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

Zelensky Comes to Washington

Jan 9, 2023

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky came to Washington on December 22 in a display of hugs and flag-waving from Biden and the leaders of the U.S. state.

For U.S. leaders, this was a chance to try to rally the U.S. population to support this war being waged against Russia with U.S. money and weapons, if with Ukrainian skins. And for Zelensky, it was a chance to reinforce his image as the inflexible war chief, especially to his own state apparatus and the most nationalist part of his own population.

But in addition to its public face, Zelensky’s visit surely included plenty of discussions behind the scenes. While nothing has been leaked from these “informal” conversations between Zelensky and his hosts, we can easily imagine they were not quite as agreeable as the show both sides put on for television.

Zelensky repeatedly declares that the Ukrainian people are ready to continue the war until Ukraine is freed of occupying forces, including both the Donbass and Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014. But some U.S. military leaders, including the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have already made public statements suggesting that its Ukrainian ally should start negotiating sooner rather than later.

Certainly, the U.S. has proven itself more than willing to take advantage of this war. The U.S. has affirmed that it remains the world’s dominant power, giving orders to all the rest, and it has dramatically weakened Russia, one of the few states that doesn’t jump at U.S. commands. It has reinforced the position of its energy and arms companies vis-à-vis its European and Asian “allies” and rivals alike. U.S. military leaders have also undoubtedly enjoyed this chance to try out their weapons against a traditional army, unlike what they faced in Iraq or Afghanistan.

But while U.S. imperialism has an interest in weakening the Russian state, it relies on that state to act as guardian of the world order in its zone and it has no interest in Russia’s complete collapse. This is why some officials in the U.S. military and state department have long insisted that it will eventually be necessary to give Putin some way out that doesn’t force him to lose too much face with his own population. And so, behind the scenes, U.S. leaders were undoubtedly taking the chance to tell Zelensky in person that he should not push the war past what his U.S. patrons wish at the current stage.

Of course, whatever the interests of the various sides, it remains to be seen if anyone will be able to contain this war that now has a momentum of its own.