For an independent Soviet Ukraine
On the 17th February 2022 USA President, Joe Biden, announced that within days Russia would attack the Ukraine. Let us analyse the events to see just who are attacking the masses in Ukraine and who is benefiting from it.
Inter-imperialist rivalry in Ukraine
The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 brought with it a scramble by imperialism for the nationalised assets in the former USSR. It was German imperialism that took the lead in Russia, buying the cream of Russian industry. Several industries were collapsed but there was a fightback by the working class in defence of the last gains of nationalised property. A section of the Russian stalinists morphed into the Russian mafia and placed itself at the head of the best of the remaining nationalised industry and the best industries that were privatised. The aim of imperialism was and still is to turn the nationalised property into commodities for capitalist exploitation. Today German imperialism has over 6100 companies in Russia and has effective control over the oil and gas industry. German imperialism is the main supplier of weapons to Russia, followed by French imperialism. Russia has been reduced to a semi-colony primarily of German imperialism while French, and US imperialism are openly contesting for control.
It follows that German imperialism has an interest in extending the control of the Putin regime over all the former republics of the ex-USSR.
US imperialism on the other hand has control over Poland, Georgia and is striving for control over as many of the ex USSR republics as possible. Imperialism in general has an interest in suppressing any independent capitalist development as it would threaten their domination and rate of profit. Let us not forget that it was the drive for redivision of the world among the different imperialist powers that led to both World wars.
In essence the war in Ukraine reflects the intense rivalry between German and US imperialism.
Ukraine after the coup in 2014
Since 1922 the masses in Soviet Ukraine had been subjected to a brutal stalinist bureaucracy that placed itself at the head of the nationalised property. From 1917 to 1922 there was a Soviet Ukraine where the working class there was in control. This rule by the masses and their voluntary association with the masses in Russia was crushed by Stalin after 1922. When the Stalin regime had been consolidated the Ukrainian masses were kept in subjugation for the benefit of the Russian bureaucracy. When the USSR collapsed in 1989 the relation of subjugation of the Ukrainian masses to the Russian capitalist bureaucracy continued.
Post 1989, imperialism went on a feeding frenzy to grab as much of the nationalised property as possible. The mechanism imperialism used was to allow the stalinist bureaucracy to seize the nationalised property and provided loans to enable such a seizure. The loans brought direct capitalist control and devastation to the masses. The masses launched fightback after fightback. Such contest and conflict is ongoing. Since 1989 there have been 7 million deaths in the ex-USSR, including Ukraine, directly as a result of greater devastation of industry and collapse of social services.
Since 1989 Ukraine had built up a foreign debt to imperialist banks of over $100 bn. By 2014 on the back of mass discontent with the Putin-surrogate regime there was a coup that brought Poroshenko to power. Later the coup regime formalised its rule by instituting elections and other democratic norms, under pressure of the masses.
John Abizard, a US general who was the former commander of US Central Command and Nick Parker former commander of British ground forces were deployed to Ukraine to restructure the army to bring it under Nato control (ie ultimately under the control of US imperialism). The right wing forces that also supported the overthrow of the Putin puppet regime were incorporated into the Ukrainian armed forces. The right wing and arch-nationalist, anti-semitic, Azov forces became part of the official military forces.
The plan, according to the Institute for the Study of War, was to build up the Ukrainian navy which imperialism indicated was only possible if the Crimean peninsula was retaken. Retaking the Crimean peninsula would mean the destruction of the Russian navy base and in effect to contest control of the entire Black Sea. This would be a major blow to the Putin bureaucracy and by implication to German imperialism. So US imperialism had to prepare the way. US imperialism gave a loan of $500 million for the rebuilding of the Ukrainian navy. The US imperialists also directed the building of special armed forces in Ukraine that operated with impunity in attacking the masses in the Donbass region since 2014. The Special armed forces included the right wing forces.
As Ukraine could not pay its foreign debt to imperialism, the IMF was brought in after the 2014 coup.
The IMF had no qualms with their being a coup nor with the role of anti-semitic forces in supporting Poroshenko. The IMF facilitated more loans to the bureaucracy for privatizing the remaining nationalised sectors in Ukraine. So while a few oligarchs were built up the bulk of the funds were extracted from the country and went to the coffers of the imperialist banks.
Local food production was collapsed and the agricultural land was turned over to export crops of wheat and soya. Ukraine is one of the major world suppliers of wheat today. Ukraine has to import fruit and other essential food. The IMF helped facilitate the creation of dependency of Ukraine on the world capitalist forces, a process of neo-colonisation. Today Ukraine, formerly one of the most highly developed members of the USSR is now the poorest section of Europe.
By 2022 foreign debt has gone up to $129 bn while foreign debt payments for Ukraine has gone up to $6,2 bn annually (This is about 10% of the budget that goes just to foreign debt payments).
Before 2014 if a family fell behind on gas payments they would still receive their supply. The IMF dictated that by 2020 all those in arrears have their gas cut off. Gas is essential for cooking and heating. Millions had their gas cut off and were forced to go out into the icy cold to chop wood. In the Donbass region the masses were forced to search for wood in areas that have more landmines than Angola in their civil war. Many died or were maimed in a quest to find wood. Diseases and death from smoke inhalation is on the increase. Oil and gas was turned into a commodity in Ukraine over the bones of the working class and lower middle class.
The IMF dictated cuts in pensions that they regarded as ‘too generous’ and forced cuts in hospital, clinics and social services.
Such was the further devastation of nationalised companies and industry by the IMF dictates that by the start of 2022 there were trained engineers who now sell socks on the city streets as a means of survival. By the start of 2022 almost 2,7 million skilled workers had emigrated. This was almost 25% of the workforce.
High prices were the order of the day and there was an increase in the number of deaths through starvation. The price of energy has increased 6X since 2014.
Such was the discontent of the Ukrainian masses with the ‘democratic’ regime that Poroshenko was ousted and Zelensky was elected in 2019. He posed as anti-corruption but failed to declare his own massive off-shore assets. The plunder by imperialism has continued.
Since 1989 imperialism has been directly at war with the Ukrainian masses. This war against the masses has intensified since 2014. Ukraine was a colony of the Putin regime and German imperialism up to 2014. Since 2014 US imperialism is well on the way to reducing it to its neo-colony.
Ukraine since 17th February 2022
When the coup took place in 2014 the Putin regime moved to secure its naval base by taking over the Crimea through military occupation and through stoking separatist nationalists in the Donbass. Its objective was to secure a land passage from Russia to its naval headquarters in Crimea. Thus Putin moved to secure the interests of the Russian regime and by implication of German imperialism.
Whoever started escalation in February 2022 we do not choose sides of the various fractions of imperialism. We stand with the masses of Ukraine. US imperialism wants total control of Ukraine and wants the destruction of the Russian naval base; they want total control of the Black Sea and want to extend their interest. The Putin regime wants to maintain and extend its control, they want to win back the areas of control they lost. Both fractions stand against the interests of the Ukrainian masses.
In the inter-imperialist clash since February 2022 more than 4 million Ukrainians have left the country while 6.5 million have been internally displaced.
In the midst of all of this the IMF and international banks still insist that the regime continues to repay their loans. In fact the weapons that US imperialism sends to Ukraine, now reaching $53bn, are loans that help consolidate their stranglehold over the masses; this means more destruction of industry, more starvation, more high prices, more unemployment and the eventual total destruction of the last remaining nationalised property in Ukraine. Thus the so-called war effort of US imperialism in defence of Ukraine is nothing but an opportunity to profiteer from the hardship of the masses and to install itself as the main plundering agent.
Ukraine is well on its way to become a semi-colony of US imperialism. Canada is offering $1,2 bn in loans while the EU is offering 9 billion euros of loans. Thus imperialism is on the path to divide the spoils of Ukraine among one another with US imperialism getting the lion’s share. German imperialism’s reluctance to support the Ukrainian regime directly is because its preferred horse, at the moment, is the Putin regime. They know that support of the US imperialism war effort will reduce their status in the control of the Ukrainian masses even further. The Putin regime wants to be the preferred exploiter of the masses of Ukraine. They differ only on the pace of privatization and who should be in charge of the surplus extracted.
The international implications of the current conflict in Ukraine
Much of the production of US imperialism and other imperialism being assembled in China is enjoying discounted oil prices through imports from Russia. The states that now cannot import directly from Russia, do so now indirectly via India and China.
US imperialism has succeeded in disrupting the world supply of wheat, sunflower seeds, oil and gas. Seeing as they control these sectors they are benefiting from artificial high prices and have an interest in dragging out the conflict as long as possible. These high prices have impacted on many other commodities that are also driven upwards in price. The high prices have increased the level of desperation internationally which drives wages lower, thus also increasing profits for world imperialism , especially its dominant force, US imperialism. The Ukrainian conflict is a mechanism for imperialism to move away from its current crisis of stagnating profits. The Russian regime has made more from oil and gas than it ever has, also benefiting from the ongoing conflict, despite the deaths of many of its soldiers.
High prices would not end even if US imperialism directly controlled the raw materials produced in Ukraine as their increased control would strengthen their monopoly position. The disrupted world supply has the same effect and imperialism does not work on sentiment nor care for the billions who are impacted by their policies. Their central thesis is a drive for profits and everything that would achieve this objective.
The left internationally are in disarray and in fact in many cases supporting the war effort against the Putin forces in Ukraine or even supporting the war effort of the Putin regime. None of them have an internationalist working class position. The disruptive role played by the left is an essential element required by imperialism for their continued control. The leadership of the masses help perpetuate imperialist capitalist control.
Democracy is outdated as compared to the Soviet form
Democracy in Ukraine, ie the rule of the capitalist class, has shown itself to be outdated as compared to the Soviet form. (Trotsky Writings 1939-40). Already in 1939 Trotsky showed that the nationalised production and workers councils in Ukraine of the period 1917 to 1922 was far superior to any capitalist rule. He showed that capitalist rule would of necessity be a step back from Soviet form of rule as democracy meant the dictatorship of the rich over the majority of the masses, while Soviet rule meant the dictatorship of the majority against selfish minority capitalist interests. Now, after 1989 democracy in the former USSR has brought with it destruction of the forces and means of production. It has brought the destruction of the working class and broader masses and of the industry and independent food production. Democracy has accelerated the theft of the surplus and has placed the surplus produced as a means of increased exploitation of the entire world masses.
The Soviet form of nationalised means of production has nothing to do with the stalinised form where a bureaucracy extracted the surplus for its own benefit. The Soviet form which in Ukraine existed from 1917 to 1922, means direct control by the working class , through directly elected representatives subject to instant recall and who earn only the wage of a skilled worker. It means establishing a national plan where the surplus if used for the benefit of all. Where there was or is a peasantry it means a real negotiation and setting of a process of concessions such as would allow experience to show ultimately the superiority of the collective forms. But even this nationalised plan is a temporary measure of working class power as real Socialism can only be established on an international basis. It would mean the free co-operation of the masses in Poland (West Ukraine), Hungary and Rumania as a start (all historically part of Ukraine). It would mean free co-operation of the masses in the former USSR on an equal basis; this would require the conquer of workers’ power in each of these states; it would require the international co-operation of the working class throughout the world and of necessity requiring the conquering of workers power in their states. In this process of solidarity a leading role passes to the working class in the US, Germany, France, the UK and Japan.
- Cancelation of all the foreign debt of Ukraine
- Immediate expulsion of all the Nato military advisors from Ukraine
- Immediate disbanding of the Azov regiment and all reactionary forces in the Ukrainian army
- Fraternization of the rank and file of the Ukrainian and Russian military
- Setting up of workers and soldiers rank and file committees up to the convening of a national Congress of delegates, to seize all privatized land and industries and to place them under workers control
- A national plan for providing needs to all the masses in Ukraine irrespective of their language or place of birth, starting with scrapping of all limits imposed by the IMF on gas and oil and social services, reinstating the pensions that were cut.
- Setting up of Soviet Ukraine solidarity committees in every country.
- We call on the working class in Russia, the USA, Germany to lead anti-war protests against their own regimes. A direct victory of the working class in Ukraine will benefit all the masses in the world.
Forward to an independent Soviet Ukraine!
Issued by Workers International Vanguard League
5 July 2022