By Tomáš Tengely-Evans
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No to war in Ukraine as Russia launches invasion

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Issue 2793
Vladimir Putin with Russian flag and with finger raised

Vladimir Putin has ordered in troops that will trigger a wider war in Ukraine

Ukraine has descended further towards a devastating war after thousands of Russian troops poured into the eastern European country in the early hours of Thursday. 

Socialists should oppose the military offensive and demand that president Vladimir Putin withdraws all his forces from Ukraine immediately. We must also oppose any Nato escalation of the conflict. Nato forces should immediately withdraw from eastern Europe.

The invasion began at 5am after Putin made a chilling speech, with threats of a brutal war and reactionary appeals to Greater Russian Chauvinism.

 “Anyone who tries to interfere with us, or even more so, to create threats for our country and our people, must know that Russia’s response will be immediate,” he said. And it “will lead you to such consequences as you have never before experienced in your history”. “All responsibility for the possible bloodshed will be fully and completely on the conscience of the ruling regime.” 

In the Ukrainian capital Kiev—home to almost three million—people rushed into shelters amid the sound of explosions and air raid sirens in the early hours. The Ukrainian armed forces said Russian forces were launching air strikes. Missiles targeted military facilities and airfields near Kiev, Kharkiv in the north east and Dnipro in central Ukraine. By 7am, Russian troops were reportedly near Kharkiv, ready to take the city or besiege it. 

Meanwhile, Russian shells pounded the south east of the country, including the city of Kramatorsk. The leaders of the break-away “Donetsk People’s Republic” and “Luhansk People’s Republic” in the south east requested Russian military assistance on Wednesday to “help beat back the aggression of the Ukrainian Armed forces”. 

The move came after Putin recognised their independence on Monday. Putin annexed the Crimea and has backed a separatist insurgency in Donetsk and Luhansk since 2014 to stop Ukraine pivoting towards the West. Clashes could soon spiral into a bigger conflagration in the region with local forces backed by major powers. 

In the face of the Russian invasion, US and British politicians claim that they’re standing up for Ukrainian democracy or Ukraine’s right to self-determination. US president Joe Biden denounced “this unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces”. 

Tory prime minister Boris Johnson said Putin had “chosen a path of bloodshed and destruction” and promised that “the UK and our allies will respond decisively”. 

But the bloodshed and destruction have been created by the US and Nato. Their criticism of Putin is gross hypocrisy from the same powers that have launched “unprovoked and unjustified attacks” to assert their imperialist interests across the world. They are responsible for devastating wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and support Israeli settler-colonialism against the Palestinian people. 

The conflict in Ukraine flows from imperialist rivalry between the West and Russia over Ukraine. And ordinary Ukrainians are—for both sides—just pawns in their imperial game. 

In Britain, socialists’ main job is to build opposition to Western imperialism—as part of a wider fight against the system of imperialist rivalries that’s driving the Ukraine conflict. This doesn’t mean that “my enemies’ enemy is my friend”—that the West’s rivals are in any way anti-imperialist. 

We build opposition to our own rulers—but as part of a struggle against the system of imperialist rivalries that causes war.

  • Emergency SWP TV livestream: War in Ukraine: how should the left respond? Monday 28 Feb, 7.30pm with Alex Callinicos, author of Imperialism & Global Political Economy • Clare Lemlich, US socialist and regular writer on Eastern Europe recently returned from Ukraine • Russian socialist • Tomáš Tengely-Evans, Socialist Worker online editor. Tune in live via YouTube here or via Facebook here Event details here

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