Russia, US, NATO and EU out of Ukraine! NATO and CSTO dissolution!
On Tuesday 22 February, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine. Putin aims to overthrow the Zelensky government, bring the country under his domination, annex the Donbass, prevent Ukraine from joining NATO and warn the former Soviet republics of what awaits them if they oppose his will.
After furiously attacking Lenin’s nationalities policy and using the cheap excuse of “denazifying Ukraine”, Putin, the friend of the European far-right, has launched an invasion using the same methods Hitler’s Wehrmacht used to invade the USSR in World War II.
Since the invasion began, Russian troops have met strong and heroic resistance from the Ukrainian army and people. The civilian population has not hesitated to take up the weapons offered to them and confront the invaders. This courageous resistance has thwarted Putin’s plans for a quick conquest and has dramatically altered the course of events. If Putin finally conquers Ukraine, he will do so because of the destruction of the country and a horrific massacre. As we write, more than 2,000 Ukrainians have died, and more than one million refugees have already crossed the borders into neighbouring countries.
We support the resistance of the Ukrainian people against Russian invasion
The Ukrainian people need to take up arms to defeat the invasion. Zelensky’s government took a long time to decree the general mobilisation of the population and the arming of militias. It did not decree it until three days after the invasion began when it knew well in advance of the invasion plans. He is now handing out some weapons to civilians and giving instructions on how to make Molotov cocktails. However, the distribution of weapons is limited and proceeding slowly.
As revolutionary socialists, we support the Ukrainian people taking up arms to repel the Russian troops and the mobilisations in Russia (and Belarus) against the invasion, which are facing brutal repression, with thousands arrested, many of them beaten by the police. History has shown that workers can defeat enemy troops if they organise. That is why we support the development of workers and people’s self-defence militias. We call on the trade union and working class organisations in Ukraine and neighbouring countries to take into their own hands the tasks of organising the defence of Ukraine, independently of US and European imperialist forces. We extend our solidarity to the refugees, including Asian and African residents in Ukraine, viciously discriminated against at the borders.
We denounce the criminal support that the Cuban, Nicaraguan, Venezuelan and Iranian regimes and neo-Stalinist parties friendly to Putin are giving to the Russian invasion.
The invasion only favours the imperialist powers, allowing them to appear as the defenders of the Ukrainian people and their national independence. But they only use the Ukrainian people to expand their strength and power games. The European imperialists like England, France, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Italy, Portugal or Spain have left a trail of millions of dead in their colonial wars. As for the United States, according to the rather benign estimate of Brown University, since 11 September 2001, its military interventions, with the support of its European NATO allies, have destroyed entire societies such as Iraq and Afghanistan, causing 38 million displaced persons and 900,000 deaths. They have prevented the release of the patent on anti-Covid vaccines, they maintain their support for the brutal war in Yemen, apartheid in Palestine or neo-colonial domination in Puerto Rico. Macron intervenes militarily in Africa to support neo-colonial regimes subjugated to France. All of them maintain a racist and xenophobic policy in the face of the wave of refugees and migrants that they themselves provoke.
Ukrainian workers who are fighting the invasion shoulder to shoulder with the Ukrainian army should have no confidence in NATO and oppose the intervention of its troops if they want to ensure that their country remains truly independent. Nor should they have any confidence in the European Union, whose aim is to take control of the Ukrainian economy. Nor should they give political support to Zelensky’s government, but demand that it takes further steps to guarantee national sovereignty: make more weapons available to civilians willing to fight, seize the assets of Ukrainian capitalists needed to support defence efforts and alleviate the basic material needs of the population, expropriate the empty private properties needed to house refugees.
At the same time, we cannot share the position of those who use part of the truth – that NATO and its governments are cynical imperialists, with a blood-soaked history, seeking only to exploit Russian aggression for their own benefit – to refuse to support the Ukrainian resistance in defeating the invasion. Nor do we share the position of those who, in the name of abstract pacifism (“all wars are bad”) forget that the first obligation is to help defend a people being massacred.
We oppose invasion to launch an unprecedented escalation of war between the major world powers.
In response to the Russian invasion, EU and US governments began imposing various economic sanctions on Russia and increased troop movements. On 10 February, before the invasion, the US and NATO together had some 22,000 troops and 22 fighter jets deployed on their eastern lines. The US has its military bases in Europe, most of them in Germany, then in Poland and Romania and Lithuania, and in countries like Italy and Spain. The US has approximately 90,000 troops in Europe and the Pentagon announced that it would deploy additional troops. The UK and EU countries have also sent additional troops to the eastern front in the last three weeks.
In this context, the announcement of the German rearmament is of enormous significance. NYTimes reports: “Mr. Scholz announced an increase of 100 billion euros ($113 billion) for defence spending and pledged to spend more than 2% of Germany’s GDP annually on defence. He also proposed enshrining this military spending threshold in the constitution, ensuring that future governments would follow it”. Behind the Chancellor’s words is Germany’s decision to become a major military power, a break with its strategic location since World War II. As Chancellor Scholz puts it, the Russian invasion has placed them “in a new era”.
In response to these moves, Russia has declared that it has put its nuclear weapons on high alert. In addition, Belarus has just held a referendum to renounce its “non-nuclear status”, which would allow it to host nuclear weapons, while collaborating with Russia in the military invasion of Ukraine.
Amid this rivalry, the Ukrainian people have less and less space to assert their national sovereignty. Russia’s brutal invasion has brought the Zelensky government closer to the EU and NATO, which, under the pretext of solidarity and defence of Ukrainian national freedom, seek to turn Ukraine into an EU economic semi-colony and NATO military outpost. This is the background to the European Parliament’s symbolic vote recognising Ukraine as a candidate for EU membership.
We call for the dissolution of NATO and CSTO.
NATO is a military organisation that serves as an intervention force to protect the interests of US imperialism and its allies in Europe, keeping them in check. It now has 30 “allied” states and has the capacity to deploy almost 3.5 million personnel, troops and civilians combined.
It was created in 1949 after World War II by the US to establish a military alliance in Western Europe under American rule and to “contain” the advance of Soviet Russia. It has been used in military adventures such as the occupation of Afghanistan. NATO has also been a mechanism for spending gigantic funds on major military expenditures that threaten our security and environment, instead of using them to address the Covid-19 pandemic and urgent climate action after the failure of COP 26.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc in 1991, the USSR dissolved the Warsaw Pact with the understanding that NATO would act similarly. But the opposite was true; the US, with the support of key EU actors, began to push NATO’s eastward expansion, and between 1999 and 2020 absorbed 14 former Warsaw Pact states, three of them Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, former republics of the USSR. In response, Russia has consolidated the CSTO as a military bloc in charge of repressing any popular movements that endanger Kremlin-submissive dictatorships in the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, as happened in Kazakhstan in January.
Under NATO, the working class and peoples of Europe are no longer “safe” or protected by this military alliance, quite the contrary. The expansion of NATO represents a further militarisation of Europe and every attempt at NATO expansion has pushed Russia to retaliate.
Ultimately, moreover, NATO is the military apparatus that workers will have to confront and defeat when they revolt against plans for austerity and misery, cuts to freedoms and endless militarisation. Certainly, NATO troops will not stand idly by when workers challenge the European bourgeois regimes and stand in the way of socialist revolution.
Economic sanctions must target Russian oligarchs and their government
We actively support the efforts of the Ukrainians to acquire weapons and supplies to defend themselves. At the same time, it must be said that the measures of our imperialist governments, such as their sanctions, no-fly zones, and troops on the ground, come at a high price and do virtually nothing to stop Russia’s war machine.
The price that workers in Russia are paying is already very high: the fall of the rouble, sharp price increases, shortages, much more expensive money and difficulties in getting cash. And this is only the beginning because a process of company closures has just begun.
On the other hand, the oligarchs, whom Putin represents, despite the propaganda of our governments, are not really affected in the assets they have plundered. And it is precisely here that Putin can and must be beaten to stop him and make him back down.
According to various studies (Novokment, Piketty and Zucman), Russia’s big oligarchs have deposited wealth equivalent to 85% of Russia’s GDP in Western countries such as the UK, Switzerland, and others and in tax havens. However, the governments of the imperialist powers do not seize them because influential Western businessmen and politicians share their business and because to do so means attacking the big financial institutions that launder their money, as well as that of Western tycoons.
Instead of punishing the Russian working people, we demand the seizure of the great fortunes of the oligarchs and their disposal to arm the Ukrainian people, rebuild their country and return them to the Russian working people.
European workers must make our class organisations build direct material solidarity with the resisting workers in Ukraine and with the refugees.
On 1 March, the French economy minister, Bruno LeMaire, declared that France was “going to wage an all-out economic and financial war against Russia”, adding “we will provoke the collapse of the Russian economy” and acknowledged that his government has no qualms about harming and impoverishing the Russian people. Ultimately, the European imperialist powers, led by Germany and France, seek to seize Russia’s energy and mineral resources, no longer dependent on Putin.
Some lessons from history on the struggle for peace
The struggle for peace means first and foremost helping the Ukrainian people to defeat Putin’s invasion as well as defending the unity and independence of Ukraine, preventing it from becoming a military and economic semi-colony, whether of Russia or of NATO and the EU.
We do not advocate “peace in general” nor are we “against war in general”, but we must specify very clearly what is the class character of war and what are the terms of peace for which the working class must fight. As Lenin explained in The Question of Peace (1915), the only peace we accept is that which rests on “the recognition of the right of self-determination of all nations, and also the renunciation of all annexations”. We do not want Putin’s, Macron’s or Biden’s versions of peace, a Ukraine that legitimises annexations, military occupations, or the subjugation of the Ukrainian people to the whims of any external imperial power. There can be no peace for the working class and peoples of the region until Russia withdraws all its troops from Ukraine, until both NATO and CSTO are disbanded, and all US troops are withdrawn from Europe.
As Lenin recalled during the First World War: “Instead of allowing hypocritical charlatans to deceive the people with phrases and promises about the possibility of a democratic peace, the socialists must explain to the masses the impossibility of anything like a democratic peace unless there is a series of revolutions and unless a revolutionary struggle is waged in each country against the respective government. Instead of allowing bourgeois politicians to deceive the people by talking about the freedom of nations, socialists must explain to the masses of oppressor nations that they cannot hope for their liberation if they help to oppress other nations and do not recognise and defend the right of those nations to self-determination, i.e., the freedom to secede.”
The only permanent way out of the crisis and militarisation of Eastern Europe is to organise the working class there and in the imperialist countries to push for mass mobilisations against the war with a clear programme. We must stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian resistance and its struggle to defeat the invasion and with all refugees fleeing the war and, at the same time, oppose the tit-for-tat escalation incited by the US, the EU and Russia. In Western Europe and the US, we must follow the example of several trade unions in Russia (KRT), Poland, Belarus and Ukraine, which are taking the initiative to oppose the war effort from below, with clear working class independence and solidarity, and mobilise workers’ and popular organisations to push for and participate in mass demonstrations.
- All our solidarity with the resistance in Ukraine and with the Russian demonstrators against the invasion! Stop the repression, free the detainees!
- For the defeat of the Russian military invasion! Weapons for the resistance of the Ukrainian people! No trust in Zelensky and the Ukrainian oligarchs!
- Let’s build a movement against the invasion and military escalation that puts millions on the streets!
- Russian troops out of Ukraine! Crimea back! Russian troops and paramilitaries out of Donbass!
- End all Russian oppression of Ukraine! USA, NATO and EU, out of Ukraine’s clutches!
- US and Russian troops, from Kharkiv to Heidelberg, from Kazakhstan to Okinawa, go home, go home, go home!
- Stop the arms race, eliminate nuclear arsenals and weapons of mass destruction!
- Money for health, housing and climate justice, not for war and NATO!
5 March 2022
Workers Voice/La Voz de los Trabajadores (USA)
Partito di Alternativa Comunista, PdAC (Italy)
Em Luta (Portugal)
Corriente Roja (Spanish State)
International Socialist League (England and Wales)