Throwing further weapons into the cauldron of war is no solution to the Ukraine conflict argues Lindsey German

Vladimir Putin’s dangerous escalation of the war in Ukraine with his talk of using nuclear weapons threatens much greater conflict and is totally against the interests of the Ukrainian and Russian peoples and those of the rest of Europe.

This is already a proxy war between Russia and the Nato powers, three of which also possess nuclear weapons. The urgent need is for a ceasefire and peace talks now — but all the rhetoric is going in the other direction.

This is clear from the words of Liz Truss, on her first trip overseas as prime minister at the UN general assembly in New York.

Here she berated other major powers for being less enthusiastic in their desire to disseminate weapons of war to Ukraine, and continued in her predecessor’s belligerent support for greater escalation.

A Ukrainian government adviser has called for the West to use nuclear strikes against Russian nukes before any Russian attack — a first-strike move which would likely trigger a nuclear war with all the horrific implications.

On the day she left for the US, Truss announced another £2.3 billion for weapons next year to match the amount already provided to Ukraine in 2022.

The message is clear: while ruthless parsimony rules every judgement about public spending on services benefiting working-class people, there is a very different attitude towards the military and weapons.

That this will come at a tremendous cost to British people — already under the cosh as falling real wages meet inflation and a cost-of-living crisis caused at least in part by the war and sanctions — which is estimated to be the equivalent of another 5p in the pound income tax rise.

Britain is already the second-biggest donor to Ukraine after the US, and last week alone it sent tens of thousands of rounds of artillery ammunition to the front lines.

The British government is slipping seamlessly from a period of mourning for the monarch to a period of warmongering which will bring big increases in weapons to Ukraine, a major rise in “defence” spending to at least 3 per cent of GDP, threats of much greater conflict, and the ramping up of the new cold war against both Russia and China.

Truss and her allies in Nato have been emboldened by the recent victories of Ukrainian troops against Russia, which has pushed back its army in parts of the north.

This advance was very much dependent on weaponry and other logistical support from Nato, especially the US and Britain. Putin is under increasing pressure at home and abroad, as right-wing nationalists bemoan the military defeats, while both the Chinese and Indian leaders have spoken equivocally about Putin’s war, suggesting at the very least some distancing from the Russian invasion and subsequent war which has not gone the way that the Russian leader planned.

He is also facing a growing anti-war movement as protesters bravely campaign against his new draft order. We should give full support to them.

There is much greater pressure for the war to be prosecuted further from some of the Nato powers. At the heart of Nato is US imperialism.

Russia is much weaker militarily and economically, but it is still an imperialist power, albeit a lesser one, and is armed with nuclear weapons.

The British government strategy of providing further weapons is no solution. Nor is the talk of effectively regime change, which argues that Putin and his co-thinkers need to be overthrown in order to achieve negotiations and an end to the war. And there is firm talk about Ukraine joining Nato rather than being neutral.

In practice there are so many agreements between Ukraine and Nato already that it is already de facto signed up to the military alliance. Labour has absolutely no alternative to these plans and Keir Starmer will fall in behind whatever Truss wants.

The outcome is likely to be a continued escalation of the war. That will continue the terrible damage done to the people and the economy of Ukraine and contains with it the danger of a prolonged war with neither side winning. Or worse, the very real prospect that there may be a conflict between “tactical” nuclear weapons, with devastating consequences.

In the background is the worsening international situation, with growing inter-imperialist conflict between the US and China, with Britain again centrally involved through the Aukus military pact.

The only solution here is to strive for peace in Ukraine and to restart negotiations. Stop the War has always condemned Russia’s invasion and called for its troops to withdraw. That remains the case. There can be no justification or support for what Putin has done. But most wars end in some sort of negotiation and this is the best means of saving lives and allowing Ukraine to live in peace.

Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said recently that workers in Nato member states had to be prepared to sacrifice to support the war.

But the war is having a devastating effect not just on the Ukrainian economy but on the living standards in countries such as Germany and Italy, and on food and energy prices and shortages in the global South.

Rather than spending billions more on weaponry, which is likely to have a devastating effect, those who promote war should be looking instead at how to end the conflict and deal with the urgent problems facing the world. These include poverty, hunger, inequality, climate change — and the threat of imperialist war.

Source: Morning Star

24 Sep 2022 by Lindsey German

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