Those who spread the lie that the conflict in Ukraine is an ‘interimperialist war’ are helping to demobilise the world’s most militant antiwar activists.
Greek trade unionists have set a powerful example by refusing to transport Nato weapons bound for Ukraine. Alongside supporting such important actions, Greece’s communists have played a more destructive role by also labelling Russia’s military operation as ‘imperialist’. On the basis of such confusion, trade unionists in Britain and elsewhere have refused to load or unload Russian ships – much to the delight of the imperialists.
The following interview was given by CPGB-ML vice-chair Joti Brar to Panos Papadomanolakis of the Press Project in Greece.
Q. Recently the CPGB-ML organised an event on the war in Donbass. However the Ukrainian embassy tried to block it. Could you tell us what exactly happened?
We didn’t organise the event, it was arranged by another group. However we knew the speaker – Dean O’Brien – and had arranged to interview him after the public meeting, which we encouraged our local members to attend.
The meeting was advertised on Twitter, which attracted a lot of attention from pro-Ukrainian forces. The pub that had been booked for the meeting claimed not to know about it, and even closed for the day.
This level of opposition to holding a public meeting has been seen before – during the height of western aggression against Syria, for instance, when it was very difficult to hold meetings with the few independent (not socialist, just not pro-imperialist) journalists who were countering the corporate war propaganda at the time.
Since the booked venue had cancelled, we met up informally in a nearby pub, but we were also asked to leave that venue. It seems odd that a quiet pub wouldn’t want a couple of dozen paying customers, but luckily we (CPGB-ML) had been able to arrange an alternative venue a short distance away, so the meeting was able to go ahead.
The speed and effectiveness with which the meeting venue was made unavailable was definitely suspicious. It certainly demonstrates the pressure not to allow public meetings that counter the bellicose war propaganda being pushed by our pro-Nato imperialist government and media, who are vigorously singing from the same hymn sheet.
Even the most mildly antiwar or anti-intervention voices are being ignored or condemned.
Q. What is the party’s analysis of the conflict in Ukraine?
To get a full answer to that question, I would encourage your readers to visit our website, where we have published many articles and videos on this topic.
In summary, our view is that it is not Russia but Nato which is the aggressor in Ukraine. Nato has been carrying out aggressive actions in Ukraine ever since the end of World War 2, and has consistently used Nazis and their descendants as its proxies there.
The USA in particular, with support from Britain, sponsored fascist remnants to wage a guerrilla war in the years after WW2 (in fact, this began in 1943!); they helped the leaders of that defeated war to escape into comfortable exile in the West; many of them were then absorbed into the CIA. These elements and their descendants were brought back to Ukraine after the collapse of socialism and have been a tool of the imperialists inside the country ever since.
Two coups have been carried out at the behest of Nato/the USA since 1991: the first in 2004 (the so-called ‘Orange revolution’), the second in 2014 (the so-called ‘Maidan movement’). Both times, elected governments whose policy was one of friendly neutrality towards both East and West were removed in order to make way for a more controlled and overtly anti-Russian leadership. Since the Maidan coup, it has become ever clearer that the ‘government’ has no control over the country, no ability to make policy or direct its own economic or military affairs, but is merely a CIA-controlled front.
The war to resist the implementation of this coup government and to resist the second-class citizenship it immediately imposed on Russian-speakers has been going on in the Donbass (eastern) region ever since the Maidan coup of 2014. This context is totally suppressed by Western media, who cared nothing for the lives of the 14,000 Ukrainians who had already died in the interests of imperialist profit and domination, cared nothing for the silencing of opposition voices, and cared nothing for the rampaging of fascist thugs on Ukrainian streets.
The imperialists want to control and loot Ukraine’s resources and to use Ukraine as a base from which to attack and weaken Russia – all their excuses are merely public relations window-dressing for this agenda.
This helps to explain the demonisation of Russian-speaking people in Ukraine: which is on the one hand a means to foment anti-Russia sentiment generally, and on the other a way to persuade the impoverished people of recolonised Ukraine that Russia is their enemy, not their own rulers or the western imperialists. The fascist forces, who have always had a fanatical and ideological hatred of Russians, communists and jews, can be relied upon to misdirect the anger of any workers who can be brought to listen to them, as well as to be a militaristic force on the streets to put down any resistance by the people.
We should be clear that the fascists of Ukraine, although their roots can be traced back to the revolutionary period a century ago, have always been willing tools of external forces, whether British, German or American imperialists. It is to the imperialists’ patronage (money, training, weapons, propaganda support, diplomatic cover etc) that these forces primarily owe their strength.
The present escalation in Ukraine was actually begun by the Ukrainian/Nato side. A huge massing of forces took place in early February and there was a large escalation of shelling against the Donbass. Clearly an operation to retake the region (and the Crimea) by force was about to be launched.
The Ukrainian side signed up to the peace process at Minsk in 2015 – a process ‘guaranteed’ by France and Germany – but Ukraine’s fascists, armed and emboldened by the US/Britain/Nato, made it clear that they would not allow the implementation of its terms and viewed it merely as a delaying tactic. When the actor/’president’ Volodymyr Zelensky made a small show of going to the border of the liberated areas to ‘talk peace’ (the only reason he won the presidential election, after all), the Azov battalion sent him back with a flea in his ear.
In the end, under pressure from the Russian people and parliament, who had been watching the war’s progress for eight long years (unlike workers in the West, who have been given no information about it at all) and were well aware of the mounting likelihood of a massive invasion of the Donbass, President Putin gave up trying to bring about the implementation of the Minsk accords, recognised the independence of the territories of Lugansk and Donetsk, and agreed to give them military support against attack.
If the Russians wanted to avoid a massacre in Donbass and the spill-over of the war from there into Russia itself, they had very little choice but to act swiftly to remove Ukraine’s ability to wage such a war against their people. They also had to take serious note of the existence of the biowarfare programme and the growing evidence of a fairly advanced nuclear programme, since any such weapons in Ukraine could only be for use against Russia.
Q. In the context of the imperialist encirclement of Russia, we see how the US State Department is fomenting unrest on the border with Russia. Before the conflict Ukraine, took place the failed Orange Revolution in Kazakhstan. Shouldn’t the imperialists learn from the reaction of Russia and CSTO in Kazakhstan?
Well perhaps it ‘should’, but it won’t!
Imperialism is not capable of learning the lessons of history, for the simple reason that it is not run according to the principles of human logic but according to the principles of capitalist logic.
For capital there is only one motive for all action: profit – the need to transform capital into more capital lies at the heart of every decision taken by our rulers. And not only some profit but maximum profit, since those who make less than the maximum possible will simply lose the battle of competition and go under.
In the era of imperialism, as explained by Lenin, the drive for maximum profit requires the monopolies who control the world to compete with one another for domination of resources and markets. And in the conditions of a generalised capitalist overproduction crisis, any country, resource or service not already under their control and bringing them a profit must be grabbed.
Only this explains why the USA continues to launch aggressive war after aggressive war, despite the catastrophic failures of Korea, Laos, Vietnam, etc, which proved conclusively that the era when a people will submit to invasion and colonisation are over. This lesson was retaught to the imperialists by the Afghan resistance only yesterday, yet still it is impelled to continue its quest for world domination.
Q. What is it that prompted Nato to escalate the conflict?
Nato has been escalating conflict with Russia ever since the election of Vladimir Putin as president and the shift in Russian policy away from being a client state of the West and towards political and economic independence. The new Russia has made it clear that it wishes to be treated as an equal and to sell its goods at a fair price on the world market.
But imperialism demands subservience and the right to loot resources everywhere. Since Russia has the ability to defend itself militarily (a legacy of the Soviet era), it could not be taken down all at once. Its gradual encirclement by Nato bases and demonisation by Nato ideologues is all part of the drive to break up and destroy Russia’s strength and sovereignty.
You can read more about this in my short pamphlet, The drive to war against Russia and China.
Q. How is the UK government involved in supporting the Kiev regime and its fascist organisations?
Britain has been central to funding and supporting fascists in Ukraine since at least 1943. It worked with the CIA to drop defeated Bandera-ites (who had been rounded up after the rout at Stalingrad) back into Ukraine (although officially Britain was allied to the Soviet Union at the time!) to form an anti-Soviet insurgent army there, which fought on until 1953.
It brought thousands of Ukrainian ‘prisoners of war’ to Britain in 1945 and later simply absorbed them into the population as ‘displaced European workers’. These fascists and their descendants have been funded and facilitated to retain their Ukrainian ‘identity’ and ‘traditions’ (ie, to retain their Nazi sympathies), helped to rewrite their history (inserted into the media and into academia) and whitewash their fascist past as a ‘liberation struggle’, and many were brought back to Ukraine after the fall of socialism in 1991, where Britain and the USA continued to fund and support their development.
Since 2014 at least, British army operatives have been in the country training fascist militia – unknown to the British working class. Alongside the military assistance, British psychological warfare operatives fund and train their Ukrainian counterparts in producing emotive video packages (of material that is entirely fabricated) for use by corporate media in order to keep the narrative of plucky freedom fighters alive in the minds of workers all over the world.
Q. We have seen that especially in the Anglophone countries, McCarthyism has been strengthened in the context of the war against China and Russia. Today, Western governments are leading racism against Russian culture. Has this affected British society?
In the early weeks of the war, a noticeable Russophobia spread throughout the population and was felt very keenly by Russian workers living in Britain. As the conflict has dragged on, the minds of the mass of the poor workers has turned away from these events and towards the rampant inflation crisis, which is making life much harder very quickly for the masses and which threatens to get worse and worse as the year progresses. They have remembered how much they distrust politicians and the media and become somewhat sceptical towards the official narrative.
Privileged workers continue to be strongly influenced by the wall-to-wall anti-Russian hysteria, in which not only the president and government of Russia are demonised, but even its athletes and cultural icons. A country where Dostoyevsky and Tchaikovsky are removed from syllabuses and concert performances is one where the lunatics would seem to have taken over the asylum.
We have yet to see how such narratives stand up against the realities of the rising cost of living, the shortages of fuel and food that are likely to hit Europe this winter, and the information that starts to leak through the corporate media information stranglehold from tribunals that will be taking place in Donbass and elsewhere as Ukrainian/Nazi war criminals are put on trial.
Q. In Greece we see right-wing ‘antiwar’ mobilisations in support of the Ukrainian government. On the other hand, the leftist forces are trapped in the equal distances between Russia and Nato. What is the attitude of the antiwar movement in the UK?
Our so-called ‘antiwar’ movement has taken a very similar line to yours: that this is a conflict between rival imperialist forces and that workers therefore must oppose both sides.
This mischaracterisation of Russia as ‘imperialist’ only helps the real imperialists of Nato and serves to demobilise the working class’s power to give meaningful opposition to the imperialists’ aggression. It is a criminal act against the progressive and socialist movement to spread this false analysis, which renders our class an impotent bystander in the struggle.
Workers need to understand the truth – that Nato is the aggressor and that Russia in this case is fighting imperialism – so as to orient themselves correctly. Our support for Russia has nothing to do with Russia’s capitalist economic system but for its objective role as a front line against imperialist domination. In its quest to free itself from imperialist control, Russia has found itself playing a growing and very important role in the world anti-imperialist front, involving China, the DPRK, Venezuela, Iran, Syria and many other countries. This must be supported.
Our job in the Nato countries is to do everything in our power to obstruct the activities of the Nato war machine and to expose the lies of the psychological operation being perpetrated against our peoples.
Greece’s working-class movement has the potential to play a leading role in this struggle that could act as an inspiration to workers across the continent.