Ukraine: Poroshenko playing at peace

The coup government in Ukraine is hoping to transform the OSCE’s ceasefire monitors into armed guards policing the Russian border.

Proletarian writers

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Heads of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics Alexander Zakharchenko and Igor Plotnitsky have prohibited their military units to open fire in response to provocations from Kiev-controlled forces.

Proletarian writers

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As of 15 September, another attempt at a ceasefire between the junta government in Ukrainian capital Kiev and the anti-fascist resistance in the eastern Donbass region (made up of the cities of Donetsk and Lugansk and their surrounding areas) began. The German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier had flown into Kiev on 14 September, along with his French counterpart, to tell journalists: “We came here with announcements from Moscow that ceasefire would take effect today as of 24:00 hours.” (Steinmeier: Kiev guarantees observance of ceasefire in Donbass, TASS, 14 September 2016)

Ukraine’s west-backed coup president, Petro Poroshenko, assured his guests that he too would abide by the ceasefire. For their part, the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics swiftly announced that their respective militias were under orders not to open fire, even when provoked by the Ukrainian army or the national guard. (Donbass militia leaders forbid their military to open fire, TASS, 13 September 2016)

No man of peace?

This self-promotion of Poroshenko as a man of peace does not sit well with the Poroshenko who bragged three weeks earlier about the weaponry he planned to use against the Donbass. “Today we’re transferring 141 pieces of military hardware produced and modernised at Ukrainian defence enterprises,” he crowed, adding that: “Our partners have already delivered over 700 pieces of military and special hardware: radar stations, counter-battery radars and we’re already receiving remotely piloted stations, thermal imaging devices and reliable communications means.” (What very thoughtful ‘partners’!) (Poroshenko transfers 141 pieces of combat hardware, TASS, 23 August 2016)

Nor does it chime well with the assassination bid on 6 August that left the head of the Lugansk people’s republic hospitalised, or with the thwarted state terror attacks on Crimea a few days later, which left a number of Russian servicemen dead – state terror, because it turned out that the attacks originated from Ukraine’s own military intelligence and were planned to target Crimea’s critical infrastructure. Along with 20 homemade explosive devices were found ammunition, shells and other weapons used by the Ukrainian army’s special forces.

IMF bends the rules

Significantly, this latest ceasefire announcement was timed to coincide with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) decision, inadmissible under its own rules, to release the next billion-dollar tranche of its (unrepayable) loan to imperialism’s cyphers in Kiev. This money is to buy imperialism a war: to ensure that, however bankrupt Ukraine’s economy becomes, the country will still be propped up to serve as the launchpad for endless provocations against Russia.

Kiev owes outstanding sovereign debt to Moscow totalling $3bn. Under IMF rules, member states that default on bad debts to another member state (which Kiev has done by declaring a unilateral moratorium on repayment on its debt to Moscow) are ineligible for IMF assistance. But when that debtor state happens to be Ukraine and the creditor happens to be Russia, the rules go out of the window and Poroshenko’s IMF ‘partners’ can keep shovelling cash into the black hole from here to World War Three.

No armed OSCE mission!

Meanwhile, as Poroshenko smiles for the cameras and shakes hands with Steinmeier and co, what he is really angling for is to turn the unarmed Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) monitoring team into an armed border patrol that is in effect tasked with keeping the seat warm until the junta finagles its way back into control. In other words, Kiev dreams of achieving via diplomatic channels what it cannot deliver on the battlefield.

Kiev foreign minister Pavel Klimkin has invented his own tendentious definition of what constitutes a secure ceasefire (and can therefore unlock the other provisions in the Minsk accords concerning local elections, autonomy discussions etc). Hear how he has sought to raise the bar, effectively blocking all practical progress: “Security is larger than an efficient ceasefire or further steps towards disengagement of troops. It also implies a hundred percent control on the part of the OSCE across Donbass. We’ll continue working towards the [OSCE monitors’] presence in the districts adjoining the line of contact, as this would impede destabilisation there.”

In short, the OSCE monitors should “get an opportunity to control everything that’s happening along the section of the Ukrainian-Russian border, which is still outside of Ukraine’s control”. (Ukrainian, German, French foreign ministers discuss disengagement, TASS, 15 September 2016)

In fact, in August, a spokesman for Ukraine’s border guard service, Oleg Slobodyan, brazenly announced that the service “was drawing up a scenario to restore control over the state border in the Donbass region. According to it, a buffer zone monitored by OSCE would be set up first, and later the area would come under the Ukrainian army’s control.”

An OSCE spokesman, Mr Sajdik, cautioned: “I think there is some misunderstanding on this point – border control. This is not enshrined in the Minsk agreements, so there are numerous voices from the Ukrainian side; just as in all countries, there are various opinions. However, we need to adhere to an official point of view. There is no such mechanism in the Minsk accords.” (OSCE holding no talks with Kiev on deploying its mission to border with Russia, TASS, 14 September 2016)

How long such an admirable spirit of neutrality and fidelity to the Minsk accords will prevail is doubtful, however, the minute imperialist pressure dictates otherwise. Already at the end of August, for example, the Donetsk people’s republic was obliged to take the OSCE to task for failing to properly register the extensive damage caused by an overnight artillery barrage against Yasinovataya to the north of Donetsk, despite the fact that the attack was visible from OSCE positions.

Fascist poison

What is not being registered by any official ‘conflict resolution’ body and brought to the world’s urgent attention is the way that being roped into imperialism’s anti-Russian crusade is corrupting all national life from the top to the bottom, pouring ultra-nationalist filth upon Ukraine’s proud socialist past and promoting the worship of all that is darkest in the country’s history, best symbolised by the infamous Nazi collaborator, Stepan Bandera.

Where were the headlines in the west, for example, about the recent forcible expulsion of an entire Roma community from a village in the Odessa region? After the gruesome discovery of the body of a nine-year-old girl who had been raped, suspicion (rightly or wrongly) fell on a young Roma man. The reaction was swift and brutal, and took the form of a collective pogrom against the whole Roma community.

Journalist Andriy Manchuk takes up the tale: “A crowd of local residents smashed homes inhabited by Roma families, and the Roma themselves survived only because they managed to flee Loshchynivka in advance. Aggressive Loshchynivka residents searched for them to commit violence, and police rescued with difficulty three elderly Roma women who could not leave the village in time. Otherwise, representatives of the new police force watched the pogrom passively, as five to seven Roma houses were destroyed – to the astonishment of journalists who arrived on the scene from Odessa and Izmail.

“Local authorities also fully supported the actions of the wreckers. Mikhail Saakashvili, governor of the Odessa region [and formerly the west’s favoured pair of hands in Georgia], without waiting for the investigation and trial, called Loshchynivka ‘a den where there is an active drug trade’, accusing the Roma community. A leader of the Izmail district state administration declared that the Roma would be expelled from the village in 24 hours. ‘They will be given the opportunity to peacefully collect their belongings and leave the village,’ said chairman of the regional state administration Valentin Stoykov.”

Not wishing to be left out, the Nazi-loving Azov Brigade, Pravy Sektor and other filth cheered on the pogrom, whilst Oleg Soskin, self-styled ‘Director of the Institute of Society Transformation’ accused the Roma of ritual murder and called for all Roma to be deported from Ukraine. The same blood libel, taken up by the Nazis and their local supporters in Ukraine, was used to justify the annihilation of 200,000 Roma alone during the second world war. (Anti-Roma pogrom sets dangerous precedent by Andriy Manchuk, Red Star Over Donbass, 1 September 2016)

The would-be ‘nationalist’ Kiev junta has in fact succeeded only in handing the nation’s destiny over lock, stock and barrel to the IMF and Nato, just as their forbears sold the country to German fascism last time around. The workers in Ukraine can only advance on the road to their own emancipation by spurning ultra-nationalism and standing with the people of the Donbass in a common struggle against both the Kiev junta and its imperialist patrons.

Down with the Kiev junta; victory to the Donbass resistance!

Nato out of the Ukraine!