‘Cut through wall of imperialist propaganda’ on Ukraine

In 2014, SLL’s Greg Butterfield met with exiled Ukrainians in Crimea, including these activists. Since then, they have continued to fight for Ukraine’s liberation from U.S. domination. SLL photo

From a presentation by Struggle-La Lucha co-editor Greg Butterfield at a Feb. 27 film showing of Oliver Stone’s film “Ukraine on Fire,” hosted by Youth Against War and Racism.

At the beginning of a war crisis, the most urgent task is to cut through the wall of imperialist lies and propaganda. So it’s vital to state clearly that the situation in Eastern Europe today was created by the U.S. and NATO, which bear full responsibility for the military conflict unfolding in Ukraine. 

Ukraine and its Western sponsors spent the last seven years sabotaging the 2015 Minsk II agreements meant to end Kiev’s attacks on the people of the Donbass region. Washington and Kiev spent the last three months preparing an invasion of the Donetsk People’s Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic as a means to draw Russia into a war. 

President Joe Biden, Congress and NATO were more than willing to sacrifice the lives of Donbass civilians as well as Ukrainian troops to achieve their goal.

The situation changed drastically Feb. 21,  when the Russian government formally recognized the DPR and LPR and signed treaties of friendship and mutual defense with them – eight years after the people of the Donbass declared independence from Ukraine.

It was the last warning to Ukrainian President Voldomyr Zelensky to back off from the attacks. But Ukraine, prodded by its masters in Washington, continued to bomb, shoot and carry out terrorist acts against the people of Donetsk and Lugansk. 

On Feb. 24, the Donbass republics and Russia launched a joint military operation against the Ukrainian government. Its goals are to stop the constant threats and attacks on Donetsk and Lugansk; to retake areas on Donbass occupied by the Ukrainian military; and to demilitarize and de-Nazify Ukraine. 

The point is to make the Ukrainian regime unable to continue acting as a de facto NATO military base and existential threat to its neighbors. 

The Socialist Unity Party and Struggle-La Lucha call for the victory of the Donbass Republics and their Russian allies in this operation. U.S.-NATO imperialism and Ukrainian Nazism can only be stopped by forceful action there combined with militant solidarity here.

Stand with which Ukraine?

During a war crisis, when the capitalists push out campaigns like “Pray for Ukraine” or “Stand with Ukraine,” preying on the humanitarian impulses of uninformed people, we have to ask: Who are they actually trying to rally support for? 

It’s not for the common people, the workers or the rank and file soldiers. They are trying to tie people here to the fortunes of the neocolonial Ukrainian government, the capitalist elite, military leaders and neo-Nazi gangs that infest the state from top to bottom.  

The “suffering Ukrainians” aren’t an undifferentiated mass. Hidden from the people here is the fact that many Ukrainians have been ruthlessly repressed since the 2014 Euromaidan coup: imprisoned, killed, exiled or terrorized on the streets.

Progressive organizations were outlawed. Journalists and people who opposed the war against Donbass were jailed. National minorities were banned from using their native languages. 

Neo-Nazis in Kiev routinely attacked women’s marches, LGBTQ2S Pride parades and anti-fascist historical commemorations. Russian speakers, Roma, Jewish people, Vietnamese immigrants and African students were attacked. 

At least 48 people were killed by neo-Nazis at the Odessa House of Trade Unions on May 2, 2014. Thousands of activists were driven into exile under threat of imprisonment or death.

Those are the Ukrainians who need our solidarity.

We know from activists inside Ukraine that the anti-fascist underground is working with Russian troops to identify and capture fascist war criminals. Victory to them!

I hope that exiled comrades who were driven away from their homes, families and communities will soon be able to return.

Confusion in anti-war left

As revolutionary Marxists and Leninists, we understand that pacifism, especially of the “plague on both your houses” kind, amounts to backhanded support for imperialism and its goals. 

The job of the anti-war movement here is to end U.S. wars, proxy wars and sanctions by any means necessary, and to support those around the world who are fighting back. 

Unfortunately, many anti-war organizations and even some groups that describe themselves as revolutionary socialists and communists have bowed to the intense pressure of imperialist propaganda and taken positions of denouncing Russia or drawing an equal sign between the U.S./NATO and Russia. Just a week ago, they were warning that Washington was pushing Russia into a corner where it would have no choice but to take military action! 

Most of these groups have never raised the plight of the people of Donbass, who have endured brutal war and blockade at the cost of over 14,000 lives for eight years. 

Likewise, some are now downplaying the role of neo-Nazi and white supremacist forces in Ukraine. These groups were the motor force of the 2014 coup. Today they are completely integrated into the military, police and all sectors of the state, and are used by the U.S. to keep pressure on Kiev’s political elite to do Washington’s bidding. 

They don’t talk about how Ukraine has become a training ground for fascists and white supremacists from Europe and North America. In the film we are watching today, “Ukraine on Fire,” you’ll see how that situation came about and how both Democrats and Republicans were intimately involved. 

I want to be clear that my criticism is directed at the leaders of these anti-war groups, not the rank and file who may be confused or misinformed. We know there are also folks affiliated with these groups who take an anti-imperialist position and have done excellent work in recent weeks building opposition to war with Russia. 

We hope these organizations will come around to a principled view, and soon, because the workers and anti-fascists of the region need the widest possible support.

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