Britain’s tankies react to Prigozhin’s mutiny

Stop The War movement finds yet another reason to tell Ukraine to stop resisting…

Putin’s regime is in danger of collapse therefore Ukraine should stop fighting…That’s the message from Stop The War. Having been struck dumb by the events of Saturday 24 June, the campaign has finally come out with a line, penned by self-styled Ukraine expert Andrew Murray.

Because there’s a danger Russia’s nukes could fall into the hands of “an enraged oligarch” — rather than just remaining in the hands a fascist dictator — there should be a ceasefire says Murray… leaving Russia in control of Crimea, Donbas and the Azov coast. He writes:

“Between Prigozhin and Putin there is nothing to choose. Russia’s brave anti-war movement, facing state harassment, are the only Russian political forces deserving of solidarity at present. However, there is scant likelihood of them coming to power in the foreseeable future. Waiting for a more progressive regime in Moscow remains a wish, not a policy.”

War built on lies

So far, so predictable. But it gets interesting. Stop The War notes Prigozhin’s accusation that “the whole invasion last year was unnecessary and predicated on lies”. But who helped peddle the lies?

  • Who wrote in Dec 2021: “Today, it is NATO that is trying to seize Ukraine by means of moving NATO right up to Russia’s borders”?
  • Who urged us to “recognise the truth in Putin’s assertion” that Russian speakers in the Donbas had been “taken away, this time indeed, from their historical motherland”.
  • Who claimed there was “mass resistance” to the post-2014 Ukrainian governments in Donbas?

Well knock me sideways, it was Andrew Murray.

Prigozhin, in the video rant that launched the insurrection, contradicts each of Murray’s pre-war claims. There was no NATO aggression:

“On 24 February [2022] there was nothing extraordinary happening there. Now the Ministry of Defence is trying to deceive the public, deceive the president and tell a story that there was some crazy aggression by Ukraine, that — together with the whole Nato bloc — Ukraine was planning to attack us”.

Prigozhin continues:

“The war was not needed to return our Russian citizens and not to demilitarise or de-Nazify Ukraine”. Instead says Prigozhin, “from 2014 to 2022, the Donbas was plundered. It was plundered by various people, some from the president’s administration, some from the FSB, partly by oligarchs such as Kurchenko…”

As for “mass resistance” to Ukrainian government in Donbas, Prigozhin says the L/DNR separatist army:

“didn’t exist. In reality there was a minimal number of soldiers and a certain number of generals were stealing the money”.

Of course Prigozhin’s claims are made from the classic point of view of the betrayed nationalist in wartime. But doesn’t anyone at Stop the War find it interesting that, instead of declaring “our cause is just but the leaders are useless”, Prigozhin debunks the entire story the Western Putin-verstehers have been peddling?

No chance of revolution?

And it gets even more interesting. Murray and the other Leninist re-enactors who run StW know the dynamics of 1917: the army collapsed and the Soviets seized power. But, he says, there’s no chance of any kind of progressive democratic overthrow today it’s a “wish, not a policy”.

But hold on, the whole point of the Leninist “defeatism” tactic is to collapse your own regime under pressure of war, in order for a progressive government to replace them.

Here we come to one of the most fundamental “tells” of 21st century campism: absolute despair at the possibility of progressive change from below.

I’m not a Leninist — I’m a mere left-wing social democrat — but I do believe the Russian people, given the right circumstances, are fully capable of launching a mass democratic movement against oligarchic rule. Maybe not yet, and maybe with chaotic results, and maybe with no real feeling of solidarity towards Ukrainians but out of a desire for self-preservation…but surely that’s what the left should be working for?

If you don’t, then you are simply left with Mearsheimian realism: dictatorships exist, they’re better than chaos, learn to live with them. The danger is: that is effectively going to be Stop the War’s position faced with anything that now destabilises Putin.

So all the Prigozhin mutiny has done is add yet another rationale to the Russia-aligned left’s abstract calls for a ceasefire, leaving millions of Ukrainians under the occupation of a regime that is now not only genocidal but destabilised.

To the contrary: the safest thing Ukraine can do to protect its people and uphold its territorial soveriegnty, is to drive Russians out, before Putin commits even greater acts of ecocide and mass murder. And the best thing we in the West can do is send them more arms and more solidarity.

Little to show?

And here’s the final irony about StW’s response to Prigozhin’s mutiny. Murray claims there is “little to show” for Ukraine’s counter-offensive and it should be discontinued to avoid further bloodshed.

Little to show? The Putin regime nearly collapsed because 25,000 mercenaries marched on Moscow and an unknown number of generals and their troops refused to stop them, because they are sick of the meat-grinder war they know they cannot win.

The famous Lenin/Clausewitz quote — “War is a continuation of politics by other means” — works both ways. The Putin regime is fragmenting because Russia is losing and sections of the oligarchy are looking for a way out.

Don’t take it from me, take it from Russia’s most successful operational commander on the ground, Evgeny Prigozhin:

“As of today the Russian Army is retreating in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia directions. The Armed Forces of Ukraine is pushing the Russian Army. We’re washing with blood. No one is giving the reserves. There is no control. Same hysteria… Thus what is being told to us is a complete lie”.

Of course, every life lost between now and the war’s end is tragic. And nukes in the hands of fascist madmen are an existential danger to the world. But the only way we, the democratic peoples of the world, now have to mitigate those dangers and shorten the conflict is the defeat of Russia.