The seizure of the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don by Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Wagner mercenaries and their aborted armed march on Moscow highlight the dangers for working people in Russia, Ukraine and worldwide in the crisis unfolding within Vladimir Putin’s secret-police-based capitalist regime.
The clash between Putin and Prigozhin’s forces was provoked by Moscow’s setbacks in Ukraine and conflict in Russia’s ruling circles and their hangers-on over what to do. Challenges to Putin — from Prigozhin or other rightist forces — threaten imposition of an even more bellicose regime of terror against workers and farmers in both Ukraine and Russia, and a wider conflict with worldwide implications. This highlights the need for working people to demand Moscow immediately withdraw its forces from every inch of Ukraine, halt its murderous bombardment of Ukrainian cities and get its boot off the back of Russia’s working people.
Moscow’s invasion is aimed at wiping out a nation that Putin says has no right to exist. His claim that the war is necessary to protect Russia from U.S. aggression is a cynical pretext for increasing Moscow’s power over its “near abroad” and moving to rebuild a Russian empire like the “prison house of nations” under the czarist regime.
Getting Moscow’s forces out of all of Ukraine is deeply in the interests of working people across Russia. They are used as the cannon fodder in Putin’s war, at the same time thousands have been arrested for speaking out against it. Prigozhin stood for imposing martial law and a more draconian regime of repression.
Workers in Russia have the same class interests as working people in Ukraine. While workers in Ukraine have volunteered in their thousands to join the just struggle to defeat Moscow’s invasion, they also face a capitalist government using the war to justify attacks on unions, jobs, wages and political rights. The fight that is needed against Moscow’s expansionist course and the social cost at home of its wars will be taken on by working people in Russia as they advance their own class interests.
They will not be helped by the sanctions imposed by Washington and its capitalist allies that fall most heavily on working people. The U.S. rulers intervene across the world to extend their political influence against rivals and allies alike, and to quench their thirst for profits off the backs of workers and farmers. Washington is responding to the war by expanding its vast military might. Capitalist rulers worldwide look to defend and extend their political and economic interests and their place in today’s crisis-ridden “world order.” Even more bloody conflicts loom in the future.
“The stakes are enormous,” says the Socialist Workers Party National Committee statement issued by Jack Barnes, the party’s national secretary, days after the war began last year. “Working people must see the necessity of taking political power into our own hands — as toilers did in Cuba at the opening of the 1960s, following a popular, workers-and-farmers-based revolution — or we will face a future of social devastation, reaction, world war and even nuclear catastrophe.”
Working people in the U.S. need our own foreign policy. Join the fight to defend Ukraine’s independence, to demand the withdrawal of Moscow’s forces, to get the U.S. rulers’ troops and nuclear weapons out of Europe and to broaden working-class solidarity worldwide.