The following article was written in reply to remarks by the Communist Party of Greece’s international department: ‘On the imperialist war in Ukraine and the position of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation’ by the international department of the CPRF in May 2022.
The video above shows communist fighters in the Donbass in 2015 raising the Soviet flag over the liberated city of Debaltsevo in the Donetsk People’s Republic. Many Russian communists have died helping to defend the antifascist regions in the Donbass since 2014.
On 23 April 2022, the newspaper Risospastis, the press organ of the Communist Party of Greece, published an article by the international department of the central committee of the KKE: ‘On the imperialist war in Ukraine and the position of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation’.
The article assesses the actions of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation in connection with the special operation carried out by Russia in Ukraine, and openly accuses the party of a pro-government, ie, pro-imperialist, position. We categorically disagree with such a mechanical assessment.
The quintessence of the article lies in the fact that, from the point of view of the Greek comrades, an imperialist war is going on in Ukraine in the interests of the Russian bourgeoisie and, by supporting a special operation, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation is thus “pursuing a line of solidarity with the ruling United Russia party and President Putin”.
Insisting on the ‘imperialist’ nature of this war, the Greek comrades rely on the well-known statement of VI Lenin that “A struggle for markets and for freedom to loot foreign countries, a striving to suppress the revolutionary movement of the proletariat and democracy in the individual countries, a desire to deceive, disunite, and slaughter the proletarians of all countries by setting the wage-slaves of one nation against those of another so as to benefit the bourgeoisie – these are the only real content and significance of the war.” (August 1914)
However, the comrades did not mention that this statement is contained in the article of VI Lenin ‘The tasks of revolutionary social democracy in the European war’. And in it he was talking quite specifically about the first world war – really a purely imperialist, predatory one. But if we do not take a stand on the ground of dogmatism, then we must admit that any war has its own specific features.
The task of a Marxist in determining his position in relation to war is, first of all, to determine precisely its specific character. Indeed, in addition to imperialist wars, there are also national-liberation and antifascist wars, which gained a particularly wide scope in the middle of the 20th century, when fascism and Nazism arose as political phenomena, and the national-liberation struggle intensified under the influence of the October Revolution.
How did the Communist party come to its position?
Developing its political position on the issue of the special operation, the party analysed the specific historical conditions that objectively caused the crisis in Ukraine.
Before the October Revolution in Russia, Ukraine, which was part of the Russian empire, was a purely agrarian country. In order to strengthen its industry, at the suggestion of VI Lenin, six industrial regions from the Russian Soviet Republic in the east and south, which had never been part of Ukraine, were transferred to Ukraine, including Donetsk and Lugansk. In 1939, Galicia (western Ukraine) was annexed to Ukraine, previously part of Poland.
So, the current territory of Ukraine is the result of its entry into the USSR. And it is ‘sewn together’ out of very disparate pieces, from Galicia (Lviv) with a strong influence of Poland, Austria and Hungary, to eastern Ukraine, strongly gravitating towards Russia.
Socialist Ukraine developed very powerfully. Aviation and rocket-building, petrochemistry, the electric power industry (four nuclear power plants) and defence industries were added to the extraction of metal and coal. It was as part of the USSR that Ukraine received not only the bulk of its current territory, but also its economic potential, and became one of the ten largest economies in Europe.
The destruction of the Soviet Union in December 1991 caused, at the same time, the destruction of the centuries-old economic integration of Ukraine with Russia, the rupture of all economic, political and cultural ties.
Now it is one of the poorest countries in Europe. Its manufacturing industry, with the exception of metallurgy, is practically destroyed. The economy of Ukraine now rests on loans from the west and income from people who left for Europe and Russia in search of a job. The people’s living standards fell catastrophically, and emigration increased sharply. About 10 million people (out of 45 million) left the country, the most qualified specialists.
The level of corruption and social differentiation has reached one of the highest levels in the world. The country is on the brink of a national catastrophe.
Coup in Kiev as a basis for inciting the conflict
In February 2014, a coup d’état was carried out in Ukraine with the direct assistance of the United States and other Nato countries. Legitimate power in the country was overthrown. Neo-nazis came to power. Subsequently, the United States publicly announced that it had invested about $5bn in preparing for the change of power in the country and the “development of democracy”. It is quite obvious that, just like that, no one will spend such a gigantic amount of money.
As a result of the coup d’état, people from western Ukraine, from Galicia, where extremely nationalist, antisemitic, anti-Polish, russophobic and anticommunist sentiments are historically strong, seized power.
The forced assimilation of the Russian-speaking population began. The ban on the Russian language and the decision to transfer school education from Russian to Ukrainian gave rise to strong resistance in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. People took up arms.
On 11 May 2014, in a popular referendum, 87 percent of citizens voted for independence. So, not at the direction of the Kremlin, but at the initiative of the masses, the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics arose.
After several unsuccessful attempts to seize the LNR-DNR, the nazis from Kiev switched to terror. During eight years of incessant shelling from large-calibre guns, almost 14,000 civilians were killed and tens of thousands maimed. Serious damage has been done to the infrastructure there.
At the same time, European countries and the United States were extremely indifferent to the eight-year-long genocide of the Russian people in Donbass, in fact, justifying the actions of the Kiev regime.
Today, the European Union and the USA, showing unprecedented hypocrisy, talk about the suffering of people during the fighting, but they remain silent about the fact that using civilians as human shields has become a common tactic of those whom they call “freedom fighters”.
Development of neo-nazism in Ukraine
Our comrades, considering the situation in Ukraine, only grudgingly mention the danger of the country’s fascisization. But one of the main goals of Russia’s military operation in this country is its denazification. After all, even according to US congressmen and US intelligence agencies, Ukraine has become a centre of international neo-nazism.
Here are some facts. After Hitler’s invasion of the USSR, in western Ukraine, where, as we have already noted, extremely nationalist, antisemitic, russophobic and anticommunist sentiments were initially strong, SS divisions were formed to fight against the Red Army. Local nationalists, led by Hitler’s admirer Stepan Bandera, began to exterminate the jewish population.
In Ukraine, about 1.5 million jews were killed at the hands of Bandera. This is one-quarter of all victims of the holocaust. During the Volyn massacre in 1944 in western Ukraine, about 100,000 Poles were brutally killed. Bandera massacred partisans and burned alive the population of hundreds of villages in Belarus.
Already after the war, anticommunist and anti-Soviet rebels and western Ukraine, with the support of the United States and Great Britain, launched terror against the civilian population from 1945-53. During these years, Bandera killed about 50,000 people in Ukraine.
The descendants and followers of these killers 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 control Ukraine.
Nazi ideology is being implanted in Ukraine. Ukrainian fascists – the organisers and participants in the atrocities of the war – are officially recognised as national heroes. Their symbolism became that of the state. Every year, solemn marches are held in honour of fascist criminals. Streets and squares are named after them. The Communist Party of Ukraine has been driven underground. Intimidation and political assassinations of politicians and journalists have become a regular occurrence. Monuments to Lenin and everything related to the memory of life in the USSR are being destroyed.
At present, the Bandera-ites, like the SS stormtroopers of Nazi Germany, serve as a shock detachment of big business. They tightly control every movement of state power, constantly blackmailing it with the threat of a coup.
The nature of the current Ukrainian state is an alliance of big capital and the highest state bureaucracy, supported by fascist elements, under the full political and financial control of the United States.
Causes and nature of the special military operation
Based on Marxist theory, the military conflict in Ukraine cannot be regarded as an imperialist war, as our comrades are trying to prove. By its nature, this is a national-liberation war of the people of Donbass. And from the point of view of Russia, this is a fight against an external threat to national security and fascism.
It is no secret that the people’s militia of Donbass was not able independently to resist the many thousands-strong Ukrainian army, armed with foreign weapons. The defeat of the militias would inevitably have led to the total annihilation of the Russian-speaking population, many of whom were Russian citizens. In accordance with the constitution of the Russian Federation, in order to protect its citizens and ensure national security, Russia took the actions provided for by the law, since it was impossible to do this in any other way.
The negotiation process within the framework of the Minsk agreements was deliberately sabotaged by Kiev with the support of the United States and the European Union.
By this time, Ukraine had concentrated 150,000 troops and nazi battalions in the Donbass. Kiev, with the support of the United States, was preparing to regain control of the Donbass by military means.
With the blessing of its American directors, Ukraine was preparing in early March of this year to launch a military operation to seize Donbass, and then Crimea. Today, there is plenty of data to support this assertion.
The Bandera regime has been preparing for war for eight years. The ideological indoctrination of military personnel has been systematically carried out in the spirit of outright russophobia, the most powerful fortified areas have been created, and the army has been saturated with the latest weaponry.
Following its imperialist geopolitical goals, the United States systematically included Ukraine in the sphere of its military interests and turned the country into a Nato spearhead, intending to fight Russia “to the last Ukrainian soldier”.
Back in December 2021, Russia turned to the United States with a proposal to hold talks on the non-expansion of Nato eastwards. The Americans evaded a direct answer. In light of this, in January 2022, Russia warned that in such a situation it would be forced to take additional measures to protect its national security.
At the same time, things were moving towards the deployment of US tactical weapons in Ukraine. Ukraine, which has four nuclear power plants and great scientific and technical potential, has begun the preparations for building its own nuclear weapons.
Under the patronage of the Pentagon, more than 30 laboratories for the development of bacteriological weapons were created in Ukraine. There are documents confirming the work in these laboratories with especially dangerous bacteria of deadly diseases, as well as the study of methods for their distribution, taking into account a person’s race.
All this poses a threat not only to Russia, but to all mankind.
It is argued that this is exclusively a question of interimperialist contradictions; the struggle for markets and raw materials. The inability to see the national component of class questions and the class component of national questions leads one into the realm of dogmatism.
Interest of the Russian oligarchy in Ukraine or lack thereof?
In an effort to prove that the war is being waged in the interests of the Russian bourgeoisie, in the interests of seizing the natural resources and taking over the industrial potential of Ukraine, our Greek comrades use VI Lenin’s statements about the nature of wars outside of the historical context in which he made them.
However, the assertion that the Russian leadership was preparing a military takeover of Ukraine in advance contradicts the facts.
From the very beginning, the leadership of the Russian Federation did not support the idea of a referendum on the formation of the people’s republics of Donbass.
Following the agreements under the Minsk 2 process, Russia a priori assumed that the Donbass would remain part of Ukraine, although with a certain degree of autonomy. And the Russian leadership, until the very beginning of the military operation, insisted on the implementation of Minsk 2 – that is, on the integration of Donbass with Ukraine.
So where is the preparation for an imperialist takeover?
In reality, Ukraine, its industry and resources, has since 1991 been the object of superexploitation by the US and European monopolies.
The Russian oligarchy did not participate in ‘dividing the pie’, which was in the sphere of western interests.
Moreover, the Russian oligarchy was against the military operation in Ukraine. It was striving with all its might to integrate into the world oligarchy and was already under strong pressure from the west, which demanded more energetic influence on the government in order to maintain Russia’s pro-western orientation.
In addition, Russian oligarchs have suffered greatly from the Russian military operation in Ukraine. They are included on the sanctions lists, their palaces and yachts have been confiscated, their bank accounts are frozen.
We do not feel the slightest sympathy for those who plundered Russia for three decades, and who are now losing their loot. We only want to emphasise that the Russian oligarchy was not only not interested in the military operation, but also suffered from it. By refusing to support this operation, big business lost not only property and money, but also much of its influence on the Russian ruling elite.
Pay attention to which class forces opposed Russia’s military operation in Ukraine in the first place. That is, first of all: large monopoly capital. Their political representatives are in the liberal environment, and they have many ‘creative’ servants among the so-called intelligentsia.
Of course, we recognise the existence of interimperialist contradictions, of the desire of imperialist predators to seize the natural and energy resources of other countries. Russia is a victim of the west’s plans to turn our country into a source of cheap raw materials. And we have been fighting against such plans for many decades.
But we by no means believe that Russia, for all the depravity of its current political system based on the power of big capital, has suddenly turned into the same predator. The struggle in Ukraine has a fundamentally different character that does not fit into these dogmas.
The position of the Communist party
It was the Communist Party of the Russian Federation that was the first to define the essence of the regime that seized power in Ukraine during the 2014 Maidan. Thus, all the subsequent activity of the party was built precisely on the basis of the class essence of the ongoing political processes.
We have been very critical of the foreign policy of the Russian leadership. We have always condemned the disregard for the interests of the peoples who until recently were part of the unified Soviet state.
If anyone closely follows our actions (and it seemed to us that the Greek comrades were well acquainted with our documents), they will inevitably see that it was the Communist Party of the Russian Federation that, since 2014, has been persistently putting forward a demand for the recognition of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics by Russia. No other political party in Russia has done so much to support the population of Donbass. We supported the return of Donbass to Russia from the beginning.
It is not that the CPRF “shows solidarity with United Russia and President Putin”, but that they, as a result of historical imperatives, are now being forced to take the path that the CPRF has stubbornly insisted on for three decades.
In such a situation, is it fair to say that we blindly support Putin’s policy in Ukraine?
The Communists of Russia take an active part in the defence of the LNR-DNR. Hundreds of communists are fighting the nazis as part of the troops of the people’s republics. Dozens of communists have died in this struggle. Over those eight years of fighting, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation sent 93 convoys of humanitarian aid to the republics, with a total weight of 13,000 tons, and brought thousands of children for rest and treatment in Russia.
Throughout these years, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation demanded that the Russian leadership recognise the independence of Donbass.
It is frankly unpleasant for us to hear how our Greek comrades speak with an element of contempt about the “so-called” people’s republics of Donbass, since these are precisely the people’s republics that emerged as a result of the real will of the masses.
Citizens of the LPR-DPR defended them at the cost of the lives of thousands of civilians and soldiers of their armies during the hardest eight years of resistance to the creeping aggression of neo-nazi Bandera-ites.
Of fundamental importance is the fact that not only the Russian army, but also volunteer units of the Donbass itself, in which there is a very large stratum of communists and miners, are fighting against the Bandera-ites.
Where in all this is the “protection of the interests of the oligarchy”? Are our comrades, who put their lives in mortal danger every day, also defending the interests of the Russian oligarchy? Or are they protecting ordinary people who have fallen victim to the neo-nazis who seized power in Ukraine?
One must have a strong unwillingness to see the real state of affairs in order to assert that the Communist Party of the Russian Federation is merely showing solidarity with the ruling elite.
The intensity of the class political struggle in Russia has not abated at all. The persecution of communists and party supporters, even after the start of the military operations in Ukraine, show that there is no class harmony between the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and the current ruling group. One can list very many cases when our comrades are subjected to repressions. And we react harshly to the persecution of our comrades.
At the same time, we continue to subject the socioeconomic course of the current government to harsh criticism. No party in Russia can claim to have been more vocal in its criticism of the government.
In the 30+ years since the 1991 anticommunist coup, we have provided countless evidence of our determined struggle against the ruling faction. That is why our party enjoys broad support from the masses.
The Communist Party of the Russian Federation received almost 19 percent of the vote in the elections to the state duma in September 2021. And this is in the conditions of a well-established and long-established machine of electoral fraud. We are sure that the real level of support for us among the people is much higher. And this is because we are guided, in the spirit of Marxism-Leninism, by the desire to carefully study the interests and moods of the people.
By the way, by supporting Russia’s special operation in Ukraine, the Communist party has expressed the will of the overwhelming majority of Russian citizens.
As for the allegations of “flirting with nationalist sentiments and nationalist forces”, we are proud to say that the Communist Party of the Russian Federation is the leading left-wing patriotic force in Russia.
And we consider the protection of the interests of the Russian people and other peoples for centuries living together with the Russians, primarily Ukrainians and Belarusians, as our international duty. And to deny the historical significance of the ‘Russian world’ or Russian civilization, in our opinion, is just as absurd as to deny the great significance of the ancient Greek civilization.
When Manolis Glezos tore down the Nazi flag from the Acropolis, he was guided not only by class interests, but also by the national pride of the Greeks, who resolutely joined the fight against the German occupation.
Attitude of the world community to the events in Ukraine
Although western politicians and their media, arrogantly pretending to be ‘world public opinion’, openly participate in the war on the side of the neo-nazis, the largest countries in Asia and Africa, the middle east and Latin America, who know first-hand what European and American neocolonialism is, quite rightly view what is happening in Ukraine as Russia’s struggle against the unipolar world led by the United States.
Countries whose population make up 60 percent of the world’s population either support the Russian operation or take a neutral position.
An aggressive position is taken only by those who in 1941 came to us with a war as part of the Nazi coalition. These are the countries of Europe, as well as the USA and Great Britain, which did a lot to revive the German military machine after its defeat in the first world war. Today, Russia is again fighting against fascism and against those who support it in Europe and the United States.
CPRF postcript: Mindful of the heroic merits of the Communist Party of Greece in the struggle against Nazism and against the military dictatorship, we categorically reject the idea that our comrades could knowingly end up in the camp of those who are now trying to crush Russia through the hands of Ukraine. We once again emphasise our deep respect for the KKE as a party that has made a huge contribution to the revival of the international communist and workers’ movement after the destruction of the USSR in 1991.
However, the statements of our comrades sometimes sound like the ultimate truth. We are for comradely dialogue, which has always helped communists all over the world to understand the essence of events and develop their own correct, truly Marxist approach to their assessment.