Since the start of Russia’s “Special Military Operation” in Ukraine there has been a rush by left-wing organizations to understand the crisis and what they can do about it. While leftists disagree over which government shares the most blame, there is consensus that working class people are suffering the worst of the war.
Many organizations and individuals across the western world have leapt at the chance to aid Ukrainians as their country becomes a warzone. The Democratic Socialists of America are no exception as they look for ways to turn their regular work to the service of aiding Ukraine.
One of these proposals for humanitarian aid has a striking detail:
DSA’s Mutual Aid Working Group, while usually focused on mutual aid in local U.S. communities, might add an international dimension to its work by cooperating with groups in Ukraine that also have a mutual aid approach, such as Operation Solidarity. Operation Solidarity is an anarchist network that raises funds to purchase and deliver humanitarian items, military equipment, and medical supplies to Ukraine.Dan La Botz and Stephen R. Shalom, Democratic Socialists of America
As always, one should get to know a person before arming them from halfway across the world. Who exactly is in Operation Solidarity, the anarchist network?
Vaguely, they are progressives (by what standard?). Specifically, they buy armor for the Ukrainian Territorial Defense as well as medicine and other “humanitarian items.”
Another Telegram post caught my eye: a forwarded message from Ekologichna Platforma (Ecological Platform), a green anarchist group:
Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine has been going on for more than a month. The staff of the Environmental Platform joins the fight against the enemy on two fronts at once: in the ranks of the Troops and the provision of humanitarian aid.Ecological Platform via Operation Solidarity
As part of the @solidarnistinua project, we are working to provide all the necessary anarchists and anti-authoritarians in the Territorial Defense. Thanks to the financial support of anarchist and other anti-authoritarian initiatives from Europe and the efforts of volunteers, our boys and girls receive the necessary military equipment and medical supplies, as well as nutritious and delicious vegan food.
Huh? Anarchists? In the troops? Which troops? Territorial Defense? This Territorial Defense?
Ah, yes. The Territorial Defense Battalions. That was the same branch of the armed forces that notorious war criminals Aidar Battalion belonged to. These were part of the Volunteer Battalions that included the Azov Special Police, the Banderist OUN Battalion, and other luminaries of the ultraright.
Black Flag Unity
I noticed that Operation Solidarity says “antifascist” a lot on their Telegram channel but almost always referring to Putin and Russia. I searched for “Azov,” “Aidar,” “C14,” but found no mention of these infamous domestic fascists in English or in Ukrainian.
There is only one organization that OpSol calls fascist on its Telegram and that is Russia. There is a single post (forwarded from UANTIFA) which uses the words “Nazi” and “fascist” and it is to accuse the Donbass republics of being creatures of the fascist “neo-empire” in Moscow:
Calling for uncritical support of Ukraine because “Europe will be next”?
Minimizing the presence of Nazis in Ukraine?
Maximizing the presence of fascists on the Russian side(s)?
These certainly feel like Nationalist talking points, not so much Anarchist. But it could be worse: Ecological Platform shared this post announcing the formation of an anarchist “Resistance Committee” on their Facebook page:
The Resistance Committee had these choice words in its call to action:
The Resistance Committee calls the Russians “Putin’s horde” and invites international veterans/mercenaries to come help “send as many putinists to hell” as possible. It’s an identical call to action to what the Nazis give across the world: join the fight against the Russian barbarians here so they don’t come to your doorstep next.
Of course, like any good anarchists, the Resistance Committee is organizing the international brigade under command of the Ukrainian state’s Territorial Defense Forces:
Hi, comrades! If you want to come to Ukraine as volunteer fighter, you can text to our @Recruitua_bot.Resistance Committee on Telegram.
We accept people who:
1. Filled out the application form: …
2. Can reach Poland in 2 days (till 7.3.22) by themselves.
3. Speaks ENG. UA and RU would be an advantage.
4. Have battle experience, served in army or at least know how to use weapons.
They’re so dedicated to anti-authoritarianism that they even allow Belarusian ultranationalists to serve the Ukrainian state with them:
It wouldn’t be fair to omit that Operation Solidarity does have a single reference to “neonazis” on its Telegram channel. Activists for OpSol were assaulted by members of the international Misanthropic Division group while the anarchists were providing humanitarian mutual aid by… giving ammunition and Laser targeting systems to the soldiers:
In Lviv, the far-rights (neonazis) from the Misanthropic Division attacked our fellow volunteer, who was helping the soldiers with ammunition, equipment, and bulletproof vests. It happened near a military supply store, where he went for new purchases. He has a broken finger.Operation Solidarity on Telegram.
Let us not forget that Ukrainian anti-authoritarian and left-wing activists are organizing resistance to the invaders, helping the fighters, supporting hospitals and people in need of food, care and scarce medicines. Attacks on us, our comrades or acquaintances = SUPPORT TO THE OCCUPIER.
We strongly recommend all racial fighters to stop doing nonsense in the rear and start doing useful things. Want action? You know where to go.
That’s right, you vile neonazis, don’t attack the anarchists. You’re on the same side!