White supremacists around the world have largely condemned the violence in Ukraine as a “brother war” between two white European countries, researchers of extremism have said.
Opinions about the war are varied, and it’s not clear if the majority of far-right extremists side with Russia or Ukraine, but most sympathize with Ukrainian civilians. Some have blamed Jews for the conflict, calling it a conspiracy.
“The overarching narrative or agreement, if there was one, is the idea of this being a ‘brother war,’ so basically a white Christian nation versus another white Christian nation, and that is something a lot of these groups have spoken out against,” said Callum Farley, an investigative researcher with the Anti-Defamation League.
The ADL released a report on Thursday detailing the extremist response to the war, mostly based on public and private chats and statements by the far-right, white supremacists, and others.
There is no clear blame for the war’s outbreak among the far-right. Many white extremists are upset by the Russian army’s killing of white, Ukrainian civilians. Graphic footage of attacks on Ukrainian cities has circulated in far-right chat groups on the Telegram messaging application.
Some believe NATO pushed Russian President Vladimir Putin into invading, or say he was trying to save Ukrainians from the European Union.
Tying into the “brother war” idea is a narrative that the war is a Jewish conspiracy to harm white Europeans, involving both Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“It’s the idea that since President Zelensky’s Jewish… the conspiracy is rising that Putin is being controlled by the Russian oligarchs, who are also Jewish allegedly, and so essentially it’s a Jewish conspiracy to pit these two white nations against each other to kill white people,” Farley said.
US white supremacist David Duke has repeatedly framed the conflict as a Jewish conspiracy to kill non-Jews.
The racist White Lives Matter organization wrote in a post, “Between the Jewish led Ukraine & NATO and the jewish led Russia, choose White Ukrainians and White Russians. End the war, call out the international clique of anti-Whites and their involvement on both sides, sentencing Whites to genocide yet again. White Racial Unity. That’s it. The only take you can have as a pro-White.”
Indiana Active Club, another white supremacist group, said, “Whether you support the Ukrainian or the Russian side of this conflict, remember that every fallen white man is a loss to European people as a whole.”
One post in a fascist channel said, “The innocent people of Ukraine and Russia are caught in a zog war from both sides. Whites lose, Jews win.” The acronym “zog” is a white supremacist term referring to a “Zionist occupied government,” a conspiracy about Jewish power.
Many on the far-right have admired Putin’s Russia as a powerful, white, Christian nation, according to the ADL report. American white supremacist Richard Spencer has called Russia the “sole white power in the world.”
But some have soured against Putin for the invasion and for his claimed goal of “denazification” of Ukraine. He has also been condemned for fighting against the Azov Battalion, a Ukrainian army unit with neo-Nazi ties, for allegedly causing non-white refugees to move to Europe, and for fielding Muslim soldiers in the Russian army.
The extremist American Futurist outlet, referring to Nazis as National Socialists, wrote, “If you’re [National Socialist] and you’re supporting Putin who is literally invading a country with a listed reason of destroying [National Socialist] groups like Azov battalion then your pretty fucking retarded.”
One post on a fascist Telegram channel said, “This invasion will result in nothing but dead Europeans at the behest of Russian Jewish oligarchs.”
“I’m sorry Azov got duped into fighting for the Jewish Ukrainian president, and abandoned. They trusted a Jew,” it said.
“They’re killing other whites. They are being manipulated to kill other whites. By Jews,” another post said.
Some extremists have started calling Putin “Jewtin” and saying he was hiding a Jewish background.
Others are ambivalent, saying Kremlin control is better than that of other Western countries and blaming “NATO aggression” for the war.
American extremists who support Russia tend to do so out of antipathy toward the Biden administration, State Department, NATO, and liberal order, and not for ideological reasons, Farley said.
The far-right US commentator Nicholas Fuentes wrote, “I know it’s not exactly politically correct but I support tsar Putin’s right to denazify the illegitimate state of Ukraine!”
“I want China to take back Taiwan, I want Russia to take back Ukraine, if for no other reason than it’s time for America to be humiliated,” Fuentes said.
Some of the more extreme groups support the Azov Battalion by releasing contact information for those who want to join it or donate money, and expressing the hope it will carve out a Nazi state in the conflict. Others criticized the battalion for fighting for a Jewish president.
Many expressed admiration for Ukrainian troops in one white supremacist chat, with a post in the channel lauding the militias that said, “Real blood and soil nationalism. This is what it looks like.”
White supremacists have also claimed “Africans and Muslims” were exploiting the war to “sneak” into Europe as refugees. Mainstream news reports in recent days have said minority refugees faced racism while trying to cross Ukraine’s borders to flee the violence.
Sunni Muslim extremists have sided against Putin due to his involvement in the Syrian Civil War, and have criticized Muslim Chechen fighters for joining Russia.
The Islamic State and al-Qaeda terror groups have stayed quiet, calling both Russia and Ukraine “unbelievers” and “crusaders.” A user in an Islamic State online chat called on its supporters in the conflict area to “collect weapons” and “attack the crusaders.”