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Vol. 78/No. 11      March 24, 2014

Russian troops out!
Defend Ukraine sovereignty!

Working people the world over should stand with fellow workers and farmers of Ukraine in demanding Russian troops out now! Defend the sovereignty of independent Ukraine!

The Russian government of President Vladimir Putin is raising the specter of war. This is a threat to workers and farmers of Ukraine — Ukrainian, Russian, Tatar, Jews, etc. — as well as to working people in Russia, the rest of the former Soviet republics, and beyond.

The Ukrainian toilers overthrew Moscow’s puppet government of Viktor Yanukovych, opening up space to debate, discuss and organize. Supporting their victory is part of advancing labor’s fight around the world against the bosses’ assaults on our living standards, rights and very dignity.

The Putin government’s annexationist maneuvers are being carried out under false claims of defending “self-determination” in Crimea and protecting ethnic Russians. Moscow is organizing a fake plebiscite at gunpoint as its state media spews a fountain of lies, which dries up in the face of every credible on-the-scene report. Russian speakers are not fleeing to the motherland. There is not a significant movement in Crimea in favor of joining Russia or becoming an “independent” vassal of Moscow. Russian churches and Jewish synagogues in Ukraine are not under assault.

The propertied rulers of both Russia and Ukraine — as well as in Western Europe and America — are driven by fear of the mobilization of working people. And it has found an echo in the “left,” including among many who claim to stand for socialism and the interests of the working class.

As self-serving justification for turning their back on the mobilizations of hundreds of thousands of working people in Ukraine, much of the radical left has clung to a fantastic tale of conspiracy: “Fascist forces have taken over in Ukraine, swept to power by a secret operation engineered from Washington.” The presumption is that U.S. imperialism is the one source of all problems and the enemy of my enemy is automatically my friend.

Further confusion comes wrapped in notions that the Russian regime is a progressive force in the world because it checks the influence of U.S. imperialism. Moscow is a rival of Washington. But both are enemies of working people. And in Ukraine, it’s Russian troops that are on the ground.

Others claim there are residual gains of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia today. There are not. And if there were, would that not be also true of Ukraine? This is a case of a stronger capitalist nation, Russia, attacking a weaker capitalist nation, Ukraine. It is an example of the Great Russian chauvinism that defined the czarist empire’s “prison house of nations” and that was revived as part of the bloody counterrevolution led by Joseph Stalin in the 1920s.

This is why the truth about the early years of the Bolshevik government under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin following the 1917 Russian Revolution is so important. It is the only time in which the rights and aspirations of nations and peoples oppressed under the Russian empire were respected and championed. It is in that same Leninist tradition that the sovereignty of Ukraine must be defended today.

Hidden behind the slanders that demonstrators in Ukraine are “fascists” is a contemptuous view of workers and farmers, of their “backwardness,” their supposed ignorance and lack of sophistication. This begins with disdain toward workers at home, who naturally sympathize when they see people like them fighting against tyranny.

Working people should oppose Washington’s denial of visas to Russian officials, imperialist threats of sanctions against Russia or any U.S. intervention in the affairs of Ukraine, military or otherwise.

Workers in the U.S. and Western Europe should demand imperialist governments provide unconditional economic aid, not more loans, and cancel all debts to Ukraine on the brink of economic collapse.

And what if Ukraine joins the European Union trade alliance? We would join struggles by Ukrainian toilers against inevitable mass layoffs and other hardships the capitalist rulers of Europe would impose. And we would welcome the deeper integration of Ukrainian workers with the rest of their class in Europe.

The working class in the former Soviet republics was not defeated with the fall of the Soviet Union. The goal of the Russian regime in a war against Ukraine would be to deal major blows to the morale, confidence and combativeness of the working class. This is what the Stalinist bureaucracy was never able to accomplish, to the chagrin of the capitalist rulers in Europe and America.

Russian troops out! Defend Ukraine sovereignty! Oppose Moscow’s war moves!

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