Solidarity with Ukraine: for its self-determination and against world fascism

March 17, 2024

Image of the Russian destruction of Ukraine, two months after the beginning of the invasion in February 2022. Photo: Ceterum_censeo – die Litfass-Säule, CC BY-NC 2.0 DEED

It is an achievement that Ukraine is now into the third year of defense against Russia’s full-scale invasion. Putin had expected to conquer the country in just three days. But this moment is as pivotal to Ukraine’s survival as any since the weeks after invading forces were halted and driven back on the road to Kyiv. Ukrainian soldiers, despite running out of munitions as U.S. weapons shipments halted, have given up minimal territory against Russian advances on the heavily entrenched eastern and southern fronts. Donald Trump has demanded that the GOP Putin caucus continue to block military aid that it succeeded in stopping at the end of 2023.


Ukraine has inflicted damage on the invaders that should have forced a Russian retreat and the toppling of the Putin regime: Russian troops retreated from Afghanistan in 1989 with the loss of 15,000 soldiers over a decade, enough of a debacle that it helped lead to the formal end of the Soviet Union. In little more than two years, at least 180,000 of the invaders have been killed, twelve times the carnage that forced Russia’s defeat in Afghanistan.

Russian offensives proceed heedless of the loss of equipment, even when its entire pre-war inventory of front-line tanks has been destroyed at a rate faster than can be replaced. Putin is even more indifferent to the deaths of troops regarded as cannon fodder, clearing the prisons of convicts who agreed to fight in Ukraine. Youth are also being shanghaied, including unemployed youth in India who were promised jobs in Russia. Ukrainians in occupied Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk, seized in 2014, have also been forced to fight on Russia’s front lines.

Missiles raining down on cities, apartment buildings, markets, schools, hospitals and factories make anywhere in Ukraine the front lines. That enlists the whole population into resistance to the invasion. More than 30,000 civilians have been killed or injured as missiles and drones laid waste to infrastructure vital to meeting human needs. Yet rebuilding has allowed Ukraine to resume exporting energy to Europe. It has been able to maintain a corridor for exporting the grain that countries at risk of famine have long relied on. They did so by destroying a quarter of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet and forcing surviving ships to safer waters.


Even in wartime, there are class battles: The same capitalists who have opportunities for war profiteering have pressed the Zelensky government to enact laws gutting union and labor protections, prompting workers to fight back. Similarly, U.S. workers during World War II, led by coal miners in the United Mine Workers, and Blacks led by the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters headed by A. Philip Randolph, kept threats to strike or march on Washington alive despite pressure for war production without complaints from workers.

Ukrainian workers and Ukraine’s struggle for national existence have drawn widespread support from unionized workers internationally, and from any socialists and Marxists who gave respect to Karl Marx’s support for the Irish movement for liberation from British rule, and the Polish revolt against Russian rule. Despite the pro-Putin left groupings who also cheered the atrocities of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, popular opposition to Putin strengthened support for Ukraine within NATO from Poland and led to street demonstrations against the pro-Putin government in Slovakia.

But Putin’s chief influence in NATO remains Viktor Orbán’s fascist government in Hungary and the current and future threats posed by Trump in the U.S. Those two came together at Mar-a-Lago, where Trump is apparently permitted to pursue his own foreign policy. Orbán then traveled on to meet with GOP House members to insist that not a penny’s worth of supplies get to Ukraine—despite a super-majority of Americans, in excess of 70%, favoring such aid.

International solidarity with Ukraine. In the image, a rally in Trafalgar Square, London, 2022. Photo: Alisdare Hickson, CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED

Trump accidentally shone a spotlight on the failing U.S. reliance on sanctions to curb Russian power. When he secured an appeal bond from the Chubb Group for $92.5 million in the judgment for damages to E. Jean Carroll, reporters learned that this prominent U.S. company has continued, without being sanctioned, to underwrite Russia’s oil and gas infrastructure. That support averted Russia’s economic collapse and, with sales to India and China, even financed growth. Sanctions advertised as more stringent than what failed to dislodge Russia from its occupation of Crimea in 2014, or discourage it from continuous human rights violations against the Indigenous population, continue to be just as ineffective in restraining Putin’s present ambitions.


No matter how much aid flows from European countries, the longer Ukraine is denied the great storehouse of weapons of war from the U.S., the greater its disadvantage in defending its people, its land, its very existence. For more than two years, restrictions on the range of munitions that the U.S. did send to Ukraine prevented it from destroying the sites from which missiles were launched to wage war on Ukrainian civilians, leaving them defenseless. The war came home to Russia, not only in body bags, but through Ukrainian commando strikes and anti-war activists’ sabotage of railroad tracks and accessible military targets.

But even as Ukrainian soldiers on the front lines have had to ration their ammunition and artillery shells against the Russian troops Putin willingly consigns to death in hopes of overrunning defense lines, home-grown weapons and eased restrictions on medium range weaponry have sometimes made it possible to strike at the source of death-dealing attacks from the air. Explosions hit Russian military targets from Belgorod, across the border, all the way to Moscow.

The solidarity of revolutionaries with Ukraine, from vigils to material support, has helped the fight continue. Calling out the fascist Putin/Trump/Republican blocking of aid to Ukraine is equally vital.

With international support and enough weapons, Ukrainians may be spared the need to fight alone through 13 years of atrocities that Assad, Russia and Iran committed against the people of Syria. Slava Ukraini!

–Bob McGuire

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