Ukraine: a grim winter ahead

As the war along Ukraine’s borders takes a new turn, with Russian incursions on the south-east coast and NATO preparing a new ‘expeditionary force’, Ukraine’s economy heads fast down a black hole. New President Poroshenko, one of Ukraine’s feuding oligarchs (in his case, the confectionery king), has dissolved parliament and called elections for 26 October. The election will probably lead to the removal of all the old supporters of the ousted pro-Russian former president still in parliament. They have been blocking attempts by the current caretaker prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk to carry out the dictates of the IMF under the $17bn ‘reform’ programme agreed last April.

In return for IMF money to meet foreign debts and fund the state (for arms mostly), the Kiev government agreed to huge cuts in public spending, pensions and welfare and, above all, to privatise state agencies and raise energy charges for heating and fuel by over 40%, a total reduction of government spending of 6.75% of GDP. The government agreed to these draconian measures because there was no alternative. As Yatsenyuk said, while the IMF deal would mean hardship for the people and be unpopular, he was prepared to conduct ‘suicide politics’.

Yatsenyuk was so frustrated by parliament’s lethargy in agreeing the IMF measures that he threatened to resign, forcing a collapse of the government. The measures were finally passed, but not before the economy minister Pavlo Sheremeta also threatened to resign in anger at delays in implementing the IMF ‘reforms’. “We need to change this whole paradigm: the system, the people, the processes,” Sheremeta said.

The problem for the pro-IMF government and its foreign investor supporters is that the economy is on its knees and the targets set by the IMF will not be met. In addition, the war is destroying the country’s infrastructure. For example, an $80m food processing plant, opened in 2000 by Cargill, was one of the first big greenfield investments into independent Ukraine. It was abandoned by the US agriculture group’s employees after being stormed by pro-Russian gunmen. Now it has been destroyed by fire.

The latest data indicate that the Ukrainian economy has contracted almost 5% yoy so far this year, the IMF’s forecast for the whole year. The final contraction for 2014 is likely to be 8% in real terms, even if the war should subside.

Ukraine GDP.jpg

The loss of Crimea alone has cut Ukraine’s GDP by 3.7%. The rebel provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk account for about 16% of GDP and 25% of exports.

An energy crisis looms for the winter. Russia’s Gazprom, which provides more than half the country’s gas, stopped supplies in June. The government has been paying fuel subsidies equivalent to 7.5% of GDP. Its energy intensity – the ratio of energy used to economic output – is twice that of Russia and ten times the OECD average. Reducing this huge waste of energy is part of the IMF plan. Carl Bildt, Sweden’s foreign minister, reckons: “If Ukraine improved its energy efficiency to reasonably EU levels, I doubt it would need to import any energy at all.” The resources to do this through better management of heating, insulation and control of private energy companies are not there, of course.

The IMF wants to cut public spending so that government debts do not rise so much that foreign lenders, including the IMF itself, won’t get their money back. You can see how much Ukraine will owe to the IMF by 2018 in the graph below.  Public sector debt-to-GDP will double towards 87% by 2018, as taxation of the rich oligarchs is non-existent. Ukraine owes $3bn to Russia itself and Moscow can demand immediate repayment.

Ukraine FX debr

As I argued in my last post on Ukraine (https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2014/08/11/ukraine-a-rock-and-a-hard-place/), the falling value of the hryvnia only makes the debt on foreign currency terms worse. The IMF’s own risk assessment warns that if the hryvnia falls to 12.5/$, then the stresses on bank balance sheets would require a bailout of at least 5% of GDP. The currency is currently weaker than that, at 13/$.

Ukraine currency

The IMF issued a statement before the weekend congratulating the Kiev government on trying to meet its demands: “Overall, economic policies have generally been implemented as agreed in the program, as the Ukrainian authorities have persisted in taking difficult measures despite the volatile political situation.” But despite the imposition of severe austerity measures, the IMF is worried that it will still go pear-shaped: “However, the conflict in the eastern part of the country is taking its toll on the economy and society, and compensatory measures will be critical to achieve key program targets agreed for 2014 and beyond. The program remains highly challenging and continues to hinge crucially on the assumption that the conflict will subside in the coming months.”

As Christine Lagarde, the IMF’s managing director, said: “Downside risks to the program remain very high. The program success hinges on a timely resolution of the conflict in the East, as well as on the authorities’ strong policy performance and adherence to the planned reform.”

What is the IMF answer to the worsening economic situation? More austerity. Lagarde (now under investigation for corruption herself) called on the government to “(i) take steps to accumulate international reserves, (ii) tighten the fiscal stance in 2015–16 relative to the initial program targets, and (iii) step up efforts to put Naftogaz on a sound financial footing by improving bill collections and adjusting energy prices as needed.”

It is almost certain that the IMF will have to cough up more money to tide Ukraine over or Ukraine will default on its debts and obligations to foreign governments and investors. A “reprofiling” policy is being discussed by the IMF board. This would ‘stretch out’ any repayments but leave the overall debt untouched – still a default and restructuring but a ‘soft one’.

There is an alternative to the Kiev government policy of capitulating to the IMF. A socialist government would take over the interests of the oligarchs who stole Ukraine’s wealth in the first place. It would seize those funds to meet the needs of ordinary people on heating, education and public services. It would revoke the debts owed to Russian and Western banks and demand that the IMF write off its loans so that Ukraine could start without the heavy burden of debt. Ukraine remains a key agricultural exporter and also a low-cost steel producer. If the banks and major export sectors were in the government’s hands and not those of oligarchs (and foreign private equity companies in the future), then a national plan could be implemented.

Also, it would offer to discuss with genuine representatives of the Russian-speaking eastern areas a proper federation and autonomy, a guarantee of rights in education and language. The aim would be to reassure the Russian-speaking areas with economic and political support, rather than the alternative of war that Poroshenko and Putin promote. Instead, Ukraine’s people, both in the west and east, face a grim and increasingly deadly winter.

26 Responses to “Ukraine: a grim winter ahead”

  1. Boffy Says:

    This sounds rather like a programme to build “Socialism in One Country” or a “Ukrainian Road To Socialism”. The Ukrainian economy is completely busted, and that will become apparent in the Winter.

    Far from the prospect being that some kind of Stalinist government might come to power to invoke the kind of programme you propose, its clear that the reality is that the most organised, disciplined and ideologically coherent forces on the ground in the west of the country, are those of the fascists.

    Once again as with Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan the West will have intervened to destabilise an existing regime only to leave the door open to the worst kind of reactionaries to fill the gap. Of course, from the US pespective this is not so bad. Now, its global competitors the EU and Russia, both have fascists to contend with on their borders in the Middle East and now in Eastern and central Europe, as well as the prospect of those fascists returning home to cause trouble.

    That leaves the US after its pivot towards the Pacific more free to deal with its main global competitor – China.

  2. João Carlos Says:

    Sadly, it is too late for a federalization, too much blood spilled. Ukraine will break.

    A new country, Novorossia, allied to Russia, is being born and I think it will include Odessa. So, nothing of real economic importance will stay at Ukraine (wheat?). Industry, coal mines and the main trade port will stay at Novorossia.

    Take note, ISIS is not dead. They are preparing for the next advance and land grab. Probably, it will be Bagdah, because there are a lot of PR there (US embassy, Saigon again?). When it happens oil prices will skyrocket and that will be very bad for everyone but mostly for Europe that needs Russia’s gas and oil. Not a good time for piss out Russia with more sanctions.

    ISIS next move after Badgah can be try to grab south Iraq oil fields, but that will make Iran come to help Iraq’s government (that oil fields are shia land). Middle West total war and US will be crazy if try to put boots on land (both sides hate US). And Iran can try the ˜close the strait” maneuver (price of oil will go to stratosphere).

    With relation to the Pacific, sorry to say but China wants Taiwan back. If the chinese economy slow more, I fear that China can try a “falklands˜. Adn a oil crisis will make chinese economy go down. However, a Taiwan`s invasion It is more probable if US attention is fixed at Ukraine and ISIS and Iran and a Middle West total war.

    Too many black swans flying around. We are living interesting times, like the chinese curse…

    Well, the old hegemon is dead, long live to the new hegemon.

  3. George Deacon Says:

    michael. i have checked my file for the articles i have kept from you (numbering 192 to date) for any direct analysis on the effects that a vote Yes for iScotland would have on the Scottish economy come 18th September. I wondered if i had missed an article by yourself and if not do you intend to discuss this in a future article?

  4. Tony Says:

    The VERY FIRST thing a socialist government would do would be to build links with the working class in Crimea, and in the insurgent districts of Ukraine.

  5. proworks2013 Says:

    Michael, I have searched and failed to turn up any positive proof that Russia (that is, Russian organized military units – individual Russians and some private groups have, just like US citizens have “entered” Iraq, Syria, Libya “privately”) has crossed the border into Ukraine. Please advise your “proof” of such – if you are merely saying what you THINK is obvious, please say so. A dangerous game to “take for granted” any American propaganda, just as taking economic statistics for granted.

    • billjefferies Says:

      Why wouldn’t Russia enter the Ukraine? Its an imperialist country after all, meaning oppressive, chauvinist and expansionist.

      • Edgar Says:

        “Why wouldn’t Russia enter the Ukraine? ”

        That’s an entirely different question to the one raised by proworks2013?

      • billjefferies Says:

        Not really, obviously none of us can give a definitive answer to that at this point, given the ambiguous nature of the evidence, but I read a lot of people virulently asserting it has definitely NOT happened, I simply wonder why they’re so sure given that such behaviour is absolutely to be expected of an imperialist power?

  6. Edgar Says:

    “I read a lot of people virulently asserting it has definitely NOT happened”

    That maybe so but proworks2013 never said that. He/she simply wanted positive proof.

    I think obtaining evidence/positive proof where the state (especially the powerful ones) is involved is very difficult, we rely on Wikileaks type revelations to get some of the truth, otherwise we are mostly in the dark.

    • billjefferies Says:

      We’ll given that whoever she/he is must know that Michael doesn’t own his own spy satellite (I’m guessing) it’s a question that can’t be answered, so what’s the point of asking it?

      • proworks2013proworks2013 Says:

        my, my… The suggestion that we don’t know now means we have no point in asking any question of a statement that has yet to be proved. Some logic there, although lost on most of the Marxist tradition. Are we to suppose that, given the verified imperialist existence of the United States AND GREAT BRITAIN, that provocations and challenges have not originated there? My question to Michael is NOT that he have his own satellite, but that he do a thorough analysis of the situation from PROVEN FACTS, not propaganda aimed at warfare upon the working class of any country. This whole affair stinks of neocon intrusion, but not a word from Mr. Roberts about that – only the most tepid “let’s build socialism in the Ukraine” (and would this socialist Ukraine be left to grow on its own, or be “punished” by both western and Russian oligarchs for the attempt?). I worry that he is more interested in scoring points with the economic establishment than in doing a class analysis based on the international interests of any working class.

      • billjefferies Says:

        What’s tepid about wanting to build socialism? As for PROVEN FACTS supply some.

  7. Edgar Says:

    “so what’s the point of asking it?”

    For the reason that Michael doesn’t own his own spy satellite?

    • billjefferies Says:

      Funnily enough I saw a CIA agent on the BBC yesterday. She was dressed as a middle aged ethnic Russian woman from Ukraine. She supported the separatists and praised the intervention of Russian troops in defeating the Ukrainians. She wanted to thank Yeltsin for the intervention of the Russian army. That’s not possible of course, they’re are NO RUSSIAN TROOPS IN THE UKRAINE. CIA spy.

      • Edgar Says:

        Your whole comment reads like cold war code and I can’t fathom it!

        “That’s not possible of course,they’re are NO RUSSIAN TROOPS IN THE UKRAINE”

        And Yeltsin is dead?

      • billjefferies Says:

        yeah sorry I was joking.

  8. Edgar Says:

    Sorry I didn’t the joke!

  9. matthewrusso9 Says:

    Michael Roberts position is fair enough. At least it doesn’t parrot the pro-Putin talking points propaganda coming from a certain sector of the left. What we are witnessing is a classic inter-imperialist struggle aimed at the destruction of a historic concentration of the industrial proletariat.

    Keep in mind that it was the decision of Putin’s Russia to facilitate the separation of Crimea from Ukraine – irregardless of actual majority support, as the population was buffaloed into it as the point of a gun with the connivance of the Crimean autonomy government – that set off similar moves in Donetsk and Luhansk – where there never was majority support in any case. However there the separatists made the mistake of assuming that their initiative would receive the same Russian facilitation as in Crimea. They are wrong: the Putin regime has no interest in annexation of what would be a troublesome region full of impoverished and now war-traumatized industrial workers (and hence this is fundamentally why the US/NATO propaganda in this regard is false). The Putin regime wanted Crimea only for the geopolitical usefulness of the Sevastopol naval base. That’s it – otherwise Putin doesn’t give a squat for the Russian ethnic populations outside its borders, so long as the oppression of these populations doesn’t make Russia look weak geopolitically. This last is the main motive for whatever covert assistance Russia has provided the separatists, pawns in a geopolitical chess game with NATO. Let’s not act like lawyers carrying briefs for Putin – why WOULDN’T covert assistance flow across a very arbitrary and porous border, on the other side of which the Russian Federation has staged several full dress military exercises?

    The fact is, pro-Putin leftists, that Russia today is basically a resource extraction rentier capitalist state with minor revanchist neo-imperialist ambitions. That means that, in any “Russian Anschluss” scenario, the Donbas industrial proletariat (save those in Russia connected military industry) would likely face the same deindustrialization they now face with the IMF and civil war. Donbass coal, for example is highly uncompetitive internationally, why coal miners have been hostile to separation from a Ukraine willing to politically subsidize them up to now. But in the epoch of capitalist decay, a capitalist Russia doesn’t need them at all.

    • proworks2013 Says:

      We can all ASSUME all kinds of positions here. My fear is that assuming Russian intrusion into Ukraine will dovetail with imperialist intrusion and rape that will pose as “defending the democratic rights of Ukrainians to rule their own country”. Is that not ludicrous, given the oligarchic nature of Ukraine AND the western powers? Allowing a blanket statement such as “Russian incursions on the southeast coast” to stand without attempting to show evidence feeds the imperial arguments for encirclement of Russia and China, and once they “win” that battle, we will have double trouble to BEGIN to fight ours.

      Let us not fall into the trap of equating Russian wishes to control Ukraine with western imperialism’s dire need to control the globe’s resources and control all of us. I am frankly astounded there is no distinction being made here between Russian expansionism and US, British, German, French, Polish (i.e., NATO) goals to ultimately break up and control Russian territory and cripple any opposition to their global interests. It is a comparison of a guinea pig to elephants.

      Did not Marx praise the capitalist US in its struggle to defeat the Confederacy when the world was in the embrace of British imperial ambitions? Given the BRICS position on a competitive currency and cessation of oil trade in dollars, these countries are in the same boat, and can weaken imperialism greatly so, hopefully, our own workers can finish the job when they achieve “room”.

      No one on the left should be “briefcasing” for Putin, and we’re certainly defending one oligarchy against another – but, until academic economists and tenured heroes can talk to the rank-&-file of the working class instead of begging mainstream economists to consider Marxist theory, you end up doing the laundry for the current imperialist order, since in a deeper crisis Marxist ideas might serve to give them cover, no?

      Overthrowing western imperialism would serve as a boost to ridding us of Putins and Poroshenkos the world over. Haggling over which bad capitalism wins here is stupid – our job is to defend workers and defeat our own imperialism. Sniping at Russia is cheap and plays into our enemies hands, and leaves a bad nationalist taste in the mouth.

      • sartesian Says:

        So wait, comrade proworks, do you think that Russia has NOT intervened in the Ukraine, has not shipped weapons to the rebels; has not provided “advisors,” special operations forces” “intelligence” and “intelligence officers” to the separatists.

        If you grant that Russia has some keen interest in keeping the Ukraine out of the “west orbit,”– like the fact that Sevastopol is its only warm water port; like the fact that much of Russia’s military materiel is produced in the Ukraine, then you have to be blind or disingenuous to argue that Russia is not intruding into the Ukraine.

        And then it becomes an issue of what advances the interests of the working class. I do not believe that an “overthrow Western imperialism” in the Ukraine by reactionary religious, capitalist, separatist, chauvinist forces in the east, supported by Russia s 1) possible 2) advances the class interests of the workers on iota 3) is a boost to ridding the world of Putins and Poroshenkos.

        I don’t believe you can provide any evidence in history of previous, parallel, or analogous situations for this claim. Which makes the claim self-deluding at best.

      • proworks2013 Says:

        No self-delusion here, comrade. As I stated in my 1st comment to the article, I have no information one way or the other, merely suspicion that stating it the way Mssr. Roberts did opens us to supporting imperial incursion to a further degree. This kind of “reality assessment” gives the green light to nationalistic interpretation of the world that we must reject if we are going to accomplish anything as “Marxists”.

        I certainly would think Putin a blockhead if he didn’t take the taking of Ukraine by the West seriously. That being said, I do not advocate anywhere the overthrow of imperialism by such knuckleheads as Russian oligarchs, and it is careless reading on your part to say so. Will workers benefit from Putin getting all of Ukraine back? Of course not, and I’m sure that is not his aim anyway, merely to gouge Obama’s eye a little. He is already taking flack back home for his allowing the slaughters that have occurred.

        My statement only said WE must overthrow our own junta to get it off the backs of workers anywhere, and then we can take care of the dross, like Putin, far more easily. Anything and any development that weakens imperial gains is one more shovelful of earth preparing their graves.

        It is somewhat sickening to have all Ukrainian oppositionists lumped as “reactionary religious, capitalist, separatist, chauvinist forces in the east, supported by Russia”. The Maidan was not “unified” until US and German money swept the square and raised the ultra-right to the lead. The resistance in the east is not in love with Putin due to his weak “support” any more than Right Sector is in love with Poroshenko. Can Marxists take advantage of the anti-fascist rhetoric used by Putin to rouse his Russians? We know his aims in using such language, but what will WE do to extend our influence and gain those Ukrainians who only have death and poverty to show for all that has happened since February?

  10. sartesian Says:

    OK, do you have an example of separatist forces that are in fact class-conscious, anti-chauvinist, anti-clerical? Can you even point to “anti-fascist” rhetoric that puts any of the struggle in class terms?

    Is there a single separatist group that has provided an analysis that provides a class basis for their actions– and anti-fascism is not, and is not by design, a class struggle program.

    • proworks2013oworks2013 Says:

      Sartesian, are you saying that all Ukrainians are a bunch of ninkompoops, unable to see or to learn from this experience? Are you saying we therefore MUST write off this nation and its people as a WHOLE? Some “class” analysis there, “comrade”. If I didn’t know better, it would seem to me that your hatred of Russia and its betrayal of the “socialist” revolution overshadows the necessary concern for the Ukrainian working class, and maybe also any other “nation” in such a state (China and Vietnam come to mind). Or is it because Russia has missiles, so it should be able to fend for itself, requiring no CRITICAL support in a battle with USA, Germany, Britain, France, Poland, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, AND u
      kraine? All are pissed at this Russian nation-state, and can bring up painful history to justify their anger, but why only NOW in this militaristic way, after American money has seeded this anger to “White”-hot levels (that is a pun there…)? And, in the past, when confronted by imperial aggression against any weaker nation (Russia spending 1/20th the total of those combined forces on armaments, with an outdated, questionable nuclear arsenal), why have we “supported” the weaker nation (in this case, we would have to very critically, having the KGB dude Putin to dole out his “diplomacy” and win radical friends who have never given a rat’s thought to any class except their own oligarchic-supporting one)?

      The subject of “anti-fascism” has been put on the table by Russian media, many of the blogs that openly say the forces in Kiev are fascist, and the provable behavior of that regime. What I point out is that anti-fascist rhetoric such as this opens the argument to the form of struggle that will most effectively crush the “fascist” forces, if that is what the rhetoric logically demands. You need to show their “error” in such analysis. I do not know whether class-conscious forces exist in the Ukraine for sure (having no spy satellite of my own in that regard), but I do know that such rhetoric would not be useful AND repeated unless there was an audience for it. That audience is our audience, so that their confusion or disorientation concerning “anti-fascism” and what struggle path to take can be clarified and turned to a final resolution of such “problems”. As I said, our job is not to make statements that partially “blame” Russia for doing what would be obvious for the US cabal if Canada had a putsch that put Chinese-oriented leadership into power, but rather to look at the working class objectively and see if openings for a counter-movement are there or not. A job that should have been done long ago, before the ongoing repressions of Pravy Sektor were in place.

      For that, I blame the so-called “Marxist” movement right here in the USA and in Britain, which have succumbed to the most passive, blatantly defeatist attitude since the Cointelpro and GLADIO programs had their success. We did not attempt a fight back, and we did not die (very few dead Marxists in the body counts of our respective nations) – far from it, as many splinter groups show how “alive” we are (and we blame the left for its confusion and idiocy – frankly, they knew which behavior was “safe”, as far as I’m concerned). In fact, some opted for comfortable positions within academia whenever they could, hoping that tenure would prevent their obliteration and allow them “space”. Knowing full well the anti-intellectual attitudes of the working class in the US, that was tantamount to resigning yourself to building a petit-bourgeois movement, not a class conscious workers movement.

      So, again I ask, in my most comradely way, why do we pick up the rhetoric of our imperial masters here, instead of asking THEM for proof of any allegation they make (where, in both the “incursion” and the MH17 issue, no proof has been offered)? Many citizens of our countries are asking. My original question to Michael Roberts still stands, and he has yet to answer. All of you have covered for him well, so far. Reaffirm my faith that there is still any movement left in our Marxist tool bag that talks to anyone outside the anti-IMF movement.

  11. sartesian Says:

    “Sartesian, are you saying that all Ukrainians are a bunch of ninkompoops, unable to see or to learn from this experience?”

    Of course not. I’m asking where has this so-called “anti-fascist” rhetoric been deployed as other than a smokescreen for chauvinist, ethnocentric, clerical, “patriotic actions.”

    You must be aware of actions taken by the “rebels,” conferences held by “supporters” of the rebels that include chauvinist actions, and expounders of chauvinism, nationalism, and proto-fascist if not fully developed fascist ideologies. So what does the so-called “anti-fascist” rhetoric amount to other than the Putinesque equivalent of the Nazis use of “socialism” and “worker” in the self-characterizations?

    “If I didn’t know better, it would seem to me that your hatred of Russia and its betrayal of the “socialist” revolution overshadows the necessary concern for the Ukrainian working class, and maybe also any other “nation” in such a state (China and Vietnam come to mind). Or is it because Russia has missiles, so it should be able to fend for itself, requiring no CRITICAL support in a battle with USA, Germany, Britain, France, Poland, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, AND ukraine?”

    Right, in a previous discussion it came down to my lack of sympathy and “hatred” for Israel. Now we get my “hatred” for Russia. I haven’t expressed anything in my posts that comes close to hatred for Russia, because I have no hatred for Russia, I detest the Russian bourgeoisie, and Russian capitalism as a detest all capitalism, all capitalisms.

    Like the pro-Zionists, you respond to any critical inquiry into the actions of the Russian capitalist state with the equivalent of the charge of “anti-semitism,” all the better not to answer the concrete questions.

    So let me put the question to you again; In the weeks preceding the latter part of August, the Ukrainian pro-west forces were on the verge of completely defeating the anti-west rebels. Suddenly, withering numerous, sustained artillery barrages were unleashed destroying the pro-west offensive. The rebels were not known to have, and did not deploy at any earlier time, such extensive and intensive artillery assaults. Russian, which has utilized historically massive, sustained, concentrated artillery assaults, is known to have moved artillery batteries and forces closer to the border with Ukraine– whether for defensive or offensive reasons is immaterial.

    OK, which is the more likely source of the artillery assaults? The rebels who have never displayed such force, or Russia which has?

    Or perhaps there was no artillery barrage– and that’s all a hoax cooked up by the Western media? But then, how do we account for the crumbling of the pro-west offensive and the destruction of its armor and infantry forces? Spanish flu? How do we account for the pro-west “government” in Kiev suing for a truce?

    Russia doesn’t even exist as “Russia” in my book. It exists as a capitalist entity, with classes. I don’t think “Russia” as “Russia” betrayed anything. The revolution was defeated internally and internationally. The big S Soviet state played its part in that defeat.

    “As I said, our job is not to make statements that partially “blame” Russia for doing what would be obvious for the US cabal if Canada had a putsch that put Chinese-oriented leadership into power, but rather to look at the working class objectively and see if openings for a counter-movement are there or not. A job that should have been done long ago, before the ongoing repressions of Pravy Sektor were in place”

    You’ve got a major contradiction here. In earlier posts you ask for evidence that Russia has done “what would be obvious for the US cabal” to do. Your argument as such indicates you don’t think there is any such evidence. Now you argue that the evidence is at least as obvious as the evidence would be if something analogous were to take place in Canada.

    So which is it? If you want to explain Russian actions as “obvious” based on geo-political concerns, on “national self-interest,” go right ahead. I think that’s correct. The basis of Russia’s actions is “national self-interest.”

    The issue is whether that national self interest on the part of Russian capitalism has any “positive” impact, and enhancement of class struggle. I do not think it does. You provide no evidence that it does. There is evidence that the Russian actions, based on the actions of the separatists, and the support rallying round the separatists, are antithetical to class struggle, indulging in “Euro-Asian” ethnocentrism in an iteration that reminds me of nothing so much as it does Solzhenitsyn’s pimping of Holy Mother Russia, and purifying it of that western impure ideology called Marxism.

    I do know that there are class conscious elements in both sections of the Ukraine– in the separatist section they oppose the annexation of Crimea; the separation; the turn towards the IMF in the west; and the Kiev government. In the western section they oppose the annexation of Crimea, the separation, the turns toward the IMF, and the Kiev government. Now that sounds to me like class-consciousness.

    Throwing the word “anti-fascist” around is not in and of itself, class conscious.

    “For that, I blame the so-called “Marxist” movement right here in the USA and in Britain, which have succumbed to the most passive, blatantly defeatist attitude since the Cointelpro and GLADIO programs had their success. We did not attempt a fight back, and we did not die (very few dead Marxists in the body counts of our respective nations) – far from it, as many splinter groups show how “alive” we are (and we blame the left for its confusion and idiocy – frankly, they knew which behavior was “safe”, as far as I’m concerned)”

    This is just anti-historical materialist nonsense. It’s pure macho Gueveraist garbage. We don’t measure effectiveness, level of class struggle by the sacrifice of the “heroic guerrilla.” That’s crap. Classes make history; not focos; not vanguards. So the question is what has paralyzed, or immobilized, or contained the working class over the last century? That will explain why the Marxist groups are so splintered and ineffectual. Not vice-versa.

    And just a word about sacrifice: Patton said something to the effect that the point is not to go out and die for your country; the point is to get the other poor bastard to die for his country. You want to commit revolutionary suicide? You can do that, but it doesn’t mean a thing in struggle between classes.

    So the question is not if Russia has intervened– of course it has. It would be stupid to not intervene. The question is if that is equivalent of support for, enhancement of, advance of class struggle. The answer is “No.” And for that there is proof.

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