Ukraine itself burns in wake of airliner shoot-down


According to reports today, two Ukrainian military aircraft have been shot down over the Eastern Ukraine. This latest incident comes only days after the shooting down July 17 of a Malaysian airliner over the area and the resulting deaths of 298 innocent persons. As today's events show, the deaths of the 298 people shot out of the sky last week will be a source of tension for some time. Incidents of this type sometimes require years before the full story comes to light.

Various people with their own agendas continue to push their versions of who is to blame. The United States has now backed away from directly accusing Russia, but points at dissident militias. Russia, for its part, has raised questions about Ukrainian air force jets that it says were in the vicinity of Malaysian Airlines flight MH 17 when it was knocked out of the sky.

Meanwhile, there is a shooting war in Eastern Ukraine between military forces under the control of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, and local militias who reject the Poroshenko government and respond to the orders of the Donetsk and Luhansk "Peoples Republics."

At first, Ukrainian military forces sent by the Kiev government to crush any resistance to its control in the east suffered from defeats, surrenders and defections. But after Petro Poroshenko was elected president (in a highly questionable election lacking meaningful voter participation in huge swaths of the country) on May 25, the tide began to turn.

Part of the reason the Kiev government was able to reverse defeats on the battlefield was its willingness to rely on the help of extreme right-wing militia groups. One of these groups, the Right Sector, had played a major role in the violence in Kiev itself back in February. Their leader, Dmitryo Yarosh, has been seen on the battlefront in the east with the Azov Battalion. The Azov Battalion fights in cooperation with Ukrainian government forces under the patronage of Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, himself an extreme right winger who is a major figure in the drive to ban the Communist Party of Ukraine as well as the Party of the Regions.

In the past, the Communist Party of the Ukraine and the Party of the Regions are the two parties that have had the most electoral support in Eastern Ukraine.

Azov Battalion leaders are known for their racist and extremist rhetoric, and are feared by the majority Russian-speaking population in Eastern Ukraine. They are believed to have played a key role in the violent capture, by the Kiev forces, of the cities of Slavyansk and Kramatorsk over the 4th of July weekend. There were reports of many civilian casualties.

There are also indications that Right Sector forces were behind the massacre in Odessa on May 2, in which at least 41 opponents of the Kiev government were burned, suffocated and beaten to death after they were trapped in the Trade Union Hall.

Poroshenko and his officials, including Andriy Parubiy, another right wing extremist official who is coordinating the military action in the East, have refused to negotiate with the dissident forces in Luhansk and Donetsk, claiming that they are "terrorists" and "animals" under the control of Russia. They call for "revenge' for the loss of lives of soldiers. There is reported to be a massing of forces for a full attack on Donetsk and Luhansk, cities of 1 million and 425,000 people respectively. Shelling and bombing have already reached Luhansk and the suburbs of Donetsk. Air raids followed by street-by-street fighting could ensue.

A half million refugees, fearing for the safety and lives of their families, have already crossed into Russia. At least five Ukrainian military aircraft have been shot down, with fatalities.

The General Secretary of the Communist Party of Ukraine, Petro Symonenko, has called for a full and impartial investigation of the shooting down of the airliner, as have Russian President Putin, the United Nations Security Council and many others. The Ukrainian Communists' position has been for a united Ukraine with a federal system to protect the rights of minorities, but Kiev nevertheless accuses it of being pro-Russian and "separatist". On Tuesday, the Kiev Parliament, the Rada, voted to ban the Communist Party faction. (This decision has to be ratified in the courts).

On Tuesday also, a violent brawl broke out on the floor of the Rada, when Poroshenko narrowly won a vote authorizing the calling up military reserves to face a supposed Russian threat. One of the remaining deputies from the Party of the Regions denounced the killing of civilians in Eastern Ukraine, and a fistfight was started by ultra-right deputies, including the well-known Svoboda Party goon Igor Miroshnichenko.

The United States, NATO and the European Union see this struggle as a fight to bring Ukraine under their sway, and out of the orbit of Russia. In play are questions of trade, geopolitics and access to fossil fuels. The Kiev regime, the key ally of these "Western" forces, is, however, playing with fire by allying with neo-Nazis for the purpose of crushing resistance by people in Eastern Ukraine. Top officials such as Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk are opportunists, not ideologues. Eventually they will clash with the neo-fascist forces who are not "pro Europe" and are, many of them, anti-Semites. Remember General von Schleicher? [German Chancellor during the Weimar Republic, he was assassinated in 1934 by order of his successor, Adolf Hitler, in the Night of the Long Knives.]

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been denouncing the way ethnic Russians and Russian-speaking Ukrainians are treated by Kiev, but fails to mention that the government in Kiev will prove no friend of ethnic Ukrainians either, once it pursues its line of integrating this poorest of European countries with the European Union. So he too is playing a "national" card.

We in the U.S. should demand that our government, which has heavily supported the Kiev regime, back away from its hard line position, and call for negotiations, not just between Kiev and Moscow but between Kiev and Donetsk also.

And there should be no truck with neo-Nazis, or support for a government that includes them.

Photo: At a camp for refugees from Ukraine's east, on the border with Ukraine near the Russian town of Donetsk in Rostov-on-Don region, July 13. A half million refugees, fearing for the safety and lives of their families, have already crossed into Russia.  Sergei Pivovarov/AP


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  • Thank you Emile Schepers for this article. It gives us a clearer picture of what is happening in the Ukraine and along the it's eastern border than the mainstream media, which seems to be singing in one chorus and beating the drum for US intervention in that part of the world. This is why I read People's World.

    Particularly chilling are reports, not only here but, in other PW articles concerning some of the people and organization that make up the present Ukrainian government.

    I wholeheartedly agree with the final line of this article that tells us that "there should be no truck with neo-Nazis or support for a government that supports them."

    Must we make the same mistakes that we made in the 1930s, in the face of warnings by the CPUSA, the Jewish community, and other progressive forces of the time about rising tide of fascism in Europe.

    Posted by John Milam, 07/27/2014 6:47pm (1 year ago)

  • Civil War is war.
    Our country, the U. S., has experienced it, and more than 150 years afterwards, we still suffer from it.
    The whole world will not gain, only lose, from any civil war anywhere, for the side effects and after effects will hurt the whole of humanity, now and in the future.
    Thanks to brother Emile Schepers for his analysis and his inescapable conclusion that we can not support war, not even civil war conflict and violence, for any reason-not even for natural and instinctive self-defense, that self-evident reason that we may not agree with, but as humanity, are bound to respect.
    When it comes to backing fascistic capitalists, like Hitler, Parubiy and Miroschnickenko, we know that when Jews are threatened and persecuted, so are Gypsies, Ubeks, Poles, Greeks, and Chinese next, or prior to them-and let's not forget that in this-as is the case in the Ukraine crisis also, the Communists are singled out, again, outlawed, banned, and condemned.
    The international working class has to know this pattern by now, and act on it, to ban, denounce and reject fascistic activity and complicity with it, any and everywhere, for any reason(apparently the Obama administration thinks that if it helps capitalist influence, it can be condoned).
    Labor, left, center and even right forces in this country have to now reject the dangerous flirtations of the Kiev government with fascism and the U. S. Obama's administration's complicity in these flirtations-not to do so may sink the world in an apocalyptic, irreversible World War III.

    Posted by E.E.W. Clay, 07/25/2014 10:31am (1 year ago)

  • Emile makes very good points. That the Obama adminstration and its NAT0 allies are completely silent on the Neo Nazi element in the Kiev government, which it associates with "democracy" and self-determination, should be the subject of general condemnation everywhere. The violence and outright persecution of the Ukrainian Communists is an example of what the Kiev government is all about and also what the U.S. NAT0 bloc's definition of "democracy" is, that is, democratic rights for everyone except Communists and socialists, in the tradition of the U.S. government's definition of "democracy" in Southern states a century ago, that is, ignoring disenfranchisement and lynch law are claiming that Mississippi was as democratic as New York or Massachusetts.
    I am not so much worried about a Nazi Ukraine threatening Europe, because Ukraine isn't Germany, a great economic and potential military power when Hitler came to power, and can't ever become that. It is a threat to Russia and, if Neo Nazis come to power, a great embarrassment to Germany and Western Europe. The danger though is one of war, which the U.S. NATO bloc will be responsible for andwhich we must fight against

    Posted by norman markowitz, 07/24/2014 11:41am (1 year ago)

  • This article is very comprehensive and helpful in understanding recent events in Ukraine. Our own government, which does bear major responsibility for the events there, needs to play a much more constructive role. Secretary of State John Kerry's posturing, lecturing and giving instructions to Russian President Putin would be laughable if they were not so absurd and damaging.
    Maybe the key policy makers in the "west", that is Western Europe and the US., thought they could smoothly slip Ukraine into the EU and into NATO (whose continued existence is very bizarre to say the least) with no resistance or opposition. Now they have a war zone in eastern Ukraine on their hands that they may not have anticipated.
    Thanks again for this article.
    btw the headline would be more representative of the article if it said something like "far right forces are responsible for violence in eastern Ukraine".

    Posted by Ben, 07/23/2014 8:00pm (1 year ago)

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