Friday, March 1, 2024

10 years since the Euromaidan in Ukraine: Revolution or foreign-backed Coup?

By Nikos Mottas

This February marked the tenth anniversary since the so-called “Euromaidan” events in Ukraine and the subsequent coup d' etat which, backed by the US and the EU, led to the overthrow of the then pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych

Apart from the rise of far-right, reactionary forces in Ukraine's political leadership, the 2014 coup became the starting point for the 2022 Russian military invasion and the ongoing imperialist war

The Euro-Atlantic forces have since tried to present the 2014 events in Ukraine as a “democratic revolution” against Yanukovich government. Officially the then events are called as "Revolution of Dignity". However all facts point that Euromaidan was nothing but a flagrant intervention of the US, NATO and EU in Ukraine's internal affairs, as a part of their broader inter-imperialist competition with capitalist Russia. This intervention was the spark that ignited a chain of events that led to the annexation of Crimea in March 2014 and the so-called “Special Military Operation” in February 2022.

The background and the coup

Socialist Ukraine, formally the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, ceased to exist on 26 December 1991. Since then, the emerging bourgeoisie, made up by capitalists, neo-oligarchs and various counterrevolutionaries, was divided into two major sections: One part linked its interests with the Euro-Atlantic bloc while another one decided to side with capitalist Russia.

This intra-bourgeois competition, which escalated through the 1990s and 2000s, reached a peak in November 2013 when pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych withdrew from signing the association agreement with the EU and instead accepted a trade and bailout deal with Russia. Back then, the pro-western opposition political forces, led by former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko - who had been prosecuted for corruption, bribery and misuse of public finances – reacted fiercely demanding the immediate resignation of the President.

The situation was an ideal opportunity for the EU and the US to interfere more actively in Ukraine's internal affairs in order to serve their own geo-strategic interests in the region. The Euro-Atlantic intervention followed the known pattern of the so-called “Colour Revolutions” and the “Arab Spring”, covered behind supposedly “spontaneous”, but in fact very well elaborated, protests which subsequently turned violent. The center of these protests was Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Kyiv's Independence Square. 

Euromaidan protests became the stage of activity for fascist and neo-Nazi groups (e.g “Right Sector”, “Ukrainian National Assembly”, “Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists”, Banderites, etc) and was openly endorsed by NATO and EU member-states' embassies. US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and US Ambassador in Kyiv Geoffrey Pyatt played a key role in supporting the Euromaidan coup on behalf of the Obama administration. The desire of the US government to have full and unchallenged control of the situation created by Euromaidan was perfectly captured in Nuland's words during a phone conversation with Pyatt: “You know, fuck the EU”.

Fascist groups in the streets of Kyiv
On 21 February 2024, following days of violent clashes, over 100 deaths and the mediation of European governments, mainly France and Germany, Yanukovych government and the leaders of the opposition signed an agreement which, among others, promised return to the 2004 constitution, early elections and withdrawal of security forces from the center of Kyiv. The negotiation process as well as the agreement were closely witnessed by the Russian government as well. Nonetheless, things didn't go as President Yanukovych expected. He was overthrown while he was on a planned trip to Eastern Ukraine and the new temporary coup government under Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk was immediately recognized by the EU and the US.

Yanukovych found refuge in Russia and, at the same time, pro-Russian protests erupted across Ukraine, especially in the south and eastern parts of the country, including Crimea. Armed fascist and nationalist paramilitary gangs undertook the responsibility to suppress the riots by unleashing a wave of violence against the pro-Russian population. Within their terrorist activity, on 2 May 2014 Ukrainian fascists committed a horrendous crime in Odessa, burning alive more than 100 protesters in the Trade Unions House.

The Minsk agreements

Despite the orgy of violence and terrorism exercised by Ukrainian fascist paramilitaries, the Russian-speaking population in Crimea and the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk (that is the majority of the people in the Donbass region) refused to accept the new coup government formed in Kyiv. Under the pretext of protecting the Russian-speaking population from an imminent extermination, Russia invaded the Crimean Peninsula and then annexed it. At the same time, following weeks of clashes with Ukrainian state and paramilitary forces, pro-Russian separatists in Donbass proclaimed the Donetsk People's Republic and the Lugansk People's Republic as “independent states”.

In order to avoid any further escalation in Donbass, France, Germany and Belarus initiated a round of negotiations which led to the signing of the so-called Minsk Agreements, the first on 5 September 2014 and the second on 12 February 2015. The agreements consisted of a package of measures, including ceasefire, withdrawal of heavy weapons, release of prisoners of war and constitutional reform in Ukraine granting self-government – not independence though - to specific areas of Donbass.

Massacre in Odessa, 2 May 2014
The Ukrainian government failed to implement its own commitments and, on the other hand, Moscow used Russian separatists as a “trojan horse” for the promotion of its influence in the region. In fact, none of the two parties really wanted the implementation of the Minsk Agreements but, instead, they pushed their own agendas on the expense of the working people.

The failure of the Minsk Agreements was accompanied by a ferocious military assault of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and fascist paramilitaries (e.g neo-Nazi Azov battalion) against the people of Donbass. This attempted genocide, which had the silent approval of the West, namely NATO and the EU, provided to Putin administration the necessary pretext in order to launch the “Special Military Operation (SMO)” and the invasion that took place two years ago, on February 2022.

Ten years later...

Ten years since the Euromaidan events and two years after the Russian invasion, a full-scale disastrous war is being waged against the people of Ukraine and Russia. As we have stressed out in the past, It is a war that takes place between two adversary imperialist blocs, the Euro-Atlantic one (USA, NATO, EU) and the emerging Eurasian bloc led by China and Russia. The division of mineral wealth, energy, territories, labour force, pipelines, transport routes of commodities, geopolitical footholds and market shares lie at the heart of the military conflict.

The reactionary government of Volodymir Zelenskiy has been used as a pawn on the chessboard of this inter-imperialist rivalry and, sooner or later, will be thrown in the dustbin of political history by its own masters.

The peoples of Russia and Ukraine, who had been living in peace and prospered together under the Soviet Union, have no interest in siding with one imperialist or another, with one alliance or another that serves the interests of the monopolies.

The interest of the working class and the popular strata in every country requires to chart their own independent path against monopolies and bourgeois classes, for the overthrow of capitalism, for the strengthening of the class struggle against imperialist war, for socialism which remains as timely and necessary as ever before.

* Nikos Mottas is the Editor-in-Chief of In Defense of Communism.