By Asad Ismi
At the end of February, for the first time since World War II, a government containing a significant number of Neo-Nazis and fascists, backed by the United States and the European Union, took control of a European country. In a fascist coup, members of the Nazi Svoboda (Freedom) Party and the even more right-wing Pravy Sektor (Right Sector) overthrew the democratically elected government of the Ukraine led by Viktor Yanukovych, and seized power.
Yanukovych, who is pro-Russian and leader of the Communist Party in the Ukraine, was forced to flee the country. Before the coup, under pressure from the U.S. and E.U., the Ukrainian Parliament voted to oust Yanukovych in an unconstitutional and illegal decision.
The coup followed months of violent street protests in the capital, Kiev, against Yanukovych — demonstrations led by fascists, including snipers who fatally shot several people. After the coup, Svoboda Member of Parliament Oleksandr Sych was made Vice-Premier for Economic Affairs, and the party was given the ministries of education, agriculture, and the environment. Svoboda co-founder Andriy Parubiy became Secretary of the Security and National Defence Committee, a crucial post which controls police and military forces.
Oleh Tyahnybok, Svoboda’s leader, is a Nazi who has declared that Ukraine is the victim of a “Muscovite/Jewish mafia,” and called Jews “kikes.” In 2005, one of his deputies established a “Joseph Goebbels Political Research Centre.” Svoboda won only 10% of the vote in the 2012 parliamentary elections.
Pravy Sektor is even more fascist than Svoboda. Its leader, Dmytro Yarosh, has been appointed Deputy Secretary of National Security. Since the coup, the party’s members have begun destroying statues of Soviet soldiers who liberated the republic from the Nazis. As one observer explains, “That’s because they are themselves Nazis, with a view of the world influenced not only by Ukrainian nationalism and German national-socialism, but also by the global white supremacist movement.”
Svoboda and Pravy Sektor are both supporters of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) led by Stepan Bandera, who backed the Nazi invasion of Ukraine in 1941. Bandera wanted to lead a pro-Nazi Ukrainian puppet state, but Hitler preferred to kill all Slavs whom he considered subhuman and populate the Ukraine with Germans. The UPA massacred Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland and killed 50,000 Catholic Poles.
These are the despicable neo-Nazi stormtroopers that the U.S. and E.U. have been heavily involved in supporting and bringing to power in Ukraine. As Renee Parsons, former staffer at the U.S. House of Representatives, explains: “As if intent on providing incontrovertible evidence of U.S. involvement in Ukraine, the Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia, Victoria Nuland, proudly told a meeting of the International Business Conference sponsored by the U.S.-Ukrainian Foundation that the U.S. had ‘invested’ more than $5 billion and ‘five years worth of work and preparation’ in achieving what she called Ukraine’s ‘European aspirations’.”
Nuland’s deep involvement in the coup and backing of fascists is clear from her detailed leaked recorded conversation (available on the Internet) with Geoffrey Pyatt, U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, in which both discuss their cabinet choices for replacing the Yanukovych government. Nuland urges that Arseny Yatseniuk, the new Prime Minister installed by the U.S., closely co-ordinate with Oleh Tyahnybok, the Nazi leader of Svoboda. According to Pepe Escobar, correspondent for Asia Times, Tyahnybok is a close friend of Nuland’s.
At the end of January, the U.S. State Department’s website announced that ”In Kiev, Assistant Secretary Nuland will meet with government officials, opposition leaders, civil society and business leaders to encourage agreement on a new government and plan of action.” As Parsons puts it, “In other words, almost a month before President Yanukovych was ousted, the U.S. was planning to rid the world of another independently elected President.”
Washington’s backing of fascist groups to oust elected and relatively progressive governments is nothing new, of course. This is what U.S. foreign policy has been all about for more than a century. Recent examples include the U.S. using religious extremists and its own invasions to devastate Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Libya. As Escobar explains, “Everyone remembers the ‘good Taliban,’ with which the U.S. could negotiate in Afghanistan [before the U.S. invaded in 2001]. Then came the ‘good al-Qaeda,’ jihadis the U.S. could support in Syria. Now come the ‘good neo-Nazis,’ with whom the West can do business in Kiev. Soon there will be ‘the good jihadis supporting neo-Nazis,’ who may be deployed to advance U.S./NATO and anti-Russian designs in Crimea and beyond.”
The attacks by the U.S. on Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Libya have been in pursuit of dominating global oil and gas supplies and markets, and this is also the reason for Washington’s overthrow of the Yanukovych government, which is aimed at Russia and its effective control over European gas imports. Says former Russian diplomat Vladimir Yakunin: “We are witnessing a huge geopolitical game in which the aim is the destruction of Russia as a geopolitical opponent of the U.S. or of the global financial oligarchy… The realization of this project is in line with the concept of global domination that is being carried out by the United States.”
Russia’s Gazprom company controls about 20% of global gas reserves. Thirty percent of Western Europe’s natural gas and half of Ukraine’s is provided by Russia, and 80% of this goes through a pipeline network centred in the Ukraine. According to Professor R. Craig Nation, Director of Russian and Eurasian Studies at the U.S. Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute: “Ukraine is increasingly perceived to be critically situated in the emerging battle to dominate energy transport corridors linking the oil and natural gas reserves of the Caspian basin to European markets… Considerable competition has already emerged over the construction of pipelines. Whether Ukraine will provide alternative routes helping to diversify access, as the West would prefer, or ‘find itself forced to play the role of a Russian subsidiary’ remains to be seen.”
A U.S. State Department-sponsored report adds that “Ukraine’s strategic location between the main energy producers (Russia and the Caspian Sea area) and consumers in the Eurasian region, its large transit network, and its available underground gas storage capacities” make the country “a potentially crucial player in European energy transit” — a position that will “grow as Western European demands for Russian and Caspian gas and oil continue to increase.”
But pipelines are not much use without oil or gas to transport, and so far Ukraine’s pipelines carry mainly Russian gas. In terms of oil and gas riches, the most valuable part of the Ukraine is Crimea, which holds one of the biggest such deposits in the Black Sea area. Crimea currently produces about 1.5 billion cubic metres of gas a year, and production increased by 40% in 2013 with extraction from the Odessa and Stormovoe fields on a shelf of the Black Sea. The Skifska field in the Black Sea holds an estimated 250 billion cubic meters of natural gas. Crimea is also strategically important for Russia, as it is the base for the country’s Black Sea naval fleet headquartered at Sevastopol, which is the only port that gives Moscow access to the Mediterranean Sea.
The Western seizure of Ukraine’s pipelines, along with Crimean gas, would give Western Europe an alternative source of gas imports to its current heavy dependence on Russia along with the transport infrastructure to deliver it. Losing Crimea would also significantly weaken Russia militarily. This was Washington’s big resource and strategic military grab when it overthrew Yanukovych. Whichever country controls oil supplies, routes, and pipelines controls the world economy.
But, unfortunately for the U.S., Russia is not Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, or Syria. It is the second biggest nuclear power and has probably the best army on Earth – an army that in 1945 destroyed the Nazi war machine, which at the time was the world’s most powerful. Russia has never lost a war on its soil, and no force globally can crush it without starting a nuclear holocaust that would likely annihilate humanity. The Russian ruling class, though capitalist, will never agree to become a U.S. vassal. They know how to safeguard their national interests, have the economic and military power to do so — and the will to wield that power.
For these reasons, Russia annexed Crimea on March 18 in a prompt reaction to the Western overthrow of the democratically elected Yanukovych government. Moscow held a referendum in Crimea on March 16 in which the region’s citizens overwhelmingly voted to join Russia and separate from Ukraine. With this move, Russian President Vladimir Putin craftily outmanoeuvered Washington, taking the richest and most strategic part of the Ukraine and leaving the West saddled with the rest – a bankrupt state that cannot pay for even its gas imports from Russia on which it is totally dependent.
Yatseniuk, the new Ukrainian Prime Minister, has declared that his country “is in the grip of the worst financial disaster since independence.” The U.S. and E.U. will now have to pump billions of dollars into Ukraine – probably more than they have expended in their futile effort to pull Greece out of its economic collapse after more than five years of dictating draconian financial terms to the Greek government.
Ukraine’s pipelines won’t benefit Washington much without any gas to put in them, and all Russia has to do now is shut off its gas supplies to leave 18 European countries and Ukraine freezing in winter, as it did in 2009. There are some gas sources in western Ukraine, but these are unlikely to make the country self-sufficient before 2025. Ukraine signed a $10 billion deal with Chevron last November, under Yanukovych, allowing the U.S. multinational to explore the Olesky deposit in western Ukraine that Kiev claims can hold 2.98 trillion cubic meters of gas. But Dmytro Marunchin of Kiev’s Energy Studies Institute cautions that “Ukraine and its partners have still not dug a single exploration well to determine the actual size of the shale gas reserves.”
According to Volodymyr Omelchenko of the Razumkov Centre for Political Studies, commercial shale gas production will not start in Ukraine until 2022. “I do not see how we can reach shale gas volumes that could make us completely self-sufficient before 2025,” Omelchenko said. That means Ukraine has at least 11 more years of dependence on Russian gas, which gives Moscow a great deal of leverage over the scale and extent of hydrocarbon development in that country.
The U.S. and other Western countries have announced the imposition of sanctions to punish Russia for annexing Crimea, but so far these amount to nothing more than ineffectual financial and travel restrictions for several Russian and Ukrainian officials. Russian leaders have laughed at these feeble restrictions, and the country’s Parliament has reacted by asking the U.S. to sanction all of its members. The potential for the escalation of hostilities, however, is now enormous.
According to economic analyst Mike Whitney: “Following a 13-year rampage that has reduced large swathes of Central Asia and the Middle East to anarchy and ruin, the U.S. military juggernaut has finally met its match on a small peninsula in southeastern Ukraine that serves as the primary operating base for Russia’s Black Sea fleet. Crimea is the door through which Washington must pass if it intends to extend its forward-operating bases throughout Eurasia, seize control of vital pipeline corridors and resources, and establish itself as the dominant military/economic power-player in the new century.
“Unfortunately for Washington, Moscow has no intention of withdrawing from the Crimea or relinquishing control of its critical military outpost in Sevastopol. That means that the Crimea – which has been invaded by the Cimmerians, Bulgars, Greeks, Scythians, Goths, Huns, Khazars, Ottomans, Turks, Mongols, and Germans – could see another conflagration in the months ahead, perhaps triggering a Third World War…”
Published in the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Monitor,
Asad Ismi is the CCPA Monitor’s international affairs correspondent and an expert on U.S. foreign policy. His latest radio documentary is Capitalism is the Crisis which has been aired on 42 radio stations in Canada, the U.S. and Europe reaching an audience of about 33 million people.