While the Western world is making frantic bids in portraying Zelensky and his neo-Nazi cohorts as “victims”, according to media reports, Ukrainian neo-Nazis and those who support Ukraine frequently post comments and captions about Russian soldiers on Telegram with commentary meant do dehumanize them and mock their deaths. They refer to Russian soldiers as pigs and post images of charred remains with captions calling them barbecue. Neo-Nazis supporters of Ukraine have also called Russians “orcs”, a reference to Lord of the Rings.
Following Russia’s special operation in Ukraine that began on February 24, 2022 has drawn attention of neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and ultranationalists worldwide, with different groups and individuals closely monitoring the conflict and posting images and videos from the war on social media. Neo-Nazi supporters of Ukraine have argued that Ukraine is a “white nation” fighting against a multi-ethnic Russia.
Media reports said, extremists on Ukrainian side of the conflict have taken joy in sharing graphic images of dead soldiers along with racist commentary and messages that promote the desecration and mutilation of bodies. Ukrainian neo-Nazis have, since the outbreak of the war, been regularly posting images of deceased Russian soldiers, celebrating their deaths and racializing them as “non-whites”, “churkas”, and simply as “pigs”. In particular many of these posts have focused on dead Russian soldiers that appear to be ethnically Asian. Similarly, neo-Nazis have posted images of dead Caucasian Muslims, such as Chechens, and used anti-Muslim rhetoric in their posts.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has clearly stated that the purpose of the special operation is to de-Nazify Ukraine. This statement led some neo-Nazis to oppose the special operation and to argue stating that Russian soldiers are “anti-fascists”.
The trend of posting images of dead bodies on the frontline of conflicts was first pioneered by Jihadis online in 2013, who would regularly post images of deceased “martyrs” who gave their lives for the cause.
In this opinion-editorial, I am giving details of posts by neo-Nazis based in the United States, Ukraine, and elsewhere in Europe that show images and video of dead combatants in the Ukraine war.
Crimes against Russian soldiers and civilians
Since the Russia’s special operation in Ukraine, neo-Nazis online have been posting photos of dead Russian soldiers and using dehumanizing terms to describe them such as pigs, hot dogs, barbecue, and “orcs”.
Neo-Nazis online have posted videos of the desecration of Russian soldiers’ bodies. Pro-Ukrainian neo-Nazis have cheered on such acts and called for more atrocities to be committed against Russian soldiers and Russian citizens generally.
On two different occasions, a pro Ukraine neo-Nazi has posted a video of an individual urinating on a dead soldier. In one post the channel encouraged such behavior, writing: “Dunking on dead invaders is extremely based. Always rub salt into the wounds”.
Neo-Nazis and white supremacists have frequently posted messages and images on Telegram mocking Muslim combatants in the war and calling for their killing. Many of these images are directed at soldiers from the Russian Caucasus, particularly those serving Ramzan Kadyrov, head of the Chechen Republic.
Some have posted images of dead soldiers they claim are Muslim, with phrases such as “Remove Kebab”. The phrase originates from a Serbian nationalist anti-Islamic song called “Karadžić, Lead Your Serbs”. The song is named for Radovan Karadžić, former president of the Republic of Srpska, who is a convicted war criminal. Since the wars in the Balkans, the phrase has been adopted by neo-Nazis and white supremacists worldwide to call for the killing of Muslims. Brenton Tarrant, the Christchurch, New Zealand mosque shooter, wrote the phrase on one of the guns he used in the attack and played the song on which it was based during his livestream of the attack.
A Ukrainian neo-Nazi account posted an image showing the severed leg of a combatant in Ukraine. The image includes an added graphic referencing a fast-food chain. The channel wrote: “Remove Kebab”.
The same channel shared an image of a dead Russian soldier posted by a private account. The comment on the image reads: “Kebab removed”.
Opponents of Russia have referred to Russian soldiers as Bolsheviks and Communists. Neo-Nazis and white supremacists online have posted photos of dead Russians, labeling them Communists and calling for the killing of other Communists as well.
Some neo-Nazis and white supremacists have also referred to Russian soldiers as “anti-fascists”, a reference to President Putin’s call for denazify Ukraine and eliminate the fascists in the country.
Pro-Ukrainian neo-Nazis have been mocking Russian soldiers who appear to be ethnically Asian. Some have posted images of these dead soldiers with racist comments about Asians.
A neo-Nazi account posted an image of a dead Russian soldier and used racist language to describe the soldier.
American, Canadian, European, and Australian neo-Nazis and white supremacists among foreign fighters joining Ukrainian paramilitary groups
Ukrainian government officials and paramilitary groups have called for foreign fighters to travel to Ukraine to fight against Russian forces. While the government has called for foreign volunteers to fight in the “International Territorial Defense Legion” – a new unit which has received “several thousand” applications from abroad – paramilitary groups have posted announcements for their own units. Among those who responded are white supremacists and neo-Nazis from the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia.
Calls for foreign volunteers to fight alongside Ukrainian government forces have proliferated on Telegram, Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other social media platforms. On Telegram, a white supremacist channel posted a summary of active groups fighting Russia in Ukraine. The post stated: “Until now, on Ukrainian volunteer side we saw: Average Non-Ideological groups/Patriotic groups, National-Socialists and Fascists from all kinds, Banderists and OUN-esque groups, Religious Traditionalists, Chechen Separatists, Georgian Nationalists, Antifascist Football Ultras, Anarchist Militias, Belarusian Diasporas, American SOF Veterans.”
An ultranationalist Telegram channel posted a recruitment call for “foreign volunteers” on February 27, 2022 to “Make Russians dead again”. The post called for people with military experience to join the “International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine” and provided contact information for several recruiters.
A Facebook post on February 22, 2022 by a multinational force that includes Georgians, Europeans, and Americans, showed an American member conducting an interview in front of the Georgian flag.
Paramilitary groups’ calls for foreign volunteers have largely come from ultranationalist and neo-Nazi brigades. One such neo-Nazi unit was formed as a volunteer paramilitary in May 2014 following the advance of Russian-backed separatists in the eastern region of Ukraine, historically known as Donbass. At the outset, foreign fighters were permitted to enlist in the unit, but restrictions on foreign enlistment were implemented in March 2018, eventually leading to an effective ban on foreign fighters by the end of 2020. However, amid the buildup of Russian army forces along the Belarus-Ukraine and Russia-Ukraine borders, the unit announced that it would open recruitment to foreign fighters with military experience.
Other ultranationalist groups have reposted recruitment calls from the unit, while other ultranationalist and neo-Nazi paramilitary groups have called for foreign donations. One such unit called for donations in a post on February 22, 2022, in which it provided information for people to donate via PayPal, SWIFT, Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Tron.
Globally, neo-Nazis and white supremacists have also called for supporters to volunteer with Ukrainian paramilitary units, as an American neo-Nazi did in a January 19, 2022 post.
Another example was a video posted on a French neo-Nazi Telegram channel on February 26, in which a commander of a neo-Nazi paramilitary in Ukraine called for people to volunteer to fight against Russia. The post stated: “’For the third day in a row, Ukrainians have successfully repelled the attacks of the second largest army in the world, which nevertheless claimed to take Mariupol… [We are] organizing resistance all over the country, especially in Kiev where the population is preparing to fight heroically. The occupiers are unable to take a strategic position. And we will do everything to ensure that this never happens. Ukraine will win! Anyone who wants to defend Kiev will be welcomed in the volunteer teams at the address: Prospekt Peremogi, 83/B, ATEK factory. Glory to Ukraine!’”
From these specific evidences, it is clearly proved – Zelensky is making frantic bids in transforming Ukraine into a safe haven to neo-Nazis, terrorists and criminals. Although such actions are tantamount to crime against humanity, this clown continues enjoying support from his Western masters.
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