Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Origins of the Ukrainian Crisis (Part II)

The Maidan

[Part I of Marko Bojcun’s text is here: https://lifeonleft.blogspot.com/2023/04/origins-of-ukrainian-crisis-part-i.html]

By the time Yanukovych uttered these words, the protesters on Kyiv’s Maidan had grown to several thousand. No-one was paying attention to the very real shortcomings of the Agreements, or that the EU was not prepared to offer more than ten million euros to help the government service a debt in the billions. The protesters simply saw in Yanukovych’s refusal to sign the Agreements a rejec­tion of the EU as a result of the pressure coming from Moscow. In the night of 29-30 November students camping on the Maidan were brutally beaten by riot police and dozens of them were imprisoned. Their treatment caused outrage in the capital and the numbers on the Maidan the following day swelled to tens of thousands.

Maidan protest 2014

Yanukovych went to Moscow again on 17 December. On that occasion the two sides agreed a loan of $15 bn to Ukraine, a lower price for natural gas and easing of some restrictions on cross-border trade in 2013-14. No agreement was reached concerning Ukraine’s participation in the Customs Union. Putin insisted that it was not even an item of discussion at the talks.[29] If that was meant to placate the protesters then Putin and Yanukovych were poorly advised. That evening the crowds on the Maidan were bigger than ever, cov­ering the entire square and spilling over into neighbouring streets.

Their demands grew in response to the government’s ham-fisted brutality against them. Initially they were limited to demand­ing that Yanukovych sign the Association Agreement and hold a public inquiry into the beating and imprisonment of the students. However, then the Party of Regions and the Communist Party in the Rada voted through laws on 16 January 2014 that criminalised public assembly and criticism of the government. Hundreds were arrested, charged and held in prison. The protesters put up barri­cades on Hrushevsky Street—which leads from the Maidan to the parliament — on 19 January. They now began to demand the release of all detained demonstrators, Yanukovych’s resignation and im­mediate presidential elections. So began a month of violent con­frontations between the riot police and the demonstrators.

The authorities escalated the conflict several times more: by recruiting thousands of thugs (titushky) from across the eastern and southern oblasts and deploying them against demonstrators in Kyiv; by kidnapping protesters right off the streets and from hos­pitals where they had been taken for medical attention, and in some cases torturing and murdering them; and finally by replacing rub­ber bullets and stun grenades with live ammunition.

As the confrontation in Kyiv grew to the brink of a shooting war, government buildings across the country came under siege. By the end of January protesters had seized Oblast State Admin­istration buildings in ten regional capitals in western and central Ukraine.[30] In six other regional capitals they were surrounded by mass demonstrations, defended by Interior Ministry troops and gangs of titushky. These mobilisations spread to other cities in east­ern and southern Ukraine where army barracks, offices of the Pub­lic Prosecutor and the State Security Service came under siege.[31] From the beginning of February the government made prepara­tions to introduce martial law in Kyiv. However, on 18 February the State Security Service announced a more targeted “anti-terrorist operation” to dismantle the barricades, reclaim the occupied buildings and disperse the Maidan.

The pivotal moment

On 19 February the fighting in Kyiv reached its peak: for the first time demonstrators on the Maidan responded to the attacks by the riot police with gunfire, and themselves came under sniper fire. Seventy-seven people were shot dead, by far the single largest number of fatalities in a day.

A ceasefire ensued overnight and on 20 February President Yanukovych entered into negotiations with leaders of the three op­position parties mediated by the foreign ministers of Germany, Po­land and France. Russia’s ambassador to Ukraine and later Putin’s special envoy were present at the negotiations. Agreement was reached on the same day, signed by all present except Russia’s representatives. It was not made public.

The Ukrainian signatories agreed: to restore the 2004 constitu­tion within 48 hours, which would abolish the president’s executive powers to form the government; to restore the parliamentary re­public; to form a coalition government of national unity within ten days; by September to undertake a further constitutional reform of the division of powers; to hold presidential elections immediately afterwards, at latest by end of year 2014; to set up a commission of Ukrainian and Council of Europe representatives to investigate the violence and killings; to refrain from the introduction of martial law; and to ensure the return of all illegally held arms to the authorities.[32]

This agreement was made public in the morning of 21 Febru­ary. It was put to the Council (Rada) of the Maidan, who accepted it by 34 votes to 2. The opposition party leaders then put the agree­ment to the mass assembly of the Maidan, which rejected it and adopted a single demand instead: Yanukovych’s immediate resig­nation. All this took place in the presence of embalmed bodies of demonstrators laid out on the stage before the assembly.[33]

During the day practically all Interior Ministry troops and Se­curity Service left the government quarter in convoys that were es­corted out of the city for their own safety by parliamentary depu­ties. Yanukovych’s support crumbled further as 16 Party of Regions deputies in the parliament quit, so denying it and the Communists their majority. Some were reported leaving with their families for their home towns or out of the country altogether.

That evening President Yanukovych left the capital for his mansion compound at Mezhyhiria. He claimed later that his car was shot at as he left. At the compound his aides destroyed thou­sands of files, throwing some into the artificial lake from which they were later retrieved. The documents included detailed records of bribe taking over several years. They loaded all the valuables that two helicopters could carry and flew Yanukovych to Donetsk air­port.

The parliament convened on 22 February and restored the parliamentary republic under the 2004 constitution. It resolved that Yanukovych had abandoned his office. Electing Oleksandr Turchynov as interim president, the parliament called new presi­dential elections for 25 May. It then started to elect a government from its own ranks.[34]

Outside the parliament building an angry mob attacked dep­uties from the Party of Regions and the Communist Party. Deputies from the Banivslichyna Party and stewards from the Maidan shielded them from the mob and escorted them in and out of the building. On the same day the Communist Party headquarters in Kyiv were ransacked, and that night a country house belonging to the son of Vasyl Symonenko, the Communist Party leader, was burned down.

Yanukovych responded to these developments, still from in­side Ukraine, claiming he was the victim of a coup d’etat, and that he would refuse to leave Ukraine or the presidency.[35] However, on 22 February he tried to fly out of Donetsk airport for Russia, but his helicopter was denied clearance by air traffic controllers. Days later he appeared in Crimea and from there he left by sea for Russia.

Finally, on 22 February members of the Party of Regions con­vened a meeting of several hundred people in Kharkiv that in­cluded deputies from the Crimean Autonomous Republic, Sevasto­pol City Council and several eastern and southern oblast councils. The meeting accused the parliament in Kyiv of dishonouring the 21 February accords and declared its decisions illegitimate in view of what it described as a climate of terror in the capital. The govern­ments these deputies claimed to represent resolved to take consti­tutional order and power into their own hands.

Vadym Kolisnychenko, Party of Regions deputy and one of Yanukovych’s close allies, rallied the delegates in the Kharkiv hall with cries of “For friendship with Russia — economic, spiritual, re­ligious!” The delegates responded “Russia! Russia!”[36] The meeting clearly had a more far-reaching agenda than its resolutions re­vealed. It was launching the separatist movement across the eastern and southern oblasts.

On the same day Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov told US Secretary of State John Kerry that the Ukrainian opposition par­ties had broken the 21 February accords. While Russia demanded they return to the accords, it began preparing immediately to oc­cupy and annex Crimea, and to promote the separatist movement in the eastern oblasts.

A coup?

Does the claim that Yanukovych was overthrown by a coup stand up to the available evidence? He had signed an accord that stripped him of executive powers and denied him the right to form the gov­ernment. His Party of Regions could no longer muster a majority in the parliament. He would be investigated by a commission looking into the fatalities, disappearances and tortures. His continuation in office was rejected by the assembled thousands on the Maidan, and he fled Kyiv along with the Berkut, Alfa and Omega squads — spe­cial forces which had protected him — as they, too, headed for Cri­mea and the Donbas.

All three opposition parties stood by the accords and earnestly recommended them to the Maidan, as did the foreign ministers who mediated the talks. Yet after the troops and special forces left the government quarter and the now armed Maidan refused to move until Yanukovych stepped down, his position was indeed bleak, if not impossible. He lost his nerve and fled.

No doubt, members of his party and their Communist allies were also intimidated and in some cases terrorised by the angry mob and armed vigilantes. However, to their credit, the Maidan’s stewards and members of the other opposition parties gave them protection as they continued to sit in parliament and vote in the new government. Except, of course, those deputies like Oleksandr Tsariov and Vadym Kolisnychenko who quit Kyiv immediately for Crimea, Kharkiv, Donetsk and Luhansk to organise the separatist movement.

Was it an American-inspired coup? Those convinced that the Americans were behind the Maidan and the overthrow of Yanukovych have pointed out that US politicians visited the Maidan, the US State Department pushed for Yatseniuk over Klychko as Prime Minister, that Victoria Nuland was recorded uttering “Fuck the EU” to the US ambassador in Kyiv, and that CIA director John Bren­nan visited Kyiv in April 2014. These acts hardly amount to a case that the USA inspired a coup to overthrow Yanukovych. Russian state actors had considerably more influence than their American counterparts over the unfolding events through their agents in the SBU, diplomatic corps, armed forces general staff, interior ministry and the President’s administration. Andrii Parubii, who com­manded the Maidan’s self-defence brigades and served later as Sec­retary of the National Security and Defense Council, recalls:

We were working in a state where the SBU [State Security Service] and all the power ministries had been crammed full over two years with FSB agents [Russia’s Federal Security Bureau] ... The power ministries in Crimea went over fully onto the side of the occupier ... A lot of weapons were removed. That is to say, formally we had our own power structures, but in reality they were working for our opponent.[37]

A fascist junta?

Another claim made soon after these events by Russia’s leaders and repeated ever since by their Western supporters was that Kyiv after Yanukovych came to be ruled by a fascist junta. This claim does not stand up to the evidence either. Made up of 21 ministers, the new government was elected by an elected parliament. These ministers were put before an assembly of the Maidan for approval, which it gave with some reservations.

The UDAR party of Vitalii Klychko declined to take any port­folios, so the government was dominated by the Bat’kivshchyna party. Four of the government’s ministers were from the far-right Svoboda party: Oleh Makhnitsky as Prosecutor General, Oleksandr Sych, deputy PM, Andrii Mokryk, environment minister and Ihor Shvaika, agriculture minister. In addition, Andrii Parubii, a Batkivshchyna deputy who in his youth was a founding member of the far-right Social National Party, was made head of the National Security and Defense Council. Dmytro Yarosh, leader of Right Sector, which played a big part in the Maidan’s self-defence was offered the post of deputy to Parubii, which he declined.

There was justifiable concern that the far-right and fascist paramilitaries who had stood on the Maidan would either pose a threat to public order if they were not disbanded, or might merge with state structures. Members of these paramilitary groups turned quickly towards the eastern oblasts after Yanukovych fell and the separatist movement emerged. For its part the government actively drew these militias into the eastern oblasts once the Anti-Terrorist Operation began. In May, the Maidan’s self-defence forces were officially disbanded, but various groups continued to function ei­ther on their own or as recognised units of the army or interior min­istry.

The presence and influence of fascists in Ukrainian politics, the volunteer battalions in the east and in the state structures was greatly exaggerated by Russian state actors to try and discredit the opposition to the Yanukovych regime and later those who replaced him in government.[38] After Russia intervened in the south and east, the far right lost its claim to the nationalist mantle as a sense of na­tionalist resistance spread across practically the entire Ukrainian political arena. In the May 2014 presidential elections won by Petro Poroshenko, the Svoboda candidate Oleh Tiahnybok took 1.2 per­cent and Right Sector’s Dmytro Yarosh 0.7 percent of the votes. The September elections to the Verkhovna Rada saw Svoboda’s share of the vote fall by more than half compared with the 2012 elections. They failed to clear the 5 percent hurdle needed to take any seats by proportional representation. Svoboda took six seats in constitu­ency contests in Western Ukraine. Its three surviving ministers re­signed from the Cabinet.[39]

The Ukrainian crisis internationalised

Russia turned the struggle for power inside Ukraine into an inter­national crisis. As Yanukovych’s position in Kyiv grew more tenu­ous, the Russian leadership deployed military forces to its border with Ukraine and reinforced its positions in the leased Crimean na­val bases. Immediately after Yanukovych fled Kyiv, Russian forces began taking control of the Crimean government, the peninsula’s communications and the urban centres, laying siege to Ukrainian military bases there.

By seizing Crimea Russia violated the Budapest Declaration, which it signed along with the USA and the UK in 1994. In exchange for Ukraine giving up its nuclear weapons—which were sent to Russia, no less — the signatories had promised to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity and national sovereignty. Russia also violated the Treaty of Friendship, Co-operation and Partnership it had signed with Ukraine in 1998. It violated the UN Charter by chang­ing international borders by force, offering as its only defence the fact that the Western powers had done the same by upholding the separation of the Kosovan statelet from Serbia. Putin acknowl­edged much later that he ordered the occupation and annexation of Crimea.[40] In addition, the Russian FSB agent Igor Girkin-Strelkov, who served in Crimea at the time before being dispatched to the Donbas, described on the Neiromir TV channel how Russian armed forces, and not the local authorities, organised the so-called referendum.[41]

Putin’s plans were far more ambitious than what he actually achieved. Eight oblasts were targeted for separation from Ukraine. If successful, this would have given Russia a land bridge from its western border through to Crimea and across to Transnistria, thereby cutting Ukraine off completely from the Black Sea.[42] In the end, Russian and Russia-backed Ukrainian forces took only parts of two oblasts, Donetsk and Luhansk. Although initially constitut­ing about 4 percent of the territory of Ukraine in 2014, and 5 percent after the separatist offensive in January 2015, they accounted for a quarter of its GDP and around 30 percent of export earnings.

The separatist movement was launched by members of Yanukovych’s Party of Regions when it became clear that their power in Kyiv was broken. Renat Akhmetov, a prime beneficiary of Yanukovych’s patronage whose businesses are concentrated in the Don­bas, provided the initial finance for its armed detachments.[43] The separatists’ declared aim was to protect the region’s Russian speakers from Ukrainian “fascists and banderites” allegedly coming from Kyiv to ethnically cleanse them. However, their real aim was to pre­vent the spread of the Maidan into the east where the oligarchs’ industrial assets and power were concentrated. The ousted fragment of the oligarchic regime clung to this separatist platform in the east and started to rock it so as to upend the Kyiv government.

The separatists were reinforced by Russian nationalists, fas­cists, mercenaries and soldiers “on leave” from across the Russian border. Russian nationals took over the leadership of the Donetsk People’s Republic (Aleksandr Borodai) and its Sloviansk military head-quarters (Igor Girkin-Streltsov), side lining the original Ukrainian leader (Pavel Gubarev, member of the neo-Nazi Russian National Unity).[44] As the Kyiv government stepped up its military campaign against these militias and their declared republics, Russia increased both the calibre and supply of personnel and weaponry to them. The so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics did establish a certain social base and a professional cadre drawn from the region itself, but their military, diplomatic and financial capac­ities were almost entirely dependent on the Kremlin.

Russia’s principal motive in seizing Crimea and backing the separatist movement in the east was not to gain territory, but above all to suppress the Maidan and to restore Russia’s influence over the government in Kyiv that Yanukovych had previously guaran­teed. The Maidan threatened Russia’s interests not only in Ukraine: it showed that oligarchic-capitalist states in the region could be overthrown by a sustained popular uprising.

Russia aimed to prevent Ukraine’s further incorporation into the Atlantic alliance through an association agreement or a free-trade regime with the EU or a path to NATO membership. It was alarmed at the economic consequences for itself of an EU-Ukraine free-trade regime and at the possibility that the EU association agreement might become a back door for Ukraine to get into NATO. It sought guarantees for Russian capitalists’ access to Ukraine’s markets and their protection from competition by EU in­vestors and producers. It wanted a government in Kyiv that would instead align its economic and security policies with Russian re­gional and global strategies, and that would eventually join the Eur­asian Economic Union and a Russia-led security alliance.

Russia’s timing and calculations

Why did Russia choose this moment to seize Crimea and intervene into the eastern oblasts? Russia was weaker militarily than the USA, but only in an abstract comparative sense. In the real disposition of their forces Russia was stronger than NATO in its own near abroad. Its immediate neighbours were militarily weak and NATO was un­able to project and sustain its power in the region. It could not fulfil its commitments to mutual defence of members in Eastern Europe for strictly logistical reasons — it had no forward bases there of any significance and could not establish them quickly. As the Estonian defence minister Sven Mikser put it on 24 June 2015, “Putin believes that he enjoys regional superiority”.[45]

Most important to Putin’s calculations were the political divi­sions between the USA and its European allies over relations with Russia. According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Cen­ter, the leaders of Germany, France and Italy were not prepared to come to the defence of East European member states like Latvia, Lithuania or Estonia if they were attacked by Russia.[46] And there was a growing resistance among the American public to more mil­itary campaigns abroad that placed real restraints on the American administration.

All of these factors emboldened Russia to intervene in Ukraine at the moment of opportunity, for which it had been preparing. Russia was rebuilding its military capabilities and placing them for­ward across its own borders. After the Soviet Union’s collapse, the Russian Federation held onto military bases in Belarus, Transnistria in Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan. After Putin became president, they were augmented with new bases and addi­tional forces at existing ones in Belarus, Armenia, Georgia and Ukraine. In 2014, after annexing Crimea, Moscow annulled its pre­vious agreements with Ukraine on its bases at Sevastopol, Kerch and other Crimean locations. In January 2015 the Russian defence ministry issued a new military doctrine and announced plans to spend 20 tr roubles ($310 bn) by 2020 to upgrade its military capa­bilities in Crimea, Kaliningrad and the Arctic.[47]

Into the arms of the Western powers

If Putin’s aim was to dissuade the Ukrainian state from seeking closer ties with NATO then his actions had the opposite effect. The Verkhovna Rada revoked the country’s non-aligned status and urged the government to seek NATO membership again. The gov­ernment sought lethal military equipment from NATO, which was refused. The attitude of the population towards NATO member­ship also made a historic shift from a majority consistently opposed since 1991 to a majority in favour. Throughout this period the official position of NATO states, including the USA, was no more than stating that Ukraine had a right to seek NATO membership and to actively discourage any such application. This was their re­sponse in a period when Russia stepped up deliveries of heavy weapons to the separatists, including the BUK missiles that shot down Malaysian passenger airliner MH17, and sent in its own trainers and political advisors, helping them to halt the Ukrainian offensive in the summer of 2014, return to the offensive themselves and take more territory and population. Poroshenko walked away from the NATO summit in Wales in August 2014 without the weap­ons he had asked for. Then he was obliged by his Western allies to send ex-President Kuchma to negotiate the Minsk Accords in Sep­tember with the leaders of the separatist republics, by which they were recognised as parties to an interstate agreement.

So what is the evidence that in 2013 and 2014 it was NATO encroaching further into Russia’s traditional sphere of influence that provoked Putin to react by intervening militarily into Ukraine? The available evidence suggests otherwise: Putin was the proactive side in the confrontation that ensued. He calculated correctly that NATO would not respond in kind to Russia’s attack on Ukraine if that attack was decisive and rapidly attained its objectives.

In part, that is what happened, at least with regard to the Cri­mea. The Western powers took it as a fait accompli. However, the ongoing crisis did not play out like the Russia-Georgia shooting war that lasted for only four days in August 2008. Putin miscalcu­lated on the readiness of Ukrainian government forces to resist the separatist insurgency in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts and to sup­press his efforts to widen it to the other oblasts. Putin had planned a rapid advance deep into the country, seeking to envelop eight eastern and southern oblasts (Kharkiv, Kherson, Mykolaiv, Odesa, Zaporizhzhia, Dnipropetrovsk, as well as Donetsk and Luhansk) and thereby acquire an unassailable position from which to dictate his terms to the Kyiv government. He failed to achieve that position and the pro-Russia separatist forces were contained in the eastern reaches of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. The Russians’ advantages in speed and geographic proximity diminished as the conflict dragged on, leaving them with superiority only in firepower. The war of movement became a war of position, and the longer it dragged on the more it encouraged NATO member states in the re­gion to seek reinforcements of their own borders with Russia from their Western allies.

The balance of power

Framing the Ukrainian crisis is the changing balance of power between Russia, the USA and Germany as the leading EU state. Russia’s economic and military expansion places it on a collision course with US hegemony over Western and Central Europe. This collision is all the more destabilising the weaker the USA’s capacity to pro­ject its own power into Eastern Europe becomes.

As noted above, Russian capital is investing and diversifying its portfolios in Western and Central Europe, and its government has long sought and secured bilateral co-operation with separate EU member states. It has done so deliberately to avoid negotiating with the EU as their collective representative. Germany is the most important such partner for Russia. It has the biggest investment in Russia of any country in the world, and Germany has admitted significant Russian inward investment in return. Corresponding to that mutual economic relationship there was a political axis of EU (Berlin)-Kyiv-Moscow in the making when the Ukrainian crisis broke open. The imposition of Western sanctions against Russia has created huge uncertainty as to its future.

This axis passes through a specific faction of the ruling class in Ukraine grouped around the tycoon and key Russian point of con­tact Dmytro Firtash, his ally Serhii Liovochkin, former head of Yanukovych’s presidential administration, and the Opposition Bloc in the Ukrainian parliament. This group is trying to build an EU-Kyiv-Moscow axis to compete with the existing Washington-Kyiv-Moscow axis. Its international platform to build this axis is the Agency for Modernisation of Ukraine, created in Vienna in March 2015. Its European participants include a range of prominent public figures.[48] Its two main pillars of support in Ukraine are the Employers Federation, headed by Firtash himself, whose members’ busi­nesses accounted for 70 percent of the country’s GDP in 2014, and the leadership of the Federation of Trade Unions. The faction of Firtash, Liovochkin and the Opposition Bloc has been preparing to challenge the current government. The likelihood that they will do so depends on at least two things: whether Poroshenko and Yatseniuk succeed in crushing Firtash first by destroying his busi­ness empire (as part of the current campaign to “de-oligarchise” the state), and whether the Western powers and Russia agree between themselves that the current Ukrainian leadership needs replacing in order to impose a settlement to the war on all sides.

The second political axis passing through the Ukrainian ruling class is a Washington-Kyiv-Moscow axis, which in Kyiv passes through the Poroshenko-Yatseniuk faction. This faction has been trying hard to discipline the biggest oligarchs Renat Akhmetov, Thor Kolomoisky and Dmytro Firtash to its pro-Western course. However, all three oligarchs have powerful interests in maintaining ties with both Russia and the EU states, and this political axis does not have as powerful an economic chain at its foundation as the EU (Germany)-Kyiv-Moscow one has because the USA does not have a vital economic relationship with either Russia or Ukraine. Rather, its main underlying motive is to demarcate and discipline the Eu­ropean region over which the USA exercises hegemony. The war between Russia and Ukraine has become the issue through which Washington tries to contain German ambitions and marshals all of its European allies to oppose Russia, rather than allowing them to work out deals with Russia behind the USA’s back. The USA’s ap­proach is fundamentally different from Germany’s, which is to get Russia to uphold a common rules-based regional order that is also economically productive for both of them. Has the Ukrainian crisis, then, become a lightning rod for the further bifurcation of the West­ern alliance that places Germany on a tightrope between the USA and Russia?


I have not ventured into the period since the start of the war in the east. It has been marked by many thousands dead and injured in the fighting, more civilians than soldiers, a humanitarian crisis in the occupied territories, an exodus of a million now internally and externally displaced people, a deepening economic and social crisis throughout the country, the imposition of Western sanctions against Russia, rising nationalisms in Russia and Ukraine, military exercises and mobilisations by Russia and NATO across Eastern Europe. They amount to further escalation and widening of the conflict.

In this article I have tried to show it is not enough to examine the actions of the big powers in order to understand how this crisis began. Its tap root grows out of the historical experience of Ukrain­ian society and their state. This is the first and necessary condition for the activation of all the other roots. So too will the solution to the crisis grow out of Ukraine. It will have to confront the failure of the contemporary ruling class to fulfil the popular expectations arising from the attainment of independence in 1991 for prosperity, social justice, democracy and national self-determination. While the first three of these expectations were denied by the Ukrainian rul­ing class, the present war with Russia shows that this same class is also incapable of defending its country’s national independence. The current situation powerfully echoes the two previous attempts in history — in 1648 and 1917 — when a new social class tried and failed to build an independent state centred on Kyiv and the Dnipro River basin. Will the same happen again? Will Ukraine be reduced again to territory contested by the Great Powers?

The social forces mobilised by the Maidan in 2013-2014 also failed, in their case to offer up an alternative, revolutionary leadership and a way out of the crisis. This particular failure belongs to the Ukrainian and the international left as much as it does to anyone else. Until the left gets involved with these social forces on the ground the nationalist right will continue to dominate the political terrain on which the Ukrainian question is contested.

What happens inside Ukraine is far too often deemed irrele­vant or of secondary importance by people on the left who proffer their own solutions to the present crisis. I can understand why John Mearsheimer does not even want to know about the internal situa­tion. What states do to each other is all that matters to realists like him. However, when Professor Stephen Cohen and Jeremy Corbyn MP take the position that the USA is primarily responsible for the crisis and that Russia’s claims to Ukraine as its “traditional” and “historic” sphere of influence are justified, they do exactly the same thing as Mearsheimer: they see the solution to the crisis in restoring a balance between the Great Powers. They admit no role in it for the Ukrainian people. This is not simply a failure of analysis, but a fail­ure to uphold these people’s democratic right to national self-deter­mination. That leaves them and many avowedly left-wing organi­sations and individuals standing in the camp of Russian imperial­ism.

Russia, the USA and the West European states all bear respon­sibility for their parts in this crisis. I have tried to show here that the political economy of Ukraine is stretched across a re-knitted trans-national capitalist economy in which Russia on the one hand and the Western powers on the other are vying to draw Ukraine’s ruling class, national market and productive assets into their respective integration projects. Despite trying for a quarter-century, the Ukrainian state has been unable to gain membership in the political and military-security institutions of the Western, Euro-Atlantic project. Over the same period it has been refusing to join equivalent institutions of the Russia-led project.

My findings draw attention to the revival of Russian imperial­ism since 2000, the divisions in the Western alliance over policy to­wards Russia, and the diminished capacity of the USA to project its own power into the region. These three factors steadily altered the balance of power in Eastern Europe between these competing re­gional integration projects. The collapse of the Yanukovych regime gave Russia’s leaders the opportunity to exploit the changing bal­ance, return to the initiative and try to draw Ukraine back into its own sphere. Russia militarised and internationalised the crisis. It provoked the Western powers to respond with economic sanctions and strengthening the capacity of NATO member states bordering Russia and Ukraine. Both the Western powers and Russia have pressed the Ukrainian leadership to engage with the separatist movement and seek a negotiated solution with them. The harder it is pressed, the less room exists for its manoeuvre between them.

Whether it is Russia or the Western powers who claim Ukraine as part of their own sphere, this can only be an imperialist claim. One or another faction of the Ukrainian ruling class may submit to such a claim, or even to a joint Russian-Western tutelage over the country. Sooner or later their common class interests will lead them to it, but it will not be accepted by the Ukrainian people, nor should it be by those who want to support them.

[29] Andrii Vyshynsky, “Yanukovych lih pid Moskvu”; http://www.epravda.com.ua/publications/2013/12/17/409320/. Accessed 17 December 2013.

[30] Oblast State Administrations are institutions of direct presidential rule that override all elected local and regional governments.

[31] “Khronika povstannia: 25 sichrtia”; http://tyzhden.ua/News/100053. Accessed 26 January 2014. “Narodna Rada obrala prezydiu”; http://dt.ua/POLITICS/narodna-rada-obrala-prezidiyu-Idichko-tyagnibok-i-yacenyuk-135971_.html. Accessed 22 January 2014. “Na pivdni i shodi barykaduiut´ ODA”; http://www.pravda.com.ua/news/ 2014/ 01/30/7012104/. Accessed 30 January 2014.

[32] “Avtobusy z VV proikhaly uriad.ovoho kvartalu”; http://ukrtpravda.com.ua/news/ 2014/02/ 21/7015500/. Accessed 21 February 2014.

[33] “Liudy postavyly ul´tymatum”; http://www.pravda.com.ua/news/2014/02/ 21/7015590/. Accessed 21 February 2014.

[34] “Rada skynuIa Yanukovycha”; http://www.pravda.com.ua/new5/2014/02/ 22/7015777/. Accessed 22 February 2014.

[35] “Yanukovych: ya ne zberaiusia u vidstavku”; http://www.pravda.com.ua/ news/2014/02/22/7015766/. Accessed 22 February 2014.

[36] “Deputaty zi ziizdu u Kharkovi perebyraiut´ vladu”; http://www.pravda. com.ua/news/2014/02/22/7015713/. Accessed 22 February 2014.

[37] “Andrii Parubii: Koruptsia ne maie prizvyshch i imen”; http://www.Pl’av da.com.ua/articles/ 2015/03/24/7062545/. Accessed 24 March 2015.

[38] Anton Shekhovtsov, “The Spectre of Ukrainian Fascism: Information Wars, Political Manipulation and Reality”; http://euromaidanpress.com/2015/06/24/ spectre-of-ukrainian-fascism-information-wars-political-manipulation-and-reality/. Accessed 1 July 2015.

[39] Marko Bojcun, “Return of the Oligarchs: The October Parliamentary Elections”; https:/ /ukraines olidaritycampaign.org/2014/11/19/ ukraine-return-of-the-oligarchs-the-october-parliamentary-elections/. Accessed 1 November 2014.

[40] “Putin reveals secrets of Russia’s Crimea takeover plot”; http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-31796226. Accessed 9 March 2015.

[41] “I. Strelkov vs. N. Starikov”; https://www.youtube.cOm/ watch?v=G04tXnvKx8Y. Accessed 22 January 2015.

[42] See the English translation of the full text of the Kremlin policy paper that set out these plans, originally published by Novaia gazeta on 24 February 2015, http://www.unian.info/ politics/1048525-novaya-gazetas-kremlin-papers-art icle-full-text-in-english.html. Accessed 25 February 2015.

[43] “Nariad muchenika primeriat´ ne khochu”; http://www.rg.ru/2014/05/12/gubarev.html. Accessed 5 December 2014.

[44] See Zbigniew Marcin Kowalewski, “Russian White Guards in the Donbas”, https://peoplearidnature.wordpress.com/2014/07/06/ukraine-russian-white -guards-in-the-Donbas/. Accessed 10 July 2014.

[45] “Baltic states to receive heavy military equipment from the US”; http://www.thenews.p1/1/10/ Artykul/ 211359,Baltic-states-to-receive-heavy-milita r y-equipment-from-US. Accessed 23 June 2015.

[46] Financial Times, 24 June 2015.

[47] “Russia to boost military capabilities in Crimea”; http:/ /rt.com/news/222371-russian-defense-plan-2015/. Accessed 16 January 2015. As a percentage of GDP, Russian defence spending grew from 3.9 percent in 2010 to 4.2 percent in 2013. Over the same period the USA’s defence spending fell from 4.6 to 3.8 percent.

[48] Prof. Rainer Lindner, head of the German-Ukrainian Forum; Karl-Georg Wellmaim, Bundestag Member; Bernard-Henry Lévy, French public activist; Lord Risby, British MP; Gunther Verheugen, European Commissioner for the EU in 1999-2004; Peer Steinbriick, architect of the Euro protection programme during the 2008 economic crisis; Laurence Parisot, ex-President of the French Employers Association; Lord Mandelson, formerly European Commissioner for Trade; Rupert Scholtz; Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, the Prime Minister of Poland in 1996-1997; Lord McDonald, Prosecutor General of England and Wales in 2003-2008; and Bernard Kouchner, ex-Foreign Minister of France and founder of the international organization Médecins sans Frontières. “Agency for modernisation of Ukraine founded in Vienna”; http://www.fru.org.ua/ en/events/ international-events/u-vidni-predstavnyky-frantsii-nimechchyny-ta-velykobry tanii-stvoryly-ahen tstvo-z-modemizatsii-ukrairty-iake-cherez-200-dniv-predstavyt-chitkyi-plan-v yvedennia-ukrainy-iz-kryzy. Accessed 9 March 2015.

Origins of the Ukrainian Crisis (Part I)

In a major article published in Critique in 2015 Marko Bojcun analyzed the origins of the crisis that erupted in Ukraine in 2013-2014, and which has shaped that country’s political, economic and social situation since then. The essay is republished in his book Towards a Political Economy of Ukraine: Selected Essays 1990-2015. This article by a leading Ukrainian Marxist historian addresses many of the issues that are currently being debated in the international Left in relation to the current war unleashed on Ukraine by Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Published here in two parts because of its length. [R.F.]

Origins of the Ukrainian Crisis

This article explores the origins of the Ukrainian crisis in several historical developments that came together in 2014. The first devel­opment, and the condition necessary for activating all the others, is the situation that has unfolded inside Ukraine itself since 1991 with the establishment of a new nation state simultaneously with the re­turn of capitalism. The second is the isolation of Ukraine from the regional economic and security blocs of the Euro-Atlantic core states to the west and of Russia to the east. The third is the revival of Russian imperialism, and the fourth is the ensuing rivalry be­tween Russian and European imperialisms to incorporate Ukraine, into their respective transnational strategies. The fifth development is the overarching confrontation between a declining American power and a reviving Russian power in Europe. Russia is observed as the proactive power that militarised and internationalised the Ukrainian crisis in 2014 by seizing Crimea and arming the sepa­ratist insurgency in the east. It brought the question of European security to the centre ground, making a confrontation inevitable be­tween Russia and the USA. However, it also has the potential to open up cracks in the Euro-Atlantic core between the USA on the one hand and the most powerful European states on the other.

My findings are at odds with the claim made by academic and political figures right across the political spectrum in the West that the USA bears primary responsibility for the Ukrainian crisis by having encroached too far into Russia’s traditional sphere of influence.[1] Rather, I see the US-Russia rivalry as only one contrib­uting factor. The Euro-Atlantic core states had the initiative after the collapse of the Soviet bloc. They integrated Central European and Baltic littoral states into the EU and NATO on their own terms from the end of the Cold War right up to the international financial crisis and the Russo-Georgian war in 2008. Thereafter, however, the Russian state retook the initiative in Eastern Europe and the Cau­casus, the eastward drive of NATO and the EU stalled, and the role of the USA in the region’s affairs became increasingly a reactive one. This was the broader context of the Ukrainian crisis, which matured and then erupted in the period from 2008 to 2014.

The fragility of the Ukrainian state

The Maidan[2] arose in 2013, as it did in 2004, because the new Ukrainian ruling class failed to share state power democratically or to invest in the development of its own society. Lacking democratic legitimacy or an adequate social consensus made the state weak and less capable of dealing with the challenges and opportunities it faced from neighbouring powers.

This past quarter-century we have seen the simultaneous con­struction of a new nation state and its still incomplete transition to a capitalist economy. State building and the privatisation of the na­tionalised assets have been not only simultaneous, but also symbi­otic processes. The state was built as the instrument for the whole­sale transfer of these assets into the hands of a very narrow class that we call the oligarchs. This social class then turned the state to enabling new rounds of wealth accumulation from the living labour deployed in the growing private sector.

The old Stalinist bureaucracy was not driven out of the col­lapsing nationalised economy. Rather, it made its own way to the individual and corporate ownership of the economy’s commanding heights. So too did it ensure its own resurrection in the political sphere where it became the absolutely dominant subject of the multi-party system.

The state rested on a fragile social consensus of a population holding onto an ever-fading promise that prosperity would come from leaving the Soviet Union and joining the West. The Ukrainian masses rose up in frustration and anger over this broken promise in 1994, 2001 and 2004, but their increasingly massive protests failed each time to fundamentally change things. On the contrary,[3] the Ukrainian people are as poor today as they were in the last year of the USSR, and they are riven by far more inequalities than they were then. Their influence over public policy and public institu­tions remains weak, even if they have managed repeatedly to re­cover their basic rights to free expression, assembly and self-organisation.

Thus the present crisis is in the first instance attributable to the failure of a newly independent state to meet the mass expectations on which it was founded in 1991. The Maidan in the winter of 2013-­2014 was the latest revolt against this manifest failure, a mass move­ment that briefly undermined the new ruling class, drove its most powerful faction out of the country, but ultimately failed to dis­lodge it from the political and economic institutions. However, the Maidan was sufficiently threatening to compel the Russian state — gendarme of the transnational ruling class in its region — to intervene and seize Crimea, to arm a revanchist insurgency in the Donbas, and so to prevent the revolutionary process from spreading into the east and south.

The international isolation of the Ukrainian state

The second historical development that contributed to the outbreak of the current crisis was the failure of the Ukrainian state — for rea­sons not entirely of its own making — to integrate successfully into either the Euro-Atlantic alliance or the Russia-led alliance. Its re­sulting isolation from the integration projects on either side made Ukraine particularly vulnerable to shifts in the relations between the big powers in the region.

After succeeding Leonid Kravchuk as president in 1994, Leo­nid Kuchma pursued a strategy to build a national ruling class that could hold its own place in the international political economy. His strategy required keeping Western and Russian capital out of the first big privatisations of nationalised property, accumulating wealth at home and upgrading technologically so as to prepare the country for membership in the EU and its single market. Kuchma’s strategy failed because the state leadership could not compel its own capitalists to keep their wealth in the country to upgrade and diversify the domestic economy. Rather, Ukraine became a low wage, energy and materials intensive exporter of primary goods and semi-finished products in agriculture, energy, chemicals and minerals, the profits from which the oligarchs sent abroad.[4] The mounting social inequalities in the midst of a rapid rate of economic recovery on the back of an export boom and an increasingly repres­sive regime were the triggers for the 2004 Orange Revolution.

From Kuchma’s second term in office and Putin’s first in Rus­sia, Russian capitalists succeeded in placing substantial invest­ments in the Ukrainian economy. Kuchma’s successor in 2004, Viktor Yushchenko, tried to offset the Russian advance by inviting in European investment capital. By 2008 the Ukrainian economy was well penetrated by both Western and Russian investors, nei­ther of whom contributed much to diversifying or upgrading it. Ra­ther, each side was trying to incorporate Ukraine’s natural re­sources, cheap labour and markets onto a low technological echelon of its own regional chains of production and consumption.

Yet the 2008 financial crisis prevented either side from making a bid for a dominant position. The Ukrainian oligarchs still held onto their hope of remaining an independent capitalist class in the global political economy. They resisted incorporation into the suc­cession of Russia-led integration projects: the Commonwealth of In­dependent States and the Customs Union. The European Union, on the other hand, did not want them in as members, and it made that abundantly clear in 2005-2007 by rejecting the requests for a mem­bership path from Yushchenko, the most pro-Western of all Ukraine’s leaders. Moreover, the EU’s biggest states — Germany, France and Italy — remained steadfastly opposed to offering Ukraine membership in NATO.

So Ukraine ended up in the grey zone between US-led Europe and Russia, and the likely recipient of friction between them that grew as Russia revived and US influence in Europe waned.

The revival of Russian imperialism

The third historical development contributing to the current crisis has been the revival of Russian imperialist ambitions. Throughout the 1990s the Western powers set the agenda, incorporating Central European and Baltic states into the EU and NATO, and all the time holding Russia, Ukraine and Belarus at arm’s length outside their integration project.

From around 2000 Putin began to restore Russia’s position as a power in Eurasia. He focussed first on rebuilding Russia’s eco­nomic ties in the ex-Soviet space by reclaiming state control over Russian energy and mineral resources and promoting several na­tional corporate champions in these sectors. Later, the restored eco­nomic links with Russia’s near abroad would lay a path to securing transnational competitive status for Russia’s biggest energy and mineral producers.[5]

In terms of strategy, although not of scale, the Russian model of imperialism is similar to that of the USA in the twentieth century: the provision of military security to countries in exchange for their alignment with Russian foreign policy, and their access to Russian markets in exchange for the removal of barriers against Russian capital penetrating their national economies. It is different from the USA experience insofar as Russian expansion has relied on its competitive advantages in global markets of fuel, energy and mineral resources whereas American capitalism expanded globally with a far more diversified production base and with already saturated domestic demand.

The Russian economy is weakly driven by domestic demand, and it does not satisfy it. It is not diversified nor is its bourgeoisie willing to invest significantly in its diversification. Property owner­ship in Russia is too insecure, access to domestic resources and markets is in the gift of state authorities, and better security and invest­ment opportunities exist for Russian capital investment abroad. Therefore, while the Russian national economy is not diversified, Russian capital has become diversified both sectorally and geographically along transnational chains of production, trade and in­vestment.

A Deutsche Bank report in 2008 concluded that Russia had become by 2006 the largest outward investor of its capital of all the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China). Russian overseas direct investment (ODI) was double that of its nearest rivals India and China at $160 bn, up from $20 bn in 2000. Russia was already the second largest source of ODI in emerging markets after Hong Kong. Russian private capital was invested first in the near abroad and then expanded outwards, seeking new markets, financing and new technologies principally in the fields of fuel, energy and met­als.

A survey of 25 top Russian firms shows they sent 52 percent of the ODI into Western Europe, followed by 22 percent to the near-abroad countries and 11 percent to Eastern Europe. Several Russian companies made new large purchases abroad in 2008: Evraz in Can­ada, the USA and Ukraine, Severstal in the USA, Lukoil in Italy and Gazprom in Belarus. The biggest transnational corporations of Rus­sian origin at the time also included Sistema, Sovkomflot, Norilsk Nickel and Basic Element. By 2010 ODI by Russian firms exceeded $200 bn, and was going mainly to the CIS and EU countries.[6]

For the past 15 years Russia has targeted Ukraine for reabsorption into its traditional sphere of influence. There was an ongoing desire to preserve joint production in engineering, defence, aero­space and other high-technology sectors that survived the Soviet break-up. However, Russian capitalism was looking to new hori­zons as well, and Ukraine lay along its principal path of expansion into Central and Western Europe. It holds the downstream transit facilities and processing industries that Russian energy, minerals and chemical producers need. Russian producers made their first such cross-border acquisitions in 2000.[7] However, the gas and oil transit pipelines through Ukraine that link Russian suppliers to Eu­ropean consumers, the most valuable transit facility of them all, have remained steadfastly in state hands.

The Yanukovych presidency

The period of Viktor Yanukovych’s presidency saw further popular alienation from the political order, the economy falter under the blows of the 2008 financial crisis, and the state face a zero-sum choice of accepting either Russia’s or the West’s terms of integration into their respective regional integration projects. The mixture of these three factors finally exploded in Kyiv in the winter of 2013-2014.

Yanukovych narrowly defeated Yulia Tymoshenko for the presidency in 2009 on a platform of political stability and the resto­ration of economic ties with Russia.[8] His predecessor Yushchenko had fallen out bitterly with Tymoshenko as Prime Minister over policy towards Russia. Tymoshenko took the full force of the 2008 financial crisis. She negotiated for emergency funding with the IMF in 2009. Ukraine-Russia relations were dominated by disputes about the cost of Russian gas and its transit to Europe. The state corporation Naftogaz Ukrainy became more and more indebted to Gazprom, and the Russian government used the debt to pressure Ukraine on a variety of issues.

Yushchenko had tried to balance growing Russian economic penetration by opening up the country to Western investment. That influx ended spectacularly with the financial meltdown in 2008 that battered people’s livelihoods and convinced enough voters, even in the nationalist west of the country, to give Yanukovych a chance to turn things around. The arrival of Armani-dressed oligarchs in li­mos with tinted windows and bodyguards inside to Yanukovych’s inauguration in Kyiv in January 2010 gave everyone a taste of things to come.

Yanukovych perfected the scheme of taking bribes from all of the businesses his ministries permitted to trade. These appropriations made him a tycoon in his own right (he was nominally repre­sented in the private sector by his son Andrii). Yanukovych created his inner circle, called the “Family”, from the seven most powerful capitalists. He restored Dmytro Firtash, the gas trader, to financial health by giving him 12 billion cubic metres of Russian gas in set­tlement of a dispute that Firtash’s firm Rosukrenergo had had with Naftogaz Ukrainy during Yushchenko and Tymoshenko’s terms, when they tried to close him down. Rosukrenergo once again be­came the intermediary between Gazprom and Naftogaz Ukrainy in a scheme that allowed Russian and Ukrainian presidents and oli­garchs to milk the interstate gas transit. Gazprom opened an $11 bn credit line for Firtash, which he used to build a monopoly stake in fertiliser processing in Ukraine, a port facility, a bank and the na­tional television channel Inter.[9]

Renat Akhmetov, the country’s richest man, was also blessed when Yanukovych granted his firm DTEK a monopoly on electric­ity exports. Yanukovych ordered the state energy regulator to in­crease the tariffs local and regional authorities paid for DTEK’s elec­tricity from coal-burning stations, to levels comparable to those paid to state-operated nuclear power stations. Both Akhmetov and Firtash won tenders to privatise regional electricity distributors. Both placed their representatives into the state energy regulating commission to ensure that they continued to get high returns for their gas and electricity.[10]

In November 2012 President Yanukovych signed a Double Tax Treaty with the government of Cyprus to replace the Soviet-era treaty. Thus he preserved the channel used by the biggest corpora­tions to expatriate their profits, either permanently or to recycle them back to Ukraine as foreign investments and loans that were subject to much lower levels of capital gains tax. Flight of capital to tax havens was taking place through various other channels used by Ukrainian and foreign firms alike. They consistently deprived the state budget of between $10 bn and $20 bn every year.[11]

As soon as he took office Yanukovych moved to strengthen presidential authority over the legislature, judiciary, the public procurator and the Kyiv city government. He appointed his own Cabinet of Ministers under Mykola Azarov, denying the legislature its constitutional prerogative. The rules were changed to make it easier for the Party of Regions to build voting majorities in the Verkhovna Rada. And in August 2012 the law by which the Rada was elected entirely on the basis of proportional representation of parties was replaced. Now half the seats would be chosen on the basis of proportional representation of those parties that gained more than 5 percent of all votes, and the other half by single man­date constituency elections. The new law gave the President’s Party of Regions a way to finance its own candidates disguised as inde­pendents to run in the single-mandate constituencies. It also pro­vided the means to subvert the democratic oversight of local elec­toral committees and to deliver fraudulent vote counts to the Cen­tral Election Commission.

The October 2012 elections to Verkhovna Rada were the dirti­est in the history of independent Ukraine. They provided Yanukovych with a majority of deputies in the Rada, elected by propor­tional representation from the list of the Party of Regions and as nominally independent candidates standing in single-member constituencies.[12]

In addition to settling scores with potent rivals, the imprison­ment of Yulia Tymoshenko and Yurii Lutsenko (former Minister of Interior) and their barring from public office for seven years served to intimidate the entire parliamentary and extra-parliamentary op­position. State security organs went after opposition candidates, in­dependent analysts, university rectors and investigative journalists. A determined attempt was made -- in the end unsuccessful -- to muzzle the media by making slander of public officials a criminal offence. This broader offensive had the hallmarks of the drive to “sovereign democracy” made by Putin years before in neighbour­ing Russia.

The economy

Economic growth in the period 2000-2008 was driven by the influx of foreign direct investment into domestic retail markets and the commodities that dominated Ukraine’s exports: raw and semi-pro­cessed minerals, chemicals and food products. When their hugely inflated prices finally collapsed in 2008, GDP dropped more than 15 percent in the following year, the second deepest fall in Eastern Europe after Latvia. The private sector was left holding debts equivalent in value to a year’s GDP.[13] Commodity prices recovered at the end of 2009, but in the longer term international demand did not. Ukraine’s recorded annual GDP grew again, in 2011 by just over 5 percent, but then fell back and registered no growth at all in 2012 and 2013. In 2014 it began to contract as a result of the Russian seizure of Crimea and the war in the east of the country.


Ukraine’s foreign trade was characterised by the following pat­terns:

  • Trade with the EU single market and with Russia each ac­counted for one quarter of the value of its foreign trade.
  • Ukraine incurred annual trade deficits in its trade with Rus­sia as a result of its reliance on Russia’s and Turkmenistan’s oil and gas (transited through Russia).
  • Ukraine incurred annual trade deficits with the EU as a re­sult of the disparity between the capital content of goods it imported from the EU (machinery, consumer durables) and those it exported to the EU (primary and semi-processed goods).
  • Ukraine covered its trade deficits with Russia and the EU by generating surpluses from trade with the East Asian, Middle Eastern and African countries.

External trade remained in balance or went into surplus as long as demand for the country’s principal exports remained strong -- that is, between 2000 and 2008. There-after, the trade deficit grew year on year, reaching $15 bn in 2012.[14]

In 2013 Russia began a trade war with Ukraine in response to the first easing of trade barriers between the EU and Ukraine ahead of the anticipated free trade area agreement between them. Russia claimed that EU exporters would use Ukraine to dump their prod­ucts into the Russian market. It banned imports of Ukrainian dairy products, fruit, vegetables, meat, sunflower oil and alcohol.


Annual foreign direct investment leapt forward after the Orange revolution from $1.7 bn in 2004 to a peak of $9.2 bn in 2007. Ukraine was second only to China in these years in terms of per capita in­vestment flowing into the country. For the first time much of this inflow came through the banking system, with many foreign banks setting up Ukrainian subsidiaries to provide both corporate lending and retail services. Most foreign direct investment went into export credits for agricultural and mining concerns, consumer lending, real estate and the domestic trade in imported luxury goods.[15]

The proportion of foreign capital held in Ukraine’s banks grew from 13 percent to over 50 percent between 2004 and 2008. Between them the banks of six EU member states held 30 percent of the bank­ing capital. Financial institutions based in Russia held another 10 percent. The European share was held overwhelmingly by large commercial banks, headed up by Raiffeisen of Austria, Unicredit and Intesa San Paolo of Italy, and BNP Paribas of France. The Rus­sian share was distinguished by the predominance of state banks among their holders — VTB, Vneshekonombank, Sberbank, BM Bank and Prominvestbank, and by four other banks tied to the Kremlin.[16]

The international financial crisis in 2008 forced the rival cen­tres of foreign capital to alter their positions in the Ukrainian mar­ket. Facing serious problems at home, the banks that had bought up the domestic networks of several Ukrainian banks were forced to sell. Ukrainian oligarchs, who had sold their banks at lucrative mul­tiples of their book value, now bought them back at a good dis­count. Russian banks, on the other hand, were better protected from the financial crisis by ample credit from their own government’s sovereign funds, so they strengthened their position in the Ukrain­ian banking system. On balance, however, the biggest initial win­ners were the Ukrainian private banks, which increased their share of assets in the banking system from 40 to 51 percent between 2008 and 2012. The Ukrainian state banks Oshchadbank and Ukrexsimbank also increased their share from 11 to 15 percent over the same period.[17]

The overall share of banking capital owned by foreigners fell to 34 percent in 2014. The share of Russian capital rose to 12 percent, making it the largest bloc from any one country and double that of its closest rival, Cyprus, at 6 percent. Not to be over-looked is the fact that a considerable share of Cyprus-exported capital came orig­inally from Russia. After 15 years of cross-border investment, Rus­sian capital was deeply penetrated not only into Ukraine’s banking services, but critically also in the processing and manufacturing sec­tors: petrochemicals, agrochemicals, food production, paper, con­struction materials, steel, non-ferrous metals, machinery and weap­ons manufacturing. It also had developed strong positions in mass media, telecommunications, insurance, business information and information technology.[18]


Ukraine’s state debt (including state guaranteed debt of the private sector) grew only marginally between 2000 and 2007 to $18 bn, or 12 percent of its GDP. Thereafter it grew rapidly, peaking at $73 bn in 2013. The country’s gross external debt, which included that of the private sector, was double that amount at $142.5 bn, equivalent to 78.3 percent of GDP in 2013.[19]

Tymoshenko’s government negotiated a loan of $16.4 bn from the IMF, $10.6 bn of which were released by September 2009. Yanukovych’s government led by Prime Minister Mykola Azarov that succeeded Tymoshenko’s in 2010 was responsible for adding an­other $40 bn to the state debt over four years, including: $20 bn in treasury bills and Eurobonds; $6.85 bn in IMF Special Drawing Rights in August 2010 and April 2013; $6.6 bn borrowed from the Chinese government in 2012; and $3 bn of the $15 bn originally of­fered by the Russian government in November 2013 to help per­suade Yanukovych not to sign the Association and Free Trade Area Agreements with the EU. The Ukrainian government was addition­ally in arrears to Gazprom for several billions dollars’ worth of gas.[20]

Debt repayment became an increasingly heavy burden on the state budget, at the end of 2014 accounting for 40 percent of total expenditures.[21] For both the West and Russia Ukraine’s indebted­ness provided a handy lever to influence its government. The IMF was the arbiter of its creditworthiness and gatekeeper to interna­tional capital markets. It tried to impose its conditions on the gov­ernment to decrease state ownership of public utilities, and to with­draw subsidies on the cost of supplying them to households, com­munal services and businesses.

The Russian government used Ukraine’s indebtedness and its dependence on Russian export markets to leverage the Kharkiv Ac­cords in April 2010. The Accords extended the lease of Sevastopol and other Crimean ports to the Russian Navy until 2042 in ex­change for cheaper gas. In June of that year the Verkhovna Rada excluded the goal of NATO membership from the country’s na­tional security strategy, thus restoring its non-aligned status. Yanukovych also agreed to start talks with Russia about merging the state utility Naftogaz Ukrainy with Gazprom and deepening co-op­eration between the countries’ defence, aerospace and aeronautical industries.

Labour migration

The movement of labour also reveals the pattern of Ukraine’s incor­poration into the international political economy. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine has exported its labour in two direc­tions: workers living in the east of the country have gone largely into Russia, while those in the centre and west have gone into the EU countries. They number in the millions, and their outmigration has had a profound, if contradictory impact on the Ukrainian econ­omy. It has lost skilled and well-educated people to countries where they are now employed as cheap, illegal or legally precarious labour. Communities depopulated by the outmigration have seen their social and family structures severely degraded. Migrant work­ers have been sending remittances from their earnings home that are estimated to exceed the combined foreign direct investment coming into Ukraine.[22] Without their remittances, the condition of the working class would be considerably worse than it is today. The overall impact of labour outmigration, however, has been negative as far as the reproductive capacity of Ukrainian society is con­cerned.

The zero-sum choice

Labour migration, trade, the repatriation of profits from foreign di­rect investment, debt repayments and capital flight are all tributar­ies for the extraction of wealth from the Ukrainian economy. The European Union and the Eurasian Economic Union are both re­gional integration projects designed to comprehensively regulate and channel such tributaries into their respective metropolitan cores. In 2013 the Ukrainian state found itself forced to choose be­tween the EU on the one hand and Customs Union on the other. The Customs Union, formed in 2010 and made up of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, was the precursor to the Eurasian Economic Union. The latter was launched in January 2015, together with Ar­menia as its fourth member. This was a zero-sum choice because there was no way for Ukraine to belong to both regional integration projects. The fact that its economy was closely tied to both the Rus­sian and EU markets, asymmetrically but nevertheless in equally strong measure—through debt to the West, energy supplies from the East, and trade with both — was simply ignored by Russian and EU leaders.

The European Union and Ukraine had a Partnership and Co­operation Agreement since 1994. They had been negotiating since 2007 an Association Agreement and a common deep free-trade area based on the laws, state competition policy and production stand­ards that are already enforced within the EU single market. These requirements, which the Verkhovna Rada was urgently adopting throughout 2013, would add considerable costs to the state and pri­vate sector in order to make Ukrainian goods acceptable in the EU market. Except for a transition period when EU food products and Ukrainian automobiles were protected from competition, the aboli­tion of almost all tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade would in the long run expose several Ukrainian industries to sustained and ru­inous competition from the EU side.[23]

Moreover, the EU’s offer was “integration without the institu­tions”: Ukraine was not offered membership in the EU nor even the prospect of membership, so it would remain excluded from the de­cision-making process that shapes the EU single market in which its own businesses and workers were going to compete. It was not an attractive proposition.

The Customs Union and its successor Eurasian Economic Un­ion offered Ukraine something different. This integration project was far less developed than the European Union’s. Russia ac­counted for 90 percent of the combined GDP of the Customs Un­ion’s members, which meant that Russia would dominate the Un­ion whatever its formal governing structure. The Russian establish­ment saw in this project one of the important means to reclaim great power status. The news agency Sputnik hailed the launch of the Eur­asian Economic Union in January 2015 as “the birth of a new giant”. Putin called it “a powerful supranational association capable of be­coming one of the poles in the modern world and serving as an efficient bridge between Europe and the dynamic Asia-Pacific region”.[24]

Yet such a bridge was hardly possible to build without Ukraine. Russian diplomacy focussed on this challenge, trying to coax it into the Union by promising generous energy subsidies if it joined and trade sanctions if it did not. Yet even under Yanukovych and in the worsened economic situation, the government continued to resist. There was a fundamental lack of trust between Kyiv and Moscow, at the heart of which was the refusal of the Russian state to acknowledge Ukraine’s independence.

This refusal is rooted in a long history of Russian imperial domination of Ukraine. It is justified ideologically by the claim that the Ukrainian nation does not exist, that its people are simply the little brothers (nialorosy) of the Russian nation. After gaining inde­pendence in 1991 Ukrainian leaders regularly faced jibes from their Russian counterparts about when they would finally come to their senses and stop playing their game of nation building. Putin ex­pressed perfectly the paradox that Ukrainian statehood poses to Russia’s leaders when he told George W. Bush in April 2008 at the NATO summit in Bucharest that Ukraine really was not a state, but if it tried to join NATO it would cease to exist as a state. It was also at this meeting that “Putin threatened to encourage the secession of the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea and eastern Ukraine”.[25] It was therefore hardly surprising Kyiv baulked at pooling its sovereignty with Russia’s in the Customs Union or the Eurasian Economic Un­ion.

Despite the Kharkiv Accords lowering the price for Russian gas by $100 per thousand cubic metres, Ukraine continued to pay more than Germany and Italy, which are considerably further from Russian gas fields than Ukraine. Neighbouring Belarus enjoyed a lower price, but only after its president Alexander Lukashenko sold the country’s gas transit pipelines to Gazprom. The Ukrainians were not ready to do that; instead, they began to diversify their sources of supply, reducing imports from Russia from 57 mcm in 2007 to 33 mcm in 2012 and 26 mcm in 2013.[26]

The Ukrainian government’s inability to service its foreign debt brought matters to a head at the beginning of winter in 2013. Putin and Yanukovych held talks in Moscow on 22 November 2013 after which Yanukovych announced he would not sign the Associ­ation Agreement and the linked European Free Trade Agreement at the upcoming Summit of the EU Eastern Partnership in Vilnius. When the news reached Kyiv, several hundred people gathered on the Maidan to protest and demand Yanukovych sign the agree­ments.

In Vilnius on 29 November he said at his press conference: “We have big difficulties with Moscow. I have been alone for three and a half years in very unequal conditions with Russia”.[27] He pro­posed as a way out of the situation that Moscow be involved in three-way negotiations with the EU and Ukraine. However, EU officials rejected his proposal.

Addressing the Eastern Partnership’s plenary session Yanukovych insisted he was not rejecting the Agreements, but wanted further negotiations in order “to minimise the negative conse­quences of the initial period that will be felt by the most vulnerable groups of Ukrainians”:

“Unfortunately Ukraine has been left facing serious financial and economic problems recently ... [we need] macro-financial as­sistance ... the restoration of co-operation with the IMF and WB … a revision of trade restrictions on individual items ... participation of the EU and international financial institutions in the modernisa­tion of the Ukrainian gas transit system ... as the key element ... to ensuring Ukraine’s energy independence ... the elimination of contradictions and the settlement of problems in trade and economic co-operation with Russia and other members of the Customs Union related to the establishment of the free trade area between Ukraine and the EU”.[28]

Yanukovych was being pressed to choose between Russia and the West, but he wanted co-operation with both sides to deal with the country’s mounting problems.

[Continued in Part II, https://lifeonleft.blogspot.com/2023/04/origins-of-ukrainian-crisis-part-ii.html]

[1] They have included John Mearsheimer, “Why the Ukraine Crisis is the West’s Fault”, Foreign Affairs, September-October 2014; Stephen Cohen, “Why is Washington Risking War with Russia”, The Nation, 18-25 August 2014; Jeremy Corbyn, British Labour Party MP, “NATO Belligerence Endangers Us All”, Morning Star, 17 April 2014; Marine le Pen, leader of France’s National Front, “France’s le Pen in Moscow blames EU for new ‘Cold War’”, Reuters, 12 April 2014.

[2] Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Independence Square in central Kyiv, lent its name to the mass revolts in 2004 and 2014 against corruption, social injustice and oligarchic rule.

[3] In 1994 the threat of a general strike forced the Verkhovna Rada and President Leonid Kravchuk to finally call the first democratic elections to both institutions in the independent state. In 2001 the encampment on Independence Square - Maidan - in Kyiv that called itself “Ukraine without Kuchma” demanded the second president’s resignation before being violently suppressed. The 2004 Orange Revolution overturned the falsified presidential election and brought Viktor Yushchenko to the presidency.

[4] The government retained state ownership of land, the arms, aeronautical and aerospace industries, communications and energy transportation pipelines.

[5] Putin’s strategy also required subordinating the oligarchs politically, destroying the insurgent Chechen state at the cost of tens of thousands of lives, substantially recentralising the loose federal system he inherited from Boris Yeltsin, and undertaking neoliberal reforms of the welfare system.

[6] Alexey V. Kuznetsov, “Industrial and Geographical Diversification of Russian Foreign Direct Investments” (April 5,2010). Electronic Publications of Pan-European Institute; https://ssrn.com/abstract=2338170. Accessed 1 October 2015.

[7] Marko Bojcun, “Trade, investment and debt: Ukraine’s integration into world markets” in Neil Robinson, ed, Reforging the Weakest Link: Global Political Economy and Post-Soviet Change in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004), 46-60.

[8] Marko Bojcun, “The International Economic Crisis and the 2010 Presidential Elections in Ukraine”, Journal of Communist Studies and Transition Politics, 27:3-4 (September-December 2011), 496-519.

[9] “Otochennia Patina dopomohla Firtashu zarobyty rrtiliardy doliariv”; http://tsn.ua/politika/kogo-zdav-na-sudi-firtash-odkrovennya-yaki-mozhat-vildika ti-politichn1y-zem1etrus-v-ukrayini-425106.html. Accessed 1 August 2015.

[10] Yatsenruk prosyt´ kredytoriv dopomohty Ukraini; http://www.epravda.com.ua/news/2015/05/15/542594/ Accessed 5 May 2015.

[11] T.A. Tyshchuk arid 0.V.Ivanov, “Shliakhy protydii pryldiovanomu vidplyvu kapitalu z Ukrainy” National Institute of Strategic Studies, 2012; http://old2.niss.gov.ua/content/articles/fi1es/Kapital_Tuschuk-72ec2.pdf. Accessed 1 December 2012.

[12] Serhii Rakhmanin, “Use vzhe vkradeno do nas”. Zerkalo tyzhnia, 237,19 October 2012.

[13] “Ukraine - the spectre of default”, Economist Intelligence Unit.- Business Eastern Europe, 23 February 2009.

[14] Bohdan Danylyshyn, “Porady novomu uriadu”; http://www.epravda.com.ua/columns/2012/12/ 6/349303/. Accessed 6 December 2012.

[15] Bojcun, “The International Economic Crisis”.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Tyzlzden´,18 February 2013.

[18] Kuznetsov, “Industrial and geographical diversification”.

[19] Oleksandr Kravchuk, “Istoriia Forrnuvannia Borhovoi Zalezhrtosti Ukrainy”; http://commons.com.ua/formuvannya-zalezhnosti/. Accessed 2 May 2015.

[20] “Ukrains’ka vlada ne hotova zarady kredytu ity na reformy”; http://dtua/ ECONOMICS/ ukrayinska-vlada-ne-go tova-zaradi-kreditu-mvf-yti-na-reformi.html. (accessed 13 February 2013); “The hidden debts of Russia and Ukraine”; http://www.businessinsider.com/ the-hidden-debts-of-russia-and-ukraine-2014-3. Accessed 4 March 2014. @Rosiia ne dopomahatyme Ukraini”; http://www. pravda.com.ua/news/20 14/01/29/7011938/. Accessed 1 February 2014. Financial Times, 23 September 2013, 26 November 2013, 28 November 2013, 18 March 2015, 8 April 2015.

[21] David Marples, “Poroshenko’s choices”; https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/odr/poroshenkos-choices/. Accessed 11 November 2014.

[22] World Bank, Migration and Remittances Fact Book 2011.

[23] “Five facts you need to know about the Ukraine-EU trade deal”; http://rtcom/business/168856-ukraine-europe-trade/; Accessed 27 lime 2014.

[24] Nadezhda Arbatova, “Three Faces of Russia’s Neo-Eurasianism”; https://www.iiss.org/publications/ survival/ 2019/survival-global-politics-and-strategy-december-2019january-2020/616-02-arbat0va. Accessed January 2 2020.

[25] “Putin hints at splitting up Ukraine”; http://www.themoscowtimes.cont/ne ws/article/putin-hints-at-splitting-up-ukraine/361701.html. Accessed 5 March 2015. See also Putin’s address to the Russian Federal Assembly on 4 December 2014 when he justified the seizure of Crimea on the grounds that “Crimea, the ancient Korsun or Chersonesus, and Sevastopol have invaluable sacral importance for Russia, like the Temple Mount in Jerusalem for the followers of Islam and Judaism” http:/ /en.kremlin.ru/ events/president/news/47173.

[26] Arkady Moshes, “Will Ukraine Join (and Save) the Eurasian Customs Union?”; http://www.ponarseurasia.org/memo/will-ukraineloin-and-save-eurasian-customs-union. Accessed 20 June 2013.

[27] The Guardian, 29 November 2013.

[28] Kyiv Post, 29 November 2013.

Monday, April 3, 2023

Marko Bojcun (1951-2023): A life for socialism and Ukraine’s national rights

by Dick Nichols

When Ukrainian writer, teacher and activist Marko Bojcun died in England on March 11 after a long fight against cancer, an important link snapped in the chain of struggle for the Ukrainian people’s social and national emancipation.

Bojcun’s work is required reading for anyone who wants to understand Ukraine’s social, economic and political evolution — from the 1917 revolution against Tsarism’s “prison house of nations” right up until Russian president Vladimir Putin’s present offensive to reinsert Ukraine into “Russian space”.

Bojcun’s output revealed the breadth of his concerns: from his exhaustive The Workers’ Movement and the National Question in Ukraine (1897-2018) and Towards a Political Economy of Ukraine to East of the Wall, short stories partly based on the traumatic experiences of his parents’ generation, trapped between Nazi and Stalinist totalitarianism.

His 1988 book The Chernobyl Disaster, co-authored by Viktor Haynes, remains a powerful antidote to the temptation, now rising with the climate emergency, to regard electricity co-generated with radioactivity as somehow safe.

For Ukrainian speakers, one of Bojcun’s most important contributions was to collect in one book the main writings of Leon Trotsky on “the Ukrainian question”.

Far-right hooligans made an unintended tribute to Trotsky’s ongoing relevance to the politics of his country of birth by wrecking the book’s 2013 Kyiv launch.

From Australia to Canada…

Bojcun’s life began on the outskirts of the Australian coal-and-steel city of Newcastle, where he was born into a Ukrainian immigrant family in 1951.

His father worked on the railways and in the steelworks, while his mother looked after their small farm and helped lead the cultural life of the city’s 200-strong Ukrainian community.

The couple had immigrated after Bojcun senior, who had served in the SS’s murderous Division Galicia, was finally cleared by the victorious Allies and then sent to a German internment camp for “displaced persons”. There he met his future wife.

The couple led a separate existence in such camps, in Italy and Australia, until they finally settled together in Newcastle in 1949.

After twenty years, the family migrated to Canada because, in Bojcun’s words in a 2017 interview on the web site Commons, “my parents hoped that their children would become better Ukrainians if they saw what it would be like in a larger community.”

That parental scheme flopped, because the young Marko and other Canadian-Ukrainians of his generation straight away became involved in the movement against the Vietnam War. According to Bojcun, “we moved from the Ukrainian nationalism that we were brought up with to radical socialism, and some of us moved to Trotskyism.”

Relations within the community became fraught: “When the Ukrainian left emerged in Canada, it led to a lot of friction and tension with the Banderites [followers of Stepan Bandera, leader of the dominant ultra-right faction of the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN)].

“I remember sitting in a church in 1973, and during the sermon, the priest accused me personally in front of the whole congregation: that there were communists among us, that the KGB’s black hand had interfered in the Ukrainian community.

“My father was fired from his job for my activities. He worked for the Voice of Ukraine, a Banderite newspaper in Canada […] The nationalists put pressure on all leftists because they were in charge, dominant in the organised Ukrainian community.”

The crime of Bojcun’s father was to refuse to spy on his son for the OUN.

…to Trotskyism and beyond

The inquisitorial priest was very wrong to see the hand of the KGB in Bojcun’s activity. Besides their opposition to the Vietnam War and support for Black rights and feminism, he and his contemporaries were throwing themselves into helping the dissident movements then emerging in the “Soviet bloc”.

He recalled: “We defended Soviet political prisoners, demanded rights for ethnic and cultural minorities; we followed the development of the dissident movement in Soviet Ukraine, the repressions of 1972.”

This was a reference to the arrest of writer Valentyn Moroz and the KGB-extracted recantation of Ivan Dzyuba, author of Internationalism or Russification?, the classic study in the Ukrainian case of the governing bureaucracy’s perversion of Lenin’s policy towards the non-Russian nationalities of the Soviet Union.

His group went on a hunger strike that forced Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau to raise the repression of the Ukrainian dissidents with his Soviet counterpart Alexei Kosygin.

The hunger strike of Ukrainian-Canadian students in 1972. On the left in the last row is Marco Bojcun.

Strongly influenced by Trotsky and his work The Revolution Betrayed, Bojcun became a member of the Canadian section of the Trotskyist Fourth International, led by Ernest Mandel.

However, contrary to Trotsky’s characterisation of the Soviet Union as a “deformed workers state”, Bojcun thought it was “a dictatorship in which the bureaucracy, although it did not have private property, held the economy and the coercive levers of the state in its hands.”

Moreover, the Soviet Union was dominated “not only by the ideology of Stalinism — a one-party dictatorship as the face of the dictatorship of the proletariat — but also by a Great-Russian chauvinist party that oppressed the non-Russian peoples of the USSR, who had no right to self-determination, except in soft folklore cultural forms. The constitutional right to self-determination was not recognised in practice.”

Bojcun left the Fourth International in 1982 because its Canadian section “took an ambivalent position on the [1979] Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. I considered it a shameful step and demanded the immediate withdrawal of those troops.”

Abiding concerns

The abiding concern in Bojcun’s work is the often-fraught relation between the Ukrainian national movement in all its currents and the Ukrainian workers’ movement — especially in the concrete forms this took after the 1917 Bolshevik-led October Revolution.

In The Workers’ Movement and the National Question in Ukraine Bojcun revisits in detail the 1917‒18 period, when the tensions between the new Soviet power and the rebellions of the non-Russian peoples peaked.

In Ukraine, this basic conflict was exacerbated by the fact that the industrial working class was predominantly Russian while the peasant majority was predominantly Ukrainian, with a large Jewish minority in both classes.

Tensions reached breaking point under the onslaughts of the Austro-Hungarian and German armies and then of the counter-revolutionary White armies and Polish forces, backed by British, French and US imperialist expeditions.

In the Ukrainian case, the Central Rada (“council”), the government born of the February overthrow of the Tsarist monarchy, opposed Ukraine declaring independence, but only up until the October Revolution,

It then allowed the passage of counter-revolutionary Don Cossack military units to pass through Ukraine, in turn provoking a declaration of war by Bolshevik-led Soviet Russia.

These events set off a chain of conflicts between and within the Ukraine’s various socialist formations — the different currents of the majority Socialist Revolutionaries, the Mensheviks, the Jewish Bund, the “Marxist-Zionist” Poale Zion, and the Bolsheviks themselves.

Indeed, Bolshevism in Ukraine was split three ways at its founding conference (in Taganrog in 1918). While agreeing that the power of the soviets should predominate in Ukraine as in Russia, the three tendencies disagreed on: the very existence of a Ukrainian right to self-determination (formally Bolshevik policy); Ukrainian independence; the need for a Ukrainian Communist Party separate from the Russian; and the Brest-Litovsk treaty, which in exchange for peace handed a vast amount of Ukraine to German imperialism.

Such differences were only partially settled through the victory of the Red Army in the Civil War, possible because of the peasant support won by the Bolshevik leadership eventually committing to the Ukrainians deciding their own future in relation to Russia.

However, by the end of the 1920s, after a renaissance in Ukrainian culture, the black night of Russian centralism descended once again on Ukraine, this time in “Soviet” guise. It culminated in the 1932‒33 famine that took millions of lives as a result of Stalin’s forced collectivisations.

How much of this horror was inevitable? How much did the imperative of defending the newborn revolution against its imperialist enemies conflict with respecting the national rights of the oppressed non-Russian nations?

Bojcun’s untimely death has ended any chance of his promised sequel to The Workers’ Movement and the National Question in Ukraine, which would have greatly helped us answer these vital questions.

In the meantime, any socialist who wants to get to grips with today’s Ukraine will give Bojcun’s work the closest possible attention.

Selected publications (incomplete list)

Bojcun, Jaromyr Marko: The Working Class and the National Question in Ukraine, 1880–1920, Graduate Program in Political Science, Toronto: York University, 1985. – XII, 516 S.

Haynes, Viktor / Bojcun, Marko: The Chernobyl Disaster, London: The Hogarth Press, 1988. – X, [I], 233 S., 8 Tafelseiten.

Bojcun, Marko: Ukraine and Europe. A Difficult Reunion, London: Kogan Page, 2001, (European Dossier Series). – V, 57 S.

Bojcun, Marko: Towards a Political Economy of Ukraine. Selected Essays, 1990‒2015, mit einem Vorwort von John-Paul Himka, Stuttgart: ibidem Verlag, 2020, (Ukrainian Voices, hrsg. von Andreas Umland, Bd. 3). ‒ 290 S., ISBN 978-3-8382-1368-2, [€ 34,90].

Bojcun, Marko: The Workersʼ Movement and the National Question in Ukraine, 1897‒1918, Leiden u. Boston: Brill, 2021, (Historical Materialism Book Series, Bd. 229). ‒ [X], 413 S.

ISBN 978-90-04-22370-7.

Bojcun, Marko: The Workersʼ Movement and the National Question in Ukraine, 1897‒1918, Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2022, (Historical Materialism Book Series, Bd. 229). ‒ [X], 413 S.

ISBN 978-1-64259-765-3.


Maistrenko, Ivan [Majstrenko, Iwan]: Borot’bism. A Chapter in the History of the Ukrainian Revolution, 3. Ausg., hrsg. von Christopher Ford, mit einem Vorwort von Marko Bojcun, aus dem Ukrainischen übersetzt von George S. N. Luckyj unter Mitarbeit von Ivan L. Rudnytsky, Stuttgart: ibidem-Verlag, 2019, (Soviet and Post-Soviet Politics and Society, hrsg. von Andreas Umland, Bd. 61). ‒ 407 S.

Christopher Ford, “Introduction”, S. 19‒70.

Marko Bojcun, “Foreword”, S.15/6.

Dick Nichols is Green Left’s European correspondent. This article draws on sources on the Commons web site: “The obituary of Bojcun by Denis Pilash of Social Movement”, as well as Bojcun’s 2017 interview by Maksym Kazakov, a machine translation of which is available here.]