In Episode 129 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg discusses the book Ukraine & the Empire of Capital: From Marketisation to Armed Conflict by Yuliya Yurchenko of the Ukrainian left-opposition group Sotsialniy Rukh (Social Movement). In the book, written in 2018, Yurchenko takes a rigorous neither/nor position between Russia and the West, tracing the roots of the current crisis to the rise of regional oligarchs and a "criminal-political nexus" in the post-communist transition a generation ago. The West, in its rush to effect a crash capitalist conversion in the East, was deeply complicit in this. But these regional fiefdoms were later exploited by Vladimir Putin to effect a division of Ukraine as East-West rivalry re-emerged. This January, as Putin amassed forces on Ukraine's borders, Sotsialniy Rukh issued a statement appealing for "anti-war solidarity." In interviews since the invasion was launched the next month, Yurchenko has been unequivocal in supporting the Ukrainian "popular resistance." Similar statements from socialists and anarchists in Ukraine, Belarus and elsewhere in Eastern Europe have called, first and foremost, for the defeat of Putin's neo-imperial project. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
From Anarchist Black Cross Belarus, June 10:
A full-scale war in Ukraine has been going on for over three months now. The anarchist movement has responded to the Russian invasion in different ways during these three months—some have begun unconditionally supporting their comrades in Ukraine, while others continue to repeat the story of NATO aggression in the region. We also felt it necessary to make a statement about our view of events.
Ukrainian prosecutor general Iryna Venediktova announced May 14 that her office is preparing war crimes cases against 41 suspects, on charges including "the bombing of civilian infrastructure, the killing of civilians, rape and looting." Venediktova has said that her office is investigating more than 10,700 potential war crimes involving more than 600 suspects.
Belarus has served as a staging ground for one leg of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and Kyiv officials warn that Belarusian forces may join Putin's war effort. But resistance to the Russian aggression is emerging in Belarus—apparently including acts of sabotage. Ukrainian Railways (Ukrzaliznytsia) announces that the rail links into Ukraine from Belarus have been effectively cut, preventing the transport of Russian reinforcements and equipment. Belarusian news site Zerkalo reports that "in the Mogilev, Gomel and Minsk regions three cases of destruction of signaling equipment, blocking of railways were recorded." Belarusian security forces acknowledge the sabotage was motivated by opposition to the war in Ukraine. Named as behind the sabotage are the banned groups Busly Lyatsyats, a pro-democracy social-media network ordered suppressed by the regime last year, and BYpol, a union of dissident Belarusian security officers. A representative of exiled opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya saluted the work of these "partisans," adding: "Ukraine will win! Belarus will also be liberated!" (EuroMaidan Press)
In Episode 115 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg continues to dissect Vladimir Putin's ultra-cynical fascist pseudo-anti-fascism. Putin presides over Nuremberg-type mass rallies celebrating war and conquest, spews overtly genocidal rhetoric, and prepares concentration camps for the Crimean Tatars. Alexander Dugin, "Putin's Rasputin" and the intellectual mastermind of his revanchist imperial project, has openly called for "genocide" of the Ukrainians. In areas of Ukraine occupied by Russia, a forced mass deportation of the populace is reported. Putin is clearly approaching a genocidal threshold in Ukraine—while imposing a totalizing police state within Russia. Yet, with unimaginable perversity, all this is done in the name of a campaign to "denazify" Ukraine. The painting of Ukraine as a "Nazi" state on the (dubious) basis of a few ugly right-wing paramilitaries on the Ukrainian side is vigorously repudiated by the leadership of Ukraine's Jewish community. Yet this "Big Lie" is credulously (or cynically) echoed by elements of the "left" as well as far right in the United States—who arrogantly refuse to listen to Ukrainians. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
Police detained more than 4,300 people in over 50 cities across Russia on March 6, as activists mounted a second wave of protests against the invasion of Ukraine. From Moscow and St. Petersburg to the Siberian city of Irkutsk and the Pacific port of Vladivostok, thousands of unpermitted demonstrators chanted "No to war!" and "Shame on you!"—a message directed at President Vladimir Putin. In the Urals city of Yekaterinburg, a mural glorifying Putin was defaced—prompting a charge by the riot police. The independent monitoring group OVD-Info reports that over 8,000 have now been arrested in anti-war protests across Russia since the Ukraine invasion was launched last week.
Belarus on Feb. 28 voted in a referendum to approve constitutional changes that include dropping the country's nuclear-free status. On the eve of the vote, President Alexander Lukashenko expressed his willingness to redeploy nuclear arms in the country's territory, saying: "If [the West] transfers nuclear weapons to Poland or Lithuania, to our borders, then I will turn to [Vladimir] Putin to bring back the nuclear weapons that I gave away without any conditions."
As Putin finally ordered his forces across the Ukrainian border into the breakaway Donbas region, the Russian anarchist group Autonomous Action issued a statement to the world, entitled "Against annexations and imperial aggression." It reads: "We urge you to counter the Kremlin's aggression by any means you see fit. Against the seizure of territories under any pretext, against sending the Russian army to the Donbas, against militarization. And ultimately against the war. Take to the streets, spread the word... Do not be silent. Take action. Even a small screw can jam the gears of a death machine."