The invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces should be opposed by all socialists. It will deliver death and destruction and strengthen division between the workers of each country; not to mention division within Ukraine between its majority and Russian-speaking populations, and within Russia and its millions of Ukrainian residents.
Initial reports are of opposition by many Russians to the invasion and this must be supported by workers everywhere. If we seek to support these voices we must not rally to our own ruling classes and states in their aggression towards Russia, which will inevitably hit ordinary Russians most rather than the oligarchs who have been so royally entertained in the West for so long.
We must oppose NATO and its expansionism and demand no Western involvement in the war. The future of Russia must lie in its workers opposing the repression of Ukraine, which will be a foil to resistance to their repression from their own state. They will bear the cost of the war in the lives of their fathers, sons and brothers and the cost of bombs, shells and missiles as well as incurring the wider enmity created.
Similarly in Ukraine, while the Ukrainian people have the right to defend themselves and to seek support from Russian workers and workers in the West, they need to ask what sort of state and Government it is that has led them into this war. The higher living standards of the West have understandably attracted many in Ukraine, but the route to economic and social unity with the West does not lie through an alliance with NATO, which has demonstrated its aggressive and war-like nature in Afghanistan, in Libya and previously in Europe.
The promise of independence of Ukraine within NATO was a promise that could not be kept and could exist only as an increasing threat to Russia. NATO membership would simply make Ukraine a hostage to NATO – in reality US – foreign policy and its intentions. This does not excuse the Russian invasion but damns the policy of the Ukrainian Government and the lies of Western powers.
Self-determination for Ukraine today means opposition to the war and to NATO. At some point the fighting will stop but it will not be the Ukrainian people who will determine their future, just as the prelude to war has involved the US, EU and China arguing over their fate. Real self-determination can only be accomplished by the unity of the peoples of the region, of Russia, Ukraine, Eastern Europe and Europe as a whole. Who will achieve this?
Only the working people of Ukraine and Russia have an interest in denying the territorial ambitions of their respective states and ruling classes. Only they have a joint purpose in removing their own corrupt governments from power and denying their wider geo-political ambitions. The so-called end of the cold war and the Soviet Union has demonstrated that war is intrinsic to the existing regimes in both Russia and the West, and of most benefit to its strongest power the United States. The demand for peace will be hollow if it does not recognise this glaring fact of recent history.
In Ireland we are asked to join the hypocrisy of Western powers with blood on their own hands, to oppose Russia in its copying their own actions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Serbia etc. The call to join NATO is getting louder and the demand for a bigger Irish military is now prominent. Ukraine has demonstrated that neither of these is a contribution to peace or security.
The unity of the peoples of Eurasia can only be achieved over the body of capitalist state rivalry and the billionaires and oligarchs who have benefited from the existing political and economic system. The working class movement of each country must reject the aggressive policies of its own states and leaders and seek to build real unity of its working people.
Against the War! Against the invasion! For immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine! No to NATO! For the unity of working class people – Workers of the World Unite!
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