By Roger Annis, June 4, 2014
The weekly, French-language e-bulletin Presse-toi à gauche (Move Left!) publishes a short but very informative interview on Ukraine with Mark-David Mandel in its weekly issue published today. Presse-toi à gauche is published in Quebec.
Mandel explains that the origin of the crisis in Ukraine is the interventionist policies of NATO countries against Russia and Ukraine. They have a long-standing goal of isolating and weakening Russia and the republics of the former Soviet Union with which it is allied economically and politically. Mandel gives some history and context for understanding the movement in eastern Ukraine that is fighting for political and economic autonomy from Kyiv.
The interview does not mention the military offensive of the Kyiv regime that began in the east of the country in March, including the key role being played there by rightist and fascists militias and National Guard stormtroopers. That lacune is likely due to the fact that the interview is short.
The interview is originally published in the June issue of the monthly bulletin of the Montreal council of the CSN union federation. The CSN is one of four large union federations in Quebec.
David Mandel is a professor of history at the Université du Québec à Montréal and is well versed on eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, including with published articles and books. You can read the interview with David Mandel here: http://www.pressegauche.org/spip.php?article17886.
The news coverage of Ukraine in Presse-toi à gauche has consisted largely of reprinting ‘third camp’, quasi-social patriotic material being written by the groups of the Fourth International in Europe or others. Last week, for example, writer Pierre Beaudet summed up the situation as follows (my translation): “In Ukraine, Russia is trying to keep control over neighbour, bordering regions while the United States wants to break up what remains of the former Soviet Union.”
A May 14 statement of the NPA party in France sounded a similar note when it wrote: “The working people of Ukraine have become a plaything in the rivalry for influence going on between Poutin’s Russia and capitalist Europe allied with the U.S.
The French language website of Fourth International supporters in Switzerland, A l’encontre has not published anything on Ukraine for the past five weeks. That’s the period of time in which the massacre by rightists in Odessa took place (May 2), the NATO military countries have stepped up their military intervention into Ukraine and east Europe, and a new, warmaking president of Ukraine was elected in the west of the country. In the election, fewer than half the number of voters took part compared to the the presidential election of 2010.
In Britain, the most recent article to be published by the Fourth International group ‘Socialist Resistance’ is dated March 24 and is titled, ‘In Ukraine, the Russians are the aggressors.’
Finally, here are several quotations concerning the massacre of more than 40 antifascist protesters in Odessa on May 2, 2014 by fascists and rightist hooligans:
* “Who set fire to the House of the Trade Unions is unknown. Molotov cocktails were being thrown by both sides.” –Zakhar Popovich, Left Opposition (Ukraine)
* “I’m not sure that we will ever know the truth about how the House of the Unions caught fire … The suggestion that the group that attacked the march was a team of Right Sector thugs seems very unlikely” –Duncan Chapel, Socialist Resistance (UK)
* “Neither side requires their version of events to be true, they simply need to entrench division.”
“The ultimate provocateurs of violence and division across Ukraine, from Sevastopol to Kharkiv, from Donetsk to Odessa, are competing blocs of imperialists and oligarchs.” –Suhail Ilyas, published by Revolutionary Socialism for the 21st Century (UK), reprinted by ISO (U.S.)