In the wicked pursuit to expand Western business interests in Ukraine, the U.S. and its Western allies have provoked Russia into taking what it deems as necessary defensive measures to safeguard its own sovereignty against the threat of an ever-expanding and fiercely hostile NATO.
By Alex Rickel
A Ukrainian neo-Nazi militia known as the "Azov Battalion", officially incorporated into the Ukrainian National Guard in November of 2014 by the American backed pro-Western government.
Understanding the context and history of U.S. involvement in Ukraine provides us with tremendously valuable insight rarely focused on by corporate-owned media outlets. In any crisis, especially one which unfortunately devolves into the hell that is war, the everyday working-class citizens of all countries mustn't underestimate their obligation to hold the corporate press accountable for forcing a single dominant narrative into popular discourse while simultaneously stomping out all dissenting opinions- regardless of their potential merit. For supporting any narrative that undermines the motives and objectives of the global 'rule-setting order' is a direct threat to U.S. hegemony.
This is a situation with no easily definable 'good guy' or 'bad guy', only two global superpowers exercising their own distinct imperial ambitions over a vulnerable and resource-rich Ukraine. To better understand how we arrived at our current predicament, we must throw down the burden of misinformation forced upon us, and dive head-first into the potentially uncomfortable history of the United State's sinister intentions in the region.
A Broken Promise
The original and sole purpose for NATO's existence was to serve as a unified counterforce to the Warsaw Pact during the Cold War. From the ashes of the Soviet Union rose the fragile Russian Federation, and with it, a new era in geopolitical relations. The United States and its Western counterparts aspired to bring a unified Germany into the fold, engaging in negotiations with the new Russia to make this a reality. Reasonably hesitant about the revival of a unified Germany, the United States made the promise to Russia that it would not allow for NATO expansion East of Germany in the future.
Despite making such a audacious promise, the United States had no intention of curtailing NATO expansion deeper into Eastern Europe. In fact, since 1999, NATO has expanded in size to include an additional 14 countries, all of which are located East of Germany's borders.
This opportunistic encroachment into Russia's former sphere of influence has only served the purpose of provoking Russia into taking further, more severe, retaliatory action against those who shift the balance of power against them. In a 2019 (Pentagon funded) RAND study examining how the U.S. government could overextend Russia's military and or economic capabilities, it was noted that,
"Providing more U.S. military equipment and advice could lead Russia to increase its direct involvement in the conflict and the price it pays for it. Russia might respond by mounting a new offensive and seizing more Ukrainian territory. While this might increase Russia's costs, it would also represent a setback for the United States, as well as for Ukraine."
NATO's continued and reckless encroachment towards their sworn mortal enemy has done the exact opposite of deescalating tensions in Europe, posing what Russia perceives as a legitimate threat to their sovereignty. To the advantage of U.S. intelligence agencies, U.S. business interests, and by extension- corporate owned media outlets- the further intentional fueling of pro-war/anti-Russian sentiments here in the States only paves the way for future NATO operations around the world to go relatively unquestioned and unchecked.
The Desire to Exploit Ukraine
The many grotesque appendages of the American imperial apparatus operate together to actualize their sinister objective of maximizing the profits of U.S. based corporations and their robber baron owners at the expense of other countries national sovereignty. Bringing Ukraine into NATO's sphere is perceived by the West as a venture worth undertaking not only because of Ukraine's strategic location next to Russia, but also because of it's abundance of natural resources ripe for exploiting at the hands of giant multinational corporations.
In 2008, NATO leaders agreed to extend the promise of membership to Ukraine after the United States reaffirmed its demand to incorporate former Soviet Socialist republics into the alliance. Despite the former Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko calling NATO's promise of membership, "historic", thousands of protesters stood together in Ukrainian cities all across the country to denounce the proposal of NATO membership- wishing that their homeland not devolve into a U.S. client state and staging grounds for a potential future war with Russia.
Control over Ukraine's military remains a key objective, though the chief priority of the United States is undoubtable to open up Ukrainian markets for economic domination by foreign investors. A highly effective tool for making this a reality has been the International Monetary Fund (IMF), an international organization funded by and representing the interests of Western capitalists and the governments they corrupt. It's one of the many wicked global institutions responsible for maintaining gross standards of wealth and income inequality all around the world. The IMF achieves this by leveraging aid loans to coerce foreign governments into adopting policies favorable to foreign investors. What kind of policies could these be?
In Ukraine, the IMF sought to implement a series of predatory economic reforms to make the country more open to investors at the expense of working citizens. Some of these demands included:
Reducing natural gas subsidies to Ukrainian citizens that made energy affordable for the masses.
Cutting wage controls; aka, lowering wages, predominantly affecting low-income citizens.
"reform[ing] and reduc[ing]" health and education sectors, the largest industries in terms of employment in the country.
It's painfully obvious that the United States has no interest to better the material conditions of everyday Ukrainians, rather, they view the workers of this historic and proud nation as nothing more than bodies to be sacrificed on the altar of capitalism. Even the U.S. Assistant Secretary, and future coup plotter, Victoria Nuland, continued to stress the need for the Ukrainian government to implement these "necessary" reforms, knowing damn well the potentially dire consequences this would have on the poorest and most vulnerable citizens of Ukraine.
In 2013, faced with such outrageous demands, Ukrainian President Yanukovych ended trade integration talks with the European Union, jeopardizing a potential economic and military alliance with the West. This bold display of defiance on the part of President Yanukovych expectedly didn't bode well with the United States. As Mr. Yanukovych was about to learn, no one messes with the capital interests of the most powerful imperial power to ever exist and gets away with it.
Washington Partners with Nazis to Overthrow the Government of Ukraine
Months before he would be overthrown in a Washington-backed coup, Ukrainian President Yanukovych would restart economic negotiations with Russia. Unsurprisingly, the U.S. felt slighted by the fact that a democratically elected leader of a sovereign nation was making choices he believed were in the best interests of his people- choices that just so happened to be in direct conflict with the unhinged demands of Western capital.
As both the United States and Russia continued to compete for influence in the Eastern European country, Washington was engaged in a destabilization campaign aimed at bringing down the Yanukovych government. Additional measures would be taken to assist fueling antigovernment sentiments, like the spending of billions of dollars to promote "democracy" in Ukraine through mechanisms like USAID and National Endowment for Democracy (NED).
The NED plays a crucial role in maintaining American dominance abroad by dumping large sums of money into organizations dedicated to upholding and or installing US-friendly governments. At the behest of American robber barons, the NED targets regimes with views opposing U.S. military and economic expansion, doing so by mobilizing antigovernment opposition.
As pointed out by the Black Agenda Report, "One of the many recipients of NED money for projects in Ukraine was the International Republican Institute. The IRI, once chaired by Sen. John McCain, has long had a hand in US regime change operations." This piece of information provides some much-needed context to the picture above with Senator McCain, though, does it explain the connection between McCain and far-right ultranationalist, Oleh Tyahnybok?
The Washington-backed opposition that would go on to topple President Yanukovych's government was driven by openly Fascist elements like Right Sector and Svoboda. An infamous far-right paramilitary militia group, trained and equipped by the U.S., that would gain recognition from its involvement in antigovernment protests was the Azov Battalion, pictured in the thumbnail of this article 'chilling' with their NATO and Nazi flags. The leaders of these staunchly pro-Nazi groups comprised the vanguard of anti-Yanukovych protests, often commanding their followers to commit hate-fueled acts of violence in the pursuit to intimidate and destroy opposition factions.
Following the violent overthrow of the government, many of these Fascist elements would be incorporated into the Ukrainian military- the same military that the U.S. has now given $2.5 billion to. Since becoming official members of the armed forces, Ukrainian nationalist forces have been credited for committing a plethora of war crimes against Russian-speaking citizens in the Eastern part of the country.
In February of 2014, fascist elements in Ukraine overthrew the democratically elected government in what is known as the "Maidan Revolution", almost entirely the consequence of the Ukrainian government and people's unwillingness to bend the knee by giving up their right to self-determination. Neither democracy nor any other virtuous principle plays a role in determining U.S. foreign policy. The only thing that drives the actions of Washington is the apathetic pursuit to enrich themselves and their cronies far-beyond what's reasonable and morally right, with no regard to the harm done to ordinary people like you and me.
Following the 2014 coup, the new West-aligned puppet government almost immediately restarted negotiating the trade deal with the EU. With a $27 billion guarantee from the IMF dangling in front of their faces, the Ukrainian government quickly implemented the "necessary" economic reforms, and by doing so, cursed their people and nation to be subjugated by the greed of U.S. business interests for the foreseeable future.
A Nation Coming to Terms with its History of Right-Wing Extremism- and it's Deadly Relevancy Today
Corporate owned media outlets are intentionally trying to downplay the severity and relevancy of fascist influence in Ukraine. For us to truly understand the current Nazi problem plaguing Ukraine, we must come to terms with the troubled and wrongfully glorified history of such a hateful ideology thriving in such a naturally-beautiful place
Just earlier this year (2022), hundreds of Ukrainian fascists marched in honor of Stepan Bandera, a Nazi collaborator who led a Ukrainian insurgent army that massacred thousands of Jews and Poles. Collaborating with the Nazis in carrying out the holocaust, Bandera's men slaughtered women and children indiscriminately while moving against the Red Army of the Soviet Union.
The Times of Israel (1/1/22) report that, "Expressions of admiration for Bandera and other (Nazi) collaborators have increased in scope and status following the 2014 revolution in Ukraine, which toppled the regime of Viktor Yanukovych...", and going as far as to say, "The veneration of Nazi collaborators, including killers of Jews, is a growing phenomenon in Eastern Europe..."
And how has our "trustworthy" corporate media reacted to the surfacing of such facts- facts displayed boldly on the website of a major Israeli news organization? They would rather defend actual Nazis than hold supporters of such hateful ideologies accountable, all because it conflicts with their government approved anti-Russia narrative.
The New York Times wrote that Bandera had been “vilified by Moscow as a pro-Nazi traitor,” a charge seen as unfair “in the eyes of many historians and certainly to western Ukrainians.” while The Washington Post wrote that he had entered into a “tactical relationship with Nazi Germany” and that his followers “were accused of committing atrocities against Poles and Jews,” Foreign Policy downplayed Bandera as “Moscow’s favorite bogeyman . . . a metonym for all bad Ukrainian things.”
Other mainstream corporate news groups, such as Vox, have even admitted, "Ukraine's far-right presence has grown and become somewhat normalized, and there are government-aligned fascist militias in the country." only to follow it up with the blatantly inaccurate statements, "To be clear: The Ukrainian government is not a Nazi regime and has not been co-opted by the far right. Zelensky is Jewish; he speaks proudly of his his Jewish grandfather fought against Hitler's army."
Saying that "the Ukrainian government can't be anti-Semitic because they have a Jewish president" is the same exact thing as "the American government can't be racist because they had a black president". The logic in this thought process just doesn't hold up. Of course, not every Ukrainian citizen is bigoted against Jews, just like not every American citizen is racist against blacks; you can be proud of the progress your country has made while also acknowledging the structural and institutional factors holding restraining further positive change.
Late last year (2021), the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution to "condemn Nazism, neo-Nazism and all forms of racism" with approval or abstaining votes from every country, except two: Ukraine and the United States. This comes as no surprise considering both nations have struggled to adequately address their own respective historical wrong-doings, and evidently, they will continue to falter in this regard.
It is our job as the everyday citizen, an individual of the masses, to hold our respective governments accountable for their erroneous transgressions against folks like us who must also work to survive- and in holding them accountable, we must demand better for ourselves and all who will come after us, for the burden of oppression is a weight that should lighten with every pass from generation to new generation. Clearly, there is more work needing to be done by the working-class folks of both the United States and Ukraine.
Allowing the Bloodshed to Continue
We have all seen images and videos of Ukrainian citizens taking up arms to defend themselves and their cities, but did it, and more importantly- does it, have to be this way? Many members of Ukraine's government are convinced this could have all be avoided.
Opposition deputy, Ilya Kiva, of the Ukrainian Parliament has called out current Ukrainian President Zelenskyy as "...a criminal", claiming "He knew about the start of the military operation in advance, but he did not use the opportunity for negotiations. On the contrary, he imposed martial law and drove people to an inevitable death."
The corporate media would have you believe that Zelenskyy would rather negotiate with Russia, though Putin is supposedly 'unwilling' to. On the contrary, Putin announced on 2/24/22 that Russia is ready to negotiate with Ukraine, demanding only that,
Ukraine declare neutrality, &
Ukraine promises not to put foreign weapons on its territory.
With such simple and easily achievable demands, why would the Western-backed President Zelenskyy let this onslaught continue to rage on against his own people? Following the 2014 U.S. backed coup, the government of Ukraine has been little more than a puppet régime carrying out the will of its economic overlords in the West. President Zelenskyy is being paraded around by the U.S. state department as a 'hero', a 'stalwart against Russian aggression', when in all reality, his careless and stupidly embolden acts of so-called "defiance" are only getting more Ukrainian civilians injured and killed.
President Zelenskyy had continuously refused to meet with Putin until yesterday when he confirmed that he would meet with the Russian autocrat on the border of Belarus on Monday 2/28/22 to discuss the proposed terms of peace.
In the interests of deescalating the NATO provoked conflict currently raging on in Ukraine, President Zelenskyy should commit to pursuing neutrality and disarmament of foreign weapons as soon as possible. From an anti-war perspective, this is the only reasonable solution moving forward- a solution with the highest probability of limiting any further loss of life on both sides.
The Double Standards of American Hypocrisy
I pose this hypothetical situation to all of my working class brothers and sisters living in the belly of the imperial beast, though you don't have to be an American to understand the tone and message of what I am about to convey.
What if Putin entered into a military and economic alliance with Canada, Mexico, and almost every other North and South American nation, in spite of how the United States felt about it? What if he then began placing missiles close to our territory in these neighboring counties? How would the U.S. government react? And if our government reacted in a manner that could be interpreted as even slightly 'hostile', would we sit idly by as our economy was crippled by unprecedented sanctions and financial repercussions?
No! Of course not. The U.S. wouldn't tolerate a fraction of what we expect Russia to deal with. If the roles were reversed, the corporate media would be soliciting sympathy from every 'true American patriot' and Russia would still be seen as the 'big bad' aggressor.
In this capitalist country of ours, the major news companies are owned by the same absurdly wealthy elites who would benefit from the military and economic domination of otherwise helpless foreign countries and their peoples. The corporate-owned capitalist news will always reaffirm its own profit-motivating interests over reporting fair and truthful news, for it is in the nature of capitalists to act in accordance with material value rather than virtuous principle.
Solidarity With Working People in Ukraine and Russia
Let me leave no room for doubt, I do not condone Putin's military incursion into Ukraine. The position of any working class individual ought to be against this war and all future wars. The citizens of Russia didn't declare war on Ukraine just as the citizens of the United States didn't declare war on the rest of the world; we are not the governments that oppress us.
Frankly, you have more in common with a Russian solider or a Ukrainian refugee than you do with an American venture capitalist. Most Russians and Ukrainians, like most Americans, are simply trying to live their lives and take care of themselves and their families the best that they can. It is the fast-talking compatriot riding around in a fancy car with a fancy suit that will sell you down the river before you can even properly introduce yourself- all for the sake of making a quick profit at your expense.
The interests of Western capital will never be the interests of working people. To support the expansion of U.S. business interests into foreign nations is to support the deliberate exploitation of other working class folks also struggling to get by. Supporting NATO and its overreaching imperial ambitions only serves to harm the working people of this world, and that includes you. Regardless of you nationality, race, or background, it is impossible to justify stealing away the needs of the poor to provide for the wants of the rich.
Finally, we must let Russians call out their autocratic oligarchs and demand change from them; we must let Ukrainians call out their corrupt puppet government and demand action from them; and we, those of us who live in the core of the American empire, must hold our elected officials accountable and demand nothing less than absolute justice for the atrocities committed against working people here at home and abroad.
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