U.S. President Joe Biden made a surprise visit to Kiev Feb. 20 and met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The trip was purposefully made to focus attention on the one-year anniversary of the U.S.- and NATO-led proxy war against Russia, and Biden promised large amounts of military aid to Zelensky’s regime in Kiev.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., the Norfolk Southern derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, had become the lead news story. Because the Biden administration had done little to focus on Ohio, the Ukraine trip caused unexpected political problems at home. The train disaster also focused attention on the Norfolk Southern railroad and its drive to maximize profits at the cost of safety.
Research showed that the same drive for capitalist profits which contributed to the wreck — and to the cover-up of the damage — was also contributing to prolonging the Ukraine war. It turns out that some of the biggest institutional shareholders of Norfolk Southern are involved in investing in Ukraine.
U.S.-led proxy war: follow the money
Norfolk Southern’s website, nscorp.com, displays a list of its top shareholders. BlackRock Institutional Trust Company is the second leading investor, and J.P. Morgan is the fourth largest. Both financial institutions view the proxy war in Ukraine as a lucrative opportunity for profitable gains. In recent months, they have been making business deals with the puppet government of Ukraine to attract private capital.
BlackRock CEO Larry Fink met with Zelensky in the late fall of 2022. Shortly after the meeting, BlackRock released a statement saying that the two leaders share “a goal of creating opportunities for both public and private investors to participate in the future reconstruction and recovery of the Ukrainian economy.” (cnbc.com, Dec. 28, 2022)
Banking executives from J.P. Morgan privately met with Zelensky in mid-February to discuss ideas on how to attract businesses and private capital to Ukraine. One corporate news report revealed that J.P. Morgan officials recommended Zelensky invite major CEOs and Republican members of Congress, such as the new House Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, to collaborate on future economic projects. (New York Post, Feb. 22)
Zelensky touted the recent partnerships with U.S. big business, when he spoke Jan. 23 before the National Association of State Chambers in Boca Raton, Florida. In that recorded speech, which went viral on social media, he stated: “We have already managed to attract attention and have cooperation with such giants of the international, financial and investment world as BlackRock, J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs, and such American brands as Starlink or Westinghouse have already become part of our Ukrainian way.” (Zelensky’s government website)
Kiev government anti-worker
The Kiev puppet government, an illegitimate product of a violent 2014 coup, stepped up its attack on the Ukrainian working class — and against all Russian-speaking as well as Jewish and Roma people — shortly after the Russian intervention in February 2022. Zelensky suspended left and progressive parties, such as the Socialist Party, the Progressive Socialist Party and Left Opposition, that had ties to trade unions.
Communist and Marxist-Leninist parties were previously banned in 2015, under the pro-Nazi leadership of Petro Poroshenko.
A proponent of “free enterprise,” Zelensky ratified a union-busting bill known as Law 5371 last August. The bill stripped union rights and protections from approximately 70% of the Ukrainian workforce. (openDemocracy.com, Aug. 25, 2022) Ukrainian trade unions, such as the Federation of Trade Unions, say the Kiev government is using the proxy war as a pretext to reduce safety regulations and shred workers’ rights.
It is no surprise that the same shareholders who lobbied hard to deregulate the railroad industry and weaken the railroad unions in the U.S. are now avidly seeking new business in Ukraine. They will go anywhere in the world to maximize profits, whatever the cost to the working class and the environment.