By SOCIALIST RESURGENCE

Russia has launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine following weeks of tensions built up by the deployment of Russian troops on the border and the mobilization of U.S./NATO forces in the region.

In the first hours of the attack, on Feb. 23, Russia launched close to 100 missiles, numerous airplane strikes, and bombardment by naval forces to hit barracks, airbases, and ammunition supplies in order to weaken Ukraine’s defenses. Some civilian housing was also hit. That was followed on Feb. 24 by incursions of Russian troops and armored vehicles onto Ukrainian territory. Russian troops seemed headed for major population centers, including Kyiv, Karkhiv, Odessa, and Mariupol. By sunset on Feb. 24, Russian troops had entered the suburbs of Kyiv, the national capital.

At the same time, after a fierce battle, Russia captured the cement-encased Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Any further damage to the disabled reactor—or to Ukraine’s on-line nuclear-power facilities—could result in the release of lethal radioactivity over a large part of Europe and beyond.

In a Feb. 24 television address, U.S. President Biden tried to claim the moral high ground, stating that “Putin chose this war, and now he and his country will bear the consequences.” Biden promised to severely “limit Russia’s ability to be part of the global economy.” The U.S. would freeze trillions of dollars in Russian assets, he said, and impose crushing new sanctions against Russian banks and enterprises. Biden indicated that he believed the conflict could last weeks or months. He affirmed he would not send U.S. troops to Ukraine, but strongly implied that the U.S. would act militarily if another NATO member were attacked.

Russian President Putin blamed Ukraine for the conflict. In announcing the Russian incursion, he said: “Its goal will be to defend people who for eight years are suffering persecution and genocide by the Kyiv regime. For this we will aim for demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine, as well as taking to court those who carried out multiple bloody crimes against civilians, including citizens of the Russian Federation. Our plans do not include occupying Ukrainian territory.”

The reality, though, is clear. Neither the U.S., E.U., U.K. or Russia are operating with a moral compass. All of these capitalist states have harmed civilians and have relationships with fascist forces in one form or another. This conflict is about the interests of the wealthy elite of the great powers who want to conquer, redivide, and exploit labor, markets, and resources around the globe.

The real goal of Putin and Russia is to use force to bring Ukraine securely under their influence in order to satisfy their larger imperialist project in the region. Putin’s vision of a new Russian empire can only be realized by forcefully preventing Ukraine from developing a deeper economic, military, and political relationship with the U.S. and the European Union. And at least for the moment, Putin is hoping to form a tighter alliance with imperialist China.

Meanwhile, the U.S. and other Western imperialist countries have relentlessly expanded NATO into Eastern Europe, sending thousands of troops into areas bordering Russia.The U.S., E.U., and the U.K., as demonstrated in the last two decades, have no issues against unleashing military power to achieve their goals. The prospect of a much wider war—and one involving nuclear-armed states—remains a possibility.

The greatest price will be paid by the working class everywhere, and especially those in Ukraine, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia who now find war on their doorstep. But a united worldwide working-class protest against imperialist wars can shut down the war machines. Workers in the U.S. and abroad have no interest in fighting wars for the benefit of the rich.

We say: Russia, U.S., NATO — Hands off Ukraine! Money for health, housing, and climate action — not for war or NATO! Solidarity with the Russian antiwar protesters — end the repression, free the detainees! No sanctions! Build an antiwar movement that can mobilize millions in the streets!

For more reading: https://socialistresurgence.org/2022/02/22/putin-recognizes-donbas-independence-ukraine-conflict-escalates/

Photo: Ukrainian soldiers in training. (Eyepress / Rex / Shutterstock)