Ukraine should be non-aligned and NATO should back off!

The situation couldn’t be more dangerous

By Phil Hall

Through their actions in recent years, the leaders of Nato have succeeded in rewinding the clock and taking us back to the most dangerous phase of the cold war. The result is that we are now on the verge of a hot war. At the same time uniform hostility towards Russia in a predominantly corporate-owned media clouds our view. The current leader, Volodymyr Zelensky, if he has any room for manoeuvre whatsoever, should declare Ukraine’s non-aligned status.

Natural antipathy towards Russia and its corrupt oligarchy is currently being orchestrated to deflect the European public’s attention away from the real danger of a broader military conflagration.


The stubborn threat of NATO to site bases in the Ukraine and elsewhere along the Russian border is about to trigger a hot war with potentially civilisation ending consequences.

Britain and the US, covertly and overtly, have been helping ratchet up civil conflict in Ukraine to dangerous levels for many years. They supported the coalition government of Petro Poroshenko and, now, that of Volodimir Zelinsky with military training, weaponry, and money. In doing so, they are supporting a narrow vision of Ukrainian national identity and exacerbating divisions that have cracked open that country. This is against the interests of Ukraine as a whole and has brought us to the current dangerous situation with Russian tanks on the border of the Ukraine.

The stubborn threat to site NATO bases in the Ukraine, and elsewhere along the Russian border, is about to trigger a hot war with potentially civilisation ending consequences.

In supporting the putsch in the Ukraine in 2014, and, subsequently by arming and training Ukrainian nationalist fighters, Nato fired the first salvo, though, at the time, the Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg, insisted that his organisation was complying with the Nato-Russia Founding Act on Mutual Relations and denied any parallels with the cold war.

In 2016, Sergey Karaganov, a member of the foreign policy and defence council of the Russian Foreign Ministry, warned:

if Nato encroaches on nuclear Russia, it will be punished.

The Russians were ignored. The danger is, said Wolfgang Ischinger in Der Spiegel, “there is no joint Nato-Russia crisis reaction centre today — and not even an agreed procedure for how to manage a crisis in case of a military incident.

It is not clear who would contact whom, and how, in order to prevent an escalation.

It was just such a situation of poor communication as this which brought the world close to nuclear Armageddon in 1983. Perhaps that is why we have seen the flurry of visits from European leaders to Russia in recent days; they don’t want to spark off another world war.

public opinion has still not been mobilised against the possibility of war and this gives Boris Johnson, Joe Biden and NATO room to maneuver

World War almost kicked off in 1983 because of a failure in communication. In 1983, the febrile and hawkish US government of Ronald Reagan sited missiles at Greenham Common and at other secret locations in Britain. These missiles were first-strike weapons designed to fly low and hug the contours of the landscape in order to escape detection as part of a surprise attack. Subsequently, Nato organised a huge military exercise right on Soviet Union’s borders called Able Archer ’83. After analysing the configuration of Nato forces, the Soviet government decided that Nato was getting into position for a first strike. The outbreak of war was miraculously avoided.

Natural antipathy towards Russia and its corrupt oligarchy is currently being orchestrated to deflect the European public’s attention away from the real danger of a broader military conflagration. It was partly public opinion that forced Nato and the governments of Europe to back down from a first-strike policy. This time, the governments and the media have tried to bypass public opinion. They saw CND as a fifth column and they see the Stop the War Coalition in the same light.

history has been bowdlerised and rewritten by media corporations and western governments frustrated by the fact that Russia has denied them corporate Lebensraum

Nevertheless, public opinion has still not been mobilised against the possibility of war and this gives Boris Johnson, Joe Biden and NATO room to maneuver while the peace movement awakens from its dormancy.

The vision of the Ukraine’s current government and history has been bowdlerised and rewritten by media corporations and western governments frustrated by the fact that Russia, from having been wide open to the corporations in the time of Yeltsin, subsequently denied them the corporate Lebensraum that they were expecting and counting on after the fall of the Soviet Union. Ruthless western corporations and their servile governments still hope to leverage regime change in Russia by hook or by crook.


Background to the situation in the Ukraine


In July 1990 the Ukrainian parliament declared Ukraine’s independence from the Soviet Union and then school pupils and university students started a sit-in on October 1 in October Revolution Square in Kiev calling for the resignation of Volodymyr Shcherbytsky, the representative of the old guard.


The police and troops commanded by Shcherbytsky refused to disperse the students or attack them. However, what most of the Ukrainian parliament and the students wanted then was an inclusive Ukrainian national identity, not an exclusive one. The majority of people in Kiev spoke Russian.

Ukrainian desire for independence is perfectly justifiable and understandable


Ukrainian desire for independence is perfectly justifiable and understandable. However, the commitment of the Communist Party under Lenin to honour the legitimate right of the Ukrainian nation to self-determination was quickly set aside by Stalin.


Collectivisation in the ’20s robbed Ukrainian small farmers of their precious land, land covered in the thick and fertile black soil that made it the breadbasket of the rest of the Soviet Union. And collectivisation, ultimately, led to the persecution of the landholding peasant farmers and to two serious famines, resulting in a great number of deaths.


Ukrainian secessionists were outlawed and imprisoned or executed and the Ukrainian language and national identity were downplayed. Ukraine was quickly consigned to being Russia’s malenkii brat (little brother) within the union.


In contrast to the broad and unifying nationalist aspirations of the Ukrainian students and parliamentarians in 1990, and those of Ukrainians in the south and east of the country, the protagonists in the Orange Revolution in 2004 and in Maidan Square in 2014 represented a divisive faction; a faction primed to spark off civil conflict — which, eventually, they did.
These people aren’t, and have never been, enough to form a democratic majority.


In fact, the seeds of this more exclusive and dangerous form of Ukrainian nationalism were sewn by returning exiles during the period of Gorbachov’s glasnost. The visiting exiles became closely involved in Ukrainian politics, acting as catalysts for the separation of the Ukraine from the rest of the USSR.


The returnees established conduits for financial support for sympathetic members of the Ukrainian parliament, and helped establish new political connections between the Ukrainians and the Ukrainian diaspora with its influential supporters in Canada, Britain and the US.
They bypassed all the obstacles to return by using “letters of invitation.” A significant number of the returnees had very right-wing views. Some returning Ukrainian nationalists openly defended John Demjanjuk, a Ukrainian concentration camp guard at Treblinka, regarding him to be a persecuted hero.


They were the second and third-generation heirs to Stepan Bandera. Bandera and his group of nationalist fighters had collaborated with the nazis and they were based primarily in western Ukraine and Lviv.


Bandera’s organisation did share important elements of the nazis’ political philosophy, including the irrational hatred and scapegoating of Jews. The US Holocaust Memorial Museum describes their actions:

Encouraged by German forces to begin violent actions against the Jewish population in Lviv, Ukrainian nationalists massacred about 4,000 Jews in early July 1941.


Another pogrom, known as the Petliura Days, was organised in late July. This pogrom was named for Symon Petliura, who had organised anti-Jewish pogroms in Ukraine after World War I.

For three days, Ukrainian militants went on a rampage through the Jewish districts of Lviv. They took groups of Jews to the Jewish cemetery and to Lunecki prison and shot them. More than 2,000 Jews were murdered and thousands more were injured.


Contrary to their claims, the people of the far western Ukraine are not typical of the whole of it. Lviv was once part of Poland. It is also mainly Catholic. And whereas previously most people in Ukraine spoke Russian, western Ukrainians still spoke Ukrainian prior to 1990. Their beautiful, dark architecture is unique. Ukrainians from Lviv are at one end of a broad spectrum, not central examples of a wider, more cosmopolitan nation.


It became apparent, after the failure of the governments of Victor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko that manipulating Ukrainian democracy would not be sufficient to get the ultranationalists into power. It would be difficult for the nationalists in their heartland in the west to win outright electoral victories because of the closeness which had evolved in the east of the country to Russia and its ties in Crimea.


In fact, the coup d’état in Kiev in 2014 was a response to the problem posed to the ultranationalists by democracy and much in keeping with their underlying right-wing political philosophy. What the Ukrainian opposition could not achieve through the ballot box they achieved by organising a putsch with the political support of the US.


A similar tactic was tried in April 2002 in Venezuela against Hugo Chavez but failed, perhaps because the Venezuelans were more wary and experienced after the experience of so many US interventions in Latin America. Then, in a perfect example of doublespeak, not long afterwards, the Obama government announced that the US didn’t do coups any more. After the coup took place it was discovered that the Biden family were up to their eyeballs in Ukrainian corruption – something that could have some bearing on the current strong support of Joe Biden for the Ukraine.


This is ironic, because, for those of us who don’t have the memory of goldfish, corruption was constantly invoked as the prime justification for the coup, not the closeness of the Ukrainian government to Russia and its economic and military ties with that country — ties that the nationalists wanted to loosen.


But corruption was and is endemic in Ukraine. Tymoshenko herself was tried and imprisoned for corruption, though corporate-funded NGOs like Human Rights Watch tried to exonerate her. The extent to which toppled leader Viktor Yanukovych was more corrupt than any other Ukrainian businessmen or politician, including the president and former businessman Poroshenko who took over from him (known as the king of chocolate) is debatable. It was certainly no justification for his removal and for overturning a democratically elected government.

The current leader, Volodymyr Zelensky, if he has any room for manoeuvre whatsoever, should declare Ukraine’s non-aligned status.


  • Most of this article is based on two articles I wrote for the Morning Star in 2016