Overview of the war in Ukraine
by Roger Annis - A Socialist in Canada
Anti-conscription poster in Ukraine
The NATO countries as a whole are increasing their military presence in eastern Europe, including creating rapid-deployment infantry bases.
Increased sanctions against Russia are also on the agenda, although Russia’s capacity to withstand sanctions as well as the harmful consequences of sanctions on European countries are cooling the enthusiasm for more sanctions and propelling parallel, military options.
The French president and German chancellor were in Kyiv yesterday and are in Moscow today in an effort to pressure Russia to police more heavily the pro-autonomy political movement and self-defense forces in eastern Ukraine. Minimally, they want Russia to pressure the rebel movement to return to some variant of the ceasefire agreement reached last September in Minsk. That agreement, which Russia pressured rebel forces to accept, was highly unsatisfactory to the people of Ukraine, including the fact that the government merely used it as a breathing space to recover from the catastrophic military setback in suffered in late August and to re-arm for a new offensive.
That new offensive was launched in mid –January by Kyiv. It quickly became a failure bordering on disaster. Self-defense forces have repelled it and taken back some of the territory of Luhansk and Donetsk regions that were conquered by Kyiv last summer. Importantly, they were finally able to take full control of the Donetsk airport. But despite the setbacks to Kyiv, the regime’s army and militias are still heavily armed. The successes of self-defense forces come at a high price, and civilian areas continue to suffer from artillery and mortar attacks, including, the world has learned, the continued use by Kyiv of cluster bombs (shells).
Time continues to run out on Kyiv’s war effort due to its catastrophic economic situation. The hryvnia currency has gone into freefall in recent days and the ability of the IMF and other financial agencies to finance the government and therefore its war is more and more compromised by the failure of the war to produce a decisive result.
The other decisive factor coming into play are rising antiwar protest across Ukraine. Since the re-launch of Kyiv’s offensive last month, mass expressions of antiwar opposition are taking place across the country. The New Cold War website publishes some very dramatic accounts.
All of these developments are catalogued in the news and analysis postings to the NewColdWar.org website. The reader can obtain a pretty good overview of the situation in Ukraine and the international stakes in the conflict by reading the articles there, some written by editors of the website, others taken from other sources. Some of the key, recent articles are listed below. Those wishing to read more detail can go to the recommended websites, including, I underline here, Russia Insider.
A key item posted to the website is the text of a Feb. 3 interview on Democracy Now! with Professor Stephen Cohen of New York University and Princeton University (weblink below). In the interview, Cohen speaks to the stakes in the war in Ukraine. He says that the U.S. and the other NATO powers are playing nuclear roulette in their ongoing drive to weaken Russia and seek its dismemberment.
Cohen is a liberal who twice voted for Obama. He is not the only liberal in the U.S. or internationally to understand the stakes in the Ukraine conflict far better, or in clear contradistinction, to significant sections of the international left which are indifferent to the conflict or paralyzed by doubts and hesitations from taking action to oppose it.
An important but still largely unknown factor in events is the stance that the new, Greek government will take towards future sanctions on Russia. Any sanctions by the EU require unanimous consent of its 28 member countries. Already, the Greek government has stated clearly it will not be a hand-raiser for whatever the large EU countries decide.
Hopefully, a refusal on Greece’s part to join the ‘blame Russia’ crowd, already rather clearly expressed, will help to clarify matters for waverers and doubters over the war in Ukraine–those for whom nearly one year of aggression and war, driven by NATO countries, is not yet enough proof that the imperialist countries of Europe and North America are the driving forces of war.
Recent articles on New Cold War.org:
- When Ukrainians choose not to die in a war (overview of antiwar protests), by Dmitry Kolesnik, Feb 6, 2015
- Hollande and Merkel head to Moscow but prospects for peace are dim, (by the excellent Alexander Mercouris, writer for Russia Insider), Feb 6
- Ukraine continues to use cluster weapons against civilians, by Roger Annis, Feb 5
- Mozgovoy’s manifesto: Self-defense commander in Luhansk argues for a social future for Ukraine, Feb 3
- EU must stop ‘feverish’ anti-Russian steps – Greek foreign affairs minister, Feb 1
- Disappointment for Ukraine: Army chief says Ukrainian army is not fighting the Russian army in Donbas, Jan 29