Working people in Ukraine show resolve to defend their sovereignty

By Roy Landersen
July 24, 2023

Despite Moscow’s air superiority and greater troop numbers, the Ukrainian army and thousands of volunteer fighters continue to push back President Vladimir Putin’s attempts to conquer Ukraine. They’re backed by a civilian population growing more determined as the brutal consequences and growing hardships caused by the war mount.

“I do not see disabled people. I see superheroes,” Oleksandra Kabanova told the New York Times in Lviv, as she waited for her husband, Oleh Spodin, to complete physical therapy after he lost a leg at the front. She proudly pointed out that Spodin had volunteered to help rescue a wounded comrade when he was injured. “These are just new conditions in our lives that we must adjust to,” Spodin said.

“My unit is waiting for me,” said Denys Kryvenko, who lost both legs and an arm in January in fighting near Bakhmut. He plans to return to the front as an instructor for paramedics or a counselor to fellow soldiers. Bohdan Petrenko practiced walking with his new prosthetic leg, as he told the Times he planned to return to his unit as a radio or drone operator.

The resilience of Ukrainian working people is also inspiring others. One-third of the population of 44 million is displaced within Ukraine or abroad, while 2.4 million have lost their jobs. Production has plummeted by 30%. But many of these hardest hit still find ways to help others and to donate to the armed forces to repel the invasion.

Volunteers in Irpin, near Kyiv, use a church to provide services to people forced to leave their homes. They serve 100 free lunches every day. A mobile dentist provides free dental care to pensioners.

Ivan Karaulov runs a bar in Kyiv, hiring people like himself who have been displaced from the war-damaged town of Berdyansk. He captured this outlook, saying, “The war has shown that money is nothing. People are the greatest value.”

In Borodyanka 300 residents and dozens of people who fled there shelter in mobile homes. A group of volunteer hairdressers provide them with free haircuts. Secondhand clothes and books are also available.

High morale among working people in Ukraine contrasts with demoralization in Moscow’s conscript army and anger of soldiers’ families. Three women, from Lermontovo in the Amur region in Russia’s Far East, made a video appeal June 26 to protest the treatment of their relatives by the Russian army.

“With shovels, without cartridges, they are forced to go to minefields,” they say.“If they do not go to die, they will be killed by their own,” by commanders who threaten to shoot them if they refuse orders, one says. She calls the officers “nonhumans.”

“Our children are being thrown into hell itself,” say parents of soldiers from the 1428th regiment in a July 7 video. They say they got no help when they appealed to Russia’s Commissioner for Human Rights.

US-led NATO expansion

“Putin’s efforts to excuse his bloodthirsty invasion of Ukraine on grounds of moves by Washington and other NATO governments are as cynical as they are false. A sovereign and independent Ukraine poses no military threat to Russia of any kind,” explains a statement released by Jack Barnes, Socialist Workers Party national secretary, at the start of the war.

The war is accelerating the drive by Washington and competing capitalist powers to rearm and reassess their alliances, as each prepares for future conflicts to advance their own interests.

Just prior to the July 11-12 NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, the states in the military bloc agreed to admit the Swedish government after bringing in Finland earlier this year. This expands the U.S.-led alliance’s military reach across northwest Europe, including the Swedish rulers’ submarine fleet in the Baltic Sea and the Finnish rulers’ air force.

Washington intends the expansion of NATO to reinforce its place as the dominant “European” military power. But with NATO’s growth comes heightened tensions and conflicts among member capitalist states, each of which has competing interests.

The U.S. rulers are using their preponderant weight to pressure Kyiv to the negotiating table. The Ukrainian government only found out July 7 about months of secret discussions between former U.S. and Russian officials about the outcome of the war.

Washington and its NATO allies pretend to support Ukrainian independence, but “their only real concern is to protect their profits and strategic political interests in the region,” the SWP statement says. Alongside defending Ukraine’s independence the party “demands the withdrawal of all US troops and both conventional and nuclear arms and nuclear missile systems from NATO member countries in Europe!”

The response of working people in Ukraine to mobilize and fight courageously against Moscow’s invasion, along with the smoldering opposition to the war inside Russia, has been decisive in preventing Putin from crushing them and subjugating the country.