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Issue #1629      March 5, 2014


Confronting the rise of fascism

Ukraine has been subjected to what is becoming an all too familiar practice of ousting legitimate governments that refuse to submit themselves to the diktat of the US. In Libya and Syria and now Venezuela (see this issue of the Guardian – “The truth behind the uproar in Venezuela”) and Ukraine, a similar formula for regime change can be seen. Anti-government protests and demands by forces seeking reforms are used as fronts for Western (or Saudi) funded, armed and trained ultra-right and terrorist/fascist forces.

Donbass workers protesting against fascism in the south-east of Ukraine.

Western media flood news outlets with graphic images of the victims of terrorist assaults and massacres, falsely accusing government forces of perpetrating the atrocities. Ethnic or religious differences are fanned, and economic sanctions imposed to create economic hardship and increase pressure for a change of government. Attempts by elected governments to use state police and military to defeat the terrorists (including foreign mercenaries) and defend their people and sovereignty are portrayed as “crimes against humanity” while those carrying out the coup and atrocities are held up as being “pro-democracy”.

In Ukraine, the US has installed what it calls a transitional coalition government which is heavily penetrated by neo-Nazi and other extreme right forces. Members of the Svoboda (All Ukrainian Union) and Pravy Sektor (Right Sector) have control over the armed forces, police and national security. Svoboda was formerly called the Social National Party, a deliberate reference to Hitler’s Nazi party.

The US has hardly hidden its involvement in Ukraine’s internal affairs. Last December, US Senator John McCain was publicly seen dining with opposition leaders including Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok. US Secretary of State John Kerry and Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia, Victoria Nuland took part in the Maidan (city square) demonstrations, openly calling on the people to rise up and bring down their elected government. The role of the US in deciding on the new government was revealed in a secretly taped (private) discussion between Nuland and the US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt. It also revealed the involvement of the EU in orchestrating regime change.

“Flowering of fascism”

“The United States and the European Union have embraced the revolution here as another flowering of democracy ...,” writes Steven Erlanger, in the New York Times (“After Initial Triumph, Ukraine’s Leaders Face Battle for Credibility”, 01-03-2014). “Flowering of fascism” would have been a more apt description. The two main parties that have been installed by the US, EU and NATO, the Fatherland and Svoboda both pay tribute to Stepan Bandera who led collaboration with the Nazis and who played an active part in the massacre of Ukraine’s Jewish population in the Second World War. The fascists are attacking synagogues and Eastern Orthodox Christian churches, xenophobia towards ethnic Russians, Tartars and other minority groups has surged, museums have been looted, Communists and members of Yanukovich’s Party of Regions have had their homes raided. The Communist Party of Ukraine’s offices have been attacked.

In the language of a school boy bully, Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott fell into line behind the US, telling Russia to “back off”, that it is “simply unacceptable” for Russia to interfere militarily in the Ukraine. Apparently, the US’s and the EU’s interference is acceptable. “Let Ukraine get on with being run in a peaceful and democratic manner,” Abbott said. What hypocrisy!

The real source of external intervention in the sovereign affairs, the driving forces in the coup in Ukraine are the US, the European Union and NATO with the International Monetary Fund lurking in the background with an austerity program mapped out for the people. They have promoted and supported extreme right-wing, neo-Nazi and xenophobic forces and fostered tensions, divisions and conflicts with the aim of installing a compliant government that would give them political, economic and military domination over Ukraine.

The agreement of association with the EU that President Yanukovich had refused to sign is not, as often portrayed by the media, just an agreement to join the EU. It contains a dangerous military component which would have opened the doors to a US/NATO military takeover. Yanukovich’s refusal to sign away Ukraine’s sovereignty and for it to become the staging point for US/NATO missiles and forces aimed at Russia and others, was the trigger that set in motion the regime change process.

Russia the target

The situation is complex with a number of agendas at play. Ukraine is a strategically important to the US in its attempts to surround Russia with military forces and weapons. It has never let up in its plans to break up the Russian Federation and take control of oil, gas and other resources. The ongoing vilification of Russian Prime Minister Putin and Russia in the Western media is part of the campaign to justify the West’s actions. The Crimea, a semi- autonomous region of the Ukraine, is of particular strategic importance.

The Russian Black Sea Fleet has been stationed in Sevastopol (Crimea) since the 18th century. Crimea has a rich history of attachment and occupation over centuries. In more recent times it was part of the Russian Federation until Soviet President Nikita Khrushchev transferred it to Ukraine. Following the demise of the Soviet Union, when Russia and Ukraine negotiated arrangements relating to military (including nuclear weapons) forces and weapons, the fleet remained under a new agreement. Russia is now being accused by the West of interfering in Ukraine because of its military presence in Crimea. “We have an arrangement with Ukraine about the stationing of the Russian Black Sea fleet in Sevastopol and we are acting within the framework of that agreement,” Russian ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, told reporters. This agreement, which was extended for 25 years in 2010, includes discounted prices for Ukrainian purchases of gas from Russia.

Crimea is critical to Russia’s defence and President Putin and Russia’s parliament are determined to retain their presence and maintain their security. They do not recognise the so-called government that has been installed by the West. The Western propaganda machine has been hard at work with a flood of lies about Russian activity and interference in the Crimea.

In Crimea, where more than half the population are ethnic Russian, there is strong support for President Yanukovich. There have been large protests against fascism and in support of ties with Russia, misreported in Australia’s media as being simply anti-EU. People have set up self-defence units against the fascists. There is strong opposition to the presence of US or NATO missile and military forces there. Russia’s package of a $15 billion debt deal and gas discounts is far larger than the EU’s and is not tied up with the IMF austerity and other strings attached to the EU’s. But that is not the main question. Russia has responded quickly to defend its interests and ethnic Russians in Crimea.

Changing the balance

Control of Ukraine would give the US and NATO control over the Black Sea. The other countries bordering the Black Sea – Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey and Georgia – are at present firmly in the imperialist camp. Russia has four naval fleets – Black Sea, Pacific, Northern and Baltic. The Black Sea Fleet is the most important because of the links to the Middle East. Sevastopol is a large and deep port. The ports along Russia’s coastline with the Black Sea are shallow. It is also Russia’s only warm water port. It is vital to Russia’s security.

Ukraine is a strategic piece in the US’s attempts to encircle Russia, which are well advanced. The US already has Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Georgia, Romania, Poland and Azerbaijan at its disposal for military operations. Crimea is only 30 metres from Turkey, which the US used as a launching pad for wars in the Middle East. In Afghanistan the US originally trained and armed the Taliban to bring about regime change and install a government hostile to the Soviet Union. US geo-political meddling hasn’t stopped since but it has not gone all their way. Iran is lined up for regime change. The US’s anti-missile shield, with bases in Eastern Europe, is targeted at Russia. Afghanistan and Iran are also critical to the US’s moves to encircle the People’s Republic of China.

The EU is waging war against the Russian Gazprom company which, with its partners, has been battling EU demands regarding a new South Stream pipeline, which would stretch 2,400 kilometres bypassing Ukraine, taking gas to Europe – Serbia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovenia, Austria, Italy, Croatia, Macedonia, Greece and Turkey. EU competition policy prevents the same company owning a pipeline and what flows along it, a policy which the Russian government and Gazprom have been fighting. One of the objectives of the EU relates to control of natural gas pipelines and enforcement of “competition” policy on Ukraine and Russia.

While constantly supporting NATO expansion, the US had a set-back recently when it lost its Manas base in Kyrgyzstan. NATO responded provocatively with plans to hold military exercises in Georgia, which is strategically placed between the Black Sea and Caspian Sea. The West failed in earlier attempts to break off Chechnya from the Russian Federation but pressure will doubtless be maintained. The Black Sea is important to the US’s Middle East plans, including the strengthening of neo-fascist forces such as the Muslim Brotherhood.

Aid for fascism – threat of war

The open involvement of US, EU and NATO leaders in the build up to the coup exposes it as part of the drive to change the geo-political balance in Europe in ways that threaten security and peace in Europe and the world. The support accorded to the interim government by the EU leaders will give encouragement to right-wing and fascist forces across Europe.

The headline of the New York Times article quoted above, “After Initial Triumph, Ukraine’s Leaders Face Battle for Credibility” raises an important point. The “revolution” in Ukraine lacks credibility amongst the people. The February 21 agreement reached with Yanukovich and opposition leaders to hold early elections was swept aside with the support of the US and EU. Having trashed the agreement, a bunch of criminals and fascists has been installed. The situation is unfolding quickly and the outcome is by no means certain.

The removal of the Russian fleet from Sevastopol and the installation of Western forces and missiles would seriously weaken Russia’s defence capabilities. The US would also like to see Russia lose its veto powers on the UN Security Council and, as a result, we can expect to see the “cold war” against Russia intensify. Any escalation by the West of the situation on the Crimean peninsula raises the prospect of war, which could spread well beyond the borders of Ukraine and Russia.

Next article – Editorial – Qantas and the death of the private enterprise myth

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