Since the coup in Ukraine on 22nd February 2014 and in particular following the developments on the Crimean peninsula in the Black Sea, a political campaign in the media has begun to roll in the USA and in NATO and EU countries, which hysterically accuses Russia and in particular the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, of reckless power politics and of “stealing land” in violation of international law. The incorporation of the Crimea into the Russian Federation has been branded as “annexation in violation of international law” by leading NATO governments.
With this campaign, the real character of the crisis in Ukraine is to be disguised as an anti-Russian manoeuvre and further hostile acts towards the Russian Federation are to be prepared psychologically.
It is at first astonishing that countries that have up to now continually violated international law, including the attack on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1999, the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and that of Iraq in 2003, the recognition of the sovereignty of Kosovo in 2008, so obviously operate a double standard when it comes to judging Russian actions.
Those same people who would have us believe that Germany’s security interests are being defended in distant Afghanistan deny Russia the right to look after its indisputable security interests in its immediate vicinity. And that is even the case in view of the striking difference that in the defence of German interests in Afghanistan a General Klein once ordered a massacre on more than 100 civilians while the Crimea joining the Russian Federation took place without a single violent act on the part of Russia and in complete agreement with a large majority of the population of the Crimea.
Those same people who recognised Kosovo on the basis of a one-sided declaration of independence by the provincial government against the will of the legitimate central government in Serbia deny the Russian Federation the right to fulfill the wish of the population in the Crimea for incorporation, a wish expressed through a referendum with a result that speaks for itself, at a time in which a legitimate central government does not exist in Ukraine.
Ukraine’s sovereignty violated through a putsch inspired by NATO
The arguments which are supposed to prove that Russia has violated international law are based abstractly on the premise that Russia has cut off a piece of a sovereign state out of the blue. What had really happened in Ukraine, however, was that the government in Kiev, formed legally and recognised internationally, was brought down in a violent putsch. Forces loyal to NATO supported this act of violence through various canals. The so-called “interim head of government”, Arseniy Yatseniuk, is a notorious NATO collaborator.
This constituted hidden NATO aggression against Ukraine. From the very beginning, it was clear that the putsch government had no control over large parts of the country. Nevertheless, it was quickly recognised as the legitimate representation of the country by the USA and NATO and EU states. The sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine was violated by NATO governments.
For it was the USA, NATO and the EU that in this way in reality brought a part of Ukraine under their influence in violation of international law and vioating the constitution of Ukraine. No one elected the so-called “interim government” in Kiev; it was put there in place of the old national government through illegal and violent means. Straightaway, the EU concluded the first part of an association agreement with the leaders of the putsch – a treaty in line with international law which even includes the “integration” of Ukraine into the military structures of the EU. And that is the case even though parts of the country are still controlled by the previous legitimate organs of the state. In reality this means that the western countries mentioned have basically separated the west of Ukraine from the rest of the country. They are the ones that in truth have “created facts” – an accusation which they incessantly direct towards Russia.
Under these circumstances, one cannot talk of annexation when it comes to incorporating the Crimea into the Russian Federation. It reflects the voluntary act of joining Russia by the remaining sovereign part of Ukraine. For the Crimea was the only part of the country in which there was still unrestricted law and order after the putsch. As both the population of the Crimea and also Russia’s strategic interests in the Black Sea were in danger after the events in Kiev, it was necessary to act quickly. Consultation with western “partners” was out of the question as these had already, without consideration for Russia and the Ukrainian people, supported the putsch refusing all dialogue and recognised the putsch government, and thus pressurising the Crimea and Russia to act.
If the Crimea had not joined the Russian Federation, then, as President Putin said on 18th March 2014, “the NATO fleet would have appeared in Sevastopol, the city of Russian glory; which would not have been a nebulous danger, but a very concrete danger for the whole of the south of Russia.”
The claim that the Crimea joined Russia after a Russian “invasion” has turned out to be a lie. It is a known fact that the Russian Black Sea Fleet was stationed in Sevastapol in accordance with a valid treaty between Russia and Ukraine, and that Russia was allowed to have 25,000 troops stationed in the Crimea. There is no proof to confirm claims that this number was exceeded after the putsch in Kiev, and Russia denies these claims too.
The most important fact is, however, that Russian soldiers were not only in the Crimea legally, but also with the consent of the regional authority and the obvious wish of the population, and remained completely peaceful. During the alleged “Russian invasion” there was no single act of violence and not even an attempt to provoke the enemy –a sign of how close the ties with Russia are amomg the Crimean population.
The self-defence forces in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea were also used as a further sign of a “Russian invasion”. Directly after the putsch in Kiev, they had taken up position in front of public buildings and military facilities with the clear aim of defending constitutional law against the supporters of the putsch. As they wore uniforms “without identification badges”, it was clear for the West that they had to be Russian soldiers. By contrast, the “demonstrators on the Maidan” in Kiev, the majority of whom also wore uniforms without identification badges, were not identified as NATO soldiers.
Russia emphasized that it did not have any command over the Crimean self-defence forces. The main difference, however, is that they were acting in full agreement with the large majority of the population in protecting constitutional law and not like the thugs in Kiev breaking it. It is an excellent example of the two-facedness of our rabble-rousing media celebrating the bloody putsch in Kiev as a breakthrough for democracy and at the same time branding the purely passive protection of organs of the state in the Crimea as Russian intervention.
International law: Crimea and Kosovo-Metohija
From Yugoslavia to Syria, the USA/NATO/EU have continually been waging wars – and always in demonstrative disregard for and violation of international law. And now suddenly they are playing protectors of international law and repeatedly implore the “territorial integrity of Ukraine”.
The German Freethinkers Association has always stressed the defence of international law as the most important task of the anti-war movement and continues to do so also with regard to the apparent change in role of the NATO warmongerers. While the former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder has frankly admitted in the meantime that with the NATO aggression against Yugoslavia in 1999 international law was violated (even though he still has to voluntarily allow legal proceedings against himself), the majority of commentators still insist that NATO “did the right thing” in Kosovo – an argument that Russia canot rely on in their eyes for the situation in the Crimea is totally different.
Indeed, the two cases are totally different – but for exactly the opposite reasons than the warmongerers claim. It is basically valid that international law does not forbid secession or a declaration of independence. In this respect, Vladimir Putin, in his speech of 18th March 2014, cites the USA’s memorandum of 17th April 2009 to the International Court of Justice on Kosovo: “Declarations of independence can, as often is the case too, violate domestic law. But that does not mean that international law is violated through this.”
Whereas international law sees secession as an inner-state affair, it does not allow any group to split from the original state without its agreement. However, as a result of the foreign aggression against Ukraine, no legitimate and functioning Ukrainian authority was left which would have been able to contradict the Crimea joining the Russian Federation – a move which in fact was taken as a measure of protection against this said aggression.
What international law explicitly forbids is the change in the territorial sovereignty of a sovereign state with the aid of foreign aggression. In Kosovo, the USA and NATO at first built up a terror organisation, armed it and trained it, smuggled in reactionary Islamist mercenaries, and then as the air force of this terror organisation, in crass violation of international law, waged 79 days of bomb warfare on Yugoslavia. Nevertheless, their military success remained limited and they had to accept the territorial integrity of the state attacked, including Kosovo, in the peace agreement, and this was sealed with UN Resolution 1244.
Under its military protection, NATO allowed ethnic cleansing to occur in the Serbian province Kosovo and Metohija and elevated the terror and mafia structures to the “government” of a separate state, the international recognition of which it has been organising ever since. This secession has been invalid from the very beginning because it was initiated through a foreign war of aggression and because it violates the valid resolution UNSCR 1244. Neither has a war of aggression been waged against the Crimea or the Ukraine, nor can any rule be found in international law which demands that the Crimea belongs to Ukraine eternally. Indeed, in an act of national self-determination, the population of the Crimea has become independent as a part of the Ukraine and constituted themselves as their own sovereign state. The new state fulfilled all the requirements under international law for the de jure recognition by other states. No rule in international law forbade the Russian Federation from accepting the new state’s request to join its federation. Thus, the secession of Kosovo from Serbia violates international law; the Crimea joining the Russian Federation on the other hand does not.
Everything that has happened in the Crimea in recent weeks, including joining the Russian Federation and the integration now slowly taking its course, has been a reaction to the putsch in Kiev and the negation of Ukraine’s sovereign rights through NATO and the EU. And this reaction was to be expected and was consciously calculated by the foreign supporters of the “Euromaidan”, including the sanctions imposed on Russia as a “penalty” and the “aggravation of the tone of voice”, the linguistic symptom of the increasing aggression.
Fight against fascism in Ukraine
Since the Crimea’s peaceful joining of the Russian Federation, the conflict in Ukraine has taken on a violent form. Further parts of the country in which there are a majority of Russian-speaking inhabitants have continued their resistance against the putsch regime in Kiev.
The regime calls the resistance fighters “terrorists”; the media, loyal to NATO and on the same wave length, call them “pro-Russian separatists”. Both terms turn the basic situation in Ukraine upside down – as the propaganda against the Crimea joining Russia had already done: the present rulers in Kiev were brought to power using terror, and it was the leaders of the putsch who created a separate state in the west of Ukraine because, from the very beginning, they could only take control of the western part of Ukraine.
The junta in Kiev is trying to break the resistance with military force. It has made the gangs of fascist thugs from the “Euromaidan” servants of the state, armed them and dressed them as the “national guard”. They have sent in tanks against the people in the east and south of Ukraine, set fire to the trade unions building in Odessa, and have exerted naked terror against communists, trade unionists, Russian-speaking people and members of minorities. They excluded the communist faction from meetings of parliament, attempted to kill the leader of the Ukrainian Communist Party, Petro Simonenko, by setting his car on fire and are working to ban the Communist Party completely. The “western community based on values” supports this fascist terror to conquer the resistance so that NATO can take control of the strategically important Donetsk Basin.
As a reaction and a measure of protection, the population in the areas around Donetsk and Luhansk chose to form independent states with the options of either extensive autonomy within a federal Ukraine or joining the Russian Federation. The resistance did not develop from a striving to separate, but from the defence of constitutional order, which up until the putsch had been valid in the whole of Ukraine. It would be factually correct and more honest to talk of separatists in Kiev loyal to NATO. It is clear to see that the political judgement of these events and with regard to international law is the same as in relation to the Crimea: through the coup in Kiev on 22nd February Ukranian national territory was torn apart; on the basis of international law, Ukraine stopped existing as a state within its previous borders, and if anyone can assert a claim to be its legal successor, then it is those areas in the east showing resistance.
No matter how the crisis in Ukraine continues to develop, it has to be said that it was triggered off by the policies of the USA and its allies in NATO and the EU and continues to be intensified. With Ukraine, a further country is to be opened for those major banks and groups of companies which operate globally, and which strive to subjugate the wealth of the whole world to their monopolistic tribute system. The supranational “world order” which NATO and the EU are striving for is the global supremacy of a handful of super-rich people in the western world and in a few other countries.
In their striving for global supremacy they grasp if need be – as had already been practised before historically – the fascist form of rule. This is a merciless declaration of war on the life interests of all peoples and means that the national aims of self-determination, sovereignty of the people and democracy can only be achieved in the irreconcilable fight against the global rule of finance capital.
A new world war?
Direct military aggression by NATO against Russia seems to be becoming clearer on the horizon, and this is nothing more than the perspective of the way into a new world war.
Unlike the era one hundred years ago, when, in the First World War, two enemy alliances of similarly rapacious superpowers fought against each other with the aim of redistributing the world, today the historic centres of imperialism, the USA, the EU and Japan, form a global system of alliance. However, that does not mean that the inner-imperialistic contradictions and competition has disappeared and that the participants would not try to gain advantages at the others’ cost. The so-called triad under the leadership of Washington has been pursuing a strategy of the “new world order” ever since the demise of the socialist states in Europe.
The series of intervention and aggression unleashed within this strategy is directed against the countries which appear in this constellation either as “rivals” (Russia, China, India, Brazil etc) and/or “disturbers” (Yugoslavia, North Korea, Syria, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela etc). This new scenario which could lead to another world war is the expression of the metamorphosis of imperialism. The monopoly capitalism of the last century has developed through the phase of state monopoly capitalism to today’s transnational monopoly capitalism.
The monopoly capitalists operating transnationally which dominate imperialism today count on the power apparatus of nation-states and yet at the same time are in crass contradiction to what is national. They thus undermine national self-determination and sovereignty of the people as a foundation for any form of democracy; they destabilise whole states and do not even refrain from destroying them completely.
Transnational groups, however, do not form any monolithic syndicates, but continue to belong to different capital factions with sometimes contradicting interests. These conflicts of interest also lead to different positions on the question of war and peace, and peace activists can and must take advantage of these differences to defend peace.
There are growing signs that capitalism is entering its end phase, in which it will no longer have the ability to integrate the whole of the world population organically into the capitalist world system. The gap between rich and poor is growing. The inequal development of countries and states is getting worse. The capitalist economic system can only offer the mass of the earth’s rural population, at least still half the world population, the fate of marginalisation and impoverishment.
The world crisis holds both the chance of revolutionary changes towards a continuing development towards a socialist society, but at the same time a real danger: that a massive military destruction of production capacity and “surplus” population could appear to the imperialist powers as the only “way out” if they are to maintain their “world order”.
There is no secret about Russian interests
Even the imperialist destabilisation of Syria, which is home to the Russian marine’s only Mediterranean base, is not least directed against Russia. Taking control of Ukraine is first and foremost a declaration of attack on Russia. NATO’s anti-Russian acts, which began with the attack on Yugoslavia in 1999 and continued with NATO’s extension eastwards, then the missile shield and the Georgian attack on Southeast Ossetia in 2008, have now reached a new quality with the isolation of the Crimea in the fact that for the first time a major pillar of Russia’s security architecture has been threatened.
Exactly analogous to previous wars, the war propagandists in the NATO countries are trying to drum into their peoples that the aggression is in reality defence against Russia, which they depict as the true aggressor.
Peace activists are called upon to become aware of the real context and to consequently explain the facts about this. Such explanation must include the categorical rejection of all views that Russia is at least partly to blame for the escalation of the crisis. Many of those who honestly reject NATO aggression state that indeed in principle Russia is “not any better” as it only pursues its own interests of course.
But what interests does the Russian Federation pursue? Its prime interest is stability, both at home and also in international relations. Maintaining its security architecture is also necessary for this stability; that is why Russia has a particular interest in the stability of countries which are home to Russian military bases. Russia has an interest in the development of its economy. This goes in line with the interests already mentioned as the Russian economy needs security and stability for the development of its economy. These are the Russian interests. They are the type of interests no-one can accuse a country of having and pursuing.
But in which way does the Russian Federation pursue these interests? Does Russia attack and occupy other countries – as NATO does? Does Russia finance, arm, house and train terrorists which commit massacres on the civilian population of foreign countries in order to cause chaos there – as a coalition from the USA, NATO countries and Gulf states are currently doing in Syria? Does Russia authorise itself to strangle other countries with sanctions in order to force its will upon them? Does Vladimir Putin issue a list of persons every week to have them eliminated by the means of drones on the territory of foreign sovereign states – as Barack Obama does? Does Russia board ships under the flag of foreign countries in international waters – as Israel does?
Russia’s policies towards maintaining its interests mentioned have so far been marked by restraint and concessions. Wherever something had to be used to counter a hostile measure Russia never got anywhere close to exhausting the arsenal of legitimate counter measures. Russia’s interests coincide with the will for peace of the largest part of humanity. Peace activists must recognise this fact.
Prevent war – solidarity with Russia!
The perspective of a war against Russia has apocalyptic features for Germany and Europe. The only chance of defending peace is in rapprochement towards Russia. The Russian Federation is the protector of peace in Europe. This is the practically important fact of knowledge that must be used to counter NATO’s constantly intensified anti-Russian propaganda.
A third world war can only be avoided at Russia’s side. Only in solidarity with Russia can the peace movement, particularly in Germany, become a factor to be taken seriously again. Only in alliance with Russia has our demand “Germany out of NATO – NATO out of Germany” a realistic perspective of being implemented.
A half-hearted position of “equidistance” somewhere in the middle between NATO and Russia has never been so wrong and as dangerous as it is now. It could at best lame a little the propaganda unleashed to create jingoism among the masses, but above all it lames the resistance against the war. For if the lie about Russia being the threat is not decisively rebuffed, then NATO’s central and psychologically most effective reason for the escalation of war will remain.
In view of the danger of also being affected by a war, more people in Germany in particular have been alarmed by the anti-Russian campaigns; they want to know the truth about such vital contexts. Surveys and opinion columns show that the large majority of the population rejects the West’s course of confrontation against Russia.
The German Freethinkers Association warns against the further worsening of the confrontation between the West and Russia. We demand the end to the creation of enemy concepts and disinformation as well as the anti-Russian campaigns and the demonisation of President Putin.
The USA’s strategy is heading for a division of Europe and confrontation with Russia and harms the interests of European countries. Europe belongs to all peoples and nations of Europe; it needs peaceful coexistence between all countries and nations. This requires taking into consideration the mutual interests and partnership with both Ukraine and Russia.
We show our solidarity with the communists, anti-fascists and democrats in Ukraine who, in spite of persecution, stand up against revisionism of history, Russophobia and national chauvinism. We stand up for friendship with Russia together with them.
Therefore, we are calling for:
1. No support for the US strategy of dividing Europe by rebuilding an Iron Curtain
2. No sanctions against Russia – in particular as they damage economic interests and harm the labour market in Germany and European countries; they also damage interest in stable relations and partnerships
3. Stop NATO’s extension eastwards and the military isolation of Russia through encirclement; NATO must not move forward to Russia’s borders and Ukraine must not be incorporated into the military structure of the EU
4. Support for a democratic Ukraine, without fascism and revanchism, with the same human and civil rights and full freedom of religion and weltanschauung for all irrespective of their ethnic origin, and with good neighborly relations with western Europe and the Russian Federation
5. No taxpayers money for the financial and logistic support for fascist organisations and no financial support for their training