Now Ukraine's delusional politicians say Soviet Union started WW2

Bryan MacDonald
Bryan MacDonald is an Irish journalist, who is based in Russia
Soviet soldiers crossing a river. The North-Western Front. © Peter
Kiev is trying to re-write history to create the impression that Ukraine was uniformly a victim of a Russian-controlled USSR. This is simply not true. The old shared state wasn’t always dominated by Russians and Ukrainians played major roles.

In case you missed it, last week, the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's Parliament, approved a document which states how the USSR was responsible for the outbreak of World War II. Yes, that Soviet Union, the same one which was invaded by Nazi Germany in 1941, during Operation Barbarossa, and lost anywhere between 25 and 40 million people as a result of the conflict, depending on who you believe.

That the Rada these days exhibits more theatricality than its famous London drama school namesake is a given. But do MPs seriously expect people to swallow the notion of how the USSR, which incidentally was allied with Britain, France and the USA against the Germans, bears responsibility for the war’s commencement?

It seems they do. And they are trying to rope in the Polish and Lithuanians to legitimize their factual modification enterprise. Indeed, given the characters running the show in Vilnius and Warsaw these days, it’s not inconceivable that they might succeed in their mission. Although in the latter’s case it would be weird to facilitate the heirs of a mindset shared by the perpetrators of the Volyn and Galician massacre where up to 100,000 Poles were butchered by Ukrainian radicals in 1943. Incidentally, Ukraine has just censored a new Polish movie about the carnage.

It’s no secret how Kiev is crawling with foreign PR advisers these days, and much of the country’s rebranding efforts since Maidan have displayed a level of sophistication heretofore unseen in the ex-Communist world. But this latest wheeze is incredible in its deviousness.

The justification for the archival editing is the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop pact of 1939, which divided Poland between Germany and the USSR. Now, that treaty was immoral and make no mistake about it. But it came after France and Britain had destroyed any chance for an anti-fascist front with the Munich Agreement, which allowed Hitler to march into Czechoslovakia. And many scholars contend that Moscow signed it in order to buy time before the inevitable Hitler invasion.

It’s worth mentioning how Ukrainians played a big part in the governance of the Soviet Union back then. And highlighting the fact that Poland itself also seized a part of Czechoslovakia in 1938 when it annexed the Teschen District! Which somewhat undermines its victimhood.

False Correlation

Despite Kiev’s current attempts to paint the Soviet Union as a Russian-only affair, the historical reality is rather different. For instance, the original “People’s Commissars” (equivalent to a ministerial cabinet) who created the state were a multi-national mix, featuring a Georgian by the name of Josef Stalin and three Ukrainians. Leon Trotsky, who essentially ‘co-founded’ the USSR with Vladimir Lenin, hailed from Kherson and Anatoly Lunacharsky was a native of Poltava. Meanwhile, Pavel Dybenko was born in Russia’s border city of Bryansk to a Ukrainian family.

Later, after Stalin replaced Lenin, the Georgian’s Grigory Ordzhonikidze and Lavrentiy Beria came into the Kremlin’s elite circle, in addition to Armenia's Anastas Mikoyan. And during the war, two men with deep associations to Ukraine began to rise up the ranks. The first was Nikita Khrushchev, who moved to Donbass as a teenager and subsequently began his working life and political career in the country. He went on to transfer Russia’s Crimea province to Kiev in 1954.

In fairness, Khrushchev was ethnically Russian but the man who followed him was a genuine Ukrainian. That was Leonid Brezhnev, the General Secretary of the Communist Party from 1964 to 1982. He was born in Kamenskoye, near Dnipropetrovsk. Furthermore, on his own 1947 passport his nationality is listed as Ukrainian. In fact, you could argue that Brezhnev, a man of exquisite tastes, was the Viktor Yanukovich of his day.

Let’s not forget the KGB either, regarded as the greatest symbol of Russian repression by Ukraine's nationalists. The problem with this yarn is is three of its eight chairmen were born in the country. The head Chekist in the 1961-1967 period was Vladimir Semichastny, from Donbas. While he has was Russian by blood, in 1982, the fully Ukrainian Vitaly Fedorchuk, a native of Zhitomir, took over. He didn’t last long, but his successor, who bossed the KGB from 1982 to 1988, was Dnipropetrovsk’s Viktor Chebrikov. 

The Real Agenda

The point is that this highly organized PR campaign is trying to create a counter-factual historical narrative. In the new reality, Ukraine is attempting to make itself seem like a victim of ‘Soviet Russia’ when in fact most of the country was an integral part of the USSR, and very willingly so. Sure, west Ukrainians - mostly centered around Lviv - hated being connected to Moscow, but they have always been a minority inside their own country.

Thus, for Ukraine to try team up with Poland and Lithuania now is quite comical. These two countries were invaded by both of the eastern front’s main belligerents and suffered greatly. By contrast, what Ukraine endured was overwhelmingly imposed from Berlin. And the fact that over seven million Ukrainians fought in the Red Army is proof positive of where Kiev’s loyalties lay in World War II.

The problem today is that the post-Maidan regime is in desperate need of new chronicles to underpin its historic shift away from Moscow. Even if they are totally fictional. We also see this in attempts to lionize Stepan Bandera, who much of the country perceives as a Nazi collaborator and whose henchmen carried out the aforementioned Volyn and Galician massacres.

The western PR advisers concocting this rubbish might feel they are being clever right now, but in the long term they are dividing Ukrainians once again into eastern and western camps. And when the next inevitable power shift tilts control back in the other direction, the chronology and commemorations will change again.

The fact is that Kiev should be seeking a “national idea” which unifies the country. But every time the rulers change, the side in power seeks to impose its interpretation of the past. So long as this continues, Ukraine will never be united and stable. And that’s very sad.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.