The following motion was submitted to the Socialist Labour Network on 9th May, duly proposed and seconded. It was not discussed at the SLN’s national online membership meeting on 27 May, because that meeting had been earmarked for an extensive discussion on the Cost of Living Crisis and how to resist it. Which is fair enough.
But SLN has an incorrect policy on the Ukraine war, calling for the withdrawal of Russian troops in the face of NATO expansionists funding Nazi terror against Russian speakers in the predominantly Russian and Russophone East and South of Ukraine. This incorrect position was pushed through at very short notice at a Members Meeting in 8th April, and was starkly contradicted at a public meeting of SLN on Ukraine on 22nd April, when there were four speakers. Three of the four, David Miller, Tony Greenstein, and Resist’s Chris Wiliamson, argued correctly that Russian forces in the predominantly Russian-inhabited and/or Russia-speaking parts of Ukraine (see map above) are defending the democratic rights and existence of that population against an imperialist-backed genocidal assault from the Ukrainian nationalist far right. This is obviously true, and means that the SLN at present has an incorrect and unprincipled position that does not defend that oppressed population against this genocidal attack from NATO and the Ukrainian far right.
It is essential to correct SLN policy on Ukraine. Since this motion was submitted on 9th May, there can be no valid reason why it should not be discussed at the next All-Members Meeting.
Motion on the Russia-Ukraine-NATO military conflict
- The root cause of the current military conflict is the 30-year drive to expand NATO in breach of public undertakings, by such politicians as then US Secretary of State James Baker, at the time of the dissolution of the USSR and the Warsaw Pact, that NATO would not expand ‘one inch’ eastwards from the Elbe. Since then, NATO has expanded to include 10 former Eastern Bloc countries, and the threat to include Ukraine and Georgia, along with hoped-for nuclear weapons and actual bioweapon sites in Ukraine, is regarded as an existential threat by the Russian government and most Russians.
- The 2014 Maidan Coup in Ukraine led by violent far rightists on the ground, guided and funded with billions of dollars by US politicians and intelligence agencies, installed an effective US puppet government in Kiev. Since the coup this government has not only been a proxy of the US, as the US now openly admits, but has violently suppressed leftists, ethnic Russians, and other minorities. It has introduced a draconian language law that mandates the use of Ukrainian in all official and public contexts, including in the large areas of Eastern Ukraine where Russian is the main language used by the population. This is clear national-linguistic oppression.
- The repression provoked a bloody civil war in Ukraine as residents of the Donbass established the Peoples Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk to defend themselves from the violently Russophobic Kiev regime and its fascist military forces. Other sections of the Russian and Russian-speaking population of Ukraine outside the Donbass such as Odessa and Mariupol, who also resisted this, were subjected to massacres and atrocities.
- Russia’s military action in the current war amounted to an intervention in the pre-existing Ukrainian civil war to prevent the destruction and elimination of the Russian and Russophone Ukrainian population by the far-right Ukrainian regime. As this civil war has proceeded there have been numerous organised beatings and murders by Ukrainian far right nationalists of civilians for not speaking ‘proper’ Russian.
- Although Russia has been a capitalist state since 1991 it is not an imperialist power. Imperialism is more than when one state employs military force against another. Imperialism is a stage of capitalism represented by the dominance of finance capital. Russia is not part of the ‘imperialist club’ but a relatively backward, dependent capitalist economy. Its exceptional powerful military was inherited from the non-capitalist USSR, including nuclear forces that were developed for defence against the US. In 1945 the US used nuclear weapons against Japan, which was already seeking to surrender, to intimidate the USSR as the opening shot of the Cold War.
- NATO and the US deliberately provoked this conflict over decades. Russia intervened on 24 February to defend the population of Eastern Ukraine from a massive offensive by Kiev that began on 16 Feb. Both in the run up to the Russian action, and especially afterward, the entire population of the West have been subjected to a racist, anti-Russian hate campaign and militaristic propaganda that has not been seen since 1914. Lies about Russian ‘atrocities’ have been brazenly fabricated when in fact evidence points to systematic atrocities against Russo-Ukrainian civilians being committed by NATO-funded Ukrainian Nazis.
- Foul racism against Russians has become Western state policy. Bans on sporting and cultural figures, the works of long-dead Russian figures like Dostoyevsky and Tchaikovsky, and even deceased Cosmonauts, are examples of the most disgusting racism, comparable to the Nazis’ bans against Jewish artistic and cultural figures in the lead up to the Nazi holocaust. This has been accompanied by fantasising in the Western media about the possibility of the US ‘winning’ a nuclear war.
- In the face of this we as socialists must declare our solidarity with the oppressed Russo-Ukrainian population of the Donbass and defend their right to defend themselves against NATO’s far right, racist, warmongering campaign by whatever means are at hand, including by working with the Russian armed forces. Russia also has the right to defend itself against the Western project of dismembering it and plundering it for its natural resources.
- We should oppose the demand for the withdrawal of Russian troops without securing full national inviolability of Russian/Russophone East Ukraine as a deceitful ‘anti-war’ demand that does not actually oppose war but lays the basis for a slaughter and/or mass expulsion of Russo-Ukrainians, which may resemble that of the Palestinians. We also note that anyone who seeks a genuinely independent existence for Ukraine proper will not achieve this as a puppet of NATO and the US.
Proposed: Ian Donovan
Seconded: Mick Arter/James Hall