Whilst the pro-imperialist junta in Kiev digs in its heels, and the agonising stalemate drags on, preparations are under way in Ukraine to sell and privatise everything – even the land people stand on.
Although on paper there are restrictions on land sales to foreigners, in practice vast tracts of farmland are being readied for absorption by imperialist agribusiness, with Ukrainian agro-holding companies buying up land in preparation for lease or sale to global players like Monsanto, Cargill, Dupont, Exxon and Raytheon, whose interests are pushed by the US-Ukraine Business Council.
One of the largest Ukrainian agro-holding companies, AgroGeneration, is chaired by Michael Bleyzer. This capitalist does not content himself solely with the harvesting of vast profits from his position as a fifth columnist for imperialism, but has also some very decided opinions about the political and military landscape required so that profit-taking may proceed unhindered.
Warning darkly that “a large segment of the population in Kharkiv oblast is so discouraged by events and by the constant bombardment of Russian propaganda that they could be supportive of a Russian invasion or an attempt to establish a so-called People’s Republic”, Bleyzer is demanding a ‘Social Stabilisation Fund’ for Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk, Zaporozhia, Kherson, Nikolaev and Odessa. (Black earth and the struggle for Ukraine’s future’ by Andrey Panevin, Slavyangrad.org, 25 June 2015)
For his treacherous services, Bleyzer has reportedly taken $10m from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in 2011 (of which the US is a major shareholder) and $50m from the US government’s Overseas Private Investment Corporation in 2012. Meanwhile, small and medium farmers face the prospect of mass expropriation as the credit lines dry up and the monopolists move in.
Traffic in organs
To rub home the fact that in today’s Ukraine literally everything is for sale, the ministry of health has presented Kiev’s rigged parliament, the Rada, with a draft law on organ transplants. This law says that: 1. people will have to opt out of posthumous donation, rather than opting in; 2. private clinics will be authorised to perform the transplants; and 3. whilst you are still alive you can sell your organs to anyone you like.
Put these three together and you have completely legalised the commercial traffic in organs – a business that has hitherto lurked in the shadows.
Given the context of the present war, with its death squads, torture, kidnappings and forced signatures, the implications of this law are grim indeed. Nothing could better express the sick fascist character of Ukrainian society under the jackboot – as ever, given maximum aid and succour by imperialism. (See ‘Ukraine moves to legalise for profit organ harvesting’, fortruss.blogspot.co.uk, 9 July 2015)
Encouraged by ‘President’ Poroshenko’s mentors in the West, the fascist junta in Kiev continues to stonewall, refusing to talk to the twin People’s Republics of Lugansk and Donetsk about implementing the peace accords that the junta signed up to under Minsk II. Yet with every day that passes without talks, the less muffled become the voices of disquiet raised in Europe. With the Greek crisis calling into question the very future of the imperialist European Union itself, discord is heard right at the Franco-German core of the Union.
The erstwhile French defence secretary, Jean-Pierre Chevenement, wrote recently in Le Monde Diplomatique that whilst the Minsk II formula is straightforward enough – “the passing of an electoral law by the Rada; local elections in the Donbass; constitutional reform; a law on decentralisation; further elections; and finally Ukraine regaining control of its border with Russia” – it is Kiev that insists upon inventing obstacles to peace.
For example, “on 17 March, the Rada voted to overturn this sequence by making the ‘withdrawal of armed groups’ a precondition. The Ukrainian government’s block on the political component of Minsk II threatens to turn the Ukrainian crisis into a frozen conflict.”
This senior, if somewhat maverick, member of the French establishment went on to blame the EU for not standing up to the USA, noting that: “The real issue in the Ukrainian crisis is whether Europe can assert itself as an independent actor in a multipolar world or will take a permanently subordinate role to the US,” and suggesting that, “the crisis could have been avoided if the EU had, in launching its Eastern Partnership in 2009, framed the negotiation of the association agreement with Ukraine compatibly with the objective of the 2003 strategic EU-Russia partnership: creating ‘a single economic space from Lisbon to Vladivostok’. It would have been necessary to take into account the close link between the Ukrainian and Russian economies. Had it done so, the EU would have avoided being used by proponents of an eastward expansion of Nato.”
Chevenement also complained that German Chancellor Merkel is “far too closely aligned with the US” over Ukraine, accusing her of giving up on Germany’s “traditional Ostpolitik towards Russia” in the hope of sneaking a competitive advantage over its neighbours by accessing a captive cheap labour pool in the Ukraine. In short, he said, “Germany must convince its European partners that it is not just the US’s proxy in Europe“. (‘No need for this cold war’, 7 July 2015)
Meanwhile, contrary voices are complaining that Germany and the EU are not slavish enough to Nato and Washington; that they don’t spend enough on defence and that they are lukewarm in supporting moves against Russia. One such commentator has acknowledged that Merkel “has managed to keep all 28 EU countries united over the sanctions against Russia“, but then goes straight on to whinge that “that is not the same thing as Berlin supporting US efforts to boost the security of the Baltic states or providing training and non-lethal weapons for the Ukrainian army“.
The very ‘Ostpolitik’ which Chevenement urges as an alternative to submission to US diktat is seen by this waspish commentator as a deadly temptation to be resisted at all costs. “There is a longing among some of Germany’s elites to go back to the old days of Ostpolitik, when Germany drove a rapprochement with Russia while Moscow used that relationship to weaken Europe and undermine the transatlantic alliance. Implicit in that eastern policy was a suspicion – if not criticism – of the United States, despite Washington being Europe’s security guarantor.” (‘Europe’s strategic indifference over Greece and Ukraine’ by Judy Dempsey, carnegieeurope.eu, 9 July 2015)
The reality is that Washington’s reckless brinksmanship over the Ukraine, driven on by the capitalist crisis, is serving to expose ever sharper contradictions both within the EU itself and between the EU and its stateside ‘security guarantor’. In a recent interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Russian President Vladimir Putin neatly summed up the game that the US is playing with Europe.
“For example, the Americans do not want Russia’s rapprochement with Europe. I am not asserting this, it is just a hypothesis. Let’s suppose that the United States would like to maintain its leadership in the Atlantic community. It needs an external threat, an external enemy to ensure this leadership. Iran is clearly not enough – this threat is not very scary or big enough. Who can be frightening? And then suddenly this crisis unfolds in Ukraine. Hypothetically speaking, of course.” (‘Vladimir Putin, interview’ by Luciano Fontana and Paolo Valentino, 7 June 2015)
As the war grinds on and Washington finds it harder to keep its European allies on message, morale within the Ukraine army and officialdom likewise wears thinner, and there has been quite a crop of high-profile defections.
On 22 June, retired Major General Alexander Kolomiyets, a former aide to Ukraine’s defence minister, went over to the side of the Donbass resistance, following on the heels of the former chief of the Lugansk customs service Oleg Chernousov. Brothers Alexey and Yuri Miroshnichenko, both intelligence officers based in the Paris embassy, had likewise thrown in the towel and gone back to Lugansk earlier in the month.
Most recently, two senior traffic officers, Vitaly Balbekov and Alexey Kobzar, returned to offer their services to the People’s Republic. “We came under the influence of our commanders who ordered us to leave Donetsk. They promised it would be two weeks. We found ourselves in Mariupol. Two weeks, a month and a year passed. Over that time we understood we had made a mistake and decided to return home to our native city where we were born, grew up and lived all our lives and where we have family and relatives,” Balbekov told journalists. (‘Two Ukrainian traffic officers defect to side of DPR’, tass.ru, 3 July 2015)