By Charlie Kimber
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Ukraine round-up: Zelensky retreats on Nato membership, Italian workers block arms

The president’s statement shows up how Nato manipulated the Russian build-up when it knew the basis for it was a fraud
Issue 2796
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky stands in front of a Ukrainian flag

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky (Wikimedia/Creative Commons)

President Volodymyr Zelensky has kicked away one of the supposed justifications for the West’s arms to Ukraine and the military build-up in Europe. On Tuesday he accepted that Ukraine can never join Nato. Yet Ukraine’s “right to join Nato” has been touted as such a matter of principle by the US and Britain that it has been deemed worthy of risking a terrible war.

Zelensky told Boris Johnson and other European leaders that he accepted his country would not become a member of the military alliance. “Of course Ukraine is not a Nato member, we understand that,” Zelensky told the gathering of politicians from Joint Expeditionary Force nations, a northern European armed force coalition.

“We have heard for many years about the open doors, but we also heard that we can’t enter those doors. This is the truth and we have simply to accept it as it is.”

Had this been stated clearly by Nato some weeks ago, it is quite possible that the Ukraine war would not have happened. As even the right wing Telegraph newspaper admits, “The remarks came close to meeting a demand issued by Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, in the months before his invasion of Ukraine to promise not to join Nato.”

None of this excuses Russia’s brutal invasion. But it underlies how the build-up was manipulated by Nato even though it knew the basis for it was a fraud. It is highly embarrassing for Ukraine’s allies.

Italian workers block arms to Ukraine

Workers at Pisa airport in Italy refused to load crates of weapons, ammunition and explosives destined for Ukraine. The workers said they had been told they were handling “humanitarian aid”. When they found themselves with crates containing war material, they decided not to carry out the order.

The USB union backed the workers and denounced “with force this real falsification, which cynically uses the humanitarian cover to continue fueling the war in Ukraine”

The union also appealed to the airport’s air traffic control workers to immediately block any similar flights. And it invited workers to “continue to refuse to load weapons and explosives that go to fuel a spiral of war”.

Tories cheer as Nato launches military exercise of 30,000

Nato launched major military exercises involving 30,000 troops and partner countries in Norway this week. The Tories boasted that Operation Cold Response would include “six Royal Navy ships and 2,000 UK personnel” as part of “the largest Arctic exercise for 30 years”.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said, “The Arctic is becoming an area of increasing military competition.”

The Ministry of Defence went on in crassly militaristic terns. “HMS Prince of Wales joined the Cold Response task force shortly after air defence exercises in the North Sea alongside four of the UK’s F-35B Lightning jets from 617 Squadron, the Dambusters, on Friday 11 March,” it said.

“The jets from RAF Marham took part in an air battle exercise, which was orchestrated by two Royal Navy fighter controllers on HMS Prince of Wales in the skies over the east of the UK and in the North Sea. The F-35B jets were pitted against eight ‘aggressor’ aircraft, allowing them to hone tactics between ship and fighter jets.”

The exercise was planned before the Ukraine war, but the enthusiasm for it underlines how Nato is seizing the chance to extend its war-readiness.

  • The International Socialist Tendency has published a new statement on Ukraine 

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