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Peace with Justice in Ukraine

Three weeks ago, as of writing, there was a massive Russian invasion of Ukraine. This is a major event in the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian War that began in February 2014 when Russia annexed of the Crimea oblasts, and the eastern Donbas and Luhansk oblasts were taken over by pro-Russian forces. That annexation itself comes on the back of the Euromaidan protests following the decision of then-president Yanukovych's decision not to sign a political and free trade agreement with the European Union, instead choosing closer ties to Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union, contrary to the wishes of the Ukrainian parliament. Those protests led to the President Yanukovych being overthrown, but since then the ongoing conflict has led to at least 13,000 deaths prior to the recent invasion.

Indeed, since the break-up of the Soviet Union, Ukraine's political map has consistently shown a divide between the eastern and western sides of the country. There can be no doubt, for example, that there is a genuine desire among many if not most inhabitants of the Crimea, Donbas, and Luhansk oblasts that they would prefer to be part of Russia. This was certainly evident in Crimea where opinion polls consistently showed an overwhelming majority supported becoming part of Russia. However, neither NATO, the CSTO, nor Ukraine were particularly keen on a properly-conducted referendum on such matters (e.g., UN-conducted, international observers and peacekeepers, etc), and as a result differences of opinion were determined in a battlefield by force of arms instead. All of this was discussed in some detail in 2014 by your author; "The Ukrainian Crisis: Electoral History, Great Powers, and Self-Determination".

Apart from legitimate claims of self-determination, separatism, or Russian integration of particular oblasts, Russia also draws attention to the eastward march of NATO, especially the numerous verbal commitments given to Gorbachev during the breakup of the eastern bloc, that NATO would not expand. But verbal commitments are worth the paper they are written on, in international law at least. Between real, visceral people, it is hoped that promises - "my word is my bond" - hold at least some value. Russia and its allies in the CSTO clearly feel quite threatened by the expansion of NATO, although the claims that CSTO and NATO troops facing each other is somehow unique is clearly incorrect - a number of NATO member countries already are on the border of other CSTO countries and Russia itself.

However, despite the sensitivities of Russia, it is clear that Ukrainian self-determination is not being respected. Putin has repeatedly claimed that Ukraine does not have its own nationality, its own statehood, that it historically part of Russia. This is a very convenient justification when conducting an invasion, and is obviously contrary to even a modicum of historical, cultural, and linguistic analysis. Not that such things matter to ideological justifications. However, ideological justifications can only win battles if people believe them. Despite a clear and overwhelming technological, military, and numerical superiority and with plenty of combat experience from Syria, Russia has become bogged down in Ukraine as they are faced with stiff resistance from armed and largely untrained civilians. The moral will to victory is lacking in the Russian forces; most do not believe that they are fighting against "Nazis" when they find themselves pitted against civilian forces. Thus, Russia is adopting a gradual approach to link salients, encircle population centres and pound them into submission. It's a very slow process and whilst it will at least result in some cities (perhaps even Kyiv) eventually falling it will be at a massive cost of civilian lives.

For their own part the European Union, NATO, and their allies have not become directly involved in a military sense except for the provision of equipment to Ukraine's forces. Nobody wants to threaten a nuclear power as the results would surely be catastrophic. Economic sanctions of various forms have hit the Russian economy hard, with the country's central bank forecasting a decline of eight percent. Many are hoping for some sort of challenge to Putin's government; but in a regime where political dissent is treated harshly, it is difficult to generate groundswell. The closest thing to the opposition, the Russian Communist Party, had fallen in line with nationalistic and imperial ambitions. Of course, the capitalist classes of NATO are hoping that a more liberal and progressive oligarch will rise to the occasion.

Just like the war itself, it seems that the political campaign in Russia for peace and negotiated security is going to be a matter of attrition. A groundswell is not going to be built with speed, but rather with a relentless and grinding campaign against the Russian state, as standards of living decline and the country spends more and more of its resources in a war that it cannot win. This is one great advantage of this over a quick victory - it means that a more ideal peace can be won. One such template, put together by Die Linke in Germany is presented here, with the author responsible for any errors in translation. It is notable of course that Die Linke is the successor party to the old Socialist Unity Party of the DDR, which underwent genuine reform to the Party of Democratic Socialism with reunification. Their policies provide for peace, self-determination, and justice.

DIE LINKE. fordert
• Die russischen Truppen müssen sofort zurückgezogen werden!
• Alle diplomatischen Möglichkeiten müssen zur Deeskalation genutzt werden! Die Umsetzung des Minsker Abkommens bleibt das Ziel.
• Vereinbarung eines militärfreien Sicherheitskorridors an der ukrainisch-russischen Grenze sowie an der Grenze von Russland und NATO-Mitgliedsstaaten.
• Geflüchtete schützen – Grenzen auf! Abschiebungen und Pushbacks aus der EU in die Krisenregion müssen sofort gestoppt werden.
• Solidarische Aufnahme von Kriegsdienstverweigerern.
• Eine neue europäische Sicherheitsarchitektur und ein Ende jeder Großmachtpolitik!

THE LEFT. demands
• The Russian troops must immediately be withdrawn!
• All diplomatic options must be used for de-escalation! Implementation of the Minsk agreement remains the goal.
• Agreement of a military-free Security Corridor at the Ukrainian-Russian border as well on the border of Russia and NATO member states.
• Protecting refugees - open borders! Deportations and pushbacks from the EU to the crisis region must be stopped immediately.
• Including solidarity of conscientious objectors.
• A new European Security architecture and an end to any great power politics!

From: Mittendrin März 2022

Image By Viewsridge - Own work, a derivate of Russo-Ukraine Conflict (2014-present).svg by Rr016Missile attacks source: BNO NewsTerritorial control source: ISW & Template:Russo-Ukrainian War detailed map, CC BY-SA 4.0,