By Prof. JOSE MARIA SISON
Chairperson, International League of Peoples’ Struggle
Since the horrendous attack of Nazi Germany, the great anti-fascist victory of the Soviet Union, and the socialist reconstruction after World War II, Ukraine has suffered a series of catastrophes in so many decades: the rise of modern revisionism and gradual restoration of capitalism from the late 1950s onwards leading to the rapid full-scale restoration of capitalism and collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and the social and economic devastation of the Ukraine as the Mafia-type bourgeoisie fully privatized the economy, exploited the people with impunity and carried out the neoliberal economic policy of boundless greed.
The US and the European Union have sought to extend the tentacles of Western monopoly capitalism and the NATO to the borders and weakest parts of the former Soviet Union, including Ukraine. The section of the Ukrainian big bourgeoisie most servile to Western imperialism has imagined that it can overcome the socio-economic and political crisis and further guarantee its profit-taking by being integrated in the European Union. It is oblivious of the fact that Ukraine would be in deeper trouble if it gave up the emergency loans and concessional oil supply from Russia, and accepted the austerity programs being applied by the EU on its member countries in debt crisis.
The current political turmoil in Ukraine, which has been simmering since 2012, is fuelled by the same basic factors that caused the so-called Orange Revolution in 2004. The main internal factor is the impact of the world capitalist crisis on the Ukrainian economy, especially among the young workers and student youth. This has intensified the struggle between bourgeois factions, some of which want Ukraine to integrate with the EU, while others want the country to either join the Russia-led alliance or manage a balancing act between the two imperialist powers.
Upon the signal of the US, the EU fomented trouble in Ukraine by offering to it an economic agreement packaged as the path to integration, with clauses offensive to Russia, such as the imposition of NATO policies and restriction on economic relations with Russia. At first, the Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovich (a big bourgeois belonging to a robber baron family) showed interest in the EU either with real earnestness or for the purpose of bargaining with Russia. He rejected the offer in November last year when he saw that he could get, at the most, only a loan of USD 600 million from the EU, and Russia was to provide an emergency loan of USD 15 billion in several tranches and reduced prices for fuel supply. In this regard, Russia is considerate of its security needs (naval fleet in Crimea and defense facilities elsewhere) and desire to develop a Eurasian economic bloc.
Since late November, opposition groups agitated by the economic crisis and bureaucratic corruption, and motivated by the pro-Western big bourgeoisie, have generated mass actions (so-called Euromaidan) at the Independence Square of Kiev and other parts of Ukraine to demand the resignation of the Yanukovich government and integration with the EU as a form of salvation from the capitalist crisis. They have taken an appearance of petty-bourgeois forces demanding democracy, especially after anti-protest laws were passed in January by the pro-Yanukovich parliament. The government became more repressive. Then, in the face of rising and spreading mass unrest, it offered a coalition government by offering the positions of prime minister and deputy prime minister to leaders of the opposition.
At first, a prominent opposition leader, Vitaly Klitschko, former world boxing champion and known agent of Germany, was inclined to accept the compromise. But when he consulted the street leaders of Euromaidan, he was rebuffed, especially by the Pravy Sektor (Right Sector) that had gained control over the mass actions. This group is a collection of fascists, football hooligans, ultra-nationalists, and various neo-Nazi elements. Ultra-nationalist paramilitaries identified with the extreme-rightist Svoboda party eventually took the lead in seizing weapons, burning government buildings, and sniping at and battling with the police.
Since 1991, the US has spent USD 5 billion for the so-called democratization of Ukraine. It has fielded intelligence and political operatives to cultivate intellectual and political agents to become pro-US and anti-Russia. It has funded anti-Russia and Russophobic NGOs, student and professional groups, and even hooligans. In the current political turmoil, the US has been pushing the EU to proclaim and undertake sanctions against Ukraine in order to inflame anti-Russia sentiments.
Despite the repeal by parliament of the anti-protest laws and the offer of amnesty, violence has escalated between the security forces and street militants. The latter have occupied, barricaded or firebombed government buildings and facilities. They have seized arms from armories. Scores of death have been inflicted on one side by the other of the contending forces. The most assertive Ukrainian nationalists are vociferous about being Russophobes, opposing Russian colonialism and basing themselves on the Ukrainian-speaking population in western Ukraine.
By stressing Russophobia and avoiding class struggle against the Russian big bourgeoisie in Ukraine, they are practically goading the Russian-speaking population to unite as Russians in the eastern and southern parts of Ukraine as well as in major cities to assert their own Russian character. The Russian population in the Ukraine is the product of long history, including the struggle against the Tatars, the integration of the Ukraine in Russia for two centuries, the opening of what was formerly a vast eastern hinterland for Russian settlement, the integration of the Ukraine in the Soviet Union and the role of Russian workers in building factories and major cities from which the Ukrainian bourgeoisie would arise.
Upon the breakup of the Soviet Union and the declaration of Ukrainian independence in 1991, both the Ukrainian- speaking and Russian-speaking Ukrainians showed cohesiveness even in their distressful situation of severe economic suffering and declining life spans. But now the break up of Ukraine into two Russian-speaking and Ukrainian-speaking countries has become a distinct possibility as the Western imperialists continue to foment an anti-Russia movement and violence continues to escalate, according to some observers. At any rate, in the absence of a strong revolutionary movement led by the proletariat, the big bourgeoisie which is predominantly Russian-speaking will make the crucial decisions on retaining Ukraine as a whole country of 46 million people. The fuel dependence of the Ukraine on Russia is also a major desideratum.
In the meantime, the Western imperialists in the US and EU are happy that they have whipped up the current social and political turmoil and these open up to them further opportunities to make trouble in Ukraine, to turn Ukraine against Russia and to burden Russia with bigger problems and possibly lessen its capabilities in the struggle for a redivision of the world among the imperialist powers.
The Western imperialist powers are always engaged in a drive to contain and debilitate Russia in its own home grounds and vicinity. They are playing a dangerous game adverse to the cause of world peace. In this regard, they must be condemned for interfering in the Ukraine, whipping up civil war, further messing up the lives of the people and endangering peace on a scale beyond Ukraine.
The current political turmoil may not yet lead to a full scale civil war in Ukraine or to a regional war but it is an episode towards further episodes as the crisis of global capitalism worsens and the struggle for a redivision of the world intensifies among the imperialist powers.