Comments on the Article of the International Department of the CC KKE “On the Imperialist War in Ukraine and the Stance of the CPRF”
On April 23, 2022 the newspaper Rizospastis, the organ of the Communist Party of Greece, carried an article by the International Department of the CC KKE “On the Imperialist War in Ukraine and the Stance of the CPRF.”
The article assesses the actions of the CPRF in connection with the special operation Russia is conducting in Ukraine openly accusing the party of having a pro-government, i.e. pro-imperialist position. We categorically disagree with this utilitarian assessment.
The gist of the article is that in the opinion of the Greek comrades, what is taking place in Ukraine is an imperialist war in the interests of the Russian bourgeoisie, and therefore, by supporting the special operation the CPRF is advocating a policy that is “in line with the ruling United Russia party and President V.Putin.”
In insisting on the “imperialist” character of this war, the Greek comrades proceed from Lenin’s well-known thesis that “A struggle for markets and for freedom to loot foreign countries, a striving to suppress the revolutionary movement of the proletariat and democracy in the individual countries, a desire to deceive, disunite, and slaughter the proletarians of all countries by setting the wage slaves of one nation against those of another so as to benefit the bourgeoisie; these are the only real content and significance of the war.” However, the comrades did not mention that this statement is contained in Lenin’s work War.1914-1918. It specifically refers to the First World War, which was indeed a purely imperialistic war of conquest. However, leaving dogma aside, we have to admit that any war has its own specific characteristics.
The Marxist’s task in determining one’s position with regard to the war is to determine its character. For in addition to imperialist wars, there are national liberation and anti-Fascist wars which have become widespread in the mid-20th century when Fascism and Nazism emerged as political phenomena and national liberation struggles intensified under the impact of the October Revolution.
What guided the CPRF in determining its stand.
In working out its political position on the issue of the conduct of the special operation the party analyzed the concrete historical conditions which objectively led to the crisis in Ukraine.
Before the October Revolution in Russia Ukraine, which was part of the Russian Empire, was a typical agrarian country. To strengthen its industry, six industrial areas of the RSFSR in the east and south, which had never been parts of Ukraine, were included in Ukraine. Among them were the Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts. In 1939 Galicia (Western Ukraine), previously part of Poland, was added to Ukraine. Thus, the present territory of Ukraine is the result of it becoming part of the USSR. It has been “sewn together” from disparate patches from Galicia (Lvov), which were under heavy influence of Poland, Austria and Hungary, to East Ukraine, which gravitated toward Russia.
Socialist Ukraine’s industry burgeoned. Added to the production of metal and coal were aviation and rocketry, petro-chemistry and power generation (4 nuclear power plants), and defense sectors. It was as part of the USSR that Ukraine obtained not only the bulk of its present territory, but also its economic potential to become one of the top ten European economies.
The dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991simultaneously destroyed the centuries-old economic integration of Ukraine and Russia, severing all economic, political and cultural ties.
Today it is one of the poorest countries in Europe. Its manufacturing industry, with the exception of metallurgy, has been practically destroyed. Ukraine’s economy stays afloat due to Western loans and remittances from people who have left for Europe and Russia in search of some kind of a job. Living standards plummeted and emigration rocketed. About 10 million people (out of 45 million) have left, the most highly qualified specialists.
Ukraine has some of the highest levels of corruption and social differentiation. The country is on the brink of a national catastrophe.
The government coup in Kiev as the basis of fomenting conflict
In February 2014, with direct assistance of the USA and other NATO countries, a government coup took place in Ukraine. The legitimate government was overthrown. Neo-Nazis came to power. Subsequently, the USA admitted publicly that it had invested about 5 billion dollars in preparing the change of regime in the country and in “the development of democracy.” Needless to say, no one would spend such a gigantic sum just like that.
As a result of the government coup power was seized by people from Western Ukraine, from Galicia where extreme nationalist, anti-Semitic, anti-Polish, Russophobic and anti-communist sentiments have traditionally been strong.
Forcible assimilation of the Russian-speaking population began. A ban on the Russian language and the decision to switch school education from Russian to Ukrainian met with powerful resistance in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. People rose up in arms.
In the May 11, 2014 national referendum 87% of the citizens voted for independence. Thus, the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics were formed on the initiative of the popular mases, and not on directions from the Kremlin.
After several unsuccessful attempts to seize DPR/LPR the Kiev Nazis resorted to terror. During eight years of continuing bombardment by heavy artillery almost 14,000 civilians were killed and tens of thousands were maimed. The infrastructure was severely damaged.
Throughout the long eight years the European countries and the USA looked on the genocide of the Russian people in Donbass with extreme equanimity, thus effectively justifying the actions of the Kiev regime.
Today, the EU and the USA are displaying unheard-of hypocrisy describing people’s suffering in the course of battles, but ignoring the fact that the use of civilians as human shields has become the standard practice of those whom they call “freedom fighters.”
Development of Neo-Nazism in Ukraine
Our comrades, in considering the situation in Ukraine, only reluctantly mention the danger of its Fascization. And yet one of the main goals of Russia’s military operation in that country is its de-Nazification. Even American congress people and special services admit that Ukraine has become the center of international Neo-Nazism.
Here are just some facts. After Hitler’s invasion of the USSR, as we have noted above, extreme nationalistic, anti-Semitic, Russophobic and anti-communist sentiments in Western Ukraine were running high. SS divisions that were formed there fought the Red Army. Local nationalists, led by Semyon Bandera, an ardent Hitler fan, set about exterminating Jews. In Ukraine Banderaites slaughtered about 1.5 million Jews, one fourth of all the Holocaust victims. During the 1944 “Volyn massacre” in Western Ukraine about 100,000 Poles were slaughtered. Banderaites killed partisans and burned alive civilians in hundreds of Byelorussian villages.
After the war, anti-communist and anti-Soviet rebels in Western Ukraine, backed by the USA and Great Britain, launched terror against civilians in the period between 1945 and 1953. During those years Banderaites killed about 50,000 citizens. The descendants and successors of these thugs came to power after the 2014 coup. The tradition of anti-Polish, anti-Semitic and anti-Russian terror is very strong among the Neo-Nazis who practically run Ukraine today.
Nazi ideology is being inculcated in Ukraine. Ukrainian Fascists who organized and committed atrocities during the Second World War have been officially proclaimed national heroes. Their symbols have been adopted by the state. Marches in honor of Fascist criminals are held every year. Streets and squares are being named after them. The Communist Party of Ukraine has been driven underground. Intimidation and assassinations of politicians and journalists have become the order of the day. Monuments to Lenin and everything reminiscent of life in the USSR are being destroyed.
Today Banderaites, like the SD storm troops in Germany, are the shock brigade of Big Business. They control every move of the government constantly blackmailing it with the threat of a government coup.
The nature of the present-day Ukrainian state is the alliance of big capital and the government bureaucracy backed by Fascist elements under total political and financial control of the USA.
The causes and character of the special military operation
In terms of the Marxist theory the military conflict in Ukraine cannot be described as an imperialist war, as our comrades would argue. It is essentially a national liberation war of the people of Donbass. From Russia’s point of view it is a struggle against an external threat to national security and against Fascism.
It is no secret that the Donbass militia was unable to resist the many-thousand-strong foreign-armed Ukrainian armed forces. A defeat of the militias would have led to the annihilation of the Russian-speaking population, a large proportion of which are citizens of Russia. Under the Constitution of the RF, Russia took legitimate action to protect its citizens and ensure its national security because it could not have been done by other means.
With US and EU support Kiev deliberately sabotages the negotiating process in the framework of the Minsk Agreements.
By that point in time Ukraine had concentrated 150,000 servicemen and Nazi battalions in Donbass. Kiev, with US support, was getting set to regain control over Donbass by military means.
With the blessing of its American principals Ukraine was preparing to launch a military operation to seize Donbass and then Crimea in early March of this year. There is a solid body of evidence to confirm the existence of these plans.
The Banderaite regime has been preparing for this war for eight years. Servicemen were subjected to relentless ideological brainwashing in the spirit of rank Russophobia. Powerful strongholds were being created and the army was provided with the latest weaponry.
In line with its imperialist geopolitical goals the US was gradually drawing Ukraine into the sphere of its military interests turning the country into a NATO spearhead determined to fight Russia “up to the last Ukrainian soldier.”
As early as December 2021 Russia made a proposal to the US to hold talks on non-enlargement of NATO to the east. The Americans evaded giving a direct answer. So in January 2022 Russia warned that in this situation it would have to take additional measures to protect its national security.
Simultaneously, there was talk about deploying US tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine. Ukraine, which has four nuclear power plants and a considerable scientific-technical potential, started preparations for creating its own nuclear weapon.
Under the Pentagon’s patronage Ukraine set up more than 30 laboratories to develop bacteriological weapons. There are documents to prove that these laboratories were working with particularly dangerous bacteria of deadly diseases and were investigating methods of spreading them to target people of different races.
All this poses a threat not only to Russia, but to the whole humankind.
It is claimed that this is all about inter-imperialist contradictions or the struggle over markets and subsoil resources. Inability to see the national component of class issues and the class component in national issues leads into the territory of dogmatism.
Interest of the Russian oligarchy in Ukraine or lack of the same?
Seeking to prove that the war is being waged in the interests of the Russian bourgeoisie, in order to seize Ukraine’s natural resources and industrial potential, our comrades pluck Lenin’s words about the nature of wars out of their historical context.
However, the claim that the Russian leadership was preparing to seize Ukraine in advance contradicts facts.
From the outset, the Russian leadership did not support the idea of a referendum on the formation of Donbass people’s republics.
Following the Minsk-2 agreements, Russia a priori assumed that Donbass would remain part of Ukraine, albeit with a measure of autonomy.
Until the beginning of the military operation the Russian leadership insisted on compliance with Minsk-2, which would leave Donbass as part of Ukraine.
So where is preparation for imperialist seizure?
Since 1991 Ukraine, its industry and resources were objects of super-exploitation by US and EU monopolies. The Russian oligarchy did not take part in“dividing the pie” which was in the sphere of Western interests.
Moreover, the Russian oligarchy was against the military operation in Ukraine. It was striving to become integrated in the world oligarchy and was already under massive pressure from the West which urged it to exert pressure on the government to induce it to preserve Russia’s pro-Western orientation.
Besides, the Russian oligarchs suffered considerably from the Russian military operation in Ukraine. They were put under sanctions, and are seeing their palaces and yachts taken away form them and their bank accounts frozen.
We do not have the slightest sympathy for those who have been plundering Russia for three decades and are now being deprived of their loot. We merely want to stress that the Russian oligarchy was not only not interested in the military operation, but has suffered from it. By refusing to back this operation, big business has lost not only its property and money, but its influence within the Russian ruling elite.
Note which class forces were the fiercest opponents of the Russian military operation in Ukraine. These were above all big monopoly capital, its political representatives in the liberal milieu and their “creative” lackeys among the so-called intelligentsia.
Of course we recognize the existence of inter-imperialist contradictions. The desire of imperialist predators to seize the natural and energy resources of other countries. Russia is a victim of the West’s plans to turn our country into a source of cheap raw materials. We have been opposing these plans for decades. But we do not believe that Russia, for all the flaws of its current political system, based on the power of big capital, has overnight turned into such a predator. The struggle in Ukraine has a fundamentally different character which defies dogmas.
The position of the CPRF
The CPRF was the first to define the nature of the regime which seized power in Ukraine during the Maidan protests in 2014. Thenceforth, all the party’s activities have been based on the class essence of the ongoing political processes.
We have always been critical of the Russian leadership’s external policy, which effectively ignored the interests of the peoples which until recently were part of the single Soviet state.
Those who attentively follow our actions (and we assumed that the Greek comrades are thoroughly conversant with our documents) will know that it was the CPRF that has since 2014 consistently called for the recognition of the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics. No other political party in Russia has done as much to support the population of Donbass. From the start, we supported the return of Donbass to Russia. It is not the CPRF that follows “the line of the ruling United Russia party and President Putin” but they, under the pressure of historical imperatives, have to follow the route which the CPRF has advocated for three decades.
In this situation, is it fair to say that we almost blindly support Putin’s policy in Ukraine?
The Russian communists take the most active part in protecting the LPR/DPR. Hundreds of communist party members are fighting the Nazis as members of the armed forces of these republics. Dozens of communists have died in this struggle. The CPRF has, during the past eight years, sent to these republics 93 convoys carrying 13,000 tons of humanitarian aid and hosted thousands of children who came to Russia for rest and medical treatment.
All these past years the CPRF has been urging the Russian leadership to recognize the independence of Donbass.
Frankly, we are not pleased to hear our Greek comrades speak with a touch of disdain about ”so-called people’s republics” of Donbass because these are precisely people’s republics which came into being as a result of expressed will of the people.
The citizens of LPR/DPR have defended them at the cost of thousands of civilian and military lives over the eight grim years of resistance to the creeping aggression of Banderaite Nazis.
It is a matter of signal importance that fighting the Banderaites are not only the Russian army, but also the militia units of Donbass itself among whom communists and mining workers form a large stratum.
Where do you see “protection of the interests of the oligarchy?” Are our comrades who daily expose their lives to mortal danger also defending the interests of the Russian oligarchs? Or do they defend the interests of common people who have become victims of the Neo-Nazis who have seized power in Ukraine?
One has to be very reluctant to see the real state of affairs to claim that the CPRF is acting in line with the ruling group.
The pitch of class political struggle in Russia is as high as ever. Persecution of communists and party supporters, even after the start of the military operation in Ukraine, shows that there is no class harmony between the CPRF and the present ruling elite. One can cite many examples of our comrades being subjected to repressions. Our response to the persecution of our comrades is robust.
By the same token, we are vehement critics of the government’s socio-economic policy. No other party in Russia can claim that it has been a more active critic of the authorities.
Over the thirty-odd years since the anti-communist coup of 1991 we have provided ample proof of our resolute struggle against the ruling elite. That is why our party enjoys such broad support of the masses.
In the September 2021 elections for the State Duma the CPRF won almost 19% of the votes. And this in spite of the well-oiled and long-established machine of vote-rigging. We are confident that the actual level of popular support is substantially higher. This is because, in the spirit of Marxism-Leninism, we seek to study the interests and mood of the people. Incidentally, by supporting the Russian special operation in Ukraine, the CPRF has expressed the will of the overwhelming majority of Russian citizens.
As for claims about “courting| nationalist approaches and nationalist forces,” we are proud to declare that the CPRF is the leading patriotic left force in Russia.
We deem it to be our internationalist duty to protect the interests of the Russian people and the other peoples who have lived for centuries together with the Russians, above all the Ukrainians and the Byelorussians. Denying the historical significance of “the Russian world” or the Russian civilization is, in our view, as absurd as denying the great significance of the ancient Greek civilization. When Manolis Glezos tore down the Nazi flag atop the Acropolis he was not guided only by class interests, but also by the national pride of the Greeks who had launched a resolute struggle against the German occupation.
Attitude of the world community to events in Ukraine
While the Western politicians and the media, who arrogantly claim to represent “the world community,” openly take the side of the Neo-Nazis, major countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America which have first-hand experience of European and American neo-colonialism, quite rightly see the events in Ukraine as Russia’s struggle against the US-led unipolar world.
The countries that are home to 60% of the planet’s population either support the Russian operation or take a neutral stance.
Only those who in 1941 brought war to our country as members of the Hitler coalition take an aggressive stand. These are the countries of Europe, as well as the USA and Great Britain which have contributed a great deal to the revival of the Nazi military machine after its defeat in the First World War. Today Russia is again fighting Fascism and those who support it in Europe and the USA.
Remembering the heroic deeds of the Communist Party of Greece in the struggle against Nazism and against the military dictatorship, we categorically brush aside the idea that our comrades could have consciously joined the camp of those who today try to crush Russia with Ukraine’s hands. We reiterate our profound respect for the KKE as a party which has made an immense contribution to the revival of the international communist and workers’ movement after the collapse of the USSR in 1991. However, the words of our comrades sometimes sound like the statement of the ultimate truth. We are for a comradely dialog which has always helped communists all over the world to understand the essence of events and work out their correct, genuinely Marxist approach to their assessment.