The overthrow of Viktor Yanukovych in the Maidan Square events of February 2014 unleashed a period of civil conflict which pitched Ukraine nationalists against the large Russian-speaking population of the country. The attacks on the Russian minority – between 30% and 40% of the population – escalated to the point where, on May 4th 2014, over a hundred peaceful protestors in Odessa were trapped, by far-right and neo-Nazi assailants, in the Trade Union Building where they were burned to death. Ukraine’s small revolutionary left organisation, Borotba, was violently suppressed. The Russian-dominated Donetsk and Lugansk regions established autonomous republics and begain arming, later inflicting a devastating defeat on the Ukrainian army
It was clear that an utterly new situation, both in Ukraine and the world, was emerging. In an embarassing leak, Victoria Nuland was exposed directly nominating who should be in the Ukraine Cabinet. The explicitly fascist Right Block and its military offshoot the Azov Battalion were given free reign to organise and – significantly – to terrorise and assassinate their own, and the regime’s opponents, given them de facto control over crucial components of the state. There was no doubt to those close to the events that this signalled a turn, on the part of the US elites, to direct and explicit reliance, on Europe’s borders, on fascist methods and organisations. The liberal postwar World order was not merely under siege: it was being abandoned.
Convinced that these events would have far-reaching consequences, we met in Yalta with a range of activists including survivors of the Odessa Massacre, and heard at firsthand of what was going on in the country. A two-day conference there produced a declaration – the ‘declaration of Yalta’