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Why Donbass Matters

Dark storm clouds are gathering over the contested Ukrainian border regions of Donbass and Crimea as two antiquated superpowers surge headlong towards a conflict that could easily end in nuclear oblivion. It may take two dinosaurs to tango but it doesn’t take a paleontologist to tell you that this disaster in waiting has ‘made in America’ written all over it. After months of belligerent violations, it was a flurry of press releases from the White House, Defense Department, and NATO that finally empowered the American funded puppet regime of Vladimir Zelensky in Kiev to finally torch the Russian brokered Minsk Peace Agreement and openly seek to rid itself of Russian influence over Crimea and local autonomy over Donbass by any means necessary. And why not? The White House openly admits that during their first phone call on Good Friday, Biden offered Zelensky, “unwavering support for Ukraine sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression in Donbass and Crimea.” For those of you who don’t speak fluent NATO, that’s code for, ‘Bomb! Bomb! Bomb!’

And NATO membership is what this growing disaster is all about. According to NATO bylaws, a nation cannot be absorbed into the NATO blob until it first purges itself of all territorial disputes and foreign military presence. That means the Russian annexed region of Crimea and the independent republics of Luhansk and Donetsk need to be obliterated. Russia naturally can’t stand for such foreign villainy on its borders and thus we find ourselves in Doctor Strangelove country with 40,000 NATO troops knocking at the door and two Russian armies and three airborne units ready to greet them.

This colossal shitstorm has been a long time coming. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the US has been dumping billions of dollars through the National Endowment for Democracy into influencing Ukraine to join the NATO fold in ganging up on their Russian neighbors. We lost patience with simply perverting democracy in 2014 when the democratically elected president Viktor Yanukovych chose closer ties with Russia over Euro servitude. The US called in its allies in the nation’s fledgling neo-Nazi movement and they launched a coup that chased that nations democracy to Moscow and ended with an openly racist junta in power in Kiev.

America underestimated the nation’s ethnic Russian population in Ukraine’s east however. The already autonomous region of Crimea chose to return to Russia before Obama’s favorite fascists could purge Russia’s Black Sea Fleet from the peninsula which had been Russian territory for centuries before Khrushchev unceremoniously gifted it to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic decades before an independent Ukraine had ever existed. The Novorossiyans of the Donbass attempted to follow suit with their own referendum in 2014, but Russia left them high and dry when they chose independence over rejoining the motherland. The result was a violent civil war that’s claimed over 14,000 bodies in the name of assimilation.

The western media blames Russia for every mortar out of Mariupol, though they’ve offered absolutely bupkis in the way of evidence for their cockamamie conspiracy theory of a Russian invasion. If Russia had invaded, this thing would have ended like Georgia’s 2008 attempt to purge itself of ethnic undesirables for NATO membership. Russia kicked their ass back to Tbilisi before John McCain could get his dick hard. If anything, Russia has shown enormous restraint in Ukraine, but I’m less than impressed with their motives for doing so.

NATO is an imperial protection racket and it always has been. Contrary to popular mythology, the Warsaw Pact was constructed to defend the Soviet Union from western intervention. The US never gave a shit about communism. NATO was always about lynching Russia and lynching Russia was always about denying Asia a viable land bridge to the European economic integration which would have spelled out the end of Atlantic supremacy once and for all. This is why the Cold War never really ended. It just got colder with NATO’s obliteration of Yugoslavia and its expansion deeper and deeper into Russia’s sphere of influence to the point where Moscow has now found itself literally surrounded on all sides with no one left to turn to but China, the real powerhouse at the top of our shitlist.

This is why the tiny impoverished border region of Donbass matters so much to both sides of this conflict. To those rusted old Cold War juggernauts, it’s just another domino in NATO’s conspiracy against the Eurasian Century. But Donbass is more than just a game piece. It is a proud autonomous region which has struggled valiantly for its dignity against both western and eastern influence for generations, going all the way back to the stateless tribal proto-anarchism of the Cossacks who suffered harsh persecution from the Bolsheviks. This persecution only multiplied when the region became an unsurprising stronghold for Nestor Makhno’s Anarchist Black Army. Donbass was further punished for their intransigence with devastating famines under Stalin, but this didn’t stop them from becoming the backbone of Khrushchev’s Ukrainian front against the Nazi invaders who slaughtered Novorossiyan civilians by the millions.

This proud history of hard-headed rebellion continued when the region voted overwhelmingly to leave the Soviet Union and help build an independent Ukrainian republic. However, when Donbass discovered that they were simply trading one set of masters for another, they did what they do best and rebelled in a bloody coal strike that nearly ended in a civil war during the early-mid nineties. Finally, after years of abuse from Kiev, the last straw fell with the coup against Yanukovych, whom the region had voted for by 90%. When the same fascist flags their fathers died beneath went up over Kiev and announcements were made to ban their indigenous Russian language, the Novorossiyans said enough. From across the region they returned to their hometowns, taking a huge chunk of Ukraine’s working class military with them, and they voted to finally declare independence as the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic in 2014.

They expected Russia to have their backs like Crimea. But when the region chose independence over annexation, Russia left their ethnic brethren with the cold war shoulder. Even the Moscow brokered Minsk Agreement ignored the popular will of the People’s Republics and suggested reintegration back into Ukraine as part of a Russian style federation. And now, once again, the Donbass stands alone between two warring masters. As a Panarchist who views popular secession as a sacrament of a truly free society, this breaks my heart. Like the Armenians in Artsakh, the Novorossiyans in Donbass did everything right and now face certain punishment for doing so. The voice of the people has been made loud and clear by generations of Novorossiyans, but all Russia and NATO can hear is each other talking over their perceived lessers.

The solution to this tragedy is not a unipolar world or a bipolar world, it’s a thousand polar world. Only when the small tribes of this planet stand united under the solidarity of massive stateless autonomy will the world truly see how big we really are. Only when the people of Luhansk and Donetsk can look to the people of Chiapas and Chechnya and Rojava and Artsakh for solidarity will they truly be heard in every language. The only solution to a world governed by several flags is a world governed by a million. I just pray it’s not too late for the proud people of the Donbass. They deserve better than obliteration. They deserve liberation. We all do.

Nicky Reid is an agoraphobic anarcho-genderqueer gonzo blogger from Central Pennsylvania and assistant editor for Attack the System. You can find her online at Exile in Happy Valley.

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