This interview with Struggle-La Lucha co-editor Greg Butterfield was originally published by Russian-language news service and Telegram channel Readovka on March 9.
Elena Nikolaeva: What was the impetus for the beginning of the crisis between Russia and Ukraine? What role did the United States play in the conflict?
Greg Butterfield: The government of the United States was the instigator of the current crisis between Russia and Ukraine.
The world watched the drama unfold over the last several months. While shouting from the highest rooftops that evil Russia was about to attack poor Ukraine, the Biden administration and NATO alliance pushed Ukraine’s Zelensky regime to launch a big new attack on the Donbass republics. The point was to force the Russian government into a corner where it would have no choice but to respond, and in this way to justify NATO aggression.
Since Russian President Putin officially recognized the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics and the joint antifascist military operation began, the pounding war drums have reached truly incredible heights here. I have seen nothing like it since the weeks immediately following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York and Washington, D.C. – at which time the propaganda led to the monstrous U.S. wars and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq.
In the mainstream media, no alternative views are permitted. On social media, anyone who questions the U.S. narrative is immediately labeled a Russian agent and subject to being banned or restricted.
Unfortunately, the immense pressure of the imperialist state and media has had its effect on the leaders of anti-war forces in the U.S. and other Western countries. Many of those who just weeks ago were warning that NATO was pushing Russia into a corner are now denouncing Russia’s defensive actions in Ukraine, singing in perfect tune with the imperialists. They have forgotten, and some never understood, the plight of the people of Donbass and the power of the neo-Nazis in Ukraine.
Those of us who continue to stand up to the U.S. and NATO are determined to keep telling the truth. We know that the majority of humanity – from Cuba and Venezuela to China and North Korea to Syria and Yemen – are not fooled by the U.S. war propaganda. We’re confident that the lies will soon begin to collapse under their own weight and we will be able to win many workers and progressive people to solidarity with the people of Donbass and Russia.
EN: Russian forces have discovered secret laboratories and documents confirming the development of bacteriological and nuclear weapons. Why does Ukraine need these when its government also declares that it is a peaceful country?
GB: For the past eight years, since the Euromaidan coup in 2014, Ukraine’s government has been a thinly veiled disguise for U.S. and NATO control of the country. The real decisions are not made in Kiev, but in Washington.
Besides robbing the Ukrainian people of their industry and vast resources developed in Soviet times, the U.S. goal has been to turn Ukraine into a base for subversion and military attack on the Russian Federation. The biowarfare labs set up there are a perfect example of this.
In 2014, the U.S. and NATO hoped for a much more direct route to attack Russia. They wanted to seize the strategic naval base in Crimea. Thankfully, the Crimean population thwarted this plan with their popular referendum that led to Crimea’s return to Russian sovereignty.
Since that time, the resistance of the heroic people of Donetsk and Lugansk has been very important, delaying the plans of the U.S. and NATO.
EN: The West has imposed sanctions on all Russian citizens. Do you think this could turn into a problem for those countries?
GB: First we should state that sanctions are merely another form of war – one that primarily targets the civilian population, no matter how much the media talk about “Russian oligarchs.”
There are two ways in which the intensification of sanctions will undermine and ultimately turn against the Western imperialists and their aims.
First, the sanctions will create hardship for workers and poor people in these countries. In U.S. states like California, where cars are essential, gas prices have already shot up to $7 a gallon or more because of the war crisis. This is great for the big oil companies, who are the main beneficiaries of the crisis, but poison for the people.
The dumping of more billions and trillions of dollars into the weapons industry will increase inflation and mean even less money available for programs that fund basic human needs like health care and housing. This will cause the class struggle to intensify and anti-war sentiments to grow in the U.S. and Europe.
Second, the attempts to cut off Russia from economic relations with the West will mean that Russia, China and other countries targeted by the U.S. will grow even closer and have greater cooperation – economic, military and political. This can only strengthen the global alternative to Western imperialism.
The most urgent task of anti-imperialists in the West today is to stand up and tell the truth in defiance of the tidal wave of U.S. war propaganda. For example, on March 8, a group of comrades from the Socialist Unity Party protested at the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, D.C.
They delivered a letter demanding the Kiev regime release Aleksandr Kononovich and Mikhail Kononovich, leaders of the Leninist Communist Youth Union of Ukraine, who were arrested by the notorious Security Service of Ukraine on March 6.
We must seize every opportunity to expose the fascistic character of the Ukrainian regime and the danger NATO poses to Donbass, Russia and the people of the whole region.
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