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FOURTH INTERNATIONAL STATEMENT No to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine! Support to the Ukrainian resistance! Solidarity with the Russian opposition to the war!

Statement of the Executive Bureau of the Fourth International

1. Before dawn on 24 February 2022 the Russian army began its invasion of Ukraine, bombing the interior of the country and crossing the northern, eastern and southern borders of the country, heading for the capital Kiev. This aggression has already resulted in many deaths, both civilian and military. The Ukrainian army and population are defending themselves, several cities are holding out against the aggressor. Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have gone into exile, but the resistance continues. The Ukrainan people are resisting, with and without arms.

The Kremlin’s recognition three days earlier of the “independence” of the so-called “people’s republics” of Donetsk and Lugansk and the official entry of the Russian army into their territory was only the prelude to the invasion aimed at the total submission of the neighbouring country.

It is a military invasion of the territory of a former oppressed nation by a capitalist oligarchic, autocratic and imperialist regime whose aim is the reconstruction of the Russian empire.

2. Putin has made no secret of his Great Russian nationalism and since 2014 he has taken concrete steps to attack Ukraine’s sovereignty. His chauvinistic pseudo-historical narrative, blaming the October 1917 Revolution for having constituted “three distinct Slavic peoples: Russian, Ukrainian and Belorussian, instead of the great Russian nation” is not a recent invention.

The invasion of Ukraine follows a Great Russian chauvinist and imperialist policy that began in different contexts and phases since the break-up of the USSR: from the use of an “energy war” (playing on prices and alternative pipelines), up to the instrumentalization of national minority conflicts such as in Moldova (with the formation of the “Republic of Transnistria” with the support of the Russian army in 1990-91) and in Georgia (with the formation of the “Republic of Abkhazia” in 1992), and later the war with Georgia for control of South Ossetia (2008); but also direct oppressive wars like the war of occupation of Chechnya (1994-1996 and 1999-2009). Each time it is a question of preserving the interests of the Kremlin or seizing territory. But globally, the Putin decades (2000s) corresponded to the (re)building of a strong state (controlling its oligarchs) modernizing its military apparatus, establishing a Euroasiatic economic union - with its military dimensions. A new phase started in 2014 with the Ukrainian crisis and the fall of Yanukovitch (described as a “fascist coup” under NATO’s umbrella) followed by the annexation of Crimea and establishment of separatist “republics” in Ukraine’s Donbas controlled by pro-Russian mercenaries. The military support for Lukashenko in Belarus against the popular uprising in 2020 and the military intervention (through the OTCS - Organization of the Treaty for Collective Security under Russian hegemony) to “normalize” Kazakhstan in January this year made Putin feel stronger in the context of US defeat in Afghanistan and open divisions within NATO’s members on energy (gas pipeline) issues.

Ukraine is an independent country which has preserved a regime of formal democracy. Russia has an authoritarian, repressive parliamentary system with far-right members in the Duma. In Ukraine far-right and fascist forces were very visibly present during the Maidan protests in 2014. The Russian invasion risks strengthening existing far right forces in both Russia and Ukraine. Leading figures of far-right and neo-fascist forces internationally openly support Putin.

The invasion of Ukraine is clearly aimed at imposing a puppet regime, subservient to the Kremlin and Vladimir Putin.

3. Putin’s propaganda tried to justify the aggression by saying that NATO’s expansion to the east would endanger Russia’s existence. NATO (which we opposed from its foundation) is a tool for US imperialism and its allies, initially built against Soviet Union and Communist China. Logically it should have been dissolved with the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact in July 1991, but successive US governments have not only kept it going, but they have also continued to expand it. We reject the competitive logic of capitalist power-states leading to the accumulation of ever more powerful weapons. This is what motivates the opposition to NATO of large parts of the population in the world – and this is not Putin’s preoccupation! However, in some countries, which had been colonized by tsarism or subjugated by the USSR, joining NATO was supported by their populations in the hope that it would protect their independence. We stand instead for the eradication of inequalities, and the necessary social, environmental and democratic development as the means to defend peace.

The fight against the extension of NATO to the East passes today through the uncompromising defence of the national and democratic rights of the peoples threatened by Russian imperialism.

We demand the dissolution of NATO, however this is not the question posed by the attempted annexation of Ukraine by Russian imperialism, which denies the very existence of this nation - Putin claims that it is a pure invention of Lenin and the Bolsheviks. US imperialism is only taking advantage of the headlong rush of the new Kremlin tsar.

We support the right to self-determination of the Ukrainian people and the protection of the rights of the country’s national minorities. Neither Russia nor NATO will defend these rights. We demand the dismantling of all military bases outside their home countries, the liquidation of the US-led NATO and the Russian-led CSTO. The threat of the use of nuclear weapons must be firmly rejected at every level.

At a time when the absolute urgency at the global level should be the fight against accelerated climate change, the development of military adventures and ever more sophisticated weapons systems by the imperialists shows the need for the peoples to dismiss their irresponsible leaders and change the functioning of society: against the generalized competition that capitalism carries, let us impose the logic of solidarity and peace!

4. Whereas in 1968, when Czechoslovakia was invaded, the courageous Russian opponents of the invasion were counted on the fingers of one hand, on the same day that Ukraine was invaded, thousands of people took to the streets of some 50 Russian cities, braving the authorities to protest against Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine. “No to war!” the demonstrators, mostly young people, chanted in the afternoon and early evening in the streets and central squares of Moscow, St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg, Krasnodar and Murmansk.

In 2014, there was widespread support for the annexation of Crimea among the Russian population, today there is contestation even within the establishment, this could lead to Putin’s downfall.

One hundred and seventy Russian journalists and foreign policy experts have written an open letter condemning the Russian Federation’s military operation in Ukraine. “War has never been and will never be a method of conflict resolution and there is no justification for it,” they wrote.

Since the first day of the protests, the regime has made thousands of arrests and the police has brutalized the arrested protesters. It has also ordered the limitation of access to social networks, accused of “violating human rights and fundamental freedoms as well as the rights and freedoms of Russian citizens”!

Despite the repression, an anti-war movement is continuing to develop in Russia! It merits the solidarity of the world labour movement.

5. In the face of the war in Ukraine, it is the responsibility of all activists in the labour and social movements, of those who have mobilized against the war, to support the resistance of the oppressed Ukrainian nation. To stop this war, Putin’s regime must be sanctioned and Ukraine supported in resisting the aggression.

• Immediate withdrawal of Russian armed forces from all Ukrainian territory, including areas occupied since 2014.

• Solidarity and support for the armed and unarmed resistance of the Ukrainian people. Delivery of weapons on the request of the Ukrainian people to fight the Russian invasion of their territory. This is basic solidarity with the victims of aggression by a much more powerful opponent.

• Support to all forms of self-organization for mutual aid and resistance of the Ukrainian population.

• Support for sanctions against Russia, as called for by the Ukrainian resistance, that limit Putin’s ability to continue the ongoing invasion and his warmongering policy in general. Rejection of any sanctions that hit the Russian people more than the government and its oligarchs.

• Open the borders and welcome the populations who have to flee the war by providing the practical short and longer-term aid necessary, especially taking into account the fact that the vast majority are women and children.

• Cancellation of the Ukrainian debt, direct humanitarian aid to civil, trade union and popular organizations in Ukraine!
Internationalist solidarity

We affirm our full solidarity with those who are mobilizing against the war in Russia and those who are fighting to defend the independence of Ukraine.

The interests of the peoples, their right to peace and security are not defended by US imperialism or NATO or by Russian and Chinese imperialism. These extremely serious events remind us more than ever of the need to build an internationalist mobilization to give the peoples a voice different from that of the states, and in solidarity with the Ukrainian people against all the policies that attack and oppress them. Governments will not initiate this march towards peace. We must organize it ourselves.

• No to the repression of the anti-war movement in Russia. Build active and visible solidarity with this movement. Call on Russian soldiers to refuse to participate in the invasion and organise solidarity with them, including political asylum if they request it.

• Support the progressive forces fighting for democracy and social justice in Ukraine. Build all the links possible to develop a dialogue with them on the way forward to a just peace.

• For international solidarity with our own social camp! Build links between working peoples’ and popular movements fighting for democracy and social justice in Russia, Ukraine and other countries in the region as well as internationally.

• Only the international working class, fighting together with all oppressed and exploited people, for peace and against imperialism, capitalism and war, can create a better world.

1 March 2022

ইউক্রেনে রাশিয়ার আগ্রাসন সম্পর্কে র‍্যাডিকাল সোশ্যালিস্টের বিবৃতি

 

১। আমরা রাশিয়াকে একটি সাম্রাজ্যবাদী আগ্রাসী শক্তি হিসেবে নিন্দা করছি। অতীতের সাম্রাজ্যের স্বপ্ন দেখিয়ে তারা সম্প্রসারণবাদের উপর ন্যায্যতা অর্পণ করতে চাইছেআমরা গভীরভাবে উদ্বিগ্ন, যে এই ঘটনা ভবিষ্যতে আন্য নানা সোভিয়েত ইউনিয়নের পরবর্তী দেশকেও আঘাত করতে পারে।

২। আমরা কোন কূটনীতির ভাষা ব্যবহার করি না, যেমন করি নি ইরাকে মার্কিণ আগ্রাসনের সময়ে। আমরা কোনো রাষ্ট্রসঙ্ঘের হস্তক্ষেপের ডাক দিই না,  বরং আগ্রাসী রাষ্ট্রের অবিলম্বে নিঃশর্ত প্রত্যাহারের দাবী করি।

৩। এই দাবী কেবল ২০২২ কে কেন্দ্র করে না। আমরা দাবি করি, ইউক্রেনের প্রতিটি ইঞ্চি জমি থেকে রাশিয়াকে ফিরে যেতে হবে। এর মধ্যে পড়ে ক্রিমিয়া, এবং পূর্ব ইউক্রেনের প্রদেশগুলিও। কিন্তু একই সঙ্গে আমরা স্বীকার করি যে অধিকতর সাংস্কৃতিক ও রাজনৈতিক স্বাতন্ত্র্যের দাবী ন্যায়সঙ্গত, যাতে ইউক্রেন অনেক বেশী গণতান্ত্রিক ও যুক্তরাষ্ট্রীয় ব্যবস্থায় রূপান্তরিত হয়। ১৯৯২ সালে ক্রিমিয়ার নিজের সংবিধান ছিল, যা এই এলাকাকে অনেক বেশী স্বায়ত্ত্বশাসন দিয়েছিল, এবং কিয়েভের হাতে কিছু ক্ষমতা দেওয়া হয়েছিল। ইউক্রেনের রাষ্ট্রপতি কুচমা পরে অন্যায়ভাবে এই সংবিধানকে নাকচ করে দেন।  

৪। রাশিয়া সম্পর্কে আমাদের অবস্থান নেওয়ার সময়ে আমরা ন্যাটো কী করছে দেখি না। কিন্তু ন্যাটো সম্পর্কে আমাদের অবস্থান যা ছিল, তাই আছে। ন্যাটো একটি সাম্রাজ্যবাদী সামরিক হুমকি, যার কখনোই কোনো ন্যায্যতা ছিল না, এবং যা ঠান্ডা যুদ্ধের অবসানের পর একেবারেই বাতিল হওয়া উচিৎ ছিল।  সুতরাং আমরা এই নির্দিষ্ট পরিস্থিতে কোনোভাবে ন্যাটোর কাজের সমর্থক নই। কিন্তু আমরা বিশ্ব রাজনীতিকে বৃহৎ শক্তিদের মধ্যে দাবার ছক হিসেবে দেখি না, যেখানে এক মেকী ‘লেসার ইভলের’ স্বার্থে অন্যদের ‘আত্মত্যাগ’ করতে হবে।

৫। এটা বোধগম্য, যে আগ্রাসনের শিকার যে ইউক্রেনীয়রা, তাঁরা অন্য সাম্রাজ্যবাদী শক্তিদের হস্তক্ষেপ চাইবেন, কারণ মার্কিণ এবং রুশ হস্তক্ষেপ, দুই ক্ষেত্রেই সেটা বারে বারে ঘটেছে। কিন্ততু আমরা সেরকম কোনো আবেদনকে সমর্থন করি না। আমরা মনে করি সেরকম কোনো আবেদন আক্রান্তদের পক্ষেও ক্ষতিকর, কারণ এই আবেদনের অর্থ একাধিক পারমাণবিক অস্ত্রে সজ্জিত সাম্রাজ্যবাদীদের মধ্যে মুখোমুখি দ্বন্দ্বের আহ্বান, কোনো আন্তর্জাতিকভাবে গৃহীত কাঠামোর মাধ্যমে পদক্ষেপ নয়। পাঁচ শীর্ষ শক্তির নিরাপত্তা পরিষদে ভেটোর ফলে রাষ্ট্রসঙ্ঘের পক্ষে মধ্যবর্তী শক্তি হিসেবে কাজ করার কোনো ক্ষমতা নেই।

৬।   নিষেধাজ্ঞা সম্পর্কে আমাদের কোনো সার্বিক নীতিগত অবস্থান নেই। দক্ষিণ আফ্রিকার বর্ণবৈষম্যবাদী রাষ্ট্রের বিরুদ্ধে অর্থনৈতিক নিষেধাজ্ঞাকে আমরা সমর্থন করেছিলাম, যেমন আমরা ইস্রায়েলের ঔপনিবেশিক-বসতিকারী দখলদারির বিরুদ্ধে অর্থনৈতিক নিষেধাজ্ঞার পক্ষে। ১৯৯১এর যুদ্ধে বিধ্বস্ত ইরাকী রাষ্ট্রের উপর অর্থনৈতিক নিষেধাজ্ঞাকে আমরা সমর্থন করি নি, কারণ সে ছিল মানুষ মারা নিষেধাজ্ঞা, যা কোনো ন্যায়ের পক্ষে ছিল না, বরং আধা-গণহত্যার পরিস্থিতি তৈরি করে একটা দেশকে মার্কিণ সাম্রাজ্যবাদের পদানত করার উদ্দেশ্যে আনা হয়েছিল। পাশ্চাত্যের শক্তিরা এখন ইউক্রেন আক্রমণের জবাবে রাশিয়ার বিরুদ্ধে একগুচ্ছ নয়া নিষেধাজ্ঞা জারি করেছে। তাদের কোনোটা কোনোটা হয়তো বাস্তবিক পুতিনের স্বৈরাচারী সরকারের যুদ্ধ করার ক্ষমতাকে কমাতে পারবে। অন্যগুলি হয়তো রাশিয়ার সাধারণ মানুষের ক্ষতি করবে, কিন্তু রাষ্ট্র বা তার অলিগার্কিকে বিশেষ আঘাত করবে না। কিন্তু যতক্ষণ এই সব নিষেধাজ্ঞা আন্তঃ-সাম্রাজ্যবাদী দ্বন্দ্বের পরিপ্রেক্ষিতে নেওয়া, গণ সংগ্রাম হেকে উহে আসা নয়, যেমনটা ছিল দক্ষিণ আফ্রিকার উপরে অর্থনৈতিক নিষেধাজ্ঞা, ততক্ষণ আমরা বিবদমান দুই পক্ষের কাউকেই সমর্থন করি না।

৭। বিপ্লবী মার্ক্সবাদী ও আন্তর্জাতিকতাবাদী হিসেবে আমরা সমস্ত নিপীড়িত সংখ্যালঘু জাতির আত্মনিয়ন্ত্রণের অধিকারকে সমর্থন করি। সুতরাং, ইউক্রেনের আত্মনিয়ন্ত্রণের অধিকারকে সমর্থন করার পাশাপাশি, আমরা ক্রিমিয়ার মানুষের এবং পূর্ব ইউক্রেনের প্রদেশগুলির মানুষের অধিকারকেও সমর্থন করি। তাঁরা যেন পুতিনের ‘ভালবাসার ছায়াতে’ বা ইউক্রেনের সামরিক হুমকিতে না,  গণতান্ত্রিকভাবে স্থির করতে পারেন, তাদের ভবিষ্যত কী হবে। 

৮। মোদী সরকার নির্লজ্জের মতো এই আগ্রাসনের নিন্দা করতে অস্বীকার করেছে। এই কাজ ইউক্রেনের সরকার ও জনমতকে ভারতের প্রতি ক্রুদ্ধ করেছে, এবং ভারতীয় নাগরিকদের নিরাপত্তা নিশ্চিত করা বা তাদের দ্রুত ঐ দেশ থেকে বের করে আনা কঠিন করে তুলেছে। এই সরকারের কাছে নিজের দেশের নাগরিকের নিরাপত্তার চেয়ে বড় হয়ে দেখা দিয়েছে কূটনৈতিক লাভক্ষতির খেলা।

৯। বুর্জোয়া বিরোধী দলগুলি হয় চুপ করে আছে, অথবা কংগ্রেস দলের ক্ষেত্রে, কার্যত সরকারের থেকে তাদের অবস্থান আলাদা নয়।  

১০। সিপিআই(এম) রাশিয়া যা করেছে তাকে আগ্রাসন বলে চিহ্নিত করতে রাজি না, তারা একে কেবল ‘দুর্ভাগ্যজনক’ বলেছে। সিপি আইএর সঙ্গে  মিলে তারা জোর দিচ্ছে মার্কিণ যুক্তরাষ্ট্র ও ন্যাটোর উপরে, যেন তারাই প্রধানত দায়ী। রাশিয়া নাকি কেবল তার প্রতিক্রিয়া দেখিয়েছে। এই যে শ্রেণী ভিত্তিক অবস্থানের অভাব, এটা ঐ দলগুলি ও আদের সমর্থক্রা যারা দিশা চাইছেন তাদের কোনো উপকার করে না, এবং সার্বিকভাবে বামপন্থীদের বিশ্বাসযোগ্যতার ক্ষতি করে।

১১। আমরা গণতান্ত্রিক ও সমাজতান্ত্রিক ইউক্রেনের পক্ষে।

১২। যে বীর রুশরা যুদ্ধের দামামার বিরুদ্ধে রুখে দাড়িয়েছেন তাদের অভিনন্দন জানাই।

 

র‍্যাডিকাল সোশ্যালিস্ট, ২৮/০২/২০২২

 

Radical Socialist Statement on the Russian Invasion of Ukraine

 

1. We condemn Russia as an imperialist aggressor using the dreams of an old imperial epoch to justify expansionism, and are deeply concerned at this precedent  that may later affect any other former Soviet republic.

2. As when the US invaded Iraq, we do not use the language of diplomacy, we do not seek UN intervention, but call for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of the aggressors.

3. This demand does not date only to 2022. We demand the Russian withdraw from every inch of Ukrainian territory. That includes Crimea, and the provinces in Eastern Ukraine even as we recognise the justice of demands for greater cultural and political autonomy so that Ukraine becomes a more democratic and federal set-up. Crimea had its own Constitution in 1992 which gave it greater powers of self-governance with some powers delegated to Kiev. Unjustifiably, President Kuchma subsequently annulled this Constitution.

4. We do not take our stance on Russia by looking at NATO. But our stance on NATO remains what it was. NATO was and is an imperialist military threat which never had any legitimacy, and should have been completely disbanded after the end of the Cold War. Therefore we certainly do not support any NATO action now. However, we do not see world politics as the chess board between great powers where others have to be ‘sacrificed’ for the sake of a spurious lesser evil.

5. It is understandable that Ukrainian victims of aggression may seek intervention of other imperialist powers, for that has been the picture both with Russian interventions and US interventions. But we do not support any such call. We consider such appeals to be detrimental to the victims too for making such pleas are effectively asking for face-offs between nuclear armed imperialists, rather than any action through globally accepted frameworks. UN participation as a buffer force is a non-starter given the P-5 veto powers in the UN Security Council.

6. We have no general attitude on sanctions in principle. We were in favour of sanctions targeting the South-African Apartheid state and we are in favour of sanctions targeting the Israeli settler-colonial occupation. We were against the sanctions imposed on the Iraqi state after it had been destroyed by war in 1991, for they were murderous sanctions serving no just cause but only the subjugation of a state to US imperialism at a quasi-genocidal cost for its population. Western powers have decided a whole set of new sanctions against the Russian state for its invasion of Ukraine. Some of these may indeed curtail the ability of Putin’s autocratic regime to fund its war machine, others may be harmful to the Russian population without much affecting the regime or its oligarchic cronies. But as long as these are sanctions within the context of inter-imperialist conflicts, rather than the one like against South Africa brought in through mass struggles, we do not support either side.

7. As revolutionary Marxists, and as internationalists, we support the right to self-determination for all oppressed minorities. Therefore, while supporting the Ukrainian right to self-determination, we also support the rights of Crimeans and the inhabitants of the Eastern Ukrainian provinces to decide democratically, not under Putin’s 'loving protection', but nor under Ukrainian military threats, what future they want.

8. The Modi government has shamefully refused to condemn the invasion. This has angered and alienated the Ukrainian government and public making the task of quickly evacuating Indian citizens more difficult as well as endangering their safety. This supposedly topmost human responsibility to its own citizens has played second fiddle to its diplomatic games.

9. The bourgeois opposition parties have either remained silent  or in the case of the Congress party its official stand is effectively no different from that of the government.

10. The CPM has refused to call the Russian action an invasion only saying it is "unfortunate". Along with the CPI the principal focus is on indicting the US and NATO has having the primary responsibility for what has emerged and to which Russia is supposed to have 'reacted'. This lack of a class based stance does no credit to them and their supporters looking for guidance and damages the credibility of the left more generally.

11. For a Democratic and Socialist Ukraine.

              12. Our salute to the heroic Russians who stood up against the war drums.

 

Radical Socialist, 28/02/2022

No to Russian Imperialist Aggression, No to US/NATO interference, for a Democratic, Socialist Ukraine, for the Right of Self Determination for all Oppressed Nationalities

Kunal Chattopadhyay and Achin Vanaik

Russian Imperialism is the Aggressor:

We unequivocally condemn the Russian aggression on Ukraine. Beyond all discussions about how rightwing the Ukrainian regime is, what relationships it has with neo-Nazis or with the NATO, there are certain basic truths. Ukraine had been an oppressed nation under Tsarist Russia, which denied the distinctiveness of Ukrainian language and culture. Even after the February Revolution the Ukrainian bourgeois democrats had found little support in Petrograd from the Russian Provisional government. It was the Bolshevik Party that inscribed the slogan of the right of all oppressed nations to self-determination. They accepted this for Finland, as well as for the Ukraine. Even at the discussions at Brest-Litovsk, the Bolshevik delegation from Soviet Russia acknowledged the right of Ukraine to self-determination, while insisting that puppet regimes put up by an imperialist power did not consist of genuine self-determination. In this sense, Vladimir Putin, who seeks to extend the power and authority of Russian imperialism, is absolutely correct in stressing that modern Ukraine was created by Lenin and the Bolsheviks. That was however negated by the repressions of the Stalin era, the violence on the Crimean Tatars, the terrible famine, and general Stalinist assimilationist policies. As Putin put it clearly in his speech, "It is logical that the Red Terror and a rapid slide into Stalin’s dictatorship, the domination of the communist ideology and the Communist Party’s monopoly on power, nationalisation and the planned economy – all this transformed the formally declared but ineffective principles of government into a mere declaration. In reality, the union republics did not have any sovereign rights, none at all. The practical result was the creation of a tightly centralised and absolutely unitary state." He rued that nonetheless, “it is a great pity that the fundamental and formally legal foundations of our state were not promptly cleansed [by Stalin] of the odious and utopian fantasies [of Lenin] inspired by the revolution, which are absolutely destructive for any normal state.".

Putin does not see a conflict with the Ukraine as an international conflict. He wants to revive the imperial ambitions of Russia, and in that, Ukraine has a major place. As the second biggest of the Republics of the former USSR, it occupied a major space. Russian imperialism has been created out of the former Stalinist bureaucracy. Vladimir Putin, with his ex-KGB credentials, neatly summarises that transition. Russia has had a painful transition to  capitalism and therefore its emergence as a weaker imperialism than the US -but one nevertheless. The Former Soviet Union broke up, and while Moscow would like to assert its hegemony everywhere, it has been forced to take small steps, since other imperialist powers, as well as national ambitions of formerly dominated nations, pose hindrances. Nevertheless, Putin has been relentless in his march, both in domestic terms, and internationally. Within Russia, opposition voices have been stopped, the media is state controlled, and Putin and his minions have been holding the President’s post for ages. Internationally, in 2008, to prevent Georgia from joining NATO, Putin (then running the show from the prime minister’s desk behind Dmitry Medvedev) justified the invasion of its territory citing his support for the secession of the provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which he encouraged to claim independence. In 2014, apprehensive that if Ukraine joined NATO Russia would find itself hemmed in, he invaded and took over Crimea violating the 1994 Budapest Agreement wherein Ukraine gave up the third largest nuclear arsenal in return for Treaty written security assurances that its territorial integrity and sovereignty would be fully respected by foreign powers, specifically including Russia, i.e., no illegal military interventions.

Putin also intervened militarily in that same year in the areas of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine encouraging separatist groups there to declare independence. Unlike in Crimea where ethnic Russians are in a majority, in the Donbass eastern region the majority are Ukrainians who speak Russian while ethnic Russians constitute around 40% of the region's population. In both the cases of Georgia and Ukraine, Putin believed that the US was too weak to confront him. In 2008, the US was stuck in the Iraqi crisis of its own brutal making, and in 2014, after accepting failure in achieving all its goals, it pulled almost all its troops out of Iraq, finding itself with a partial revival of the post-Vietnam War military paralysis.

Post-Soviet Ukraine: An Oligarchic Rule

The 2014-15, war over the Donbass led to the deaths of thousands. Over 150,000 were ousted from their homes. In late 2014 there began the Maidan protests. To understand them we need to go back to the foundations of independent Ukraine and the rise of the oligarchy. The 1996 constitution, approved under President Kuchma, gave the president more powers than parliament, but not to the same extent as in Russia: it was a presidential–parliamentary republic, rather than a purely presidential one. This was also a very important factor in the evolution of the political system: presidential elections were not winner-takes-all contests to the same extent as in many other former ex-Soviet countries.  With the state’s assistance, figures like Rinat Akhmetov, Ihor Kolomoyskyi and Viktor Pinchuk and Victor Yanukovych acquired old Soviet industries at fire-sale prices, and then made huge fortunes not so much by investing or upgrading as by using them to make quick money, shifting their capital to Cyprus or other offshore havens. For many years, Leonid Kuchma and his prime minister, Victor Yanukovych were also able to balance on the question of whether to integrate into Europe’s economic sphere or Russia’s, moving decisively neither to the West nor the East. This shielded Ukraine’s oligarchs, preventing them from being swallowed by stronger Russian or European competitors. It’s worth pointing out, too, that the oligarchs were able to play a different role in the political system from their Russian counterparts: here the state was unable to dominate them and exclude them from participation as Putin did.

The end result of the 2004 large-scale public protests labelled the "Orange Revolution" saw no structural change, only a mere change of oligarchic elites. The unrest erupted because of illegal manipulation, corruption and electoral fraud (to which the Central Election Commission was a party) in favour of Yanukoych against the other main candidate, Viktor Yushchenko in the presidential run-off's of that year. The Ukraine Supreme Court ruled in favour of a re-vote which was won by Yushchenko, a former prime minister between 1999 and 2001. The then President Kuchma could not legally run again beyond the two terms of office he had already served and whose own reputation and credibilty had been fatally scarred by a major earlier scandal when irrefutable evidence was revealed that he had ordered the kidnapping of a journalist. Since in 2004 end constitutional amendments were passed by parliament to make the system more of a parliamentary-presidency one, Kuchma agreed to stop backing Yanukovych for the Presidency since the post now meant less. 

Yushchenko's pushing of a nationalist anti-communism discourse could not prevent his popularity from tumbling as the economic decline continued. [Even today the per capita income of Ukraine is less than it was in 1991 while its population has fallen from 50 million from then to 41 million at present.] Elected as President in 2010, Yanukovich tried to revert to the 1996 constitution. This also meant half the MPs in the Rada (parliament) would be elected in first-past-the-post constituencies again, and half from party lists. As well as attempting to monopolize political power, Yanukovych tried to concentrate financial and economic power around his own team, especially his family. The result was a tremendous amount of personalized corruption as well as alienation from a host of other oligarchs. Yanukovych’s announcement on 21 November 2013 that he would be suspending negotiations on the EU Association Agreement was the initial trigger for the protests that eventually led to his downfall. Ukraine was quite evenly split about this. 40 per cent were in favour of signing the Association Agreement and 40 per cent supported an agreement with the Russian-led Eurasian Customs Union. So when the protests began it was definitely not a nationwide people’s revolt. Why would this matter so much, either for the EU or for Russia? This can be explained when we look at the Ukrainian economy. 

It is the second-largest country by area in Europe by area and has a population of over 40 million - more than Poland.

Ukraine ranks:

1st in Europe in proven recoverable reserves of uranium ores;

2nd place in Europe and 10th place in the world in terms of titanium ore reserves;

2nd place in the world in terms of explored reserves of manganese ores (2.3 billion tons, or 12% of the world's reserves);

2nd largest iron ore reserves in the world (30 billion tons);

2nd place in Europe in terms of mercury ore reserves;

3rd place in Europe (13th place in the world) in shale gas reserves (22 trillion cubic meters)

4th in the world by the total value of natural resources;

7th place in the world in coal reserves (33.9 billion tons)

Ukraine is an important agricultural country:

1st in Europe in terms of arable land area;

3rd place in the world by the area of black soil (25% of world's volume);

1st place in the world in exports of sunflower and sunflower oil;

2nd place in the world in barley production and 4th place in barley exports;

3rd largest producer and 4th largest exporter of corn in the world;

4th largest producer of potatoes in the world;

5th largest rye producer in the world;

5th place in the world in bee production (75,000 tons);

8th place in the world in wheat exports;

9th place in the world in the production of chicken eggs;

16th place in the world in cheese exports.

Ukraine can meet the food needs of 600 million people.

Ukraine is an important industrialized country:

1st in Europe in ammonia production;

Europe's 2nd’s and the world’s 4th largest natural gas pipeline system;

3rd largest in Europe and 8th largest in the world in terms of installed capacity of nuclear power plants;

3rd place in Europe and 11th in the world in terms of rail network length (21,700 km);

3rd place in the world (after the U.S. and France) in production of locators and locating equipment;

3rd largest iron exporter in the world

4th largest exporter of turbines for nuclear power plants in the world;

4th world's largest manufacturer of rocket launchers;

4th place in the world in clay exports

4th place in the world in titanium exports

8th place in the world in exports of ores and concentrates;

9th place in the world in exports of defense industry products;

10th largest steel producer in the world (32.4 million tons).

It should now be clear why both imperialist blocs wanted Ukraine. And the EU with its ‘merely’ economic offer was dangerous for Russia. 

The Euromaidan and After:

In the beginning, the Euromaidan movement of Nov. 2013- Feb. 2014 mostly consisted of middle-class Kyivans and students, who were mainly driven by a European ideology. There was also a strong anti-Russian, nationalist component. In fact, any idea of a Ukraine built on a nationalist rather than democratic foundation would have to incorporate a degree of anti-Russianism. From the beginning, the Maidan protests posed the choice between the EU Association Agreement and the Russian led Customs Union in very stark, almost civilizational terms: is Ukraine with Europe or with Russia? Is it going to line up with Putin, Lukashenko (Belarus) and Nazarbaev(Kazakhstan) or have nothing to do with them?

However, regardless of that, the Maidan protests were from the beginning large movements. The very first protests saw 50,000 or more people in Kyiv. On 30 November there was a crackdown on the movement. The TV channels, owned by the oligarchs, who had been supporting Yanukovych, suddenly showed the crackdown in a bad light. The protest held in Kyiv on 1 December was enormous, with anything up to 200,000 people present. The movement also spread geographically: there were Maidans in almost every city. There was a considerable far right presence, which included neo-fascists but which was not only the neo-fascists. In reality, only a tiny minority of the protesters at the rallies were from the far right. However, they acted in a united way and managed to mainstream their slogans. 

From mid-January onwards, the protests seemed to enter a third phase, with negotiations between the government and opposition continuing even as violence was escalating, right up to Yanukovych’s ouster on 22 February. Perhaps the major turning point was the shooting of protesters in the centre of Kiev by snipers on 18, 19 and 20 February.  There was another important development on 18 February in the west of Ukraine, where protesters started to attack police stations and raid their arsenals, getting hold of guns in large quantities. This happened in Lviv, in Ternopil, in Ivano-Frankivsk, in many areas. It changed the situation drastically: the riot police were ready to disperse protesters when the latter were armed with sticks, stones and Molotov cocktails, but they were not ready to die for Yanukovych. After 18 February, the western parts of Ukraine were under the control of the protesters, who occupied the administrative buildings, police and security service headquarters. In some places the police shot at protesters, but in many areas they left without offering much resistance. 

The Yanukovych government fell in late February. Putin, and a section of the left that sees in Putin its dream of continued resistance to ‘imperialism’ (identified with the USA or the West alone), have repeatedly asserted that what happened was a fascist coup. A ‘coup’ suggests a planned, organised conspiracy to take power. Moreover, the far right were one component of the government that came in. Finally, the assumption that the far right was a tool of US imperialism ignores the internal dynamics, and treats all national conflicts in a left version of geostrategic theories that focus chiefly on great power rivalries. 

The Russian annexation of Crimea gave enormous advantages to the new government, since it gained a lot of legitimacy, and could push social issues into the background, highlighting ‘national unity’ against foreign aggression. 

Fearing a Russian social and political movement like Maidan, Putin described the post-Yanoukovych regime in Kiev as dominated by anti-Russian fascists, distorting reality in order to legitimate his annexation of Crimea and the so-called need to “protect” Russophone populations. While “Ukrainians” were often identified with “fascists”, the “hybrid war” instrumentalized by Moscow in Eastern Ukraine to destabilize the country’s turn toward western institutions, transformed political life in Ukraine : increasing hate and hysterical rhetoric of vengeance has been used by the ruling elites all over the country as excuse for their anti-social politics.

The sectors of the left that see in Maidan simply US/NATO conspiracy are thus effectively tagging all Ukrainians as fascists and the Russian speakers as progressives. As a matter of fact, what happened since 2015 is very different. Volodymyr Zelensky is no radical.  But the electoral triumph of this television comedian represented a moment when Ukrainians were trying to reject the oligarchy. With 73% of the votes, he won a landslide victory. Maidan had removed Yanukovych in the name of removing corruption. In fact there was a reconfiguration of the oligarchs. While Zelensky did not have a positive programme, the votes for him were anti-oligarchy. Poroshenko, the predecessor of Zelensky as president after the fall of Yanukovych, pushed up nationalist rhetoric. Re-establishing the status of Ukrainian culture and language are an inevitable part of the national sovereignty and identity project due to historic and current geopolitical reasons. In a way, Russia’s aggression and frequent Kremlin’s remarks on Ukraine being a non-country and non-culture  has also helped to promote a dangerous  binary of supposedly inescapable opposition between Ukrainian nationalism and Russian nationalism in a country where near everyone can read and understand Russian, where 70% of the population including huge numbers of Ukrainians can also speak it, and where Ukrainian is the language of state while Russian dominates the market for cultural goods and products.  Their complete separation is impossible due to intimate historic intertwining and the future of the Ukrainian language and related culture needs to be built on its own terms, embracing the nation’s multi-ethnicity and multi-culturalism.   

Re-establishing a language and a culture that has been historically repressed are important and necessary but it also  calls for a balancing act vis-a-vis Russian and related expressions of culture. But Poroshenko wanted to go beyond that pushing a more aggressive anti-Russian line. The reverse also holds true. Those who therefore want to blame the Ukrainians for Putin’s invasion need to remind themselves again of his own stance, both in his recent speech, and repeatedly before that. As he said in his speech: "I would like to emphasise again that Ukraine is not just a neighbouring country for us. It is an inalienable part of our own history, culture and spiritual space." 

And also, 

[T]oday the “grateful progeny” [i.e. independent part of Ukraine] has overturned monuments to Lenin in Ukraine. They call it decommunization.

"You want decommunization? Very well, this suits us just fine. But why stop halfway? We are ready to show what real decommunizations would mean for Ukraine [i.e. complete erasure of Ukraine's separate identity that was the doing of the Communist regime]."

 

We also need to consider that the Donetsk National Republic and the Luhanskh National Republic, the Russian backed regimes, have shown a clear hostility to any multiculturalism. One of the first acts of the Russians in Crimea and the Donbass was to replace multilingual signs with Russian only. Ukraine has a system where the minority language has to be officially supported in a municipality if the number of speakers is over a certain level (10%) and there are other languages  like Hungarian, Rumanian, Polish, Tatar. There is a lot of complexity in the former Soviet Union, because of Russification, whereby Russian speakers were often brought in from other areas. Those on the left putting up the language factor to justify the Russian invasion conveniently forget this. 

The US, the EU and NATO: Inter-Imperialist Rivalry:

There is no doubt that the US is the biggest and most powerful imperialist globally with the worst global record in supporting  brutal dictatorships abroad, in carrying out unacceptable military interventions in other countries and holding the record for being directly and indirectly responsible for killing civilians, an overall tally since WWII which easily surpasses several millions. But this does not excuse the behaviour of other countries big, medium or small, seeking to establish and  expand their regional or global hegemony and dominance. These other powers include several West European allies of the US and bodies like NATO but also the likes of Israel, Turkey, India, Pakistan and of course Russia and China; and no doubt there are and can be other entrants into this broad club of imperialist and aspiring imperialist powers. The justifications made for such expansionism is invariably to cite the demands of 'national security' and the need to 'react' against other named culprits. The international Left must be careful not to fall into the politics of defending the presumed ' lesser evil'  or even  denying or diminishing its evilness, when we should be opposing evil full stop. In the case of Russia there should be no reason for confusion.

 Let us explore this issue of its relationship with the US and NATO since the Soviet break-up. The NATO has, in our eyes, never had any justification whatsoever, so we oppose its existence ever. However, even by the logic of the Cold War it had advanced, it should have been wound up once the Warsaw Pact ended. In fact, of course, the US-led NATO not only did not wind up, it broke promises not to expand further but has deliberately  done so to extend its reach to come as close as it can to the borders of Russia. Of course we oppose and condemn this because it means undermining the global search for greater peace and justice, subordinates smaller and weaker countries, and deepens ruling class alliances and enables greater exploitation of the ordinary working masses of their own and other countries.  Nor should we be at all surprised  that the members of this  imperialist club everywhere will resort to bullying their neighbours and seeking to expand their hard power and dominance as much as possible even beyond this. Russia from Yeltsin to Putin has constantly talked of its 'legitimate security needs'. 'Needs' is always a more effective word to use than 'ambitions',  which would not go so well with the term 'legitimate'.  Russia after the Soviet break-up is militarily and nuclearly the second power in the world. Does anybody in their right mind think the US or NATO will or want to risk actually invading it territorially? But like all imperialists and aspiring ones, Russia too wants to establish and consolidate  its own 'sphere of influence', a euphemism to disguise the actual project, namely the determination  to externally dominate as much as possible that designated region whose borders are always open to expansion. 

The US and NATO keep seeking to do this but to think that Russia's actions in its 'near abroad' or further afield, are seriously motivated  by the fear of its 'security being deeply imperilled' and that these actions are a 'reaction', is absurd.  Indeed, the most likely outcome of what Russia has done will be the strengthening of the commitment to NATO and possible (some would now say likely) expansion of NATO membership in Europe as well as a stronger stimulus to countries in the Asia-Pacific region to align and come closer to the US and its alliance structures.

We must categorically oppose all imperialisms. While apportioning global and historical blame for imperialism's iniquities the biggest share obviously falls on the US and its allies. But this truth must not be used to rationalise away the iniquities and behaviour of other imperialists. Putin did not just send troops under Russian dominated Central Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) to Kazakhstan recently as  a 'reaction' to the West or as a 'compulsion' flowing out its 'legitimate security needs'  but to stabilise a pro-Russian brutal authoritarian regime repressing its own people.

Two further brief comments need to be made here. We have seen hypocrisy at an unprecedented level, both regarding Ukrainian resistance, and regarding the refugees, by the EU and by the Western media. These are countries and media that have always condemned Palestinian resistance as terrorism, but they are today all for civilian resistance to the Russians. We take their ‘support’ to the Ukrainians as fakery, linked to the interests of the ruling classes of the Western powers, and not in the least motivated by genuine concern for democratic rights. The same goes for the media and state hypocrisy about accepting Ukrainian refugees, from countries that have been brutal towards refugees from North Africa in the recent past. Twitter, which has blocked accounts for crowd funding for Cuba (on non-military issues) is allowing crowd funding for military help to Ukrainians. This shows the clear links between apparently independent agencies and Western imperialist powers. 

Indian Reactions – the Regime and the Big Parliamentary Left:

What has been the response to the invasion of Ukraine in India? Shamefully but expectedly the Hindutva Modi government expresses concern but no condemnation even as it has a de-facto strategic relationship with the US. It wants to keep Russia happy  because of  its supposed diplomatic and military requirements. Greater security for India does not mean for right-wing Indian regimes reducing military spending to help reduce poverty, resolving the border dispute with China through give-and-take, or promoting peace in South Asia but getting more military power not merely to protect borders but to power project in South Asia and beyond as any aspiring regional hegemon should be doing.  New Delhi claims that its priority now is to evacuate Indian citizens from Ukraine. We fully support this. But the government's refusal to condemn the invasion makes getting the vital moral-political support from both the people and the government of Ukraine makes it more difficult to quickly carry this out and further endangers the lives of Indian citizens. The bourgeois opposition parties are either silent or in the case of the Congress party, its official stand is no different from the government's. No surprises here. 

As for the major parties of the Left, the CPM does not go beyond calling the Russian action 'unfortunate' and along with the CPI plays the tune of the real culprit being the US and NATO to which Russia has reacted.  There is not a shred of class analysis in statements by these parties which claim to be Marxist. But then neither of these parties has yet publicly declared that Russia (or China) are capitalist countries let alone that they are imperialist powers even as Putin, the ruling class there and the Russian public have no illusions that theirs is anything else but a capitalist country, one that is pretty messed up economically and politically. How long will the parties of the mainstream Indian left keep burying  their heads in the sand?

 

A Ukrainian Sociologist Explains Why Everything You Know About Ukraine Is Probably Wrong

 

MONDAY 14 FEBRUARY 2022, BY VOLODYMYR ISHCHENKO

If you’ve relied on establishment media to follow the events in Ukraine these past eight years, then chances are what you know is wrong. Despite — or, more likely, because — the tumult in Ukraine has reared its head prominently in both US foreign policy and its domestic politics these past few years, the country’s history and its ongoing internal conflicts have been some of the most propagandized for Western audiences.

Dr Volodymyr Ishchenko, a sociologist and research associate at the Institute for East European Studies, has spent years writing about Ukrainian politics, the country’s 2014 Euromaidan Revolution, and the messy intersection of protests, social movements, revolution, and nationalism. He recently spoke with Jacobin’s Branko Marcetic about what Western audiences need to understand about Ukraine and the ongoing international standoff over it.

BM: Why are Ukrainian officials and European governments taking such different stances on the question of the prospects for a Russian invasion than the United States and the UK?

VI: Russian coercive diplomacy and the military buildups are just one part of this, because there are also parallel diplomatic actions. Another part is this media campaign about the imminent invasion, which has its own autonomous logic, is driven by different interests, and should not be taken as an objective reflection of Russian actions. It also has this reinforcing, escalating character. The primary target of this campaign is probably not even Russia or Ukraine, but Germany, which is supposed to be closer to its NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] allies.

Ukraine at first didn’t even notice this campaign in the Western media. It then tried to exploit the campaign by requesting more weapons and calling for preventive sanctions against Russia. It was only about two or three weeks ago that the Ukrainian government started to make very explicit statements that invasion is not really imminent, that we have been under Russian threat since 2014 and we’re used to this, and that according to their intelligence, this threat isn’t greater than it was in spring last year (during the earlier stage of the Russian buildup, which was done very publicly with very clear intentions).

This Western media campaign has had very material and negative consequences for the Ukrainian economy. The Ukrainian currency has started to be devalued, investors have started to leave — particularly in the Ukrainian real estate market — and the government has been quite scared that even without an actual invasion, the Ukrainian economy may get into quite serious trouble from this. But I wouldn’t take it as simply strategic deception.

BM: Why is Ukraine such an important country, both to Russia, and to the West and the United States?

VI: Economically, Ukraine is actually a big failure. If you look at the economic indicators, Ukraine is probably one of the very, very few countries in the world that has not reached its 1990 level of GDP per capita. There was a huge economic decline in the ’90s, and then Ukraine failed to grow like its Eastern European neighbors. We don’t live better than at the end of the Soviet Union, unlike Poland, for example, or even Russia or Belarus.

For Russia and for the United States, it’s a place through which natural gas is transported. There were some initiatives to have a three-party consortium: Russia as a supplier of gas, the European Union as consumer, and Ukraine as a transitory territory. These were torpedoed in the ’90s and 2000s, particularly by the Ukrainian side, and the result was that Russia just built several pipelines around Ukraine. The Nord Stream 2 is perhaps the most dangerous for Ukraine now, because it may make Ukrainian pipelines obsolete.

From a military point of view, Russia says that Ukraine may be important because if NATO starts to deploy offensive weapons, there are rockets that can reach Moscow in five minutes from Ukrainian territory. The Russian defensive strategy for centuries was expansion, in order to push its border as far west as possible, creating strategic depth, which led Napoleon Bonaparte and Adolf Hitler’s invasions to fail — though contemporary wars are not waged in the same way as they were a half-century or two centuries ago.

For the United States, Ukraine is a potential hot spot against Russia. If Ukraine is creating tensions with Russia, it might weaken Russia and may deflect its resources, for example, in case of a Chinese escalation. Some people comment now quite cynically, “Why not let the Russians invade Ukraine, and let’s make Ukraine another Afghanistan for Russia?” Russia would spend a lot of resources, it would be hit with sanctions — probably Nord Stream would also be under sanctions — and it’s not that clear for how long Russia would survive a major escalation in Ukraine. That might be a reason why this war [in the Donbass region] has been going on for such a long time: there’s no actual interest in stopping it. There were several opportunities to do so in 2019 and 2015, and the US government didn’t do as much as they could.

BM: What is the relationship between Ukraine and Russia, since the countries’ long and complicated history shapes so many of the political and cultural divisions of modern Ukraine?

VI: There’s nothing close to a consensus on this issue. Some people on the Left, such as some Ukrainian Marxists in the twentieth century, made the case that Ukraine was a Russian colony, and at least in the Russian Empire, it was exploited economically. That was a different story under the Soviet Union, when Ukraine was actually developed very quickly and ended up being one of the most developed parts of the country — one of the reasons why the post-Soviet crisis was so severe. Others would say that Ukraine was more like Scotland to England, and not even close to relations between Western metropoles and their colonies in Africa or Asia, or even between Russia and Central Asia, or Russia and Siberia.

For many Russians, Ukraine is part of their perception of the Russian nation. They simply could not imagine Russia without Ukraine. In the Russian Empire, there was this idea that Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians were three parts of the same people. And this narrative was recently reiterated by Vladimir Putin, in his article where he claimed Ukrainians and Russians are just one people, artificially divided.

This narrative has a long history in Russian imperial thought. From this perspective, you’d see relations between Ukraine and Russia as a competition of at least two nation-building projects. One would say Ukraine is not a part of Russia; Ukrainians are a separate people. This narrative is the most dominant in Ukraine right now. However, this nation-building project has not succeeded fully — despite three revolutions that had very strong nation-building content, which happened in 1990, 2004, and 2014. Another narrative would claim that Ukrainians are actually part of some bigger Eastern Slavic unity and this nation-building project wasn’t realized because of the weakness of modernization in the Russian Empire.

However, this discussion occupies just a small part of Ukrainian society, intellectuals especially. For regular Ukrainians, it’s not the salient question. According to polls conducted for the thirty years since Soviet independence, the questions of jobs, wages, and prices have been at the top, while identity, language, geopolitical relations, the EU, Russia, and NATO were always down the list of Ukrainian priorities.

BM: Some commentators say that because the far right hasn’t been very successful in post-Maidan elections, its role in the country is negligible. How true is this?

VI: The role of radical nationalists in Ukrainian politics is significant, via direct pressure on the government and dissemination of narratives. If you look at the actual policies that were taken by the post-Maidan government, you’ll see the program of radical nationalist parties, particularly decommunization, banning the Communist Party of Ukraine, and Ukrainianization, which means pushing the Russian language out of the Ukrainian public sphere. Many things that the far right campaigned on before Maidan were implemented by nominally non-far-right politicians.

Nationalist radicalization is very good compensation for the lack of any revolutionary changes after the revolution. If you start, for example, to change something in the ideological sphere — renaming streets, taking away any Soviet symbols from the country, removing Vladimir Lenin’s statues that were standing in many Ukrainian cities — you create an illusion of change without actually changing in the direction of the people’s aspirations.

Most of the relevant parties are actually electoral machines for specific patron-clientelistic networks. Ideologies are usually totally irrelevant. It’s not difficult to find politicians who have switched between completely opposite camps in Ukrainian politics several times during their careers.

The radical nationalist parties, by contrast, have ideology, they have motivated activists, and at this moment, they are probably the only parties in the real sense of the word “party.” They are the most organized, the most mobilized parts of the civil society, with the strongest street mobilization. After 2014, they also got the resources for violence: they got the opportunities to create affiliated armed units and a broad network of training centers, summer camps, sympathetic cafés, and magazines. This infrastructure perhaps doesn’t exist in any other European country. It looks more like 1930s far-right politics in Europe than contemporary European far-right politics — which doesn’t rely so much on paramilitary violence but is instead capable of winning quite a broad part of the electorate.

BM: What are some of the misunderstood or unknown aspects of the 2014 Euromaidan Revolution that Western audiences may not be aware of?

VI: In the West, what has become dominant is the narrative of professional NGOs, which were an important part of the uprising in 2014. But they definitely did not represent the whole diversity of this uprising and represented even less the diversity of this big country. In their narratives, this was a democratic, peaceful revolution against an authoritarian government led by Viktor Yanukovych, who is probably one of the very few rulers in the world to have been toppled by two revolutions.

This narrative of the professional NGOs and national-liberal intellectuals was taken up by the Western media and Western officials, partially because it’s what they wanted to hear. And Western officials supported the Maidan Revolution quite openly. For the EU at that moment, it was quite inspiring, because while the people in Greece were burning EU flags, people in Ukraine were waving them.

Fear of radical nationalists inspired the anti-Maidan protests in the southeastern parts of Ukraine. Russia decided to supply and, in a crucial moment, intervene and prevent the defeat of separatist rebels in the region. The result is that a part of Donbass, an eastern Ukrainian, heavily industrialized and urbanized region, is now under the control of so-called people’s republics that should be seen more or less as Russian puppet states.

BM: What are your hopes for how this crisis might be resolved?

VI: My hope is there will be a peaceful resolution to the crisis. We all need to hope that the Russians will not start a stupid invasion and they will not start to escalate, not only in Donbass but even further.

Any progress in the implementation of the Minsk accords — which are about how to integrate the pro-Russian separatist territories back into Ukraine — would certainly be helpful for de-escalation. Even though most Ukrainians are not happy about the Minsk accords — mostly because they have proven ineffective since 2015 and haven’t brought peace to Donbass, not that most Ukrainians find them inherently unacceptable — the actual protests against the Minsk accords were quite small and not really supported by the majority of Ukrainians.

But so far, Ukraine doesn’t want to accept Minsk. It finds different excuses not to do what it agreed to do together with France, Germany, and Russia. One of the reasons is the very explicit violent threats from nationalist civil society in Ukraine, which perceive Minsk as a capitulation for Ukraine. For the nationalists, Minsk means recognizing Ukraine’s political diversity — that dissenting Ukrainians are not simply zombified by Russian propaganda, and they are not national traitors; that they have very rational reasons not to agree with the nationalist narrative and have an alternative perception of Ukraine.

If the Ukrainian government were serious about implementing the accords, and not finding excuses by pointing to threats from the nationalists, they might ask for help from the West — for a very consolidated position from the United States and the EU in the accords’ quick implementation. It would certainly be helpful for the Ukrainian government and demotivate the nationalist part of civil society, especially those parts that are directly dependent on financial aid from the West.

10 February 2022

Source Jacobin.

P.S.

মতপ্রকাশের অধিকারের পক্ষে ও পুলিশের অত্যাচারের বিরুদ্ধে র‍্যাডিকাল সোশ্যালিস্টের বিবৃতি

গত ৪ঠা ফেব্রুয়ারী দলিত আন্দোলনের নেতা শরদিন্দু উদ্দীপনকে ফেসবুকে সরস্বতী পুজা সম্পর্কে সমালোচনাত্মক পোস্ট করার ফলে নরেন্দ্রপুর থানার পুলিশ স্বতঃপ্রণোদিতভাবে থানায় তুলে নিয়ে যায়, দীর্ঘক্ষণ আটক রাখে, এবং এর পর ভারতীয় দন্ডবিধির ৫০৪ ও ৫০৫ দারায় অভিযুক্ত করে। প্রথমত এই ধারাগুলি ‘নন-কগনাইজেবল’, তাই জুডিশিয়াল ম্যাজিস্ট্রেটের নির্দেশ ছাড়া পুলিশ এফ আই আর পর্যন্ত করা আইনসিদ্ধ নয়। দ্বিতীয়ত, এই ঘটনা দেখাচ্ছে, একদিকে যে কোনো সংখ্যালঘু ধর্মীয় আচরণ সম্পর্কে প্রকাশ্য হামলাও এ দেশে পুলিশের নজর এড়ায়, আর অন্যদিকে, হিন্দু সবর্ণ আচার-অনুষ্ঠান নিয়ে কেউ ফেসবুকে লিখলে পুলিশ তাঁর বাড়িতে ঝাপিয়ে পড়ে। এবং সে বিষয়ে পুলিশের সাম্প্রদায়িকরণ পশ্চিমবংগে অন্য রাজ্যের চেয়ে কম নয়। আমরা দ্ব্যর্থহীন ভাষায় নরেন্দ্রপুর থানার পুলিশের এই বে-আইনী, কার্যত যে কোনো গুন্ডাবাহিনীর মতো বাড়িতে চড়াও হয়ে তুলে নিয়ে যাওয়া এবং মতপ্রকাশের অধিকার কেড়ে নিতে চেষ্টা করার নিন্দা করছি।

৭ই ফেব্রুয়ারী এই ঘটনার প্রতিবাদে এপিডিআর, আইপওয়া, আইসা ও অন্য বিভিন্ন গণসংগঠন এবং মানবাধিকার রক্ষা সংগঠন কামালগাছি এলাকায় প্রতিবাদ সভার ডাক দিলে পুলিশ সভার উপর হামলা করে এবং লাঠিপেটা করে কয়েকজনকে গ্রেপ্তার করে। তাদের অবশেষে ছাড়া হলে আবার বিক্ষোভ দেখান হয়, এবং পুলিশ হিংস্র লাঠিচার্জ করে ও নারী সংগঠন, ছাত্র সংগঠন সহ বিভিন্ন গণসংগঠনের কর্মীদের গ্রেপ্তার করে। লাল সেলাম স্লগান দেওয়ার জন্য প্রচন্ড মারা হয়। থানার ভিতরে চলে মারধর। মেরে রক্তাক্ত করা হলেও যথাযথ চিকিৎসা করা হয় নি।   

আজ ৮ই ফেব্রুয়ারী তাদের বারুইপুর কোর্টে তোলা হয়। পুলিশের রেওয়াজ অনুযায়ী, কোনো রাজনৈতিক অভিযোগ নয়, মিথ্যা মামলা দেওয়া হয়েছে এবং কোমরে দড়ি বেঁধে আনা হয়েছে, ঠিক ঔপনিবেশিক যুগের শেখা কায়দায়। আদালতে পুলিশ জামিনের বিরোধিতা করে, এবং আজকের মতো আবারও বন্দিদের জেলে রাখা হয়। বন্দীদের মধ্যে এমন ছাত্রীও আছে, যার কাল পরীক্ষা।

র‍্যাডিক্যাল সোশ্যালিস্ট এই সমগ্র প্রক্রিয়াকে তীব্র ভাষায় নিন্দা করছে। আমরা মনে করি, যারা এই ঘটনার মধ্যে নিছক নরেন্দ্রপুর থানার পুলিশের কুকীর্তি দেখছেন তাঁরা বাস্তব পরিস্থিতি থেকে চোখ ফিরিয়ে রাখছেন। ফ্যাসিস্ট-হিন্দুত্ববাদের বিরুদ্ধে লড়াইয়ে অন্য উগ্র-দক্ষিণপন্থী দল, যেমন তৃণমূল কংগ্রেস, এবং তাদের পরিচালিত সরকার, কোনো মিত্র নয়। নরেন্দ্রপুর থানা পশ্চিমবঙ্গের বাইরে না, এবং রাজ্য সরকার কোন অন্যরকম অবস্থান নেয় নি। সমস্ত বামপন্থী ও গণতান্ত্রিক শক্তিদের বুঝতে হবে, একজনের উপরে আঘাত সকলের উপরেই আঘাত। কারো মতপ্রকাশের স্বাধীনতায় আক্রমণ হলে, অন্যদের সংহতি জানিয়ে লড়াই করতে হবে।

আমরা দাবী করছিঃ

·         শরদিন্দু উদ্দীপনের উপর থেকে অভিযোগ তুলে নিতে হবে।

·         ৭ই আক্রান্ত প্রত্যেককে অবিলম্বে ছেড়ে দিতে হবে ও মামলা তুলে নিতে হবে।

·         নরেন্দ্রপুর থানার দোষী পুলিশের বিরুদ্ধে শাস্তিমূলক পদক্ষেপ নিতে হবে।

 আমরা সকলকে আহ্বান করছি, আগামীকাল , ৯ই ফেব্রুয়ারী, কলেজ স্কোয়ার থেকে ধর্মতলা যে প্রতিবাদ মিছিল আহ্বান করা হয়েছে তাতে সামিল হতে  দুপুর ২টোয় বিদ্যাসাগর মূর্তির পাদদেশে জমায়েত হতে।

র‍্যাডিকাল সোশ্যালিস্ট, পশ্চিমবঙ্গ, ৮ই ফেব্রুয়ারী ২০২২  

Radical Socialist statement on Nagaland Murders

The murder of thirteen workers in Oting village, Mon district, Nagaland, is the latest case in myriad cases where the army has used extreme violence against citizens of India, and has remained sheltered behind the law. The false and undemocratic ideas about national integration and a homogeneous India, which the rulers of India have sought to portray since independence, has  repeatedly led to perversions of behaviour by the Centre, never more so than by the Modi government. The murders in Nagaland are the latest addition to these. That Amit Shah in Parliament delivered a trite speech saying the centre ’regretted’ the killings, that an SIT has been formed, and remarks that such ‘incidents’ should not happen in the future mean absolutely nothing. What gives the army impunity is the very existence of laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. The current killings are absolutely the responsibility of the current central government. But the Congress, which is today shouting about it, is the party that passed the Act in the first place. Repeal of AFSPA must become a mass movement, not petty parliamentary scoring for a few days.

Radical Socialist:

·        Condemns the killings of the workers and condoles their families.

·        Demands the repeal of AFSPA

·        Demands the trial of the soldiers and officers responsible for them on charges of murder

·        Demands compensation for the families of every murdered worker

 

7 December 2021

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