Statement on the war in Ukraine 19/05/2023


Statement of the Irish Communist Party on the War in Ukraine

THE WAR in Ukraine has been presented to the Irish people – in an avalanche of biased one-sided propaganda – as a wanton act of aggression by Russia, in which the rights of a small nation are trampled underfoot in a deluded attempt to restore the one-time Russian Empire.

While individual members of Russia’s new capitalist class may harbour such views, a look at the real circumstances of the war shows clearly that the West, led by the US and NATO, provoked the war as part of its effort to weaken Russia and ultimately to seize the wealth of that country for Western corporations.

Underlying all of this is the attempt of the United States to set back the clock to the time when US capital dominated the entire world, following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the severe weakening of the democratic challenge of socialism to the capitalist world order.

For several years, however, US capital has been in decline, as new economies have developed, with China, India and Asia increasingly emerging as powerful competitors to US dominance. In Latin America, too, once Uncle Sam’s backyard where it held undisputed sway, the US has had to give way to democratic and left-wing political forces.

These developments were felt by the US also in respect of its domination of Europe. Its big fear was that closer cooperation between Germany and Russia, by passing the US, with cheaper Russian energy fuelling German manufacturing and a side-lining of US capital in Europe, would free Europe from US dominance.

This is why the US laid such emphasis on stopping the Nordstream2 project, with the US, aided by NATO members Norway, Denmark and Netherlands, ultimately sabotaging the pipeline by blowing it up.

Germany, and Europe, are now dependent on US energy, which is up to four times more expensive than that previously supplied by Russia.

In this campaign to restore US global hegemony, the US has launched its first attack against Russia, using the Ukrainians as proxies in its fight, unconcerned with the devastating level of fatalities being suffered by the Ukrainian army, the destruction of Ukrainian cities and the plight of millions of refugees who have fled the conflict.

But it is already laying down the markers that it will turn its military against China, against Iran, against any country which fails to toe the line laid down by the US.

In the case of Ukraine, the US organised a coup in 2014 which overthrew the democratically elected president. This was followed by the banning of progressive parties, the terrorising of civilians who opposed the coup, including the burning to death of trade unionists in Odessa who peacefully campaigned against the coup, and the banning of the use of the Russian language in official business.

And this was accompanied by a glorification of the fascist past, with the Nazi collaborator and Jew killer, Stepan Bandera hailed as a hero by the coupists.

Russian speaking areas in the East resisted this, firstly seeking only the ending of the ban on the Russian language, but developing then into demands for local autonomy, leading ultimately to the secession of the Donbas.

The response of the Kiev regime was to attack the Donbas, and subject the people there to intense shelling, which, between 2014 and 2022, caused the death of 14,000 people.

Russia’s initial response was to seek an accommodation. The Minsk Accords of 2014 and 2015, signed by Ukraine and Russia, and “guaranteed” by Germany and France, accepted that, except for Russian Crimea, the territorial integrity of the Ukrainian state would be maintained, with the secessionist areas given local

autonomy (to protect their language rights among other issues) and with a veto over proposals to join NATO or the EU.

The Donbas secessionists were not fully happy with that, as they didn’t trust a Kiev regime which had open fascists, such as the Azov battalion, ensconced in its military and security apparatus. Putin was privately criticised, but the Donbas needed his help just to survive.

It has since been confirmed (by previous Ukraine president Petro Poroshenko, by Angela Merkel of Germany and by Emmanuel Macron of France) that the Minsk Accords were, on their part, only a ploy to buy time to build up the Ukrainian army for a mass attack on the Donbas.

Even then, with Kiev refusing to implement the Minsk Accords it had agreed to, the Russians continued to seek a diplomatic solution, warning that NATO establishing itself in Ukraine would pose an existential threat to any Russian state.

They sought a Europe wide conference on security to plan a solution to guarantee the security of all states in Europe. NATO refused to respond, and the Ukrainian regime, under NATO pressure, advice and direction, began to speak more and more openly about joining NATO and establishing NATO missile sites only five minutes flying time from Moscow.

Of course, since the fall of the Soviet Union, NATO, despite promises not to, has extended itself further and further to the east: Ukraine and Georgia would finalise NATO encirclement of Russia.

Attempts are made, especially in the Irish media, to equate the situation in Ukraine with that of Ireland. There is no equivalence.

First of all, in relation to language: while Irish (sometimes in its Scottish Gaelic form) was at one time spoken all over Ireland and is a distinct language family separate from English, Ukrainian and Russian (and Belorussian) are dialects of the same East Slavonic continuum. The difference between Ukrainian (as spoken in the West and now taken as a standard) and Russian is on the order of the difference between Donegal Irish and Munster Irish, or between standard English and Scots.

Secondly, the Russian speaking population of the Donbas are not descended from planters who came in as part of a plan to drive out the natives. Ukrainian speakers and Russian speakers both developed in the occupation of a territory from which the Tatars had been driven out.

In terms of statehood, Donbas was administratively added to Ukraine in the 1920s under Lenin’s leadership of the USSR in order to strengthen the industrial base of the Ukrainian republic. The people remained ethnically Russian.

Crimea was added in 1954, as a “gift” from Khrushchev to Ukraine. Its majority population remained Russian (Tatars and Ukrainians making up most of the rest).

The West, Galizia, was part of the Polish state until the Nazi invasion, when it became part of the Soviet Union. It was here that fascism had its strongest base with major onslaughts against Jewish and Polish communities, committed by Ukrainian nationalists led by Bandera, under the tutelage of the Nazis.

The second argument is that Russia’s invasion breaches the sovereign right of a sovereign independent state.

But it was laid down in the European Conference on Security in 1998 that, while each state had a right to take decisions concerning its own security, it could not do so at the expense of the security of its neighbours.

Given this background, it is clear that Russia did everything possible to avoid this war, but that NATO forced the issue to a point where Russia would have had to surrender to NATO or pre-emptively strike back.

Russia struck back.

It is also becoming clearer day by day that this is a war between NATO and Russia. NATO is pouring in weapons and supplies in order to prolong the war. It is also becoming clear that the NATO objective of destroying the Russian state will not succeed, but the longer the war goes on, the more devastating losses will be suffered by the Ukrainian peoples, and at a cost to the Russian people and to workers everywhere.

The Irish Communist Party therefore calls for an end to the fanning of the flames of war and the opening up of a demand for peace, for a resolution of the security issues of Russia, the ethnic Russians within Ukraine, the Ukrainians and the neighbours of all concerned.

The defeat of the United States in this war is in the best interests of the peoples of the world, because it will further weaken the US in its effort to restore the global hegemony it held over the world’s economies and societies.

And this is essentially what the war is about: will it be a unipolar world dominated by the United States, or will it be a multipolar world with several

major forces and the opportunity of smaller states to seek out a path that suits them.

It is in the latter context that the Irish Communist Party believes the working class of the world’s various states can best advance the undermining and eventual overthrow of the capitalist system of exploitation and rebuild a socialist alternative to that world of greed.

At the same time, it should be understood that working for the defeat of the US in this war is no endorsement of Vladimir Putin, who remains a staunch defender of the overthrow of socialism in the USSR and the capitalist theft of the social property of the Soviet peoples.

Indeed, Putin himself was willing to join NATO and for Russia to play a junior part in the US plan for the world. But the US wanted all of Russia’s resources for itself, and so has forced Putin to make that break.

It is that break which opens up, for all of us, a path of escape from US domination and the opportunity to rebuild a new world in which all capitalist centres will be eliminated – including Putin’s.

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