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U.S. and World Politics

The Ukraine War Grinds On

A discussion

By Chris Kinder

In the War in Ukraine there is no lack of conflicting opinions and analyses. As in any war, there are different narratives on each side in the war, and there are different analyses among those not directly involved. Socialist Viewpoint has been publishing many of these over several issues. Now, there are narratives from Ukrainian socialists being made available, writing from the scene of the conflict. Thanks are due to Socialist Viewpoint for providing these unique viewpoints for consideration. Here I address the first such piece.

In “I’m a Ukrainian Socialist—Here’s Why I Resist the Russian Invasion,” in the September/October issue of SV, Taras Bilous presents a determined defense of the Ukrainian side in this conflict, as his title suggests. He serves in the Territorial Defense Forces. In my interpretation, he sees the war as beginning with the Russian invasion of February of this year. He also says that “The decision to oppose the Russian occupation was not made by Joe Biden, nor by Zelensky, but by the Ukrainian people, who rose up en masse in the first days of the invasion and lined up for weapons.”

Ukraine and Russia were born twins

This assertion is true, as far as it goes, and it lines up neatly with all the U.S. and Western propaganda. I say “propaganda,” because it totally leaves out the Russian point of view. The first problem I have with Bilous’ report lies in the fact that historically, most of Ukraine has been Russian for centuries, and this legacy is still strong today. This, for instance, is shown by the separatist states of the Donbass—Donetsk and Luhansk—as well as Crimea and other regions in South-East Ukraine. These areas have been particularly targeted since the U.S.-organized coup of 2014, which overthrew the presidency of pro-Russian Victor Yanukovych. First elected in 2010, Yanukovych represented the pro-Russian element based in Eastern Ukraine, but that is just the beginning of the story. There is a long history to this, as Bilous must know. A brief review is called for.

There is a very early beginning. In the Ninth Century, Kievan Rus was founded by Vikings coming down from the north. This was the origin for what is now Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.1 In the 18th Century, after a period of domination by the Ottoman Empire, the czarist regime under Catherine the Great took Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. This gave Russia its first warm water port, an important acquisition. In the course of time, the czarist regime, needing to modernize to keep up with Western Europe, established a mining and industrial center in Donetsk and the surrounding region. The Donbass—Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts (provinces)—is still the central industrial area of Ukraine.

A vote to stay in the Soviet Union

After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Ukraine was a state in the Soviet Union until its collapse in 1991. Interestingly, a vote was taken in that year in all the USSR’s member states which showed that they all, including Ukraine, wanted to remain part of the USSR, just with more democracy. Life was secure and stable with the soviets!2

The composition of Ukrainian into Russian and Ukrainian identities, roughly Western and Eastern banks of the Dneiper River, has remained clear into modern times.

The uni-polar world, with Russia in the crosshairs

With the fall of the Soviet Union, U.S. policy makers projected that the Soviets’ demise meant that now the path-way was open for the U.S. to achieve “full spectrum dominance,” as the Pentagon put it in 1989—a world with just one super-power, the U.S., which could do whatever it wanted.3 Since then, the U.S. has done just that, invading and causing chaos around the world more than 100 times, thus capping off about 250 years of Anglo-Saxon imperialism (the British Empire and the U.S.) with an explosion of destruction and misery visited upon innocent victims.4

Now that Russia has resurged from the Soviet collapse into a powerful capitalist nation, it is again targeted by the U.S. for seeking to protect its nationals in Ukraine, who have been under attack since 2014 and Ukraine is the current theater of war. Anyone who does not understand that the U.S. is calling the shots in Ukraine is flying blind.5 The U.S. claims it is not a party to this war, but it is clearly fully involved, by supplying billions worth of weapons and ammunition to Ukraine, as well as weapons trainers, satellite surveillance and targeting information and guidance. Right there, the U.S. is guilty of being a party to this war, as defined by the Hague Convention 5, on the “Rights and Duties of Neutral Powers and Persons in Case of War on Land,” which prevents all of the above actions for any nation claiming not to be a party to a war.6

U.S. domination, since 1945

But that is just the beginning of the story of U.S. domination in Ukraine. The U.S. was targeting Russia (then the Soviet Union) since the end of World War II. The U.S. had planned to target Russia even before the war ended. As victory had become inevitable, the decision was made to drop two of the newly acquired atom bombs on Japan. They also devastated Dresden, Germany with horrific firebombs which created a huge fire storm that burned people alive in their basements (carried out with partners-in-murder, Britain.) These genocidal bombings in Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Dresden had absolutely no military value whatsoever, as Japan and Germany were both thoroughly defeated already, and all three of these cities were full of innocent civilians, many of whom were refugees (particularly those in Dresden.)

In his recent speech, Putin said “The United States is the only country in the world that has twice used nuclear weapons, destroyed the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and setting a precedent.”7 This has been interpreted to mean that Russia could use nukes in the present war—which he is currently losing—to somehow save himself. It could also signal that since the U.S. could do it once, it could do it again. At the time of the bombings of Japan however, the only precedent it set was that Russia, which had just declared war on Japan, better keep its hands off of Japan, and stay out of Asia, of which the U.S. was to have exclusive hegemony. The Dresden bombing meant something similar regarding Europe.

Russia was the main target

Right after the war ended, the U.S. sent two more signals that Russia was going to be the next target. One was the rush to import top level German military officers and others, some Nazis, to the U.S. to help with the coming cold war against Russia. It also took another little-noticed action: it protected the Ukrainian Nazis, who had welcomed the Germans into Ukraine in 1941, and then helped them round up and murder Jews. In one of the worst instances, more than 33,000 Jews were taken to Babi Yar, near Kiev, shot, and dumped into the ravine.8

Ukrainian Nazis where not something that just arose in the mid 20th Century with Mussolini and Hitler. They were nationalists in Western Ukraine seeking independence from Poland, which had been occupying and exploiting Western Ukraine for about 200 years. One of its key leaders was the infamous Stepan Bandera (1909 - 1959), who said, “You will not hesitate to commit even the greatest crime, if the good of the cause demands it.” and, “With hatred and deceit you will treat the enemies of your nation.” This nationalist thug muscled his way to the top of Ukrainian nationalist movements, and is still honored today by Ukraine’s far right in huge memorial rallies.9

The Nazis marched on, and on

Putin made clear, as he prepared for the Russian invasion of Ukraine, that the steady advance of NATO up to Russia’s borders after the collapse of the Soviet Union—and after the U.S. specifically promised Russia that NATO would not do any such thing—was a key reason for the mobilization to invade. He also made clear that the de-militarization and de-Nazification of Ukraine were Russia’s aims. Bilous and many others in the U.S., the West, and elsewhere make little note of the role of the Nazis in Ukraine or the coup of 2014. They continue to insist that this war was started by Putin in February of this year, and that only Russia is responsible for all the destruction and deaths.

Putin is a paranoid autocrat, and Russia had no right to march on Kiev in its invasion rather than concentrating on liberating the Dobass and other expressed separatists in the East. But he is quite right about the cause of this war. It was not started by Russia. It was prepared for, and started by the U.S., with the coup of 2014.

What exactly happened in 2014?

First, in 2003 there was an election in Ukraine coming up, and—as reported by the Belgian foreign minister—there was a meeting of Western foreign ministers which agreed that it was time for Ukraine to decide if its orientation was toward Russia, or Europe.10 This was just 12 years since Ukraine got its independence from the crashed Soviet Union, even though a majority of Ukrainians voted to stay in the Soviet Union (see footnote 2). Predictably, the election went the “wrong way” for the Western nations, and instead demonstrated the continuing Russian identity in Ukraine, especially in the East.

This trend continued on, as shown by the election, twice, of the pro-Russian President, Victor Yanukovych, whose base was in the Donetsk region of the Donbass. The “West,” represented by the U.S., was obviously fed up with waiting by 2014, and sent U.S. military trainers to Ukraine in January. In February, Yanukovych was overthrown in a violent coup, and fled to Russia in fear for his life. “The coup was sparked by a massacre of protestors by a renegade Nazi brigade in the Ukrainian Army, a cynical and deliberate false-flag tactic to anger the population.” The point here was to make the people think the massacre was by Yanukovych. It worked just as Hitler’s burning of the Reichstag—blamed on Communists—served to get him into power in Germany.11

Kiev swarmed with Nazis at this time, taking over parliament, shooting at the protestors in the Maidan, and launching an attack on the separatists in the Donbas with new military formations such as the Azov Brigade. The coup government ordered the removal of Russian as a regional language and banned the education of students in Russian. The coup government also launched a military attack on the separatists in the Donbass regions, carried out by Nazi formations such as the Azov Brigade, which resulted in some 14,000 killings, most of them Russians in the Dobass. More killings continued over the eight years of Ukrainian bombardments.

The response from Russians was immediate

After the U.S. organized the anti-Russian coup of 2014, there was a determined reaction amongst the Russian population of Ukraine, for obvious reasons, they were being targeted. Crimea was the first to react because it was the first to be directly threatened by the unleashed fascists. For most of the U.S. and Western press, what happened was simple: the Russians invaded, and then annexed Crimea; end of story. Only sometimes does the fact that Crimea’s people held a spontaneous referendum resulting in an overwhelming majority. Only after the vote, did Russia “intervene” and annexed Crimea. At least one newspaper, the British Morning Star, a tabloid published by an independent readers cooperative, got it right:

“As I write now, in 2021, probably what most British people know about Crimea is that Russia “invaded” the peninsula in 2014. Yet it was the most peaceful intervention ever, occurring after a referendum showing the vast majority of Crimeans wanted to be part of Russia. Crimea had been part of the Russian empire since 1783 and its population was primarily Russian and Ukrainian.”12

Two more points on Crimea. The immediate action that triggered this referendum was a violent attack by fascist thugs on Russian separatists on the streets in the port city of Odessa, one of the most international cities in the world, and close to Crimea. At least 48 people were killed as they were trapped in a trade union building and burned to death or killed falling out of windows. Crimeans immediately reacted to this by calling the referendum.13 Also note that there were Ukrainian troops sent to Crimea at the coup. There was no violence, and after the vote the troops left Crimea. It’s possible that these troops were some of the majority of Ukraine’s army that defected and joined with the Russians after the coup of 2014, as reported by the Associated Press, but rarely, if ever, picked up by other press outlets.14

U.S. domination continues in Ukraine

The U.S. is responsible for this anti-Russian mobilization of the Nazis that it had saved from prosecution at Nuremberg, and for the beginning of the war in Ukraine. The Minsk agreements, which were signed in 2014 and 2015 by Ukraine, Russia, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and representatives of the self-declared republics, were meant to put an end to the ongoing conflict in the Donbass region in southeast Ukraine. But their provisions for cease-fire and recognition of the right of self-determination for the separatists were ignored by the Ukraine government under control of the U.S.

As if to add fuel to the fire, or just to endorse the obvious, the U.S. capitalist think tank, Rand corporation, declared U.S. war on Russia in a 2019 manifesto on “How to Destroy Russia.” This has not been repudiated by any U.S. government entity, nor reported in the U.S. media.15 The U.S. today has “Special Operations Forces” and CIA operatives on the ground in Ukraine, along with similar clandestine forces from Britain, France, Canada, and Lithuania in large numbers. This contradicts Biden’s “pledge,” made before Russia’s invasion, not to send U.S. troops into Ukraine because that “could spark a world war.”16

Ukraine’s policies follow the U.S.

U.S. dominance in this war against Russia shows up not just with U.S. and allied military on the ground, but also with the expressed policies of Ukraine’s government, which are dictated by Washington. In March of this year, the New York Times editorial Board urged caution: “That goal [to make Ukraine free] cannot shift, but in the end, it is still not in America’s best interest to plunge into an all-out war with Russia, even if a negotiated peace may require Ukraine to make some hard decisions.” This meant that a victory in which Ukraine “regains all the territory Russia has seized since 2014, is not a realistic goal.” As a piece on antiwar.com put it, “...Zelensky must surely have begun to sweat. The voice of his masters was telling him that he and Ukraine will have to make some sacrifices.”17 Zelensky made the appropriate comments, saying negotiations should happen and compromise of some sort was possible.

Now, of course, it is a different story. With Russia retreating to some degree, and looking disorganized and demoralized on the front lines, the story from the U.S. and its dependents in Ukraine are all for total victory, including retaking Crimea.

And the conclusion of this war?

How the war will end is of course hard to predict. Could it be a cease fire without a settlement, such as the division of Korea into North and South that goes on today and endlessly threatens to reignite? Or will it be a victory for the U.S./Ukraine, and mean the disastrous end of all the Russian separatists, including in Crimea, as well as the “ethnic cleansing” of all Russians in Ukraine? The latter is looking likely right now, but I don’t think that is a given. Russia could revive their efforts in the southeast regions, despite the billions of dollars spent on weapons for Ukraine by the U.S. Even U.S. military advisors say there is probably a long war still ahead.

President Biden made some speculations recently. He said that the threat of nuclear Armageddon is close to that of the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, and that there must be an “off Ramp” for Putin. This suggests the possibility of a secret negotiation, such as what happened in 1962. That might happen, but it is a long shot, unlikely to resolve all the problems.

My conclusion is that the only real solution is a workers’ revolution in all the involved countries, the U.S., Russia, and Ukraine. Turn the guns the other way! How else will there ever be real freedom for both the Russian separatists and other Russians in Ukraine, as well as Ukraine itself? Both Ukrainians and the Russians in the separatist areas of Ukraine have the absolute right of national self-determination, but that cannot be genuine without independently monitored elections. And that demands a peaceful conclusion. In all history, it is only the Soviet Union that ever truly respected this right. The Soviets offered that right to all of the Czar’s captive nations, including Ukraine. Now, it must be applied to this conflict.



1 The Vikings did not just conduct raids all over Europe, they settled and merged with local populations. In old England, they settled in the area of York. In what is now Russia, they merged with locals and became Russians. See: Kievan Rus. www.worldhistory.org

2 In 1991, a vote was taken in all of the Soviet states, including Ukraine, asking the people of each state if they preferred to remain in the Soviet Union, or wished independence. They all voted to remain. The vote result averaged 62 percent voted for remaining in the USSR, and 38 percent voted against. 1991 Soviet Union referendum—Wikipedia.

3 See F. William Engdahl, Full Spectrum Dominance, Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order, 2009.

4 Economist Jeffry Sachs, speaking on Democracy Now!, “One Month Ago.”

5 Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said this at his press conference during the 77th UN General Assembly in New York September 24. Anyone with their eyes open could say the same thing.

6 See www,refworld.org/docid/3ddca4e.html for information on the Hague Convention 5

7 Aljazeera, September 30, 2022.

8 “At Babi Yar no memorials preside.”

Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko wrote that line in a 1961 poem in reference to the ravine in the suburbs of Kyiv where, starting on September 29, 1941, and continuing into the following day, more than 33,000 Jews were murdered by Nazi forces and their Ukrainian collaborators. Only in 2016 was a commission formed to put up a permanent monument. Smithsonian Magazine online, March 8, 2022. These Nazis were the ones kept away from the Nuremberg trials after the war.

9 The Polish Institute of Remembrance. https://ipn.gov.pl/en/digital.

10 Reported by Sergey Lavrov, at the aforementioned press conference at the UN. (See footnote 5)

11 Richard Ochs, “The United States and Ukraine Started the War—Not Russia,” April 9, 2022. Covert Action Magazine.

12 Kate Clark, “The ‘annexation’ of Crimea: the facts,” morningstaronline.co.uk. Kate Clark is the former Morning Star Moscow correspondent, 1985-90.

13 Massacre in Odesa in 2014, YouTube.com.

14 See “Ukraine in Turmoil” by Jeff Mackler and Michael Schreiber, A Socialist Action booklet, August 2014.

15 “Overextending and Unbalancing Russia,” Truth 11.com, quoted in Ricard Ochs, see footnote 10.

16 See Dave DeCamp, “Report: Special Operations Forces are on the Ground in Ukraine,” October 6, 2022, news.antiwar.com. DeCamp also cites The Intercept in this piece.

17 Quotes in this paragraph are from: John Walsh, The New York Times’ “Shift on victory in Ukraine,” antiwar.com