The ‘Great Game’ in Europe

In its eagerness to complete the encirclement of Russia by turning Ukraine into a forward country for positioning NATO bases, the U.S. is paving the way for fraternal genocide and ethnic cleansing. A closer strategic alliance between Russia and China may well be the one positive outcome of the Ukrainian fiasco.

Published : Apr 02, 2014 12:30 IST

A poster with a Nazi swastika printed on a Russian flag and reading "The colours of the occupiers" in Independence Square in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, on March 12.

A poster with a Nazi swastika printed on a Russian flag and reading "The colours of the occupiers" in Independence Square in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, on March 12.

In 1919.... Lenin gave her several Russian provinces to assuage her feelings. These provinces have never historically belonged to Ukraine. I am talking about the eastern and southern territories of today’s Ukraine.... Then, in 1954, Khrushchev, with the arbitrariness of a satrap, made a “gift” of the Crimea to Ukraine.... As a result of the sudden and crude fragmentation of the intermingled Slavic people, the borders have torn apart millions of ties of family and friendship. Is this acceptable? I am myself nearly half Ukrainian, I grew up with the sounds of Ukrainian speech.

-- Aleksandr Solzhenitysn, Russian Nobel laureate, in an interview on May 9, 1994.

I sometimes get the feeling that somewhere across that huge puddle, in America, people sit in a lab and conduct experiments, as if with rats, without actually understanding the consequences of what they are doing.

--Vladimir Putin, Russian President, March 4, 2014.

ALEKSANDR SOLZHENITSYN was a legendary anti-communist, the man who successfully injected the word “Gulag” into an intercontinental vocabulary for discussions of the Stalin period, the novelist who was awarded a Nobel Prize for Literature as part of the Swedish Academy’s anti-Soviet drive but whose literary merit, like that of Boris Pasternak, was acknowledged even by Georg Lukacs, the great Marxist philosopher and literary critic. In the passage quoted here from his interview given in 1994, soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union, he expresses a double regret: that while Ukraine was still a part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), its territory was wrongfully enlarged by awarding it large chunks of Russian territory and Russian-speaking population; and that the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union precipitated an unwarranted territorial break-up of the Union between Russia and Ukraine (“sudden and crude fragmentation of the intermingled Slavic people” so that “ borders have torn apart millions of ties of family and friendship”, in his words).

After the recent referendum in the Crimean peninsula and its reintegration into Russia, Mikhail Gorbachev, the Russian leader who initiated the dismantling of the Soviet system, expressed a similar view. A historic wrong has been corrected, he said.

We shall return to these issues of the “intermingling” of the Slavic people and the “fragmentation” of borders and peoples with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Suffice it to say for now that the United States-sponsored Euro-Nazi coup in Kiev in February 2014 and, in response, the reintegration of the Crimean peninsula into Russia in March signify something of a turning point, a watershed event, in the post-Soviet era.

Let me begin by listing some of the salient aspects of this novel development and then offer extended comments on some of these aspects:

1. Quick on the heels of President Barack Obama’s much-brandished “Asian pivot”, with the express intent of tightening the noose around China, has come a spectacular and violent turn in America’s “European pivot”, with the even more urgent intent of completing the encirclement of Russia and of abolishing the one, crucial buffer that was still left between Russia and the dogged advance of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s (NATO) network of bases into territories that were formerly part of the Warsaw Pact and, in some cases, of the Soviet Union itself.

2. Samuel Huntington’s famous “Clash of Civilisations” thesis, highly influential in Washingtonian circles, draws a sharp civilisational line between what he calls “Western Christianity” (Catholics and Protestants of Western Europe) and “Eastern Christianity” (the Orthodox churches, Russian, Greek, Levantine). Ukraine is a borderland shared by the two, as was the Serbo-Croatian region in the former Yugoslavia. We know how Croatia with its Catholic majority was encouraged to break the union with the predominantly Orthodox Serbia, with murderous, even genocidal consequences all around. In attempting to turn Ukraine into a forward country for positioning of NATO bases against Russia, the U.S. is paving the way, wittingly or unwittingly, for potentially that same kind of fraternal genocide and ethnic cleansing. They once put together an international jehadi army in Afghanistan for the containment of communism; the consequences of that are still with us, across the globe. What happens when the equivalent of an Afghanistan is staged in a major country that is geographically at the junction of East and West inside Europe.

3. The Ukranian economy is—and has been—in dire straits. According to Moody’s rating agency, the country will need $24 billion to cover its budget deficit, debt repayment, natural gas bills and pension supports just in 2014. Over the past two decades, the Russian subsidy for Ukraine’s oil and gas purchases has amounted to about $200 billion, in addition to other kinds of loans and financial support that Russia has offered, essentially to safeguard Ukraine’s neutrality as well as to help the one country in its immediate neighbourhood with which Russia is linked most closely by history, language, ethnicity and emotional bonds of various kinds. The West is offering little driblets of money and International Monetary Fund (IMF) loans if Ukraine agrees to the kind of “austerity” that has been imposed on Latvia, Slovenia, Greece, and others. In Latvia, IMF-imposed “austerity” meant that 10 per cent of the population, including much of its professional personnel, left the tiny country and became economic refugees in other countries. Without Russian generosity, the Ukrainian economy will be in ruins. IMF-imposed austerity on a ruined economy and NATO-propelled militarisation for eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation with Russian power is just the kind of combustible combination that may well lead to a civil war, a regional war, and heaven knows what else—in a country where 70 per cent in a recent Gallup poll voted against joining NATO. (In another poll about the same time, 56 per cent said that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a disaster.)

Good Nazis, bad Nazis 4. It is no longer fashionable to call oneself a “nazi” or a “fascist”. Since they are so much a part of Europe’s political landscape, they now call themselves “nationalists”, and the media obliges them by referring to them as “right-wing nationalists”, “extremists”, “xenophobes”, and so on. However, as the saying goes, a rose by any other name is still a rose. Descendants of fascists have been used extensively in the formation of governments in a number of post-socialist states such as Croatia, Hungary and Slovenia. Parties of fascist vintage also have a major presence in some West European countries, including France, Austria and Denmark. However, Ukraine is the first European country to now have in its government at least three distinct political groupings which openly identify themselves with the Nazi heritage and which currently control the security apparatus of the state—with the overt patronage of the U.S. and the full consent of the European Union (E.U.).

5. This neo-Nazi march into the highest offices of a major European country, with the full backing of all the Western countries, is bound to serve as a heady elixir for other parties of the fascist vintage across Europe. Conversely, this use of the Nazi-led coup in the encirclement of Russia is a qualitatively new stage in American “democracy promotion” through forces of the Far Right. We have known the “good jehadis” in the anti-Soviet campaign in Afghanistan; the “good narco-terrorist militias” in subverting El Salvador, Nicaragua and the Latin American Left more generally; the “good Al Qaeda” unleashed in Syria, and so on. Now, we have the “good Nazis”—on European soil itself.

6. While Crimea was still a part of Ukraine, Russian was the first language for roughly half the population of Ukraine. With Crimea gone, they still comprise over a third of the population, which is largely concentrated in the eastern and southern zones. The extreme hatred of all things Russian—the language, the culture, the people—that continues to emanate from the new rulers of Kiev means that a third or more of the population now lives in mortal fear and may even be thinking of exercising the Crimean option, that is, opt out of Ukraine itself —either peacefully, through a referendum, or through ethnic strife and civil war—unless the U.S. steps back, reshuffles its Ukrainian clients and opts for a radical constitutional reform that turns Ukraine into a loose federation with substantive and extensive powers vested in the regional governments. Even that will not be enough. Ukraine needs massive economic rescue. Russia has paid most of the bills so far. Going from that into the full embrace of the IMF and Western finance is likely to create a level of economic distress that may well snap social and inter-regional bonds.

Two Western lies

7. Paul Craig Roberts, who served as Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury under Ronald Reagan, is so appalled by the Western media’s willingness to routinely repeat the lies told by Western leaders that he has taken to refer to them as “presstitute” media. We are now faced with two momentous lies, told by the U.S. government and repeated ad nauseum by every media outlet, from cheap tabloids to The Guardian , the prestigious British newspaper, and from Fox News to the supposedly Left-liberal Bill Maher on U.S. television. The first lie is that the new government in Kiev has been taken over not through a coup but through a constitutional procedure. The second lie is that Russia “invaded” Crimea and the referendum there was unconstitutional, manipulated, and so on. We shall come to the facts later. The point here is that these two lies lead then to the hysterical demands that sanctions must be imposed on Russia and that President Vladimir Putin must be held personally responsible and punished.

8. Putin is no angel but it is also the case that no Russian leader since Joseph Stalin, whether communist or anti-communist, has been vilified as vociferously as he. We shall come to the issue of sanctions later, at some length, when we discuss the economics of it all. Briefly, our belief is that no serious, far-reaching, substantive sanctions of the sort that may in fact hurt the Russian economy decisively are possible without doing extensive damage to Western economies and the world economy in general; Russia is too big an economic power now, and there is far too much interpenetration between the Russian and E.U. economies—the German economy in particular—for the U.S. to be able to impose serious economic sanctions.

9. Lacking that leverage, what is the likely U.S. line of action? Two things are likely. One, the lie that there was a “Russian invasion” of Crimea (thus of Ukraine) shall be used to portray Russia as a militarily belligerent menace to its neighbours and, therefore, to dramatically increase the U.S. military presence and power not only in the European states and statelets close to Russia but also in the so-called “-stans” in Central Asia that were once part of the Soviet Union. Additional advantage of the latter is that those -stans are also close to China.

10. The second move, legitimised for the people of the Western “democracies” by the representation of Putin as the latest of the sinister figures ranging from Adolf Hitler and Stalin to Ayotollah Khomeini/Saddam Hussein/Muammar Qaddafi/Bashar al-Assad, would be to launch internal subversion in Russia in the shape of a “colour revolution” for “democracy” and against “dictatorship” and “corruption”. Watch for social movements in the streets of Moscow as nuclear warheads get moved into Poland, Romania and (who knows) Ukraine.

11. Russia suffers from an unresolved conflict in the cultural history of its dominant elites—a schizophrenia that should be much too familiar to us here in India. Russians tend to be inordinately proud, almost mystically so, of the antique traditions of their church, their Slavic uniqueness, the vastness of their lands, the distinguished history of their cities, their medieval arts, their “unity in diversity”, and so forth. At the same time, centred as all this pride is in the European parts of Russia, they agonise over not being European enough, there being just too much Asia/East in them as a totality, aching to be Europeans like the French. They wish to be accepted as they are and, at the same time, mistaken for being Parisians. This is a characteristic of great many nationalisms outside the core countries of advanced capitalism—the disease of feeling superior because you feel inferior; the sort of thing that goes from Kemalism and Nehruvianism at the grandest level to the pettiest kind of ethno-nationalistic chauvinisms that do not have recourse to past grandeurs on the scale of Russia, Turkey or India. It was there—copiously, shamefully—in the Czarist upper class; it got repudiated by the Bolsheviks, who upheld the proletarian, the peasant and the pleb, always as defiant toward the European capitalist core as that core was contemptuous of them, not just politically but also culturally; and, as a new kind of Russian class was just striving to emerge, the first signal of the counter-revolution that this particular author picked up was when Gorbachev started prattling on about “our common European home”. That is the problem with Putin. He still talks too much of “our American and European partners”. Delusions of the 19th century Russian bourgeoisie haunt him.

12. But what happens when the Americans decide to teach him a bitter lesson, tell him that he is not one of them, threaten to send him to the gallows for the crime of insubordination. Will he wake up to the fact that he may be a European, personally, but most of Russia really is not and that it is in fact self-divided between histories and cultures of St Petersburg and Vladivostok? Spurned by the G8, as the grouping petulantly redefines itself as G7, and supported on the question of Russia’s membership of the G20 by the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries and the Non-Aligned Movement, more generally, might he not recall the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation? The Russian bourgeoisie has steadfastly kept its face turned towards the West even as the West ignored or slapped that face. Now, slapped hard by a declining and desperate imperialism, but flush with oil and gas, leading not a prostrate but a newly prosperous Russia, sharing a virtually interminable border with a China that commands immense resource of cash but is dreadfully exposed to the machinations of those who control the global markets in energy resources (not the least through petrodollars), might Putin, the Euro-Russian bourgeois, turn East? Decisively? Strategically?

Praise for China and India 13. In his historic address to the Russian Duma on March 18, Putin chose his words carefully: “We are grateful to the people of China, whose leaders have always considered the situation in Ukraine and Crimea taking into account the full historical and political context, and greatly appreciate India’s reserve and objectivity.” Fulsome praise for China, great appreciation for India’s “reserve”. He thanked none other. Russia and China have already agreed on hugely well-funded supply lines for Russian energy to Chinese hubs. Putin is visiting China in May. The U.S. appears to be full of bluster after putting in power an alliance of meek IMF-oriented clients and unruly, mutually feuding neo-Nazis, but faced with decisive action by the Crimean populace as well as the Russian government, the U.S. also seems to be at a loss as to how to proceed. This indecision is compounded by the fact that European governments, pliant as ever, are nonetheless afraid of what Russia (only if backed by China, silently) might do to them if they go too far. Six hundred German companies doing business in Russia, with tens of billions of dollars at stake and, therefore, breathing down her neck, Chancellor Angela Merkel wonders while the rest of Europe holds its breath, waiting for her to speak.

14. An alliance between Russia and China is a fatality for the American empire that is waiting to happen; Russia has the world’s largest pool of energy resources, China has the largest pool of cash to play any sort of market, for commodity or finance. Unlike the Americans, the Chinese seem to prefer investing over speculation. American arrogance might make this marriage between energy resources and finance in contiguous countries happen quicker than it might otherwise. The bizarre irony of it all is that both of them, Russia and China, have offered themselves as abject junior partners time and again, and it is the U.S. that is unwilling to grant either of them the place that is rightfully theirs. Which is predictable. For the rising power it is safer to grow in the shadow of the declining one, until a point is reached when the balance between the declining and the rising powers shifts. But the declining power knows this too. Hence, the enhanced U.S. aggression towards both. A closer strategic alliance between Russia and China may well be the one positive outcome of the Ukranian fiasco.

15. With the predominance of its economic power in relative decline, the U.S. nevertheless commands a military machine and a global empire of military bases that the combined power of the next 10 most powerful countries cannot match. Hence, the propensity to seek solutions through credible military pressure and frequent exercise of military power. Part of the reason behind the war on Syria was the bid to deprive Russia of its naval facility in Tartus. Part of the impetus to stage a dramatic coup in Kiev and pull Ukraine swiftly into NATO was to grab the Russian naval base at Sevastopol on the Crimean coast—“the birthplace of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet”, in Putin’s words (not just the “birthplace” in fact but a permanent home of that fleet for close to 300 years). This kind of American military belligerence is likely to continue.

16. With the controversial and ecologically disastrous technologies of hydraulic fracturing (also known as “fracking”) ready to be used in exploitation of coalbed gas deposits and for production of shale oil over vast expanses in Canada and the American Midwest, the U.S. hopes to soon become the world’s leading energy producer, competing with and, perhaps, bypassing Russia, Saudi Arabia and other energy-rich counties. If the E.U.’s energy dependence on Russia turns out to be the main impediment blocking E.U.’s full compliance with U.S. military designs, the U.S. can offer to make up for the shortfall by releasing sizable quantities of oil and gas from its own strategic reserves in the short run and, for the long run, dangle the fruits of fracking in front of the energy-hungry European states. Making a serious dent in Russia’s energy exports and incomes and securing European markets for its own envisioned shale oil and gas production is very much a part of the U.S. bid to bring the “Great Game” into Europe itself.

Ukraine, Crimea, Russia: Chequered histories Four lines into his March 18 address to the Duma, Putin said: “This is the location of ancient Khersones, where Prince Vladimir was baptised. His spiritual feat of adopting Orthodoxy predetermined the overall basis of the culture, civilisation and human values that unite the peoples of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. The graves of Russian soldiers whose bravery brought Crimea into the Russian empire are also in Crimea. This is also Sevastopol, a legendary city with an outstanding history, a fortress that serves as the birthplace of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.” Then, towards the end of the speech, he added: “Kiev is the mother of Russian cities. Ancient Rus is our common source and we cannot live without each other.”

The intensity of the sentiment and the sense of a common history (of “the intermingled Slavic peoples”) is the same as the one encountered in the words of Solzhenitsyn at the beginning of this article. We might regard all this as part of an expansive Russian national-chauvinism (even though Solzhenitsyn identifies himself as “nearly half Ukranian”). So, we might turn to an American scholar, Gary Leupp, Professor of History at Tufts University, with a secondary appointment in the Department of Religion. Appalled by the ignorance and arrogance of the Washingotonian establishment, he writes:

“Why, many Russians must think, is the West so intent on incorporating Ukraine, fountainhead of Russian culture, into the Western zone? Don’t they know that the Russian state traces its origins to Kievan Rus in the early ninth century, before there was a “Russia” or “Ukraine”? Don’t they know that Ukraine only emerged as a state after the Mongol invasions, and then as a satrapy of Poland, before joining Russia in 1654 by the Treaty of Pereyaslav? And then not as an independent kingdom but as a Russian principality? …Don’t they realise that that Russian principality of Ukraine for over two centuries was centred in the region west of the Dnieper river, and that the Russian-speaking eastern section was only added after the Bolshevik Revolution, with the inception of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic? And that the Crimean Peninsula had been Russian territory since 1783, until 1954 when it was turned over, perhaps foolishly and capriciously, to Ukraine? …Don’t they care about Babi Yar? Do they even know what this was? No doubt they don’t.”

Brand new territorial states try to give the impression that their origins go deep into a remote historical past. In reality, Ukraine as a separate, independent state came into being for the first time only about 20 years ago, and that too messily, resulting neither from a lasting independence movement nor even a referendum but out of the sudden collapse of the Soviet Union, encompassing the enlarged territories bestowed upon it by the leaders in Moscow. Even after the recent departure of Crimea from this newly minted state, ethnic Russians account for roughly 45 per cent of the population in the remaining eastern provinces. The Ukranian elite itself likes to speak Russian as the Czarist aristocracy of Saint Petersburg spoke French as the language of high culture. We might illustrate the point with reference to the bizarre personality of Yulia Tymoshenko.

Yulia Tymoshenko is a former Prime Minister who was sentenced to a prison term by the Ukrainian courts on charges of massive corruption, and at the height of the recent mass demonstrations, she was released thanks to U.S. pressure, became a leader of the movement to overthrow the elected government and is now manoeuvring to regain her position as Prime Minister. Her persona is that of a militant Ukrainian nationalist, and in public, she speaks only in Ukrainian.

A phone conversation of Yulia Tymoshenko with Ukrainian Member of Parliament and former government official Nestor Shufrych was leaked on YouTube recently in which she is recorded as saying, among other things: “One has to take up arms and go wipe out these damn katsap s together with their leader,” (meaning Putin; katsap s is the Ukrainian abuse word for Russians). She also said, “I am hoping that I will use all my connections and will get the whole world to rise up so that not even scorched earth would be left of Russia.” According to AFP, “Discussing the fate of Ukraine’s eight million ethnic Russians with Shufrych, Yulia Tymoshenko was also heard as saying that they should be ‘nuked’.” Faced with the recording of her own voice, she acknowledged the conversation but claimed that the objectionable pronouncements have all been injected into her speech by Russian intelligence. The significant fact is that all this anti-Russian venom is delivered not in the Ukranian language but in impeccable Russian.

Towards the end of the passage we have quoted above, Professor Leupp refers to Babi Yar as an illustration of those crucial aspects of a shared Russian/Ukrainian history—not in the remote past but in mid-20th century—that are seared into the memory of modern Russians. What is—was—Babi Yar (aside from serving as the title of Yevgeny Yevtushenko’s famous poem? The opening passage of the Wikipedia entry on Babi Yar runs as follows:

“Babi Yar is a ravine in the Ukrainian capital Kiev and a site of a series of massacres carried out by the Nazis during their campaign against the Soviet Union. The most notorious and the best documented of these massacres took place on September 29–30, 1941, wherein 33,771 Jews were killed in a single operation…. The massacre was the largest single mass killing for which the Nazi regime and its collaborators were responsible during its campaign against the Soviet Union and is considered to be ‘the largest single massacre in the history of the Holocaust’ to that particular date…. Victims of other massacres at the site included thousands of Soviet prisoners of war, communists, gypsies, Ukrainian nationalists and civilian hostages. It is estimated that between 100,000 and 150,000 lives were taken at Babi Yar during the German occupation.” Admirers of those German occupiers now hold key posts in Kiev, not far from that ravine, after the recent coup.

Question of Fascism Susan Rice, the U.S. National Security Adviser, claims that the allegation of fascism is a red herring trumped up by opponents of the “revolution” in Kiev. It is best, therefore, to recall certain basic facts.

The phenomenon is actually far wider but the two major organisations of fascist vintage are the Svoboda (“Freedom”) party and Praviya Secktor (“Right Sector”). Svoboda was founded in 1991 and was originally called “National-Social” in memory of the official name of the Nazis, National Socialist German Workers’ Party. It claimed to be a successor to the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) founded in 1929 by Stephen Bandera, a man of many parts who was later jailed by the Nazis themselves, but before the falling out, Bandera had received large sums of money from them and had raised two battalions for them to fight against the Soviet troops; according to the Simon Weisenthal Centre, a think tank that documents details of the Jewish Holocaust, one of Bandera’s battalions is known to have rounded up 4,000 Jews for the Nazis in Liviv in July 1941. In celebrating the memory of his heroes in the OUN, Svoboda party leader, Oleh Tyahnybok, has said: “They did not fear but took up their automatic rifles, going into the woods to fight Muscovites, Germans, Jewry and other filth” and he calls upon his own followers to liberate Ukraine from “the Muscovite-Jewish mafia”. As late as 2010, the official Svoboda website read (in part):

“To create a truly Ukrainian Ukraine in the cities of the East and South, only one lustration will not be enough, we will need to cancel parliamentarism, ban all political parties, nationalise the entire industry, all media, prohibit the importation of any literature to Ukraine from Russia… completely replace the leaders of the civil service, education management, military (especially in the East), physically liquidate all Russian-speaking intellectuals and all Ukrainophobes (fast, without a trial shot. Registering Ukrainophobes can be done here by any member of Svoboda), execute all members of the anti-Ukrainian political parties…”

When Svoboda won 12 per cent of the popular vote and an impressive number of seats in the Ukrainian elections in 2012, the resolution adopted by the European Parliament on December 13, 2012, “On the situation in Ukraine”, said unambiguously:

“Parliament is concerned about the rising nationalistic sentiment in Ukraine, expressed in support for the Svoboda party, which, as a result, is one of the two new parties to enter the Verkhovna Rada [Ukraine’s parliament]; recalls that racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic views go against the E.U.’s fundamental values and principles and, therefore, appeals to pro-democratic parties in the Verkhovna Rada not to associate with, endorse or form coalitions with this party.”

Max Blumenthal, author of the bestseller Republican Gomorrah among other books, gives an account of what he saw during the agitation leading up to the coup:

White supremacist banners and Confederate flags were draped inside Kiev’s occupied City Hall, and demonstrators have hoisted Nazi SS and white power symbols over a toppled memorial to V.I. Lenin. After [Viktor] Yanukovich fled his palatial estate by helicopter, Euromaidan protesters destroyed a memorial to Ukrainians who died battling German occupation during World War II. Sieg heil salutes and the Nazi Wolfsangel symbol have become an increasingly common sight in Maidan Square, and neo-Nazi forces have established “autonomous zones” in and around Kiev…. In the Ukrainian Parliament, where Svoboda holds an unprecedented 37 seats, Tyahnybok’s deputy Yuriy Mykhalchyshyn is fond of quoting Joseph Goebbels—he has even founded a think tank originally called “the Joseph Goebbels Political Research Center”. According to Per Anders Rudling, a leading academic expert on European neo-fascism, the self-described “socialist nationalist”, Mykhalchyshyn is the main link between Svoboda’s official wing and neo-Nazi militias like Right Sector…. In a leaked phone conversation with Geoffrey Pyatt, the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, [U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria] Nuland revealed her wish for Tyahnybok to remain “on the outside”, but to consult with the U.S.’ replacement for Yanukovich, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, “four times a week”.

Before getting elevated to this position, Tyahnybok used to appear at rallies with U.S. Senator John McCain. Members of Svoboda now hold several ministerial posts, including that of Vice Prime Minister, Minister of Defence, and Prosecutor General. Meanwhile, Right Sector, which criticises Svoboda for being too “pacifist” and provided the most vicious of the storm troopers for the coup that overthrew an elected government through street violence, holds key posts in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, responsible for the police. Between the two, they more or less monopolise the whole of the national security apparatus, that is, the means of violence at the disposal of the Ukrainian state—in addition to their own militias (paramilitary training is compulsory for membership in Right Sector.)

It is quite possible that the E.U. and the U.S. shall get eventually embarrassed by so overt and dominant a position of fascists and anti-Semites at the helm of a government they have sponsored in a major European country. Some kind of camouflage and reshuffle is likely. However, two kinds of mass unrest are also likely in the near future. First, the rampant, loud, vicious anti-Russian hatred among all sections of the new ruling dispensation is likely to cause social unrest in the eastern provinces in particular and, more generally, among ethnic Russians thinly spread even in the western parts. Second, consequences of the IMF-imposed austerity that is so much in the offing will compound the social unrest in unpredictable ways. Democratic institutions in Ukraine are fragile enough, all the so-called “liberal” political parties are dominated by criminals and oligarchs, and the fascists, having tasted power, are not going to go away so easily. Indeed, as various kinds of social unrest increase, these reorganised fascists may well emerge as the indispensable party of order for liberals of all stripes, Ukrainian, American, Eurolanders.

In other words, the Ukraine crisis is still unfolding and it is still too early to judge its eventual contours and consequences, nationally or internationally.

In the second part of this article, we shall try to answer a complex question: “Are we at the threshold of a new Cold War?”

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