Thu Mar 30, 2023
March 30, 2023

Imperialism agrees to share Ukraine with Putin

For Putin, the invasion of Ukraine reinforces his role as an intermediary of imperialism and as a regional gendarme. This is the same playbook from Kazakhstan and Belarus. The aim of the invasion is to ease the economic crisis affecting his country. After the military defeat of the United States in Afghanistan, it was now time to consider Ukraine.
By: Américo Gomes
At the beginning of the invasion, U.S. imperialism, accompanied by its most disciplined allies, Canada and England, hoped to further subordinate European imperialism, in particular Germany. These allies took advantage of Europe’s rejection of Russian oil and gas. Biden launched some partial sanctions and presented himself as the defender of the Ukrainian people. He pretended that he was in favor of defeating Putin.
But the situation changed after Putin’s defeat in Kiev and the consequent prolongation of the war. On the other hand, the U.S. and its allies used the invasion to make multi-million dollar investments in armaments. At the same time that they refuse to send sufficient quantities of arms to Ukraine to reduce the arms gap between Ukraine and Russia, the U.S., NATO, and its allies take the opportunity to arm themselves to the teeth. They are using this moment to strengthen NATO, sending a record number of soldiers to Europe, incorporating Finland and Sweden, and increasing their military control over countries such as Poland, which will now have a NATO base on its territory.
German imperialism, together with its French ally, is in a difficult situation. It has Eastern Europe as its backyard and Russia as its trading partner in the supply of gas and oil for the whole continent. Therefore, they do not want a definitive Russian defeat. These countries are the most interested in a quick solution.
The agreement that all these imperialist countries and their institutions such as the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have today is to end the war quickly, even if it means accepting the ceding of a significant part of Ukrainian territory to Putin. And they are trying to convince the Zelensky government to accept this loss because they know that the extension of the conflict will hit the world economy as a whole, which is already weakened by the consequences of the pandemic [1]. The potential for massive protest movements worldwide also grows with the prolonged war.
None of them counted on the bravery of the Ukrainian resistance, which refuses to surrender. This defeated Plan A of the Russian offensive and the continuation of the war led to a worsening of the energy and economic crisis in Europe. Zelensky is the agent of imperialism inside Ukraine and intends to fulfill his role in one way or another, since the working class and the population as a whole, having been strengthened by the popular resistance in the Kiev region and Putin’s defeat in that region, does not accept dividing the country or breaking national integrity. This forced Zelensky to resist the invasion, and so far he has not been able to capitulate. But the negotiation is still ongoing.
It is an illusion to think that imperialism wants to overthrow Putin. Even after the invasion, they continued to negotiate for the war to end. Today their proposal is to contain Putin in the framework of accepting that he occupies a whole part of Ukraine. The main objective was and continues to be to ensure that business continues as usual.
Moreover, the triumph of the Ukrainian resistance would provoke an acute crisis in the Putin regime and even its possible fall. It could open revolutionary processes not only in Ukraine but also in Russia without imperialism having time for a controlled replacement. These processes would have an impact on the whole of Eastern Europe and even on Western Europe itself.
Immediate oil and gas embargo with suspension of payments
It is in this framework that we can understand the “compromise solution” made by the European Commission at the end of May. This proposal was initially presented by Macron and consists in eliminating, supposedly, 90% of Russian oil and gas consumption in Europe by the end of the year (i.e. when they hope that there will be no more war). At the same time, the Druzhba pipeline is excluded from the embargo, imposing sanctions only on oil shipped to the EU by tankers. The Druzhba pipeline accounts for one-third of all EU oil supplies from Russia. This proposal benefits Germany and its satellites: Slovakia, Czech Republic, and Hungary, suppliers of products for German industry, which are supplied by the Druzhba pipeline. In other words, despite claiming to support the Ukrainian resistance, the European Union continues to fill Putin’s coffers and in fact to support his war.
Despite these sanctions and import bans, Russia exported $97.7 billion worth of fossil fuels in the first 100 days since the invasion of Ukraine, at an average of $977 million per day. Since the invasion, oil was by far Russia’s most valuable fossil fuel export, accounting for about half of total export revenues[2].
Meanwhile, European imperialism announces that it will send 2 billion (at most) in total military and social aid to Ukraine [3].
Russian crude oil is transported in tankers and through a network of pipelines to Europe. Russia is responsible for 41% of all EU natural gas imports. The EU bloc accounted for 61% of Russia’s fossil fuel export revenues since the start of the war. Germany and Italy and the Netherlands – EU and NATO members – were among the largest importers.
The EU sanctions do not prevent European gas importing operators from opening a ruble account in Gazprombank [4]. This has already been done by energy giants such as Italy’s Eni SpA [5], Germany’s Uniper and Austria’s OMV [6]. The Russian-based Sinara Investment Bank reported: “Although the measures announced by the European Union seem threatening, we do not see a crippling impact on the Russian oil sector” [7]. In order to make this flow viable, the additional sanctions on Russian banks, carried out in May, do not include Gazprombank, which is where gas payments go through.
With this, the Russian Stock Exchange and currency, after the beginning of a crisis, recovered and the flow of money continues to benefit from the rise in fuel prices on the international market [8].
Voices of the imperialist bourgeoisie itself, such as the German magazine Der Spiegel affirm that “There were unpleasant surprises for him (Putin) in the armed forces. But things are going better in business and finance” [9].
Sanctions against Russia will cause a contraction of less than 7% of GDP. Compared to the 45-50% “collapse” of GDP that Ukraine is facing because of the invasion, we get a sense of the harm done to Ukrainian fighters [10].
Despite the aggressive discourse, the economic measures of imperialist sanctions against Russia are partial and are not aimed at defeating the military invasion but at weakening Putin’s government militarily and economically. As were the sanctions of the League of Nations against Italy in 1935, and those applied in the Ethiopian war in the 1930s, they left out fundamental and strategic sectors of the economy such as oil and gas.
European imperialism supports Putin’s army and they have their hands dirty with the blood of the Ukrainian people. The current Chancellor Scholz tries to justify himself: “I do not see any way that a gas embargo would end the war. If Putin were receptive to economic arguments, he would never have started this insane war”.
Unconditional delivery of arms to the Ukrainian resistance
Russian troops are currently concentrated almost exclusively in eastern Ukraine, launching a major offensive, but there is still Ukrainian resistance in Donetsk and Lugansk. The heaviest fighting is in Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, with the Russians launching heavy shelling, air strikes, and heavy artillery.
But the weapons promised by imperialism are not arriving: planes, artillery, rocket launchers, tanks, armored vehicles, anti-aircraft missiles, drones. These are the material items that would make a Ukrainian victory possible.
German Chancellor Scholz goes on about sending their Leopard tanks, but nothing happens. Not even the 5,000 helmets they promised have arrived, nor have “the weapons that the Spanish government promised us in Madrid” [11].
The result is that Putin’s armed forces overwhelmingly outgun the Ukrainians in equipment and any other measure.
“We need to get a thousand artillery systems because Russia has 10,000. If we have hundreds of something, they have thousands. We have to fight against that.” “I’m happy that Scholz promised us his best air defense system, the IRIS-T, by October. The problem is that we don’t know what will have become of us in October,” concludes MP Klympush-Tsintsadze [12].
All support for Ukraine. For the military defeat of Russia!
It is a duty of the organizations of the workers’ movement that support the Ukrainian resistance to denounce the deficient shipment of arms by imperialism, to demand more arms for Ukraine, and to denounce the ineffectiveness of the imperialist sanctions, which only go as far as the interests of the imperialist countries. It is fundamental to demand the embargo of oil and gas imports as well as the immediate suspension of their payment.
Along with that, we demand the rupture of diplomatic and commercial relations with these countries, linking it with our program which raises the need for the big bourgeois oligarchs’ wealth to be expropriated and that the whole of this patrimony be put at the service of the resistance and the reconstruction of Ukraine, under the control of the working class, to be at the disposal of the Ukrainian resistance. We demand that the Ukrainian foreign debt be immediately eliminated.
Making demands is not antagonistic to calling for “workers sanctions” or “worker-led boycotts” against the Russian government and military machine. That is why it is fundamental to support and inform the whole class about the actions of the workers who through their organizations boycott Russian products.
Beginning with oil and gas, it is exemplary what the dockers of England, Sweden and Holland did. They refused to unload oil coming from Russia. We should note the statements of their leaders that this oil comes “dirty with the blood of the Ukrainian people” because it is being used to finance the Russian army. And, more and more, it is necessary to multiply actions like those of the solidarity convoy that the CSP-Conlutas and the unions of the International Trade Union Network sent to the Ukrainian workers.

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