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.
Here are some points to frame how we should engage this issue:
Ukraine is a manufactured crisis. That is, the stand-off between the U.S./ NATO forces and the Russian Federation with the Ukrainians, including the Ukrainians in the Eastern portion of Ukraine (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.
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.
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:
…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.
The unfolding of events in Ukraine that are relevant for Africans
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 Domination” beginning 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.