Ukrainian Junta Defeated

While the people face social and economic collapse

This is a city of the dead! For six days we haven’t eaten or drunk, we’ve been going crazy.” “This is genocide against the people, it’s just killing. Six days they’ve been killing us. My hands are shaking. The Ukrainians don’t let us through their side, you can’t escape there. We’re like prisoners to them, as if we’re to blame for something.” Exodus from the city of Uglegorsk

The EU attempt to try and stave off military defeat for the Ukrainian Junta has failed ignominiously. The battle for the Debalcevo cauldron has reached its climax with the defeat of the Ukrainian Armed Forces (AFU) at the hands of the Novorossian Armed Forces (NAF). According to information coming from militias of Novorossia the AFU losses are huge. As of 19 February the Junta has lost 1,200-1,500 men killed and over 500 have been taken as prisoners. To compound matters the Ukrainian army has abandoned most of its artillery and armour and large amounts of ammunition dealing a huge blow to the war mongers in Kiev and their masters in Washington. This latest military catastrophe for the Kiev Junta is explained away by the capitalist media as the consequence of Russia’s continuing military incursion into Ukraine.

The Russian blogger Colonel Cassad has noted the military significance of this victory for the militias of Novorossia, “Regardless of how much of the enemy force will be able to break out of the encirclement, the NAF captured a major transport hub of the Novorossia (which will greatly simplify the NAF logistics) and defeated a large military group of the enemy, which allows us to state that a major operational success was achieved.”

The Minsk ceasefire talks were a desperate attempt by the leaders of the EU to try and stave off a military defeat for the AFU after it lost control of Donetsk airport and then became enveloped in the Debalcevo cauldron. It is worth recalling that the previous ceasefire in September was prompted by the crushing defeats suffered by the Ukrainian army.

The EU has recently announced further sanctions against 19 individuals and eight battalions of the Novorossian Armed Forces (NAF). To compound matters the EU leaders have stated that Russia will face even further sanctions if the ceasefire fails. This taken together with the accords of the recent Minsk ceasefire, which put responsibility for enforcing the ceasefire solely upon Russia, reveals how the EU “peace initiative” was not meant to bring peace to Ukraine but merely to give the Ukrainian army a breathing space to avoid catastrophic defeat.

The irony of the situation is that during the Minsk talks Poroshenko could have negotiated the peaceful withdrawal of their forces out of the Debalcevo cauldron. However, Poroshenko was being pushed by the war party in his government and his American backers to maintain the suicidal position of no retreat. It would appear that once the remains of the Debalcevo cauldron are mopped up by the NAF then a ceasefire of sorts may settle over the front lines on both sides.

It is clear from the failure of the various ceasefires that the Kiev Junta aided and abetted by its American backers will talk peace while preparing for war. Poroshenko knows that the Neo-Cons in the U.S. Congress are right behind him in seeking a military solution to this conflict. After all, one should not forget that Ukraine is merely a step on the road to overthrowing the Putin government. Its replacement being a Western puppet regime in Moscow that would allow multi-nationals to exploit Russia’s vast energy and mineral resources. On top of this, is the attempt by American imperialism to use the Ukrainian conflict to prevent Europe developing closer trade links with Russia and the development of a Eurasian trade zone along the route of the old silk road.

Poroshenko is trying his best to dress up a major military disaster as a tactical retreat while at the same time calling for EU/UN peacekeepers to come into the Donbass region. It seems unlikely that the EU or UN would get involved in such a dangerous escalation of the situation which is seen by the Russian Federation as totally unacceptable.

American imperialism is not going to sit back and accept defeat. The capitalist media keeps reporting how the US government is considering sending lethal aid to the Ukrainian armed forces. Yet on 24 September Obama sent a memorandum to John Kerry authorising the sending of $5 million in military aid and $20 million in ”non-lethal commodities and services”. In late January the head of American forces in Europe, General Ben Hodges, announced the sending of US soldiers to train the neo-Nazi National Guard. Following this the US embassy in Ukraine announced that the Pentagon had delivered dozens of armoured cars to the Ukrainian Border Guard Service.

All of this pales when compared to the bill passed by Congress in November. The bill, which is waiting approval from Obama, seeks to give $350 million in military aid and impose fresh economic sanctions upon Russia. The sending of military aid on such a huge scale would lead to massive escalation of the civil war and lead to a sharp rise in civilian casualties. Putin’s government would not be able to sit back and accept this, it would be forced to up the ante in response. EU leaders may be against sending lethal weapons to Ukraine but since when did the views of the EU ever hold back American imperialism.

The Ukrainian government has recently announced several waves of conscription with a view to bringing in 104,000 men aged twenty five to sixty years. Even women will be conscripted to serve as medics and nurses. The Ukrainian Junta plans to conscript between 2.5-5% of the population in each region except Donbass where it aims to conscript a mere 0.9% of the population. These telling figures show how Poroshenko is not seriously committed to a lasting ceasefire or bringing about a political settlement that would establish a peace for his war weary citizens. If he was then he would cancel the fourth, fifth and sixth waves of mobilisation for the army.

The IMF has opened up a new front in the US destabilisation of Ukraine by announcing a new $17.5 billion loan for Ukraine bringing the total value of bail out loans to $40 billion. These IMF loans are politically motivated as they contravene its articles of agreement that say it cannot make loans to countries that are insolvent. Never mind, the comment s by IMF director Christine Lagarde in January that the IMF does not give loans to countries racked by civil war.

This IMF money will no doubt be used to pay for rebuilding the AFU and preparing for a spring offensive Of course, the IMF loans will come at a terrible price for the Ukrainian people. Multi-national corporations such as Monsanto will buy up Ukrainian land and public utilities at knock down prices. In mid February, Valery Gontareva, head of the Ukrainian Central Bank announced that, ”From now on, in accordance with our joint program with the IMF, the tariffs will see rather a sharp increase of 280 percent for gas and about 66 percent for heat.”

According to Gontareva Ukraine’s banking system is ”non-functioning” against the backdrop of rampant inflation running at 24.9% in December which is due to huge price increases in energy and other basic utilities and a currency that has fallen 48% against the dollar over the last year. Industrial production fell by 16.3% during 2014 with sharp drops in mining, quarrying and manufacturing.

This collapsing economy will be exacerbated by mass redundancies in the public sector and huge cuts in welfare benefits as the government seeks to slash social spending while increasing the military budget by over 5%. These draconian austerity measures will stir up a huge wave of anger and discontent amongst the ordinary people of Ukraine and cause massive social upheaval. The ordinary people of Ukraine have yet to make their mark upon the spiral of events that have seen their country torn apart by war and economic collapse.

It is still not too late for the ordinary people of Ukraine to put a stop to the civil war and endless IMF dictated austerity by carrying out a new revolution from below that will overthrow capitalism and the billionaire oligarchs who rule over them.

Ophelia Murphy is a political activist and writer studying literature at university. Dylan Murphy is a trade union activist and historian. Read other articles by Ophelia Murphy and Dylan Murphy.