ON 16 MARCH, an overwhelming majority (96 per cent) in Crimea voted to realign themselves with Russia, an outcome quickly confirmed by Russia itself. Sixty years ago Crimea was handed to Ukraine by then-premier Nikita Krushchev in an act which apparently took 15 minutes. The Crimean people were and are deeply unhappy with this autocratic decision, now reversed.
Howls of outrage from the US and EU accusing Russia of annexing Crimea cannot hide their imperialist intentions in the region. The US, using the EU, seeks to extend its power over ex-Soviet territories to open up their economies as a source of US profits. It has met a significant obstacle. How could Russia stand by with such chaos on her border? Crimea, its Black Sea ports central to Russian trade and military capability, is of huge strategic importance to Russia.
For years, tensions simmered as the EU, acting as usual on behalf of the US, sought to lure Ukraine within its orbit and deliver a blow to the old enemy, Russia. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union Ukraine, despite being the third-largest grain producer in the world and with a well developed manufacturing sector, has edged closer to bankruptcy. Around 60 per cent of GDP was lost between 1991 and 1999. The “recovery” after 1999 was largely brokered by Western banks, with onerous interest rates.
Corruption and fraud on a staggering scale remained. The laughably called “Orange Revolution” of 2006 heralded further stagnation, with political power switching from one group of oligarchs to another. Late last year Russia was set to bail out Ukraine’s debts. Now that job will fall to the peoples of the US and the EU.
Things came to a head late last year when elected president Viktor Yanukovych pulled out of an association agreement with the EU and signalled his intention to ally with Russia instead. Protests erupted in Kiev and western parts of Ukraine, where many were dazzled by the prospect of joining the EU, ignoring the nightmare reality for Greeks, Portuguese and millions of others.
Spurred on by the EU, and abetted by terrorist elements, an upsurge of rioting broke out this February. A truce brokered by the US, Russia, the EU and Kiev protesters was immediately broken. The muscle was provided by the far right with snipers and Molotov cocktails, culminating in the occupation of government buildings.
This coup has met with not a word of criticism from the US and the EU. The rump of pro-EU members of parliament who remained cemented it by installing their own government. The EU and US poured petrol on the fire by immediately recognising it. In fact, as has since been revealed, they actively supported the coup, with the US providing a list of “suitable” new ministers. So much for elections!
In so doing, these “democrats” are relying on some of the filthiest fascists in the world. The neo-Nazi Social-National Party of Ukraine (since rebranded Svoboda – freedom!), whose heroes are World War Two collaborators, now has five ministerial posts. Members of Svoboda and the Right Sector control the armed forces, the police, economic affairs and national security, among other areas. On 18 March Svoboda MPs led violent raids on TV editorial offices for spreading “anti-Ukrainian propaganda”. International criticism of the raids has not been echoed by normally vocal Foreign Secretary William Hague.
Ukraine is not a member of the EU nor of Nato, so there is not even that cover provided for western interference. The people of the region must decide for themselves. Ukraine is not our business. ■