Ukraine: trapped in a war zone

As the drums of war sound for Ukraine, what will be the impact on Ukraine’s economy and the living standards of its 44m population, whether war is avoided or not?  I’ve posted on Ukraine several times before during the intense economic crisis that the country experienced in 2013-14 culminating in the collapse of incumbent government, the Maidan uprising and eventually the Russian annexation of Crimea and the predominantly Russian-speaking eastern provinces.  The situation was dire for the people then.  It improved a little for a while afterwards, but economic growth remains relatively low and living standards have stagnated at best. Average real wages have not risen in 12 years and collapsed severely after the 2014 crisis.

Source: EWPT 7.0 series

Ukraine was the hardest hit by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the ‘shock therapy’ of capitalist restoration in Eastern Europe and Russia itself.  All the former Soviet satellites took a long time to recover GDP per head and income levels, but in the case of Ukraine it has never got back to the 1990 level.  Ukraine’s performance between 1990 and 2017 was not just worse than its European neighbours. It was the fifth-worst in the entire world. Between 1990 and 2017 there were only 18 countries with negative cumulative growth and even in that select group, Ukraine’s performance puts it in the bottom third along with the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Yemen.

In the debt and currency crisis of 2014, Ukraine was saved from total meltdown by three things: first, it defaulted on its debt owed to Russia, which (despite much effort) Russia has not been able to recoup so far.  Second, post-Maidan governments engaged in series of IMF bailouts; and third, the price for which was a severe programme of austerity in public services and welfare support.  Ukraine owes Russia $3bn, or more than 10% of its FX reserves and if paid, would more than double Ukraine’s external financing gap.  That gap is being currently filled by IMF funds, while Ukraine ‘negotiates’ with Russia on a ‘debt restructuring’, supposedly mediated by Germany.  Ukraine, in breaking with Russian influence from 2014, has chosen to or been forced to rely on the ‘West’ and IMF credit to support its currency and hope for some economic improvement. 

IMF handouts continue.  The latest is an agreement to extend loans into 2022 worth $700m of a total $5bn IMF ‘stand-by arrangement’.  For this money, Ukraine “must keep its debt ‘sustainable’, safeguard the central bank’s independence, bring inflation back into its target range and tackling corruption.”  So austerity measures must be applied to public spending; the central bank must act in the interests of foreign debtors and not allow the currency to devalue too much and keep interest rates up without the interference of the government; and the rampant corruption in government with the Ukrainian oligarchs must be controlled. (see IMF Stand-by arrangement November 2021 report. )

Austerity measures have been applied by various governments over the last ten years. The current IMF package requires a tax increase equivalent to 0.5% of annual GDP, increased pension contributions and rises in energy tariffs. All these measures will lead to a further fall in welfare spending, from 20% of GDP at the time of the 2014 crisis to just 13% this year.

Source: IMF

At the same time, government must resist any public sector wage rise to compensate for near double-digit inflation rates.

Source: IMF

Above all, the IMF is insisting, with the support of the latest post-Maidan government, to carry out substantial privatisation of the banks and state enterprises in the interests of ‘efficiency’ and to control ‘corruption’.  “The authorities remain committed to downsizing the SOE sector. Adopting an overarching state ownership policy would be a key step. Ultimately, corporatization and the concomitant improvement in performance of non-strategic SOEs should lead to their successful privatization.  Preparations are also underway to execute the authorities’ strategy to reduce state ownership in the banking sector. Updated in August 2020, the strategy envisions a reduction in state ownership to below 25 percent of banking sector net assets by 2025.”

Most significant has been the move to privatise land holdings.  Ukraine is home to a quarter of the fertile “black earth” soil (Chernozem) on the planet. It is already the world’s biggest producer of sunflower oil and the fourth-biggest producer of corn. Along with soybeans, sunflowers and corn are among the main crops grown in the Sunflower Belt, which stretches from Kharkiv in the east to the Ternopil region in the west.

But agro productivity is low. In 2014 agricultural value added per hectare was $413 in Ukraine compared to $1,142 in Poland, $1,507 in Germany, and $2,444 in France.  Land is highly polarized between a small workforce in large mechanized commercial farms and the mass of peasants who farm small plots. About 30% of the population still live in rural areas and farming gives employment to more than 14% of the workforce.  One of the great demands of Western advisors to Ukraine in recent years is that it should ‘liberalize’ the land market so that ‘a prosperous growth dynamic’ might be unleashed. The IMF reckons that such liberalisation would add 0.6-1.2% pts to annual GDP growth depending on whether the government permitted both foreign and national land ownership. 

The government is resisting allowing foreigners to buy land. But in 2024, Ukrainian legal entities will qualify for transactions involving up to 10,000 hectares and will apply to an agricultural area of 42.7 million hectares (103 million acres). That is equivalent to the entire surface area of the state of California, or all of Italy!  The World Bank is positively drooling at this opening up of Ukraine’s key industry to capitalist enterprise: “This is without exaggeration a historic event, made possible by the leadership of the President of Ukraine, the will of the parliament and the hard work of the government.”  So Ukraine plans to open up its economy even more to capital, particularly foreign capital, in the hope that this will deliver faster growth and prosperity. 

But this is hope only.  Current annual economic growth is optimistically forecast to rise to a 4% rate each year while inflation will stay at 8-10% a year. Unemployment remains stubbornly high (10%), while business investment is falling off a cliff (down 40%).  That does not bode well for a capitalist boom.  Capital investment is low because the profitability of capital is very low.

EWPT 7.0.series

Maybe the riches to be gained from the privatisation of state assets and land will reap rewards for some capitalists, probably mostly foreign investors.  But most of the gains will probably disappear as corruption remains rampant.  The IMF admits that if corruption is not reduced, there will be no recovery and Ukraine will not catch up with the rest of its neighbours to the West.

Officially, Ukraine’s gini coefficient for income inequality is the lowest in Europe. That’s partly because Ukraine is so poor: there is practically no middle class And the very rich hide their income and wealth, paying little or no taxes.  The ‘shadow economy’ is very large, so the top 10% have wealth and income 40 times larger than the poorest Ukrainians.  The current World Report on Happiness puts Ukraine at 111 out of 150 countries, below many sub-Saharan African countries.

And the conflict with Russia has cost hugely.  According to the Center for Economic and Business Research (CEDR), the loss of GDP has been $280bn dollars over six years from 2014 to 2020, or $40bn annually. The Russian annexation of Crimea has resulted in losses of up to $8.3 billion annually for Ukraine, while the ongoing conflict in the Donbas is costing the Ukrainian economy up to $14.6 billion a year. Total losses from these two occupations alone, since 2014, amount to $102 billion. CEBR says the conflict had a significant impact on the Ukrainian economy, including by reducing investor confidence in the country. This, in turn, led to a loss of $72 billion – $10.3 billion annually.  The steady decline in exports resulted in total losses for Ukraine of up to $162 billion between 2014 and 2020. The total loss of fixed assets for Ukraine in Crimea and Donbas from the destruction or damage of assets amount to $117 billion. The total amount of foregone tax revenues to the budget of Ukraine for the period from 2014 to 2020 is $48.5 billion.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, and after gaining its official independence in 1994, the people of Ukraine were ravaged by oligarchs who have milked the assets and resources of the country and also by governments swinging their support between Putin’s Russia and the EU. After the Maidan uprising against the rule of the pro-Russian government, ultra nationalists in Ukraine have dominated government policy.  They are demanding that Ukraine join the EU and above all join NATO in order to regain the territories annexed by Russia. 

The cruel irony is that Germany has no intention of allowing a volatile and very poor Ukraine to join the EU – far too much trouble and cost; while even the US will probably baulk at NATO membership. In turn, Russia has no intention of handing back the Russian-speaking areas to Kiev control and instead is demanding permanent autonomy and an agreement that Ukraine will never join NATO. 

The so-called Minsk accords of 2014-5, signed by the major powers and by a previous Ukraine government, cannot reconcile this division.  So the Kiev nationalists, encouraged by the US, continue to press and the Russians continue to prepare for a possible invasion to force an agreement to divide the country permanently. Ukraine is trapped between the interests of Western imperialism and Russian crony capitalism.

60 thoughts on “Ukraine: trapped in a war zone

  1. The complete lack of mention of the Russian Federations alignment with the PRC and the possible positive economic effects of BRI for a Ukraine that could align itself differently is pretty stark here. Painting this as Ukraine caught between two forms of Imperialism and capitalism is just overly simplistic.

    This kind of western Marxist interpretation leads to ambivalence amongst the “left” and a tacit approval of the USA’s war mongering. Marxist Leninists need to promote the interests of PRC and Russian cooperation against American Hegemony.

    I’d love to see an economic analysis of how BRI could positively effect the Ukrainian economy, in the long term, if this nonsense about NATO expansion could be dropped and we could unite around a Eurasian socialist model.

    1. Although it seems that the Soviet officials who participated in the dismantling of Soviet socialism are stil running the country, explaining the present situation in Ukraine in almost purely numerical terms without placing things in their present historical situation simply creates confusion. Has nothing changed in Russia’s leadership and the economy, and in the world, since, say 1992? I’d also love to see the same kind of analyis re. BRI to complement Robert’s intriguing data.

    2. Morlock: “I’d love to see an economic analysis of how BRI could positively effect the Ukrainian economy,”

      So would I, but don’t count on it as the best way to stop a war.

      While they’re at it, perhaps “Marxist-Leninists” could analyse the benefits of the Belt Road being extended to Argentiana, whose President, President Alberto Fernandez, has been in Moscow, talking to Vladimir Putin about his country’s IMF debt.

      The trouble is, Putin isn’t a ‘Eurasian Socialist’, or as far as can be ascertained, any sort of socialist.

      Evidently the main activity of “Marxist-Leninists” these days is engaging in international diplomacy, rather than organising workers!

      1. Putin isn’t a socialist but guess who is? Xi. A Marxist Leninist no less, and leader of the largest and most successful socialist project in human history. Looking like it might be the most successful and largest project in human history by the end of this century……

        Seems like “Marxists” and “Socialists” would be falling over themselves to promote this, but instead we simply get the standard complaining and lack of “organization” we need to effectively act as a political entity in the west.

        Who really cares what Putin is if he is a satellite of the power that is the material reality of socialism and anti-imperialism in the world? Are a bunch of PMC university types who think they “know socialism” better than the Chinese going to save the world?

      2. Chris D M,

        ” Xi. A Marxist Leninist no less, and leader of the largest and most successful socialist project in human history. ”

        How can you say this?

        When you say successful I presume you mean economically successful?

        China’s economic success has been due to the adoption of capitalism.

        It has successfully exploited western capital, western technology, western education and western markets.

        The vast majority of its economic production is under capitalist control.

        Xi’s turn to socialist principles has nothing to do with Marxism but everything to do with preserving the power, prestige, privilege and the totalitarian hegemony of the CPC.

        Chinese capitalists were getting too powerful and had to be emasculated.

      3. Rech, this is again a wreched exercise in cynicism. Invert all your assertions, like one does automatically when a US spokesperson opens his/her mouth, if you want an idea of what Capital’s executive committee really believes and fears.

        But something tells me there is sincerity in you presentation of the Chinese as sly asiatic exploiters and transnational corporations as composed of silly, foolish, cuddly victims of exploitation. J. Edgar Hoover went to bed with a teddy bear…or was that John Wayne?

      4. m&m,

        “…and transnational corporations as composed of silly, foolish, cuddly victims of exploitation.”

        Hang on! Where did I say this?

        You repeatedly and indiscriminately extrapolate from my comments anything you fancy so you can nail me to a cross of your making – leaves me with a chuckle at least.

      5. Events move fast, on Sunday Argentina announced it will become the largest Latin American economy to join the Belt & Road Initiative.

        Alberto Fernández argued that the “agreement is very important because we must correct the deficit we have in trade with China”.

        While Latin America still represents less than 10% China’s total overseas investment, China has increased its role as a buyer of Argentine commodities and intends to do so even more, with projects such as the mega pig farms enthusiastically promoted by Alberto Fernandez’s officials.

        These have generated widespread social rejection due to their environmental impact, in addition to being a breeding ground for zoonotic diseases.

        The value of the products that China sells to Argentina has grown rapidly, transforming what until 2009 was a bilateral trade surplus for Argentina, into a structural deficit
        averaging $6.5 billion a year, mainly due to the entry of manufactured goods that in many cases compete with -and displace- local production.

        This is almost as much as Argentina has paid to the IMF over the same period.

        If you’re arguing that this represents a path towards socialism, you need to explain how it benefits workers in Argentina and reduces the country’s dependency.

        Presumably the ‘Marxist-Leninist’ communist and ex-Maoist parties, which are part of the Frente de Todos coalition argue that it does.

        But Estaban Mercatante, writing in ‘Izqiuerda Diario’, argues
        it doesn’t:-

        “20 years of ever closer ties with China have been shaping a relationship that repeats the patterns of dependence, which is becoming more and more pronounced, and will continue to do so to the extent that this “imperialism under construction” is consolidated.

        It repeats the patterns that the country established throughout its history with other powers such as England, in exchange for short-term financial aid of limited scope ”

        It is clear that any path that proposes to break with imperialism and end dependence today is not part of the New Silk Road.

  2. Spot on! The land reform cannot come sooner – the industrial base in the east is hobbled and the gas transit revenue is set to be squashed by the Nord Stream pipeline. Hard to imagine the new boost to the agri sector sustaining productivity growth without continued integration into the EU though…

  3. Ukraine is a fascist government. No, it is not a self-proclaimed fascist entity. But then, Franco’s Spain wasn’t run by the Falange, the open fascist party, either. Open fascists are integrated into the armed forces. And Japan wasn’t fascist at all, but the artificially limited current definitions useful to official imperialist propaganda. But it is revising the history of the second world war to claim the Spanish civil war wasn’t a fascist onslaught or that Japan wasn’t part of the fascist war. One of the first items of business of the Maidan thugs was to declare official discrimination against its Russian citizens, by official restrictions on the use of Russian. One of the brightest spot of the spirit of Maidan was in Odessa, where dozens of protesters were killed when a building was deliberately set on fire. Support for Ukraine is support for fascism. Fascist demonstrators pressure the Rada with violent protests, invading the chambers itself on occasion. Left-wing journalists are intimidated, beaten, disappeared. The Communist Party was banned. These things were always what Maidan was about.

    The notion that any Ukraine has a God-given right to Crimea, which is almost entirely Russian-speaking, is absurd. In a socialist system, the distinction between Russian and Ukrainian is not so important and an administrative concession to Ukrainian sensibilities counted as a move against Great Russian chauvinism. But if one insists that Ukrainians and Russians are entirely different (which is quasi-racist, fascist-style Volkisch nonsense in my best judgment,) then the borders should be adjusted. Crimea, Lugansk, Donetsk, Kharkhiv (which came within a hair of successfully rebelling against the facsists) and Odessa would be part of the Russian Federation by simple application of standard bourgeois right.

    I think the case that Ukraine’s problem is the theft of Crimea and Lugansk/Donetsk is dubious. The real problems in Ukraine stem from the victory of bourgeois democracy, to begin with. And they’ve been compounded by the victory of fascism at Maidan. The power of the oligarchs was the power of capitalists. The role of the new bourgeois states was to attack the enemies of capital, in defense of their property, which meant a sustained assault on the livelihoods of the mass of the population. Putin parlayed higher oil prices and a modicum of decorum in the savagery of the exploitation into his personal power, but Putin is a true bourgeois democrat where it counts, in property. He is a sober Yelstin, that’s all. That’s why Putin had no interest in opposing the fascist takeover of Ukraine, because no bourgeois democrat will ever risk property in the defense of the democratic superficialities.

    I do agree the Germans don’t want to go to the trouble of making capitalism work for the mass of the people in Ukraine. Aside from defeating the purpose of modern capitalism, they can’t really force themselves to bring their own German Ossis up to par.

    Isn’t it really likely that everyone at the IMF always thought of the IMF payments as subsidies to support the war? Sort of like British payments to assorted states in the Napoleonic wars?

    Zelensky, the current president elected on a peace platform, last year openly reversed the official policy, threatening war to crush the Russian-speaking people in Lugansk and Donetsk. I suggest that this is the origins of the current crisis. Believing US government claims is not prudent, to say the least.

    I think “crony capitalism” is just capitalism with bad PR, aimed at your government’s enemies.

  4. Since when there is no crony capitalism in some capitalist country in the world?
    This EUROCENTRIC vision is a fantastic ingenuity, mainly starting from an author who says Marxist.
    Capitalism is always “CRONY CAPITALISM”, only that in “developed and honest (???) countries” Europeans “cronyism” is established in law and regulated by the IMF.
    Another thing that irritates me is to talk about the “Russian oligarchs,” it seems that the “thieves barons” that they created capitalism uses were a bunch of fallen angels from heaven.

  5. Hi Michael About 2/3 in it says:

    That bode well for a capitalist boom.

    Was that meant to be the opposite …

    That does not bode well for a capitalist boom.


    On Mon, 14 Feb 2022 at 17:01, Michael Roberts Blog wrote:

    > michael roberts posted: ” As the drums of war sound for Ukraine, what will > be the impact on Ukraine’s economy and the living standards of its 44m > population, whether war is avoided or not? I’ve posted on Ukraine several > times before during the intense economic crisis that the co” >

  6. Very interesting data on GDP loss on the absence of Crimea and the Donbass. I knew it was big, but not that devastating.

    There’s nothing interesting with the Ukrainian case from the economic theory point of view. The interesting thing here is the geopolitical (imperialist) aspect of its dissolution.

    My guess is the USA didn’t foresee, after it funded and supported the Maidan coup, that the Ukraine would lose Crimea and the Donbass so quickly and so easily. I think that, in the calculations of the White House, the new government would be able to keep those two regions – even if at a human and material cost – which would then made the IMF shock doctrine profitable to the American capitalist class (or even be able to create a new generation of capitalists, as was the case of the destruction and subsequent wave of privatizations in Yugoslavia, which gave birth to the so-called Clintonian/Southern Democrat elite).

    The loss of Crimea and the Donbass made the whole Maidan coup backfire. We can deduce that from the eagerness of the USA to go to war with Russia over the Ukraine as soon as possible and the IMF tearing up its rule book to keep the US-backed Ukrainian government afloat (during the first months post-Maidan, the IMF was coughing up USD 16 billion periodically). The privatization of the black earth may be profitable in the long term for the Americans, but definitely not in the short term and probably not even in the medium term. Even if it eventually do, it would be for a short time, as agricultural goods are not as profitable.

    As with the case of the reunification of Germany, the forced privatization of black earth (capitalist forced collectivization) will be solved by mass immigration (thus sparing the Ukraine from mass starvation, which would certainly take place if it was isolated, as was the USSR). Ukraine will become a huge, depopulated country, a huge diaspora spreading across Western and Central Europe. This new wave of cheap labor force may give a boost to some Western European economies and Germany, as those nations are suffering from chronic negative birth rates and stagnant GDPs.

    Germany doesn’t even have the means to sustain itself, let alone the EU as it already is, let alone an enlarged EU with the Ukraine.

    In conclusion, the Ukraine has become a huge financial black hole to the USA. It won’t access to NATO and won’t enter the EU. Russia has time in its favor, as it can sell its gas and deepen economic cooperation with China: the USA has the advantage of two oceans, Russia is now displaying its advantage of two continents.

  7. The so-called Minsk accords of 2014-5, signed by the major powers and by a previous Ukraine government, cannot reconcile this division. So the Kiev nationalists, encouraged by the US, continue to press and the Russians continue to prepare for a possible invasion to force an agreement to divide the country permanently. Ukraine is trapped between the interests of Western imperialism and Russian crony capitalism.

    Oh really? So Robert, it’s a plague on your houses, is it? It’s ‘just’ Western imperialism versus Russian crony capitalism. And I suppose Assad ‘has to go’ too and all the other less than revolutionary leaders? What a shallow, ahistorical conclusion. And what a depressing denouemont for the former Western, revolutionary left. IMperialist to the core.

    1. Well, so much for the “right of self-determination,” right? Of course self-determination was and is never the issue, but rather a guise for class struggle. So, speaking of class struggle: Did the property basis for accumulation and appropriation of wealth undergo substantive, class, change after Maidan? As reactionary as Maidan was, the answer is no.

      So then the question arises, what is that basis? In some form, capitalism, and whatever the form of capitalism, it certainly is a product of the decay of the fSU as administered by the very same forces Barovsky is only too eager to defend and support.

      Well what to do? Let’s ask, does a “victory” by Putin’s Russia advance, by a single millimeter, the prospects for international working class revolution? Of course not. Putin represents nothing but one more form of opposition to such a revolution. Of course there are those who think the US represents the “main enemy” and all considerations are subordinate to that, but that kind of Greater, Greatest Satan “reasoning,” got us exactly where we are today.

      No, the enemy of my enemy is not my friend.

      Do any of the actions by the US advance the prospects… need to even finish the question.

      Do any of the actions of the Ukraine government advance the prospects for international proletarian revolution?. Nope, no prospects there.

      So no, it’s not a “plague on both your houses,” but rather on all the manors, the time-shares unevenly distributed and fought over by big capitalisms and less big capitalisms.

      Whatever happened to “for an independent workers’ Ukraine”? Oh, that’s Trotskyite sectarian idealism. Realism in this twisted world, as brought to you by RT and Global Research means supporting Assad, or this or that “nationalist” Ayatollah who just a minute ago was busy turning his supporters against workers’ strikes, unions, and communist organizations and women in general.

      If Lenin could see what use his ill-formed conception of imperialism had been put to, he’d puke.

      1. And one more thing: pay no attention to the positive response of energy markets to the brewing conflict, where Biden is practically begging Putin to invade. Why the price of oil and natural gas has had absolutely nothing to do with any conflict before, not Iraq 1 Iraq 2, nada.

      2. “…so much for the ‘right of self-determination,’ right?” There is a certain kind of polemic/polemicist, where every rhetorical question inadvertently exposes how a fatally wrong premise. The right of self-determination means Ukrainians may find it necessary to be independent…but it means that if they insist that Russian-speakers (which is very close to what it means to be Russian, because despite all the nonsense Ukrainians, Great Russians and Belarussians too overlap in culture and history,) why, then, the Great Russians have a right to self-determination too. That is, exactly opposite to the insinuation, the progressive reformist position is to support Russia, in this case.

        “Did the property basis for accumulation and appropriation of wealth undergo substantive, class, change after Maidan?” Fascism is a political variant in capitalist social formations. Fascism, historically, is a political movement and system that mobilizes the nation on an illusory program of class unity in the pursuit of empire, whether to recover from imperial defeat or to establish a new empire against the older, well-established rivals. To this end, fascist movements not only repress workers’ parties and organizations, but discipline the petty bourgeois and even the haute bourgeois by authoritarian means. As in every war economy, there may, if perceived tactically necessary, be extensive controls on property but the aim is never to dispossess the bourgeoisie. As part of the mobilization a certain degree of modernization is attempted but the incorporation of the petty bourgeoisie requires a simultaneous, if contradictory, official endorsement of old reaction and social forms. The authoritarian means uses both legal and illegal forms, unlike bourgeois democracy. (The reliance on illegal violence is in practice the key objection from bourgeois democrats who are usually fervent imperialists themselves.) In particular the scapegoating and repression of a particular group of people is part of creating an illusion of class unity. The historical fascist powers were Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany and Japan, openly acknowledged as such at the time. Tsarist Russia and the antebellum South of the US were historical roots of fascism. (The modern Zionist state is a closely related development though it, like Dixie long before it) has preserved more democratic norms for the master race.) The number one target of fascism is its opposite, Communism, not democracy. Japan was fascist, with its quasi-independent military representing the and the assassinations and the grotesque State Shinto/Bushido ideology were merely the Japanese form.

        The very notion that fascism is a new class system is absurd, an apologetic implying bourgeois democracy is the third way. The question is, as the old joke has it, not even wrong.

        “…what is that [property] basis?” Capitalist property, seized by private interests after the overthrow of the workers’ states, abetted by the state assault on the rights and privileges won by the workers. The immiseration of the proletariat was the primitive accumulation of the new capitalist regimes. The alleged point here seems to be something, something both sides are capitalist, therefore we something, something. There seems to be some sort of posture as true leftist here but it’s not clear what that concretely is.

        “…does a ‘victory’ by Putin’s Russia advance, by a single millimeter, the prospects for international working class revolution?” By the low bar specified, yes. This is in three ways. First is that self-determination removes the illusion that the primary form of oppression is national oppression, not capitalist exploitation. The Russian(speaker)s will be confronted with the owners and their minions speaking Russian, not Ukrainians wearing a wolfsangel. Socialism is for everyone in the end, and self-determination is a step on that goal. Second, of course, the ability of the Ukrainian regime to suppress workers will be limited by their defeat. On the other hand, the victory of Ukrainian fascism will embolden their suppression of workers and advance the privatization of the Ukrainian land. Third, the defeat of US imperialism is always beneficial to international class struggle. I think it is a falsification to claim “we” got “here” (wherever that is imagined to be) by subordinating everything to the struggle against the US. The references to Assad and an “Ayatolloh” give that game away. Every time the US defeats a backward government, the workers’ conditions get worse. This is not an accident. I suggest that the real issue has always been the inherent difficulty of making a revolution, which requires terrible sacrifices and enormous peril. It is amazing any revolution ever occurs, much less that a failure of nerve (or excess of scruple) has lost a revolution. Shoot the Commune’s hostages and expropriate the Bank? Not so easy for the pure in heart.

        “Do any of the actions of the Ukraine government advance the prospects for international proletarian revolution?”
        The correct question is, will the victory of the Ukrainian government demoralize the international proletarian revolution. Oh, yes, the victory of fascists will do that.

        “Whatever happened to ‘for an independent workers’ Ukraine’?” The Ukrainian fascists have outlawed Ukrainian communism, both the official CP and more radical groups. Violent repression is what happened. The indifference to fascism is astounding.

        As to the PS, Biden is not begging Putin to invade. If the insinuation is that Biden is trying to start a war to, maybe to suppress Nordstream 2 and EU independence generally, it is not clear why such aggression shouldn’t be condemned.

      3. AC,

        “…where Biden is practically begging Putin to invade. ”

        Is this a joke?

        You have to be mad. 🙂

        As if the US hasn’t enough to worry about – potentially problematic interest rate rises, covid, China-Taiwan, the mad mouse in North Korea.

      4. HR– Right. I’m absolutely insane. Unlike those who don’t think Biden’s incessant warnings that the invasion is about to occur yesterday, I mean today, or tomorrow don’t indicate a desire to lure Russia into a war. Pay no attention as oil reaches $100 a barrel, just like you didn’t to pay attention to the decline of oil to $20 barrel in 2002 because it played no part in Bush’s need to invade Iraq.


        Fascists repress communists Who would have thunk? So there’s no opportunity for an independent working class program proposed even from afar as an alternative to supporting Russia? Damn, who would possibly believe that the events in the Ukraine have everything to do with capitalism’s immanent tendencies, of which Russia is part and parcel, to competition, destruction, and devaluation. No prospect other than supporting a smaller capitalism vs a larger capitalism? Fits with national self-determination, I guess. A real plus for socialist revolution. Hmmh… and how has that worked out so far for the workers?

      5. AC,

        “Pay no attention as oil reaches $100 a barrel….”

        Who benefits from that? Russia.

        Perhaps Russia has manufactured this crisis knowing it will push up oil and gas prices which greatly enhances its trade balance.

      6. Anti-Capital still has rhetorical questions that inadvertently expose the weakness

        “Fascists repress communists Who would have thunk? So there’s no opportunity for an independent working class program proposed even from afar as an alternative to supporting Russia?” The honest student is advised to study the history of the proletarian military policy, offered as a workers’ alternative to supporting capitalist America in the fight with capitalist Germany in WWII. This is the prime exemplar, offered by Trotsky himself, for Anti-Capital’s course of inaction. The aspirations of the workers of the Lugansk and Donetsk *People’s Republic* are quite apparent in the names alone. But Anti-Capital would have us believe that the class struggle there will be enhanced by a victory for Ukrainian fascists and the repression of the Russian language. This would be nonsense, save that serves as an excuse for not wanting to oppose fascism, not even with sympathetic words to their targets. There is more opportunity for workers when fascists are defeated. No self-defeating rhetorical questions will change that.

        “No prospect other than supporting a smaller capitalism vs a larger capitalism? Fits with national self-determination, I guess. A real plus for socialist revolution. Hmmh… and how has that worked out so far for the workers?” If there is any coherence to this at all, it is implying that all nationalism is objectively backwards, an obstacle to socialist internationalism. I still think that de-colonization is an objective step forward for workers, that there are more possibilities for them even under neocolonialism that direct imperialist administration. Anti-Capital seems to think that “Assad,” which is to say, a national secular state in Syria, is no different from a set of religious/communal cantons that savagely police the members of their own sect while attacking, maybe even exterminating rival sects. Socialists of Anti-Capital’s stripe have no problem with claiming “Assad” is an Alawite dictatorship, which means the genocide of Alawis when their side wins wouldn’t be a problem! If anyone wants to protest that’s not what they mean, they’re lying, to themselves first maybe, but still lying. It’s like these people are trying to make the old idea of “Social Fascism” from the Third Period Comintern into a real thing!

        PS Biden is not trying to “lure” Putin into a war, he’s trying to cover up his hybrid assault on Russia by claiming it’s Russia being aggressive. Zelensky called for war in the Donbass and Crimea over a year ago, flagrantly reversing the peace platform he was elected on. The troops bordering Ukraine could just as well be understood as Putin preparing a defense against a newly reinforced Ukrainian assault that triggers mass movements as Russian-speakers flee the fascists. The only reason I can see for wanting to double down on the wrong verb, is that “lure” insinuates blame for Putin. Defense of government foreign policy is still a state department socialist thing apparently.

      7. Mr. Johnson’s comments might have more impact if they weren’t based on deliberate distortions, to wit:

        “But Anti-Capital would have us believe that the class struggle there will be enhanced by a victory for Ukrainian fascists and the repression of the Russian language.”

        Never made any such statement; never thought any such thing. I do know that uncritical support of the fSU, “defending” the fSU without advancing a proletarian program independent of that “defense” contributed mightily to the collapse of the fSU in that the fSU simply could not survive without the triumph of an international proletarian revolution, a revolution that the USSR and the official CPs did all they could to prevent.

        I do contend that without such independent action along a class line that opposes/opposed first the Soviet policies and programs and second those of Russia, the triumph of reaction is assured as has been proven time and time again… proven by those who supported the intervention in Hungary in 1956; Czechoslovakia in 1968; and again in Poland, by those who supported Jaruzelski’s autogolpe, “cracking down.”

        And I have never claimed Assad’s Syria is an “Alawite dictatorship.” I do claim the Syrian government has broken strikes; arrested working class militants; cooperated with imperialists carrying out imperialist wars, and is in short an enemy of a workers’ revolution– just as Nasser was and did despite his popularity as an “anti-imperialist,” his nationalization of the Suez Canal, his “revolutionary actions” taken of course while at the same time arresting and imprisoning workers’ leaders and leading the Egyptian population into an abyss.

        Now I know the subtlety and nuance of class independence is just that, subtle and nuanced and I can’t expect someone with such a demonstrated distortion of what people say to grasp subtlety and nuance, but that’s the way it goes.

        What was it Saint-Just said? “Those who make revolutions half-way merely did their own graves”? I wish that we were even that advanced to be opposing those “half-wayers.” We’re not. Here we have those opposing the slightest hint of class independence and thereby lining up to perpetuate the digging of graves by capitalism before a revolution even takes baby steps..

      8. HR:

        “Who benefits from that? Russia.

        Perhaps Russia has manufactured this crisis knowing it will push up oil and gas prices which greatly enhances its trade balance.”

        Possibly– except Russia does not have the economic power to swing the markets, neither as a producer, in that its market is mostly limited to parts of Europe, or as a consumer. And except that Russia has no history of provoking military crisis to offset declines in profitability and the US has done exactly that at least twice in the last 30 years, as justification for invasions of Iraq.

        And there’s no evidence of Russia provoking this confrontation to threaten US markets, but we have exactly that evidence by the long-term, sustained threats made against Nordstream 2.

        This crisis, this playing at war, has been provoked by the US. It’s just pure coincidence that it coincides with the overaccumulation in the petroleum sector, an overaccumulation exacerbated by the high level of debt concentrated in US shale production. Sure thing for those who believe in coincidence, manifest destiny, and the tooth fairy.

        This isn’t about who started it, but rather why it has been started. This conflict is immanent, intrinsic to capitalism and the abolition of the conflict requires the abolition of that mode of production.

      9. Those not personally engaged can judge whether ignoring issues like the futility of a proletarian military policy aka “slightest hint of class independence, (then and now,) or the value of a national secular state as an achievement to defend is itself distortion. I feel that the indifference to fascism and the selectively purist moral condemnation of any opponents of imperialism who fail to be perfect communists are huge distortions too.

        It is true that Anti-Capital did not admit that the victory of Ukrainian fascism would be a setback for everyone, there and here. That’s because Anti-Capital doesn’t admit there is a long-term tactical difference between fascism and bourgeois democracy. “I do know that uncritical support of the fSU, ‘defending’ the fSU without advancing a proletarian program independent of that ‘defense’ contributed mightily to the collapse of the fSU in that the fSU simply could not survive without the triumph of an international proletarian revolution, a revolution that the USSR and the official CPs did all they could to prevent.” Nobody here actually been talking about their advice to those who wanted the USSR to advance the building of socialism/communism. If direct contemporary relevance is required, I have a number of issues about socialism in China I could bring up…but then, it’s not my blog. (Sorry if this exchange has gone on too long, derailing the thread. I don’t mean to, but the malice is infuriating.) However, the claim that the USSR was dedicated to preventing revolution with “all they could” is a lie to make Dr. Goebbels proud. The subsidies to Cuba and Korea and Vietnam alone refute such an extraordinary claim. The example and existence of the USSR prompted reforms in the bourgeois democracies and limited the violent assaults of the imperialists. It is an extraordinary claim, even if it’s boilerplate for Anti-Capital’s anti-Communist milieu. In the world system, the USSR was a general strike. It’s mere existence was a blow for all workers everywhere. Anti-Capital is a retroactive strikebreaker. I suppose Anti-Capital would pretend to merely be anti-Stalinist. I can only say that “stability of cadres” is anti-Stalinist too. A negative, however disguised by moralizing and purism, is not a real position which is why it serves as cover for the real position, in this case anti-Communism.

        If Anti-Capital’s crazed contentions had any truth to them, them the removal of the counterrevolutionary USSR would have *advanced* the international revolutionary cause, by freeing the revolutionary forces from the great enemy. Anti-Capital has inadvertently claimed that the fall of the USSR unleashed the revolutionary forces. I say it was a terrible defeat for the international struggle. “I do contend that without such independent action along a class line that opposes/opposed first the Soviet policies and programs and second those of Russia, the triumph of reaction is assured as has been proven time and time again… proven by those who supported the intervention in Hungary in 1956; Czechoslovakia in 1968; and again in Poland, by those who supported Jaruzelski’s autogolpe, ‘cracking down.'”
        Anti-Capital is saying here, that today’s Poland and Hungary and Czech Republic and Slovakia, are better for the international working class than the Soviet…perhaps Anti-Capital is too canny to admit to thinking the USSR was an “empire.” I believe anyone who says “Soviet empire” is a villain or a stooge, if you can tell the difference. Orban is a spiritual successor of 1956, as much an opponent of the evil Communism as Anti-Capital. Anti-Capital may think Visegrad is better than Leningrad, much less Stalingrad, but I don’t.

        “And I have never claimed Assad’s Syria is an ‘Alawite dictatorship.'” There are numerous “socialists” who claimed exactly that, the infamous but ubiquitous Louis Proyect being a stellar unavoidable example. Distinguishing Anti-Capital’s pro-imperialism from that kind I suppose takes a certain nuance, but Anti-Capital doesn’t do nuance. That’s why Anti-Capital can’t tell the difference between a Syria cut up into various sectarian communes and a bourgeois national secular government.

        “Here we have those opposing the slightest hint of class independence and thereby lining up to perpetuate the digging of graves by capitalism before a revolution even takes baby steps.” Anti-Capital’s support for Ukrainian fascists is about strangling revolution in the crib, no, the womb. Nothing Anti-Capital has said should be taken seriously. If you did you have to wonder why Anti-Capital hasn’t condemned the USSR for suppressing the workers’ movement at Kronstadt, at the latest. It’s hard to understand why the suppression of the Constituent Assembly isn’t condemned? It’s hard to believe that Anti-Capital honestly means a word about not taking one imperialist’s side in an inter-imperialist conflict. My guess is that Anti-Capital condemns Stalin for *not* getting involved in the inter-imperialist struggle between Germany and England/France. In practice, Anti-Capital’s principles, so sadly commonplace, always end up supporting “our” imperialism in practice.

        I’m sorry for bystander if I’ve gotten overemotional.

      10. You certainly have, Steve. But these threads have again lost the plot. It’s time to for all comments to take a breather and this almost ‘private’ debate to stop for a while.

      11. ”This conflict is immanent, intrinsic to capitalism and the abolition of the conflict requires the abolition of that mode of production”.
        Yes, but…
        Wars (conflicts) are inherent in the existence of countries. It doesn’t matter if they are socialist countries, capitalist countries, feudalistic countries, etc. If there are countries, there are wars. Conflicts are inherent to the existence of economic subjects (countries, companies and individuals) SEPARATE in their capital. The country-subjects must and need to grow and expand to take advantage of the economies of scale of growth. Growth that is the only thing that allows them to compete with a certain guarantee of success with other countries and with nature itself. NATO (USA and allies) does not tend to stay within its borders, Russia does not, China does not, etc. And it is not the existence of multiple socialist countries that ends wars. The socialist USSR could not avoid its wars of expansion. It is the existence of a single socialist country that ends wars. And true, you are right, that objective can only be achieved with an international proletarian revolution.

      12. While I mostly agree with Michael Roberts about this “debate,” I beg his indulgence to respond to just one of the personal slanders (and there is a ton of them) in Mr. Johnson employs. Of course, Michael makes the final judgment.

        This by Herr Johnson, “Anti-Capital is a retroactive strikebreaker” is just too perfect an example of his hysterical hypocrisy to let pass- coming as it does from someone who uncritically endorses the strike-breaking activities of the former Soviet bloc in Hungary, East Germany, Czechoslovakia… and of course Poland. That a supporter of the suppression of the miners of Wujek, Poland, a supporter of the ZOMO, has the brass to call anyone a “strikebreaker” shows exactly how detached from actual class struggle, and reality, those nostalgic for fSU are now, and have always been.

        All that endorsement of the pro-Soviet “hard line” has done has smoothed the road for greater forces of reaction, as the great working class hero Jaruzelski proved daily.

  8. Ukraine is clearly capitalist and neo-imperialist Russia’s “Ireland”. As with England in the past, there is the same refusal to recognize a right of national self determination of a “brother” people.

    As for “Marxist Leninists” promoting “the interests of PRC and Russia”, could anything be further from Marx or Lenin themselves? It is not a secret that the Putin regime blames the Bolsheviks for the creation of a Ukrainian state. Likewise on a symbolic level, the Putinists have converted November 7th, the date of the Bolshevik insurrection, into “independence from Poland day”, while the site of the execution of the Tsarist dynasty has been handed over to the Russian Orthodox Church to be maintained as a “shrine to the martyrs”. Could anything be further from “Marxism-Leninism”?

    Post-Stalinism is trying to regroup world-wide, mainly around the geopolitics of China. Thanks to the strategic stupidity of the senile NATO imperium (including here the role of the IMF), that regroupment includes alignment of Russia with China. Therefore post-Stalinism promotes “Marxist-Leninist” alignment with the reactionary anticommunist Putin regime. Listing to them, you’d think Ukraine was was the only place in the world with a fascist movement.

    I don’t know about you, but I’d be much more concerned with the development of fascist movements in powerful countries such as officially anticommunist Russia and in the USA and Europe, than in a relative basket case such as Ukraine. In the USA and Europe, the radical Right generally and fascists in particular demand realignment *towards* Putin’s Russia. Hence post-Stalinists, whether they are aware of it or not, also promote a defacto “united front” with the far Right and fascists of the “West”, who want to form a Great White Confederacy to “save America” – the weak link in Western “whiteness” – and of course to save “the white race” and their white supremacist politics.

    There is nothing more important than the complete extirpation of post-Stalinism from the ranks of the revolutionary proletarian movement. We will not permit a second round of their now Red-Brown counterrevolution.

    1. There is a lot of historical imprecision in your comment.

      1) the Red-Brown counterrevolution – which happened in only one country so far, Germany – involved the social-democrats, not the communists (“Stalinists”; Eastern Marxists). On the contrary, the German communists were the first to be persecuted and exterminated once Hitler rose to power;

      2) Present-day Ukraine is literally a Neo-nazi government, funded and maintained with IMF money and American weapons;

      3) The PRC can trace its genealogy directly to the Comintern, which makes it more legitimately socialist than all the leftist movements and parties in the West combined;

      4) Sure, Russia is capitalist and may well degenerate into a traditionalist empire, but, in the present day, there’s only one world empire, and it is the USA. Russia is on the side of reason on this Ukrainian imbroglio.

    2. Well, we have been here before: a plague on both their houses e.g. ”Our political task does not consist in saving Stalin from the embraces of Hitler but in overthrowing both of them” ( Trotsky, ‘Writings 1938-39’Pathfinder P203). So when are you going to start? Meanwhile, let us recall that the Crimea has been part of Russia since 1783, before which it was under Turkish suzerainty and before that was part of the Byzantine Empire. It was put under Ukrainian administration by Khrushchev in 1954 without consulting the citizens who lived there. A democratic referendum has been held in which the citizens of the Crimea have decisively decided to be part of Russia again. So while the Ukrainian Nazis continue their bloody provocations what are the communists in Russia supposed to do? Concentrate on fighting Putin and leave their proletarian brothers to the tender mercies of the Nazis? Just the way to embolden the nationalists in Russia. Of course the Ukrainian communists might come to the rescue, if only they had not been banned, some even murdered. But hey! maybe they are just Stalinists: a plague on both! Down with democratic referenda, long live the suppression of communists in ‘free Ukraine!

  9. Economically astute but a politically naive article.

    Its all about China. In the first World War, the US stood aside while its main competitors – Britain, France and Germany – bled each other white. Only when Germany was on the verge of breaking through and capturing Paris did the US enter the war, decisively tipping the scales. In the second World War, US hegemony depended on seeing off Germany, Japan and Britain (the Sterling Area). So while Britain fought on, the USA bled it financially, turning it into a debtor country through Lend Lease, the opposite of the later Marshall Plan.

    It is using the same playbook now. The first two world wars were centered in Europe, the third won’t, its epicenter will be the Pacific. The US faces two not one competitor. China and the EU. How to ensure that the EU does not benefit from a war between the USA and China? Well, ensnare it in a European war. Two birds with one stone. Neutralize Russia in order to complete the encirclement of China while using the conflict to sow discord in the EU while weakening it economically, eg gas.

    Only when the grand plan is understood does it become worthwhile discussing the detail.

    1. The great plan is this: no to war and yes to the class struggle against capital. A single class in a single country. And the rest of the plans are details that are NOT worth going into.

    2. UCBP,

      “Only when the grand plan is understood does it become worthwhile discussing the detail.”

      This seems altogether too cynical and simplistic.

      The US and the EU need each other, given they are confronted by common hostile economic and military competitors in China and Russia.

      While the US and the EU might be economic competitors, they are strategic partners.

      However, they have to be careful that the strategic partnership is not weakened by their economic competition.

      In effect, the strategic partnership requires they remain economic partners.

      1. “…cynical and simplistic”? You are, of course, describing yourself, and, I think, are well enough informed to know it. I suppose you would describe yourself as a moderate or conservative….You have the one… But you are really a hypocrical liberal. But all’s one among this ilk.

      2. m&m,

        “But you are really a hypocrical liberal.”


        I’d call myself a social liberal.

        If you think I am hypocritical, fine, at least explain why.

      3. Simplistic not. I seem to be sending you quote after quote. Lord Hasting’s, NATO’s first Secretary General, famously opined that the Organization’s purpose was to “keep the Soviet Union out, the Americans in, and Germany down.” Substitute ‘Russia’ for the ‘Soviet Union’ and ‘neutralized’ for ‘out’.

      4. Rech chooses to forget that ‘ liberal’ capitalism is a system of continuous massacres punctuated by periods of genocide: The British Empire on which the sun never set and the blood never died. The US with its genocide of the Indians and its slave labour camps; Hitler, Franco, the god Emperor Hirohito, The genocidal maniac Chiang Kai-shek who starved 250 millions to death, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq. Remember the deaths of 500, 000 Iraqi children What did the liberal Madeleine Albright claim? ”It was worth it”! Oh I nearly forgot the medical experiments on live human beings. Capitalist civilisation for you!

    3. 1. the propagandistifc ploy of Western leaders, explified by Pompeo, is create an aura universal doubt: everything I say is false.(Ignore reality and trust my power.)
      2. You take 500 years of colonialism/imperialism as given, natural, good. And then ignore its presence, especially when most aggressive and destructive.
      3. liberalism the the ideology of capitialism, neoliberilism its logical conclusion: “there is no society”
      …, yes, you are a “social” liberal.

      1. m&m,

        “You take 500 years of colonialism/imperialism as given, natural, good. ”

        Do I?

        It’s certainly given – can’t change history.

        Perhaps you’re the one-eyed hypocritical one?

        100 years of socialist imperialism is given, natural, good.

        Soviet tanks rolling into Hungary and Czechoslovakia, just a Sunday outing.

        Chinese subjugation of Xinjiang and Tibet – divine Han benevolence.

        Bolshevik and Stalinist mass liquidations and starvation, necessary cleansing of unsavory elements.

        “liberalism the the ideology of capitialism, neoliberilism its logical conclusion: “there is no society””

        That’s your conclusion – not mine.

        I would say neoliberalism is a countervailing reaction to liberalism.

      2. Rech, this is probably a paraphrase (not a direct quote) of a famous quip by Margaret Thatcher. For a liberal, you do not seem to know what liberalism is. Liberalism was formulated in the mid 17th century, not by Kenynesians in Roosevelt’s administration. That kind of liberal had a life span of maybe 30 years. The one’s that weren’t hypocrites ended up either in jail, like Alger Hiss, or were cancelled out socically. But, if you are merely an anachronism (in you savaging of everything Soviet also) my apologies.

    4. Clearly the most astute analysis I have seen and the only one that really makes sense of what is happening. Very sad to see the USleft so off base.

  10. The west’s descriptive “Russia “annexed” Crimea in the article dismissed the choice of the Crimean population. The choice of Russia to accept their decision certainly was made by balancing benefit against cost rather than issues of humane consideration but the result was determined by the opportunity the Crimean population created. The struggle for an independent state is also a dynamic in the flux of competing capitalist interests. Russia and Ukraine were specifically mentioned in Brzezinski’s “Grand Chessboard”. In the section dealing with preventing any nation or alliance of nations being allowed to develop a capacity to challenge American backed wealth access and control of the wealth of the golden triangle. Ukraine has bourn the portion of implementation of that policy which is the base for western desire to topple any form of stable capitalist class and state defying their agenda in Russia. The fascist coup in Ukraine and subsequent developments were the result of American and NATO imperialist goals. The Putin Regime represents capital wealth wishing to expand but also under threat of imperial conquest. The response of the Russian state and wealth is logical and primarily defensive. NATO led by America is the aggressive force and citizens of Ukraine, Russia and the whole of the Golden triangle as well as any part of the earth where wealth can be taken by aggression are subject to the consequence.

  11. A “neo nazi” and “fascist” Ukraine elected with 73+% support a Russian-speaking Jew from Eastern Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky. The “neo nazi” and “fascist” Ukraine from 20 May to 29 August 2019 had simultaneously Jewish president V. Zelensky and Jewish prime-minister Vladimir Groisman. Probably the single case in history out of Isreal

    1. Ukrainian neonazism is primarily anti-Russian, not anti-Jewish. However, when they’re done with the Russians, for sure they’re coming for the Jews.

  12. As far as is known, the Russian government wants an assurance from the NATO states that Ukraine will never be admitted to NATO. In other words, the Kremlin wants to keep Ukraine either as a “buffer state” with lesser sovereignty or even integrate it as a part of an enlarged Russian empire.
    The NATO states want the opposite: they want to tie Russia’s military power as far east as possible, and they therefore want to integrate Ukraine into a western alliance in one way or another.
    Conflicting interests dominate the conflict in Ukraine. There is neither a “just solution” nor a compromise that satisfies both sides. One side has to give way or the conflict will escalate to the point of war.
    But before the armed war breaks out, a war of nerves is waged.
    Russia has taken the initiative and deployed large troops on the Ukrainian border. Nevertheless, the NATO states categorically rejected the Russian demands in a joint letter.
    Russia must now step up its game and threaten or back down with more violence.
    The NATO countries have to give way somehow and somewhere or they will force Russia into an armed conflict.
    If neither side gives in, there will be a war over Ukraine – a war that neither wanted.

    Wal Buchenberg, Hannover

    1. NATO hasn’t just sent buffer states. It has surrounded Russia right up to its borders with client fascistic states, and nuclear bases. Russia has not demanded that these states be neutral–tough they should–but that their nuclear weapons be removed. And that the border area be denuclearized.They’ve made other sane proposals and been arrogantly rebuffed. Russia hasn’t “taken the initiative” in sending troops to areas that have been bombed. But everybody knows that it was the US that actually took the initiative years ago when it staged a violent coup and installed a bunch of nazis and fools. …I think this Western fear of Russia, even among marxists, is racist and even anit-communist in the sense of asiatic hordes overwhelming civilization. Russia is capitalist and weak )but it has a growing communist party) and needs its link to China even to be bourgeois.

    2. It is important to highlight that there’s no comparison between the requests: NATO is not a nation-state, while Russia is.

      Therefore, it is completely different between Russia demanding NATO to remove its military from Eastern Europe and NATO demanding Russia to remove its military from its own territory (it doesn’t matter if they are a few miles from the Ukraine or not). Russia is sovereign, while NATO is not.

  13. • Russia’s annexation of Crimea violated Ukrainian law, but not necessarily the right of self-determination (granting that the concept of self-determination can be a bit murky in a world scheme that shoe-horns thousands of ethnic groups into 200 nation states).
    • After the Western-backed 2014 coup, Russia facilitated Crimean secession, but it did not coerce the population, two-thirds of whom are ethnic Russians, many of them military pensioners. There were no shots fired, and no casualties. (Compare the American occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan as to the amount of violence and subsequent unrest.)
    • In addition to ethnic solidarity, there was of course geo-politics. Russia certainly wanted to retain its naval base in Sevastopol.
    • Crimea 2014 can be compared to the Austrian Anschluss in 1938. (I’m comparing the apparent majority preference of the of the populations involved. I wouldn’t join Ms. Clinton in comparing Mr. Putin to Hitler.)

  14. The USA is relentless in its drive to provoke Russia and embroil the EU in a shooting war. First there was the predictions of imminent invasions, then there were the dark arts, now the shelling of the separatist areas. We are now closer to war than at any time in this conflict.

  15. I’ll not continue this inevitable polemic here on Robert’s blog at I’ve made my points clear, and leave it to others to contemplate whether regroupment around the ghost of Joseph Stalin will have much appeal for the world proletariat. That polemic, vital in the extreme at this precise historical conjuncture if revolutionary Marxism and proletarian revolutionary politics wishes to have a future, can and will be continued more productively in other, more appropriate venues.

    Instead, I’d request that Michael produce one of his excellent county-specific political economic analyses, this time on present-day Russia. Thanks!

    1. Putin’s declaration of independence for Donetsk and Luhansk is robbery and a declaration of war on Ukraine. If Putin had hoped to divert Ukraine from its westward course and win it back to Greater Russia, he has now failed.

      We proletarians have the duty “to assert as the supreme laws of the dealings of nations the simple laws of morality and justice which are to govern the relations of private individuals.” Karl Marx, Founding Declaration of the IAA, MEW 16, 13 .

      Wal Buchenberg, Hannover

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: