Back Ukraine against Russia's war

Ukraine was already a poor country before the latest Russian invasion began on 24 February, with a GDP per head of only $3,700. In 2022 the World Bank expects GDP to fall by 35%.

Ukraine has been devastated by the needless Russian imperialist war, the brutality of the occupation and the relentless attacks on civilian infrastructure.

By mid-November infrastructure damage was estimated at $127bn, and by the summer of 2022 various estimates of the total cost of rebuilding Ukraine were upwards of $350bn.

The UNHCR estimated the number of Ukrainian refugees who are now outside Ukraine at more than 7.8m and the number of internally displaced at 6.5m from an original population of 44m.

The UN has documented 6,500 Ukrainian civilian war deaths and another 10,000 Ukrainians injured. Those figures are certainly underestimates.

On 10 November the US’s army chief, Mark Milley, estimated Ukrainian civilian dead at 40,000 and indicated that some 100,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed or wounded.

Milley also put the numbers of Russian dead and wounded at 100,000. The Oryx website believes 8,000 pieces of Russian equipment have been destroyed, damaged, abandoned, or captured, including some 1,500 tanks. That is a significant underestimate, as Oryx is only counting equipment losses verified by photographs. Lloyd Austin, US Defence Secretary, describes Russian military losses as “staggering”.

The UK Ministry of Defence stated on 12 December that Russia’s federal draft budget has allocated the equivalent of $143bn to “defence, security and law enforcement” in 2023. “This is more than 30% of Russia’s entire budget, a significant increase compared with previous years.”

The war has reinforced and strengthened Ukrainian identity. A poll in August showed 85% of the population identifying as Ukrainian, as against 64% before the February invasion.

In mid-October a poll recorded 86% of Ukrainians supporting the war and opposing negotiations with Russia, despite Russian missile attacks against Ukrainian cities.

According to the BBC, by 28 November Russia had hit 200 energy infrastructure targets with missiles. From 10 December Iranian-supplied “kamikaze drones” hit Odesa’s power supply leaving 1.5m people without power. The damage is so severe that the electricity outage may last three months during a period of sub-zero temperatures. These sustained, deliberate attacks, aimed at demoralising civilian support for Ukraine’s war are war crimes committed by Russia.

The occupation has been accompanied by theft, brutality, sexual assaults, disappearances, torture and murder. There are 50,000 suspected war crimes being investigated across Ukraine.

For example, 14,000 objects were looted from Kherson city’s art museum during the Russian retreat in November. Animals were taken from Kherson City’s zoo. Power lines, radio masts and public building were destroyed. The roads were mined. Ambulances, fire engines, hospital equipment, private cars, computers, televisions and kitchen appliances were also stolen from Kherson. Makeshift prisons and interrogation centres were uncovered.

Such brutality has produced an unpleasant, if predictable, even understandable, reaction amongst Ukrainians. A poll also showed 92% holding a “bad” attitude towards Russia. There is a widespread reaction against all things Russian, with Russian-speaking Ukrainians refusing to speak the language. Odesa, founded in 1794 by Catherine the Great, plans to remove her statue.

In a war that, apparently, is being fought by Russia to stop NATO expansion and Ukraine’s incorporation into Europe, the invasion has scared Finland and Sweden into applying for NATO membership and led Germany to massively increase arms spending. Ukraine, previously denied EU membership, can now see a path into the EU. By these metrics Putin’s invasion has backfired.

And yet sections of the British left seem unable to react adequately to the situation. The attempts to portray the US and NATO as having a similar role in this war to Russia is ridiculous. Ukraine has the right to resist Russia’s attempt to subjugate it, and the right to resist terror attacks by the Russian armed forces and proxies. The calls from some on the British left for “peace” without conditions, to stop the British government helping to arm Ukraine, only help Russian imperialism. If the West stops arming Ukraine it will be overrun by Putin’s armies and the population subjected to terror. Why should that be accepted?

Arms and aid to Ukraine! Victory to Ukraine!