U.S. and European Union imperialism are deep in Ukraine, backing one side of the internal power struggle, with the goal of making this former Soviet republic a colonial appendage of the West, while handing a setback to Russia.
Imperialist government representatives from the U.S., the EU and Germany have stood with “opposition” protesters in capital city Kiev against the Ukrainian government, even with pro-fascist opposition party leaders who fill their hateful rhetoric with anti-Russian, anti-gay and anti-Jewish diatribes.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier met in Berlin on Jan. 31 and had the arrogance to dictate to the Ukrainian government their terms for a settlement with the opposition.
No benefit for workers in imperialist conquest
U.S. and Western European workers share no interest with the imperialist ruling class in the conquest of Ukraine. The workers’ best interests, and of course the interests of the Ukrainian workers, would be best served by keeping NATO, the International Monetary Fund, and U.S. and European bankers out of Ukraine.
It’s important to state that at the beginning of this article, because the imperialist politicians and corporate media have distorted the events in Ukraine beyond recognition — just as they did earlier with Syria, Libya and other parts of the world on the imperialist reconquer list.
What is happening in Ukraine is far from a struggle between a “democratic” pro-EU opposition and an “autocratic” pro-Russian regime. The pro-EU parties in Ukraine grew out of the 2004 “Orange Revolution” and are enemies of both the Ukrainian working class and of Ukrainian sovereignty.
On the other hand, the government party, which won the last elections in 2010 and put President Viktor Yanukovych in office, has a social and economic program hardly different from the main opposition parties.
Yanukovych’s government supports all the privatization of the Ukrainian economy that has continued since the end of the USSR. He was poised to accept an agreement with the EU until he about-faced on Nov. 21. He even ordered a Ukrainian frigate to participate in EU-led maneuvers known as Operation Atalanta to combat “piracy” off Somalia.
As of Feb. 3, Yanukovych had offered to discuss a coalition government with the opposition under the condition that they stop the demonstrations.
The secretariat of European communist parties called the “Initiative,” meeting in Brussels on Jan. 27, made its own assessment of the events from a working-class point of view: “The recent bloody developments in the Ukraine highlight the intervention of the USA-EU in the internal affairs of this country, the confrontation between sections of capital with the involvement of imperialist powers that are fighting each other over who will prevail in a relentless competition over markets and energy resources. There is an attempt to entangle the people of the Ukraine on the one or the other side of this confrontation.
“We call on the workers of Ukraine to organize their own independent struggle according to their interests for socialism and not according to which imperialist the one or the other section of the plutocracy of their country chooses.” (inter-kke.gr)
End of USSR a disaster for Ukraine
Ukraine was the second most economically developed republic during the existence of the Soviet Union, producing more than 25 percent of its agricultural goods. It was also the second most populous republic, with 51 million people in 1991.
Since then the economic collapse brought about by the reintroduction of capitalism — production dropped to 40 percent of the 1991 level by 1999 — impelled 6 million workers to migrate to the EU and Russia and prompted a drop in the birth rate and an increase in the death rate. Now the population is less than 45 million.
About 25 percent of the Ukrainian people live in poverty. Many are dependent on remittances from the 2 million young Ukrainian workers doing construction in Western Europe or farming in Portugal, Spain and Ireland — work that fails to reward them for the education most had at home. Even more Ukrainian migrants are working in Russia, but with lower wages than in the West. Total remittances provide 25 percent of Ukraine’s gross domestic product.
Both the government and the main opposition parties leading the protests in Kiev’s central square represent the interests of Ukraine’s new ruling class. This group of plutocrats managed to seize the socially owned property of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic after 1991. Some of these ruling-class figures and their interests are oriented to the EU and the U.S.; some have interests closer to their counterparts in capitalist Russia.
Contrary to the arguments of the pro-EU groupings, the deal that Yanukovych “postponed” in late November was no boon for Ukraine’s people. It would open Ukraine to EU goods, shutting down much of local production. And it would not give Ukraine EU membership, which would allow Ukrainian workers to work freely in the West. The deal would offer a few loans but insist on the austerity that has suffocated workers in Greece, Portugal, Spain, Ireland and even more prosperous EU countries.
In short, it would be no more a benefit for Ukraine’s people than the North American Free Trade Agreement was to the Mexican people. Yanukovych was offered a better deal by now-capitalist Russia in December and he accepted it. As of Feb. 3, however, the Russian government has held up the offer, citing the instability in Kiev.
Pro-West groupings unleashed a series of protest demonstrations in Kiev starting Nov. 21. They escalated the protests in January to seizures of government buildings and confrontations between demonstrators armed with Molotov cocktails and the police.
The same Western leaders and media that attack the Kiev government for repressing these armed protests cheered on police who cleared public squares of the nonviolent Occupy Wall Street movement in the U.S., housing sit-ins in Germany and 15M occupations in Spain.
Western politicians, including U.S. Republican Senator John McCain and Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and then German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle — representing Chancellor Angela Merkel — all joined the demonstrations at various times. Hundreds of nongovernmental organizations, financed by these imperialists, have been active in the opposition, including the infamous Otpor — first financed by the West to overthrow the Slobodan Milosevic government in Yugoslavia. Otpor later gave advice to Venezuelan anti-Hugo-Chávez right-wingers, among others.
None of the diplomats made the effort to distance themselves from the leader of the pro-fascist Svoboda Party, Oleg Tiagnibok, and the other groupings that lined up with Nazi imperialism in World War II and that aided genocide in German-occupied Ukraine. These fascists, who are allies of ultra-right European groups like the National Front in France, have played an ever-more-active role in the protests, fighting with police, attacking leftists and, in one instance, toppling a statue of Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin.
Anyone in solidarity with Ukraine’s working class would be dismayed by a victory for the Western imperialists and their boost for the fascists. But leaving the current government in power is only a temporary pause in a protracted crisis. Only a mobilized working class independent of both the government and the opposition, and oriented toward socialism, can bring about a successful resolution to this crisis. n