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Hawks v doves

Ukraine ceasefire exposes tensions between USA and EU

The surrender of government forces surrounded in the town of Debaltsevo has brought some respite for the population of the Donbas but the Kiev regime is unable to stem the imminent economic collapse provoked by its punishing enslavement to the IMF.

The ceasefire arranged at the ‘Minsk 2’ talks between Germany, Ukraine, France and Russia, was the result of efforts by France and Germany to achieve a settlement with Putin. The peace talks excluded the United States and Britain because a lasting peace conflicts with their pretext for maintaining an economic and military blockade around Russia.

Preserving the Russian menace and the option of renewing the war in the east is key to the survival of a regime resting on the twin pillars of a Ukrainian-nationalist ideology and a state apparatus infiltrated by fascists. Without this the grotesque mismanagement of every aspect of economic and political life would soon undermine its social base and likely lead to its overthrow.

The Anglo-American bloc is determined that the ceasefire should be maintained only for long as is necessary for the Kiev government to regroup its forces for a fresh offensive. Why else would they greet the ceasefire with a new round of sanctions and violate the clause calling for the removal of foreign troops by immediately dispatching hundreds of “military advisors”?

For all the propaganda about a Russian ‘invasion’ of Ukraine – which the German security service, the BND, dismissed as just that – it is clear that Putin has pressured and even replaced the leadership of the Donetsk and Lugansk Republics. Though far less powerful than his Western enemies he is the head of an imperialist power. His objective is to block the US and EU’s attempt to absorb Ukraine into Nato and the EU and to increase the economic and military squeeze on Russia.

So also he has sent weaponry and volunteers into east Ukraine, so that Kiev could not successfully crush the resistance, he has also done all he can to limit their independence. In short he only wants to maintain the two republics as bargaining chips in the conflict with the EU-Nato bloc. If Russia could agree a satisfactory arrangement with Germany and France, then it would sacrifice them without hesitation.

However the very existence of ‘people’s republics’ whose defence still rests largely on militias of local workers, and whose leadership is obliged to make demagogic attacks on the oligarchs and who positively reference the social gains working people secured in the USSR, is not a scenario Putin wants to give legitimacy to. Coopting and ensuring that the compliant leaders who are prepared to work with the patronage networks of Ukrainian oligarchs established in the east amongst the local state, government and security forces is important.

The struggle by the forces of Donetsk and Lugansk remains a justified defence of the democratic rights of the people of the region not to be forcibly retained in a state run by fascists and nationalists. This remains a progressive fight independent of the Great Russian nationalist and socially reactionary politics of the leaders of the DPR and LPR.

The biggest fly in the ointment for Washington’s plans to turn Ukraine into a US protectorate – greater than a regime of kleptocrats whose armed forces cannot defeat a greatly outnumbered and less well armed militia – is Ukraine’s collapsing economy. It can hardly rely on Germany and the EU states in the middle of the Greek crisis to bail out and sustain Ukraine – a country with four times the latter’s population.

The economic reforms demanded by the EU and the IMF spell disaster for Ukraine, east and west. Debt bondage, privatization and closures, the takeover of Ukraine’s best agricultural land by the likes of Monsanto, will mean increased misery. For this reason a united movement against the pillage of the country needs to be built up which can expose the mirage of European prosperity and drive the Maidan fraudsters like Nuland’s appointee Yatsenyuk from power and heal the rifts in the Ukrainian working class.

The dire and deteriorating economic conditions require a united workers’ movement to fight for economic social and political rights; a movement whose goal should be a workers’ government. Such a regime, based on workers’ councils, could expropriate the oligarchs, disarm and crush the fascist gangs, meet the masses’ urgent needs for jobs and a living income, and reach out the hand of solidarity to the workers of Russia  and the European Union alike.

There is one major obstacle to this; if Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk are able, with US assistance, to renew the offensive against Donetsk. Therefore – whilst doing all in their power to reach out to their western sisters and brothers – the working class of the East must hang on to their weapons.

(1) http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/germany-concerned-about-aggressive-nato-stance-on-ukraine-a-1022193.html

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