Last week's Ukrainian counteroffensive, followed by the string of conflicts stirred up in the Russian zone of influence to undermine the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization) have raised the level and violence of the imperialist conflict between Russia and the US. Russia mobilizes as of today 300,000 reservists and plants nuclear weapons on the table.
The NATO offensive extended far beyond the Kharkov region
Washington's strategy vis-à-vis Moscow has concentrated over the past week on showing a generalized Russian "loss of control". First in Ukraine, then in the Caucasus, whipping up Azerbaijan with one hand and with the other promising a Ukraine-style NATO intervention if Armenia seceded from Russian-dominated regional institutions. It was no bluff: they sent Pelosi in person to Yerevan to impart the message directly.
Then finally in the Central Asian region: first with the border clashes between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, then by encouraging Kazakhstan to close the ring of sanctions leveled against Russia and Belarus by not allowing cargoes to cross through which EU imports have continued to arrive until now. The goal, in the words of a US-linked analyst: to show that "the Russian-dominated CSTO is a paper tiger."
Russia's response: consolidate and push for an end to the war
Putin announces this morning the mobilization of 300,000 reservists and the annexation of the occupied territories in Ukraine after the upcoming referendums
The Russian response has been to attempt to consolidate territorial gains and force an end to the war in Ukraine through a three-step move.
- Hold referendums immediately in Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson and Zaporollyie. Russia will open schools for the more than two and a half million Ukrainian refugees it has on its territory, so it is very doubtful that any of them will get a "no" vote regardless of how clean the electoral process is.
- Formal annexation of the new republics after referendums on self-determination. From that moment on, the territories won in the war will become Russian territory. As Medvedev advanced, that means two things:
- That Russia will defend them as an integral part of its territory, i.e. by including them in its nuclear defense strategy.
- That after the reform of the Constitution, an eventual change of government will not be able to reverse the annexation without repealing the Constitution itself.
- The signing of a decree on mobilization of reservists announced this morning by Putin on television.
Pandora's box has been opened
The Kremlin's response is in reality an all-or-nothing bet. It has been made clear by messages this morning from Defense Minister Shoigu's speech. The Russian state acknowledges that it is no longer merely conducting a "special operation," but that "we are at war with NATO and the collective West." At the same time, it makes explicit the nuclear threat: "All kinds of weapons, including the nuclear triad, are doing their job".
The objective is to defend the national territory, which will be joined in the coming days and weeks by the occupied Ukrainian republics. We will later see which ones will appear on paper.
The challenge is obvious: Russia is not going to retreat any further and if the US and NATO try to bend its arm by using the hyper-equipped Ukrainian army to push back its national borders, it is prepared to use nuclear weaponry.
When the US or Germany say they will not recognize referendums in occupied Ukraine they could be saying either one of two very different things:
- That they will not diplomatically recognize the annexed territories, just as half the world does not recognize the real borders of Israel or Morocco.
- That they do not intend to reduce injections of armaments, funds, intelligence and strategy to the Ukrainian army and are therefore ready to take the war to Russian territory regardless of the response planned by Moscow, just as they refused to consider Russian security requirements in the phases leading up to the current war.
The US, which also intends to show all its cards, wants to convey that it is opting for the second option. It probably is. What that means is to let the war enter a new phase of lethality and horror and to go nuclear in the hands of the Russian establishment.
The outlook clearly does not look good.
Workers and the new phase of the war
Gazprom strike in 2019
According to Shoigu's speech today, forced conscription will affect, at this time, 300,000 people, including medical personnel and excluding arms workers. However, the decree does not give any figures nor does it limit its subsequent expansion. These figures would rather depend on the needs determined by the military. According to the terms of the decree, the mobilization could affect up to 1.5 million people.
That is, 300,000 people now, and possibly many more in the coming weeks and months, will be forcibly recruited. The vast majority of them will be workers. Shoigu has insisted, and this is being repeated in the Russian press, that there will be no levy of young people and students.
Hundreds of thousands of workers will be uprooted from their work and their families all over the country. The moment that the Russian bourgeoisie feared - to recognize that it was in a war and that it was going to massively involve the workers - is already here.
The escalation of imperialist contradictions between Russia and the U.S. could only increase the contradictions between the bourgeoisie and the workers. Workers all over Russia can see what is coming to them immediately in the mirror of Ukraine: laws fomenting precarization and which lay the groundwork for a post-war period of hunger and immediate militarization of labor and daily life and levies that become progressively wider as the slaughter demands more and more cannon fodder.
Nothing can be expected but more death from the confrontation of the all-or-nothing bets between the imperialisms in contest.
There is only one way out of the imperialist wars that does not imply escalating them further until only ruins and corpses remain: the revolutionary overthrow of the class which, by identifying itself with capital and benefiting from directing social labor, submits and sacrifices us to barbarism.
- The main victims of the bombings and sanctions are the workers on both sides of the front lines.
- The war expresses the growing antagonism between capitalism and human life.
- In all countries the enemy is resides within the country itself, calling for sacrifices and subordinating universal human needs to the benefit of business and investment.
- In every strike, in every meeting, in every company and in every neighborhood, let us make visible militarism and war and let us organize as workers against them.