Spartacist Canada No. 181
Ottawa Embraces Ukraine Coup, Svoboda Fascists
The Harper government was quick to hail the February 22 coup in Ukraine, a reactionary power grab spearheaded by the raving anti-Semites and fascists of Svoboda and Right Sector, and backed to the hilt by Washington and the European Union. From the outset, Harper & Co. touted the CIA-sponsored Kiev protests with a flood of official statements in support of “Ukrainians that believe in freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.” In December, Canadian foreign minister John Baird flew to the Ukrainian capital to make obeisance to the fascist-infested Maidan protests, rubbing shoulders with Svoboda leader Oleg Tyagnibok, a man notorious for spewing anti-Jewish filth.
Within days of the coup, a planeload of Tory politicians landed in Kiev to proclaim Canada’s support for the new regime. A month later, Stephen Harper himself showed up for a six-hour visit. Baird then undertook a week-long trip to Poland and other Central and East European countries promising cash and other support for Ukraine.
In the imperialist frenzy following the March 16 referendum in Crimea—which overwhelmingly affirmed the popular desire to rejoin Russia—Ottawa sent troops to reinforce NATO’s provocative military exercises in Poland. As well, six CF-18 fighter aircraft were deployed to an airbase in Romania. Harper also dispatched 500 Canadian “monitors” to Ukraine whose job was to slap a seal of approval on the NATO-orchestrated May 25 presidential elections. Headed by former Ontario Tory premier Mike Harris, this crew included federal New Democrat MP Peggy Nash and other NDP politicians.
The New Democrats completely back Harper’s belligerence over Ukraine. “We’re of the same mind,” declared NDP leader Thomas Mulcair. Like the Liberals, the NDP was mainly peeved at being excluded from the government’s official junkets to Kiev. Joining the hue and cry against Moscow, Mulcair branded the Russian intervention in Crimea “criminal behaviour.” For its part, Québec Solidaire—the petty-bourgeois populists worshipped by reformists across Canada—issued a statement calling Russia’s actions in Crimea “dangerous and deplorable.”
Judging from the theatrics on Parliament Hill against “separatists” and in defense of Ukrainian “national unity,” one could be forgiven for thinking the Crimean peninsula must be situated just east of the Ottawa River. In economic terms, Canadian capital, and particularly the fossil fuel sector, stands to gain from NATO/EU sanctions against Russia, which could undercut Moscow’s position in world energy markets. These interests dovetail with Harper’s desire to fire up a voting base in the most reactionary sectors of the 1.2 million-strong Ukrainian community in Canada.
The Tories invariably brand defenders of the Palestinians against Zionist terror as anti-Semites, but their purported concern for Jews vanishes when it comes to pandering to virulently right-wing Ukrainian forces. Late last year, Harper, Mulcair and Justin Trudeau took part in a major gathering of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, an organization which a few years earlier hailed the then government in Kiev for recognizing Stepan Bandera as a “Hero of Ukraine.” This is the same Bandera whose forces fought alongside the Nazis and were responsible for mass murders of Jews, Communists, Soviet soldiers and Poles during World War II.
Embracing such scum is hardly new for the Canadian ruling class. In the 1930s, Ottawa slammed the doors to desperate Jews fleeing Nazi terror. After World War II, the government gave safe haven to thousands of the very war criminals who had carried out the Holocaust. Among them were 1,000 to 2,000 butchers of the infamous Waffen SS Ukrainian Galicia Division, who were welcomed in the service of the Cold War drive to restore capitalism in the Soviet Union. Bandera’s Nazi-allied forces were the direct forerunners of Svoboda, the fascist party which took control of Ukraine’s armed forces after the February coup. Completing the circle, Oleg Tyagnibok—the same Svoboda leader with whom Baird consorted—came to Toronto in 2010 to receive a golden cross from veterans of the Waffen SS Galicia Division “for his service to Ukraine.”
Crimea is historically Russian, and we supported the Russian intervention that allowed the March 16 referendum to take place (see article, page 1). This principled position in defense of Crimean self-determination is in stark contrast to self-styled leftists who echo and even endorse the imperialists’ propaganda barrage. Take the International Socialists (I.S.), who wrote: “Stephen Harper has recently stated, ‘The Putin regime’s persistent military aggression and its ongoing illegal occupation of Crimea and other parts of Ukraine threaten the stability and security of central and eastern Europe.’ This is true” (socialist.ca, 22 May). The I.S. only criticizes Harper for being “hypocritical”!
The starting point for Marxists is the exact opposite of this pro-imperialist dreck. We fight to build a workers party rooted in opposition to our “own” imperialist rulers and dedicated to the overthrow of the rotting and murderous capitalist order through socialist revolution.