Ukraine: Which side are you on?

by Daphne Liddle

LEFT Social Democrats have some strange habits. They can recognise the evils of United States and British imperialism, deplore the atrocities they carry out, acknowledge that the venal interests of giant capitalist interests are behind their warmongering — and yet still see the governments of the targeted nations as the greater transgressors.

When the US and Britain first wage war against Iraq to gain control of its oil supplies, many left social democrats initially supported the attack because of the western media monsterisation of Saddam Hussein. And likewise with Libya and Gaddafi.

It would have been the same for Syria but for the refusal of Russia and China to support a western military intervention in the civil war they had created. And Russia moved some of its warships from its Black Sea port of Sevastopol into the eastern Mediterranean.

So US imperialism, with the backing of Britain and the European Union thought it time to attack from a different angle — via the Ukraine. They engineered a bout of civil strife in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, ostensibly demanding the country apply to join the European Union.

These Maidan Square campaigners had few supporters in the east and south of Ukraine because the people could see what EU membership had done to Greece, Spain and Portugal. But the Maidan Square campaigners had in their midst a hard core of very unpleasant Nazis.

The US government has had a long relationship with the Ukrainian Nazis. During the Second World War members of the fascist Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) led by Stepan Bandera sided with the Nazis. They formed the Halychnya (Galician) SS division.

Hitler used them as concentration camp guards instead of heroic front-line fighters and he failed to make Bandera his puppet controller of Ukraine.

At the end of the war the Halychnya SS preferred to surrender to the Americans. They were interned in a camp in northern Italy and then brought to Britain.

Little communities of them settled around the country and the United States used them to do its dirty work supporting dissidents within the Soviet Union, channelling huge funds — from the Saudis and the Sultan of Brunei among others — through organisations like the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations and the World Anti-Communist League.

And our left social democrats would not have disagreed with the way this money was being used because the western media had monsterised the Soviet Union.

In the 1980s the Halychnya SS veterans expressed sorrow that there were now no wars in Europe for their sons to fight in “because it takes a war to turn a boy into a man”.

So after the fall of the Soviet Union, when their American friends wanted the Yanukovich government in Ukraine removed and a war started those OUN sons and grandsons leapt at the chance and violently brought down Yanukovich, replaced him with a US puppet, burned down the Communist Party headquarters and beat-up, intimidated or shot any politician who tried to resist them. They were responsible for the massacre in Odessa.

Now it is Putin’s turn to be monsterised. He is no saint. He is a right-wing pro-capitalist nationalist who is prepared to discriminate against gays if it will bring him the support of the now powerful Russian Orthodox Church.

But he did rescue his country from total collapse under the drunken US pawn Yeltsin and he stood up to the oligarchs and restored the country’s economic and political independence.

He is a pragmatist who has taken measures necessary to defend Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. And it was easy because the Russian- speaking people of Crimea were eager to break away from the new fascist junta in Kiev.

Anti-fascists throughout eastern Ukraine are trying to break away from the fascist junta and have held elections to turn themselves into small republics. Putin is giving them moral support and maybe some material support. But he is not rushing to invite them into the Russian Federation or contemplating any direct involvement.

Now he is being portrayed as a fascist empire builder by Prince Charles and by some of our left social democrats.

But the Ukrainian Nazis have re-awoken in the Ukraine and in Russia the spirit of those who defeated them in 1945 — the Red Army. It was very evident on Victory Day 9th May that the flags people wanted wave were not those of the Russian Federation but hammers-and-sickles and the names being spoken were Lenin and Stalin not Putin.

Memory of the Soviet days is still very strong in the former republics and faced with the threat of fascism it is communists who respond while social democrats get into ethical muddles and end up on the coat-tails of imperialism.