Crimea to vote

by our European Affairs correspondent

American imperialism is stepping up its military presence along the Ukrainian frontier in a show of force designed to prop up their puppet regime in Kiev while American, Bulgarian and Romanian warships are sailing across the Black Sea on Nato manoeuvres that Washington claims were planned long before the crisis erupted.

Meanwhile US President Barack Obama is holding talks with the newly installed Ukrainian Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, at the White House this week in a further move to give legitimacy to the Kiev regime.

Washington has accused Moscow of committing outright military aggression in Ukraine, which Russia rejects saying that their move into Crimea at the request of the autonomous authority was within the framework of international law to protect Russian citizens from attack. President Putin says that any further Russian military involvement in Ukraine would take place only as a “last resort”.

The Kiev regime claims that Russia has not withdrawn the troops mobilised for a military exercise when the coup took place. This has been categorically denied and the Russians have given permission for a surveillance flight by Ukraine over Russian territory near the border between the countries to prove it.

US imperialism has sent US fighter jets to Poland and the Baltic States, imposed visa restrictions on Russians, ordered sanctions on individuals it says were involved in the Russian military intervention in Crimea, and condemned the proposed referendum in Crimea to break away from Ukraine and join Russia. And the Pentagon has suspended military ties with Russia, including joint manoeuvres and port visits.

The United States and France have warned of possible new measures against Russia if Moscow fails to “defuse” the crisis in Ukraine. Barack Obama discussed the escalating Ukraine crisis in a telephone call with French President Francois Hollande over the weekend. The leaders of American and French imperialism insisted on the “need for Russia to withdraw forces sent to Crimea since the end of February and to do everything to allow the deployment of international observers”. But the Putin government maintains that the only legitimate authority in Ukraine is ousted president Yanukovich and the Kremlin has repeatedly said it will not capitulate to threats and sanctions -- warning that any sanctions against Russia would backfire.

United Nations officials are currently in Ukraine as part of diplomatic efforts to help defuse tensions in Crimea, where Russian troops have been deployed in support of the autonomous republic which declared its independence this week in advance of a referendum on whether Crimea should join the Russian Federation

In Ukraine tens of thousands took part in nationalist and pro-Russian rallies ahead of the planned referendum in Crimea amid continuing reports of attacks on communists and pro-Russian activists by neo-nazi gangs in the west of the country. And Viktor Yanukovich, the former Ukrainian leader who fled to Russia but has vowed to return, describes the situation in his country as “neo-fascist lawlessness and the eve of civil war”.

Russia’s communists, the leaders of the opposition in the Russian parliament, are backing the Putin government over Ukraine. Gennady Zyuganov, the leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation said: “The aim of political and social terror against the majority of the people is to prevent the revival of the centuries-long union of Russia, Ukraine, Byelorussia and other countries that used to be part of a single state. There are plans to install a pro-western president amid the chaos reigning in the country. There is no doubt that in the context of growing moral and physical terror any early elections will be rigged...

“The dragging of Ukraine into the European Union means that it would cease to be a neutral state. The Russian navy would be squeezed out of the Crimea. American missiles would be stationed on the borders of our country. The main task of the foreign string-pullers is not to make Ukraine prosperous and democratic, but to grab its markets and harness it to the Nato chariot, like Georgia and the Baltic countries. Such a policy will inevitably bring about a collapse of Ukraine’s economy and a flow of refugees to Russia...

“In the face of blatant western interference in the internal affairs of Ukraine Russia cannot dispassionately watch a neo-Nazi, Russophobic and anti-Semitic regime being formed on its borders. The Russian leadership has everything that is necessary to stop Ukraine sliding into a civil war and anti-people dictatorship. Unless these opportunities are used the responsibility for the tragedy in Ukraine will rest with the Russian authorities.

“If the Russian leadership fails to react to the events in Ukraine or shows a lack of will it will become the next victim. The West is already preparing forces and means for that and a ‘fifth column’ has already been formed inside Russia. We call on all the responsible patriotic forces of Russia to unite and show solidarity with the fraternal people of Ukraine.”