On Wednesday night the crisis in the Ukraine became deadly, with 3 anti-coup rebels killed by National Guards in the Black Sea port city of Mariupol. The next day, in Geneva, the USA, Russia, EU and Ukraine reached an ‘agreement’ after just a few hours of negotiations.
The text starts as follows:
“All sides must refrain from any violence, intimidation or provocative actions. The participants strongly condemned and rejected all expressions of extremism, racism and religious intolerance, including anti-Semitism.” Full text
How can the coup government keep a straight face and add its signature to this statement?
This is a regime that placed a fascist in charge of National Security. After the coup Andriy Parubiy was appointed secretary (the operational head) of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine. Between 1998-2004 he was the leader of the Patriots of Ukraine, the paramilitary wing of what would go on to become the Svoboda party. In 2012, the British Sun newspaper exposed this groups involvement in training football hooligans. The group was offloaded by Svoboda in 2004 as part of the ‘Orange Revolution’ revamp of the Ukrainian fascist movement. This is a classic ruse by neo-nazi and fascist groups when they garner sufficient support to hold out the possibility of some form of power. The hair is grown out, the football hooligan element pushed to one side, the rhetoric and symbolism is ‘refreshed’ and ‘updated’ to reflect the new found ‘respectability’ of the movement. Prior to 2004, Svoboda was an out and out neo-nazi group – called the ‘Social National Party’. It had a modified ‘runic symbol’ as its party logo, restricted membership to ethnic Ukrainians, and actively recruited football hooligans and skinheads.
The current operational head of Ukrainian National Security was the co-founder of this nazi party and the leader of its paramilitary wing. It has three members in the government. If the government was serious about the Geneva agreement it would kick out the fascists. The reason it hasn’t is because they are a critical part of the regime’s support base.
The Geneva Text continues:
“All illegal armed groups must be disarmed; all illegally seized buildings must be returned to legitimate owners; all illegally occupied streets, squares and other public places in Ukrainian cities and towns must be vacated.
Amnesty will be granted to protestors and to those who have left buildings and other public places and surrendered weapons, with the exception of those found guilty of capital crimes.
It was agreed that the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission should play a leading role in assisting Ukrainian authorities and local communities in the immediate implementation of these de-escalation measures wherever they are needed most, beginning in the coming days. The U.S., E.U. and Russia commit to support this mission, including by providing monitors.”
The intention here is to disarm the Eastern rebels – the supposedly Russian ‘terrorists’ and ‘special forces’ that carried out a series of occupations and raids last week in South Eastern Ukraine. Three of these rebels were killed in an attack on the National Guard base in the Black Sea port city of Mariupol the night before the Geneva talks. AP reported that 63 of the rebels were detained and that 38 were later released. At time of writing this article, it is unknown how many of the remaining 25 are ‘Russian special forces’. The only rebel named in the AP report was identified as a ’40 year old business man from Donetsk’
But what about the Maidan activists? What about the many organised groups of armed nationalists and fascists who took to the street, fought the Berkut and pushed the Yanukovych regime out – despite the February 21st agreement that had been signed by all the main opposition parties? Will they be disarmed? Probably not, because they are <em>being co-opted into the de jure legal coercive apparatus of the Ukrainian State.
On Tuesday last week, as the military offensive against the Eastern rebellion took shape, Andriy Parubiy, the fascist that the neo-liberal Yatsenyuk regime chose to do its dirty work, declared on Twitter:
“Reserve unit of National Guard formed #Maidan Self-defense volunteers was sent to the front line this morning.”
A revamped Ukrainian National Guard was announced in mid-March, and as commentators observed at the time, and Parubiy’s tweet confirms, this was essentially a move to incorporate the Maidan activists into the security/military structures of the State.
In addition, as recently as last Monday, Interior Minister Avakov announced the creation of special police divisions to preserve public order. Up to 12,000 members are to be recruited. How many of these will be Russian speakers from the East who are opposed to the coup regime? ( http://rt.com/news/ukraine-bounty-payouts-protesters-156/)
It is the anti-regime groups that are to be disarmed. The Maidan pro-regime groups are to be given uniforms.
The text then states:
“The announced constitutional process will be inclusive, transparent and accountable. It will include the immediate establishment of a broad national dialogue, with outreach to all of Ukraine’s regions and political constituencies, and allow for the consideration of public comments and proposed amendments.”
This is the section of the agreement that supposedly speaks to the demand of the Russians and the rebels for greater autonomy from Kiev.
According to the BBC report (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-27072351):
“Russia has pushed for federalization of Ukraine – giving the country’s regions more power outside the central government, with the apparent aim of keeping the heavily Russian-speaking eastern regions within Moscow’s sphere of influence. Although the talks’ final document doesn’t specify federalization, it does speak of a “constitutional process (that) will be inclusive, transparent and accountable,” effectively meaning that federalization will remain a top issue.”
In fact the agreements wording is so general it is difficult to see how it could have any impact at all on federalisation.
The federalisation issue is simple – who decides? Does the whole of Ukraine decide whether any part of the Ukraine can have devolved powers, or does just the region in question decide? For example, does the Donbas region decide on whether it wants devolved powers, or does the whole of the Ukraine have to decide first whether the Donbas region has a right to even decide for itself. The regime has been framing the federal issue in terms of the latter approach. The agreement will have no impact on the resolution of this issue. The wording is extremely general and consistent with a number of conflicting approaches. It is designed to defuse the situation – not solve the problem.
In the meantime, in Brussels this week, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen stated that the imperialist bloc would increase its presence in Eastern Europe, flying more sorties over the Baltic region and deploying allied warships to the Baltic and Eastern Mediterranean. General Philip Breedlove, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, raised the possibility of more ground forces at some stage.
The Geneva agreement changes nothing. The USA/EU/NATO will not accept any resolution of the Ukraine crisis that does not include the Ukraine being integrated into the USA/EU/NATO geopolitical space. They have been working for this outcome for 20 years, have spent $5 billion on it, and have caused a regional crisis with possible global implications in order to achieve it.
They are determined they will not walk away empty handed.
Lionel Reynolds is an independent analyst and maintains the www.dispatchesfromempire.com blog.