For a series of actions intended to counter a far-right or even fascist movement in Ukraine, Putin’s actions in Ukraine are awfully popular with actual European far-right and fascist movements.
The battle for eastern Ukraine is being fought as much as an information war in the West as it is with masked gunmen and anti-aircraft missiles in the region itself.
And the western argument for supporting Russian intervention in Ukraine essentially includes three complementary arguments.
Watch all of VICE News' dispatches, Russian Roulette: The Invasion of Ukraine here.
The first argument is that nobody should listen to anything that the Ukrainian government has to say about keeping their country together without Russians getting in the middle of things and making it worse (like they did in Crimea).
The second point is that Russia is right to be rattled, because the West hasn’t been particularly sensitive to legitimate Russian concerns, and therefore rolling over the top of Ukraine isn’t Russia being aggressive, but merely a benign and peaceful Russia responding to unbearable provocations from the West.
A third, final point that crops in debates runs along the lines of the somehow irresistible (but not always germane) argument: “America is evil,” (or more evil, or extra evil) “So shut up!”
'This is what an internet flamewar looks like in real life.'
The core of the first argument — that nobody should listen to what the Ukrainian government has to say about how their country should be run — usually involves some standard hyperventilation about fascists under the bed in Kiev.
In this framing, Russia and Putin aren’t bad guys. The Russians are actually fighting the fascist bad guys, and therefore, presumably should be allowed to do whatever they want, whenever they want, to whoever they want.
Providing, of course, that a large enough portion of the commenting public doesn’t realize how perilously close the argument is getting to triggering Godwin’s Law.
How Russia conquered eastern Ukraine without firing a shot. Read more here.
One might suppose that if Russia is knocking Ukrainian fascists back on their heels, loosening their grip on the poor, benighted people of Ukraine, then actual fascists would be pretty unhappy about it.
Well, what do Europe’s far-right, ultra-right, nationalists, and fascists actually have to say about all this?
Some of the better known far-right political groups (and really, really, super far-right groups) in Europe are actually pretty supportive.
Greece’s Golden Dawn movement says (with some apologies to Google Translate):
"Ukraine is Washington’s pretext for a conflict with Russia. The threat of conflict is evident from the flood of propaganda in the Zionist media. Putin is demonized daily as Saddam Hussein and Qaddafi were earlier, while known Zionist newspapers like the Washington Post and New York Times, present daily 'evidence' Russian troops are ready to invade Ukraine. The only things missing are the weapons of mass destruction in order to have a complete repeat.
The events in Ukraine demonstrate clearly that American imperialism has launched a strategy, the first unsuccessful steps which were Syria and Iran, weakening and elimination of Russia as a Great Power. Russia is the most serious obstacle to the American imperialism to assert its hegemony in the Middle East, East Mediterranean, and Eurasia."
Meanwhile, the British National Party isn’t as absolutely certain that war is in the offing, but has questions about US and EU behavior:
"It has become clear in the last few weeks that two stories are unfolding in Northern Europe. The first is the 'official' state controlled Western media fantasy, which is accusing Russia of aggression.
Then there is the other reality indicating that the USA, backed by the EU and their Zionist friends, are invading Russia's border zones and trying to intimidate Putin into military confrontation.
We know from watching the world's least democratic bully, the USA, that if it was really confident, it would make a rash accusations followed up with a series of impossible to comply with demands, and then strike Moscow with shock and awe as it has done with Iraq.
They are up against an ex-world super power armed with nuclear warheaded missiles, and a continental army with a modern air force that might just be technically more advanced than Zionist America's."
It is worth noting that Russian media has also spoken up about the support they’re getting from some on Europe’s far-right, in this case, France:
"French far-right leader Marine le Pen has spoken out in support of Russia and expressed her dismay at Paris's refusal to allow MPs to meet State Duma speaker Sergey Naryshkin, simply because of his inclusion in the US sanctions list.
Speaking at a meeting with Naryshkin in Moscow, the leader of the National Front party, a member of the European parliament, also believes that Russia is being unfairly 'demonized' and that the campaign against the Russian political administration has been cooked up at the highest levels of the EU leadership, with the implicit support of the United States."
With this unsavory company, one could be forgiven for deciding that both parties are a pack of horrible wretches. Which would actually put you in tune with Geert Wilders, of the Dutch Freedom Party, who is quoted by Russia Today here:
"The EU is responsible for 'the mess' in Ukraine, Geert Wilders, Holland's Party for Freedom leader, told RT. Wilders wonders why the bloc has got involved in a country where half the population is against joining Europe.
Wilders believes the EU should have kept out of the conflict and only made things worse by giving the country hopes of a pre-accession treaty to the union, when the people of Ukraine were not in unison about joining the organization.
'I’m not only blaming the EU, I’m blaming both Russia and the EU. But I have to be honest, the European Union made a terrible move in the beginning of November last year, and they at least partially started a lot of the troubles, and that analysis is shared by more parties in the EU for sure,' said the leader of the Party for Freedom."
Do these statements mean that the default anti-fascist position is actually in favor of US and EU support of the current Ukrainian government? Well, Salon’s Max Blumenthal is apparently of the opinion that the whole joint is just lousy with Neo-Nazis:
"As the Euromaidan protests in the Ukrainian capitol of Kiev culminated this week, displays of open fascism and neo-Nazi extremism became too glaring to ignore. Since demonstrators filled the downtown square to battle Ukrainian riot police and demand the ouster of the corruption-stained, pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych, it has been filled with far-right streetfighting men pledging to defend their country’s ethnic purity."
Ukrainian revolution awakens totalitarian demons. Read more here.
What does this all mean? First off, any nation is going to be impacted by a few nutters. Some of those nutters will self-identify as fascist nutjobs, especially in a country with such a troubled history, like Ukraine. Some of the fascist nutjobs will make their way to the internet or to rallies, and do something really public, really stupid, and really inflammatory.
Inevitably, their foreign brothers-in-nuttery see it and get all themselves worked up and have to storm off to a rally or to the internet to do something equally showy, inflammatory, and idiotic.
Yes, this is what an internet flamewar looks like in real life.
And just to add fuel to the fire, in the modern internet era, where listicles and grabby headlines are the rule of the day (43 Impossible Crazy Fascist Cat Videos You Won’t Believe), picking up quick superficial coverage of extremists on the other side of the world is easy click bait.
But the real lesson is that if a person either claims they are fascist or screams about someone else being fascist, then it's probably pretty safe to ignore them. By no means should anyone ever form a serious opinion on anything that person says. Also, don’t believe everything you read on the internet.
Photo via WikiMedia Commons