By Abayomi Azikiwe
While the western corporate and government-controlled media outlets build their cases for the unconditional support of the NATO-backed regime in Ukraine, the experiences of African students attempting to flee the war has revealed the discriminatory racist nature of the authorities now in power in Kiev.
According to press accounts one million people have fled the country of Ukraine in the face of a Russian military special operation designed to remove the current administration.
Nonetheless, thousands of students from various African countries have been denied the right to board trains heading for neighboring states to the West such as Poland and Hungary. Their stories have been suppressed and downplayed within the larger scheme of imperialist attempts to influence public opinion to accept a major conventional war against Russia in Eastern Europe. These same students, estimated to number 16,000, have reported horrendous experiences in dealing with the Ukrainian authorities where the official policy is to prioritize the safe passage of Ukrainian women and children out of the country.
Several governments including the 55-member continental African Union (AU) have issued a statement protesting the treatment of their nationals living and attempting to leave Ukraine in the aftermath of the Russian intervention which began on February 24. Television reports highlighting the racist treatment of African students have appeared on networks from Nigeria and Ghana to the Republic of South Africa.
In a statement released by the AU Commission based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia:
“The current Chair of the African Union and President of the Republic of Senegal, H.E. Macky Sall, and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, are following closely the developments in Ukraine and are particularly disturbed by reports that African citizens on the Ukrainian side of the border are being refused the right to cross the border to safety. The two Chairpersons recall that all people have the right to cross international borders during conflict, and as such, should enjoy the same rights to cross to safety from the conflict in Ukraine, notwithstanding their nationality or racial identity. Reports that Africans are singled out for unacceptable dissimilar treatment would be shockingly racist and in breach of international law. In this regard, The Chairpersons urge all countries to respect international law and show the same empathy and support to all people fleeing war notwithstanding their racial identity. The Chairpersons commend the efforts by African Union Member State countries and their embassies in neighboring countries to receive and orientate African citizens and their families trying to cross the border from Ukraine to safety.”
Although initially reports surfaced saying students from Ghana were being attacked by incoming Russian military forces, no documented proof of this has been revealed. Unfortunately, such unsubstantiated claims were reprinted by the Africa News website in a report which was clearly designed to provide a rationale for the anti-Russian sentiment being fueled by the United States and other NATO states.
Nonetheless, all of the oral interviews done by several African-oriented media networks tell a different story. A 20-year-old medical student a Lviv University, Wasiu Sidiq from Nigeria, reported that he and fellow colleagues attempted to board trains to head out of Ukraine to Poland. After waiting in line for more than 28 hours they were told that Ukrainians could board the trains and not them. They told stories of not only verbal insults and discriminatory practices by the Ukrainian authorities as many of them were punched and shoved by the police and military personnel as well.
An article published by African Arguments says of the situation which is typical of the present atmosphere in Ukraine that:
“’The reason the queue was not moving was because of the Ukrainians. They said they are the owners of the country,’ a furious Sidiq tells African Arguments over the phone. ‘I told one [Ukrainian] woman that both of us are foreigners right now.’ When the queue finally did start to move, Sidiq says that officials told Africans to form a separate line and other refugees started yelling at them. ‘They started shouting ‘foreigners go back, foreigners go back’. They were literally shouting it to our face,’ he says. ‘They did not care about us at that moment. They just wanted us to die.’… By this time he was exhausted, hungry and dehydrated. He noticed a stand that was giving out food to refugees, but he and other Black students were refused. They were sharing bread, burgers, noodles and coffee,’ he says. ‘We went to meet these people [and tell them] that we were hungry, and they said the food is for only Ukrainians, not Blacks.’’’
Neo-Nazis Embedded in Pro-NATO Regime in Kiev
The U.S.-backed coup against the centrist government of President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014, often referred to as the “Revolution of Dignity” or the “Maidan Revolution”, could not have taken place without a leading role being played by ultra-right wing neo-nazi militias and organizations which were supported by the then administration of President Barack Obama in Washington. These often-violent groupings remain a powerful force in the overall campaign against Russia and Russian-speaking residents of Ukraine. The recognition of the People’s Republic of Donetsk and Luhansk in the eastern Donbass region has been a defensive move to protect these populations from the constant attacks by the Ukrainian military and right-wing militias, which has left thousands of people dead since 2014.
Even the New York Times in a report published two weeks prior to the Russian special military operation in Ukraine on February 10, written by reporter Andrew E. Kramer, noted the potentially disruptive role of the neo-nazi organizations in preventing any peace agreement or political settlement with Moscow. These groupings categorically oppose any agreement with Moscow and consequently their political position solidarizes with Washington’s.
Kramer emphasized the intransigence of right-wing organizations and their grip over the current government in Kiev:
“Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, has few cards to play in any talks with Moscow. Perhaps his strongest is the threat of an insurgency by nationalist groups like Democratic Ax and the even more influential Right Sector in the event of a Russian invasion. Recently, the government has even urged the nationalist parties to arm themselves more heavily. But the groups are a two-edged sword, threatening not just the Kremlin but also the Ukrainian government, which could be rocked and possibly overthrown by them if Mr. Zelensky agrees to a peace deal that in their minds gives too much to Moscow.” ()
The Attempted Isolation of Russia and Its Allies Will Negatively Impact the Western Capitalist States
Yet the western media has apportioned exclusive blame for the existing war on the Russian government of President Vladimir Putin. Economic sanctions tantamount to a complete blockade of a major European country have been implemented.
However, working and impoverished people in the U.S. and Western Europe are being severely impacted by the foreign policy of Washington, NATO and the European Union (EU). An inflationary spiral not witnessed in four decades is sweeping the U.S. where fuel, food, transport, energy, housing and other commodities and service prices are skyrocketing.
A State of the Union speech by President Joe Biden on March 1 failed to announce any price controls or freezes which could benefit working and oppressed peoples in the U.S. An escalation in the deployment of Pentagon troops to Poland and other Eastern European NATO-controlled states is further heightening tensions which could result in a broader conventional war between the Russian Federation and NATO led by the U.S.
The legislative agenda promised to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party during 2020-2021 for a robust social spending program, a justice in policing act, the renewed voting rights bill, moratoriums on evictions amid the present economic crisis spawned by the COVID-19 pandemic, the raising of the minimum wage and an environmental policy to address climate change and ecological degradation has failed over the past year of the Biden tenure. At present Biden’s approval rating is hovering around 40% while his disapproval stands at 55% among the U.S. electorate. At present, the Democrats have almost nothing to offer their constituencies which includes African Americans and other people of color communities suffering from the decline in wages and living standards.
Consequently, the propaganda and psychological warfare campaign being waged by Washington and NATO is specifically designed to win people over to the notion of a protracted war with Russia. By mischaracterizing the situation in Ukraine including the political character of the Zelensky regime and its dependence upon NATO and fascist domestic elements, the Biden administration and the Pentagon are working feverishly to obliterate any alternative views on the Ukrainian situation with the aim of neutralizing the social justice, peace and antiwar movements in the West.
The insistence upon the condemnation of the Russian government even among purported peace activists while social conditions in the U.S. and other western industrialized states rapidly deteriorates, serves to nullify the demands for a dismantlement of NATO, the defunding of the Pentagon and the rejection of imperialist foreign policy. The principal adversaries to peace and sustainable development in the world today are the Pentagon, White House and the capitalist barons of Wall Street.