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

Imperialism and Its “Little” Allies

Oct 2, 2023

This article is translated from the September 29 issue, #2878 of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle), the paper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France.

Relations between the governments of Warsaw and Kyiv, which had suddenly cooled down over Ukrainian agricultural exports, have been even more strained with the announcement by Poland that they will no longer deliver arms to Ukraine.

Kyiv had just filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization against Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia because they refused to lift their embargo on Ukrainian agricultural products. As for the Polish and Ukrainian rulers, who yesterday said they spoke on behalf of “brotherly peoples” fighting the same Russian enemy, they were seen the next day insulting each other in public.

In front of the UN in New York, Zelensky denounced “countries [such as Poland] who pretend solidarity [with Ukraine while] indirectly supporting Russia.” Angry Polish President Duda then compared his Ukrainian “ally” to “a drowned man who clings to everything [risking] to drown his rescuer.” And to add that he was going to devote all his efforts to building up the Polish army, no longer helping that of Kyiv.

The upcoming legislative elections in Poland are likely to prompt its ultra-conservative leaders to pose as nationalists defending their peasants and an army they increasingly want. But electoral demagoguery does not explain everything. The Polish state defends its interests, those of the wealthy it represents, not those of the Ukrainian state or those of an alleged camp of democracy that would bring together the Ukrainian state and the NATO member states under the leadership of the great imperialist powers. Propaganda cannot make people forget that among the allies of the anti-Russian camp, the interests of each may differ or even be opposed. We see it between the United States and the countries of Western Europe; thus, Germany’s economy suffers more than others from sanctions against Russia due to its greater dependence on Russian gas. This is also true for less powerful countries, such as Poland.

While belonging to the European Union, Poland has chosen to link its fate to American imperialism, first on the military and commercial levels. When Duda and his Prime Minister say they are giving priority to the Polish army, they describe a reality that did not start yesterday, even if this war gave it more weight. On the one hand, they justify military orders of which the United States is the sole provider. The volume is enormous: in recent months, 486 HIMARS rocket launchers, 96 Apache helicopters, 32 F-35 stealth fighters, and also 366 Abrams tanks … to compare with the 30 promised to Kyiv by Washington, or even with the 200 French Leclerc tanks!

Warsaw says it wants to have the largest conventional army on the continent. It devotes 4% of its gross domestic product to it, proportionally twice as much as France, to build up to a force of 300,000 men just for its army within a few years in a country of 40 million, while France has 200,000 for its entire military.

Much less wealthy than Germany or France, Poland is at the forefront of the arms race in which the world is engaged. In Poland’s case, the United States is the main beneficiary. This is tied to the fact that it has publicly raised its voice against the Ukrainian protégé of the West while also refusing the green light given to Ukrainian agricultural products by the European Union.

Imperialism, particularly American imperialism, supports Kyiv against Moscow, but the levers controlling this support are out of reach for Kyiv. Zelensky can demand more and more weapons in front of the cameras, but it is not he who decides—Kyiv remains a pawn of the policy of imperialism. The Polish President and Prime Minister have abruptly reminded us of what American officials regularly suggest in a more diplomatic way.