By Jeff Mackler July 22, 2022
We begin with some hard facts and context that are today tragically absent from the assessments of large sectors of the left and antiwar movements in the U.S. and worldwide.
2014 Maidan Square fascist rooftop snipers
The Ukraine tragedy began in February 2014 when rooftop fascist snipers opened fire on Maidan Square Kiev protestors assembled to resist the Victor Yanukovych government’s corruption and austerity measures. The fascists murdered almost 100 in cold blood, including some of their own for good measure. Yanukovych, the elected president, was instantly blamed and pilloried by the world’s corporate media, paving the political road for what followed. He fled for his life.
These facts were attested to by U.S. representative to the European Union, Victoria Nuland. They were based on her taped remarks. The transcript is readily available on the internet. Nuland revealed that the rooftop assassins were of the fascist Svoboda Party and Right Sector ilk and not Yanukovych’s police or military. The armed thugs had come from across Ukraine and beyond to dominate the Maidan events. U.S. Senator John McCain shared the stage with fascist orator and Svoboda Party leader, Oleg Tyahnybok, while Nuland handed out U.S. friendship cookies. McCain roused the crowd with promises of “democracy, freedom and independence,” contingent, of course, on Ukraine’s reversing the government’s already-approved bail out agreements with Russia.
The fascist Svoboda Party leader, Andriy Parubiy led the storming of the Ukrainian parliament, the Rada, barring the two largest and majority parties from entrance. Some were previously armed and trained at U.S.-organized training camps in western Ukraine. Others secured weapons by storming local police stations.
The fascists declared themselves the new government
The March 5, 2014 on-line British Channel 4 news account told the story well: “The man facing down Putin’s aggression as secretary of the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council is Andriy Parubiy. He oversees national security for the nation, having previously served as [self-appointed] ‘security commandant’ during the anti-government protests in Kiev.”
Channel 4 identified Parubiy as a member of fascist Svoboda Party and a founder of its pro-Nazi predecessor, the Social National Party, which traces its roots to the pro-Nazis Ukrainian movements of WWII. The British television station’s account continued: “Overseeing the armed forces alongside Parubiy as the Deputy Secretary of National Security is Dmytro Yarosh, the leader of the Right Sector—a group of hardline nationalist streetfighters, who previously boasted they were ready for armed struggle to free Ukraine.”
Other Svoboda neo-Nazis leaders instantly “elected” to the top echelons of the coup government were Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Sych, Ecology Minister Andriy Mokhnyk, Agriculture Minister Ihor Shvaika, and acting Prosecutor General Oleh Makhnitsky. In 2016 Parubiy became Speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament.
The fascists in power instantly banned the Russian language from schools and public institutions. They ordered the Ukrainian Army, replete with its now formally integrated fascist Azov, Aidar, Dnipro and Tornado battalions, to march on the Donbass in the east to take control of this largely Russian-speaking population. Now with “government” approval, they attacked anti-coup demonstrators across the country. In Odessa, they murderer 48 coup protestors outright, setting a trade union building afire and slaughtering survivors who were compelled to leap off the flaming edifice. The coup “government” and its subsequent manifestations, formally “rehabilitated” the infamous WWII-era fascist leader Stephan Bandera, designating major streets in his name. Bandera was a Nazis collaborator whose troops slaughter tens of thousands of Ukrainian Jews at the onset of the war when Hitler’s troops entered Ukraine.
All leftwing parties were banned by the coup government. The bailout agreements negotiated by the Yanukovych government with Russia, on terms far less onerous than those offered by the European Union, were revoked, and instead, an economically punishing “Association Agreement” with the European Union, that largely subordinated Ukraine to the -dominated International Monetary Fund, was approved.
U.S. appoints Ukraine president
The question then was immediately posed. Who would take Yanukovych’s place? Nuland and the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, made that decision. Again, in her own taped remarks, Nuland named Arseniy Yatsenyuk, a hard right member of Fatherland, the ultra-nationalist, anti-Russian formation. The Europeans, especially the Germans, wanted a more moderate figure to head Ukraine. They favored Vitaly Klitschko, a boxer turned politician with more moderate views than Yatsenyuk. During the hacked call, Nuland blurted out, “F***K the EU,” and, of course, the U.S. pick, Yatsenyuk, became the Prime Minister of Ukraine, forming a coalition governing majority with the fascist Svoboda Party. The coup’s finance minister was U.S. citizen and high-ranking diplomat, Natalie Jeresko, who was granted Ukrainian citizenship the day after the coup. Joe Biden’s son took a position on the board of Ukraine’s largest natural gas company earning a monthly salary of $50,000.
Nuland remarked in her intercepted phone call, that Vice President Joseph Biden, in charge of the Ukraine events at that time, would give the ultimate “atta boy” to the coup leaders.
U.S. military base established in Ukraine
Shortly after the 2014 coup, in 2015, the coup makers established the so-called International Peacekeeping and Security Center, a U.S.-run western Ukraine military base, near the Polish border, that had been, according to the March 14, 2022 New York Times, “a hub for Western military troops to train Ukrainian forces since 2015.” The Times added, “Troops from the United States, Britain, Canada, Poland, Sweden and Denmark, among others, have trained 35,000 Ukrainians there under a project called ‘Operation Unifier.’” This is the “operation” that aimed to forcibly “unite” western Ukraine, with the Russian-speaking eastern and southern populations that rejected the fascist coup. U.S. paid troops included the modern-day descendants of the privatized Blackwater forces of Erik Prince that slaughtered civilians in Iraq during that “weapons of mass destruction” regime change war that killed 1.5 million Iraqis. With the exception of Sweden, all the above nations are NATO affiliates, training, arming and financing non-NATO Ukraine to wage war on behalf of NATO’s U.S. puppet master.
Ukrainian Army desertions
Here we add that the official Ukrainian armies in the east and south also rejected the 2014 coup as they did orders from the coup government to turn their guns on the Russian-speaking populations. Indeed, with near zero exceptions the Ukrainian soldiers deserted the Ukrainian Army and joined the Russian Army without a shot being fired. The same with the overwhelmingly Russian-speaking population in Crimea. They voted 97 percent to affiliate with Russia in a referendum result contested by virtually no one. The turnout was 87 percent.
The March 14, 2022 Times article concludes, “But Western nations withdrew their forces ahead of Russia’s [February, 2022] invasion of Ukraine. Since then, the base has been used by Ukraine to train and organize the thousands of foreigners [from 28 nations] who have arrived in the country and volunteered to help defend it.”
This single paragraph comes close to defying rational explanation, unless, of course, it is The Times’ explanation of the instant transformation of a secret U.S./NATO military base operating on Ukrainian territory into a solely Ukrainian-run base aimed at training the Ukrainian version of jihadist terrorists. No doubt these instantly discovered “foreign fighters” suddenly flocking to defend “Ukraine’s freedom” are akin to those jihadists murderers armed, trained, financed and deployed by the U.S./NATO/Gulf State monarchies to take down the Syrian government in that ten-year failed U.S. regime change war. 500,000 Syrians died in that U.S. regime change horror. By all accounts, today’s Ukrainian “freedom fighters” were drawn from the ranks of Europe’s growing fascist and far right fanatics.
From 2015 to just before the Russian invasion, that is, for seven years, the U.S. and NATO forces have been arming, training and financing, inside Ukraine, the coup government’s war against the Russian-speaking population. That war has killed some 14,000 people in the Donbass and wounded 50,000, mostly civilians. That the victims are pilloried for defending their lives and for seeking and obtaining Russian aid, constitutes yet another travesty of fundamental human and democratic rights, not to mention the right of an oppressed people to self-determination, that is, to be free from annihilation at the hands of the U.S.-installed fascist coup government.
We will add here that in addition to the refugee tragedy of some two-plus million Ukrainians fleeing the war to the west, mostly to Poland, almost 800,000 Russian-speaking Ukrainians have fled to the east, that is, to Russia. We stand in full solidarity with the terrified war refugees fleeing to the east and west. Yet we aim our main fire against the U.S. government and its U.S.-dominated NATO imperialist alliance, centrally responsible for the still unfolding Ukraine catastrophe. We add that we categorically reject the coup government’s segregating out Ukrainians of African and Middle East origin, who have been shunted to the end of the line in the face of NATO ally’s racist, white supremacist policies refusing to accept immigrants “who don’t look like U.S.” Yesterday’s Polish and Hungarian NATO governments, whose, virulent anti-immigrant venom helped power them to office, have become today’s instant converts to the U.S. “humanitarian” orchestrated agenda!
Russian public opinion polls
An April 2, 2022 front-page article by Anton Troianovski, Moscow Bureau Chief for The New York Times, previously Moscow Bureau Chief of The Washington Post, apparently missed the eye of U.S. government censors. Entitled, “Shaken at First, Many Russians Now Rally Behind Putin’s Invasion,” Troianovski wrote, “The public’s endorsement of the war lacks the patriotic groundswell that greeted the annexation of Crimea in 2014. But polls released this week by Russia’s most respected independent pollster, Levada, showed Mr. Putin’s approval rating hitting 83 percent, up from 69 percent in January. Eighty-one percent said they supported the war, describing the need to protect Russian speakers as its primary justification.” [Emphasis in italics added.] That some three-quarters of a million Russian-speaking Ukrainians, mostly from the beleaguered Donbas region, have fled the fascist-led attacks, undoubtedly weighed heavily on the poll results. That Levada is described as “Russia’s most respected independent pollster,” is even more revealing. For the past eight years, prior to the Russian invasion, a state of perpetual war has prevailed in the Donbas region, with the U.S. government backing the reconstituted and ever U.S./NATO reinforced Ukrainian Army’s unrelenting attacks – spearheaded by Ukraine’s fascist troops that have been formally incorporated into the Ukrainian Army and National Guard.
Putin’s current popularity notwithstanding, there can be no justification for his repression of dissent, including those who disagree with his war policies, including some of our own comrades in Russia with whom we disagree. In the U.S., Biden’s repression takes on the character of the classic iron fist in a velvet glove, wherein the virtual monopoly of the corporate media enforces an Orwellian consensus. We must add that Biden’s approval ratings, at barely 40 percent, tells us in Shakespeare’s words, “All is not well in Denmark.”
The Minsk Protocols
The early post-2014 coup years were punctuated by a series of negotiations referred to as the Minsk Protocols. Signed on Sept. 5, 2014 and Feb. 12, 2015, after negotiations between the Ukrainian coup government, Russia, Germany and France, they were purportedly aimed at stopping the bloodshed via a ceasefire, withdrawal of heavy weapons from the front lines, release of prisoners of war, and a Ukrainian constitutional reform granting self-government to specified areas of Donbas. In practice, none of these Minsk Protocols were implemented, as the Ukrainian Army’s ceaseless incursions into the Donbas region aimed at subjugation and conquest as opposed to pursuit of a negotiated settlement. Some 100 “ceasefire” agreements were repeatedly violated, while the fascist-led Ukrainian military wreaked untold horror and devastation on the population.
Pressured by the U.S., the Ukrainian government refused to implement the Minsk-projected elections in Luhansk and Donetsk. Endorsed by a UN Security Council resolution, the essence of the Minsk accords was to preserve the territorial integrity of Ukraine via a federalization process that would return the breakaway republics in exchange for their local autonomy. The latter implied that the resources of a federated Donbas, especially its vast fossil fuel reserves, and access to pipelines, would be under the control of local/regional governments, a proposition that the U.S. outright rejected. U.S. imperialism has since shifted the Ukrainian goalposts, in essence, moving to obliterate controlling Ukrainian capitalist fossil fuel interests in the east in favor of the U.S. corporate oil monopolies – yet another U.S. imperialist oil war if there ever was one.
Welcome to the embrace of the imperialist war machine
Today, admission to the good graces of the U.S. imperialist establishment requires hailing the “democratic” U.S.-led NATO imperial war pact. We decline the invitation. We decline to condemn the beleaguered Donbas people for asking for Russian aid and receiving it. We decline to condemn the Ukrainian and Russian-speaking populations’ opposition to the U.S.-engineered fascist coup and its U.S./NATO perpetuation. We decline to condone NATO’s expansion into Ukraine and its establishing nuclear weapons along Russia’s 1500-mile border. That 27 million Russians died in fighting Hitler’s fascist WWII invasion has not been obliterated from Russian popular consciousness.
And we decline to join the near-deafening bi-partisan war cries, echoed daily by virtually every U.S. corporation, every military contractor, every oil behemoth, every major media outlet and every politician to pursue war in Ukraine without hesitation. If there is any U.S. debate over the war among the corporate parties it is over whether to risk nuclear war via the U.S. implementing a “no-fly zone” over Ukraine, a doomsday scenario if there ever was one. Meanwhile, President Biden’s $33 billion pledge to Ukraine’s military was upped to $40 billion in a near unanimous vote in Congress, while Biden took the stage at a Lockheed-Martin plant to encourage workers to spare no effort in manufacturing deadly Javelin anti-tank missiles.
For an independent socialist Ukraine
We harbor no illusions in the class nature and politics of Putin’s Russia. We have long ago characterized Russia as a lesser capitalist-imperialist state headed by a predatory capitalist class of Stalinist origin. Putin‘s statements citing Czarist Russia’s Great White Russian Empire’s imperialist claim to Ukraine and Putin’s repudiation of the Bolshevik Party of Lenin and Trotsky’s historic championing of an independent socialist Ukraine must be condemned by all serious antiwar and socialist fighters. We have no truck with Russia’s 83 billionaire capitalist elite as we have none with the 780+ U.S. billionaires and China’s 1000! We note with revulsion that today’s neo-fascist and far right newfound U.S. allies in Poland and Hungary were yesterday’s Putin admirers. We note with contempt Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s newly-proclaimed affinity for Zionist Israel’s model of a militarized state aimed at the subjugation of oppressed people.
Vladimir Putin’s government is no friend of working people. The recent Russian Army intervention in Kazakhstan to crush a nationwide working class rebellion informs us once again that placing political confidence in any capitalist government or leader is inimical to fundamental socialist principles.
The fight for an independent socialist Ukraine today resides only with the workers of Ukraine and Russia and never with their capitalist oppressors, whether in Ukraine, Russia or NATO. The construction today, of mass socialist parties, however difficult, aimed at breaking the capitalist-imperialist stranglehold on every aspect of public life, is the starting point for a socialist future free from every form of exploitation, oppression and denial of human dignity.
Any notion that political or military support to the present U.S.-puppet Ukrainian coup government is the guarantor of Ukrainian independence is as fundamentally flawed as granting support to any of the myriad U.S.-installed governments the world over.
The right to self-determination of Ukraine’s oppressed Russian-speaking minorities
The U.S. imperialist government, with 1,100 military bases around the world in 110 countries is by far the world’s greatest purveyor of force and violence In contrast China maintains a single military base outside its borders – in Djibouti, at the Horn of Africa, while Russia maintains some seven military bases, mostly in the former Soviet Republics and one in Syria. U.S. imperialism spends more on its military — at least $1 trillion annually, including the CIA budget — than most of the world combined. That Russia and China are capitalist/imperialist states does not negate our responsibility to assess their actions in the context of unfolding events.
Were we to blind ourselves to the reality of the events that transpired in Ukraine since the 2014 U.S.-instigated fascist coup and place an equal sign between U.S. and Russian imperialism, we would be gravely mistaken. We would be substituting the proposition that whoever fired the first shot is to be categorically condemned, rather than assessing what caused that shot to be fired. That U.S. imperialism planned and orchestrated a fascist-led coup aimed in part at obliterating the minority Russian-speaking people, 30 percent of the population, and that the same U.S. government seeks to orchestrate Ukraine’s affiliation to NATO, replete with nuclear weapons on Russia’s doorstep, cannot be removed from any serious assessment. Neither are we neutral with regard to Ukraine’s oppressed Russian-speaking population’s right to exist, that is, their right to self-determination. They have legitimately sought Russian aid. We do not object to Russia’s providing it even if Putin’s motives for extending it are dubious to say the least.
We support this right of all poor and oppressed nations to be free from imperialist war and conquest. This principle fully applies to all beleaguered nations, including Syria, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Afghanistan. In Syria, the Bashar al Assad government fell victim to a U.S./NATO/Gulf State monarchy 10-year war that slaughtered 500,000 Syrians. With the U.S.-backed jihadist armies occupying three-quarters of Syria, poised to take Damascus and with the U.S. government’s Secretary of State at that moment, John Kerry, preparing to install yet another coup government beholden to the U.S., the Syrians, exercising their right to self-determination, asked for Russian aid. The result was the defeat of that U.S. regime change horror.
U.S. Out Now! U.S. Hands off Ukraine!
No to U.S./NATO nuclear war-threatening “no-fly zones” over Ukraine!
Self-determination for the people of Donbass!
For an independent socialist Ukraine
No to U.S.-backed fascist coups and the establishment of U.S. puppet governments!
No to U.S. oil wars everywhere!
$Billions for human needs; not a penny for war!
For a rapid transition to a safe, clean, fossil fuel free worker-controlled energy system that guarantees quality jobs and security for all!
Close all military bases the world over, beginning with the 1,100 U.S. bases in 110 countries, followed by Russia’s seven bases and China’s single base in Djibouti!