While this Hauptsturmführer officer in Adolf Hitler’s murderous SS gets a monument, also in Ukraine monuments to, eg, Poles massacred by nazis during World War II are destroyed.
This 28 February 2014 video says about itself:
Neo-Nazi threat in new Ukraine: NEWSNIGHT
BBC Newsnight’s Gabriel Gatehouse investigates the links between the new Ukrainian government and Neo-nazis
From Jewish daily Forward in the USA:
Why Does No One Care That Neo-Nazis Are Gaining Power In Ukraine?
December 31, 2018
I can’t count the number of times I’ve been told Ukraine doesn’t really have a problem with its far-right. It’s all Kremlin propaganda; you’re personally helping Putin by talking about it; other countries have far-right problems too, so why single out Ukraine? I’ve heard it all.
But I expect hear even more lines like this in the New Year, all because I’m going to point out the obvious: Ukraine really does have a far-right problem, and it’s not a fiction of Kremlin propaganda. And it’s well past time to talk about it.
Ukraine’s far-right is like a hydra, with ugly heads that pop up far too frequently. Just within the last few weeks, an American-born cabinet minister thanked a group of violent neo-Nazi “activists” for their services, a soldier was photographed wearing a Nazi death’s head patch right behind President Petro Poroshenko and almost 1,500 neo-Nazis and friends threw a two-day Hitler-salute-fest.
Violent far-right groups have been around in Ukraine for years, albeit in marginal numbers. But over the last year they’ve grown not just in significance but in aggressiveness.
I know because I’ve been on the receiving end myself.
At a march in November to commemorate people who’ve fallen victim to transphobic violence, I watched as a march of barely 50 participants was shut down by some 200 far-right extremists. I felt their wrath myself as two of them assaulted me in separate incidents afterwards.
I’m far from the first person who’s fallen victim to Ukrainian far-right groups, nor anywhere near the most serious. Their members have attacked Roma camps multiple times, even killing a Roma man earlier this year. They’ve stormed local city council meetings to intimidate elected officials. They’ve marched by the thousands through the streets to commemorate WWII-era nationalist formations who took part in ethnic cleansing. They’ve acted as vigilantes with little to no negative reaction from state authorities.
Members of Ukraine’s far-right also offer themselves up as thugs for hire – sometimes with deadly consequences. This summer, anti-corruption activist Kateryna Handziuk was the victim of a horrifying acid attack. In July, several extremists – who apparently were paid by corrupt local police to carry out the attack – doused her with sulfuric acid, burning her over 40 percent of her body. She died from her injuries in November.
Ukraine’s notorious Azov movement keeps growing. Since it was created in 2014 to fight Russian-led forces in the east, it made news by accepting openly neo-Nazi members into its ranks. Now the Azov Battalion has become an official Ukrainian National Guard regiment. In 2016 the group formed a political party, which, they claim, now has tens of thousands of members. Earlier this year they unveiled a paramilitary force that doubles as a street gang.
Even as their party polls barely a percent, Azov is trying – as one of their higher-ups has told me personally – to build a far-right “state within the state”, running everything from nationalist study groups and mixed martial arts training to free gyms for youth and programs for the elderly. They’re also trying to turn Kiev into a capital of the global far-right, inviting neo-Nazis and white supremacists from around the world to visit.
Whatever group they’re part of, Ukraine’s far-right is increasingly nonchalant about the use of violence. When I was covering the march in Kiev on November 18, one of them walked up to me and sprayed me with a quart-sized bottle of pepper spray. Another then sucker-punched me in the face just yards away from onlooking police – hard enough to smash my glasses and cut me up.
Yes, I’m still mad about what happened to me. But I’m even more mad about a peaceful assembly of barely fifty people being cancelled because some violent hooligans decided it should be.
But it’s time to talk about why extremists in this country are able to attack people in broad daylight as police stand by. It’s time to talk about why some of them are receiving state funds and taking part in official police patrols in some cities. It’s time to talk about why a group that denies it has neo-Nazi leanings can help host a two-day neo-Nazi music festival with barely a peep from anyone. It’s time to talk about why Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, up for re-election in March, is happy to flirt with hardline nationalist rhetoric and hasn’t bothered to condemn incidents like last month’s attack on a peaceful protest.
It’s time to talk about why so many mainstream figures in Ukraine and abroad don’t seem too bothered by any of this. Yes, every country has its extremists, but not every country has public figures that (repeatedly) defend the actions of violent vigilante groups like the notorious C14 –
In the C14 name, the C alludes to C18, the (originally English, later international) neonazi terror gang Combat 18. In which 18, the first and eighth letters in the alphabet, stands for ‘AH’=Adolf Hitler. The 14 in the C14 name stands for the ’14 words’, a racist neonazi slogan.
And no, I haven’t forgotten that Ukraine is still mired in a Russian-orchestrated war on part of its territory, and that Moscow likes to use Ukrainian nationalists in its propaganda – part of its longstanding practice of painting all Ukrainians, nationalists or not, as “Nazis” (not true), or as supporters of Nazi-era collaborationist movements that were active in some parts of Ukraine (also not true). …
That’s why I know what I’m going to hear next. I’ll probably be told that I’m part of Putin’s hybrid war (really?), that I work for the Kremlin (um, no), or that I’m doing the Kremlin’s work (also no). But I didn’t invent Ukraine’s far-right, and I certainly haven’t helped them gain the prominence they’ve got heading in 2019.
The problem is real. It’s time for Ukraine to talk about it and take it on.
Michael Colborne is a Canadian journalist who covers central and eastern Europe and is writing a series of articles about Ukraine’s far-right. He tweets at @ColborneMichael.
This January 2018 video says about itself:
OUTBREAK: Vaccination Shortage in Ukraine Leads to Return of Forgotten Diseases
Ukraine is struggling with another scourge. The absence of childhood vaccinations is bringing back to the country seemingly forgotten diseases.
In Ukraine today, there apparently is money to indoctrinate children with neo-nazi ideology … but no money to inoculate them against the crippling disease polio.
Kudos to the doctors and others who scored important anti-polio victories. Everywhere in the world, it seems, except in Ukraine. In many countries in Asia, Africa and South America, there are traditionally many poor people who often cannot afford health care. Yet, it seems that even in these poor countries the situation (like in Somalia, suffering from war) is better now than in Ukraine. And than in Afghanistan, ‘liberated’ by George W Bush in 2001, also now one of few countries where there still is polio.
From the Jewish Telegraph Agency, 28 December 2018:
Rabbi’s death from flu in Ukraine has community in panic
An Israeli rabbi living in Ukraine died of an infectious flu virus, raising fears that other members of his community there may also be infected.
Rabbi Israel Pinto, owner of the kosher Orot Hotel in the central Ukrainian city of Uman, died Wednesday in Israel, where he was flown after being hospitalized with acute pneumonia in Uman and later Odessa, the haredi Orthodox news site Ch10 reported Thursday.
Some 80 Jewish families, most of them Israeli, live in Uman. Followers of the Breslov Hasidic movement, they moved into the impoverished city because it is believed to be the burial site of Rabbi Nachman, an 18th-century luminary who founded their religious stream. …
“The situation is very chaotic now, the entire community is in panic”, Rabbi Yaakov Djan, an Uman-based rabbi affiliated with the Breslov movement, wrote following Pinto’s death to Israel’s Health Ministry. He sent an urgent request that Israel send 300 flu vaccines to Ukraine for the Uman community.
It looks like the flu vaccine situation in Ukraine is as bad as the polio vaccine situation, due to ‘free market’ ‘reforms’ in healthcare.
Not only neo-nazis in the German armed forces, in the United States armed forces, in the British armed forces, in the Ukrainian armed forces, in the Czech armed forces, in the Australian armed forces, in the Belgian armed forces, in the Greek armed forces …
Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:
Reports of Nazi statements investigated by the Ministry of Defense
The Ministry of Defense is investigating scandals in the armed forces. State Secretary Visser writes to the Lower House that reports have been made about inadmissible behaviour at training institutes and in yet another armed forces section.
According to Visser, the commander of the Dutch Defense Academy (NLDA), including the army and navy schools, received signals that within a small group hurtful and abusive visual material is shared.
These were said to be racist and pornographic images and references to Nazi Germany. There are also behaviors that may be against a safe living and working environment. In another, unspecified, armed forces section, there are inadmissible statements about Nazi Germany.
Daily De Telegraaf recently reported that a trainee soldier was moderating a WhatsApp group in which Hitler, the Nazis and the [Dutch 1930s-1940s nazi party] NSB were glorified.
This video says about itself:
Ukrainians celebrating 75th anniversary of the Nazi SS Galician Division
“War Diary” project | Lvov, Ukraine | April 20th 2018
From Jewish daily The Forward in the USA:
Meet The Lonely Ukranian Jew Fighting His Country’s New Fondness For Nazis
By Sam Sokol
December 2, 2018
Eduard Dolinsky went online about a year and a half ago and saw an image that shook him to his core. A large crowd, some in Nazi uniforms, was parading in the Ukranian city of L’viv to commemorate the establishment of a militia loyal to Hitler.
“Division Galicia – the heroes of Ukraine”, the marchers chanted as they walked.
As head of one of Ukraine’s leading Jewish advocacy groups, Dolinsky was livid at the idea of celebrating Nazi collaboration. For the same reason, he could try to do something about it.
“When the government, state and civil society start to promote these organizations as heroes and those who fought for Ukrainian independence and whitewash their participation in the Holocaust actively and aggressively, I decided that my obligation and duty was to speak out against this,” Dolinsky told The Forward. “This is a denial of basic moral sense.”
Today, Dolinsky, the 49-year-old director of the Ukranian Jewish Committee, is immersed in a campaign against the valorization of the SS as anti-Communist heroes.
“When I was a kid someone told me that I’m a Yid,” recalled Dolinsky in a recent interview with the Forward. “I came home and asked my mom what it meant. She told me that we are Jews and we are different, don’t pay attention. For a long time afterwards I was confused and ashamed that I’m different and not like other kids.”
Ukrainian Jews are about 0.1% of the country’s 44 million people.
The country, which sits on the Black Sea, is bordered by Russia on its east, Belarus to the north and various eastern European countries to its west. Its relationship with Russia has dominated its politics for hundreds of years; it was a member state of the Soviet Union, and since its dissolution, the two countries have experienced periods of cooperation, tension and even armed conflict. The current government has no diplomatic relations with Russia and is actively resisting its influence. That’s where the Nazis — and Dolinsky — come in.
The current anti-Russian government has enlisted history in its cause, and has embarked on an active campaign to suppress Communist symbols and to rehabilitate people and groups that fought against the Soviet Union — no matter what crimes they may have committed against the Jews.
Born in 1969 to an active, if non-observant, Jewish family in the former Polish city of Lutsk in the country’s northwest, Dolinsky served two years in the Soviet Air Forces and was discharged shortly before the collapse of the Soviet Union.
While many Ukrainian Jews fled the country at that time, the pugnacious Dolinsky decided to stay. He said that he has been asked many times over the years, mostly by American Jews, about why he remained behind.
“First of all, you were born here, you were raised here, your son was born here, your parents are buried here, so all your heritage and legacy is here and this is the country of your language and your friends and family. You can play a role here. I can be much more effective in life and in my professional activities here than anywhere abroad,” he said. Dolinsky is married, and the father of a 25-year-old son who studied in Israel and works in finance in Ukraine.
It was during and just after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when anything seemed possible, that he first became actively involved in efforts to rebuild his country’s moribund Jewish communal life, first serving in administrative roles in the newly established Jewish Foundation of Ukraine and the All-Ukrainian Jewish Congress before moving on to establish the Ukrainian Jewish Committee together with minor oligarch and lawmaker Oleksandr Feldman.
Dolinsky is known as a firebrand, willing to speak out harshly against perceived threats to the community even when others prefer a more conciliatory approach.
His high profile, bolstered by the use of social media and his close contacts with journalists, belies his small staff (only three full time employees and twenty volunteers spread across the country). His posts on Facebook are often picked up and used as the basis of stories in outlets such as The Jerusalem Post and the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. He also collaborates with the ADL, American Jewish Committee and National Coalition Supporting Soviet Jewry.
Now, Dolinsky is taking aim at his government’s public awareness campaigns that praise organizations that collaborated with the Nazis and engaged in the widespread ethnic cleaning of Jews and Poles, such as the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and its militant offshoot, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army.
He faces a major obstacle, however, in Ukraine’s “Decommunization Laws,” which banned a slew of Communist — and some Nazi — symbols.
This 2017 music video is the song ‘The Internationale‘ in Ukrainian. All over the world, it is the song not only of communist, but also of social democrastic and other labour movements. If you sing the Internationale under the present Ukrainian right-wing government, then you will be punished with years in jail. Even five years in jail, if you sing it together with others; eg, in a choir.
The Decommunization Laws only list a limited number of Nazi symbols whose use is prohibited. That means by law, some are allowed, and that means Dolinsky’s quest is a bit quixotic.
This picture (also reproduced on the Facebook page of the Dutch NVU nazi party) shows the symbol of the Ukrainian Kiev government’s Azov battalion; source: here. It is the wolfsangel, or wolf’s hook. Which used to be a symbol in Adolf Hitler’s Waffen SS. It was also the symbol of the Dutch nazi party NSB in the 1930s and 1940s.
On the Dutch NSB 1930s-1940s nazi flag for their paramilitary organisation, the WA, the same wolfsangel, in a different direction.
He believes that the Galician Division’s symbols should be included in the ban because the unit was a part of the SS and its members “all made an oath to Hitler.” And even if their logo ends up being declared legally acceptable, he isn’t deterred. “First of all, I want to bring attention to the issue of Nazi collaborators and those who perpetrated the Holocaust,” he explained.
An avid reader who devours books on Jewish history, Dolinsky is one of a class of what can be called professional Jews, people whose entire Jewish identity is wrapped up in their work for the community.
“It’s like an inseparable part of my life,” he said of his work. “It’s my whole life. I can’t even imagine myself outside of this. The work isn’t just work. The Jewish community isn’t about the work as a profession, it’s a passion that haunts all your life. It’s not about nine to six. It’s 24 hours, seven days a week.”
As a representative of the UJC, he makes frequent media appearances, taking to the airwaves to make arguments that strike at the core of Ukraine’s self-image.
In 2017 he publicly (and unsuccessfully) demanded that the local state prosecutor prosecute organizers of the SS march for their “malicious and demonstrative violation” of the law. Volodymyr Viatrovych, Dolinsky’s longtime nemesis and the official in charge of implementing Ukraine’s national memory policy, maintains that that the Galicia Division’s symbols are not legally problematic.
And while many Ukraine scholars are critical of Viatrovych’s glorification of Nazi collaborators, most say he’s right about what the Decommunization Laws do and do not prohibit.
Refusing to accept Viatrovych’s explanations, Dolinsky escalated their dispute, publicly calling on Ukraine’s national prosecutor to bring a lawsuit against Viatrovych himself for violating the law against Nazi glorification. It was not the first time the two had tangled.
Only weeks earlier, Dolinsky had written a caustic op-ed in The New York Times in which he accused the Ukrainians of “whitewashing” history and linked such revisionism to a growing “climate of anti-Semitism”. In response, Viatrovych took to Facebook to accuse Dolinsky of making up Ukrainian anti-Semitism and selling it “in the country and abroad to everyone who will pay for it,” calling him even worse than those who “made money by hiding Jews from Nazi persecution.”
Given their history and diametrically opposite points of view, it is unsurprising that Dolinsky would end up ratcheting up the conflict. While not suing Viatrovych himself, Dolinsky is backing a lawsuit against him alleging that Viatrovych, in his capacity as a civil servant, violated a Ukrainian law prohibiting him from publicly interpreting the law. There is a Ukrainian law prohibiting civil servants from issuing pronouncements on legal issues that are in the jurisdiction of the courts, and Dolinsky believes that by claiming the SS Galician Division’s symbols are legal, Viatrovych has broken that law.
Several Ukrainian Jewish groups, including the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine, have expressed support for Dolinsky’s efforts, although privately some have expressed doubts about his harsh rhetoric and confrontational style.
But Dolinsky says that he is compelled to continue.
“When you say the guy who murdered a Jew is a hero, this is the second murder of Jews,” he said, explaining that whitewashing the legacy of those who slaughtered Jews is tantamount to killing them all over again.
Sam Sokol is a freelance journalist based in Israel. A former Jerusalem Post and IBA News correspondent, he is currently writing a book on the destruction of the Jewish communities of eastern Ukraine.
This January 2018 video says about itself:
Why Ukrainian workers are flocking to Poland
At least one million Ukrainians are currently working in Poland, according to estimates. The economy in Ukraine, still hampered by war and corruption, is sluggish, while across the border, there’s been uninterrupted growth and even a labour shortage – partly because so many Poles have moved further west. Ukrainian businesses, meanwhile, are finding it increasingly hard to hold on to their workers. Our correspondent Gulliver Cragg reports from Ukraine and Poland.
So, poverty for most people in Ukraine, the second poorest country in Europe. Meanwhile, their president Petro Poroshenko is one of the richest people in the world, because of corruption, Panama Papers tax dodging, and his corporations, including warship shipyards and other weapons production.
Like United States President Donald Trump made midterm election propaganda by raising military tensions at the US-Mexican border, his Ukrainian colleague, both as a billionaire profiting from wars and as president, Petro Poroshenko makes election propaganda by raising military tensions at the Ukrainian-Russian border.
Ukrainians especially want peace, but President Poroshenko moves towards war
By Janne Chaudron
The contours of the state of emergency in Ukraine become visible. Russian men between the ages of sixteen and sixty years are no longer allowed to enter the country. According to the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, they constitute a danger, because there is a risk that they join private armies in the Donbass, the region where pro-Russian rebels have been fighting against the Ukrainian army for five years.
The measure has quite some consequences, because many Ukrainians have Russian family members. This may have unpleasant consequences for the coming holidays.
State of emergency
Petro Poroshenko plays a risky game. He uses the recent confrontation with Russia to proclaim measures that have not yet been shown since the outbreak of the war in the east and the annexation of Crimea. The promulgation of the state of siege at the beginning of this week also caused resistance in his own country.
Poroshenko proposed to declare a state of emergency throughout the country for 60 days in response to Russian shelling of Ukrainian patrol ships in the Sea of Azov last week. The opposition did not feel like it, because it would obstruct the election campaigns – this spring there are elections. There was a compromise: state of emergency for thirty days …
“Poroshenko takes advantage of the situation”, says Balazs Jarabik, Ukraine specialist at the Carnegie Center. “In recent months there were 7,000 incidents in the Donbass, these were dismissed as “normal warfare”. It is clear that we are in election mode.” The Ukrainian president hopes with a patriotic campaign with the slogan “Army, religion and language’, to win the elections after all. He is trailing badly in the polls.
The question is whether this strongman strategy will work. As Poroshenko entered office four years ago, his main election promise was peace in all of Ukraine. That did not work. The Minsk agreement from 2015 meant that there was less intense fighting in Eastern Ukraine, but peace is still far away. “With the promulgation of martial law Poroshenko now does the opposite of what he promised, he provoked a war“, says Jarabik.
All opinion polls show what Ukrainians really want: peace and economic prosperity. Poroshenko does not succeed in that either,
Yes, he does succeed. But only for himself and a small clique of his friends.
the economy is faltering. The International Monetary Fund came to the aid of the country, but also imposed conditions: it was necessary to cut costs and combat corruption. Analysts are downright negative about the fight against corruption. In many regions, there are still mafia-linked corrupt governors in power.
The European Union has left Ukraine alone for years now. The Russian annexation of the Crimea in 2014 was a reason for European government leaders to introduce sanctions against Russia, but after that time it remained silent. After the recent confrontation with Russia, Poroshenko demanded that Western leaders take new steps and asked NATO for support in the Sea of Azov. German Chancellor Angela Merkel does not feel at all like that.
Also, Europe does not seem to meet Poroshenko’s desire to take economic punitive measures. Though the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, on Friday promised that there will be talk about extending the sanctions against Russia in time, an extension in harshness is not on the agenda. Let alone that there would be consent to Poroshenko’s request to scrap the gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 which will connect Russia must via the Baltic Sea to Germany.
A different view: Merkel backs Ukrainian provocations against Russia.
Ukraine: Poroshenko declares martial law to crack down on political and social opposition: here.
This 26 November 2018 video from the USA says about itself:
Moscow & NATO Playing a ‘Dangerous Tit-For-Tat Game’ in Ukraine
Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson says that the latest Ukraine crisis, in which Russia is holding Ukrainian navy boats, was foreseeable and likely, given NATO’s constant encroachment on Russia’s border region.
By Clara Weiss in Germany:
Russia-Ukraine stand-off over Azov Sea continues as Poroshenko declares martial law
27 November 2018
Following Russia’s capture of three Ukrainian vessels on Sunday in the Azov Sea, the Ukrainian government, at the behest of President Petro Poroshenko and the War Cabinet, has introduced martial law starting November 28 for 30 days. On Monday, the Ukrainian armed forces also announced that they were fully combat ready. Meanwhile, US media foreign policy and think tank officials have been beating the war drum, urging a “tough” response to alleged “Russian aggression” by Ukraine, NATO and the US.
The Azov Sea borders southwestern Russia, the southeast of Ukraine as well as Crimea, and enters into the Black Sea, which is of key geostrategic significance to both the US and Russia, as a water gateway to the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East.
The stand-off occurred at the Kerch Strait, which is the only link between both seas and has been largely under the control of Russia since Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in early 2014.
From daily News Line in Britain today:
The Ukrainian navy vessels were sailing through the narrow Kerch Strait between Crimea and mainland Russia which connects the Azov Sea with the Black Sea. Under a 2003 treaty, ships from both Russia and Crimea have freedom to pass through the very narrow and difficult to navigate Strait on condition that they first contact the Crimean sea port for permission that it is safe to do so. All vessels are required to proceed directly through the Strait and not perform any manoeuvres that endanger other ships.
According to the Russian authorities responsible for safeguarding the Strait the three Ukrainian ships gave no warning that they were entering it, ignored repeated requests to leave Russia’s territorial waters, and entered a stretch that had been temporarily closed to navigation.
The Clara Weiss article continues:
In the most significant direct confrontation between the Russian and Ukrainian military since 2014, Russian warships fired at and captured three Ukrainian vessels after they entered Russian territorial waters. Several Ukrainian sailors were wounded. Russian media have called it a “veritable maritime battle.” Initially shut down by Russia, the Kerch Strait has now been reopened for civilian ships.
The Kiev regime, brought to power in an imperialist-backed, far-right coup in February 2014, had so far refrained from introducing martial law, despite an ongoing civil war in the east of the country that has claimed the lives of over 10,000 people. Poroshenko initially declared martial law for 60 days, but then reduced the duration to 30 days, following a public outcry. He also insisted in a statement that the declaration of martial law in response to Russia’s “aggression” did not mean an open declaration of war with Russia.
The introduction of martial law by Poroshenko is a transparent attempt to exploit the crisis to intensify the far-advanced drive toward dictatorial rule in dealing with an ever deepening domestic crisis. Martial law is being imposed in the midst of a campaign for the March 2018 presidential elections in which Poroshenko is performing worse than all other candidates in the polls and is almost certain to lose his bid for reelection.
Nearly five years after the beginning of the conflict with Russia, some one million Ukrainians are on the verge of starvation, hundreds of thousands have left the country to live and work abroad; and thousands of workers have been going on strike to protest starvation-level wages. There is also enormous anger about the government’s open ties to and reliance on far-right forces, as recently evidenced in the fascist assassination of a former Maidan activist.
Under these conditions, not only Poroshenko but the entire Ukrainian ruling class see the whipping up of militarism, nationalist hysteria and the promotion of dictatorial rule as the only means to deal with mass social discontent.
The escalation of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and the introduction of martial law by Kiev have triggered a devaluation of the currencies and a fall on the stock markets of both countries. The value of the Ukrainian currency, the Hryvnia, fell, trading at 27.89 to the dollar on Tuesday, compared to 27.79 to the dollar on Monday. The National Bank of Ukraine has called upon the country’s banks to guarantee cash supply at ATMs in an expected rise in demand because of the state of martial law. The value of several major Ukrainian companies also fell on the stock markets.
The Russian ruble experienced an even sharper devaluation, with the index of the Moscow stock market falling by 1.46 percent.
More details have since emerged about the stand-off on Sunday, suggesting that Ukraine consciously provoked some kind of response by Russia to use as a pretext for an escalation of the long-simmering military conflict.
The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), which fired at the ship on Sunday, released a transcript, according to which the Ukrainian vessels performed maneuvers in Russian territorial waters in the Azov Sea, staying in the waters for some 12 hours and refusing to leave upon the request of Russian authorities. The Ukrainian vessels, according to Russian officials, also entered waters that had been temporarily closed to navigation. In a statement, the FSB argued that the Russian warships were forced to open fire because the three Ukrainian ships had ignored “legal demands to stop” and were “performing dangerous maneuvers.” Footage released by the FSB shows one of the Ukrainian vessels ramming a Russian warship.
The Kremlin has denounced the vessels’ maneuvers as “a dangerous provocation. On Monday, an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council took place. When the agenda proposed by Russia, including Ukraine’s violation of its borders, was voted down (only China, Kazakhstan, Bolivia and Russia voted for it, four abstained), the Russian representatives left the meeting. The UN Security Council instead adopted the agenda proposed by Ukraine.
The British ambassador to the UN denounced Russia’s refusal to participate in the meeting as “provocative.” The president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, condemned the use of force by Russia and insisted that it had to release the Ukrainian vessels. Tusk later met with Poroshenko to discuss the situation. Federica Mogherini, the EU High Representative of Foreign Affairs, echoed Tusk’s statements, calling upon Russia “to immediately de-escalate the situation.”
The US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said: “As President Trump has said many times, the United States would welcome a normal relationship with Russia. But outlaw actions like this one continue to make that impossible.” In reality, the US has helped ratchet up tensions in the region in recent months by supplying Ukraine with missiles and patrol boats, including ones to be used in the Azov Sea. Trump and Putin are set to meet later this week.
Behind the scenes, more open discussions about a military escalation are taking place among the strategists of US imperialism. In a publication by the Atlantic Council, a leading foreign policy think tank in Washington, Michael Carpenter, former US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, urged the US to “respond immediately by giving Ukraine radars to boost its maritime domain awareness and land-based anti-ship missiles so it can defend its Azov Sea littoral.”” Ukraine insists that it had the right under international law to transit the strait and called Russia’s firing on its vessels an “act of aggression.”
Taras Berezovets, a Ukrainian TV host and founder and CEO of Free Crimea, said: “The US should sanction Nord Stream 2 [pipeline]. NATO should increase its military presence in the Black Sea to send a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Ukraine should declare martial law, impose visa regime, and break the 2003 Azov Sea Treaty.” The Azov Sea Treaty from 2003 regulates relations between Ukraine and Russia, dividing up both the Azov Sea and the Kerch Strait between the two, and provides for a ban on foreign ships—including NATO—unless their passage is sanctioned by both countries.
Phillip Karber, who was worked for various US government agencies and now heads the Potomac Foundation, an American NGO that has close ties to the State Department, was even more explicit: “It’s time to spell it like it smells—it’s war!” He demanded “full wartime level of mobilization” in Ukraine; the re-equipment of the Ukrainian military “with modern Western military technology”; that NATO include Ukraine in the alliance, and that the US provide Ukraine “with the hardware needed to sustain a long-term competitive posture.”
The dangerous developments in the Black Sea region underscore the warnings of the ICFI of the danger of a Third World War. Neither the Putin regime, which is the outcome of the Stalinist destruction of the Soviet Union and fears the socialist mobilization of the Russian working class more than any assault by imperialism, nor any other section of the bourgeoisie can be relied upon to fend off the threat of war and dictatorship. Only an independent movement by the working class against capitalism and the nation-state system can put an end to the danger of another imperialist world war and nuclear annihilation.
Over the past several days, Yulia Tymoshenko, the former prime minister of Ukraine and head of the All-Ukrainian Union “Fatherland” party, has toured Washington to garner support for her presidential bid in the elections in March 2019. Early polling sees her as the front-runner, leading the rest of the potential candidates in a crowded field by nearly twofold: here.