August 14, 2016 –
[translated from Russian]
Below, we publish a translation of a statement made by Rada deputy, Elena Bondarenko, on September 10, 2014 . The statement was originally published on her facebook page, but went largely ignored at the time. The recent spate of assassinations in Ukraine has given the statement a new, grizzly relevance, and it is for this reason that we are publishing a translation of it at this late date.
I, Elena Bondarenko, a deputy of Partiya Regionov [Party of the Regions –ed.], which is in opposition to the governing party in Ukraine, would like to make a statement about the fact that the government is directly threatening with assault opposition politicians, depriving them of freedom of speech in the parliament and in other places, as well as conniving in the crimes against opposition leaders and their children.
Persistent threats, an undeclared ban on opposition parties appearing in the majority of Ukrainian mass media, purposeful baiting—these are everyday things in the life of the opposition in Ukraine. Everybody who calls for peace in Ukraine immediately becomes an enemy to the regime as it was, for instance, in 30-40’s Germany or in the USA during the McCarthyite era.
A few days ago the Ukrainian Internal Affairs Minister, Arsen Avakov, said: “When Elena Bondarenko ascends the parliamentary tribune, I want to reach for my gun.”
I emphasise the fact that those are the words of the person who has the main authority over the police in the country. Exactly a week ago the Speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament, Alexander Turchinov, banned me from the parliamentary tribune as a representative of the opposition Party of the Regions. It was done solely because of my words, that “a regime that sends its army to bomb peaceful cities is criminal.” After that, he kindly allowed the parliamentary radicals to call for the shooting of the opposition .
I remember last year, when Kiev was flooded with extremists, my car was shot at. I reported this fact to the police. I take such threats to myself very seriously. I also would like to inform everyone who is not aware yet, that the regime protects the criminals who dared to raise their hand against the son of another opposition politician—Vladimir Oleynik. Ruslan Oleynik, a district public prosecutor, was beaten up in his work place, putting his life and health under threat. Instead of investigating the attack and threats against the politician and his family, the regime fired the prosecutor. My colleagues complain weekly about their assistants being beaten up, their supporters’ offices being searched, their lives, health and possessions threatened.
Ukrainian cyberspace is almost totally censored of this information, and ordinary Ukrainian citizens have no idea of the criminal fight against the opposition and of the fact that the constitutional right to freedom of speech is suppressed in many ways. The mass media who tell the truth in spite of their fear constantly get attacked by nationalist groups, and hooligans who assault publishing offices are never prosecuted, even when they are identified by video and photographic proof of their involvement is available.
I call upon international organisations who proclaim their democratic principles to not only pay attention to these facts but also to join the fight for democratic rights and freedoms of Ukrainian citizens. The methods used by the Junta in their struggle for power in Ukraine have nothing to do with democracy. Inactivity of the international community towards these outrageous facts looks like complicity and silent approval of all the crimes being committed in Ukraine. The free world is losing another outpost—Ukraine. All those who fight for democracy, peoples rights and freedoms, can bring about many changes together. Only together can we stop the Junta and the fratricidal war in Ukraine!
People’s deputy of Ukraine, Elena BONDARENKO.
This was written just after the Odessa massacre last year.
By Eric Zuesse
Op Ed News, May 18, 2014
The key person behind the May 2nd massacre inside Odessa’s Trade Unions Building appears to have been Ihor Kolomoyskyi [pictured here: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/36/Ihor_Kolomoyskyi2.jpg ], who was appointed to be the regional governor in that area by Yulia Tymoshenko, the Ukrainian Presidential candidate that the Obama Administration has apparently been hoping will win the May 25th election to take over the Ukrainian Government, from the junta that the Obama Administration imposed in Ukraine on February 22nd. Just weeks before this coup, on February 4th, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Asia, Victoria Nuland, chose Tymoshenko’s ally Arseni Yatsenyuk to head the post-coup interim government, which appointed Kolomoyskyi. Only a few months before this coup, Nuland had asserted that U.S. taxpayers had already invested more than $5 billion, in order to bring “democracy” to Ukraine, by which she was referring to the U.S. effort to oust the Russian-oriented, democratically elected, leader of Ukraine, President Viktor Yanukovych, who had prosecuted and imprisoned Tymoshenko for embezzlement and abuse of governmental office. Tymoshenko was then on 11 October 2011 sentenced to seven years in prison, and was ordered to pay the government restitution of $188 million. She was released from prison less than three years later, two days after the coup, on 24 February 2014. The Ukrainian criminal code was immediately changed, in order to legalize the actions for which Tymoshenko had been imprisoned. This allowed Tymoshenko to run for the Ukrainian Presidency. She had been Prime Minister 2007-2010. Both she and her husband, Oleksandr Tymoshenko, and his father, all three of whom were on the board of United Energy Systems of Ukraine (and thus Ms. Tymoshenko was called “the gas princess”) have been legally prosecuted as embezzling state funds, but so have most of Ukraine’s oligarchs and political leaders (and there’s a lot of crossover between those two categories).
Kolomoyskyi, who lives in Geneva Switzerland, is generally regarded as the second-richest man in Ukraine, with a fortune estimated at about $6 billion. Tymoshenko used to be called “the Eleven Billion Dollar Woman,” but, like all of Ukraine’s oligarchs (including Kolomoyskyi), nobody really knows precisely how wealthy she is, nor even whether she is more, or perhaps less, wealthy than Kolomoyskyi. Almost all of the oligarchs’ money is hidden offshore; so, is invisible.
Most of Ukraine’s oligarchs live in Geneva (like Kolomoyskyi), London (like the Tymoshenkos’ daughter, Yevhenia), NYC, Rome, and other Western cities, and they tend to stash their money in secret bank accounts in tax-haven countries, not only in order to avoid paying taxes, but also in order to make more difficult their being successfully sued by each other, for violating handshake business deals that had helped them to become so rich. After all, illegal contracts cannot be enforced by any legal government (since they’re illegal, and have secret illegal terms). Thus, other means than written contracts — handshake deals — are resorted to between these aristocrats.
For example, in one such case, a Ukrainian oligarch who lives in London, Victor Pinchuk (whose fortune is around $4 billion), is suing Kolomoyskyi by alleging him to have sold him a company, “KZhRK,” for $143 million, and then to have re-seized it from him by force of arms. As is usual (since virtually all of Ukraine’s oligarchs had become oligarchs from the privatizations, or sell-offs of government assets, which accompanied Ukraine’s abandonment of communism), this case hinges on verbal testimony, and the various parties to the case contradict each other. Kolomoyskyi is well known for taking over corporations through his team entering with guns drawn. Pinchuk claims that when Kolomoyskyi did that here, Pinchuk nonetheless, somehow, managed to get Kolomoyskyi to restore Pinchuk to control, but that Pinchuk later discovered “it appears that they may have sold approximately 50% of KZhRK to a third party in 2007”; so, Pinchuk filed suit against Kolomoyskyi, in London, on this murky case.
According to a summary by wikipedia of several news reports: “Kolomyski has used [his banking company] Privat’s ‘quasi-military forces’ to enforce hostile takeovers of companies, sending a team of ‘hired rowdies armed with baseball bats, iron bars, gas and rubber bullet pistols and chainsaws’ to forcibly take over a Kremenchuk steel plant in 2006, and has used ‘a mix of phony court orders (often involving corrupt judges and/or registrars) and strong-arm tactics’ to replace directors on the boards of companies he purchases stakes in. Kolomyski was criticized by Mr Justice Mann in a court case in London involving an attempted hostile takeover of an oil company, with the judge stating that Kolomyski had ‘a reputation of having sought to take control of a company at gunpoint in Ukraine’.”
Consequently, the reports of Kolomoyskyi’s tactics against the Ukrainians who refuse to be ruled by the Obama-installed government in Kiev seem to be consistent with this oligarch’s violent norm. Oriental Review headlined on 14 May 2014, “Bloodbath in Odessa guided by interim rulers of Ukraine,” and reported that, “The information provided below was obtained from an insider in one of Ukraine’s law-enforcement agencies, who wished to remain anonymous for obvious reasons.” The account there is a more detailed one than has ever before appeared, and it’s consistent with those others (such as this and this). It alleges that:
“Ten days before the tragedy a secret meeting was held in Kiev, chaired by the incumbent president Olexander Turchinov [a long-time political ally and business-partner of Tymoshenko; he had destroyed crucial documents in the government’s case against Tymoshenko], to prepare a special operation in Odessa. Present were minister of internal affairs Arsen Avakov [a gangster who was placed on Interpol’s ‘Wanted’ list on 21 March 2012], the head of the Ukrainian Security Service Valentin Nalivaychenko [a long-time NATO agent], and the secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Andriy Parubiy [co-founder of Ukraine’s National Socialist, or Nazi, Party]. Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoiskiy, the Kiev-appointed head of regional administration of the Dnepropetrovsk region, was consulted in regard to the operation [he being well-experienced in violent operations].
“During that meeting Arsen Avakov … reportedly came up with the idea of using football [soccer] hooligans, known as ‘ultras,’ in the operation. Ever since his time as the head of the Kharkov regional administration he [Avakov] has worked closely with the fans’ leaders, whom he continued to sponsor even from his new home in Italy.
“Kolomoisky temporarily delivered his private ‘Dnieper-1’ Battalion under the command of law-enforcement officials in Odessa and also authorized a cash payment of $5,000 for ‘each pro-Russian separatist’ killed during the special operation. [That would be over $500,000, lent by his bank to the Ukrainian Government, to pay for the estimated 116 corpses thus produced.]
On March 17, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine voted in favor of a bill submitted by Poroshenko on admitting foreign servicemen for multinational exercises in Ukraine in 2015.
This bill violates the Minsk agreements. These actions by the United States and by Ukraine violate the Minsk agreements.
From Rick Rozoff
March 30, 2015
U.S. army personnel to train National Guardsmen in Lviv region
On April 20, U.S. army personnel will arrive at Yavoriv training ground in Lviv region to participate in a joint military exercise with National Guard of Ukraine personnel, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov has said.
“American commandos, numbering 290, will come to Yavoriv training ground, Lviv region, on April 20. This is where a long-term military exercise of 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team of the U.S. Army and combat units of the National Guard will be held,” he wrote on Facebook on Sunday.
Avakov said that 900 guardsmen will participate in the exercise.
“Three parts with 300 national guardsmen each. Three parts for eight weeks each. Then the joint exercise [will be held],” he said.
According to Avakov, the following battalions will take part in the exercise – Azov [Right Sector], Kulchynsky Yahuar (jaguar), Omega, and others from Kyiv, Kharkiv, Zaporizhia, Odesa, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk and Vinnytsia.
“Our American partners will present special ammunition and communication devices to the National Guard detachments that underwent training at the end of the exercise,” he said.
Avakov also said that preparative work between the Cabinet of Ministers and the National Guard had been completed.
“I’m grateful to Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, and the employees of U.S. embassy in Ukraine. Without their vigor, the important and complicated preparation of training would have been impossible,” Avakov said, and he added that the agreement on the military exercise had been reached during negotiations between Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden.
On March 17, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine voted in favor of a bill submitted by Poroshenko on admitting foreign servicemen for multinational exercises in Ukraine in 2015.
On March 22, U.S. Department of Defense reported it was taking the necessary measures to organize the military exercises, and that it would dispatch U.S. army personnel to Ukraine to train National Guard personnel
In keeping with the scheduled exercises, the Yavoriv district in Lviv region will host the Ukraine-U.S. Fearless Guardian 2015 drills scheduled for March through November 2015. Up to 2,200 servicemen will participate: up to 200 Armed Forces of Ukraine personnel, up to 1,000 National Guard of Ukraine personnel, and up to 1,000 U.S. Armed Forces personnel.
From July to October 2015, the international center for peacekeeping and security in Yavoriv district in Lviv region will host the Ukrainian-U.S. Saber Guardian/Rapid Trident 2015 exercises. The total number of participants will be up to 2,100 servicemen. This will include 1,000 Armed Forces of Ukraine personnel, 500 U.S. Armed Forces personnel, and up to 600 from NATO member states and countries participating in the Partnership for Peace program.
Servicemen from the 173rd Sky Soldiers airborne brigade stationed in Vicenza, Italy, will be sent to Ukraine to train six National Guard companies with an emphasis on domestic security and territorial defense, Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren had said.
He said that the training program is part of a long-term strategy to improve Ukraine’s defense potential and capabilities, and to increase the professionalism of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
According to Warren, the program will be similar to the ones held in Ukraine since 1995, and he added that the United States was holding joint exercises with parties and allies in Europe, and also throughout the world.
Lviv is a hotbed of Ukrainian ultra-nationalism.
By Greg Butterfield
March 16, 2015
International Action Center
As activists, students and workers gather in Washington, D.C., for the “Spring Rising” anti-war mobilization March 18-21, many are probably unaware that 300 U.S. troops arrived in Ukraine this month, with another 300 expected to join them shortly.
The U.S. soldiers are stationed at the Yavoriv Training Area in Lviv, near the Polish border in western Ukraine. Their mission, according to the Pentagon, is to train divisions of the Ukrainian National Guard.
But their presence also establishes a provocative U.S. military “footprint” in this key agricultural and industrial country on the Russian Federation’s western border.
The first open and public U.S. military presence on Ukrainian soil comes amid a civil war raging in former southeastern Ukraine, now the independent Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, also called Novorossiya. It’s accompanied by unprecedented NATO war games and military buildup threatening Russia.
All this despite a ceasefire agreement, negotiated by Russia, Germany and France, which went into effect Feb. 15. As happened during previous ceasefires, the U.S.-backed government in Kiev routinely violates the terms and is using the “breathing spell” to rebuild its military forces to assault the embattled Donbass mining region.
“Before this week is up, we’ll be deploying a battalion minus … to the Ukraine to train Ukrainian forces for the fight that’s taking place,” the U.S.’s 173rd Airborne Brigade commander, Michael Foster, told a meeting of the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank in Washington on March 3. (Global Research, March 3)
U.S. forces are scheduled to stay six months. But discussions are underway about “how to increase the duration and the scope of the training mission,” Foster said, echoing remarks made in January by former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Derek Chollet.
Meanwhile, in London, Prime Minister David Cameron told a House of Commons committee on Feb. 24 that up to 75 British soldiers would be sent to Ukraine to develop “an infantry training program with Ukraine to improve the durability of their forces,” the BBC reported.
“Today’s announcement builds upon the work that we have already undertaken through NATO and bilaterally,” added British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon. (Sputnik, Feb. 24)
Poland, too, plans to send military instructors to train Ukrainian soldiers, Boguslaw Pacek, advisor to the country’s defense minister, told Reuters on Feb. 26.
What is the Ukrainian National Guard?
When most people in the U.S. hear the term “National Guard,” they think of the recruiting commercials touting “one weekend a month, two weeks a year” of training to “serve your country.” The Pentagon is playing on this association to make their mission sound benign.
Of course, the National Guard in the U.S. has a long history of being employed to put down rebellions and strikes in the U.S., often with the most brutal methods. And in the last 15 years, since the start of Washington’s “war on terror,” many National Guard soldiers have been required to serve long stretches in the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.
But the Ukrainian National Guard is something else altogether. The brainchild of far-right Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, it came into being one year ago, shortly after the U.S.-backed coup that overthrew Ukraine’s elected president.
The National Guard is based on neo-Nazi street-gangs and fascist political organizations that formed the power base of the Euromaidan protest movement which carried out the February 2014 coup in Kiev. It answers to Avakov, not the Ukrainian Armed Forces, which the coup makers considered unreliable, and which has continued to disintegrate during the war in the southeast.
The National Guard, in fact, has been the backbone of Kiev’s brutal “Anti-Terrorist Operation” against Novorossiya. This operation has targeted civilians throughout the Donbass mining region since April 2014. It is nearly as ruthless as the “volunteer” fascist battalions affiliated with the openly fascist Right Sector.
While the Ukrainian Armed Forces today are a meat grinder for workers, unemployed people and youth forcibly drafted, and who frequently desert at the first opportunity, the National Guard comprise the forces most loyal to the junta of oligarchs, neoliberal politicians and fascists in Kiev.
This is the force the U.S. wants to train and strengthen.
But there’s much more to the story.
Throughout Europe, the Baltic and Central Asian states bordering Russia, and even on U.S. soil, an unprecedented volume of provocative war games are underway, all clearly threatening Moscow.
Why? Because the real aim of the U.S. power play in Ukraine is to establish NATO military power on Russia’s border, with the aim of fomenting regime change aimed at breaking up the Russian Federation into pliable, profitable pieces that can be easily dominated by Wall Street and its European junior partners.
That’s why since day one of the Ukrainian crisis, Democrats, Republicans and the corporate media have united to turn reality on its head by portraying Russia as the aggressor — a Big Lie to cover up their own role.
Here’s a sampling of the provocative moves in the past month, culled from U.S. military sources, Ukrainian and Russian media, as well as anti-war sites like StopNATO.org and Global Research:
- On Feb. 10 — as ceasefire talks were underway in Minsk, Belarus — the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution to authorize $1 billion for training, equipping and providing “lethal aid” to Kiev through September 2017.
- On Feb. 24, U.S. military vehicles took part in a NATO parade in the Estonian town of Narva, just 300 meters from the Russian border. It included 140 armored vehicles and nearly 1,500 troops, including U.S. soldiers.
- The same day, in Alaska, paratroopers from the U.S. Army’s 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team performed the largest U.S. airborne mission north of the Arctic Circle in more than a decade as part of Exercise Spartan Pegasus. “This exercise demonstrated their unique ability to rapidly mass power on an objective in extremely cold and austere environments,” said an Army press release.
- U.S. Marines and soldiers from the Republic of Georgia staged a “pre-deployment training” during Mission Rehearsal Exercise in Hohenfels, Germany, on Feb. 27.
- NATO Supreme Commander in Europe and Chief of the U.S. European Command Philip Breedlove told the Senate Armed Forces Committee on March 3 that it is “essential” for Washington to provide “military support” to “U.S. partners Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine [which] face a different security challenge from Russia than those facing NATO allies.”
- On March 6, U.S. and Canadian soldiers carried out drills “in winter conditions” with their Latvian counterparts, while live-fire training exercises were conducted at Drawsko Pomorskie in northern Poland.
- Some 450 U.S. soldiers and 25 Black Hawk helicopters will be deployed to Illesheim, Germany, in March “in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, a multinational training mission to reassure Poland and the Baltic countries of NATO’s commitment in the face of Russia’s aggressive moves in Ukraine.” The deployment is to last nine months.
- The European Union needs its own army to confront Russia, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told a German newspaper on March 8.
- Latvia received more than 120 armored units, including tanks, from the U.S. on March 9. U.S. Army Gen. John O’Connor, who witnessed the tanks’ arrival, declared that “Freedom must be fought for, freedom must be defended.”
- A major NATO naval force is amassing in the Black Sea, including U.S., Canadian, German, Italian, Turkish, Bulgarian and Romanian warships.
Washington’s unreal ‘debate’ over arming Ukraine
“Watch what they do, not what they say” — the old adage is always good advice when dealing with U.S. imperialism. And nowhere is that more apparent than in Washington’s current “debate” over arming Ukraine.
The media depict a dispute over whether the U.S. should provide “lethal weapons,” heavy weapons and offensive weapons to Ukraine for its war against “pro-Russian separatists,” as the anti-fascist resistance in Donbass is usually labeled.
For example, on March 6, leading congressional Republicans and Democrats, headed by John Boehner, urged President Obama to provide “lethal defensive weapons” to Kiev due to Russia’s “grotesque violation of international law.”
The White House states that it is still “considering” whether to provide so-called lethal aid. However, top administration officials, from Secretary of State John Kerry on down, have voiced their support.
All of this amounts to smokescreen and posturing for political gain. In fact, the Obama administration and Congress have colluded all along to arm the fascist junta, which they collaborated with in bringing to power. In December, Congress overwhelmingly approved and Obama signed the “Ukrainian Freedom Support Act,” in fact authorizing “lethal aid.”
Airfields in eastern Ukraine immediately shut down as U.S. military cargo planes flew in massive amounts of old and new NATO weaponry. Much of this war materiel was captured and put on public display by the Novorossiyan people’s militias following the defeat of Ukraine’s January 2015 military offensive.
In February, Ukrainian President Peter Poroshenko inked an arms agreement with the United Arab Emirates, a U.S. client state that frequently serves as a hub to funnel advanced weaponry to right-wing regimes and counterrevolutionary movements supported by Washington.
On March 11, Obama approved $75 million in additional “nonlethal” military aid to Ukraine, including secure communications equipment, drones, counter-mortar radars, night-vision goggles and military ambulances, to be delivered in the next six to nine months. He also approved the provision of 30 armored and 200 unarmored Humvees, Sputnik reported.
The same day, the U.S.-dominated International Monetary Fund approved a new $17.5 billion financial aid package for Ukraine in exchange for additional painful austerity measures. (RT.com, March 11) This is meant to ensure that Kiev will remain solvent enough to continue its proxy war in the coming months, despite its collapsing economy.
Whether or not the U.S. openly arms Ukraine with offensive weapons, or continues to do so covertly and through third countries, is far less significant that the blatant war moves of U.S. and NATO forces in the region.
Every day, it grows more urgent for the anti-war forces in the U.S. to stand up and demand: Stop the weapons, stop sanctions, stop provocations against Russia! Stand with the people of Donetsk and Lugansk resisting austerity and genocide!
From Rick Rozoff
March 13, 2015
Ukraine, U.S. may start joint drills next week – Avakov
Ukraine and the United States may begin joint military exercises next week with the consent with the Ukrainian parliament, Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov has said.
The U.S. government is ready to start the drills next week, he said at a press briefing in Kyiv on Friday.
“If the Verkhovna Rada votes for this decision on Tuesday [Mar. 17]– and I hope it will do so – regular units of the U.S. Armed Forces will come to us. They will have a long practice together with our National Guards in Yavoriv in Lviv region,” Avakov said.
As reported, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has tabled a bill in parliament to admit foreign servicemen for multinational exercises in Ukraine in 2015.
In keeping with the scheduled of the exercises, Yavoriv district in Lviv region will host the Ukrainian-U.S. Fearless Guardian 2015 drills March through November 2015. Up to 2,200 servicemen with weapons and military hardware are to participate: up to 200 men from the Armed Forces of Ukraine, up to 1,000 men from the National Guard of Ukraine, and up to 1,000 men from the U.S. Armed Forces.
From July to October 2015, the international center for peacekeeping and security in Yavoriv district in Lviv region will host the Ukrainian-U.S. Saber Guardian/Rapid Trident 2015 exercises. The total number of participants will be up to 2,100 servicemen with weapons and military hardware. Namely, there will be up to 1,000 men from the Armed Forces of Ukraine, up to 500 men from the U.S. Armed Forces, and up to 600 from NATO member states and countries participating in the Partnership for Peace program.
From the World Socialist Web Site
By Christoph Dreier
27 November 2014
Five fractions in the recently elected Ukrainian Parliament agreed on a coalition pact November 21. Although the coalition still has to agree on the division of posts, it has already announced that it intends to step up its aggression in the east of the country and exacerbate Kiev’s confrontation with Russia.
The coalition chose the date of the one-year anniversary of the Maidan protests to announce its program. The demonstrations on the Maidan were supported by Western governments and led to a bloody coup that brought right-wing, pro-Western forces to power. The coup then led to the development of separatist movements in eastern Ukraine.
Now, one year on, five parliamentary parties, all of which supported the Maidan protests, have formed a coalition that plans to intensify a policy of war and enforce vicious cuts in social spending.
The five coalition partners agreed to increase military spending to three percent of GDP. They plan new methods of military mobilization and a renewal of the country’s security strategy. Their proposed “most urgent task” is NATO membership for Ukraine.
Up to now, the Ukrainian constitution guaranteed the nonaligned status of the country. With 285 seats in the 423-seat parliament, the new coalition now has the two-thirds majority necessary for the constitutional change, which would permit the country’s integration into the Western military alliance.
On Monday, President Petro Poroshenko confirmed these plans and announced a referendum on joining NATO within six years. Until then, all the criteria for inclusion in the military alliance are to be met.
Just a few days earlier, Poroshenko had decided to slash all state funding and pensions to the areas of eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists. As a result, schools, hospitals and emergency services will no longer be funded, and pensions and benefits will not be paid.
Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who is likely to remain prime minister, rejected any negotiations with the separatists. “We will not conduct direct negotiations with Russian terrorists,” he said.
The ruthless program of the new government is reflected in its personnel. The groups involved in the coalition are right-wing and ultranationalist forces. The Block Petro Poroshenko, with 127 deputies, constitutes the largest fraction in the new coalition.
Included in the ranks of other coalition partners, the Popular Front (76 seats), the Self-Help Party (34 seats) led by the Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyj, and the Fatherland Party (23 seats) headed by former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, are numerous right-wing extremists.
Amongst the ten leading deputies of the Popular Front are three commanders of extreme right volunteer militias (Andrij Teteruk, Arsen Avakov and Yuri Beresa), which fought alongside the Ukrainian army against the separatists and are held responsible for serious human rights violations.
In addition to these three, Andrij Bilezkij also entered the Ukrainian Rada as a candidate of the Popular Front. Bilezkij founded the notorious Azov Battalion and was a longtime member of the right-wing grouping Patriots of Ukraine. According to the Kiev-based German historian Andreas Umland, Bilezkij is an “expressly biological racist” who “openly propagates the Aryan myth.”
The fifth coalition partner is the Radical Party of Oleh Lyashko, with 25 seats. Prior to the election, Lyashko had abducted and tortured suspected separatists in many parts of the country. The human rights organization Amnesty International has accused Lyashko of breaching international law. During the election campaign his party called for Ukraine to have its own nuclear weapons.
Although the new government has a large majority of seats, it by no means reflects the will of the people. In the parliamentary elections in late October, broad layers of the population were barred from voting. Opposition parties were suppressed and banned. Only 53 percent of the electorate went to the polls.
The integration of right-wing thugs into the government makes clear that the new regime can only enforce its reactionary program with the use of force against the population. In this respect it can rely on the support of the NATO powers.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the government’s announcement that it would seek membership in the military alliance. “The door is still open,” he said. “I recall that we had decided at the summit in Bucharest [in 2008] that Ukraine should be a member of NATO.” This decision is still valid if the Ukraine fulfills all the criteria for membership, he suggested.
On Monday, the Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite promised weapons supplies to the regime during a state visit to Kiev. “We have agreed on the training of officers and participation in multinational exercises on the territory of Lithuania, a military-technical cooperation and supplies of certain types of weapons for the Ukrainian armed forces,” Grybauskaite said.
The talks between Grybauskaite and Poroshenko reportedly concerned a tripartite military alliance between Ukraine and two NATO members, Poland and Lithuania.
In a government statement on Wednesday, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel once again fiercely criticized Russia. “Nothing justifies or excuses the annexation of the Crimea by Russia,” Merkel said. She repeated her recent claim that Russia had broken international law. On Tuesday, the Chancellor addressed a conference of businessmen in Berlin and called for a continuation of sanctions against Russia.
According to a US military official, Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, the Pentagon is planning to station 100 armored vehicles permanently in Eastern Europe. The combat vehicles could be stationed “in the Baltic States and Poland, Romania and Bulgaria”, Hodges explained.
Given the aggressive policy of NATO and the integration of right-wing forces in the Ukrainian government, a vote held last Friday in a committee of the UN General Assembly was of especial significance.
Russia put forward a motion opposing the glorification of Nazism and other practices which incited racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance.
The resolution singled out for condemnation practices “which denigrate the memory of the countless victims of crimes against humanity committed during World War II.” In addition to the crimes of the SS, the motion named crimes committed by those “fighting the anti-Hitler coalition and who collaborated with the Nazi movement.”
There were 115 countries voting in favor of the motion, while 55 countries, including Germany abstained. Three countries voted against—Canada, the US and Ukraine.
Reprinted under Fair Use Rules.