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Sticking up for Fascism in Ukraine and Elsewhere

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.

A recent Media Co-op blog posting on Ukraine almost surpasses belief in its ability to turn reality upside down. In it Christopher Majka informs us that Russia has "invaded" Crimea in the interest of building "Russian Empire 2.0" and warns us that failing to respond vigorously would be equivalent to the appeasement policy toward Hitler in the lead-up to World War Two.

What has really happened in Ukraine? To start with, the elected government of Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown by violent street protests and replaced without any process of law by a coalition hand-picked by the United States. How do we know that Ukraine's new government was selected by the United States? Because Victoria Nuland, the US State Department’s top official for Europe and Eurasia, said as much to Geoffrey Pyatt, the US ambassador to Ukraine, in a telephone call that was secretly recorded and later posted to the Internet.

In December of 2013 Nuland had spoken publicly of how the United States had spent five billion dollars (yes -- billion) to create opposition to Viktor Yanukovych's pro-Russian administration. Needless to say, in the United States and most other countries it would not merely be considered gross interference for a foreign power to thus intervene in the affairs of a sovereign nation but would be quite illegal.

Amongst the most prominent forces in the clashes that drove Yanukovych from power was a fascist group known as the Right Sector. Oleksandr Muzychko, who has since died in a violent altercation, gives the flavour of this organization. Muzychko, one of the group's principal leaders, was involved in organized crime and was wanted on an international arrest warrant for torturing Russian prisoners of war while fighting with the Chechen resistance in the 1990s. After the opposition forces took power in Ukraine Muzychko distinguished himself by physically assaulting legislators that were resistant to the new administration and forcing them to cooperate at gunpoint.

As noted, the Right Sector took a leading role in the violent attacks that eventually compelled Yanukovych to flee. While the official line is that the demonstrations turned ugly in response to police provocation, a leaked phone discussion between Catherine Ashton, the European Union's foreign policy chief, and Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, suggests otherwise. In this conversation Paet refers to reports indicating that the protesters killed during the demonstrations against Yanukovych were not, as previously believed, shot by the police but instead were gunned down by Right Sector operatives acting as agents provocateurs. Ashton evidently found this thesis quite credible for rather than expressing doubts about the story she advised that the matter should be dropped lest the results of an investigation prove embarrassing to Ukraine's new government.

About one third of the new governing council—including the deputy prime minister—are members of the Svoboda Party, a notorious neo-Nazi outfit. Prior to Svoboda's emergence as a key player in the attacks on Yanukovych, the group's vicious anti-Semitic fascism was condemned by the World Jewish Congress, the European Parliament and—with exquisite hypocrisy—the United States government itself. A prominent member of Svoboda operated a research institute named in honour of Joseph Goebbels. The party's heroes are Ukrainians who collaborated with the Nazi occupation—amongst them a concentration camp guard who was eventually tried and convicted for his role in slaughtering 30,000 inmates. The leaders of the party are on record as calling for the "physical elimination" of Russian speakers, Jews, communists and "other filth."

Nor are such sentiments confined "merely" to Svoboda, as demonstrated by yet another leaked phone call. Yulia Tymoshenko is the doyenne of the Fatherland Party (to which Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the current Prime Minister of Ukraine, belongs) and was a focus of the opposition to Yanukovych. In a recent phone conversation Tymoshenko expressed her desire to exterminate the millions of Russian speakers in Crimea and stated her intention to goad Western countries into launching a nuclear assault on Russia itself so that "there wouldn’t be even a scorched field left in Russia."

So the reality is, an opposition movement that was deliberately manufactured by the United States as part of Washington's acknowledged goal of encircling Russia overthrew an elected government through violence. The new regime consists of the Fatherland Party, whose idol, Yulia Tymoshenko, has explicitly (albeit privately) advocated genocide in Ukraine and nuclear war against Russia; the thuggish followers of ex-boxer Vitali Klitschko's Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reforms; and the neo-Nazi Svoboda Party—exactly the three groups that Victoria Nuland, in her conversation with Geoffrey Pyatt, had said should comprise the government.

Immediately on seizing power these putschists began making threats against and imposing restrictions on Russian speakers in Ukraine. In addition to all of the details given above another telling episode was the ousting of the director of Ukrainian state television following a broadcast reporting on events in Crimea. Igor Miroshnichenko, who is a Svoboda member of parliament and the deputy head of the Ukrainian government’s committee on freedom of speech, forced this official to resign at gunpoint after physically assaulting him.

Christopher Majka likens Russia's "invasion" of Crimea to France seizing control of Quebec. This comparison is so preposterous as scarcely to warrant the dignity of a reply but, given the seriousness of the matter, it must be addressed.

Quebec was a colonial outpost that France acquired in a less than salutary fashion from First Nations and held for about one and a half centuries. It had a population of a few tens of thousands of French nationals at the time it was wrested away by the United Kingdom—approximately 250 years ago.

Ukraine itself did not exist as an independent state until its creation during the Russian Revolution. Prior to that the territories that now comprise Ukraine had been ruled by Poland from the Middle Ages and then Russia from the 18th century on. The Crimean peninsula, which had no historical association with Ukraine, was conquered by Russia from the Turks at about the same time Quebec was seized from the French by British forces. Crimea was thenceforth part of Russia until it was attached to Ukraine some 60 years ago.

So much for any historical parallels: on the one hand, a colonial outpost that has not been under France's control for well over two centuries; on the other, an area that was an integral part of Russia until the 1950s—indeed, one might almost say, until Ukrainian independence in 1991, since until then Russia was the dominant partner in a federation that subsumed Ukraine. What is more, in 1991 Ukraine gave assent to Russian extra-territoriality in Crimea, giving guarantees, inter alia, that Russia could continue to base its Black Sea fleet there.

This raises another point. Quebec is thousands of kilometres away from France, separated by the Atlantic Ocean. Crimea abuts directly on Russian territory (as does the entire eastern region of Ukraine). France does not have any strategic or geopolitical interest in Quebec and no French military assets have been stationed there since the middle of the 18th century. Russia's most important source of foreign revenue is the petroleum pipelines that run through Ukraine to supply the European Union and, as noted above, a principal component of the Russian navy is based in the Crimea. What is more, the United States has for some time quite openly proclaimed its desire to ring Russia about with hostile states and, with the putsch in Ukraine, these aggressive forces are now literally at the borders.

All of that is to say, if Russia had "invaded" Crimea this would hardly be shocking or an outrage to principles of realpolitik. Since the annunciation of the Monroe doctrine early in the 19th century the United States has claimed the right to take military action against foreign interference (i.e., other than its own, obviously) anywhere in the entire Western hemisphere. More recently the United States has made this general across the whole planet. France can, with the sanction of the international community, launch military action in Africa. Similarly, Israel is permitted to attack neighbouring polities with impunity under the colour of "pre-emptive" defence. Yet Christopher Majka is indignant because Russia has responded forcefully to events taking place in a neighbouring country which affected millions of Russian-speaking citizens in Ukraine and called into question the security of Russia's southern fleet?

Be that as it may, calling the events in Crimea an invasion is in any case highly tendentious. Russian military forces were already present in strength in Crimea, as authorized by existing treaty relations between Ukraine and Russia. It does seem that Russia dispatched reinforcements to Crimea at some point after the Ukrainian putschists began publicly talking about physically eliminating Russian speakers in the country and that these forces—with the full support of the government of the already autonomous region of Crimea—took control of certain strategic areas. Note, though, that this was accomplished entirely without violence, in stark contrast to the mayhem that accompanied the ouster of Viktor Yanukovych.

The existing elected government of Crimea then called for a referendum on the future of the area. True, this happened rapidly; but with key figures in Kiev baying for the blood of Russian speakers, the need for celerity is understandable. The option to join Russia met with approval from 97% of those who cast ballots, with 80% of eligible electors participating. As Christopher Majka notes, not quite three-fifths of the Crimean population are native Russian speakers. This means that even if it was the case that every single Russian speaker in Crimea voted to join Russia, approximately half of those who don't speak Russian must also have approved of the motion.

Pursuing his comparison, Christopher Majka imagines a situation in which "results in Québec City showed a 120 per cent voter turn out." Presumably this is a way of insinuating that similar irregularities manifested themselves in the Crimean referendum. In fact, the referendum was observed by over 100 expert witnesses from a score of countries (including members of the European Parliament), all of whom agreed that the referendum was fair, transparent and procedurally correct.

Christopher Majka wants us all "to make it clear that military solutions to civilian problems are unacceptable" and urges that we look for "peaceful solutions built on dialogue and democracy." He calls for "people from every walk of life...from every country" to "link arms" and stand together against tyranny.

Wonderful sentiments! Amazingly, however, Majka is not talking about opposing the United States, which is the author of more military interventions than all other countries in the world combined. He is not talking about ending the conflict in Congo—the bloodiest in the past 70 years—which is being waged by proxies of the United States to secure the rare elements needed to make cellphones functional. He is not talking about standing up to Israel, which has illegally occupied Palestinian territory since 1948 and has recently moved to make some of its 1967 conquests permanent through the creation of the apartheid wall on the West Bank. He is not talking about compelling the Canadian government to give back the lands (essentially this entire country) stolen by deceit or force from First Nations and still held, as we have seen recently in New Brunswick, through the power of the gendarmerie.

Majka writes of "how repressive the Putin regime has become in recent years -- jailing opponents, muzzling the press, and cowing the judiciary." Doubtless all this is true, and reprehensible. Yet where is Majka's outrage against the United States, which has a domestic prison population that, in both relative and absolute terms, dwarfs that of any other country? Where is his outrage against the network of secret CIA prisons the world over, and the US practice of consigning politically inconvenient individuals to the tender mercies of brutal dictatorships? Where is his outrage against the Five Eyes network overseen by the United States (and in which Canada is fully complicit), which aspires to the capacity to spy on every person in the world by 2016? Where is his outrage at the US government's vendetta against the heroic whistle-blower Edward Snowden? Where is his outrage at the recent move by the CIA (with the tacit support of Barack Obama) to have criminal charges brought against members of the US Senate for daring to disclose that top CIA officials had lied under oath about the CIA's use of torture? Where is his outrage at the US government's self-proclaimed right to carry out the "targeted assassination" of anyone in the world whom the United States president designates as an enemy?

It is extraordinarily depressing to see people whom one had understood to be progressive activists rehearsing the grotesquely twisted propaganda of capitalist imperialism. Whatever his faults may have been, Viktor Yanukovych was the legitimately elected leader of Ukraine. He was driven from power not by Christopher Majka's cherished "peaceful solutions built on dialogue and democracy" but through death threats and street violence carried out by fascist mobs at the behest of the United States government. Even the most "moderate" elements of the successor regime in Kiev are intensely chauvinistic while the most extreme—the Svoboda Party—are nothing short of neo-Nazis. Ironically, given Christopher Majka's jibe at Vladimir Putin's indebtedness to so-called oligarchs, the governors appointed by the new regime to rule Russian-speaking areas of Ukraine are themselves notorious oligarchs -- as is the billionaire poster girl of the anti-Yanukovych crowd, Yulia Tymoshenko.

This coup—for that is what it is—was orchestrated by the United States in order to further isolate Russia, one of the vanishingly few countries in the world that the US has not yet reduced to vassal status. No doubt many Ukrainians were legitimately opposed to Viktor Yanukovych and had no thought of deposing him by violent means. They, unfortunately, have no representatives at all in the current government, which instead is made up entirely of the three parties of the far to extreme right that Victoria Nuland had anointed even before Yanukovych was driven from office.

Christopher Majka's likening of the present situation to the circumstances preceding World War Two is not without warrant. The only problem is that he has all the elements entirely reversed. It is not Putin's Russia that is on the march but the United States; and the Nazis, quite openly, can be found in Kiev.

Today, as in the 1930s, the planet stands at the edge of a global conflagration -- and this time, with nuclear weapons in the mix. Christopher Majka is right to think that, now as then, a policy of appeasing an aggressor state will only encourage it to pursue aggrandizement the more recklessly until it eventually runs up against an opponent that will not back down, and has the means to resist.

The United States—a country that, on average, has been involved in two separate armed conflicts every year for over two centuries—is that aggressor. Its minions are now knocking on the doors of Russia itself as Yulia Tymoshenko, the best-known face of the new regime in Kiev, calls for the nuclear eradication of Russia.

Under these circumstances, incredibly, Christopher Majka counsels deliberately trying to back Vladimir Putin into a corner. Consider that this is a man who controls the world's second largest nuclear arsenal. Note that Viktor Yanukovych fled Ukraine after Vitali Klitschko wrote an open letter reminding Yanukovych of Muamar Gaddafi's fate. Yanukovych could take refuge in Russia; Putin has nowhere to go if he is driven from power.

The ideals that Christopher Majka espouses are noble but adopting the policy that he is advocating would be an outrage, serving only to please fascist putschists in Ukraine and advance the imperialist ambitions of the United States. More than that, under the circumstances, it would be unspeakably reckless.

Recall that Japan attacked at Pearl Harbor in response to the US imposing an oil embargo. The Japanese, having no domestic energy sources, knew that their choices were either to bow to the will of the US or go to war against it. Fully aware that the industrial and military potential of the United States dwarfed their own the Japanese determined that they needed to initiate hostilities immediately, without a declaration of war, in an attempt to cripple US power at the outset.

Ask yourself now what would be the likely result of Christopher Majka's "ruinous" economic sanctions against Russia coupled with the sanguinary rhetoric of Ukrainian politicians and the ever-present menace of the standing first strike nuclear policy of the US government. The United States spends more on its war-making capacities than every other nation on Earth combined. There are 17 separate US intelligence agencies with scores of thousands of employees. The state of California by itself has a larger economy than does Russia. If Russia is pressed to the wall it only has one possible means of defence: launching its nuclear warheads. 

Far from reducing the risk of conflict, Christopher Majka's call for a blockade brings us a giant step nearer World War Three.   


[For further information on the situation in Ukraine and its implications, the Centre for Research on Globalization, the Institute for Public Accuracy and the World Socialist Website are all excellent resources.]

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