A substantial and growing Russian troop mobilization is arrayed today on all sides of Ukraine — from Russia itself, to occupied Crimea, Belarus and Russian-run Transnistria.
This mobilization — and the threat of war on Ukrainian soil — is aimed at bringing the independence and sovereignty of Ukraine to a halt and imposing the diktats of Moscow. It threatens to unleash a bloody and brutal war, which would be the first in Europe for decades, against the peoples of the region.
The propertied rulers in Russia are pushing to expand their economic and political sway over what they call their “near abroad” — nations that won back their independence after Stalinist regimes in the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
Whatever Russia’s capitalist rulers and their NATO foes say, miscalculations and unintended consequences of their moves could precipitate a bloody clash in which workers and farmers will bear the deadly consequences.
Working people in the U.S. and worldwide need to offer solidarity to fellow toilers in Ukraine by demanding “Russian hands off!” Washington, which has expanded its own NATO forces across Europe, is no friend of the Ukrainian people. It intervenes on behalf of the predatory interests of the U.S. capitalist rulers.
The Russian military, “once creaky,” is now “modern and lethal,” the New York Times pointed out Jan. 27. Moscow’s deployment of over 130,000 troops to Ukraine’s borders comes complete with field hospitals and blood supplies.
Responding to the 2014 mass popular Maidan uprising that overthrew the pro-Moscow regime in Ukraine, Russia’s capitalist rulers armed and participated alongside pro-Moscow separatists in occupying part of eastern Ukraine. Russian forces invaded and occupied Crimea. And in 2020 President Vladimir Putin threw Moscow’s backing behind the embattled regime of President Alexander Lukashenko as it crushed a mass uprising for political rights in Belarus. Lukashenko backs Moscow’s threats against Ukraine today. In January Moscow’s troops helped suppress anti-government protests in Kazakhstan. And the Putin regime has stepped up attacks on political rights and labor struggles in Russia itself.
As the price of avoiding a threatened Russian invasion, Moscow demands guarantees from Washington that Ukraine and Georgia will never be admitted to the U.S.-led NATO alliance. It demands no further alliance forces in Eastern Europe. The U.S. rulers have brought NATO troops ever closer to Russia’s border, by expanding alliance membership eastward. The Kremlin threatens “retaliation” if its demand for a halt to NATO expansion isn’t met.
Putin’s military threats to Ukraine have enabled him to exploit divisions among rival powers in the European Union, especially in regard to the capitalist rulers in Germany, who are torn between Washington and Moscow.
U.S. rulers lost the Cold War
With the coming apart of the Soviet Union, the U.S. rulers acted on the illusion that they’d won the Cold War and were now free to intervene wherever they wanted, with no consequences. From 1994 to 1999, deadly bombing campaigns by Washington in the Balkans accelerated the breakup of the Yugoslav workers state, and reinforced Washington’s position as the dominant political and military power in Europe.
The U.S. rulers then invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, where they became bogged down. The reality of what they could and could not accomplish began to become clear. Their intervention in Syria and growing conflict with both Moscow and Beijing have made the utter falseness of the U.S. rulers’ judgment in 1991 obvious.
Today President Joseph Biden has readied the deployment of 8,500 troops and extra warships and aircraft to Eastern Europe, but has categorically ruled out sending U.S. forces to Ukraine.
Despite the deepening political crisis wracking the U.S. rulers, and the sharp conflicts between the two major political parties, no wing of bourgeois politics advocates going to war to defend Ukraine. Instead, they threaten harsh economic sanctions, hoping that can avert a conflict.
In Europe the rivals of U.S. imperialism seek ways to advance their own interests as the war threat in Ukraine increases. French President Emmanuel Macron promotes the French rulers’ interests by opening up a dialogue with Putin, independent of NATO-ally Washington. He says he wants a new “stability order” in Europe that includes Russia.
At the end of the Cold War, East and West Germany were reunified. The two countries’ military forces were merged and the new German government slashed them by 75%, hobbling their capability.
Ever since, they have looked for military protection from either Washington or Moscow.
The German rulers have subjugated the weaker capitalist nations of southern Europe through their domination of the European Union.
Economic stagnation, Moscow’s expanding control over Germany’s natural gas supplies, and the threat of a war in Ukraine have thrown Berlin into a political crisis. German industry gets 55% of its imported gas and a quarter of its oil from Russia, and the newly completed Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline will deepen that dependence. Berlin is highly vulnerable in the present crisis, all the more so as it moves to phase out nuclear power and coal.
Berlin is “a pathetic excuse for a U.S. ally,” the Jan. 25 New York Post complained.
“The threat of war is a sharp danger to the working people of Ukraine, across Europe, in Russia and in the U.S.,” Joanne Kuniansky, Socialist Workers Party candidate for Congress from New Jersey, said Feb. 2. “The SWP demands, ‘Moscow hands off Ukraine! Defend Ukraine’s sovereignty!’ And we demand Washington get its troops out of Eastern Europe. They are there solely to advance the interests of the dog-eat-dog capitalist rulers in the U.S. and are a threat to peace and the working class everywhere.”