The following article is reproduced from the website of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation with thanks.
There is a war in Ukraine. Outwardly, it looks like an armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine. All political forces, including left, have spoken out about these events. The range of assessments: from humanistic-emotional (“people are dying, stop the war”) to purely class (“The west is pushing two oligarchic regimes”).
In fact, this conflict has deep roots. When analysing the situation, we must take into account both the national content of the class struggle and the class content of the national struggle.
What is Ukraine?
The territory of present-day Ukraine until the middle of the 17th century was a sparsely populated space, contested by neighbouring countries. By the beginning of the 20th century the lands of present-day Ukraine were divided between Poland, Austria-Hungary and Russia.
After the 1917 revolution some of these lands temporarily declared independence. However in 1922 they joined the USSR as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. So Ukraine gained statehood, although limited.
Ukraine was an agricultural country
To ensure its development in 1918, at the suggestion of Vladimir Lenin, six Russian industrial regions including Donetsk and Lugansk, which had never been part of Ukraine, were transferred to Ukraine. In 1939, Galicia (western Ukraine) was annexed to Ukraine, previously part of Poland.
The current territory of Ukraine is the result of its entry into the USSR. It consists of disparate pieces: from Galicia (Lviv), with a strong influence of catholicism, to eastern Ukraine, which strongly gravitates towards Russia.
Socialist Ukraine developed powerfully
Aircraft and rocket building, petrochemistry, electric power industry (four nuclear power plants) and defence industries were added to the extraction of metal and coal. As part of the USSR, Ukraine received not only the bulk of its current territory, but economic potential making it tenth-largest economy in Europe.
Ukrainian politicians were dominant in the Soviet leadership. N Khrushchev, L Brezhnev and K Tchernenko ran the USSR from 1953 to 1983.
After the collapse of the USSR in December 1991, Ukraine became an independent state for the first time in its history. But this destroyed centuries-old economic integration with Russia. The ‘market’ model led to the de-industrialisation of Ukraine, leading to a sharp drop in the standard of living of the population.
On the basis of predatory privatisation, an oligarchic class arose.
Collapse into poverty
Now Ukraine is the poorest country in Europe. The level of corruption and social differentiation is among the highest in the world. The manufacturing industries except metallurgy have been practically destroyed.
The economy now rests on western loans and money transfers from migrant labourers who left for Europe and Russia in search of work. (About 10 million out of 45 million people, basically qualified specialists.) The degradation of human capital has reached its limit. The country is on the verge of a national catastrophe.
The population of Ukraine is strongly dissatisfied
However this dissatisfaction with pro-western authorities is manipulated in such a way that each time even more pro-western forces win the elections. In February 2014, a US and Nato-backed state coup was carried out in Ukraine. The US State Department has publicly stated that it has invested $5bn in its preparation.
Return of the fascists
Neo-nazis came to power. These are, first of all, people from western Ukraine (Galicia), which for centuries was under the rule of Poland and Austria-Hungary. Extremely nationalistic, antisemitic, anti-Polish, Russophobic and anticommunist sentiments are historically strong there.
After Hitler’s invasion of the USSR, German troops were greeted in western Ukraine with flowers. SS divisions that were formed there fought against the Red Army. Local nationalists, led by Hitler’s admirer Stepan Bandera, set about exterminating the jewish population.
In Ukraine about 1.5 million jews were killed – one quarter of all Holocaust victims. During the ‘Volyn massacre’ in 1944 about 100,000 Poles were brutally murdered in western Ukraine. Banderaites massacred Soviet guerrillas and burned alive men, women and children in hundreds of villages in Belarus. Ukrainian nationalists who served as guards in German concentration camps became notorious for monstrous cruelty.
After the war, from 1945 to 1953, US and UK-supported anticommunist and anti-Soviet rebels in western Ukraine unleashed terror against civilian population. During these years, Banderaites killed about 50,000 civilians. This is the nature of the forces – descendants and followers of fascists – who came to power after the 2014 coup.
The traditions of anti-Polish, antisemitic and anti-Russian terror are very strong among the neo-nazis who now really govern Ukraine. Forty-two opponents of these nazis were burnt alive in the trade unions building in Odessa on 2 May 2014.
An alliance of neo-nazis with oligarchic capital
Banderaites (like the SS stormtroopers in Germany) serve as the shock detachment of big business. The only difference is that Banderaites refrain from outright antisemitism, having established a class unity with the local oligarchy.
Banderaites tightly control every move of state power, constantly blackmailing it with the threat of a coup. On the other hand, the policy of Ukraine is determined by the US embassy in Kiev.
The nature of the current Ukrainian state is an alliance of big capital and the state bureaucracy, relying on criminal and fascist elements under the full political and financial control of the United States.
Since 2014, Nazi ideology has been implanted in Ukraine
Traditional celebrations of the Victory over Fascism on 9 May have been cancelled. Ukrainian fascists – organisers and participants in the atrocities of the war – are officially recognised as national heroes.
Every year, torch marches are held in honour of fascist criminals; streets and squares are named after them. Meanwhile, the Communist Party of Ukraine operates underground. Intimidation and political assassinations of politicians and journalists have became constant. Monuments to Lenin and everything related to the memory of life in the USSR are being destroyed.
At the same time, an attempt has begun forcibly to assimilate the Russian population of Ukraine via the suppression of the Russian language. An attempt to introduce Afrikaans instead of English in South Africa led to the Soweto uprising in 1976. The same thing happened in Ukraine.
An attempt to transfer school education from Russian into Ukrainian gave rise to powerful resistance in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. People took up arms. In May 2014, a referendum was held there, in which 87 percent of citizens voted for independence. This is how the Donetsk (DPR) and Lugansk people’s republics (LPR) arose.
After several unsuccessful attempts to invade the LPR-DPR, the Nazis from Kiev switched over to terror.
During eight years of shelling from large-caliber guns, more than 13,000 civilians, including children, women and elderly people, were killed in LPR-DPR. With the complete silence of the world community.
Communists of Russia active in defence of the Donetsk and Lugansk
Hundreds of communists are fighting the nazis as part of the troops of the people’s republics. Dozens of communists died in this struggle. In eight years, the CPRF sent 93 convoys with humanitarian aid to these republics with a total weight of 13,000 tons, and received thousands of children for rest and treatment in Russia.
All these years, the CPRF headed by Gennady Zyuganov demanded from the leadership of Russia the recognition of the independence of Donbass.
Peace process betrayed
In March 2015, at the initiative of Russia (with the participation of Germany and France), the Minsk agreements were concluded, which provided for the special status of the LPR-DPR within Ukraine. However, Ukraine evaded their implementation.
With the support of the United States, Kiev was preparing to crush the LPR-DPR by force of arms. The US, Britain and other Nato members provided training for the Ukrainian army. They constructed more than 30 major military installations in Ukraine, including 15 Pentagon laboratories for the development of bacteriological weapons (cholera, the plague and other deadly diseases).
Ukraine with its four nuclear power stations and huge scientific-technical potential is able to construct an A-bomb. This intention was publically declared. There was a danger of deployment of US cruise missiles. The situation in Ukraine increasingly threatened Russia’s security.
Security proposals ignored
In December 2021, Russia proposed talks with the United States to discuss the non-expansion of Nato. The US and Nato ignored the proposal. In January 2022, Russia warned that it would be forced to take additional measures to protect its security. At the same time, it became known that Ukraine had concentrated 150,000 servicemen and nazi battalions in Donbass. Kiev, backed by the USA, was preparing to regain control over Donbass through war this March.
On 22 February, President Vladimir Putin announced the recognition of the independence of the LPR-DPR. On 25 February, the Russian armed forces’ operation of began.
Russia is not going to occupy Ukraine. The purpose of the operation is the liberation of Ukraine from the nazis and its neutrality (refusal to join Nato). The tactics of the Russian troops are, while attacking military facilities, to minimise the casualties among the civilian population and Ukrainian military and to avoid destruction of civilian infrastructure.
They are brotherly people. We will continue to live together. However, the Banderaite nazis are using the most disgusting tactics of the German fascists, using civilians and their houses as human shields. They install artillery and tanks in residential areas and forbid citizens to leave war zones, turning hundreds of thousands of people into hostages.
This nefarious Nazi tactic is not condemned in the west. It is the United States, waging an information war through the media controlled by them (only Russia Today resists), and which are interested in perpetuating the war.
Europe is suffering for US capital
The United States is striking not only at Russia but also at Europe. The Nato war against Yugoslavia in 1999 was a means of destabilising the European Union. Today the US’s main goal is to prevent Russian gas supplies via the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to force Europe to buy more expensive liquefied gas from the United States, thereby sharply weakening Germany and other EU countries.
The volume of trade between Russia and the EU is $260bn a year. With the US, it is $23bn, ten times less. Therefore, the sanctions imposed at the request of the United States hit, first of all, Europe.
The events in Ukraine are yet another American war for control of the world.
By the way, the claims about the global nature of the boycott of Russia are false. Brics countries (Brazil, India, China and South Africa), constituting 43 percent of the world’s population, do not support sanctions. China is the first and India the third-biggest economy in the world. Sanctions are not supported by Asia (excluding Japan and south Korea with their US military bases), by the middle east, by the largest countries of Latin America and by the majority of the African countries.
For 30 years I have been one of the most active critics of the domestic and foreign policy of the Russian elite. In its class character, the oligarchic-bureaucratic power in Russia is not much different from the power in Ukraine (except without fascism and full US control). However, in those unfortunately rare cases when the leaders of Russia pursue a line that meets the historical interests of the country and the people, the principle of ‘automatic’ criticism is hardly appropriate.
I have long argued that sanctions will have a beneficial effect on getting rid of Russia’s imposed dependence on the west in various areas of life. The Russian government is already taking the first steps in this direction. The task of left forces is to vigorously encourage the authorities to change not only foreign policy, but also the socioeconomic course, which does not correspond to the interests of the people.
Doctor of Sciences in History
Ex-parliamentarian of the Russian state duma (2011-16)
Member of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) central committee