The danger of renewed Russian military action in Ukraine is growing. The build-up of Russian armed forces on the border, near to the Russian-supported separatist “republics” in Donetsk and Lugansk, is alarming Ukrainians. They have already suffered more than six years of war during which 14,000 people have been killed and more than 2 million displaced from their homes.
Central to the Kremlin’s approach is to keep the western powers guessing. President Putin has raged against NATO, despite senior western politicians making it quite clear that they would not commit troops to defend Ukraine from an invasion.
There are some reasons to believe that Putin is aiming not for war, but for a negotiation with the US – and initial talks have been fixed for January. But the preparations on the border continue nonetheless.
In the face of a possible major land war in Europe, socialists and internationalists across the continent have a responsibility to speak out, to be at the forefront of the anti-war movement. We must act in solidarity both with the Ukrainian communities that face the physical danger of Russian military action, and the so far small number of Russian voices being raised against war.
With this in mind, I have translated these two articles. The first is a statement opposing war, by the Russian Socialist Movement. The second is a blog post by the Ukrainian community activist, trade union organiser and lawyer Pavel Lisyansky.
On 4 December, the Associated Press, citing information from the US intelligence services, reported that Russia was preparing to put 175,000 troops near the Ukrainian border. “[Deploying] Russian armed forces on Russian territory – that’s the legal right of a sovereign state”, responded Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, without denying the build-up of forces on the border.
Along with the migration crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border, these actions are an episode in the cynical and dangerous geopolitical game of Russian and the west, in which millions of working people in Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and other countries are being held hostage. This sabre-rattling is not only an attempt to push other states into retreat. Behind it also stands the aspirations of the elite to “rally the nation” once again around the Putin regime, as it did in 2014, after the annexation of Crimea.Read the rest of this entry »