It is shameful to note that while large sections of the oppressed masses around the world instinctively side with Russia in its bid to cleanse Ukraine of Nato-backed fascist forces, many representatives of parties that ought to be heading those masses have mischaracterised Russia’s special operation as an ‘imperialist invasion’. Their failure to understand either imperialism or the nature of the present conflict is having serious consequences for the unity and action of the world communist movement, and these consequences can only get worse as the imperialist drive to war against Russia and China continues to escalate.
Alexander Moumbaris is a veteran fighter, political prisoner and escapee from the South Africal liberation movement Umkhonto we Sizwe (the military wing of the ANC). His article is reproduced from an email circular with thanks.
Two days later, on 26 February, 31 communist and workers’ parties rushed to denounce this “invasion” as an imperialist, or more clearly interimperialist conflict.
The situation now, three months later, may be clearer for the communists who had signed that declaration.
The 2014 putschists, organised and aided by Nato, took power by force, ruse, bloodshed and massacres – including the use in Maidan of snipers from Poland, Lithuania, Georgia … These events occurred not only in Maidan Square, but also all over the country.
Before 2014, the previous regime – not to mention during the Soviet period – had an aura of bourgeois-democratic legitimacy, and although there were differences if not divergences among the population between: Russians/’Ukrainians’, uniate/orthodox christians, communists/non-communists … they nevertheless lived in harmony – or at least in peace.
In the face of the crushing of the resistance by the putschists, the Donbass – made up of the oblasts of Donetsk and Lugansk – succeeded in resisting. The populations there fought valiantly, heroically for eight years. Their struggle up to 24 February 2022 was a legitimate, patriotic, democratic, popular struggle for survival against the genocidal neo-nazi regime that had been promoted and orchestrated by the west and Ukrainian oligarchs such as Igor Kolomoisky …
It would be dishonest, even undignified, to consider this first phase of the conflict as imperialist, illegitimate or indefensible by communists or democrats. It was a just war of national survival and liberation against the nazi regime that concerned not only their local territory but all of Ukraine and all oppressed Ukrainians.
There is evidence that at that time, on 24 February, a large-scale attack, with Nato and European Union weapons, by the Ukrainian army, including tens of thousands of mercenaries, nazis of all kinds, was planned, with the aim of liquidating the Donbass resistance and everything that was Russian, whether physical, linguistic, cultural, religious ..
This would have been the continuation and completion by the Kiev regime, of the genocide it had begun, where the Russian-speaking civilian population was treated as subhuman and systematically used as hostages and human shields during military operations and sieges. Murders, massacres, rapes, looting… were more than common, the horror of lawlessness was complete.
Consequently, the questions for communists and also democrats to answer would be:
- Firstly, could the Russian Federation let the population of Donbass be exterminated by the neo-nazi regime?
- Secondly, could the Russian Federation not react to the extreme provocation and menace by Nato, and especially the United States, of setting up on its border a nuclear stronghold, supported by dozens of biological warfare laboratories, financed by the Pentagon?
This conflict had a worldwide significance and could not be dismissed as ‘only’ interimperialist when it had the potential to lead to a third world war. The US provocation was immense and had been going on for three decades. It is not necessarily the one who initiates an aggression who is responsible for it.
Neither the communists nor the democrats can evade such a situation.
The character of this conflict has parallels: some with the Spanish Civil War, others with the 1939 Soviet campaign against Finland, but above all there is a resemblance with the Great Patriotic War: on the one hand the Nazis and their supporters and on the other the Russian people, descendants of the heroic Soviet people, betrayed and robbed of their patrimony.
Each war has its specificities.
Of course, the conflict in Ukraine is not led by communists, but does have the full support of the Russian communists of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation.
The democratic reintegration of Ukraine into Russia is not a conquest, nor is it a colonisation. It will not prevent class struggles from continuing.
Let’s not forget that during the Great Patriotic War it was necessary for the Soviet Union to make alliances with the USA, Britain and other imperialist colonialist countries … Often communists and patriots have had to make unnatural alliances, just as the Chinese communists had to with the Kuomintang against Japan, or the Greek communists with the dictator Metaxas against the Italian fascists – and there have been others.
It should also be considered (let us not pretend to be naive) that some leaders of the communist parties among the signatories, and not the least of them, publicly consider that the Great Patriotic War itself was an ‘imperialist war’.
What is most serious, beyond nazism in Ukraine, is the ignorance of history, and even of the present-day situation, amongst the western populations, as well as the progress of unconscious acceptance of the content of nazism and supremacism, whether white or of any other colour or species.
The French should remember that the trident of the Ukrainian neo-nazis looks like the crest of the SS Das Reich division guilty of the Oradour-sur-Glane massacre in June 1944. The jews should also remember the butchery in September 1941 at the Babi Yar ravine of nearly 34,000 of their own, and the Poles the execution in 1942 of 100,000 civilian compatriots in Volhynia.