Why we won’t march with Stop the War on 25 February

The risible pseudo-pacifist Stop the War Campaign, run by Stalinists and peaceniks, and despised by the left and trade unions in Ukraine, has called a demonstration to mark the first anniversary of the Russian invasion (25 February, London).

The demands of these marchers are: “Stop sending arms [to Ukraine]; immediate ceasefire and peace negotiations.”

Conspicuously, the marchers will not be demanding that Russian forces get out of Ukraine.

The StW call to end arms shipments to Ukraine, if carried through by the West, would lead to a Russian victory, the subordination of Ukraine to Russian political power, a regime of terror imposed across Ukraine and the smashing of Ukraine’s socialist organisations and trade unions.

If such a terrible event were to happen there would not be peace but a long-running guerrilla war as Ukrainians rightly resist Russian occupation.

An “immediate ceasefire” is something Putin would like to use to regroup and rearm after recent military defeats. It is a pro-Putin demand from a group which is run by people who are largely (but quietly) pro-Putin, at least in the sense that they view this war as a conflict between NATO and Russia, and in that conflict want the defeat of NATO.

Putin currently has no intention of halting his relentless, grinding war and, according to plausible military assessments, is planning a new mobilisation of conscripts and a new offensive this Spring. Calls for ceasefire in this situation mean Ukrainian defeat, surrender and obliteration.

Why should the Ukrainians “compromise” with Putin, leaving 20% of their territory under Russian occupation? Since when has the left argued like this? Did we say to colonial, British-occupied India: we think a reasonable compromise would be that India should accept, to avoid any unnecessary nastiness, that Britain should continue to run Punjab and Bengal?

Only an idiot would argue like that. And yet that’s what the StW position amounts to, at best: put up with partial occupation (so we in north London don’t have to suffer high gas prices and the disruption of our economy).

An immediate ceasefire would leave the Ukrainians of Melitopol, occupied Kherson and Luhansk oblasts to suffer under Russian occupation. And why should they live under Russian rule? We should remember what that means: mass arrests, torture, rape, vast looting, the destruction of all opposition and all elected authorities, and the imposition of a foreign police state regime.

Remember that 1,200 civilian corpses were found after the Russian withdrawal from north of Kyiv in April. Ukrainian investigators have opened files on over 50,000 apparent war crimes.

The Ukrainians have the right to self-determination. They are right to fight and have a right to demand weapons and financial aid from the West — in exactly the same way that the Vietnamese took help from China and Russia when they fought to push the US out of their country.

The Stalinists of StW, plus Socialist Worker, and the useful idiots that help them, make no sense when they argue that NATO caused this war. Putin caused this war by invading Ukraine to grab more territory beyond the areas he took in 2014. Putin is an imperialist aggressor, a kleptocrat and authoritarian.

There is no symmetry between NATO and Russia. NATO has no forces fighting. Some Western countries are helping a small power from being overrun by a brutal, aggressive Russian imperialism. The blame for the invasion and the consequences of the invasion lies with Putin, and his state.

The StW “left” argue that the US/NATO provoked this war in order to crush Russia. Their “analysis” ignores the facts. The main EU states, Germany and France, have been very seriously affected by this war, which scares them. In the past, in 2015, they strong-armed Ukraine to sign the pro-Russia Minsk Agreements in order to stop the threat of war and continue trade with Russia.

The US has no interest in a war with Russia. Why would it need one? War has been bad for business, creating instability and economic disruption.

The West did not want this war.

The West has carefully controlled the weapon supply to Ukraine, denying main battle tanks and advanced aircraft to Ukraine. If the US wanted to it could provide enough weaponry to Ukraine to beat Russia. But it has not donated all the weapons Ukraine needs. So far they have given just enough to stop Ukraine losing.

And you will not read about Putin’s crimes on the StW website, nor will you find solidarity with the brave anti-war protesters now in Russian prisons or with the tens of thousands of Russian refugees who have fled to avoid fighting Putin’s colonial war.

Workers’ Liberty wants peace, too. But we want a just peace. The only democratic, stable peace will come after a Ukrainian victory.

That is why we will not march with Stop the War. Instead we will be helping Ukrainians march on the first anniversary of the Russian invasion. Those marches will demand Arms to Ukraine, Russian troops out of Ukraine and support for Ukraine’s fight for self-determination.