Ukraine: Blackwater versus Cossacks?

That's about the most depressing headline we could imagine, but there might be something to it. Blackwater in Ukraine? That's the claim in German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, citing unnamed sources in the BND, Germany's intelligence agency. Actually, the company is now called Academi in the latest name-change game to stay ahead of bad press, and it is said to have 400 "mercenaries" in Ukraine. The Russian official press, e.g. Russia Today, jumps on the claims with glee, saying the mercenaries are "taking part in the Ukrainian military operation against anti-government protesters in southeastern regions of the country." (Note that the armed separatists are referred to as "protesters" by the same RT that played up the role of militias in the Maidan protests.) The claims have also been seized upon by the foreign press that is sympathetic to Russia (TeleSur) and the "alternative" press in the West (World Socialist Website, Indymedia). Acedmi in a press release denies everything, and also states that it "has no relationship with any entity named Blackwater or with the former owner of Blackwater, Erik Prince." But later in the press release, it states: "Erik Prince sold the company (which he had renamed 'Xe') in 2010 and retained the rights to the 'Blackwater' name. The new management of ACADEMI has made tremendous efforts to build a responsible, transparent company ethos…" So, it actually is the same company, under new management. Back on March 13, RT also aired claims that "mercenaries" were backing up the Maidan protesters—based on an interview with Yanukovich's ex-intelligence chief, Aleksandr Yakimenko, not exactly the most objective source. 

Meanwhile, Phantom Report cites a May 12 account in Time magazine that a group called the "Wolves' Hundred" is fighting for the separatists in eastern Ukraine—one of the neo-Cossack paramilitary formations that have frighteningly re-emerged in contemporary Russia. The account informs us that this revived Cossack formation, first founded in 1915, fought for the Whites in the civil war with the Bolsheviks. Although Time doesn't mention it, their name obviously invokes the Black Hundreds, the ultra-reactionary Czarist paramilitary forces that carried out the pogroms, and were called out by VI Lenin as defenders "of slavery, serfdom, and autocracy."

Can anyone explain to us why "leftists" in the West are rooting for these guys? 

As we have pointed out again and again, the Russo-Ukrainian war (and yes, it is a war at this point) is fascist on both sides. Our role as anti-fascists and progressives is not to favor one side over the other, but to make common cause with anti-war and anti-fascist forces among both the Russians and Ukrainians.