Hidden History of US-backed Fascist-led Coup
By Jeff Mackler [Photo above: Members of the Neo-Nazis Azov Batallion published in the Daily Beast, November 15, 2019 under the title: “Ukraine’s Anti-Russian Azov Batallion: ‘Minutemen” or Neo Nazis Terrorists?”
Two glaring New York Times headlines, dated June 5 and updated June 7, 2023 roiled the liberal establishment that to date had banned repeated accounts of the prominent role of Nazis forces in Ukraine’s government and armed forces. The first was titled, “Nazi Symbols on Ukraine’s Front Lines Highlight Thorny Issues of History;” the second, updated two days later, “Kyiv Walks Fine Line As Fighters Embrace Use of Nazis Symbols.”
The articles cautioned that “Ukrainian troops use of patches bearing Nazi emblems risks fueling Russian propaganda and spreading imagery that the West has spent a half-century trying to eliminate.”
And, “Since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine last year, the Ukrainian government and NATO allies have posted, then quietly deleted, three seemingly innocuous photographs from their social media feeds: a soldier standing in a group, another resting in a trench and an emergency worker posing in front of a truck. In each photograph, Ukrainians in uniform wore patches featuring symbols that were made notorious by Nazi Germany and have since become part of the iconography of far-right hate groups.”
Yet, The Times is ambiguous as to whether these far-right hate groups today exert decisive influence in Ukraine or whether they are errant and limited expressions of Nazism that somehow managed to find momentary expression on the official sites of the Ukrainian armed forces and on the online posts of the Defense Ministry itself!
The Times account continues: “Ukraine has worked for years through legislation and military restructuring to contain a fringe far-right movement whose members proudly wear symbols steeped in Nazi history and espouse views hostile to leftists, L.G.B.T.Q movements and ethnic minorities. But some members of these groups have been fighting Russia since the Kremlin illegally annexed part of the Crimea region of Ukraine in 2014 and are now part of the broader military structure. Some are regarded as national heroes, even as the far-right remains marginalized politically.”
And further: “The iconography of these groups, including a skull-and-crossbones patch worn by concentration camp guards and a symbol known as the Black Sun, now appears with some regularity on the uniforms of soldiers fighting on the front line, including soldiers who say the imagery symbolizes Ukrainian sovereignty and pride, not Nazism.”
Image Versus Reality: the corporate media’s dilemma
“So far,” The Times reports, “the imagery has not eroded international support for the war. It has, however, left diplomats, Western journalists and advocacy groups in a difficult position: Calling attention to the iconography risks playing into Russian propaganda. Saying nothing allows it to spread.”
Here’s The Times’ account of the facts that worry US imperialism’s Ukraine War supporters. All bulleted points below are direct quotes from The Times’ articles.
• Even Jewish groups and anti-hate organizations that have traditionally called out hateful symbols have stayed largely silent. Privately, some leaders have worried about being seen as embracing Russian propaganda talking points.
• Questions over how to interpret such symbols are as divisive as they are persistent, and not just in Ukraine. In the American South, some have insisted that today, the Confederate flag symbolizes pride, not its history of racism and secession. The swastika was an important Hindu symbol before it was co-opted by the Nazis.
• In April, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry posted a photograph on its Twitter account of a soldier wearing a patch featuring a skull and crossbones known as the Totenkopf, or Death’s Head. The specific symbol in the picture was made notorious by a Nazi unit that committed war crimes and guarded concentration camps during World War II. The patch in the photograph sets the Totenkopf atop a Ukrainian flag with a small No. 6 below. That patch is the official merchandise of Death in June, a British neo-folk band that the Southern Poverty Law Center has said produces “hate speech” that “exploits themes and images of fascism and Nazism.”
• The Anti-Defamation League considers the Totenkopf “a common hate symbol.” But Jake Hyman, a spokesman for the group, said it was impossible to “make an inference about the wearer or the Ukrainian Army” based on the patch. “The image, while offensive, is that of a musical band,” Mr. Hyman said. The band now uses the photograph posted by the Ukrainian military to market the Totenkopf patch. The New York Times asked the Ukrainian Defense Ministry on April 27 about the tweet. Several hours later, the post was deleted. “After studying this case, we came to the conclusion that this logo can be interpreted ambiguously,” the ministry said in a statement.
• The soldier in the photograph was part of a volunteer unit called the Da Vinci Wolves, which started as part of the paramilitary wing of Ukraine’s Right Sector, a coalition of right-wing organizations and political parties that militarized after Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea. [We will return to the Crimean events shortly. JM.] At least five other photographs on the Wolves’ Instagram and Facebook pages feature their soldiers wearing Nazi-style patches, including the Totenkopf.
• Last month, Ukraine’s state emergency services agency posted on Instagram a photograph of an emergency worker wearing a Black Sun symbol, also known as a Sonnenrad, that appeared in the castle of Heinrich Himmler, the Nazi general and SS director. The Black Sun is popular among neo-Nazis and white supremacists.
• In March 2022, NATO’s Twitter account posted a photograph of a Ukrainian soldier wearing a similar patch. Both photographs were quickly removed.
• In November, during a meeting with Times reporters near the front line, a Ukrainian press officer wore a Totenkopf variation made by a company called R3ICH (pronounced “Reich”). He said he did not believe the patch was affiliated with the Nazis. A second press officer present said other journalists had asked soldiers to remove the patch before taking photographs.
• Units like the Da Vinci Wolves, the better-known Azov regiment and others that began with far-right members have been folded into the Ukrainian military, and have been instrumental in defending Ukraine from Russian troops.
The forces of the fascist Azov Battalion, today “folded into” the Ukrainian Army, were central to the February 24, 2014 storming of the Ukrainian Parliament (Rada) and the instant establishment of the US-backed fascist-led coup government.
Origins of the Present War
Today’s Ukrainian military and government-associated use of Nazis images and influence notwithstanding, what is irrefutable is that the February 2014 fascist-led and US-backed coup placed US imperialism in the driver’s seat of Ukrainian politics and economic and military affairs.
A review of the February 2014 events that The Times spuriously states “began with Russia’s annexation of Crimea,” is indispensable to understanding the present war.
On February 24, 2014 an explicit US-backed fascist-led coup overthrew the elected government of the pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
The events took place in the context of the February Maidan Square Kiev mass protests in the tens of thousands, originally aimed at the base corruption of the Yanukovych government and its capitalist oligarchs. These were the remnants of the previous Stalinist regime following the 1991 disintegration of the Soviet Union.
In short order, however, the leading and disciplined Maidan Square-organized forces became those of the fascist, anti-Semitic, hyper-nationalist groupings – most prominently, the Right Sector and the Svoboda (“Freedom”) Party, the latter formerly the Social -National Party, which traces its ideological roots to the pro-Nazi Ukrainian movements of World War II.
Maidan’s Rooftop Fascist Murderers
These armed, club-wielding, and often Molotov-cocktail bomb-throwing fanatics had been let loose by the minority opposition Ukrainian parliamentary oligarchs of the Fatherland Party. This was accomplished with the complicity, if not overt support of US officials, who seized on the manufactured lie that Yanukovych had employed rooftop snipers to attack and murder 89 Maidan demonstrators and wound 100 others on February 20, 2014. This proved to be the perfect moment to shift the ongoing parliamentary debate over a European Union vs. Russian bailout agreement to a violent mobilization and subsequent physical takeover of the parliament. Yanukovych was compelled to flee for his life.
A taped phone call between the Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and European Union Foreign Affairs Minister Catherine Ashton, originally reported by a Russian press agency and then in the British Guardian and other newspapers, revealed Paet’s statements that the rooftop sniper murderers who orchestrated the deadly February 20 slaughter were organized by the Svoboda and Right Sector forces and not Yanukovych’s police or military.
Paet stated that “the same snipers [were] killing people from both sides.” He added, “There is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers, it was not Yanukovych, but it was somebody from the new coalition.” The so-called coalition Paet referred to was the fascist-led rightists who stormed the Ukrainian Rada (Parliament), banned the majority parties from entry and proclaimed themselves the new government. The taped phone call took place after the Paet visited Kiev on Feb. 25, the day after the fascist-led coup. Paet’s phone conversation aimed at correcting EU Foreign Affairs Minister Ashton’s incorrect assessment that it was the actions of Yanukovych’s forces that provoked, the storming of the Rada.
The fascist forces and their allies had come from across Ukraine and beyond to dominate the Maidan events. Indeed, Socialist Action’s fraternal Ukrainian comrades were present at the time. They were violently driven from the Maiden Square by fascist gangs, beaten – their socialist literature torn to shreds. They reported on this horror in great detail to an Amsterdam, Netherlands international meeting of the Trotskyist Fourth International a few weeks later at which this writer was present.
US Senator John McCain shared the Maidan stage with fascist orator and Svoboda Party leader, Oleg Tyahnybok, while US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland handed out US “friendship cookies.” McCain roused the crowd with promises of “democracy, freedom and independence,” contingent, of course, on Ukraine’s reversing the government’s bailout agreements with Russia. Nuland later remarked in another intercepted phone call, that Vice President Joseph Biden, then in charge of the Ukraine events, would give the ultimate “atta boy” to the February 24 coup leaders.
Nuland Appoints Ukrainian Prime Minister
Nuland went further. Her taped remarks during her conversation with US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, transcribed by BBC diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus, revealed that she literally appointed Ukraine’s new prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, a hard right member of Fatherland Party, the ultra-nationalist, anti-Russian parliamentary opposition. The European Union (EU), especially the Germans, wanted a more moderate figure to head Ukraine. They favored Vitaly Klitschko, a boxer turned politician with more moderate credentials and more allied with the EU than US interests. During the hacked call, Nuland blurted out, “F**K the EU.” The US pick, Yatsenyuk, became Ukraine’s Prime Minister, forming a coalition-governing majority with the fascist Svoboda Party. The coup’s finance minister was US citizen and high-ranking US diplomat, Natalie Jeresko, who was granted Ukrainian citizenship the day after the coup. Joe Biden’s son Hunter took a position on the board of Ukraine’s largest natural gas company earning a monthly salary of $50,000.
Nuland had previously boasted about US funding of Ukraine’s “democratic opposition” to the tune of $5 billion over the past 10 years, not to mention the creation of some 4,000 NGOs to spread the “democracy” of US imperialism!
The US-backed Fascist Coupmakers
The March 5, 2014 online British Channel 4 News account told the story well, identifying coup leader Andriy Parubiy, who led the February 24 storming of the Rada, 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 of the US-backed coup government 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-Nazi 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 Donbas 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 Crimea, to no avail, they ordered the Ukrainian Army to do the same.
Crimea rejects February Coup
But in a 97 percent vote on March 16, 2014 the Crimean people voted to secede from Ukraine and join Russia. No one disputed that 83 percent of the electorate participated in the referendum.
The New York Times Pulitzer Prize winner and on-the-scene reporter C.J. Chivers took on the task of discrediting the vote by reporting on the implied intimidating presence of Russian troops. It soon became clear, however, that few others in the world doubted that the vote totals reflected anything other than the reality – the large majority Russian-speaking population of Crimea was fearful of the consequences of the right-wing, virulently chauvinist, and anti-Russian coup.
Even Chivers felt compelled to note the massive Russian flag-waving rallies throughout Crimea that hailed the results.
The Associated Press reported that two-thirds of Ukraine’s 18,800 soldiers chose to remain in Crimea –most of them joining the Russian army. The 6,400 or so that elected to return home were reportedly assigned by Russian troops to their barracks to pack their bags to leave.
Every day, the corporate Orwellian-like Newspeak media conjured up the threatening spectacle of Russian troops and/or local Crimean defense forces surrounding Ukrainian military bases and preparing for bloody attacks. Instead, a series of political exchanges quickly ended in Ukrainian soldiers’ agreeing to evacuate all military bases and turn them over to Russian or allied local militias. A single person was reported killed and zero wounded during this transition.
Nazis Murder of Coup Protestors in Odessa
In Odessa, the fascist coup supporters murdered 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 $15 billion bailout agreement negotiated by the Yanukovych government with Russia, on terms far less onerous than those offered by the European Union, was revoked, and instead, an economically punishing “Association Agreement” with the European Union, that largely subordinated Ukraine to the US-dominated International Monetary Fund, was approved.
US 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 US-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 reported, “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. US paid troops at that time included the modern-day descendants of the privatized Blackwater forces of Erik Prince, which slaughtered civilians in Iraq during that “weapons of mass destruction” regime change war. With the exception of Sweden, all the above nations are NATO affiliates, organized to train, arm and finance non-NATO Ukraine to wage war on behalf of NATO’s US puppet master.
The same Times article concluded, “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 defies rational explanation. Yet it was the formal US explanation for the instant transformation of a secret US/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” that suddenly flocked to defend “Ukraine’s freedom” were akin to those jihadists murderers armed, trained, financed and deployed by the US/NATO/Gulf State monarchies to take down the Syrian government in that ten-year failed US regime change war. 500,000 Syrians died in that US-orchestrated horror. By all accounts, today’s Ukrainian “freedom fighters” were drawn from the ranks of Europe’s growing fascist and far right fanatics.
Initial Setbacks Suffered By Coup Government
These US-backed fascist coup plotters were more than eager to accommodate US imperialism’s insistence that Ukraine’s coup-transformed Rada serve US interests. But they suffered some immediate setbacks as they moved too quickly to implement US demands. First and foremost, the fascist-led Rada’s order that the Ukrainian Army march on and take control of the Russian-speaking regions of Ukraine’s east, the Donbas and Luhansk regions in particular, proved to be disastrous. In these regions, the Ukrainian Army instantly dissolved and joined the anti-coup forces loyal to the elected government – the same with the armed forces in largely Russian-speaking Crimea. In both cases the soldiers overwhelmingly declared themselves to be part of Russia’s military. In a matter of days, the fascist-led coup forces proved incapable of imposing their will on Ukraine’s East.
Indeed, it took eight years and massive training and armaments provided by US/NATO forces, again, accompanied by US-financed private troops of the Blackwater type and paid foreign mercenary fighters from 28 countries, to prepare for their planned conquest of Eastern Ukraine. By 2022 these forces amassed some 280,000 troops poised to invade the Donbas and Luhansk regions. In the course of this long-term preparation, between 2014 and 2022, the Ukrainian coup government’s troops slaughtered 14,000 Russian-speaking people and wounded 50,000 more, while causing 700,000 to flee to Russia for safety.
We will add here that the US-promoted war has wreaked horrors on both sides, with some two-plus million Ukrainians fleeing the war to the west, mostly to Poland. We stand in full solidarity with the terrified war refugees fleeing to the east and west. Yet we aim our fire against the US government and its US-dominated NATO imperialist alliance, centrally responsible for the still unfolding Ukraine catastrophe.
The US-aborted Minsk Protocols
Having failed to instantly conquer all of Ukraine in 2014, the fascist coup government and its successors were compelled to engage in 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, including the Donbas and Luhansk regions. In practice, none of these Minsk Protocols were implemented, as the Ukrainian Army’s ceaseless incursions into the regions aimed at subjugation and conquest as opposed to pursuit of a negotiated settlement. Some 100 “ceasefire” agreements were repeatedly violated, while the now fascist-led Ukrainian military wreaked untold horrors and devastation on the Russian-speaking population.
Pressured by the US, 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 federated process that would return the breakaway republics in exchange for their local autonomy. The latter implied that the resources of the federated areas, especially the vast fossil fuel reserves, and access to pipelines, would be under the control of elected local/regional governments, and likely be shared between the contending forces, a proposition that the US outright rejected. The US corporate elite had set their sights on Ukraine’s eastern untapped natural gas reserves, the fourth largest in the world. With the US recent destruction of Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines it has now become clear that a qualitatively more ambitious and lucrative US conquest is in progress, planned long in advance.
US/NATO Prepared Ukraine for War
By early 2022 Ukraine’s massive US/NATO-provided arms and refurbished armies were poised to impose their final solution, that is, the annihilation of the resisting Russian-speaking population and permanently securing eastern Ukraine’s fossil fuel and agricultural riches for US corporate control.
Russia’s response was predictable. Russian troops invaded, no doubt for multiple reasons: to defend the right of Ukraine’s vast Russian-speaking people, 30 percent of Ukraine’s population, to exist – their right to self-determination: to prevent US/NATO forces from establishing nuclear-armed bases directly on Russia’s borders, and to continue negotiations with Ukraine’s government aimed at reaching an accord along the lines of the Minsk protocols. No doubt, Russian concerns also included which Ukrainian oligarchs, pro-Russian or pro-US/NATO, would exploit Ukraine’s fossil fuel and other resources.
Putin’s massive invasion, his reactionary rhetoric about restoring Russia’s Czarist-era fatherland notwithstanding, aimed at compelling a quick return to the bargaining table. His choices were extremely limited… either stand down and allow the slaughter of the Russian-speaking population, the USA-imperialist sequestration of Ukraine’s massive fossil fuel resources and the establishment of a NATO affiliate with nuclear missiles less than five minutes from Moscow, or invade and press for a quick negotiated settlement. Putin’s invasion, according to the independent and often New York Times-quoted, Russian polling organization, Levada, was supported by more than 83 percent of the population, up from 69 percent prior to Russia’s invasion. No doubt the constant flow of Russian-speaking and other beleaguered immigrants from Ukraine won the hearts and minds of Russia’s population.
Putin’s popularity notwithstanding, there can be no justification for his brutal repression of antiwar dissent, even if the dissenters are misguided to say the least. In the US, Biden’s repression takes on the character of the classic iron fist in a velvet glove, wherein the virtual monopoly of the corporate media aims at enforcing an Orwellian consensus, to justify the overwhelming bi-partisan and ever-increasing tens of billions of dollars funneled into the coffers of the US war machine to keep the war going forever. The admitted figure of US support to Ukraine to date stands at $114 billion.
But, US popular support for the Ukraine War has significantly diminished over the past year, according to a February 15, 2023 Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll entitled, “Support for Ukraine aid softens in U.S. public.”
AP reported that “Forty-eight percent say they favor the U.S. providing weapons to Ukraine, with 29 percent opposed and 22 percent saying they’re neither in favor nor opposed. In May 2022, less than three months into the war, 60 percent of U.S. adults said they were in favor of sending Ukraine weapons.”
The AP report continued: “Americans are about evenly divided on sending government funds directly to Ukraine, with 37 percent in favor and 38 percent opposed, with 23 percent saying neither. The signs of diminished support for Ukraine come as President Joe Biden is set to travel to Poland next week to mark the first anniversary of the biggest conflict in Europe since World War II.”
That the velvet glove has been in part removed with the ever increasing banning of dissenting views from the internet and the most recent persecution of groups like the antiwar African People’s Socialist Party and courageous individuals like Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, Alex Saab and Chelsea Manning, is a stark warning to activists that US rulers will not forever restrict themselves to “modest” repression and long-term imprisonment of individuals. We add here that Biden’s approval ratings, at some 35 percent according the most recent June 5-11 Pew Research Center, and 36 and 37 percent according to ABC and Gallop, inform us in Shakespeare’s words, “All is not well in Denmark.”
Russia’s Fundamental Miscalculation
Putin’s calculations regarding the likely outcome of a successful massive Russian invasion have proved to be fundamentally off the mark. These were based on the calculation that an initial overwhelming Russian show of force aimed at instantly crippling Ukraine’s capacity to respond would be quickly followed by a negotiated settlement along the lines of the Minsk Protocols. But, neither Putin, nor the most astute observers anywhere, considered that US imperialism aimed at shunning any and all negotiations. Keeping the Ukraine War going indefinitely, in accord with the recently coined horrifying expression, “Until the last Ukrainian is dead,” is today’s US imperialist unswerving orientation.
Today’s high tech war machine allows the US to wage endless wars at a distance without significantly committing its own soldiers to the battlefield. This minimizes popular blow back when US soldiers return home in caskets, while maximizing bloated corporate profits. Today, the broader US war expenditures exceed $1.2 trillion annually, more than most of the rest of the world combined. US imperialism leads the world in long-distance war scenarios, deploying a stunning array of tactics aimed at bringing its victims to accede to its demands. These include drone wars, special operation wars, death squad assassination wars, wars fought, in Biden’s words, from “over the horizon,” or even launched from outer space, with mach speed missile capacities exceeding the speed of sound by five or six or twenty times. They also include US-organized and financed jihadist wars, US privatized army wars and deadly sanction and embargo wars. All are, or will be deployed with impunity to meet US imperialism’s objectives, including the qualitative dismemberment of Russia along with its economic and military influence worldwide.
Aware of the still relatively unchallenged power of today’s crisis-ridden US imperialism as it compulsively confronts its opponents the world over well-respected and informed antiwar intellectuals like Noam Chomsky and Chris Hedges have been forthright in explaining in detail the origins of the present Ukraine war, largely along the same lines as this article. Yet they feel compelled, but in an increasingly diminutive manner, to condemn Putin’s Russia, a qualitatively lesser capitalist/imperialist player on the world scale, that was in no way responsible for either the 2014 US-promoted fascist-led coup or the US-orchestrated slaughter of the Russian-speaking Ukrainians, or the US/NATO’s drive to place nukes on Russia’s borders. While their initial call for a Russian withdrawal has been diminished to a whisper they press on with persistent calls for “negotiations,” as if the US imperialist monster has any right to negotiate the future of any nation, not to mention orchestrate coups that replace “unfriendly” governments.
Whether Russia invaded to legitimately protect the beleaguered Russian-speaking population, or whether its intentions were to defend its fossil fuel interests that had previously prevailed under the pre-coup government, or whether Russia simply opposed US nuclear weapons on their borders, all legitimate concerns in this writer’s view, that US imperialism from day one has always been the central protagonist, is indisputable. The recent US obliteration of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines and the destruction of Russia’s land link bridge to Crimea have made this crystal clear.
Socialist Action declines to join the near-deafening bi-partisan war cries, echoed daily by virtually every US corporation, every military contractor, every oil behemoth, every major media outlet and every capitalist politician to pursue war in Ukraine without hesitation. If there is any US debate among the twin capitalist corporate parties it is over whether to risk nuclear war via the US implementing a “no-fly zone” over Ukraine, a doomsday scenario if there ever was one. Meanwhile, Biden’s proposed, and bi-partisan approved, ever-increasing $billions to pursue the war are unchallenged in ruling class circles, except perhaps for neo-fascist Donald Trump’s election ploy to garner some antiwar votes when he called for a negotiated settlement to avoid a possible nuclear war! Reactionary hypocrisy knows no limits!
On Putin’s Lesser Capitalist-Imperialist Russia
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 his 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+ US billionaires and China’s 1000! We note with revulsion that today’s neo-fascist and far right newfound US allies in Poland and Hungary were yesterday’s Putin admirers, as was Donald Trump in his time. We note with contempt Ukrainian President and US stooge 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. But absolute opposition to the US-orchestrated fascist-led coup and Ukraine’s US-orchestrated move to murder Ukraine’s Russian-speaking population and turn Ukraine into yet another US vassal state is quite another matter.
For an Independent Socialist Ukraine
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 revolutionary 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 US-puppet Ukrainian coup government as the guarantor of Ukrainian independence is as fundamentally flawed as granting support to any of the myriad US-installed governments the world over.
Were we to blind ourselves to the reality of the events that transpired in Ukraine since the 2014 US-instigated fascist coup and place an equal sign between US 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.
The Right to Self-determination
We support the right of all poor and oppressed nations and peoples 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 US/NATO/Gulf State monarchy 10-year war that slaughtered 500,000 Syrians. With the US-backed jihadist armies occupying three-quarters of Syria, poised to take Damascus and with the US government’s Secretary of State at that moment, John Kerry, preparing to install yet another coup government beholden to the US, the Syrians, exercising their right to self-determination, asked for Russian aid. The result was the defeat of that US regime change horror. Every Gallop-associated poll on Syria demonstrated that the overwhelming majority of the Syrian people opposed that US/NATO orchestrated war. [See Socialist Action pamphlet, “Syria: Anatomy of Another US Imperialist War” by this author]
Today’s New York Times revelations that Nazis forces continue to play an important role in Ukrainian political life, with total US complicity, informs us once again that US imperialism knows no limits to the allies employed to carry out its horrific deeds. Whether they be the just defeated neo-fascists of Bolsonaro’s Brazil, or their current counterpart of Giorgia Meloni’s Italian government party, Brothers of Italy, associated with Mussolini’s fascists or the neo-fascist regimes in Poland and Hungary, the US ruling rich know few if any limits to political and economic alliances aimed at advancing their interests.
While the New York Times and its squeamish editors have flashed some warning signals regarding the embarrassing and ongoing revelations of Nazis influence in Ukraine, to be sure, they will amount to nothing when weighed against the more fundamental interests of the US ruling rich. These include the future dismemberment of Russia as a major supplier of the world’s fossil fuels and other vital natural resources, the US domination and exploitation of Ukraine, ranked fourth in the world in liquefied natural gas reserves, and US imperialism’s inseparable multi-trillion dollar recent gambit to obliterate of Russia’s Nord Stream pipelines being only the latest examples.
We conclude with the following demands aimed at the US imperialist behemoth:
US Out Now! US Hands off Ukraine! Abolish NATO!
Self-determination for the people of Donbas/Luhansk! For an independent socialist Ukraine!
No to US-backed fascist coups and the establishment of US puppet governments! No to US 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 US bases in 110 countries, followed by Russia’s seven bases and China’s single base in Djibouti!
[Jeff Mackler is the National Secretary of Socialist Action. He was Socialist Action’s 2016 and 2020 candidate for the US presidency; a member of the Administrative Committee of the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC); a National Steering Committee member of Assangedefense.org and the Director of The Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal. He can be reached at socialistaction.org or email@example.com]