Ukraine-Russia conflict

It is now over 100 days since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. There is no end in sight to the war. The gung ho statements of the West following Russia’s withdrawal from the areas it had occupied around Kyiv, Sumy, Chernihiv and Kharkiv, have turned into more pessimistic appraisals. Russian forces, through superior artillery, have been advancing in the Donbas, slowly, but relentlessly. Ukrainian losses are mounting. Russia has maintained its income from oil and gas, despite the West’s sanctions, the knock-on effects of which threaten to push the world economy into a new and damaging recession.

Oleksandra Koval, director of the Ukrainian Book Institute (part of the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture), has claimed that they will begin working towards withdrawing over 100 million so-called ‘propaganda’ books from public libraries in Ukraine. The books – including the works of the world-renowned writers and poets Dostoyevsky and Pushkin – may be sent to paper recycling centres according to the Minister of Culture and Information Policy, Oleksandr Tkachenko.

“We’re not just at war to support the Ukrainians. We’re fundamentally at war, although somewhat through a proxy, with Russia, and it’s important that we win,” said US representative Seth Moulton during a Fox News appearance. He was perhaps being more frank than others, but the message has been coming loud and clear from official representatives of Biden’s administration. Asked what the US would consider success in the war, Biden’s Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said “we want to see Russia weakened”.

On 9 April, a group called Stand With Ukraine held a small demonstration in London. Despite receiving support from a number of trade unions, only a few hundred people took part. In true Orwellian fashion, this so-called anti-war solidarity demonstration was filled with hair-raising, warmongering rhetoric. Slogans included: “arm, arm, arm Ukraine!”, and participants were reportedly inviting NATO to “call Putin’s bluff”, i.e. to launch a full-blown military intervention and spark World War III.

In a shock announcement, Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has told Russian state media: “NATO, in essence, is engaged in a war with Russia through a proxy and is arming that proxy.” In an uncharacteristically angry tone, he accused NATO of fighting a proxy war by supplying military aid to Ukraine, just at a time when western defence ministers have gathered in Germany for US-hosted talks on supporting Ukraine through what one US general called a “very critical” few weeks.

Note from the editorial board: Today we are reproducing a pair of very important articles that blow sky high all the lying western propaganda that has surrounded the war in Ukraine from day one up to the present. The author of these remarkable documents is not a Marxist. Far from it. He is Jacques Baud, a former colonel in the Swiss army and ex-member of the Swiss Strategic Intelligence Service. He also worked for NATO, during and after the 2014 Ukraine crisis, following which he participated in programmes related to Ukraine. 

The main peculiarity of the present war in Ukraine is that it has been completely overshadowed by an unprecedented war of information. This has served to generate a lot of heat, but very little light. In fact, its principal objective is not to inform, but to conceal the real situation. In this, one has to admit, it has been highly successful.

The impact of the war in Ukraine will be felt far beyond European shores. With Russia and Ukraine together being responsible for 12% of all calories traded, and natural gas forming an important component in fertilisers, the war is exacerbating food inflation. Coming at a time when many of the dominated capitalist countries have built up massive debts in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the war is adding to a perfect storm that will provoke class struggle on a global scale.

We have received this report on the rising repression within Russia, as the “special operation” (i.e. the war in Ukraine) drags on. Even the mildest criticism of the invasion is being shut down, on pain of arrest and imprisonment. Independent news sources and social media platforms are shuttered, and anyone voicing disapproval of the war is labelled a “national traitor.” These measures are a sign of President Vladimir Putin’s weakness, not his strength, and will only cause the masses’ resentment to accumulate. 

Over three million people have now fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion on 24 February, with the UN declaring the fastest-growing refugee crisis in Europe since the Second World War. There has been an outpouring of sympathy for those fleeing war from millions of people. Hundreds of thousands of ordinary people have even offered to open up their homes to those displaced. But the ‘generosity’ of the governments of the West reeks of hypocrisy.

As people around the world watch the war unfold in Ukraine, many are left asking: “What can I do to stop it?” Following in the footsteps of state sanctions, the answer provided by politicians and official organizations has been: exclude Russians from international events, ban Russian products, and boycott Russian businesses.

We have received a brief report about the political struggle taking place in the Moscow organisation of the Komsomol (youth wing of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation) about the question of the war in Ukraine. As a result of their opposition to the official, chauvinistic line of the leadership of the party, supporters of the Marxist Tendency and others have now been expelled. 

Zelenskiy’s government continues to cynically use the invasion to justify repressing political opponents. Eleven organisations have had their political activities criminalised for the period of the armed conflict. While some of these organisations are farcical, and there are members of these groups who do have favourable attitudes toward the Russian invasion, no evidence of collaboration has been presented.

The British ruling class and its representatives are cynically using the conflict in Ukraine as an excuse to attack the labour movement and the left. We must build the forces of Marxism, and fight back against the flag-waving servants of capital.