James Petras: Ukraine Dual, Popular Power in the East, Fascism Rising in the West

Tony Gosling tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Sat May 10 10:25:10 BST 2014

He has a long history of commitment to social 
justice, working in particular with the Brazilian 
Landless Workers Movement for 11 years. In 
1973-76 he was a member of the Bertrand Russell 
Tribunal on Repression in Latin America. He 
writes a monthly column for the Mexican 
newspaper, La Jornada, and previously, for the 
Spanish daily, El Mundo. He received his B.A. 
from Boston University and Ph.D. from the 
University of California at Berkeley.

The Kiev Putsch: Rebel Workers Take Power in the East

05.07.2014 :: <http://petras.lahaine.org/?cat=4>Analysis
Introduction: Not since the US and EU took over 
Eastern Europe, including the Baltic countries, 
East Germany, Poland and the Balkans and 
converted them into military outposts of NATO and 
economic vassals, have the Western powers moved 
so aggressively to seize a strategic country, 
such as the Ukraine, posing an existential threat to Russia.


Up until 2013 the Ukraine was a ‘buffer state’, 
basically a non-aligned country, with economic 
ties to both the EU and Russia. Ruled by a regime 
closely tied to local, European, Israeli and 
Russian based oligarchs, the political elite was 
a product of a political upheaval in 2004, (the 
so-called “Orange Revolution”) funded by the US. 
Subsequently, for the better part of a decade the 
Ukraine underwent a failed experiment in Western 
backed ‘neo-liberal’ economic policies. After 
nearly two decades of political penetration, the 
US and EU were deeply entrenched in the political 
system via long-standing funding of so-called 
non-governmental organizations (NGO’s), political 
parties and paramilitary groups.

The strategy of the US and EU was to install a 
pliant regime which would bring Ukraine into the 
European Common Market and NATO as a subordinate 
client state. Negotiations between the EU and the 
Ukraine government proceeded slowly. They 
eventually faltered because of the onerous 
conditions demanded by the EU and the more 
favorable economic concessions and subsidies 
offered by Russia. Having failed to negotiate the 
annexation of the Ukraine to the EU, and not 
willing to await scheduled constitutional 
elections, the NATO powers activated their 
well-financed and organized NGOs, client 
political leaders and armed paramilitary groups 
to violently overthrow the elected government. 
The violent putsch succeeded and a US-appointed 
civilian-military junta took power.

The junta was composed of pliant neo-liberal and 
chauvinist neo-fascist ‘ministers’. The former 
were hand-picked by the US, to administer and 
enforce a new political and economic order, 
including privatization of public firms and 
resources, breaking trade and investment ties 
with Russia, eliminating a treaty allowing the 
Russian naval base in Crimea and ending 
military-industrial exports to Russia. The 
neo-fascists and sectors of the military and 
police were appointed to ministerial positions in 
order to violently repress any pro-democracy 
opposition in the West and East. They oversaw the 
repression of bilingual speakers 
(Russian-Ukrainian), institutions and practices – 
turning the opposition to the US-NATO imposed 
coup regime into an ethnic opposition. They 
purged all elected opposition office holders in 
the West and East and appointed local governors 
by fiat – essentially creating a martial law regime.

The Strategic Targets of the NATO-Junta

NATOs violent, high-risk seizure of the Ukraine 
was driven by several strategic military objectives. These included:

1.) The ousting of Russia from its military bases 
in Crimea – turning them into NATO bases facing Russia.

2.) The conversion of the Ukraine into a 
springboard for penetrating Southern Russia and 
the Caucasus; a forward position to politically 
manage and support liberal pro-NATO parties and NGOs within Russia.

3.) The disruption of key sectors of the Russian 
military defense industry, linked to the 
Ukrainian factories, by ending the export of 
critical engines and parts to Russia.

The Ukraine had long been an important part of 
the Soviet Union’s military industrial complex. 
NATO planners behind the putsch were keenly aware 
that one-third of the Soviet defense industry had 
remained in the Ukraine after the break-up of the 
USSR and that forty percent of the Ukraine’s 
exports to Russia, until recently, consisted of 
armaments and related machinery. More 
specifically, the Motor-Sikh plant in Eastern 
Ukraine manufactured most of the engines for 
Russian military helicopters including a current 
contract to supply engines for one thousand 
attack helicopters. NATO strategists immediately 
directed their political stooges in Kiev to 
suspend all military deliveries to Russia, 
including medium-range air-to air-missiles, 
inter-continental ballistic missiles, transport 
planes and space rockets (Financial Times, 
4/21/14, p3). US and EU military strategists 
viewed the Kiev putsch as a way to undermine 
Russian air, sea and border defenses. President 
Putin has acknowledged the blow but insists that 
Russia will be able to substitute domestic 
production for the critical parts within two 
years. This means the loss of thousands of 
skilled factory jobs in Eastern Ukraine.

4.) The military encirclement of Russia with 
forward NATO bases in the Ukraine matching those 
from the Baltic to the Balkans, from Turkey to 
the Caucasus and then onward from Georgia into 
the autonomous Russian Federation.

The US-EU encirclement of Russia is designed to 
end Russian access to the North Sea, the Black 
Sea and the Mediterranean. By encircling and 
confining Russia to an isolated landmass without 
‘outlets to the sea’, US-EU empire builders seek 
to limit Russia’s role as a rival power center 
and possible counter-weight to its imperial 
ambitions in the Middle East, North Africa, 
Southwest Asia and the North Atlantic.

Ukraine Putsch: Integral to Imperial Expansion

The US and EU are intent on destroying 
independent, nationalist and non-aligned 
governments throughout the world and converting 
them into imperial satellites by whatever means 
are effective. For example, the current 
NATO-armed mercenary invasion of Syria is 
directed at overthrowing the nationalist, secular 
Assad government and establishing a pro-NATO 
vassal state, regardless of the bloody 
consequences to the diverse Syrian people. The 
attack on Syria serves multiple purposes: 
Eliminating a Russian ally and its Mediterranean 
naval base; undermining a supporter of Palestine 
and adversary of Israel; encircling the Islamic 
Republic of Iran and the powerful militant 
Hezbollah Party in Lebanon and establishing new military bases on Syrian soil.

The NATO seizure of the Ukraine has a multiplier 
effect that reaches ‘upward’ toward Russia and 
‘downward’ toward the Middle East and 
consolidates control over its vast oil wealth.

The recent NATO wars against Russian allies or 
trading partners confirm this prognosis. In 
Libya, the independent, non-aligned policies of 
the Gadhafi regime stood out in stark contrast to 
the servile Western satellites like Morocco, 
Egypt and Tunisia. Gadhafi was overthrown and 
Libya destroyed via a massive NATO air assault. 
Egypt’s mass popular anti-Mubarak rebellion and 
emerging democracy were subverted by a military 
coup and eventually returned the country to the 
US-Israeli-NATO orbit – under a brutal dictator. 
Armed incursions by NATO proxy, Israel, against 
Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon as well as 
the US-EU sanctions against Iran are all directed 
against potential allies or trading partners of Russia.

The US has moved forcefully from encircling 
Russia via ‘elections and free markets’ in 
Eastern Europe to relying on military force, 
death squads, terror and economic sanctions in 
the Ukraine, the Caucasus, the Middle East and Asia.

Regime Change in Russia: from Global Power to Vassal State

Washington’s strategic objective is to isolate 
Russia from without, undermine its military 
capability and erode its economy, in order to 
strengthen NATO’s political and economic 
collaborators inside Russia – leading to its 
further fragmentation and return to the semi-vassal status.

The imperial strategic goal is to place 
neo-liberal political proxies in power in Moscow, 
just like the ones who oversaw the pillage and 
destruction of Russia during the infamous Yeltsin 
decade. The US-EU power grab in the Ukraine is a big step in that direction.

Evaluating the Encirclement and Conquest Strategy

So far NATO’s seizure of the Ukraine has not 
moved forward as planned. First of all, the 
violent seizure of power by overtly pro-NATO 
elites openly reneging on military treaty 
agreements with Russia over bases in Crimea, had 
forced Russia to intervene in support of the 
local, overwhelmingly ethnic Russian population. 
Following a free and open referendum, Russia 
annexed the region and secured its strategic military presence.

While Russia retained its naval presence on the 
Black Sea 
 the NATO junta in Kiev unleashed a 
large-scale military offensive against the 
pro-democracy, anti-coup Russian-speaking 
majority in the eastern half of the Ukraine who 
have been demanding a federal form of government 
reflecting Ukraine’s cultural diversity. The 
US-EU promoted a “military response” to mass 
popular dissent and encouraged the coup-regime to 
eliminate the civil rights of the Russian 
speaking majority through neo-Nazi terror and to 
force the population to accept junta-appointed 
regional rulers in place of their elected 
leaders. In response to this repression, popular 
self-defense committees and local militias 
quickly sprang up and the Ukrainian army was 
initially forced back with thousands of soldiers 
refusing to shoot their own compatriots on behalf 
of the Western –installed regime in Kiev. For a 
while, the NATO-backed neo-liberal-neo-fascist 
coalition junta had to contend with the 
disintegration of its ‘power base’. At the same 
time, ‘aid’ from the EU, IMF and the US failed to 
compensate for the cut-off of Russian trade and 
energy subsidies. Under the advise of visiting US 
CIA Director, Brenner, the Kiev Junta then 
dispatched its elite “special forces” trained by 
the CIA and FBI to carry out massacres against 
pro-democracy civilians and popular militias. 
They bussed in armed thugs to the diverse city of 
Odessa who staged an ‘exemplary’ massacre: 
Burning the city’s major trade union headquarters 
and slaughtering 41, mostly unarmed civilians who 
were trapped in the building with its exits 
blocked by neo-Nazis. The dead included many 
women and teenagers who had sought shelter from 
the rampaging neo-Nazis. The survivors were 
brutally beaten and imprisoned by the ‘police’ 
who had passively watched while the building burned.

The Coming Collapse of the Putsch-Junta

Obama’s Ukraine power grab and his efforts to 
isolate Russia have provoked some opposition in 
the EU. Clearly US sanctions prejudice major 
European multi-nationals with deep ties in 
Russia. The US military build-up in Eastern 
Europe, the Balkans and the Black Sea raises 
tensions and threatens a large-scale military 
conflagration, disrupting major economic 
contracts. US-EU threats on Russia’s border have 
increased popular support for President Putin and 
strengthened the Russian leadership. The 
strategic power grab in the Ukraine has 
radicalized and deepened the polarization of 
Ukrainian politics-between neo-fascist and pro-democracy forces.

While the imperial strategists are extending and 
escalating their military build-up in Estonia and 
Poland and pouring arms into the Ukraine, the 
entire power grab rests on very precarious 
political and economic foundations- which could 
collapse within the year – amidst a bloody civil war/ inter-ethnic slaughter.

The Ukraine junta has already lost political 
control of over a third of the country to 
pro-democracy, anti-coup movements and 
self-defense militias. By cutting off strategic 
exports to Russia to serve US military interests, 
the Ukraine lost one of its most important 
markets, which cannot be replaced. Under NATO 
control, Ukraine will have to buy NATO-specified 
military hardware leading to the closure of its 
factories geared to the Russian market. The loss 
of Russian trade is already leading to mass 
unemployment, especially among skilled industrial 
workers in the East who may be forced to 
immigrate to Russia. Ballooning trade deficits 
and the erosion of state revenues will bring a 
total economic collapse. Thirdly, as a result of 
the Kiev junta’s submission to NATO, the Ukraine 
has lost billions of dollars in subsidized energy 
from Russia. High energy costs make Ukrainian 
industries non-competitive in global markets. 
Fourthly, in order to secure loans from the IMF 
and the EU, the junta has agreed to eliminate 
food and energy price subsidies, severely 
depressing household incomes and plunging 
pensioners into destitution. Bankruptcies are on 
the rise, as imports from the EU and elsewhere 
displace formerly protected local industries.

No new investments are flowing in because of the 
violence, instability and conflicts between 
neo-fascists and neo-liberals within he junta. 
Just to stabilize the day-to-day operations of 
government, the junta needs a no-interest $30 
billion dollar handout – from its NATO patrons, 
an amount, which is not forthcoming now or in the immediate future.

It is clear that NATO ‘strategists’ who planned 
the putsch were only thinking about weakening 
Russia militarily and gave no thought to the 
political, economic and social costs of 
sustaining a puppet regime in Kiev when Ukraine 
had been so dependent on Russian markets, loans 
and subsidized energy. Moreover, they appear to 
have overlooked the political, industrial and 
agricultural dynamics of the predictably hostile 
Eastern regions of the country. Alternately, 
Washington strategists may have based their 
calculations on instigating a Yugoslavia-style 
break-up accompanied by massive ethnic cleansing 
amidst population transfers and slaughter. 
Undeterred by the millions of civilian 
casualties, Washington considers its policy of 
dismantling Yugoslavia, Iraq and Libya to have 
been great political-military successes.

Ukraine most certainly will enter a prolonged and 
deep depression, including a precipitous decline 
in its exports, employment and output. Possibly, 
economic collapse will lead to nationwide 
protests and social unrest: spreading from East 
to West, from South to North. Social upheavals 
and mass misery may further undermine the morale 
of the Ukrainian armed forces. Even now, Kiev can 
barely afford to feed its soldiers and has to 
rely on neo-Fascist volunteer militias who may be 
hard to control. The US-EU are not likely to 
intervene directly with an Libya-style bombing 
campaign since they would face a prolonged war on 
Russia’s border at a time when public opinion in 
the US is suffering from imperial war exhaustion, 
and European business interests with links to 
Russian resource companies are resisting consequential sanctions.

The US-EU putsch has produced a failing regime 
and a society riven by violent conflicts – 
spinning into open ethnic violence. What, in 
fact, has ensued is a system of dual power with 
contenders cutting across regional boundaries. 
The Kiev junta lacks the coherence and stability 
to serve as a reliable NATO military link in the 
encirclement of Russia. On the contrary, US-EU 
sanctions, military threats and bellicose 
rhetoric are forcing Russians to quickly rethink 
their ‘openness’ to the West. The strategic 
threats to its national security are leading 
Russia to review its ties to Western banks and 
corporations. Russia may have to resort to a 
policy of expanded industrialization via public 
investments and import substitution. Russian 
oligarchs, having lost their overseas holdings, 
may become less central to Russian economic policy.

What is clear is that the power grab in Kiev will 
not result in a ‘knife pointed at the heartland 
of Russia’. The ultimate defeat and overthrow of 
the Kiev junta can lead to a radicalized 
self-governing Ukraine, based on the burgeoning 
democratic movements and rising working class 
consciousness. This will have to emerge from 
their struggle against IMF austerity programs and 
Western asset stripping of Ukraine’s resources 
and enterprises. The industrial workers of 
Ukraine who succeed in throwing off the yoke of 
the western vassals in Kiev have no intention of 
submitting themselves to the yoke of the Russian 
oligarchs. Their struggle is for a democratic 
state, capable of developing an independent 
economic policy, free of imperial military alliances.


May Day 2014: Dual Popular Power in the East, Fascism Rising in the West

The predictable falling out between the 
neo-fascists and neo-liberal partners in the Kiev 
junta was evidenced by large-scale riots, between 
rival street gangs and police on May Day. The 
US-EU strategy envisioned using the neo-fascists 
as ‘shock troops’ and street fighters in 
overthrowing the elected regime of Yankovich and 
later discarding them. As exemplified by the 
notorious taped conversation between Assistant 
Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland and the US 
Ambassador to Kiev, the EU-US strategists promote 
their own handpicked neoliberal proxies to 
represent foreign capital, impose austerity 
policies and sign treaties for foreign military 
bases. In contrast, the neo-fascist militias and 
parties would favor nationalist economic 
policies, retaining state enterprises and are 
likely to be hostile to oligarchs, especially 
those with ‘dual Israeli-Ukraine’ citizenship.

The Kiev junta’s inability to develop an economic 
strategy, its violent seizure of power and 
repression of pro-democracy dissidents in the 
East has led to a situation of ‘dual power’. In 
many cases, troops sent to repress the 
pro-democracy movements have abandoned their 
weapons, abandoned the Kiev junta and joined the 
self-governing movements in the East.

Apart from its outside backers-the White House, 
Brussels and IMF – the Kiev junta has been 
abandoned by its rightwing allies in Kiev for 
being too subservient to NATO and resisted by the 
pro-democracy movement in the East for being 
authoritarian and centralist. The Kiev junta has 
fallen between two chairs: it lacks legitimacy 
among most Ukrainians and has lost control of all 
but a small patch of land occupied by government 
offices in Kiev and even those are under siege by 
the neo-fascist right and increasingly from its 
own disenchanted former supporters.

Let us be absolutely clear, the struggle in the 
Ukraine is not between the US and Russia, it is 
between a NATO-imposed junta composed of 
neo-liberal oligarchs and fascists on one side 
and the industrial workers and their local 
militias and democratic councils on the other. 
The former defends and obeys the IMF and 
Washington; the latter relies on the productive 
capacity of local industry and rules by responding to the majority.
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