Ukraine: the way forward

by our European Affairs correspondent

US-led imperialism is desperately trying to prop-up the self-appointed Ukrainian regime in Kiev following the Russian intervention in Crimea. The Kremlin is also threating to deploy troops in other parts of the former Soviet republic to protect civilians, particularly the ethnic Russians in the eastern and southern parts of the country. Some 675,000 Ukrainians have fled to Russia following the fascist coup in Kiev and the banning of pro-Russian parties and the use of the Russian language for official purposes.

The imperialists are calling on Russia to recognise the “interim” Ukrainian government that largely consists of their own stooges and fascist militia leaders, and pull their troops back. But the Russians say the Kiev regime is unconstitutional and that deposed President Viktor Yanukovych is still legal president of Ukraine. The Russian’s have also issued an international arrest warrant for Dmitry Yarosh, the leader of the Ukrainian neo-nazi Right Sector militia, for inciting terror and extremism on Russian territory after he called on Chechen warlord Doku Umarov to join his movement in fighting Russia.

At the UN Security Council the imperialists backed calls for a Russian withdrawal from the Ukrainian puppet regime. But any move to get a resolution through will be vetoed by Russia and China. Anglo-American and Franco- German imperialism are threatening to impose economic sanctions on Russia and kick them out of the G8 forum of industrialised nations if they refuse. If that happens, the Putin government says Russia will retaliate by confiscating the property, assets and accounts of European and American companies.

Meanwhile Russia is considering an appeal for six billion- dollars worth of economic aid from the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and has called on regional authorities to send financial and humanitarian aid to Crimea. The officials of the government of the Leningrad Region have already decided to transfer a part of their salaries to help the Crimean people.

Russian and local forces are now in complete control of the Crimean peninsula following last weekend’s peaceful intervention at the request of the leaders of the autonomous republic. Most of the Ukrainian forces on the peninsula have sworn allegiance to the Crimean government including the navy, the three anti-aircraft missile regiments and the air-force with its squadron of 50 combat aircraft. Altogether around 22,000 servicemen have switched sides.

Crimean premier Sergei Aksyonov assured people on Tuesday that “all is calm” on the peninsula that is the home base for Russia’s Black Sea Fleet under existing treaties. The utilities have not been disrupted and the railways and international airport are running normally with border and customs checks now carried out by Crimean officials.

At the end of the month the Crimeans will vote in a referendum on the subject of enhancing the status and powers of the autonomous republic. But complete independence or integration with Russia is not on the agenda. Union with Russia was also categorically rejected by President Putin when he spoke to the media in Moscow this week, though he did not rule out the possibility of self-determination for Crimea in the future.

On the wider crisis the Russian leader stressed that the Ukrainian people had a legitimate reason to protest against Yanukovch’s power, considering the overwhelming corruption and other faults of his presidency. But Yanukovych’s removal was illegal and it undermined the political stability of the country.

Though the ousted Ukrainian president has been given sanctuary in Russia the Kremlin clearly regards him as a spent force. Abandoning his post was the last straw for his own Party of the Regions, which dumped him. Nor does Putin see any political future for Yanukovych, which he told the ousted Ukrainian president himself. Putin added that Russia allowed him in for humanitarian reasons, because if he remained in Ukraine he could have been summarily executed.

Putin said that while he personally was not fond of months-long streets protests as a means to pressure the government, he sympathised with the Maidan demonstrators, who were genuinely outraged with the situation in Ukraine. But at the same time he warned that what happens now may be a replacement of one group of crooks with another, citing the appointments of certain wealthy businessmen with questionable reputations.

Russia wants to preserve economic ties between the two countries. But this can only be possible when Ukraine has established fully legitimate branches of government.

The Russian president stressed that Russia wants to see equal participation of all Ukrainians in defining the future of their country. The resistance to the authorities in Kiev in the eastern and southern Ukraine shows clearly that currently Kiev does not have a nationwide mandate to govern the country.

Russia will be watching the planned presidential election in Ukraine, Putin said. If it is conducted in an atmosphere of terror, Russia will consider it unfair and will not recognise its results.