April 18 — As of this writing, the maneuver by U.S. and European imperialism at the Geneva “reconciliation” talks to disarm and disperse the anti-Western resistance in southeast Ukraine has been rebuffed by the masses there.
It is clear that Washington had no intention of compromise. On the contrary, the U.S. escalated the crisis even while talks were in progress in Geneva.
The agreement specified that “buildings illegally seized” must be vacated and “groups illegally armed” must disarm. But the Right Sector fascists camped out in Maidan Square in Kiev did not make one move to turn in their arms or vacate their encampment, nor did the puppet government do anything to enforce the agreement in the capital.
This language is general and ambiguous in its application. No matter what happens on the ground, or what interpretation either side gives to the language, it can have the effect of undercutting the struggle of the resistance.
According to the April 18 Wall Street Journal: “Russia’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement Friday evening saying it was disappointed with U.S. official responses to the Geneva deal. … The Foreign Ministry said the Geneva agreement’s call on protesters to give up weapons and occupied buildings should apply first to those in Kiev, ‘who participated in the February coup.’”
If this is what the Russian government intended, then Moscow should have made absolutely clear from the outset that by signing the agreement they were not equating the coup regime with resisters in the East, as the language of the agreement did. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov could have stated this position explicitly at the post-agreement press conference and/or have immediately sent out a press release for the resistance, and the whole world, to see. This would not leave the resistance fighters, who were not consulted, to struggle with an interpretation.
Fortunately, the resistance movements in eastern Ukraine have declared their determination not to move until the fascists are disarmed and the illegal coup regime resigns. But the imperialists now have language that they can use against the movement.
However, in the town of Seversk in the Donetsk region, resistance activists took over the administration and police buildings after the Geneva statement was announced. Law enforcement and local authorities said they would cooperate with these anti-Kiev forces.
The resistance forces in Luhansk announced they were drawing up legal papers to have the unofficial people’s militia legally recognized as a lawful paramilitary formation called the “Popular Army of Donbass,” long a coal-mining region. The local coordinator said, “We are peaceful people,” but the protesters “need weapons to be heard.” (RIA Novosti, April 18)
Donetsk People’s Republic demands coup regime resign
The head of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Denis Pushilin, gave a correct legal interpretation of the statement. He told BBC World News on April 18: “The agreement specifies that buildings illegally occupied must be vacated. Under those terms, the illegal government in Kiev must first vacate the parliament and resign. We will not vacate or disarm before that.”
Before the Geneva agreement, the masses of eastern Ukraine had defended themselves, heroically resisting Kiev’s military and political pressure. The people appealed directly to the soldiers and quickly convinced two armored columns of Kiev troops to go over to the resistance. This transformed the relationship of forces against Kiev and imperialism.
It is apparent that the imperialists and their right-wing stooges in Kiev never intended to honor the agreement. The coup regime came to power in Kiev on Feb. 22, when fascist shock troops violently overthrew the legally elected government of President Viktor Yanukovych. Now right-wing and fascist forces from the Fatherland Party, Svoboda Party and Right Sector hold key posts in Kiev’s military and police forces.
Washington backed the coup in Kiev in order to drag Ukraine into the camp of Western imperialism. The coup regime has already pulled Ukraine into the European Union and signed draconian agreements with the International Monetary Fund that impose austerity on Ukraine’s people — including cuts in subsidies for gas and social services, wage cuts, layoffs and privatization.
The unelected Kiev regime has never consulted the people. It fashioned its political and economic maneuvers behind the scenes with EU and IMF bankers and big business leaders. But its pro-imperialist orientation qualifies the Kiev junta as a “democratic government” in Western government and corporate media circles.
Washington sabotaged Geneva talks from the beginning
Though Washington promoted the Geneva talks as a way to de-escalate the crisis, the U.S. used the conference to sharpen the conflict with Russia and the resistance fighters. With the talks set to begin, NATO Secretary General Fogh Rasmussen threatened that NATO was about to increase readiness, send more naval forces to the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean and additional flights over the Baltic states, plus rotate more troops on the eastern front to be near Russia’s borders.
Speaking to the world’s press after the conference, Secretary of State John Kerry used a phony leaflet to slander the resistance movement of the eastern Ukraine. This right-wing document, allegedly from the People’s Republic of Donetsk but quite possibly a CIA forgery, told Jewish people that they were ordered to register, invoking memories of the Nazi occupation during World War II. Kerry did this although he knew the Donetsk People’s Republic leader categorically denied the resistance had anything to do with the letter and Jewish leaders in Ukraine said the letter was a hoax.
After the Geneva meeting, President Barack Obama said he did not trust the agreement and threatened Russia with greater economic sanctions.
So Washington sabotaged a “reconciliation” conference before, during and after it was over, giving proof positive of U.S. imperialism’s aggressive, expansionist aims in Ukraine. Washington’s unbridled hostility to the Putin government flows from Moscow’s determined moves to halt the Pentagon-NATO march eastward.
As of this writing, the position of U.S. imperialism and its hapless puppet regime in Kiev is highly unfavorable. Kiev is economically bankrupt and must repay billions of dollars in debt within the next year. Having been installed by a coup led by anti-Semites, admirers of Hitler and of Stepan Bandera, a Ukrainian World War II collaborator with the Nazis, it is politically weak and so far is militarily helpless to suppress the resistance.
U.S. imperialism, an adventurist power
In crafting this adventure, the feverish strategists in Washington seem to have overlooked the most significant factor in the struggle for Ukraine — its people. The U.S. coup plotters thought that overthrowing the government was sufficient to take over the country.
The U.S. utilized fascist shock troops to seize the government. But the Ukrainian people, who remember the struggle against Hitler and the Nazis and all the death and suffering involved, hate fascists.
The eastern part of Ukraine has a strong strain of Soviet culture that developed when Ukraine was a Soviet Socialist Republic. There are statues of Lenin everywhere, and streets are named after revolutionaries from Lenin’s Bolshevik Party, even 23 years after the breakup of the Soviet Union.
Wall Street was relying on major sanctions against Russian business to undermine Putin and turn capitalist Russia’s ruling class against him. But major sanctions require cooperation from European finance capital, which in turn makes massive profits from investment and trade with Russia. Russia supplies one-third of Europe’s gas. It will not be that easy to get the European imperialists to throw their profits away for the sake of Washington’s war with Russia.
There is much else the Pentagon and the State Department failed to consider. But the U.S. is an adventurist and reckless power. Driven by the monumental and continuous growth of its productive forces, U.S. capitalism must seek ever new outlets for trade, investment, spheres of exploitation and resources. If it can’t expand outward, Wall Street must be consumed by economic crises.
The more the ruling class’ situation deteriorates, the more dangerous the U.S. becomes.
The U.S. ruling class is right now in the grip of just such an economic crisis. Under these conditions it is prone to adventure. Wall Street would like nothing more than to swallow up Ukraine as a stepping stone to undermining Russia. Wall Street’s goal is to eventually reduce Russia to a vassal state, which is where it was headed under Boris Yeltsin, after the collapse of the USSR in 1991.
Washington is furious with Putin because he halted the subordination of Russia to U.S. finance capital. He pushed back. Putin is a bourgeois, an administrator of Russian capitalism. His camp consists of millionaires, billionaires and the military. No workers or revolutionaries have any illusions about Putin’s role. He is the representative of a powerful and wealthy capitalist class in Russia that has no intention of bringing socialism to Ukraine.
Nevertheless, for U.S. imperialism to gain control of Ukraine and threaten Russia would be the worst possible outcome of this crisis. It would strengthen the machine of Wall Street and the Pentagon. It would bring more wealth to the U.S. rulers, which they would use to threaten the world. Inside the U.S., it would help the bosses and bankers enforce their will on the working class.
All genuine anti-imperialists must find a way to keep their revolutionary political independence, fight the class struggle and join with the Ukrainian masses in helping to expel U.S. imperialism and its junior partners in Europe from Ukraine.
Fred Goldstein is the author of “Low-Wage Capitalism” and “Capitalism at a Dead End,” which has been translated into Spanish as “El capitalismo en un callejón sin salida.” See Web site and blog lowwagecapitalism.com, where books are available