The extremely brutal invasion of Ukraine by the Russian army has caused devastation and the deaths of many people. But the Ukrainian people are fighting back and preventing a victory of the Russian forces. If Ukrainian workers are fully supported and armed with the help of the mobilisations and demands of workers internationally, it is possible they can defeat the Russian forces.
International Socialist League (ISL) Statement
Putin is trying to create the old Czarist Greater Russia by military means. But along with the people taking up arms to fight alongside the Ukrainian army the workers’ movement has also responded. Yuri Petrovich Samoilov, chairman of the Kryvyi Rih Independent Miners’ Union, Dniepropetrovsk region, Ukraine, denounced the fierce aggression they are suffering from the Russian army.
The response from British workers and activists has shown deep internationalist traditions. Dockworkers at Tranmere near Liverpool refused to unload Russian oil, echoing steps taken by counterparts at a gas terminal in Kent. The Unite executive council unreservedly supported these actions and condemned Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and demanded the withdrawal of all Russian forces from Ukraine.
Fire-fighters, sent over 40 vehicles to support firefighters in Ukraine, stocked with more than 5,000 items of fire and rescue kits. The convoy of trucks will make its way into Poland, where fire engines will be able to cross the border and support firefighters in Ukraine.
The FBU, the fire fighters’ union, made a good statement against the Russian invasion and supports the Ukrainian struggle. It says, “this war is also a proxy conflict between Russia and NATO prompted by NATO expansion into central and Eastern Europe. We oppose this expansion and any intervention in this conflict by NATO forces.”1
The International Socialist League calls for the victory of Ukraine, the defence of its people and linking with the Ukrainian working class and struggle. We support “the resistance (armed and unarmed) of the Ukrainian people in its diversity, in defence of its right to self-determination”2 (statement by the International Labour Network of Solidarity and Struggle).
Yuri Petrovich Samoilov, Chairman of the Kryvyi Rih Independent Miners’ Union, Dniepropetrovsk region, Ukraine, calls on the workers of the world to stand in solidarity with the workers’ resistance to the massacre by Putin’s army3.
He also calls on the workers of the world to “demand the cancellation of the payment of the unjust and enslaving Ukrainian [foreign] debt”, and to “demand the supply of aviation and weapons to Ukraine.”4
We support his demand to fight the Russian military forces and the cancellation of the foreign debt without any strings attached by NATO, the IMF, or any powerful country.
Samoilov knows what the Russian army will do to workers’ organisations, Describing the situation of the workers after the occupation of the Donbas and the so-called Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk and the Donbas. He says,
“The Russian security forces eliminated any independent entity: socially-oriented NGOs, political projects, trade unions. Coupled with the total collapse of the region’s economy, global isolation and reorientation towards Russia, the workers were left in a completely helpless position, under threat of strong repression and heavy losses of previous economic gains.”5
We also pledge our solidarity to the Russian workers and poor who have come out onto the streets to show their opposition to Putin’s war on Ukraine. We must support them in any way we can in the face of repression from the Russian state when demonstrating and taking action as workers such as strikes and refusing to assist in activities that assist the invasion.
At the same time, we have no confidence in Zelensky, the bourgeois leader of the Ukrainian government. That is, we give no political support, for example, to his demands for Western Europe or USA and NATO forces to go into Ukraine. Yes, take use their arms but not their military. Give arms unconditionally.
Russia under Putin
Russian expansion in Ukraine follows the expansion of Russian capital into the European banking system especially the UK and into continents like Africa. Putin is trying to take the imperialist road of the USA and Europe.
He started on this road a long time ago against Chechnya and later the genocide in Syria. These genocides aimed to destroy the rights of oppressed nations and the Syrian revolution, which was not a problem for the USA, Europe and NATO.
Just recently the Sudanese military coup leaders went to meet Putin, trading weapons for a Russian naval base in Sudan. No doubt the Sudanese military are looking for help in destroying the Sudanese revolution.
The ending of the Soviet Union, China and eastern Europe did not make for a more peaceful and stable capitalist world, on the contrary, the drive for ever-greater profit reached new a level of frenzy that ripped down the last parts of capital controls. The West gave every help they could to Putin and the up-and-coming ‘oligarchs’ to steal and remove the wealth of Russia and helped themselves at the same time.
It was part of imperialism without fetters, transnationals and capital that roam the world and demand open borders. Not open borders in the West but open borders for the rest. Smash and grab raids on the world’s resources, domination of what is produced and where it is exported, control over markets and economic zones tied to the interests of the US and other imperialism. In this drive for world profit, public services are starved of funding, broken up and sold off.
Putin was welcomed into the arms of imperialism, and the Russian ruling class was given a warm welcome with offshore accounts, property deals and all kinds of money laundering deals.
The UK welcomed billionaires
The Tories and Labour have helped the oligarchs for decades, ever since Margaret Thatcher celebrated the end of the Soviet Union, they helped create billionaires as they stole assets from Russia.
Immigration laws do not apply to the very rich. Tony Blair’s Labour government introduced a “golden visa scheme”, that gave residency rights to those who had large sums of money to invest in the UK. The more money invested the quicker permanent residency could be obtained. The scheme was started in 2008 and since then the Home Office has issued 2,581 investor visas.
In contrast, there are many obstacles for refugee workers and the poor and there has been no exception with those fleeing Ukraine following the invasion. Tens of thousands of people are still stuck in the system. Families are desperate. The forms for refugees are not all in Ukrainian. As always, the rich can get in and the Tory government is practising discrimination against ordinary Ukrainians, as with all poor refugees.
The money the rich are supposed to create doesn’t stay here ‘creating the jobs’ and ‘paying for public services.’ British finance uses Overseas Territories such as the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands are also used by Russian capitalists. A report by Global Witness said that in 2018, Russian oligarchs had an estimated $45.5bn (£34bn) in these tax havens.
The Pandora Papers leak revealed that the owners of more than 1,500 UK properties bought them using offshore firms as Russians did, including individuals accused of corruption. It is open to all the wealthy to use, for example, a Qatari ruling family avoided £18.5m tax on a London super-mansion; Azerbaijan’s leading family’s hidden involvement in property deals in the UK worth more than £400m.
The government published draft legislation in 2018 that would require the ultimate owners of UK properties to be declared. But it has not been discussed yet by parliament.
A 2019 parliamentary report said the UK system attracts people “such as money launderers, who may wish to use property to conceal illicit funds”. After the publication of the report, it emerged that fourteen ministers and two MPs who are members of the committee that published the report have received political donations from Russians who are now British citizens.
So, London is dripping with money laundering and property ownership by Russian billionaires. The heights of British capitalism colluded with the oligarchs as they wanted to counter the ever-growing British negative balance of payments while enriching themselves. Here the only moral is anything that benefits capital and profit in London is good.
The capitalist sanctions have been piecemeal and if left to Johnson, they will seize a few yachts but will not seize the oligarch’s wealth. The closer they get to that the closer they get to the involvement of British capitalists and politicians with the Russian oligarchs.
Fourteen East European states have joined NATO in five waves of expansion since 1990, and NATO troops have advanced nearly 1,000 miles to Russia’s very borders.
“The ultimate goal of NATO today is to secure the support of governments allied to the U.S. in the region, offer so-called “protection” and IMF/WB “financing” in exchange for austerity policies and privatization, as well as pushing forward imperialist policies abroad which benefit U.S. capital. It is a military alliance to back a concrete economic and political project.”7
The US ruling class used NATO to take control of the Balkans in the 1990s, they replaced control by Serbia with control by NATO and the US, and before Iraq, they built the largest military basis in Kosovo outside the US.
Kosovo, like Vietnam, had liberal support. But what of the weapons? The use of NATO bombs in Kosovo is a direct parallel with Russia in Ukraine.
“The ‘just and noble liberal war, in which NATO bombs have now incinerated people on a bus, having already killed passengers on a train, refugees on tractors, the elderly in a hostel, workers in factories and children in their homes, is not the first…”8
We are opposed to any belief that NATO could resolve any issue for the benefit of working people or for the national rights of an oppressed nation.
• Open the border to Ukraine and all refugees
• Russian troops out of Ukraine
• All support for the resistance
• Arms for Ukraine