Translated by Greg Butterfield
The following is a report delivered on behalf of the Ukrainian left-wing group Borotba to the International Anti-EU Forum in Athens, Greece, June 26-28, 2015.
Today the great significance and intensity of the ongoing political transformations in Europe can be seen with the naked eye. But the processes happening under the surface for the last few years forced us to expect this rift.
Ukraine is a place where the general political and economic contradictions, interacting with internal conflicts, have assumed the character of a civil war. But the world’s major players also had a hand in the civil war in Ukraine, which the UN has called the largest military conflict in Europe since the war in the Balkans.
Ukraine’s foreign policy is closely linked to its place in the global economy. There is no place and can be no place for an industrial, post-Soviet Ukraine in the modern world capitalist system. But the Soviet economy and its system of social relations was not destroyed immediately. And while it "ate” the resources built up with Soviet industry, Ukraine could pursue a relatively independent foreign policy: balancing between the West and Russia. Industry, which is closely connected with Russia since Soviet times, made Ukraine dependent on Russian energy and forced it to maintain close ties with Russia; but no industry, no problem.
The big Ukrainian bourgeoisie, as in most post-Soviet countries, arose in the wake of large-scale privatization. It existed through the exploitation of Soviet industry, while often battened on its destruction. They wanted to squeeze the last drop out of the economy and enter the world market with their own capital, unburdened by debts and social obligations. Ukrainian billionaires took their money to Europe, bought factories there, and looked for opportunities to join the community of European capitalists.
So the economic interests of Ukraine as a country and the interests of its ruling elite entered into conflict.
The economic crisis has accelerated these processes. Contradictions within the EU sharpened. In the search for solutions to its internal problems, the EU tried to impose Association on the countries of Eastern Europe on its own terms: to open up new markets for its products, access to cheap labor without rights and cheap raw materials, and as a result, with the help of IMF loans, take full control of these countries.
Conscious of the effects of such rapid Association, and at the same time trying to stave off financial catastrophe before the next election, President Yanukovych did not sign the EU treaty. But the largest Ukrainian capitalists were ready to sign for the sake of European guarantees for their capital, and Yanukovich was overthrown.
We can say that with this — finally destroying industry, severing economic ties with Russia, destroying the whole system of social security, and turning into a raw materials appendage of Europe — Ukraine finally broke with the Soviet system of production and is now included in the global division of labor. In this sense, Maidan supporters who say they are fighting against the Soviet past are correct. But perhaps the European future will surprise them.
Still, even having a clear economic interest in the victory of Maidan, the European Union tried to proceed cautiously. It was representatives of the European Union who were the guarantors of an agreement between President Yanukovych and representatives of the parliamentary opposition signed in February 2014. After the coup on February 24, the first power to recognize the new government of Ukraine was the United States, followed by the representatives of the EU.
The European Union was not interested in a complete rupture of relations with Russia. And it tried to negotiate in a tripartite format.
Euromaidan had the support of pro-American forces: Numerous NGOs, created and developed for many years in Ukraine with U.S. funding, played an active role in the protests (in 2013 alone, Pact Inc. allocated over $7 million to Ukrainian groups); conservative American politicians visited; television channels specifically designed to foment protests were sponsored (for example, the most popular online TV channel Gromadska, which is now used for whipping up war hysteria). Though veiled in words about democracy and Western values, these actions betrayed the interests of the United States in the conflict.
Starting in mid-December 2013, many American politicians visited Maidan and made appeals to the president, putting pressure on him and setting the stage for further action. U.S. official Victoria Nuland met with representatives of big business who had shown loyalty to Yanukovych, and threatened the closure of their accounts in the West. In particular, Nuland met in December 2013 with the oligarch Rinat Akhmetov, who after the meeting ended his support for Yanukovych and publicly sided with Maidan.
The emergence of a recorded conversation between Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyattrevealed that the conflict had escalated into a confrontation between the interests of the U.S. and the EU. U.S. forces began taking active steps to fuel a military conflict. By early May, there were military and medical instructors from the United States and experts from the United Nations in Ukraine.
Seeing this trend and the threat of civil war, our organization, Borotba, held protests in early February at the U.S. embassy and the EU delegation in Kiev demanding non-interference in the internal affairs of Ukraine, as well as a series of protests against incitement to civil war.
However, the measures of the United States have had success. The standoff in Ukraine heated up. Crimea left Ukraine. The U.S. benefited by making a decisive rift in relations between the EU and Russia over Ukraine.
The forces which had bet on the EU and worked under the supervision of European officials were less decisive and not ready to take tough measures. Therefore, for example, Vitali Klitschko, who almost openly banked on the ruling circles of Germany, was left with nothing, and has to content himself with the post of mayor of Kiev, although at the beginning of the Maidan he was considered the most likely presidential candidate of the opposition.
If through the Maidan, the EU sought to grab the 40-million-strong Ukrainian market for European corporations, and destroy social guarantees as prescribed by the IMF, then the United States added an additional goal — fueling civil conflict in Ukraine, pulling in the EU and Russia, and ending economic cooperation between Russia and Europe, thus making the EU even less independent and more dependent on Washington.
We can now see how the U.S. manages the processes in Ukraine, in an almost mechanical way, acting as mediator between Ukrainian politicians, such as in the conflict between Poroshenko and Kolomoisky, or assigning its puppets, such as the appointment of former president of Georgia Saakashvili as governor of the problematic Odessa region.
The U.S. continues to support and develop the war in Ukraine and increase its military presence in Europe. But the consequences of this sprawling military conflict still fall on the surrounding countries. Going along with this American policy, the EU has become an accomplice to the destruction of Ukraine.
U.S. objectives are global. Making economic cooperation between the EU and the Russian Federation impossible, the United States continues its policy of imposing the draft Transatlantic Free Trade Zone on the EU. If this plan is implemented, the EU will increasingly join the periphery and become a market for American monopolies. In this setup, countries such as Ukraine or Moldova will have the unenviable role of periphery of the periphery.
For Ukraine, as for many other countries, the struggle for democracy, for Western European values, has turned into a bloody nightmare. That is why, for all of those who did not support the Maidan, who are not tied to it by blood, slogans about democracy and freedom have become synonymous with hypocritical fraud. Under these slogans, and with the defining support of the West, the government forces in our country have unleashed an anti-democratic backlash. They brought to power a political bloc which implements ultra-neoliberal economic measures and openly right-wing, fascist political acts. In the name of "democracy,” the EU has supported politicians who would not in any way be considered democratic in the European Union.
The only forces now opposing the ruin, war, and neoliberal policies that have come to them under the banner of the European Union are the People’s Republics of Donbass and the underground anti-fascist resistance in the rest of Ukraine.
On behalf of those Ukrainians who do not want to be slaves of the fascist regime, supported by the U.S. and the EU, we appeal to the people of Europe: make your governments stop supporting the Kiev regime, stop supporting the war and destruction of Ukraine.