The UN Security Council held an emergency meeting Sunday night in New York, a few hours after it was announced that Russia had requested “urgent consultations.”
In calling the meeting, Russia pointed to the danger posed by the declaration of the unelected, Western-backed regime in Kiev that it would launch large-scale military operations to crush protests across pro-Russian regions of eastern Ukraine. The Russian Foreign Ministry said the situation was “extremely dangerous,” adding: “It now depends on the West to avoid the possibility of civil war in Ukraine.”
The convening of an emergency meeting between the world’s leading nuclear-armed powers was an acknowledgment that the rise of civil war conditions in Ukraine, between a pro-Western regime and pro-Russian protests, could lead to a clash between the major powers—that is, of world war.
UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernandez-Tarasco spoke first, declaring that Ukraine “teeters on the brink.” He warned: “However, it is not just Ukraine that will suffer from a scenario where the likelihood of further bloodshed and violent clashes grows by the hour. Russia, which shares a large border with Ukraine, as well as the broader European region, faces spillover effects of potentially severe consequences. Such scenarios will have repercussions for the entire international community.”
Russian ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin said: “Further escalation must be swiftly stopped.” He stated: “It is the West that will determine the opportunity to avoid civil war in Ukraine. Some people, including in this chamber, do not want to see the real reasons for what is happening in Ukraine and are constantly seeing the hand of Moscow in what is going on. Enough. That is enough.”
US officials flatly dismissed the appeals from Russia. They continued to back the Ukrainian crackdown, reiterating the lies and unsubstantiated allegations that the protests are purely a Russian conspiracy and that Russian troops are massing along the Ukrainian-Russian border.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power declared: “We are being bombarded by Russian disinformation and propaganda, while the Ukrainians are being confronted by incitement and violence … This instability was written and choreographed in and by Russia.”
Broad popular opposition to the Kiev regime, in which fascistic forces play a leading role, is emerging as it launches a brutal crackdown in the east. One Ukrainian intelligence officer was killed and several wounded on Saturday when they tried to storm buildings held by armed protesters in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk, a poor mining town of 100,000 residents. Several protesters were shot, and another firefight broke out at a roadblock outside the city. YouTube videos showed attack helicopters circling over Slavyansk.
“By nine in the morning, the stores had run out of bread,” a Slavyansk resident named Yelena told AFP. “Everyone is in panic. People are waiting for a war to break out.”
This came as anti-Kiev protests and occupations of government buildings spread to cities across eastern Ukraine over the weekend, including Donetsk, Slavyansk, Lugansk, Kharkiv, Mariupol, Zaporozhye, Kirovsk and several smaller cities.
According to the British Guardian newspaper, detachments of miners have been sent to guard occupied regional administration buildings and monitor the progress of Ukrainian armed forces in eastern Ukraine.
“It’s hard to arouse the miners, but when you do, there will be trouble,” said a retired miner guarding the occupied regional administration building in the eastern city of Donetsk.
Miners, who play a major role in the protests and occupations of local government buildings in eastern Ukraine, said they were motivated by opposition to the policies of the Kiev regime and to its reliance on fascist militias like the Right Sector.
The scale of the protests against the Kiev regime put paid to claims by Western and Ukrainian officials that they are simply a Russian conspiracy, and that the crackdown is a defensive policy against aggression driven purely by the Kremlin. In fact, Kiev and its Western backers are deliberately setting out to crush popular opposition in order to push through right-wing economic policies, humiliate Russia, and provide a pretext for a vast military escalation in Europe and throughout the region.
“The national security and defense council has decided to launch a full-scale anti-terrorist operation involving the armed forces of Ukraine,” acting President Oleksandr Turchynov said in a nationally-televised address. Turchynov blamed the situation on a “war waged against Ukraine by Russia.”
Turchynov’s administration is working with the Right Sector fascists. Right Sector leader Dmitri Yarosh ordered “all arms of the Right Sector to fully mobilize and get ready to take decisive steps to defend Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity … I call upon the Ukrainian security forces not only to refrain from counteracting the Right Sector, but also to help [it] bring legal order to the Ukrainian land.”
The propaganda of the Western imperialists and their far-right puppets in Kiev stands reality on its head. The risk of civil war in Ukraine emerges not from the actions of Russia, but from those of the US and European powers, who did precisely what they are hypocritically accusing Moscow of doing. They backed and financed, to the tune of billions of dollars, right-wing forces that staged a fascist, anti-Russian putsch in Kiev to install an unelected regime aligned with their financial and geostrategic interests.
In a BBC interview, Russian parliamentarian Vyacheslav Nikonov called the Kiev regime’s policy “reckless” and “harmful.” He denied that the Kremlin was behind the eastern Ukrainian protests, though he said that, given the large number of Russian nationals in eastern Ukraine, there could be Russians involved in the takeovers of government buildings. “Some people in eastern Ukraine do have Russian passports,” he noted.
Precisely because of this, he warned, “if there is a bloody civil war, it will be very hard for Russia to really stay aside.”
What is posed is the risk of civil war in Ukraine that would draw in Russia and ultimately lead to a direct military clash between Russia, a nuclear-armed power, and the US and its European allies backing the Kiev regime.