A reply to the Campist supporters of Julia Lauria, editor in chief of Consortium News, 24.2.23

This is just a rehash of Putin's propaganda which includes a few half- truths amongst a host of lies, starting with:-

  1. Maidan being a US backed ‘coup’. No, it was a mass protest against Yukanokivich, the most corrupt oligarch to have led Ukraine to that date (quite a feat, and sometimes compared to Ceauesecu in Romania). Putin, Russian fascists, Ukrainian fascists, US and EU all tried to manipulate these events for their own ends.
  2. But the Ukrainian people retained their own agency in the face of all this. And within this popular resistance, the Independent Trade Unions (especially the Donbass Miners) played a part, and the Ukrainian Socialists, Rukh emerged (building on the work of a handful of principled Ukrainian Socialists before this).

  3. The Minsk Accords were the equivalent of the 1923 Anglo-Irish Agreement - enforced by military occupation and threats of further invasion. Neither side honoured this Agreement, one for anti-imperialist reasons (Michael Collins) the other for imperialist reasons (the UK’s client Ulster Unionist/Orange regime) . Similarly, neither side has honoured the Minsk Accords. Both though, were considered to be internationally recognised deals. But when it came to the 2022 invasion, it was the Russians who had made the major military preparations.
  4. But when it came to the 2022 invasion, it was the Russians who had made the major military preparations. Most evidence points to Putin reinvading Ukraine because he thought the US was in weak position after the US failure in Afghanistan, and there were growing divisions within the EU. Putin had a growing base of support in the Hard and Far Right and sections of the Campist Left in Europe - a Red-Brown alliance, with the Reds decidedly in the minority.
  5. In 2014, the US, more reluctantly backed by the EU, imposed sanctions in response to Russia’s seizure of Crimea, and eastern Donetsk and Lukansk. The move by the EU to introduce sanctions three months before the Russians further invasion in January 2022, was an attempt to economically pressurise Russia into stepping back from its military build-up. This was a reflection of the of EU’s military weakness, not a sign of any EU/US military build-up-do. Meanwhile Russian oligarchs in the UK had done much to limit the impact of the earlier sanctions thanks to the City of London and Tory backer,. They have also stepped in to help out Putin oligarchs affected by the recently stepped-up sanctions.
  6. The US was so unprepared when Putin invaded it called on Zelensky and the Ukraine government to evacuate to Poland. It was the heroic and desperately poorly armed opposition of the Ukrainian people that led Zelensky to oppose this advice.
  7. The accusation that the Ukrainian government was bombarding Donbass just before the Russian invasion in order to ethnically cleanse Russian-speakers is on a par with Hitler's accusation that the Poles provoked his invasion and justified his consequent massive war crimes (assisted of course by Stalin in eastern Poland under the Hitler/Stalin Pact).
  8. The anti-Maidan, Russian speaking mayors of Mariupol (which the Russians have now reduced to a new Grozny) and Kherson denounced the Russian invasion. This is hardly the action expected of people who thought that the Ukrainian government was about to ethnically cleanse Russian speakers.
  9. 'Russiagate' - There is plenty of evidence of Putin and Russian interference in other state's politics, including the US. It's just a bit rich for anybody like Biden or the Democrats to make such an accusation, when the US corporations and the US State Department have interfered in many more foreign elections and arranged assassinations and the overthrow of governments, e.g. Chile, Haiti and Venezuela (failed).
  10. In 2016 Hilary Clinton was the Democrats’ candidate who had presided over the neo-liberal mess and wanted more wars. She lost the Democrats the election, rather than Trump winning – he gained fewer votes. By 2020 Trump was such a disaster for major sections of the US ruling class that Biden won because he wasn't Trump. So, Putin is a handy scapegoat for the Democrats, just as Biden is for Putin.

  11. US imperialism has no longer-term agreed policy to deal with Putin and the Russian Federation. The US ruling class ruling class has been divided over this. After the experience of Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan it certainly doesn’t want to take over the direct or indirect ( stooge government) political running of Russia.
  12. The US and NATO had denied the Russian Federation a co-imperial role at the time of the Iraq War. But far from using the Chechen revolt to undermine Russia, the USA and NATO gave Putin a free hand to be as brutal as he wished and gave little (other than verbal) backing to the attempted ‘colour’ revolutions in the Caucasus.  By the time Trump took office, a significant section of the US ruling class was prepared to consider Putin’s Russia as a secondary level imperial power similar to the UK and France. Trump and his backers sought an inter-imperial carve-up in the Middle East, highlighted by Trump and Putins’ actions in Syria. This was linked to an attempt to woo Russia away from China, the only real imperialist threat to the US. Trump’s electoral defeat did not lead to an attempt to oust Putin. Instead, the Democrats have tried to channel his imperial interests eastwards as shown by US and UK (particularly Blair’s) backing when Putin’s stooge in Kazakhstan was threatened by popular revolt.

    US imperialism certainly considers the territory of the old Warsaw Pact and USSR, west of Russia, as now falling within the western imperial camp.  But this also reflects popular feeling there due to these states’ exploitation and oppression under`post-1945 Russian imperialism.  It is this which allows the US backing for parliamentary forms of rule here, but the lack of such support which leads to US backing for dictatorships in the Gulf, Central Asia Latin America, and Africa, and apartheid Israel.  And even in the areas of ex-USSR west of Russia, there are pro-western imperialists (and probably Israel) prepared to make ‘dirty deals’ above the heads of the people of Byelorussia and occupied eastern Donetsk and Luhansk and Crimea, but not beyond that.

  13. Following Putin’s most recent invasion of Ukraine, US imperialism certainly wants to take advantage of the unexpected popular resistance of the Ukrainian people to strengthen NATO and fully subordinate the EU states to US interests. The aim is to reinforce Ukraine as a neo-colony like Poland. By contrast, Putin's aim is to impose direct colonialism on Ukraine with massive ethnic cleansing and impose the sort of gangster regimes found in Chechenya Transdneistria, Crimea (with the ongoing renewal of the ethnic cleansing of Crimean Tatars), eastern Donetsk and Lukansk. If any local Russian-backed kleptocrat threatens to go it alone, e.g. Pavel Gunarov (ex-neo-Nazi Russian National Unity, then later Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine - a switch along the Brown-Red spectrum with little policy change) in the ‘Donetsk Peoples Republic’, they are removed (a bit like Noriega was in Panama).
  14. After 1923, the Irish Free State became a British neo-colony, whilst Northern Ireland remained a direct colony. Republican Socialists considered the creation of the Irish Free State an ‘unfinished revolution’ frustrated by the Crown Powers and Partition. But they considered the creation of Northern Ireland as reactionary step backwards even compared to pre-Partition Ireland. Putin’s continued occupations threaten even more repression for enforced minorities under Russian imperial control than for those under the British unionist control of the 6 counties.

    If the current political choice facing Ukrainians is between becoming like Poland or Chechenya that it’s easy to see why the Ukrainian people resist Russian imperialism. And if the economic alternative is subordination to the EU bureaucracy’s (i.e. Germany’s) ordo-liberalism or Putin’s gangster kleptocracy, then those of us who are now living with the consequences of passing from the restraints of the EU bureaucracy to the dismantling of remaining workers’, consumer and environmental safeguards in ‘Brexit Britain’ can understand the majority of Ukrainians’ pro-EU sentiments.

Socialists should oppose Campism, and side with those resisting imperialism as best they can whether in Ukraine, Palestine, Kurdistan, Yemen or Xinjiang. If Socialists write off the oppressed in half the world, then they will become increasingly irrelevant.