June 2nd, 2015 –
– Op-Ed by: Tomasz Pierscionek
Occasionally the ruling class led media inadvertently lets the truth slip out. In March 2015, leading US business magazine Forbes revealed that Crimeans prefer to remain part of Russia rather than rejoin Ukraine. Repeat polls, some of which were conducted by Western organisations, gave similar results .
As expected, Forbes couched this information in a headline suggesting foul play on the part of Russia: “One year after Russia Annexed Crimea, locals prefer Moscow to Kiev”. However, the article opens with the words: “The U.S and European Union may want to save Crimeans from themselves. But the Crimeans are happy right where they are”. (Anyone detect the hint of an imperialist civilising mission being rudely rebuffed by the natives?).
Perhaps the headline could have read: “One year after a US sponsored coup in Ukraine, things are not going to plan”
Arguably, Putin’s alleged ‘annexation’ of Crimea helped the local population avoid the horrendous fate suffered by their fellow citizens in Donetsk and Lugansk, who were repeatedly bombed and shelled in President Porosheko’s Anti Terrorist Operation (ATO). Crimea, voting to join with Russia before the ATO was unleashed, escaped unscathed.
Following the collapse of the USSR in the early 1990’s, Russia’s economy, prestige and self esteem declined during the Yeltsin era. Now Russia plays an ever increasing role on the world stage.
Russia’s mere existence poses a threat to US hegemony by way of its reluctance to acquiesce to the whims of the self-anointed world policeman. Furthermore, Russia’s vast natural resource reserves must be tapped in order to throw a lifeline to global capitalism as it faces terminal decline. Hence, the need to surround Russia with NATO bases and attempt, by all means possible, to oust Putin and replace him with a more pliable (read democratic) leader: another Yeltsin.
Historically speaking, throughout much of the 20th century, Russia’s neighbours threatened its sovereignty. In this context, one can understand Russia’s mistrust of the West’s motives. Russia was attacked twice by Germany within 27 years, on the latter occasion, in the 1940’s, the invading forces were assisted by Ukrainian Banderists. Consider too the Russo-Japanese war of 1905 and Japan’s aggression during WW2.
Let us not forget that multiple nations invaded Russia following the 1917 revolution in order to strangle at birth the world’s first fledgling socialist state and snuff out the flicker of hope this historical development inspired in the hearts of workers everywhere. During the cold war, the US was arguably responsible for the lion’s share of aggression or ‘brinkmanship’. Yet, in the eyes of the West, Russia remains the villain.
Modern Ukraine RIP (born 1991- died 2014):
In December 1991 the Ukrainian people voted to become independent of the USSR. Polarising inequalities, corruption and a resurgence of Ukrainian nationalism (at least in certain parts of the country) followed. The Ukraine of 1991 no longer exists, having been riven apart by civil war, economic collapse and repression.
Crimea voted to join Russia after the US orchestrated coup in February 2014. The eastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk followed suit but paid a heavy price in blood. Talk of secession has since arisen in the regions of Kharkov and Odessa, despite the presence of the increasingly repressive Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) and their paramilitary allies.
Recently Standard and Poors downgraded Ukraine’s credit rating for the fifth time since 2013. An article published in February on a Ukrainian news website was titled: “Some experts say: If you can, you must leave [the country]”. That article discussed the effects of high inflation and currency depreciation describing how in Ukraine pensions and the minimum wage have sunk to the equivalent of $36.5 and $47 (USD) a month respectively. The article points out that the World Bank sets the absolute poverty threshold at less than $1.25 a day. Economist Aleksandr Okhrimenko is quoted as saying that with an average monthly salary of around $150 (130 Euros), Ukraine’s standard of living ranks below that of Tajikistan, Kyrgystan and well below Bulgaria (the EU’s poorest member). A year after the Maidan, Ukraine’s standard of living is now on a similar level to that of Senegal or Nepal.
All the while, the Ukrainian currency, the Hryvnia, continues to decline. If Ukraine’s chances of joining the EU were slim in 2013, they are now vanishingly small. Another article states that the average retirement pension in Ukraine now amounts to 1600 Hryvnya (about 65 Euro) per month.
After being pushed into civil war by the US and supported, mostly, with words only, the pawns leading the coup in February 2014 cannot survive without an IMF lifeline. On top of this, Ukraine reportedly owes the ‘aggressor’ Russia $2.5 billion for gas that it has continued supplying throughout the course of the alleged ‘invasion’. (Though surely Russia’s patience will expire eventually).
With the cream of Ukraine’s heavy industries in the Donbass region lost through secession or destroyed by its own artillery shells, it looks increasingly unlikely that the wheels which came off Ukraine’s economy will be reattached in the foreseeable future (if ever), let alone set in motion to create sufficient wealth to repay the IMF debt. The IMF will, for a time, continue demanding massive restructuring such as widespread privatisation and massive increases in utility bills which will further impoverish the Ukrainian working class.
But when the people of Ukraine have nothing left to give, the IMF will become reluctant to throw good money after bad knowing there will be no return on their investment. Russia too will not continue supplying gas for free forever. When Western money and Eastern gas cease to flow, will Ukraine’s patriots and Europhiles pick up the tab? More likely, the Ukrainian ruling class will gather what wealth they can and flee abroad leaving their nation to self destruct.
If there existed a prize for the most gratuitous destruction caused to one’s nation in the shortest space of time, surely Poroshenko, Yatsenkuk, Timochenko and their cliques would be firm favourites. They have succeeded in creating a record downturn in Ukraine’s fortunes.
In just a single year, they have managed to turn a country with a shaky economy and endemic corruption, though nevertheless a functioning bourgeoise democracy, into a dysfunctional failed state with a third world economy: an unenviable disaster zone plagued by civil war, fascism, and poverty.
Whilst Putin is to blame for all this, or at least that’s what we are repeatedly told, those who clamour the loudest about patriotism in Kiev have done the most damage to their nation.
However, these leaders could not have done it alone. The cosmopolitan urban dwellers and the wealthier and more ambitious sections of Ukrainian society sold their souls for the pot of gold at the end of the EU rainbow.
Now they face tears and disappointment. Those students and petty bourgeoisie of the Euromaidan movement who took to Maidan nezalezhnosti in November 2013, helped sell and dismember their nation through their naivety and greed. Instead of democracy, for which they sold their souls, they have found disappointment and destitution. In seeking economic freedom, they helped awaken the nationalist beast.
Their dogmatic perseverance led to hundreds if not thousands of young Ukrainian men killing thousands of their former countrymen and women in the east of the country. Due to the stiff resistance of workers militias and other self-defence forces in Donetsk and Lugansk, Poroshenko and his allies were increasingly forced to rely on paramilitary gangs which included unashamedly neo-nazi elements in order to implement the Ukrainian version of Shock and Awe.
The mood of the population can be judged by the lack of young men willingly answering the draft call. Reportedly, the 4th wave of military mobilisation to have occurred within a year failures massively as many young men refused to report for military service. Many Ukrainians have fled abroad to avoid fighting for the Kiev cabal. A large number of these escaped to Russia, the alleged aggressor. Indeed, this must be the only time in recent history that a large number of military aged males flee to an ‘aggressor’ for safety from their own government.
Due to the political passivity of the Communist Party of Ukraine and without a robust political party or movement offering a socialist alternative, in February 2014 the Euromaidan liberals were quickly swept aside by armed far right organisations. The working class of Ukraine, the unemployed, the retired, those who fought fascism in the 1940s, have been betrayed. Ukraine, as it once was, no longer exists.