Ukraine: New president in Kyiv shells cities in east; NATO ups military threats

US President Barak Obama and European leaders endorsed Ukraine's president-elect Petro Poroshenko at a summit meeting in Warsaw on June 4, 2014.

By Roger Annis

Breaking news: Progressive and anti-war groups from Ukraine, Russia and Belarus held a two-day conference in Minsk, Belarus on June 7 and 8 and issued a call to build a broad-based, antiwar movement to halt the course to civil war of the governing regime in Kyiv and its NATO allies. See below this article for an English translation of the conference statement, or check the Ukrainian website (The Left).

June 8, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- An elaborate ceremony attended by the elite of Ukraine’s capitalist class was held in Kyiv on June 7 to inaugurate the president elected on May 25. Canada’s prime minister was on hand to confirm his government’s ongoing support for the new president, Petro Poroshenko, and the rightist regime that came to power in Kyiv in late February of this year.

Three days earlier, US President Barak Obama and European leaders met Poroshenko at a summit meeting in Warsaw. The leaders met to showcase the ongoing military build-up of the NATO alliance in eastern Europe. The build-up is aimed at the rebellion of people of eastern Ukraine who are demanding political autonomy and opposing the austerity economic program that the big imperialist countries have in store for Ukraine. It’s also the latest step in a decades-long policy of encircling and threatening Russia.

In July, troops from the US, UK and other NATO countries will conduct joint military exercises on Ukrainian territory as part of NATO’s annual “Rapid Trident” exercises. Last year’s “Rapid Trident” involved 17 NATO member countries. It was held on Ukrainian soil.

At least three other NATO military exercises are taking place in the near future—in a few days, a naval exercise in the Baltic Sea called “Baltops” and a live-fire, land exercise in Estonia and Latvia called Sabre Strike; then a full wargame exercise in Poland in September called “Anakonda”.

NATO countries have also deployed warplanes and warships to indefinite postings in countries and ocean waters around Ukraine and Russia.

Poroshenko won the May 25 election by a wide margin over his rivals, but voter participation was down sharply from the previous presidential election. In 2010, 24.6 million people voted in a first round and 25.5 million voted in a second-round runoff. On May 25, 2014, 18 million cast a ballot in the only round that Poroshenko needed to win a plurality.

Shellings and bombings in the east

The day after Poroshenko’s inauguration, heavy shelling and aerial bombardments of the city of Slavyansk by the Ukraine army and the fascist militias fighting alongside it resumed. The bombings continued the following day.

Electricity, gas and fuel supplies are being targeted. Residential areas have been hit indiscriminately. Children are being evacuated from the city.

In nearby Donetsk city on Inauguration Day, an assassination attempt was made against Denis Pushilin, the chair of the Donetsk Peoples Republic. The DPR was declared in April, following the overthrow of the elected president of Ukraine by the “Maidan” protest movement that came to be dominated and controlled by rightist and fascist forces. In a referendum vote on May 11, residents of Donetsk region voted in favour of self-rule.

The assassins killed an assistant of Pushilin, Maksym Petruhin. The New York Times reports that photographs on Ukrainian news sites show Petruhin lying face down on a street alongside a parked car with at least seven bullet holes in the rear door.

The city of Luhansk has also been bombarded. A detailed account of the aerial attack on the city on June 2 is written by Daniel McAdams. In that city, too, children are being evacuated.

Daniel McAdams wrote:

It seems that the US government actually approves of this use of force against civilian populations in eastern Ukraine. Two days after the air attack on downtown Lugansk, the Obama administration announced a significant US military support package for Ukraine. The aid will include, "A new tranche of $5 million for the provision of body armor, night vision goggles and additional communications equipment."

The Washington Post bizarrely headlined its report of the Poroshenko inauguration, “Ukraine’s new president calls for an end to war”.

Corporate news outlets around the world used the same theme in their headlines. Bloomberg News, for example, headlined a June 7 report “New president Poroshenko plotting path to peace”.

But already, within minutes of winning the presidential election, Poroshenko reaffirmed his election threats to deepen the civil war in eastern Ukraine that his predecessor launched in March. At the inauguration, the Washington Post reported his refusal to enter dialogue with the rebellion in the east of the country. "Talking to gangsters and killers is not our avenue", he said.

All along, the regime now headed by Poroshenko has called the autonomy movement in the east “terrorist”. Hardly the talk and actions of a “man of peace”.

Poroshenko has further inflamed matters, including relations with Russia, by saying he refuses to recognise the referendum vote in Crimea in March of this year that saw the big majority of people of that region vote to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation.

He is also saying he will now organise regional elections in eastern Ukraine. In the present conditions, that means elections at the point of a bayonet. Voter participation in the eastern region for the presidential election was extremely low.

If the idea of a European government bombing its cities concerns the editors and journalists of mainstream media in Europe and North America, they aren’t showing it. A self-imposed censorship prevails over reporting the violence and military offensive of the Kyiv regime and its allied fascist militias in the east. Another, big no-go area in corporate news reports is the fact that Ukraine’s government is one of the first, if not the only, since World War II to include ministers from fascist parties.

Activists in Odessa have produced a documentary film about the massacre perpetrated by fascists in the city on May 2, 2014. Odessa 05/02 consists of film footage showing the rally of several thousand fascists from across Ukraine on that day which then descended on anti-fascist and anti-austerity protesters in several locations in the city, eventually killing more than 40 people.

The worst of the carnage occurred at the trade union building in the centre of the city where many protesters had taken refuge. The fascist mob set the building on fire. Some people were murdered by rightists who entered the flaming building; others were killed as they escaped the inferno. (View the two-hour documentary film, with English subtitles, here.)

In Britain, the Stop The War coalition has launched a petition aiming for 100,000 signatures demanding that the British government withdraw from participation in this year’s Rapid Trident military exercise. The group is calling for a demonstration in solidarity with pro-democracy fighters in Ukraine in September in Newport, Wales, on the occasion of the annual NATO summit meeting.

Also in Britain, a new anti-fascist coalition in solidarity with the Ukrainian people was launched on June 2. It’s called Solidarity with the Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine.

In Athens, Greece, a call has been issued for an assembly on June 13 to launch a campaign of anti-fascist solidarity with Ukraine.

Anti-war and anti-fascist fighters will take much inspiration from the June 7, 8 conference in Minsk, Belarus, that involved a broad representation of social and political activists from that country as well as Ukraine and Russia.

Stop the war in Ukraine!

Statement issued by the anti-war conference held in Belarus, June 7-8, 2014. English translation published on Go to the website to see the list of signators.

* * *

“Stopping the war in Ukraine is the primary task for all democratic and left movements, regardless of differences on the complex political issues.”

Left forces from Ukraine, Russia and Belarus held a two-day anti-war conference near Minsk on June 7-8, 2014. The conference was organised by participants of internet-project “Prasvet” with support of the Belarus web journal Left.

The aim of the conference is to consolidate the coordination of internationalist, Marxist left forces of three countries under circumstances of military-nationalist hysteria and the outburst of violence and repressions in Ukraine. The conference statement is open for signatures. These can be added in the online comments section.

* * *

We, the participants of the meeting of left and Marxist groups and organizations from Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine, believe that the civil war in Ukraine must cease – we see it as a primary task. The military conflict that followed the victory of the neoliberals and nationalists in the “Euromaidan” actions in Kiev claimed hundreds of lives and contributed to an unprecedented growth of chauvinism and xenophobia in Ukrainian and Russian society.

The war allows the Ukrainian ruling class to consolidate society around their political regime, distracting workers of the western and eastern parts of the country from struggle for their social and political rights. It makes them to collide with each other in the interests of the bourgeoisie. The Russian government, the European Union and the United States government are using the civil war in Ukraine for their respective interests, while the people of the Donbass region suffering from war are just pawns of their competition.

We express our solidarity to all participants of the Ukrainian left-wing movements that are fighting against war, nationalism and xenophobia. We consider it necessary to provide them all possible information, political and material support. We oppose the pressure, pogroms and reprisals by all participants of the conflict. We oppose the massacres, torture and abductions of Ukrainian leftists, anti-fascists and all Ukrainian citizens, regardless of their political views. We oppose political persecutions in the Crimea region as well.

Stopping the war in Ukraine is the primary task for all democratic and left movements, regardless of differences on the complex political issues. Thus, we believe it is necessary to coordinate the efforts of all opponents of the war in Ukraine. We need to form a massive and influential anti-war movement.

  • We urge the government of Ukraine to immediately halt its "anti-terrorist operation", withdraw its troops from the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and conclude a truce with the self-defense forces of the Donetsk Peoples Republic and Luhansk Peoples Republic.
  • We urge all the parties of the conflict to endorse a peace agreement for complete cessation of hostilities, to release all political prisoners and prisoners of war, and to disband armed groups.
  • We urge the Ukrainian government to dismiss all the involuntary mobilized regular army soldiers, whose families are now organizing protests in various regions of Ukraine.
  • We demand from Russia, the EU and the US to completely stop interfering in the Ukrainian conflict and cease support to any one side.
  • We demand an end to the chauvinist campaigns in Ukrainian and Russian media. Their use of hate speech is one of the main instigators of war.
  • We demand the adoption of a new constitution of Ukraine, elections of the authorities of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and a right to self-determination and self-government for Donbass and all the regions of Ukraine.
  • We believe that information exchanges and organizational consolidation of left groups in the territories of the former Soviet space is a necessary condition of forming an effective anti-war movement. To this end, we are initiating joint development of “Red Cross” initiatives in order to help left activists and conscientious objectors to military service, and we are establishing an information network for left and Marxist groups in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine.

Go to the website to see the list of signatories of the statement.

Participants in the conference

V.Ischenko, journal of social criticism The Commons, Ukraine

A. Manchuk,, Borotba, Ukraine

I. Ovsiannikov, Central Council of Russian Socialist Movement (RSM)

T. Salamanyuk, journal of social criticism The Commons, Ukraine

S. Solovyev, journal Scepsis, Russia

Rustam Sadykov, journal Scepsis, Russia

S. Kozlovskiy, member of the Central Council of Russian Socialist Movement (RSM)

D. Subbotin, journal Scepsis, Russia

G. Komarov, “Workers’ platform”, Russian Socialist Movement (RSM)

M. Piskunov, RSM, Russia

A. Kirpichenok, MMT, Russia

A. Ivanov, RSM, Russia

T. Chizhova, web-journal Prasvet, Belarus

D. Isayenok, web-journal Prasvet, Belarus

D. Denisov, Left Opposition, Ukraine and RSM, Russia

L.Barkova, Russia

S. Odarych,, Ukraine

I.Znamenskiy, Russia

E. Kuzmenok, Belarus

E. Ruskevich, Belarus

A. Barkhatkov, Prasvet, Belarus

S. Danilovych, Belarus

A. Oparin, website, Belarus

Y. Glushakov, organizational committee of the Belarus Social Movement “Razam!”


Ukraine: The Donetsk People’s Republic does not reject beginning talks with Kiev

From the Rabkor (“Worker Correspondent”) site,

            A genuine process of negotiations between Kiev and representatives of the Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics will be possible only if Kiev fulfils seven conditions set out by Oleg Tsarev, the Joint Chairperson of the People’s Front of Novorossiya.

            This was stated by Prime Minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic Aleksandr Boroday, relaying the outcome of consultations held today in Donetsk. Tsarev had listed the seven points, saying that once Kiev had fulfilled them it would be possible to discuss a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

            The points are as follows:

1. Withdrawal from the territory of the Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics of the National Guard, of the armed formations of [oligarch Ihor] Kolomoysky and of the Right Sector, along with units of the Ukrainian Army guilty of killing peaceful civilians.

2. Payment by Kiev of compensation to the families of peaceful citizens killed in the fighting.

3. Payment by Kiev of compensation to residents of the republics for destruction of their housing.

4. Payment by Kiev of compensation to municipalities for damage inflicted by Ukrainian forces on communal infrastructure.

5. Payment by Kiev of compensation to the owners of industrial installations destroyed in the fighting.

6. Agreement by the President of Ukraine and by the parliaments of the Republics on a draft for a constitutional act defining the status of the People’s Republics.

7. Amnesties for all participants in the militias and for all political prisoners held in Ukrainian jails.

            Boroday also stated that the militia would halt its military operations in response to the Kievan side beginning a cease-fire. “In response to a cease-fire by the Kievan side, we undertake to observe a truce. The duration of the truce will be until 27 June.”

            He voiced the hope that monitoring of the truce would be organised by the Russian Federation and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). “We hope,” Boroday said, “that during the joint cease-fire we shall be able to reach agreement and proceed to conducting talks—or at least to begin consultations on conducting talks—aimed at a peaceful resolution of the conflict.”

            The Prime Minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic emphasised that what took place in Donetsk on 23 June had been informal preliminary consultations, and that the question of such talks had not been under discussion.

            It should be noted that the consultations on 23 June involved a tripartite contact group. The participants included Heidi Tagliavini, the special representative of the acting chairperson of the OSCE; Viktor Zurabov, the Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the Russian Federation; Leonid Kuchma, Ukraine’s second president; Viktor Medvedchuk, head of the social organisation “Ukrainian Choice; Oleg Tsarev, leader of the “South-East” movement, and also representatives of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics.

24 June 2014

Translation: Renfrey Clarke