Ukraine: workers mustn’t march to the imperialist war drums!

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
February 14, 2022

Will war break out in the heart of Europe before the end of the week? American authorities are saying so and have called on all their nationals to leave Ukraine.

For weeks now, Western leaders have been accusing Putin of preparing to invade Ukraine. Biden, Macron and Scholz are playing a life-size game of liar dice, holding publicized meetings with Putin, all the while presenting him as a dictator, an aggressor and a warmonger. Putin is undoubtedly a dictator, both for the opposition and for the working classes throughout Russia. But, between him and the West, he’s not the one being aggressive.

The Ukrainian and the Russian peoples share a long history and a common culture. For 70 years, they were part of the Soviet Union – the vast territory created after the 1917 revolution – and shared a common and planned development. Whether Donbas and Crimea were administratively part of Ukraine or Russia was unimportant since there was no frontier separating them.

When the bureaucrats in Moscow, Kiev and Minsk split up the Soviet Union in 1991, they didn’t consult the population. And the United States didn’t disband NATO, the military alliance that was created in order to isolate the Soviet Union. On the contrary, they used Russia’s weakness under Yeltsin as an opportunity to include the three Baltic states and Poland, Romania, Hungary, etc. They gained a foothold in Georgia and in Central Asia. American bases now surround Russia and Putin wants to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO. Who exactly is being aggressive?

Biden and Macron are berating Putin because he’s deploying troops on the Ukraine borders. But when, at the beginning of January, the same Putin sent 3,000 Russian paratroopers to help the Kazakh dictator repress the workers’ uprising, their silence was deafening. In Kazakhstan, it was the repression of workers who were protesting the high cost of living. But what was at stake was the profits of Total, Chevron, Arcelor Mittal and other Western multinationals who exploit the resources and the workers of this former Soviet country. To put down a workers’ revolt, Putin, Biden and Macron get along just fine!

And that’s why workers must avoid the warmongering hysteria of American leaders followed more or less by European leaders. They care no more about the fate of the Ukrainians than that of the other populations that they oppress across the globe.

They claim to uphold freedom but they prevent women and men from circulating freely to escape war and abject poverty. They have rebuilt an iron curtain by installing barbed wire between Belarus and Poland that causes the death of large numbers of migrants.

They advocate for peace and democracy but they maintain a multitude of deadly regional wars and they arm dictators. Macron lectures Putin but France keeps troops in nine African countries. In Burkina Faso and Mali, French troops are so not seen as liberators that they are reviled by the population.

In Eastern Europe, as in Africa and Asia, the major powers intervene to defend the interests of their own capitalists who are fighting for market shares and access to raw materials. In the current economic crisis, competition is increasingly fierce and the imperialist leaders are preparing to change economic war into just plain war.

Their military budgets are constantly increasing. When Russia isn’t being presented as a threat, China is. And yet it’s American, Australian and even French warships and submarines in the South China sea, not Chinese vessels off the coast of California!

Although the situation could go belly up, the major powers are currently parading in front of China and Russia to mark their territory. The capitalist world is such a powder keg that the grace period won’t last. But this maneuvering has another purpose: to get their population into line and groom them so that they’ll be ready to serve as cannon fodder in the war to come. All those who keep repeating “ in the interests of France” are part of that process.

We must refuse to march to the beat of that drum! This war is nothing to do with workers and everything to do with those who exploit them and who are competing for the biggest share of the profits.

Nathalie Arthaud