is impossible and though such from the General Council might be possible, albeit unlikely.14

These provisions were modified in 1993 to allow for UN Chapter VII missions and again in 2006 to allow for regionally organised UN missions.

Joint NATO-Ukraine military exercise September 2021 (Photo sourced: Internet)

WHAT WE CAN DO

There seems no middle way — either NATO will back down or Russia will. No doubt the Western powers think it reasonable that Russia be the one to blink but as commented earlier, for the latter NATO creep to their borders is seen as a threat to their very existence. The same people who thought it reasonable for John Kennedy as President of the US to threaten war on the Soviet Union for the location of some missiles on the Caribbean island of Cuba think Russia should accept the advance of NATO to its borders.

In practical terms there seems little we can do in Ireland except struggle to resist the state and colony in which we live being dragged into war – for which we need to mobilise the opposition we can on the street. Sadly the anti-imperialist war movement in Ireland of years ago was allowed to deteriorate — but we should work to rebuild it.

In order to assist in this it is essential that we expose the reality of what is going on in the world. Some will say that because the USA is the main aggressor in this case and the biggest bully, we should support Russia but to do so would be a big mistake. Not long ago, while joining others in anti-fascist solidarity with people in the Donbas region in SE Ukraine, I found us being increasingly nudged towards support for Russia which I did not view as being the same thing at all.

Russia has its own crimes against people and workers and calling for support for it now will cause confusion when in future we will need to condemn it. Our position should be that while neither the USA’s regime or Russia’s is to be supported, the biggest danger of war comes from the USA and therefore it will be the main target of our hostility – besides which it is the power with which the ruling classes of Ireland and the UK are aligned. It is the biggest imperialist power in the world by far along with being the biggest military power in most of the world.

Most Irish people have no wish to be dragged into an armed conflict anywhere where they do not feel threatened. On the other hand our society is conditioned not only by decades of strong cultural influences from the USA, in particular through film but also by media reporting that is biased towards the dominant western European view and that of the USA. In that paradigm, the Russians are the bad guys, the gunfighters in the black hats, while the US and the West in general are on the side of the angels.

With the 1916 Rising in the middle of WWI, Ireland became the first country to carry out an uprising against world war15, against the dominant trend throughout Europe at the time — a tradition worth upholding. As long as imperialism exists, the world will continue to suffer smaller wars and the danger of another major war. It is necessary to overthrow imperialism and we can best contribute towards that aim by coordinating our struggles with the aim of carrying out a revolution in Ireland, thereby depriving imperialism of one of its supporters in Europe.

End.

FOOTNOTES
1
“And you will begin to hear of wars and rumors of wars. Behold, do not be alarmed; for it is necessary to take place, but the end is not yet” — Christian New Testament Bible, Matthew, Chapter 24:6.

2See map NATO states

3See appropriate map for this also

4https://www.breakingnews.ie/world/white-house-calls-russian-moves-on-ukraine-an-invasion-1262219.html

5https://armscontrolcenter.org/fact-sheet-u-s-nuclear-weapons-in-europe/

6https://www.irishexaminer.com/news/arid-40792923.html

7https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/news-and-latest-activity/operations/united-kingdom/exercise-joint-warrior

8Ibid.

9https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/ukraine-crisis-why-russia-might-invade-and-what-could-happen-next-41279592.html

10https://www.rte.ie/news/business/2022/0128/1276522-ukraine-ireland-analysis/

11Ibid.

12https://www.irishexaminer.com/news/arid-40811598.html

13According to Wikipedia: “One exception is Article 29, section 4, subsection 9° of the Irish constitution:

The State shall not adopt a decision taken by the European Council to establish a common defence pursuant to Article 42 of the Treaty on European Union where that common defence would include the State.

This was originally inserted by the 2002 amendment ratifying the Treaty of Nice,and updated by the 2009 amendment ratifying the Treaty of Lisbon. An earlier bill intended to ratify the Treaty of Nice did not include a common defence opt-out, and was rejected in the first Nice referendum, in 2001.”

14Resolutions of the UN Security Council, the only ones binding on all member states, require unanimous agreement by all five Permanent Members: UK, France, USA, Russia and China. Forcing a vote such as this in the UN General Assembly would likely lead to the fracture of the organisation.

15The following year there were two in Russia and in 1918 another in Germany.

SOURCES

Matthew 24:6 https://biblehub.com › matthew

https://www.dw.com/en/thousands-of-russian-troops-leave-ukraine-border/a-60257452

https://www.breakingnews.ie/world/putin-orders-forces-to-maintain-peace-in-eastern-ukraine-1261744.html

https://www.breakingnews.ie/world/emergency-meeting-called-by-un-security-council-over-ukraine-crisis-1261794.html

Map Middle-East towards Russia: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/291678513336896419/

European states holding US nuclear weapons: https://armscontrolcenter.org/fact-sheet-u-s-nuclear-weapons-in-europe/

Map NATO states towards Russia: https://www.businessinsider.com/map-europe-divided-nato-russia-2016-7?r=US&IR=T

UK bi-annual military including naval exercises: https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/news-and-latest-activity/operations/united-kingdom/exercise-joint-warrior

NATO exercise 2021: https://mc.nato.int/media-centre/news/2021/nato-exercise-dynamic-mariner-and-joint-warrior-begins-in-the-atlantic#:~:text=It%20runs%20between%2018%20and,Kingdom%20and%20the%20United%20States.

Mass media:

Ireland, on Russian Naval fleet in the Atlantic and Ukraine Ambassador: https://www.irishexaminer.com/news/arid-40792923.html

Al Jazeera on the Ukraine confrontation: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/1/24/uk-pulls-staff-from-ukraine-as-fears-of-war-rise-liveblog

Much more in-depth coverage with emphasis on the UK position: https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/ukraine-crisis-why-russia-might-invade-and-what-could-happen-next-41279592.html

Irish Government position: https://www.irishexaminer.com/news/arid-40811598.html

Irish neutrality — facts: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_neutrality

Calls for a joint EU countries armed force: https://www.france24.com/en/europe/20210902-proposals-for-an-eu-army-re-emerge-after-afghan-pullout-%E2%80%93-but-many-remain-hard-to-convince