As the anti-Russia hawks in the Joe Biden administration push for more aggressive policies in Ukraine, we speak with Russell Bentley, an American from Texas who moved to the Donbas region to fight on behalf of the breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic.

Bentley discusses the ultra-nationalist fascists and neo-Nazis in the Ukrainian forces. He also explains the Christian Communist ideology that motivates him and his combat unit.


Podcast / audio


– Bentley’s YouTube channel:

– Bentley’s website:


BEN NORTON: Hey everyone, this is Moderate Rebels. I’m Ben Norton, joined by my co-host Max Blumenthal. And today we are going to talk about the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. And when I say Ukraine, of course, I also mean NATO, the European Union, and the United States.

We have seen that the Joe Biden administration has continued a very hawkish line against Russia and has been really aggressively pushing in Ukraine. And it looks like the war might be heating up once again.

And to talk about that conflict and the heating up of the war, we are joined today by Russell “Texas” Bentley. Russell Bentley is an American who in 2014, moved to Donetsk, the Donetsk People’s Republic, in eastern Ukraine. And he has been literally on the front lines of the conflict, the proxy war going on there.

Russell has a YouTube channel in which he has posted videos of what life is like there in the Donbas region.

For those who are just listening and not watching here, we are playing some of his video clips.

RUSSELL BENTLEY (1m 14s): Hey, my name is Russell Bentley. My soldier name is Texas. We started a new program with the information unit; it’s going to be called Donbas with Texas. This position we’re at today, our first program, a little town of Spartak, near the airport, just north to the east of Donetsk city.

This is one of my old positions, called the Bisna; it means fish hook. It’s a hot position, sticks out into Ukrop lines, surrounded on three sides, to the north, two kilometers, major Ukrop army base, Polish army, Pravy Sektor Nazis, US and EU mercenaries. We’ve heard them on the Ukrop army frequencies, so we know that they’re there.

This is a very hot position. A lot of guys been hit here. And we’ve done some hitting back too. And we’re going to keep doing it.

BEN NORTON (2m 10s): So Russell – or Texas, as he’s earned the nom de guerre on the front lines – Russell, can you just explain, where are you, where do you live right now, and what’s the situation that’s going on?

RUSSELL BENTLEY (2m 24s): Well, first of all, I want to thank both of you guys for having me on. You guys have an excellent program and I’m real happy and proud to be here with you guys today.

I came to Donetsk in December of 2014. I immediately joined the Vostok Battalion, and on December 31, 2014, I was on the front lines at Donetsk airport in a very heavy combat position that happened to be a convent, that was about 400 meters from the new terminal of the Donetsk airport.

I served as a soldier, a combat soldier, for about eight months, in Vostok Battalion, and then in (unintelligible) battalion.

And then, when I came here I was 54. Once I joined that (unintelligible) battalion, I started realizing that I might be a little bit too old for ninja acrobatics. And so I suggested that I might be more useful as a information warrior, a war correspondent and anti-propagandist.

So I started doing that in 2015. I started with Donbas Humanitarian Aid, a human aid fund that I started with my godmother, who is a native of Donetsk, but now lives in the States.

And since then, in 2017, I worked for four months on the (unintelligible) front, basically a military policeman, but my real job was soldier, front line soldier.

But other than that, so I spent about a year on the front, and other than that, I’ve been doing humanitarian aid, and trying to do as much counter-propaganda and reporting on the truth of what’s happening here ever since.

I’m a citizen of the DPR, soon to get my Russian passport. And I’m married here; I have a home. And I’m planning on living here the rest of my life, cause I really love it here

MAX BLUMENTHAL (4m 35s): Before we get into what’s been happening in recent weeks – which has led to this escalation where the so-called steady state that’s now in the White House has gotten things so unsteady on the frontiers of Russia and deliberately so – I wanted to just ask you about how you see the conflict there.

Because watching your videos, you frame the conflict in terms of anti-fascism, and almost a continuation of World War II. Some of the fighters that you’ve been in the trenches with there in Donetsk have said the same, that this is, that their families lived through World War II and they’re living through similar situations.

So maybe you can kind of articulate the conflict as you see it for our viewers.

RUSSELL BENTLEY (5m 32s): Well, when I say that it’s a conflict against fascism, first of all, in Ukraine during the Second World War under German occupation, there was a significant segment of Ukrainians that became Nazi collaborators under this dude named Stepan Bandera. And Bandera wore a SS uniform, he was responsible for some of the most horrendous atrocities, including (the) Babi Yar (massacre).

Here in Donetsk, there’s a mine that had a 360 meter vertical shaft, and in 700 days of occupation, the German Nazis, with the help of the Banderisti collaborators, threw 75,000 people down that shaft.

So you can understand the scope of the brutality, I mean absolute genocide. Yep, that’s Bandera right there.

And so when the Russian Red Army came through here, cleaned out Ukraine, liberated Ukraine, a lot of these Banderistis ran back west to Berlin, and very many of them ended up in the United States, and particularly in Canada.

And there now, Chrystia Freeland, who is the deputy prime minister of Canada, is the granddaughter of the Nazi collaborator, a Ukrainian Nazi collaborator. And she’s certainly doing her best to continue on with where he was coming from back then.

BEN NORTON (7m 18s): She actually said she was proud of her grandfather, and she claimed that, when this was exposed, actually by communists in Canada, she said that it was all Russian disinformation, it was a Russian propaganda plot, even though it’s objective.

It’s an undeniable fact that Chrystia Freeland’s grandfather not only was a Ukrainian Nazi collaborator, but he ran a pro-Nazi propaganda newspaper that was taken over, that had previously been, it was a printing press that was owned by Jews. And they took the printing press, sent the Jews to an extermination camp, and made it a Nazi newspaper.

RUSSELL BENTLEY (7m 57s): And when we talk about fighting against fascists here too, it’s important to understand that we’re not just talking about Ukrainian fascists. Because what the United States has become is basically the Fourth Reich.

When you consider that Mussolini supposedly said that fascism should be considered, could be called corporatism, because it is the merger of state and corporate power – now there’s some dispute about whether he said it or not, but there’s absolutely no question that that is exactly the perfect definition of fascism.

There’s another thing that you can find on the internet, it’s called the 14 Characteristics of Fascism, and both Ukraine and the United States, and coming along quite quickly Canada and England too, and a lot of the EU, they fit almost every one of them.

The important thing to understand is that Ukraine is a colony of the United States. Nothing happens in Ukraine without the permission and direction of the people that control the US government now.

And the important thing to remember about that is – I mean, we understand that when Euromaidan happened, and the famous Victoria Nuland intercepted phone call, everybody said, “Oh, she said ‘F the EU,'” and so that was like the big scandal.

But that missed the whole point, that what she was talking to Pyatt about, who was the US ambassador, was deciding exactly who, for exactly what office of the Ukrainian government. And all the people that she said in that phone call ended up in exactly the positions that she directed them to be in.

So Nuland worked for Clinton, as secretary of state; she worked for Biden – Biden, Obama called him, and Biden called himself the point man in Ukraine, from 2014 until the end of the Obama administration.

And so here’s the important thing to understand about that. It was Biden who directed the rebels of Maidan to get those Georgian snipers to shoot the protesters and the cops. 100 people were murdered by snipers in Maidan in Kiev. Nobody really knows – the Ukrainian courts have never placed the blame on anybody, although they say it was the (unintelligible), which is of course a lie.

But there are Georgian snipers, mercenaries, who came forward, and said that they were paid; they named names; they said exactly where they were, who gave the orders, and the orders were to shoot protestors and cops, just to escalate the level of violence.

That could not – and that was on the Hotel Ukraine, which was at that time, whole floors of it were being rented out and controlled and occupied by CIA and US secret services.

So the US has been responsible for everything that happened. Biden personally was the leader of the US policy in Ukraine when the Maidan snipers murdered 100 people, when in May 2nd of 2014, the Odessa massacre – where they brought in a bunch of neo-Nazis that burned alive an unknown number of people, but certainly scores of people that were burned alive, beaten to death, and murdered in Odessa for peacefully protesting against this coup.

And then again, you understand that also in 2014 was MH17 shot down, the Malaysian airline with all the Dutch people on it. And it’s now being in a kangaroo court in the Hague, in Amsterdam.

But this is all Biden’s work, you know? And he was a very evil, dangerous dude back then. I mean, obviously now, he can’t even find his own ass with both hands; he’s completely senile. But the people that control him, controlled him back then, are now again in power.

So Biden is the guy who instructed him. He was here two days before they started the official ATO, anti-terrorist operation, when the Ukrainian army moved to against the people of Donbas. And in the first days of that operation, civilians were literally standing in front of tanks and BMPs, holding their hands, like the dude in Tiananmen square. And they were getting run over and shot.

So they said, ok, if we can’t appeal to reason, if we can’t ask for compassion, then we’ll fight.

And really, they say – a lot of people say, oh, it’s just rhetoric to call them Nazis and stuff. No it’s not. Nazi is as Nazi does. And these guys are just as vicious, just as brutal – there is a video from (unintelligible), which is about three miles from where I’m at right now – when Zelensky was on the front there recently, they were flying the Wehrmacht flag, the red flag with the swastika in the middle.

MAX BLUMENTHAL (13m 32s): Yeah I tweeted a video of that, and we’ll throw it in, in post. That was the position that Zelensky had visited. And it was the flag of the German Nazi army flying.

I guess they were taunting the positions of the Donbas brigades, what we would refer to in the US as pro-Russian separatists.

So have you come into contact with the Ukrainian army, have you seen combat against them? And have you exchanged any hostile communications with them at any point?

RUSSELL BENTLEY (14m 11s): Dude, I have, and I’m talking more – my hostile communications were in the form of a hot lead and RPG rockets.

I mean, my first eight months here was basically all on front-line combat positions. I’m talking Donetsk airport, Spartak, (unintelligible). And I mean back when it was the heavy shooting war. I’ve been under every kind of bombs and bullets that there is, and I’ve done some payback too, you know,

The thing is there’s been several Americans that came to join the Ukrainian side. One of them is Craig Lang. He is still here. He joined the Pravy Sektor. He actually was on the opposing side when I was in Spartak back in 2015.

Then he went back to the States for a while. He and this buddy of his named Zwiefelhofer, they went ahead and murdered an elderly couple in Florida, in order to get money to go, first, to fight against Venezuela, and then they went somewhere in Africa, to be mercenaries there, ended up screwing up and coming back.

Lang got a fake passport, or a real American passport in somebody else’s name, made it back to Ukraine. Zwiefelhofer got busted when he came back from Africa, with child porno on his telephone, which he ended up being one of the stars of. So he’s now awaiting two first-degree murder charges in Florida. Craig Lang has been here since then.

And the Ukrainians have really been dragging their feet, as much as, or as little as the United States has requested his extradition, it has been more than a year, and he’s still sitting there in Kiev.

So the dudes that came to fight for Ukraine, there were real bloodthirsty psychopaths, losers you know.

There’s good and bad people on both sides in any war. But one way that you can really tell who’s the good guys and who’s the bad guys is if there’s a bunch of guys on one side that say Heil Hitler and have swastika tattoos and fly Nazi flags. And on the other side, they don’t. Then you can get a pretty good example.

We fly in the communist flag. I was in a communist combat unit here, called Essence of Time. And it was a very hardcore front-line unit.

But we’re not attacking, we’re only defending. I’ve never been in an offensive operation in my whole time as a soldier. And really there haven’t been. We’ve only been defending ourselves, defending our families.

There’s no strategic depth, if the Ukrops come in, it’s five miles from the front line to the center of Donetsk city.

BEN NORTON (17m 37s): I just want to point out really quickly that what Russell mentioned here – this case, it should be much more well-known in the United States, but it got very little press coverage. This is a report in the Associated Press from last year: “Soldiers set up deadly robbery to fund foreign fighting.”

And it talks about here, “The two former U.S. Army soldiers met in Ukraine, where they joined the same far-right paramilitary group” – I mean, that’s their euphemism for a Nazi group.

“After getting deported, they planned to take a boat from Miami to South America. They wanted to fight the socialist Venezuelan government and kill ‘communists.'”

So these are the literal fascists who were going to join the Ukrainian side.

MAX BLUMENTHAL (18m 19s): And they did go to Venezuela as well, to assist in the guarimbas. And they found common cause there with Leopoldo López and his crew – Leopoldo López, an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience.

BEN NORTON (18m 31s): Exactly, who when, after attempting a violent military coup that totally fizzled out because there were like 25 soldiers that joined, he was later whisked away to the Spanish embassy, where he is now being protected by Spain, but when journalists went through his house afterward, they also found books by Hitler, including Mein Kampf.

But by the way, speaking of these Nazis forces and Joe Biden, I just want to point out that, as our friend and colleague Alex Rubinstein pointed out, that when Joe Biden was the point-man in Ukraine, he met – there’s a photo of him meeting with Oleh Tyanbook, who is a notorious neo-Nazi in Ukraine.

And this is also a pretty funny, because –

MAX BLUMENTHAL (19m 18s): He was the one that Nuland said should be kind of on the sidelines. Like, you know, when you give Yatz the attaboy, she wanted Tyanbook on the sidelines.

And there he is with McCain on stage at the Maidan. Chris Murphy was next to him, you know, ranking Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee. Bipartisan support for a Sieg Heiling Nazi.

BEN NORTON (19m 40s): So for people listening, there’s a photo here of this Ukrainian Nazi and prominent politician, Oleh Tyanbook, and he’s doing a Hitler Nazi salute.

And this is a guy who, again, appeared on stage with John McCain; he’s in a photo with Joe Biden; and has also appeared with other Democratic politicians, including Chris Murphy.