THIS is the fourth set of edited extracts from James Delingpole’s podcast with former Swiss intelligence officer Colonel Jacques Baud on the Russian justification for their invasion of Ukraine. You can read Part 1 here, Part 2 here. and Part 3 here.
JAMES DELINGPOLE: Putin has said that he’s got two objectives in Ukraine. One is to protect the Russian-speaking population, if I’m right? And the other is to ‘de-Nazify’, is his phrase, Ukraine . . . I read a very interesting interview you gave where you described how – correct me if I’m wrong – that in 2014 in the Donbas, young men in the Ukrainian military quickly found they did not want to participate in this war and were really fighting a civil war. And so, in order to make up the manpower caused by desertions etc, the Ukrainian military started to rely on far-right recruits, mercenaries they would be, from all over Europe and perhaps beyond. The figure you quoted was astonishing. Am I right in thinking that there are 102,000 of these sort of paramilitary far-right people in the Ukrainian military?
COLONEL JACQUES BAUD: Yes, this figure comes from Reuters. So it’s not my invention. They made, I think it was in 2020, a kind of a summary of the situation in Ukraine. And it mentioned this figure. How did it come to this figure? I don’t know. But [it] seems to me quite realistic. When we talk about these paramilitaries, people tend to summarise them into the Azov Regiment. But Azov is not just a regiment, Azov is a movement. You have a police related to the Azov movement, you have a popular militia related to it, you have a political party related to that, and you have the Azov special brigade, the one which is actually . . . or was in Mariupol, in fact.
Besides this, you have about ten to 15 armed groups that most of them have a history going back to the ’30s as the Ukrainian nationalists started to struggle against the Soviets, even before the Second World War. And with the Second World War these groups were helped, or used, by the Third Reich. And so it’s not a coincidence that the Azov regiment, has as a logo this so-called Wolfsangel, which is kind of an N with a vertical E or I. This is no coincidence, because this was the emblem of the 2nd SS Division, Das Reich. And the 2nd SS Division Das Reich was the one who liberated Kharkov in the Eastern Ukraine in 1943. And this division is very much celebrated in Ukraine still today because it won against the Soviets in Kharkov.
We have also to remind people that at the end of the Second World War, those people who used to fight against the Soviets remained after the departure of the German forces. You may know that the SS established, in all newly occupied countries by the Soviets, the so-called Werwolf organisation. The Werwolf organisation was the first ‘stay behind’ force of its kind, and it was manned by SS people, highly politically motivated. They started to establish resistance networks in Belarus and in the Baltic States. They were supported by the Nazis until 1945. And after 1945, the Western intelligence supported these movements because they were fighting against the Soviets.
You had the French, British and US intelligence supporting these groups until the early 60s, nota bene, it’s because of Kim Philby, the famous spy or mole within the MI6 in the UK, that these resistance groups or subversion groups were eventually destroyed by the Soviets because Philby could pass information to the Soviets, to the KGB, and so they could fight effectively . . . we misused these old Nazi fighters or ultranationalists – I don’t like the word ‘Nazi’ because ‘Nazi’ refers . . . I mean, according to me, it refers to a very specific doctrine, political doctrine. But they were certainly ultranationalist, very anti-Semitic, very brutal . . .
DELINGPOLE: Just to recap, around 100,000 people in the Ukrainian military at the moment are affiliated to what you might loosely call the far-right. And they are admirers of and sort of model themselves on, to a degree, the SS Das Reich, you know, a sort of unit known for its atrocities in places like Oradour-sur-Glane. Because if you mention Nazis to a kind Western media propagandist, they will say, ‘Well, they’re a minority, they really aren’t representative of the Ukrainian military.’ It sounds like they’re quite a significant force.
BAUD: Well . . . the people who said they are not significant, they base their assertion on the small percentage they have in the parliament. As a matter of fact, the extreme right-wing party like the Pravyi Sektor or the Right Sector, which is the very, very extreme right party, is a minority in the parliament, definitely.
The problem is that within the military establishment, these forces are extremely strong and much, much stronger than we think. For instance, Dmytro Jarosz, who is, or used to be, the deputy Armed Force Commander. He threatened, in the media, in May 2019 – that means just one month after the election of Zelensky . . . The thing is that his programme as a president, as a candidate for the presidency, was to have some kind of peace with Russia and have a negotiation with Russia about Donbas and Crimea. But interestingly, Dmytro Jarosz, as I said, one month after his election, said, ‘Well, if Zelensky applies the programme, we’ll kill him.’ And he said that in the media, that’s Ukrainian media. It’s not me, it’s not Putin, it’s not Russian media – it’s Ukrainian media. My feeling is that the freedom of movement, or freedom of decision of Zelensky is extremely limited. That’s my personal understanding.
What disturbs me a little bit is that the Western community tends to acknowledge the fact that Zelensky is under pressure internally, and we tend to misuse that. I think there is some kind of hypocrisy from the West in addressing Zelensky. We tend to use or misuse the pressure he is just in the middle of.
If you just look at the parliamentary or the political parties, no, the extreme right-wing are not so strong. But in the military, it’s half of the military, you have to understand that . . . in the Ukrainian armed forces system, you have what we call the armed forces that comprise, on the one hand, the Ukrainian army, which is just the usual military, and you have the so-called National Guard or something like that, which normally depends on the Ministry of Interior. But as you had also in the Soviet Union, it’s part of what they call armed forces. So armed forces are a little broader than just the army.
And in the current operation . . . you can see the army, so the so-called manoeuvre army, with tanks, artillery and all that stuff, all that, these are the ones moving in the open areas, between cities, if you want, and those paramilitaries, because they have only light equipment, so soft-skinned vehicles or light armoured vehicles, machine guns, these units are very useful in cities, and to maintain law and order and to defend those cities with, kind of, infantry work and they are specialised, in fact, in urban warfare so to say. So, meaning that these paramilitaries, are in fact, managing most of the population, because most of the population is in cities, so they have extraordinary power.
And that’s exactly what we have seen in Mariupol or near Kharkov, Odessa – that will be the next one – but also in other cities where these paramilitaries have a very strong stronghold. And they have a huge amount of power against the population. And in fact, in the last eight years, since 2014, there were numerous reports from international organisations, but also from different intelligence services from different countries, about atrocities committed by those forces in the southern part. We also have to understand that if you look at the geography of Ukraine, you will see that the western part of Ukraine is Ukraine-speaking. So you can say Ukraine nationalists, so to say.
Those paramilitaries are deployed in the eastern and southern part of the country, which is essentially with Russian-speaking people. And by the way, we speak about Russian-speaking people, but in those areas where you have Hungarian-speaking and Romanian-speaking, you also have those paramilitaries. And Hungary and Romania have complained several times to the European Union, to the Council of Europe, and to other organisations because of the abuses of these paramilitaries against their minorities.
Today, you see the reluctance of the Hungarian government and the Romanian government in providing weapons to Ukraine through their own borders. They refuse to send them. And that is the reason for that, because there have been serious cases of abuses of these paramilitaries against minorities. And in the south and east of the country, where you have this huge Russian-speaking minority, you had, since 2014, a number of abuses that were tremendous.
And of course we tend to whitewash these guys a`bit because we try to provide legitimacy to the Ukrainian resistance. But the bulk of this resistance is made by those paramilitaries that are ultranationalists, those who are the most motivated against the Russians. If someone would highlight all those atrocities the whole Western narrative would just collapse.
There were several complaints, including Israel [that] has complained several times towards the Ukrainian government [about] abuse from these neo-Nazis against the Jewish minority. There is also something in Ukrainian history that we tend also to downplay a little bit, which is the so-called Holodomor. Holodomor was the famine that was organised – I mean ‘organised’ – in the 1920s and 1930s, in order to have currency to fund the modernisation of the armed forces, Stalin confiscated all the agricultural products in Ukraine to sell it abroad and to gain currency. As a result, you had a huge famine in those times and some estimate that up to 7million Ukrainians died as a result of this organised famine.
Now, the problem is that according to the Ukrainian nationalists, this famine was – or the confiscation of the agricultural products – was organised by the NKVD, which was the Ministry of Interior, that was organised territorially . . . [and] led by Jews. And so, the nationalists gave the responsibility of this famine to the Jews. And that helped, also, during World War II, these nationalists to act or to operate together with the Germans, especially in eliminating Jews in some villages and all that, and to do some massacres. And interestingly enough, recently, those right-wing extremists asked Israel to pay compensation for the atrocities committed by the Communists during this time. So it’s . . . it’s not simply anecdotal. It has affected, also, the relations between Ukraine and Israel. And several media, Israeli media, complained about this very strange request for compensation about 80 . . . 70 years after the war.
So, then you see that even if we don’t call them neo-Nazi or things like that this ultra-nationalism, anti-Semitism and violence are connected in some kind of [way].
We will publish the final extracts tomorrow. You can listen to the whole conversation on the James Delingpole Podcast here.