Paula Dobriansky [Source: bloomberg.com]

The day in, day-out news cycle of Russian collusion has relegated Ukraine to the background of “Russiagate,” and yet the Washington-Kyiv axis largely remains the pivot on which the “New Cold War” turns. The media appear to have forgotten that the Ukraine crisis, which began nearly five years ago, sparked much of today’s obsessive scrutiny of Putin’s Russia. Even the Trump administration’s recent escalation of U.S. military involvement in Ukraine received scant notice. Had the announcement that Washington would supply “lethal aid” to Kyiv not been followed by the Ukrainian government’s decision to cease cooperation with the Mueller probe, the story might have been buried in the never-ending avalanche of revelations from the White House.[1]

The silence surrounding the rumored nomination of Paula Dobriansky as Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs has been even more deafening. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Dobriansky, an influential neoconservative and Ukrainian American, would be the highest ranking policy maker and foreign service officer in Foggy Bottom. Well known among Washington elites, Dobriansky served two terms as George W. Bush’s Undersecretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs (longer than anyone else in history) and remains one of the most respected hawkish critics of Barack Obama’s foreign policy. What makes Dobriansky’s candidacy alarming are the ways in which she fills the big shoes of her father, Lev Dobriansky (1918-2008), a man Lee Edwards of the Heritage Foundation called a “true hero of the Cold War.”[2] In fact, the elder Dobriansky was an ideologue and spent his life in a tireless and successful pursuit to marry the fascist Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) — contentiously dubbed the “Nazis of Ukraine” — to the Ukrainian American community and the U.S. Cold War political establishment.

Over his lifetime, Lev Dobriansky, who led the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA), founded the National Captive Nations Committee, and co-created the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation with Edwards, ardently supported the ambitious postwar aims of Stepan Bandera (1909-1959), and his dominant, more radical faction of the OUN that arose in 1941, the “Banderites” (OUN-B). The OUN, founded in 1930, was in truth a terrorist organization that emulated the Nazis in words and deed for the sake of “liberating” Ukraine. Bandera was sentenced to life in prison for the 1934 assassination of the Polish Interior Minister, but he escaped at the outbreak of World War 2. Meanwhile, Hryhorii Matseiko, the OUN assassin who gunned down the Polish minister, had fled to South America. As Bandera established the OUN-B, FDR’s Secret Service was on the lookout for Matseiko, a “Ukrainian Terrorist” believed to be in the United States because the Germans promised him “a very considerable financial reward if he should have the ‘same success’ with President Roosevelt.”[3]

In the coming months, Hitler declared war on the Soviet Union, and that first week of July, a Banderite militia organized by Yaroslav Stetsko, Bandera’s devout lieutenant, carried out a pogrom in Lviv (historically a Polish city, now in western Ukraine) under the auspices of Nazi intelligence, murdering many hundreds of Jews, which the OUN-B perceived as the beginning of a Ukrainian revolution against the Soviet Union. It was at this time in Lviv that Simon Wiesenthal acquired “the first name of a Nazi rogue to be etched into his memory.”[4] Stetsko intended this militia to be the nucleus of a revolutionary Ukrainian army, but it was immediately subordinated to the the SS, and later folded into German auxiliary police units that served on the front lines of the “Shoah by bullets.” Writing from Lviv among massacred Jews, Stetsko naively wrote Hitler — to no avail — asking that he “crown the struggle” of Ukrainian independence.[5] Instead, the Germans arrested the OUN-B’s leadership, but freed them in the last months of the war in exchange for their renewed support. Not surprisingly, Ukrainian neo-fascists argue that Bandera and Stetsko’s temporary incarceration absolves them of the charge of Nazi collaboration.[6]

In 1946, Stetsko founded the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations (ABN) and served as its leader for life. The ABN advocated that the “captive nations” of the USSR be liberated through a third world war. Scott and Jon Lee Anderson have characterized the ABN as “the largest and most important umbrella for former Nazi collaborators in the world,” an assessment that is lent credence in CIA files stating that the ABN membership included a number of reconstituted “national committees” from Alfred Rosenberg’s Ministry of Occupied Eastern Territories.[7] Lev Dobriansky was not the only Cold Warrior to champion the ABN, but he stood among its earliest, most dedicated and well-connected fellow travelers in the United States.

Dobriansky and Bandera met in Europe at least once after the war. It was with Stetsko (1912-1986) and his ilk that Dobriansky worked in lockstep to rehabilitate the OUN-B as a band of anti-Soviet freedom fighters along with other former Nazi collaborators in the ABN. Through his powerful connections in Congress, the Republican National Committee, the military-industrial complex, the Ukrainian diaspora and far-right anticommunist networks at home and abroad, Dobriansky played a pivotal role in the forging of a warm friendship between the OUN-B and fervent anticommunists in the United States. In 1959, Dobriansky wrote the Congressional “Captive Nations Week” resolution to observe and redouble Washington’s commitment to liberate all countries under Communist control. For the 25th such Week in history, a tradition that continues today every third July, Stetsko attended the 1983 annual commemoration in the White House with President Reagan and Vice-President Bush.[8] A year before the law went into effect, Dobriansky secured Stetsko’s first visa to enter the United States despite the opposition of the CIA and State Department. Declassified CIA files reveal that the government “intended to deny him for the rest of his life.”[9]

During Stetsko’s first visit in the summer of 1958, he lectured the House Un-American Activities Committee and celebrated the Fourth of July with Lev Dobriansky in the Catskills.[10] Paula wasn’t yet three years old, but went on to graduate summa cum laude from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and earn a PhD in Soviet political and military affairs at Harvard. She began her career as a leader of the National Security Council’s European and Soviet Affairs Directorate. It is difficult to believe that her father — a Georgetown professor who associated with right-wingers of all stripes, including Holocaust deniers (Austin App), white supremacists (Strom Thurmond), anticommunist cult leaders (Robert Welch), and numerous Ukrainian neo-fascists and other rabid Cold War fanatics — did not shape her worldview.[11]

Consider the case of Kateryna Yushchenko, the American-born First Lady of Ukraine who attended Lev Dobriansky’s memorial service in 2008. Two years later, more than a quarter of a center after she, a former Reagan aide, embraced Yaroslav Stetsko in D.C., her husband posthumously awarded Stepan Bandera the equivalent of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which puzzled and infuriated many around the globe.[12] Few seriously considered the First Lady’s role in shaping President Yushchenko’s thinking. Widespread rumors about her being a CIA plant were likely unfounded, but when her college freshman economics professor Dr. Dobriansky died, she recalled how he mentored and “convinced her to dedicate her life to the cause of human rights, for captive nations and for Ukraine.”[13]

Thus one should take Paula Dobriansky seriously, however mild-mannered she may be, when she discusses “the possibility of war with Russia.” Dobriansky advocates the type of harsh economic warfare and military bravado not seen since the height of the Cold War to rollback Moscow’s annexation of Crimea. She promotes far tougher sanctions than are already in place, “beefing up” U.S. government propaganda, greater missile defense (i.e., a new arms race), confronting Russia in the Arctic, supplying decisive military aid to Ukraine and the “permanent” stationing of NATO troops along Russia’s borders — ostensibly to bring Vladimir Putin to the negotiating table![14]

Putin, she argues, is delusional for feeling threatened by NATO expansionism and U.S. foreign policy, while appearing convinced that Putin is working to resurrect the Soviet Union but will cave to a more forceful western front. Dobriansky has asserted that “The world order itself is under assault from the Putin regime,” which she views as a “major threat” to the United States for its “strident anti-Americanism … which has reached a level worse than that of the Cold War.” She believes a “cult of Putinism” has replaced Marxist-Leninist ideology as the glue holding the Russian people captive, but has said nothing of the Bandera cult alive and well in Ukraine.[15]

“No armistice and no compromise with the Kremlin can bring peace on earth and free the world from fear,” once declared Yaroslav Stetsko, a family friend of the Dobriansky’s, “but only a resolute, offensive advance.”[16] Might Paula continue to heed his advice? After all, her father’s rhetoric was nearly indistinguishable with Stetsko by the 1950s, but for one meaningful difference. Lev Dobriansky defined George Kennan’s legacy, the containment of the Soviet Union, as a “passive … naive … policy founded on the discredited belief that the two worlds — that of Soviet tyranny and the non-communist world — can live in a mutual state of co-existence.”[17] However he denied that he wanted nuclear war.

Stetsko, who no longer publicly praised the extermination of Jews, on the other hand agitated for the outbreak of the “inevitable” World War 3, a necessary “holy war of liberation.”[18] Yaroslav wrote an article (“There is Still Time”) in 1953, two years before Paula’s birth, denouncing armistice in Korea as “nothing other than a blunder,” for the world cannot rest until Communism, and Russia in particular, is utterly defeated. “It was not the time for half-measures,” he declared, but “much more, the time for Russia to experience its Pearl Harbor… Moscow’s despotic rule would be eliminated more quickly than one has ever dared to hope…” More than sixty years later, Stetsko would probably agree, “It is still not too late.”[19]

Contrary to her sharp criticism of President Obama’s “unprecedented” “abdication of American leadership,” Paula Dobriansky has had remarkably little to say of the similar charge routinely leveled at Donald Trump through the first 500 days of his presidency.[20] One can imagine that “Russiagate” would have her father spinning in his grave, but he’d probably be proud of his daughter for echoing his Cold War diatribes and rising to the challenge to craft a coherent “America First” foreign policy for the Trump administration. “We shall continue to expose the Russia First movement in this country,” Lev promised over fifty years ago. Today Paula advocates “exposing those on the Kremlin payroll” to clean up Washington.[21]

If the thought has not yet occured to Donald Trump, it has likely struck one of his favorite Cabinet members, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and certainly Paula Dobriansky, that the White House could pursue an aggressive foreign policy in Ukraine in the name of rebuking the Obama administration (which neglected to militarily intervene), and perhaps quash the media’s “witch hunt” against Trump as Putin’s puppet. After all, were Trump controlled by Russian blackmail, as speculated by former CIA director John Brennan on MSNBC a month before reports surfaced that Paula Dobriansky will be Pompeo’s top policy maker at the State Department, she would likely be the last person the president would nominate for the job.

The media have not pondered Paula Dobriansky’s possible influence on the Trump administration, because historians haven’t given her family the credit they deserve. At the very least, Dobriansky should be made to repudiate her father’s rehabilitation of Ukrainian war criminals and reject the “possibility of war with Russia.” Dobriansky appears all too eager to wind the doomsday clock. What kind of person would do such a thing?


[1] Kramer, Andrew E. “Ukraine, Seeking U.S. Missiles, Halted Cooperation With Mueller Investigation.” The New York Times, 2 May 2018.

[2] Kashuba, Roman. “Dobriansky Honored with Lifetime Achievement Award and Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom.” Ukrainian Weekly, 14 Aug. 2005.

[3] Henry Fields Papers. Box 52. Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library. Credit is owed to Ivan Katchanovski for discovering these documents.

[4] Segev, Tom. Simon Wiesenthal: The Life and Legends.

[5] Himka, John-Paul. “The Lviv Pogrom of 1941: The Germans, Ukrainian Nationalists, and the Carnival Crowd.” See Per Anders Rudling’s essay, “Schooling in Murder: SchutzmannschaftBattalion 201 and HauptmannRoman Shukhevych in Belarus 1942,” for the future of Stetsko’s militia. As told by Bandera’s biographer, the OUN-B leadership “offered much less resistance to the Nazis than nationalist historiography and Ukrainian nationalist propaganda portrayed,” and in early 1942, “the OUN-B local leaders issued orders to their members to join the [German auxiliary] police en masse.” Rossoliński-Liebe Grzegorz. Stepan Bandera: the Life and Afterlife of a Ukrainian Nationalist: Fascism, Genocide, and Cult.

[6] For more on this topic, refer to Ivan Katchanovski, who calculated that the absolute majority of OUN-B leaders collaborated with Nazi Germany, and “a minimum of 28% of the top leaders … worked for, or collaborated in other ways with, the German intelligence and security agencies.” Katchanovski, Ivan. “The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, and the Nazi Genocide in Ukraine.”

[7] Anderson, Scott, and Jon Lee Anderson. Inside the League: the Shocking Expose of How Terrorists, Nazis, and Latin American Death Squads Infiltrated the World Anti-Communist League; Central Intelligence Agency. VON MENDE, GERHARD.

[8] Bellant, Russ. Old Nazis, the New Right, and the Republican Party.

[9] Central Intelligence Agency. STETSKO, YAROSLAV.

[10] “’Fragment of Ukraine in Free America’ Continues to Draw Many.” Ukrainian Weekly, 19 July 1958.

[11] National Captive Nations Committee Collection. Box One. Syracuse University Special Collections Research Center, New York.

[12] Born Kateryna Chumachenko, she directed “the UCCA’s Captive Nations Committee” after college, and then served the Reagan administration as its Deputy Director for Public Liaison. Bellant, Russ. Old Nazis, the New Right, and the Republican Party.

[13] Bihum, Yaro. “Lev E. Dobriansky remembered at Georgetown University service.” Ukrainian Weekly, 24 Feb. 2008.

[14] Dobriansky, Paula, and David Kramer. “Addressing Threats to National Security.” The John Hay Initiative; “Paula J. Dobriansky on Facing a Resurgent Russia.” Vimeo, The John Hay Initiative, 9 June 2018; Dobriansky, Paula. “A Cold War in the Arctic Circle.” Wall Street Journal, 12 Jan. 2018.

[15] Dobriansky, Paula, and David Kramer. “Addressing Threats to National Security.” The John Hay Initiative.

[16] Stetsko, Yaroslav. “There Is Still Time.” ABN Correspondence, Sep/Oct. 1953.

[17] “Younger Generation Ukrainian Americans Show the Way Forward at 13th UYL-NA Convention.” Ukrainian Weekly, 11 Sep. 1950.

[18] “Statement by Jaroslav Stetzko, President of the Central Committee of A.B.N.” ABN Correspondence. July 1950. “We are convinced that we are on the threshold of the inevitable III, World War … [but] the territories inhabited by the subjugation nations must be spared destruction.” In the months before World War II, Stetsko wrote an article in which he prided Ukrainians as “the first people in Europe to understand the corrupting work of Jewry.” After his 1941 arrest, Stetsko wrote his Nazi captors, “I … support the destruction of the Jews and the expedience of bringing German methods of exterminating Jewry to Ukraine, barring their assimilation and the like.” Himka, John-Paul. “The Lviv Pogrom of 1941: The Germans, Ukrainian Nationalists, and the Carnival Crowd.”

[19] Stetsko, Yaroslav. “There Is Still Time.” ABN Correspondence, Sep/Oct. 1953.

[20] According to Paula Dobriansky, the various “challenges” posed to the “international liberal order” today are an “opportunity to bring about reforms” of its “foundation” (international institutions such as the EU and NATO) in order to reinvigorate the status quo, and presumably to secure a New American Century. She attributes the populist backlash against that “liberal order” during the 2016 election to the failures of the Obama administration, which she blames for undermining its credibility. Dobriansky has a rather unique perspective on Donald Trump’s presidency: “Let me say … I think in contrast to the eight years of the Obama administration, ‘America First’ means — and does not mean, America will not lead internationally, it does not mean that. It does mean, it will lead internationally! That’s what it means. That you can be America First and you can lead internationally.” Elcano Royal Institute. “Trump and the US Role in the World.” YouTube, 26 May 2017.

[21] According to Lev Dobriansky, “we seek … the founding of an American rather than a Russia First policy…” “Report Delivered at the Annual UCCA Session…” Ukrainian Weekly, 14 Nov. 1953; Dobriansky, Paula, and David Kramer. “Addressing Threats to National Security.” The John Hay Initiative.



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4 COMMENTS

  1. Russian troll says What? You conveniently leave out the fact that Russia conspired with Hitler to start WWII. Russia invaded Poland with the Nazis and then invaded 5 other countries.

    • Moss also conveniently leaves out he has Ukrainian family who could shed light on this subject and HAS never asked to speak with any of them. Moss whose real last name is Lione is a spoiled and over indulged fraud who called his own Grandmother a Nazi for publicity.

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