Skip to content
View Featured Image

Ukraine Has Become A Private Mercenary Company Of NATO

Above photo: Donetsk residents march to commemorate the Donetsk People’s Republic’s declaration of independence from Ukraine, May 11, 2018. Sputnik/Igor Maslov.

Interview with Ukrainian Communist Dmitri Kovalevich.

“Ukraine has become a private mercenary company of NATO which exists only to fight against NATO opponents,” said Ukrainian communist and journalist Dmitri Kovalevich in an interview with Orinoco Tribune. “Ukrainian MPs are saying that Ukrainian soldiers will later have to participate in other wars on the US side for today’s US assistance. Simply put, they will go wherever the Pentagon sends them to suppress rebellious countries of the Global South.”

According to Kovalevich, the United States controls all decisions in Ukraine, not only military but also economic. “It is not the Ukrainian [military] command that decides where to advance, what to undermine, what to shell; Ukrainian soldiers are acting on the advice of Western instructors,” he said, referring to the actions of the Ukrainian armed forces.

“Militarily, the country is also completely dependent on arms supplies from NATO countries,” he continued. “Without them, the Ukrainian army would not last. In fact, the Russian Federation often emphasizes in the media that it is fighting a proxy NATO army,” Ukraine being only the face of it.

As for the Ukrainian economy, Kovalevich stated that it “is up to its neck in debt to the IMF and other Western creditors. The country will never be able to pay off these debts. The NATO secretary general [Jens Stoltenberg] recently said that if Ukraine does not win, there will be no point in rebuilding it.”

He also noted that due to draconian conscription laws, a large percentage of Ukrainian men do not hold regular jobs, as otherwise they would be drafted and sent to the front. “Many people survive thanks to unofficial work,” he said.

Moreover, many Ukrainians in the diaspora are making all possible efforts to get rid of Ukrainian citizenship and ties to the country “because the public consensus was forcibly broken in 2014 after the Euromaidan coup,” he commented. “The pro-US concept of the new Ukrainian state is so unsustainable that it requires Ukrainians to constantly sacrifice their lives, health, [and] property but without offering anything in return and instead cutting social payments, closing hospitals, schools, and businesses as part of the neoliberal course.”

Dmitri Kovalevich is a Ukrainian communist, resident of Kiev, and member of the Communist political organization Borotba, which has been banned in Ukraine since the Euromaidan coup of 2014. He is the special correspondent in Ukraine for the news outlet Al-Mayadeen English. In a recent interview with Orinoco Tribune, he discussed the rise of extreme nationalism in the country, the question of autonomy in Donbass and Crimea, NATO using Ukraine as a proxy against Russia, the socio-economic situation in Ukraine, and other issues. The full interview is presented below.

1. How do you view the war in Ukraine? The president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, has called it a “civil war” considering the “historical relations” between the peoples of Russia and Ukraine that go beyond national borders. Is the war really so? What sort of historical relations exist among the peoples of the two countries, and how have they been impacted by the events since the Euromaidan coup of 2014?

To some extent, this is really a civil war because of the closeness of the two nations. In Ukraine, about half of the population is Russian or Russian-speaking Ukrainians. In Russia, Ukrainians are one of the most numerous nations after Russians. There are many ethnic Ukrainians in the Russian government. At the same time, there are many ethnic Russians among Ukrainian nationalists, including Oleksandr Turchynov, who started the war against Donbass in 2014, after a pro-US coup, which was the background for the start of the Russian operation in 2022.

Residents of Ukraine who move to Russia do not need to learn another language or another culture. The same is true for Russian residents who move to Ukraine. In both countries, millions of residents come from mixed families, and an emphasis on Ukrainian or Russian identification more often than not indicates only a political commitment to an ideology of nationalism.

Among the Russian generals who are now leading the offensive in Ukraine, many of them used to serve in the AFU, were born in Ukraine and are Ukrainians. At the same time, the AFU is led by General Alexander Syrsky, a native of Russia, where his parents, supporters of the Russian Federation, live. He still cannot speak Ukrainian language, just as most of Ukrainian leaders who sell nationalism to ordinary citizens. Back in the 1980s, General Syrsky marched in Moscow, in parades in the Red Square.

Traditionally, the events in Ukraine after the Revolution of 1917 have always been interpreted as the Civil War (1918-1920), in which Russian monarchists (“Whites”), Ukrainian and Russian revolutionary forces (Bolsheviks, anarchists, SRs) and Ukrainian nationalists took part.

In addition, ethnic self-identification in Ukraine began to be substituted for political identification after the Euromaidan, which further confuses ordinary residents. In our mass media, one can see such headlines: “Ukrainians stood up against Moscow popes.” It is about the attack of nationalists on Ukrainian Orthodox believers, most of whom are also Ukrainians. The so-called “anti-Ukrainian” position often consists in criticizing the current government. At the same time, Western mercenaries can be declared “honorary Ukrainians,” and pacifist ethnic Ukrainians unwilling to take up arms can be declared “anti-Ukrainians.”

At the same time, Ukraine does not give up its claim to the name Rus, which is related to Russia and Belarus; it just considers Kiev rather than Moscow to be the center of Rus, and Ukrainian nationalists consider Russia itself to be the “wrong” and “Asian” Russia, contrasting it with the “European” Russia, i.e., Ukraine.

2. The People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of their independence/secession from Ukraine. You have said on different occasions that the people of these regions wanted autonomy, that they were not “separatists.” What sort of autonomy did they want, and why did they finally secede?

10 years ago, referendums were held in the regions of Donbass as a result of the Maidan coup in Kiev two months earlier when Viktor Yanukovych, the president of Ukraine, who was originally from Donetsk, was overthrown. In Donbass there was an extremely negative reaction to this coup. Earlier during the Maidan period (2013-2014), there were clashes in Kiev between Maidan and Anti-Maidan participants (the latter were mostly residents of Donbass, Crimea, Odessa, and Kharkiv). This confrontation laid the foundations for further development of the conflict.

This video from March 13, 2014 shows the mass resistance of Donetsk residents against groups of Ukrainian nationalists (among them ultra soccer fans) who came to suppress pro-Soviet sentiments and demolish the Lenin monument in Donetsk, as they had done earlier in Kiev.

Since radical nationalists were the main striking force on the Maidan, it was clear to the residents of south-eastern Ukraine that they would be deprived of some rights due to a coup d’état (their linguistic, cultural, and economic rights).

That is why initially Donbass (short for Donetsk Basin) demanded only autonomy, self-government, the right to decide for themselves what language to speak and which heroes to honor. Rallies for autonomy in Donbass began near monuments to Vladimir Lenin, which nationalists rushed to savagely demolish during the Maidan. The round-the-clock guarding of the Lenin monuments later developed into people’s vigilante groups that fought back against the nationalists.

The autonomy of Donbass was prescribed even in the Minsk agreements, which were in force until February 2022. That is, it was assumed that Donbass would return to Ukraine if Ukraine guaranteed its autonomy. However, the Ukrainian authorities were unwilling to do so for two reasons: (1) for Ukrainian nationalists, it was important to finally suppress the movements in Donbass by force in order to avenge the deaths of their nationalist friends; (2) for the West, which financed the new Ukrainian government, it was important to maintain constant tension on the border with the Russian Federation, and preferably a mass exodus of millions of people from Donbass to the Russian Federation to create a social crisis there.

3. In your latest monthly report on the Ukraine conflict, you mentioned that Crimea had an autonomous government since the 1990s, and that the Ukrainian government control was always weak there. We do not hear about these things nowadays. Could you describe what that autonomous governance meant for Crimea, and if that was an important factor for the peninsula to rejoin Russia in March 2014 through a referendum?

Crimea was given to Ukraine by Nikita Khrushchev in 1954 as a sign of friendship between the Ukrainian and Russian people on the 300th anniversary of the signing in 1654 of a treaty on the transfer of part of the territories of present-day Ukraine from the Polish kingdom to the kingdom of Russia (which was the result of a long peasant war and a religious war).

However, the transition to the Ukrainian SSR did not really mean anything for Crimea until 1991. After the collapse of the USSR, Crimea, where the Ukrainian population was always small, held a referendum on the creation of autonomy as a separate part of the USSR. Ukraine (still part of the USSR at the time) recognized its autonomous status. In this status, Crimea soon became part of Ukraine as well.

Until 2014, Ukraine’s power was indeed weak on the peninsula. On the other hand, Crimea received practically nothing from the center (Kiev), as a result of which the infrastructure and monuments there gradually fell into disrepair (as well as throughout Ukraine).

After 2014, the secession of Crimea and the Donbass republics, along with the migration of hundreds of thousands of people from other regions, shifted the political balance in Ukraine—in the remaining part, nationalists and supporters of NATO and the EU could claim at least half of the votes. Nationalists in Ukraine have since repeatedly said that they only want the territories, but not the people living on those territories. This attitude, expressed in the media, only strengthened the resistance of the inhabitants of these regions.

Regional divisions intensified in all former Soviet republics after the collapse of the Soviet Union also as a result of deteriorating living standards and, consequently, increased internal competition.

4. In regards to referendums, the Donetsk and Lugansk Republics joined the Russian Federation through a referendum in September 2022. However, according to residents of the Donbass, who spoke to the press during the vote, this was not the first referendum in the region. If so, when did the previous referendums take place, and what were they about: autonomy or secession?

The first referendum in Donbas was held in 1994 simultaneously with parliamentary elections in Ukraine. The main question was about recognizing Ukraine as a federation, which implied a certain autonomy of the provinces (as in the Russian Federation, Germany, the USA, India, Brazil, etc.).

Residents of Donetsk and Lugansk regions then also spoke in favor of recognizing Russian as a second state language and strengthening economic ties with Russia (Russia was the main buyer of Donbass enterprises’ products). The overwhelming majority then favored federation, a second state language, and stronger ties with Russia.

In 2014, two referendums were held—in Donetsk and Lugansk regions. The referendum included a single question in two languages (Russian and Ukrainian): “Do you support the act of state self-rule (‘samostoyatel’nost’) of the Donetsk/Lugansk People’s Republic?”. Two options were offered: “Yes” and “No.”

The term “samostoyatel’nost” used in the question can imply both full state sovereignty and autonomy/self-rule within a state entity. Russia then recommended postponing the referendum in order not to complicate the situation, but it was held.

The next referendum was held in 2022 and concerned joining the Russian Federation, but exactly as republics (DPR and LPR)—autonomous republics with all the attributes of republics preserved.

In other words, for the nationalist policy of Ukraine, federalization was equated long ago with “separatism,” demands for autonomy were suppressed for the sake of unification of the state, while the Russian Federation respectfully treats autonomies, republics within its composition with their national languages, cultural peculiarities, and economic ties.

The federal structure of Ukraine, with its linguistic and cultural diversity, would prevent Ukraine’s sharp turn after the coup toward NATO and the severing of ties with Russia, China, and Iran. Diversity and federal structure just complicate any sharp turn.

5. This year is the 10th anniversary of the Euromaidan coup. How has this “milestone” been commemorated in Ukraine—both by the government and by the people?

In Ukraine, during martial law, all mass meetings are banned because they are considered unsafe. Although radical nationalists periodically organize their marches, they are not touched, as they form the main pillar of the government. But there were no significant events these days. All attention in Ukraine is focused on the events on the front, mass conscription, and pleas to the US and EU to give more money. The events of the Maidan have taken a back seat to this and the criminal cases of the Maidan period are bogged down in years-long legal proceedings.

Ukrainian media and officials try every day to excite the tired population with emotional appeals, hysterical proclamations that ordinary people are more likely to tune out, to stop perceiving the media and forget even about the events of a year ago, not to mention Euromaidan.

However, once Ukrainians manage to escape from their homeland, they usually stop being interested in it. A recent survey, for example, showed that half of the Ukrainians living in Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic are not interested in events in Ukraine and have no plans to ever return there.

To some extent, it can be said that even getting rid of Ukrainian citizenship and ties to the current state of Ukraine has become an obsession for millions of its citizens. This is because the public consensus was forcibly broken in 2014 after the Euromaidan coup. Most Ukrainians wanted to just live, work, and be harassed less by the state. The pro-US concept of the new Ukrainian state (after Euromaidan) is so unsustainable that it requires Ukrainians to constantly sacrifice their lives, health, [and] property but without offering anything in return and instead cutting social payments, closing hospitals, schools, and businesses as part of the neoliberal course.

6. May 2, 2024 completed 10 years of the Odessa Trade Union House massacre. What is the current situation in Odessa, which has a significant Russian population? Is there any pro-autonomy movement in Odessa and in other Russian-majority regions of Ukraine?

Since 2014, many Odessa residents have migrated to the Russian Federation. In Donbass, they even formed the backbone of some armed formations of the republics. In general, people have been leaving Ukraine by the thousands in recent years for various reasons, both political and economic. Now in Odessa, as nowhere else in Ukraine, there is forced conscription—men are caught on the streets every day and forcibly sent to the front. Thousands of men are fleeing daily through the Odessa region to Moldova and Romania, so there are hundreds of cars abandoned along the border. Ukrainian authorities are now digging ditches along the border and putting up rows of fences with barbed wire to prevent men from fleeing, as there is almost no one left to fight in the country.

Russian and Ukrainian media periodically write about acts of sabotage on the railroads, which they attribute to Odessa partisans, but I cannot confirm this. During the years of repression and far-right terror, any opposition movement in Ukraine, if it exists, has been driven deep underground.

Ukrainian security services also periodically create “decoys”—fake resistance groups that are tasked with identifying disloyal citizens.

On the other hand, now, both in Russia and in the EU, there are millions in diasporas of Ukrainian citizens—residents of Odessa, Kiev, Kharkiv, Lviv—former drivers who leave the country for humanitarian supplies and never return, former police officers, defected military personnel, and ordinary farmers. If we do not take into account the elderly, who usually don’t like to migrate, there are now more Ukrainians outside Ukraine than inside.

7. What is the situation of the people of Ukraine, how are they living their daily lives? What is the general view towards the government of the country, how much support does Zelensky still have?

Any war always implies the presence of a small group of people who profit from it, from stealing humanitarian supplies, weapons, foreign aid. In this respect, a small part of Ukrainians, close to the elite, has enriched itself considerably. In no country in Europe can you see as many expensive cars in a day as in Kiev. For this category of the population, it is important that the war be eternal.

The population remaining in Ukraine is divided into those who are fighting and relatives of the dead and wounded on one side and those who have not been touched by the war. The authorities are skillfully manipulating, pitting one group against the other. This is presented under the guise of “justice.” According to the logic that the Ukrainian authorities instill in the population, if one part of the population has suffered, then all others should suffer as well. Such manipulations help them to divert dissatisfaction from themselves and their corruption, in particular.

Naturally, living standards in Ukraine have dropped significantly, although it was already the poorest country in the European continent, competing with neighboring Moldova for this title. Ukrainian internally displaced persons were recently paid $50 a month, but had to pay $40 for light and water in hostels for the displaced. This spring, that $50 was taken away from them as well. The authorities explain away the reduction of payments and the closure of hospitals and schools as military needs. On the other hand, the Ukrainian economy survives solely on external loans from Western countries, which are issued so that Kiev can partially repay previous loans.

Ukrainian men cannot go abroad now, but they cannot get a job legally either (if they do, they are immediately taken into the army). Many people survive thanks to unofficial work.

Attitudes towards Zelensky personally and Ukrainian politicians are difficult to trace, as people are afraid to answer questions. Social services in Ukraine cater exclusively to representatives of the authorities. Recently, for example, a poll by the Kiev International Institute of Sociology showed that the overwhelming majority of Ukrainians are ready to accept an increase in electricity prices even though people already owe billions in electricity bills. This only shows that the polls are bogus. On the streets, people are afraid to discuss political and military issues, and Ukraine’s security services intimidate them even more by daily detaining even children who have expressed any kind of negative thoughts about Zelensky or NATO.

8. Why do you think the Zelensky government is attacking civilians not only in the Donbass but also in the Russian border provinces of Belgorod, Kursk, and Bryansk, while the Ukrainian armed forces go on losing on the battlefield?

The target of the entire operation of overthrowing the Ukrainian government in 2014 and the subsequent war with Donbass is not Ukraine, but Russia. It is important for the West to provoke discontent, coup, or social tension inside the Russian Federation. The Ukrainian attacks have been suicidal, but it is not the Ukrainian command that decides where to advance, what to undermine, what to shell. Ukrainian soldiers are acting on the advice of Western instructors.

Ukrainian MPs are even saying that Ukrainian soldiers will later have to participate in other wars on the US side for today’s US assistance. Simply put, they will go wherever the Pentagon sends them to suppress rebel movements in the countries of the Global south.

In fact, Ukraine has become a private mercenary company of NATO which exists only to fight against NATO opponents.

9. How much US/NATO influence is felt in Ukraine—in the war as well as in the economy and the political life of the country?

The Ukrainian economy is ruined, and the country is up to its neck in debt to the IMF and other Western creditors. The country will never be able to pay off these debts. The NATO secretary general recently said that if Ukraine does not win, there will be no point in rebuilding it. Militarily, the country is also completely dependent on arms supplies from NATO countries. Without them, the Ukrainian army would not last. In turn, the Russian Federation also often emphasizes in the media that they are fighting a proxy NATO army, demilitarizing the NATO bloc itself. There are several thousand mercenaries from NATO countries fighting in Ukraine. There are also some mercenaries from Colombia fighting in the neo-Nazi battalion Carpathian Sich.

In addition, the Ukrainian authorities make all economic decisions, from the level of water tariffs to cutting benefits for the wounded, based on the recommendations of the embassies of Western countries (mainly the US and Britain, the other NATO countries have no influence). Ukrainians are told that they are in no position to refuse. Simply put, if the United States gives them a loan, they will pay the salaries of Ukrainian teachers this month; if it does not, they will not give them salaries or advise them to quit.

10. How do you envision the end of the war? Do you think Ukraine would lose more territory, in addition to the four provinces that already became part of Russia since September 2022? Is there a possibility that NATO might get fully involved in the war, and even the “nuclear option” may be invoked?

Yes, I suppose Ukraine will lose more territory, though I think it will be preserved as a state with exorbitant foreign debts hanging over it. Putin recently talked about a cordon sanitaire to keep Russian territories safe from shelling and invasions, followed by a new offensive in Kharkov region in May 2024. I do not think NATO as a bloc will dare to go directly against a nuclear-armed country, but perhaps when they run out of Ukrainian troops, more troops from Eastern European countries and other US satellites will be sent to Ukraine. What is at stake for the West, after all, is the preservation of its global hegemony and the ability to dictate terms to the countries of the Global South.

Sign Up To Our Daily Digest

Independent media outlets are being suppressed and dropped by corporations like Google, Facebook and Twitter. Sign up for our daily email digest before it’s too late so you don’t miss the latest movement news.