Ukraine resists Putin’s invasion, anti-war views spread in Russia

By Roy Landersen
August 21, 2023
Aug. 3, Russian court extended jail time for Dmitry Skurikhin after his Feb. 24 protest, “Ukraine, please forgive us.” He painted “Peace to Ukraine, freedom for Russia!” on his store near St. Petersburg, names of Ukrainian cities hit by Moscow’s invasion. Many villagers support him.
Dmitry SkurikhinAug. 3, Russian court extended jail time for Dmitry Skurikhin after his Feb. 24 protest, “Ukraine, please forgive us.” He painted “Peace to Ukraine, freedom for Russia!” on his store near St. Petersburg, names of Ukrainian cities hit by Moscow’s invasion. Many villagers support him.

For 18 months, the Ukrainian armed forces, with decisive support from working people, have fought courageously to repel Moscow’s invasion. A Ukrainian counteroffensive begun two months ago is aimed at defeating Russian President Vladimir Putin’s drive to crush Ukraine’s independence and re-establish the prison house of nations that existed under the Russian czars. 


The Ukrainian command shifted tactics after its forces ran up against heavily mined and fortified front line positions backed by Moscow’s greater air power. To reduce Ukrainian losses, Kyiv is using strikes at ammunition depots, command posts and bridges behind Russian lines, including on the Crimean Peninsula occupied by Moscow since 2014. Seaborne drones are attacking Russian warships in the Black Sea.  

The Kremlin’s response is to step up its murderous airstrikes against civilian targets. A guided bomb hit a blood transfusion center in the northeastern city of Kupiansk, Aug. 5, causing a large fire, killing two people and injuring four. 

Putin’s government is using hundreds of thousands of workers and farmers in Russia as cannon fodder. It recently lifted the upper age of conscription from 27 to 30 years of age as of Jan. 1, stirring opposition to the war. 

“From next January, I can be called up,” Peter, 27, a salesman in St. Petersburg, told the BBC. “I don’t want to take part in this war and die for someone else’s goals.” 

Desperate to hold onto Ukrainian territory, Moscow is thrusting elite forces into combat. Mikhail Teplinsky, commander of the Russian Airborne Forces, admitted at least 8,500 of his troops have been wounded since the war began. The BBC estimates at least 1,800 paratroopers have been killed. Teplinsky’s online posting was quickly deleted by the Kremlin as it tries to keep its devastating losses hidden from working people in Russia. 

Ukraine health staff protest attacks

While working people overwhelmingly support the defense of Ukraine’s independence, they try to find ways to fight against attacks on their wages and working conditions by the bosses.

Despite the government’s wartime ban on protests, a dozen unionists and medical workers in Ukraine demonstrated at the Ministry of Health in Kyiv July 27. They tried to present a letter demanding a halt to wage cuts, but were prevented by officials. 

Over several years, medical workers and their unions have resisted government efforts — backed by the International Monetary Fund — to cut expenditures on the nationalized hospital system. These have led to hospital closures, job losses, speedup, lower wages and excessive workloads. 

In recent months primary care workers have gone unpaid, there have been more job cuts and nurses are quitting due to work overload. Social care nurses in residential homes for the elderly or children, or in kindergartens and schools, get especially low wages. 

These problems are all too familiar to medical workers across the rest of the capitalist world. 

Before the war BeLikeNina, a movement of medical workers, organized rallies to protest these conditions. 

Previously “our movement achieved an increase in nurses’ salaries,” Oksana Slobodiana, the head of the organization, told Open Democracy after the July 27 action. “If there was no war we would have brought a lot of doctors to Kyiv” to protest. 

Putin jails anti-war opponents

In Russia, Putin has tried to silence opponents. He is fearful that the impact of the war on working people will prompt wider resistance. 

Dmitry Skurikhin was sentenced to one and one half years in prison Aug. 3 for “discrediting” the Russian military. He was arrested after conducting a one-man protest outside his store on the anniversary of Moscow’s invasion Feb. 24. 

Skurikhin had painted “Peace to Ukraine, freedom for Russia!” on the front of his store outside St. Petersburg, and listed Ukrainian cities devastated by the war. Despite repeated fines, he persisted with the support of many villagers. “I couldn’t not do it,” Skurikhin told his lawyer. 

A court outside Moscow Aug. 4 added another 19 years to the prison sentence of Alexei Navalny,  Putin’s main bourgeois political opponent. He was found guilty of establishing an “extremist organization,” which started as an anti-corruption campaign exposing Putin’s lavish lifestyle. He was already serving a nine-year sentence in a remote penal colony after being arrested in 2021. From prison he has urged supporters to “turn people against the war.” 

“They want to frighten you, not me,” he said after the new sentence, “and deprive you of the will to resist. Putin should not achieve his goal. Don’t lose the will to resist.”