By Roger Annis
Below is the opening section of an article I authored on Truthout on June 18, 2014. The article is titled, ‘The Russia as ‘imperialist’ thesis is wrong and a barrier to solidarity with the Ukrainian and Russian people’.
The goal of the article is to stir some much-needed awareness and discussion of who are the key political actors in the drama unfolding in Ukraine, what are their conflicting interests, and how should people around the world concerned about the human condition be responding?
In the first section of the article, I provide a snapshot of the humanitarian situation in the east of Ukraine. It is very serious. The military assaults against the east of the country by the regime of newly-elected President Petro Poroshenko threaten to plunge the country into all-out war. The regime and its NATO backers are a threat to peace in the entire region. It is vital that antiwar protests be mounted around the world to stop their violent course.
Four days following the publication of my article, more reports convey the gravity of the situation in the east. BBC News reports on June 20 on the situation in several towns in the Luhansk region of southeast Ukraine, one of two regions that voted by plebiscite in May in favour of autonomy from Ukraine.
VICE News broadcast a ten minute video on June 19 that records the grim situation in and around the city of Slavyansk, Donetsk region. The city has been surrounded and shelled for weeks. Thousands have fled and been evacuated to an uncertain future. The VICE News video is also contained in a news update that I published on June 19.
Donetsk is the other region in the southeast that voted in May for autonomy. The civil war being waged by the Kyiv regime with NATO backing is their response to the autonomy demands of Luhansk and Donetsk.
There are many video reports on You Tube and elsewhere that show the efforts of Ukrainian people throughout the country to stop the drive to civil war. Here is one example, a group of mothers and wives blocking a road at Mykolayiv (Nikolayev) in southern Ukraine demanding an end to the war and a return home of the soldiers of Ukraine’s conscript army.
And here is one of many videos showing fascist and rightist mobs running rampant in the streets of western Ukraine: in this video, a mob in Kyiv attacks a branch of the Russian bank Sberbank on June 22. The mob was prevented by police from attacking an antiwar gathering nearby of hundreds of people commemorating the catastrophe of June 22, 1941 when Nazi Germany launched its war against the Soviet Union. (A religious commemoration of the invasion of 1941 was to be held in the Russian Orthodox Church pictured at the beginning of the video.) This shorter video shows the same mob that day breaking up a political protest against what the the Kyiv government calls its "anti-terrorist operation" in the east of the country.
It was a similar though much larger rampage in Odessa on May 2 that caused the deaths of more than 40 people who were protesting the anti-democratic and austerity program of the regime in Kyiv. Rightists came to the city from elsewhere in the country ostensibly for a football match, but gathered for a planned attack on an anti-austerity street march and protest encampment.
All this underscores the seriousness of the propaganda drive being waged by governments and media in western countries which present a false and misleading image of a valiant regime in Kyiv seeking to quell a violent and unruly ‘pro-Russia separatist’ movement in its southern and eastern regions. In reality, at their core, the political movements in the south and east of Ukraine are seeking a host of progressive measures, including more political autonomy for their regions, the right to elect their regional governors, nationalization of industrial enterprises threatened with closures, and against the austerity program that the Kyiv regime and its financial backers in Europe and North America have begun to impose.
Media outlets in Canada such as CBC, Postmedia and the Globe and Mail present a mix of indifference and grossly misleading news in their reporting of Ukraine. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is egging on the violence and chaos and faces no discernable opposition.
One searches in vain for a description of the rise of the far right in Ukraine. On the rare moments when the subject is broached, we are soothingly told that the rightists are a negligent force.
Left unreported is that no less than six ministries of the Kyiv government have ministers or deputy ministers from fascist parties, including the ministries of defense and police. Much of the military force fighting in the east of the country, in cooperation with NATO advisors and suppliers, are volunteer militias of the fascist and far right parties.
My website contains a trove of information and analysis on Ukraine that you are encouraged to read. The information is compiled in three categories:
- Articles by Roger Annis
- Articles by Russian socialist Boris Kagarlitsky
- Articles and statement by other writers
Among the interesting items in the ‘other writers’ category of my website are the following:
- Donetsk and Lugansk republics in southeast Ukraine issue programs
- A class analysis of the Ukrainian crisis, by Viktor Shapinov, of the Ukraine political association Borotba (Struggle), June 15, 2014
- Ukraine: Once again the West backs the wrong side, interview with Professor Stephen Cohen (Professor Emeritus of New York University and Princeton Univerersity), June 14, 2014
- Rust belt rising: The economics behind Eastern Ukraine’s upheaval, by Yuri M. Zhukov, Foreign Affairs magazine, June 11, 2014 (published by the Council on Foreign Relations)
- Stop the war in Ukraine! Statement of June 7, 8, 2014 antiwar conference in Belarus
Four vital sources of ongoing news on Ukraine are the following websites:
- The UK-based campaign ‘Solidarity with the Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine
- The English-language page of the Ukrainian website collection Liva (‘The Left’) [click on ‘Translations’]
- The English-language page of the website of the Ukrainian political association Borotba [click on ‘English’]
- The collection of articles ‘Views on the left on Ukraine’ on the Australia-based Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, many of which are transled from Russian by Links' translator, Renfrey Clarke
The UK daily The Guardian is one of the more consistent news sources from Ukraine, though its reporting often reflects western media bias.
* * *
Excerpt: First section of June 18 article on Truthout by Roger Annis titled, ‘The Russia as ‘imperialist’ thesis is wrong and a barrier to solidarity with the Ukrainian and Russian people’.
The violent coming to power of a rightist regime in Kyiv, Ukraine in late February 2014 has opened an exceptionally dangerous political period in Europe. For the first time since World War Two, a European government has representatives of fascist parties as ministers. These are the ministers of the armed forces, prosecution service and agriculture, and deputy ministers of national security (police), education and anti-corruption.
‘Mainstream’ parties alongside the fascists in government, including the elected president, are committed to an austerity project of economic association with Europe that will see much of the manufacturing base of the country further degraded or dismantled. The consequences for agricultural production are also likely to be dire.
The Kyiv regime has launched a civil war in the southeast of the country to quash popular movements demanding political and economic autonomy for their regions. Elsewhere in the country, the government or the fascist parties and militias allied to it are seriously repressing the right of political association and expression.
A new and harrowing account of the war being waged by the Kyiv regime in the east is published in The Guardian on June 17. It reports that cities are being strafed and shelled daily. Hundreds have died and tens of thousands have lost access to water and electricity. Tens of thousands have been driven from their homes in the southeast regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos has delivered a report to the UN Security Council containing serious concerns about the situation.
Two Russian reporters were killed in a mortar attack near the city of Luhansk on June 17.
In Kyiv on June 14, a mob attacked the Russian embassy and damaged the building. Some members of the UN Security Council, including Lithuania, blocked a resolution condemning the attack, which followed the shooting down of a Ukraine military transport plane over the city of Luhansk earlier that same day. All 49 airmen and soldiers on board died, dealing a huge blow to the war offensive and the morale of those militia volunteers or conscript soldiers prosecuting it.
Petro Poroshenko is a billionaire who was elected president on May 25 in an election that saw a 25 per cent decline in voter participation compared to the last election in 2010. Touted as a ‘man of peace’ by a deluded and deeply compromised western media, he is taking the regime’s civil war and repression to new heights of violence.
The repression and civil war follow the humbling referendum decision by the majority of the people of the Crimea region in March to secede from Ukraine.
The regime’s actions are fully backed by the governments of the NATO military alliance. They are providing key training and hardware to the Ukraine army and to the rightist and fascist militias that are directing the army or fighting alongside it. They have dispatched their own soldiers, fighter aircraft and warships to Ukraine’s neighbouring countries and ocean waters. NATO threatens the autonomy movements and the working class and nations as a whole of Ukraine and Russia.
All of this presents a huge responsibility for progressive forces in the world to mobilize against the violence in Ukraine and protest our own governments’ collusion. Yet, most liberal and moderate left forces in Europe and North America are turning a blind eye to events. More disquieting still, many on the radical left are cautious and hesitant. Campaigns such as ‘Solidarity with the Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine’ in Britain are too rare and need to be emulated.
What explains the hesitations? There are several reasons, but two overriding ones are a misreading of the political and economic forces that are driving the conflict, and a fear of association with the Russia government being near-universally labeled by western governments and their propaganda machines as an aggressor. It is vital to set the record straight on both counts.
Read the full article here on Truthout.
Thank you for reading this story…
More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.
rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.
So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.
And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.