by Yorgos Mitralias
The strangeness of this war of Mr. Putin in Ukraine is probably without historical precedent. Why? For a whole series of reasons, the first of which is that, for Mr. Putin, who conceived and launched it, it is not even a war but a simple… “special military operation”, and woe betide the Russian citizen who would question it. Indeed, when in world history has anyone been thrown in jail for a few years just for calling “war”a war, while stubbornly denying that… pigs can fly?
Secondly, this war is “strange” because most of those who declare themselves to be in solidarity with the struggle of the Ukrainian people are at the same time opposed to sending weapons that would allow these people to defend themselves in any effective way. In other words, they are in solidarity with them on condition that they cannot defend themselves, and that they are content with the role of… a heroic corpse!
But the “oddities” of this war – which is not a war – are endless. For example, how can we explain the fact – unprecedented in world history – that the two countries at war do not have the same rights and are therefore not fighting on equal terms? That is to say, while one (the aggressor Russia) has the right to have an air force, the other (the defender Ukraine) does not. That one (Russia) has the right to monopolize the sky of the other (Ukraine), while this other – which is in fact the one defending itself – only has the right to be sprayed with bombs and missiles falling from the sky. And also, while Russia can have and use heavy weapons of all kinds and without any restriction, the defending Ukraine can only use “defensive” weapons and no “offensive” weapons. And moreover, while Russia can bombard Ukraine and fire missiles from the Russian and Belarusian territories, Ukraine is expressly forbidden to retaliate by hitting targets inside Russia and Belarus, etc. etc.
But the “strangest” thing about this war is not that Ukraine has been subjected to all these outrageous restrictions on its (inalienable) right to defend itself as it sees fit. The most “strange” thing is that all Western governments and all Western media not only support these “restrictions”, which have no precedent in the history of wars, but also present them permanently as obvious, self-evident, and unquestionable! And the result of this scandalous situation is that when Zelensky dares to challenge one of these “restrictions”, for example by asking for airplanes to protect his cities and their inhabitants, not only is his request instantly rejected, but it is also qualified as inappropriate and… “dangerous”…
The reason for this “strange” treatment of Ukraine by enemies, and especially by friends, became known gradually, over time, and only from the moment when the possibility of failure or even defeat of the Russian “special military operation” began to be considered: Ukraine is entitled only to a low-intensity defense against the Russian invasion because… “President Putin must not be defeated or humiliated”! And not only that. The proponents of this position, who are not only avowed reactionaries like Orban or the old zombie Kissinger, but also more presentable neoliberal democrats, like all Western leaders, Macron in the lead, keep asserting with increasing insistence that “there must be a way out for Putin”, a proposal that allows him to win something in this war in order to avoid facing his countrymen empty-handed at the final count. And all this so that he is not ousted and so that he stays in power, which is what they all publicly want! And to achieve this goal, not only are they starting to “advise” Zelensky more and more urgently to abandon his current “rigidity”, to become more “realistic” and to accept to give Putin a part of his country. But they also have the nerve to start discussing among themselves which part of Ukraine they could give up, these Western imperialists (!), to Putin, behind the backs of Ukrainians and their government!
Although we have here a patent case of the most outrageous imperialist interventionism and paternalism, there are few on the left who dare to do the obvious, namely to denounce it publicly, as it deserves. And unfortunately, there are even fewer who dare to support the even more obvious and elementary right of Ukrainians – which they defend tooth and nail – to fight to the bitter end against the Russian invaders, deciding themselves freely and democratically, and without any hostile or “friendly” foreign interference, about the future of their country and the people who live there!
In fact, a look at the very recent past shows that the present attitude of the West towards Russia is not surprising, but, contrary to what some rather naive Putinists think, it is in line with its firm position in favor of the unhindered development of its economic relations with this country, a real Eldorado for its capitalists. Indeed, let’s remember what were the first reactions of all its leaders (Biden, Macron, Johnson…) in the hours and days following the Russian invasion of Ukraine: They suggested to Zelensky to exfiltrate him from Ukraine, because they and their country’s media firmly believed that the occupation of Kiev, and the whole country, by the Russian army was a matter of a few days.
Everything changed when Zelensky urged his countrymen to resist, responding to Biden’s proposal with the now historic phrase “The battle will be fought here in Ukraine. I need weapons, not a cab! » And indeed, it was because the Ukrainian people resisted and are still resisting tooth and nail, provoking an unprecedented wave of sympathy and solidarity in international public opinion, that they in fact forced Western governments to do something that was not in their agenda and was radically different from the passivity they showed when Putin occupied and annexed Crimea in 2014: Supporting Ukraine’s war effort and imposing increasingly harsh economic sanctions on Putin’s Russia and its oligarchs.
However, over time, and especially in recent weeks, we are witnessing increasingly intense and orchestrated efforts by most Western governments to “get along” with Putin. And this, even if it means entering into public conflict with Zelensky, who is now forced to denounce daily, even by name, the Western leaders (Macron, Scholz, Draghi, …) who, driven – as he says – by “their immoral economic interests”, are now openly flirting with Putin, even as the latter is in the process of drowning Ukraine in blood and reducing it to rubble.
Of course, an additional “quirk” of this war is that all of this will seem… inconceivable and out of the question to most of the Putinist and Putinizing left, who like to discover in the obscurantist super-reactionary Putin and his fascistoid regime anti-imperialist virtues that they don’t and can’t have. (1) The result is that this left is passionate about a war in Ukraine which has nothing to do with reality: the West would nourish a mortal hatred of Russia and of the “anti-imperialist” Putin who would be well within his rights when he wants to “denazify” Zelensky and his Ukrainians! And when reality does not suit its geopolitical delusions, this left knows what to do: it stretches reality on its Procrustean bed and cuts it to fit its “preconceived theories,” not hesitating to tell the worst lies. As she did, for example, with the Ukrainian fighter “of Greek origin Mihalis” of the Azov battalion, who addressed the Greek deputies during the speech of President Zelensky in the Greek Parliament. Since that day (7/4/2022) and until his death on the battlefield, the whole Greek parliamentary and extra-parliamentary left, and with it all the Greek media, used only the word “neo-Nazi” to describe this “Mihalis of Greek origin”.
But was the unfortunate Mihalis really a “neo-Nazi”? We have to admit that we know nothing about the political beliefs of this “Mihalis” and we assume – rather reasonably – that all those who so easily labeled him a “neo-Nazi” know nothing either. The only thing we have to form an opinion is the few words he addressed to the Greek parliamentarians. Here is the text of Mihalis’ speech, which all those who have labelled him a “neo-nazi” have not deigned to publish:
“I am addressing you as a Greek. My name is Mihalis, my grandfather fought in the war against the Nazis and was wounded three times. I was born in Marioupol and participated in the defense of the city against the Russian Nazis.
I will not talk about the difficulties of those of us who participate in the Ukrainian defense through the Azov battalion, that is my duty to my city, my duty as a man, but I would like to tell you about the disastrous conditions in which the peaceful Mariupol is.
A very large part of the city is Greek and of Greek origin, and Greece has always stood by it. Today, Marioupol has been destroyed by 90% by the Russian Nazis through daily bombings.
Since March 1, the city has been surrounded by the Russian Nazis and we have been without water, electricity and food for some time. Compatriots, we have a city where thousands of people live and thousands of people die, so please help us.”
We think that someone who speaks like the Marioupolitan Mihalis does not seem to be a “neo-Nazi” . But, let’s accept that we are not very impartial. What should any reasonably serious and impartial person do when hearing what Mihalis says? At the very least, he or she would find something wrong with Mihalis’ characterization as a “neo-Nazi,” and therefore should investigate further, ask whether what he or she is being told is true, and of course stop labeling Mihalis as a “neo-Nazi” so lightly. Unfortunately, none of this happened. Instead, the usual “solution” of blatant lies was preferred, regardless of the fact that this, in addition to the historical truth, shreds the reputation and – now after his death – the memory of a brave Ukrainian patriot, who fell heroically defending his city…
Speaking of blatant lies and unscrupulous liars, here is another monstrous lie of Putin’s Russia about a tragic fact that was never known to the Greek public. On May 30, French journalist and cameraman Frederic Leclerc-Imhoff of BFM TV was killed during the shelling of civilians who were trying to flee their town in the Donbass. Just an hour after his death, the Russian news agency Tass reported that the French journalist, 32 years old but already a veteran, was in fact… “a mercenary who brought weapons to the Ukrainian army”. We therefore conclude this article with the statement that the courageous mother of the French journalist, victim of yet another Russian war crime, hastened to make, for the additional reason that we totally share it:
“To the attention of the Tass agency and the officials of the LPR.
Hello. I am the mother of the young journalist you killed yesterday. Your statement gives me nausea. Of course you are cowardly trying to clear yourselves, but you should know that you will never succeed in sullying his memory. Everyone here knows his professional and personal commitment to democracy, human respect and above all free, impartial and honest information, all notions that seem far removed from what drives you.
Today, my thoughts are with all the Ukrainian mothers who are crying for their children, all the Ukrainian children who are crying for their parents and all the Russian mothers who saw their young sons leave too soon to become soldiers, who will not see them again and who are wondering why.
I, at least, despite the pain, know why my son died. One day, the real people responsible for this criminal nonsense will be held accountable.”
Yes, of course, nausea and disgust…
Oaklandsocialist adds: What is the reason for this hesitancy on the part of the West? In the first year of the uprising in Syria, the Obama administration wanted Assad to step down (which is different from regime change). However, once ISIS started to become a serious threat, US policy focused on thwarting them. A corollary was that if Assad left office it could create a vacuum which could empower ISIS or a similar force. Therefore, the US made sure that their allies in Syria fought against the fundamentalists, not Assad. In Russia, Putin has gathered all the power into his hands. If he leaves office – which is almost certain to happen if his invasion doesn’t gain any significant territory – it would leave a similar vacuum. This could start the process of the disintegration of Russia, with individual oligarchs in control of various regions, each one with control over nuclear weapons. This must be a scenario which keeps the strategists for US capitalism awake at night. So, if it hasn’t been consciously thought through, in any case it seems to result in making future invasions extremely costly but at the same time giving Putin some of what he wants. We thank Yorgos for this article, which is along the lines of our article: Is “negotiated settlement” a euphemism for defeat of Ukraine?
1. See also : http://www.europe-solidaire.