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Articles on the Ukraine Conflict



BALKAN WITNESS was created in 1999 to report on the Serb-nationalist attack on the people of Kosovo. The founders are longtime progressive activists, veterans of opposition to aggressive US wars. And in the case of ex-Yugoslavia, and the war in Ukraine, we are also opponents of the expansionist aggression of other nations.

Since the beginning of the Kosovo war, we were dismayed by the lack of support among some Western progressives for the victims of that war, and even outright ideological sympathy with the aggressors. We refuted in great detail the misrepresentations by Serbian nationalists and their western supporters.

Some on the Left engaged in a comparable syndrome with respect to Syria and the catastrophic crimes of the Assad forces.

Now comes the war in Ukraine. Putin's invasion is front-page news for months, and Russian crimes are in plain sight for all to see and understand. Yet denial, and support for the war criminals' aims, are still to be found in parts of the Western Left. This experience has a clarifying effect: it is not a matter of lack of information, or confusion about what is happening; it is ideological. Parts of the Left are infected with a case of "the enemy of the enemy is our friend." Their anti-imperialism extends only so far as the door. They haven't been able to take a stand against empire builders elsewhere. Not only Serbian expansionists, but Russian and Chinese as well, have committed war crimes in service of their own regional objectives.

Meanwhile, we find some Leftists blaming possible expansion of NATO to include Ukraine. It didn’t matter to them that NATO expansion was driven more by the East Europeans than by Washington, which was originally quite divided on the matter. Nor did it matter that NATO membership for Ukraine was hardly imminent, or that in no scenario was a NATO attack on Russia imaginable.

Leftist Commentary that is unsupportive of Ukraine comes in two general categories:

The hard position is that Russia is part of a global alliance against US imperialism and therefore it should be supported uncritically. This reflects the attitude that regional fascist movements are worthy of the Left's support if they are anti-US. For responses to that below, see the Truthout article by Fletcher & Davidson, as well as the White Russian empire piece: Russia is part of a global authoritarian, neo-fascist movement.

More prevalent is the soft position, promoted by Noam Chomsky and others: Yes the invasion is inexcusable, one of the major war crimes of the 21st century, but the real problem is NATO. All the emotional firepower is directed at the US. Many of the pieces below do a good job of critiquing that position. That nations might prefer NATO to Russia is a demonstration of how bad the Russian government is. As this critique of the Stephen F. Cohen piece suggests, while Germany was badly treated by the Treaty of Versailles, that was no excuse for Hitler's imperial expansionism.

Time and again, the Western Left has responded to the critique of Russia by mentioning US aggression against Afghanistan, Iraq, and other states. The argument should be that, in 2003, other governments did not put enough pressure on the United States over Iraq. Not that it is necessary to exert less pressure on Russia over Ukraine now. --Taras Bilous, A Letter to the Western Left from Kyiv

Progressives worldwide should be defined by alliance with the victims - not by justifications for the conquerors. To build lasting peace, and to confront the reality of the climate crisis in time, we need international cooperation, not war. For peace, for human rights, and for climate justice, we need an end to the crimes and oppression perpetrated by violent dictators like Putin.

On this page we present, in several sections, a factual and political basis for an improved understanding of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. We include direct reports from those victimized, who we should be allied with.

Every person, whoever and wherever they are, has the right to live in peace and free from oppression. Today, it must be a worldwide priority to protect the lives and livelihoods of Ukrainians, end Putin’s aggression, and restore peace, democracy, and human rights. We make this a priority because Russia under Putin is a leader in the worldwide trend toward authoritarian regimes. Those countries that allow relative freedom must stand up to Russia's aggression and authoritarianism.

Tomorrow, we need to hold those guilty of this war crime accountable.

1. The present situation
2. The Left

3. Voices from Ukraine, and Russian dissidents
4. Historical background
5. Ivan Ilyin, Putin’s ideological hero

6. How you can support Ukraine
7. NEW Peter Lippman's reports from Ukraine
October 2023

You can follow local reliable reporting about Russia’s invasion on Ukraine at:
Kyiv Independent     New Voice of Ukraine     Ukraine Crisis Media Center

Subscribe to Prof. Timothy Snyder's informative updates (Free, or donation)

NEW Peter Lippman's reports from Ukraine  October 2023

In the end, Prigozhin told the truth about the war
Putin's motives for war: it had nothing to do with NATO enlargement or Ukrainian aggression, and was simply a matter of wishing to dominate Ukraine, replace its regime with a Moscow-friendly politician (Viktor Medvedchuk), and then seize its resources and to satisfy the Russian elite.

Timothy Snyder:  Yale lecture series (archived)
"The Making of Modern Ukraine," 46 minutes. Twice weekly, September through November 2022
Highly recommended

Review of Medea Benjamin's book in detail (Transcript) By Bill Weinberg, CounterVortex, December 9, 2022

Parts of the Left are speaking the same language that tyrants do By Kavita Krishnan, February 25, 2023

Ukraine Solidarity Network-US

It's "Ukraine," not "the Ukraine" - here's why

Additional references


1. The present situation

The Putin Files: Julia Ioffe Journalist Julia Ioffe’s candid video interview on Putin and allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election – part of FRONTLINE’s media transparency project for its investigation, “Putin’s Revenge.” (1 hour, 48 minutes) October 27, 2017 More here

Reports from Ukraine, by Tim Judah, New York Review of Books:
Kyiv Under Siege, March 3, 2022   Ukraine on the Brink, March 24, 2022   Holding on in Irpin, April 7, 2022   The Russian Terror, May 26, 2022

White Russian Empire: The racist myths behind Vladimir Putin's power grabs Unlike previous iterations of Russian identity, Putin's Russian nation is explicitly race-based. By Rafia Zakaria, The African American Policy Forum, March 10, 2022

"Genocide" and Putin's war of destruction against Ukrainian society Putin regards a free, democratic Ukrainian society as a threat to Russia. It is clear enough that he wishes to shatter Ukrainian society and its state, not just ambitions for NATO and EU membership. If this is not yet "a genocide," the logic of destroying Ukrainian society is increasingly tending toward a genocidal war. By Martin Shaw, March 14, 2022

Ukraine is "defending all of us" from Putin If the Kremlin misread Ukraine, the West has also failed to understand what Putin was up to: he has an idea of what Russia should be like, and that idea includes controlling Ukraine. Interview with Timothy Snyder (14 minutes), British public broadcast service Channel 4, March 22, 2022

Facts Over Ideology, Peace Over War While Putin would like to see NATO divided and weakened, many see other reasons behind Putin’s invasion: a nationalist attempt to reclaim the Soviet empire, uniting Ukraine and Russia, shoring up his internal support through a successful war and making Russia a major player again on the world stage. As Yale History Professor Timothy Snyder has observed, economically successful democracies close to Russia threaten Russia by their very existence. By Terry Burke and Andrew Berman, In These Times [ITT], March 21, 2022

Ukraine-Russia peace talks conclude, no breakthrough Peace talks between Russia and Ukraine in Turkey have concluded, with Turkish President Erdogan stating that the negotiations had been the most meaningful to date. Despite the positive signals, the two sides failed to agree upon a comprehensive ceasefire, and the war rages on. Russia has already warned that there will be no extra meetings in Istanbul following the conclusion of peace talks. These talks were the first negotiations for two weeks. In that time, Russian forces have almost completely destroyed the eastern city of Mariupol and heavily bombarded major civilian centres, significantly deteriorating the humanitarian situation in the region. Brussels Times, March 30, 2022
More on the talks in Turkey
The first meeting between Ukrainian and Russian negotiators happened on February 28, 2022, in the Belarusian city of Gomel, four days after Russian tanks crossed the Ukrainian border. At that encounter, Medinsky recited a long list of the Kremlin’s demands. It included the replacement of Zelensky’s administration with a puppet regime, Ukrainian troops handing over all their tanks and artillery, the arrest and trial of “Nazis”—a Russian euphemism for any Ukrainian opposed to Moscow’s rule—and the restoration of Russian as Ukraine’s official language. Medinsky even demanded that city streets named after Ukrainian national heroes be returned to their old Soviet names.
“We listened to them, and we realized that these are not people sent for talks but for our capitulation,” recalled one of the Ukrainian negotiators, Zelensky’s adviser Mykhailo Podolyak. Yet to gain time the Ukrainians agreed to keep talking. By Yaroslav Trofimov, Wall Street Journal, January 5, 2024

Putin's Gulag-Based Empire Of Abduction, Deportation, and Modern Slavery. How Russia's mass deportation of Ukrainians is not an accident, but central to the "Ru.Lag" - the Kremlin's new form of political and economic control. By Brad Blitz and Alexandra Lewis, Byline Times, March 31, 2022

Justification of genocide Russia has openly declared its desire to exterminate Ukrainians as a nation. A Russian state-owned news-agency article justifies the need for mass repression against Ukrainians to force them to abandon their own nationality, culture, and language." Ukrainian Crisis Media Center, April 4, 2022

Russia's genocide handbook The Russian official press agency published an explicit program for the complete elimination of the Ukrainian nation as such." Denazification" in official Russian usage just means the destruction of the Ukrainian state and nation. A "Nazi," the publication explains, is simply a human who self-identifies as Ukrainian. By Timothy Snyder, April 8, 2022

Ukraine: Russian Forces’ Trail of Death in Bucha Russian forces committed a litany of war crimes during their occupation of Bucha in March. By Human Rights Watch, April 21, 2022

The Belarusian railway workers who helped thwart Russia’s attack on Kyiv A clandestine network of railway workers, hackers, and dissident security forces wreaked havoc on supply lines. By Liz Sly, The Washington Post, April 23, 2022
When Russian troops first streamed across the Belarusian border into Ukraine for what they had assumed would be a lightning assault on Kyiv, they were intending to rely on the region’s extensive rail network for supplies and reinforcements.
The Russians hadn’t taken into account the railway saboteurs of Belarus.
Starting in the earliest days of the invasion in February, a clandestine network of railway workers, hackers and dissident security forces went into action to disable or disrupt the railway links connecting Russia to Ukraine through Belarus, wreaking havoc on Russian supply lines.
The attacks have drawn little attention outside Belarus amid the drama of the Russian onslaught and the bloody aftermath of Russia’s humiliating retreat. Fierce Ukrainian resistance and tactical errors by an ill-prepared Russian force were likely enough to thwart Russia’s plans, analysts say.
But the Belarus railway saboteurs can at least claim a role in fueling the logistical chaos that quickly engulfed the Russians, leaving troops stranded on the front lines without food, fuel and ammunition within days of the invasion. ...

The War in Ukraine Is a Colonial War When Vladimir Putin denies the reality of the Ukrainian state, he is speaking the familiar language of empire. For five hundred years, European conquerors called the societies that they encountered “tribes,” treating them as incapable of governing themselves. As we see in the ruins of Ukrainian cities, and in the Russian practice of mass killing, rape, and deportation, the claim that a nation does not exist is the rhetorical preparation for destroying it. By Timothy Snyder, The New Yorker, April 28, 2022

The War in Ukraine Is a Colonial War Interview with Timothy Snyder on Democracy Now (16 minutes) May 5, 2022
Russia is responsible for invading Ukraine, and we have to recognize that.
... a significant part of the U.S. peace movement is on the periphery, focusing on the United States and NATO role, not on Putin’s invasion. On March 6, Code Pink, Stop the War and No to NATO organized a March 6 Global Day of Action in 125 cities that faulted NATO for the war: “We recognize that the expansion of NATO and the aggressive approach of Western states have helped cause the crisis and we demand an end to NATO expansion.”
Those on the U.S. Left who are not joining in solidarity with the Russian and Ukrainian protesters and demanding that Russia end its war on Ukraine, are missing an historic opportunity to join together with millions of people around the world and with the large Ukrainian-American community in a powerful anti-war movement. Unfortunately, many U.S. peace organizations have a history of viewing wars through a U.S.-centric lens, blaming every conflict on the U.S. military, ignoring the malevolent intent of President Vladimir Putin and other dictators.
Putin’s seven years of bombing Syrian civilians did not bring about worldwide protests and sanctions like the invasion of Ukraine has. Foreign policy analysts say that the lack of repercussions for Russia’s role in Syria emboldened Putin and “paved the way for his attack on Ukraine.”

Experts accuse Russia of inciting genocide in Ukraine and intending to 'destroy' Ukrainian people The report, signed by more than 30 leading legal scholars and genocide experts, accuses the Russian state of violating several articles of the United Nations Genocide Convention. It warns there is a serious and imminent risk of genocide in Ukraine, backing the accusations with a long list of evidence including examples of mass killings of civilians, forced deportations and dehumanizing anti-Ukrainian rhetoric used by top Russian officials. By Ivana Kottasova, CNN, May 27, 2022

Putin's thugs dismantled and steal Ukraine's largest solar power plant in huge energy blow Invading Russian troops entered the Tokmak solar power plant and dismantled and captured its solar panels. Express (UK), June 23, 2022

Council of Europe's Human Rights Commissioner publishes memorandum on the human rights consequences of the war in Ukraine It addresses Russian violations of international humanitarian law, including arbitrary killings and enforced disappearances; violations of the right to property, including massive destruction of civilian infrastructure; cases of torture and ill-treatment, gender-based violence and war-related sexual violence; and violations of the right to liberty and security, including abductions and arbitrary or incommunicado detention. July 8, 2022

Self-rule and Survival What the war in Ukraine (and the Coup in America) is Actually About. By Timothy Snyder, July 23, 2022

The State of the Russo-Ukrainian War Russia's decision to invade Ukraine was a crime, but it was also a mistake. It is hard for any government to admit such a thing (one still awaits a judgment on America's Iraq War debacle). But it is particularly hard for a tyrant whose power rests on his image as a strong man with infallible judgment. Russia has reached the stage in the war in which it is fighting because not to fight would be embarrassing. It has reached this stage quickly. By Timothy Snyder, July 26, 2022 Subscribe

As Ukraine Goes, So Goes the World Sometimes it helps to take a step back from the news. This lecture provides five ways to think about the war in Ukraine: as a military conflict, as an example of colonialism, as an example of genocide, as a crucible for new forms of language, and as a test of democracy. This was delivered to the Human Rights Workshop of Yale Law School. By Timothy Snyder, September 1, 2022 (Audio)

Russia's Obscene "Referendums" Putin must present Ukrainian territory that the Ukrainians are taking back as Russian territory; and he must have a media exercise to pretend that “referendums” have taken place, and that people in Ukrainian regions want to join Russia. A tyrant’s wish, a few lines of script on Russian television, and territories become Russian! This postmodern improvisation will convince no one beyond Russia, and it might not even convince Russians. But now that Putin has decided, the media exercise to support his magical thinking must go forward. By Timothy Snyder, September 22, 2022

The West didn't halt Ukraine's peace talks with Russia Russian diplomacy was always a smokescreen. By Volodymyr Artiukh and Taras Fedirko, Novara Media, October 17, 2022

The War in Ukraine and the Question of Genocide Russia’s war against Ukraine has been genocidal from the beginning. Genocide is a matter of actions, and a matter of intentions. In this lecture, gives examples of all five of the crimes that are designated genocidal by the 1948 convention. In Russia’s war against Ukraine, the problem is not the absence of expressions of genocidal intention. If anything, Russian officials and propagandists provide so many of them that we risk being overwhelmed, becoming jaded, and demanding even more evidence. Snyder recognizes that there are objections to the thesis of genocide; he begin with them. In his view, the core problem is that we do not want to believe that a genocide is going on, because that would make us bystanders. But it is this sort of reaction, precisely, that makes bystanders of people. Lecture by Timothy Snyder at Boston University, October 28, 2022 (53 minutes)

The Nova Kakhova Dam in Ukraine in Ukraine, controlled by Russia, has been destroyed. One consequence is a humanitarian disaster that, had it not taken place within a war zone, would already have drawn enormous international assistance. Thousands of houses are flooded and tens of thousands of people are in flight or waiting for rescue. Another consequence is ecological mayhem, among other things the loss of wetland and other habitats. A third is the destruction of Ukrainian farmland and other elements of the Ukrainian economy. So much is happening at once that the story is hard to follow. Here are a few thoughts about writing responsibly about the event. By Timothy Snyder, June 7, 2023

Prigozhin's March on Moscow Ten lessons from a mutiny. By Timothy Snyder, June 26, 2023

Russia's aggression against Ukraine leaves no room for negotiations Instead of attempts to bargain with Putin, it should now be obvious that the only way to secure a lasting peace is via Ukrainian victory and the decisive defeat of Russian imperialism. Supporters of a land-for-peace deal typically claim to be realists motivated by a desire to end the carnage in Ukraine as quickly as possible. While some are no doubt entirely sincere in their intentions, all of these so-called realists are united by a fundamental failure to recognize the true nature of the Putin regime and the genocidal character of the Russian invasion. By Peter Dickinson, euronews, July 24, 2023

The state of the war When the war does not end quickly, we jump to the idea that it is a "stalemate," which is a situation that lasts forever. This is false and serves as a kind of excuse not to figure out what is going on. This is a war that can be won, but only if we are patient enough to see the outlines and the opportunities. By Timothy Snyder, reporting from Kyiv, September 7, 2023

NEW How the best chance to win the Ukraine war was lost By  January 9, 2024

NEW Stand Against Genocide & Imperialism, from Palestine to Ukraine Both Ukraine and Palestine are facing wars waged on them by powers that seek not only to subjugate them militarily but to erase them as a people with their own national identity. Ukraine Solidarity Network, February 20, 2024

NEW Russia turns Ukraine's occupied areas into an armed camp After ten years of war, and two years of all-out invasion,Russia is turning the parts of Ukraine it has occupied into a giant military buffer zone, from which further assaults may be launched. By Simon Pirani, People and Nature, February 21, 2024

NEW How to Understand Russia's Imperialist Attitude Toward Ukraine Once the article gets moving, it gives a good explanation of Putin's and the Russian establishment's ideological basis for negating the nationhood of Ukraine. That's what leads to the genocide. The centuries-old Russian tradition of empire expansion centers around controlling Ukraine, although actual Russian control of Ukraine has only taken place in the last couple centuries of Ukraine's history. By Hanna Perekhoda, NewPolitics, Winter 2024

Ukraine World Includes regular updates on Russian disinformation warfare. On July 14, the site reported that, after a Russian missile attack on the Vinnytsia city center killed 22 people, Russian propagandists stated that the attack hit a Ukrainian military base and "killed Nazis."

2. The Left

Balkan Witness deplores the hypocrisy of Leftists who essentially advise the Ukrainians to surrender and who blame NATO for Putin's invasion. Russia attacked, Russia conquered territory, Russia has engaged in massive war crimes, not NATO. International law matters.

Why Ukrainians should prefer a neo-liberal capitalist EU to Putin’s neo-liberal capitalist Eurasian Union Many leftists think Putin’s Russian bandit-capitalism preferable to American neoliberal capitalism. Such people seem to think that the rapacious and destructive greed of big bankers and corporate owners/managers in Russia is somehow preferable to that of their European and American counterparts, even though the former enjoy a degree of independence from governmental regulation that some of the latter can only envy. They see no similarity between Putin and his Eurasianists and George W. Bush and his Neo-cons. They condemn Wolfowitz Cheney and Rumsfield, but not Dugin or Surkov or Glazeev. Accordingly, in no European capital have their been mass liberal-left demonstrations against Putin’s violation of Ukrainian borders. The world’s Noam Chomskys have not condemned Putin for turning Russia into an autocracy or labeled as imperialism his expansion west and south.  By Stephen Velychenko, April 18, 2014. The author is chair of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Toronto.

The Strange Case of Foreign pro-Kremlin Leftists Part 1  Part 2 Leftists are among those who support the Russian ruling class and its decidedly capitalist and imperialist government. By Stephen Velychenko, Krytyka, September and October 2014.

Leftists, Liberals, and Ukraine: A Tale of Double Standards [PDF] By Stephen Velychenko, Krytyka, February 2015. Originally published here.
Anti-Americanism is a set of beliefs that classifies imperialism as a singular specific American rather than global phenomenon and discounts or ignores competition between imperialists and intra-capitalist rivalries. Anti-Americanism bears little relation to Lenin's concept of many rival imperialist ruling classes divided within and engaged in an unending struggle with one another. Instead, anti-Americanists restrict "imperialism to a single US domiated bloc without fundamental intra-ruling-class differences.
Such a perspective leads some leftists and liberals to see the world as a stage for a duel between a capitalist USA and NATO on one side, and capitalist Russia on the other. On this Manichean stage, Ukraine must remain Russian, so the US and NATO do not get stronger. Middle or working class Ukrainians who see benefit in the EU, the massive support for the Maidan and the prospect of support from Ukrainian leftists and liberals in the fight against neo liberal capitalism within the EU have no place on this stage. According to this script, those who support EU membership for Ukraine are dupes in a fascist plot, run by the USA and NATO and its new puppet Kyiv "junta" government. Ukrainian national ambitions and independence are synonymous with what these leftists, liberals, and Russian rulers call fascism.
This article covers the positions of people like Paul Craig Roberts, John Pilger, Oliver Stone, John Helmer, Thomas Hartmann, and Anatol Lieven, who echo the Kremlin’s anti-Ukrainian propaganda on websites like Counterpunch.org, Marxist.com, Greenleft.org, World Socialist Website, Naked Capitalism, Stopimperialism.com, Canadian Dimension, and Globalresearch.ca.

Internationalism, Anti-Imperialism, And the Origins of Campism By Dan La Botz, NewPolitics, Winter 2022
Some older political analysts and activists today, who still think of themselves as leftists, tend to subordinate all questions to U.S. imperialism, arguing that if a state opposes the United States, then it is by definition anti-imperialist, so that its government’s own political, economic, and social system is irrelevant to that principal world conflict, which is imperialism. Moreover, whatever the problems of any of the so-called anti-imperialist states, they should not be examined or criticized, because that might weaken support for the anti-imperialist camp and its struggle against the United States and its allies. So, today’s campists will not discuss the authoritarian and oppressive political powers or the exploitative economic systems of what they consider to be the “anti-imperialist nations,” such as Russia, China, or Cuba, or of Iran or Syria. The campists are even more hostile to the notion that one should examine the class character, governmental system, and economic regimes of beleaguered nations like Venezuela or Nicaragua. To question these governments, they argue, is to aid U.S. imperialism. So traditional Marxism, based on analyzing the political economy, social classes, class struggle and oppression in a country, as well as its international relations, is discarded.

Since in the eyes of these activists the United States is the only or by far the dominant imperial power everywhere, they then define nations that are opposed to the United States—such as Russia, China, Iran, or Syria—as anti-imperialist nations. And thus they often then become apologists for the governments of those nations, even though they are authoritarian governments ruling capitalist countries. They will even attribute to these nations “socialist” or “democratic” characteristics that their governments do not in fact have.

The logic is something like this: X is an enemy of the United States, therefore X is anti-imperialist, therefore we support it, and since it is anti-imperialist, it must be progressive. It follows that any criticism of country X is reactionary. People who criticize any anti-imperialist nation such as X must be on the side of imperialism. So then, those who criticize China for putting some 1.5 million Uyghurs in concentration camps or for its crushing of the democratic movement in Hong Kong must be allied with the United States government and are objectively pro-imperialist. This is the campist logic.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine: a response to David Harvey Harvey presents no explanations for what Russia is doing other than the way the West has treated Russia and Russian reaction to that treatment. He says nothing, most notably, about the way the characteristics of the Putin regime might have led to this war; indeed, his analysis of the Russian political economy seems to be stuck in the 1990s. Putin’s systematic crushing of all possible political opposition in Russia, the Russian state’s stranglehold over information, and Russia’s massive propaganda machine go unmentioned. No contrast is drawn between the way "millions of people all around the world took to the streets" against the Iraq War in 2003 and the fact that all Russian protesters against this war are immediately arrested.
Harvey lists many wars that have taken place around the world since 1945, but omits Russia’s invasions of Georgia in 2008 and of Ukraine in 2014-15 and the Russian proxy war in Ukraine’s Donbas region. Putin’s conservative ultra-nationalism, his denial of the existence of the Ukrainian nation, his ludicrous statements about the threat Ukraine poses to Russia, and his claims that Ukraine, a country with a Jewish President, is run by ‘neo-Nazis’ are all ignored. So is the fact that Russia’s repeated claims over the last year that it had no intention of invading Ukraine were clearly lies. By Derek Hall, Focaal Blog, February 28, 2022

When Western anti-imperialism supports imperialism David Harvey's analysis is in fact a pro-imperialist argument, one that supports Russian irredentism and the restoration of empire under the guise of a “sphere of influence.” Russian imperialism has always worked on different principles than Western imperialism, given that it has been largely non-capitalist, but it is imperialism nonetheless, in cultural, political and economic senses of that term. Blaming the West for “humiliating” Russia occludes Russia’s own expansionist ideologies and desires for restoration of empire, and justifies the violent military domination of people who can and should decide their own destinies. By Elizabeth Cullen Dunn, Focaal Blog, March 3, 2022

Putin Is Attempting to Center Russia as a Hub of the Global Right Wing For much of the left, exclusive opposition to U.S. imperialism is equivalent to being on the “right side” of history. This is frequently articulated in terms of the notion that the priority for the U.S. left must be opposition to U.S. imperialism. The problem here is that, first, it ignores that the U.S. is not the sole source of global violence and oppression on this planet and, second, that there have been times when the U.S. left has had to focus elsewhere, e.g., support for the Spanish Republic in 1936 in the face of a fascist uprising and the intervention of Italy and Germany. This reality coexists with the fact that the U.S. had not ceased to be imperialist. What our examination should remind us is that Putin is part of a global right-wing authoritarian movement that seeks to “overthrow” the 20th century. In Putin’s specific case, we are looking at a complete repudiation of the founding principles of the USSR, most particularly, the notion of the right to national self-determination. But what is also underway is the positioning of Putin-led Russia as a pole for the global right. Opposition to socialism, for sure, but also opposition to constitutional rule as a whole. A mistake made by several anti-imperialists, in the 1930s and early 1940s, was to see in Imperial Japan a savior from Western colonialism and imperialism. It is to the credit of communists such as those of the Viet Minh in Vietnam, the Communist Party of the Philippines and the Communist Party of China that they could see through the alleged anti-imperialism of Japan and recognize that what was being introduced through the so-called Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere was not “co-prosperity” but capitalist domination under Japan and a racial subordination of entire populations. We should ponder this history as we reflect on Putin’s obsession with Eurasia and the white supremacist, homophobic, sexist, religious intolerant politics that rest behind that one term. By Carl Davidson and Bill Fletcher Jr., Truthout, March 28, 2022

Readers respond to the US Peace Council Statement on Russia's Military Intervention in Ukraine. Portside, March 28, 2022

The Bosnian Precedent ... anticipating Russia's Crimes Against Humanity in Ukraine. Just as a battle had to be waged among progressives to denounce those among us who tended to side with the Serbian forces committing genocide in Bosnia and Kosovo, similar issues have arisen regarding Russia's attack on Ukraine. By Jasmin Mujanovic, Byline Times, April 7, 2022

Ukraine and the Left Interview with Alex Gendler, who discusses the current Russian war against Ukraine, his former home, and critically examines left debates on the conflict. His talk addresses the sympathy some leftists have given Russia in the name of anti-imperialism, offering a perspective that points beyond simplistic cheerleading of various state actors. He also explores how left movements can best oppose the war without reinforcing the nationalist, statist, and capitalist assumptions reflected in most current discourse on the topic. See at 9 and 33 minutes. April 13, 2022

Whose side are we on? The war in Ukraine and the crisis of the Left That is the question anyone professing a commitment to anti-imperialism should be asking when a sovereign nation is invaded by a Great Power. Clearly, concisely, the authors argue that aggressive war is the first crime of war, from which all others flow. Putin has now committed this crime of war, and that is the premise from which we should analyze the Ukraine crisis. States large and small have one legitimate security interest, which is to have their sovereignty respected - not to be invaded, bombed, blockaded, or subverted. By Van Gosse and Bill Fletcher Jr., Portside, April 21, 2022

When Should We Stop Excusing the Russian Invasion? It is time to speak out against a misconstruing of what has been unfolding in Ukraine and an inclination to either excuse Russian aggression or to advance a position of neutrality. As individuals who are socialists and have been integrally involved in our respective people’s struggles for democracy and self-determination, we simply cannot remain silent, even though this puts us at odds with some comrades we have known, respected, and loved for years. By Bill Fletcher Jr., Bill Gallegos, and Jamala Rogers, Portside, May 11, 2022

Why Ukraine Matters for the Left Supporting the defense of Ukraine is the right thing for the global left to do, even if our own government is doing it. By Matthew Duss, a foreign policy advisor for Sen. Bernie Sanders. The New Republic, June 2, 2022

Response to "Left Internationalism in the Heart of Empire" Putin’s rise was not the consequence of U.S. policies; it emerged from internal Russian politics and history—forces that it would behoove us to understand. In the past two decades, Russia has waged five wars: Chechnya, Syria, Georgia, Crimea and the Donbas, and Ukraine (again). This ain’t about NATO. By Susie Linfield. Dissent Magazine, June 2022

Pacifism is the wrong response to the war in Ukraine Today, one cannot be a leftist if one does not unequivocally stand behind Ukraine. To be a leftist who “shows understanding” for Russia is like to be one of those leftists who, before Germany attacked the Soviet Union, took seriously German “anti-imperialist” rhetoric directed at the UK and advocated neutrality in the war of Germany against France and the UK. If the left will fail here, the game is over for it. By Slavoj Žižek, The Guardian, June 21, 2022

Ukraine and the Peace Movement It is urgent to end the war in Ukraine. But to achieve this goal, "Russia Out Now" is a better slogan than "Diplomacy Now." The peace movement has a standard position in favor of diplomacy over war. But think about the Vietnam war. While many liberal opponents of the war called for “Negotiations Now,” the demand of the radical anti-war movement—made up of millions who marched in the streets—was “Out Now.” The point was that the United States had no moral rights in Vietnam and therefore there was nothing for it to negotiate. It needed simply to withdraw its troops. So while we wanted peace, we supported Vietnam’s struggle for independence against the United States. The same is true in Ukraine today. Justice demands immediate and unconditional Russian withdrawal from all of Ukraine. Russian anti-war activists have also taken this position. We say to Russia as we once said to the United States: “Out Now!”  By Steven R. Shalom and Dan La Botz, Foreign Policy in Focus, July 19, 2022

Nazis, Nukes, and NATO Putin's three "N"s from the beginning of the war. His three propaganda slogans have their origins in Soviet or Russian trauma. They emerge as excuses for the war not because they have anything to do with Putin's motives or Russia's interests, but because they summon Russian fears that can be usefully directed outward, against the rest of the world. Russian propaganda reaches us for much the same reasons it reaches Russians.
The three "N"s give us no analytical purchase on what is actually going on; we cling to them for the reasons that Russians do, which is that they touch deeper emotions. If your default inclination is guilt about the world, and you are inclined to believe that America is responsible for all evil, then your "N" is NATO. If you are fearful and looking for a reason to do nothing, then you are best served by "nukes." And if you like to look down on others as barbarians, or have the urge to be seen as the most radical person in your pack, you will be susceptible to Putin's characterization of his chosen enemies as "Nazis." By Timothy Snyder, July 21, 2022

Russia’s Brutal Honesty Has Destroyed the West’s Appeasers Yet plenty of Western intellectuals and politicians still ignore what Moscow is saying loud and clear. Some pundits insist that there is a “peaceful” solution - which usually translates to stopping weapons deliveries to Ukraine and leaving the country to Russian leader Vladimir Putin to pick apart - or that the conflict is about the Kremlin’s “interests” or “security concerns.” All the while, the evidence of Russia’s actual goals and war crimes in Ukraine has become ever more overwhelming.
If, like the political scientist John Mearsheimer, your arguments are being used by Russian state television to prop up the regime’s ridiculous claims that Kyiv and Washington are to blame for this war, you should probably reconsider the intellectual journey that led you to this point. If, like many of the Western leftists obsessed with the NATO war cause theory, you reject imperialism and colonialism as a matter of principle (rather than only its U.S. or British versions), you couldn’t have missed the Kremlin’s detailed public plans for dismantling Ukraine’s sovereignty, Russia’s plundering of faraway lands like Sudan to fund a war of conquest and annihilation, and the Kremlin’s use of ethnic minorities as cannon fodder for the war.
If you think Ukraine has a problem with a nationalist far right, then you might have noticed the unapologetic Hitler worshippers in the ranks of the Russian forces. If, like the British Labour Party’s Jeremy Corbyn, you promote peace through diplomacy - appeasement-speak for stopping military aid to Ukraine and giving Putin what he wants - you should be aware by now of the realities in the Russian-occupied areas and ask yourself if this is really the fate you are willing to condemn millions of Ukrainians to. You might take it as a sign that you’re on the wrong side of history -- and just about anyone’s understanding of ethics, including the right to self-defense -- when you have to say out loud that you’re not a Putin puppet. By Alexey Kovalev, Foreign Policy, August 12, 2022. The writer is an investigative editor at

How the Anti-war Camp Went Intellectually Bankrupt Critics of U.S. foreign policy from both ends of the ideological spectrum have found common cause in supporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. By James Kirchick, The Atlantic, September 28, 2022

Exiled Russian Activist Challenges Pacifist Approach to Ending War on Ukraine Interview with Russian anti-war activist Lolija Nordic:
It is absurd to demand that an occupied country stop fighting for its liberation and essentially give up its land for peace. It’s the same as telling a victim of violence to not resist a person who tries to abuse, rape or murder them. Why would we tell that to Ukrainians?
Our task is to stop the aggressor. That means first and foremost building solidarity with Ukraine and its people. They have been screaming for help for months. They don’t have enough weapons to fight against Russian aggression. They don’t have defensive weapons to protect their citizens from missile attacks. They deserve all the military and financial help to liberate their country.
Instead of putting demands on Ukraine to stop fighting, we should be focused on doing all we can to weaken Russia’s war machine. If we are disturbed by global militarization, we should be first of all focused not on the question of whether it’s good to provide weapons to Ukraine, but on how to demilitarize and weaken the Russian army, how to put pressure on those countries that have been providing weapons to Russian soldiers or equipment to Russian police to beat and arrest protesters. To begin with, countries should stop financing Putin’s war and reinforcing the Russian military by buying Russian fossil fuels. By Ashley Smith, Truthout, November 13, 2022

Navigating the Left's Ukraine Debate The principle of self-determination is important to understanding the conflict ... and more. By Bill Fletcher Jr and Elly Leary, November 15, 2022

Ukraine Solidarity Network The brutal Russian invasion of Ukraine has been a litmus test for the Left. A principled and strategic commitment to the Ukrainian people, in their defense against Russian imperialism, offers the answer. The Ukraine Solidarity Network (U.S.) reaches out to unions, communities, and individuals from diverse backgrounds to build moral, political, and material support for the people of Ukraine in their resistance to Russia’s criminal invasion and their struggle for an independent, egalitarian, and democratic country. January 13, 2023

One year after the Russian invasion, what should solidarity with Ukraine look like?
* Some Left parties and intellectuals advocate for a value-free “multipolarity” to avoid substantive protests against crimes against humanity by Russia and China.
* They also limit their solidarity to Ukraine lest efforts to correct the rampant Putinist propaganda distract us from our “national priority” of fighting fascism.
* They also hold their members and supporters back from complete identification with and advocacy for the Ukraine resistance. They argue that an outright defeat might weaken Russia and thus be a setback for “multipolarity,” which they claim is important, “regardless of” whether these non-US Big Powers are despotic.
* But instead of being a “pole to keep US imperialism in check,” they are emerging as a lighting rod for anti-democratic forces all over the world.
* The sources where we sought moral leadership and intellectual, fact-based analysis in the past are now themselves victims or propagandists of untruths. We need to look at the changing world with humility, without the hubris that all the answers to today’s problems are to be found in outdated paradigms of the past, which are at best distorted, at worst dishonest – and always dangerous.
* Are we willing to say that “end the war” can only mean “an end to the Russian invasion and occupation of Ukraine”?
By Kavita Krishnan, Scroll.in (India), February 25, 2023

What Are the Lessons of Vietnam for Ukraine Today? As the Left did in nearly all earlier cases of struggle for colonial liberation, so in this one too it should stand with the liberation movement. By Stephen R. Shalom and Dan La Botz, Foreign Policy In Focus, January 23, 2023

Reject the Left-Right Alliance Against Ukraine If American leftists take seriously their commitment to self-rule and loathing of foreign aggression, they should shed their ambivalence about supporting Ukraine. By Michael Kazin, Dissent Magazine, March 7, 2023

The Left Case Against the "Restraint" Policy on Ukraine "I have been a critic of disastrous foreign wars. This time is different." The author quotes a surprising ally, Marianne Williamson, who says, "It’s possible to believe that the undue influence of the U.S. war machine… is very real, and at the same time believe the Russian invasion of Ukraine is a criminal venture that cannot be tolerated by the world."  By Joe Cirincione, March 13, 2023

Russia out! Solidarity with the Ukrainian Resistance A panel of activists and experts discusses the roots, nature, and politics of the war and Ukraine's resistance. One hour 42 minutes long, but see especially Bill Fletcher's remarks at 1:16:46. Presented by Ukraine Solidarity Network-U.S. March 2023

A Russian Disinformation Operation in Oak Harbor, Washington Donbas Devushka takes left-evasionists for a ride. One of the pro-Putinist left's favorite sources of Kremlinist propaganda from inside Ukraine was just revealed to actually be an American tropical-fish store owner from New Jersey, now podcasting from Oak Harbor, Washington. Her identity was traced by a Ukrainian anti-propagandist group when she sloppily edited and then shared the leaks propagated by right-winger, racist, and anti-Semite Putin fan and US Air National guardsman Jack Teixieira on her Telegram account, and since then she’s been exposed as (almost certainly) being at the very centre of a concentrated Russian disinformation campaign aimed at left-leaning or left-identifying Americans. By James Doyle, April 2023

The Surprising Pervasiveness of American Arrogance Advocates of "peace now" would do well to listen to what Ukrainian and Russian progressives have to say. These US activists have not bothered to consult the victims in this conflict? Isn't that what we're supposed to be about - in solidarity with the victims? By John Feffer, Foreign Policy In Focus, May 24, 2023
The Peace Movement and Ukraine Follow-on to the above article. By John Feffer, June 30, 2023

Russia falsely claims to be the victim of Ukraine The salient factor in the Russo-Ukrainian war is not that from “Russia's perspective” NATO is perceived as a threat. The salient factor is that Russia has formed a perspective in which other countries do not exist or do not matter. Russia's moral failure - its descent into solipsism - is the salient *causal* factor in this story. Some people think that moral concepts interfere with causal understanding. The truth is the opposite. Causal understanding requires the intelligent use of moral concepts. By Jamie Mayerfeld, University of Washington, July 18, 2023

James Connolly and Ukraine The Irish socialist opposed inter-imperialist wars; he supported smaller nations fighting to achieve or maintain their independence, even if their leadership was pro-capitalist. His support did not cease if the independence movements sought arms from other imperial powers. He thought movements should take advantage of divisions among imperial powers to get arms. By Conor Kostick, Independent Left (Ireland), July 20, 2023

How Russian colonialism took the Western anti-imperialist Left for a ride Blindness to Russian colonialism distorts Westerners' view of the war. For example, Cornel West continues to accommodate Russia. In a July 13 CNN interview, West called Russia's invasion "criminal" but insisted it was "provoked by the expansion of NATO" and is a "proxy war between the American Empire and the Russian Federation," adding Neville Chamberlain-esque icing on the appeasement cake by proposing Ukrainian territorial concessions to Russia. By Alaric Dearment, Salon, July 29, 2023

Spinning Illusions: The Anti-American Left and the Ukraine War In recent decades, a segment of the global Left has looked upon the U.S. government as the Great Satan in international affairs, responsible for the world’s major ills. Thus, on those occasions when countries at odds with the United States behaved like brutal imperialist powers, these “Campists” (as they were called thanks to their division of the world into an evil U.S. imperialist camp and its benign opponents) either ignored the action or blamed it on the U.S. government and U.S. allies. This warped vision became particularly apparent during the Russian government’s military invasion, occupation, and annexation of Ukraine, when major organizations on the anti-American Left, although supposedly Antiwar and Anti-Imperialist, focused their criticism solely on the U.S. government, NATO, and Ukraine. By Lawrence S. Wittner, PeaceVoice, August 4, 2023

The anti-imperialism of fools The German socialist August Bebel once commented that anti-semitism is the “socialism of fools” because the anti-semites recognized capitalist exploitation only if the exploiter happened to be Jewish but who would otherwise turn a blind eye to exploitation emanating from other quarters.  Over a century later, such socialism of fools has been resurrected by a self-declared “anti-imperialist” left that condemns capitalist exploitation and repression around the world when it is practiced by the U.S. and other Western powers or the governments they support, yet turns a blind eye to, or even defends repressive, authoritarian, and dictatorial states simply because these states face hostility from Washington. By William Robinson, U.C. Santa Barbara, August 7, 2023

The Socialist Case for Supporting Ukraine Debunks the claim that NATO expansion caused the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Also, cites Marx's position on the Crimean War. By Ryan Cooper, August 21, 2023

NEW What is Left? It should be a modest request that "left" not mean supporters of authoritarian regimes. By Rebecca Solnit, Portside, March 1, 2024


Noam Chomsky

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Chomsky on Ukraine Chomsky is an “anti-imperialist” who recognizes only one empire across the entirety of the last 150 years or so. But the world has moved on. The US is no longer the world’s uncontested global hegemon. It may try to be, but it is not likely to recover that status. Its economic superiority has declined, and with global geopolitics being what they are in the late fossil fuel (becoming early green-energy) era, the economic world is clearly more scrambled and multi-polar. Chomsky is aware of these things, but he tends to relegate them to the sidelines. This means that he misses the ways in which new alliances, and potential new hegemonies, are emerging. By Adrian Ivakhiv, UKR-TAZ, University of Vermont, March 6, 2022

Harsh critique of Chomsky on Ukraine The author fully dissects Bill Fletcher's Real News interview with Chomsky, who blames the Kosovo intervention for a downturn in US-Russia relations, which is simplistic and anachronistic. In 1998-99, Russia had not even come into its period of resurgence yet. By Stanley Heller, NewPolitics, April 18, 2022

In the Fletcher interview, Chomsky repeats his long-running falsehood about the beginnings of the Kosovo war:

In the case of Kosovo, NATO aggression (meaning U.S. aggression) was claimed to be "illegal but justified" (for example, by the International Commission on Kosovo chaired by Richard Goldstone) on grounds that the bombing was undertaken to terminate ongoing atrocities. That judgment required reversal of the chronology. The evidence is overwhelming that the flood of atrocities was the consequence of the invasion: predictable, predicted, anticipated. Furthermore, diplomatic options were available [but] as usual, ignored in favor of violence.

That position of Chomsky's on Kosovo has been long-since refuted extensively. He ignores the months of Serbian attacks on the people of Kosovo that preceded NATO involvement.

Open letter to Chomsky and other like-minded intellectuals on the Russia-Ukraine war The letter takes Chomsky to task for the following recurring fallacies in Chomsky's statements:
   1. Denying Ukraine's sovereign integrity
   2. Treating Ukraine as an American pawn on a geo-political chessboard
   3. Suggesting that Russia was threatened by NATO
   4. Stating that the U.S. isn't any better than Russia
   5. Whitewashing Putin's goals for invading Ukraine
   6. Assuming that Putin is interested in a diplomatic solution
   7. Advocating that yielding to Russian demands is the way to avert a nuclear war
By Yuriy Gorodnichenko, professor of economics, University of California at Berkeley (with other academic economists), May 19, 2022

How to critique Chomsky on Ukraine This talk by an ex-pat Russian philosopher and linguist deconstructs Chomsky's positions. The analysis is perceptive but more deferential to Chomsky than appropriate. 25 minutes. By Vlad Vexler, May 15, 2022
Comment on Vexler's critique, by Roger Lippman, September 26, 2022

Critique of Chomsky and pacifists on Ukraine, with reference to George Orwell (Audio Episode 124) This commentary runs from 44:10 to 46:40. For more on Orwell and Chomsky, start at the beginning. By Bill Weinberg, CounterVortex, June 2022

Chomsky has no proposal for ending Russia's war on Ukraine In an interview, Chomsky has nothing to say about the position of Ukrainians; Ukraine's need for weapons to defend itself; Russian imperial ambitions; and the Russian anti-war movement. By Dick Nichols, greenleft, June 30, 2022

Democratic Socialists of America

What the DSA International Committee's Ukraine statement gets wrong NewPolitics, February 9, 2022

The Left Has Half-Baked Answers on Ukraine A review of the positions of the DSA International Committee and some other groups. By Eric Levitz, New York Magazine, March 20, 2022

DSA and the Russian War on Ukraine: Political Paralysis DSA is in an anomalous position: a political organization with no useful position on the central foreign policy question of the day. Several Stalinist types won election to DSA’s top leadership body, the National Political Committee, where they faced opposition from an equal number of internationalists, making it impossible for DSA to pass a meaningful position on the Russian war on Ukraine. By Dan La Botz, NewPolitics, May 24, 2022

Ukraine: Which side are you on? Left-wing Democrats need to stand up for international law. Imagine an alt-history of the Spanish Civil War where, after some initial reversals, the anti-fascist side starts winning. They drive back Franco’s armies largely because France, Britain and the USA reject “non-intervention” and send in heavy weapons, offsetting the support coming from Hitler and Mussolini. By Paul Mason, The Medium, December 18, 2022

DSA and Russia’s War on Ukraine: Toward a Mass Movement of Solidarity with Ukraine In its response to the Russian invasion, the DSA International Committee (IC) has not spoken out strongly against the violence that has killed thousands of civilians and displaced more than ten million and forcing five million or so to seek refuge abroad. Nor against the bombings that have destroyed infrastructure and residential housing, and the many documented human rights violations such as the atrocities in Bucha, Izium, and cities across eastern Ukraine. Nor against Putin’s imperialist ideology that denies the existence of a Ukrainian people and the nation of Ukraine and makes the false claims that Russia is de-Nazifying Ukraine. Dalbon too doesn’t mention these. The IC has joined with those sectors of the “peace movement” that place blame for what’s happening on the United States, the European Union, and NATO, rather than on the Russian aggressor. By Dan La Botz and Stephen R. Shalom, December 26, 2022

NEW Green Party USA The party passed a resolution calling for an end to US military aid to Ukraine. But the vote was 48-44, with 54 abstentions - not exactly a resounding decision. The resolution calls for negotiations, failing to note that Putin, in also calling for negotiations, declared his takeover of portions of eastern Ukraine non-negotiable.
This article discusses in detail the struggle within the party. It also notes that Jill Stein, their 2016 presidential candidate, appears at rallies flanked by the Russian flag, or sometimes the Chinese flag.
Green parties around the world have been unhesitating in their solidarity with Ukraine, but the US Greens are another case of American exceptionalism. It is the only Green Party in the world that is so divided on Ukraine.
By Howie Hawkins, Green Party 2020 presidential nominee, July 2023

Party for Socialism and Liberation
and its front group ANSWER

Leans toward Russia and reserves its strongest condemnation on Russia's Ukraine invasion for the US government.

Calls for an end to US military aid to Ukraine, leaving the country at the mercy of the Russian invaders. [Per leaflets distributed at other groups' demonstrations.]

Laments the fall of the Soviet Union.

Admires North Korea. Not a word about the murderous policies of Kim Jong Un, who, unlike Trump, actually has gotten away with the local equivalent of shooting someone dead on Fifth Avenue.

Stephen F. Cohen

Deconstructing Stephen F. Cohen Counterpunch endorses the late Cohen's once plausible apologies for Putin (2018). The author wonders why the magazine would continue to recommend those apologies, already demolished by the facts of 2022. By Jonathan Gallant, professor emeritus, University of Washington Medical Center, May 8, 2022

NEW Dr. Jeffrey D. Sachs

Open letter to Nuclear Age Peace Foundation The words and deeds of Sachs with regard to Ukraine fuel misunderstanding, suspicion, and fear. September 17, 2023

Open letter to Jeffrey Sachs on his position regarding Russian war on Ukraine (It is not clear whether Sachs could be considered a progressive, but his arguments have been taken up by many on the Left.) This letter by a group of economists, including some Ukrainians, concisely takes on several key points in the anti-Ukrainian stance of Sachs:

  • Denying the agency of Ukraine

  • NATO provoked Russia

  • Denying Ukraine's sovereign integrity

  • Pushing forward Kremlin's peace plans

  • Presenting Ukraine as a divided country

By VoxUkraine Group of Authors, March 20, 2023


Max Blumenthal

Grayzone, Grifters, and the Cult of the Tank Blumenthal, of Grayzone a peripatetic pro-Russian commentator, is discussed in this article. By Joshua Collins, February 10, 2020

See also Enter the Grayzone: fringe leftists deny the scale of China's Uyghur oppression By Caitlin Thompson, July 30, 2020

How the Anti-war Camp Went Intellectually Bankrupt Although The GrayZone would characterize itself as an “anti-imperialist” news source, the opaquely financed publication is highly selective in the empires it chooses to scrutinize; it is difficult to find criticism of Russia or China—or any other American adversary—on its site. A more accurate descriptor of its ideological outlook is campist,” denoting a segment of the sectarian far left that sees the world as divided into two camps: the imperialist West and the anti-imperialist rest. In that Manichaean domain—one that lacks, naturally, any shades of gray—no anti-Western tyrant is too brutal for fawning adulation. By James Kirchick, The Atlantic, September 28, 2022

Medea Benjamin

Making sense of the Ukraine war Benjamin's book "War in Ukraine" misinforms and distorts more than it informs and clarifies. It has done a tremendous disservice to the people of Ukraine resisting an invasion, the people of Russia living under (especially those resisting) a criminal regime, and the international Left as a whole. And in so doing, it provides left cover for Putin’s war machine. By Eric Draitser, Tempest, January 31, 2023

Review of Benjamin's book in detail (Transcript) By Bill Weinberg, CounterVortex, December 9, 2022

Leaflet distributed at Benjamin's NY State events. Ukraine Solidarity, April 2023

NEW What is Left? It should be a modest request that "left" not mean supporters of authoritarian regimes. This article does not name Benjamin, but it applies to her. By Rebecca Solnit, Portside, March 1, 2024


Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR)

On CounterSpin, the weekly radio show of FAIR on February 24, Bryce Greene stated, "This current escalation started because of the U.S. involvement in the Ukrainian government’s politics.” (Greene expressed a similar position in a FAIR article of January 28, 2022.)


In Episode 131 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg critiques the ironically named "Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting" for openly spreading Russian disinformation.
FAIR serially portrays the 2014 Maidan Revolution as a US-instrumented, Nazi tainted, unconstitutional “coup.” FAIR commentators Luca GoldmansourGregory Shupak and Bryce Greene are all guilty of this.
They do not bother to consult voices of Ukrainian civil society—academicsmedia watchdogs, and human rights groups —that refute this notion.
Glomming onto the notorious Nuland phone call to dismiss a grassroots pro-democracy uprising as a Washington “regime change” intrigue reveals chauvinistic contempt for the Ukrainians. And hyping the supposed “Nazi” threat in Ukraine (while ignoring the Nazi-nostalgist and neo-fascist elements on the Russian side) abets Putin’s ultra-cynical propaganda stratagem of fascist pseudo-anti-fascism.
Rather than calling out Fox News for its propaganda service to Putin, FAIR instead joins them. How did a supposed progressive media watchdog become a de facto arm of Kremlin war propaganda?

John Mearsheimer

The greatest source of misinformation on Ukraine In a widely viewed 2015 YouTube video, Mearsheimer presents a hodgepodge of failed predictions. He states that there will be no “new Cold War” and claims “Nato is in serious trouble and will disappear as a functioning alliance over China.” He dismisses the idea that Putin is bent on “creating a greater Russia,” conveniently overlooking his annexation of territories from two separate states and his devastation of Syria. And he assures his audience that there is no way Putin is going to carry out a full scale invasion of Ukraine. By Theo Horesh, Europe Solidaire Sans Frontieres, March 21, 2022

What's Missing from John Mearsheimer's Analysis of the Ukraine War The international relations scholar Mearsheimer focuses on US and NATO policies for causing the Ukraine war and its continuation. Mearsheimer's short disclaimer that he is against Putin's invasion is like a cancer warning slapped on a pack of cigarettes. These views are echoed by many on the far left, which makes it vital to understand the gaps in his analysis that produce such a flawed result. By Joe Cirincione, Russia Matters, July 29, 2022. The author is a national security expert who formerly served as president of the Ploughares Fund and directed the nonproliferation program of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.


Chris Hedges
David Swanson (World Beyond War)
Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)
Glenn Greenwald
Margaret Flowers (Popular Resistance)
Medea Benjamin (Code Pink)
Michael Nagler (Metta Center for Nonviolence)
Norman Solomon (Roots Action)
Veterans for Peace members

From Facts Over Ideology, Peace Over War, by Terry Burke and Andrew Berman, In These Times [ITT], March 21, 2022:

Well-known journalist Chris Hedges has been paid for several years by the Russian government for his show on RT (Russia Today). He claimed that the Ukraine crisis has been created by desperate Democrats. "When all else fails, when you are clueless about how to halt a 7.5% inflation rate, when your Build Back Better bill is gutted…then you must make the public afraid of enemies, foreign and domestic.”

Glenn Greenwald recently said that NATO is the only reason for the war.

On CounterSpin, the weekly radio show of Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting on February 24, Bryce Greene stated, "This current escalation started because of the U.S. involvement in the Ukrainian government’s politics.” (Greene expressed a similar position in a FAIR article of January 28, 2022.)

Yes, we should question the mainstream narrative on Ukraine as these outlets and journalists do, but they rarely question Putin’s claims.

Two decades into its independence, the President of Ukraine Victor Yanukovych was overthrown in massive popular protests. Those protests were met with government violence in which over 100 people were killed. In a time of economic difficulties in Ukraine, Yanukovych was seen as corrupt and subservient to Russia. He had rejected a pending trade agreement with the European Union that the Ukraine Parliament had endorsed. The significant economic benefits that would be gained by membership in the EU had wide appeal to Ukrainians. Yanukovych wanted instead to seek enhanced ties with Russia. Ukrainians, proud of their independence, saw improved relations with the EU as a road to a higher standard of living rather than returning to economic tutelage under Russia. Ukrainians call the massive protests that overthrew Yanukovych, the ​“Revolution of Dignity.” The Russian government and its apologists call it a ​"US/CIA coup."

[In] progressive media’s coverage of Putin and Russia, ... there is very little reporting of Putin’s mafia ties, his billionaire wealth, his support of the far right around the world, the poverty of the Russian populace, the repression of journalists and activists, his Christian nationalism, his persecution of the LGBTQ community, and his magical elections.

David Swanson (World Beyond War), Norman Solomon (Roots Action), Margaret Flowers (Popular Resistance), Michael Nagler (Metta Center for Nonviolence), and members of Veterans for Peace and Code Pink signed a statement in January 2016 promoting a ​“multi-polar world” that is led by China and Russia, with the United States playing a secondary role. The signers ignore Russia’s imperialist interventions in Syria, Ukraine, Libya, Georgia, and Moldova claiming that “Russia and China are the major world powers that support the concept of Multipolarity, and act as a global counterbalance to Western hegemony.” There are numerous articles by UNAC, Popular Resistance, World Beyond War, and Black Agenda Report that have a pro-Russia bias and do not criticize Putin. In placing Russia and China as the counterbalance to Western power, this view denies their imperialism and avoids examining their crimes.

Many U.S. peace activists are accustomed to opposing U.S. foreign policy. The horrors of the Vietnam War generated a visceral hatred of America in some anti-war activists of that era. U.S. government and media lies helped build support for the wars in Central America and the Middle East. Millions of people have died in these wars. We can’t ignore our history, but we also cannot assume that every conflict is framed by the U.S. government lying to lead us into war. This time it is clearly Russia that has lied and started a war. We have to recognize that Ukraine is different from Vietnam, from Iraq, from Afghanistan. [Actually, Russia in Ukraine has a strong resemblance to the US in Iraq. --ed.] We have to learn Ukraine’s history and listen to Ukrainians and anti-war Russians.

Our U.S. peace movement is less effective and less relevant when we are not well informed. Analysis based on ideology rather than facts is harmful. We are less able to advocate for intelligent, peaceful solutions when we don’t understand what is really happening. We isolate ourselves and cannot build a mass movement for peace and justice.

It is not pro-war to honestly critique both sides of a conflict. The argument that we are obliged to criticize only U.S. war crimes is a recipe for failure. As international peace and justice activists, we must open our eyes and speak out against war and aggression regardless of the perpetrator. All humanity is our constituency.

The Big Business of Uyghur Genocide Denial An investigation reveals a network of charities funneling millions into left-wing platforms that take Beijing's side on genocide allegations. Some of the same recipients show up as apologists for Russia's invasion of Ukraine, including Medea Benjamin, of Code Pink. The title doesn’t begin to cover all of what’s in this article. New Lines Magazine, January 18, 2022
Follow-up: A Global Web of Chinese Propaganda Leads to a U.S. Tech Mogul A further investigation into the concerns raised by the New Lines article. The New York Times, August 5, 2023
Who is Roy Singham? What does his web consist of? Additional sources on where the multi-millionaire's money goes. Some of it goes to Code Pink, of which his wife, Jodie Evans, is a co-founder and member. August 22, 2023

3. Voices from Ukraine, and Russian dissidents

Feminist Voices

Russia's Feminists Are in the Streets Protesting Putin's War As of this writing, early in the war, several dozen grassroots feminist groups were operating in at least thirty Russian cities. In this text, feminists taking part in antiwar demonstrations around the country call on feminists around the world to unite in opposing the military aggression launched by Putin’s government. By Feminist Anti-War Resistance, Jacobin, February 27, 2022

The right to resist, a feminist manifesto Feminists from Ukraine call on feminists around the world to stand in solidarity with the resistance movement of the Ukrainian people against the predatory, imperialist war unleashed by the Russian Federation. War narratives often portray women as victims. However, in reality, women also play a key role in resistance movements, both at the frontline and on the home front: from Algeria to Vietnam, from Syria to Palestine, from Kurdistan to Ukraine. By the Feminist Initiative Group, July 7, 2022


Maidan Voices

The Ukrainian Night A short excerpt on the origins and meaning of the 2014 Maidan uprising from Dr. Marci Shore's book. 2017

Yanukovich's end is a beginning Contemporaneous analysis of the Maidan victory. People and Nature, February 26, 2014

Maidan and After This article by a US progressive activist, rich in detail, provides observations of direct participants in the Maidan uprising of 2014. See especially the section "Recollections of the Kyiv Maidan." By Sam Friedman, August 3, 2015

Maidan and Self-Understanding In regard to the claim that the Maidan Revolution in 2014 was a CIA-sponsored coup: every credible account has it that the EuroMaidan movement consisted of pro-democracy activists – abetted by rightwing forces as well, but the vast majority were progressively minded citizens asking for independence from Moscow, an end to corruption, and basic human rights. Their popular movement received support from the U.S., which in this case (and contrary to U.S. foreign policy so often in the past) was supporting the Ukrainian people and countering Russian domination. Guest lecture by Dr. Marci Shore (author of The Ukrainian Night), to the Yale University class of Timothy Snyder, November 17, 2022. Video, 54 minutes

Ukraine's Maidan Revolution Ten years after the uprising, a look back. By Marci Shore, November 21, 2023

Posters displayed at the Maidan in honor of the uprising.

Against Russian Imperialism Overlooking Russian imperialism is a terrible mistake for the left. It is Putin, not NATO, who is waging war on Ukraine. That is why it is essential to shift our focus from Western imperialism to Putin’s aggressive imperialism, which has an ideological and political basis in addition to an economic one. By Russian Socialist Movement and Sotsialnyi Rukh (Russian democratic-socialist organizations), April 7, 2022

Interview with Ukrainian socialist historian Denis Pilash Dignified, careful, and thoughtful. Democracy Now, April 21, 2022

Leaving is my only option Interview with Natasha, a Russian exile, 20-minutes, May 29, 2022

Resisting Putin's war: the women risking it all on the streets of Russia St Petersburg’s anti-war protesters want to send a message to those "who are still silent." The Guardian (UK), May 26, 2022

A Letter to the Western Left from Kyiv The writer criticizes the position of parts of the Western Left that he characterizes as "the anti-imperialism of idiots." He includes those who imagined NATO aggression in Ukraine and could not see Russian aggression, like the International Committee of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), along with its New Orleans chapter. By Taras Bilous, February 26, 2022. The author is a Ukrainian historian and activist.

‘They’re Willing to Risk Ruining Their Lives.’ Putin’s War Is Driving Russians Out Russians are fleeing their own country, at a speed most likely not seen since the collapse of the Soviet Union. They are running not from foreign bombs but from their own government. Rumors of impending martial law, closed borders, conscription and punitive military service have fueled panic. Amid state shutdowns of almost all of the last major independent media outlets and the announcement of draconian punishment for any coverage or criticism of Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine, tens or even hundreds of thousands of members of Russia’s liberal intelligentsia and political opposition are scrambling to escape. By Sophie Pinkham, The New York Times, March 17, 2022

Self-Determination and the War in Ukraine Two months ago, when the author wrote “A Letter to the Western Left from Kyiv,” he hoped that the shock of the Russian invasion and the voices of the Ukrainian left would push Western leftists to reconsider their approach. Unfortunately, too many of them have failed to do so. In their analyses of the war, Ukrainians are just victims in need of humanitarian aid, not subjects with desires that should be respected. Of course, this doesn’t apply to everyone on the leftnot by a long shot. Scandinavian left-wing parties as well as Eastern European ones have listened to Ukrainians and supported arms supplies to Ukraine. Some progress is taking place among U.S. socialists. But unfortunately, even a joint statement by Ukrainian and Russian socialists hasn’t convinced enough people to support military aid. The writer addresses the left once more. By Taras Bilous, Dissent, May 4, 2022. The author is a Ukrainian historian and activist.

Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine speak out  The Russian invasion has simultaneously given those who might be neutral in their allegiances a stark choice about what kind of country they want to identify with, and provided a rallying point that allows for a broad and inclusive idea of what it means to be a Ukrainian patriot. ... As well as strengthening the sense of Ukrainian identity among politicians and the general population in the south and east of the country, the war has also helped increase respect for these areas in the patriotic strongholds of western and central Ukraine, where some doubted the loyalty of parts of the east, particularly after 2014. June 6, 2022

The Right to Resist - A Feminist Manifesto Feminists from Ukraine call on feminists around the world to stand in solidarity with the resistance of the Ukrainian people against the predatory, imperialist war unleashed by the Russian Federation. July 7, 2022

I'm a Ukrainian Socialist. Here's Why I Resist the Russian Invasion Among even many well-intentioned people in recent months, there have been loud but vague calls for negotiations and a diplomatic settlement. But what exactly does this mean? Negotiations between Ukraine and Russia took place for several months following the invasion, but they did not stop the war. Before that, negotiations on Donbas had lasted for more than seven years, with French and German participation; but despite signed agreements and a cease-fire, the conflict was never resolved.
Eighty percent of Ukrainians consider territorial concessions unacceptable. Giving up the occupied territories means betraying their fellow citizens and relatives, and putting up with the daily abductions and tortures perpetrated by occupiers. Under these conditions, the parliament will not ratify cession, even if the West forces the Ukrainian government to agree to territorial losses. This would only discredit President Volodymyr Zelensky and lead to the reelection of more nationalist authorities, while the far right would be rewarded with favorable conditions for recruiting new members. By Taras Bilous, Jacobin, July 26, 2022

Ukrainian Feminist: We Need Western Solidarity in Fighting Russian Imperialism Western leftists and feminists who have misgivings about Western military support for Ukraine often overlook that Ukrainians are fighting for self-determination and against imperialism. Interview with Oksana Dutchak, Democracy Now, July 28, 2022

How Russian propaganda utilized and distorted allegations by Amnesty International that Ukrainian troops endanger civilians Meduza, August 5, 2022

Russia’s Brutal Honesty Has Destroyed the West’s Appeasers One of the writer's most revealing interviews covering Russia’s war on Ukraine was with Polina Kovalevskaya. Along with her husband and three daughters, she was a refugee from Mariupol, the Ukrainian city with a prewar population of almost 450,000 that was besieged by Russian forces for almost three months. After three horrific weeks of hiding in basements during incessant Russian shelling, the family managed to escape the city, which was already a mass grave and charred ruin by then. When I asked them for a photo of their former home, they sent me a video instead. In the clip, amid a vast expanse of smoldering rubble, a Russian tank fires point-blank at an apartment building that was somehow still standing. Part of the building implodes, adding to the total devastation for miles and miles around. “This was our home,” Kovalevskaya told me when describing the video.
What makes the video so chilling wasn’t just the fact that targeting civilians is a war crime. It’s that the clip bears the unmistakable logo of RT, the Russian channel that started off in 2005 as a mostly benign attempt to improve Russia’s international image and ended up as a domestic disinformation bullhorn. The video’s unequivocal message: This is what we’re doing in Ukraine, and we’re not even going to pretend anything else. By Alexey Kovalev, Foreign Policy, August 12, 2022. The writer is an investigative editor at

How Will the War End? A precise answer requires precise questions. The translation is turgid at times, but the article is valuable, in spite of the questionable claim of suppression of the Russian language in Ukraine. By Boris Kagarlitsky, September 2, 2022. The writer is a longtime Soviet and Russian dissident.

Exiled Russian Activist Challenges Pacifist Approach to Ending War on Ukraine Interview with Russian anti-war activist Lolija Nordic.
The defeats and mobilization have forced the war into the middle of Russian society. Men are being called up and deployed in large numbers and against their will. Almost every family in Russia has a loved one that could be forced to fight in Ukraine. This has triggered broader questioning of the war. Before the mobilization, conservative Russians could believe Putin’s claim that it would not affect your life. They had supported Putin for years based on his promise of stability and his claim that without his rule there would be chaos. By Ashley Smith, Truthout, November 13, 2022

Zelensky's 10-point peace plan Reuters, December 28, 2022

Remember the Russians Who Fought Against Putin's War It can be confidently said that in the year since the invasion of Ukraine, Russia’s government has undergone a transformation, finally turning into an openly repressive dictatorship. A year into Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the state is cracking down ever harder on all signs of dissent. Today exiled or jailed, the Russians who spoke out against the war are key to rebuilding a peaceful, democratic society. By Ilya Budraitskis (Russian socialist), January 22, 2023

NEW Thinking about solutions, we must at least not mistake the causes We have found that several left-wing organizations or figures who are otherwise respected for their strong positions against American imperialism have demonstrated astonishing complicity with their right-wing adversaries on the subject of the invasion of Ukraine. We often find among them an ignorance, even a complete denial of the historical experience of a number of countries which suffered the oppression of the imperial Russian and then the Soviet regime. There is a strong psychological component that comes into play. We are facing methodological egocentrism. It is easier to believe that the West and especially the United States are behind all the wars on the planet than to assume that non-Western countries can act on their own. According to this logic, even the Russian state is deprived of its own capacity for action and can only act in response to the actions of the all-powerful West. The most virulent critics of Western imperialism do not escape Western-centrism, but are a paradoxical expression of it. Interview with Hanna Perekhoda by Arthur Borriello, November 16, 2023

Ukraine Solidarity Campaign News and opinion from Ukraine.

Russian Dissent Voices of Russian dissidents. Subscribe

Next Year in Moscow Voices of Russian dissidents in exile. NEW

Meduza News feed from anti-war Russians.

Other Russian anti-war initiatives

Posle A journal by progressive anti-war Russians who view the war in the context of the immense social inequality and powerlessness of the working majority sustained by a Russian imperialist ideology.

4. Historical background

Ukrainian Anti-Colonialist Marxism (1919-1923) A Forgotten Legacy in a Forgotten Colony. By Stephen Velychenko, Cxid/Заxад (East/West) 2013

The Putin Files In-depth interview with Julia Ioffe, Russian-American journalist, about Putin's career. 1 hour 45 minutes PBS Frontline, October 27, 2017

Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine: An Explainer Responses to common questions on day one of Putin’s war of choice. By David Klion, Jewish Currents, February 24, 2022

Ukraine's Protracted Struggle for National Liberation To understand the situation in Ukraine today, it is essential to understand Ukraine's history and Russia's ambitions. By Rohini Hensman, The Wire, March 11, 2022

Facts Over Ideology, Peace Over War At the time of the dissolution of the USSR, and Ukraine's declaration of independence, in 1991, Ukraine gave up its nuclear arsenal (1/3 of that of the entire Soviet Union) and signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. In response, in 1994, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Russia then signed the Budapest Memorandum pledging to ​“respect Ukrainian independence and sovereignty in the existing borders and refrain from the threat or the use of force against Ukraine.” The Budapest Memorandum is never mentioned by Putin’s apologists. His latest moves are in direct violation of this signed treaty. By Terry Burke and Andrew Berman, In These Times, March 21, 2022

Timothy Snyder Yale lecture series "The Making of Modern Ukraine," 46 minutes. Twice weekly, September through November 2022 (archived)
Class syllabus
A Biographical Sketch of Prof. Snyder

Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin More on Central European history by Prof. Timothy Snyder. 21 min video

The True Origins of Putin’s War Interview with Timothy Snyder, by Chris Hayes. One hour

We Are All Living in Vladimir Putin’s World Now Journalists writing on international affairs in the 1920s and 1930s referred to the era as postwar. They saw events through the prism of the Great War that devastated Europe just a few years earlier. Historians writing today refer to the same years as the interwar period, for the simple reason that they analyze what happened during those years as part of the lead-up to the even more destructive World War II. If only those journalists writing in 1930s Europe had the clarity of hindsight. We should all have that clarity today. Russia’s military aggression in Ukraine is one of those moments that impels us to reinterpret our own era. What we called the 30-year peace that followed the Cold War (tending to forget the wars in the former Yugoslavia) has now ended. Future historians will look at these last decades, by and large, much as they look at the interwar period: as an opportunity squandered. By Ivan Krastev, The New York Times, February 27, 2022

Primer: Who are the Ukrainians? The name “Oukraina,” appearing in the 12th century, described nebulous frontier land beyond fortified borders. The writer presents detailed but concise history of Ukraine since that time (and earlier), though his tangential mention of the ruling elite of the Khazars converting to Judaism is probably inaccurate. By David Buerge, Post Alley, March 2, 2022

The Grand Theory Driving Putin to War The goal, plainly, is empire, and the line will not be drawn at Ukraine. By Jane Burbank, The New York Times, March 22, 2022. The writer is emeritus professor of history and Russian and Slavic Studies at New York University.

The Nation Ukraine Has Become A historical overview of the people's movement in Ukraine. By Olesya Khromeychuk and Sonya Bilocerkowycz, New York Review of Books, March 25, 2022

Conversation of scholars on Ukrainian language, ethnicity, and nationhood 70 minutes. Yale University, March 25, 2022

Unless democracies defend themselves, the forces of autocracy will destroy them For a long time—too long—the custodians of the liberal world order looked away when Russia “pacified” Chechnya by murdering tens of thousands of people. When Russia bombed schools and hospitals in Syria, Western leaders decided that wasn’t their problem. When Russia invaded Ukraine the first time, they found reasons not to worry. Surely Putin would be satisfied by the annexation of Crimea. When Russia invaded Ukraine the second time, occupying part of the Donbas, they were sure he would be sensible enough to stop. With the third, brutal invasion of Ukraine, the vacuity of those beliefs was revealed. The Russian president openly denied the existence of a legitimate Ukrainian state: “Russians and Ukrainians,” he said, “were one people—a single whole.” His army targeted civilians, hospitals, and schools. His policies aimed to create refugees so as to destabilize Western Europe. “Never again” was exposed as an empty slogan while a genocidal plan took shape in front of our eyes, right along the European Union’s eastern border. Other autocracies watched to see what we would do about it, for Russia is not the only nation in the world that covets its neighbors’ territory, that seeks to destroy entire populations, that has no qualms about the use of mass violence. By Anne Applebaum, The Atlantic, March 31, 2022

How Putin's Oligarchs Bought London The first generation of post-Soviet capitalists had accumulated vast fortunes, and Putin set put to bring the oligarchs under state control. He proceeded to run the state and its economy like a Mafia don, through control of ostensibly independent businessmen. The owners of Russia's biggest companies were forced to operate as hired managers, working on behalf of the state. It wasn't their wealth; it was Putin's. They kept their businesses by the Kremlin's grace. By Patrick Radden Keefe, The New Yorker, March 28, 2022 issue

The War in Ukraine is a Colonial War When Vladimir Putin denies the reality of the Ukrainian state, he is speaking the familiar language of empire. For five hundred years, European conquerors called the societies that they encountered “tribes,” treating them as incapable of governing themselves. As we see in the ruins of Ukrainian cities, and in the Russian practice of mass killing, rape, and deportation, the claim that a nation does not exist is the rhetorical preparation for destroying it. By Timothy Snyder, The New Yorker, April 28, 2022

Our Hypocrisy on War Crimes Much has been said about US hypocrisy, and we won't belabor it. This article, however, frames the issue well. The US history of moral evasiveness around wartime atrocities undermines the very institution that might eventually bring Putin and his subordinates to justice: the International Criminal Court. By Fintan O'Toole, New York Review of Books, May 26, 2022

Secret Russian Police Reports on the Ukrainian National Movement Vladimir Putin made his career in the secret police. Upon taking power in 2000, he appointed many of his former KGB associates [siloviki] to governmental positions. As a result, instead of having a government with a secret police, Russia became a country with a secret police that had a government. This had profound implications for independent Ukraine, as meant that men with a conspiratorial mindset would be determining policy towards a former imperial possession that in their minds remained “a part of Russia.” According to that conspiratorial perspective, Ukrainian independence, and pre-1991 opposition to imperial rule, was not a result of opposition to central policies caused by underlying socio-economic, ideological and political issues common to all empires. It stemmed only from foreign intrigues and russophobic malcontents. By Stephen Velychenko, August 4, 2022

Putin Says Ukraine Doesn't Exist. That's Why He's Trying to Destroy It. He repeatedly denied the country’s existence in pseudo-historical essays and speeches. He is just the latest in a long line of Kremlin rulers who have tried to deprive Ukrainians of their subjectivity. For a man so obsessed with history, he should have worked out that centuries of unsuccessful attempts to destroy the Ukrainian nation show that Ukraine very much exists. New York Times, November 1, 2022

Crimea: Ukraine's Other National Liberation Struggle A short history of Crimea, with links to earlier articles. By Yevgeny Lerner, CounterVortex, August 15, 2023

NEW A Short History of Russia and Ukraine Seven maps that illustrate Vladimir Putin’s distortion of history. The Economist, January 29, 2024 (Free registration required.)


Timothy SnyderThe Reconstruction of Nations: Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, 1569–1999 (Yale University Press, 2004)

Marci Shore, The Ukrainian Night: An Intimate History of Revolution (Yale University Press, 2018)

Serhii Plokhy, The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine (Basic Books, revised 2021)


Goal is destruction of Ukraine": ex-defense minister warns west of Putin’s aim Russia remains determined to destroy Ukraine entirely and to "assimilate" its citizens into the Russian Federation. The ex-minister likened calls for Ukraine to make territorial concessions to international demands in 1938 that Czechoslovakia give up Sudetenland to Nazi Germany.
Note that there is not one word about NATO being a motivation for Russia's invasion of Ukraine. By Luke Harding, The Guardian, September 8, 2023

When Havel Met Biden Far from being a project of US imperialism, NATO expansion has been a process driven by the small and vulnerable countries, which are also the most fundamentally anti-imperialist ones, since their continued existence is predicated upon their ability to deter imperialist neighbors. By Oscar Clarke, Quillette, August 29, 2023

Russia falsely claims to be the victim of Ukraine The salient factor in the Russo-Ukrainian war is not that from “Russia's perspective” NATO is perceived as a threat. The salient factor is that Russia has formed a perspective in which other countries do not exist or do not matter. Russia's moral failure - its descent into solipsism - is the salient *causal* factor in this story. By Jamie Mayerfeld, University of Washington, July 18, 2023

Not One Inch, Unless It Is From Lisbon to Vladivostok This careful examination of recent history illustrates that the claim that NATO expansion threatens Russia is an exaggeration. The title refers to a Russian agenda, spoken by Putin himself, to swallow Ukraine into a Russian empire that would stretch across two continents. By Carl Mirra, Adelphi University (NY), December 12, 2022

The Myth of US Promise to Russia Refuting the contention that NATO would not expand "one inch." By J.D. Everhard, April 6, 2023

"What Russia should do with Ukraine" Published by RIA Novosti, a Russian state-owned news agency, this article presents a detailed, explicit Russian statement of its plan for conquering Ukraine. It does not once mention NATO as the reason for Russia's invasion. April 3, 2022

There Is No Left Position That Justifies Putin's Attack on Ukraine In the first days after the invasion, it seemed like almost all that prominent western left commentators could talk about was not Russia but NATO. The invasion was wrong, they usually stated at the outset and then proceeded to focus on the “real” culprit, invariably the West. Its guilt? That it had already expanded NATO to the east, and that it not ruled out the possibility of Ukrainian membership. It didn’t matter that NATO expansion was driven more by the east Europeans than by Washington, which was originally quite divided on the matter. Nor did it matter that NATO membership for Ukraine was hardly imminent, or that in no scenario was a NATO attack on Russia imaginable. By David Ost, Foreign Policy in Focus, March 31, 2022

Ivan Ilyin, Putin’s hero

Ivan Ilyin, Putin's Philosopher of Russian Fascism By Timothy Snyder, New York Review of Books, March 16, 2018

Putin Is Attempting to Center Russia as a Hub of the Global Right Wing Ivan Ilyin is the most obscure and most important [of three prominent Russians Putin had reinterred in Moscow] today. Ilyin was a Russian nationalist philosopher in Lenin’s time who turned fascist, even moving his work to Germany under the Nazis in the 1930s. Putin now has his officers studying Ilyin, along with Ilyin’s follower today, Alexander Dugin, a modern Russian fascist and favorite of Steve Bannon, formerly of team Trump. Both Ilyin and Dugin are theorists and advocates of “Eurasianism,” a worldview asserting that dominance of the central land mass “homeland” of both Europe and Asia is the key to world hegemony. By Carl Davidson and Bill Fletcher, Truthout, March 28, 2022 

Ivan Ilyin In exile, Ivan Ilyin argued that Russia should not be judged by what he called the Communist danger it represented at that time but looked forward to a future in which it would liberate itself with the help of Christian fascism. A number of Ilyin's works (including those written after the German defeat in 1945) advocated fascism Ilyin initially saw Adolf Hitler as a defender of civilization from Bolshevism and approved of the way Hitler had, in his view, derived his anti-Semitism from the ideology of the Russian Whites. In 1933, he published an article titled "National Socialism. A New Spirit" in support of the takeover of Germany by Nazis.

Ilyin was accused of anti-Semitism by Roman Gul, a fellow émigré writer. According to a letter by Gul to Ilyin, the former expressed extreme umbrage at Ilyin's suspicions that all those who disagreed with him were Jews.

Ilyin has been quoted by Russian President Vladimir Putin, and is considered by some observers to be a major ideological inspiration for Putin, who was personally involved in moving Ilyin's remains back to Russia, and in 2009 consecrated his grave. Wikipedia article

How you can support Ukraine

Contribute to Ukraine TrustChain. Its teams provide urgent food, medical supplies, and rides to safety. See the group's Weekly Reports.

Donate to support humanitarian aid. If you can, consider supporting a group working to offer medical, material, and humanitarian aid to people in Ukraine, and to people fleeing the Russian invasion and seeking refuge in neighboring countries. Thirty verified ways to contribute financially are listed on this resource page by Global Citizen.


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