A Brief Guide On The Situation In Ukraine

Originally Published on The Black Alliance For Peace

Within large sectors of the U.S. left, including many elements of the Black left, there is widespread confusion related to the Ukraine “crisis.” Years of anti-Russia propaganda from the U.S. and its NATO allies, and the tendency to abstract the current Ukrainian situation from its historical and geo-strategic context, have created a climate of confusion. This climate has played into the hands of state propagandists and Democratic Party activists eager to use the Ukraine situation to deflect attention from Biden’s disastrous domestic agenda.

The situation with Ukraine did not just fall out of the sky in 2021. It has a long history.

A map showing the expansion of NATO (Statista)
  1. Ukraine is a manufactured crisis. That is, the stand-off between the U.S./ NATO forces and the Russian Federation with the Ukrainians, including those in the Eastern portion of the country (that the media refers to as “pro-Russia separatists”), did not evolve organically but was the result of conscious decisions on the part of the Biden Administration. Less than two months after taking office there were indications that the Biden Administration was signaling to the Ukrainian government that it would support efforts to reincorporate the eastern region (Donbas) by force. This is why we reject any obscurantist references to the “both sides are to blame” position that we see in various statements from peace and anti-war groups. To be clear: this is not a “pro-Russia” position, but an objective assessment of the dynamics of the situation. 
  2. The U.S./EU/NATO Axis of Domination. We see NATO as a criminal military structure whose only purpose is providing the military/material basis for the maintenance and extension of the U.S./EU/NATO Axis of Domination (white power). As a structure of white colonial power, NATO was essential in supporting colonial powers in Africa, including the Portuguese in their military struggles to maintain their colonial holdings in Africa during the initial wave of anti-colonial struggles on the continent. The Obama/Biden administration also used NATO for their attack on Libya in 2011, resulting in the destruction of the most prosperous and revolutionary state on the continent. All peace loving people should call for the dismantling of NATO. 
  3. Ukraine and U.S. Doctrine of “Full Spectrum Dominance.” While the focus on Ukraine is of utmost importance, we must also recognize the bipartisan commitment to the U.S. national security strategy of “Full Spectrum Dominance” and its utilization of a “military-first” strategy to achieve continued U.S. global dominance. For example, troops trained by the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) have been involved in nine coups d’etat in the thirteen years that AFRICOM has operated on the continent. Therefore, unlike a number of peace and anti-war groups that abstract Ukraine from that context, we argue that the coup in Ukraine and the attempt to create the conditions for the expansion of NATO into Ukraine must be seen as just one aspect of U.S. imperialist strategy. It is the concrete, material interests of imperialism that drives U.S. policies and is, therefore,  why it must be defined as such and vigorously opposed by all anti-imperialists. 

For African peoples, the U.S./EU/NATO Axis of Domination represents the greatest threat to peace, human rights, and social justice on the planet today. It is absurd for any African to embrace the agenda of empire by giving credence or legitimacy to the crude mobilization of public opinion for conflict on behalf of NATO and the white supremacist, colonial/capitalist project. 

Ukraine reflects the continuous right-wing nature of European and European American politics. In a 2018 article in The Nation, Stephen Cohen detailed the social and political impacts of the 2014 right-wing coup in Ukraine: 

Members of the Azov movement shout slogans during the March of Patriots in March 2020 in Kyiv. (Sopa Images / SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty)

…storm troop-like assaults on gays, Jews, elderly ethnic Russians, and other “impure” citizens are widespread throughout Kiev-ruled Ukraine, along with torchlight marches reminiscent of those that eventually inflamed Germany in the late 1920s and 1930s. And that the police and official legal authorities do virtually nothing to prevent these neofascist acts or to prosecute them. On the contrary, Kiev has officially encouraged them by systematically rehabilitating and even memorializing Ukrainian collaborators with Nazi German extermination pogroms and their leaders during World War II, renaming streets in their honor, building monuments to them, rewriting history to glorify them, and more. 

This is the nature of the government in Ukraine that the Biden Administration along with the corporate press, deranged Black people, and a confused left are supporting.  

Below is an alternative set of facts and analyses related to the Ukraine crisis, a “crisis” deliberately generated to divert attention away from the Biden’s administration inability to provide capitalist stability. 

AN ANTI-IMPERIALIST PERSPECTIVE

A map of the buffer zone established by the Minsk Protocol follow-up memorandum (Goran tek-en / Wikipedia)
  1. The full responsibility for the dangerous crisis unfolding in Ukraine has its genesis in the illegal policies of the U.S./EU/NATO “Axis of Dominationbeginning in 2014. As the Black Alliance for Peace reported, it was clear even from statements attributed to Obama officials that, “During the latter part of 2013 until February 2014, the Obama/Biden administration gave material support and encouragement to anti-democratic right-wing elements in Ukraine to execute ‘regime change.’” Therefore, the U.S. was deeply implicated in the coup of February 2014 that overthrew the democratically elected president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych. 
  2. The coup government was infected with Ukrainian ultra-nationalists and with political ties to literal fascists such as the “Right Sector” and the Azov battalions. The coup plunged Ukraine into crisis because substantial sectors of Ukrainian society did not support it, especially sections of predominantly Russian speaking Ukrainian citizens in the Eastern portions of the nation. Those Ukrainian citizens rejected the legitimacy of the coup government and began to voice support for independence from the neo-Nazi government that took power.  The response from the illegal coup regime was to label its own citizens “terrorists” and attack the Eastern portions of the country militarily. In other words, they attacked their own citizens – a crime that the Obama administration pretended was the excuse for U.S. subversion in Syria. 
  3. The Azov Battalion played a major combat role in the attacks by the coup government against Ukrainian citizens who opposed the coup. The Azov Battalion is avowedly “partially” pro-Nazi, as evidenced by its regalia, slogans, and programmatic statements, and as well-documented as such by several international monitoring organizations. The Azov Battalion was incorporated into the National Guards of Ukraine, the armed forces of the Ukrainian state, and today is reported to be being trained by U.S. Special Forces.
  4. Minsk Agreements. After suffering military defeats at the hands of the peoples in Eastern Ukraine that had subsequently declared themselves independent of the coup government, an agreement between Donbas and the coup government was arrived at that became known as the Minsk II agreement. Terms of the agreement included a commitment to a ceasefire along with relative autonomy for Donbas (Eastern Ukraine). The agreement avoided all-out war and provided a degree of “stability” until the Biden administration came back to power. 
The leaders of Belarus, Russia, Germany, France, and Ukraine at the 11–12 February 2015 summit in Minsk, Belarus (Kremlin.ru)

Back in power, Biden and the Democrats who have now reclaimed the mantle of the party of war, began to encourage Ukraine authorities to ignore the Minsk II agreement and to forcefully retake control of Donbas. Even more dangerously, the U.S. and some European powers began to indicate that Ukraine might be invited to become a member of NATO. If Ukraine becomes a member of NATO, this could allow a nuclear armed NATO to be positioned right on the borders of Russia. Russia is rightly concerned about this security risk at its border. 

BLACK RADICAL POSITION ON UKRAINE

NATO is an illegitimate aggressive structure in the service of Western imperialism and does not deserve any support from African/Black and colonized people. Moreover, all social forces committed to peace should demand that NATO be dismantled. The Ukrainian crisis is yet another example of the delusional policies being pursued by U.S. rulers unable to accept the changed circumstances in the world today that limit their ability to impose their interests on peoples and nations without consequences. 

As an African people involved in an existential battle in the U.S. against rightist forces, from the Trump/Republican supporters to the warmongering neoliberal Democrats, with both committed to global “Full Spectrum Dominance” (white power), it would be an affront to our history and people to enter this struggle on the side of empire and NATO.  

 

BAP DEMANDS

  1. Immediate Ceasefire
  2. Humanitarian aid and resettlement of all refugees and displaced persons in Ukraine and Donbas Region
  3. Cease all shipments of NATO weapons to Ukraine and negotiate Ukrainian NATO neutrality
  4. Expulsion of all foreign white supremacist and neo-Nazi forces from Ukraine
  5. That NATO, a structure for advancing the interests of white supremacy and the U.S. empire, be dismantled.
  6. The U.S. government renounce its commitment to the doctrine of global “Full Spectrum Dominance.”

SELECT RESOURCES

PRE-2021 RESOURCES

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Estonia and Latvia are NATO member states that border Russia. See the map.

U.S. propaganda is inflating the supposed 100,000 troops that Russia has on Ukraine’s border but doesn’t talk about the 3.5 million personnel that NATO has in Europe



NATO AND AFRICA

In his 1966 book, Challenge of the Congo, Kwame Nkrumah writes:

Foreign powers already have military bases in various, strategically important parts of our continent. There are in Africa at present, seventeen air bases owned and operated by individual members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). There are nine naval bases encircling the continent from the north coast of Africa right round the south coast to the east. There are foreign military missions, for example in Kenya, Morocco, Liberia, Libya, South Africa, Senegal and Ivory Coast. Furthermore, they possess three rocket sites, and an atomic testing range in North Africa. There are mines being exploited for the production of raw materials for the manufacture of nuclear weapons. Some of these mines are situated in the Congo, Angola, South Africa, Mozambique and Rhodesia. In the context of of the imperialist plan to prevent Africa from achieving complete political and economic independence and an All-African Union Government, these foreign military bases present a serious threat to the African revolutionary struggle.” (p. xi)

Walter Rodney was even more explicit on how NATO moved into Africa as part of the efforts to shift colonial power from the traditional European powers to the new colonial hegemon—the United States of America. 

Rodney accurately describes the early foundation of colonial Africa’s relationship with NATO which continues today when he said in How Europe Underdeveloped Africa:

“Adding to the regular bases in long established colonies, the imperialist powers were able to set up military installations in African territories which fell into their hands during the war. In this context, the USA was particularly important, because it was already the principal buttress of the capitalist defense system in the form of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Thus, after helping to recapture North Africa from the fascist, the United States was able to build major air-force bases in Morocco, and Libya. In Italian Eritrea, the Americans stepped in with modern radar stations; and Ethiopia conceded military bases.” (p. 198)

NATO & AFRICOM

AFRICOM is actually a direct product of NATO via EUCOM (US European command) because EUCOM is a component part of NATO and EUCOM originally included responsibility for 42 African states. In 2003 NATO started expanding; four years later the EUCOM commander proposed the creation of AFRICOM in 2007. James L. Jones Jr. explains how he came to make the proposal for AFRICOM from his position as commander of EUCOM as well as commander of operational forces of NATO here.

As previously mentioned regarding NATO’s relationship with OAU states, the policy of NATO “partnering” with African states to achieve its goals has continued with the establishment of the AU. The AU has partnered with NATO/AFRICOM missions regarding “anti-piracy,” military training, operational support, etc. in Somalia, and spearheaded missions in Sudan & Gulf of Guinea.

African migrants ride in a truck before they are transported to a detention center on Oct. 7, 2017, in the Libyan coastal city of Sabratha. The 2011 NATO invasion of Libya created the conditions for increased migration as well as migrants’ detention and sale into slavery. (Voice of America)

The US/NATO role in the destruction of Libya in 2011 is important to highlight because it offers some important lessons. First, US imperialism and its western lackies do not accept any country that decides to be an independent force outside of its sphere of influence. Secondly, it also demonstrates how NATO can work hand in hand with other US/western dominated world structures like the UN. In 2011 the UN (resolution 1973) gave political authorization for a “no Fly zone” and blockade of Libya to reportedly “protect” the citizens which ultimately resulted the destruction of the country. It shows that although US-led NATO often uses the UN for political cover, it has no problem illegally overstepping its UN mandate to commit its crimes against humanity and achieve its regime change goals. Even a few countries that abstained from the UN vote like China said they did so not to offend the reactionary Arab league AND the African Union which approved of the resolution. This shows cooperation between NATO, UN the AU, and the Arab League.

The book The Illegal War on Libya edited by Cynthia McKinney, includes the chapter titled “NATO’s Libya War, A Nuremberg Level Crime” in which Stephen Ledman writes: “The US-led NATO war on Libya will be remembered as one of history’s greatest crimes, violating the letter and spirit of international law and America’s Constitution. The Nuremberg Tribunal’s Chief Justice Robert Jackson (a supreme court justice) called Nazi war crimes ‘the supreme international crime against peace.’ Here are his November 21, 1945 opening remarks:

The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant, and so devastating, that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated.”  Jackson called aggressive war “the greatest menace of our times.” International law defines crimes against peace as “planning, preparation, initiation, or waging of wars of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the foregoing.

All US post-WWII wars fall under this definition. Since then, America has waged direct and proxy premeditated, aggressive wars worldwide. It has killed millions in East and Central Asia, North and other parts of Africa, the Middle East, and Europe, as well as in Central and South America.” (p. 79)


NATO’S EXPANSION VIA AFRICA

Some quotations from Horace Campbell’s book, Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya: Lessons for Africa in the Forging of African Unity, are instructive for understanding the expansion of NATO, its aggression toward Russia, and its role in Africa generally, and Libya particularly:

African migrants stuck in Libya (Ismail Zetouni / Reuters)

“The NATO operation [in Libya] exposed the reality that in the current depression there will be massive use of force by Western corporations to remain competitive. These corporate entities have decided to go beyond structural adjustment ‘reforms’ and have taken a military stand in Africa. There were also commentators who perceived the Libyan intervention as a proxy war with China. War and revolution in North Africa have opened a new period in the history of Africa.” (p. 30)

“Russia opposed the expansion of NATO, claiming that this was a military alliance to encircle Russia by extending its membership to include former members of the Warsaw Pact… NATO expanded under President Clinton to protect ‘globalized’ capital, and it was in this period of expansion that NATO jumped from twelve members to sixteen, then to nineteen, then to twenty-six by 2004 and to twenty-eight members by 2009. Despite vocal opposition from Russia, the discussion of expanding NATO now proceeded to the idea of Global NATO…” (p. 40)

“Africa remained outside the orbit of this globalized NATO because memories of the anti-apartheid struggles were too fresh in Africa, especially southern Africa. Soon after the end of apartheid, the government of the United States proposed an African Crisis Response initiative. Nelson Mandela was among the first to vigorously oppose this planned military force in Africa. For the next eight years, U.S. diplomatic efforts were geared toward ensnaring individual states into a military network dominated by the United States. Hiding behind the guise of humanitarian relief, in 2004 the United States announced the formation of the African Contingency Operations Training and Assistance program. The ostensive purpose of ACOTA was to train military trainers and equip African national militaries to conduct peace support operations. Less than four years later, the United States launched a new initiative, the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). This new military force for Africa was rejected by even the most servile allies of the United States. There was only one country that, in public, promised basing privileges for AFRICOM. This was Liberia.” (pp. 40-41)

“Africans could see through the duplicity of the humanitarian imperialism of NATO in the genocide in Rwanda and the NATO operations in the Balkans. In 1994, the United States took the lead in opposing the United Nations intervention to stop the genocide in Rwanda. In 1999, NATO bombed Kosovo for over seventy-nine days as it gave itself a new mission to expand U.S. military power right up to Moscow’s doorstep.” (p. 43)

NATO CONTINUES TRAINING AFRICAN FORCES

The July 2018 NATO Summit has solidified the geopolitical climate for a NATO-led training mission to the DRC, aimed at the ‘protection of civilians’ through the development of the DRC security forces. See article Crisis In The Congo: A New Role For NATO’s Southern Hub 

This is related to the current role of AFRICOM in the DRC today. See article, ”Backed by AFRICOM, corporations plunder DR Congo for “climate-friendly” materials and blame China”

FURTHER READING

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