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German Economic Colonization of Ukraine

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COMMENT: With the U.S. and Germany respectively playing Bad Cop (military aid and sanctions) and Good Cop (economic aid and resistance to further sanctions at the behest of key German corporations invested in Russia), the follow-up to the covert operation resulting in the coup d’etat of early 2014 is proceeding apace. That coup brought to power the OUN/B successor organizations Swoboda and Pravy Sektor as key players in the interim government.

German industry–surprise, surprise–plans to modernize Ukrainian industries and establish subcontracting arrangements to build automobiles in that cheap labor market.

This will be coupled by the austerity doctrine we have termed “Von Clausewitzian economics.” It remains to be seen how the Ukrainian population receives this.

The fact that the Ukrainian economy is dominated by oligarchs should facilitate the process, at least on paper. Note that Ukrainian president-elect Petro Poroshenko has key holdings in the Ukrainian automobile industry, among other investments. It seems reasonable to suppose that he will receive generously profitable compensation for any “adjustments” he makes to his portfolio.

Swoboda leader Oleh Tiahanybok

U.S. energy companies may get a crack at the natural gas reserves in Ukraine, otherwise (as we noted in our broadcasts about the subject), America gets nothing out of this but further debt incurred to incorporate Ukraine into the EU orbit.

While this process is taking shape, the war in Eastern Ukraine has escalated, with armor, artillery, helicopter gunships and fixed-wing combat aircraft being used against the population there. Imagine if Yanukovich had resorted to such tactics with the Maidan coup gaining momentum!

The German Foreign Policy article below correctly compares the bloodshed in Ukraine with the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, covered in–among other programs–FTR #’s 48154, 161184, 293766. Using the Axis successor organizations in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo, the U.S. and Germany split up the former Yugoslavia, which was then absorbed into the EU orbit. (Note that German-Foreign-Policy.com feeds along the lower right-hand side of the front page of this website.)

We have nine programs to date about the Ukrainian crisis: FTR ‘s 777778779780781782, 783784794.

“For Peace and Freedom;” german-foreign-policy.com; 5/30/2014.

German foreign policy experts are expressing their approval of Kiev’s putsch regime’s recent escalation of warfare against the East of Ukraine. It is “evident” that “Kiev … had to again become active,” declared the influential diplomat and Chairman of the Munich Security Conference, Wolfgang Ischinger. Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, whose regime bears responsibility for the current artillery and aerial attacks on eastern Ukrainian cities, was guest speaker at yesterday’s Charlemagne Prize award presentation ceremonies. The German media praised him accordingly. The Ukrainian President-elect, the Oligarch Petro Poroshenko, would like to lead Kiev into a “security alliance” with the West and soon sign the economic segment of the EU’s Association Agreement. Ukraine has already begun the necessary preparations: Austerity measures, which will massively increase the unemployment rate and entail a dramatic rise in prices, have been initiated. German business circles are preparing for their economic expansion into that country. If Kiev can take control over eastern Ukraine with military means, new conflicts could arise: The interests of the expanding German industry would collide with those of Ukrainian oligarchs.

By All Means

Kiev’s Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has attracted public attention with his participation in yesterday’s award presentation ceremonies of the Charlemagne Prize to the President of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy. In his short speech, he declared that Kiev will fight “for peace and freedom” against the rebellions in the East of the country – “with all means at our disposal.”[1] On the eve of the ceremony, he conferred in Berlin with the German chancellor on the next steps in the struggle for influence with Moscow. President-elect Petro Poroshenko announced that Kiev seeks to strengthen its formal ties with the West. After initial resistance, Kiev now is signaling that the signing of the economic segment of the EU’s Association Agreement is imminent – still in June. Only the political segment is currently in force. Poroshenko has also announced that he is counting on a “new security alliance with the USA and Europe to also militarily protect the Ukraine.” He intends to “fight for this and immediately open talks.”[2] He has had “intensive phone conversations” with Chancellor Merkel and is now hoping “for more solidarity and support.”[3]

Saving up for Free Trade and War

Immediately following the putsch in late February, the Ukrainian putsch regime began initiating economic preparations for the country’s transition into the western hegemonic sphere. As usual in such cases,[4] this process means the imposition of harsh austerity policies. An agreement has already been reached with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to apply its clearly defined austerity measures. Therefore Kiev has abandoned the previous government’s plans to slightly raise pensions and the minimum wage (approx. 45 cents/hr) and will now freeze both at current levels. The parliament decided already back in March, to reduce the national budget by 17 percent. Altogether, about 24,000 civil service employees will be fired, accounting for ten percent of all civil servants. In a “letter of intent” to the IMF, dated April 22, Kiev also agreed to increase – before the summer – the price of gas for private households by 56 percent as well as the costs for district heating by 40 percent. This will be a heavy blow to a large portion of the Ukrainian population, whose average earnings – when the oligarch’s wealth is deducted – are estimated at about 150 Euros monthly. In 2015, gas and heating costs will be raised another 40 percent and again in 2016 and 2017, another 20 percent each year. The war against the insurgents in the east of the country, which is consuming large sums, has not yet even been calculated into these plans. Minister of Finances, Oleksandr Shlapak, announced May 10, that Kiev’s military budget will probably have to be increased by 50 percent, for the time being, and this amount is still not enough. Therefore, Ukraine must cut its budget for social issues and healthcare.[5]

Lucrative Modernization

In anticipation of the imminent signing of the economic segment of the EU’s Association Agreement, the austerity policy has begun provoking tangible interest in German economic sectors. “The adoption of EU standards and the establishment of a free trade zone with the European Union, will demand … a multiplicity of immense efforts in modernization for Ukrainian enterprises,” according to “Germany Trade and Invest” (gtai). For example, the steel industry, which “is very important to Ukraine,” has “much catching up to do, in the use of modern technology.”[6] German companies are hoping to land lucrative contracts. This sector also has political significance. As in many other branches, Ukrainian oligarchs, such as Rinat Achmetov, exercise an enormous amount of influence over the steel industry. It is unknown, whether Achmetov – who may have to make expensive modernization investments – can expect concessions for his announcement to regain control over eastern Ukraine.[7] From within the entourage of President-elect Poroshenko, there is talk of a “German aid program for the Donbass,” that is supposed to “create jobs.”[8] Gtai also sees opportunities for German enterprises in the impending modernization of Ukraine’s agriculture, where Ukrainian oligarchs are also influential.

Low-Wage Site

According to the gtai analysis, the imminent signing of the economic segment of the EU’s Association Agreement will make large-scale transplantation of industrial sites also feasible. For example, “a foreign automobile producer could proliferate its locations in Ukraine and establish a cluster of subcontractors,” writes the foreign trade agency. The country could even, “step by step, become a second Czech Republic,” thanks to its exceptionally low wage level (“labor cost advantages”), particularly due to the fact that Ukraine has a “relatively well trained labor force.” Gtai points out that various German automotive components suppliers – such as Leoni – are already producing inside the country. However, Ukrainian auto manufacturers must “then convert to the production of component parts or niche products such as customized autos or infrastructures.”[9] It is not clear what form the confrontation will take between the giants of the West European auto industry, on the one hand, and the Ukrainian oligarchs, on the other. For example, one of the largest car manufacturers in Ukraine is privately owned by the billionaire Petro Poroshenko.[10] Poroshenko has announced his intentions to sell his companies – with the exception of his “Channel 5” broadcasting company – but it is not clear, who will take over his “Bohdan Corporation” car factories.

“Finally Retaliate”

Whereas the protégée of the CDU-affiliated Konrad Adenauer Foundation [11], Kiev’s future mayor, Vitali Klitschko, has announced that he will now “seek German investments very intensively,”[12] his political ally, Petro Poroshenko, is applying the final measures for the absorption of all of Ukraine into the Western hegemonic sphere – by repressing revolts in the east of the country. This week, using its newly formed “national guard,” irregular militias and the air force, Kiev’s regime massively expanded attacks on the cities of Donbass. Before elections, “they had shied away from fighting, to not endanger voting,” an “insider” was quoted saying, “now we can finally retaliate.”[13] German foreign policy experts are expressing their comprehension. “It was evident that Kiev had to again become active, once the elections were over,” declared, the Chair of the Munich Security Conference, Wolfgang Ischinger.[14] From Donezk, the first strikes in opposition to Kiev’s onslaught have been announced, and violence is also escalating from the side of the insurgents. No end to the fighting is in sight.

War of European Unification

The war beginning in eastern Ukraine will not be the first war to accompany the German-European eastward expansion of their hegemonic sphere. Already in the 1990s, Germany supported the destruction of Yugoslavia, to prevent possible resistance to its predominance. In the summer of 1999, shortly after the war over Kosovo, German media had referred to a “war of European unification.” However, at the time, it was reported that “leaders,” were referring to this “only in confidential conversations” – otherwise one would have to answer the objection that “war is again being called the mother of all – even Europe.”[15]

More reports and background information on the current German policy toward Ukraine can be found here: A Broad-Based Anti-Russian Alliance, Expansive Ambitions, Our Man in Kiev, Integration Rivalry with Moscow, On the Offensive, At all Costs, The Crimean Conflict, The Kiev Escalation Strategy, Cold War Images, The Free World, A Fatal Taboo Violation, The Europeanization of Ukraine, Official Government Vocative, An Unusual Mission, “Scientific Nationalists”, Crisis of Legitimacy and “Fascist Freedom Fighters” and The Restoration of the Oligarchs (IV).

[1] Van Rompuy wirft Russland Destabilisierung vor. www.handelsblatt.com 29.05.2014.
[2] Das erste Interview mit Klitschko und Poroschenko. www.bild.de 27.05.2014.
[3] So wollen sie der Ukraine Frieden bringen. www.bild.de 29.05.2014.
[4] See Under the EU Flag.
[5] Ukraine cuts health, welfare spending to boost defence. www.janes.com 12.05.2014.
[6] In der Ukraine stehen Modernisierungen an. www.gtai.de 24.04.2014.
[7], [8] See The Restoration of the Oligarchs (IV).
[9] In der Ukraine stehen Modernisierungen an. www.gtai.de 24.04.2014.
[10] See The Restoration of the Oligarchs (IV).
[11] See Our Man in Kiev.
[12] So wollen sie der Ukraine Frieden bringen. www.bild.de 29.05.2014.
[13] Konrad Schuller: Wie aus Partisanenhaufen Stoßtrupps wurden. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 28.05.2014.
[14] Ischinger nennt Offensive gegen Separatisten notwendig. www.faz.net 28.05.2014.
[15] Gunter Hofmann: Deutschland am Ende des Krieges. Die Zeit 24/1999.

 

Discussion

3 comments for “German Economic Colonization of Ukraine”

  1. Fascinating… The author not only explains the origins of durable Ukrainian fascism, but why fascism will inevitably return to Europe – as a response to the failure of neo-liberal economic globalism:

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/06/06/the-durability-of-ukrainian-fascism/

    Fascism: an “Ism” for the 21st Century
    The Durability of Ukrainian Fascism
    by PETER LEE
    Readers outside of Europe might not be aware of it, but spring is the fascist marching season in the Baltic republics.

    In Estonia on February 16; February 16 & March 11 in Lithuania (anniversaries of 1918 and 1990 declarations of independence); and March 16 in Latvia (March 16, 1944 was first day the Latvian Legion fought alongside the Wehrmacht against the Red Army), local fascists parade to celebrate fascist principals and fascist heroes, most of whom collaborated in some ways with Nazi Germany during World War II while resisting the Soviet Union.

    The big event for Ukrainian fascists is January 1, the anniversary of the birth of Stepan Bandera (1909-1959), leader of the OUN-B (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists—Bandera) fascist faction.

    This year, 15,000 people marched by torchlight in Kyiv on January 1 to commemorate Bandera.

    Eastern European fascism is a durable and alarmingly vital ideology. It is not just a matter of atavistic affection for Hitler and Nazism by bigoted cranks.

    And Ukrainian fascism is more durable and vital than most. It was forged in the most adverse conditions imaginable, in the furnace of Stalinism, under the reign of Hitler, and amid Poland’s effort to destroy Ukrainian nationality.

    Ukrainian nationalism was under ferocious attack between the two world wars. The USSR occupied the eastern half of Ukraine, subjected it to collectivization under Stalin, and committed repression and enabled a famine that killed millions. At first, the Soviets sought to co-opt Ukrainian nationalism by supporting Ukrainian cultural expression while repressing Ukrainian political aspirations; USSR nationalities policies were “nationalist in expression and socialist in essence”. Then, in 1937 Stalin obliterated the native Ukrainian cultural and communist apparatus in a thoroughgoing purge and implemented Russified central control through his bespoke instrument, Nikita Krushchev.

    Meanwhile, the eastern part of the Ukraine was under the thumb of the Polish Republic, which was trying to entrench its rule before either the Germans or the Russians got around to destroying it again. This translated into a concerted Polish political, security, cultural, and demographic push into Ukrainian Galicia. The Polish government displaced Ukrainian intellectuals and farmers, attacked their culture and religion (including seizure of Orthodox churches and conversion into Roman Catholic edifices), marginalized the Ukrainians in their own homeland, and suppressed Ukrainian independence activists (like Bandera, who spent the years 1933 to 1939 in Poland’s Wronki Prison after trying to assassinate Poland’s Minister of the Interior).

    Ukrainian nationalists, therefore, were unable to ride communism or bourgeois democracy into power. Communism was a tool of Soviet expansionism, not class empowerment, and Polish democracy offered no protection for Ukrainian minority rights or political expression, let alone a Ukrainian state.

    Ukrainian nationalists turned largely toward fascism, specifically toward a concept of “integral nationalism” that, in the absence of an acceptable national government, manifested itself in a national will residing in the spirit of its adherents, not expressed by the state or restrained by its laws, but embodied by a charismatic leader and exercised through his organization, whose legitimacy supersedes that of the state and whose commitment to violence makes it a law unto itself.

    That leader, at least for many Ukrainians of the fascist persuasion, was Stepan Bandera. The organization, his OUN-B faction.

    This state of affairs persists in today’s successor to the OUN-B, Pravy Sektor, with its fascist trappings, leader cult, and paramilitary arm. The “mainstreaming” of the second major fascist grouping, Svoboda, looks more like a strategic repackaging in order to strive for greater electoral success by hiding its fascist antecedents.

    So, unfortunately for apologists for the current Kyiv regime, the correct description of these two groups is not “nationalist” or “ultranationalist”; it is “fascist”.

    Fatally, the Ukrainian government has turned to fascist nationalism and heroes in order to forge a post-Soviet, essentially Ukrainian, identity for the post-1991 state.

    In a recapitulation of a trend in eastern Europe to resurrect World War II era nationalist fascists—some of whom actively collaborated with the Nazis—as rallying points for anti-Russian sentiment, Bandera has also been adopted as a Ukrainian national hero: in 2010 President Yuschenko posthumously (and, according to a court in pro-Russian Donetsk, illegally) awarded Bandera the title of Hero of Ukraine.

    The uncomfortable truth is that the government has invested enough effort into celebrating Bandera as a national hero that the epithet “Banderite” that pro-Russian elements apply to the Kyiv regime is not terribly far from the mark.

    For obvious reasons, Russian propaganda has labored mightily to characterize Bandera as a Nazi, so that he can be condemned as a collaborator with Hitler in his war on the USSR and the world, and not an independence fighter against Russia and its brutal and extremely unpopular (for ethnic Ukrainians, at least) rule over eastern Ukraine.

    Actually, Banderan fascism, with its focus on establishing a pure Ukrainian state, was only tangentially related to Hitler’s expansionist extravagances, which centered on an apocalyptic war against the “Judeo-Bolshevism” that, in Hitler’s view, stood between Germany and its rightful place as lord of a racially cleansed Europe and a global empire rivalling those of the United States and Great Britain.

    Bandera was not an important Nazi collaborator, albeit because he was never given a real chance. Ukrainian independence activists of every stripe threw themselves at the Nazis in the Thirties, seeing Germany as the only force that could destroy both of their hated oppressors—Poland, for the western Ukrainians, and the USSR for the eastern Ukraine.

    However, the Nazis were contemptuous of Slavs, who were assigned the role of hewers of wood and drawers of water in the new Aryan order. Ukrainian workers transported to Germany as laborers were subjected to miserable and degrading treatment as they sweated for the Reich.

    The notorious ethnic Ukrainian “Galician SS” and “Nachtigall” and “Roland” military formations apparently were kept on a short leash by the Germans, did not accomplish a great deal during World War II, and only saw serious action when the Nazis got really desperate.

    The Nazis were above all determined to keep a tight grip on Ukraine, which was a central region for their concept of a Slav-free Lebensraum for Germans and a key zone for their military operations against the USSR. They recognized that Bandera’s bedrock interest was in creating a Ukrainian state free of anyone’s control and were well aware of his tendency toward bloody mischief. The Nazis detained him for most of World War II and only released in a “too little too late” effort to slow up the Red Army as it drove Germany out of eastern Europe in 1945.

    Post-war, a German officer made the telling observation that the war in the east was not lost at Stalingrad; it was lost “long before that—in Kiev, when we hosted the swastika instead of the Ukrainian flag!”

    Stepan Bandera was an unapologetic fascist and terrorist whose OUN-B faction launched an unimaginably brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing campaign through slaughter during World War II. Yale historian Thomas Snyder, who is an enthusiastic cheerleader for almost all things EuroMaidan, draws the line at exalting Bandera.

    The Nazis killed tens of millions of anonymous strangers in the East as part of a war of conquest meant to Germanize Europe to the Urals; the Ukrainians of the OUN-B murdered tens of thousands of their neighbors while trying to rip a national state out of the social and political fabric of eastern Europe.

    Like Hitler, Bandera was keen to purify the “homeland” of impure elements. Unlike Hitler, Bandera only had the chance to turn his fury on his enemies—primarily the Poles of Galicia–for a few months.

    5000 Ukrainian police defected with their weapons to join Bandera’s faction as Nazi rule crumbled in Ukraine, and provided the muscle for the most notorious Bandera action of the Second World War: the massacre of Poles in what is now western Ukraine.

    Historians generally agree that Bandera’s forces committed systematic atrocities in order to institute a reign of terror that would drive out the Poles out.

    Norman Davies:

    Villages were torched. Roman Catholic priests were axed or crucified. Churches were burned with all their parishioners. Isolated farms were attacked by gangs carrying pitchforks and kitchen knives. Throats were cut. Pregnant women were bayoneted. Children were cut in two. Men were ambushed in the field and led away.

    Timothy Snyder:

    Ukrainian partisans burned homes, shot or forced back inside those who tried to flee, and used sickles and pitchforks to kill those they captured outside. In some cases, beheaded, crucified, dismembered, or disemboweled bodies were displayed, in order to encourage remaining Poles to flee.

    Various estimates calculate that somewhere between 35,000 and 100,000 Poles died in the Bandera terror.

    Bandera’s champions point to the fact that he was still in German detention when the massacres took place and there is no evidence that he explicitly ordered the massacres. But given his ideology, his detestation of the Poles, and his role as the charismatic leader of his faction, it seems unlikely his subordinates undertook this massive enterprise on their own initiative.

    One of Bandera’s lieutenants was Roman Shukhevych. In February 1945, Shukhevych issued an order stating, “In view of the success of the Soviet forces it is necessary to speed up the liquidation of the Poles, they must be totally wiped out, their villages burned … only the Polish population must be destroyed.”

    As a matter of additional embarrassment, Shukhevych was also a commander in the Nachtigall (Nightingale) battalion organized by the Wehrmacht.

    Today, a major preoccupation of Ukrainian nationalist historical scholarship is beating back rather convincing allegations by Russian, Polish, and Jewish historians that Nachtigall was an important and active participant in the massacre of Lviv Jews orchestrated by the German army upon its arrival in June 1941.

    It’s an uphill battle. Bandera had classified Jews as “second order enemies” thanks to their perceived role as collaborators and adjuncts to the Polish and Russian strategy of “divide and conquer” against Ukrainian nationalism. Anti-Semitism, indeed, is a staple of modern Ukrainian fascism and has undoubtedly contributed to the emigration of 60% of Ukraine’s Jews—340,000 people—since independence.

    Shukhevych remains a hero to Ukrainian fascists today. Most importantly—since Bandera was assassinated in Munich by the USSR in 1959 and left no issue—he serves as the direct lineal ancestor of Ukraine’s key fascist formation, Pravy Sektor.

    In February 2014, the New York Times’ Andrew Higgins penned a rather embarrassing passage that valorized the occupation of Lviv—the Galician city at the heart of Ukrainian fascism, the old stomping grounds of Roman Shukhevych and the Nachtigall battlaian, and also Simon Wiesnthal’s home town—by anti-Yanyukovich forces in January 2014:

    Some of the president’s longtime opponents here have taken an increasingly radical line.

    Offering inspiration and advice has been Yuriy Shukhevych, a blind veteran nationalist who spent 31 years in Soviet prisons and labor camps and whose father, Roman, led the Ukrainian Insurgent Army against Polish and then Soviet rule.

    Mr. Shukhevych, 80, who lost his sight during his time in the Soviet gulag, helped guide the formation of Right Sector, an unruly organization whose fighters now man barricades around Independence Square, the epicenter of the protest movement in Kiev.

    https://johnib.wordpress.com/tag/yuriy-shukhevych/

    Yuriy Shukhevych’s role in modern Ukrainian fascism is not simply that of an inspirational figurehead and reminder of his father’s anti-Soviet heroics for proud Ukrainian nationalists. He is a core figure in the emergence of the key Ukrainian fascist formation, Pravy Sektor and its paramilitary.

    And Pravy Sektor’s paramilitary, the UNA-UNSO, is not an “unruly” collection of weekend-warrior-wannabes, as Mr. Higgins might believe.

    UNA-UNSO was formed during the turmoil of the early 1990s, largely by ethnic Ukrainian veterans of the Soviet Union’s bitter war in Afghanistan. From the first, the UNA-UNSO has shown a taste for foreign adventures, sending detachments to Moscow in 1990 to oppose the Communist coup against Yeltsin, and to Lithuania in 1991. With apparently very good reason, the Russians have also accused UNA-UNSO fighters of participating on the anti-Russian side in Georgia and Chechnya.

    After formal Ukrainian independence, the militia elected Yuriy Shukhevych—the son of OUN-B commander Roman Shukhevych– as its leader and set up a political arm, which later became Pravy Sektor.

    Also after independence in 1991, the unapologetically fascistic Social Nationalist Party—with, inevitably, its own paramilitary, Patriots of Ukraine—was set up under the leadership of Andriy Parubiy.

    Parubiy left the Social Nationalist Party in 2004, when it became the vehicle for the political aspirations of Oleh Tyahnybok and became the Svoboda Party. Parubiy’s motivations are relatively opaque, but I would argue he left to become the fascist Trojan horse inside Yulya Tymoshenko’s Fatherland party. Indeed, while Timoshenko’s political clout dwindled during her imprisonment, Parubiy was a key organizer of “volunteers” at Maidan and emerged as the secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, charged with handling the “anti-terrorist” operations in the east.

    Rather Panglossian analyses of Ukranian fascism usually take as their point of departure the dismal showing of Pravy Sektor and Svoboda in the 2014 presidential election.

    The two fascist parties polled less than 2% combined in the 2014 presidential poll. Hoever, this is probably a misleading indicator of their strength. Pravy Sektor’s Yarosh had announced he wouldn’t run an active campaign, presumably as part of a deal at the behest of EuroMaidan’s Western backers to help Petro Poroshenko avoid a run-off with Yulya Tymoshenko. As for Tyahnybok, Svoboda got 10% of the vote in the parliamentary elections of 2012, and it seems implausible that his backing has completely collapsed after his high-profile role in the triumphant Maidan troika together with Klitschko and Yatsenyuk.

    In any case, as noted above, fascists do not regard the state, its constitution, and the electoral process as the vehicle for Ukrainian national aspirations. That role is reserved for the leader, the party, and the paramilitaries. What matters to fascists is their influence in the affairs of the nation, and in Ukraine that influence is significant.

    When eastern Ukraine rose up, the current Kyiv government, admittedly laboring under significant disabilities of illegitimacy, incompetence, and penury, has experienced immense difficulties in rallying a multi-ethnic Ukrainian nation. It was almost a foregone conclusion that fascist paramilitaries would be called upon to supplement or even replace the wavering regime forces in the field.

    In an eerie—well, perhaps, predictable—recapitulation of the OUN-B’s opportunistic military collaboration with the Wehrmacht, Pravy Sektor leader Dmytro Yarosh organized the “Donbass Batallion” to assist the Ukrainian government’s operations in the east. Pravy Sektor leaders and rank and file have also apparently augmented if not formed the oligarch-funded Dniepr Battalion–currently one of the few military formations operating in the east that is reliably and brutally loyal to the Kyiv regime.

    Even though it is plausibly alleged that Russia is inciting and abetting resistance, local resentment against Kyiv and its heavy-handed tactics is undeniably present and apparently increasing, and perhaps with it the need for fascist backbone and muscle to subjugate the unruly east.

    The optimistic European scenario is for Ukraine’s barely acknowledged fascist problems to melt away as European integration and prosperity do their moderating work, and Ukraine emerges as another Poland: politically stable, united, democratic, and reliably anti-Russian.

    However, it is an ugly truth that Poland had its issues of national identity resolved by Hitler, Stalin, and the Holocaust, which stripped away the complicating nationalities issues posed by its German, Ukrainian, and Jewish populations. Before World War II, one-third of Poland’s population was “minorities”. Today, Poland is 96% “Polish”.

    Ukraine, on the other hand, carries a legacy of division thanks to the USSR’s administration of eastern Ukraine before World War II, and Russian domination of the Kiev elite during the Soviet period. About 18% of Ukrainians are ethnic Russian; but 30% of the population is native-Russian speaking. In the western oblasts currently battling Kyiv, the percentage of Russian speakers ranges from 72% (Dnipropetrovsk) to 93% (Donetsk). Crimea, now annexed to Russia, was 97%.

    Unless the Kyiv regime unwittingly solves its problem by escalating the crisis to the point that Russia annexes the eastern oblasts and removes Russian Ukrainians from the nationalist equation, a plausible forecast for Ukraine is failure, polarization, poverty, violence—and fascist political success as Russian ethnic and linguistic identity become signifiers for looming threats to the Ukrainian state.

    But in evaluating the outlook for fascism in Europe, it is a mistake to think fascists are just fighting the last war—finishing up the de-Bolshevization and de-Russification of eastern Europe that Hitler was only able to begin.

    Communism isn’t the only light that’s failing.

    Ukrainian fascists love the Russia-hammering NATO, but detest the Russia-accommodating and supra-nationalistic EU.

    And they aren’t alone. Fascism—and anti-EU sentiment—pervade parts of Europe that never felt Stalin’s wrath. In the last elections for the European Parliament, “eurosceptics” and xenophobic ultra-nationalists scored significant gains, led by Marine Le Pen, whose National Front took 25% of the French seats.

    A lot of it has to do with the equivocal track record of globalized neo-liberal capitalism in the last decade. We’re all Pikettyists now, and it seems that among the most important outcomes of neo-liberalism are income inequality and oligarchs.

    It is anathema to liberal democrats, but it should be acknowledged that fascism is catching on, largely as a result of a growing perception that neo-liberalism and globalization are failing to deliver the economic and social goods to a lot of people.

    Democracy is seen as the plaything of oligarchs who manipulate the current system to secure and expand their wealth and power; liberal constitutions with their guarantees of minority rights appear to be recipes for national impotence. Transnational free markets in capital and goods breed local austerity, unemployment, and poverty. Democratic governments seem to follow the free market playbook, get into problems they can’t handle, and surrender their sovereignty to committees of Euro-financiers.

    Fascism, with its exaltation of the particular, the emotional, and the undemocratic provides an impregnable ideological and political bulwark against these outside forces.

    Fascism has become an important element in the politics of resistance: a force that obstructs imposition of the norms of globalization, and an ideology that justifies the protection of local local interests against the demands of liberal democracy, transnational capital, and property and minority rights.

    Maybe it’s neo-liberalism, not fascism, that is facing a crisis of legitimacy and acceptance.

    So the idea that fascism can be treated as a delusional artifact of the 20th century and the challenge of fascism to the neo-liberal order can be ignored is, itself, wishful thinking.

    Even if the European Union grows and flourishes, it will continue to have a hard time outrunning the perception that it delivers its benefits preferentially to a limited subset of nations, corporations, and individuals, at the expense of the many.

    In eastern Europe, add to the incendiary mix the perception that the EU, that bastion of liberal democratic and free market ideals, has very little will or even interest in standing up to Russia.

    This sentiment will not exclusively spawn benign “Green” and “Occupy” progressive movement, that combine their allegiance to democracy and human and individual rights with their well-earned reputations for internal division, political impotence, and unwillingness to confront.

    For some, resentment will, inevitably, congeal around nationalism and the perception that fascist resistance, defiantly militant, uncompromising, and irrational, racial and undemocratic, exclusionary and brutal, is the best instrument to achieve local identity and agency—power– in an ever bigger, more dangerous, and less responsive continental order.

    Fascism, I’m afraid, isn’t just part of Europe’s past; it’s part of Europe’s future.

    Peter Lee wrote a ground-breaking essay on the exposure of sailors on board the USS Reagan to radioactive fallout from Fukushima in the March issue of CounterPunch magazine. He edits China Matters.

    Posted by Swamp | June 7, 2014, 10:35 am
  2. Now that Poroshenko is in office we’re getting a better sense of what direction he’s going to take the country. And that direction appears to be down. Specifically, down into a dark hole of senseless avoidable conflicts:

    Poroshenko’s D-day meeting with Putin is a chance to end a lethal tug of war
    If Ukraine’s leader is to keep his country together he must start a political process to de-escalate tensions between east and west

    Jonathan Steele
    theguardian.com, Friday 6 June 2014 04.00 EDT

    Ukraine’s new president, Petro Poroshenko, seems set to meet Vladimir Putin at the 70th anniversary commemoration of D-Day today. There may be little time for substantive talks but the encounter could open the way to what Ukraine desperately needs – de-escalation.

    The omens are not good, though. Barack Obama and David Cameron continue their exaggerated blaming of Russia rather than admit that people in eastern Ukraine have legitimate grievances which Poroshenko should address. On the ground the situation remains dangerous. Anti-Kiev rebels continue to clash with the Ukrainian army while armed militias from the anti-Russian nationalist groups who spearheaded the coup in Kiev in February have moved to the east and are increasingly active. If Poroshenko is to keep his country together, he must use political means. He should not use his election victory as a mandate for yet more force.

    Anger over the corrupt elite that has governed Ukraine since independence in 1991 was a key element in last winter’s protests. For many Ukrainians the wish to “join Europe” was shorthand for their hopes for clean government. Oligarchs who pay little or no tax on their vast holdings dominate Ukrainian politics even more than in Russia. Yet voters were mainly offered a choice between different oligarchs in last month’s election and the winner was the one who spent most on advertising.

    Before the election a poll by the Washington-based Pew Research Centre showed the post-coup Kiev government had the confidence of only 24% of easterners. This was hardly surprising given that it appointed no more than two easterners as ministers and parachuted oligarchs in as regional governors. This flouted the agreement for a government of national unity which Ukraine’s political parties had agreed with the European Union before the previous president, Viktor Yanukovych, fled.

    The Kiev government then added insult to injury by implying that easterners were pawns of Moscow because they called for a federal Ukraine and demonising those who mounted protests as “pro-Russian separatists” – although the same Pew poll showed that most Russian-speakers in the east want to keep Ukraine united.

    Poroshenko’s first statements since the election have been ambiguous. On the one hand, he has promised to guarantee an official place for the Russian language, resume a national dialogue and pursue constitutional reform. But he refers to the eastern rebels as terrorists and says he will not negotiate with them. Worse, he promised to smash their uprising by force within hours.

    Poroshenko should cut the name-calling and suspend the uphill struggle to defeat the rebels militarily. Far better to seek a solution by political means. Nationally, he should appoint a broad-based government with respected (not oligarchic) representatives from all regions. Candidates representing the neo-Nazi factions, Svoboda and Right Sector, won less than 2% in the presidential vote so Poroshenko should dump the five senior officials they had in the post-coup government. He should hold early parliamentary and local elections so that people can vote for new faces across the board.

    Measures such as these would sap much of the support that the eastern gunmen command and make it possible for the rebellion to fizzle out.

    Internationally, Poroshenko needs to invite Russia to participate in a joint programme with the EU to rescue the economy. The current IMF-mandated measures to end subsidies and squeeze wages and pensions are a disaster, as is Russia’s effort to overcharge Ukraine for gas. Poroshenko should also re-affirm the policy of non-alignment for Ukraine which he supported as a minister in the Yanukovych government.

    With Poroshenko declared that “Citizens of Ukraine will never enjoy the beauty of peace unless we settle our relations with Russia. Russia occupied Crimea, which was, is, and will be, Ukrainian soil” while also announcing that the Russian language will never be an official language of Ukraine, you have to wonder how much of the existing industrial infrastructure is going to even survive the ongoing conflict in the east. Demanding the return of Crimea was pretty much expected (if fruitless) and will probably be used to further divide Ukraine and Russia, economically, as Crimea becomes another “frozen conflict“, albeit one where full on annexation has already taken place. That’s not a surprise. It’s just the depressing reality of a situation with no clear solutions.

    But to also start off by announcing that the Ukrainian language will remain the only official language for the country without doing something to placate the ethnic Russian populace – that was understandably freaked out when the interim government (filled with the overtly anti-Russian Svoboda and Pravy Sektor party officials) revoked the language laws that made Russian an official language as one of its first acts – is repeat of the very same disastrous decision that fueled this divide in the first place. Isn’t such a move only going to increase support in the east for the separatists?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 7, 2014, 4:06 pm
  3. @SWAMP–

    An interesting, though inadequate, analysis.

    The author’s views on the failures of “neo-liberalism” and those failures’ strengthening of fascist sentiment and ideology are accurate.

    His discussion of OUN/B and Ukrainian fascism isn’t–not by a long shot.

    There was nothing “opportunistic” about the OUN/B’s alliance with the Third Reich.

    Erwin Rommel was one of Hitler’s top generals. Rommel turned against Hitler as the war progressed and was eventually executed.

    Their was nothing “opportunistic” or “tactical” about Rommel’s alliance with the Third Reich.

    Note that Lee makes no mention of the role of the OUN/B in the Committee of Subjugated Nations, put together by Hitler in 1943.

    It became the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations, dominated by OUN/B.

    ABN and OUN/B became key elements of the GOP’s ethnic outreach organization and the Reagan administration.

    When the FCF undertook the destabilization of the USSR and Eastern Europe, the ABN and OUN/B were front and center.

    Ykaterina Chumachenko and Roman Svarych were central to the Yuschenko regime and its remake of Ukrainian history, paving the way for Swoboda and Pravy Sektor.

    Lee–of course–makes no mention of OUN/B and the assassination of JFK.

    He makes no mention of Theodor Oberlander and his work sponsoring the use of non-Russian Soviet nationalities as Nazi combatants and (in the post-war world) proxy warriors.

    In short, it is a typically 2-dimensional leftist analysis of events in Ukraine.

    Granted, most of what the Mainstream Media are presenting is 1-dimensional right-wing analysis but, still, the CounterPunch piece is altogether inadequate.

    Best,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | June 7, 2014, 8:46 pm

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