[Marxism] Fwd: Ukraine: Inside the Deadlock by Tim Judah | The New York Review of Books

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Apr 15 08:07:44 MDT 2015

Sergei Baryshnikov, one of the leading local ideologists of Novorossiya 
and the rector of Donetsk University, told me that we were now “at the 
first stage” of the recreation of a Russian state that would eventually 
take in everything that had once belonged to pre-revolutionary, imperial 
Russia. That would mean most of modern Ukraine and the three Baltic 
states. The exception would be Lviv and the far west of Ukraine, which 
before 1941 had belonged to Poland, and to the Austro-Hungarian Empire 
until 1918. They might be left out of the new expanded Russia. But he 
sees the restoration of the imperial Russian borders as “our historical 
mission.” The very idea of a Ukrainian nation was like a cancer and 
needed to be extirpated, he said.

Whether or not everyone in the local leadership agrees with Baryshnikov 
and his call for a struggle that he believes could last years or decades 
is not so important. What is important is that his are ideas that feed 
into the creation of a general worldview, not just of the rebels but in 
policymaking circles close to Putin, whom Baryshnikov described as “our 
president” and “de facto, our leader.”

The problem for the DNR and LNR leaders is that even taking control of 
their entire oblasts, let alone advancing as far as, say, Odessa, has 
proved, as Purgin says, “impossible” thus far. Likewise it has proved 
impossible for the Ukrainians to achieve more than the odd minor victory 
in pushing the rebels back during the last seven months. In January, 
Donetsk airport, which had been fought over in bouts of varying 
intensity since the beginning of the war, finally fell to the DNR, as 
did Debalsteve, three days after the February cease-fire was supposed to 
come into effect. Here the Ukrainians had found themselves trapped on 
three sides.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko tried to downplay the significance 
of these defeats, and the rebels trumpeted their victories. The reality 
was that while the Ukrainians were indeed defeated, they had managed to 
hold on for a very long time in both places. As interviews with 
disillusioned soldiers from Russia in the Russian and foreign press have 
shown, there are constantly fluctuating numbers of regular Russian 
troops and volunteers aiding the rebels. Why, in that case, did the 
rebels take so long to conquer these places? Perhaps militarily the 
Russians and the rebels may not be that good and the Ukrainians, who 
originally were hopelessly disorganized, may not be so bad.


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