Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Kyiv’s Interest in Ukrainians in Russia Prompts Moscow to Try to Discredit Them

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 20 – Increasingly frequent displays of interest by Ukrainian parliamentarians in the non-Russian nations inside the Russian Federation and especially in the Ukrainian communities there has prompted Russian commentators to try to discredit these groups by linking them to the Axis powers before and during World War II.

            The latest example of Moscow articles in response which seek to discredit the Ukrainian communities inside Russia’s borders is one by Timur Sagdiyev for the Russian Seven portal entitled “Why did the Japanese Finance Ukrainian Nationalists in the Far East” (

            Sagdiyev focuses less n Japanese involvement with Ukrainians in the Far East during the Russian civil war when both local Ukrainians and Kyiv sought to create Ukrainian military units and even a Ukrainian state to be linked with Kyiv but were blocked by Admiral Kolchak, the White Russian ruler in Siberia than n Japanese involvement with Ukrainian emigres in the 1930s. 

            He cites Irkutsk historian Leonid Kuras to the effect that “the Japanese planned during the war to provoke an anti-Soviet uprising of Ukrainians in the Primorsky kray and link it with the counter-revolutionary movement in Ukraine and with the movement of Ukrainians in Europe.”

            The author of this plan, Sagdiyev says, was Mitataro Komatsbara,the head of Japanese counter-intelligence in Harbin, who believed that the 10,000 Ukrainian emigres in Manchuria could be used against Russia. (On that, see Ivan Svit’s Ukrains’ko-iapons’ki vzaiemyny (in Ukrainian, New York, 1972.) and John Stephan’s The Russian Far East (Stanford, 1994).)

            The Japanese financed such Ukrainian groups there as the Ukrainian Émigré Union, the Ukrainian National Society, and the Ukrainian Youth Union as well as the journal Dalekhy Skhid, which promoted the idea of a Ukrainian state in the Far East under Tokyo’s auspices, Sagdiyev says.

            In 1934, the Japanese created a Ukrainian military organization in Harbin as well as a military school to train young Ukrainians for eventual insertion into the USSR’s Ussury Kray.  And for a period, Japan cooperated as well with Ukrainian nationalist organizations in Europe as well.

            However, when the Japanese refrained from invading the Soviet Union in 1941, their support for these groups declined; and in 1943, it ended altogether.  When the Soviet Army entered Harbin in 1945, it arrested the leaders of this community and either executed or confined them in the GULAG ( and

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