Some points for discussion on the anniversary of the Ukraine war:

It has been one year of the war in Ukraine. This war has been a disaster of monstrous proportions:  tens of thousands of lives have been lost and wasted, crucial infrastructure has been destroyed, and millions have been forced to flee their homes. Far from moving towards a just outcome or even a ceasefire, both sides of the conflict have dug in, threatening to further escalate the war, including the possibility of expanding the war and the heinous possibility of the use of nuclear weapons, an existential threat to all of life on earth. At a time when resistance to this war is urgently needed, we find instead a great deal of confusion. As part of our responsibility to foster that much-needed anti-imperialist resistance, we offer the following points for discussion: 

1) This war can best be understood as principally an inter-imperialist conflict between the United States and Russia over who will dominate Ukraine. The US has relentlessly expanded NATO, threatening Russia, staged a coup in Ukraine in 2014 to install a pro-US and anti-Russia government, and has continued to arm and fund the Ukrainian military, prolonging the war and opposing peace negotiations. The ultimate aim of US intervention in Ukraine is not the interest of the Ukrainian people or Ukrainian sovereignty, but weakening the military and political position of Russia and maintaining its status as the top-dog imperialist in the world.

Russia, a smaller and emerging imperialist power, is attempting to influence and dominate its neighbors and expand its sphere of influence. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is an unjust war of aggression and a violation of the sovereignty of Ukraine, reminiscent of the imperialist wars of aggression waged by the US. Russian dominance of Ukraine cannot and will not lead to a just outcome for the people of Ukraine.

The only just end to this criminal inter-imperialist war is an end to hostility, a withdrawal of Russian troops, and an end to NATO aggression. As people who live in the United States, the most vicious and violent imperialist power in the world today, it is our obligation to oppose US participation in the war, demand the immediate cessation of hostilities and weapons sales, and an end to NATO and all expressions of US imperialism.

2) This war has empowered the most reactionary social forces in Russia, the United States, and Ukraine. While resisting the Russian invasion, the US-backed Ukrainian government has repressed internal dissent, and the US has deployed arms and funding to the most fanatical and white supremacist elements of the Ukrainian military, including the notorious Azov battalion.

To maintain popular support for the unjust Russian invasion, Vladimir Putin and the Russian government have arrested thousands of brave anti-war protesters, promoted an ideology of great-Russian chauvinism and the restoration of the Russian empire, and drafted oppressed people as cannon fodder into their military.

In the US, both political parties and the mainstream media have supported the war and the uninterrupted flow of munitions and funding. Notably, some of the loudest pro-war voices have come from people who present themselves as liberals and are within the Democratic Party—a social base whipped up for war by Russiagate myths. Democratic congressional representatives who have opposed other wars of aggression or advocated a reduction in military spending have stood firm in supporting this war. This situation, in combination with the overall weakness of anti-war and anti-imperialist resistance, has left an opening for reactionaries, grifters, and outright fascists to try to claim the mantle of anti-war politics.

3) This war has revealed the hollowness of the “anti-war” movement in the United States. Far too many people who should know better have bought into the chauvinist myths cranked out by the war machine; either out of professional loyalty or political Stockholm syndrome to the Democratic party. They’ve decided to ignore the disastrous and criminal record of NATO interventions from the former Yugoslavia to Libya, with some even talking about “Ukraine Solidarity,” by which they mean the continuation of this perverse war until the US side wins. 

Within the organizational and political circles of the real and so-called anti-war movements, the opposite position has expressed itself and become nearly hegemonic: a refusal to acknowledge or condemn Russian aggression, and in some quarters even a celebration of the Russian war of aggression. While the principal responsibility of people living in the US is to oppose US imperialism, having a basic understanding of the nature of the conflict is crucial to developing the broadest possible opposition to the perpetuation of this war. The trend of pro-Russian cheerleading that calls itself “anti-imperialist” has only further isolated any potential broad opposition to the war or the possibility of nuclear escalation.

What’s made this all the worse is that organizations and individuals whom we genuinely respect have chosen to embrace some of the worst of the emboldened pro-Russia cheerleaders—an assemblage of grifters, opportunists, and reactionaries. Without a mass movement or the perspective to bring one into being, it seems that many people have made their peace with these reactionary positions. Even within genuinely positive assemblages, including the one we’re a part of, the International League of People’s Struggle, a hollow unity has been promoted over principled struggle.

These two positions, American chauvinism and Putin’s little left helpers, are united in their lack of faith in the potential of mass resistance to this war, instead taking sides in the conflict like they’re picking the sides of sports teams (complete with flags and twitter graphics), essentially saying that a better world is not possible.

4) The people of the world can bring an end to this war. The most powerful force in resisting imperialist wars of aggression and inter-imperialist wars is the organized, conscious activity of the people of the world. We can’t rely on politicians, international institutions or hope that a slight rearranging of the international order will create a more just world. The challenge for the people who want to end this war and build anti-imperialist resistance is to get off the internet, cut off the opportunists, and go to the people.