Defend independence of Ukraine!

February 27, 2023

Statement by Joanne Kuniansky, Socialist Workers Party candidate for New Jersey state Senate, Feb. 15.

 A year ago on Feb. 24 Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an all-out invasion of Ukraine, expecting to rapidly conquer Kyiv, the capital, arrest and kill its elected authorities, and install a puppet government. Instead, tenacious Ukrainian resistance, including thousands of working-class volunteers, stopped the Russian army in its tracks and pushed them back from the capital. In subsequent months more embarrassing retreats followed from around Kharkiv and Kherson.

Working people took the lead as Ukrainians fought courageously, determined to defend their country’s sovereignty and independence. The Socialist Workers Party hails their resistance and calls for the defeat of Putin’s invading forces in Ukraine, all of Ukraine.

Putin aims to obliterate the Ukrainian people, language and national identity, and resurrect the Russian empire, a prison house of nations, with himself as the czar. Putin’s excuse for the invasion, charging Ukrainians and their government are Nazis, is a lie. The heart of Ukraine’s resistance is the country’s working class. A sovereign and independent Ukraine posed no military threat to Russia of any kind.

His invasion set in motion the first major conflict between two state powers on the European continent since the second imperialist world war. It has upset the capitalist “world order” and sent ruling classes around the globe reconsidering their alliances, the best course to defend their interests and scurrying to increase their military might. This portends more wars and the threat of nuclear conflict.

The SWP opposes the sanctions imposed on Moscow by Washington and other imperialist powers. These sanctions fall most harshly on working people in Russia, and put obstacles in the way of solidarity between working people there and in Ukraine.

Putin is mobilizing for a new offensive, hoping that the numerical superiority of conscripted Russian forces and his country’s larger resources will outweigh the Ukrainian people’s determination. His relentless bombardment of civilian centers across the country, like the firebombing of Dresden and Tokyo in World War II, have no military object but are meant to devastate the Ukrainian people.

Thousands of Russian troops have lost their lives in Ukraine, increasingly sacrificed as cannon fodder in human-wave attacks. Growing numbers are deserting, speaking out against Putin’s war. Despite fierce repression, Russian workers at home continue to find ways to protest.

The Ukrainian people have paid a heavy price too, with tens of thousands of deaths and injuries, millions of refugees, and devastated cities, industries and infrastructure. But out of their struggle for survival has emerged a steely determination to win.

In the U.S. and elsewhere a Stalinist popular front falsely presents itself as a “new peace movement” opposing “NATO’s proxy war.” These apologists for Putin, like the Russian autocrat himself, have contempt for the Ukrainian people’s independence struggle. Their goal is to aid Putin’s war aims.

In the early years of the 1917 Russian Revolution, Bolshevik leader V.I. Lenin explained how Moscow’s oppressive rule under the czar had deepened the nationalist sentiments of Ukrainians and other oppressed nationalities. He championed the right of national self-determination. The SWP’s position is squarely in this continuity.

Join us in raising an independent working-class voice, to win support for the just cause of the Ukrainian people. On this road, working people will see the necessity of taking political power into our own hands — as workers and farmers did in Cuba in 1959.