Why Russian and Ukrainian Warmongers Portray Each Other as Nazis and Fascists

By Yurii Sheliazhenko, World BEYOND War, March 15, 2022

Increasing animosity between Russia and Ukraine makes it hard to agree on a ceasefire.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin persists in military intervention claiming he is liberating Ukraine from a regime that, like fascists, kills its own people.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy mobilizes the whole population to fight against aggression and says Russians behave like Nazis when killing civilians.

Ukrainian and Russian mainstream media use military propaganda to call the other side nazis or fascists, pointing to their right-wing and militarist abuses.

All references of that sort are simply making a case for “just war” by appealing to the image of demonized enemies from the past entrenched in archaic political culture.

Of course we know that such a thing as just war can’t exist in principle, because the first victim of war is truth, and any version of justice without truth is mockery. The idea of mass killing and destruction as justice is beyond sanity.

But knowledge of effective nonviolent ways of life and a vision of a better future planet without armies and borders are parts of peace culture. They have not been spread enough even in the most developed societies, much less in Russia and Ukraine, states that still have conscription and give children a military patriotic upbringing instead of peace education for citizenship.

The culture of peace, underinvested and under-popularized, struggles to deal with the archaic culture of violence, based on bloody old ideas that might is right and the best politics is “divide and rule”.

These ideas of the culture of violence are probably even older than fasces, the ancient Roman symbol of power, a bundle of sticks with an axe in the middle, instruments for flogging and decapitation and symbol of strength in unity: you can easily break one stick but not the whole bundle.

In an extreme sense, fasces are a metaphor for the violently gathered and expendable people deprived of individuality. The model of governance by stick. Not by reason and incentives, like nonviolent governance in a culture of peace.

This metaphor of fasces is very close to military thinking, to killers’ morale ousting moral commandments against killing. When you are going to war, you should be obsessed with the delusion that all of “us” should fight, and all of “them” should perish.

That’s why Putin’s regime cruelly eliminates any political opposition to his war machine, arresting thousands of antiwar protesters. That’s why Russia and NATO countries have banned each other’s media. That’s why Ukrainian nationalists tried hard to prohibit public use of the Russian language. That’s why Ukrainian propaganda will tell you a fairy tale about how the whole population became an army in the people’s war, and will silently ignore millions of refugees, internally displaced persons, and males in age 18-60 hiding from compulsory enlistment when they are prohibited from leaving the country. That’s why the peace-loving people, not war-profiteering elites, suffer the most on all sides as a result of hostilities, economic sanctions, and discriminatory hysteria.

Militarist politics in Russia, Ukraine, and NATO countries have some similarities both in ideology and practices with the horribly violent totalitarian regimes of Mussolini and Hitler. Of course, such similarities are not an excuse for any war or trivialization of Nazi and Fascist crimes.

These similarities are more broad than manifestly neo-Nazi identity, despite the fact that some military units of the sort have fought both on Ukrainian side (Azov, Right Sector) and on the Russian side (Varyag, Russian National Unity).

In the broadest sense, fascist-like politics is trying to turn the whole people into a war machine, the fake monolithic masses supposedly united in an impulse to fight a common enemy which all militarists in all countries are trying to build.

To behave like fascists, it is enough to have an army and all things related to the army: compulsory unified identity, existential enemy, preparation for inevitable war. Your enemy need not necessarily be jews, communists, and perverts; it can be anybody real or imagined. Your monolithic belligerence need not be necessarily inspired by one authoritarian leader; it can be one hate message and one call to fight delivered by countless authoritative voices. And such things as wearing swastikas, torchlight marching, and other historical reenactments are optional and hardly even relevant.

Does the United States look like fascist state because there are two sculptural reliefs of fasces in the Hall of the House of Representatives? Absolutely not, it is just a historical artefact.

The United States, and Russia, and Ukraine look a bit like fascist states because all three have military forces and are ready to use them to pursue absolute sovereignty, i.e. to do whatever they wish in their territory or sphere of influence, as if might is right.

Also, all three are supposed to be nation states, which means monolithic unity of the people of the same culture living under one almighty government within strict geographical borders and because of that having no internal or external armed conflicts. Nation state is probably the dumbest and most unrealistic model of peace you can ever imagine, but it is still conventional.

Instead of a critical rethinking of archaic concepts of Westphalian sovereignty and the Wilsonian nation state, all the flaws of which were revealed by the Nazi and Fascist statecraft, we take these concepts as indisputable and put all the blame for WWII on two dead dictators and a bunch of their followers. No wonder that again and again we find fascists nearby and we wage wars against them, behaving like them according to political theories like theirs but trying to convince ourselves that we are better than they are.

To resolve the current two-track military conflict, West v East and Russia v Ukraine, as well as to stop any war and to avoid wars in future, we should use techniques of nonviolent politics, develop a culture of peace, and provide access to peace education for the next generations. We should stop shooting and start talking, tell the truth, understand each other and act for common good with no harm to anybody. Justifications of violence towards any people, even those who behave like Nazis or Fascists, are not helpful. It would be better to resist such wrong behavior without violence and help misguided, militant people to comprehend the benefits of organized nonviolence. When the knowledge and effective practices of peaceful life will be widespread and all forms of violence will be limited to a realistic minimum, people of Earth will be immune to the war disease.

9 Responses

  1. Thank you, Yurii, for this powerful text. I would like to spread a German version of it. Does already exist one? Otherwise I will try to translate it. But it will take some time. I probably will not have finished it before Sunday evening. – Good wishes!

  2. Let’s not demonize our adversaries, or anybody at all. But let’s recognize that there are in fact fascists and Nazis active in both Russia and Ukraine, and they are quite conspicuous and they have influence and power.

  3. Why didn’t you say that when America attacked other small countries. The force of law changes. No normal person wants fascists. America and NATO attacked and bombed Yugoslavia for no reason. You will never break Serbia or Russia. You are lying and you are just lying !!!

    1. Hmm let’s see
      1) you’ve not identified what “that” is
      2) nothing here would have made sense there
      3) WBW didn’t exist
      4) some people in WBW weren’t born
      5) most of us who were born denounced those outrages then and ever since https://worldbeyondwar.org/notonato/
      6) opposing all war by everyone is not actually an attempt to break Serbia or Russia
      Etc.

  4. US, CANADA, UKRAINE AND RUSSIA 2022 DISPUTES – HISTORICAL BACKGROUND AND SEQUEL TO FR. PETER MORELLO’S COMMENTS: (1) US, Canada, Ukraine and Russia are Caucasian-European nations by ethnic majority and nominally Christian nations by religious majority; (2) Ukraine and Russia are also Slavic nations and neighbors with similar laws (limits) on abortion and LGBT; (3) Russia was US’ supporter in the American Revolution at great cost to herself – the island of Menorca; (4) Russia was US’ supporter in the Civil War when US’ opponents were Britain and France, prompting US Secretary of Navy, Gideon Welles to say “God bless the Russians”; (5) US (western Alaska) and Russia are neighbors, and Canada (northwestern Yukon) is closer to Russia than to Britain and France or Mexico; (6) US and Russia were never at war, not counting the Cold War or proxy wars, as compared, for example, with the “G7” nations; (7) US, Canada, NATO and Ukraine have disputes with Russia since the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia and militarization of countries neighboring Russia which was invaded over the centuries by NATO members Britain, France, Germany, (Mussolini’s) Italy, Romania, Lithuania-Poland, Turkey and by others including Sweden and the Mongols who inflicted on Ukraine and Russia death and destruction with hardly any parallels in world’s history – Germany also helped Lenin to impose psychopathic and deadly Marxism on Ukraine and Russia in 1917, while Ukraine and Russia, mostly by themselves, prevented Poland’s annihilation by Nazis and saved Europe from Nazi Germany and Mongols; (8) Ukraine and Russia have a border dispute, and a military conflict-war since the violations of the February 21, 2014 all-Ukrainian political agreement in Kiev and the violations of the 2014-2015 Minsk Peace Agreement signed by Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France (in the future, a joint venture by the Minsk signatories in securing Ukrainian segment of “Pan-European” gas pipeline might be a “win-win”) – by February 23, 2022 the war took some 15,000 lives and produced thousands of refugees as well as widespread material destruction in eastern Ukraine; on February 24, 2022 Russia escalated the war and invaded Ukraine resulting in many more deaths, refugees and material destruction across Ukraine; (9) US and Russia can destroy each other and the world with their nuclear weapons in an hour; (10) the irreplaceable way forward for resolving these issues are the eternally-valid biblical principles reflected in President Washington’s Farewell Address in which he called religion-morality the foundation of domestic well-being and peace with other nations and in President Lincoln’s last Inaugural Address “… with malice towards none, with charity for all … among ourselves and with all nations”, as well as in Pope Francis’ 2022 call for prayer and political talks centered on “human brotherhood instead of partisan interests”, all the while keeping in mind the 2022 Lenten message “Remember thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return” and “Repent and believe in the Gospel” which also includes “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” and the parable of “the speck and the log” – moral principles given to us by Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace and the just Judge of the world, principles ignored at one’s great peril.
    See also https://paxchristiusa.org/2022/02/24/pax-christi-usas-statement-on-russians-invasion-of-ukraine.

  5. There is mind-set, probably better described as a psychosis, unique to each of the key drivers of the conflict in Ukraine, which are US imperialism and the Ukrainian neo-NAZIS. To dilute the discussion with all the many factors evolved in the history of development of human civilisation does indeed make Russia comparable with these two parties, indeed, with any, perhaps all of the nation states of the world. However, it does rather distract us from the root cause of the conflict and the facts of its development. The US (Empiricists) wants global hegemony to which cause the “Iraqification” of Russia (almowst achieved via Yeltsin until “Along came Putin”) would be a star in the crown. A NATO-ised Ukraine would provide a perfect staging point for a massive ground and air offensive from right on the Russian border. To this end, the investment of $7bn to “facilitate Democracy” (otherwise known as funding and arming the neo-NAZIs) has been obviously beneficial. Their objective (the neo-NAZIs) is the same as it was when they united with the German NAZIs – exterminate the Russian Revolutionaries who upset the nirvanah they were enjoying under the Tzars. They want to quote – kill Russians – unquote. The US-neo-NAZI alliance has a common goal (for now). So really Yuri, you’ve done a great job of white-washing and diluting away these defining characteristics of the two key players and clouding the central facts of the history of events but really, it ignores the fundamental reality: Putin’s Russia, whatever its war/peace philosophy, has two options for survival a) de-NAZIfy and de-Militarise Ukraine NOW or wait until they join NATO then face-down a full-scale US-Led NATO invasion for “Regime change”. Don’t be silly, Yuri – it’s just throwing out the baby with the rational bathwater.

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