The downing of a Ukrainian military airplane in the Lugansk People’s Republic sent shockwaves around the world June 14. The plane carried troops destined to fight in the Kiev junta’s war against the people in the country’s rebellious Donbass region. All 49 people aboard were killed, including the 9-person crew.
Within hours, far-right supporters of the government attacked the Russian Embassy in Kiev, overturning vehicles, spray painting swastikas and hurling gas bombs, while high-ranking government officials cheered them on.
The plane was a legitimate military target and its destruction an important accomplishment for the volunteer people’s militia of Lugansk, which along with neighboring Donetsk declared independence on May 11 and has mounted a heroic anti-fascist resistance to Kiev’s U.S.-backed war.
Valery Boltov, leader of the people’s government in Lugansk, confirmed June 15 that the militia had downed the plane, LifeNews reported.
The continued survival of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics — and their ability to hold their own against repeated, well-financed military offensives by Kiev — is testament to the determination of people of all nationalities in the heavily working-class Donbass region to resist the illegal junta of oligarchs, neoliberal politicians and fascists.
In the rest of Ukraine, leftist and anti-fascist organizations like Union Borotba (Struggle) and the Communist Party of Ukraine have been forced underground. Threatened with arrest, Borotba leaders have gone to Donetsk, Crimea and Western Europe to build solidarity for the struggle.
Significantly, a movement in solidarity with Ukraine’s anti-fascist resistance is beginning to take root across Europe. Committees in Solidarity with Ukrainian Anti-Fascists have been established in Britain and Greece. People in Brussels; Dublin; the Basque Country in the Spanish state; Belgrade, Serbia; and Berlin and other German cities have demonstrated against Kiev’s war. Left Part members of the German Parliament have also spoken out against Kiev.
In Moscow a thousands-strong demonstration was held June 11. Protesters there called on the government of President Vladimir Putin to provide military assistance to the embattled Donbass resistance.
Washington’s deadly silence
The U.S. government condemned Lugansk’s defensive actions and threatened new sanctions against Russia, perpetuating the myth that the Donbass resistance is nothing but “Russian agents.” The European Union, meanwhile, expressed “shock” at the warplane’s downing — in the midst of a war declared by Kiev against its own people.
But there wasn’t a peep from Washington or its European allies about Kiev’s ongoing war crimes in Donbass. These include targeting hospitals, schools, orphanages and housing projects. Hundreds have been killed in airstrikes, shelling and sniper attacks since the pre-ordained selection of new Ukrainian President Peter Poroshenko on May 25. According to Boltov, over 100 Lugansk civilians and militia members were killed on the weekend of June 14-15.
Washington also had nothing to say about the crisis gripping tens of thousands of refugees from embattled towns like Slavyansk in Donetsk, which are beginning to look like the bombed-out remains of the World War II Nazi occupation. Some 13,000 refugees arrived in Russia’s Rostov region in one 24-hour period June 14, ITAR-TASS reported.
Nor were there any calls to punish the fascists who carried out a bloody massacre in the multinational port city of Odessa May 2, when fire gutted the House of Trade Unions and at least 48 people were killed. On June 12, the 40-day anniversary of that massacre, memorials were held in Odessa and other parts of Ukraine, as well as in the liberated territories of Donetsk, Lugansk and Crimea.
Most damning, perhaps, was Washington’s silence about an incident near Slavyansk on the night of June 11-12.
Video captured images of burning, slow-falling bombs striking the village of Semyonovka. They closely resemble the horrific scenes of the bombing of Falluja, Iraq, during that city’s rebellion against U.S. occupation in 1994.
Journalists on the scene, the local people’s militia and the people’s government of Donetsk charged Ukraine’s National Guard with using white phosphorus incendiary bombs in Semyonovka. (RIA-Novosti, June 12) These weapons are banned under international law.
Water can’t extinguish white phosphorus. Skin contact with a pea-sized speck means almost certain death. The Pentagon’s use of terror weapons like white phosphorus and depleted uranium shells is still felt in Iraq today, with high incidences of cancer and birth defects.
A Russian draft resolution in the U.N. Security Council asking for a U.N. investigation of the incident was vetoed by the United States.
With the U.S. poised to begin another bombing war in Iraq, it’s important to ask: Where did the National Guard — a force created by the Kiev junta and composed of neo-Nazi gang members in uniform — get its hands on such weapons? Ukraine wasn’t known to possess white phosphorus bombs.
Were they directly or indirectly provided by Washington? Was the bombing of Semyonovka a test run to see what level of war crimes the Kiev junta could commit without stirring up an international outcry?
The U.S. is currently heading saber-rattling NATO war games called “Saber Strike” in the Baltic countries neighboring Ukraine.
On June 13, a Ukrainian tank from the so-called “anti-terrorist operation” in Donbass rolled over the Russian border. When Russian border guards attempted to capture its crew, a second tank crossed the border, firing on the Russian troops and allowing the first tank crew to flee. (LifeNews)
Together, these provocations form the context for a new offensive by the overtly fascist forces in the coup regime.
The fascists trace their roots to World War II Nazi collaborators. They claim Russia and people of Russian nationality as their sworn enemies, identifying them will the Soviet Union’s defeat of Nazism. Russian speakers make up the majority of the population in southeast Ukraine. In seeking a “pure” Ukrainian state, the fascists also attack Kurds, Jews, Roma and other nationalities and ethnic groups.
While billionaire oligarchs like Poroshenko and neoliberal politicians like Interim Prime Minister Arsenyi Yatsenyuk serve as the junta’s public face, behind the scenes neo-Nazi groups like Svoboda, Right Sector and Fatherland command the repressive forces of the state.
With growing numbers of enlisted soldiers deserting or even switching sides to join the Donbass rebels, the junta depends for its survival on these fascists and U.S. imperialism, which share the goal of provoking war with Russia.
These developments are pushing even “non-ideological” supporters of the coup in the direction of open fascism. Take this official statement by Yatsenyuk, issued after the downing of the warplane and posted on Ukrainian Embassy sites:
“They lost their lives … in a situation facing a threat to be killed by invaders sponsored by subhumans. First, we will commemorate the heroes by wiping out those who killed them, and then by cleansing our land of evil.”
Fascist sentiments like these, coming from top officials, surely helped egg on the right-wing assault on the Russian Embassy in Kiev June 14, when hundreds of people attacked the building, threw Molotov cocktails, overturned cars of embassy staff and spray painted swastikas on them, and carried out other acts of vandalism.
Police did nothing to quell the violence. When Adrey Deshchitas, the junta’s foreign minister, arrived on the scene, he cheered the vandals and spewed obscenities against Russian President Putin. He later claimed to be trying to “calm down” the crowd. (RT.com, June 15)
When night fell, the mob was joined by masked, armed fascists flying the flags of Svoboda, Right Sector and the Maidan Self-Defense.
The Russian consulate in Odessa was surrounded by protesters flying fascist flags on June 16. Police detained four people carrying knives and explosives, ITAR-TASS reported.
Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s U.N. representative, presented a resolution on June 14 condemning the embassy attack and demanding that Ukraine’s government provide adequate protection for its diplomatic staff. Washington vetoed the resolution — as it has shot down every attempt to have the U.N. investigate Kiev’s war crimes in the Donbass.