By Charlie Kimber
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2799

Ukraine — in a war of rival imperialisms, whoever wins, we lose

Ordinary people can only win when they fight all the warmongers
Issue 2799
A soldier salutes Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg

Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg visits aspiring member Georgia. Could a victory for the West in Ukraine encourage Georgia to launch its own war against Russian-backed territory in South Ossetia?

If either Russia or the West wins in Ukraine, it will be disastrous for the country’s people and lay the basis for future wars.

Should Vladimir Putin succeed in installing a puppet regime in Kiev, it will subordinate Ukraine’s social, economic and political life to the rulers in Moscow. Even a more limited advance, permanently seizing the whole of the Donbas in eastern Ukraine, could see ethnic cleansing of some “suspect” ethnic Ukrainian groups.

Ukraine would lose a substantial part of its territory and economic resources. Russia would have a border within striking distance of major Ukrainian cities. Further conflict would be almost inevitable.

Inside Ukraine, a grinding and popular insurgency would be as deadly and resilient as that in Afghanistan or Iraq. In Russia itself Putin would undoubtedly launch a brutal crackdown on those who had opposed the invasion.

But a victory for the Ukrainian government of Volodymyr Zelensky based on the weaponry and military backing of the US-Nato forces would also be ruinous. It would encourage US hopes of shrugging off defeat in Iraq and Afghanistan and boost the belief that China could now be constrained or humbled.

Meanwhile, Ukraine would be wholly reliant on the West economically and militarily. It would be a barracks-society acting as a Nato outpost on Russia’s border, ever-fearful of attack and invasion. Ukraine would be a vassal of the West rather than of Russia. Requiring constant supplies of weaponry and diplomatic support, its government could never really depart from the line laid down by the US or Nato.

There would also be further moves towards joining Nato or setting up a quasi-Nato status. At talks last week Ukraine called for binding guarantees for its military security from the US, Britain, France, Turkey, Germany, Canada, Poland and Israel.

David Arakhamia, the majority leader in Ukraine’s parliament, said he hoped “guarantor countries will act in a similar way to Nato’s article number five.” That’s a reference to the alliance’s pact of mutual military support.

Ukraine is already saturated with nationalist propaganda and veneration of the military. There would be even less room for opposition or for those deemed in any way sympathetic to Russia or critical of Nato.

Already Ukraine’s national security and defence council has banned 11 opposition parties, including one with 44 seats in parliament. And Zelensky signed a decree that aims to unite all national TV channels into one platform, citing the importance of a “unified information policy” under martial law.

Emboldened by success with Western backing, the Ukrainian government might seek to drive Russia out of the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk, and even Crimea. Meanwhile, a defeat for Russia would warm up a series of “frozen conflicts”.

A number of statelets— Artsakh, South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Transnistria—survive largely because of Russian military protection. If Nato defeats Russia then Georgian forces might enter Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Moldova or Ukraine could seek to eliminate the existence of Transnistria. Azerbaijan, an ally of Nato-member Turkey, could grab Artsakh.

There are already signs of this. Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s national security and defence council, said last week, “If additional war fronts begin emerging for the Russian Federation that would be very, very helpful for us.” Adam Kinzinger, a member of the US congress tweeted, “There are going to be a few countries that realise now maybe a good time to get your land back from Russia. Fire sale on occupied territories.” These are calls to detonate years of bloody warfare.

The only positive outcome can come of a rejection of all the imperialists’ manoeuvres. It would have to be based on resistance to the war and Putin in Russia and to Nato in Ukraine and elsewhere.

Free of the oppressive weight of imperialist mastery, ordinary people could impose their own independent and democratic solutions.

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