Where is the war in Ukraine headed?

6 June, 2022

Turkish navy closes entry and exit of warships from the Black Sea.
Turkish navy closes entry and exit of warships from the Black Sea.

The contradictions created by the war in Ukraine keep growing at all levels, bringing up an increasingly bleak future for the whole of Europe.

Table of Contents

Growing contradictions between the US and European powers

As we commented two weeks ago, France, Germany and Italy are realizing that they are the main losers in the Ukrainian war. The “export model” of the major European powers is unsustainable without both cheap energy from Russia and the complementarity of Chinese industry.

That is why Washington’s message to the Europeans, asking them to prepare for a long “war of attrition” against Russia fell like a bombshell in the European capitals, which redoubled their pressure within NATO.

The result, as CNN relates is a series of regular secret meetings between Americans, British and Europeans, without Ukrainian participation, to discuss the terms of a cease-fire with Russia. These meetings are an acknowledgment of an open secret: Kiev’s subordinate role in what is, in reality, a US/NATO war against Russia. Bringing them to light is politically costly and therefore indicative of the sense of urgency it is taking for Berlin, Paris and Rome to give it a near-end-of-war horizon.

In Germany, in fact, polls speak of a growing resistance to the War Economy and its consequences: 3/4 of respondents believe that the economic consequences of the war are multiplying inequality within the country and 2/3 that it threatens an irretrievable social fracture. They speak from their own experience: 50% see their own situation as critical (24%) or at least feel “very worried” (26%).

The German state is failing to maintain the illusion of its own solidity. The German government’s main measure to alleviate the shot in the foot that was blocking oil from Russia, a monthly flat rate of €9 for rail travel, has ended in collapse, highlighting the shortcomings of the rail infrastructure. And the government’s call for households to stockpile ten days’ worth of food supplies is not helping to reduce the growing social unrest.

Moreover, it is sending signals to the industry of a truly catastrophic end of an era. This week Berlin denied risk coverage to Volkswagen’s new investments in China to join the blockade demanded by Washington with the campaign on Xinjiang. German capital, always inclined to accept the costs of maintaining a close relationship with the US, is reaching its “red lines”.

The unspoken limits of the war seem to tilt the fighting to the Russian side

Slaviansk
Slaviansk

Meanwhile, according to Ukraine’s own media, the situation on the war front is increasingly precarious for the Kiev army. Zelensky apparently wants a defense to the death of the Lugansk encirclement while his generals press for an orderly withdrawal before being surrounded by the Russian army.

Arms shipments persist, of course, but self-limited. The vaunted “long-range” missiles finally sent from Britain will not exceed the 80km range that the Russian missiles with which Kiev started the war already had. Putin reassured the allies themselves that he interpreted the shipment as an attempt to “make up losses” that did not change the boundaries of the confrontation, although he reminded them that any escalation in the actual range of the missiles would be met with an equivalent response from the Russian side.

Increasingly violent confrontations with Turkey

Erdogan reviews Ukrainian soldiers in 2020.
Erdogan reviews Ukrainian soldiers in 2020.

Putin, reaffirmed by the course of the slaughter, has thrown a gauntlet to his own imperialist rivals: he promised not to attack Odessa if Ukraine demilitarizes its ports to export wheat. The “offer”, evidently, has a catch. On the one hand it reinforces Russia’s image in Africa, which blames Zelensky for the grain shortage. On the other hand, it increases the contradictions of the U.S. strategy.

For Zelensky’s government demining the ports would undermine its own “all-out war” position with Russia. Internally, even in the eyes of its own domestic allies, it would erode it politically. A few million more deaths from famine doesn’t compare to that. So he demands that NATO stage it as a naval rescue operation like the one planned by the Europeans.

But the operation has for the moment been scrapped because the last thing NATO’s strategy needs is a direct naval battle with Russia in the Black Sea. So now, NATO is looking to Turkey as a possible “neutral guarantor” to secure Ukrainian ports while the wheat goes out.

But Turkey, with an inflation rate of over 73%, is the most uncomfortable possible ally at the moment. It is using its power to veto the entry of Sweden and Finland into NATO to escalate military pressure on Greece and Cyprus without the EU and NATO daring to respond. In the same logic, it is stepping up its military actions in Iraq against the PKK and against the YPG, its Syrian branch, in Kobane, while Biden is gritting his teeth; and as if that were not enough, this weekend it demanded that Sweden dismiss its Minister of Defense after denouncing that ten years ago he participated in a tribute to the PKK and its founder.

A seed of instability in Europe for the future

Azov Battalion
Azov Battalion

In case this whole scenario was not alarming enough, European governments are beginning to be aware that the tactic of sending military hardware en masse to Ukraine will sooner or later become a problem for the whole continent.

Interpol has already warned NATO governments that a part of all this arms flow will most likely end up in the hands of terrorist groups and criminal gangs. Among other things, because some factions of the Ukrainian government are already reselling items in order to make money by handing them over to friendly extremist groups in other countries.

And the fact is that, through the Azov Battalion, Ukraine is militarily training the far right and neo-Nazis from all over the EU. Their “return” is not going to be less destabilizing than that of the jihadists after Russia’s exit from Afghanistan once they find an imperialist patron in the increasingly turbulent game of the Balkans.

The cracks

Riders on strike in Moscow
Riders on strike in Moscow

In all this context of increasingly bloody and sharp contradictions, the main one of all of them is still only just coming to the surface. Obviously the war propaganda is not going to tell us too much either.

We know for instance that the Russian army, often confronted with its own troops, is multiplying punishments to deserters or killing them directly in order to avoid the collapse of its ranks. We know from the accounts of international correspondents that discontent and anger against the Ukrainian ruling class is beginning to spread among Ukrainian soldiers. And in spite of the repression, news of wildcat strikes among the most precarious sectors of Russian workers, such as construction or delivery platforms, are beginning to reach us.

They are, for the moment, small cracks that do not seem to threaten the gigantic killing machine that the imperialist conflict has set in motion. But they seem to widen. And they call on the workers of all the countries involved in the war to follow the same path.

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

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