If you were in Newport and Cardiff in south-east Wales during the first week of September, you might have thought you’d entered a warzone. Instead, it was simply the September 4 and 5 NATO Summit. As NATO warships drifted ominously into the harbour and US Osprey and Nighthawk helicopters thundered in the sky, above mile after mile of steel fencing, disgruntled residents were left taking to Twitter to complain about their desks shaking at work. “The amount of helicopters I have heard today makes it sound like we’re at war,” one said.
For the West's masters of war, it's a good time to be in Wales. A military alliance that has struggled for years to explain why it still exists, NATO has got a packed agenda for its September 4 and 5 Newport summit. NATO may not be at the centre of US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron's plans to ramp up intervention in the Middle East and wipe the so-called Islamic state “out of existence”. But after 13 years of bloody occupation of Afghanistan and a calamitous intervention in Libya, the Western alliance has got an enemy that at last seems to fit its bill.
The barriers are going up across south Wales. Huge steel fences block off buildings, including Cardiff castle. Roads are closed. Children are promised a shorter school day or maybe no school at all. Rail services are disrupted. All so that a group of politicians and military men can meet in a country hotel outside Newport for a September 4 and 5 NATO summit to plan more of the military interventions that have contributed to a world now more seriously threatened by major wars than at any time since 1945.
“This political force should be liquidated,” said Pavlo Petrenko, Ukraine’s justice minister, quoted in the July 9 edition of Capital (Kiev’s equivalent of the Australian Financial Review). Petrenko was referring to the Communist Party of Ukraine (CPU). For a time in the 1990s, it was the most supported party in Ukraine and it still won 13% of the vote at the 2012 parliamentary poll.
There had been “constant and heavy shelling” by the Ukraine army, Susan Ormiston of CBC News reported from Donetsk on July 28, during the past two days on the towns and villages in the Donetsk region surrounding the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. The site was turned over to international investigators four days ago by Donetsk self-defence fighters, but the investigators have not been able to access it due to military operations by the Ukraine army. Donetsk fighters say the army controls the area surrounding the site. There are no observers present.
Malaysian Airlines lost its second Boeing 777 this year on July 17, when flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was apparently hit by a missile over war-torn Eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board. The incident happened while the Ukrainian army was carrying out a huge land and air offensive to crush breakaway republics in eastern Ukraine, over whose territory the plane was shot down. Most passengers were Dutch, but 38 Australians were also killed.
The statement below was issued as a “declaration of the assembly of citizens of Ukraine and representatives of international solidarity networks” at an anti-war conference in Yalta, Crimea on July 7. The text is reprinted from Canadian socialist Roger Annis's blog, who attended the conference and signed the statement. You can read the full list of signatories to the statement. * * *
The Party of the European Left is a European-wide political grouping that unites 26 parties to the left of social democracy, such as SYRIZA in Greece. It released the statement below on July 2. For more information visit Europe-Left.org. * * * We consider the main factors in the Ukraine crisis to be the imperial atttitude towards the country, as shown by all major powers involved: the deliberately provocative and bellicose moves by the US, NATO and European Union, as well as the aggressive steps taken by Russia.
Left forces from Ukraine, Russia and Belarus held a two-day anti-war conference near Minsk on June 7 and 8. The conference was organised by participants of internet project “Prasvet” with the support of the Belarus web journal Left. The aim of the conference was to help coordinate the internationalist, Marxist left forces of three countries under circumstances of military-nationalist hysteria and the outburst of violence and repression in Ukraine.
A political crisis over the future of Ukraine has exploded in the past three months. Its catalyst has been the longstanding efforts of big imperialist countries to assert economic and military domination over the republics of the former Soviet Union, and to weaken and marginalise rival Russia. This takes the form of collaboration with a compliant local elite to impose capitalist austerity and bring the country under the military umbrella of the NATO military alliance.
In the House of Trade Unions in Odessa on May 2, more people died than over several days of fighting in the Donbass in Ukraine's east. In Kramatorsk in the eastern Donetsk Oblast province on the same day, however, government forces also excelled themselves, killing 10 unarmed local residents who had tried to block the path of armoured vehicles.
The United Nations general assembly voted on March 27 ― with 100 votes for, 11 against and 58 abstentions ― to not recognise the results of the March 16 referendum in Crimea. In the poll, most voted for the territory to leave Ukraine and join Russia. The resolution was put by Ukraine and sponsored by the United States, the European Union and other Western powers, including Australia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced legislation on March 18 accepting the formerly Ukrainian Republic of Crimea and City of Sevastopol into the Russian Federation. The legislation was passed by the Russian Duma (parliament) on March 20. Crimea and Sevastopol had voted in a March 16 referendum to leave Ukraine and join Russia. This was the culmination of a process that began after the February 21 overthrow of unpopular Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich by protesters in the capital Kiev.
Jean-Luc Melenchon is co-president of France's Left Party and a member of the European parliament. Melenchon is also leader of the broader Left Front, involving other parties such as the French Communist Party, on whose ticket he won about 11% of the vote in the 2012 presidential elections. Below, Melenchon gives his perspective on the crisis in Ukraine ― from Russia's actions in Crimea, to the West's saber rattling, to the mass protests that brought down an unpopular government and the new regime, featuring fascist forces, that has taken its place.
The February 21 collapse of the government of Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich in the face of anti-corruption protests has led to the most serious confrontation between the US and Russia since the end of the Cold War. The Russian Federation is not the superpower the Soviet Union once was, but it remains the world’s second largest nuclear power after the US, which has about 80% of the world’s nuclear weapons. The US and its allies are insisting that Ukraine is indivisible, including the autonomous region of Crimea.
The governments of the United States, Europe and Canada are working furiously to help consolidate the conservative and rightist government that has come into office in Ukraine after the overthrow of the authoritarian regime of Victor Yanukovych 10 days ago. The overthrow of the regime came about through a confluence of mass protests against its authoritarian rule and retrograde social and economic policies, and a very active intervention by right-wing and fascist political forces.