Down with the war against the people by Putin, Biden and NATO!

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
February 28, 2022

Bombed cities, families taking refuge in shelters and subway stations, people on the roads fleeing the fighting... Putin’s military intervention has plunged Ukraine into the horror of a monstrous and fratricidal war.

Women and men who have shared a common culture for many years and lived side-by-side during the decades of the Soviet Union are now being set against one another by this conflict. Families mixing Russians and Ukrainians lived on both sides of borders that were not obstacles to movement between the two states. Today, the increase of nationalism is digging trenches of blood and hatred between these peoples.

Putin's attack on Ukraine is criminal. We must declare our total solidarity with the populations in Ukraine and Russia, where hundreds of demonstrators against the war have been arrested. But it is the policy of the great Western powers that has made Ukraine the scene of their showdown with Russia.

Since the end of the USSR in 1991, American leaders have steadily increased their military pressure on Russia. Their armed instrument, NATO – an alliance designed during the Cold War to isolate and weaken the Soviet Union – was never dissolved. On the contrary, NATO carried out a policy of encirclement, integrating as new members the states of the ex-Soviet bloc bordering Russia. To hide their overwhelming responsibility in the process that has led to the current war, Western leaders and those who speak for them present Putin as the sole aggressor. How would Biden have reacted if Russia had set up military bases in Mexico and Canada, along the US borders?

Biden and his allies couldn't care less about Ukraine's sovereignty and the democracy they claim to defend to justify their policy. As if that stopped American leaders from violating the sovereignty of Afghanistan and Iraq, which they invaded on the basis of outright lies! When French soldiers intervene in Africa, they’re defending the interests of Total, Bouygues and so many other French corporations, not democratic rights. This has become so obvious that demonstrations have recently taken place in several countries to demand their departure.

Putin is a dictator who uses brutal and criminal methods. But that’s unlikely to bother the leaders of the imperialist world. On the contrary. When thousands of Russian troops were sent to Kazakhstan in January to help repress a popular uprising against price hikes, so-called Western democrats said nothing. Especially as the paratroopers sent in to support the local dictatorship also protected the interests of the large Western companies — Exxon, Total, ArcelorMittal… — present in Kazakhstan.

Faced with the great Western powers, Putin is appealing to the patriotism of the Russian population, but he does not defend their interests. He is the representative of the bureaucracy and of the thin layer of privileged people that managed to monopolize whole sections of the state-owned economy when the Soviet Union disappeared. Contrary to what Putin claims, the military intervention in Ukraine cannot in any way strengthen the security of the Russian people. The Kremlin’s aggressive chauvinism is actually fuelling anti-Russian nationalism in Ukraine and can only strengthen the position of imperialism in the region.

Putin, Biden and the other NATO country leaders are waging a war with the lives of the people for whom they all have nothing but contempt. And they know how to get along just fine when it comes to crushing mobilized workers! Workers must not take sides with any of them. Biden, Macron and their ilk would like to recruit us. We must refuse to unite behind them, nationally or internationally. This is not our war!

To change a future that will inevitably consist in crises that get worse and wars that spread, we must refuse to leave our fate in the hands of the imperialists and their governments, with their intrigues and their plots against the peoples. As Jaurès proclaimed before the First World War: "Capitalism carries war like the cloud carries the storm". That's still true and that's why it needs to be overthrown!

Nathalie Arthaud