Published below is an English translation of the statement by the Social Democratic Party of Ukraine at the Socialist International second Council meeting of the year on 12-13 December at the United Nations, Geneva. The statement was made by Olena Skomoroshchenko International Secretary of the SDPU, which is a Consultative member of the International, SDPU is a small party in Ukraine associated with the Federation of Trade Unions.
Socialist International Council
Sisters and brothers!
I have been participating in the activities of the International for twenty years. And all these years, on all Councils of the International I saw the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, when both sides stood in front of us, described the horrors of war, they put forward recriminations and I’ve listened to them, I have tried to understand, to find out who is right and what is the outcomet? Today you are at this same position, in my shoes. Today, both sides of the Russian-Ukrainian war unfold in front of you their version of reality. Conflicting versions. Starting even with a general denial of such a war and claiming that it is an internal, civil war in Ukraine. Who is right? What is really going on?
On February 28, 2014, unidentified soldiers, who later were identified even by President Putin as Russian military, invaded our territory in the Crimea.
Somewhat later, in March and April by the “reconnaissance and sabotage” groups, involving local paramilitary groups, with a mainly criminal nature, there began an attempt to at the further occupation of Ukraine. Now it is in the east of the country – in the border with Russia, the two eastern regions of our territory – the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. This attempt was stopped by the volunteer battalions and Ukrainian army. During the spring and summer created from nothing Ukrainian armed forces have cleared a significant part of the occupied territories and it was obvious that in that case, the balance of forces in the autumn were able to fully release Donetsk and Luhansk from war.
But that balance of power was broken on August 24, when as a kind of gift to the Independence Day of Ukraine Russia sent regular troops. Overt military intervention took place. Firstly, it was for example the Pskov paratroopers, fate, or rather the death of whom is now among Russian state secrets. Then there were more and more troops with heavy artillery and tanks, and they continue to come to our side of a now non-existent border with Russia. According to various sources on our temporarily occupied territories you can find from 25 to 30 thousands Russian military. And the number continues to grow.
The Russian Federation, which under the Budapest Memorandum assumed obligations under the guarantee of our territorial integrity and sovereignty, has brought war to our land. It seemed that after the horrors of the previous two world wars the unwritten rule was confirmed in the world: “Do not fight in Europe”. But this rule is now also broken. As a result – we are a country at war, although we did not attack anyone.
Despite the fact that the fighting covered only a quarter of only two regions of Ukraine – Donetsk and Luhansk regions of a total of 27 regions of Ukraine, war determines the life of the whole country. Today, Ukraine is living on the principle of “All for the front, everything for victory.” Those who are not on the front, sew warm clothing for the soldiers, after work, raising money for the army, coming to the workshops to repair disabled military equipment, digging trenches, loading and transporting “help packages” for the army, take and hold a temporary refugee from the occupied territories, which today has more than half a million people, who have fled their homes to escape the war. All are now working for the front and for victory. A twelve-year-old boy from Kherson more than a year collected money for the bike and has accumulated $ 300, which he gave to manufacture Ballistic equipment for the crew of Mykolaiv paratroopers, which saved their lives. Elders from Galicia, Ivano-Frankivsk region, gave to the warring Donetsk guys the money; they set aside for their own funeral, to prevent soldiers’ funerals. Actually, all country is fighting for Donetsk Airport. Despite the fact, that from strategic and military points of view – that’s totally not the Pratzen heights of Napoleon, the importance of it is in a different plane. It is a symbol of our confrontation with the Russian Federation, the country who for several months, even with its best elite special forces cannot take the airport, although it is defended by ordinary guys. Office workers, miners, teachers, drivers, students, engineers, even one pensioner.
The Russian Federation is also fighting not for the airport, but for the fact that the servants will not have their sacred symbols and their heroes. All of this is difficult to imagine in the 21st century and with the rational-logical point of view – a full surrealism, but today it is – our reality.
What is this war for? On the surface, visible obvious reason. The world’s last colonial Russian empire does not want to let its former colony go from its sphere of influence, questioning her integrity and sovereignty. That former colony, Ukraine, striving to attain genuine sovereignty and get rid of whatever was dependent on its former metropolis. It’s simple. Whatever mythical justifications were not called for this war, in fact, they all boil down to the same reason.
But this is only the external cause. We are in addition to the struggle against the foreign invasion – in another war. The war for justice. The Revolution of Dignity indeed was not for European integration, but for the justice. For the dismantling of the oligarchic socio-economic model and creating a just society instead. In this sense, the slogan for Yanukovych’s resignation was only a first step towards this goal. Have we already reached this goal? Obviously, no.
We have only personnell, not systemic changes that were actually required by Maidan. Can we therefore say that our revolution is lost? Never, because the revolution, the war for justice, is not over. But we do it in more severe conditions in front of the external invasion. Today we are in a period of counter-offensive of the oligarchy, whose regime was not so frantic, even with Yanukovych. Yanukovych was not popular in the society, so he understood that there are limits, one cannot overcome. The right-liberal audience, which now received power using a wave of people’s struggle, has no brakes . They frankly do not intend to modernize the country. Everything they do comes down to using the oligarchic model for personal enrichment, created during the last two decades. Moreover, they are still speculating on the war. This means that they will be swept away by the more rigid manner and in a much shorter time frame than Yanukovych.
Today our society is not only fighting for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country, but also for its modernization and its future. It is clear that the ruling elite have other goals, so in the depths of society one can find a very active, though not visible on the surface, process of new elites forming from the environment that emerged after the Maidan social movements. It’s hard to believe, if not to see it with my own eyes and not be part of this process. This surprising phenomenon is comparable only to that of the French Revolution, when the masses of ordinary people become the driving force that determines everything that happens. When strangers are faced with some problems together are cooperating to solve it and make impossible things. The same way we almost from nothing have created and equipped our army, likewise, we will solve the problem with elites. Only this takes a little more time and self-organization.
Ukrainian Social Democrats are actively involved in this process. And we started it long before the third, that is the last of the Maidans. As a party, who were among the founders of the first Maidan on December 15, 2000, we have special sentiment towards the Maidan and support it, but we more than anyone know its limitations. Maydan as naked protest is doomed to failure. The only Maidan capable to win – is the Trade Union. Therefore, even before the last of the Maidan and the whole period when it stood and especially now, we stand together with the most influential industrial trade unions of Ukraine and not only with them, to modernize the trade unions as a tool for the country’s modernization. We are deeply convinced; the new generations of leaders, able to modernize Ukraine, will come exactly from this environment. And for this very moment we have started preparation to the next local elections to be held due to the Constitution in October 2015.
Today, my country is fighting for our right to live, for our right to determine our own destiny. Today, Ukraine needs territorial integrity, peace and justice. But not on the basis of each other’s expense.
First of all Russian troops must be withdrawn from all out territories, including Crimea without any preliminary conditions. We do not need anyone explaining us how to live on our land. We believe that only the Geneva rather than Minsk format of negotiations can find a way to resolve the situation and put an end to this absurdity, which is war in Europe in the 21st century.
Today, we need also your solidarity. First of all, in the liberation of our people who fought for their country and been stolen and illegally detained in prisons today by the Russian Federation. We are talking about Alexander Kol’chenko and Nadia Savchenko and Oleg Sentsov and hundreds of other Ukrainians, who are in the thrall of the Russian Federation, which in its official statements, however, is not at war. I ask the Council to include in the SI Council Resolution acknowledgment, conformation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, loyalty to the principles of the International Helsinki Accords (1975) on the inviolability of borders and demand to release all Ukrainian citizens held captive including mentioned above.
I want to thank everyone who stands with us at this tragic moment of history when everyone shows their true nature. We are happy that we haven’t mistaken in our International, which is really and truly Socialist. But most of all I want to thank the Russian democrats, both left and right, all Russian democrats for their support and solidarity. We understand that they are primarily fighting not for us, but for the future of their country, for its better fate, which is criminally sinking today under Putin’s regime. But we especially appreciate your solidarity and your efforts because you pay for it a solid price.
Glory to Ukraine!