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Home page > 20- ENGLISH - MATERIAL AND REVOLUTION > The fascist atrocities in east Ukraine and the fraud of “humanitarian” (...)

The fascist atrocities in east Ukraine and the fraud of “humanitarian” war

Friday 15 August 2014, by Robert Paris

The fascist atrocities in east Ukraine and the fraud of “humanitarian” war

By Alex Lantier

The siege of the Ukrainian cities of Donetsk and Luhansk, launched by the regime in Kiev and abetted by the US government and the European Union (EU), is a barbaric act of collective punishment.

The political gangsters in Kiev and their sponsors in Washington and the European capitals have unleashed fascist paramilitary units, such as Right Sector and the Azov Battalion, to wage war on the entire population of east Ukraine. They are shelling hospitals, maternity wards, and chemical factories, firing rocket salvos indiscriminately into city centers, and cutting off water, food, electricity, and medicine to cities with a combined population of over 1 million people. The slaughter has already claimed over 2,000 lives, including hundreds of civilians.

The hypocrisy of the NATO powers’ howls of outrage that a Russian truck convoy bearing humanitarian aid might now enter into east Ukraine is sickening. Having attacked Yugoslavia, Libya and Iraq on the pretext that invasion was the only way to protect civilians, they are now turning 180 degrees and demanding that their puppet regime be allowed to murder east Ukrainians undisturbed.

At the Monday press briefing, State Department spokeswoman and former CIA Middle East analyst Marie Harf made clear that the atrocities in east Ukraine have the full support of the US government. A journalist began to ask a question, stating: “The separatists are saying there are 1,500 dead, they have no electricity in their areas, they are running low on supplies and so on. There are villages and towns that are populated by civilians.”

Interrupting the questioner, Harf snapped: “I don’t have any sympathy for the separatists.”

Harf denounced the planned Russian truck convoy bearing food, water and power generators for east Ukraine as a ruse: “We are concerned that Russia could try to use a humanitarian or peacekeeping operation as a pretense for inserting elements of military force into Ukraine. We do not believe that any actions, humanitarian or otherwise, should be taken in Ukraine without Kiev’s direct permission.”

Even by the debased standards of US state propaganda, the hypocrisy of Harf’s comment is astounding. Backhandedly acknowledging that Kiev has created a humanitarian catastrophe, it accuses Russia without proof of doing precisely what Washington and its allies have done for decades since the dissolution of the USSR in 1991: use the pretext of humanitarian intervention to invade countries. The Obama administration has used and continues to use precisely this phony tactic to package its wars to a hostile public.

As he launched the 2011 war in Libya (proven oil reserves: 76.4 billion barrels), Obama told the American people: “We cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people that there will be no mercy, and his forces step up their assaults on cities like Benghazi and Misrata, where innocent men and women face brutality and death at the hands of their own government. So we must be clear: actions have consequences, and the writ of the international community must be enforced.”

Based only on this warning that repression of pro-US protesters in Libya might occur in the future, Obama launched a war that killed thousands of civilians and handed Libya over to a patchwork of tribal and Al Qaeda-linked militias. Change Benghazi and Misrata to Donetsk and Luhansk, however, and the Obama administration opposes any action that might interfere with atrocities carried out against Ukrainian civilians by pro-Kiev fascists working with Blackwater mercenaries and the CIA.

This week, as he launched another unpopular US war in Iraq (proven oil reserves: 140 billion barrels), Obama peddled the tired lie that the war is dictated by humanitarian concern—in this case, over Yazidi refugees hiding on Mount Sinjar from Islamic State in Iraq and Syria forces. He said, “When many thousands of innocent civilians are faced with the danger of being wiped out, and we have the capacity to do something about it, we will take action. That is our responsibility as Americans. That’s a hallmark of American leadership. That’s who we are.”

Who does Obama think he is kidding? In a series of wars and bombings carried out in Iraq despite broad opposition in the American working class over nearly a quarter century since the 1990-1991 Gulf War, US imperialism has done its best to prove that mass murder is as American as apple pie.

Nearly two decades ago, in May 1996, CBS correspondent Leslie Stahl asked Clinton administration Secretary of State Madeleine Albright about the devastating sanctions Washington imposed on Iraq after the Gulf War, cutting it off from the world economy. Stahl said, “We have heard that a half a million children have died. That’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is this price worth it?”

Infamously, Albright replied: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price we think is worth it.”

At that point, tragically, the worst still lay ahead for the Iraqi people, who would suffer further bombings, the 2003 invasion, and nine years of hellish US-UK occupation and civil war that claimed the lives of over 1 million Iraqis.

The barbarism unleashed by the United States and its European allies in Ukraine exposes not only their current wars, but the political framework developed over decades to provide a cynical veneer of moral rectitude for wars of plunder.

The Czech President, ex-dissident, and pro-imperialist scoundrel Vaclav Havel coined the Orwellian term “humanitarian bombing” in a 1999 Le Monde interview, as NATO bombs fell on the ex-Yugoslav republics of Kosovo and Serbia. According to Havel, such wars were noble, totally disinterested acts that reflected only the unswerving devotion of Washington and the European Union to human rights; in that case, protecting Kosovar Albanians from the Serbian government in Belgrade.

Havel declared, “I believe that during the intervention of NATO in Kosovo, there is an element nobody can question: the air raids, the bombs, are not provoked by a material interest. Their character is exclusively humanitarian: what is at stake here are the principles, human rights which are accorded priority that surpasses even state sovereignty. This makes attacking the Yugoslav Federation legitimate, even without the United Nations mandate.”

Such reactionary rationalizations for war were embraced by the corporate media, leading academics, and corrupt pseudo-left groups, such as the International Socialist Organization (ISO) in the United States or the New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA) in France, who applauded the Libyan and Syrian wars. The main target, if unstated, of their propaganda was Marxism—in particular, its claim that such wars are provoked by the pursuit of material interests by the capitalist classes of the imperialist powers.

Class forces will out, and this petty-bourgeois fraternity has found fitting partners in Ukraine. They embraced the right-wing, pro-EU protests on the Maidan in Kiev that culminated in the February 22 putsch and the installation of a far-right government. Now, they find themselves aligned with the white supremacist snipers, ex-convicts, and admirers of Ukrainian Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera inside Right Sector who are serving as imperialism’s foot soldiers, massacring civilians in east Ukraine.

Kiev deploys fascist militias against Donetsk

By Niles Williamson

The Ukrainian government is funding and deploying gangs of fascist thugs as the spearhead of its operations in preparation for the large scale massacre of pro-Russia separatists and civilians in the city of Donetsk.

The Kiev government has unleashed these fascist gangs on the Ukrainian population with full support and backing of the US, Germany and other European powers. The neo-Nazi Azov battalion has played a key role in the encirclement of Donetsk and the capture and opening of rebel checkpoints. Last week the battalion was sent ahead of Ukraine’s 51st Mechanized Brigade to attack and capture a pro-Russia separatist checkpoint in the western suburb of Marinka.

Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov issued a decree in April allowing for the creation of special units to counter the pro-Russian separatists, providing various fascist paramilitary groups the imprimatur of the state and allowing them to operate with impunity. In addition to the Azov battalion, other far-right militias have been organized to fight the separatists, including the Dnipro, Donbass, and Kharkiv battalions.

The Azov battalion, financed by billionaire oligarch and the appointed Governor of Dnipropretrovsk Oblast, Ihor Kolomoyskyi, is commanded by Andriy Biletsky. Biletsky leads the neo-Nazi Social-National Assembly (SNA) and its paramilitary wing, the Patriots of Ukraine.

Biletsky’s SNA, whose members make up a significant portion of the Azov battalion, supports Ukraine’s re-acquisition of nuclear weapons and the introduction of racial purity laws, and openly boasts on its website about carrying out physical attacks on ethnic and social minorities. In one recent anti-Semitic outburst, Biletsky wrote: “The historic mission of our nation in this critical moment is to lead the White Races of the world in a final crusade for their survival. A crusade against the Semite-led Untermenschen .”

The Azov battalion flies the neo-Nazi Wolfsangle on its banner, a symbol used by the 2nd SS Panzer Division and other Nazi forces during World War II. Members of the battalion are quite proud of their white supremacist and anti-Semitic ideology. The Telegraph quoted a fighter known as “Phantom,” who said: “Personally, I’m a Nazi. I don’t hate any other nationalities, but I believe each nation should have its own country. We have one idea: to liberate our land from terrorists.”

Oleh Lyashko, a member of the Verkhovna Rada and leader of the Radical Party, is a leading member and key patron of the Azov battalion. In a video posted to Youtube, he interrogates Igor Kakidzyanov, the defense minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic, who had been captured by the Azov Battalion. Lyashko, who is known for physically assaulting and intimidating his opponents, won 8 percent of the vote in Ukraine’s 2014 presidential election.

Kolomoyskyi, Ukraine’s second richest man and the cofounder of Privatbank, is known for funding far-right, pro-Western forces in the country. He was the main financier of the UDAR party of boxer and Maidan protest leader Vitali Klitschko. He supported the opposition politician Yulia Tymoshenko and purportedly funded Oleh Tyahnybok, the head of the fascist Svoboda Party. He reportedly provided $10 million to create the Dnipro Battalion in April.

The Azov battalion has attracted fascist elements from countries outside of Ukraine, including from Sweden, Italy, France, Canada, and Russia. Mikael Skillt, one of the group’s most prominent foreign fighters, was a member of the neo-Nazi Svenskarnas party in Sweden.

The mobilization of fascistic filth by the Ukrainian oligarchs in a war against the people of eastern Ukraine constitutes an indictment of all the Western backers of the right-wing Maidan protest movement that led to the coming to power of the current regime in Kiev.

The WSWS warned from the outset about the danger posed by the involvement of these fascist organizations, in particular Svoboda and Right Sector, in the US- and German-backed coup that took place in February. “The reality is that, for the first time since 1945, an avowedly anti-Semitic, pro-Nazi party controls key levers of state power in a European capital, courtesy of US and European imperialism,” we wrote. “The unelected Ukrainian government, headed by US appointee Arseniy Yatsenyuk, includes no fewer than six ministers from the fascist Svoboda party.”

The WSWS’s warnings have been tragically confirmed by the murderous offensive these far-right forces have now unleashed.

Military operations in east Ukraine which have integrated these fascist elements have resulted in the killing and wounding of thousands and the displacement of hundreds of thousands from their homes. Mass graves containing the bodies of rebel fighters were uncovered in Slavyansk in July, after the city was captured by the Ukrainian armed forces and far-right wing militias.

Mark Galeotti, an expert on Russian and Ukrainian security affairs at New York University, warned of the growing influence of these fascist elements, which are being recruited around the world and trained by the Kiev regime. “The danger is that this is part of the building up of a toxic legacy for when the war ends,” he said. “And what do you do when the war is over and you get veterans of the Azov swaggering down your high street, and in your own lives?”

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  • A freak road accident involving a Ukrainian armored personnel vehicle that killed an 8-year-old girl escalated into a series of riots in Kostantynivka, Donetsk Oblast, on March 16.

    The accident took place at around 3 p.m. in the center of the city of 95,000 residents. The armored vehicle lost control on the road and hit the little girl, her aunt and her baby cousin. The aunt received heavy injuries and was taken to a local hospital, but the baby was not injured, according to the Ukrainian authorities.

    The accident caused unrest in the city, where many residents do not welcome the Ukrainian authorities and troops. According to some reports from the ground, Ukrainian military barracks were set on fire, but Kyiv Post has not been able to get an independent confirmation.

    The Ukrainian authorities have said the soldiers who drove the military vehicle have already been detained.
    “When investigation ends, those who are guilty will be severely punished," Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said in a statement. “Moreover, commanders will be held responsible for absence of proper control."

    The ministry also said a special group of investigators was sent to the ground, and the military prosecutor alerted. Meanwhile, head of the interior ministry department in Donetsk Oblast wrote on his Facebook page that he was also traveling to Kostyantynivka to personally oversee the investigation.

    “The criminals will be punished whoever they are," Vyacheslav Abroskin wrote.

    Meanwhile, videos of unrest in Kostyantynivka have become viral in social networks. Most of them showed people shouting in the streets and fires burning. The local office of the interior ministry said protesters burned tires in the streets.

    Also, propaganda machines on both sides geared up and pumped out scores of tweets about the incident. On one side, trolls issued warnings that the Right Sector “punishers" were coming into town to rein in the local population. On the other side, numerous tweets warned that somebody was using the accident to incite riots.

    As the situation escalated by the evening, the Ukrainian authorities allowed police officers to use weapons in case of mass riots, Anton Herashchenko, an adviser to Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, told 112 TV channel.

    “If anyone in Kostyantynivka, with weapons, stands against the laws of the Ukrainian authorities, using this road accident for mass clashes, then a single warning shot will be fired, and then they (police) will shoot to kill. If there is no time for warning, they will shoot to kill immediately," Herashchenko said.

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