Ukraine and the “neutrality” of the anti-NATOists

“Justifying yourself in the neoliberal policy of Zelenski or in the fascist battalion of Azov for not supporting the attacked nation is just another element of this hypocritical or blind neutrality”

I am one of the members of the commission preparing the demonstration for peace and in solidarity with Ukraine on its first war anniversary. This commission, Catalonia for peace, today includes many pacifist entities, unions, NGOs and parties. I am going there as a spokesperson for the organization L’Aurora (Marxist organization) and also as a member of the European Solidarity Network with Ukraine.

Since the beginning of the platform Stop the War, the first platform that was set up around the Iraq war and other war conflicts, there have been debates, some of them very passionate, around these mobilizations . today too I remember, for example, how then we had to debate a lot with a sector that opposed the Socialist Party being able to sign the manifesto and be part of the call for the demonstration. The argument was that the PSC-PSOE was NATOist and, if it did not renounce being part of NATO, then it could not be in favor of peace.

As we were finally able to convince the fellow leftists (most of them were men), the PSC joined and called the demonstration. This did not change the pro-NATO or pro-armament policy of the PSOE. But as we all know, that was a large demonstration of a million people to which the US President George Bush referred by saying that he would not give in to street pressures like the one in Barcelona. The success of that call had a continuity in politics: Zapatero won the elections in Aznar’s PP, which had taken the photo of the “Azores trio” with Bush and Blair. And, after a short time, the Spanish troops left Iraq.

That anti-NATO sector that prioritizes its fight against the United States and against NATO above the facts and the concrete policy to make a real peace continues to exist. And he continues to try to condition unity and consensus with his demands. He does this considering that all those who are not in his position are supporters of NATO, which is an aberration. Today he posits that we should be “neutral” between Ukraine and Russia. That is, between assaulted and aggressor. Denying the evidence of who attacked and invaded another country, he insists on the narrative that “in reality” it is a war “between Russia and NATO”.

There are other arguments they use mainly as supposed proof that there is no other position than the one they advocate, which is “stop the war anyway” and “against sending arms to Ukraine”. The first of these is that “Russia cannot lose the war.” Despite the fact that we have seen in the last year that Russia has lost positions and had to withdraw from territory it had occupied, this argument is added by the fear: “Russia, before losing the war, would start a nuclear war”.

Look, then, the right of Ukraine, the fate of the Ukrainian people, does not matter to these lovers of peace “at any price”. Although they often repeat and repeat that the Ukrainian people are a victim, that they are the ones “laying the dead and the wreckage” and that this would be the main reason for their concern to stop the war, they do not care what the people there, why they continue to fight and die. At bottom, this argument is hypocritical because what matters is safeguarding Western integrity and security. Some of them admit it without shame: “If we were Ukrainians, we would surely fight like them, but we are not.” In our peaceful Europe and on the shores of the Mediterranean, we do not want any nuclear missiles to reach us or any repercussions of the war that has started many thousands of kilometers away...

The other argument, which came up at the last commission meeting, is that we should choose between solidarity and peace. “We are a committee for peace, not for solidarity with Ukraine.” Some of us could not help reacting to such barbarity. Should we choose a “peace” that was not in solidarity with the people of Ukraine? A peace that is “at the expense of Ukraine”? This “peace” would be for Ukraine to capitulate, cede the occupied territory and the division of the country, the control of the exit to the sea by Russia, that the crimes are not paid for and there is no financial compensation for the wrecks... This is peace of cemeteries

This kind of “neutrality” that some defend is very similar to what the Spanish Republic suffered on the part of the western democratic powers in the face of Franco’s fascist troops and in the face of the bombings of the Italian Nazis and fascists. Fascism was preparing for war across Europe. The Spanish revolution was in the middle of those plans and the Western bourgeoisie preferred a fascist Spain before it was revolutionary. Then it happened with the invasions of Austria and Poland... This policy of neutrality of the imperialist powers allowed Hitler to prepare the invasion of a large part of Europe.

Finally there is the argument that sending arms to Ukraine is encouraging warmongering, diverting social spending to the military and the subjugation of Ukrainians to the US, UK, Germany... This is an argument coinciding in many groups and different sectors, pacifists or leftists. I am vehemently against increasing military budgets, but why couldn’t a democratic, left-wing government pull out of NATO and at the same time send weapons for the Ukrainians to defend themselves? Spain has Leopard tanks and missiles rusting in storage. Why are they not given away in Ukraine? They don’t make a mistake here!

Now another kind of fascism is trying to impose its conditions by force all over Europe and the world. Putin’s dictatorial regime has not only renounced Lenin and the right to self-determination, but is trying to remake the Russian empire under today’s globalized world. That is why it denies the existence of Ukraine as a nation and as its own state. The denial of human rights and international law starts from this first denial. Putin has as allies many of the fascist parties in Europe, among them Vox. The struggle of the Ukrainian people is today the spearhead against a new type of fascism.

Who does not understand that the occupation of Ukraine by Russia can be the beginning of a military escalation and of occupations around the world by the existing imperialisms is that he sees nothing. I have been to Ukraine twice during this war, in May and September last year, and I have interviewed the leaders of the two main unions to ask for their views and what they needed. Both the leaders of the FPU and the KVPU agreed that they had to fight the Russian occupier and expel him from their territory. They thanked the western unions for the support received against the passage of anti-worker laws by the parliament and the Zelenski government, but they want them to understand the reality of the struggle they are waging, at the front and in the companies: “One thing is the fight we are waging here with laws and policies that are neoliberal and we don’t want them, but under Putin’s regime we wouldn’t have any rights or freedom.”

So, justifying yourself in the neoliberal policy of the government or in the fascist battalion of Azov (both true) for not supporting the attacked nation is just another element of this hypocritical neutrality or blind

Now those of us who are organizing solidarity with Ukraine, together with other associations on the platform, are trying not to repeat the mistake of the first demonstration in March last year where the Ukrainian community felt offended, and indeed expelled, for a manifesto and slogans that talked about stopping wars in general but did not talk about Ukraine. Since then, Ukrainian and Catalan people have each gone their own way. This mistake must not be repeated. A united and peaceful Europe starts by supporting the weak and attacked side and looking for the best way out of this war. Peace with justice and respect for international and human rights laws. I think it would be best to do a single demonstration. If possible on February 24th, the anniversary of the war and invasion. Let’s hope we get out of it.