This week Lowkey is joined by Asa Winstanley, an investigative journalist living in London, who writes about Palestine and the Middle East. He hails from the south of Wales and has been visiting Palestine since 2004. He writes for the groundbreaking Palestinian news site The Electronic Intifada, where he is an associate editor, and also writes a weekly column for the Middle East Monitor.
Following the NATO Bucharest Summit in 2008, several conclusions were reached and published in a joint statement of those attending. One read: “NATO welcomes Ukraine’s and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership in NATO. We agree today that these countries will become members of NATO.”
At the time, the Russian government made absolutely clear that Ukraine becoming part of NATO was an existential threat to Russia’s security. In 2003, the Ukraine NATO Civic League was founded with the aim of gradually integrating the state into the military alliance. Across the decade-and-a-half since, the U.S. has pushed further and further, steering Ukraine to the point of no return.
Today, Russia has NATO missile systems pointed at it from Poland and Romania. If missiles were to be placed in Ukraine aimed at Russia, they would be only 500 km from Moscow. Asa Winstanley makes the point that, were someone to suggest an equivalent arrangement by Russia with Mexico against the United States, the U.S. would likewise respond with force. The economic side of this war has seen Russia cancel from the global economy and effectively separated from Europe. The closing of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is a major victory for U.S. liquid natural gas producers, who can now take over the market for gas in Europe overnight.
Since 2019, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has integrated Neo-Nazis into the Ukrainian state to serve as a bulwark against Russia. We now have the clear situation of NATO arming and training Nazi organizations. But this is not an aberration of history. NATO and the United States have embraced Nazis many times before. Lowkey and Winstanley delve into the sordid story of these strange bedfellows. “This is a big unspoken part of our history,” Winstanley said.
Winstanley explores the post-WW2 period of European history and reveals examples of Nazis being rehabilitated, subsumed into the U.S. machinery of empire, and dispatched as Cold Warriors. He points to an irony of history that the Soviet Union itself tried to join NATO at one point:
If you look at the history of NATO, the Russians, the USSR at the time, knew what this was about — it was about creating an anti-Russian military alliance at the beginning of the Cold War. The Russians said OK, it is a defensive alliance, we’ll join. They applied to join and of course, they were rejected.”
Winstanley also expands on his investigation into Israel’s controversial arming of Ukraine’s Neo-Nazi Azov battalion with Taavor rifles. Another unspoken aspect of the present is the relationship between Ukrainian-Israeli oligarch Igor Kolomoisky and President Zelensky. Kolomoisky was his top funder in the 2019 election and also a key benefactor of the Azov battalion. Pointing out this uncomfortable truth has led to significant ramifications in the digital sphere. Winstanley, who is currently suspended from Twitter for pointing out the NATO alliance with Neo-Nazis, said, “We are reaching a really dangerous moment where this McCarthyism is being whipped up.”
Lowkey is a British-Iraqi hip-hop artist, academic and political campaigner. As a musician, he has collaborated with the Arctic Monkeys, Wretch 32, Immortal Technique and Akala. He is a patron of Stop The War Coalition, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Racial Justice Network and The Peace and Justice Project, founded by Jeremy Corbyn. He has spoken and performed on platforms from the Oxford Union to the Royal Albert Hall and Glastonbury. His latest album, Soundtrack To The Struggle 2, featured Noam Chomsky and Frankie Boyle and has been streamed millions of times.