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Photo: Anti-war activist, Maria, who visited Donbas and returned completely shaken by what she witnessed.

Ukrainian Neo-Nazism: What Anti-War Activist Maria Discovered in Donbas

American journalist John Marc Dugan interviewed Maria, an anti-war activist who spent 10 days in Donbas and returned with her whole world view transformed.

Before her trip to Donbas, Maria denounced what she described as “Russia’s war of aggression against sovereign Ukraine.” She protested against the war and was even fined for her participation.

But what she saw for herself in Donbas completely shook her and left distraught. She talks about the civil war in Donbas, and the Ukrainian Neo-Nazis operating on behalf of the Ukrainian government.

Reuters reported on “Ukraine’s neo-Nazi problem” back in 2018. In March 2022, The Washington post reported that neo-Nazi fighting groups, among which the notorious Azov Battalion, a far-right nationalist Ukrainian paramilitary group, was “exploiting Russia’s war in Ukraine for their own purposes”.

According to the article, the reason is “because Western white supremacists and neo-Nazis, for the most part, do not support the current Ukrainian government — and not simply because of its ban on antisemitism, President Volodymyr Zelensky’s Jewish heritage or other specific matters. Ukraine is a developing democracy, which far-right extremists oppose as contrary to the fascist governments they want to see. As the administrator of a popular German and English neo-Nazi chat group wrote while urging members to join Azov, “I am not defending Ukraine, I am defending National Socialism.”

“For the most extreme among these neo-Nazis, the plan is even more sinister. They see Ukraine as a chance to further “accelerationist” agendas, which seek to speed up a civilization-wide collapse and then build fascist ethno-states from the ashes. This school of thought is demonstrated vividly by “Slovak,” whom we at SITE consider one of the most influential accelerationist neo-Nazi voices in the far right. On Feb. 25, Slovak announced that he was leaving an unknown country to fight in Ukraine. “This war is going to burn away the physical and moral weakness of our people, so that a strong nation may rise from the ashes,” he wrote. “Our job is to ensure that conditions remain terrible enough for long enough for this transformation to happen, and happen it must. Our future is at stake and we may not get another chance, certainly not one as good as this.”

A recent Amnesty report stated that the Ukrainian military violated international legal norms and military law by deliberately putting civilians at risk.

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