The following article, reprinted from the ICC’s territorial publication in France, was written a week prior to the December 26 election.
After the presidential elections of 31 October the Ukraine has faced a political crisis involving Leonid Koutchma’s and Viktor Ianukovitch’s pro-Russian fraction and that of the opponent Viktor Iushchenko, a reformer and declared supporter of an “opening toward the West”. This has taken place in the context of diplomatic tensions and threatening declarations by Russia, which the European countries and especially the US have met with harshness. The contestation around the manipulation of the October 31 and November 21 elections has then spread in the development of massive demonstrations in the Ukrainian capital, which ended in the occupation of downtown Kiev and the blockage of the access to Parliament by the demonstrators “until democracy wins”. The so-called ‘orange revolution’ has started, we are told by both Iushchenko’s supporters, and the media of the great democracies, which have glorified the ‘will’ of the Ukrainian people to ‘free’ themselves of the Moscow clique. Interviews, reports, and photographs have filled the pages of the press: “The people are no longer fearful”, “we’ll be able to speak freely”, “those who thought of themselves as the ‘untouchable’ are no longer so”, etc. In short, the hope for a better and freer life has supposedly opened up for the population and the working class of Ukraine, and, to show that democracy is advancing, a third round of the elections has been imposed for December 26, with the perspective for the electoral victory by Iushchenko!
Russia stakes its future as a world power in the Ukraine
Behind this barrage, the essential question has nothing to do with the struggle for democracy. The real issue is the ever growing confrontation among the great powers, in particular the US’s present offensive against Russia, which aims at getting Ukraine out of the Russian sphere of influence. It is important to note that Putin directed his anger essentially against the US. In fact, it is the US which is behind the candidate Iushchenko and his ‘orange’ movement. At the time of a conference in New Dehli on December 5, the leader of the Kremlin denounced the US for trying to “reshape the diversity of civilization through the principles of a unipolar world, the equivalent of a boot camp” and impose “a dictatorship in international affairs, made up of a pretty-sounding pseudo-democratic verbiage”. Putin has not been afraid of throwing in the face of the US the reality of its own situation in Iraq when, on December 7 in Moscow he pointed out to the Iraqi prime minister that he could not figure out “how it’s possible to organize elections in the context of a total occupation by foreign troops”! It is with the same logic that the Russian president opposed the declaration by the 55 OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) countries in support of the process taking place in Ukraine and confirming the organization’s role in monitoring the unfolding of the third round of the presidential elections of December 26. The humiliation the ‘international community’ inflicted on Putin by refusing to acknowledge his own backyard is aggravated by the fact that several hundred observers from not only the US, but also from Great Britain and Germany, will be sent.
Ever since the collapse of the USSR and the catastrophic constitution of the Community of Independent States (which was meant to salvage the crumbs of its ex-empire), Russia’s borders have been unrelentlessly under threat, both because of the pressure from Germany and the US, and the permanent tendency toward exploding, inherent to it. The unleashing of the first Chechen war in 1992, then the second in 1996 under the pretext of the fight against terrorism, expresses the brutality of a power in decline trying to safeguard its strategically vital position in the Caucasus at all costs. For Moscow the war was a matter of opposing Washington’s imperialist schemes, which aim at destabilizing Russia, and those of Berlin, which developed an undeniable imperialist aggressiveness, as we had seen in the spring of 1991, when Germany played a major role in the explosion of the Yugoslav conflict.
The Caucasus question is therefore far from a solution, because the US resolutely continues to advance its own interests in the area. It is in this context that we can understand Shevarnadze’s eviction in 2003 by the ‘roses revolution’, which placed a pro-American clique in power. This has allowed the US to station its troops in the country, in addition to those already deployed in Kirghizistan and in Uzbekistan, north of Afghanistan. This strengthens the US’ military presence south of Russia and the threat to Russia of encirclement by the US. The Ukrainian question has always been a pivotal one, whether during tsarist Russia or Soviet Russia, but today the problems is posed in an even more crucial fashion.
At the economic level, the partnership between Ukraine and Russia is of great importance to Moscow, but it is above all at the strategic and military levels that the control of Ukraine is to it of even greater importance than the Caucasus. This is because, to begin with, Ukraine is the third nuclear power in the world, thanks to the military atomic bases inherited from the ex-Eastern bloc. Moscow needs them in order to show, in the context of inter-imperialist blackmails, its capacity to have control over such great nuclear power. Secondly, if Moscow has lost all probability of gaining direct access to the Mediterranean, the loss of Ukraine would mean a weakening of the possibility to have access to the Black Sea as well. Behind the loss of access to the Black Sea, where Russia’s nuclear bases and fleet are found in Sebastopol, there is the weakening of the means to gain a link with Asia and Turkey. In addition, the loss of Ukraine would dramatically weaken the Russian position vis-à-vis the European powers, and particularly Germany, while at same time it would weaken its capacity to play a role in Europe’s future destiny and that of the Eastern countries, the majority of which are already pro-American. It is certain that a Ukraine turned toward the West, and therefore controlled by it and the US in particular, highlights the Russian power’s total inadequacy, and stimulates an acceleration of the phenomenon of explosion of the CIS, along with a sequel of horrors. It is more than probable that such a situation would only push whole regions of Russia itself to declare independence, encouraged by the great powers.
Therefore a life or death issue is posed to Russia in the near future. It is certain that Putin will do all he can to keep the Ukraine under his influence. At least, he will not let go of the prize without getting at least a share, even at the cost of mincing it up. This is why Russia is pushing the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine to secede, in this way contributing to chaos and the destabilization of the region. Russia is responding to the very logic of its American rivals, whose imperialist politics worsen the deadliest barbarism by the day.
By attempting to take control of Ukraine, the US is putting pressure on Russia in order to make it back off its frontiers and allow the US to expand its own sphere of influence. At the same time the US continues its politics of encirclement of Europe, which they initiated with the war in Afghanistan. In particular, the US aims at blocking Germany’s expansion toward the East, which is the ‘natural’ area of expansion for this country. We saw this at the time of the Third Reich, when the attention was turned to this area of the world, and we saw it at the time of WWI. If the German bourgeoisie makes its own the rhetoric of its American rival, which denounces Russia and its ‘neo-colonialist’ policy toward Ukraine, it is to be better able to gain the upper hand in the future. Therefore, it’s not a two-party game that is taking place in Ukraine, but rather a three-party one. This does not bode a bright tomorrow for the Ukrainian population, quite the contrary. In fact, if up to the present moment it has been lured by the Russian bourgeoisie, it is now three bandits that will sow chaos, with all the repercussions that such a situation may have at the regional and world levels.
It is for instance certain that this advance by the US will have an impact on the Ukraine, Russia, and the CIS, but also on the central Asian region. In addition, even if it is true that it is the great powers that are the first to sow disorder, we cannot neglect the capacity that regional powers such as Turkey or Iran have to contribute to aggravate the situation. Turkey and Iran will not stay inactive, and they will contribute to the dynamic of chaos. The tendency toward explosion and permanent civil war which prevails in this huge area and which is greatly aggravated by the war in Iraq will therefore get a further push because of this new center of the aggravations of imperialist tensions. Such a destabilization in turn, can only have serious consequences in a new acceleration of the tendency toward war by many countries, as new foci of tensions emerge. The US is at the lead, with its mad race to control the planet.
The working class must not be fooled by democratic mystifications
The democratic ‘choice’ in Ukraine has reduced the population to being pawns, manipulated by this or that rival bourgeois fraction, each of which is acting on behalf of this or that imperialist power. The ‘triumph of democracy’ will not fix the situation of misery of the Ukrainian workers. On the contrary, it will push them to mobilize in defense of the ‘democratic’ fatherland, in the same way as the preceding generations were led to defend the ‘socialist’ fatherland, and to accept the ‘orange’ sacrifices, which the future leaders of Ukraine will no doubt impose on them.
Let us remember that the ‘democratic’ Iushchenko did not fail to impose austerity on the working class when he was prime minister and banker of the very pro-Russian government he now denounces so adamantly. The clique that is getting ready to seize power has nothing to envy to the previous one, and its divisions promise no stability. The democratic perspective sows illusions as to the possibility to reform the capitalist system, to gradually transform it and make it ‘better’. It requires the working class to break its back in the face of the ‘superior’ interest of the state as opposed to the ‘inferior’ demands around food and the conditions for existence.
The perspective to create a world of ‘citizens’ within a democracy that is working at creating a happy humanity is an illusion which aims at destroying the consciousness of the necessity to do away with capitalism, a system that engenders more and more barbarism and chaos. Mulan 12-17-04