By KKE (Communist Party of Greece)

February 19, 2024


Two Years Since the Imperialist War in Ukraine — The Experience and Conclusions of the Communists

The contribution of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) at the European Communist Action’s conference held in Istanbul on Saturday 17 February, on the occasion of the 2nd anniversary of the imperialist war in Ukraine.

From the very first moment, the KKE has pointed out that the military conflict that broke out in Ukraine two years ago, which has caused the death of hundreds of thousands of people and misery for millions, was only the formal beginning of a war that was bound to happen, as the powder keg that had been storing up over time exploded.

After the overthrow of socialism, the dissolution of the USSR, and, in its context, the process of counter-revolution, the bourgeois classes were formed, i.e. the capitalists who emerged in the course of capitalist restoration, stealing the hard-won fruits of the united Soviet people. The governments of Zelenskiy in Ukraine, supported by the US, the EU and NATO, and of Putin in Russia, supported by the emerging Eurasian imperialist camp led by China, are the expression of such capitalists.

At the heart of the military conflict lies the division of mineral wealth, energy, territories, labour force, pipelines, transport routes of commodities, geopolitical footholds and market shares.

An element of this conflict is the division of markets and spheres of influence between, on the one hand, the USA, NATO, the EU and their strategy of “Euro-Atlantic enlargement” and, on the other hand, the strategy of the capitalist Russian Federation for its own exploitative plans against the peoples, aiming at strengthening its own imperialist coalition (Eurasian Economic Union, Collective Security Treaty Organization) in the region of the former USSR.

The KKE has explained in detail the causes of this bloodshed, rejecting both the pretexts used by the EU-NATO bloc about defending “the sovereignty of Ukraine”, its “right to choose its allies” or “democracy against authoritarianism”, as well as the pretexts used by the Russian leadership to justify the unacceptable military invasion of Ukraine, such as waging an “anti-fascist war”, “defending the Russian-speaking people”, or “demilitarizing Ukraine”.

Some conclusions that the communist movement needs to draw from the war

The ideological-political and organizational crisis, which has manifested itself in the ranks of the international communist movement for decades now, has intensified around the very important question of the attitude of the communists and the peoples towards the imperialist war.

Thus, on the one hand, the CPs that fought the battle for the enlightenment of the peoples and the organization of their struggle against the imperialist war, stood out. An important milestone in this direction was the Joint Statement issued on 26 February 2022 on the initiative of the Communist Party of Greece, the Communist Party of Mexico, the Communist Party of the Workers of Spain and the Communist Party of Turkey, which was signed by more than 70 CPs and CYOs [ Communist youth organizations] from all over the world. The Joint Statement correctly defined the character of the imperialist war and stressed the need “to strengthen the class criterion for analyzing the developments, to chart our own independent path against monopolies and bourgeois classes, for the overthrow of capitalism, for the strengthening of the class struggle against imperialist war, for socialism, which remains as timely and necessary as ever”.

On the other hand, we should note that not all the CPs rose to the occasion. A few ones adopted the line of Euro-Atlantic imperialism, for example by voting for the political-economic and military support of Ukraine in the European Parliament through the so-called left-wing GUE/NGL and “left-wing” parties such as SYRIZA, Podemos, Die Linke, etc. Other CPs opposed the war in words, but in practice participated in the governments of NATO member countries that support and are involved in it, such as the CP of Spain.

Other CPs have accepted the pretexts provided by the Russian bourgeoisie, which claims to be waging an “anti-fascist struggle”. Today, when the main bourgeois parties in Germany are rehashing the arguments of the Russian leadership and holding “anti-fascist” demonstrations in Germany, we see parties reacting and highlighting the hypocrisy of the organizers of these rallies. Yet for some parties the line seems to be blurry when it comes to the “anti-fascist” pretexts used by bourgeois Russia as a cover for the imperialist war.

A new international organization has emerged as the spearhead against the class approach to international developments and the CPs based on Marxism-Leninism, under the hypocritical name “World Anti-Imperialist Platform” (WAP). The WAP, which is led by social-democratic forces and some CPs or groups with no particular influence on the working class in their countries, has clearly sided with one of the camps of imperialist thieves.

Today, however, the communist movement is more experienced. There are several CPs that have drawn conclusions from history and rejected the formation of various “anti-fascist fronts” with bourgeois forces, highlighting that the struggle against fascism must be inseparable from the struggle against the capitalist matrix that gives birth to it.

In the context of the fierce ideological-political confrontation, which intensified after the outbreak of the imperialist war in Ukraine, the functioning of the European Communist Initiative (ECI) was initially halted, and in the course of time it was terminated. In its place, a new regional form of cooperation was established, namely the European Communist Action (ECA). What is hopeful is that the ECA, on the one hand, takes into account both the positive and negative experience of the ECI, and, on the other hand, is based on a more comprehensive and coherent ideological and political framework. Thus, all those who believed that the Communist and Workers’ parties in Europe would not be able to establish a new form of cooperation in time, following the same disruptive and treacherous path for the interests of the workers as the Second International during the imperialist First World War, have been disproved.

The CPs that are based on Marxism-Leninism and proletarian internationalism have intensified their anti-imperialist struggle

Those forces claiming that the class approach of the CPs that refused to side with one camp in the imperialist war would lead them to suspend their struggle against the other, i.e. against the USA, NATO and the EU, have been refuted. The exact opposite has happened. And this is very telling in the case of Greece.

In these two years that the imperialist war is raging, the KKE has led the struggle against the Euro-Atlantic imperialist bloc in Greece. It has organized important mobilizations against the war, for example outside the US bases in Alexandroupolis, Souda, Larissa and Stefanovikio. It has supported the respective actions of the trade unions and mass organizations of the country, as well as of the anti-war and anti-imperialist movement. It has blocked the roads, railways and ports used by NATO forces. The communists have been at the forefront of the anti-imperialist struggle and for this reason they have been attacked by the repressive mechanisms of the bourgeois state, for instance, at the port of Thessaloniki on 6 April 2023, when the riot police attacked the strike rally, arrested and dragged to court members of the Central Committee of the KKE, the Central Council of KNE, a journalist of “Rizospastis” and trade unionists. The KKE was the only political party that did not attend the session of the Greek Parliament during the speech of Zelenskiy and the Greek-born neo-Nazi of the Azov Battalion. It voted against the agreement on the expansion of US bases and military spending for NATO in the Greek parliament. In the European Parliament, when ND, SYRIZA, PASOK, and the extreme right, together with parties of the European “left”, supported the war-mongering frenzy of the European imperialists and called for a massive increase in military support for the reactionary Zelenskiy government, the KKE voted against it and denounced it before the people. The KKE opposed and condemned both the deployment of war material belonging to the Greek armed forces to Ukraine and the training of Ukrainian soldiers.

At the same time, in recent months, the KKE has been at the forefront of mass popular demonstrations in solidarity with the Palestinian people against their genocide by the occupying Israeli state; against the country’s involvement in the Euro-Atlantic plans to deploy US naval forces in the Red Sea, together with EU forces, for which the Greek government has even offered its headquarters in Larissa, central Greece. Competition in the region is intensifying, there is a major military build-up, the Euro-Atlantic operations and missile attacks launched in Yemen in the name of confronting the Houthis and protecting maritime security are escalating tensions, and the risk of a military conflagration is increasing. The need to end the massacre in Gaza and the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories is becoming even more urgent, and is also a factor for the de-escalation of tensions in the region.

On the correlation of forces in the international imperialist system

Allow us to make a few more brief remarks. As the second anniversary of the outbreak of the war is approaching, we see that the Ukrainian counter-offensive, despite NATO’s support, has not produced any substantial results. A trench war and a war of attrition are being waged on the front line and modern weapons systems are being tested. Russia still holds 20% of the territory of Ukraine, which has already lost more than 40% of its national industrial potential and about 15% of its pre-war GDP. It has also lost access to more than $12 trillion worth of raw materials, including 63% of its coal reserves and 42% of its metals, according to Russian estimates.

Under these circumstances, the Euro-Atlantic staffs are expressing concern about the course of the war. Problems arise regarding the continuation of US financial aid to Ukraine and there are calls for the need to open talks with Russia on the “cession of Ukrainian territory”, which the Zelenskiy government is currently denying. A possibility of upheaval in the Ukrainian political scene cannot be ruled out.

On the contrary, the Russian bourgeoisie, having suppressed —at least for the time being— an internal “rebellion” within its ranks, such as the “Prigozhin issue” and his army of mercenaries, has secured a relative advantage on the front as regards the ground and air operations of its armed forces, as well as a sufficient stock of weapons. In economic terms, during the war and despite the sanctions, it has overtaken Germany in terms of its share of real world GDP, rising from 6th to 5th place.

These developments refute the claims of certain forces arguing that Russia is a “weak” and “dependent” capitalist state, the “world’s petrol station” somewhere on the “periphery” of capitalism. They confirm the KKE’s assessment that Russia occupies one of the most important positions in the modern-day imperialist “pyramid” of unequal interdependence of capitalist states, as a function of all its significant potential (economic, political and military).

War makes it difficult, but not impossible, for the imperialists to cooperate economically

A second point is that we are talking about another “strange” kind of war. At the same time that thousands of people are being slaughtered in the battles, the capitalists on both sides of the war are still maintaining solid cooperation, albeit limited compared to before February 2022.

For example, Russia continues to sell enriched uranium to the USA and France for their nuclear facilities. It covers a large part of the needs of the 92 US nuclear reactors, even doubling the quantities in 2023 compared to 2022.

The US is cooperating with Russia on the NASA space programme, while the Russian “Gazprom” continues to send Russian natural gas to the EU through the pipelines of war-torn Ukraine, to the delight of its capitalist shareholders. For its part, the US “Chevron” continues to load the oil it extracts from Kazakhstan at the Russian port of Novorossiysk on the Black Sea, which arrives there via a 1,500-kilometre pipeline passing through the territory of Kazakhstan and Russia. It is through this pipeline that two-thirds of the oil extracted in Kazakhstan are put onto the world market.

In addition, Russian raw materials and other commodities continue to be channelled through “third parties” to the so-called collective West, as Russia refers to the countries that enforce the trade embargo against it.

And, on the other hand, products made in the “collective West” are sold to Russia through the so-called global South, which is now the name given to countries that do not enforce the anti-Russian embargo, including China, India, Turkey and others that are not, of course, in the southern hemisphere of the Earth.

Tragicomic incidents have also taken place in trade between the two sides. In January last year, Russian customs authorities discovered and sent back to China a train carrying containers loaded with Ukrainian army uniforms, which was on its way to Poland via Russia. Admittedly, cargoes for the needs of the belligerent side may have passed or are passing through Russian territory. Similar incidents have taken place in Ukraine as well.

And at the same time that the imperialist war is reaping thousands of lives, mostly of young people in Ukraine and Russia, the above demonstrate that the profits of the few, who are getting richer on both sides of the war, are increasing.

While the people suffer, the capitalists divide the “pie”

A third point has to do with the fact that while Ukraine is still caught up in the turmoil of the war, its “reconstruction” has already begun by both belligerent sides. On the Ukrainian side, the monopoly enterprises of the strongest imperialist powers, such as Germany, are undertaking the “task” of “coordinating” the process of investing capital for “reconstruction”. Through various financial organizations, such as the European Investment Bank (EIB), they are financing projects in Ukraine worth billions of euros in transport infrastructure, energy, water supply, schools, hospitals, etc. The cost of the “reconstruction” of Ukraine will be enormous and the European monopolies are demanding “guarantees” from the Ukrainian side.

Similarly, in the Russian-occupied territories, which are far from negligible as 11 million people live there (2.2 in Lugansk, 4 in Donetsk, 1.5 in Zaporizhzhya, 1 in Kherson and 2.5 in Crimea), there are hundreds of industrial plants as well as huge mineral wealth and fertile lands. There, too, “reconstruction” goes hand in hand with the division of factories and other industrial and production units among the capitalists. Russian capitalists take the place of Ukrainian capitalists, while those workers who have not been conscripted and are not at the front, will continue to sweat blood so that the bosses can reap the profits.

The above show that the USA is not “dragging the EU into this war” and that the European leaders are not “the puppets of the USA”, as the Russian leadership claims. European capitalist groups act in their own interests, which are well promoted under conditions of war, such as the profits of the “green” monopolies, the Greek shipowners, etc.

Nor, of course, is the aim of the unacceptable Russian invasion of Ukraine a “just, multipolar world”, as various opportunist circles claim.

In one of his poems, the great Greek communist poet Kostas Varnalis, in an allegorical manner, draws a parallel between a donkey and the enslaved, submissive, docile human being, who, among other things, soliloquizes that “lastly when the war erupted, I bore machine guns undisrupted, for the people to be killed and my master’s dish got filled”. This is the real nature of the imperialist war in Ukraine.

The working class and the popular strata, led by the Communist and Workers’ parties must intensify their efforts against the involvement of their countries in imperialist plans and wars. They should combine this struggle with the struggle for contemporary workers’-people’s rights, challenging the domination of capitalism and causing a rupture in the system, which will lead to its overthrow and the building of the new, socialist–communist society; a society that will put an end to exploitation and wars. The ECA and the parties that comprise it, are called upon to play a leading role in this cause.