The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

A War against the Peoples

Aug 29, 2022

This article is translated from the August 2 issue, #2818 of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle), the paper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France.

Even if the Russian state and the Ukrainian state have found a common interest in the resumption of grain exports to the Black Sea, for the time being in any case, the war continues.

As confirmation of the precariousness of this agreement, just hours after it was signed by representatives of Moscow and Kyiv, the Russian army had fired missiles at the very port of Odessa, where grain ships must be loaded.

For nearly six months now, day after day, military bulletins have followed on the advances of some, the setbacks of others. Press releases and declarations by President Zelensky or the opposing party punctuate the litany of destruction of apartment buildings, schools, accusations of torture, massacres.… As if war could have another face!

The Ukrainian authorities have just calculated at a hundred billion dollars what it would cost to restore the country which the fighting has ravaged in the East and the South, without sparing the Center and the West. The figure, unverifiable, is intended to impress, in any case to remind the Western allies of Kyiv, primarily the United States, that they must continue to finance the regime of Zelensky. It is a question of sending him always more weapons, but also of ensuring his income.

Indeed, international financial organizations are forecasting a 40% drop in Ukraine’s gross domestic product this year, which one of the most prominent financial rating agencies, S&P, translated by declaring that a payment default by the Ukrainian state is “virtually inevitable”.

The Increasingly Insolvent State

Admittedly, it has been regularly announced for more than fifteen years that the Ukrainian state has become insolvent. The loans that organizations such as the IMF have constantly granted to it to avoid its bankruptcy were all conditional on Kyiv turning ever more toward the imperialist West.

It is this line of rupture with Moscow that Zelensky embodies after many other Ukrainian leaders. In times of peace, it made the population pay for it by a policy of forced armament, by the privatization of the land, by attacks on the already low standard of living of the workers. In time of war, it continues this momentum with the reinforced means given to it by martial law.

The powers of the SBU, the secret services, worthy heirs of the KGB in Ukraine as is the FSB in Russia, have been extended to carry out the “repression of internal disorders”. Arrests of people accused of being pro-Russian are on the rise, as are bans on political organizations targeted by this state crime.

As for the world of work, since mid-March, it has undergone the diminishing of the thin protections that remained in the law. Overtime has been made compulsory, wages have been frozen, weekly rest reduced, companies with less than 250 employees have been authorized to impose a different employment contract on everyone, against a backdrop of the suspension of collective agreements. Added to this is the threat that weighs on any man between the ages of 18 and 60 of being sent to the front, especially if he has trouble with the police or his boss. Recently, a video showed how those in power are ruthless with the poor, even the people displaced by the fighting, for it cuts off the gas when they cannot pay.

Parasites of Both Diets

On this ground, Zelensky and his regime present the same openly anti-worker and repressive face as Putin and the Kremlin regime, although they do not miss an opportunity to denounce them. Both oppose each other but are in the direct service of very similar local wealthy people because they come from the same matrix, the Stalinist bureaucracy. The main difference between the two regimes, their bureaucracies, and their oligarchs, is that in Russia the ruling parasites have a relatively strong state to impose themselves, including on the international scene, whereas in Ukraine they find themselves in a situation of increasing dependence vis-à-vis the Western imperialist countries.

So, what is behind the pro-Moscow treason charges that Zelensky leveled this summer against senior Ukrainian military and intelligence officials? Some may be well-founded; after all, the Russian and Ukrainian ruling apparatuses come from the same mold, have a common recent past. It could also be that these accusations are aimed at “explaining” to the population why, despite all its sacrifices, despite the Western armaments constantly arriving in Ukraine, and despite the difficulties in renewing personnel that the Russian army is experiencing, it seems to be progressing anyway.

Another explanation would be that within the Ukrainian state apparatus, even at the highest level, some are beginning to think that ground should be found for negotiation with Moscow before the country is totally ravaged and on its knees. But this is not what Zelensky and his followers want, who have linked their fate, and behind them that of the Ukrainian population, to what American imperialism wills and decides.

For the time being, the representatives of imperialism say it and repeat it: we must expect a war that will last. And it is the Ukrainian and Russian populations who are paying the high price at all levels.