The Only Thing That Can Save Ukraine is Secession

It’s super hip to give a fuck about Ukraine right now. Everybody’s doing it! All the cool kids anyway. Everywhere you look it’s blue and yellow, blue and yellow, blue and yellow. There seems to be a Ukrainian flag on every other flagpole as a strange case of jingoism by proxy takes the country by storm. Social media is awash in posh celebrities and political hopefuls virtue signaling all over the heroism of tiny Ukraine’s resistance to what we’re told is totally senseless Russian villainy. Volodymyr Zelensky has been transformed by the sexiest cult of personality since the last half-fuckable Kennedy got popped and a strange new “antiwar” movement has hit the streets across the globe demanding peace through crippling sanctions and omnicidal thermonuclear no-fly-zones. And anyone who so much as even suggests that maybe just maybe twenty years of NATO harassment may have played a role in provoking this mess is declared a heretic and burned at the stake while the Ukrainian National Anthem drowns out your screams.

In no place is Ukrainian fever thicker than the State Department echo chambers of cable news. People who couldn’t be bothered to deviate from their coverage of the cultural significance of Kim Kardashian’s latest butt-lift for just fifteen seconds to even mention Washington facilitated genocide in Yemen have suddenly been reborn as stoic, dewy-eyed, war journalists giving round the clock coverage to the plight of the only victims white enough to matter. This isn’t to say that this coverage, however drunk on pro-NATO narratives it might be, isn’t necessary. What’s going on in Ukraine is undeniably despicable. Even if it was provoked by American imperialism, Vladimir Putin is still a baby-killing savage engaged in a grotesque regime change campaign that rivals anything that NATO has pulled in the Middle East.

Innocent people are dying, civilian infrastructure is being bombarded, and an entire population is being held hostage by the kind of conquest anti-imperialists like me have devoted our lives to speak out against. It’s just a little disgusting to be joined by the same cable chickenhawks who have either ignored or cheered on identical acts of savagery for decades and not just in the Middle East either. The thing that sickens me most about America’s imperial double-standard is that it has totally trivialized the plight of the people who allegedly inspired Putin’s rage. Everybody gives a fuck about Ukraine but there are zero fucks left to be given for the people of the Donbas.

Thousands of Ukrainians have been killed across Ukraine over the last several weeks but over 14,000 people have been killed in the tiny Donbas region of Eastern Ukraine alone over the last eight years. According to the UN 81% of the civilian casualties have been ethnic Russians and their tormentors have been the same supposedly democratic plutocrats in the Ukrainian government that our media so blindly idolizes. The breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk have been virtual microcosms of everything that Ukrainians have suffered under Russia. These poverty-stricken people have spent the better part of a decade under siege, cowering in their basements as crooks like Zelensky have given Neo-Nazi mercenaries like the Azov Battalion the green light to pepper them with indiscriminate shelling that includes the use of cluster munitions. All for the unforgivable sin of seceding from a nation they were never asked to be made a part of in the first place.

The Donbas region had been a part of Russia for 350 years until Ukraine declared its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. They have only been a part this relatively recent Ukrainian experiment for about 31 and their patience for the project officially ran out of steam in 2014 after the US State Department used openly Russophobic neo-Nazi thugs like Svoboda and Right Sector to hijack a relatively minor pro-EU protest movement in Kiev and used it to overthrow the democratically elected government of Viktor Yanukovych. The Russian-speaking people of Eastern Ukraine had overwhelmingly voted for the Donetsk native who promised to play the middle ground and retain Ukraine’s historic connections to their ethnic motherland.

After seeing the man they elected tossed out and replaced by an American puppet regime who openly celebrated the Ukrainian nationalists who collaborated with the Nazi cunts who murdered their people in the millions, the proud people east of the Dnieper River in a region historically known as Novorossiya took to the streets in an explosion of grassroots outrage. While most of the region wanted nothing more radical than a neutral federalized Ukraine that would grant them nominal sovereignty to defend their culture, the people of the far eastern regions of the Donbas and Crimea overthrew corrupt local officials and held emergency referendums on their national status. The people of Crimea overwhelmingly voted to return to Russia who had unilaterally gifted their region to the Soviet Republic of Ukraine in 1954 after being Russian territory since Catherine the Great took the peninsula back from the Ottoman Empire.

Putin gladly accepted Crimea back into Russia to protect their Black Sea Fleet stationed for centuries in Sevastopol but all but turned his nose up at the impoverished People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk when they voted for their independence the same year. In spite of breathless claims from the western media of a full-blown Russian invasion of the Donbas, no one has ever managed to prove that the Kremlin’s support for the breakaway republics ever amounted to much more than the rusty Soviet army surplus and Cossack mercenaries that they usually toss at these ethnic Russian frozen conflicts to placate the hardliners in the Russian military in a gesture equally as empty as the support Middle Eastern dictatorships afford Palestine. In fact, Putin, the great Russian revanchist, actively belittled those republics by selling their sovereignty to Ukraine as part of the Minsk Deal. He only recognized their independence this year to facilitate his campaign to rid Kiev of NATO.

In the years leading up to Russia’s invasion, Novorossiya was treated to a relentless campaign of terror launched by the neo-Nazis who had successfully infiltrated Ukraine’s military and law enforcement establishments. Anti-Russian vigilante groups like C14 and the Azov Battalion’s National Corps freely roamed the streets under the color of the authority granted to them by the National Police and the Interior Ministry and violently reigned in the AntiMaiden Movement popular in Eastern and Southern Ukraine culminating in a brutal terrorist attack in the city of Odessa, where members of Right Sector, flanked by police escorts, rounded up peaceful protesters into the Trade Unions Building and burned them alive. At least 48 people were killed, and more than 200 others were injured.

All part of Kiev’s forced “Ukrainization” project. Volodymyr Zelensky was actually elected with the popular support of many Novorossiyans who took him at his word that he would reign in the racist mayhem. They probably should have seen his capitulation coming considering that Zelensky’s top campaign financier was none other than Igor Kolomoisky, the same billionaire oligarch who financed the white supremacist Azov Battalion to protect his energy interests in the Donbas, but desperation leaves little room for scrutiny. The violence just kept coming and no one felt it harder than the few Novorossiyans who took a stand and made the unforgivable choice to leave this mess behind and rule themselves in the absence of cellophane saviors like Putin and Zelensksy.

If Vladimir Putin was right about one thing it was that Ukraine’s borders are a fickle and contrived invention. No Ukrainian border has ever lasted much longer than a few decades. It is a land that has been tragically defined by conquest and shifting alliances whose boundaries make about as much sense as those drawn by the English in the Middle East and for the same malevolent reasons, to divide and conquer. Ukrainian nationalism took shape in the mid 19th Century as a celebration of western peasant resistance to the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the region in and around Galicia. Sovereignty was only granted to the region by the Bolsheviks in order to create a buffer zone between Moscow and the western invaders who stoked the White Terror, and saddled traditional Ukrainian territory with Novorossiyan territory in order to keep both under their thumb.

Since then, these two regions have been used routinely by outside forces as proxies against each other’s sovereignty. Stalin starved 15% of the ethnic Ukrainian population during the Holodomor famines, killing millions, and packed the Donbas with penniless Russian peasants to safeguard its industries. Ukrainian thirst for vengeance was manipulated masterfully by Hitler during Operation Barbarossa when Ukrainian ethnic nationalists carried out genocidal pogroms of their own and this vicious cycle continues to this day with the imperial pissing match between Putin’s Russia and Satan’s NATO.

This is why I support secession, not just for the people of Donetsk and Luhansk but for those who have been manipulated into becoming their enemies in places like Galicia. The borders of the Westphalian nation-state that the United Nations holds so sacred have always been used as weapons by those powerful enough to draw them against those poor enough to be corralled by them like cattle. The only solution to this evil is a system of pan-secession where popular autonomy is placed above state power as a fundamental human right. Novorossiya has as much right to independence from Ukraine as Ukraine has to independence from Russia and there exists zero reason why this sovereignty should even be completely territorial in nature.

The only just nation is one that exists with the complete consent of its citizenry and that citizenry should be defined by the consensual bonds of the social contracts that once bound tribes long before the shallow rule of blood and soil. In no place does this practice make more sense than in the fields of the Wild Steppes where Nestor Makhno’s Black Army and the Zaporizhian Sich bravely defied the empires to their east and their west. People say secession is anarchy. I say exactly. What has the state ever done but pit impoverished neighbors against one another when they could peacefully coexist without it?

Fuck NATO and fuck Putin. The only thing that can save Ukraine is secession. I’ll proudly salute the blue and yellow flag so long as it stands tall with a thousand others.

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.