The intensification of the war in Ukraine and its consequences

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
March 21, 2022

Cities of nearly one million people such as Kharkiv and Mariupol are now being massively bombed by the Russian army. Whole neighborhoods have been destroyed and thousands of civilians have died. On the opposite side, the US and their NATO allies are supplying more and more weapons to the Ukrainian army and its militias. The war has taken on a new dimension.

While Putin probably counted on a short intervention and the quick collapse of the Ukrainian power, it hasn’t turned out that way at all. And now as events spiral no one can say when the war will end nor what the repercussions will be. One thing for certain though is that the whole world will be affected.

Here, in France, more and more companies are already having trouble getting supplies. Michelin, for instance, has stopped production in the majority of its factories because of a shortage in carbon black which comes from Russia. The prices of oil and other natural resources have soared. Nickel is now four times the price it was. This has affected all industries and agriculture, changed the economic balance of power, thus fueling the ongoing trade war.

In poor countries, the consequences will likely be worse. The skyrocketing price of wheat foreshadows “humanitarian catastrophes with a sharp increase in poverty and hunger” according to an International Monetary Fund executive. That means that in Africa, the Middle East and India, millions of people will starve because of famine. That will surely spark a number of revolts, but the leaders of these countries could very well seek to divert the anger of the masses towards nationalism and war, to set populations against each other in India and Pakistan or Morocco and Algeria, for example. From trade war to outright war, there is only a small step, especially in a completely destabilized world economy.

The government and the media, in unison, are already trying to enroll us. They are feeding us speeches about “the rights of nations” that France and other NATO countries supposedly defend and guarantee. The US – defender of the rights of peoples? They are the biggest war-makers! They have largely contributed to the rising tension in Ukraine. And now, in Asia, they’re at it again, taking advantage of the situation to increase pressure on China. While the US president claims he doesn’t want there to be “a new cold war”, he has threatened China under the pretext that its diplomatic declarations aren’t anti-Russian enough.

And the 60th anniversary of the end of the Algerian War of Independence which left a million people dead reminds us just how much France respected the rights of the Algerian people: by killing, torturing, napalming villages and moving a quarter of the Algerian population into internment camps. Even then, the war had to do with natural gas – from the Sahara – over which French industrialists wanted to keep their control.

Nationalism helps serve the governments’ policies, governments which take their orders from the ruling capitalist class. It is used to keep the exploited on the side of their exploiters. In this war, the exploited have no side. Putin’s side is no better than NATO’s. The dictatorship against the Russian people is horrendous. A few months ago, the Russian army was sent to repress the people of Kazakhstan who were protesting against the high cost of living. For that, Putin had NATO’s approval.

Capitalism is leading the world to disaster and taking people’s lives. With the war in Ukraine, it’s quite clear that Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs aren’t the ones being bombed or having to flee and leave everything behind! But the exploited constitute a considerable force capable of overthrowing this wretched social world order. Finding a way to organize and unite to fight for working-class interests is what’s lacking.

In light of all this, the elections may seem insignificant – and they are. Nothing good will come of them for the workers. But they allow all those who reject the exploitative and war-based capitalist system to express their anger and disgust. That’s the meaning behind my candidacy.

Nathalie Arthaud