The Ukrainian Situation-an analysis

The current  unstable and dangerous situation in  the Ukraine where  large elements of the Russian  speaking part of the Ukrainian  population in  in Eastern  and Southern Ukraine are apparently pushing  for  Russian  annexation can  be largely  attributed to Ukraine’s  turbulent and violent history.

Kiev,  the capital  city of Ukraine is considered by  many Russians to be the birthplace of Russia, or “Kievan Rus” in  the thirteenth  century. While no  longer a predominantly Russian  speaking  country, its principal connection has been  with its more powerful  northern neighbour over the last 800 years.

Ukraine ,or “the Ukraine” as it is often known, literally means “borderlands”, an indication of its status as a standalone state entity over the last  1000 years.

After the Partitions of Poland (1772–1795) (around the time of the US War of Independence), Ukraine was divided between Russia and Austria, with the largest part of Ukraine being  integrated into the Russian Empire, and  the rest under Austrian (known as the  Austro-Hungarian Empire  since 1849) control.

Gaining its independence briefly  from the Russian Empire in the chaos following the Russian Bolsehvik  Revolution of 1917 , Ukraine was forcibly incorporated under   Soviet   control in 1921 and remained a semi-autonomous republic of the Soviet  Union until  the collapse of the USSR in 1991, when it  once again  became independent.

During the rule of Stalin in the USSR in the 1930s, agrarian collectivisation policies were brutally enforced across  the  entire Soviet Union, but particularly in  what  has been referred to  as the bread-basket of Russia;  the Ukraine. Known as Holodomor, the communist collectivist   policies resulted in at least 7.5 million deaths with mass starvation occurring amongst  the peasantry  of western Ukraine particularly. Ukraine has defined the process as genocide, and the  brutal  process of starvation and loss of lands was instrumental in  the rise  of right-wing groups in  Western Ukraine, (whose populations   tend to be more Eurocentred than  the South-East),  who  supported the principles of both Mussolini’s  fascist party in   Italy and Nazi policies in Germany. The views were largely centred by  1943 in  the actions of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army led by  Stepan Bandera, in ethnic cleansing of Poles and Jews  as well  fighting with the Nazis against  the Russians . Bandera’s Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN-B) was strongly supported by  Western intelligence agencies and particularly the CIA   after the second world  war .

In  addition to  those horrors,  in 1944 approximately 200,000   Crimean Tatars were forcibly  deported to other parts of the USSR because of their presumed alliance with the Nazis, where a large percentage subsequently died of starvation.  Those Tatars who  have since returned   to the Crimea remain  fiercely hostile to  the Russians and some  have been implicated in  anti-Russian warfare in  other countries and also  within Crimea and wider  Ukraine.

 

Jews and Russians were seen to be the cause of the death, destruction and dispossession which occurred in the Holodomor. In retaliation,  Ukrainian fascist and Nazi  groups were formed which both fought alongside the Nazis against  the Russians and also aided in  the Nazi’s Jewish  progroms in Western Ukraine. The Svoboda party and its activist group, the Pravyi Sekor (Right Sector), are the  current manifestations of those nationalist  movements. Members of these two  groups have  also fought alongside Chechnyan  separatists and jihadists  in Russia  in  the past few years. In addition the right -wing Ukrainian  nationalist  private army and political party,  the Ukrainian  National  Assembly – Ukrainian National Self  Defence (UNA-UNSO) ,  a violent and extreme right-wing and anti-Russian organisation, has been  implicated in  the  sniper shootings of both  police and demonstrators in  Maidan Square in Kiev.

In 1954,  Nikita Khrushchev, the  Soviet President of the day,  transferred the Crimea , to the Southeast  of Ukraine and previously part of Russia itself , to the Ukraine republic .

svoboda
The Wolfsangel, Svoboda’s first party logo (1991–2003) and now widely used as a uniform emblem by the Right Sector, is both a truncated swastika and the acronym “HH”- for “Heil Hitler”

The most defining reason  for the recent demonstrations in Maidan Square in Kiev, against the corrupt but democratically elected president Viktor Yanu­kovych, was  Yanu­kovych’s decision to  switch  from  supporting alignment and eventual   Ukrainian integration with the European Union (after IMF “re-alignment” of the economy), to alignment with Russia  and its $15 billion  no-strings loan. It is likely that many of those early demonstrators in Maidan Square  saw their chance to  escape  a Ukraine of poverty, for the wealth  and opportunity of Europe, slipping away. However the muscle on  the ground at Maidan Square and  even since the new government in Kiev was installed, has been  the Svoboda Party  (whose insignia up  until  2003 was the Wolfsangel, both a  symbol for the swastika and  the acronym  for “Heil Hitler”)  and  its hand-maiden, the ‘Right Sector’.

Alexander Muzychko (Sasha Biliy of the “Right Sector” ) “speaking”  to a state prosecutor 27th  Feb

While Svoboda  has  partially dissociated  itself from  its neo-Nazi past; its offspring, the Rights Sector or “Pravyi Sektor” regards “de-Russification” of Ukraine as its core ideology, along with  ensuring the ethnic  purity of the Ukrainian population including the exodus of Jewish populations, and good moral  values.

Global Research notes that ” Canvas, formerly Otpor, received significant money from the US State Department in 2000 to stage the first successful Color Revolution against Slobodan Milosovic in then-Yugoslavia. Since then they have been transformed into a full-time “revolution consultancy” for the US, posing as a Serbian grass-root group backing “democracy.”  While Poland under President Tusk, and Sweden have been pushing for Ukraine’s integration into the EU since the initial  “colour revolution”, with  the strong backing of the US State Department and CIA, they have perhaps inadvertently been also  supporting and subsidizing  the far right Ukrainian agenda, who have no interest in EU integration. Ostensibly EU/US support has been for the “technocrats” (ie those who  support IMF financial “reforms” ) like ex-boxer Klitschko and the newly appointed acting president Oleksander Turchinov. (of Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland’s  “fuck EU” fame”)

However one of the first  steps of the new government was to  rescind the previous government’s  recent legislation to legitimize Russian  as an official  language of the Ukraine. It is likely that  that rescindment,  more than any  other factor,  was  the key reason  for  South-Eastern Ukrainians of Russian descent, many of whom  solely speak  Russian, to  fear for their future in  a ‘Ukraine for Ukrainians’.

The other major  factor is undoubtedly the fear  by  Russia that the new Ukrainian government will  also  rescind the  lease recently extended out to  2042 for Russia’s only warm water naval  base. As the US is well  aware, the Sevastopol base allows the Russians to  re-supply  its ally  President Bashad in Syria against  US, Turkish  and Saudi funded extremists in  the Syrian  civil  war. Loss of the warm water naval  base in in the Crimea would have significant negative strategic  impacts for the Russians, as the  British and French  are also  only too  aware of, after their  battles, in alliance with  the Turks to  re-capture the Crimea  and Sevastopol from the Russians in the Crimean War in 1853.

It should be noted also  that  the  industrial base of Ukraine is predominantly in the South-Eastern parts of the country, where there are significant populations of Ukrainian ethnic Russians, and where it’s  heavy  industry  was a key  part of the Soviet economy. As with many ex-Soviet states, the factories are by  Western standards, unproductive and out of date, and hence would require massive injections of IMF capital  and machinery, along with  massive layoffs of superfluous workers;  a prospect for which   Western industrialists have been rubbing their hands in  glee  since the Ukrainian Orange  Revolution in  2004. (Post-script-see the great  analysis of the neo-con plan  for acquisition of  Ukrainian/Russian  assets  by  Michael  Hudson here )

The complex interactions of internal  Ukrainian  and international  players, create the opportunity for war. The Russian decision to  send in  more troops into  the Crimea  certainly escalates the situation. Additionally, other South-Eastern Ukrainian  cities with varying proportions  of Russian speaking populations, are now also   rising up  against  the new Kiev anti-Russian government and establishing self-protection militias against the  Right  Sector and other far-right Ukrainian groups. How much  support  those Russophiles   will  get in  the cities of Donetsk, Kharkov, Simferapol, Odessa Lugansk and Kerch, is currently unknown. Russia currently insists that  its forces have not left their Crimean bases (25,000 Russian troops  are permitted in  the Crimea as part of the Ukraine /Russia lease  agreement)  and that  all  pro-Russian forces on  the ground in  Ukraine are pro-Russian Ukrainians – a statement disputed by  the EU and the U.S.

Given the tragic history  outlined above, it would appear the only  rational  solution to  the problems exacerbated by  foreign  state  actors, is negotiation.  In the 1990s the 55-state member Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (the OSCE) was created  to deal with détente in Europe and emerging post-cold war problems . The OSCE offers a unique and relatively non-partisan   pathway  to  a negotiated settlement of the complex issues facing Ukraine.  The alternative, despite the huff and puff from  NATO and the US,  may  well be  the secession of some part of what  is now Ukraine to form  a Russian  speaking autonomous or semi-autonomous state, unless the  power and hostility of  the far right groups opposed to ethnic Russians in Ukraine can be controlled.

References:

Ukraine after Yanukovych: 50 shades of brown – Autonomous Workers Union

Russia Debates: The Crimea Crisis

Meet the (real) new authorities in the Ukraine, example #1 

Are Ukraine’s Jews Screwed?

Russia, Crimea and the Consequences of  NATO Policy: Ukrainian Hangovers

Trotsky on Ukraine (1939)

Russian Sponsored Territories

Ukraine Through Putin’s Eyes-McClatchy

Between Revolution and Tyranny; a fluid and highly permeable line

 In the cat-bird seat

Propaganda, lies and the New York Times: Everything you really need to know about Ukraine

Revolution, lecturing and life in western Ukraine

Roman Shukhevych: Wikipedia

Meet the Americans Who Put Together the Coup in Kiev

Ukraine agrees to  50% gas price hike amid IMF Talks

Seven  Decades of Nazi Collaboration- America’s Dirty Little Secret

How Vladimir Putin Became Evil

The New World Order-Richard Falk

Tour of Ukraine -Russia Border Finds No  Sign of a Military Buildup- 31st March 2014

We Cannot Still Ignore the Perils of Intervention-Patrick Cockburn

What are Russia’s real motivations in Ukraine? We need to understand them

It’s not Russia that’s pushed Ukraine to the brink of war: Seamus Milne

Six Mistakes the West  Has Made in Ukraine

Pew  (U.S.) Public Opinion  Survey  Undertaken in Ukraine by Region:  April  5-23rd 2014

Conflicts Forum 25th April-2nd May: Alistair Crooke

 

 

 

 

 

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