Russia out of Ukraine. No to NATO expansionism. Reject the war drive on China

October 22, 2022
Stop the war on Ukraine
Image: Michael Mucke/Pexels

Socialist Alliance (Australia) adopted the following resolutions, on September 18, condemning Russia's attack on Ukraine, opposing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) expansion and rejecting the war drive on China.

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Russia out of Ukraine! No to NATO expansionism

Socialist Alliance condemns the Russian attack on Ukraine. The war violates international law and is a catastrophe for people in both countries. We recognise the right of the Ukrainian people to self-determination free from all foreign interference. As a consequence we support:

• An immediate halt to the Russian invasion and a withdrawal of its military from Ukraine’s territory and airspace.

• The Ukrainian peoples’ right to resist the invasion, to expel Russian armed forces from Ukrainian territory and to access the arms needed to achieve this.

• A return to diplomacy to de-escalate the situation and resolve the current impasse. This is not a call for Ukraine to capitulate, but rather a demand that both Russia and the Western powers abandon their war aims and allow Ukraine to live in peace.

• A commitment from all sides to a peaceful resolution of the status of the Donbas and Crimea and a solution that respects the democratically expressed wishes of the people who live there.

• The permanent cancellation of Ukraine’s external debt.

The role of NATO & the US

The Russian government is responsible for this terrible act of war with its appalling impact on human life and the environment, including the potential horror of widespread radioactive contamination.

While the relentless drive by the United States to expand NATO up to Russia’s border in order to encircle it militarily significantly frames the conflict, the Russian invasion has been a propaganda gift for Western imperialism, allowing the US and its allies to take advantage of Eastern European fears about the ambitions of Putin’s Russia in order boost military spending and adopt an even more hostile posture. The same approach is being applied to China through AUKUS and the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue.

In both cases this has nothing to do with defending a “rules based international order” or supporting democratic transformation in Russia or China, as its proponents hypocritically claim, and everything to do with blocking competition and preserving profits. This aggressive “containment” policy actually has the consequence of reinforcing authoritarian nationalist politics in both Russia and China. The following measures are needed to contribute to a lasting peace:

• An immediate commitment to stop the eastward expansion of NATO. Like AUKUS, ANZUS and the Quad; NATO should be scrapped.    

• All countries to sign the Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons.

• Reversal of the increase in war budgets, with negotiation between governments of mutually agreed cuts in arms expenditure.   

Putin’s Russia

The assertion by Russian President Vladimir Putin that the Ukrainian nation does not exist but was an invention of the Soviet Union is absurd. His suggestion that there would be military consequences for Finland and Sweden if they joined NATO and reference to nuclear conflict was extremely inflammatory.

Putin does not represent the interests of the working people of Russia. His political project is based on authoritarianism, social conservatism and Russian chauvinism. He represents the interests of Russia’s capitalist oligarchs and their desire to carve out their own sphere of influence in competition with Western capitalism. This project has no progressive or anti-imperialist role. Instead, Putin’s actions make it harder to build a peaceful and more just world:

• The invasion of Ukraine has boosted the appeal of NATO in neighbouring countries and convinced many people in them that they need to remain allied with US military strategy in Europe and beyond.    

• With the focus on Putin’s destruction in Ukraine, it makes it easier for the US and its allies to pose as the defenders of international law while they continue to unleash violence on parts of the world outside the gaze of the Western media.    

• We therefore express our solidarity with the Russian peace and democracy movement and call for the immediate release of all protesters who have been detained and political prisoners, and an immediate end to the repression of the political opposition and critical media. We do not support economic sanctions on Russia that hurt working people.

• We support Ukrainian left movements, trade unions, feminists and environmentalists in their defence of the country’s labour, social and environmental rights and against attacks by the Ukrainian government and parliament.  

Finally, we insist that while refugees from this war should immediately be made welcome in Australia, this must be in addition to the existing humanitarian intake and not at the expense of refugees from other places.

Reject the war drive on China: For a foreign policy based on justice, human rights and climate action

NATO's new Strategic Concept document, adopted at the Madrid Summit at the end of June, is the imperialists’ attempt to give new meaning to this Cold War military alliance.

It said its “key purpose” was “the collective defence of Allies”. However, its focus on “cooperative security” marked out new ground. It said the Russian Federation posed “the most significant threat” to regional and global security, closely followed by the People’s Republic of China.

Socialist Alliance condemns the Russian invasion of Ukraine as a gross violation of international law and supports the Ukrainian people’s right to self-determination, including the right to resist Russia’s invasion. We call on Russia to immediately withdraw its forces from Ukraine.

However, in doing so, we recognise that the Western powers that are supporting the Ukrainian government are not motivated by concern for a mythical “rules-based order”.

The recent decision by both Finland and Sweden to drop any meaningful opposition to the Turkish government’s oppression of the Kurdish freedom movement and its genocidal invasion and occupation of northern Syria as a condition of NATO membership are proof of this.

The role of NATO is not that of a “defensive” alliance, or upholding liberal democratic values, but to ensure the United States and its western allies’ dominance within the global capitalist world order.

NATO’s role in the post-Cold War era in instigating the wars on Afghanistan and Libya and the subsequent devastation that it caused to both countries is a reminder that it is a barrier to building a world free of conflict and war.

NATO should not be extended to the Indo-Pacific, but abolished.

The governments of the wealthy “liberal democratic” Western nations are every bit as cynical and violent as Russian President Vladimir Putin.

However, the former mostly inflicts their wars on the people of the Global South, and often try to subcontract the violence to local enforcers. Arming Saudi Arabia to inflict incalculable suffering on Yemen is a case in point.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has afforded the Western powers an opportunity to both weaken Russia and to build public support for much greater military spending.

This is the context of NATO — a Cold War relic — adopting a new aggressive posture in the world.

Not only are the US and NATO hoping to inflict a military and economic defeat on Russia, they have made it clear they intend to “contain” economic competition from China, including by force.

The Australia, United Kingdom, United States (AUKUS) agreement must be seen in the wider context of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) and the proposal to extend NATO to the Indo-Pacific.

Under AUKUS, Australia will be further militarised and turned into a US garrison.

This includes:

• more deployments of US aircraft, surface and subsurface vessels and joint war games;

• four new military bases;

• two new bases for the militarisation of space;

• greater co-operation in hypersonic weapons and cyber warfare, underwater systems, artificial intelligence and long-range strike capabilities; and

• support for combined military operations in the region.

The Anthony Albanese Labor government was quick to support NATO’s new dangerous blueprint and it has indicated it is prepared to support the US strategy of confrontation with China, no matter the cost.

The fact that former Liberal Prime Minister Tony Abbott praised Labor for continuing the Coalition’s policies regarding defence demonstrates that the push for greater militarism and war with China is bipartisan policy.

A conscious propaganda campaign stoking fears about Chinese aggression has been promoted for years to build public support for greater military spending and confrontation — possibly over Taiwan. The primary aggressors in this new cold war in our region are the US and its allies, including Australia.

At the same time, Socialist Alliance respects the right of the Taiwanese people to self-determination and is opposed to the forcible integration of Taiwan into the People's Republic of China. Socialist Alliance also recognises the genuine concerns of the Uighur, Tibetan and Hong Kong people around large scale repression and human rights abuses.

US annual military spending is triple that of China and has been for many years. Furthermore, China is ringed by US bases, which the US intends to supplement with a network of precision-strike missiles, along the so-called “first island chain” — a Cold War concept aimed at containing the influence of the former Soviet Union and its allies in East and Southeast Asia — as part of $27.4 billion in spending to be considered for the Indo-Pacific region over the next six years.

Every attempt by China to respond is presented as proof of its hostile intent.

The determination by the US and its allies to hem China in, both economically and militarily, even at the risk of provoking another major war is reckless and shows no regard for the well-being of the Chinese people as well as small island nations in the region.

The existential threat posed by runaway global warming means that the next 10 years are critical for humanity to unite to prevent catastrophe.

But it is impossible to do this if governments spend billions on a new cold war instead.

Socialist Alliance is committed to campaigning for:

• Australia to withdraw from AUKUS, ANZUS and the Quad;

• Closing all US bases and banning nuclear ships in Australian ports;

• Cancelling the plan to purchase nuclear-powered submarines; and

• No war on China.

Socialist Alliance stands in solidarity with all people’s struggles against imperialism, war and occupation and is committed to supporting the anti-war movement and the newly-formed anti-AUKUS campaign groups.

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