On the Ukraine War -2
K. Murali (Ajith)
Establishing a regime in Kiev that won’t allow anti-Russian moves, preventing the expansion of the NATO, bringing about a new security/peace treaty in Europe that will ensure the interests of Russian imperialism — such are the political aims of Putin. In opposition to this, US imperialism is trying to create a situation where Russia cannot fulfil its aims without occupying the country, or is forced to carry out military intervention continuously. The coming days will show us who will succeed. Meanwhile, lakhs of humans will die, be wounded, maimed, made homeless, jobless. Hideous misery awaits them. Crores of rupees, money and assets, are being burned up in this imperialist contention. Money which was absent when it came to tackling a microscopic virus, to treating its victims, now flows in abundance to rain death. Imperialism means war and it always kills; either way.
Over the past several decades, US imperialism has been trying to focus its forces against China. It insists that the European powers should shoulder the bulk of Europe’s security needs. It continuously complained that they are not doing enough in sharing NATO expenses. Trump went a step ahead and declared that it wouldn’t really matter if NATO was dissolved. That was in line with the views of a section of the US ruling classes that America should either resolve or cold-storage issues it had with Russia in order to confront China. But this isn’t feasible. It could possibly lead to the US loosing its grip over Europe altogether. The NATO wasn’t meant to check the Soviet Union alone. It also had the aim of keeping Germany under control. That remains. For some time now, France has been demanding the formation of a European defence force. If the NATO is dissolved, a European military organisation lead by France and Germany could take form. It may possibly come to an accord with Russia. The expansion of the NATO favoured by the US keeps this possibility too in mind, apart from that of encircling Russia. It cannot be abandoned, particularly with a re-assertive Russia around. Russia is the main threat for East European countries. Germany and France won’t suffice to meet this threat. They need America for it, and hence, the NATO. The US has tried to capitalise on this in order to keep the NATO active while reducing its own financial and troop burden in Europe. The Ukraine crisis and war has upset this to a great extent.
Moreover, Biden’s policy of avoiding a direct military role, starkly in contrast to all the noise he was making, will certainly give rise to misgivings. Whether and how much the US can be relied on will be central in this. This is taking place not so long after Trump declared against the NATO. It could be a spur for many European countries to come the conclusion that it may be better to have a deal with Russia instead of relying on American military might. Well before the war had started, both Germany and France had stated that Russia had legitimate security concerns that need to be addressed. After the war commenced France has seized a Russian merchant ship. Reversing its decision of not supplying lethal equipment, Germany has started supplying them to Ukraine. Apparently this looks like it is submitting to US pressure. However, it could also indicate an attempt by these countries to secure their initiative in Europe, capitalising on the concerns that have come up over US policies.
The US has been put in a situation where it is forced to divert its attention from the perceived immediate task of targetting China, at least for some time. Simultaneously it also has to face the problem of not being able to fully concentrate on Europe. So why did Biden take this turn? Does it merely indicate the compulsions of circumstances? Or was it adopted wilfully, quite aware of possible consequences? There are reasons to doubt as much. As we noted earlier, Biden had declared that US troops would not be deployed in Ukraine at the very moment when Putin was amassing his military on the borders. Was this done to egg on Russia into war, trap it there and thereby retain control over Europe while weakening the alliance between China and Russia? Calculations on the possible resistance that could come up in the Ukraine could have been a factor in making this ploy. Though the share of ethnic Russians and Russian speakers are quite significant, a large number of them consider themselves as Ukrainians. When the people of the Donbas had separated, Putin tried to carry out something similar in the Russian majority southern parts of Ukraine. He failed. Therefore, the US rulers may well have concluded that the national sentiment and defence triggered of by a Russian invasion would transform into a resistance quite unexpected by Putin. The whole affair would also serve to tighten up the NATO. These factors may well have been those guiding Biden in his choices.
However, there is strong opposition to it within the US ruling classes itself. Trump, who has now praised Zelensky, was earlier congratulating Putin. That was not just another instance of his crazy, erratic behaviour. It reflected the thinking of a weighty section in the Republican party. They may have shifted their public stance in view of the worldwide opposition to Russia’s invasion and the repercussions a pro-war stand may have on the upcoming elections in the USA. Whatever that may be, confronting China remains the focus of the US’s global political, military strategy.
Though not yet a member of the NATO formally, Ukraine has already established a formal ‘friendship’ with it. War games with NATO participation have been staged in it repeatedly. In a recent one, the stated mission was training to ‘regain territory lost due to separatists supported by a neighbouring country’. That couldn’t be more obvious. The success of Azerbaijan, with its small armed force, in seizing back Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenia by deploying drones provided an important guidance for this war game. Putin must have decided to act without delay in view of these developments. He may also have calculated that the US wouldn’t take much interest because of its preoccupation with China.
War is a continuation of politics. Countries wage war to realise specific political aims. Establishing a regime in Kiev that won’t allow anti-Russian moves, preventing the expansion of the NATO, bringing about a new security/peace treaty in Europe that will ensure the interests of Russian imperialism — such are the political aims of Putin. That is why he is repeatedly saying that Russia has no intention of occupying Ukraine. In opposition to this, US imperialism is trying to create a situation where Russia cannot fulfil its aims without doing that, or is forced to carry out military intervention continuously. The coming days will show us who will succeed. Meanwhile, lakhs of humans will die, be wounded, maimed, made homeless, jobless. Hideous misery awaits them. Crores of rupees, money and assets, are being burned up in this imperialist contention. Money which was absent when it came to tackling a microscopic virus, to treating its victims, now flows in abundance to rain death. Imperialism means war and it always kills; either way.
It is beyond question that the Ukrainians hate Russian invasion. Yet, till today, one hasn’t seen any indication of this people’s opposition coalescing as armed resistance independent of the Zelensky regime. If the war gets prolonged, if the people are forced to live under Russian rule in regions it occupies, this will definitely emerge. Moreover, even if Putin succeeds in setting up a puppet regime in Kiev, Ukraine will not know peace. We can surely expect resistance and guerilla war against it. Thus, no matter what, Russia is going to get trapped there. Powerful anti-war sentiments and protests have come up in that country. This is particularly noticeable among the youth. The jingoist Russian nationalism fanned up with the active involvement of the Russian Christian church has failed in blocking this. These protests will give further impetus to the resistance in Ukraine. It will also weaken Ukrainian chauvinism encouraged by Zelensky and his allies. Thus, the war has engendered a new political awakening in Russia. If the war gets prolonged, if Putin fails to achieve his war aims within the expected time, if the resistance in Ukraine becomes strong and inflicts heavy losses on the Russian army, it may well cause the end of his rule.
The world is entering a period of great disorder. In the past, for a long time during the contention between the two superpowers — the US led imperialist camp and the Soviet social imperialist led camp — the people of the world used to be inspired by the political and diplomatic interventions of socialist China and Albania and the revolutionary message given through this. The revolutionary struggles that continued or came up even after the restoration of capitalism in China played that role at the world level. Today there are no socialist countries. Revolutionary struggles led by communist parties are few in number. The international communist movement is still weak. Therefore, turning this disorder towards revolution is a strenuous task. However, there is something else too. This is the change that has taken place in the consciousness of the masses. The change which has come about as a result of their experiences during the Covid pandemic needs particular mention. In both the developed countries and 3rd world countries, the incompetence of the rulers and their inhuman approach was sharply exposed. The people came to see that this, rather than the virus itself, had far more to do with the loss of crores of lives. There is thus a widespread thinking in the world that the rulers can’t be trusted, that the truth is beyond what is stated by them. An anti-government, anti-ruler sentiment, opposition, is seen in many countries. Quite often it transforms into agitations. In this situation, while the opposing sides are making differing claims, if the communist forces, the progressives, pay attention to exposing the narrow imperialist interests underlying these claims and alert the people, they will quickly understand the truth. Though these forces are in a weak state they will be able to turn this disorder in favour of revolution. There is every possibility to do this. They must proceed in a direction that will make this real through correct political positions and practice. Tailing behind either of the contenders means losing this opportunity. (01–03–2022)
(Views expressed are personal. This article, to be published in the upcoming issue of ‘Towards a New Dawn’, was posted here in view of its urgency.)