Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

The War in Ukraine Is Strengthening NATO and U.S. Imperialism

As Germany increases its military budget and Sweden and Finland ponder joining NATO, it’s clear that the war in Ukraine has been a boon for European and U.S. imperialism.

James Dennis Hoff

April 16, 2022
Facebook Twitter Share
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg looks on as Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (left) and Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde (right) bump fists after holding a joint press conference after their meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Jan. 24
Image: John Thys/AFP/Getty

It is a remarkable irony that the devastating invasion of Ukraine, which was supposedly intended to halt or stall further NATO expansion on Russia’s borders, is instead fueling NATO’s growth and the rearmament of Europe. Putin’s intentions to further destabilize Ukraine, making it all but impossible for the country to ever join NATO or the EU, is more or less going according to plan, but with dire consequences for working people in Europe and around the world. Despite major setbacks in the west of the country and the recent loss of one of its most powerful warships, Russia is intensifying further control of the eastern regions, and is close to finally capturing the major port city of Mariupol. The invasion of Ukraine was supposed to reassert Russian power and weaken NATO control of the region, but that has not happened. Instead, Russia’s invasion has only bolstered the reputation and power of NATO, even among countries that have remained neutral for decades. 

Since the war began in February, opinion polls across Europe have shown a shocking and unprecedented increase in support for NATO, weapons shipments to Ukraine, and increased military spending. In Germany, for instance, polls showed significant approval for military aid to Ukraine as well as the more than €100B in new military spending proposed by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in March. In Ireland there is increasing support for joining NATO, up from just 34 percent in February to 48 percent in late March, with 59 percent agreeing that the country should boost its military spending. 

Meanwhile, polls in both Finland and Sweden have shown a considerable increase in support for joining NATO, and both countries look primed to apply for membership soon. About 59 percent of Finns now support the idea. That number was just 34 percent in 2021. Next door, 60 percent of Swedes now say they would support joining the alliance if Finland also joined. That number falls to just 41 percent if Finland did not join, but with just 26 percent opposed and 33 percent undecided, it still represents a plurality. While it’s true these polls reflect a limited set of options, it’s clear that the war has not hurt NATO’s reputation, but has, on the contrary, improved its image across much of Europe. 

Both the governments of Sweden and Finland (which has a 1,300 kilometer border with Russia) are now signaling a growing willingness to join the alliance and NATO officials have suggested that it is all but certain that Finland will join and that Sweden will follow. On Wednesday, the prime ministers of both countries held a joint press conference to discuss the security situation and the prospects for joining NATO. Finland’s prime minister, Sanna Marin, said that a decision on whether or not Finland would apply for membership could be made within weeks. On Friday, Finland’s Minister of European Affairs stated that it is “highly likely” that the country will agree to membership. Sweden’s ruling Social Democratic Party has also expressed security concerns after Russia’s invasion, and is looking to make a decision on the question by the end of the summer. 

In response, Russia has threatened to deploy nuclear weapons and hypersonic missiles to its exclave on the Baltic Sea. On Wednesday, former Russian President and Deputy Chairman of Russia’s Security Council Dmitry Medvedev said that he hoped Finland and Sweden would see sense. If not, he added, they would have to live with nuclear weapons and hypersonic missiles close to home. It’s widely believed that Russia already has nuclear weapons in the Kaliningrad exclave, but the deployment of even more nuclear weapons to within just 500 KM of Berlin would only further escalate tensions with all of Europe. 

Russia’s disastrous invasion of Ukraine, far from discrediting NATO aggression, has only helped to re-legitimize one of the primary organizations of U.S. imperialism and violence abroad since the end of the Second World War. With the help of NATO, the  United States has been able to maintain hundreds of military bases across Europe and to pursue its global strategic objectives, including the isolation of Russia, with little resistance. The continued growth and expansion of NATO, far from making Europe safer, will only precipitate further conflict. As the United States pivots toward increased economic and military competition with China and Russia, it is clear that NATO will play a major role in the coming conflict. Such strategic interests, however, are not in the interests of working people either within or outside  NATO states, and it is the responsibility of workers everywhere to resist U.S. imperialism as well as the further militarization of Ukraine and Europe. This includes an end to sanctions and arms shipments, as well as the immediate removal of all Russian forces from Ukraine. 

Facebook Twitter Share

James Dennis Hoff

James Dennis Hoff is a writer, educator, labor activist, and member of the Left Voice editorial board. He teaches at The City University of New York.

Ideas & Debates

Protesters in Texas directed anger at Governor Greg Abbott.

For the Right to Choose Motherhood

A new mother writes about her experience with pregnancy and why we must, in the wake of the recent Supreme Court leak, build a movement that fights for the right to choose parenthood.

Tatum Regan

May 8, 2022
Sanciones

Sanctions on Russia: The Collateral Damage and Strategic Risks of the West’s ‘Economic Weapon’

In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the United States and European Union have imposed unprecedented sanctions on the Putin regime. These measures are severely damaging the Russian economy. They are also disrupting international markets in energy and other commodities. Such large-scale use of the “economic weapon” risks further fragmenting the world economy.

Esteban Mercatante

April 25, 2022
A Russian tank rolls during a military drills at Molkino training ground in the Krasnodar region.

Angry About High Fuel and Food Prices? Blame Imperialism

Biden is attempting to paint Putin as the sole reason for inflation, while Republicans try to blame Biden. In truth, the entire global economic system that all of these politicians represent is why workers keep being strained.

Sam Carliner

April 22, 2022

Stop the War in Ukraine! A Call to Action

The undersigned organizations and individuals agree on these basic principles. We offer this statement as a set of core principles to help galvanize an antiwar movement that is both antiimperialist and internationalist in outlook.

Left Voice

April 12, 2022

MOST RECENT

NATO’s Push to Expand: Will Finland and Sweden Finally Join?

Putin’s reactionary invasion of Ukraine is changing the balance of forces in Europe. Now Sweden and Finland, which had been historically neutral, are considering joining NATO.

Óscar Fernández

May 19, 2022

In the Latest Primaries, the Battle within the Parties Continues

Tuesday's primaries delivered wins to Trump endorsed candidates and some progressives, signaling that the fight for the parties is far from over.

Ezra Brain

May 18, 2022
Argentinians hold green bandanas as part of the "Green Wave" for abortion rights

Why We Wear Green Bandanas for Abortion Rights

The green bandana has become a symbol of the movement for safe, legal, and free abortion. Here, an Argentinian feminist explains its origins.

Celeste Murillo

May 18, 2022
Eugene, Oregon Starbucks workers on strike hold signs outside the store that read "HONK for Workers Rights."

Oregon Starbucks Workers Go on Strike against Union Busting

Starbucks workers in Eugene, Oregon have gone on strike against union busting and the unlawful firing of three union organizers.

Left Voice

May 17, 2022