By KD Tait
The announcement of the substantial reinforcement of Nato forces in Eastern Europe signals the end of the “phoney peace” that followed the collapse of the USSR.
The conflict in Ukraine, which saw the pro-Russian president Yanukovych overthrown by Western-backed ultra-nationalists and fascists has been the catalyst for a sharp escalation in tension between the rival US and Russian imperialist blocs.
French and US warships have entered the Black Sea. Britain has sent extra warplanes to patrol the skies over the Baltic States and is preparing to deploy up to 1,000 soldiers and dozens of tanks, artillery and support vehicles to participate in exercises in Poland this summer. President Obama has announced an additional $1 billion to fund reinforcements to the 67,000 US troops already stationed in Europe.
The USA spent $5 billion dollars promoting “democracy” in Ukraine. The payoff for this investment was the political influence that allowed US envoy Victoria Nuland to sideline the EU and handpick key members of the new government.
The US is now determined to pour in further resources to make sure its investment in Ukraine pays off in terms of EU and Nato membership. The same will probably apply to Georgia. The measures of economic war – sanctions and embargos – will remain in place against Russia.
Civil war in Ukraine
US world leaders gathered in Kiev to celebrate Poroshenko’s inauguration while the man elected by only a minority of Ukrainians and a government elected by a parliament purged of 110 of its 450 MPs are conducting a brutal war against their own people.
Kyiv’s punitive military offensive against the civilian population centres of the Donbas has seen planes, tanks and artillery deployed indiscriminately. The fascists of the Right Sector, drafted into the “National Guard” to bolster a mutinous conscript army, can only operate with the logistical and intelligence support of the US and British secret services.
By comparison Russian forces have not struck a blow or killed a single Ukrainian citizen. This is not because Russia is incapable of such actions. The destruction of Grozny in the second Chechen war indicates this. Its support for Assad in Syria, a filthy murderer of his own people, underlines that Russia is an imperialist power.
But for all their talk of democracy and human rights, the statesmen and women who head Nato are the ones trying to seize and pocket Ukraine. They are the ones who fully share responsibility for the hundreds of deaths in Ukraine. They encouraged the Maidan putsch; they failed to condemn the Odessa Pogrom. They are the number one criminals and the enemy of all working people. And all those in the labour movement or on the left, who remain silent have shamefully abandoned the people of Ukraine to fascist death squads.
Towards a new cold war
Nato military planners have long coveted Ukraine, which occupies a strategic position as a formally non-aligned buffer state between Russia and Europe. The installation of a pro-US regime in Kyiv is simply the latest step in Nato’s creeping encirclement of Russia.
For the USA the potential economic value of a semi-colonial Ukraine, integrated into the Western powers’ sphere of exploitation via the IMF and the EU Association Agreement, is secondary to its strategic military objective of encircling Russia – a policy enthusiastically supported by Poland, the Baltic States and Turkey, and in which Georgia and Azerbaijan loom large on the horizon. It is this prioritisation of the military over the economic, which lies at the heart of the political rift in Nato between Germany and the USA.
Far from attempting to defuse the conflict, the US will use its domination of Nato to “fight for peace” by staging confrontational military exercises on Ukrainian soil this July.
These war “games” are a crude provocation that will see Ukraine become a de facto protectorate of Nato, completing a new “iron curtain” of military outposts stretching from the Baltic to the Black Sea.
For two decades Nato has acted as the military arm of US foreign policy. This pax Americana was, for a dozen countries too weak to defend themselves, the peace of the graveyard.
While Putin’s Russia emerged from the devastating impact of capitalist restoration, it could not vigorously oppose the United States’ consolidation of its hegemony over the Balkans and the Middle East. The quid pro quo was the silence of the “democratic” imperialist powers faced with Putin’s methodical butchery in Chechnya and the other republics of the North Caucasus.
Warfare or welfare?
As competition for resources grows and the world economic crisis destabilises whole regions, this “new world order” has been brought to a sudden end. A new and bloodier period of open imperialist rivalry and conflict is upon us.
From Portugal to Poland the representatives of the billionaires, whose dictatorship subordinates all human progress to the interests of private profit, demand austerity, sacrifice and submission from working people. We are told that the age of welfare is over, that schools and hospitals must close so economies can grow.
There cannot be found the politician who will demand higher wages for those who work, better care for those who are ill or a real future for those with none, yet everywhere can be found politicians demanding Nato members increase spending on military budgets and governments burn money buying tools of destruction.
In September Nato’s leaders will assemble in Newport, South Wales. Their message will be warfare not welfare. We must gather there in the greatest numbers possible to confront these warmongers and identify our main enemy as the British billionaires and government who impose austerity at home and arm fascists abroad.