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The geopolitical dimensions of the coup in Ukraine

By

Peter Schwarz

27 February 2014

“When the Soviet Union was collapsing in late 1991, Dick wanted to see the dismantlement not only of the Soviet Union and the Russian empire but of Russia itself, so it could never again be a threat to the rest of the world,” wrote former US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in his recently published memoirs. Gates was referring to the then-Secretary of Defense, and later US Vice President, Dick Cheney.

The statement sheds light on the geopolitical dimensions of the recent putsch in Ukraine. What is at stake is not so much domestic issues—and not at all the fight against corruption and democracy—but rather an international struggle for power and influence that stretches back a quarter of a century.

The Financial Times places the recent events in Ukraine in the same light. In an editorial on February 23, it wrote: “For a quarter of a century this huge territory perched precariously between the EU and Russia has been the object of a geopolitical contest between the Kremlin and the west.” In 2008, a clumsy attempt by President George W. Bush failed to draw the former Soviet republics of Ukraine and Georgia into NATO, “But the Maidan revolution now offers a second chance for all parties to reconsider the status of Ukraine on the fault line of Europe.”

The dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991 was an unexpected gift to the imperialist powers. The October Revolution in 1917 had removed a considerable part of the world’s surface from the sphere of capitalist exploitation. This was regarded as a threat by the international bourgeoisie, even long after the Stalinist bureaucracy betrayed the goal of world socialist revolution and murdered an entire generation of Marxist revolutionaries. In addition, the economic and military strength of the Soviet Union presented an obstacle to US world hegemony.

The dissolution of the Soviet Union and the introduction of the capitalist market created conditions for the social wealth created by generations of workers to be plundered by a handful of oligarchs and international finance. The social gains made in the field of education, health care, culture and infrastructure were smashed and left to decline.

This was not enough, however, for the US and the major European powers. They were intent on ensuring that Russia could never again threaten their global hegemony, as is made clear in the above cited statement of Dick Cheney.

By 2009 the US-dominated NATO military alliance had absorbed into its ranks almost all of the East European countries that had once belonged to the sphere of influence of the Soviet Union. But attempts to incorporate former [. . .]

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