Unleashing a deadly bombardment on Ukrainian urban centers, the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin is slaughtering thousands. Overwhelmingly outgunned and outmanned, Ukrainian troops and civilians are mounting courageous and tenacious resistance that has so far prevented Moscow’s forces from seizing any Ukrainian cities except Kherson.
Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Kyiv, Mariupol, Zhytomyr and many other cities have been hit with artillery shells aimed at apartment buildings and other residential areas. Far from treating the Ukrainian population as a “fellow people,” as Putin claims they are, he has put them in the crosshairs of Moscow’s firepower.
By March 3 over 2,000 civilians had been killed in the invasion. Families sheltered in basements and metro stations. Over a million refugees have fled, most into neighboring Eastern Europe.
After days of heavy fighting, the Russian army took the southern city of Kherson March 2. The occupiers imposed a curfew but still face resistance.
Crowds of Ukrainian civilians blocked the advance of Russian forces March 2 in Enerhodar in the southeast. Moscow is trying to seize the nuclear power plant there. Hundreds of working people stood amid a massive barricade of trucks, tires and sandbags.
Several cities are under siege, including Kyiv, normally home to 3 million people. Awakening outrage among Jews everywhere, Russian bombing damaged Babyn Yar, the location of the memorial to tens of thousands of Jews killed there by Nazi forces in the Holocaust. Five civilians were killed nearby.
Some Russian soldiers are demoralized after being confronted by angry working people, the opposite of what they had been told to expect. Some Russian prisoners of war say they had been used as “cannon fodder.” A number of Moscow’s units have refused to shell Ukrainian towns unless civilians left.
Moscow admitted that 498 troops were killed by March 2, but losses are likely to be in the thousands.
Thousands of residents of Melitopol, a city of a quarter of a million near the Sea of Azov, shouted “Go home” at a Russian column. Dozens blocked vehicles. When soldiers fired into the air they chanted, “Who are you shooting at? We are unarmed,” and “leave our land!”
A 40-mile-long Russian military column amassed 17 miles north of Kyiv has been stalled since March 1.
Emigrants are returning to Ukraine from across Europe to join the fight for their country’s sovereignty. In the week after the invasion, some 22,000 headed back across the Polish border.
The U.S. rulers and other imperialist governments are taking advantage of the war to move more military personnel and equipment to Europe. Washington has deployed 15,000 extra troops and sent jet fighters and attack helicopters to Poland, Romania and the Baltic republics. Its major NATO allies are bolstering their forces in Eastern Europe.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced a major rearmament program Feb. 27. The illusion long held by the country’s capitalist rulers — that they could exploit rivals through their economic dominance of the European Union while letting their armed forces decline — has been shattered by Moscow’s invasion. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, German governments let troop numbers fall by nearly two-thirds. Now the country’s imperialist rulers are taking advantage of the Ukraine war to reverse that.
Washington continues to ramp up sanctions against Moscow. The consequences will be offloaded on the backs of working people. Washington and its allies barred some Russian banks from SWIFT, the payment system used for most international transactions. The government froze assets of Russia’s central bank that are held in the U.S. and sanctioned some billionaire capitalists closely tied to Putin. As a result of the imperialist squeeze, the ruble crashed, reducing the value of workers’ wages.
A United Nations vote condemning the invasion was approved 141-5. Alongside Moscow, the governments of Belarus, Eritrea, North Korea and Syria voted against, while 35 governments, including Beijing, abstained.
After French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said the European imperialist rulers were going to wage an “all-out economic and financial war” against Russia, Dmitry Medvedev, Putin’s deputy, responded with a threat. “In human history economic wars quite often turned into real ones,” he said.