Long History of US-Russia Confrontation. Analysis of Ukraine-Russia Relations
The US has a long History of Confrontation with Russia
This goes way back to the time of Lenin’s revolution in 1917 to replace the Tsar with a communist government. Along with more than a dozen other countries, in 1918 the US sent 13,000 troops to fight Lenin’s Bolshevik forces. Although this was gross interference in another country’s affairs, more than 250,000 foreign troops took part in the war against the Russian forces. The Russian forces fought with patriotic zeal, and the foreign troops made little progress and were forced to withdraw in 1920.
US Troops in Vladivostok in 1918
The US finally established diplomatic relations with the USSR in 1933 and an icy relationship has continued to the present. When Nazi Germany attacked the USSR in June of 1941, the US position was revealed by then U.S. Senator Harry Truman when he said:
“If we see that Germany is winning we ought to help Russia and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany, and that way let them kill as many as possible, although I don’t want to see Hitler victorious under any circumstances.”
Primarily through the battles fought by Soviet forces, Nazi Germany was defeated, but instead of gratitude for this historical feat, the US government was persuaded by its embedded faction of Russia-hating officials to embark on a totally different course of action.
This began with the totally unnecessary and criminal decision to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which killed and injured at least 200,000 Japanese. Japan had been fully prepared to surrender and because of this, almost all high ranking military officals, including Eisenhower and McArthur, opposed the use of atomic bombs. However, Truman’s inner circle of advisors convinced him to do this. In actuality, this was not to end the war on Japan but to show the USSR that this could happen to them if they wouldn’t follow USA’s dictats.
On September 25, 1975 several previously secret documents from the US War Department, dated September 15, 1945, were declassified.
These documents revealed, in stark tones, that the USA had planned a coordinated unprovoked nuclear attack with 204 atomic bombs to destroy 66 major urban areas in the Soviet Union.
This nuclear assault would have been a diabolical and criminal undertaking on human life. Genocide is an understatement. The main document referred to “the number of atomic bombings which should be available to insure our national security”. These documents are discussed further here.
With respect to “insure our national security,” a sane question would be why the US would be so afraid of a USSR devastated by its war with Nazi Germany that the US would still require a further massive nuclear devastation of Russia in order for the US “to be safe.” The real reason is undoubtedly the American desire to destroy the USSR’s socialist-communist system, which was also the same reason for Hitler’s attack on the USSR.
A further report on this issue states that: According to US generals’ estimates, the attack could have resulted in the death of about 285 to 425 million people. Some of the USSR’s European allies were meant to be completely “wiped out.”
How should history judge the USA’s morality in this regard . . . although not carrying out this onslaught, but just seriously even considering such a course of action?
The Soviets became aware of the USA’s plans and developed their own atomic bomb in 1949. This occurred before the US had their 204 bombs for their attack. And once the USSR had their own bombs, the US realized that if they launched their attack, American cities would be hit as well. The overall result was the ensuing Cold War and a nuclear arms race.
Ukraine History and World War II
With regard to Ukraine, unlike Russia with its more that a 1,000 year history, Ukraine, as a territorial unit, started about 1650 and has a complex historical background. To understand the current conflict, it is important to recall that Russians and Ukrainians once lived in relative harmony, when they were both part of the USSR. This was violently interrupted in 1941, when the Nazis invaded the USSR, by first taking over the territory of Ukraine.
It is important to point out that the vast majority of Ukrainians fought the Nazi invasion, just as the Russians did, and suffered a loss of more than 6 million people, military and civilians. However, it is a historical fact that a portion of the people in western Ukraine supported the Nazis and even formed several divisons of troops to fight the Soviet army. This was done under bizarre delusion that somehow after the war the Nazis would allow them to have an independent state, independent of Russia. Their most prominent leader was Stepan Bandera, a collaborator with Hitler who led the liquidation of thousands of Poles, Jews and other minorities. Ironically, Bandera is now considered a major hero by Zelensky’s government.
In the meantime, on the basis of Nazi racial policy all Slavic people, Jews, Roma and black people were considerd Untermenschen or “subhuman” and “inferior people” who, if at all possible, were to be exterminated in one way or another. Despite this open philosophy of the invading Nazi hordes, a portion of the Ukrainian people in the Galicia region of western Ukraine somehow felt that if they collaborated with the Nazis that after the defeat of the USSR they would somehow acquire an independent Ukrainian state. Total delusion, but a historical fact.
According to John-Paul Himka, a retired professor from the University of Alberta, a quarter of all victims of the Holocaust lived in Ukraine, and Ukrainian ultra-nationalists collaborated with the Nazis in carrying out their horrendous deeds.
As for the invading German Nazi forces, if there were Ukrainians who were prepared to collaborate with them, in a cynical manner, the Nazis accepted them. And in this manner, these Ukrainian Nazi allies proceeded to kill thousands of Polish people in the Lvov area and they participated in killing more then 30,000 Jews whose bodies were then thrown in the Babi Yar ravine near Kiev.
At the end of World War II thousands of these Ukrainian Nazi collaborators managed to retreat to Germany and then somehow managed to get accepted as “refugees” in Canada and the USA. In Ukraine they were dealt with as Nazi collaborators and it’s not certain what happened to them. It’s now 77 years since the war ended, and you’d think the Nazi era is past history, but it seems that some descendants of these collaborators are are still on the scene as “neo-Nazis.” And unfortunately these neo-Nazis continue to promote hatred and white supremacy and attack racial and ethnic minorities, and in some cases are prepared to live in a fascist state.
Dissolution of the Soviet Union
In the course of the turmoil in the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine officially declared itself an independent country on 24 August 1991. At the end of the year, on December 25, Mikhail Gorbachev resigned his post as president of the Soviet Union, leaving Boris Yeltsin as president of the newly independent Russian state.
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the USA dominated the world, and it wasn’t until Vladimir Putin took over as President in 2000 that Russia once again began to have some world influence.
The 2014 EuroMaidan Coup and Its Aftermath
As for Ukraine, after its independence it struggled along, but it wasn’t until 2014 that a cataclysmic event occurred which totally changed the course of history in that country. The USA succeeded in staging a coup d’état which replaced a democratically elected president and installed a regime in which neo-Nazis proceeded to have a major role.
Following this, I had three major articles published on this debacle. One of them was immediately translated into French, German and Spanish. In that article I review the whole course of events that then occurred in Ukraine.
Immediately after the coup, Victoria Nuland gleefully bragged how the US spent five billion dollars to enable the coup to take place. She even had a hand in picking out who should be in the cabinet and who should be the new president…. and if the European union didn’t like it, “Fuck the EU”…. all this is on record.
After the coup, two basically fascist and neo-Nazi parties, Svoboda and Right Sector, held prominent positions in the new government–they formed a third of the cabinet. This is despite the fact that Svoboda had only 8 percent of the seats in the Rada and that the Right Sector didn’t have any elected members. Later the followers of these parties formed the Azov military force, which openly display Hitler’s military regalia.
While the new Ukrainian regime has been busy empowering fascists, they stripped communist parties of their right to participate in elections in 2015 and issued controversial ‘decommunisation’ laws.
These laws ban the display of Soviet symbols and change the status of the May 9 holiday which marked the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War 2. The laws will remove all mentions of ‘the Great Patriotic War’ (a Soviet term for World War 2). Tens of thousands of streets have since been renamed, along with nearly one thousand cities and villages. Over two thousand statues and monuments have also been removed in this anti-communist cultural project. Despite widespread criticism, the current government has refused to revoke the laws.
In actual fact, the United States has continued to work with Ukrainian fascists in their endless destabilization campaigns against Russia. According to CIA specialist Douglas Valentine, “the CIA has been developing fascist assets in the Ukraine for 70 years.” Nazism and fascism are very real factors in Ukraine, and they have been extensively documented.
Given what has happened, it is hardly surprising that Ukraine was the only country, along with the United States, which voted against the UN General Assembly’s draft resolution “combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fueling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.”
The day after the coup government was formed its very first action was to pass a bill to ban the use of Russian in any official capacity and to ban all Russian media in Ukraine. This was done even though one-fifth of Ukraine’s population are ethnic Russians and that about 40% of the population speak Russian. In fact, the eastern part of Ukraine and Crimea are almost totally ethnic Russians, with a Russian history that goes back more than a thousand years. And suddenly their language was banned!
To put this issue in perspective for Canadians, just imagine if a newly installed government in Ottawa would suddenly ban the use of French as an official language in Canada. How long would it take for Quebec to call for a referendum and then proceed to secede from Canada? In actuality, this is exactly what happened in Crimea, where the bulk of the people speak Russian. They conducted a referendum on March 16, 2014 and with a turnout of 83 percent, there was a 97 percent vote to secede from Ukraine. Since ethnic Russians formed only 58 percent of the population, it means that the bulk of Ukrainians and Tatars in Crimea also voted to secede from Ukraine. Crimea then appealed to Russia to be accepted into the Russian Federation, and Russia proceeded to do this.
Despite the referendum in Crimea to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation, Russia is constantly accused of annexing Crimea, i.e., conducting a forcible acquisition of part of Ukraine’s territory, which is a blatant lie. To add to this lie, no one in the West ever refers to Crimea’s referendum, which was monitored by a team of Western observers. In the meantime, with no referendum, Kosovo was detached from Serbia…. with the full approval of the USA. In fact, the US engineered this.
As for Russia’s decision to intervene militarily in Ukraine, the government and the people still vividly remember that the USSR lost 27 million people fighting the Nazis in the 1940s. It was President Kennedy in his memorable speech on June 10, 1963 at American University who stated:
And no nation in the history of battle ever suffered more than the Soviet Union suffered in the course of the Second World War. At least 20 million lost their lives. Countless millions of homes and farms were burned or sacked. A third of the nation’s territory, including nearly two thirds of its industrial base, was turned into a wasteland–a loss equivalent to the devastation of this country east of Chicago.
To make his point vividly clear to the US public, he compared the devastation in the USSR to the USA: a loss equivalent to the devastation of this country east of Chicago.
So now with neo-Nazis basically in control of Ukraine, as well as having it in their constitution to join NATO and with its president talking of acquiring nuclear weapons, it should be no mystery how Russia feels about this. With nuclear weapons in Ukraine, it would take less than 10 minutes to destroy Moscow …. with no possibility of blocking such an attack. Russia and its people are not prepared to undergo another World War II. That is the long and the short of it.
How did it come to this? After the 2014 coup and the law to ban the Russian language in all legal affairs, the new Kiev regime sent a group of their administrators to take over the government offices in the Russian speaking Lugansk and Donetsk regions.
These administrators were promptly sent back to Kiev and these areas continued with their own people in office. The Kiev regime’s response? ….. a military attack was launched on the Donbass area. A vicious war took place for almost a year. These two areas had their own armed forces and there were no Russian troops involved, as acknowledged by Ukraine’s military commander. After a significant defeat of Ukraine’s army in a major battle in 2015, open warfare ceased.
It was at this point that Ukraine agreed to negotiations arranged by Germany, France and Russia in Belarus at the city of Minsk. They signed a 14-point Minsk Accord, later approved by the UN, for the purpose of resolving the Lugansk and Donetsk issue. Ukraine was to negotiate an agreement with these two areas which would give them a degree of autonomy, similar to that of Canadian provinces or US states.
Although Ukraine signed this document, and although Lugansk and Donetsk were fully prepared to negotiate an agreement, Ukraine refused to negotiate with them….in violation of the UN approved agreement they had signed. Instead, the Ukraine military, headed by the neo-Nazi Azov forces (complete with Hitler regalia) proceeded for the next 7 years to regularly shell the civilian areas of Luhansk and Donetsk causing substantial infrastructure damage . . . hospitals, schools, residential areas . . . and killing more than 14,000 people.
Fast forward to the present . . . People are rightly concerned about civilians being killed in Ukraine, but where were they these past 8 years when Ukrainian forces killed more than 14,000 people in eastern Ukraine? And during America’s wars on Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Serbia, Libya, Syria and many other places where millions of people were killed, did any of these currently outraged people ever compare any of the American presidents to Hitler? So what is going on at the present time??
It amazes me that Russia did not intervene sooner to prevent this awful senseless carnage in the Donbass. It seems Russia was hoping that eventually Ukraine would come to its senses and institute the Minsk agreement, which would keep these areas in Ukraine, but with a degree of autonomy. It also appears that this wasn’t done because the USA never approved of the Minsk proposal. Also this agreement was totally opposed by the Azov-Nazis, and they threatened to kill anyone who would attempt to enact it. As such it appears that President Zelensky was so intimidated that it seems he didn’t dare do this.
As an indication of Azov’s strengths and influence in Ukraine, Azov members proved it about a month ago. Right after the first negotiation meeting that Ukraine had with Russia in Belarus, Azov members killed the Ukrainian negotiator who seriously considered a Russian proposal. When the neo-Nazis found out about this, they abducted him from his Kiev home, tortured him and then shot him and left his body on the street in front of Ukraine’s legislative Rada building. A clear warning to Zelensky.
For the record, it should be noted that Zelensky won the presidential election in April of 2019 against the incumbent Poroshenko with 73% of the vote. His election platform was based on establishing good relations with Russia and promising to enact the Minsk agreement with Donetsk and Lugansk. Obviously, this is what the bulk of the Ukrainian population wanted. However, Zelensky totally backed off from these electoral promises, seemingly because of threats to his life by the Azov-Nazis. So this shows the power of these reactionary forces.
It should be noted that Wikipedia has stated that Azov’s founding member Andriy Biletsky, leader of the far right Social-National Assembly (SNA), had stated in 2010 that:
“the historic mission of our nation” was to lead the “white races of the world in a final crusade for their survival […] a crusade against the Semite-led Untermenschen“, Numerous fighters bear SS tattoos, including swastikas. In 2014, the German ZDF television network showed images of Azov fighters wearing helmets with swastika symbols and “the SS runes of Hitler’s infamous black-uniformed elite corps”.
Despite this, American and Canadian military instructors have conducted lengthy training sessions of Azov military personnel. When confronted with this, they have tried weasel themselves out of this, but the facts remain.
What brought Russia to finally intervene militarily in Ukraine is information leaked to them by someone in the Ukraine military, and later confirmed by official documents, that in mid-March of this year, about 100,000 Ukraine troops were scheduled to attack Donetsk and Lugansk in a Blitzkrieg manner. The plan was to overrun these two areas in a matter of days, which would have involved killing thousands of these Russian-speaking people. The Russian government and President Putin decided that the only way to prevent this from happening is for Russia to take military action.
Russia first recognized Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics as separate states and then two days later, on February 24, Russia launched its “special military operation” to “demilitarize and denazify Ukraine.” That day Russia notified the UN Secretary-General that the military action was “taken in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter in the exercise of the right of self-defence,” actually citing the provision of “anticipatory self-defence” or the right of “interceptive self-defence” in light of Ukraine’s planned attack on Lugansk and Donetsk.
In effect, Russia was acting to stop “neo-Nazis and militias” from killing civilians and to prevent a “genocide” of Russians in Eastern Ukraine.
In their military operation, Russian troops were instructed to do the least possible damage to Ukraine’s infrastructure and civilian population. As such there has been no bombing of any Ukrainian cities, totally unlike the US “Shock and Awe” campaigns such as in Iraq where within a few days they killed tens of thousands of people….and eventually killed more than 1,000,000 Iraqis. Russian attacks were directed at military facilities, fuel and munition depots, and military communications. Also, within a few days, they somehow wiped out practically all of Ukraine’s military aircraft and aircraft bases. They surrounded Kiev, not to attack it, but to maintain Ukrainian troops there. In phase 2, their main objective will be to deal with large number of Ukrainian troops in the Donbass area.
The Azov neo-Nazis had their main base in Mariupol and the Russian forces have now finally captured this centre. Unlike other areas, much of this city has been destroyed through artillery fire, but it seems the Azovs may fight to the last neo-Nazi, often using civilians as human shields.
As for the overall war, now approaching two months, the UN has estimated that there have been “4,450 civilian casualties in the country: 1,892 killed and 2,558 injured.”
When it comes to military casualties, this is totally different. On April 16, Russia updated the number of Ukrainian military fatalities to 23,367, which includes the Ukrainian army, Azov forces and foreign mercenaries. As for Russian losses, they reported that 1,351 soldiers were killed and 3,825 wounded. In the meantime, with no evidence to support his claim, Zelensky is boasting that 20,000 Russian soldiers have been killed, compared to only 2,500 Ukrainian troops.
Russia has also reported that more than 400,000 Ukrainian civilians had been evacuated to Russia from the Donetsk and Lugansk regions.
As for the West’s current “Great Hero” Zelensky, he has recently outlawed all left-wing or progressive political parties and openly approves of violent reprisals against the members of these parties. Journalist Max Blumenthal has documented the current political situation in Ukraine.
A few excerpts from Blumenthal’s account are apropos:
President Volodymyr Zelensky’s statement that “there would be consequences for collaborators” indicates that these atrocities have been sanctioned by the highest levels of government.
Western media has looked the other way, however, as Zelensky and top officials in his administration have sanctioned a campaign of kidnapping, torture, and assassination of local Ukrainian lawmakers accused of collaborating with Russia. Several mayors and other Ukrainian officials have been killed since the outbreak of war, many reportedly by Ukrainian state agents after engaging in de-escalation talks with Russia.
Zelensky has further exploited the atmosphere of war to outlaw an array of opposition parties and order the arrest of his leading rivals. His authoritarian decrees have triggered the disappearance, torture and even murder of an array of human rights activists, communist and leftist organizers, journalists and government officials accused of “pro-Russian” sympathies.
At this stage, Russia has withdrawn most of its forces from Kiev and other places and has concentrated them in the Donetsk and Lugansk areas to confront the bulk of the Ukrainian forces. This will be phase 2 in their campaign, and the single most important battle is to take place shortly.
In my concluding comments, I would like to refer to a speech made by Vladimir Putin a while ago in which he went back in history to the time when the USSR was enticed to reunite East and West Germany and to loosen its control over the east European countries that were attached to the USSR following World War II.
During crucial negotiations in 1990 President Gorbachev was assured repeatedly by the US and other NATO leaders that if he agreed to all these reforms, NATO would not move from its boundaries “by one inch,” With such an assurance, Gorbachev allowed the reunification of Germany, and the USSR then relinquished all controls and alliances with the multitude of countries along its western border. Instead of honouring its promise to not advance “by one inch” towards Russia, NATO, led by the USA, absorbed all these countries and then tried to incorporate Ukraine and Georgia into its fold. So the West’s promises at that time were nothing more than lies.
Then on February 28, in discussing the sanctions imposed on Russia as a result of its intervention in Ukraine, Putin referred to the West as the Empire of Lies. And for good historical reasons, this is how Russia may now view the West. Interestingly, since Putin made this comment, this is how the USA is being referred by a number of commentators.
Since this war started in Ukraine, there has been an amazing amount of censorship in our “freedom loving” West, with not only all Russian media being censored but also anyone in the West who is critical of the USA’s or the West’s portrayal of events in Ukraine. We are indeed living in interesting times.
Much more remains to be said, but this is where I will leave it for now.
John Ryan, Ph.D., Retired Professor of Geography and Senior Scholar, University of Winnipeg.
First published by Global Research on April 27, 2022