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Proletarian issue 61 (August 2014)
Ukraine: they shall not pass!
The battle continues against the fascist hirelings of imperialism.
As the fascist regime in Kiev tore up the ceasefire, trampled on diplomacy and inflicted unbridled terror attacks on the population of Donetsk, Lugansk and Slavyansk, it has become plainer by the day that it is the interests of the Anglo-American and other imperialist powers that these puppets are working, and that their actions are against the interests of the masses of the people of Ukraine, be they in the west or the east of the country.

Whilst the army and the Right Sector nazis of the National Guard inflict death and destruction on working-class neighbourhoods of towns and villages of the south and east, the illegitimate ‘president’, media and confectionery oligarch Poroshenko, wants to punish the whole country by implementing the economic shock therapy dictated by the IMF and the EU, slashing pensions, fuel subsidies and public services.

Kiev’s reign of terror

The lip-service paid by the junta to its supposed ‘unilateral cease fire’, more honoured in the breach than in the observance, ended abruptly as July dawned and Poroshenko refused point blank to extend the cessation, despite urgent pleas so to do from Russia, Germany and France.

As Moscow observed sourly, Poroshenko’s supposed ‘peace plan’ was more to do with the delivery of an ultimatum than a constructive plan to end hostilities. Indeed, the plan did not even envisage negotiations between Kiev and the People’s Republics, and Poroshenko gave every evidence of wishing to hasten on to ‘Plan B’ without any more ado.

As is now visible to all the world (but largely invisible in the imperialist media), Plan B is to inflict the most vicious and indiscriminate collective punishment upon the largely Russian-speaking population in the south and east of Ukraine, shelling and bombing their towns and cities in the hope that this will overwhelm the self-defence militia.

Making war on ‘his own citizens’ – precisely the charge falsely repeated ad nauseam against President Assad in Syria – has become a sickening daily occurrence, with artillery and air attacks driving many from their homes in terror, thus swelling the flood of refugees into the Rostov area of Russia. The junta itself on 10 July admitted to a civilian death toll of 478, doubtless only the tip of the iceberg.

Typical of the indiscriminate nature of the attacks was the case of the small village of Kondrashovka, which was shelled by Kiev troops soon after the end of the ceasefire. At least five shells hit the settlement, killing seven people and injuring many more. Bodies were torn to bits and scattered across the village.

Despite the enormous heroism of the workers’ militias, and the deep roots they have in their local neighbourhoods, the resistance forces have been obliged to melt temporarily from some of the towns that were seen previously as their strongholds, such as Slavyansk and Kramatorsk, consolidating their forces in other towns that it is hoped will be more readily defensible. True to partisan tradition, small numbers of militia have stayed behind in Slavyansk and Kramatorsk ready to harry the enemy.

Kiev’s military tactics are basically to bludgeon the population with superior firepower day after day, reducing great cities like Lugansk to rubble-strewn ghost towns. To take just one weekend, the night of Saturday 5 July saw at least 80 people treated in Lugansk hospital, 56 of them civilians.

On Sunday, the artillery attack on the city resumed, this time raining shells near the bus and train stations. Meanwhile, heavy aircraft set about attacking the suburbs, like Aleksandrovka. Although the city’s mayor did his best to persuade people to stay, many have fled in terror – just as so many Palestinians fled zionist terror in 1948.

In the middle of all this mayhem, people were collecting signatures for an appeal to Ban Ki-moon for the UN to put a stop to Kiev’s aggression against civilians. The failure of that august body to lift a finger in defence of the Palestinians over more than six decades does not inspire confidence in a happy outcome from that quarter.

Resistance

Despite the huge odds against which the resistance forces are obliged to fight, there are nevertheless a number of factors that are working in their favour.

As has already been remarked, the self-defence militias spring from the working-class communities they are defending, and thence can be expected to draw much support. Women, too, are engaged in the work of defence, with the formation of more than one women’s battalion.

Memories of the triumph of the Red Army over fascism are never far below the surface, and it is notable that the numerous Russian flags are frequently supplemented by those bearing the hammer and sickle.

The Donbass proletariat is rightly proud of its revolutionary and anti-fascist history. Krasnodon, located in what is now the People’s Republic of Lugansk, was the birthplace during the Great Patriotic War of the underground Komsomol organisation known as the ‘Young Guard’.

Despite the enormous odds stacked against these worthy successors of the partisans, some severe counter-blows have been struck – notably, the bringing down of a number of attack helicopters and the destruction of around 30 Kiev troops as they besieged the village of Zelenopolye in the Lugansk region.

The defence militia struggling to protect the village had reportedly laid their hands on some Grad multiple rocket launchers, which they used to stunning effect. Poroshenko’s response came straight out of the fascist tradition of countering partisan resistance with collective punishment, vowing to “kill hundreds” for every soldier that had lost his life.

Needless to say, the imperialist media went along with Poroshenko’s view of events, painting a picture of regular army lads being gratuitously slaughtered by fanatical terrorists.

It should be added that the ‘regular army’ has demonstrated itself to be unreliable in the extreme in the hands of the fascist junta. On a number of occasions, ordinary soldiers have refused to shoot at their fellow Ukrainians, and some have even defected, taking weapons and vehicles with them.

The soldiers’ morale is not helped by the fact that they are often far from home fighting a war for which they have little stomach. And the families of soldiers waiting to get sent off to the east to fight are very mistrustful, with incidents reported of relatives felling trees and strewing the trunks across the highway to impede the transport of troops.

One reason Right Sector thugs have been pulled into the newly-constituted National Guard is precisely to keep an eye on the wavering ‘regulars’.

Two other factors that stand in favour of the resistance are the divisions between the EU and the US over Ukraine and the discreet diplomatic support afforded by Russia.

As regards the former, a recent speech by US secretary of state John Kerry revealed a strong degree of impatience with the tardiness with which the EU is jumping to Uncle Sam’s bark. It is not enough for Kerry that Ukraine should have been coerced into the Association agreement with the EU; he now requires the Europeans themselves to sign up to the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Agreement (TTIP)!

He also berated Europe for failing to spend sufficient on defence to meet its commitments to Nato, noting waspishly that: “Clearly, not all allies are going to meet the Nato benchmark of two percent of GDP overnight – or even next year. But it’s time for allies who are below that level to make credible commitments to increase their spending on defence over the next five years.”

Still less encouraging was it for those countries like Germany, whose energy needs require continued good relations with Russia, when Kerry averred that: “After two decades of focusing primarily on our expeditionary missions, the crisis in Ukraine now calls us back to the work that this alliance was originally created to perform.” Namely, taking a stand against what he termed “Putin’s Russia”.

Kerry spoke truer than he knew when he maintained that: “Our entire model of global leadership is at stake.” For, whilst some in the US may yearn nostalgically for the good-old days, when reluctant Europeans could be whipped back into line by appeals to solidarity against a common Soviet enemy, the current resurgence of overproduction crisis is happening in a very different set of circumstances.

Kerry’s pious adjuration that, “together we have to push back against those who try to change sovereign borders by force” rings very hollow. (What else exactly was Nato doing in Yugoslavia?) And at a time when Germany feels obliged to very publicly kick out the USA’s top spy official for snooping on its rival, Kerry’s encouraging yank on the Nato chain will not go down well.

Happily, such dissensions can only strengthen Putin’s diplomatic hand over Ukraine, as has already been evidenced in the joint efforts of Russia, Germany and France to persuade Poroshenko to extend the ceasefire so as to give diplomacy a chance.

Putin noted that: “Unfortunately President Poroshenko took the decision to restart military operations and we – I mean myself and my European colleagues – could not convince him that the road to stable, strong and long-lasting peace does not lie through war,” adding that, “Up until now [Poroshenko] was not directly linked to the order to start military operations but now he has taken on this responsibility fully, not only militarily but also politically.”

Who stands behind the junta?

The attempted fascist crackdown on civilians and resistance alike – including three Russian journalists murdered while trying to report events – is entirely in line with the strategic aims of the most aggressive of the current imperialist players, US imperialism, just as the home-grown fascism of Bandera and co earlier served the strategy of the then most aggressive imperialist power, Germany.

In blatant contradiction to the pledges made by Washington to the revisionist clown and traitor Gorbachev, one former Soviet republic or socialist country after another has been drawn into a state of greater or lesser dependence on imperialism.

The West has shown its gratitude to Russia for having dismantled the defensive Warsaw Treaty Organisation by seeking to subordinate wide swathes of East Europe and the Balkans to Nato control, and by building a string of military bases along Russia’s southern border. Among the countries now in actual membership of the expanded Nato are Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, the Baltic states, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania and Croatia.

Meanwhile, the EU has played its role too, pursuing a so-called ‘Eastern Partnership’ with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia and Moldova. (Armenia and Belarus, however, consistently maintain good relations with Moscow.) And now that the inconvenience of having an elected government in Kiev unwilling to sign up to an EU Association Agreement has been overcome by the simple expedient of replacing that government with another that will do as it’s told, the agreement has been signed, and the Ukrainian people are now being subjected simultaneously to the political terrors of fascist rule and the economic terrors of being stretched on the IMF rack.

How long will it be before the rest of the population of Ukraine comes to appreciate just how disastrous a deal has been signed up to by the Kiev junta? Perhaps not so long, considering the case of Poland, so happy to have US missile systems in its back garden and one of the most vocal advocates of punitive sanctions against Russia.

Yet Poland’s foreign minister, Radoslaw Sikorski, widely touted to take over from Catherine Ashton as the EU’s top diplomat, had some very harsh things to say about the Polish-US relationship. A Polish news magazine published a transcript of a leaked recording of a conversation Sikorski had with former finance minister Rostowski, in the course of which Sikorski confided: “You know that the Polish-US alliance isn’t worth anything ... It is downright harmful, because it creates a false sense of security ... Complete bullshit. We’ll get in conflict with the Germans, Russians and we’ll think that everything is super, because we gave the Americans a blowjob. Losers. Complete losers.”

Such disaffection amongst seemingly its best allies spells disaster for the whole strategic thrust of US war policy. Horrific as are the consequences for the inhabitants in both the east and the west of Ukraine, and desperate as imperialism is to accelerate the privatised looting of the mines and steelworks of Ukraine’s industrialised east, the wider aim of the aggression is to push right up to Russia’s own borders, furthering the strategy of containing and neutralising both Russia and China.

Tormented by the incurable crisis of overproduction erupting in the West, US imperialism in particular is clutching at straws, hoping against hope that if it could somehow freeze Russia and China out of the world market it could buy an extended lease of life for its flagging hegemony. It is above all that desperate imperative which forces Washington to rely so heavily upon the shallow neo-nazi scum scraped from the bottom of the bourgeois-nationalist barrel. They will come to regret it.

Victory to the anti-fascist resistance in Ukraine!

Death to imperialism!


>Ukraine referenda - the people speak ,Proletarian, Issue 60 (June 2014)

>Ukraine - imperialism bites off more than it can chew ,Lalkar, July 2014

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