24 February 2022
The International Bolshevik Tendency condemns the imperialist brinkmanship that has led to war in Ukraine, and we call on the international working class to organize labor strikes to thwart the military actions of the imperialist rulers. Washington and its NATO allies have recklessly encircled and threatened Russia for decades, and their insistence on deepening the integration of neighboring Ukraine into a Western sphere of influence has finally provoked Russia to take action to secure its periphery. Moscow’s intervention represents a major turning point in a deteriorating situation that could result in large-scale deaths.
Russia’s “special military operations” on land and in the sea and air, which began on the morning of 24 February, came only days after Moscow officially recognized the Donetsk and Luhansk Peoples’ Republics in the disputed Donbas region and deployed “peacekeeping” troops to the breakaway territories. While clearly a defensive response to threats posed by the stronger Western powers, Moscow’s military actions are intended to protect its borders, project power in the region and send an unmistakable message to the US and its NATO allies that Russia will not be bullied in “its” near-abroad.
The incursions into Ukraine and the provocations that preceded them are the inevitable result of great power rivalry in the imperialist epoch. While we reject Moscow’s move, we denounce in the strongest possible terms the actions of the Western imperialist powers that have brought Europe to the brink of a wider conflagration.
US President Joe Biden has harshly criticized what he calls “Putin’s desire for empire by any means necessary-by bullying Russia’s neighbors through coercion and corruption, by changing borders by force, and, ultimately, by choosing a war without a cause.” Using military force to coerce weaker countries to build an “empire” is an accurate description of American foreign policy over the past century and a quarter. One need only recall the wars that Biden himself supported (e.g., Afghanistan, Iraq) to see the hypocrisy.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, NATO has expanded its membership right up to Russia’s borders and carried out massive mobilizations in eastern Europe. The US has extended its influence into the heart of the Ukrainian state by supporting both the Maidan uprising that toppled pro-Russian President Yanukovich in 2014 and the resulting ultra-nationalist government, while playing a significant role in arming and training Ukraine’s military. Meanwhile, Russia’s key national security concerns have been flatly dismissed as Kiev, egged on by the West, refused to implement the now-defunct Minsk Accords or rule out future NATO membership. The US has imposed sanctions on the Russian economy and pressured its EU allies to abandon Gazprom’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline to transport Russian natural gas to Europe.
Biden has announced yet more sanctions designed “to impair [Russia’s] ability to compete in a high-tech 21st century economy” and “reduc[e] their ability to compete economically.” While pledging not to send American troops into Ukraine, he has ordered additional air and ground forces to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, all of which share a border with Russia. Moscow will view the arrival of these forces as a direct threat.
The danger of an inter-imperialist war breaking out over Ukraine is among the most pressing issues facing the international working class today. Marxists call for all imperialist forces to leave Ukraine, the Baltic states and other neocolonial countries in Eastern Europe. In any direct military confrontation between NATO forces and Russia, revolutionaries take a position of principled and clear opposition to both sides. We call for the defeat of all imperialist powers, first and foremost one’s “own” ruling class, advocating actions by the trade unions and workers’ movement to sabotage military deployments, transportation, arms manufacture and communications. As we recently noted in “NATO Imperialists Escalate Ukraine Crisis” (1 February 2022):
“Marxists condemn imperialist brinkmanship and oppose the reckless drive toward a military conflict that could potentially cost the lives of hundreds of millions of people. In any armed conflict between the US/NATO and Russia, we take a position of dual defeatism, actively favoring the defeat of both camps. While we take no side in inter-imperialist conflicts, for Leninists in any particular imperialist country, ‘the main enemy is at home.’ Revolutionary socialists living in the US, Britain and other imperialist NATO member states denounce the NATO war machine and call for the defeat of ‘our’ imperialist ruling class in any military conflict, regardless of who or what triggers it.”
Imperialist war and exploitation will end only with the destruction of global capitalism. To achieve this, we need to build an international revolutionary workers’ party with a clear programmatic alternative to poisonous national chauvinism and reformist pacifism.
NATO Imperialists Escalate Ukraine Crisis (audio and text, 1 February 2022)
Ukraine in Imperialist Vise (1917 No.44)
The Bulldog Pokes the Bear: Down with British imperialist provocations! (1917 No.44)
Imperialist Rivalries Escalate (1917 No.41)
Imperialists Tear Ukraine Apart (1917 No.41)