Bandera was rising rapidly through the OUN ranks, and had become its chief propaganda officer as far back as 1931. A decade later as the Third Reich was preparing its invasion of the USSR, Bandera, now the OUN’s leader, convened meetings with Nazi agencies (the Gestapo and Abwehr) relating to the development of Nazi Ukrainian brigades to fight against the Soviet Army. In the spring of 1941, Bandera’s OUN was receiving funding from the Third Reich and personal protection from the Gestapo and Abwehr.
The day after Nazi Germany’s attack on the Soviet Union began, 23 June 1941, Bandera wrote a letter to Hitler outlining his desire for an “independent Ukraine” under the Third Reich’s protection. A week later, 30 June, as German troops were invading the western USSR, Bandera declared Ukrainian independence and the OUN proclamation stated, “Glory to the heroic German army and its Führer, Adolf Hitler”. The OUN assisted in spreading Nazi propaganda among the local people, depicting Hitler as the “liberator” of Ukraine. Bandera’s “Minister of Foreign Affairs” Volodymyr Stakhiv also wrote a letter to Hitler, asking him to support “our ethnic struggle”. (9)
Bandera, along with his fellow Nazis and nationalists, participated in the genocidal activities of the SS death squads, killing many tens of thousands of civilians and prisoners-of-war (10).
Bandera’s dream was of a fascist Ukraine which could act according to its own wishes.
After World War II, Bandera and the OUN were supported by the Anglo-American intelligence services, the CIA and MI6. The MI6 admitted that Bandera had “a terrorist background” and possessed “ruthless notions” but continued to assist him. In 1949, the MI6 flew some of Bandera’s agents into western Ukraine. The MI6 first contacted Bandera in April 1948 through Gerhard von Mende, a Baltic German and unrepentant Nazi (11). Von Mende was collaborating too with the CIA. US army intelligence (the Counterintelligence Corps) had already shown an interest in working with Bandera in September 1945. (12)
In the 21st century, Bandera’s name has undergone continued rehabilitation in Kiev. On 22 January 2010, president Viktor Yushchenko awarded Bandera the title “Hero of Ukraine”. Petro Poroshenko, another former leader in Kiev, is likewise a supporter of Bandera. Poroshenko did his best to distort history on 20 June 2022 when he said, “Stepan Bandera never was a Nazi collaborator”.
This is not altogether surprising, when considering that the far-right had paved the way for Poroshenko to enter office in the first place. During mid-February 2014, neo-Nazi forces from organizations like Right Sector, Svoboda and Patriot of Ukraine occupied important buildings in Kiev, such as the Central Post Office and the State Committee for Television and Radio (13). Among them were militants wearing uniforms of the SS Galicia division, which had fought alongside the Nazis against the Soviet Union during World War II.
The above far-right groups then joined forces in Kiev – they were placed under the command of Dmytro Yarosh of the neo-Nazi Right Sector (14); and they subsequently stormed Kiev’s parliament building (Verkhovna Rada) on the night of 21 February 2014, forcing the legally elected president Viktor Yanukovych, whose life was in danger, to depart Kiev. A former professor at Columbia University in New York, Tarik Cyril Amar, acknowledged that the “extreme right” in Kiev had performed a “highly effective” role in the coup. (15)
Zelensky, who succeeded Poroshenko in May 2019, is also an admirer of Bandera and went so far as to place him in the bracket of Ukraine’s “indisputable heroes”. Zelensky said in April 2019, “There are indisputable heroes. Stepan Bandera is a hero for a certain part of Ukrainians, and this is a normal and cool thing. He was one of those who defended the freedom of Ukraine” (16). During his election campaign in early 2019, Zelensky said he wanted Ukraine to join both NATO and the EU, and he has held the same opinions throughout his time in Kiev.Western Media Failures Regarding Ukraine. An Irish Historical Perspective – Global ResearchGlobal Research – Centre for Research on Globalization