- Apparent Splits in Russian Military Tops: Possible Coup?
- NATO Spread the Cause of Invasion?
- Anti-War Protests Spread in Russia
- Military Assessment, Thermobaric bomb & Putin a “Cornered rat”
- Political Fallout in US
- Independent Working Class Voice and Direct Appeal to Russian Soldiers
Retired Russian Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov heads the All-Russian Officers Assembly. On January 31 of 2021, Ivanov published a letter on behalf of that Assembly calling Putin’s party the “party of war” and criticizing a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine. He wrote: “Citizens of Russia are actually becoming hostages of criminal adventurism, which is turning Russia’s foreign policy line. They not only live in uncertainty – whether a big war will begin, but also observe a sharp rise in prices and a fall in the national currency….
“Russia does not need a war with Ukraine and the West. Nobody threatens us, nobody attacks us….
“The war not only does not correspond to the interests of Russia, but also carries a threat to its very existence. The insane actions of the political leadership of the country, pushing us to this point, will inevitably lead to the formation of a mass anti-war movement in Russia. Each of us naturally becomes a part of it.
“We will do everything possible to prevent and, if necessary, stop the war.”
Ivashov is no “dove”. Just the opposite. According to Michael McFaul, former US ambassador to Russia, Ivashov was one of the most “hawkish” leaders in Russia’s military-industrial complex.
Anti-war Protests in Russia
This puts the Russian anti-war movement in perspective. Up until now, close to 6,000 protesters are reported to have been arrested. This is by far the largest such movement in Russia in many decades.
It also raises the question – once again – of a military coup. If a general or group of generals removes Putin, and if they immediately move to withdraw the Russian troops from Ukraine, then it’s likely that the US and the EU would very quickly move to end the economic sanctions.
It’s possible that the CIA and other such forces are in some contact with at least some generals there. In fact, it seems likely. What will those who blame the invasion on NATO say then? Will they claim that the coup is a US/NATO plot and that, in effect, Putin should remain in power?
CNN is also reporting that some of the Russian oligarchs are now opposing Putin.
As for Ivashov, he has written that while external threats (i.e. NATO) exist, “they are not currently critical, directly threatening the existence of Russian statehood and its vital interests.” So much for the “blame NATO” crowd. This does not mean that the working class should not call for an end to NATO’s expansion and, in fact, for an end to NATO. But that threat is not the cause for Putin’s invasion; Putin’s dream of a Tsarist-like Greater Russia is the motivating factor.
The US media is reporting that the invasion is bogging down and it might be. However, we need to be cautious. In a Feb. 27 Sky News interview with Chris Deverell, former commander of the British Joint Forces, Deverall assessed that, yes, the resistance is probably greater than Putin had counted on. He warned, though, that “we are in the early days, yet,” and that Russian military doctrine involves assembling overwqhelming military superiority before trying to take over a city. “I don’t think we can conclude yet that this invasion is in deep trouble.”
There are numerous reports that Russia is bringing hardware capable of launching thermobaric bombs. These are bombs that launch high temperature high pressure gas, which on explosion basically sucks all the oxygen out of the air in an enclosed space such as a building. Putin’s forces reportedly used these barbaric weapons in his war against the Chechen people. Deverall explains that Putin is like a cornered rat and that “Putin’s life [!] depends on making Ukraine a client state.” Deverall also thinks that it’s possible that Putin may try to go beyond Ukraine, including trying to establish a land bridge through either Poland or Lithuania to Kalingrad, the Russian enclave on the Baltic.
While this may sound like an even bigger blunder, Putin’s isolation within his own administration must be accounted for. We saw it in living technocolor in his public humiliation of his chief of security, Sergei Naryshkin. In fact, it seemed to be written all over the faces of his two generals as they watched him announce putting his entire military on “high alert”. One of the reasons the majority of the US capitalist class opposed Trump was exactly because he’d surrounded himself with yes-men and women and was therefore prone to all sorts of strategic blunders. The same seems doubly so for Putin, who’s been in power for decades.
Within the US, Trump & Co. have been put on the defensive. After initially in essence supporting Putin, Trump has been silenced. His Fox news ally, Tucker Carlson initially dismissed the invasion as a “border dispute” and asked his viewers why they should hate Putin. After all, they are on the same end of the political spectrum! The next day he had to backtrack somewhat and say that Putin is to blame, and said that war is a “tragedy”. He actually sounded like a liberal! (A person in Germany reports that the German far right is “in a pickle” and can’t decide what side to take although they are leaning towards Russia.)
Overall, the Republicans and the Democrats in the US Senate were able to agree on anything meaningful, apparently because of the more overtly pro-Putin wing of the Republican Party.
Overall, the entire situation cries out for an independent voice for the working class. That applies to the US, to Russia, and also to Ukraine. Among other things, such a voice would be coordinating activities to stop the invasion as well as to oppose Western imprialism (including but not confined to NATO). Most immediately, it would be coordinating a direct appeal to the Russian troops. That potential was made clear by the Ukrainian who climbed up on the Russian tank and then climbed back down and stood in the street. The tank driver stopped in order not to run him over. So it seems that that could be an immediate step: Open appeals to and fraternization with the Russian workers-in-uniform (the soldiers) and Ukrainian workers. That would have enormous longer term political implications, ones which every capitalist leader dreads for good reason.