Left Voice, along with our sister site in Germany, Klasse Gegen Klasse, denounces the recent move by NATO countries (including Germany and the U.S.) to send tanks to Ukraine. This is a clear escalation in a reactionary war which is creating nothing but misery for the international working class.
Germany is sending 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, while the United States is sending 31 M-1 Abrams tanks. The German government gave its permission to other NATO members like Poland and Spain to deliver German-manufactured Leopard tanks from their arsenals. Far from a matter of defense of Ukraine, the addition of Western tanks on the battlefield increases the objectives of NATO’s proxy-war, enabling the Zelenskyy regime to take a more offensive position in the East of the country. While it remains unclear how Putin will respond, the Russian Ambassador to Berlin said that Germany’s decision to send tanks “takes the conflict to a new level of confrontation.” It cannot be ruled out that more escalations could lead to the conflict becoming nuclear, or NATO troops being sent to the fight.
This comes just days after The New York Times reported that U.S. president Joe Biden is considering helping Ukraine take Crimea, an objective which was once strictly off the table. Meanwhile, Biden’s national security adviser, Jon Finer, said they would not rule out the delivery of fighter jets, a statement that was also shared by French, Polish, and Dutch military politicians. Ukraine has also been demanding air support since the beginning of the war.
Along with expanding the objectives and timeline of the war, the transfer of U.S. tanks to Ukraine implies additional coordination between the U.S. military and Ukrainian forces. We can already see this in the example of the Patriot missile system. Around 100 Ukrainian troops are currently in the United States being trained at a U.S. base to use the system. This signals a move toward more direct engagement of U.S. military forces in the ongoing conflict. Now some sectors of U.S. imperialism openly argue that the United States must support a protracted war until Russia is “defeated.” According to the Washington Post, this is the strategy that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is now pursuing.
In Germany, chancellor Olaf Scholz has taken steps to escalate the conflict even more. He has replaced Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht with Boris Pistorius, known as a right-wing hardliner within the Social Democratic Party (SPD). Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock of the Green Party is now, for the first time, talking about Germany and NATO “fighting in a war against Russia”. These new steps are accompanied by discussions about an expansion of German arms production. Scholz and the SPD’s Secretary General Lars Klingbeil are in favor of a “national pact with the arms industry.” The Bundestag’s defense commissioner, Eva Högl (SPD), has even called for a 300 billion euro military budget. The arms company Rheinmetall, which manufactures the Leopard, has already doubled its stock market value since the start of the war.
There Are No Progressive Camps in this War
As members of the Trotskyist Fraction – Fourth International (FT-CI), we have consistently denounced the reactionary character of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. As a representative of the interests of Russian capital, Putin offers nothing for the working class with his brutal invasion. The Russian regime is waging this war to secure its own power in Eastern Europe by oppressive means. In doing so, it is massacring civilians and sending tens of thousands of people, especially ethnic minorities, to the front against their will.
We do not take sides in the war. A free and socialist Ukraine can only exist independently of the influence of Russia and the West. Putin’s invasion sends Russian workers into Ukraine to kill and die for the interests of Russian oligarchs who are far removed from the fighting. We support the working class and anti-war movement in Russia. It’s up to the working class to defeat Putin’s reactionary regime.
NATO only follows its own capitalist interests, not the interests of the Ukrainian and Russian working class. In fact, the war that NATO and Russia are waging in Ukraine serves as a barrier to vital solidarity of the working class in Russia, Ukraine, and in NATO countries. This, while NATO sanctions and boycotts are economic warfare which hurts workers in Russia and worldwide. The role NATO expansion played in escalating tensions between the rival capitalist blocs to the point of war cannot be ignored or downplayed.
Along with Putin and NATO, another enemy of the working class is the Zelenskyy regime, which allows far-right nationalism to flourish, ruthlessly bombards the Donbas, and oppresses the Ukrainian Left and Ukraine’s Russian-speaking population. The war effort led by Zelenskyy furthers NATO-imperialist expansion throughout Europe, which comes at the expense of the working class, including the Ukrainian working class.
For the Intervention of the Working Class against this War
Left Voice and Klasse Gegen Klasse call on the labor movement in the United States, Germany, and the rest of the NATO countries to organize the power of the working class against this reactionary war and further escalation. We must do this in solidarity with the increasingly repressed labor movements and Left in Ukraine, the Donbas, Russia, and Belarus who are subjected to greater violence, destruction, and nationalism as a result of this war.
The Left and workers in Germany and Europe as well as in the United States must mobilize against the war and weapons shipments. So far, there have been few protests, due to the alignment of the Left and the leaderships of the trade unions, most of which back NATO and support sanctions or even arms deliveries. Other parts of the European Left, however, such as the wing in the German Left Party around Sarah Wagenknecht, downplay the Russian invasion. Instead, they want German imperialism to have a more independent orientation from the United States, closer to Russia again.
We reject both perspectives. In the United States, the two-party regime provides bipartisan support to militarism and imperialism. Even the left wing of the Democratic Party, represented by figures like Bernie Sanders and The Squad, have gone lock-step in supporting the imperialist weapons shipments to Ukraine and sanctions on Russia.
We call on workers to strike against weapons shipments, sanctions, and rearmament — and for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine, the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Europe, and dissolution of NATO. With actions of the working class in the west, we want to encourage our class siblings in Russia and Belarus to strike against the war as well. It is the duty of the western workers to show the eastern workers that this is not their war, these are not their sanctions. We must follow the examples of workers in Greece and Italy who stopped NATO tank shipments by withholding their labor and workers in Belarus who stopped Russian tank shipments by sabotaging the railroads, in opposition to a war waged against the interests, and at the direct expense of our class.