Russian socialists against the war

March 5, 2014

The threat of a war in Ukraine remains high following Russia's military takeover of the Crimean Peninsula, carried out last weekend in the wake of a new pro-Western government, led by center-right and far-right parties, coming to power in Ukraine following to downfall of ex-President Victor Yanukovych.

Ukraine has become the battleground for a superpower conflict over a territory in Eastern Europe with both economic and geopolitical importance. In the U.S., Barack Obama led the way among politicians of both major parties in denouncing Russia for "violating international law"--without the slightest hesitation at the U.S. record, past and present, of going to war; occupying other countries in part or in whole; and otherwise trampling on national sovereignty and self-determination. In Russia, Vladimir Putin claimed Russian forces were on a "humanitarian mission" in a Ukraine where "terror, extremists and nationalists" reign--likewise setting aside the atrocities he has ordered, inside and outside Russia.

In reality, Russia's intervention, even if it doesn't expand past Crimea, is designed to win back some measure of power over a country that has been dominated by Moscow for most of the past three centuries. Yanukovych came to prominence among the former Communist Party bosses who scrambled to the top when Ukraine became independent--they were able to hold political power by serving the interests of the super-rich oligarchs in both Ukraine and Russia. Yanukovych's corrupt and repressive reign was ended by the massive protest movement that has occupied the Maidan (Independence Square) in Kiev since November.

But the conservative and nationalist parties that claimed to lead the Maidan movement and that have taken control in Kiev are also servants of the oligarchs. The far right has a prominent role in the new government, as it did in the mass mobilization previously--its anti-democratic, nationalist agenda is widely feared, especially in the south and east of the country, with its closer economic ties to Russia and more multiethnic population.

On March 1, as Russian forces were completing their takeover in Crimea, the Russian Socialist Movement issued this statement saying no to war in Ukraine.

WAR HAS begun. With the purpose of protecting and accruing assets for the Russian oligarchs and the oligarchs from Viktor Yanukovych's group, the Russian authorities have undertaken a military incursion into Ukraine.

This aggression is fraught with catastrophic consequences for the Ukrainian and Russian people, and, most of all, for the population of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the industrial regions of southeast Ukraine.

For Ukraine, this also means an escalation of an international conflict; for Russia, a strengthening of dictatorship, repression and chauvinist hysteria, with the help of which the ruling elite has tried to neutralize social discontent caused by the deepening economic crisis.

We share the anxiety of residents of the southeast about the nationalist tendencies of the new Kiev government. But we are sure that it is not Putin's tanks, but only self-organization and a struggle of the people for their own civil, political and socio-economic rights that will lead to freedom.

Russian troops on the move in Crimea
Russian troops on the move in Crimea

The people of Ukraine, it goes without saying, have the right to self-determination, to any measure of autonomy or independence. But what we are seeing today has nothing in common with the democratic choice of the population. It is a naked and cynical operation of Russian imperialism, directed at the seizure of foreign territory and the return of Ukraine or its regions into its own protectorate.

Today, the struggle for freedom in Russia is a struggle against foreign policy adventures of the ruling regime, which is trying through these actions to postpone its own demise.

The Russian Socialist Movement calls upon all real left and democratic forces to organize antiwar protests with the following demands:

No to Russo-Ukrainian war!
-- No to provocations for bloodshed in Ukraine!
-- No to pitting the people of Ukraine and Russia against one another!
-- No to the interference of the Russian army or the armies of other countries in Crimea!
-- Yes to freedom from ultimatums and peaceful self-determination of people living in the Crimean peninsula!
-- Yes to the struggle of the working people of Ukraine against the oligarchs and corrupt bureaucrats!
-- No to international conflict!

Central Council of the Revolutionary Socialist Movement
March 1, 2014

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