On this January 1, 2023, a first assessment of the war of destruction of Ukraine started on February 24 is essential.(1)
That day, in the early morning, a deluge of fire fell on this country, and no big powers in this world gave much of its skin. But in the afternoon began the distribution of weapons to the population of K’yiv, who demanded them. President Zelenski told Joe Biden that he did not want a taxi, but weapons. And in the days that followed, it was clear that the self-organization of a whole people, literally carrying its army, had stopped the invasion: K’yiv and Kharkiv would not be taken, after Kherson had been taken by surprise. Massive phenomena of decomposition immediately affected the Russian army – desertions, mismanagement, mutinies, passivity. To the imperialist reaction all along the line, the Putinian reaction, had responded with a mass uprising from below, symbolized forever by these images of fighting women and mothers.
Putin then replaced the goal of « denazification » of the whole country with that of the occupation of all of Donbass. We pass from blitzkrieg to positional warfare, with the appalling slow capture of Severodonetzk and Lysychansk, while Mariupol is systematically destroyed, with a number of deaths unknown to date (probably tens of thousands).
But gradually the Russian army slows down, and in early September the brewing « surprise » occurs: it literally implodes east of Kharkiv, northern Donbass is liberated.
During all these weeks, the world discovers, from Butcha, the horrors of a colonial occupation aggravated by the genocidal discourse of the Russian regime, perpetrated by troops often themselves colonial: rapes, looting, torture, deportation of populations, child abduction…
This incipient collapse is sparking a turning point in Russia, where the first wave of early anti-war protests have been stifled. A « partial mobilization », but not really limited, was decreed at the end of September, plunging the country into amorphous chaos, while young graduates began to emigrate en masse. Hundreds of thousands of « soldiers » are sent to the fire, just to contain the Ukrainians and start advancing again: the regime’s semi-private militias, Wagner, Kadyrov, Rusich (openly Nazi Russian group), surround and terrorize them.
The liberation of Kherson then sounds like a new Ukrainian victory. Winter is coming, and Russia is openly carrying out bombings without military objectives per se, which target civilians and the deprivation of electricity, water, heat, sanitation and internet.
At the moment, the two most important issues for the Ukrainians are, first, to hold on, second, to avoid an attack from Belarus, which because of the passive and active resistance of the population Putin was unable to do so completely dragged into his war. In Minsk the trial of the leaders of the independent trade union BKDP, Alexandr Yarashuk and his comrades, saw the regime not daring to confront the real motives of their arrest – the strike against the illegitimacy of Lukashenko in 2020 and the anti-war resistance in 2022, condemning in particular Yarashuk to 4 years in prison.
The attack of February 24 had been foreseen and announced by Washington, which was not betting on Ukrainian resistance, but had prepared a mechanism for the financial and economic isolation of Russia on an unprecedented scale, while maintaining its diplomatic and military axis first directed against China. In Europe and Germany, all this made it possible to initiate a gradual break with Russian gas (in favor of North American gas), and a revitalization of NATO, to which Finland and Sweden are now seeking their membership.
Because it is, on the Ukrainian side, a war of liberation, and on the Russian side, an absurd war plunging society into the darkest reaction, the dynamic is on the Ukrainian side. The Western powers have absolutely nothing to do with this reality. Once this is established, and as Putin threatens to use nuclear weapons, they must arm Ukraine – to some degree, which is not intended to free it or beat Putin, but to « calm » him down. , in particular by the Himars missiles having allowed the destruction of part of the Russian artillery.
We must be loud and clear: aid to Ukraine, humanitarian, financial and military combined, represents 0.04% of GDP in France and is in no way the cause of the budget cuts against education and health. Yes, military budgets are exploding, but not to « help Ukraine ». As Comrade Starodubtsev from Sotsialnyi Rukh has already told us, we can help Ukraine without increasing these budgets, by no longer delivering arms to Saudi Arabia for example!
Since the setback in North Donbass, the chaos of « partial » mobilization, national resistance movements in Buryatia, Kalmykia, Dagestan…, and the liberation of Kherson, European leaders (Macron and Sholz), and, in the United States United, broad sectors both Republicans and Democrats, are calling for « negotiations ». They are appalled by the prospect of a real Russian defeat bringing down Putin. Therein lies the true sacred union of all supporters of the existing social order.
Against this worldwide sacred union for a « ceasefire » and « negotiations » which would ratify terror and genocidal deportations in the occupied areas: the Ukrainian people, who have for the time being locked in the position of their rulers on the goal of total liberation of the whole territory, Crimea and Donbass included.
Inside this people: our comrades from the Ukrainian left with whom we have discovered each other since February 24. And those who have made this discovery know that it is they who have things to teach us.
It is the anarchists – or rather the “anti-authoritarians” – who have gone furthest in investing sectors of the military and Territorial Defence, with Belarusian and Russian comrades among them. These are the hundred or so militants of the Sotsialnyi Rukh (Social Movement), of fantastic theoretical and political creativity, the first group in Eastern Europe to have completely freed itself from the old « left » with his « Soviet » ball. They are the trade unionists, in particular the miners and the metalworkers of Krivyi Riv. These are the feminists. It is these old and even more young comrades who write and reflect on the national, identity, linguistic, colonial, feminist, ecological, economic question, and, therefore, on the … Russian question! … and who come back to the whole history of the 20th century – our Hanna Perekhoda, Oksana Dubchak, Yulya Yurchenko, Denys Gorbach, Marko Bojcun, Andrej Zborov, Vitali Dudyn, Vladislav Starodubtsev, Tarass Bilous, Daria Saburova, Oles Reznik, Maxim Shumakov , Denys Pilash, Katya Hritseva, and I forget some, and we should also name artists, poets, hackers and drone tinkerers.
All tells us: since February 24 they are like fish in water in the resistant and self-organized population. They took up arms – the girls too – or support from Ukraine or from Europe those who took them and they have their dead.
And they yield nothing to the power in place: they are the ones who pushed the trade unions, Ukrainian then European, to condemn the destruction of the Labor Code by the Zelenskyist liberals, who are currently fighting against the privatization of research and universities and against the so-called anti-Russian measures which undermine it, which denounce violence against women in times of war and raise the question of the right to abortion for refugees in Poland…
With them the East Wind (2) blows again. We still have to perceive it and strive to live up to it.
The first few weeks saw demonstrations rising all over the world, made up of young people, workers, with the impetus of the Ukrainian « diasporas » and the presence of Russians and Belarusians. But the key political questions are divisive and weigh. The belief that we are dealing with an imperialist proxy war, of « the West », of the United States, of NATO, of the EU, against Russia, the legacy of a whole century, paralyzes the global left and bankrupt it by not understanding the nature of today’s imperialist wars. Added to this is the impregnation of eight years of propaganda on the « Ukrainian Nazis » which it is time to understand that it had a genocidal aim carrying true contemporary fascism.
Are we dealing with a global « peace movement » in which there are vigorous but brotherly « debates » to be had?
But when, on November 5, trade union leaders, official and unofficial left, Church … demonstrated together in Italy, not against Meloni but on the slogans « immediate peace », « no delivery of arms », » ceasefire”, we are not dealing with a “protest for peace”, but with a demonstration of sacred union for Ukraine to renounce its liberation, a pro-imperialist demonstration. This truth must be told, even if militants are deluded and for that reason.
The contemporary internationalist and anti-imperialist movement is not that. With the Ukrainian comrades, the RESU/ENSU (European Network for Solidarity with Ukraine) has been organized on an European scale, and, in America, the Ukraine Socialist Solidarity Campaign. They have come together in a global network that is now expanding to Asia, with comrade Kavita Krishnan, an Indian feminist leader, or to the Japanese CP.
We are clearly not numerous but we know how to leverage: in France, we carried out the demonstration of last December 10 supported by CGT, FSU and Solidaires, on the key word: « Withdrawal of Russian troops from all Ukraine ».
The change in the world is here, there will be no turning back. The internationalist question will reclassify all currents without protected national spheres. This is my New Year’s message to old and young comrades. I dedicate this article to Adrien Dugay-Leyoudec, a 20-year-old Frenchman killed at the front near Kharkiv, native from Moulins and whose father is an FSU union member, and to Maksym Butkevych, still in the hands of the Russian army at this time.
(1) This article was written a few days ago for the newspaper of the Democratic and Social Left (Gauche Démocratique et Socialiste – GDS), Democracy and Socialism, at the request of comrades. It is repeated here with a few minor updates and additions.
(2) East Wind is also refering to the slogan of the comrades of the GDS current at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of the USSR and Tien An Men, when they were organized within the LCR, at a time when most Trotskyist militants were waiting for the realization of « political revolution » while many mass movements were shaking the power of the bureaucracies of the supposedly socialist states (NdR).