Support Ukrainian Resistance

Against the Current, No. 221, November/December 2022

European Leftists

THE FOLLOWING EXCERPT is taken from a statement by Ukrainian and other European leftists. The signers are Ilya Budraitskis, Oksana Dutchak, Harald Etzbach, Bernd Gehrke, Eva Gelinsky, Renate Hürtgen, Zbigniew Marcin Kowalewski, Natalia Lomonosova, Hanna Perekhoda, Denys Pilash, Zakhar Popovych, Philipp Schmid, Christoph Wälz, Przemyslaw Wielgosz and Christian Zeller.

THE KREMLIN WANTS to prevent any independent development of Ukraine. The Putin leadership considers Ukraine, together with Belarus, to be part of Russia. Ukraine’s independence contradicts Russia’s alleged historical claims.

The Russian leadership has not reacted to one or another of NATO’s moves; rather, it is pursuing fundamental goals with its war, which it justifies with its Great Russian ideology. Putin and exponents of his regime have repeatedly placed themselves in the historical continuity of the tsarist empire, thereby excluding the existence of an independent Ukrainian national culture and identity.

 In June, Putin placed the war of conquest against Ukraine on a par with the Great Northern War under Russia’s Tsar Peter I, speaking simply of a reclaiming of Russian soil. Thus, the goals of the Russian leadership are fundamental and far-reaching and go far beyond repelling NATO: destroying Ukraine as an independent country and incorporating it as “Little Russia.”

The war practice coincides with the war goal. Towns and villages are systematically destroyed, the population terrorized and expelled. In the occupied territories, the Russian state establishes a regime of terror, incorporates the schools into the Russian school system, allows only Russian media and imposes the ruble as a means of payment.

By June 20, Russia had brought over 1.9 million Ukrainians to Russia, including 300,000 children. Thousands of Ukrainians are holding out in camps in eastern Siberia, far from Ukraine.

Ukraine’s resistance to the Russian invading forces, surprising both to the U.S. and European governments and to the Putin regime, prevented a rapid occupation of the country and the installation of a puppet pro-Russian government.

It was this popular resistance in Ukraine that presented all actors with a new situation. The Ukrainian oligarchs had to get behind the resistance and against Russia. The governments of Europe and the United States had to correct their assessment that Ukraine would quickly collapse. Putin was forced to adapt his war strategy to the new situation.

Putin and the Far Right

At the same time, the Putin regime links the war with a “struggle for values” against the decadent West. It wants to push back democratic rights, achievements of the workers’, women’s and homosexual movements, not only in Russia but also in the areas under its influence.

Russia funds and promotes far-right parties throughout Europe and the world. The Putin regime is the admired spearhead of a reactionary to fascist movement with Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, Marine Le Pen in France, and the AfD in Germany.

It was the determined and self-sacrificing resistance of the Ukrainian people against the occupying forces that confronted the NATO countries with the question of comprehensive arms deliveries. Immediately after the war began, the U.S. and U.K. governments advised Ukrainian President Zelensky to leave the country and offered him protection.

Like the leadership in the Kremlin, they expected Ukraine to be defeated quickly. They were all mistaken in the Ukrainian people’s will to resist. They assumed that after a wave of outrage and economic sanctions, European and U.S. corporations would return to normal business with Russia.

The tenacious resistance of Ukraine and the military difficulties of the Russian occupation forces opened the opportunity for the governments of NATO countries to weaken Russia’s military and geopolitical position through massive arms deliveries to Ukraine. Thus, the fighting people in Ukraine are not the executors of an imperialist plan, but they are fighting for their legitimate goals and rights in Ukrainian society, fighting for their existence as Ukrainians.

Until the outbreak of war, there can be no talk of NATO arming Ukraine. Ukraine received $4 billion in military aid from the United States from 2014 to 2022. Since at least 2015, the U.S. Army also trained Ukrainian troops, albeit on a relatively small scale. But much of the military assistance flowed after the war began.

From 2014 to 2021, direct military assistance amounted to $2.4 billion. German arms exports to Ukraine have been relatively small to date; German arms exports to Russia have been disproportionately larger since 2014 — despite the embargo — and even into the period immediately before the war began.

The governments of Europe and the United States share responsibility for the escalation of geopolitical tensions, but not because of the alleged NATO encirclement of Russia that Russian propaganda painted on the wall and that many on the left in Europe adopted quite cheaply.

It is forgotten that the expansion of NATO with the accession of Russia’s neighboring countries was essentially completed by 2004, and above all that numerous countries in Eastern Europe sought NATO membership not out of a desire for military rearmament, but out of fear of a strengthening Russian revanchism.

The real co-responsibility of the NATO countries for the aggravation of the contradictions lies in their economic interest in the former Soviet republics.

Capital in the imperialist countries of Europe and North America was not only looking for new NATO members, but primarily wanted to open up further markets and obtain cheap raw materials. For this, it needed governments that could organize the process of social transformation in an orderly manner and, if necessary, by force.

The Western imperialist powers, first and foremost the United States and Great Britain, recognized in Ukraine’s initially successful resistance to Russian occupation forces the opportunity to substantially weaken Russia’s geopolitical position by strengthening Ukraine’s military capabilities….

At the same time, it is obvious that key countries in Europe, including Germany and France, but also Austria and Switzerland, are giving Ukraine only limited support. They are seeking an understanding with the Russian oligarchy. Neither do they really supply the necessary weapons, nor do they relieve the bled-out Ukrainian society with a cancellation of debts.

Major factions of capital in Europe, especially those linked to the fossil industries (Germany, Austria) and to the international commodity trade (Switzerland), have been doing highly profitable business with the Putin oligarchs for years. They would like to quickly return to normality and resume these businesses. Russia is a much more important market for Western European capital than Ukraine.

The Character of the War

Ukraine is not an imperialist country, nor did it threaten to attack other countries. Rather, Ukraine is a young country whose independence and own nation-building Russia does not accept and therefore has been attacking militarily since 2014. However, the Putin regime wants to integrate Ukraine once again as an internal colony into a Greater Russian Empire, as was the case under the tsars.

Thus, the Ukrainian population is not waging a NATO “proxy war” against Russia, but is fighting for its own independence and for democratic and social rights, all of which it would lose under Russian occupation. The situation in the so-called People’s Republics in the Donbas is threat enough as a likely prospect under an occupation regime.

Of course, the war can be understood only in the context of international rivalry between the major imperialist powers. The U.S. and NATO countries, with their rearmament offensive launched even before the Russian attack on Ukraine, are preparing for possible military conflicts with China and the intensified struggle for raw materials and ecological sinks.

 Therefore, it is obvious that the U.S. and the European powers want to use the war in Ukraine strategically for their goals. As long as Ukraine’s resistance meets their goals, they will engage, but of course not unconditionally. Different capital factions of Western imperialisms even see themselves hindered by the war from serving markets in Russia. Moreover, neither the U.S. nor the European countries are belligerents. If they were, we would indeed have a world war.

Characteristic of the current phase of the war is that there is a temporary and partial alignment of interests between Ukraine and imperialist powers. In a similar situation of temporary alignment of interests, the People’s Defense Forces and the Syrian Democratic Forces in northern Syria have had massive support in their fight against the Islamic State from U.S. air power, without which they would have lost the battle.

We are seeing right now, in the face of increased Turkish attacks, that this protection does not last. These days, the leadership of the PYD, the strongest party in northeastern Syria, is demanding a no-fly zone from NATO, paradoxically against the NATO country Turkey. This is of course no reason to distance ourselves from the resistance in Rojava, but on the contrary is a reason to strengthen solidarity.

From our analysis we conclude that Ukraine has the right to obtain weapons wherever it gets them. The U.S. and European governments are supplying arms to a well-dosed extent, but for their own motives.


We advocate the dissolution of NATO and the Russian-dominated military alliance CSTO. Instead, we are in favor of building a democratic and collective security system. The arms industry in the West and East must be continuously dismantled and converted into socially useful and ecologically compatible industries.

We support the climate movement’s call for an exit from Russian oil and gas as a step toward a complete phase-out of fossil fuels…(W)e want to build a movement for social appropriation and for the ecological conversion and dismantling of the large fossil corporations together with the climate movement and grassroots trade union initiatives. This is the prerequisite for getting out of fossil fuels.

Those who now tolerate a Russian victory also tolerate a victory for both global and “domestic” fossil and commodity-based capital, which is closely intertwined with the Russian fossil and extractive sectors. Therefore, a new anti-militarist movement must uphold solidarity with the civil as well as armed resistance of the Ukrainian people, and with the Ukrainian, Belarusian and Russian leftists who oppose Putin regime’s war.

November-December 2022, ATC 221

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