Various anti-imperialist groups across Europe have extended solidarity to the people of the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, as tensions between Russia and Ukraine intensify. On Monday, April 26, the Communist Party of Russian Federation (CPRF) sent a humanitarian convoy with food and other relief materials to Donbass – the region which encompasses the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR).
People in the region are in severe distress due to the COVID-19 pandemic and rising tensions. Several progressive groups, including the German Communist Party and the Socialist German Workers Youth, the Anti-imperialist Front in Greece, as well as communist and anti-fascist sections in countries like Slovakia, Bulgaria, Austria and Italy, expressed solidarity with the people of Donbass and denounced the NATO-backed Ukrainian aggression in the region.
Following the Euromaidan coup in Ukraine in 2014, the Russian-majority regions in the country had called for secession, with backing from Russia. The regional parliament of Crimea decided to join Russia, while Donetsk and Luhansk in the Donbass region declared their independence from Ukraine and proclaimed the establishment of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic.
Ukraine’s attempt to militarily crack down on the uprising in Donbass was resisted by rebels with Russian aid, resulting in a major confrontation in the region leading to over 10,000 deaths, including thousands of civilians. Even though two ceasefire agreements called Minsk Protocol I & II were signed in 2014 and 2015 between representatives of DPR, LPR, Russia, Ukraine and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), major and minor conflicts have continued in the region.
In response to the secession, the US and EU initiated a wide range of actions, including sanctions, to diplomatically isolate Russia. NATO has also held military drills near Russian borders.
The gathering of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border in the last two weeks once again raised tensions in the region. On April 22, Russian defense minister Sergei Shoygu ordered the return of several units of soldiers from the border to their bases. However, Ukraine and EU/NATO circles remain aggressive. In the Balkans, this year’s US-European joint military exercise Defender Europe 2021 is taking place in the Black Sea – which is of strategic importance to Russia. The port of Sevastopol in Crimea on the coast of the Black Sea is one of the few warm water ports that falls under Russian control.
At an anti-imperialist rally held in Torgau, Germany, Renate Koppe, international secretary of the central committee of the German Communist Party (DKP), said, “The Defender 2021 maneuver, which the United States is currently carrying out with the support of NATO, in particular, is concentrated in the Black Sea region. In this context, it should also be noted that the war of the Ukrainian government against Donbass is currently intensifying with the support of the United States and NATO.”
She also criticized Germany’s support for the “Ukrainian government which came to power as a result of a pro-fascist coup d’etat and has been waging a war against Donbass for seven years, killing civilians, including children and the elderly.”