Russia’s invasion of Ukraine enters its fourth month. The heroic Ukrainian resistance thwarted Putin’s initial plans: a withering attack that in a few days would conquer the capital, Kyiv, and replace the Ukrainian government with one subservient to the Kremlin’s dictates.
By Daniel Sugasti
In the first hours of the invasion, Putin publicly urged the Ukrainian military to seize power in order to enter into negotiations with Russia. The attack from different directions on major Ukrainian cities irrefutably confirms that the nature of this war, on Moscow’s part, is one of conquest. It is brutal aggression by an oppressor nation, the second-largest military power on the planet, against a weaker and historically oppressed nation.
But three months into the invasion and Putin’s original plan did not materialise. Against all odds, neither Kyiv was taken nor did the Ukrainians lay down their arms. Ukrainian resistance stopped the Russian advance on the capital. This was a partial victory that rightly boosted the morale of a people fighting for the right to national existence.
The unusual courage of the defenders, coupled with a logistical and organisational impasse, led Putin to abort the siege of the Ukrainian capital. At the end of the first month of the war, Russian troops in the north-west retreated into Belarus and those in the north into their own country. Moscow announced a shift in its strategy to focus its efforts on “liberating” the Donbas.
After the Russian withdrawal from the outskirts of Kyiv, the world was able to see the trail of destruction and atrocities committed by the invaders. The images of the bodies of dozens of executed civilians lying in the streets or in mass graves are still shocking. So far, the Ukrainian authorities have recorded nearly 400 civilian deaths in Bucha. Last week, an investigation by The New York Times revealed the execution of at least eight Ukrainian men by Russian paratroopers in the same city in early March.  Ukraine claims to be investigating more than 10,000 possible war crimes. The sentencing to life imprisonment of a Russian soldier who shot a 62-year-old civilian in the head and killed him was recently announced. The Prosecutor’s Office announced new war crimes trials against at least 48 more invading soldiers.
In all occupied cities, Russian troops imposed a regime of terror against civilians. Of the 6.4 million refugees generated by the war so far, more than one million civilians have been taken to Russia, where there are reports of concentration camps for civilians and prisoners of war.
The course of the war indicates a protracted conflict. The Russian attempt to control the Donbas region was slowed by Ukrainian resistance. In eastern Ukraine, where the Russians have been supported by Putin-sponsored separatist groups since 2014, the invaders’ advance was supposed to be much more forceful. But the reality shows a stalemate. The Ukrainians, with morale high and much more experienced than before, are holding out as best they can, even at the cost of 50-100 casualties a day.
Nonetheless, Russia has been able to reap triumphs. After the surrender of the last Ukrainian soldiers barricaded for weeks in the huge Azovstal steel plant, the Kremlin is celebrating the capture of Mariupol in the southeast, even though the city is in ruins. The seizing of that city puts the entire Ukrainian coastline on the Sea of Azov under Russian control and this allows the connection of Crimea, annexed with impunity in 2014, to the self-styled ‘republics’ of Donetsk and Luhansk. In other words, despite the setbacks, Russia controls an estimated one-fifth of Ukrainian territory, a much larger portion than was under Russian influence before the invasion.
While Ukraine lost Mariupol, on the one hand, it regained control of Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city, on the other. Successive counterattacks pushed the Russians back and, moreover, resulted in the embarrassing expulsion of the invaders to their own border. But despite the shifting positions, nothing indicates a military solution in the short term. Russia maintains overwhelming military superiority, especially in the air. In this extremely tough context, the fact that the armed resistance, which in recent months has incorporated thousands of fighters grouped in the Territorial Defence Forces, has prevented a rapid military victory for Putin, is quite a feat.
The continuation of the war, as is well known, is having consequences in all areas. It deepens the energy crisis, accelerates inflation, creates conditions for a food crisis, in short, exacerbates the global economic crisis and the outbreak of political crises of various magnitudes is foreseeable. The war in Ukraine is at the centre of the world-class struggle.
No trust in imperialism or Zelensky
US and European imperialism claim that they will support Ukraine “to the end.” This is pure cynicism. No action by Biden, Scholz, Macron or any other imperialist leader is in the service of guaranteeing Ukrainian independence.
The war has shown that imperialism’s hypocrisy knows no bounds. Ukraine receives praise and speeches of support from imperialist governments, but the fact is that the country did not receive any heavy weapons, not even a fighter plane.
While the Ukrainian people are fighting back as best they can, the imperialist governments and companies are rubbing their hands together over the potential business involved in loans, oil and gas supplies, and the invasion’s eventual reconstruction. Meanwhile, arms are arriving on the Ukrainian front in dribs and drabs. Despite insistent orders for heavy weaponry, Ukrainian fighters have so far received no modern air defence systems, multiple missile delivery systems, let alone fighters to counter the overwhelming Russian air superiority.
In this dramatic context for Ukraine’s defence, the demand for unconditional delivery of heavy weapons to Ukraine, not NATO’s or any imperialist country’s troops on the ground, remains key to Putin’s eventual defeat in this war.
The Ukrainian people, who have shown impressive social strength, have no reason to entrust their fate to imperialism and its puppet bourgeois government under Zelensky. Sooner or later, the government of the Ukrainian oligarchs will sabotage the people’s resistance and capitulate to Putin, probably by ceding Ukrainian territory and negotiating with imperialism a place as a junior partner in the reconstruction of the country.
The left that favours the invader
Part of the so-called left, imbued with sterile pacifism, opposes the demand to arm the Ukrainian resistance. Reformism maintains an equidistant attitude, putting forward deceitful slogans, such as “no to war”, a generality that equates aggressors and attacked, and is used to deny the sending of arms so that Ukraine can defend itself.
This position, in fact, only favours the invader. Anyone can understand that it is impossible to defend oneself and, moreover, to win the war without heavy weaponry and state-of-the-art military technology. This is a basic problem in any military confrontation. To deny weapons to Ukraine is to prepare the ground for its crushing defeat at the hands of Putin.
Another so-called leftist sector, especially Castro-Chavista and pro-Stalinist currents, continues to position itself on the Russian military side, arguing that Putin has an “anti-imperialist” role and that his “special military operation” against Ukraine is necessary to stop NATO’s expansion in Eastern Europe.
This narrative does not hold water. NATO is the military arm of imperialism and any revolutionary must fight for its dissolution. Nothing good should be expected from this military alliance for Ukraine or any other people. But the facts show the falsity of Russia’s supposed anti-imperialist role. Actually, the war of aggression on Ukraine has strengthened NATO as never before, an entity that was much discredited, and questioned in several of its member countries.
Russian atrocities in Ukraine have led many European peoples to believe, mistakenly, that by joining or strengthening NATO, or their own national military, they would be safer. Last week, for example, Sweden and Finland took important steps to join NATO. In other countries, most notably Germany, Russian aggression provided European governments with the justification they needed to qualitatively increase their military spending and exacerbate the arms race. No. Putin is anything but anti-imperialist. On the contrary, like a few others, he has strengthened NATO and European militarism.
Cutting off the financing of the Russian war machine
In the imperialist countries, the demand for unconditional arms deliveries to Ukraine is fundamental. It is necessary to explain that this has nothing to do with the rearmament policy pursued by the imperialist governments. They are different things. We demand arms for Ukraine, not to strengthen the military power of the imperialist states.
Furthermore, we must demand from all governments, imperialist or not, the complete severance of diplomatic and trade relations, i.e. an end to investments, exports and imports with Russia. External financing of the Russian war machine that is massacring the Ukrainian people must be stopped.
This is especially important in European countries that import gas and oil from Russia. The European Union, the enemy of the working class, pays about 800 million euros daily to Putin for oil and gas. This injection of resources is crucial to Moscow’s war effort. The assets of Gazprom and Russian banks abroad must be expropriated. The assets of Russian companies and oligarchs in other countries must be expropriated. All this must be put unconditionally at the service of the Ukrainian resistance and the future reconstruction of the attacked country.
In Russia, Ukraine’s oppressor and aggressor country, the fight against war is of decisive importance. In this case, the “No to war” campaign is fully justified. In this respect, it is important to make the actions of the Russian anti-war movement visible and to show solidarity with the thousands of activists imprisoned by Putin’s dictatorship, which, under the |”anti-terrorist law,” can impose prison sentences of 15 years. The same is true in Belarus, where the Lukashenko regime, a collaborator in the Russian invasion, has arrested several anti-war activists.
Redoubling the solidarity campaign with the Ukrainian resistance
Redoubling efforts to ensure solidarity with the Ukrainian resistance is a burning issue. In this regard, we highlight the initiative of the Workers’ Convoy of the International Labour Network of Solidarity and Struggles, which went to Ukraine to bring humanitarian aid and strengthen contact with the working class resistance in that country. The delegation of the Workers’ Convoy, rescuing the best traditions of proletarian internationalism, participated in the May Day rally together with working-class activists from Ukraine.
In several countries, sections of the working class are organising collections to show active solidarity with their Ukrainian class brothers and sisters. These and other initiatives of the campaign of solidarity with Ukraine deserve the support of every socialist, democrat and defender of human rights and the right to national self-determination of the peoples.
The IWL-FI, for its part, will continue to be on the front line of support for Ukraine occupied by Putin’s troops. Only by supporting the Ukrainian resistance can NATO, the USA, the EU and Zelensky’s own oligarchic government, which is incapable of taking the struggle against the Russian aggressor to the last consequences, be fought and exposed.
Workers of the world, unite in support of the Ukrainian resistance!
For the defeat of the Russian troops!
For the unconditional delivery of arms to the Ukrainian resistance!
Long live the Ukrainian resistance!
No trust in the USA, EU, NATO!
For the dissolution of NATO!