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News :: International
Video/Photos-US Hands Off Ukraine Rally-Boston
by Michael Borkson
Email: nosanctions (nospam) yahoo.com
18 May 2014
Boston protest against US involvement in the Ukraine.
Click on image for a larger version
Boston, Mass.-May 17, 2014:
A small but vocal protest gathered today at Park St.
in Boston to protest against US involvement in the
Ukraine.;another part of the world where the US
has no business in; its solely a Russian and Eastern
Europe affair. The protest was organized by UNAC,
IAC Boston, and The Committee For Peace and Human Rights.
(from the event announcement)
EMERGENCY BOSTON ANTI-WAR SPEAKOUT AND RALLY TO OPPOSE U.S./NATO
INTERVENTION IN THE UKRAINE
No to Fascism in the Ukraine! No New Cold War! Money for Jobs, Not
SATURDAY, MAY 17 1 PM
PARK ST. STATION, BOSTON
In response to United National Antiwar Coalition United Call for
National Actions May 9 - May 26 , below.
COME OUT AND SPEAK OUT!
For more information:
iacboston(no spam)gmail.com > 617-792-8136
Let's make our collective voices heard.
For unity and solidarity against war.
Call for Emergency Antiwar Actions – May 9 to May 26
US/NATO war moves in Eastern Europe, the Black Sea, and the Baltic
Sea – the borders of Russia – are a danger to the whole world.
Positioning destroyers and missiles, scheduling war games, and
imposing sanctions (an act of war) risk wider war.
We are deeply disturbed by the expansion of the U.S.-commanded NATO
military alliance and U.S. recognition and speedy grant of billions in
loans to a right-wing coup government in Ukraine, which overthrew the
elected government. This illegal government has used fascist violence
against all forms of peoples’ resistance in Ukraine.
By more than 2 to 1, the population in the U.S. is against another
war and opposed to US military moves or aid to the coup government in
Ukraine (4-28-14 Pew/USA Today poll).
We must make our voices heard.
The time to act is now!
We need jobs, health care and social services, not another war.
We urge nationally coordinated antiwar actions across the U.S. and
internationally - protests, vigils, teach-ins, antiwar resolutions and
visits to offices of elected officials.
From May 9 to May 26 let us act together, in unity, as a powerful
voice against the threat of another war.
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Re: Video/Photos-US Hands Off Ukraine Rally-Boston
by Workers Vanguard
(No verified email address)
21 May 2014
Workers Vanguard No. 1046
16 May 2014
Kiev Unleashes Fascist Terror in Odessa
U.S. Imperialism Behind Bloody Repression in Ukraine
For the Right of Self-Rule in Donetsk, Luhansk!
MAY 12—The May 2 massacre of more than 40 people in the Ukrainian city of Odessa is the direct result of the February 22 coup, spearheaded by fascists, that installed a new government in Kiev with the backing of Western imperialism. The neo-Nazi Right Sector, a leading force in the protests in Kiev’s Maidan square that ushered in the coup, was in the vanguard of the assault on the trade-union headquarters where anti-government protesters had fled after being attacked. Fascist thugs torched an encampment near the building and then hurled firebombs that set the structure ablaze, shooting into it as people jumped to escape the flames. Several of those who survived the fire were shot or pummeled to death, including a supporter of the leftist Borotba group. Spray-painted on the building were swastika-like symbols and graffiti reading “Galician SS,” referring to a Ukrainian force that fought alongside the Nazis in World War II.
The same day as the slaughter in Odessa, the Kiev government launched a military assault on Slovyansk, one of many cities and towns in eastern Ukraine where residents have revolted against the regime. The death toll from military repression in the eastern region and Odessa is already over 100 as the government under Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the current U.S. favorite, and Oleksandr Turchynov aims to crush resistance in the area before the presidential election scheduled for May 25. Barack Obama’s response to the carnage: “The Ukrainian government has the right and responsibility to uphold law and order within its territory.”
Far from quelling popular anger at the central government, the killing of protesters has moved Ukraine closer to civil war. As Prime Minister Yatsenyuk appeared in Odessa two days after the massacre, militants freed 67 arrested anti-government protesters from a police station. Insurgents in predominantly Russian-speaking, industrial eastern Ukraine continue to occupy government and police buildings and to arm themselves. Protesters had risen up in dozens of cities and towns, enraged by the coup regime’s attempt to ban Russian as an official language and by the presence of the fascist Svoboda party in the government, where it controls the Interior Ministry, among others, as well as the chief prosecutor’s office. Derided by Right Sector as “liberal” and “conformist,” Svoboda derives from the Ukrainian nationalists led by Stepan Bandera, who militarily collaborated with Nazi Germany and carried out mass murders of Jews, Communists, Soviet soldiers and Poles.
Mainly based in western Ukraine, the heartland of Ukrainian nationalism and the Vatican-controlled Uniate (Eastern rite) Catholic church, Svoboda and Right Sector are bad news for all of Ukraine’s workers and minorities. They are an immediate deadly threat to the people of eastern Ukraine, where the main religion is Russian Orthodox, and cosmopolitan Odessa, site of a 1941 massacre of thousands of Jews by German-allied Romanian troops. Ukraine’s newly formed National Guard, one of the forces fighting insurgents in the east, incorporates Right Sector and other fascist militias. In Odessa, Jewish officials have announced plans to protect Jewish children if right-wing violence again erupts in the city, where a Holocaust memorial and a Jewish cemetery were recently defaced with swastikas, Right Sector symbols and death threats. It is a mark of the virulent anti-communism of the “Banderovtsy” that statues of Lenin have been defaced or toppled throughout western Ukraine.
Last week, it was reported that miners in Yenakiev, Donetsk province, seized the Iron and Steel Works plant owned by the Metinvest companies, chanting, “We shall not forgive them for Odessa!” The main owner of Metinvest is multibillionaire Rinat Akhmetov, one of the Ukrainian oligarchs who are widely despised by working people. Near Donetsk last month, some 2,000 coal miners reportedly went on strike to protest an outrageous 10 percent salary levy decreed by the central government to help pay for restoring central Kiev following the clashes that led to the coup. Slogans against the European Union (EU) raised by protesters in Donetsk, Slovyansk and other eastern cities speak to the fear that the government’s attempt to join that body would spell economic disaster, particularly for miners and factory workers in this already depressed region. Heavily tied to the Russian economy, eastern Ukraine’s relatively backward industries would be overwhelmed by competition from the advanced EU states, especially Germany.
The repression in the east and in Odessa has hardened hostility toward Kiev, as witnessed in the massive lines of people voting for self-rule in the May 11 referendums in Donetsk and Luhansk provinces. Organizers of the ballot earlier stated that “self rule” could encompass anything from a federated Ukraine (which seems highly unlikely with the imperialists and the Kiev regime out to smash all opposition in the east) to independence to adhesion to Russia. People turned out in droves in the coastal city of Mariupol, site of an attack two days before by soldiers that, according to the Kiev government, killed up to 20 people.
The Wall Street Journal (11 May) wrote that although recent polls had shown a majority wanted close ties to Russia but to remain part of Ukraine, “recent fighting between the government and separatists may have tipped many toward independence, hoping it might at least lead to some stability. ‘Who likes it when a nation shoots at its own people?’ asked retiree Natalia Vasileva, who cast her ballot in central Donetsk. ‘We weren’t against being part of Ukraine, but after the latest events, we’ve changed our minds’.”
The overwhelming vote in favor of self-rule in the two provinces, carried out with no organized local opposition, was a straw poll but strongly indicated the sentiment of the population to pull away from Kiev’s control. The same U.S./EU/Kiev cabal behind the fascist-infested February coup is now screaming that the popular vote in Donetsk and Luhansk was “illegal.” We defend the democratic right of the population in these areas to conduct the referendum and act on the vote for self-rule, up to and including independence or unification with Russia if they so desire. The leaders of the two self-declared People’s Republics now are pressing to join Russia. But the situation remains fluid.
It should be noted that voting took place only where insurgents had seized effective control and could militarily defend the ballot. Thus, it is not clear whether the sentiment for self-rule exists to the same degree elsewhere in the region. Eastern Ukraine is marked by a high degree of interpenetration and assimilation of Russians and Ukrainians. Many people have both Russian and Ukrainian heritage, while some identify themselves as “Soviet” and others as “people of the Donbass” (Donets basin).
In contrast to eastern Ukraine, the people of Crimea, which was long part of Russia, are ethnically Russian in their majority. As revolutionary Marxists, we supported Russia’s military intervention there, which allowed the population in Crimea to exercise its democratic right of self-determination, voting overwhelmingly to reunite with Russia. This position did not and does not entail the least political support to Vladimir Putin’s capitalist regime, which brutally oppresses Muslim and other minorities as well as gays and enforces miserable conditions on working people. As we wrote in “U.S./EU Imperialist Frenzy as Crimea Rejoins Russia” (WV No. 1042, 21 March): “In advocating the right of self-determination—whether for Russians in Crimea or for the Chechen people, who are victims of Great Russian chauvinism—our aim is to get the national question off the agenda in order to foster unity of the proletariat across national lines.”
Today, the interest of the working class—in Ukraine, Russia and internationally—lies in defense of the population in eastern Ukraine and Odessa against military repression and fascist terror. Ukrainian troops out! Imperialist hands off! As anger at the Banderovtsy grows ever hotter, we repeat our statement in “Ukraine Coup: Spearheaded by Fascists, Backed by U.S./EU Imperialists—Crimea Is Russian” (WV No. 1041, 7 March), written at the height of the reactionary Maidan mobilizations:
“It would have been in the interest of the international proletariat for the working class in Ukraine to mobilize to sweep the fascists off the streets of Kiev. Today, it would certainly be in the interest of the proletariat for multiethnic, non-sectarian workers militias to be formed to crush the fascists and repel any and all expressions of communal violence.”
Endowment for Repression
Fascist and official government terror: here is the true face of the Ukrainian “democracy” championed by Washington and its media mouthpieces. Assisting the imperialists’ propaganda barrage are reformist left organizations like the International Socialist Organization, which hailed the Maidan mobilizations as “action from below” even while admitting the fascists’ prominence.
Washington’s bloody hands are all over the repression in Ukraine, just as they were behind the coup that unseated Viktor Yanukovich, the exiled former head of the bourgeois Party of Regions. Yanukovich’s offense had been to accept an aid package from Moscow rather than implement austerity demanded by the International Monetary Fund as part of the deal for Ukraine to join the EU. Throwing money and publicity behind the Maidan protests, Washington determined the contours of the new government. When Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland infamously blurted out, “Fuck the EU,” this was at the end of a phone call to the American ambassador in which she laid out exactly who should lead the coup regime. In another moment of candor, Nuland admitted that the U.S. has spent a tidy $5 billion over the past two decades to secure a regime to its liking in Ukraine, funneled through such agencies as the CIA-linked National Endowment for Democracy.
The first two attempts to mount military attacks in eastern Ukraine directly followed visits to Kiev by CIA chief John Brennan and, one week later, Vice President Joe Biden. Both those offensives quickly ground to a halt. Troops refused to fight, turning over guns and vehicles to insurgents. But with local police forces melting away, the regime was able to put together a special police unit from Kiev as well as some military forces willing to fire on civilians.
This is being done, according to German sources, with the assistance of “dozens of specialists from the US Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation,” who are “helping Kiev end the rebellion in the east of Ukraine and set up a functioning security structure” (Agence France-Presse, 4 May). These agents are also pursuing corruption charges against various Ukrainian capitalists tied to Russia, complementing punitive imperialist sanctions against oligarchs in Russia associated with Putin. Yesterday, the right-wing German newspaper Bild am Sonntag reported that some 400 American mercenaries from Academi (formerly Blackwater) are taking part in military operations against protesters in southeastern Ukraine.
Following Kiev’s first failed attempt to quell the uprisings, Washington claimed that Moscow broke a truce agreement by failing to rein in the protesters, who are depicted by the Western press as mere tools of Putin, himself portrayed as the reincarnation of Hitler. This is just one part of a massive blitz of lies issued by the U.S. government to cover its machinations in Ukraine. Even the standard depiction of protesters as “pro-Russian” is a misnomer: interviews of people in eastern Ukraine reveal a wide range of opinion on the region’s future status.
Since the imperialists and their media mouthpieces have no evidence to back their assertions that the rebels are “terrorists” in thrall to Moscow, they are doing what is customary in such situations: they make it up. A flyer supposedly issued by insurgents declaring that Jews would have to register with local authorities quickly proved to be a fake. Then came photos published in the New York Times that purportedly showed armed men in Russia—i.e., agents of Moscow—who were later seen fighting with the insurgents in eastern Ukraine. The photos were soon revealed to have been taken in Ukraine, proving nothing.
Meanwhile, the Times continues to provide cover for Svoboda and Right Sector by minimizing their role in the terror and disappearing the fact that they are fascists. A May 6 Times article blandly describes the “Kiev-1” police unit dispatched from the capital to Odessa following the massacre as “drawn from the street activists who helped topple Ukraine’s government in February.” To be clear: these are “activists” of the type who paraded through Maidan with torches and clubs, portraits of Bandera and neo-Nazi insignia—i.e., Ukraine’s very own brownshirts. Families in Odessa and eastern Ukraine in particular know the score all too well, based on ineradicable memories of the Nazis and their Ukrainian henchmen who carried out unspeakable genocidal crimes during WWII.
The disinformation about Ukraine comes from the same “newspaper of record” that retailed the U.S. rulers’ lies about Saddam Hussein’s (non-existent) “weapons of mass destruction,” the pretext for the Iraq occupation. Such deception is second nature for the bourgeois press, whose fundamental role is to mold public opinion on behalf of the capitalist ruling class, although it can be truthful on secondary or smaller matters to enhance its credibility.
Imperialist propaganda reached fever pitch over Russia’s “invasion” of Crimea. No such thing took place. With its mostly Russian population, Crimea is home to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet and already had thousands of Russian troops. Putin’s move was essentially defensive, aiming to protect the fleet in the face of a hostile, Western-backed government in Kiev.
As the rebellions erupted in eastern Ukraine, the Obama administration screamed about the presence of 40,000 Russian troops along the border in Russia—this from a government that keeps tens of thousands of troops and cops on the Mexican border to stop the victims of imperialist subjugation from entering the U.S. Painting the Russian military exercises along the border as the harbinger of an invasion of Ukraine, the U.S. stepped up its military provocations in the region. The USS Donald Cook, a guided missile destroyer, entered the Black Sea last month. It was later joined by a Navy frigate that took part in exercises with Romania, one of NATO’s newer member states. Two French military ships also entered the Black Sea last month. Meanwhile, some 600 U.S. paratroopers were dispatched to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania—former components of the Soviet Union—and to Poland. Early this month, NATO’s annual “Spring Storm” exercise in Estonia began, involving a record-breaking 6,000 troops.
The demonization of the Putin regime is in the service of Washington’s longstanding drive to curtail capitalist Russia’s strength as a regional power and potential rival. With the counterrevolution in 1991-92 that destroyed the Soviet degenerated workers state, U.S. imperialism achieved unchallenged world supremacy. Early in 1992, a government document called the Defense Planning Guidance declared: “Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere.” Warning of the risks of a nationalist backlash in Russia or efforts to reincorporate Ukraine and other parts of the former USSR into Russia, the document stated that the U.S. must “protect a new order…for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role.”
Two years later, former national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote in Foreign Affairs (March/April 1994): “It cannot be stressed strongly enough that without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be an empire, but with Ukraine suborned and then subordinated, Russia automatically becomes an empire.” Containing Russia and drawing Ukraine to the West has been the policy of Republican and Democratic administrations alike. Under Bill Clinton, NATO expanded to include Poland and other East European states, with the Baltic states joining early in the George W. Bush presidency. Under Bush, the U.S. also lavished financial and diplomatic support on the so-called “Orange Revolution” in Ukraine in 2004, one of many such efforts aimed at installing pliant regimes in the territories of the former USSR. And now Washington has a quisling regime in place in Kiev.
The U.S. has also established bases across Central Asia and elsewhere on Russia’s periphery. This military extension is aimed at encircling not only capitalist Russia but also China, a bureaucratically deformed workers state. Putin, for his part, has repeatedly tried to accommodate the U.S. imperialists, for example by allowing the American military to traverse Russian territory into and out of Afghanistan. His reward has been one kick in the teeth after another.
Yet Russia is no pushover. While its economy is distorted by its heavy reliance on oil and gas exports, the country maintains a large military force and a nuclear arsenal second only to that of the U.S., as well as significant technical expertise. Furthermore, the U.S. cannot necessarily count on the support of its allies for the anti-Russia campaign. While Germany’s Angela Merkel has joined Obama in denouncing Putin over Ukraine, even as she bristles at continuing U.S. surveillance programs targeting herself, many German capitalist enterprises that are dependent on trade with Russia object to economic sanctions levied against tycoons associated with Putin. Today, France announced it is moving ahead with the sale of two helicopter assault ships to Russia, defying U.S. pressure to punish Moscow.
At home, Washington’s efforts to whip up public sentiment against Russia over Ukraine have fallen flat. War-weary after the seemingly endless neocolonial occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, working people are preoccupied with ongoing assaults on their wages, medical and retirement benefits and other necessities of life. The aim of Marxists in the belly of the imperialist beast is to win militants to the task of building a workers party that will steadfastly oppose its “own” imperialist rulers and intervene into coming class battles with a program to overthrow the rotting and murderous capitalist order through socialist revolution.
Destruction of Soviet Ukraine
Referring to eastern Ukraine and Odessa as “New Russia,” Putin recently complained that these areas “were not part of Ukraine in tsarist times” but were “transferred in 1920. Why? God knows.” No, the answer can be found here on earth. It was under the Bolshevik regime issuing out of the 1917 October Revolution that Ukraine achieved even the semblance of national unification and the right to separate statehood. The proletariat in Ukraine, particularly in the East, was predominantly Russian, a heritage of the industries that sprang up there under the old tsarist regime. But the peasantry, which formed the vast majority of the population, was Ukrainian. Bolshevik leader V.I. Lenin stressed the need of the Soviet workers state to grant the Ukrainians and other nations that had been oppressed in the tsarist “prison house of peoples” the right to self-determination—i.e., the right to separate.
Based in western Ukraine, which had been part of the Habsburg empire, reactionary Ukrainian nationalism allied first with German imperialism under the Kaiser and then with Pilsudski’s right-wing regime in Poland, and later still with Nazi Germany. Following the defeat of imperialist-backed counterrevolutionary armies in the Russian Civil War, a Ukrainian state based on the eastern half of the country was formed as part of a federation of workers states, becoming in 1922 a founding member of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Western Ukraine, which remained under the rule of capitalist Poland, was integrated into the Soviet Union following the Red Army’s smashing of Nazi Germany.
The early Bolshevik regime assiduously defended the rights of oppressed nationalities and peoples. However, with the triumph and consolidation of the Stalinist bureaucracy beginning in 1923-24, Great Russian chauvinism once again began to flourish, resulting in abuses of sometimes historic proportions, as in the mass expulsion of Crimean Tatars, Chechens and others from their homelands toward the end of WWII. Retrograde nationalism was nurtured by the Stalinist dogma of “socialism in one country”—a flat rejection of the Marxist program of world socialist revolution that animated the Bolsheviks of 1917. Nevertheless, the policies of the bureaucracy had a contradictory impact. Full employment, education, medical care for all and other social gains undercut nationalist hatreds. Integrated into a socialized economy with central planning, Ukraine underwent substantial industrialization and development.
The restoration of capitalist rule destroyed these gains, throwing the working people of the former Soviet republics into social chaos, nationalist bloodletting and economic disaster. Industrial employment in Ukraine fell by 50 percent between 1991 and 2001 while wages in remaining jobs plummeted. Yet even under conditions of economic depression, eastern Ukraine produces a disproportionate share of the country’s wealth. For example, the Donetsk region, a coal mining center, accounts for only 10 percent of the population of Ukraine but some 20 percent of its gross domestic product.
The breakup of the USSR revealed considerable interpenetration and assimilation of peoples as well as interdependent economic enterprises that had been geared to a bureaucratically centralized planned economy. This is the situation underlying eastern Ukraine’s continuing ties to the Russian economy. The Putin regime’s strategic interest in eastern Ukraine is highlighted by the region’s role in producing military goods for Russia, from helicopter engines and hydraulic systems for fighter jets to air-to-air missiles.
The sharp fall in jobs, state benefits and living standards after the counterrevolution has rekindled among many workers nostalgic memories of the Soviet Union, when working people had a decent life. An Al Jazeera article (30 April) titled “Eastern Ukrainian Miners Yearn for Russia, Bygone Soviet Era” describes one such worker, who identifies himself as Russian. Currently unemployed, he had risked his life toiling in one of the many illegal mines that sprang up after the collapse of the collectivized economy. While favoring Donetsk becoming part of Russia, the worker said, “I don’t want it to be like Russia. I want it to be like the past, the USSR,” where “I was getting payment even for my learning.”
Elements of class consciousness can be seen in workers’ identification with the USSR as well as in their hatred for both pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian oligarchs, several of whom are in top national and regional governmental posts. However, the working class has not emerged as an independent political factor, and no group to our knowledge exists in Ukraine that is moving toward a program of overthrowing capitalist rule through workers revolution.
Soviet nostalgia is often colored by the nationalism that was fostered by the Kremlin Stalinist bureaucracy and is currently expressed in virulently reactionary form by various “Communist” remnants of the old regime. What must be understood is that the enormous gains produced by the Soviet Union’s planned economy were betrayed by the privileged Stalinist bureaucracy, which sold out opportunities for workers revolution outside the USSR in the illusory quest for “peaceful coexistence” with imperialism. Faced with unrelenting imperialist economic and military pressure, Stalinist misrule led ultimately to the collapse of the Soviet, East European and East German workers states and their reversion to capitalist anarchy.
Re: Video/Photos-US Hands Off Ukraine Rally-Boston
by Internationalist Group
(No verified email address)
21 May 2014
Against Russian and Ukrainian Nationalism
and Anti-Semitism – For Workers Revolution!
Since late November, 2013, Ukraine has been convulsed by a right-wing nationalist and pro-imperialist mobilization culminating in a coup d’état that drove out the widely despised president Viktor Yanukovich and promptly split the country in two. Within hours of seizing power, the usurpers decreed that Russian would no longer be accepted as an official language, enraging the Russian-speaking east and south of the country. Russian president Vladimir Putin perceived the coup as a blow aimed at Moscow by the U.S., European Union and NATO backers of the mobilization, which it was. He struck back swiftly by taking over the Crimean peninsula, home of the Russian Black Sea fleet, to the applause of the majority Russian local population. Now the Western imperialists are sputtering, with the U.S. threatening economic sanctions and worse.
The talk in the media of a new Cold War underscores that the standoff over Ukraine is a byproduct of the destruction of the Soviet Union, a bureaucratically degenerated workers state. The 1991-92 counterrevolution led to impoverishment of the population in the post-Soviet states as capitalism devastated whole industries, women lost rights and interethnic hostilities were stoked. The 1917 Bolshevik Revolution led by Lenin and Trotsky brought down the Russian Empire of the tsars, a notorious “prison house of peoples,” by uniting the working people of different nationalities. In Ukraine, long enslaved by the Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires, the Bolsheviks achieved victory in a multi-sided civil war by uniting the struggle for social revolution with national liberation. As commander of the Red Army, Leon Trotsky issued an order of the day on 30 November 1919 calling for a “free and independent Soviet Ukraine.”
But contrary to the early Soviet policy of promoting Ukrainian language and culture, the bureaucracy that usurped political power under Stalin aggressively pursued Russification, having abandoned the struggle for world socialist revolution in favor of the illusion of building “socialism in one country.” In addition, Ukraine suffered several million deaths as a result of Stalin’s forced collectivization of peasant agriculture, and his purges hit Ukraine Communists harder than in any other Soviet republic. The Stalinist bureaucracy’s Russian chauvinism bred anti-Communist Ukrainian nationalism. Despite this heavy burden, the planned economy of the USSR provided the framework for a multinational state. Capitalism, in contrast, is based on the national state, and so counterrevolution was marked by a resurgence of reactionary nationalism.
As in Yugoslavia in the 1990s, another multinational bureaucratically deformed workers state ripped apart by the restoration of capitalist rule, in Ukraine today we are seeing “all the old crap” return, including the growth of violent fascist nationalist movements. And as always, the “democratic” Western imperialists are busily stoking the fires. In the new “government” in Kiev, cobbled together under U.S. and EU supervision, there are five ministers, including a deputy prime minister and the minister of defense, who come from or out of the Svoboda (Freedom) Party, a fascist outfit that blames Ukraine’s ills on a “Jewish-Russian mafia” and communists. Instead of setting off alarm bells, the presence of outright fascists backed up by neo-Nazi gangs was prettified as just “peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators”
Putin’s decisive takeover of Crimea without firing a shot has put the coup regime in Kiev in a bind, lacking the means to challenge it. It also won broad support in eastern Ukraine, with tens of thousands joining pro-Russian demonstrations in the industrial centers of Kharkiv, Donetsk and Luhansk. The Western imperialists so far have come up with nothing more than U.S. visa denials and pulling out of a Group of Eight (G8) summit scheduled for the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi in June. Berlin would be hard put to do without energy supplies from Russia, which provides much of the natural gas that fuels German industry. But even if Putin’s aims are limited, particularly to protect the strategically located home port of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, imperialist ultimatums and provocative actions by Ukrainian nationalist and fascist bands could spark a shooting war.
Trotskyists recognize that ever since the fall of the USSR, the overwhelmingly Russian-speaking population of Crimea has chafed under Ukrainian rule, first proclaiming independence and then achieving a degree of autonomy in 1992. We support self-determination for Crimea and would oppose any attempt to prevent or undermine that, whether imperialist sanctions, military threats or cutting off supplies of water and electrical power. Marxists would also support demands for autonomy of Russian-speaking Odessa and eastern Ukraine, which rightly fear attacks by new rulers in Kiev, as well as for Crimean Tatars. However, a full-scale war between Russia and Ukraine would likely become a reactionary national conflict, with Russia driven by great power ambitions and Ukraine by anti-Russian nationalism backed by U.S./EU imperialism.
The League for the Fourth International calls instead for internationalist struggle to overthrow all the capitalist rulers through workers revolution. Meanwhile, we demand that the U.S. and European Union imperialists and their NATO military machine get out of Ukraine and call on working people to resolutely oppose any and all sanctions against Russia. The real instigators of the conflagration in Ukraine are the capitalist would-be masters of the world in Washington and Wall Street, in Brussels and Berlin. For the last two decades, they have sought to encircle Russia with client regimes, from the Baltic republics to Poland, Georgia and the big prize, Ukraine. And if the West succeeds in drawing Ukraine into its orbit, austerity “reforms” imposed by the International Monetary Fund will further impoverish the working people.
The occupation of Kiev’s Independence Square, or Maidan, began in late November as a protest against Yanukovich’s decision to accept $15 billion in Russian aid rather than sign an agreement with the European Union that had been in the works for some time. Many of the protesters were from the western Ukraine, brought in by the busload. While some western Ukrainians naively hope that attachment to “Europe” would raise living standards, the protest leaders had a very different agenda. “Euromaidan,” as the occupation of the square was dubbed, was dominated from the outset by Ukrainian ultra-nationalists and outright fascists infused with hatred of Russians, Jews and communists and bent on provoking a crackdown. When police did attack, only to withdraw shortly afterwards, the provocateurs were emboldened, and the resulting injuries and deaths inflamed the public.
But while the Western press kept repeating its mantra about “peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators” set upon by a brutal regime, the leaders and hard core of several thousand protesters in the Maidan were anything but peaceful … or pro-democracy. In the run-up to and following the coup there has been an orgy of vicious Ukraininian nationalist, anti-Semitic and anti-communist attacks. The first Lenin statue was toppled as early as December 8. In an incident in January, neo-Nazi skinheads burned a Soviet flag while displaying a Celtic cross symbolizing “white power.” In the 24 hours following the February 22 coup, no less than 16 Lenin statues were torn down, making 25 in total. On February 23, the HQ of the Communist Party of Ukraine (KPU) was attacked, and the next day the house of the KPU leader was ransacked and torched.
At the same time, in the town of Styri near Lviv in western Ukraine a monument to the “Soviet Soldier” commemorating those who died fighting the German imperialist invaders in World War II was removed with a crane. In addition, several hundred offices of Yanukovich’s Party of Regions (PoR) were reportedly burned. This party, which won large majorities in Russian-speaking eastern and central Ukraine (and was supported in the parliament by the KPU), was seen as a representative of Russian influence in Ukraine. Since the victory of the coup, a Regions Party legislator was beaten in front of the Verkhovna Rada (Supreme Council). In the same post-coup session, a bill was introduced to outlaw the PoR and the KPU.
There have also been repeated attacks on Jews. Here is a partial list:
On January 10, an Israeli-born Hebrew teacher, Hillel Wertheimer, was assaulted at his apartment building by four men who had followed him home from synagogue services.
On January 17, a Jewish man, Dov Baar Glickman, was stabbed multiple times in the leg by three assailants who attacked him outside a synagogue in Kiev (Times of Israel, 18 January).
On February 6, it was reported that a Holocaust memorial in the town of Oleksandria, in the Kirovograd district was desecrated, with swastikas and “Death to Jews” scrawled on it. (Bolshevik leaders Grigorii Zinoviev and Leon Trotsky both came from the area.)
On February 20, leading Kiev rabbi Moshe Reuven Azman closed Jewish schools, told members of the Jewish community to avoid leaving their homes and urged them to “leave the city and even the country if possible,” out of fear of attacks (Maariv, 21 February).
The rabbi’s fears were justified as immediately after the coup, on February 23, the Giymat Rosa Synagogue in Zaporizhia, near Dnepropetrovsk, was firebombed (Timenews.in.ua, 24 February).
The Israeli government has dismissed reports of anti-Semitic violence and instead highlighted the presence of several Israeli army veterans among the “fighting squads” of the anti-Yanukovich movement. Yet in Israel members of the Israeli Knesset called on the Netanyahu government to “prepare an emergency plan to bring Ukrainian Jews to Israel” (World Jewish Congress website, 27 February). This is not a contradiction, as Zionists going back to Ze’ev Jabotinsky (and David Ben Gurion) have a history of collaboration with Nazis and other anti-Semites to promote Jewish immigration to Palestine. (Israeli prime minister Netanyahu’s father was Jabotinsky’s secretary.)
Certainly many who demonstrated at the Maidan were incensed at their corrupt rulers, and no doubt many dreamed that “Europe” would bring them democracy and prosperity. But there is a concerted effort in the imperialist media (particularly by liberals, parroted by social-democratic leftists) to pooh-pooh the incontrovertible evidence of fascist and Ukrainian ethnic nationalist ultras in the leadership of the Kiev protesters and the post-coup government. Hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil about Maidan are the orders from their imperialist commanders. Anyone befuddled by their cynical cover-up would do well to watch some of the many videos available online of brutal actions by the sinister Nazi gangs. For starters you can look at the compilation put together on the RT (Russia Today) TV Internet site at: http://rt.com/news/ukraine-nationalists-fears-video-674/.
You can see there how in mid-February masked thugs in combat fatigues and black boots from the Svoboda Party manhandle activists from the group “For a Clean Kiev,” mostly women, who came out to sweep up debris, collect trash and dismantle barricades; how the fascist goons knock down young men and beat them bloody with batons and baseball bats, repeatedly kicking them in the head; how they throw lighted Molotov cocktails and fire rockets at the defenseless activists. You can see squads of Pravy Sektor (Right Sector) goons giving Nazi-style stiff-arm salutes as they chant “Ukraine for the Ukrainians” and shout “Glory to the nation! Death to enemies!” You can see “SS” inscribed on their shields as they wield potentially lethal spiked flails at women and strike martial poses with their revolvers.
Fascist shock troops of Pravy Sektor in the Maidan, February 20. Note helmet painted with red-and-black flag of Stepan Bandera’s UPA which fought together with Nazi SS against Soviet Red Army. (Photo: Reuters)
You can hear them explain: “National Socialist themes are popular amongst some of us. A clean nation. Not like under Hitler but in our own way, a little bit like that.” Asked about Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine and Crimea, they reply: “Those who like Russia, let them move to Russia. Ukraine will be just for Ukrainians.” A spokesman for C14, an anti-Semitic youth group linked to Svoboda, tells BBC TV that, “Many ethnic groups have control of business structures, some economic, some political.” Which ethnic groups? “Russians, and Jews and Poles.” Also active in the Maidan were the neo-Nazi street fighters of Patriot of Ukraine; the racist White Hammer; Trizub (Trident, named after Ukraine’s coat of arms) which sponsors military training of youth; the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists and Ukrainian Platform Sobor. The purpose of these armed gangs is to terrorize any opposition.
“Mainstream” bourgeois apologists for the Maidan mobilization, echoed by some leftists, generally admit what by now is impossible to deny – the prominent participation by anti-Semitic ethnic nationalists and fascists in the mobilizations – but seek to minimize it, claiming that they represent only a minority of the protesters, etc. A German academic who teachers in Kiev, Andreas Umland, earlier argued that “Svoboda has been and probably will remain a minor Ukrainian political force,” while saying it was a “strategic mistake” for other protesters to take up the ultra-nationalists’ slogans (Kyiv Post, 28 December 2013). In January he circulated a petition by academics saying “the heavy focus on right-wing radicals in international media reports” is “unwarranted and misleading.” More recently (AFP, 1 March), Umland argued that Svoboda’s influence was “hyped” and Pravy Sektor was “overrated.”
Republican senator John McCain (center) and Democratic senator Chris Murphy on stage at Kiev's Maidan together with Oleh Tyahnibok, leader of the fascist Svoboda party, 15 December 2013. Anti-Semitic anti-communist Tyahnibok rails against “Muscovite-Jewish mafia,” but now he is embraced by U.S. imperialism. (Photo: Dmitry Lovetsky/AP)
Even if this were true, which it is not, there can obviously be no common action with fascists and racists, they must be smashed. Underestimating the threat of neo-Nazis, white racists and anti-Semites can be fatal. And in fact, Svoboda and Pravy Sektor were top leaders of the Maidan occupation. One of the three main spokesmen was Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnibok, a member of parliament who in 2004 gave a speech complaining that Ukraine was run by a “Muscovite-Jewish mafia.” Later he called on the government to “stop the criminal activity of organized Jewry.” Last year, Tyahnibok was barred from entering the United States citing his virulent anti-Semitism. But in December, Republican senator John McCain appeared on the platform in the Maidan with this Jew-hater, and U.S. undersecretary of state Victoria Nuland met with him.
No. 2 in the Svoboda hierarchy is Yuri Mykhalchyshyn, who openly promotes fascism. Mykhalchyshyn founded the organization as the Social-National Party in 1991, mimicking the name of Hitler’s National Socialists. He calls the Holocaust “a bright episode in European civilization,” founded a think tank originally called the “Joseph Goebbels Political Research Center,” published a volume of tracts by Italian, German and Ukrainian fascists, dresses in skinhead neo-Nazi style and leads torchlight parades behind banners with SS symbols. If Tyahnibok is mainly anti-Semitic, Mukhalchyshyn is particularly anti-Russian, referring to Ukrainians from east of the Dniepr River as “Asiatic dogs.” Last October he introduced a bill to the Rada to require public employees to speak and write Ukrainian or be fired.1
No longer minor players in Ukrainian politics, Svoboda and other rightist ethnic nationalists managed to get their themes and chants taken up by the Maidan protests. And having played a key role in the coup, many of these ultra-rightists are now prominent in the post-coup government. Svoboda has deputy prime minister and economics minister Oleksandr Sych, who earlier introduced a bill to ban all abortions, including in cases of rape; ecology minister Andriy Makhnyk; agriculture minister Ihor Shvaiko; and the important position of prosecutor-general, Oleh Makhnitsky. Education minister Serhiy Kvit is a “former” member of Svoboda, as is Andriy Parubiy, in the key post of head of the national security and defense council, in charge of the military, while the deputy chief is Dmytro Yarosh, the top leader of Pravy Sektor.
Imperialist media had a field day with photos of ousted Ukrainian president Yanukvich's lavish estate (top right). But new “prime minister” Yatsenyuk installed by fascist-led, imperialist-backed coup has a villa (lower left) in the same upscale neighborhood. No petting zoo with rare giraffes, though.
The post-coup regime, which seized power with armed mob action, is a coalition of fascists and ethnic nationalists representing Maidan on the one hand, together with economic free marketeers, representing the oligarchs and their international backers notably the “prime minister” Arseniy Yatsenyuk, spokesman of the Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) party and second main leader of Euromaidan. A banker and stand-in for Batkivshchyna chief Yulia Tymoshenko, the former prime minister and oligarch who was imprisoned by Yanukovich for corruption, Yatsenyuk was the American favorite. (Yatsenyuk has a villa only a stone’s throw away from ousted president Yanukovych’s lavish spread.) The third Euromaidan party leader, world boxing champion Vitali Klitschko of the Ukrainian Democratic Reform Party (UDAR), is out, having been vetoed by U.S. diplomat Nuland in her infamous leaked phone call.
“F**k the EU!”: U.S. Diplomats Select Ukraine Premier
A peek behind the curtain of imperialist machinations over Ukraine was provided when someone leaked part of a conversation between U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and posted it on YouTube on February 6. Given the past year of revelations about global NSA snooping, with the U.S. listening in on everyone including leaders of top American allies like Germany, it was indeed poetic justice when the snoopers themselves had their conversations blasted over the Internet.
In their not-so-secure chat, Pyatt and Nuland decide that Klitschko should not be a member of a future government, which they want formed around Yatsenyuk, as in fact occurred a few weeks later. If their references to “Klitsch” and “Yats” in this dialogue make you think of nicknames for household pets, you are not far off the mark. Nuland further decrees “what he [Yatsenyuk] needs is Klitsch and [fascist Svoboda leader] Tyahnibok on the outside.”
Re: Video/Photos-US Hands Off Ukraine Rally-Boston
by Mike Whitney
(No verified email address)
22 May 2014
Putin vs. Comrade Wolf - Showdown in Ukraine. http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/05/21/showdown-in-ukraine/
by MIKE WHITNEY
“Comrade Wolf knows who to eat, and he eats without listening to anyone.”
- Russian President Vladimir Putin referring to the United States
The Ukraine crisis has its roots in a policy that dates back nearly 20 years. The origins of the policy can be traced to a 1997 article in Foreign Policy magazine by Zbigniew Brzezinski, titled “A Geostrategy for Eurasia.” The article makes the case that the United States needs to forcefully establish itself in Central Asia in order to maintain its position as the world’s only superpower. While many readers may be familiar with Brzezinski’s thinking on these matters, they might not know what he has to say about Russia, which is particularly illuminating given that the recent uptick in violence has less to do with Ukraine than it does with Washington’s proxy-war on Russia. Here’s what Brzezinski says:
“Russia’s longer-term role in Eurasia will depend largely on its self-definition…Russia’s first priority should be to modernize itself rather than to engage in a futile effort to regain its status as a global power. Given the country’s size and diversity, a decentralized political system and free-market economics would be most likely to unleash the creative potential of the Russian people and Russia’s vast natural resources. A loosely confederated Russia — composed of a European Russia, a Siberian Republic, and a Far Eastern Republic — would also find it easier to cultivate closer economic relations with its neighbors. Each of the confederated entitles would be able to tap its local creative potential, stifled for centuries by Moscow’s heavy bureaucratic hand. In turn, a decentralized Russia would be less susceptible to imperial mobilization.” Zbigniew Brzezinski, A Geostrategy for Eurasia, Foreign Affairs, 76:5, September/October 1997.
So is this the goal of US policy, to create “A loosely confederated Russia” whose economy can be subsumed into America’s market-based system?
Notice how easily Brzezinski chops Russia into smaller, bite-size statelets that pose no threat to US imperial expansion. Brzezinski undoubtedly envisions a Russia that will sell its vast resources in petrodollars and recycle them into US Treasuries further enriching the corrupt rent-skimmers in Washington and Wall Street. He foresees a Russia that will abdicate its historic role in the world and have no say-so in shaping global policy. He imagines a compliant Russia that will help facilitate US imperial ambitions in Asia, even to the point where it will pay to police its own people on behalf of US oligarchs, weapons manufacturers, oil magnates, and 1 percenters. Here’s the paragraph in Brzezinski’s piece that sums up Washington’s objectives in Ukraine, Russia and beyond. It is fittingly headlined with the following words in bold print:
“Defining the substance and institutionalizing the form of a trans-Eurasian security system could become the major architectural initiative of the next century. The core of the new transcontinental security framework could be a standing committee composed of the major Eurasian powers, with America, Europe, China, Japan, a confederated Russia, and India collectively addressing critical issues for Eurasia’s stability. The emergence of such a transcontinental system could gradually relieve America of some of its burdens, while perpetuating beyond a generation its decisive role as Eurasia’s arbitrator. Geostrategic success in that venture would be a fitting legacy to America’s role as the first and only global superpower.” Zbigniew Brzezinski, “A Geostrategy for Eurasia,” Foreign Affairs
Translation: The United States will police the world, dispatch troublemakers, and eliminate potential threats wherever it finds them. It will impose its neoliberal dogma (Austerity, privatization, structural adjustment, anti labor reforms, etc) across-the-board and on all participants. Also, minor partners–”Europe, China, Japan, a confederated Russia, and India”–will be expected to provide security for their own people at their own expense in order to “relieve America of some of its burdens.”
Nice, eh? So you even have to pay for your own jailers.
And what is “Transcontinental Security” anyway? Isn’t it just a fancy way of saying “one world government”?
Indeed, it is. It’s the very same thing. Here’s more from Brzezinski:
“Failure to widen NATO…would shatter the concept of an expanding Europe… Worse, it could reignite dormant Russian political aspirations in Central Europe.”
This is an oddly convoluted statement. In the first sentence, Brzezinski supports the idea of an “expanding Europe”, and then in the next breath, he worries that Russia might want to do the same thing. It’s another case of the pot calling the kettle black.
What’s clear, is that –in Brzezinski’s mind– EU and NATO expansion will help Washington achieve its hegemonic aspirations. That’s all that matters. Here’s what he says:
“Europe is America’s essential geopolitical bridgehead in Eurasia…A wider Europe and an enlarged NATO will serve the short-term and longer-term interests of U.S. policy… A politically defined Europe is also essential to Russia’s assimilation into a system of global cooperation.”
“Bridgehead”? In other words, Europe is just a means to an end. But what would that “end” be?
Global domination. Isn’t that what he’s talking about?
Of course, it is.
What makes the Ukrainian crisis so hard to understand, is that the media conceals the policy behind the impenetrable fog of daily events. Once the fog lifts though, it’s easy to see who’s causing all the trouble. It’s the party that’s calling the shots from abroad, the good old US of A.
Putin doesn’t want this war and neither do most Ukrainians. The whole thing was conjured up by Uncle Sam and his minions to stop the flow of Russian gas to Europe, to push NATO further eastward, and to break the Russian Federation into little pieces. That’s what it’s really all about. And these madmen are willing to raze Ukraine to the ground and kill every living organism within a 3,000 mile radius of Kiev to get their way. After all, isn’t that what they did in Iraq? They sure did. And did I mention that, according to this week’s Wall Street Journal, “Iraq’s Oil Output Surged to Highest Level in Over 30 Years” with all the usual suspects raking in hefty profits.
The point is, if they’d did it in Iraq, they’ll do it in Ukraine too. Because what Washington cares about is constituents not carnage. Carnage they can handle.
Brzezinski is not the only one supporting the current policy either. There’s also fellow traveler, Hillary Clinton. In fact, it was Secretary of State Clinton who first used the term “pivot” in a 2011 article in Foreign Policy Magazine titled “America’s Pacific Century”. Clinton’s op-ed described a “rebalancing” plan that would open up new markets to US corporations and Wall Street, control the flow of vital resources, and “forge a broad-based military presence” across the continent. Here’s an excerpt from the text of Clinton’s seminal speech:
“The future of politics will be decided in Asia, not Afghanistan or Iraq, and the United States will be right at the center of the action.
As the war in Iraq winds down and America begins to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, the United States stands at a pivot point. Over the last 10 years, we have allocated immense resources to those two theaters. In the next 10 years, we need to be smart and systematic about where we invest time and energy, so that we put ourselves in the best position to sustain our leadership, secure our interests, and advance our values. One of the most important tasks of American statecraft over the next decade will therefore be to lock in a substantially increased investment — diplomatic, economic, strategic, and otherwise — in the Asia-Pacific region…
Harnessing Asia’s growth and dynamism is central to American economic and strategic interests and a key priority for President Obama. Open markets in Asia provide the United States with unprecedented opportunities for investment, trade, and access to cutting-edge technology…..American firms (need) to tap into the vast and growing consumer base of Asia…The region already generates more than half of global output and nearly half of global trade. As we strive to meet President Obama’s goal of doubling exports by 2015, we are looking for opportunities to do even more business in Asia…
…as I talk with business leaders across our own nation, I hear how important it is for the United States to expand our exports and our investment opportunities in Asia’s dynamic markets.” (“America’s Pacific Century”, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton”, Foreign Policy Magazine, 2011)
“Harnessing Asia’s growth and dynamism is central to American economic and strategic interests and a key priority for President Obama”?
Does that sound like someone who wants to cultivate a mutually-beneficial relationship with their trading partners or someone who wants to move in, take over and run the show?
Washington’s plan to shift its attention from the Middle East to Asia is all about money. Clinton even says so herself. She says, “The region generates more than half of global output and nearly half of global trade…Asia’s markets … provide the United States with unprecedented opportunities for investment, trade, and…a vast and growing consumer base.”
Money, money, money. The upside-profit potential is limitless which is why Madame Clinton wants to plant Old Glory right in “the center of the action”, so US corporations can rake in the dough without fear of reprisal.
Brzezinski says the same thing in his magnum opus “The Grand Chessboard” Here’s an excerpt:
“A power that dominates Eurasia would control two of the world’s three most advanced and economically productive regions. A mere glance at the map also suggests that control over Eurasia would almost automatically entail Africa’s subordination, rendering the Western Hemisphere and Oceania (Australia) geopolitically peripheral to the world’s central continent. About 75 per cent of the world’s people live in Eurasia, and most of the world’s physical wealth is there as well, both in its enterprises and underneath its soil. Eurasia accounts for about three-fourths of the world’s known energy resources.” (Zbigniew Brzezinski, “The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And It’s Geostrategic Imperatives”, page 31)
Get the picture? It’s a gold rush! Having successfully looted every last farthing from the battered US middle class and left the economy in a ghastly shambles, Brzezinski, Clinton and Co. are headed for greener pastures in Central Asia, home of the world’s largest oil producing nation, boundless reserves in the Caspian Basin, and zillions of voracious consumers who’ll need everything from I Pads to leisure wear, all graciously provided by US-owned corporations. Cha-ching!
So don’t get tripped up on the daily events in Ukraine. This isn’t a clash between pro-government forces and anti-government activists. This is the next big phase of Washington’s plan to conquer the world, a plan that will inevitably pit Moscow against the amassed military power of the United States of America. This is David vs. Goliath, Mother Russia vs. the Great Satan, Vladie Putin vs. Comrade Wolf.
Russian news channel in English online - Many alternative opinions. From US Leftists and academics who would never be allowed on US mainstream media are featured.
Chinese news channel in English featuring the views of the Chinese - very different from what the US media claims China says
From Iran - News that does not follow the US government script - Many independent views that would never be allowed on the tightly controlled US media.
All of these news sources can be accessed from Boston with a simple internet connection. Compare and contrast.
Re: Video/Photos-US Hands Off Ukraine Rally-Boston
by P. Sprey
(No verified email address)
23 May 2014
Modified: 03:19:17 PM
Crimea: an EU-US-Exxon Screwup
by PIERRE M. SPREY and FRANKLIN C. SPINNEY
On 17 May, William Broad’s piece, “In Taking Crimea, Putin Gains a Sea of Fuel Reserves”, appeared in the New York Times. Broad explained how the annexation of Crimea by Russia changed the legal claims for exclusive access to the maritime resources for the littoral nations of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. At the core of the change is the 200 NM exclusion zone promulgated by the Law of the Sea, 1982. Typically for the Grey Lady, Broad spun this fact into an anti-Putin tapestry using a charged mix of verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. Nevertheless, Broad’s report contains tantalizing information that hints at a fascinating alternative explanation for the events leading up to the Crimean annexation.
The facts in Broad’s report appear to come almost entirely from an interview Broad had with Dr. William B. F. Ryan, a marine geologist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, including the maps showing each littoral country’s Law of the Sea exclusion zones. Ryan’s facts are not in dispute.
A point not mentioned by Broad is that no geographic location in either the Black Sea or the Sea of Azov is more than 200 NM from a coastline of the six littoral nations — Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, or Georgia. This can be seen by superimposing the 200 NM scale on the map below (Figure 1). The overlap of all the “exclusion” zones covers 100% of both seas, with the six areas divvied up according to the separation rules codified by the Law the Sea. The extensive overlap means that the change in the Ukraine-Russian border produces a profound shift in the exclusion zones belonging to Russia and Ukraine, as shown in Dr. Ryan’s before and after maps (Figure 2 below).
The division of exclusion zones in the Black Sea is a big deal, because many geologists believe the floor of the Black Sea, like that of the North Sea, contains massive reserves of oil and gas, especially in deep water. We have added the 600 foot depth contour in red on Figure 1. This contour marks the beginning of the medium blue transition zone between the shallow coastal shelf waters and the deep sea waters outlined by the 6000 feet contour enclosing the deep blue area in Figure 1. (note: the contour lines in Figure 1 are in fathoms; 1 fathom = 6 feet.) With the exception of the northwestern portion of the Black Sea, coastal waters with depths of less than 600 feet cover only small distances from the national coastlines.
Now let’s turn our attention to the exclusion zones. The Ryan maps in Figure 2 break up the Black Sea and Sea of Azov into the six exclusion zones introduced above. They show how Russia’s annexation of Crimea did not change anything for Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, or Georgia.
According to Ryan’s maps, the annexation of Crimea added 36,000 square miles, more than doubling Russia’s legal claims from 26,000 square miles in the Black Sea and Sea of Azov to 62,000 square miles. Ukraine lost a corresponding amount. More importantly, the overlay of the 600 foot contour shows that Ukraine no longer has access to any deep water. This change is a verifiable consequence of annexation.
And it has profound implications. Dr. Ryan also speculates the deep regions gained by Russia may be “the best” of the Black Sea’s deep oil reserves, although it must be remembered these reserves are not fully explored. In fact, as of 2012, less than 100 exploratory wells have been drilled in the Black Sea’s deep water, and only one well has struck pay dirt. That well, “Domino 1,” drilled in Romanian waters at a depth of 3200 feet, lies beyond the 600 foot contour line near the NE edge of the Romanian exclusion zone, close to what is now the Russian exclusion zone.
So, at first glance, it is easy to accept the picture slyly suggested by Broad’s charged verbs, adverbs, and adjectives: the annexation of Crimea by Russia was, at least in part, an aggressive energy grab by the Machiavellian Russian chess master, “Vlad the Bad” Putin. Such a conclusion is certainly comforting to those in the US neoliberal establishment intent on starting a new cold war and grabbing control of even more state property of the former USSR via privatization, austerity economics, and good old fashioned bribery.
But putting aside the tendentious verbiage, there are facts in Broad’s reportage that suggest quite a different picture. Note Broad’s several references to Exxon’s involvement and investment in Ukraine during 2012. Does this not raise the possibility that the US and EU-inspired putsch in Ukraine may have been allied with the lust of western oil and gas multinationals for a stranglehold on European energy supplies? If so, the figures compiled by Dr. Ryan may show how that coup blew up in our face.
To fully savor the possible dimensions of a US-EU-Exxon screw-up, let’s look at a chronology of the recent, none-too-subtle moves on the EU-Ukraine-Russian chessboard.
The EU started openly pushing Ukraine for a really raw, exploitative trade deal in March 2012. A month later, in April 2012, Putin signed up with ENI-Italy to explore Russian Black Sea oil/gas. In August 2012 Exxon put up big bucks to outbid Russia’s Lukoil for exploring Ukrainian Black Sea oil/gas (a deal crucial to Exxon’s breaking of Russia’s stranglehold on gas supplies for Europe). Over the next year, Yanukovych (no doubt convinced by massive contributions to his Bahamian bank accounts) pushed the Ukrainian parliament to pass all the laws required to meet the EU/IMF’s draconian austerity requirements. (see Michael Hudson’s “New Cold War Ukraine Gambit” for an explanation of neoliberal looting economics.) When it looked like he might succeed, Putin quickly imposed the gas/trade embargo on Ukraine in August 2013, starting a precipitous drop in the Ukrainian economy–and Yanukovych started backing away from the EU deal.
That’s when the EU-US-EXXON made their monumentally stupid move of unleashing the coup against Yanukovych, beginning with the November 2013 Maidan protests leading to the neo-fascist incited riots that ended in the coup of 27 February 2014. The US-EU inspired coup, of course, gave Putin the perfect opening to welcome the grateful Crimeans back into the Russian fold–thereby swelling Putin’s domestic approval ratings enough to keep him in power for the next ten years. (For a good analysis of how Putin may view the world, see Mark Ames’ analysis of how he is exploiting the politics of resentment in Russia, Nixon-style.) And, perhaps not coincidentally, welcoming the grateful Crimeans also happened to more than double Putin’s Black Sea oil/gas holdings, while ruining Exxon’s chances for breaking his stranglehold on European gas supplies.
Putin certainly isn’t the greatest European strategist since Bismarck. But it doesn’t take much to win when opposed by dumb, ultra-greedy opponents guided by the arrogance of ignorance. All Putin needed was seeing one tiny move further ahead.
The only thing dumber than the transparent US-EU-Exxon moves was the American and European media’s slavish coverage of the same.
Pierre M. Sprey, together with Air Force Cols John Boyd and Everest Riccioni, brought to fruition the F-16; he also led the design team for the A-10 and helped implement the program. He is one of a very small number of Pentagon insiders who started the military reform movement in the late 1960s.
Franklin “Chuck” Spinney is a former military analyst for the Pentagon and a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. He be reached at chuck_spinney (at) mac.com
Re: Video/Photos-US Hands Off Ukraine Rally-Boston
by Poster Boy
(No verified email address)
27 May 2014
Unease in UK’s political elite after Prince Charles compares Putin to Hitler. By Julie Hyland World Socialist Web Site
27 May 2014
The row over Prince Charles’s comparison of Russian President Vladimir Putin with Adolf Hitler continues to rumble.
The Prince of Wales and heir to the British throne made his remarks during an official engagement at the Museum of Immigration in Halifax, Canada. Speaking to 78-year-old Marianne Ferguson, who lost relatives in the Nazi Holocaust, the prince said, “Now Putin is doing just about the same as Hitler.”
The comment was first reported by the Daily Mail. A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said the comparison was “unacceptable” and part of a “propaganda campaign” against Moscow. The Russian deputy ambassador to Britain met with senior Foreign Office officials to establish whether “it is an official position.”
“The response from Clarence House is it was a private talk,” the spokesman said. “We hope there is nothing behind it. But it is unclear to us: what does it mean? He is the future King. Was it a stunt?”
At the weekend, Putin criticised the prince for his “unacceptable” comments.
“Pass this on both to the prime minister and Prince Charles. He has visited our country many times. I did not hear him say that.
“If that is so, then of course it is unacceptable. I think that he himself understands this. He is a well brought up man. I am acquainted both with him and members of the royal family. This is not royal behaviour.”
Charles is not the first to make the comparison. The false and provocative analogy was also used by former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, among others. In fact, the modern-day equivalent of “lebensraum” (living room in the east) is being pursued by Washington and Berlin, not by Moscow. The aim is to encircle Russia and plunder the former territory of the Soviet Union. To this end, the US and the European Union, in collaboration with fascists, instigated a coup in Kiev and installed a government that includes the political heirs of the Ukrainian fascist and Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera.
Charles’s remarks were particularly crass given that he was in Nova Scotia to pay tribute to veterans of the Second World War. An estimated 27 million Russians were killed during that conflict, approximately 15 percent of the Soviet population—one of the highest population losses of the war against fascism of any nation. The United Kingdom, in comparison, lost less than one percent of its population.
On June 6, Putin and Charles are due to meet to commemorate the D-Day landings in France. According to the Daily Mail, Clarence House, Charles’s official residence, said today that there was no possibility of the two meeting, and that the Prince “would leave ‘immediately afterwards’ avoiding the possibility of an awkward confrontation.”
Charles’s comment backfired enormously, as several were quick to point out that he and his family were in no position to use comparisons with Hitler as a term of abuse, given that many royals had been on first-name terms with the dictator.
Russia Today (RT) broadcast a mocked-up royal family tree, showing its links to the Nazis, in a “Takes one to know one” video.
“If anyone knows real Nazis it’s the royal family”, it stated, showing a photograph of Prince Charles’s great uncle, the Duke of Windsor, and wife Wallis Simpson visiting Hitler in 1937 shortly after the Duke abdicated as Edward VIII.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s sister Sophie was married to an SS officer, Christoph of Hesse-Cassel, who was shown marching in his uniform.
Prince Harry, Charles’s son, was also shown dressed up as a Nazi at a party.
“Perhaps the royals are better seen, not heard”, the video commented.
RT ’s video could have run much longer, given the great admiration for Hitler and his Nazi storm troopers among both British royalty and the upper echelons of the establishment.
That in part accounts for the efforts of the British political establishment, and much of the media, to play down Charles’s “gaffe”. While Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg vocally defended the Prince’s “right [to] express himself,” he said he would not “start comparing one period of European history to another.” Labour leader Ed Miliband said only that “many in Britain” had “concerns” about Russia’s annexation of Crimea, while Prime Minister David Cameron would not be drawn.
In its editorial, the Guardian indicated the real reason for such caution. Describing Charles’s remark as a “breathtaking” lack of tact, it continued, “It is not a question of whether he is wrong. Some see Hitlerian parallels in the contempt that the Kremlin has shown for Ukraine’s borders; others see Russia as chiefly driven by defensive fears. The point is not the merits of either perspective, simply that both are bitterly contested.”
It fretted that, in the run-up to Sunday’s elections in Ukraine, “The last thing anyone needed was an incautious remark wafting in from across the Atlantic that reminds everyone, inside and outside Ukraine, of the age-old divisions that threaten to rip the country apart.”
As the Guardian well knows, it is not the “age-old divisions” that threaten Ukraine’s territorial integrity, but the machinations of the western powers. What it really meant is that Charles’s remarks threaten to throw the spotlight once again on these provocations.
For the last weeks, the main political parties and the media have sought to draw a veil of silence over events in Ukraine. Whatever the disquiet among a section of the establishment over its potential fallout, especially for the City of London, of more concern is the fact that responsibility for the catastrophe now unfolding in that country is, indeed, “bitterly contested” by the majority of the British and European public.
Britain’s ruling elite got its fingers badly burned over Syria in August last year when, in response to popular opposition, parliament was forced to veto plans for military intervention. Massive spending cuts, rising levels of social inequality and the bitter experience of the lies used to justify a pre-emptive war against Iraq have led to a deep disquiet, if not outright hostility, to the revival of militarism.
That hasn’t ended British and US-led intervention in Syria, where they continue to fan the flames of civil war, financing and arming Al Qaeda elements to support their goal of regime change. It did, however, mean that they had to alter plans for establishing control over this geopolitically strategic region, moving directly on to provoke a confrontation with Moscow.
British armed forces are now stationed in Estonia as part of the NATO military build-up against Russia, while RAF Typhoon jets patrol the Baltics. In the last weeks, there have been three barely reported “engagements” between British and Russian military forces, all described as “friendly”.
How much longer that can continue is another matter and one that Britain’s ruling class does not want being openly discussed. That is why they are so keen to draw a veil of silence over Charles’s latest stupidity.
by Andre Vitchek
(No verified email address)
27 May 2014
More Than a Voting Booth
Down With Western ‘Democracy’!
by ANDRE VLTCHEK
A specter is haunting Europe and Western world — it is this time, the specter of fascism. It came quietly, without great fanfare and parades, without raised hands and loud shouts. But it came, or it returned, as it has always been present in this culture, one that has, for centuries, been enslaving our entire planet.
As was in Nazi Germany, resistance to the fascist empire is again given an unsavory name: terrorism. Partisans and patriots, resistance fighters – all of them were and have always been defined by fascist bigots as terrorists.
By the logic of Empire, to murder millions of men, women and children in all corners of the world abroad is considered legitimate and patriotic, but to defend one’s motherland was and is a sign of extremism.
German Nazis and Italian Fascists defined their rule as ‘democratic’, and so does this Empire. The British and French empires that exterminated tens of millions of people all over the world, always promoted themselves as ‘democracies’.
And now, once again, we are witnessing a tremendous onslaught by the business-political-imperialist Western apparatus, destabilizing or directly destroying entire nations, overthrowing governments and bombing ‘rebellious’ states into the ground.
All this is done in the name of democracy, in the name of freedom.
An unelected monster, as it has done for centuries, is playing with the world, torturing some, and plundering others, or both.
The West, in a final act of arrogance, has somehow confused itself with its own concept of God. It has decided that it has the full right to shape the planet, to punish and to reward, to destroy and rebuild as it wishes.
This horrible wave of terror unleashed against our planet, is justified by an increasingly meaningless but fanatically defended dogma, symbolized by a box (made of card or wood, usually), and masses of people sticking pieces of paper into the opening on the top of that box.
This is the altar of Western ideological fundamentalism. This is a supreme idiocy that cannot be questioned, as it guarantees the status quo for ruling elites and business interests, an absurdity that justifies all crimes, all lies and all madness.
This sacrificial altar is called, Democracy, in direct mockery to what the term symbolizes in its original, Greek, language.
In our latest book, “On Western Terrorism – from Hiroshima to Drone Warfare”, Noam Chomsky commented on the ‘democratic’ process in the Western world:
“The goal of elections now is to undermine democracy. They are run by the public relations industry and they’re certainly not trying to create informed voters who’ll make rational choices. They are trying to delude people into making irrational choices. The same techniques that are used to undermine markets are used to undermine democracy. It’s one of the major industries in the country and its basic workings are invisible.”
But what is it that really signifies this ‘sacred’ word, this almost religious term, and this pinnacle of Western demagogy? We hear it everywhere. We are ready to sacrifice millions of lives (not ours of course, at least not yet, but definitely lives of the others) in the name of it.
All those grand slogans and propaganda! Last year I visited Pyongyang, but I have to testify that North Koreans are not as good at slogans as the Western propagandists are.
“In the name of freedom and democracy!” Hundreds of millions tons of bombs fell from the sky on the Laotian, Cambodian and Vietnamese countryside… bodies were burned by napalm, mutilated by spectacular explosions.
“Defending democracy!” Children were raped in front of their parents in Central America, men and women machine-gunned down by death squads that had been trained in military bases in the United States of America.
“Civilizing the world and spreading democracy!” That has always been a European slogan, their ‘stuff to do’, and a way of showing their great civilization to others. Amputating hands of Congolese people, murdering around ten million of them, and many more in Namibia, East Africa, West Africa and Algiers; gassing people of the Middle East (“I am strongly in favour of using poisonous gas against uncivilised tribes”, to borrow from the colorful lexicon of (Sir) Winston Churchill).
So what is it really? Who is it, that strange lady with an axe in her hand and with a covered face – the lady whose name is Democracy?
It is all very simple, actually. The term originates from the Greek δημοκρατία (dēmokratía) “rule of the people”. Then and now, it was supposed to be in direct contrast to ἀριστοκρατία (aristokratia), that means “rule of an elite”.
‘Rule of the people’… Let us just visit a few examples of the ‘rule of the people’.
People spoke, they ruled, they voted ‘democratically’ in Chile, bringing in the mild and socialist government of ‘Popular Unity’ of Salvador Allende.
Sure, the Chilean education system was so brilliant, its political and social system so wonderful, that it inspired not only many countries in Latin America, but also those in far away Mediterranean Europe.
That could not be tolerated, because, as we all know, it is only white Europe and North America that can be allowed to supply the world with the blueprint for any society, anywhere on this planet. It was decided that “Chile has to scream”, that its economy had to be ruined and the “Popular Unity” government kicked out of power.
Henry Kissinger, belonging, obviously, to a much higher race and country of a much higher grade, made a straightforward and in a way very ‘honest’ statement, clearly defining the North American stand towards global democracy: “I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go Communist due to the irresponsibility of its people.”
And so Chile was ravaged. Thousands of people were murdered and ‘our son-of-a-bitch’ was brought to power. General Pinochet was not elected: he bombed the Presidential palace in Santiago, he savagely tortured the men and women who were elected by the Chilean people, and he “disappeared” thousands.
But that was fine, because democracy, as it is seen from Washington, London or Paris, is nothing more and nothing less than what the white man needs in order to control this planet, unopposed and preferably never criticized.
Of course Chile was not the only place where ‘democracy’ was ‘redefined’. And it was not the most brutal scenario either, although it was brutal enough. But it was a very symbolic ‘case’, because here, there could be absolutely no dispute: an extremely well educated, middle class country, voted in transparent elections, just to have its government murdered, tortured and exiled, simply because it was too democratic and too involved in improving the lives of its people.
There were countless instances of open spite coming from the North, towards the ‘rule of the people’ in Latin America. For centuries, there have been limitless examples. Every country ‘south of the border’ in the Western Hemisphere, became a victim.
After all, the self-imposed Monroe Doctrine gave North Americans ‘unquestionable rights’ to intervene and ‘correct’ any ‘irresponsible’ democratic moves made by the lower races inhabiting Central and South America as well as the Caribbean Islands.
There were many different scenarios of real ingenuity, in how to torture countries that embarked on building decent homes for their people, although soon there was evidence of repetitiveness and predictability.
The US has been either sponsoring extremely brutal coups (like the one in Guatemala in 1954), or simply occupying the countries in order to overthrow their democratically elected governments. Justifications for such interventions have varied: it was done in order to ‘restore order’, to ‘restore freedom and democracy’, or to prevent the emergence of ‘another Cuba’.
From the Dominican Republic in 1965 to Grenada in 1983, countries were ‘saved from themselves’ through the introduction (by orders from mainly the Protestant North American elites with clearly pathological superiority complexes) of death squads that administered torture, rape and extrajudicial executions. People were killed because their democratic decisions were seen as ‘irresponsible’ and therefore unacceptable.
While there has been open racism in every aspect of how the Empire controlled its colonies, ‘political correctness’ was skillfully introduced, effectively reducing to a bare minimum any serious critiques of the societies that were forced into submission.
In Indonesia, between 1 and 3 million people were murdered in the years1965/66, in a US -sponsored coup, because there too, was a ‘great danger’ that the people would rule and decide to vote ‘irresponsibly’, bringing the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI), at that time the third most numerous Communist Party anywhere in the world, to power.
The democratically elected President of Congo, Patrice Lumumba, was murdered in 1961, by the joint efforts of the United States and Europe, simply because he was determined to use the vast natural resources of his country to feed his own people; and because he dared to criticize Western colonialism and imperialism openly and passionately.
East Timor lost a third of its population simply because its people, after gaining independence from Portugal, dared to vote the left-leaning FRETILIN into power. “We are not going to tolerate another Cuba next to our shores”, protested the Indonesian fascist dictator Suharto, and the US and Australia strongly agreed. The torture, and extermination of East Timorese people by the Indonesian military, was considered irrelevant and not even worth reporting in the mass media.
The people of Iran could of course not be trusted with ‘democracy’. Iran is one of the oldest and greatest cultures on earth, but its people wanted to use the revenues from its oil to improve their lives, not to feed foreign multi-nationals. That has always been considered a crime by Western powers – a crime punishable by death.
The people of Iran decided to rule; they voted, they said that they want to have all their oil industry nationalized. Mohammad Mosaddeq, the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran from 1951 to 1953, was ready to implement what his people demanded. But his government was overthrown in a coup d’état, orchestrated by the British MI6 and North American CIA, and what followed was the murderous dictatorship of the deranged Western puppet – Reza Pahlavi. As in Latin America and Indonesia, instead of schools, hospitals and housing projects, people got death squads, torture chambers and fear. Is that what they wanted? Is that what they voted for?
There were literally dozens of countries, all over the world, which had to be ‘saved’, by the West, from their own ‘irresponsible citizens and voters’. Brazil recently ‘celebrated’ the 50th anniversary of the US-backed military coup d’état, which began a horrendous 20 year long military dictatorship. The US supported two coups in Iraq, in 1963 and 1968 that brought Saddam Hussein and his Baath Party to power. The list is endless. These are only some random examples.
On closer examination, the West has overthrown, or made attempts to overthrow, almost any democratically elected governments, on all continents attempting to serve their own people, by providing them with decent standards of living and social services. That is quite an achievement, and some stamina!
Could it be then that the West only respects ‘Democracy’ when ‘people are forced to rule’ against their own interests? And when they are ‘defending’ what they are ordered to defend by local elites that are subservient to North American and European interests?… and also when they are defending the interests of foreign multi-national companies and Western governments that are dependent on those companies?
Can anything be done? If a country is too weak to defend itself by military means, against some mighty Western aggressor, could it approach any international democratic institutions, hoping for protection?
A good example is Nicaragua, which had been literally terrorized by the United States, for no other reason than for being socialist. Its government went to court.
The case was called: The Republic of Nicaragua v. The United States of America.
It was a 1986 case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in which the ICJ ruled in favor of Nicaragua and against the United States and awarded reparations to Nicaragua.
The judgment was long, consisting of 291 points. Among them that the United States had been involved in the “unlawful use of force.” The alleged violations included attacks on Nicaraguan facilities and naval vessels, the mining of Nicaraguan ports, the invasion of Nicaraguan air space, and the training, arming, equipping, financing and supplying of forces (the “Contras”) and seeking to overthrow Nicaragua’s Sandinista government.
Judgment was passed, and so were UN votes and resolutions. The UN resolution from 1986 called for the full and immediate compliance with the Judgment. Only Thailand, France and the UK abstained. The US showed total spite towards the court, and it vetoed all UN resolutions.
It continued its terror campaign against Nicaragua. In the end, the ruined and exhausted country voted in 1990. It was soon clear that it was not voting for or against Sandinista government, but whether to endure more violence from the North, or to simply accept depressing defeat. The Sandinista government lost. It lost because the voters had a North American gun pointing at their heads.
This is how ‘democracy’ works.
I covered the Nicaraguan elections of 1996 and I was told by voters, by a great majority of them, that they were going to vote for the right-wing candidate (Aleman), only because the US was threatening to unleash another wave of terror in case the Sandinista government came back to power, democratically.
The Sandinistas are now back. But only because most of Latin America has changed, and there is unity and determination to fight, if necessary.
While the Europeans are clearly benefiting from neo-colonialism and the plunder that goes on all over the world, it would be ridiculous to claim that they themselves are ‘enjoying the fruits of democracy’.
In a dazzling novel “Seeing”, written by Jose Saramago, a laureate for the Nobel Prize for literature, some 83% of voters in an unidentified country (most likely Saramago’s native Portugal), decide to cast blank ballots, expressing clear spite towards the Western representative election system.
This state, which prided itself as a ‘democratic one’, responded by unleashing an orgy of terror against its own citizens. It soon became obvious that people are allowed to make democratic choices only when the result serves the interests of the regime.
Ursula K Le Guin, reviewing the novel in the pages of The Guardian, on 15 April 2006, admitted:
Turning in a blank ballot is a signal unfamiliar to most Britons and Americans, who aren’t yet used to living under a government that has made voting meaningless. In a functioning democracy, one can consider not voting a lazy protest liable to play into the hands of the party in power (as when low Labour turn-out allowed Margaret Thatcher’s re-elections, and Democratic apathy secured both elections of George W Bush). It comes hard to me to admit that a vote is not in itself an act of power, and I was at first blind to the point Saramago’s non-voting voters are making.
She should not have been. Even in Europe itself, terror had been unleashed, on many occasions, against the people who decided to vote ‘incorrectly’.
Perhaps the most brutal instance was in the post WWII period, when the Communist Parties were clearly heading for spectacular victories in France, Italy and West Germany. Such ‘irresponsible behavior’ had to be, of course, stopped. Both US and UK intelligence forces made a tremendous effort to ‘save democracy’ in Europe, employing Nazis to break, intimidate, even murder members of progressive movements and parties.
These Nazi cadres were later allowed, even encouraged, to leave Europe for South America, some carrying huge booty from the victims who vanished in concentration camps. This booty included gold teeth.
Later on, in the 1990’s, I spoke to some of them, and also to their children, in Asuncion, the capital of Paraguay. They were proud of their deeds, unrepentant, and as Nazi as ever.
Many of those European Nazis later actively participated in Operation Condor, so enthusiastically supported by the Paraguayan fascist and pro-Western dictator, Alfredo Strössner. Mr Strössner was a dear friend and asylum-giver to many WWII war criminals, including people like Dr. Josef Mengele, the Nazi doctor known as the “Angel of Death”, who performed genetic experiments on children during the WWII.
So, after destroying that ‘irresponsible democratic process’ in Europe (the post-war Western Empire), many European Nazis that were now loyally serving their new master, were asked to continue with what they knew how to do best. Therefore they helped to assassinate some 60,000 left-wing South American men, women and their children, who were guilty of building egalitarian and just societies in their home countries. Many of these Nazis took part, directly, in Operacion Condor, under the direct supervision of the United States and Europe.
As Naomi Klein writes in her book, Shock Doctrine:
“Operación Cóndor, also known as Plan Cóndor, Portuguese: Operação Condor) was a campaign of political repression and terror involving intelligence operations and assassination of opponents, officially implemented in 1975 by the right-wing dictatorships of the Southern Cone of South America. The program was intended to eradicate communist or Soviet influence and ideas, and to suppress active or potential opposition movements against the participating governments.”
In Chile, German Nazis rolled up their sleeves and went to work directly: by interrogating, liquidating and savagely torturing members of the democratically elected government and its supporters. They also performed countless medical experiments on people, at the so-called Colonia Dirnidad, during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, whose rule was manufactured and sustained by Dr. Kissinger and his clique.
But back to Europe: in Greece, after WWII, both the UK and US got heavily involved in the civil war between the Communists and the extreme right-wing forces.
In 1967, just one month before the elections in which the Greek left-wing was expected to win democratically (the Indonesian scenario of 1965), the US and its ‘Greek colonels’ staged a coup, which marked the beginning of a 7 year savage dictatorship.
What happened in Yugoslavia, some 30 years later is, of course clear. A successful Communist country could not be allowed to survive, and definitely not in Europe. As bombs fell on Belgrade, many of those inquisitive and critically thinking people that had any illusions left about the Western regime and its ‘democratic principles’, lost them rapidly.
But by then, the majority of Europe already consisted of indoctrinated masses, some of the worst informed and most monolithic (in their thinking) on earth.
Europe and its voters… It is that constantly complaining multitude, which wants more and more money, and delivers the same and extremely predictable electoral results every four, five or six years. It lives and votes mechanically. It has totally lost its ability to imagine a different world, to fight for humanist principles, and even to dream.
It is turning into an extremely scary place, a museum at best, and a cemetery of human vision at the worst.
As Noam Chomsky pointed out:
Americans may be encouraged to vote, but not to participate more meaningfully in the political arena. Essentially the election is a method of marginalizing the population. A huge propaganda campaign is mounted to get people to focus on these personalized quadrennial extravaganzas and to think, “That’s politics.” But it isn’t. It’s only a small part of politics.
The population has been carefully excluded from political activity, and not by accident. An enormous amount of work has gone into that disenfranchisement. During the 1960s the outburst of popular participation in democracy terrified the forces of convention, which mounted a fierce counter-campaign. Manifestations show up today on the left as well as the right in the effort to drive democracy back into the hole where it belongs.
Arundhati Roy, commented in her “Is there life after democracy?”
The question here, really, is what have we done to democracy? What have we turned it into? What happens once democracy has been used up? When it has been hollowed out and emptied of meaning? What happens when each of its institutions has metastasized into something dangerous? What happens now that democracy and the Free Market have fused into a single predatory organism with a thin, constricted imagination that revolves almost entirely around the idea of maximizing profit? Is it possible to reverse this process? Can something that has mutated go back to being what it used to be?
After all that brutality, and spite for people all over the world, the West is now teaching the planet about democracy. It is lecturing Asians and Africans, people from Middle East and Sub-Continent, on how to make their countries more ‘democratic’. It is actually hard to believe, it should be one of the most hilarious things on earth, but it is happening, and everyone is silent about it.
Those who are listening without bursting into laughter are actually well paid.
There are seminars; even foreign aid projects related to ‘good governance’, sponsored by the European Union, and the United States. The EU is actually much more active in this field. Like the Italian mafia, it sends covert but unmistakable messages to the world: “You do as we say, or we break your legs… But if you obey, come to us and we will teach you how to be a good aide to Cosa Nostra! And we will give you some pasta and wine while you are learning.”
Because there is plenty of money, so called ‘funding’… members of the elite, the academia, media and non-government organizations, from countries that have been plundered by the West – countries like Indonesia, Philippines, DR Congo, Honduras, or Colombia –send armies of people to get voluntarily indoctrinated, (sorry, to be ‘enlightened’) to learn about democracy from the greatest assassins of genuine ‘people’s power’; from the West.
Violating democracy is an enormous business. To hush it up is part of that business. To learn how to be idle and not to intervene against the external forces destroying democracy in your own country, while pretending to be ‘engaged and active’, is actually the best business, much better than building bridges or educating children (from a mercantilist point of view).
Once, at the University of Indonesia where I was invited to speak, a student asked me ‘what is the way forward’, to make his country more democratic? I replied, looking at several members of the professorial staff:
“Demand that your teachers stop going to Europe on fully funded trips. Demand that they stop being trained in how to brainwash you. Do not go there yourself, to study. Go there to see, to understand and to learn, but not to study… Europe had robbed you of everything. They are still looting your country. What do you think you will learn there? Do you really think they will teach you how to save your nation?”
Students began laughing. The professors were fuming. I was never invited back. I am sure that the professors knew exactly what I was talking about. The students did not. They were thinking that I made a very good joke. But I was not trying to be funny.
As I write these words, the Thai military junta has taken over the country. The West is silent: the Thai military is an extremely close ally. Democracy at work…
And as I write these words, the fascist government in Kiev is chasing, kidnapping and “disappearing” people in the east and south of Ukraine. By some insane twist of logic, the Western corporate media is managing to blame Russia. And only a few people are rolling around on the floor, laughing.
As I write these words, a big part of Africa is in flames, totally destroyed by the US, UK, France and other colonial powers.
Client states like the Philippines are now literally being paid to get antagonistic with China.
Japanese neo-fascist adventurism fully supported by the Unites States can easily trigger WWIII. So can Western greed and fascist practices in Ukraine.
Democracy! People’s power!
If the West had sat on its ass, where it belongs, in Europe and in North America, after WWII, the world would have hardly any problems now. People like Lumumba, Allende, Sukarno, Mosaddeq, would have led their nations and continents. They would have communicated with their own people, interacted with them. They would have built their own styles of ‘democracy’.
But all that came from the Bandung Conference of 1955, from the ideals of the Non-Aligned movement, was ruined and bathed in blood. The true hopes of the people of the world cut to pieces, urinated on, and then thrown into gutter.
But no more time should be wasted by just analyzing, and by crying over spilt milk. Time to move on!
The world has been tortured by Europe and the United States, for decades and centuries. It has been tortured in the name of democracy… but it has all been one great lie. The world has been tortured simply because of greed, and because of racism. Just look back at history. Europe and the United States have only stopped calling people “niggers”, but they do not have any more respect for them than before. And they are willing, same as before, to sacrifice millions of human lives.
Let us stop worshiping their box, and those meaningless pieces of paper that they want us to stick in there. There is no power of people in this. Look at the United States itself – where is our democracy? It is a one-party regime fully controlled by market fundamentalists. Look at our press, and propaganda…
Rule of the people by the people, true democracy, can be achieved. We the people had been derailed, intellectually, so we have not been thinking how, for so many decades.
Now we, many of us, know what is wrong, but we are still not sure what is right.
Let us think and let us search, let us experiment. And also, let us reject their fascism first. Let them stick their papers wherever they want! Let them pretend that they are not slaves to some vendors and swindlers. Let them do whatever they want – there, where they belong.
Democracy is more than a box. It is more than a multitude of political parties. It is when people can truly choose, decide and build a society that they dream about. Democracy is the lack of fear of having napalm and bombs murdering our dreams. Democracy is when people speak and from those words grow their own nation. Democracy is when millions of hands join together and from that brilliant union, new trains begin to run, new schools begin to teach, and new hospitals begin to heal. All this by the people, for the people! All this created by proud and free humans as gift to all – to their nation.
Yes, let the slave masters stick their pieces of paper into a box, or somewhere else. They can call it democracy. Let us call democracy something else – rule of the people, a great exchange of ideas, of hopes and dreams. Let our taking control over our lives and over our nations be called ‘democracy’!
Andre Vltchek is a novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His discussion with Noam Chomsky On Western Terrorism is now going to print. His critically acclaimed political novel Point of No Return is now re-edited and available. Oceania is his book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific. His provocative book about post-Suharto Indonesia and the market-fundamentalist model is called “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear”. He has just completed the feature documentary, “Rwanda Gambit” about Rwandan history and the plunder of DR Congo. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and Africa. He can be reached through his website or his Twitter.
by Renee Parsons
(No verified email address)
28 May 2014
Chickens Coming Home to Roost
American Foreign Policy, the Dollar and Putin’s Pivot by RENEE PARSONS
It is more than ironic that with an economically unsustainable $17 trillion debt, the US continues to overreach itself with assorted political threats and untenable military adventures as it dares to challenge Russia, the world’s leading energy producer and China, its largest creditor, in a dangerous duel for dominance. Like most bullies, just beneath the verbose intimidations, lies a vulnerable government on alarmingly thin ice with a fear of the future, even panic at the potential loss of influence and diminished power.
Not previously known as historic political allies with more of a remote association in the past, their new politico-economic alliance has motivated Russia and China, via mutual threats from the US, to identify the benefits of a mutual partnership – which has already begun to boomerang on the US unipolar vision of the world. As a result of the recent crisis in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin’s response to the attempt to box-in Russia has shown some impeccable timing with the St. Petersburg International Economic Summit occurring immediately after his visit to China and a recognition that globalization, for better or worse, has proven there are economic opportunities beyond the EU and US.
While the Obama Administration will never admit it, the agreement between Russia-China for a strategically-located pipeline which will transport 38 billion cubic meters of natural gas to ‘clean’ energy-starved China worth $400 billion, represents a mega-significant shift in US plans for total global authority and that the President’s risky military policies have provided a window of opportunity for a new geopolitical axis independent of US influence.
With a $25 billion advance payment, the signing of contracts in Shanghai last week by Gazprom (which has thus far avoided US sanctions) and the CNFC (China National Petroleum Corporation) representing the world’s largest consumer base, signifies a strategic game-changer and a win-win for both countries.
Displaying a flexibility that gives new meaning to the adage that when one door closes another opens, Putin’s move toward China begins an offset to any speculative reduction of gas supply to Europe especially since the most recent deal provides only 10% of China’s energy needs; thereby providing Russia with an open market for future business.
Even as Gazprom supplies up to 30% of Europe’s natural gas, former British diplomat William Mallinson predicted that the contract “will obviously make Gazprom less reliant on profits of European markets. This will put it [Russia] in a stronger position because Europe will still need cheaper Russian gas than American LNG which is extremely expensive. So it actually makes Russia even more independent …and less reliant on the European markets.”
Of special interest is the agreement between the VTB, Russia’s second largest bank and the Bank of China to pay all financial interactions in local currency while establishing a bilateral Committee on Investment Cooperation. The assortment of more than 40 contracts expected to increase trade between Russia and China at an estimated $200 billion includes a cross-border rail bridge with an estimated annual traffic of 21 million tons, is in addition to a proposed $30 billion Russia to India pipeline via China, ‘gas swaps’ for goods and electricity as well as a $10 billion Russia-Iran deal for new thermal and hydroelectric plants and the export of electricity to Iran – none of which will be paid for by the dollar.
If the US believed that its economic sanctions (a violation of international law) would bring Russia to its knees, especially its absurd efforts to target members of Putin’s inner circle, and that Russia had no choice but to acquiesce to NATO and the US/EU, one cannot help but wonder what myopic thinkers in the Obama Administration concocted such an ill-thought out strategy that missed the obvious: that the 1990’s style of geopolitical confrontation is no longer relevant in a global economy and that the 115 non-aligned countries and BRICS (Brazil, Russia, Indian, China, South Africa) will develop their own strategic partnerships without asking the US for permission as they are no longer willing to accept the notion of American Exceptionalism. In 2011, the BRICS agreed to use their own currencies instead of dollars in international trade representing an ultimately significant blow to an already struggling dollar.
It is the comingling of US military and economic dominance; one being dependent on the other and what is good for the dollar is good for US business and what is good for US business assures US dominance, that enables the government to finance its wars. Without the dollar as the basis for world reserve currency, the ability of the US as a global superpower to dictate world events inevitably diminishes. In fact, what purpose does the outdated concept of a world reserve currency serve?
With the US pivot to Asia and its role in ousting a democratically elected President in Ukraine, it seems safe to assume that the BRICS proposals for an alternative to OPEC, the IMF and WTO were revivified during Putin’s visit to China. And with the 6th Annual BRICS conference scheduled for Brazil, the membership of oil-rich Iran may be on the agenda since BRICS has already signaled its concern about “threats of military action as well as unilateral sanctions” in recognition of “Iran‘s right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy consistent with its international obligations.”
Upon reflection, the Visa and Master Card self-imposed ban on doing business in Russia has been amended with both companies willing to transfer processing centers inside Russia that would “not depend on decisions made by foreign governments’ and to be integrated into an alternative card system not controlled by western banks – and who would not have predicted that would happen? The Chinese Union Pay system has already overtaken American Express in global volume.
If all this seems overly optimistic or too pessimistic, a review of the Major Holdings of US Treasury Securities Chart provides a fascinating glimpse into how stable some of the world’s power players regard the US economy and how vulnerable the dollar is to international exigency.
For instance, in February, a sudden bulk sale of $104 billion worth of securities was enough to send the Fed Bank into a tailspin until a week later when Belgium (Belgium?) saved the day with a purchase of $141 billion, obviously enough to offset the loss. It is more than curious that Belgium, home to NATO and other important EU institutions and with a GDP of $480 billion increased its holding $200 billion from $180 billion in October, 2013 for a current grand total of $381 billion in March, 2014 – moving into third place ranking of US Treasuries largest holders.
Also noteworthy is how Belgium’s neighbor teeny-tiny Luxembourg, host to the EU’s Court of Justice, purchased $15 billion worth of Treasuries, up from $130 billion in November, 2013 to $145 billion in March, 2014.
Since neither country is regarded as a European financial powerhouse, where do they come up with that kind of cash unless, of course, they were acting as a proxy for some other interested entity. Who else besides the Fed Bank has enough at stake to magic-presto create the necessary funds for both purchases?
The second largest holder of US securities is Japan, as the Chart shows what appears to be an abrupt sale of $10 billion which seems curious given its status as a prospective partner in the Trans Pacific Partnership which failed to fulfill its destiny on President Obama’s recent visit.
China, Treasury’s largest customer with $1.272 trillion, shows no new purchases since March, 2013 and one can surmise that the Obama Administration’s announcement of its “Pivot to Asia” announced in October, 2011 has had a deleterious effect on that country’s commitment to the US economy.
And in case you are wondering, Russia owned $153 billion worth of US Treasuries in March, 2013 and with a $26 billion sale in February, 2014, is currently the owner of a mere $100 billion – right after Ireland, Luxembourg and Hong Kong.
It may be time to start counting the chickens coming home to roost.
Re: Video/Photos-US Hands Off Ukraine Rally-Boston
by Innocent Bystander
(No verified email address)
28 May 2014
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Re: Ukrainian Troops Captured Me and Then Asked for a Selfie
(No verified email address)
30 May 2014
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It’s midnight. My cameraman and our taxi driver have been told to face the wall of a tumble-down farmhouse. The Russian photographer we’re with has already been blindfolded. I’m in the dark. A man in a mask and military fatigues has taken me aside to question me. He wants to know if I know members of the Jewish community in Moscow and the Ukrainian city of Dnepropetrovsk.
He’s a member of the secret police and he doesn’t believe me when I tell him I have no idea who the heads the Jewish diaspora are in either city. I answer with a question: Do you know who the head of the Ukrainian community is in Manhattan? He shrugs and sends me back to the others facing the wall.
My interrogator is an officer of the SBU, the Ukrainian security service that took over from the KGB after the break up of the Soviet Union. Now, for the most part, the SBU is busy fighting Russia-backed rebels and Russian agents in eastern Ukraine, but only a couple months ago they were working to disrupt the anti-government protests that toppled their Russia-friendly boss, former President Viktor Yanukovych. They were also implicated in the shootings that killed dozens of protestors in Kiev’s Independence Square this past winter.
A few hours earlier, filmmaker Freddie Paxton, photographer Petr Shelomovskiy, our driver and I had been captured by a convoy of Ukrainian troops. We filmed the convoy as it passed us and caught up to try to overtake it. Instead, soldiers blocked the road, stopped us, ordered us lie face-down on ground, before bundling us into the back of a truck with more than a dozen new recruits on their way to the battlefield for the first time.
The SBU picked through our things, sorting memory cards into one pile and papers into another. We’d registered with the SBU the previous day for the express purpose of avoiding this kind of a situation. But the apologetic spokesman for Ukraine’s anti-terrorist operation, Vladislav Seleznyov, said there was nothing he could do: “Now that this incident has happened, they have to follow their operational protocol; I have no influence over them. I’m really sorry.”
Another press officer, Alexei, recorded everything on a video camera for their records. During a break in questioning he asked me if I would take a picture with him. “I’m from Lviv. I’ve watched all of your reports. I love the Russian Roulette series. I never thought I’d get to meet you in person!”
As Alexei filmed, a SBU officer asked me to confirm that we hadn’t been mistreated and that no physical or psychological pressure had been applied to us. “Well,” I said, “You’ve got us facing a wall, you’ve blindfolded my colleague, and you’re not letting us go home; wouldn’t you call that psychological pressure?”
That’s when photographer Petr Shelomovskiy, piped up from behind his blindfold: “Can you uncover my eyes please?” “Okay, take the blindfold off,” the SBU officer said, reluctantly. It wasn’t our camera, but still, you can’t be too careful.
Watch the latest Russian Roulette dispatch here.
We spent the next two hours being questioned in turn, mostly about our Russian friend, Petr. “When you were in Sloviansk, did it seem like he had a personal relationship with the separatists? Where did you meet him? How can you be sure he’s not a Russian agent?” The fact that he’d been published in the New York Times that day wasn’t cutting it with this crowd. It was 2 AM on Wednesday, May 21 before we were released.
Our taxi driver, no doubt regretting the worst fare he’d ever landed, pulled the car up to a checkpoint, where we were told to wait for an escort. I thought, “nice of them to make sure we get home safe.”
“Out of the car! Into the jeep! Heads down!” Our escort had arrived. We were forced out of the car for the second time that day and hustled into a jeep, unable to see where we were going. It peeled out, turning left, then right, then right again, before pulling over to the other side of the road, in a bootless attempt to mask the location of their base. It was well known to journalists, and we’d personally visited two days before to interview the spokesman Seleznyov.
We were ordered out of the jeep and told to walk ten paces into a nearby field. A lot like if, say, you wanted to summarily execute some people by the side of a road. We looked back to see if they were cocking their weapons, but no. The soldiers got in their jeep and drove off, leaving us with the taxi, now crippled from rough riding on bumpy, potholed roads. We were stuck on a dangerous, empty highway, in a warzone, at night.
The next day I called Seleznyov to ask if he could take us down to the front line to film at one of the Ukrainian checkpoints. “I’m sorry. Not possible. It’s for your own security.”
(No verified email address)
07 Jun 2014
Tightening the U.S. Grip on Western Europe
Washington’s Iron Curtain in Ukraine
by DIANA JOHNSTONE
NATO leaders are currently acting out a deliberate charade in Europe, designed to reconstruct an Iron Curtain between Russia and the West.
With astonishing unanimity, NATO leaders feign surprise at events they planned months in advance. Events that they deliberately triggered are being misrepresented as sudden, astonishing, unjustified “Russian aggression”. The United States and the European Union undertook an aggressive provocation in Ukraine that they knew would force Russia to react defensively, one way or another.
They could not be sure exactly how Russian president Vladimir Putin would react when he saw that the United States was manipulating political conflict in Ukraine to install a pro-Western government intent on joining NATO. This was not a mere matter of a “sphere of influence” in Russia’s “near abroad”, but a matter of life and death to the Russian Navy, as well as a grave national security threat on Russia’s border.
A trap was thereby set for Putin. He was damned if he did, and damned if he didn’t. He could underreact, and betray Russia’s basic national interests, allowing NATO to advance its hostile forces to an ideal attack position.
Or he could overreact, by sending Russian forces to invade Ukraine. The West was ready for this, prepared to scream that Putin was “the new Hitler”, poised to overrun poor, helpless Europe, which could only be saved (again) by the generous Americans.
In reality, the Russian defensive move was a very reasonable middle course. Thanks to the fact that the overwhelming majority of Crimeans felt Russian, having been Russian citizens until Khrushchev frivolously bestowed the territory on Ukraine in 1954, a peaceful democratic solution was found. Crimeans voted for their return to Russia in a referendum which was perfectly legal according to international law, although in violation of the Ukrainian constitution, which was by then in tatters having just been violated by the overthrow of the country’s duly elected president, Victor Yanukovych, facilitated by violent militias. The change of status of Crimea was achieved without bloodshed, by the ballot box.
Nevertheless, the cries of indignation from the West were every bit as hysterically hostile as if Putin had overreacted and subjected Ukraine to a U.S.-style bombing campaign, or invaded the country outright – which they may have expected him to do.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry led the chorus of self-righteous indignation, accusing Russia of the sort of thing his own government is in the habit of doing. “You just don’t invade another country on phony pretext in order to assert your interests. This is an act of aggression that is completely trumped up in terms of its pretext”, Kerry pontificated. “It’s really 19th century behavior in the 21st century”. Instead of laughing at this hypocrisy, U.S. media, politicians and punditry zealously took up the theme of Putin’s unacceptable expansionist aggression. The Europeans followed with a weak, obedient echo.
It Was All Planned at Yalta
In September 2013, one of Ukraine’s richest oligarchs, Viktor Pinchuk, paid for an elite strategic conference on Ukraine’s future that was held in the same Palace in Yalta, Crimea, where Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill met to decide the future of Europe in 1945. The Economist, one of the elite media reporting on what it called a “display of fierce diplomacy”, stated that: “The future of Ukraine, a country of 48m people, and of Europe was being decided in real time.” The participants included Bill and Hillary Clinton, former CIA head General David Petraeus, former U.S. Treasury secretary Lawrence Summers, former World Bank head Robert Zoellick, Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt, Shimon Peres, Tony Blair, Gerhard Schröder, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Mario Monti, Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaite, and Poland’s influential foreign minister Radek Sikorski. Both President Viktor Yanukovych, deposed five months later, and his recently elected successor Petro Poroshenko were present. Former U.S. energy secretary Bill Richardson was there to talk about the shale-gas revolution which the United States hopes to use to weaken Russia by substituting fracking for Russia’s natural gas reserves. The center of discussion was the “Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement” (DCFTA) between Ukraine and the European Union, and the prospect of Ukraine’s integration with the West. The general tone was euphoria over the prospect of breaking Ukraine’s ties with Russia in favor of the West.
Conspiracy against Russia? Not at all. Unlike Bilderberg, the proceedings were not secret. Facing a dozen or so American VIPs and a large sampling of the European political elite was a Putin adviser named Sergei Glazyev, who made Russia’s position perfectly clear.
Glazyev injected a note of political and economic realism into the conference. Forbes reported at the time on the “stark difference” between the Russian and Western views “not over the advisability of Ukraine’s integration with the EU but over its likely impact.” In contrast to Western euphoria, the Russian view was based on “very specific and foolsjohnstonepointed economic criticisms” about the Trade Agreement’s impact on Ukraine’s economy, noting that Ukraine was running an enormous foreign accounts deficit, funded with foreign borrowing, and that the resulting substantial increase in Western imports ccould only swell the deficit. Ukraine “will either default on its debts or require a sizable bailout”.
The Forbes reporter concluded that “the Russian position is far closer to the truth than the happy talk coming from Brussels and Kiev.”
As for the political impact, Glazyev pointed out that the Russian-speaking minority in Eastern Ukraine might move to split the country in protest against cutting ties with Russia, and that Russia would be legally entitled to support them, according to The Times of London.
In short, while planning to incorporate Ukraine into the Western sphere, Western leaders were perfectly aware that this move would entail serious problems with Russian-speaking Ukrainians, and with Russia itself. Rather than seeking to work out a compromise, Western leaders decided to forge ahead and to blame Russia for whatever would go wrong. What went wrong first was that Yanukovych got cold feet faced with the economic collapse implied by the Trade Agreement with the European Union. He postponed signing, hoping for a better deal. Since none of this was explained clearly to the Ukrainian public, outraged protests ensued, which were rapidly exploited by the United States… against Russia.
Ukraine as Bridge…Or Achilles Heel
Ukraine, a term meaning borderland, is a country without clearly fixed historical borders that has been stretched too far to the East and too far to the West. The Soviet Union was responsible for this, but the Soviet Union no longer exists, and the result is a country without a unified identity and which emerges as a problem for itself and for its neighbors.
It was extended too far East, incorporating territory that might as well have been Russian, as part of a general policy to distinguish the USSR from the Tsarist empire, enlarging Ukraine at the expense of its Russian component and demonstrating that the Soviet Union was really a union among equal socialist republics. So long as the whole Soviet Union was run by the Communist leadership, these borders didn’t matter too much.
It was extended too far West at the end of World War II. The victorious Soviet Union extended Ukraine’s border to include Western regions, dominated by the city variously named Lviv, Lwow, Lemberg or Lvov, depending on whether it belonged to Lithuania, Poland, the Habsburg Empire or the USSR, a region which was a hotbed of anti-Russian sentiments. This was no doubt conceived as a defensive move, to neutralize hostile elements, but it created the fundamentally divided nation that today constitutes the perfect troubled waters for hostile fishing.
The Forbes report cited above pointed out that: “For most of the past five years, Ukraine was basically playing a double game, telling the EU that it was interested in signing the DCFTA while telling the Russians that it was interested in joining the customs union.” Either Yanukovych could not make up his mind, or was trying to squeeze the best deal out of both sides, or was seeking the highest bidder. In any case, he was never “Moscow’s man”, and his downfall owes a lot no doubt to his own role in playing both ends against the middle. His was a dangerous game of pitting greater powers against each other.
It is safe to say that what was needed was something that so far seems totally lacking in Ukraine: a leadership that recognizes the divided nature of the country and works diplomatically to find a solution that satisfies both the local populations and their historic ties with the Catholic West and with Russia. In short, Ukraine could be a bridge between East and West – and this, incidentally, has been precisely the Russian position. The Russian position has not been to split Ukraine, much less to conquer it, but to facilitate the country’s role as bridge. This would involve a degree of federalism, of local government, which so far is entirely lacking in the country, with local governors selected not by election but by the central government in Kiev. A federal Ukraine could both develop relations with the EU and maintain its vital (and profitable) economic relations with Russia.
But this arrangement calls for Western readiness to cooperate with Russia. The United States has plainly vetoed this possibility, preferring to exploit the crisis to brand Russia “the enemy”.
Plan A and Plan B
U.S. policy, already evident at the September 2013 Yalta meeting, was carried out on the ground by Victoria Nuland, former advisor to Dick Cheney, deputy ambassador to NATO, spokeswoman for Hillary Clinton, wife of neocon theorist Robert Kagan. Her leading role in the Ukraine events proves that the neo-con influence in the State Department, established under Bush II, was retained by Obama, whose only visible contribution to foreign policy change has been the presence of a man of African descent in the presidency, calculated to impress the world with U.S. multicultural virtue. Like most other recent presidents, Obama is there as a temporary salesman for policies made and executed by others.
As Victoria Nuland boasted in Washington, since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the United States has spent five billion dollars to gain political influence in Ukraine (this is called “promoting democracy”). This investment is not “for oil”, or for any immediate economic advantage. The primary motives are geopolitical, because Ukraine is Russia’s Achilles’ heel, the territory with the greatest potential for causing trouble to Russia.
What called public attention to Victoria Nuland’s role in the Ukrainian crisis was her use of a naughty word, when she told the U.S. ambassador, “Fuck the EU”. But the fuss over her bad language veiled her bad intentions. The issue was who should take power away from the elected president Viktor Yanukovych. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party been promoting former boxer Vitaly Klitschko as its candidate. Nuland’s rude rebuff signified that the United States, not Germany or the EU, was to choose the next leader, and that was not Klitschko but “Yats”. And indeed it was Yats, Arseniy Yatsenyuk , a second-string US-sponsored technocrat known for his enthusiasm for IMF austerity policies and NATO membership, who got the job. This put a U.S. sponsored government, enforced in the streets by fascist militia with little electoral clout but plenty of armed meanness, in a position to manage the May 25 elections, from which the Russophone East was largely excluded.
Plan A for the Victoria Nuland putsch was probably to install, rapidly, a government in Kiev that would join NATO, thus formally setting the stage for the United States to take possession of Russia’s indispensable Black Sea naval base at Sebastopol in Crimea. Reincorporating Crimea into Russia was Putin’s necessary defensive move to prevent this.
But the Nuland gambit was in fact a win-win ploy. If Russia failed to defend itself, it risked losing its entire southern fleet – a total national disaster. On the other hand, if Russia reacted, as was most likely, the US thereby won a political victory that was perhaps its main objective. Putin’s totally defensive move is portrayed by the Western mainstream media, echoing political leaders, as unprovoked “Russian expansionism”, which the propaganda machine compares to Hitler grabbing Czechoslovakia and Poland.
Thus a blatant Western provocation, using Ukrainian political confusion against a fundamentally defensive Russia, has astonishingly succeeded in producing a total change in the artificial Zeitgeist produced by Western mass media. Suddenly, we are told that the “freedom-loving West” is faced with the threat of “aggressive Russian expansionism”. Some forty years ago, Soviet leaders gave away the store under the illusion that peaceful renunciation on their part could lead to a friendly partnership with the West, and especially with the United States. But those in the United States who never wanted to end the Cold War are having their revenge. Never mind “communism”; if, instead of advocating the dictatorship of the proletariat, Russia’s current leader is simply old-fashioned in certain ways, Western media can fabricate a monster out of that. The United States needs an enemy to save the world from.
The Protection Racket Returns
But first of all, the United States needs Russia as an enemy in order to “save Europe”, which is another way to say, in order to continue to dominate Europe. Washington policy-makers seemed to be worried that Obama’s swing to Asia and neglect of Europe might weaken U.S. control of its NATO allies. The May 25 European Parliament elections revealed a large measure of disaffection with the European Union. This disaffection, notably in France, is linked to a growing realization that the EU, far from being a potential alternative to the United States, is in reality a mechanism that locks European countries into U.S.-defined globalization, economic decline and U.S. foreign policy, wars and all.
Ukraine is not the only entity that has been overextended. So has the EU. With 28 members of diverse language, culture, history and mentality, the EU is unable to agree on any foreign policy other than the one Washington imposes. The extension of the EU to former Eastern European satellites has totally broken whatever deep consensus might have been possible among the countries of the original Economic Community: France, Germany, Italy and the Benelux states. Poland and the Baltic States see EU membership as useful, but their hearts are in America – where many of their most influential leaders have been educated and trained. Washington is able to exploit the anti-communist, anti-Russian and even pro-Nazi nostalgia of northeastern Europe to raise the false cry of “the Russians are coming!” in order to obstruct the growing economic partnership between the old EU, notably Germany, and Russia.
Russia is no threat. But to vociferous Russophobes in the Baltic States, Western Ukraine and Poland, the very existence of Russia is a threat. Encouraged by the United States and NATO, this endemic hostility is the political basis for the new “iron curtain” meant to achieve the aim spelled out in 1997 by Zbigniew Brzezinski in The Grand Chessboard: keeping the Eurasian continent divided in order to perpetuate U.S. world hegemony. The old Cold War served that purpose, cementing U.S. military presence and political influence in Western Europe. A new Cold War can prevent U.S. influence from being diluted by good relations between Western Europe and Russia.
Obama has come to Europe ostentatiously promising to “protect” Europe by basing more troops in regions as close as possible to Russia, while at the same time ordering Russia to withdraw its own troops, on its own territory, still farther away from troubled Ukraine. This appears designed to humiliate Putin and deprive him of political support at home, at a time when protests are rising in Eastern Ukraine against the Russian leader for abandoning them to killers sent from Kiev.
To tighten the U.S. grip on Europe, the United States is using the artificial crisis to demand that its indebted allies spend more on “defense”, notably by purchasing U.S. weapons systems. Although the U.S. is still far from being able to meet Europe’s energy needs from the new U.S. fracking boom, this prospect is being hailed as a substitute for Russia’s natural gas sales – stigmatized as a “way of exercising political pressure”, something of which hypothetic U.S. energy sales are presumed to be innocent. Pressure is being brought against Bulgaria and even Serbia to block construction of the South Stream pipeline that would bring Russian gas into the Balkans and southern Europe.
From D-Day to Dooms Day
Today, June 6, the seventieth anniversary of the D-Day landing is being played in Normandy as a gigantic celebration of American domination, with Obama heading an all-star cast of European leaders. The last of the aged surviving soldiers and aviators present are like the ghosts of a more innocent age when the United States was only at the start of its new career as world master. They were real, but the rest is a charade. French television is awash with the tears of young villagers in Normandy who have been taught that the United States is some sort of Guardian Angel, which sent its boys to die on the shores of Normandy out of pure love for France. This idealized image of the past is implicitly projected on the future. In seventy years, the Cold War, a dominant propaganda narrative and above all Hollywood have convinced the French, and most of the West, that D-Day was the turning point that won World War II and saved Europe from Nazi Germany.
Vladimir Putin came to the celebration, and has been elaborately shunned by Obama, self-appointed arbiter of Virtue. The Russians are paying tribute to the D-Day operation which liberated France from Nazi occupation, but they – and historians – know what most of the West has forgotten: that the Wehrmacht was decisively defeated not by the Normandy landing, but by the Red Army. If the vast bulk of German forces had not been pinned down fighting a losing war on the Eastern front, nobody would celebrate D-Day as it is being celebrated today.
Putin is widely credited as being “the best chess player”, who won the first round of the Ukrainian crisis. He has no doubt done the best he could, faced with the crisis foisted on him. But the U.S. has whole ranks of pawns which Putin does not have. And this is not only a chess game, but chess combined with poker combined with Russian roulette. The United States is ready to take risks that the more prudent Russian leaders prefer to avoid… as long as possible.
Perhaps the most extraordinary aspect of the current charade is the servility of the “old” Europeans. Apparently abandoning all Europe’s accumulated wisdom, drawn from its wars and tragedies, and even oblivious to their own best interests, today’s European leaders seem ready to follow their American protectors to another D-Day … D for Doom.
Can the presence of a peace-seeking Russian leader in Normandy make a difference? All it would take would be for mass media to tell the truth, and for Europe to produce reasonably wise and courageous leaders, for the whole fake war machine to lose its luster, and for truth to begin to dawn. A peaceful Europe is still possible, but for how long?
Diana Johnstone is the author of Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO, and Western Delusions. She can be reached at diana.johnstone (at) wanadoo.fr
(No verified email address)
07 Jun 2014
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Fascism: an “Ism” for the 21st Century
The Durability of Ukrainian Fascism
by PETER LEE
Readers outside of Europe might not be aware of it, but spring is the fascist marching season in the Baltic republics.
In Estonia on February 16; February 16 & March 11 in Lithuania (anniversaries of 1918 and 1990 declarations of independence); and March 16 in Latvia (March 16, 1944 was first day the Latvian Legion fought alongside the Wehrmacht against the Red Army), local fascists parade to celebrate fascist principals and fascist heroes, most of whom collaborated in some ways with Nazi Germany during World War II while resisting the Soviet Union.
The big event for Ukrainian fascists is January 1, the anniversary of the birth of Stepan Bandera (1909-1959), leader of the OUN-B (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists—Bandera) fascist faction.
This year, 15,000 people marched by torchlight in Kyiv on January 1 to commemorate Bandera.
Eastern European fascism is a durable and alarmingly vital ideology. It is not just a matter of atavistic affection for Hitler and Nazism by bigoted cranks.
And Ukrainian fascism is more durable and vital than most. It was forged in the most adverse conditions imaginable, in the furnace of Stalinism, under the reign of Hitler, and amid Poland’s effort to destroy Ukrainian nationality.
Ukrainian nationalism was under ferocious attack between the two world wars. The USSR occupied the eastern half of Ukraine, subjected it to collectivization under Stalin, and committed repression and enabled a famine that killed millions. At first, the Soviets sought to co-opt Ukrainian nationalism by supporting Ukrainian cultural expression while repressing Ukrainian political aspirations; USSR nationalities policies were “nationalist in expression and socialist in essence”. Then, in 1937 Stalin obliterated the native Ukrainian cultural and communist apparatus in a thoroughgoing purge and implemented Russified central control through his bespoke instrument, Nikita Krushchev.
Meanwhile, the eastern part of the Ukraine was under the thumb of the Polish Republic, which was trying to entrench its rule before either the Germans or the Russians got around to destroying it again. This translated into a concerted Polish political, security, cultural, and demographic push into Ukrainian Galicia. The Polish government displaced Ukrainian intellectuals and farmers, attacked their culture and religion (including seizure of Orthodox churches and conversion into Roman Catholic edifices), marginalized the Ukrainians in their own homeland, and suppressed Ukrainian independence activists (like Bandera, who spent the years 1933 to 1939 in Poland’s Wronki Prison after trying to assassinate Poland’s Minister of the Interior).
Ukrainian nationalists, therefore, were unable to ride communism or bourgeois democracy into power. Communism was a tool of Soviet expansionism, not class empowerment, and Polish democracy offered no protection for Ukrainian minority rights or political expression, let alone a Ukrainian state.
Ukrainian nationalists turned largely toward fascism, specifically toward a concept of “integral nationalism” that, in the absence of an acceptable national government, manifested itself in a national will residing in the spirit of its adherents, not expressed by the state or restrained by its laws, but embodied by a charismatic leader and exercised through his organization, whose legitimacy supersedes that of the state and whose commitment to violence makes it a law unto itself.
That leader, at least for many Ukrainians of the fascist persuasion, was Stepan Bandera. The organization, his OUN-B faction.
This state of affairs persists in today’s successor to the OUN-B, Pravy Sektor, with its fascist trappings, leader cult, and paramilitary arm. The “mainstreaming” of the second major fascist grouping, Svoboda, looks more like a strategic repackaging in order to strive for greater electoral success by hiding its fascist antecedents.
So, unfortunately for apologists for the current Kyiv regime, the correct description of these two groups is not “nationalist” or “ultranationalist”; it is “fascist”.
Fatally, the Ukrainian government has turned to fascist nationalism and heroes in order to forge a post-Soviet, essentially Ukrainian, identity for the post-1991 state.
In a recapitulation of a trend in eastern Europe to resurrect World War II era nationalist fascists—some of whom actively collaborated with the Nazis—as rallying points for anti-Russian sentiment, Bandera has also been adopted as a Ukrainian national hero: in 2010 President Yuschenko posthumously (and, according to a court in pro-Russian Donetsk, illegally) awarded Bandera the title of Hero of Ukraine.
The uncomfortable truth is that the government has invested enough effort into celebrating Bandera as a national hero that the epithet “Banderite” that pro-Russian elements apply to the Kyiv regime is not terribly far from the mark.
For obvious reasons, Russian propaganda has labored mightily to characterize Bandera as a Nazi, so that he can be condemned as a collaborator with Hitler in his war on the USSR and the world, and not an independence fighter against Russia and its brutal and extremely unpopular (for ethnic Ukrainians, at least) rule over eastern Ukraine.
Actually, Banderan fascism, with its focus on establishing a pure Ukrainian state, was only tangentially related to Hitler’s expansionist extravagances, which centered on an apocalyptic war against the “Judeo-Bolshevism” that, in Hitler’s view, stood between Germany and its rightful place as lord of a racially cleansed Europe and a global empire rivalling those of the United States and Great Britain.
Bandera was not an important Nazi collaborator, albeit because he was never given a real chance. Ukrainian independence activists of every stripe threw themselves at the Nazis in the Thirties, seeing Germany as the only force that could destroy both of their hated oppressors—Poland, for the western Ukrainians, and the USSR for the eastern Ukraine.
However, the Nazis were contemptuous of Slavs, who were assigned the role of hewers of wood and drawers of water in the new Aryan order. Ukrainian workers transported to Germany as laborers were subjected to miserable and degrading treatment as they sweated for the Reich.
The notorious ethnic Ukrainian “Galician SS” and “Nachtigall” and “Roland” military formations apparently were kept on a short leash by the Germans, did not accomplish a great deal during World War II, and only saw serious action when the Nazis got really desperate.
The Nazis were above all determined to keep a tight grip on Ukraine, which was a central region for their concept of a Slav-free Lebensraum for Germans and a key zone for their military operations against the USSR. They recognized that Bandera’s bedrock interest was in creating a Ukrainian state free of anyone’s control and were well aware of his tendency toward bloody mischief. The Nazis detained him for most of World War II and only released in a “too little too late” effort to slow up the Red Army as it drove Germany out of eastern Europe in 1945.
Post-war, a German officer made the telling observation that the war in the east was not lost at Stalingrad; it was lost “long before that—in Kiev, when we hosted the swastika instead of the Ukrainian flag!”
Stepan Bandera was an unapologetic fascist and terrorist whose OUN-B faction launched an unimaginably brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing campaign through slaughter during World War II. Yale historian Thomas Snyder, who is an enthusiastic cheerleader for almost all things EuroMaidan, draws the line at exalting Bandera.
The Nazis killed tens of millions of anonymous strangers in the East as part of a war of conquest meant to Germanize Europe to the Urals; the Ukrainians of the OUN-B murdered tens of thousands of their neighbors while trying to rip a national state out of the social and political fabric of eastern Europe.
Like Hitler, Bandera was keen to purify the “homeland” of impure elements. Unlike Hitler, Bandera only had the chance to turn his fury on his enemies—primarily the Poles of Galicia–for a few months.
5000 Ukrainian police defected with their weapons to join Bandera’s faction as Nazi rule crumbled in Ukraine, and provided the muscle for the most notorious Bandera action of the Second World War: the massacre of Poles in what is now western Ukraine.
Historians generally agree that Bandera’s forces committed systematic atrocities in order to institute a reign of terror that would drive out the Poles out.
Villages were torched. Roman Catholic priests were axed or crucified. Churches were burned with all their parishioners. Isolated farms were attacked by gangs carrying pitchforks and kitchen knives. Throats were cut. Pregnant women were bayoneted. Children were cut in two. Men were ambushed in the field and led away.
Ukrainian partisans burned homes, shot or forced back inside those who tried to flee, and used sickles and pitchforks to kill those they captured outside. In some cases, beheaded, crucified, dismembered, or disemboweled bodies were displayed, in order to encourage remaining Poles to flee.
Various estimates calculate that somewhere between 35,000 and 100,000 Poles died in the Bandera terror.
Bandera’s champions point to the fact that he was still in German detention when the massacres took place and there is no evidence that he explicitly ordered the massacres. But given his ideology, his detestation of the Poles, and his role as the charismatic leader of his faction, it seems unlikely his subordinates undertook this massive enterprise on their own initiative.
One of Bandera’s lieutenants was Roman Shukhevych. In February 1945, Shukhevych issued an order stating, “In view of the success of the Soviet forces it is necessary to speed up the liquidation of the Poles, they must be totally wiped out, their villages burned … only the Polish population must be destroyed.”
As a matter of additional embarrassment, Shukhevych was also a commander in the Nachtigall (Nightingale) battalion organized by the Wehrmacht.
Today, a major preoccupation of Ukrainian nationalist historical scholarship is beating back rather convincing allegations by Russian, Polish, and Jewish historians that Nachtigall was an important and active participant in the massacre of Lviv Jews orchestrated by the German army upon its arrival in June 1941.
It’s an uphill battle. Bandera had classified Jews as “second order enemies” thanks to their perceived role as collaborators and adjuncts to the Polish and Russian strategy of “divide and conquer” against Ukrainian nationalism. Anti-Semitism, indeed, is a staple of modern Ukrainian fascism and has undoubtedly contributed to the emigration of 60% of Ukraine’s Jews—340,000 people—since independence.
Shukhevych remains a hero to Ukrainian fascists today. Most importantly—since Bandera was assassinated in Munich by the USSR in 1959 and left no issue—he serves as the direct lineal ancestor of Ukraine’s key fascist formation, Pravy Sektor.
In February 2014, the New York Times’ Andrew Higgins penned a rather embarrassing passage that valorized the occupation of Lviv—the Galician city at the heart of Ukrainian fascism, the old stomping grounds of Roman Shukhevych and the Nachtigall battlaian, and also Simon Wiesnthal’s home town—by anti-Yanyukovich forces in January 2014:
Some of the president’s longtime opponents here have taken an increasingly radical line.
Offering inspiration and advice has been Yuriy Shukhevych, a blind veteran nationalist who spent 31 years in Soviet prisons and labor camps and whose father, Roman, led the Ukrainian Insurgent Army against Polish and then Soviet rule.
Mr. Shukhevych, 80, who lost his sight during his time in the Soviet gulag, helped guide the formation of Right Sector, an unruly organization whose fighters now man barricades around Independence Square, the epicenter of the protest movement in Kiev.
Yuriy Shukhevych’s role in modern Ukrainian fascism is not simply that of an inspirational figurehead and reminder of his father’s anti-Soviet heroics for proud Ukrainian nationalists. He is a core figure in the emergence of the key Ukrainian fascist formation, Pravy Sektor and its paramilitary.
And Pravy Sektor’s paramilitary, the UNA-UNSO, is not an “unruly” collection of weekend-warrior-wannabes, as Mr. Higgins might believe.
UNA-UNSO was formed during the turmoil of the early 1990s, largely by ethnic Ukrainian veterans of the Soviet Union’s bitter war in Afghanistan. From the first, the UNA-UNSO has shown a taste for foreign adventures, sending detachments to Moscow in 1990 to oppose the Communist coup against Yeltsin, and to Lithuania in 1991. With apparently very good reason, the Russians have also accused UNA-UNSO fighters of participating on the anti-Russian side in Georgia and Chechnya.
After formal Ukrainian independence, the militia elected Yuriy Shukhevych—the son of OUN-B commander Roman Shukhevych– as its leader and set up a political arm, which later became Pravy Sektor.
Also after independence in 1991, the unapologetically fascistic Social Nationalist Party—with, inevitably, its own paramilitary, Patriots of Ukraine—was set up under the leadership of Andriy Parubiy.
Parubiy left the Social Nationalist Party in 2004, when it became the vehicle for the political aspirations of Oleh Tyahnybok and became the Svoboda Party. Parubiy’s motivations are relatively opaque, but I would argue he left to become the fascist Trojan horse inside Yulya Tymoshenko’s Fatherland party. Indeed, while Timoshenko’s political clout dwindled during her imprisonment, Parubiy was a key organizer of “volunteers” at Maidan and emerged as the secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, charged with handling the “anti-terrorist” operations in the east.
Rather Panglossian analyses of Ukranian fascism usually take as their point of departure the dismal showing of Pravy Sektor and Svoboda in the 2014 presidential election.
The two fascist parties polled less than 2% combined in the 2014 presidential poll. Hoever, this is probably a misleading indicator of their strength. Pravy Sektor’s Yarosh had announced he wouldn’t run an active campaign, presumably as part of a deal at the behest of EuroMaidan’s Western backers to help Petro Poroshenko avoid a run-off with Yulya Tymoshenko. As for Tyahnybok, Svoboda got 10% of the vote in the parliamentary elections of 2012, and it seems implausible that his backing has completely collapsed after his high-profile role in the triumphant Maidan troika together with Klitschko and Yatsenyuk.
In any case, as noted above, fascists do not regard the state, its constitution, and the electoral process as the vehicle for Ukrainian national aspirations. That role is reserved for the leader, the party, and the paramilitaries. What matters to fascists is their influence in the affairs of the nation, and in Ukraine that influence is significant.
When eastern Ukraine rose up, the current Kyiv government, admittedly laboring under significant disabilities of illegitimacy, incompetence, and penury, has experienced immense difficulties in rallying a multi-ethnic Ukrainian nation. It was almost a foregone conclusion that fascist paramilitaries would be called upon to supplement or even replace the wavering regime forces in the field.
In an eerie—well, perhaps, predictable—recapitulation of the OUN-B’s opportunistic military collaboration with the Wehrmacht, Pravy Sektor leader Dmytro Yarosh organized the “Donbass Batallion” to assist the Ukrainian government’s operations in the east. Pravy Sektor leaders and rank and file have also apparently augmented if not formed the oligarch-funded Dniepr Battalion–currently one of the few military formations operating in the east that is reliably and brutally loyal to the Kyiv regime.
Even though it is plausibly alleged that Russia is inciting and abetting resistance, local resentment against Kyiv and its heavy-handed tactics is undeniably present and apparently increasing, and perhaps with it the need for fascist backbone and muscle to subjugate the unruly east.
The optimistic European scenario is for Ukraine’s barely acknowledged fascist problems to melt away as European integration and prosperity do their moderating work, and Ukraine emerges as another Poland: politically stable, united, democratic, and reliably anti-Russian.
However, it is an ugly truth that Poland had its issues of national identity resolved by Hitler, Stalin, and the Holocaust, which stripped away the complicating nationalities issues posed by its German, Ukrainian, and Jewish populations. Before World War II, one-third of Poland’s population was “minorities”. Today, Poland is 96% “Polish”.
Ukraine, on the other hand, carries a legacy of division thanks to the USSR’s administration of eastern Ukraine before World War II, and Russian domination of the Kiev elite during the Soviet period. About 18% of Ukrainians are ethnic Russian; but 30% of the population is native-Russian speaking. In the western oblasts currently battling Kyiv, the percentage of Russian speakers ranges from 72% (Dnipropetrovsk) to 93% (Donetsk). Crimea, now annexed to Russia, was 97%.
Unless the Kyiv regime unwittingly solves its problem by escalating the crisis to the point that Russia annexes the eastern oblasts and removes Russian Ukrainians from the nationalist equation, a plausible forecast for Ukraine is failure, polarization, poverty, violence—and fascist political success as Russian ethnic and linguistic identity become signifiers for looming threats to the Ukrainian state.
But in evaluating the outlook for fascism in Europe, it is a mistake to think fascists are just fighting the last war—finishing up the de-Bolshevization and de-Russification of eastern Europe that Hitler was only able to begin.
Communism isn’t the only light that’s failing.
Ukrainian fascists love the Russia-hammering NATO, but detest the Russia-accommodating and supra-nationalistic EU.
And they aren’t alone. Fascism—and anti-EU sentiment—pervade parts of Europe that never felt Stalin’s wrath. In the last elections for the European Parliament, “eurosceptics” and xenophobic ultra-nationalists scored significant gains, led by Marine Le Pen, whose National Front took 25% of the French seats.
A lot of it has to do with the equivocal track record of globalized neo-liberal capitalism in the last decade. We’re all Pikettyists now, and it seems that among the most important outcomes of neo-liberalism are income inequality and oligarchs.
It is anathema to liberal democrats, but it should be acknowledged that fascism is catching on, largely as a result of a growing perception that neo-liberalism and globalization are failing to deliver the economic and social goods to a lot of people.
Democracy is seen as the plaything of oligarchs who manipulate the current system to secure and expand their wealth and power; liberal constitutions with their guarantees of minority rights appear to be recipes for national impotence. Transnational free markets in capital and goods breed local austerity, unemployment, and poverty. Democratic governments seem to follow the free market playbook, get into problems they can’t handle, and surrender their sovereignty to committees of Euro-financiers.
Fascism, with its exaltation of the particular, the emotional, and the undemocratic provides an impregnable ideological and political bulwark against these outside forces.
Fascism has become an important element in the politics of resistance: a force that obstructs imposition of the norms of globalization, and an ideology that justifies the protection of local local interests against the demands of liberal democracy, transnational capital, and property and minority rights.
Maybe it’s neo-liberalism, not fascism, that is facing a crisis of legitimacy and acceptance.
So the idea that fascism can be treated as a delusional artifact of the 20th century and the challenge of fascism to the neo-liberal order can be ignored is, itself, wishful thinking.
Even if the European Union grows and flourishes, it will continue to have a hard time outrunning the perception that it delivers its benefits preferentially to a limited subset of nations, corporations, and individuals, at the expense of the many.
In eastern Europe, add to the incendiary mix the perception that the EU, that bastion of liberal democratic and free market ideals, has very little will or even interest in standing up to Russia.
This sentiment will not exclusively spawn benign “Green” and “Occupy” progressive movement, that combine their allegiance to democracy and human and individual rights with their well-earned reputations for internal division, political impotence, and unwillingness to confront.
For some, resentment will, inevitably, congeal around nationalism and the perception that fascist resistance, defiantly militant, uncompromising, and irrational, racial and undemocratic, exclusionary and brutal, is the best instrument to achieve local identity and agency—power– in an ever bigger, more dangerous, and less responsive continental order.
Fascism, I’m afraid, isn’t just part of Europe’s past; it’s part of Europe’s future.
Peter Lee wrote a ground-breaking essay on the exposure of sailors on board the USS Reagan to radioactive fallout from Fukushima in the March issue of CounterPunch magazine. He edits China Matters.
Re: Video/Photos-US Hands Off Ukraine Rally-Boston
by Internationalist Group
(No verified email address)
16 Jun 2014
The Bugbear of “Russian Imperialism”
In the global crisis unleashed by the battle over Ukraine, the imperialists are preparing a new Cold War. In Cold War I following WWII, the target of the West’s military, economic and political threats was the bureaucratically degenerated workers state of the Soviet Union. After a brief interlude of “détente” resulting from the U.S.’ ignominious 1975 defeat in Vietnam, a second anti-Soviet Cold War was launched when Washington provoked Moscow’s intervention in Afghanistan in 1980. Now, two decades after the 1989-92 counterrevolution that brought down the Soviet bloc and broke up the USSR, a looming Cold War III is directed at capitalist Russia. The daily denunciations and sanctions from the U.S. and its NATO allies, along with the hysteria in the imperialist media, are eerily familiar. For now, the threats are mainly verbal, talk of “punishing” Putin for violating the rules of the post-Soviet “New World Order” of unbridled U.S. hegemony.1 But the propaganda war and economic war ultimately presage a shooting war.
In this conflict, quite a few social-democratic groups echo the Western media, railing against “Russian imperialism” for incorporating Crimea and accusing Moscow of fomenting unrest in eastern Ukraine. They blithely pass over the fact that Crimea has historically been part of Russia and that the overwhelming majority of the Crimean population strongly supported joining Russia. They dismiss the uprisings against the Kiev regime in Donetsk and Lugansk as the work of Russian “provocateurs,” ignoring the clear mass support for self-rule among the largely Russian-speaking population of this industrial region. The claims by these reformists that they also oppose Western imperialism are a cynical cover as they side with the Kiev junta of fascists and free-market ultra-rightists that seized power with the backing of the U.S., NATO and European Union.
Here are some of the refrains from this pseudo-socialist pro-imperialist chorus:
The British Socialist Workers Party (SWPUK) declares “Imperialist rivals push Ukraine to brink of war,” saying “Intervention in Crimea has escalated a deadly game between Russia and the West” (Socialist Worker [UK], 8 March). In the same issue, an article by SWPUK guru Alex Callinicos says that Russian president “Putin is engaging in an inter-imperialist power play” and that fighting imperialism “means opposing Russian intervention in Ukraine.” The British SWP is part of the current founded by the late Tony Cliff, who broke from the Trotskyist Fourth International at the dawn of Cold War I, refusing to defend the Soviet Union against imperialism and justifying this with the claim that the USSR was “state capitalist.”
Another British social-democratic outfit, Workers Liberty (WL), proclaims: “Russia is an imperialist country attempting to negate Ukraine’s self-determination and subordinate it. We support the Ukrainians’ strivings for national freedom just as we support strivings for freedom by other oppressed or potentially oppressed nations” (Workers Liberty website, 17 April). Over the course of the second Cold War in the 1980s, the current that became WL embraced the heritage of another renegade from Trotskyism, Max Shachtman, who broke with Trotsky on the eve of World War II, and refused to defend the USSR against the invasion by Nazi Germany, claiming in justification that the Soviet Union was no kind of workers state but “bureaucratic collectivist.”
In the United States, the leading Cliffite group is the International Socialist Organization (ISO), which declared: “Russian imperialism has made its move to retain political and economic domination over the country with its takeover of Crimea – this should be unconditionally condemned by all revolutionaries claiming to be anti-imperialists” (Socialist Worker [U.S.], 11 March). The ISO vociferously denounced leftists who condemned U.S./NATO imperialism instead of “Russia, Ukraine’s past and present imperial overlord,” and declared that “The right can exploit legitimate hostility to Russian imperialism” (Socialist Worker, 12 March). This is a bald-faced justification of fascist propaganda by Pravy Sektor (Right Sector), Svoboda, et al.2 For its part, the centrist League for the Revolutionary Party (LRP), whose roots go back to the Shachtman tendency, calls to “Defend Ukraine Against Russian Imperialism” (LRP website, 18 March).
It’s no accident that groups coming out of the virulently anti-Soviet Shachtmanite and Cliffite currents are leading the pack howling against “Russian imperialism” today, since they have been doing so since breaking with Trotskyism on the key “Russian question.” It’s notable as well that they all claim that China today is capitalist and some even label it “imperialist,” refusing to defend the Chinese deformed workers state against counterrevolution and the threats and machinations of the real imperialists. Note as well that on the basis of shared anti-Sovietism, both Cliffites and Shachtmanites supported “leftist” offshoots of the fascist Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) founded by Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera in the post-World War II period when it was kept alive by the U.S. spy agencies.
This points to the second reason why the social-democratic hue and cry over “Russian imperialism” in Ukraine is politically logical: many of these outfits have repeatedly backed all sorts of nationalists and ultra-reactionaries sponsored by Western imperialism. Leftist groups who hailed the CIA’s mercenary mujahedin against Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, who as the USSR was breaking up praised Baltic SS Einsatzgruppen that carried out mass execution of Jews, and who paint as revolutionaries pro-imperialist Islamist jihadis in Libya and Syria have no qualms about siding with a Ukrainian junta composed of rightist puppets of Washington, Wall Street and Eurobankers imposing vicious anti-working class austerity, backed up by squads of fascist killers.
Like the RCA Victor mascot Nipper in the old gramophone logo, in barking against “Russian imperialism,” these “leftist” lap dogs of U.S./NATO imperialism are just echoing “their master’s voice.” Shachtmanites and Cliffites claimed to be in a “Third Camp” during World War II and the anti-Soviet Cold War respectively. While Trotskyists fought tenaciously to defend the Soviet degenerated workers state, despite and against the bureaucratic leadership of Stalin and his heirs whose policies endangered the survival of the first workers state in history, these anti-Trotskyists proclaimed: “Neither Washington nor Moscow.” In reality there was no “third camp” and they ended up as camp followers of the first, imperialist “camp.”
Is Russia Imperialist? I: Monopoly and Export of Capital
Not everyone on the left is repeating the imperialist refrain over Ukraine, but among those who don’t there is little clarity about the nature of the capitalist states that arose out of the counterrevolution that destroyed the multinational Soviet Union. It’s worth asking, is Russia imperialist? Is Putin building a new Russian Empire? So say academic anti-communists like Yale’s sinister Timothy Snyder, who is sympathetically interviewed on “progressive” Democracy Now TV/radio show. Snyder is the author of Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin (Basic Books, 2012) that grotesquely equates the USSR with Nazi Germany. And what about Ukraine and other “post-Soviet” states of Eurasia, are they colonies or semi-colonies whose fate is decided in the Kremlin?
To answer this question, one must first define what imperialism is. Standard bourgeois definitions would include “the principle or policy of empire; the advocacy of holding political dominion or control over dependent territories” (Oxford English Dictionary), “state policy, practice, or advocacy of extending power and dominion, especially by direct territorial acquisition or by gaining political and economic control of other areas” (Encyclopedia Britannica), or more generally “a policy or practice by which a country increases its power by gaining control over other areas of the world” (Merriam-Webster). By these definitions, there was Greek and Roman imperialism in the ancient world, and British, Spanish, Dutch and French imperialism from the dawn of their respective colonial empires in the 16th and 17th centuries. One might add the Aztecs, Incas and the Mughal Empire in India to this list of “imperialisms.”
So how do the “socialist” fustigators of “Russian imperialism” today use the term? The British SWP published a two-page spread on “Imperialism’s Game of Empires” (Socialist Worker [UK], 5 April) in which it defines imperialism as consisting of “control, either direct or indirect, of weaker countries.” This classless definition could apply to any foreign intervention by a powerful country. Even when it says the “driving force” of the “global system” of imperialism is “competition between the big capitalist powers,” in the next breath it claims that the Cold War was a conflict “between capitalist and state capitalist powers,” the latter being their anti-Marxist label for the USSR and the Soviet bloc deformed workers states. For decades, the Cliffites denounced Soviet intervention as “Russian imperialism,” from Korea in the 1950s to Afghanistan in the 1980s, as they lined up with the real imperialists.
Theirs is a boiled-down version of the standard bourgeois definition, very different from the Marxist, and specifically Leninist definition of imperialism. In his pamphlet, Imperialism, The Highest Stage of Capitalism (1916), Lenin defines capitalist imperialism as follows:
(1) The concentration of production and capital has developed to such a high stage that it has created monopolies which play a decisive role in economic life; (2) the merging of bank capital with industrial capital and the creation, on the basis of this ‘finance capital,’ of a financial oligarchy; (3) the export of capital, as distinguished from the export of commodities, acquires exceptional importance; (4) the formation of international monopolist capitalist associations which share the world among themselves; and (5) the territorial division of the whole world among the biggest capitalist powers is completed.”
The central point of Lenin’s work is that imperialism is not just a policy, which the rulers could change – as opportunists such as Karl Kautsky argued – but rather the stage of monopoly capitalism, in which the dominance of finance capital requires imperialist practices. Kautsky’s definition served to justify his utopian-reformist, pacifist program of pressuring the rulers to adopt peaceful “non-imperialist” policies. Lenin’s analysis laid bare that the only road to peace was to overthrow the imperialist system.
So where does Russia today stand according to these criteria? Certainly, in this land of “oligarchs,” monopolies dominate the Russian economy. Overall, a few hundred large capitalists control about 40% of sales.3 This is partly due to the structure of the economy in which industry (mining, manufacturing, construction and power), with its huge capital requirements and economies of scale, contributes a far larger share of the gross domestic product (37%) than in the United States (20%).4 But mainly it is a reflection of the fact that Russian capitalism has been built on the remains of the centralized, collectivized economy, in which whole industrial sectors and regional distribution chains were controlled by a single enterprise. The monopolies are not particularly large by international capitalist standards, but there are very few small firms.
An Austrian pseudo-Trotskyist, Michael Pröbsting,5 has recently authored an opus titled “Russia as a Great Imperialist Power: The Formation of Russian Monopoly Capital and Its Empire” (Revolutionary Communism, March 2014). Pröbsting argues that Russia is imperialist in the first instance because of the domination of the economy by monopolies, citing Gazprom, Sberbank, Rosneft and Lukoil, and others. This proves nothing. In the era of combined and uneven development, even in semi-colonial capitalist countries monopolies often dominate the economy. Brazil’s Vale Corp. and Mexico’s Cemex and América Móvil outrank Gazprom and Lukoil in foreign assets,6 but that doesn’t make Brazil or Mexico imperialist.
And this is certainly not the dominance of finance capital, the cornerstone of Lenin’s analysis of imperialism. Russia has only 2 of the top 100 banks in the world ranked by total assets, Sberbank (No. 74) and VTB (No. 93), whose combined worth is less than half that of the three Brazilian banks on the list (Itaú Unibanco, Banco do Brasil and Bradesco). Banks constitute a much smaller part of the Russian economy (4% of GDP) than in the U.S. (8% of GDP and 41% of corporate profits) or the rest of the imperialist West, and play little role in directing the economy. Sberbank is a giant savings bank, majority state-owned, which mainly finances majority state-owned firms. VTB, also majority state-owned, is the former Soviet foreign trade bank. Its subsidiaries in ex-Soviet republics focus on financing trade with Russia.
As for export of capital, Russia is in an intermediate position between imperialist countries and neo-colonial countries. Thus Russian total foreign investment amounts to 21% of GDP, far less than Sweden (78% of GDP), Great Britain (74%) France (54%), Germany (46%) or the U.S. (35%), or even Chile (37%); substantially more than Brazil and Mexico (around 10%) and about the same as South Africa (22%).7 In addition, while in imperialist countries foreign investment outside the country (44% of GDP in “developed economies”) almost always exceeds foreign investment inside the country (33% of GDP), in Russia outward foreign direct investment (21% of GDP) is less than inward FDI (26%), though the gap is not nearly as great as with the larger semi-colonial countries where capital inflows can be double or triple the outflows.
Moreover, a large part of the capital outflows from Russia are hardly foreign investment at all, but hiding funds in offshore tax havens. Look at the countries which are the recipients of Russian foreign “investment”: Ukraine, 1.2%; rest of former USSR, 3.1%; but European Union, 64%, of which Cyprus accounts for US$122 billion, or 34% (and in 2012, 43%).8 Cyprus? No center of industry or raw materials supplies, but it is (or was) a tax paradise. The other main destination, the British Virgin Islands (12.8% in 2012), has since dramatically increased its share from US$49 billion to $80 billion as Russian money fled to the British tax haven in the 2013 collapse of the Cyprus banking system. Far from encouraging foreign investment, the Russian government has been appealing to bring this “flight capital” home, to no avail.9
Much of this is capital temporarily parked off-shore, as suggested by the fact that inflows and outflows of capital largely balance out year after year. Thus the accounting firm Ernst & Young did an analysis of movement of Russian funds from 2007 to 2011 (“Capital Outflow from Russia: From Myths to Reality” ), showing US$135 billion movement to offshores and $133 billion from offshores. Their conclusion: “The amount of real capital outflow is overstated by a factor of at least 2x.” Moreover, several leading Russian companies have been divesting themselves of foreign holdings, such as Severstal which is seeking to sell its two U.S. steel plants.10 Asia, Africa and Latin America, there are very few.
The bottom line is that far from having “an enormous ‘surplus of capital’” (Lenin, in Imperialism) that is scouring the globe for more lucrative investments, to corner markets or jack up profit margins by exploiting low-wage labor in semi-colonial countries, Russia has a capital shortage and is a net importer of capital. Only one of the world’s 100 largest “transnational” corporations is Russian (Vimpel.com, No. 93, a cellphone company, with less than half the assets of Brazil’s Vale and the same size as Carlos Slim’s Mexico-based América Móvil). As far as the search for raw materials supplies is concerned, Russia is endowed with vast quantities of almost every vital resource, including the largest natural gas reserves in the world. It is primarily an exporter of raw materials and energy (oil and gas supply 70% of total export earnings). In short, on the criterion of exporting capital, Russia is far from qualifying as an imperialist country.
Is Russia Imperialist? II: Dividing Up and Dominating the World Territorially
The same goes for being part of “international monopolist capitalist associations which share the world.” For all the talk of “partnership,” post-Soviet capitalist Russia has been treated as an outsider, to be dealt with warily. Although Russia applied to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1993, it was not admitted until 2012, more than a decade after China. The Russian Federation is still excluded from the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the club of leading capitalist countries, which has been expanded to include Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Mexico and the Czech Republic. The NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) imperialist military alliance has been expanding right up to Russia’s borders. And now Russia has been kicked out of the Group of Eight leading powers.
Lenin’s definition of imperialism had several elements, and some countries might qualify as imperialist by most but not all criteria. Lenin himself pointed to “a country most backward economically (Russia), where modern capitalist imperialism is enmeshed, so to speak, in a particularly close network of pre-capitalist relations.” Yet despite its economic weakness and backwardness, the tsarist empire acted as the “policeman of Europe” in the mid-19th century, crushing revolutions in Hungary and Poland; and during the Balkan Wars on the eve of World War I, it was seen as the protector of the southern Slavs against the Austro-Hungarian Empire. So Russia’s economy is not dominated by finance capital, it is not a major exporter of capital and it has not gained full admittance to the imperialist clubs, but what of its geopolitical role?
Pröbsting in his tract claims that “Russian imperialism already dominates or at least plays a central role in oppressing a number of Central Asian and Eastern European semi-colonies.” He claims that one of the 28 tables he prints (No. 9) shows that:
“Russia’s monopolies are investing in mostly semi-colonial Central Asia and Eastern Europe, as well as in Western imperialist Europe and in the semi-colonial Balkans. From these figures we can conclude that Russian monopolies derive significant extra-profit from their foreign investments in the semi-colonial countries in Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and Central Asia.”
The figures show nothing of the sort, giving no indication of actual amounts of investment. With this sleight of hand, he is hoping that readers won’t recall that a previous table (No. 4) showed that less than 4% of Russia’s foreign investment went to Central Asia, Eastern Europe and the Balkans. Even if a portion of transfers to tax havens are actually investments in offshore Russian companies, such as Lukoil’s U.S. operations headquartered in the British Virgin Islands, very little of these are invested in Central Asia and Eastern Europe.
For example, the statistics showing US$2.5 billion of Russian foreign investment (0.7% of the total) in Kazakhstan certainly understate the actual amount. Several sources put the real figure at US$7 billion. But this is less than the $9.7 billion corresponding to U.S. firms, and less than 8% of the total foreign investment in the country (which accounts for four-fifths of all foreign investment in Central Asia).11 That is because the investments are concentrated in the petroleum industry, including the giant Tengiz oil field operated by a consortium led by Chevron and Exxon and the mammoth project at Kashagan, undertaken by a consortium led by Eni (Italy), BP (Britain), Statoil (Norway), Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell and Total S.A. (France). The Russian Rosneft and Lukoil only have minor fields producing far less than the Austrian OMW.
As for dividing up the world territorially, Russia hasn’t been notably successful in that department either. While Moscow’s rulers have waged two brutal, dirty wars to prevent the secession of Chechnya from the Russian Federation, they have accepted the independence of the non-Russian Soviet republics. Yeltsin even encouraged them, playing to a chauvinist sentiment that Russia should stop subsidizing the rest of the USSR. Putin has declared that “the collapse of the Soviet Union was a major geopolitical disaster of the century,” not because of any lingering affinity for socialism, however perverted and negated by Stalinism, but on the nationalist grounds that “tens of millions of our co-citizens and compatriots found themselves outside Russian territory” (address to the federal assembly of the Russian Federation, April 2005).
There is no doubt that Putin would like to restore the “glory” and power of the Russian Empire, but post-Soviet capitalist Russia has not been and still is not in a position to do so. Moscow has not turned the screws on the Baltic Republics, although their reactionary capitalist leaders have excluded several hundred thousand ethnic Russians from citizenship in Estonia and Latvia on the basis of Nazi-style “blood laws,” requiring ethnic Russians to be naturalized, renounce Russian citizenship and pass discriminatory language exams. In all three countries SS and police battalions of Nazi collaborators during World War II are hailed as national heroes, including those who executed Communists and slaughtered tens of thousands of Jews.
In ex-Soviet Central Asia there are no Russian military bases, nor has Moscow used military pressure to dominate the region. The U.S., on the other hand, has a base in Manas, Kyrgyzstan, a staging point for supplying the imperialist occupation force in Afghanistan. Washington also poured hundreds of millions in aid into the country, including tens of millions of dollars to promote “democracy” and “civil society.” Using the conduit of the National Endowment for Democracy, Washington financed Kyrgyz opposition groups who also used a Freedom House printing press to prepare the 2005 “Tulip Revolution,” which overthrew the government of Askar Akayev and installed Kurman Bakiyev as president.12 Bakiyev in turn was overthrown in 2010 by oppositionists feeding off discontent over the U.S. base and endemic government corruption.
In Georgia, the U.S. engineered the so-called “Rose Revolution” in November 2003 to oust the government of former Soviet foreign minister Eduard Shevardnadze, using a network of U.S.-funded “non-governmental organizations” (NGOs) and U.S.-trained operatives from Serbia who had organized the overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic in 2000. Shevardnadze’s replacement, U.S.-educated Mikheil Saakashvili (who got an advanced law degree from Columbia University on a State Department scholarship), was backed by financier George Soros, whose empire of “Open Society” NGOs was also active in Ukraine in 2004 and again in 2013-14. Having taken power in a coup, Saakashvili soon applied for Georgian membership in NATO.
In 2008, Saakashvili set off hostilities and eventually a five-day war with Russia by military provocations in the pro-Russian enclaves of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, where Russian peacekeeping troops had been stationed since Georgia tried to suppress revolts by the local population in 1991-92. In response to Georgian attacks, Moscow dispatched Russian troops who drove out the invaders, but then continued on into Georgia in what became a reactionary Russo-Georgian war. But even NATO officials and observers of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) blamed Georgia for starting the conflict, hoping to get NATO to intervene and fast-track its application for membership in the imperialist military alliance. Far from being expansionist, the Russian military action was essentially defensive.
So in talking about an imperialist power that exploits Central Asian and Caucasian semi-colonies, reaping super-profits by exporting capital to exploit their natural resources, intervening with massive financing to influence local politics, organizing coups and maintaining military bases, who has done that in the post-Soviet period is not Russia but the United States. Certainly Russia’s capitalist rulers seek to dominate the geopolitical space around their reduced domain and to lord it over submissive weaker states. Putin clearly dreams of doing so. But at present Russia can only ward off the attacks of aggressive U.S. imperialism and its NATO imperialist allies who, sometimes through regional puppets, are determined to smash any challenge to their global hegemony.
Russia as a Transitional Capitalist Country and Regional Power
Contrary to the social-democratic purveyors of imperialist propaganda against “Russian imperialism,” Lenin did not divide the world exclusively into imperialists and colonies or semi-colonies. In his pamphlet on Imperialism, the Bolshevik leader referred in several places to “non-colonial and semi-colonial countries” (such as Persia, China and Turkey), to “a number of transitional forms of state dependence” including Argentina (“almost a British commercial colony”) and Portugal (“a British protectorate”), and more generally to “the transitional forms which are to be found in all spheres of nature and society.” His point was that they are all “links in the chain of operations of world finance capital,” part of “a general system,” imperialism.
Russia today is such a transitional capitalist country, neither a semi-colony nor an imperialist state – not yet. Another example of an intermediate capitalist country is Greece.13 Geopolitically Russia is a regional power with imperial ambitions. It’s not unique. South Africa, both under the apartheid regime and now under black capitalist neo-apartheid, has sought to control the southern parts of the African continent. Even larger semi-colonial countries can play this role: Iran under the shah and Khomeini and his heirs has sought to dominate “its” region, including the “Persian” Gulf statelets. Brazil acts as a sheriff for Yankee imperialism in the Caribbean, supplying mercenary troops for the U.S./U.N. occupation of Haiti. Putin’s Russia plays hardball with Ukraine over gas supplies and prices? For decades Brazil imposed below-cost payments to Paraguay for electricity from the Iguazu Falls.
Marxists oppose the imperial and great power ambitions of such regional powers while concentrating our fire on the real imperialists who like to carry out their aggression posing as defenders of human rights, democracy and the like. Woodrow Wilson did so in the first imperialist world war, the “democratic” imperialists did so in World War II, Bill Clinton did so in twice attacking Serbia, and today liberal U.S. Democrat Barack Obama, French “socialist” François Hollande and British Tory David Cameron sound the same theme in sponsoring Islamist “ethnic cleansers” in Syria and Nazi pogromists in Ukraine. Today, the main threat to working people in the clash over Ukraine is the imperialist-backed junta of ethnic-nationalist fascists and free-market rightists in Kiev, not some “Russian imperialism.”
So what about the claims of Russian aggression against “poor little Ukraine”? In the first place, Putin’s incorporation of Crimea was able to take place without firing a shot because it had the overwhelming, enthusiastic support of the local population. Crimea was historically part of Russia and the large majority of its population culturally Russian, and it was “gifted” to Ukraine only in 1954 by Nikita Khrushchev. The administrative change made little difference to people at the time as Ukraine and the Russian republic were part of a single state, the Soviet Union. Residents have continued to identify with Russia in part because of the economic dominance of the peninsula by the Russian Black Fleet base at Sevastopol, and because many in the 95% Russian-speaking population (including ethnic Russians and ethnic Ukrainians) are army and navy veterans.
The Internationalist Group and League for the Fourth International supported the self-determination of Crimea and its joining the Russian Federation. Russia’s military action, far from being an act of aggression, facilitated the exercise of this democratic right in repudiation of the imperialist-backed Ukrainian-nationalist Kiev junta, which is hostile to (and despised by) the population of Russian-speaking regions of Ukraine. Russian intervention was also a defensive move to forestall military action by a hostile, NATO-backed Ukraine to seize Sevastopol. This is not only home port to the Black Sea Fleet, but is vital for Russian exports because it dominates access to Russia’s only major warm water port (which doesn’t freeze in winter), Novorossiysk. If NATO ever got control of Sevastopol they would use it to strangle Russia economically.
As for all the talk of the Russian bear gobbling up southeastern Ukraine, this is crude Cold War fear-mongering. That would result in a rump Ukrainian state dominated by a virulently anti-Russian nationalist government based in western Ukraine through which most of the 12 pipelines carrying Russia gas to Europe run. They could be turned off in a flash, and while Russia has now opened the Nord Stream pipeline under the Baltic Sea, this can only carry a fraction of Russian gas exports to Europe. Moreover, the population of eastern Ukraine is more mixed than in Crimea, with a strong minority of native Ukrainian speakers. A Russian takeover (as opposed to self-rule) would doubtless face endless Ukrainian-nationalist attacks. In one of its few lucid moments, the New York Times (13 May) recognized this, editorializing:
“Mr. Putin has given every indication that his real goal is not to annex any more Ukrainian territory but to transform Ukraine into a federation under a weak and neutral Kiev government permanently dependent on Russia.”
What the most aggressive imperialist warmongers want, in contrast, is a Ukraine dependent on the West which would be a permanent military threat to Russia. Such a configuration would inexorably point to war. Provocations by Ukrainian ultra-rightists, or others, would be unpreventable. No “peace” arrangements could avert that danger, so that nuclear deterrence would be back, and with it the doctrine of “Mutually Assured Destruction.” The Pentagon understands this well, which is why it has so far not acted on Ukrainian (or Georgian) requests to join NATO. The Kremlin even more so sees this perilous scenario on the horizon, and has moved to avert it.
Ukraine: Neo-Colony of Post-Soviet Russia?
Aside from the Cold War anti-Russian propaganda, there remains the question of Ukraine’s relationship to Russia: under the tsarist empire, in the Soviet Union, and since the destruction of the USSR and restoration of capitalism. Is it true, as the American ISO claims, that Russia is “Ukraine’s past and present imperial overlord”? This “captive nations” refrain is definitely the view of the leaders of the Kiev junta, “prime minister” Arseniy Yatsenyuk and “president” Oleksandr Turchynov and Ukrainian nationalists generally who justify the military assault on eastern Ukraine with the claim that they are fighting to throw off the Russian imperial yoke (even as they seek to become a semi-colony of the imperialist European Union).
Ukraine was certainly an oppressed nation under tsarism, one of many in the Romanovs’ “prison house of peoples.” Ukrainian culture was persecuted and the Ukrainian language was banned from the schools from 1804 on. In addition, by the late 1800s Ukraine was home to 20% of all European Jews, who were beset by tsarist repression and pogroms, leading many to flee Ukraine. But many remained and Ukrainian Jews played a prominent role in the socialist movement, one of the reasons for the Odessa pogrom by tsarist Black Hundreds at the height of the 1905 Russian Revolution.
We have noted how during the Civil War following the 1917 October Revolution, Lenin and Trotsky united Ukrainian and Russian Bolsheviks and leftward-moving Ukrainian nationalists in a single Communist Party. A short-lived Donetsk—Krivoy Rog soviet republic in the east was integrated into the Ukraine Soviet Socialist Republic, with its capital in Kharkiv. In his speech to the Russian parliament over Crimea, Putin complained: “After the revolution, the Bolsheviks, for a number of reasons – may God judge them – added large sections of the historical South of Russia to the Republic of Ukraine. This was done with no consideration for the ethnic make-up of the population” (RT, 19 March). Russian nationalists blame Trotsky for this, which was key to creating a multi-national Ukraine. Ethnic homogeneity is a chauvinist program.
In the early years of Soviet Russia, the Bolsheviks followed a policy of “korenizatsiia,” or indigenization, promoting the use and development of native languages in non-Russian areas of the USSR. The use of Ukrainian was encouraged in the government and schools. But as part of Stalin’s nationalist dogma of building “socialism in one country,” an aggressive campaign of Russification was launched: in 1929 Ukrainian intellectuals were arrested; a few years later Ukrainian instruction in the schools was banned and newspapers switched to Russian. In addition, there was the terrible toll of forced collectivization, in which several million died in the 1932-33 famine. And, as Trotsky noted, Stalin’s bloody purges of Communists in the late 1930s hit the Ukrainian CP harder than anywhere.
This was not the entire story of Ukraine’s history in the Soviet Union, however. From the 1930s on, eastern Ukraine became the industrial powerhouse of the USSR. Following former Ukrainian party chief Nikita Khrushchev’s 1954 accession to power in Moscow, language policy was loosened and Ukrainian was once again used in schools and media, although Russian was still prevalent as was repression of all dissidents – pro- and anti-socialist alike. Similarly under Ukrainian Leonid Brezhnev, who succeeded Khrushchev in the Kremlin from 1964 to 1982. Incomes and supplies of consumer goods rose and by 1991, living standards in Ukraine were slightly higher than in the Russian republic. Then counterrevolution devastated the economy and incomes fell by up to two-thirds. Capitalism threw millions of Ukrainians into poverty.
Today incomes are much higher in Russia than in Ukraine: pensions in Russia are double those in Ukraine (one reason why even ethnic Ukrainians voted for Crimea to join Russia). This is mainly due to Russia’s boom in oil and gas production and the international rise of energy prices. Yet despite all the propaganda about Russian use of natural gas to “blackmail” Ukraine, even after prices of Russian gas to Ukraine were more than doubled in 2006, the average price ($130 per thousand cubic meters) was barely 40% of that charged to Germany ($320/mcm).14 Far from extracting superprofits from gas sales to Ukraine, Russia has greatly subsidized Ukrainian industry and consumers in order to keep the country friendly, while Ukraine has periodically used its control of the pipelines and storage facilities to siphon off huge quantities of gas.15
The other major difference between the Ukraine and Russian economies is the role of the “oligarchs.” In both countries, the demise of the socialized economy was marked by wholesale looting, as privatized enterprises were handed out to cronies for a pittance. This is typical of the formation of a new capitalist class, which almost always is the result of state promotion. The difference between Russia and Ukraine is that, beginning in 2000 Putin clawed back some of the ill-gotten gains, beefed up state-owned strategic sectors and brought the capitalist boyars (princes) to heel, with some fleeing to exile (Berezovsky, Gusinsky) and others jailed (Khodorkovsky). In Ukraine, the looting never stopped, and the oligarchs have continued to have free rein, no matter who was president.
Russian companies have limited clout in Ukraine, as “pro-Russian” and “pro-Ukrainian” oligarchs have united to keep their richer Russian cousins out. There has been a tug-of-war over oil refineries, with the Russian company Tatneft ousted at gunpoint from the largest plant (Keremenchug) in 2007, while a court recently seized a smaller Odessa refinery which had gone back and forth between Russian and Ukrainian ownership. The largest foreign-owned refinery today (Kherson) belongs to the Kazakh state oil company. Russian firms have also been largely excluded from the steel industry: when the largest mill, Kryvorizhstal, was privatized in 2004, the Russian company Severstal was excluded, and the initial award to eastern Ukrainian steel baron Rinat Akhmetov was reversed on presidential orders. The plant was then sold to Arcelor Mittal Steel with a loan from Citigroup. In 2010 the government awarded the second largest steel complex, the Ilyich Steel and Iron Works, to Akhmetov in order to keep Russian investors out.14
Ukraine does not have a typical semi-colonial economy based on resource extraction. It is heavily industrialized and is the tenth largest arms exporter in the world (and in 2012 the fourth-largest), ahead of Israel and Sweden, producing not only light arms but a full range of heavy weaponry including tanks.17 Ukraine is also the tenth largest steel producer in the world.18 And contrary to the news reports about a “rust belt,” heavy industry in eastern Ukraine has revived somewhat, while light manufacturing plants in the west have closed due to the competition of cheaper imports. The reality is that Russia has been a main customer of the Ukrainian iron, steel, metal and weapons plants. Ukraine’s aircraft industry based in Kiev and Kharkov works in close collaboration with Russian plants in Samara and Voronezh.
People in eastern Ukraine are well aware that if the country swings into the European Union orbit, most of this industry would be destroyed, as the U.S. and European capitalists snap up a few choice morsels and the workers are condemned to unemployment.
Overall Ukraine, like Russia, is an intermediate, transitional capitalist country, albeit one that is still mired in post-counterrevolution economic malaise and is far weaker militarily. But while workers’ wages and income levels are at poverty levels, that is not because of superexploitaiton by Russia. It is centrally because Ukraine’s capitalist rulers have growth filthy rich by looting the country’s riches. In fact, many Ukrainian oligarchs have used their accumulated wealth to buy up foreign companies. Thus in addition to Sergei Taruta who owns major steel mills in Ukraine, Poland and Hungary, Ihor Kolomoyski’s Privat Group controls banks, airlines, oil refineries, iron and steel mills, ferroalloy plants in Ukraine, Romania, Poland, Georgia and Russia, and Australian Consolidated Minerals which has 10% of global manganese production. Not to mention pipe magnate Viktor Pinchuk and “chocolate king” Petro Poroshenko, among others.
The issue of language has been a lightning rod for anti-Russian Ukrainian nationalist sentiment. This is in large part because of the large ethnic Russian population in the east and south, much of which has little allegiance to the Ukrainian state, but just as importantly because the actual number of Russian speakers is far greater. While 30% of the population give Russian as their native language, 46% say they speak Russian at home, over half say it is their everyday language and Russian is the most common language in media and business. Moreover, in the central Ukrainian regions, a large percentage speak Surzhyk, with a mixture of Ukrainian and Russian vocabulary, so that “pure” Ukrainian is the dominant language only in the west. Thus the ethnic nationalists are trying to impose the use of Ukrainian on a reluctant population.
The decision by the Ukrainian Rada (Supreme Council) on the day after the coup to eliminate the official status of the Russian language in eastern Ukraine was no fluke. Not only the fascists but even the “moderate” nationalist bourgeois parties voted for this last fall. It is common when nationalist movements gain power that they seek to impose a national language, and Ukrainian nationalists are vexed by the fact that Russian remains the predominant language. Marxist internationalists, in contrast, oppose the imposition of official languages or state privilege for any language.19 Demands that all Ukrainian citizens must speak Ukrainian, that official business and school instruction must be in Ukrainian, paralleling Estonia and Latvia, are discriminatory and chauvinist, and we oppose them just as we oppose the French-language Law 101 in Quebec that seeks to legislate the use of French by English-speakers and immigrants.20
In sum, the relation of Russia and Ukraine today is not one of imperial overlord and semi-colonial vassal but of two intermediate level capitalist states, notwithstanding differences in their relative power. Canada and the United States are both imperialist states, and while the U.S. is far more powerful, there is no qualitative difference between them. Marxists must take into account the long history of Ukrainian oppression at the hands of the tsarist Russian Empire and the Great Russian Stalinist chauvinists, but Ukrainian anti-Russian nationalism is no less reactionary (and like all nationalism, bourgeois). While also combating Russian nationalism in eastern Ukraine, Trotskyists fight for proletarian internationalism against all the capitalist exploiters, and particularly against the imperialists, their Ukrainian bourgeois puppets and fascist attack dogs. ■
1. “The New World Order,” The Economist, 22 March.
2. See “Down with the Imperialist-Backed Fascist/Nationalist Coup in Ukraine!” The Internationalist, March 2014.
3. Sergei Guriev and Andrei Rachinsky, “The Role of Oligarchs in Russian Capitalism,” Journal of Economic Perspectives, Winter 2005.
4. World Bank data: http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NV.IND.TOTL.ZS
5. Pröbsting speaks for the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), a 2011 split from the League for a Fifth International led by the British Workers Power group. While claiming to be Trotskyist, both the RCIT and its progenitor declare the Fourth International dead, not only organizationally but also programmatically. Workers Power was a mid-1970s split from the Cliffite International Socialists. Today they all declare China “state capitalist” just as Cliff did with Russia during the first Cold War. In each case they are inventing a label in order to justify refusing to defend degenerated/deformed workers states against imperialism.
6. United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), World Investment Report 2013, Table of Top 100 TNCs from Development and Transition Economies (2011).
7. Figures in this paragraph on outward and inward stock of foreign direct investment are for 2012, UNCTAD, World Investment Report 2013, FDI/TNC database.
8. Aleksei Kuznetsov, “Russian Multinationals FDI Outflows Geography: the Emerging Dominance of Greater Europe,” European Researcher [Vol. 67:1-2, 2014]
9. “President Vladimir Putin’s calls for domestic companies to repatriate their funds back home from offshore jurisdictions have fallen on deaf ears” (“Russian Investors Flock to Virgin Islands After Cypriot Crisis,” Moscow Times, 18 August 2013).
10. “Russian Steel Billionaire Mordashov Seeks U.S. Pull Out,” Bloomberg, 16 May.
11. OECD Investment Policy Reviews, Kazakhstan 2012: Foreign Direct Investment in Kazakhstan (2012).
12. “U.S. Helped Prepare the Way for Kyrgyzstan’s Uprising,” New York Times, 30 March 2005.
13. We have noted elsewhere that Greece is neither a semi-colonial country nor a full-fledged imperialist country but “a sub-imperialist power whose capitalists own the largest shipping fleet in the world (though mostly not sailing under the Greek flag); whose banks have historically had a privileged position in the eastern Mediterranean and are now buying up banks and companies throughout the Balkans; and which economically dominates Macedonia and Albania” (“Greece on the Razor’s Edge,” The Internationalist No. 32, January-February 2011).
14. S. Pirani, Ukraine’s Gas Sector (Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, June 2007).
15. An article by two Brookings Institution experts notes, “The simple fact is that Russia today supports the Ukrainian economy to the tune of at least $5 billion, perhaps as much as $10 billion, each year” (Clifford Gaddy and Barry Ickes, “Ukraine: A Prize Neither Russia Nor the West Can Afford to Win,” Brookings, 22 May). This subsidy is not limited to cheap gas, but also includes Ukraine’s heavy manufacturing and defense industries which are almost entirely dependent on exports to Russia. When Russia stopped ordering railroad locomotives and rolling stock last year, Ukraine lost billions of dollars and its plants effectively shut down.
16. Sławomir Matuszak, The Oligarchic Democracy: The Influence of Business Groups on Ukrainian Politics (OSW Studies, 2012).
17. SIPRI (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute) Yearbook, 2013.
18. “World Steel Statistics Data 2013,” World Steel Association, January 2014.
19. “In particular, Social-Democrats reject a ‘state’ language” and oppose “any ‘state’ privileges for any one language” (V.I. Lenin, “Theses on the National Question,” June 1913). The Bolsheviks did not make Russian the state language, and in fact promoted non-Russian languages in teaching and administration under the policy of “korenization” (or indigenization), including use of minority languages is districts with ethnic minorities, among them Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine.
20. At the same time, we oppose company policies requiring the use of the language preferred by management.
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16 Jun 2014
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The gas lines across Ukraine.
Between Imperialisms: Ukraine
by Leaugue for a Revolutionary Party
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23 Jun 2014
Modified: 12:00:15 PM
Upheaval in Ukraine and the Left
Over half a year of convulsive political crises in Ukraine have brought the country to the brink of civil war. They have also dramatically shaken up relations among the imperialist powers – the U.S., the European Union and Russia.
Despite the importance of the events, it is impossible from afar to be certain of everything that is going on: on both sides of the struggle, far-right wing and even fascist forces are posing as democrats and even socialists, capitalist oligarchs are trying to mobilize workers to support their interests, and the rival imperialists are sponsoring proxy forces who nonetheless proclaim their independence from the great powers. Meanwhile reporters on the ground mostly present only one side of each story.
In particular, the conflict has produced grossly different assessments by the international left. Some hailed the mass “Euromaidan” movement in Kiev as wholly progressive and democratic despite the facts that it was led by right-wing bourgeois forces who favored closer economic relations with the European Union, and that the overthrow of the pro-Russia prime minister Yanukovych was spearheaded by far-right and outright fascist fighters. Others denounced the mass movement in Kiev as nothing but a reactionary movement culminating in a fascist coup sponsored by the U.S., ignoring the fact that hundreds of thousands had joined the movement to protest the Yanukovych government’s violence against peaceful protests and support for corrupt oligarchs.
More recently, the latter leftists have characterized the anti-government forces who seized public buildings, blocked highways and promoted a separatist referendum in Eastern Ukraine as anti-fascist popular heroes, overlooking the presence of openly pro-imperialist Russian chauvinists and neo-fascists among their leaders; others denounced them as simply Russian agents seeking to further dismantle the country despite evidence of some broader sympathy for their resistance to the post-Yanukovych right-wing government in Kiev.
These different assessments reflect the bitter divide within the country. Deadly skirmishes have taken place between the militants on the pro-Russian or “anti-Maidan” side and forces of the central government in Kiev. There have been pitched battles in cities, including the massacre by pro-government forces of anti-Maidan activists in Odessa. As far as we can tell, the most aggressive forces on both sides have been reactionaries, including fascists. But there has also been a democratic and working-class aspect to some of the protests, both the earlier demonstrations in Kiev against the former government and the ongoing actions against the current government in the East.
The common mass sentiment against the disastrous economic policies of one corrupt oligarchic government after another points to the only genuine solution to the Ukrainian crisis: working-class unity against the ruling capitalists and their imperialist backers on both sides. But for the most part the conflict has only deepened the ethnic and regional differences within the Ukrainian working class, which remains subjected to the leadership of one or another of the capitalist oligarchs, party leaders and far-right gangs representing either Ukrainian or Russian nationalism. Ukraine is divided linguistically and ethnically between the largely Ukrainian-speaking and agrarian West, where many workers migrate to East European countries like Poland for jobs and where pro-EU sentiment dominated; and the mainly Russian-speaking and more industrial East and South. There are, however, Ukrainian speakers and Russian speakers throughout the country, and many people are bilingual. The capitalist system’s slide toward depression has devastated Ukraine’s economy and is driving the country’s fratricidal warfare, but that is a symptom of the ruling class’s weakness. The only alternative is for Ukraine’s working class to lead the rest of the country’s exploited and oppressed masses in the overthrow of capitalism as part of an international revolutionary struggle against the imperialist system. Necessary for victory will be a vanguard revolutionary party that is prepared to unmask all the reactionary chauvinist forces on both sides of the current conflicts and chart a course of independent working-class struggle.
Imperialist Rivalry over Ukraine
The background to the crisis is that Ukraine has been the victim of oppression by great powers throughout its modern history. The current events there are framed by its continued exploitation and domination by imperialist states. Since the collapse of Stalinist statified capitalism and the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, Ukraine has enjoyed formal independence. But its succession of oligarchical governments have looted the country and have alternately sought support from the West or Russia in return for granting the imperialists access.
Ukraine was once known as the “breadbasket of Europe” on account of its abundant wheat production, and its agriculture is still a potentially rich resource. But it needs major investments in equipment and infrastructure to regain its past productivity, which capitalist financiers are unwilling to provide unless the land, which is largely state-owned, is privatized. That would benefit oligarchs, not the agricultural or other workers. There is also a major mining and manufacturing sector in the East of the country, where the heavy industry dates from the Soviet period and is now largely obsolete by international standards. The oligarchs who captured and looted the country’s industrial enterprises were formerly bureaucrats tied to the overall Soviet economy, and this industrial region depends heavily on Russian energy sources and Russian markets.
Many Ukrainians have a historical memory of Stalin’s murderous policies in the early 1930’s: Ukraine was starved of food output so that it could be sold abroad to build up Soviet industry. The Great Purges later in the decade that wiped out the last vestiges of the Soviet workers’ state created in the 1917 revolution were especially harsh in Ukraine. The brutality of the Stalinist state drove some Ukrainians to the Nazi side when Germany invaded in 1941.
Russia today is hardly the superpower rival to the United States that the Stalinist USSR was in the years following the Second World War; Obama recently denigrated it as a “regional power” only. But Russia remains an imperialist exploiter in the global capitalist system: it profits from and enforces the subjugation and super-exploitation of oppressed countries in Eastern Europe and especially Central Asia, where its military predominance backs up major economic interests.
Russian imperialism declined after the fall of Stalinism and the break-up of the USSR, but it remained bloody even under the weak post-Stalinist ruler Yeltsin in the 1990’s, prosecuting devastating wars against the rebellious Chechen people. Its renewed aggression accelerated at the turn of the century, when rising oil prices rose brought Russia’s rulers new financial wealth and Putin replaced Yeltsin. In 2008 the Georgian regime tried to provoke a proxy war between Russia and the U.S. by invading the separatist region of South Ossetia and then begging the U.S. to defend it against Russia’s counterattack, but the U.S. was too tied down in Iraq and Afghanistan to challenge Russia in its backyard. With his recent annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean territory, Putin has replayed his success over Georgia, choosing a fight the West could not afford to join militarily
In addition to its seizure of Crimea and military threats in the East, Russian imperialism has for years kept Ukraine in thrall economically. Several times it has raised gas and oil prices or threatened to withhold supplies entirely. It has tried to use Ukraine’s energy debt to take over the pipelines across Ukraine through which Russia exports gas to Western Europe. On top of the $30 billion debt that Ukraine already owed to Russia, in late 2013 it took another emergency loan of $3billion with special clauses that stipulates that if the total volume of Ukrainian state-guaranteed debt exceeds 60 percent of its annual GDP, then Russia can demand repayment on an accelerated schedule – or if it is unable to make such payments, force default and cut off the supply of gas.
Since then, Russia has pushed Ukraine further towards default. Effective April 1, it raised by 80 percent the price of natural gas imports into Ukraine. Russia’s union of milk producers is asking for a ban on Ukrainian dairy products, and Russian steel companies are pressing for protectionist measures against Ukrainian ore. Russia also threatened to take legal measures against Poland, Slovakia, and Romania for sending gas in the reverse direction on the pipelines to help Ukraine, a move which Russia says breaks their contracts with Russia’s Gazprom company. This has already meant chaos for Ukraine’s economy. The Ukrainian currency, the hryvnia, is in free fall, losing more than 35 percent of its value against the dollar this year. The central bank nearly doubled its overnight interest rate to 14.5 percent from 7.5 percent. GDP is on track to fall by 10 percent this year.
Rivaling Russia is the U.S.-led NATO military alliance and the European Union (EU). The Western imperialist ruling classes are eager to limit Russia’s military and economic power; for two decades they have advanced the borders of NATO and the EU eastward towards Russia, contrary to the unwritten promise made by the first president Bush to Soviet leader Gorbachev. In 2008 Ukraine proposed to take steps toward affiliation with NATO, a move endorsed by U.S. presidents Bush II and Obama. NATO backed off after Russia’s Georgia war, facing opposition from France and Germany. One reason surely is that the NATO treaty makes an attack on any member nation an attack against all, and NATO could not defend Ukraine from Russia using conventional weapons.
The Western pressure on Ukraine comes chiefly in the economic sphere. Like many countries, Ukraine has been subject since independence to demands from the International Monetary Fund to reduce budgets, cut wages, pensions, social services and state subsidies for energy – in return for loans to keep the economy afloat and pay Ukraine’s debts to Russia. Most recently, the Western imperialists, in order to deepen their exploitation of Ukraine, promoted the post-Yanukovych regime – which has agreed to a new deal for loans from the IMF which imposes greater austerity on the Ukrainian masses. The imperialists’ aim is to extract debt-servicing profits and open the country’s poorly paid working class and resources to more direct exploitation by Western capital.
While calls for outside intervention from pro-Russian and pro-Western politicians inside Ukraine escalate, the U.S. has insisted it will not arm its Ukrainian allies, although it has moved token numbers of troops and military equipment to NATO countries like Poland and the Baltic countries bordering Russia. Russia has built up a much larger military force along its Ukrainian border but claims it has no responsibility for the armed militants in Eastern Ukraine. In early May Putin said he would support Ukraine-wide elections on May 25 rather than the anti-Kiev referendum on sovereignty in the East on May 11. This may signal a de facto effort by the imperialist powers to divide influence over Ukraine between them rather than encourage further moves toward civil war and the inevitable heating up of international hostility that would follow.
One result of the rival imperialist interventions in and squabbling over Ukraine has been to halt the creeping Western approach to Russia’s borders. Russia is unlikely to challenge any time soon the NATO membership of Poland and the Baltic states; likewise, the West will undoubtedly have to live with Russia’s takeover of Crimea. And Ukraine will not join NATO; if it survives the present turmoil, it will most likely become a buffer state whose exploitation is shared by Russia and the West.
While it does not have the global reach of the USSR, Russia is re-establishing itself as a power that has to be reckoned with in the overall imperialist jockeying for influence and resources. In addition to Crimea and Ukraine, Russia has stood up against the U.S. over Iran and Syria. The U.S., despite its huge military advantage, has shown itself unable to keep the lids on all the cauldrons of the Middle East, the Asian Pacific and now Eastern Europe. The “New World Order” that U.S. leaders boasted of in the aftermath of the fall of the USSR is becoming more disorderly and less hegemonic.
The Maidan Movement
The crisis broke out when a few thousand pro-Western activists converged last November at Independence Square (Maidan) in the center of Kiev, the capital, protesting the Yanukovych government’s decision to suspend the process of integration of Ukraine into the EU – hence the nickname “Euromaidan.” When the regime’s special police forces and snipers cracked down on the protesters, over a hundred people were killed (including a dozen policemen), and the protests grew massively, with hundreds of thousands rallying to oppose an already unpopular government holding onto power by means of murderous repression. Public buildings around the Kiev Maidan were occupied, a tent city was erected, and protests spread to other squares and other cities. Right-wing Ukrainian nationalists, including fascists, played a growing role.
The masses of people who joined the protests in Kiev and beyond did not all do so in support of the leaders’ pro-EU aims. The government had become deeply unpopular for overseeing a continued fall in the masses’ living standards, just like the previous pro-Western government of Viktor Yuschenko. While a significant minority were committed right-wingers, most protesters were not. Many held illusions that joining the EU would mean prosperity, rather than the austerity that European imperialism actually inflicts on poorer member-countries like Greece, Latvia and Ireland as well as greater democratic freedoms. But these protesters did not raise anti-capitalist demands, and control remained in the hands of the pro-Europe political leaders and the oligarchs behind them.
There was certainly nothing progressive in the Yanukovych regime – like every post-Stalinist government, it enforced private capitalist exploitation with harsh repression. Nor could revolutionaries support the pro-Western demands of the Maidan movement’s leaders. However, it was necessary to oppose the regime’s attacks on peaceful protests in order to defend the masses’ democratic rights and convince them of the need for a perspective of internationalist working-class struggle. Revolutionaries should have attended the protests in order to resist the pro-EU, pro-capitalist and chauvinist political messages of the reactionary leaders.
As the protests continued, the ruling class was torn between Yanukovych and rival politicians, all supported by oligarchs. The top capitalists finally decided in February that the best way to protect their wealth and power was to abandon Yanukovych. The Kiev parliament replaced him with a pro-Western figure, Yatsenyuk, whose government included the far-right Svoboda party (which was given the security ministry) and was backed by the openly fascist Right Sector.
These moves were welcomed by Washington, which sought to take advantage of the regime change and secure the most cooperative government possible. The massive protest movement that drew on widespread grievances against repression and economic misery thus found itself mobilized behind a pro-austerity ruling-class faction and other right-wing forces. Some on the left labeled this replacement of one capitalist regime by another a “revolution,” but the new regime can offer the Ukrainian masses only more misery, this time more directly at the hands of the International Monetary Fund and other agents of Western imperialism. It must be opposed by all revolutionaries.
Annexation of Crimea
In response to the Western moves and Ukraine’s disarray, Russia invaded and annexed Crimea, a largely Russian-speaking peninsula that is home to Russia’s Black Sea fleet. The takeover was carried out in the name of the right of self-determination of the Crimean people. But despite its ratification by a referendum, it was an act of colonialist annexation. Socialists and working-class people should oppose such seizures of territory – the right wing in Ukraine cannot be allowed to pose as the only defenders against an imperialist military force.
The slogan raised by some on the international left, “Self-determination for Crimea” (that is, for Crimea as a whole with its Russian-speaking majority), is in effect an endorsement of an imperialist conquest. Its proponents overlook that Leninists defend the right of self-determination for oppressed peoples, not oppressors; that right does not apply to imperialist seizures of territory.
Though a majority of Crimea’s population is Russian (the result of efforts to Russify the area that began under Tsarism) and it is likely that a majority supported the region’s incorporation into the Russian state, the oppressed Tatar people who are indigenous to Crimea and survived Stalin’s attempted genocide understandably oppose Russian rule and favored remaining in the Ukrainian state. “Self-determination for Crimea” meant supporting the right of the Russian majority to impose the rule of an imperialist oppressor upon the Tatars. Our opposition to the supposed right of Crimea to self-determination is consistent with the traditional revolutionary opposition to self-determination for Northern Ireland, with its British-backed Protestant majority, and self-determination for Israel, which has a Jewish majority as a result of colonialist ethnic cleansing.
Thus when the takeover of Crimea was in progress, we in the League for the Revolutionary Party took the position of siding with Ukrainian forces that might come into conflict with the Russian troops; we favor the defeat of imperialists in any clash with an oppressed country. By now, however, the seizure is an accomplished fact; we are not for a military effort by Ukraine to retake it, since the outbreak of war would only make organizing united working-class struggle across Ukraine’s ethnic divisions more difficult and would probably draw in more direct Western imperialist intervention. We also oppose calls by Ukrainian nationalist reactionaries that Kiev shut off water and electricity supplies to Crimea, a measure that would only victimize the Crimean people, not their imperialist rulers. The U.S. and the EU have imposed economic sanctions against Russia, but so far this has been a minor inconvenience. Despite rhetorical bluster, the West will accept the takeover of Crimea, only warning that such violations of “international law” (violations which the U.S. commits routinely) must not be extended.
The struggle over Crimea, however, is not over. The most oppressed group in the region is the Crimean Tatars. The Tatars initially expressed a wish not to be governed by Russia, under whose rulers (both Tsars and Stalin) they suffered near-genocidal oppression. As a largely Muslim nationality, they also know how Russia under both Yeltsin and Putin was willing to use total destruction to defeat the independence of Chechnya, another Muslim nation. But given the annexation, they now seek full minority rights and autonomy in Crimea, plus the right of all exiled Tatars to return to their historical homeland. Their democratic rights are indeed being threatened under Russian rule and must be defended. Tatar leaders have been told they will be prosecuted if they organize protests against the policies of the new Crimean regime under Russia, and their chief civil organization, the Mejlis, will be banned. According to the United Nations commission for refugees, ten thousand people have fled Crimea since the annexation, most of whom are Tatars, “either because of direct threats or out of fear of insecurity or persecution.”
Now the task of fighting Russia’s imperialist impositions rests primarily on the Russian working class, which has been increasingly restive since 2011. But Russia’s workers must see through the nationalism their rulers invoke. To break the bonds of loyalty with ruling class, revolutionaries must oppose the annexation of Crimea and the forced incorporation of Chechnya, the rest of the North Caucasus and other areas into the Russian Federation.
Conflict in Eastern Ukraine
In early April several groups of anti-Kiev militants, many of them armed, seized public buildings in major East Ukrainian cities. They demanded autonomy within Ukraine via a referendum like that in Crimea, although the leaders pretty clearly wanted armed aid from Russia and possibly annexation. Local police generally hesitated to intervene or have sided with the rebels, and initially small central government forces were sent to the East to confront them.
These events have also been termed a “revolution” by some on the left. But unlike in Crimea, where the Russian annexation was very popular among the Russian-speaking majority, reports suggest that the population in the East is far less enthusiastic about separating and joining Russia.. The public demonstrations in support of the Eastern rebels were far smaller than those earlier in Kiev; but as with the Maidan protests, government attempts to crush them by force generated more support for them. A key reason for mistrusting the Kiev government was the vote in the Ukrainian parliament to overturn the law allowing scope for minority languages like Russian, even though the prime minister vetoed the revocation.
The organization that led the Eastern takeovers calls itself the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR). When this group seized several floors of a building in the city of Donetsk, the center of Ukraine’s coal and steel region, its leader was interviewed by a New York Times reporter and claimed to represent “the working class, not the bourgeoisie”; he also declared his loyalty to the defunct Soviet Union. But little else about the DPR could be called working-class or socialist. Pavel Gubarev, a pro-Russian separatist from Donetsk who declared himself a “people’s governor,” had been a member of a fascistic organization called Russian National Unity. And Aleksandr Borodai, a figure with a long fascistic record in Russia, was named prime minister of the DPR.
In the spirit of such reactionary leadership, counter-protesters for Ukrainian unity have been violently repressed by pro-Russia thugs, and reporters have also been abducted and beaten. The anti-Kiev reactionaries, along with Putin’s regime in Russia, are hailed by practically all the fascist or near-fascist organizations in Europe, from Golden Dawn in Greece to the National Front in France.
(There is some confusion between the names “Donetsk People’s Republic” and “Donetsk Republic” without the “People’s.” The DPR’s self-proclaimed chairman, Denis Pushilin, a main organizer of the May 11 referendum for separation, has posed in front of a banner with the shorter name “Donetsk Republic” – and which also features the double-headed eagle symbolic of Russian tsarism. The two organizations are very likely the same, and the symbol indicates that its political views are reactionary, not working-class.)
The Ukrainian government sent small military forces to confront what it called “the terrorists,” initially without success as many soldiers refused to fight or went over to the rebel side. Later attempts, with likely participation from Right Sector elements, caused some deaths but did not retake occupied buildings.
Rhetoric from both Russia and the West escalated as the conflict in the East grew. Still, it did not appear that Putin was seeking further annexations. Taking over rebellious provinces could create unrest elsewhere in Russia, where economic conditions also are perilous. Moreover, such a step would strengthen Western influence in the rest of Ukraine, thus further encroaching on Russia’s doorstep – Russia needs Ukraine as a buffer towards the West, not as a conquest. Further, Russian annexation would compel the Western imperialists to impose more stringent sanctions and could lead to vicious economic retaliation on both sides.
The West, despite its aggressive talk, has not been eager to get more deeply involved militarily. Although the Pentagon pointed to Russia’s massing of military force near its border with Ukraine, the U.S. has not shared detailed information along these lines with the Ukrainian government it is supposedly allied with. And while the U.S. seeks to widen the sanctions on Russia, German capitalists are opposed, because of their close economic links with Russia.
Reports from Eastern Ukraine have presented widely divergent interpretations of who the separatist activists are, ranging from locals opposed to the ouster of Yanukovych and fearful of the new regime in Kiev, to “green men” in uniforms without insignia belonging to the Russian armed forces. According to one seemingly balanced Western account, “one persistent mystery has been the identity and affiliations of the militiamen, who have pressed the confrontation between Russia and the West into its latest bitter phase.” This report suggested that the rebels “appear to be Ukrainians but, like many in the region, have deep ties to and affinity for Russia. They are veterans of the Soviet, Ukrainian or Russian Armies, and some have families on the other side of the border. Theirs is a tangled mix of identities and loyalties.” And “while the fighters share a passionate distrust of Ukraine’s government and the Western powers that support it, they disagree among themselves about their ultimate goals. They argue about whether Ukraine should redistribute power via greater federalization or whether the region should be annexed by Russia.”
One additional reason for East Ukraine workers’ attraction to Russia is that wages in Russia are higher than in Ukraine. The low wage level is one reason Western imperialism wants greater access to Ukraine – but the same is true for Russian imperialism. Eastern Ukrainian workers may well feel hostile to the Kiev government – as should all Ukrainian workers. That sentiment will surely become more widespread once the austerity deal the Kiev government is negotiating with the EU and IMF takes full effect. The regime’s promised shock therapy measures include a 50 percent hike in gas prices, increased taxes, privatization of the public energy corporation, freezing of salaries and pensions for civil servants and the dismissal of 10 percent of them.
From what we have seen, outbreaks of class struggle have been few in comparison to nationalist outbreaks, but they have not been absent. On April 22, a strike broke out in the coal mines of Krasnodon, in Lugansk province near the Russian border. Two thousand miners struck the firm owned by Riant Akhmetov, reportedly Ukraine’s richest oligarch, demanding higher wages and better working conditions. Akhmetov had been a supporter of Yanukovych but was one of the oligarchs who switched sides opportunistically. Even though the miners’ strike did not raise political demands, it posed an enormous threat to the oligarchic ruling class. It was after all the Ukrainian miners whose struggles in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s played a key role in weakening the state capitalist ruling class in the USSR.
In general, as best as we can tell from various reports, the anti-Kiev activists are of several views, which of course overlap and are not always separable: some oppose Kiev for its economic and social policies: the IMF austerity deal, imposition of oligarchs as regional governors, the language issue; some support Ukraine becoming a federal state with regional autonomy; others support a separate republic or annexation by Russia.
The starting point of all revolutionary socialist politics is the defense of the working class against attack and the promotion of independent working-class organization and struggle. But in circumstances where rival forces are attempting to channel the grievances of working-class and oppressed people into support for the reactionary Kiev government or for the imperialist Russian state and threatening to plunge Ukraine into civil war, the road to independent working-class struggle is fraught with dangers. Under such conditions, especially from afar, revolutionaries can only propose broad guidelines for struggle to be adapted to any concrete situation:
1.we stand for the defense of all working-class, poor and oppressed people facing attack by either armed side, and to that end we promote the organization of working-class self-defense;
2.we support all forms of working-class struggle (mass protests, strikes, etc.) and all struggles against the Kiev government for democratic demands; these include the election of local governors rather than their imposition by Kiev, an end to reactionary attacks on leftist groups and individuals and opposition to austerity attacks; we also oppose repression of such struggles and democratic rights by the authorities of the new “People’s Republics”;
3.in order to defend democratic rights and oppose the continuation and build-up of repressive measures, we oppose crackdowns or censorship by any state or would-be state apparatus; we know that any aid or backing of repressive measures against democratic rights of expression will inevitably be used more against the working class and the oppressed than against the forces of reaction;
4.in clashes between the Kiev regime and anti-Kiev armed resistance forces that are effectively independent of direct support and control from Moscow (as seems to be the case with the Donetsk People’s Republic), we take no side, since both represent reactionary pro-capitalist forces fighting for power within Ukraine – unless the actions of one or another force momentarily coincide with defense of the masses’ democratic rights;
5.as champions of the internationalist unity of the working class against imperialist oppression, we always stand with the oppressed against their oppressors; thus in the event of further direct military intervention or territorial claim by Russia, which looks unlikely at present, we stand for the defeat of the Russian state and the defense of Ukraine as a country directly oppressed by imperialist Russia (as in Crimea);
6.if the West intervenes militarily in response to a Russian intervention, a prospect which is also extremely unlikely, we take no side in such a battle between imperialist rivals.
The Odessa Massacre
For weeks the Kiev regime did not seriously attack the rebel occupations, undoubtedly due to the weak state of the Ukrainian military after years of looting of government funds and the fact that many soldiers favored the demands of the protesters and passively or willingly went over to their side. But the violence gradually escalated, reaching its most horrific level on May 2, when a massacre took place in Odessa, a city in which are present activists on both factions. At least 40 people were killed, most of them in a fire in the Trade Union Building that had been occupied by people on the anti-Kiev side.
Accounts of that day’s events vary greatly; as best as we can piece them together there were attacks from both sides. The fighting began against a march of over 1000 soccer fans, supporters of both Odessa’s home team and the visiting team from Kharkiv. The marchers, many of whom carried yellow and blue Ukrainian flags, were attacked by several hundred pro-Russian thugs with guns, wearing ski masks and helmets. There was some return fire, but four marchers were killed by gunfire and a dozen more wounded. News of the attack spread to the soccer stadium, and running battles took place around the city. Revenge-minded crowd of soccer fans went after and destroyed a pro-Russian encampment outside the Trade Union House. Many from the camp took refuge inside the five-story building, and then the anti-Russia crowd, probably now led by Right Sector fascists, hurled gasoline-filled “Molotov cocktail” bottles into the building, starting the deadly conflagration that killed at least 38 people. Some trying to escape were beaten or killed by anti-Russia demonstrators. In both the shootings and burning, the police reportedly stood by and allowed the lopsided violence to take place.
There has been much speculation about the specifics of these events. Pro-Russia leaders blame the Kiev government for a deliberate slaughter; some in the government claim it was a provocation by Russia to legitimize a military invasion. Yulia Timoshenko, a former prime minister who had been jailed by Yanukovych and is now a presidential candidate, went so far as praise the slaughter at the Trade Union House and congratulate the killers. We condemn the massacre, and likewise all the violent attacks against either “pro-Maidan” or “anti-Maidan” demonstrators. They only contribute to the polarization of the masses of an oppressed country under reactionary leadership.
In addition to relatively minor skirmishes, there were also major losses of life in several subsequent events. In Mariupol, a port city in the Donetsk oblast, the Ukrainian military attacked a police station held by rebels on May 9; the number of deaths reported ranged from 5 to 20 to even 100. On May 22, sixteen Ukraine soldiers were killed at a checkpoint at the village of Blagodatnoe in the Donetsk region, but reports differ as to who killed them. The majority of reports say it was done by forces of the People’s Republic of Donetsk, and one particular outfit claims responsibility; but some on the left insist the perpetrators were pro-Kiev fascists, who shot the soldiers because they refused to fire on local residents.
The Referendums in Donetsk and Lugansk
As advertised in advance, referendums on the status of Donetsk and Lugansk Oblasts (provinces on Ukraine’s eastern border with Russia), took place on May 11 in some cities and towns. In Donetsk the wording to be voted on was: “Do you support the act of the Declaration of the Independence of the Donetsk People’s Republic?” Some voters took this to mean autonomy, others secession from Ukraine. But after the vote, the organizers claimed an overwhelming majority, declared their “republics” independent and immediately asked for them to be annexed by Russia.
The voting was makeshift at best. The atmosphere of armed violence precluded electoral campaigning by opponents of the resolution, and in one city, Krasnoarmeisk, Ukrainian security forces shot people trying to vote. It is not at all clear what fraction of residents voted: ballot locations were few; opponents of the rebels were afraid to declare their views. Western reporters on the scene described multiple cases of people voting more than once as well as of non-residents voting. In any case, Putin had already proposed postponement of the referendum and did not take up the organizers’ request for annexation; and no country, not even Russia, has recognized the newly declared republics.
One tragicomic outcome of the referendum was that the socialist group Borotba (Struggle), which supported the referendum and recognizes the Donetsk People’s Republic, was compelled to protest when the leaders of the DPR promulgated a constitution which declared that private property would be preserved and that the official state religion would be that of the Russian Orthodox Church. Borotba is at best terribly naive: what else could socialists expect from an outfit that presents itself under Tsarist symbols?
The shock of the Odessa massacre and the maraudings by the Donetsk militants produced at least one report of proletarian class sentiment among Eastern Ukraine workers. This is the “Appeal of the Kryviy Rih Basin miners to the workers of Europe,” which comes as close as we have seen to calling for working-class unity across the country against the ruling-class oligarchs. It says in part:
The attention of the world community is currently focused on the confrontation between pro-government and anti-government forces in Ukraine. This confrontation is becoming all the more tenacious and bloody. All the more it is being turned into an interethnic confrontation that is stoking up a hysterical mutual hatred between workers of different nationalities. ...
As a result we have no option but to demand an immediate doubling of the real wage in the interests of preserving social peace in this country. We are deeply convinced that the main cause of the destabilised situation in the country is the greed of Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs, who pay a beggar’s wage to workers, send all their profits off-shore and don’t pay taxes in Ukraine. ... 
The miners specifically called for armed workers’ detachments as key to ending the “fratricidal war” in Ukraine:
... we are demanding that the authorities officially recognise the miners’ self defense and the arming of miners’ brigades. Organized workers and workers’ self defense are precisely that stabilising factor which can effectively prevent the escalation of violence in Ukraine. In those places where organized workers are controlling the situation mass actions never turn into mass killings. The workers defended the Maidan in Kryviy Rih. The workers did not allow any violence when they took under their control the situation in the city of Krasnodon during the recent general strike there.
This appeal to working-class solidarity rather than competing nationalist sentiment is a breath of fresh air in a situation where the lead up to now has been taken by right-wing forces.
A possible further example of workers in action came on May 15, when, thousands of steelworkers spread out over the city of Mariupol and took control over the streets. According to press reports, they routed the separatist militants who had been in control for several weeks. The reports also said that the workers’ patrols had been organized by the steel plant owner, the oligarch Akhmetov, and other company executives, who feared that independence or annexation by Russia would mean the loss of contracts and sales with the West. While this action does not represent working-class independence of capitalists, nevertheless the experience of taking over a city can demonstrate to the workers the power they could wield as a class fighting in their own interests, and this could be a useful lesson in future class struggles against their bosses and governmental oppressors.
Workers’ Socialist Revolution is the Solution
Underlying the sharpening inter-imperialist and Ukrainian conflicts is the deepening crisis of global capitalism. The drive for profit motivates the increasingly vicious competition over scarce resources among the imperialist powers and the local capitalist forces aligned with them. Only the overthrow of capitalism and the construction of socialist societies of freedom and abundance can offer a real solution.
In Ukraine, the oppressive experience of Stalinism’s pseudo-communist statified capitalism has discredited Marxism in the eyes of millions and confined left-wing and pro-working class politics to a marginal place in society. The task of winning masses of people to the perspective of socialist revolution faces extraordinary challenges as a result, but this is the only real hope for the masses.
This perspective can only be advanced if revolutionaries take as their starting point the need for the masses to defend themselves against all their capitalist and imperialist enemies. In the present Ukrainian scene, that means opposition to imperialist attacks from all sides, Russia’s military and economic threats and the West’s austerity program. It also means a struggle against the pro-Western capitalist government in Kiev and its far-right and fascist supporters and against its chauvinist and anti-democratic attacks on the oppressed.
The desperate need is for working-class unity against all capitalist regimes, all oligarchs (the ruling class) and all imperialisms. The best chance of that is in the East, given its industrial weight and the miners’ history of class actions against the USSR and post-USSR regimes. The recent actions by miners and steelworkers may be a start, through which the workers will find an independent voice.
For Working-Class Unity against All Capitalist Oligarchs and Imperialist Powers!
No Support to the Kiev Government!
Down with its Austerity Program and Chauvinist Attacks!
US/EU/NATO and Russia – Hands Off Ukraine!
Cancel Ukraine’s Debts to the Imperialists, East and West!
No US/EU Imperialist Sanctions against Imperialist Russia!
Russian Forces Keep Out!