World

Fiery Chaos in Odessa: 42 Perish After Ukrainians Launch Waco-Like Assault

The group behind the clashes is Right Sector, the strike force of the U.S.-backed coup that overthrew Ukraine's government.

Ukrainian anti-government protesters in January 2014.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The death toll in Odessa stands at 42 people killed, most of them burned to death or suffocated by smoke inhalation in the inferno at the Trade Unions House.  There is no dispute over who were the victims and who were their killers.  The victims were pro-Russian protesters who had occupied the building.  The attackers who set fire to it with petrol bombs were members of Right Sector, the ultra-Nationalist strike force of the U.S.-backed coup that overthrew the elected government of Ukraine in February.  

Right Sector leader Dmytro Yarosh told Newsweek on March 19th that the Western-backed coup regime in Kiev has organized Right Sector militia members into new paramilitary forces for a "war" to "cleanse the country" of pro-Russian protesters.  So it is not clear whether the militiamen responsible for the mass murder in Odessa were in fact newly recruited Ukrainian "National Guard" troops or just "civilian" Right Sector thugs, nor whether they were locals from Odessa or forces sent in from Kiev, Lviv or elsewhere in Western Ukraine.

For Americans, a more serious question hangs over Ukraine's Waco in Odessa and indeed over the entire U.S. role in the crisis in Ukraine.  The earliest media reports of Right Sector's existence date only from January 2014 as it took charge of the protests in Kiev, and the earliest article on Right Sector's web site dates from November 25th 2013.  Right Sector was created less than six months ago, as the U.S. State Department and the CIA was already laying the groundwork for the coup in Ukraine.  So what role has the U.S. played in the recruiting, training and direction of this group that now has so much blood on its hands?

Dmytro Yarosh, Right Sector's leader, joined the Stepan Bandera All-Ukrainian Tryzub (Trident)paramilitary organization in 1994.  He became the head of the militia in 2005. Like the neo-Nazi Svoboda Party, one of three parties in the coup government, Tryzub drew inspiration from the World War II-era Ukrainian leader Stepan Bandera and his Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, who massacred tens of thousands of Poles and Jews during World War II and supported German campaigns that killed many more.

Despite his early collaboration with the Nazis, Bandera soon fell foul of the German occupiers in Ukraine and spent most of the war in the Zellenbau prison for political prisoners at Sachsenhausen concentration camp.  Like his hero, Yarosh speaks fiercely of Ukrainian independence from both Russia and the West, although most of his venom is directed at Russia and Russians in Ukraine.  As in Syria andthroughout the world, the violent, dangerous forces the U.S. recruited and deployed to overthrow Ukraine's government are not entirely under U.S. control but are more easily directed toward violence and chaos than toward any constructive purpose.

So, in the wake of Right Sector's inferno in Odessa, we have to ask a second question, "What role is the CIA still playing today in directing or advising Right Sector as it commits mass murder in Odessa and wages war on pro-Russian protesters across the country?"

NATO leaders formally declared in Bucharest on April 3rd 2008 that Ukraine and Georgia "will become members of NATO."  U.S. coup manager Victoria Nuland flew back from Kiev to tell the National Press Club in Washington on December 13th 2013 that the U.S. had spent $5 billion to "help Ukraine," and that it had not spent all that money for nothing.  Then Mrs. Kagan flew back to Kiev to oversee the transition from the recruitment and movement building phase of the coup to the unleashing of Right Sector street violence in the Hrushevskoho Street riots in Kiev on January 19th.  As America's angel of death flew back and forth across the Atlantic in taxpayer-funded comfort, the 42 victims of Ukraine's Waco in Odessa were living their lives and minding their own business, with no inkling of the unfolding scheme that would lead to their horrific deaths.

Routinely omitted from the Western propaganda narrative on Ukraine is the fact that Russia has had a reasonable proposal for the future of Ukraine on the table all along, since before the emergence of Right Sector, before the coup in Kiev and before Russia reclaimed Crimea in response to the coup.

Russia's proposal is for a neutral and federal Ukraine.  NATO leaders would abandon their plans to absorb Ukraine into NATO, and the different regions of Ukraine would be granted greater autonomy under a new federal constitution.  This offers the hope of ending the back-and-forth all-or-nothing power struggle that has turned the people of Ukraine into pawns of Russian- and Western-backed oligarchs and their foreign allies since 1991.

The main obstacle to the Russian proposal is its reasonableness. It's really the only sensible framework for a solution to the crisis.  But the U.S., its NATO allies and the coup government in Kiev have staked out extreme positions, calling pro-Russian Ukrainians "terrorists", threatening them with military force and blaming Russia for everything.  This makes it difficult for the U.S. and its allies to accept Russia's proposal without very obviously and publicly backing down.

Former US Ambassador to Moscow Jack Matlock has urged the Obama administration to stop making aggressive public statements and to engage in quiet diplomacy to resolve the crisis, before matters get any worse for the people of Ukraine or for U.S.-Russian relations.  Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) has urged the president to ask NATO to formally rescind the 2008 Bucharest declaration that Ukraine will become a member of NATO, and to work in good faith to implement the April 17th Geneva agreement to de-escalate the crisis.  Above all, VIPS writes, Obama must "let cooler heads prevail."

However, if Right Sector leaders and the coup government are still getting very different advice and direction from their CIA case officers at the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, none of this will work and we can expect further escalation, more Right Sector atrocities and the rising danger of an unthinkable war between the U.S. and Russia.  It will be no comfort to recognize that none of that had to happen.

Nicolas J. S. Davies is the author of "Blood On Our Hands: The American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq." Davies also wrote the chapter on "Obama At War" for the book, "Grading the 44th President: A Report Card on Barack Obama's First Term as a Progressive Leader."

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