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.
After failing to violently crush mass protests in Kiev’s Independence Square, which have been raging since November 21, the regime of Viktor Yanukovich collapsed on February 22. The protests began in opposition to Yanukovich’s decision to back out of a Free Trade Agreement and Association Agreement with the European Union. But in the face of police brutality, the protests evolved into a general expression of anti-regime discontent. The movement was initially known as Euromaidan (“Eurosquare”) but later just Maidan, reflecting this evolution.