Ukraine: Unity of workers against capitalist warmongers and imperialist interference
The crisis reaches its boiling point
Russian President Vladimir Putin advances plans for a “Greater Russia” (Click to enlarge: opens in a new window)
Reporters of the Committee for a Workers’ International (CIO)
Russian President Vladimir Putin has recognized the “independence” of two Moscow-backed separatist regions in eastern Ukraine. He said “peacekeeping” forces would be sent to the territories.
Prospects for a revival of talks stemming from the 2014 and 2015 Minsk agreements between France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine – with proposals for “special status” elections and a constitution for the regions of Donbass – are now dead in the water.
Putin made the announcement during a televised meeting of the Russian Security Council on February 21. He claimed the decision was in response to calls by the leaders of the “Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics” for the Russian government to recognize them as independent states and protect them from “genocide” by Ukrainian forces. Moscow says an evacuation to Russia has begun of 700,000 of the three million still living in those areas.
More than 14,000 people have died in the conflict in eastern Ukraine since 2014. This follows the rise to power in Kyiv of a reactionary pro-Western regime involving Ukrainian ultra-nationalists and militias of ‘far right.
In his speech, Putin denounced NATO aggression, but also attacked the revolutionary socialist legacy of Bolshevik leader Lenin. “So you want decommunization? It suits us. But let’s not stop halfway. We are ready to show you what real decommunization looks like,” Putin said.
In other words, the “Great Russia” nationalist Putin thinks that Ukraine and the other republics created in the early years of the Soviet Union should not exist.
There is a sea of difference between Putin’s pro-capitalist right-wing nationalism and Lenin’s international labor solidarity. The 1917 revolution was able to succeed because of the socialist program of Lenin, Trotsky and the Bolsheviks, which included support for the right of nations oppressed under Tsarism to self-determination, while advocating that the republics form a voluntary and equal union of socialist states.
Western powers have said Putin’s allegations of Ukrainian attacks on the Russian “enclaves” of Luhansk and Donbass were a pretext for an invasion. Yet the West has a long history of false flag operations. The Gulf of Tonkin Incident in 1964 was a fabrication that US Democratic President Johnson used to justify a massive escalation of US military involvement in Vietnam. Infamously, the false claims of the US and UK governments about “weapons of mass destruction” were used in the build-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
The NATO powers furiously denounced Putin’s latest move as a blatant invasion of a sovereign country and announced a series of new sanctions, including against public figures in separatist Russian enclaves.
Here again, the West is guilty of nauseating hypocrisy. The same Western powers disregard the continued “illegal” occupation of northern Cyprus by NATO member Turkey after the 1974 invasion, which led to ethnic cleansing and the division of the island, or its invasion and occupation of northern Syria in 2019.
At the time of going to press, Germany is said to have disconnected the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline with Russia. In response, Russia can squeeze gas and oil supplies from Europe. Such tit-for-tat actions can have big consequences for the global economy and the squeeze on the cost of living that currently affects hundreds of millions of people in the West alone.
NATO’s Eastward Shift
Russian troops have been gathered near Ukraine’s eastern border for months now. As we explained last April, when at least 100,000 troops were expected to be in the region: “A primary reason for military tensions is NATO’s constant expansion to Russia’s borders. since the dissolution of the former Soviet Union”.
NATO forces have been aggressively reinforced in all states bordering Russia and Belarus, as well as Ukraine. The NATO powers have delivered an abundance of military equipment to Ukraine, and are training permanent and volunteer forces in military combat techniques.
Putin hopes that by appearing powerful on the international stage, he can bolster his waning popularity at home. Its overriding concern is to protect the billionaire elite in Russia and maintain the position of its inner circle at its head.
He doesn’t want an independent country with a large opposing Russian-speaking population on his doorstep. And he wants to be sure that Ukraine will not follow other former members of the USSR, such as Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia into the NATO Alliance.
This week has seen an escalation of the conflict. It has been suggested that once launched, Russian forces could push to establish a land corridor between Russia’s claimed Crimea and the so-called Donbass “Republic”. This could be costly in terms of loss of life on both sides.
Socialists oppose any slide towards war which means the suffering of millions of workers, already the main victims of the conflict. Socialists oppose the repression of any national minority.
These events show the desperate need to build forces in Ukraine and Russia that can unite workers and the poor against capitalists and warmongers and the interference of Western imperialism, with policies of workers’ democracy and socialism.