Andrew Murray is an unlikely figure for any Peace in Ukraine movement to promote, though not, it will surprise anybody, a Stop the War one. Murray, at the time a member of the Communist Party of Britain (CPB), was prominent at the launch of the infamous Solidarity with the Anti-Fascist Resistance in Ukraine campaign in 2014 (a body that still has some existence on Facebook). Lindsey German (Counterfire), was also a speaker. Both were, and are, active leading members of the Stop the War Coalition (StWC). Murray is Deputy President, as is Jeremy Corbyn.
The campaign was launched at a London meeting on June 2nd.
The aims were agreed as follows:
- We are against the UK and Western governments’ backing for the far-right regime in Kiev.
- We oppose the planned NATO exercises in Ukraine.
- We demand that the killers of 42 people at the House of Trade Unions in Odessa on May 2nd be brought to justice.
- We are against attacks on democratic rights and the repression of left-wing organisations.
- We support the antifascist resistance in Ukraine.
The Huffington Post reported on this, one of the reasons why the UNITE Chief of Staff who became an adviser to Jeremy Corbyn was barred from Ukraine in 2018.
Ukraine was plunged into crisis in 2014 after a popular uprising protesting the government’s decision to forge closer links with Russia over the EU, descended into bloodshed and a new pro-Western government installed.
As a result of what was dubbed the Euromaidan Revolution, Putin annexed Crimea and deployed Russian forces in Ukraine, sparking a civil war in the Donbass region.
In response Murray helped form the ‘Solidarity with the Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine’ which pinned the blame on the crisis on the pro-Western government and “fascists”.
In The Empire and Ukraine (2016) Murray wrote,
The crisis has in large measure been provoked by the continuing drive eastward in Europe by the USA and the European Union, the main props and beneficiaries of the post-1991 “new world order”. It is often said, and rightly, that the “unipolar moment” of unchallenged US world domination is passing; nevertheless US power, abetted in this case by the EU, is best seen as undermined and in relative decline, but it remains the only contender for a global hegemonic role. Even as it is troubled in the Middle East, and “pivoting” its immense military resources to the Far East to contain and confront ascendant China, it still looks to incorporate other countries within its zones of control (influence is too kind a word), that is to say, the formal and informal structures of the “New World Order”.
By the time he had entered the Labour Party Murray’s take on the issue and Russia’s leader had been watered down to a plea to against a revival of the “cold Cold War with Russia” “anti-Russian posturing”, “unpleasant as the Putin set up is” and, with one eye on China and its “economic dynamism” a “return to a more multi-polar world” (The Fall and Rise of the British Left. 2019)
Today, back from his excursion in the Labour Party, home again with his CPB comrades and active in the StWC, Murray enters the fray,
“For months Stop the War has been warning of an uncontrolled escalation of the war in Ukraine. Now that escalation is happening before our eyes.
At the weekend, the bridge connecting Russia with Crimea was bombed and badly damaged in what was presumably a Ukrainian attack designed to stop resupply of Russian forces occupying Ukraine.
Today, Russia has responded with large-scale missile attacks on a number of Ukrainian cities, including the first bombardment of Kyiv for months. These attacks appear aimed at key infrastructure but will inevitably lead to civilian deaths.
The issue is not whether Ukraine had the right to attack the Kerch bridge or not. Ukraine is under assault and the bridge may be regarded as a key military facility.
It was, however, an escalation of the conflict in that one end of the bridge is indubitably in Russia and the other is in Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014. Unlike the annexations proclaimed after the bogus referenda held in four other Ukrainian provinces lately, most people in the Crimea supported their transfer back to Russia and many in the west and even Ukraine itself acknowledge this.
Such an escalation was therefore bound to provoke a counter-reaction from Putin, whose army has been losing ground in parts of Ukraine which had been under Russian occupation.
While Russia declares itself ready for talks, in theory at least, Ukraine at NATO’s direction seems to rule them out.
The British government has no policy beyond pushing for a Ukrainian military victory. Stop the War has called for the withdrawal of Russian troops from the territory occupied since the start of the war.
The CPB stalwart concludes,
In the end, a ceasefire and a negotiated settlement between Ukraine and Russia is the only way the war will be brought to a halt. The British government, for its own selfish imperialist interests, wishes to continue bleeding Russia and selling arms, regardless of the price Ukraine itself pays for that strategy.