The “Minsk Agreement” and the fall of Debaltseve


23/02/2015 by socialistfight

 In image made from video by Russian Television Channel 1 via APTN,  Russia-backed separatists hoist their flag over a high-rise building in Debaltseve...

Donbass militia celebrate the fall of Debaltseve

The “Minsk Agreement” and the fall of Debaltseve
LCFI Statement 22/2/2015

The Empire strikes back

The fall of Debaltseve to the Donbass army on 18 February 2015 is a great victory for anti-imperialist fighters everywhere and for the global working class. Coming just a week after the signing of Minsk 2, it is a blow both to the plans of Anglo-American imperialism to force Franco-German imperialism into war with Russia and to the plans of the European imperialist powers in alliance with Russia to force a compromise with Kiev on the Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples’ Republics to save Debaltseve and keep the working class in check. Minsk 2 is Russia’s attempt to broker a new compromise for itself with global imperialism.
According to the Borotba leader Victor Shapinov Interview on page 30 of Socialist Fight No19: “The Ukrainian state in the Donbass region collapsed in the spring and summer. Real power rests with the militias. They themselves function as police, prosecutors and intelligence agencies, courts and prisons.” The Russian TASS news agency reports:

“Kiev insists on Donetsk, Luhansk leaders’ participation in peace talks on Ukraine. A senior Ukrainian foreign ministry official said the peace talks on the conflict in Ukraine’s east must be attended by leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR).”We’ve learned this morning that DPR and LPR have sent quite different people – Pushilin and Deinego. But we should adhere to the format we have agreed upon,” the official, Dmitry Kuleba, told journalists. At the same time, the plenipotentiary representatives of the Donetsk and Luhansk republics, Denis Pushilin and Vladislav Deinego, who arrived in the Belarusian capital of Minsk on Friday, said they had full authority to negotiate, a TASS correspondent reported from the site.” [1]

Presumably Kiev, acting as the mouthpiece of US imperialism, were objecting that the Donbass had sent the wrong leaders. Either they regarded Deinego and Pushilin as Putin’s supporters and wanted the heads of state Alexander Zakharchenko from the Donetsk and Igor Plotnitsky and/or Prime Minister Hennadiy Tsypkalov from Lugansk Peoples Republic or they wanted representatives of the heads of the militias who were prepared to compromise and who wielded the real power in the Donbass as Shapinov tells us above.
Either way Minsk 2 failed to save Debaltseve; the anti-imperialist struggle and thereby the working class of Ukraine and the global working has been enormously strengthened by this victory. Despite the renewed ceasefire now taking effect the impetus is with the fighters of the Donbass militias and this will strengthen their self-consciousness as leaders and therefore their class consciousness. These debates have echoes of the Truce and Treaty debates that led to the Irish Civil War in 1922-3 – see Brokering a sell-out to Kiev in SF19, page 27 for these contradictions within the Donbass.

The central aggressive power is Anglo-American imperialism

Let us now reassert that the central aggressive power here is Anglo-American imperialism and that their central target is the Eurasian capitalist bloc of Russia and China. The war in the Ukraine, the war against Iraq, Afghanistan, ISIS, Assad and Gaddafi cannot be properly outside of this geopolitical struggle being waged by US imperialism in the first place to secure global domination and protect and enhance the profits of its great finance houses and global transnational companies. Russia mobilises its forces to defend the Caspian Sea because of its strategic importance; this region has the second biggest crude oil reserves in the world, also the Caspian region is a boundary between the West and East, the region where “the great game” has been played between great powers for over a century and a half.
But it is now clear that a huge gulf has developed between the US policy of arming their Kiev puppets to risk WWIII and the far more cautious Merkel and Hollande who know that the USA is only too willing to fight to the last European to defeat Russia. The real inter-imperialist power blocs are Anglo-American imperialism and the Franco-German European bloc. As the global crisis of capitalism deepens these tensions become greater and greater. In Africa for example French imperialism is being continually undermined and out manoeuvred by US imperialism; Rwanda was French speaking it now speaks English, or rather American. Its only resort to that would be to ally with China. [2]
Again and again the US shows its contempt for France (“cheese eating surrender monkeys” on the Iraq invasion by the US in 2003 and sending no representative to the reactionary Charlie Hebdo photo op march in Paris on 11 January), for the EU (Nuland’s “Fuck the EU”) and for Germany, bugging Merkel’s personal mobile phone, spying on the whole German nation (and every other one!) via GCHQ etc. and the latest move where Merkel and Hollande snubbed Obama and Cameron in the Minsk talks provoking a furious reaction from the likes of McCain and Kerry and British Tory politicians. The following is typical:

“The German publication Der Spiegel described a closed-door meeting, apparently reported on anonymously both to it and to the Bild newspaper, held by Assistant Secretary of State Nuland at the Munich Security Conference, with “perhaps two dozen U.S. diplomats and Senators.” There Nuland gave instructions to “fight against the Europeans” on the issue of arming Ukraine to fight Russia. She was described as “bitterly” referring to the German Chancellor’s and French President Hollande’s meeting with Russian President Putin as “Merkel’s Moscow junk,” and “Moscow bullshit,” and she welcomed a Senator’s calling German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen the “Defeatism Minister”.” [3]

Russia does not have to accept defeat, they are a nuclear power. And the British ruling class itself is far more split than the USA is right now. The warmongering Timothy Garton Ash on 2 February laughed at the liberal Guardian readership, “America does the cooking but Europe does the washing up” he crowed in a wisdom from the pre-nuclear age. [4]
We insist that by far the best thing for the British and American working-class is defeat of their proxy army in the Ukraine. Remember the Vietnam Syndrome and the great leftist impulse this gave to the global working class before and after 1975 despite the liberal patriotism of the ‘bring our boys home’ peaceniks. We must re-establish the revolutionary Marxist understanding that defeat for imperialism in a foreign war opens up revolutionary possibilities for the working class in imperialist countries and we must want it and work for it with all our might.

Battle of Debaltseve.png

Before the battle of Debalseve

Battle of Debaltseve Aftermath.png

After the battle on 18 February – the red has replaced the blue

What will happen next in Ukraine?

Putin capitulates to Obama’s diplomatic blackmail negotiated by Germany and France. However on the day following Putin’s capitulation Merkel followed up with blackmail and announced new sanctions against Russia to be implemented if Putin does not force the popular republics of Donbass to accept the agreed surrender. The first few days of what should be a cease-fire were marked by the resurgence of Ukrainian artillery against the AFDs in Debaltseve. At the same time in another city, Shirokino, the Nazi paramilitary Azov Battalion, opened fire with artillery and tanks against residential areas. In both the ADFs the regions are required to respond to coordinated attacks by agents of imperialism.
The Opera magazine highlights this well:

“The Right Sector will continue to attack the East and the East will be forced to fight back. The backlash will be reported throughout the pro-Western media as the non-fulfilment of the agreement and new sanctions will be applied against Russia – perhaps even the long-awaited shipment of arms to Kiev will materialize and Poroshenko will be back in the East with his best trained and armed forces and difficult days are close for the Eastern combatants.”

With the failure of the agreement, Putin will be charged by the international media with attempting to break the truce just signed. Simultaneously, the military force of Obama are beginning the deployment of marines in the Pacific against China and in the Middle East they are using the fight against ISIS as justification. Closing the encirclement via Eastern Europe, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Latin America, Venezuela and Brazil, with the right to privatization as a resolution of most of the Brazilian state and mysterious ship sinking platform and simultaneously the scandal makes the murder of Nisman against the Cristina government in Argentina.
In this way imperialism closes the siege against the Eurasian core. This rapid ongoing movement of Russia in the Caspian Sea is an attempt to break this encirclement. Putin has taken note of imperialism manoeuvres. Perhaps, in addition to all commercial and wars of the last three years, we should not rule out that among the possible scenarios to unfold that this counterattack imperialist would be the beginning of World War III.

Russia is not imperialist; no to ‘Dual Defeatism’

The former Workers Power group, the Revolutionary Communist Tendency (RCIT) demonstrate their outright capitulation to US-led imperialist propaganda in the following extract:

“The situation changed qualitatively when, in July-August 2014, the Ukrainian army gained huge military advances and brought the Donbass republics close to defeat. At that moment the Putin government decided to massively intervene. Moscow replaced the leadership of the People’s Republics and put in charge Russian as well as pro-Russian politicians from the Donbass region who had a history of being loyal instruments of Moscow. In addition, the Putin government deployed thousands of troops in the eastern Ukraine thereby tipping the balance of forces and helping the Donbass republics regain substantial ground. In early September, Moscow imposed a ceasefire.The August intervention of the Russian imperialist state marked a qualitative turning point, as we have outlined in the RCIT’s analysis of these events. From that moment on, the uprising has been transformed into one which is predominantly a tool of an imperialistic Russian foreign policy.” [5]

There is no proof for the assertion that: “Moscow replaced the leadership of the People’s Republics (with those) who had a history of being loyal instruments of Moscow” or that “the Putin government (sic!) deployed thousands of troops in the eastern Ukraine”. No doubt that Russia seeks to direct the struggle and that they allowed thousands of VOLUNTEERS to enter the Donbass but to echo John McCain’s propaganda on this is unforgivable as it the political decision to then withdraw unconditional support from the Donbass whilst it was under such vicious attack for fascist led forces who were slaughtering the civilian population in the cities of the east.
We categorically reject the proposition that this war is one between rival imperialist powers. For instance the RCIT say:

“In addition, the Minsk Agreement demonstrates once again the character of the military conflict in the eastern Ukraine as a proxy war of rival Great Powers. It is not the separatist leaders and the Kiev government which negotiated the agreement, but rather the leaders of the two biggest Western European imperialist nations opposite Russian imperialism on the behalf of the former.”[6]

Whilst this might seem better than the outright national chauvinist positions taken by the likes of Socialist Resistance (USFI), the Alliance for Workers Liberty and the majority leadership of the Labour Representation Committee nonetheless it is profoundly in error. In particular we reject the proposition that the fighters of the Donbass have become simply a proxy army for Putin (just as we rejected this in Libya in 2011 and in Syria since then).

The only proxy armies in these three conflicts are US/EU proxy armies; the Benghazi rebels, the Free Syrian Army and the jihadists of the Al-Nusra Front and the ISIS and the Kiev regime and its fascist infested army. Libya, Syria and the Donbass fought or are fighting genuine wars of national liberation against imperialist aggression despite the fact that they are led by reactionary bourgeois nationalist politicians. They have a right to get arms and assistance from anyone who will supply it, including Russia in the case of Syria and the Donbass.
The RCIT says:

“Instead, they have to pursue a dual defeatist position, i.e., to wage a struggle on two fronts: against the imperialist bourgeoisie of the US and EU and their Kiev marionette, as well as against Russian imperialism and their stooges at the head of the Donbass republics.” [7]

And then go on to take an openly Shachtmanite position in its list of demands at the end of their article, The Minsk Agreement and the Civil War in the Ukraine; “Down with the reactionary, pro-Western imperialist regime in Kiev! Down with the Putin regime and its puppets in the Donbass republics!” and “Neither Brussels nor Moscow! For an independent workers’ republic!” [8] they say and draw the same conclusions in almost the same words as Max Shachtman did against Trotsky and Trotskyism in 1939 and subsequently.[9]

The RCIT and Workers Power’s line “Neither Brussels nor Moscow!” is obviously a genuine offspring of Shachrmann’s  “Neither Washington nor Moscow but the Third Camp of Independent Socialism!” was used by Shachtman but originally formulated by Joseph Carter.
This is profoundly incorrect, it will not assist the working class in its struggles against US imperialist aggression. It will only spread defeatism and confusion. If taken seriously that position would have dire consequences for the working class of the Donbass and the revolutionary socialists in the region fighting for the leadership of the working class. It would demoralise them and undermine the position of a working class growing in confidence and class consciousness following their great victory at Debaltseve.


The big working class base of the Donbass army desires socialism and harks back to the nationalised property relations that existed in the days of the USSR, when conditions for the working class were far better and the oligarchs had not seized all the collective wealth of the country with the assistance of Yeltsin and US imperialism. The conscript Ukraine army (59 is now the upper conscript age!) is demoralised and do not want to fight a war in defence of the corrupt and fascist infested Kiev regime whilst their own conditions of life approach starvation levels; only the Banderaite [10] fascist militias are motivated and these by Nazi ideology.
Out task here as revolutionary socialist is to offer all the political and practical assistance we can to the fighters of the Donbass. We do not call for the overthrow of the Donbass leadership in the circumstances of this civil war until they have exposed themselves as anti-working class AND collaborators with imperialism and the class has grown in strength and class consciousness to overthrow them with a revolutionary socialist leadership that can appeal to the working class in western Ukraine, in Russia and the whole region and the world to rally to their cause and the cause of international socialism. To the revolutionary socialist of the Borotba union we offer all the political and practical assistance we can to assist them in their internationalist task of winning the leadership of the Donbass struggle for the working class. That is our understanding of the correct way to pose the task of the Anti-Imperialist United Front in this conflict

* Victory to the peoples’ Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk!

* Down with the fascist-infested regime in Kiev, the tool of Anglo American imperialism!
* For the right of the Donbass to separate as an independent state or to join Russia if they chose.
* Nationalise under workers control all the industries, mines and banks in the Donbass!


[1] Russian News Agency TASS:
[2] Why Rwanda said adieu to French,
[3] Will Nuland’s Nazis Push the World into War? By Jeffrey Steinberg Executive Intelligence Review, February 20, 2015,
[4] Putin must be stopped. And sometimes only guns can stop guns By Timothy Garton Ash,
[5] Ibid.
[6] The Minsk Agreement and the Civil War in the Ukraine, By Michael Pröbsting, Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 20.2.2015,
[7] Ibid.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Spartacus Educational Max Shachtman: “Shachtman became disillusioned with the Soviet Union when it signed the Soviet-Nazi Pact. These feelings were intensified when the Red Army invaded Poland (September, 1939) and Finland (November 1939). James Cannon continued to support the foreign policy of Joseph Stalin. Cannon, like Leon Trotsky, believed that the Soviet Union was a “degenerated workers’ state”, whereas Shachtman argued that Stalin was developing an imperialist policy in Eastern Europe.”
[10] Stephan Bandera, the war time Nazi collaborator glorified by the Kiev regime and almost deified by the Kiev fascist battalions.

One thought on “The “Minsk Agreement” and the fall of Debaltseve

  1. […] (4) Socialist Fight: The Minsk Agreement and the fall of Debaltseve, 22.2.2015, in: Socialist Fight No. 19, […]


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