March 14 Editorial of the Workplace Newsletters of the Etincelle fraction of the New Anticapitalist Party (NPA), Comrades of Speak Out Now. Translated from French.
Every day we see images of the devastated neighborhoods of Ukraine’s main cities. There are now more than two million refugees. In addition, there are internally displaced people who have fled the big cities to regions not yet affected by the war. The gestures of solidarity towards the Ukrainian people have been outstanding: there have been demonstrations against the war, proposals to welcome refugees, and fundraisers for aid. This is worth celebrating.
But what hypocrisy from our governments when they claim that making us pay for the war, with the price of gasoline and an increase in military budgets, is a form of solidarity, too!
The hypocrisy of the government
The price increases and the threats of shortages were already there before the war. They are getting worse with war in Ukraine. This is worsening the situation of workers all over the world, but especially Russians and Ukrainians.
In France, the price of a liter of gasoline is already above two euros [$8.14 per gallon!]. This is not only the result of Putin’s war. It is the result of the economic war that the great powers and their monopolies are waging right now. Added to this is the speculation by the oil companies in anticipation of shortages and price increases to come.
The 15-cent-subsidy that Prime Minister Castex has promised us won’t compensate for the increase in transportation costs. On top of this, Bruno Le Maire [Minister of Economy and Finance, a right-wing politician] has announced another 22 billion euros of support for the economy, on top of the 100 billion included in the recovery plan. These are just gifts to large companies, which will fuel inflation on the backs of workers and very small businesses, while he intends for us to foot the bill.
Politicians on all sides are delighted with the economic sanctions taken against Russia, and they are happy to add to them (as Hollande [in the Socialist Party] and Jadot [in the Green Party] propose to do). But, more than Putin, it is the Russian population that is suffering from inflation and business closures. The “oligarchs,” on the other hand, keep their money in tax havens and will easily buy back the yachts that are being seized from them.
If the sanctions ruin the Russian population, Putin will try to use the situation to regroup the country around him, in the name of nationalism, to justify his war policy.
Economic warfare on the backs of the people
These economic sanctions will not stop the war. They are an economic act of war, waged by the great powers and their respective oil and gas trusts.
There are some divergent interests among the Western allies themselves: the U.S.A. is keen to sell its gas in place of Russian gas. For the German or French capitalists, it is hard to do without Russian gas right now, and they are haggling over the extent of the sanctions to be imposed.
Meanwhile, Bruno Le Maire is shamelessly recommending that we turn the heat down in our homes in “solidarity.” In the meantime, the war in Ukraine and Western sanctions are increasing the risk of shortages and famines in countries like Egypt, Lebanon and Tunisia, which depend on Ukrainian and Russian wheat imports.
War on war
The real fight going on against Putin’s bloody war is evident in the resistance of the Ukrainian people themselves, as well as in the demonstrations in Russia by opponents of the war — opponents who, despite bans, persecutions and thousands of arrests, are speaking out. The young Russian soldiers who are sent to kill and be killed in Ukraine could well prove tomorrow to be more sensitive to the fate of their Ukrainian brothers than to the orders of their officers. The Russian and Ukrainian people have a long common past. They share the same conditions of life and misery, and often have direct family links. It is to these opponents of the war that we send our solidarity.
Russian troops out of Ukraine! Liberty to the people, free of all external domination!