Compilations of articles by IWL-FI
There is an ongoing crisis in Ukraine and Crimea right now, since the US and European Union are fighting against Russia to decide who is going to control the region in the near future.
Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who had strong ties with Moscow, was overthrown by a mass popular mobilization on February 22, after he refused to sign an economic agreement with Europe and decided to deepen the country’s economic submission to Russia instead.
The parliamentary right-wing opposition took advantage of the situation, and approved a new provisional government through a palacian maneuver in the National Rada (Parliament), which was immediately accepted and recognized by “the West” – European Union and the U.S. Since then, Obama and the EU have been trying to reinforce their influence in Ukraine and surrounding countries.
As a response to the loss of Ukraine, Russian president Vladimir Putin invaded Crimea, occupied the region with the Russian army, and supported a referendum put forward by the Crimean government of Serguei Axionov (aligned with Moscow) in which the population – 60% of Russian origin – confirmed the “de facto” annexation by Russia.
The conflict has escalated to a military and diplomatic crisis. The US and EU do not recognize the referendum and Putin´s annexation of Crimea. Obama approved several economic sanctions against Russia, and is pushing for a coalition with the EU to isolate Russia in the international arena. On the ground, they are increasing military presence in Ukraine, along Crimea´s border and surrounding countries, as part of a contingency plan to avoid the expansion of Russia´s control.
Russia, on the other hand, claims Yanukovych was overthrown by a west-led, right-wing coup, and will not recognize the new Ukrainian government. They claim the annexation of Crimea was legitimate, since the region has historical ties to Russia and a majority of Russian-origin population. Now, they are insufflating mobilizations in East Ukraine, as an intent to divide the country even further.
But are there only two sides in this conflict? Are the only alternatives to either support the EU / US or Russia? What should be the position of working-class organizations? In this article we are going to present a working class point of view, and a socialist perspective.
The Mobilizations Must Continue!
The international Media, Obama and the European Union repeat constantly that the mobilizations that overthrew Yanukovych were “pro-West” and that their main demand was for “more economic integration between Ukraine and European Union”.
The Russian propaganda and its Castro-Chavist left supporters agree on this analysis, and add the argument that demonstrations were being led by “fascists”, funded by the EU and the US, to “orchestrate a coup” against Yanukovych, and end the “fraternal integration of the peoples from the former USSR”.
Both points of view are false, and do not represent the live reality of the Ukrainian people on the streets fighting to save their country from national oppression and economic bankruptcy.
It is true that a broad sector of Ukrainian people believe that more integration with the West would be a solution for their economic and political problems, but that is only because they are fighting against decades of Russian oppression and exploitation, that led their country towards poverty and authoritarianism. The hatred against Putin is progressive, the illusion is to think that a free-trade agreement with the West would be a more progressive and democratic alternative. It will only be the submission of Ukraine to western imperialism, instead of Russia.
It is also true that the bourgeois and pro-imperialist opposition participated and tried to control the protests at Maidan Square, openly backed by European and American diplomats. Organizations such as Udar Party (Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform), of former boxer Vitali Klitschko; the pro-EU Batkivshchyna Party (The Fatherland) of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and currently led by Arseniy Yatseniuk (whom Yanukovych offered to be Prime Minister when Azarov resigned); and the openly fascist sectors, as Swoboda Party (Freedom) led by Oleg Tyagnybok (which has around 10% of votes in Parliament) and Pravy Sektor (Rightist Sector) were all part of the protests leadership and now integrate the new interim government.
But it would be completely wrong to assume that since the leadership is reactionary and pro-imperialist, so were the people that took the streets, Maidan Square and public buildings. The mobilizations have changed and evolved since they first started in November 2013. At first they were mainly about the free-trade agreement with E.U, then against repression and police brutality, and finally against the whole Yanukovych government and the national oppression it represented. Proof of that is that the protests did not end when Yanukovych and the right-wing opposition proposed and agreement for a national unity government. They continued until the government finally fell.
Therefore, the mobilizations in Ukraine were essentially progressive, despite the character of its leadership. The challenge for working class and socialist organizations is to continue the struggle (now against Turchynov), bring more and more workers to it – with their own demands and organization methods – and vie for the leadership of the protests. That is the only way to fight the pro-imperialist and xenophobic organizations that support the interim government.
Putin out of Crimea!
The Russian invasion and annexation of Crimea was a clear reaction against the defeat Putin suffered in Ukraine, when Yanukovych was ousted by mass mobilizations of the Ukrainian people.
It is a reactionary intervention, which violates Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty, divides the country, and attempts to divide the working class, preventing it from joining the revolutionary struggle started in Kiev.
Russia´s main argument to justify the “legitimacy” of its actions is that Russians are the majority of the population in Crimea, and that they do want to be part of the Russian Federation, instead of being part of Ukraine. In that case, shouldn’t socialists support the “right of self-determination” of this sector of the population? Even if we disagree with the division of the country, shouldn’t we support their right to decide on that?
Analyzing the history of the Crimean peninsula, we can see that the original ethnic group that established itself in Crimea were the Tatars of Crimea, back in 1441 until 1783, when, after several defeats, it was finally occupied by Russia and annexed to the tsarist empire. Since then, Russian tsarism began a process of “russification” of the whole region, building the military base of Sevastopol and sending Russian colonists to populate the territory.
More recently, in 1944, Stalin decided to physically exterminate the whole Tatar nation, accusing them of collaborating with the Nazis during World War II. More than 200 million Tatars were deported to far regions of former USSR, many of which died in exile (46%). The result of this extermination process is that Tatars are only 12% of the population in Crimea today, along with 24% Ukrainians. That´s how the “Russian majority” in Crimea was built.
Therefore, socialists cannot support the “right to self-determination” of the Russians in Crimea in any sense, because they are not an “oppressed nationality”. On the contrary, they are the result of decades of Russian chauvinism and oppression over Ukraine and all the ex-USSR republics. We stand side by side to those in Maidan Square that said Unity! Ukraine is indivisible! Crimea is Ukraine! In Crimea, we stand by the Tatar and Ukrainian minorities that are fighting against the reactionary division of Ukraine.
EU, US and IMF out of Ukraine! No trust in Timoshenko, Klitschko or Turchynov´s new interim government!
The new interim government in Kiev is using the fair demand of “Independent Ukraine” to reinforce the imperialist domination over the country. They have already agreed to sign a US$ 14-$18 billion agreement with the IMF, and plan to strengthen free-trade agreements with the European Union and the U.S.
As we have already seen in Greece, Portugal, Spain, and other European countries, these measures will not solve the economic and political crisis in Ukraine, on the contrary, they will increase the exploitation of Ukrainian workers and people, while the oligarchic government and their allies profit.
These agreements allow the IMF and imperialism to use the debt mechanism to enforce austerity measures against workers and the people: privatization of public companies, budget cuts in education, healthcare and pensions; attacks against workers´ rights.
Therefore, it is critical to continue the mobilization in Maidan Square and all over the country, as the only way to ensure full independence for Ukraine, and that the popular demands of better jobs, pay, healthcare and education are met. It is the people who ousted Yanukovych who should rule the country and decide their destiny, not the interim government.
● Putin out of Crimea! No to the division of Ukraine!
● E.U, U.S and IMF out of Ukraine!
● For an Independent and Unified Ukraine!
● For a Workers and people´s government to provide jobs, public services, and workers’ rights.
On Yanukovych´s fall in Ukraine:
Fuera Putin de Ucrania:
Los Revolucionarios ante el Referéndum en Crimea: