I am a Ukrainian socialist.This is why I resist Russian aggression

I am writing from Ukraine serving in the Armed Forces Reserve. A year ago, I would not have expected such a situation to occur. But like millions of other Ukrainians, the turmoil of the war turned my life upside down. Over the past four months, I have had the opportunity to meet people I would never otherwise have met. It wasn’t until February 24th that some had thought of arming themselves and going into battle, but the Russian invasion forced them to drop everything and go to protect their families.

We often criticize the actions of the Ukrainian government and its defense regime. But we never question the need for resistance, and we fully understand why and what we are fighting for. At the same time, I have followed and tried to participate in the international left’s debate on the war between Russia and Ukraine. My overriding emotions from these discussions are fatigue and disappointment. He had to explain why Moscow had no “legitimate security concerns” to make a self-determination that everyone on the left should agree unconditionally.

Perhaps the most striking thing about the discussion of the war between Russia and Ukraine is how much they ignore the opinions of Ukrainian men and women. They are still often presented in left-wing discourse as passive victims we sympathize with, or as Nazis who must be blamed. Rather, the majority of Ukrainians who support the resistance against Russia simply refuse to be passive victims.

Agreement with Russia means nothing

The well-meaning but very vague calls for negotiation and diplomatic resolution of the conflict are growing louder from many. what does that mean exactly? After the invasion, negotiations between Ukraine and Russia continued for several months but failed to stop the war. Even before that, negotiations on Donbass took place over her seven years with the participation of France and Germany, but despite signed treaties and a temporary ceasefire, the conflict was never resolved. Of course, in the event of war between two countries, terms of surrender are usually settled at the negotiating table. But unless we are concerned with negotiating positions, concrete concessions, and the willingness of the parties to stick to the treaty signed, a call for diplomatic action alone means nothing. All of this depends on how the battle goes, and the outcome of the battle depends on the degree of international military assistance. And it can accelerate the achievement of just peace.

Perhaps what strikes me most about the Left’s discussion of the Russian-Ukrainian war is how ignorant they are of the opinions of Ukrainian men and women.

The situation in the occupied territories in southern Ukraine shows that Russian forces are trying to secure strong positions here. This will allow Russia to secure a land route to Crimea. The Kremlin uses the captured grain to support its protectors while threatening the world with famine by blocking Ukrainian ports. An agreement to liberalize Ukraine’s grain exports, signed in Istanbul on July 22, was violated just one day after it was signed when Russia attacked the port of Odessa with rockets.

Meanwhile, influential Russian politicians such as former President and current Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev and Roscosmos Director Dmitry Rogozhin Removed from that position in mid.This article – editor’s note) writes that Ukraine must be subdued. While there is no reason to believe that Russia will back out of expansion, the Kremlin has also occasionally paid large sums to sign a temporary truce.

Without Zelensky there would be a nationalist storm

In contrast, 80% of the Ukrainian population considers a territorial cession to Russia unacceptable. For Ukrainian men and women, abandoning occupied territories means betraying fellow citizens and relatives and enduring daily kidnappings and tortures perpetrated by the occupiers. The parliament cannot approve the transfer of the occupied territories even if the Ukrainian government puts pressure on it. This will only lead to discrediting President Volodymyr Zelensky and electing more nationalist-minded politicians. The Far Right therefore has favorable conditions for expanding its membership base.

Of course, the Zelensky regime is neo-liberal, left-wing in Ukraine, and unions actively organize against its social and economic policies. But when it comes to war and nationalism, Zelensky is the most moderate politician who could take over the Ukrainian government after the 2014 annexation of Crimea and the start of the war in Donbass.

Various misconceptions are also associated with some of his steps. For example, many authors have denounced Zelensky’s nationalist language policy, introducing restrictions on the Russian language in public and some restrictions on the teaching of languages ​​of ethnic minorities in schools. increase. However, these linguistic laws had already been adopted during his previous term and came into force after Zelensky took office. His government repeatedly tried to mitigate them, but backed off each time after nationalist protests.

His approach became apparent after the start of the invasion, repeatedly turning to Russia and calling the Kremlin for negotiations so that Ukrainian forces could recapture territories already controlled by Russia before February 24. and said it wouldn’t. From now on, we will focus on returning home through diplomatic channels. If Zelensky were replaced by someone more nationalist-minded, the situation would be noticeably worse. In our domestic politics, more authoritarianism emerges, retaliatory sentiments prevail, and the war never ends. The rise of the Far Right in our country will plunge us deep into the maelstrom of nationalism and reactionaryism.

Defeating Putin is essential for progressive change

As someone who has witnessed the tragedy of war, I fully understand the desire for the war to end as soon as possible. Perhaps no one is more desperate for the war to end than the people living in Ukraine, but even for the locals it is important how exactly this war ends. wanted the Kremlin to end the invasion. Unfortunately that didn’t happen. Today, the Russian anti-war movement can only influence the situation through small-scale sabotage of railroads, munitions companies, and the like. Only after the military defeat of Russia will something greater become possible.

Of course, under certain circumstances, agreeing to a ceasefire would be preferable. But it is only a temporary truce. Russia’s success will strengthen Vladimir Putin’s regime and its reactionary tendencies. It won’t bring peace, but decades of instability, guerrilla resistance in occupied territories, and frequent clashes on the border. The result would be a disaster not only for Ukraine but also for Russia, with a stronger political backlash and an economy suffering under the onslaught of sanctions.

A military defeat of the Russian invasion is therefore also in the interest of the Russian people. Only a large-scale domestic movement for change can open the possibility of establishing a stable future relationship between Ukraine and Russia. But if Putin wins, such a revolution will not last long. Defeating his regime is essential if progressive change is to be possible in Ukraine, Russia, and the post-Soviet world at large.

What Should Socialists Do?

As you may have noticed, I focused primarily on the domestic side of the current conflict, both Ukraine and Russia. But for many leftists abroad, the discussion tends to focus on broader geopolitical implications. Attention should be paid to those directly affected. Moreover, many left-leaning commentators underestimate the risks associated with Russia’s potential success.

The decision to stand up to the Russian occupation was made by the people of Ukraine, not by Joe Biden or Zelensky. If Zelensky had surrendered at that moment, not only would he have discredited himself in the eyes of the majority of Ukrainian society, but above all his resistance would have continued in some other way. By uncompromising nationalist power.

As Volodymyr Artuch pointed out in his article on the Jacobin server, the West did not want this war. The US didn’t want trouble in Europe as it wanted to focus on confronting China. Germany and France did not want this war any further. While Washington has taken many steps to undermine international law (for example, like socialists around the world do, let’s not forget the criminal invasion of Iraq), If it helps Ukraine resist aggression, it’s good. thing.

To use historical metaphors, the war in Ukraine was a struggle for control of the country, and the war in Vietnam was a struggle for control of the country. was fighting with China. At the same time, it was also a war in which the Vietnamese people demanded liberation, and a civil war between North and South Vietnamese supporters. Almost all wars have multiple layers and their nature can change over time. But what does this actually mean for us?

During the Cold War, internationalists didn’t have to praise the Soviet Union for aiding Vietnam’s struggle against the United States. But socialists are unlikely to advise the left-wing opposition of the Soviet Union against supporting the Viet Cong. should have opposed Soviet military aid to Ukraine? When it comes to Western aid to Ukraine, why is the brutal occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq seen as a serious objection to aid?

Socialist internationalists should not see the world as consisting entirely of geopolitical alliances. Instead, each dispute must be assessed on the basis of workers’ interests and their struggle for freedom and equality. Revolutionary Leon Trotsky once said that if the fictional Fascist Italy pursued its interests and supported an anti-colonial uprising against democratic France in Algeria, internationalists would support arming the rebels with Italy. That sounds understandable, but it doesn’t mean he will stop being an anti-fascist.

Vietnam did not fight only for its own interests. Although the defeat of the United States was temporary, it had a significant deterrent effect on US imperialism. Same with Ukraine. What will Russia do if Ukraine wins? So what prevents Putin from conquering Moldova and other post-Soviet countries?

The hegemony of the United States has had a devastating effect on humanity, but fortunately it is now waning. But the end of U.S. hegemony could mean both a transition to a more democratic and just international functioning and a war of all against all. It could also mean a return to imperialist spheres of influence and policies of redrawing military borders, as in the last century. The world will become an even more unjust and dangerous place if we try to normalize aggressive strategies. Ukraine and Syria serve as examples of what such a “multipolar world” could look like.

The longer the horrific conflict in Ukraine drags on, the more frustration the Western population could face due to the economic impact of war and sanctions. A capital that hates the loss of profits and wants to get back on its normal course will probably try to profit from this situation. In the same way, right-wing populists who have no problem sharing his sphere of influence with Putin will probably try to capitalize on it. But if, on the basis of this dissatisfaction, socialists demand cuts in aid to Ukraine and cuts in pressure on Russia, that would mean a refusal of solidarity with the oppressed.

The author is a Ukrainian historian and editor of Spilne/Commons magazine.

from the original English I am a Ukrainian socialist.This is why I resist Russian aggressionpublished in the pages of the Jacobin magazine, which she translated Petra Jelinkova.

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