Italian left: Against Putin’s war on Ukraine, solidarity with the Ukrainian people

'We are for the withdrawal of Russian troops and the right of the Ukrainian people to defend themselves against aggression and to resist with all available means.' Photo: Zebedee Parkes

The following resolution, slightly abridged, was passed at the National Political Committee of the Anti-Capitalist Left (Sinistra Anticapitalista), Italy on May 7:

Against Putin’s war on Ukraine, solidarity with the Ukrainian people

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has been going on for two and a half months now [at the time of this resolution], and it continues to get crueler by the day.

We are facing a war whose end is not only not in sight and whose full aspects, violence and horrors, are covered up by mystifying war propaganda [and which] threatens to plunge the world into a destructive nuclear conflict.

There are two levels of the current clash and war. First, the responsibilities of Russia and the Putin regime in the unfolding of the tragedy are enormous. After the dissolution of the USSR in the early 1990s, with the full reintroduction of capitalism and the formation of a capitalist class (the so-called oligarchs) that seized the public wealth of the country, strongly supported by the Western capitalist countries, a long period of crisis has passed through the country, to which the elites of the military-industrial and financial complex finally responded, under Putin’s command, with a project to reconstruct the old area of dominance of the Tsarist empire and the reconquest, if necessary by force of military intervention, of the old satellite states.

Imperial Russia

Imperial Russia is today competing with the US, the European Union and China for control and hegemony on the planet.

There is no doubt that at the bottom of Moscow’s actions is the conflict with the US and NATO. But Putin’s government has made (and is responsible for) the unacceptable choice to unleash destructive aggression against Ukraine, to subjugate an independent country and even denying it the right to exist as a nation (accusing Lenin and the Bolsheviks of having artificially created it), bringing back to the European continent all the atrocities of war (which we also saw with the conflict in the former Yugoslavia and the NATO bombing of Belgrade).

Putin is conducting the war exactly as he has done in other countries, from Chechnya to Georgia, (including the recent massacre of striking workers in Kazakhstan) — taking populations hostage and bombing them to exhaustion to break their resistance.

Just as we have denounced and fought the violence and injustice of the invasions of US imperialism and NATO, in Iraq, Afghanistan and many other countries, so too we denounce and fight Russian imperialist aggression in Ukraine.

Ukraine, historically an oppressed country under the tsarist empire and deeply affected in the 1930s by Stalinist repression, is today a minor capitalist country dominated by an oligarchic bourgeois class, with a mediocre democracy.

But it has the right to its own independence and self-determination. That is why we are for the withdrawal of Russian troops and the right of the Ukrainian people to defend themselves against aggression and to resist with all available means.

We stand for the cancellation of the debt burden on Ukraine. We stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people and support the forces of the socialist left present, committed to the fight against the invasion, but autonomous and in opposition to Zelenski's liberalist government.

Solidarity

In particular, our support and help goes to the social activities of the young comrades of Socialnij Rukh.

It is within this framework that we build solidarity both with those who are resolutely fighting the invasion, and with those who have chosen to flee the war, including those who have not accepted military conscription. We support Europe receiving all those fleeing the conflict, whatever the colour of their skin and religion. We also support the relief initiatives and solidarity caravans by Italian associations.

We also denounce the hypocrisy and injustice of Western governments whose double standards divide refugees into two categories: the A series — tending to be white — and the B series, who can sink into the Mediterranean.

Support also needs to be built for the socialist and democratic forces that oppose the war in Russia. It is necessary to build solidarity with these organisations that the regime is trying to silence with repression.

We support building unity between the left-wing political and social and trade union forces of Western countries with those in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, who have an interest in countering the growth of extreme right-wing and neo-Nazi paramilitary formations, such as the Russian Wagner Group and the Azov Battalion in Ukraine.

The absurd, idiotic and racist stigma against Russian citizens and Russian culture itself, a fundamental part of European culture, must be countered.

There is a second level of confrontation — the inter-imperialist level — where the historical imperialist actor still hegemonic in the world today — the US and its system of alliances which recently met at the large NATO military base in Ramstein, Germany.

NATO aggression

It should not be forgotten for a moment what US and EU imperialism and their military instrument NATO have represented and still represent — wars of aggression, their crimes and massacres.

More than ever, the hypocrisies of the Western media and political leaders who have covered up these crimes and who use double standards in the face of imperialist oppression in the world must be exposed. The Palestinians, the Kurdish people, the Iraqi people, the Afghan people need internationalist solidarity more than ever.

The choice of these forces over the years has been to push for the enlargement of the Western imperialist bloc further east, using the historical fears of smaller countries, formerly part of the old Soviet Union, and also implementing in recent years a series of operations aimed at isolating Russia.

If Putin thought his intervention would weaken NATO, he has achieved its opposite: NATO has been strengthened and given political credibility among large sections of Europe.

NATO countries now face the prospect of direct action that goes beyond the supply of weapons to the Ukrainian government.

Under the direction and drive of the US and Britain, the two most belligerent countries in the West, the choice was made to exploit the impasse and the difficulties of Russian military intervention brought about by the strong resistance of the Ukrainian army and population.

They did not try to end the war with a path of negotiation, but instead to chronicle it, to make it permanent for a long-term operation to defeat the other imperialism. That this choice, like Putin’s war, takes place on the skin of the Ukrainian people matters little to them.

It is also a choice that completely subordinates the European countries politically, strategically and economically to the interests of the US and Britain.

The race to “final victory” can only have terrifying consequences for the Ukrainian population and open the door to a new destructive world war.

So far none of the European capitals has been able or willing, separately or together, to build an alternative to these scenarios of prolonged war.

Build the anti-war movement

For all these reasons the policies of the Italian government must be fought thoroughly, build an anti-war movement against Italy’s alignment with NATO, against the increase in military spending and the shameful arms race, against sending new weapons to the theatre of war, because the two are closely linked, and because these choices are alternatives to a real initiative to build the conditions to end the conflict.

The Italian Parliament’s increase in military spending while cutting spending on health and education, and even proposing to end the VAT on weapons, must be denounced.

We oppose the so-called economy of war, the militarisation of society and the ideology of inevitable war conducted by the media on a daily basis. Their war-mongering and reactionary propaganda wants to make people believe that NATO is a symbol of freedom not of intervention and oppression as it has been in the last 30 years.

We must fight the attempt to silence and destroy the peace movement that has marked Italian history over the last 50 years.

We oppose those on the left, in Italy and other countries who, on the basis of the absurd “enemy of my enemy is my friend” logic, justify, or minimise Putin’s obscenities, believing they are fighting western imperialism in this way.

We are for Italy’s exit from NATO and the dissolution of all military alliances, the Western one and the one under Russian hegemony. We are for global nuclear disarmament, oppose the mad arms race of Europe, China, Russia and the US, which has the sole purpose of supporting the interests of all bourgeoisies and their imperialist policies.

We stand in solidarity with all political and social forces of goodwill that seek to rebuild a mass movement against war, that organise solidarity with refugees and the oppressed, that work to make the voice of peace and justice heard again against the sirens of war.

We are for an immediate end to the bombing, for a ceasefire, for de-escalation, for negotiations and a peaceful resolution of the conflict. This includes the full recognition of the self-determination of the Ukrainian people, and all other peoples in the region.

It is necessary to build solidarity with all peoples oppressed by the various imperialists whatever their skin colour or religion.

We will participate in all national and international initiatives that go in this direction and aim at these goals, and we will try to activate them ourselves.

The continuation of the war can only bring more destruction, more deaths, possible new food shortages in distant and poor countries, new terrible events up to and including a new world war.

The continuation of the war can only make it even more difficult and even impossible to deal with the tremendous climatic and environmental problems, in a context then in which the pandemic has not yet been overcome.

Only a halt to the conflict will allow for a framework of popular participation and democracy that can express and guarantee the rights and cooperation of the peoples concerned.

We are against the production of the reactionary ideologies by Western academic and media sycophants on the one hand and by Putin “thinkers” on the other.

We are against the propaganda about the supposed “clash of civilisations” between the democratic, advanced and open West against the backward, “semi-Asian” and structurally despotic Russia that we are witnessing in Western countries, and against the Moscow propaganda built on the semi-Millennialist myths of “Great Russia”, on the legacy of the tsarist empire, seasoned with religious belief, which are designed to justify war against the “enemy”, but which are nothing more than the expression, in the form of false consciousness, of the economic contrasts of the various imperialisms.

War and violence against women

But the war must also be fought from the feminist angle. War is the ultimate expression of capitalist and patriarchal domination. Whichever military side wins, we know that the working classes will come out defeated and bowed down, and it will be women and LGBTQ+ people who will bear the brunt, as is already the case today.

Women’s bodies have always been used as a terrain on which to fight wars, real or symbolic. Rape has historically been used as a weapon of war and as a tool of domination and intimidation by armies. We express our strongest solidarity with the women in Ukraine and denounce the macho and patriarchal character of this war, which clearly emerges both on the battlefield where women’s bodies become brutally “spoils of war” through the rapes committed mainly by the invading Russian army (but there is no shortage of accusations against Ukrainian soldiers as well), and in the muscle-bound rhetoric of governments and media on all sides.

War means violence, poverty, forced displacement, broken lives, insecurity and lack of future. All this is irreconcilable with the core values and goals of the feminist movement. War intensifies gender inequality and affects the most fundamental human rights.

Capitalism brings war: that is why we are against all imperialisms. We are for building the internationalist unity of women and male workers above borders against all exploiting capitalists.

[Translated by Dick Nichols.]