Ukraine on the brink

by our European Affairs correspondent

Ukraine is on the brink of civil war as the puppet regime in Kiev sends in troops to try to crush the wave of anti-fascist action in the east and south of the country. Ukrainian Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko has denounced the operation and proposed an immediate referendum on the administrative and territorial division of Ukraine and the broadest powers of local communities.

But hopes that crisis talks between Ukraine, Russia, US and the EU will succeed in defusing the crisis are fading following gun-battles between fascist militiamen and local self-defence forces in the east and a continuing Nato naval build-up off Ukraine’s Black Sea coast.

In the Ukrainian capital the communist party HQ was torched and two presidential candidates were beaten up by fascist thugs. But attempts to take over two eastern towns failed when armoured columns changed sides and joined the protesters while Odessa, the biggest port in the Black Sea, has joined the other breakaway regions by proclaiming its own people’s republic this week.

Meanwhile the Kiev regime has called on the United Nations to send peace-keeping forces to coordinate with Ukrainian forces in an “an- ti-terrorist operation,” to suppress the civil revolt that has spread like wildfire across eastern and southern Ukraine. This will be undoubtedly vetoed by the Kremlin which has also dismissed a UN human rights report which played down reports of attacks on ethnic Russians as one-sided and fabricated while ignoring “the uncontrolled growth of aggressive nationalism and neo-Nazism”.

Two Russian jets repeatedly buzzed an American warship in the Black Sea last weekend, perhaps as a wake-up call to CIA boss John Brennan who was in Kiev for secret talks with “interim government” officials at the time. What those talks covered remains secret. But ousted President Viktor Yanukovych openly accused Brennan of ordering a crackdown on pro-Russian activists in the east of the country while his former security chief went one stage further, claiming that his puppet regime successor is a double-agent who was recruited by the CIA when he was Ukraine’s consul- general in Washington from 2001 to 2003.

Brennan and his stooges may have hoped for a swift military operation to crush the revolt but these dreams evaporated this week when Ukrainian troops repeatedly refused to move into eastern towns and others abandoned their vehicles and went over to the other side.

protect the people

When six Ukrainian Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) entered Kramatorsk they were stopped in their tracks, surrounded by crowds of local residents. A woman told a soldier: “You are the army, you must protect the people”. “We are not going to shoot, we weren’t even going to,” was his reply.

After listening to the appeals of the people they abandoned their tanks and joined the protesters. “We decided not to be at war with the people and not to defend authorities like this,” members of the crews told Russian reporters. The soldiers and civilians started fraternising very quickly and soon were joking about “coming for a visit without weapons next time”.

Many of the soldiers put on St. George’s ribbons, the traditional black and orange Russian emblem used to commemorate the Soviet Union’s fight against Nazism in the Second World War. Three more Ukrainian armoured vehicles switched sides in nearby Slavyansk in the Donetsk region. They took down their Ukrainian flags and handed their weapons over and joined the local self-defence squads.

Russian communists (CPRF) are giving full support to the Putin government over the crisis. Only last week the CPRF warned that “the neo-Nazi forces that seized power in Kiev during the February coup d’état can’t stop the wave of popular protests gaining strength across the country. Not only are the pro-Russian regions of the southeast rebelling against the junta’s anti-people policies, but also the western regions are joining in.

“But the oligarch cabal that seized the country is trying to suppress the massive popular civil disobedience” the communits said in a solidarity statement that urged the “Russian Federation not to turn adrift the millions of Ukrainian citizens who turned to Russia, to give them full support and protection”.