By ERNIE GOTTA
Some 3000 more troops will be deployed to Poland, Romania, and Germany, as U.S. President Joe Biden ratchets up war threats with Russia. The Russian deputy foreign minister, Alexander Grushko, denounced the escalation and stated that it would “increase military tension and reduce scope for political decision.” At least 8500 more U.S. troops are on stand-by as the United States deepens its support for Ukraine amidst the build up of over 100,000 Russian troops on the border.
Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby tried to assure reporters, “These forces are not going to fight in Ukraine.” The U.S. already has a few hundred soldiers in Ukraine, supposedly in a training capacity. The U.S. has provided Ukraine with over $2.5 billion in military aid since 2014, including $650 million in the last year.
The ever-changing attitudes of the Western imperialist alliance has shifted again as French President Macron has issued an order to deploy “several hundred” troops to Romania. This brings the NATO military force in Romania to 4000. “France is ready to commit to new NATO reassurance measures for Romania,” Le Drian said, speaking alongside his Romanian counterpart Bogdan Aurescu. “We are proud to stand with you when the security situation is worsening at your borders, which are also our borders.”
Meanwhile, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has largely kept Germany away from the military build-up over Ukraine. Ukrainian officials even mocked Germany for an offer to send nothing but 5000 helmets to support the country’s defense. The mockery went viral, as “Helme,” the German word for helmet, trended on Twitter. Ruprecht Polenz, a prominent member of the Christian Democratic Party in Germany tweeted, “Could you get any more embarrassing? Will 5000 helmets make a Russian invasion less likely?”
Germany, which depends on the uninterrupted supply of Russian gas and oil, generally has been less concerned about an immediate invasion and instead has been looking at Russia’s attempt to weaken the Ukrainian government over a longer period of time. A senior German diplomat said, “The U.S. thinks Putin will do a full-blown war. Europeans think he’s bluffing. Americans are preparing with the sense that it will happen. We don’t.”
Chancellor Scholz offered a slightly different evaluation: “You can’t overlook the fact that there are a lot of soldiers and troops on the Ukrainian border. All that could be the precondition for military action. That is why it is so important that we are very clear in what we are saying and what we are preparing—namely that endangering the territorial sovereignty and integrity of Ukraine, attacking there militarily, could carry a very high price. And I think this message has been understood.” Scholz plans to meet with Putin in Moscow soon.
Imperialist Russia, as represented by President Vladamir Putin, appears to view Ukraine within the context of restoring the Russian empire. Putin sees his actions as demonstrating a new Russian nationalism, their own doctrine of “Manifest Destiny.” He said in July 2021, “Russians and Ukrainians were one people—a single whole. These words were not driven by some short-term considerations or prompted by the current political context.”
Putin continued, “I would like to emphasize that the wall that has emerged in recent years between Russia and Ukraine, between the parts of what is essentially the same historical and spiritual space, to my mind is our great common misfortune and tragedy. These are, first and foremost, the consequences of our own mistakes made at different periods of time. But these are also the result of deliberate efforts by those forces that have always sought to undermine our unity.”
Russia has made modest progress in expanding its influence in an increasingly crowded inter-imperialist arena. Since 2008 Russia has secured secessionist parts of Georgia and, of course, annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. More recently, Russia has also shown military strength in Belarus and Kazakhstan, not to mention expanding arms and petroleum deals in Africa and Latin America.
Russia has expanded its military and naval bases most visibly in Syria, backing dictator Bashar al-Assad first with direct support during the civil war, and then through “counter terrorism” patrols. Russia routinely pushes back against the U.S. military presence in Syria, which routinely conducts its own “anti-terrorism” raids. On Feb. 2, President Biden claimed that U.S. special forces had killed a top Islamic State leader, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi. Major news sources, citing witnesses at the scene, reported that 13 people had been killed in the attack, including women and children.
The current state of affairs between imperialist nations makes clear that some type of “ultra-imperialism,” in which each nation agrees to divide the spoils and exploitation evenly in a peaceful way is impossible. European policy wonks may debate the most effective modes of negotiations, like the Helsinki model or the Yalta model, but the reality is that the growing rivalry over resources, markets, and political dominance between imperialist nations, and that includes China, means that conflict, and eventually war, are unavoidable.
The working class is the only force in the world capable of halting and ending the misery inflicted by capitalism and the drive for imperialist conquest. We can’t rely on forces like Russia or China to counter the prevailing U.S. or European imperialisms. Neither Russian nor Chinese capital is a progressive force in the world; both exhibit the same drive to exploit workers in weaker nations.
For workers, students, and activists in the U.S., dividing lines around the analysis of what China and Russia represent in the world system have kept the antiwar forces divided for more than a decade. Coupled with the adept ability of the Democratic Party to demobilize social movements, this division has meant that we have not seen a significant antiwar mobilization in the U.S. since 2007, prior to President Obama taking office. To mount an effective antiwar opposition in the U.S., the movement will have to find a way to have comradely debates on the subject of imperialism while uniting to mobilize hundreds of thousands in the streets. Although Socialist Resurgence has disagreements with the political perspectives of coalitions like UNAC and ANSWER, and some of their affiliated groups, we encourage all to attend upcoming antiwar rallies and to raise the call to unite all of our forces to oppose the advance of U.S. imperialism.