Does the war in Ukraine have anything to do with “defending democracy and our values”?

7 March, 2022

Pedro Sánchez addresses the Federal Committee of the PSOE decked out in the colors of the national flag of Ukraine.
Pedro Sánchez addresses the Federal Committee of the PSOE decked out in the colors of the national flag of Ukraine.

The permanent azure-yellow exaltation and the most shameless war propaganda set the media tone in all European states and the USA. This has nothing to do with “democracy” and “our values”, no matter what Biden, Macron or Sanchez may say, but with the political necessity to enforce acceptance of the “sacrifices” demanded by the rising militarism. The result is the first advance of a new ideology of framing for war which turns a blind eye to the excesses of a nationalism which until yesterday was condemned as the great danger of the century.

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The “values” of Zelensky and his army are no better than those of Putin and his army.

Photo of corpses of slain Russian tankmen abandoned in the countryside. Photo distributed by Ukrainian army units.
Photo of corpses of slain Russian tankmen abandoned in the countryside. Photo distributed by Ukrainian army units.

In all their interviews since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war, European leaders have insisted that military aid, sanctions on Russia and consequent “sacrifices” resulting from European side-taking are justified by the “defense of our values”, which are supposedly represented by the Ukrainian government. “Putin has attacked Ukraine because it is too democratic in his eyes,” Sánchez went so far as to say yesterday.

What they are referring to is rather difficult to understand. According to the usual indices, Ukraine is the second most corrupt country in Europe, above even Belarus. In the whole continent Ukraine is only surpassed by Russia. And if anything helped the expansionist ambitions of the Russian ruling class, it was the violently ethnicist policies imposed after the Maidan, tailored to the racist and radical nationalism that has made Lviv the capital of the European far right.

While the Spanish and European media show us “feminist warriors“, the Telegram channels of the Ukrainian army and its far-right paramilitary units are pleased to show images of humiliations, executions and possible torture of prisoners of war; Zelensky’s advisors cheer the murders of Russian-speaking opponents, government-allied groups claim extrajudicial executions of public figures lukewarm to the war, even of official Ukrainian negotiators, and the web is filled with horrifying images of “deserters”, “looters” and Russian-speakers brutally humiliated if not directly murdered in the streets of Kiev by “the patriots”.

No wonder that even the German Interior Minister warns that the international allies of the star paramilitary groups – such as the Azov regiment – are recruiting the most violent of the continent’s ultra-right-wing milieu and that Ukraine will become for the neo-Nazis and “identitarians” what Afghanistan was for jihadism.

Is Russia employing Kadyrov’s terrorist scoundrels in the war? Yes. And they are a real danger, like all the ultra mafia filth with which they have dominated and supressed the strikes of the Donbass workers during these years, but nobody ever pretended that Putinism’s thugs represented “our values”.

Nor are “our values” supposed to include rejecting humanitarian corridors to prevent the evacuation of civilians from the cities under assault, as Zelensky did just today, who seems trapped in the nationalist dream of a Ukrainian and European apocalypse he would like to drag NATO into.

Why has the EU weaponized and created a myth around the Ukrainian government?

Zelensky poses for Time magazine.
Zelensky poses for Time magazine.

Beneath the Russian invasion of Ukraine lies nothing other than the clash of imperialist interests that we have seen grow over the past five years. A clash now condensed in the violent delimitation of zones of influence between the US-EU and Russia-China.

Read also: The "Ukraine conflict" no longer points towards "a European war" but a world war, 7/2/2022

With the focus of the conflict on the deployment of atomic missiles on European soil – and Russia’s violent refusal to lose its “strategic depth”, i.e. the possibility of having a secure rearguard in case of NATO attack – the EU was not only left out of the game in the demarcation of bloc borders on the continent, but condemned to a subordinate role vis-à-vis the USA.

France and Germany were reluctant from the outset to accept terms of negotiation that would deprive the EU of any possibility of military autonomy. For this reason, they tried hard until the end to open negotiations on their own with a Russia that repeated time and again that it was NATO that had the decision-making power over its demands and that the US was in charge of NATO. In eroding France and Germany, Putin’s and Biden’s interests coincided.

The entry of the Russian army into the Donbass on the 22nd definitely revealed Franco-German impotence. France and Germany, in order to advance their interests, only needed to take the lead in the sanctions and show their ability to lead an EU that was threatening disintegration.

The final move from the Donbass to a general Russian offensive on Ukraine precipitated things further. It was clear now that the rules of the game had changed. Imperialist balances could no longer be maintained exclusively on the basis of sanctions and market access mechanisms. It was time to make a leap, first from “peer-to-peer” sanctions to “sweeping sanctions” and a first hint of militarism. Immediately afterwards to a complete reconfiguration of the European economy (= capital accumulation) to leap forward to militarism.

This subordination of the economy to the preparation of war (=militarism) not only goes through an unprecedented rearmament, but also through a reorganization of the international division of labor which, although it was already underway due to the worsening of the trade war between China and the USA and the European Green Deal, is now becoming truly drastic. Militarism, the brutal rearmament of Germany (100 billion euros) but also the rush to achieve “energy independence” by cutting dependence on Russian gas.

The costs of this drastic turn in the positions of European imperialism are, needless to say, gigantic. As we shall see in future articles, its consequences on wages and purchasing power have already begun to be seen. It is possible that we may reach basic food and energy shortages even in EU territory.

It will not be easy to make the vast majority of the population swallow such a destruction of their living conditions. The European “war effort” needed to be dressed up as a “noble cause”. And that is what the opinion industry is for, ready to turn Zelensky into a “hero” and the corrupt and racist Ukrainian state into an “exemplary democracy”. Ready also to demonize “the Russians” as a monolithic whole, making invisible the massive opposition to the war and the very repressive actions of Putin’s regime.

The permanent azure-yellow exaltation and the most blatant war propaganda have become a priority of all European states and the USA. Not out of love and identity between the regime and “our values”, but out of pure political necessity for the interests of the ruling classes. The result is, as we are seeing, the first advance of a new war ideology based on looking away from the excesses of a nationalism that until yesterday was condemned as the danger of the century.

Let us not forget: the official discourse presents the war as a defense of “our values”. There are no values at all in this: only imperialist interests and horrendous crimes on both sides, reflecting the moral misery of both ruling classes and their objectives.

Read also: The invasion of Ukraine and the workers of the world, communiqué of Emancipation

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