World in View: Ukraine–biggest East-West crisis in decades

August 30, 2014

From the September-October 2014 issue of News & Letters

The fighting between Ukraine government troops and separatist rebels continues as Russia and the West maneuver for power. Even the murderous downing of a passenger jet by a surface-to-air missile, killing all 298 on board, over separatist-controlled eastern Ukraine has not slowed down the fighting. The rebels, who controlled the crash site, refused for days to allow rescuers to recover the bodies, no doubt trying to cover up any evidence of their role in the missile attack.

The Ukrainian government has ordered its troops to retake separatist territory, launching shelling of Donetsk and Luhansk. Civilian deaths are in the thousands. The Ukraine government is resisting calls for a humanitarian ceasefire, gambling that Russia will not invade. 

For its part, Putin’s Russia has amassed tens of thousands of troops on its border with Ukraine. Some of those troops have begun crossing the border. Whether this is a bluff to prevent Ukraine troops from decimating pro-Russian fighters or the prelude to actual occupation is an open question. The U.S., Germany, France and their NATO apparatus has been warning Russia against an invasion. 

We are experiencing the biggest East-West crisis since the end of the Cold War. Last issue we wrote of “The Ukrainian Cauldron” threatening to boil over. We also published notes from independent Ukrainian Left activists analyzing and critiquing their own activity during the Maidan actions that brought down the old corrupt government. Since then the situation has only deteriorated. The need for developing “a pole of attraction” within Ukraine, both in terms of an emancipatory vision and in practical action, remains the greatest challenge. Without that, we only have the maneuvers and wars of small powers, and the threats of large powers, all of whose intentions are to bury any seeds of authentic liberation under their bootheels.



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