We publish below a statement by Radical Socialist on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The statement minces no words in condemning the aggression as well as NATO but refuses to make the NATO the justification for Russia’s yearning for the lost empire.
1. We condemn Russia as an imperialist aggressor using the dreams of an old imperial epoch to justify expansionism, and are deeply concerned at this precedent that may later affect any other former Soviet republic.
2. As when the US invaded Iraq, we do not use the language of diplomacy, we do not seek UN intervention, but call for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of the aggressors.
3. This demand does not date only to 2022. We demand the Russian withdraw from every inch of Ukrainian territory. That includes Crimea, and the provinces in Eastern Ukraine even as we recognise the justice of demands for greater cultural and political autonomy so that Ukraine becomes a more democratic and federal set-up. Crimea had its own Constitution in 1992 which gave it greater powers of self-governance with some powers delegated to Kiev. Unjustifiably, President Kuchma subsequently annulled this Constitution.
4. We do not take our stance on Russia by looking at NATO. But our stance on NATO remains what it was. NATO was and is an imperialist military threat which never had any legitimacy, and should have been completely disbanded after the end of the Cold War. Therefore we certainly do not support any NATO action now. However, we do not see world politics as the chess board between great powers where others have to be ‘sacrificed’ for the sake of a spurious lesser evil.
5. It is understandable that Ukrainian victims of aggression may seek intervention of other imperialist powers, for that has been the picture both with Russian interventions and US interventions. But we do not support any such call. We consider such appeals to be detrimental to the victims too, for making such pleas are effectively asking for face-offs between nuclear armed imperialists, rather than any action through globally accepted frameworks. UN participation as a buffer force is a non-starter given the P-5 veto powers in the UN Security Council.
6. We have no general attitude on sanctions in principle. We were in favour of sanctions targeting the South-African Apartheid state and we are in favour of sanctions targeting the Israeli settler-colonial occupation. We were against the sanctions imposed on the Iraqi state after it had been destroyed by war in 1991, for they were murderous sanctions serving no just cause but only the subjugation of a state to US imperialism at a quasi-genocidal cost for its population. Western powers have decided a whole set of new sanctions against the Russian state for its invasion of Ukraine. Some of these may indeed curtail the ability of Putin’s autocratic regime to fund its war machine, others may be harmful to the Russian population without much affecting the regime or its oligarchic cronies. But as long as these are sanctions within the context of inter-imperialist conflicts, rather than the one like against South Africa brought in through mass struggles, we do not support either side.
7. As revolutionary Marxists, and as internationalists, we support the right to self-determination for all oppressed minorities. Therefore, while supporting the Ukrainian right to self-determination, we also support the rights of Crimeans and the inhabitants of the Eastern Ukrainian provinces to decide democratically, not under Putin’s ‘loving protection’, but nor under Ukrainian military threats, what future they want.
8. The Modi government has shamefully refused to condemn the invasion. This has angered and alienated the Ukrainian government and public making the task of quickly evacuating Indian citizens more difficult as well as endangering their safety. This supposedly topmost human responsibility to its own citizens has played second fiddle to its diplomatic games.
9. The bourgeois opposition parties have either remained silent or in the case of the Congress party its official stand is effectively no different from that of the government.
10. The CPM has refused to call the Russian action an invasion only saying it is “unfortunate”. Along with the CPI the principal focus is on indicting the US and NATO as having the primary responsibility for what has emerged and to which Russia is supposed to have ‘reacted’. This lack of a class based stance does no credit to them and their supporters looking for guidance and damages the credibility of the left more generally.
11. For a Democratic and Socialist Ukraine.
12. Our salute to the heroic Russians who stood up against the war drums.