Antifascist Resources on Ukraine

Moscow protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, 24 February 2022
The sign at left reads No war! Putin go away!

In this post we offer an annotated list of resources on Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine and the background to the crisis. We don’t agree with every point in all of the articles, but we believe that all of them provide important information and make important contributions to the discussion. We will update this post as we learn of new resources to include. [EXPANDED AND UPDATED: eleven resources added April 3, 2022.]

Voices from Ukraine

Taras Bilous, “A letter to the western left from Kyiv (February 2022) (Cached here.)
This open letter by a young Ukrainian leftist challenges those western
leftists who have refused to criticize Russia out of a distorted concept
of anti-imperialism. “Part of the responsibility for what is happening
rests with you.”

War and anarchists: anti-authoritarian perspectives on Ukraine (CrimethInc., February 2022)
This text, written by several anti-authoritarian activists from Ukraine, offers an anarchist perspective on events from the Maidan protests of 2013-2014 to the eve of the 2022 Russian invasion. It provides helpful information about events and some of the political forces, but has also been criticized for minimizing the reality of Ukrainian far right nationalism. The Russian group Anarchist Fighter (or Militant Anarchist) offers a useful response here.

War and occupation: life and death across the front line: Interview with Olena Skomoroshchenko of the Social Democratic Party of Ukraine (Transnational Solidarity Network, November 2019)
This 2019 interview with the SDPU’s representative to the Socialist International discusses Ukraine’s economic and social situation, the war in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and the impact of Volodymyr Zelensky’s 2019 election as president.

Taras Bilous, “The War in Ukraine and the Global South (New Politics, 21 March 2022)
“I understand the reluctance to support your former colonialists in their struggle against another imperialism and the warnings that a stronger U.S. would impact you negatively…. At the same time…other imperialist predators can profit from this situation. Russia already bombed Syria, it has subjugated the governments of Central Africa and Mali, to say nothing of its imperial dominance over Kazakhstan and Central Asia. If it wins in Ukraine, it will be able to meddle in your countries’ affairs, too. Whereas its defeat can restrain not only Russia but also other global and regional powers.”

Volodymyr Ishchenko, “Why did Ukraine suspend 11 ‘pro-Russia’ parties? (Al Jazeera, 21 March 2022)
“[T]he suspension of these parties is completely meaningless for Ukraine’s security. It is true that some of the suspended parties…were strongly and genuinely pro-Russian for many years. However, practically every leader and sponsor of these parties with any real influence in Ukraine condemned Russia’s invasion, and are now contributing to Ukraine’s defence.”

Voices from Russia

Why no mass protests in Russia?” (interview with Grigory Yudin) (Meduza, February 2022)
Contrary to the misleading title, sociologist Yudin argues that
relative to the repressive consequences of protesting, “people are
coming out in force.” The interview discusses antiwar sentiment and
likely impact of the Ukraine invasion on Russia. Meduza is an independent Russian news website based in Latvia.

Feminist Antiwar Resistance manifesto (Facebook, 1 March 2022)
“The current war, as Putin’s addresses show, is also fought under the banner of the ‘traditional values’ declared by government ideologues — values that Russia allegedly decided to promote throughout the world as a missionary, using violence against those who refuse to accept them or hold other views. Anyone who is capable of critical thinking understands well that these ‘traditional values’ include gender inequality, exploitation of women, and state repression against those whose way of life, self-identification, and actions do not conform with narrow patriarchal norms.”

Manifesto of the Coalition ‘Socialists Against War’ (LeftEast, 14 March 2022)
“The war must be stopped by ourselves – men and women of Russia. This country belongs to us, not a handful of mad old people with palaces and yachts. It’s time to get it back. Our enemies are not in Kiev and Odessa, but in Moscow. It’s time to kick them out of there. War is not Russia. War is Putin and his regime. Therefore, we, the Russian Socialists and Communists, are against this criminal war. We want to stop her to save Russia.”

The war at home: Russia is de facto under martial law, human rights experts warn (Meduza, 25 March 2022)
“Rights and freedoms in Russia have been restricted to the point that the country is de facto under martial law. This is the conclusion of a new report authored by prominent human rights experts Pavel Chikov, head of the [Russia-based] rights group Agora, and Damir Gainutdinov, head of the Net Freedoms Project. Indeed, against the backdrop of Moscow’s month-long invasion of Ukraine, the Russian authorities have moved to impose serious restrictions on basic constitutional rights and freedoms at home.”

Solidarity and critique

LeftEast Condemns Putin’s Imperial War Against Ukraine (LeftEast, February 2022)
LeftEast is a collective of intellectuals and activists from many
different countries and nationalities, predominantly eastern European.
This statement holds the Russian state to account as the main aggressor,
yet it also criticizes the U.S. and NATO for fueling the crisis and the
Ukrainian government for repressive and discriminatory policies.

Sharing the Shame: A Letter from Internationalists in China (Chuǎng, March 2022)
This letter from an anonymous group of leftists in China provides a useful perspective on how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been perceived within the Chinese left. “As internationalists, we are firmly against the invasion by Russia, to the same degree that we are against NATO’s reckless expansion. What we’re in support of is not the Ukrainian government, but the right of the Ukrainian people to be free from any imperialist interference.”

Tony Bramble, “No to war, no to imperialism (Red Flag, February 2022)
A useful statement from an Australian Trotskyist organization. “The left, the only consistent opponents of militarism and war, needs to raise its voice against a Russian invasion and against the imperial ambitions of Putin and his authoritarian state…. [But] everything the US accuses Moscow of it has done itself for many decades and continues to do all around the world, usually with the full backing of its ‘democratic’ allies.”

Fragments of a debate amongst AngryWorkers on the war in Ukraine (AngryWorkers, 10 March 2022)

Here members of the British-based leftist organization AngryWorkers attempt to grapple honestly with a complex situation. “[W]e generally assumed that, ‘workers’ should not fight their bosses’ war’ and that, although being a very blunt verbal uttering, ‘no war, but the class war’ could express our general political line…. But what exactly is a ‘bosses’ war?’ And what use is an internationalist principle if your village is being shelled by a Russian tank? To what extent do workers in Ukraine just have to defend themselves against a military aggression?”

Gilbert Achcar, “A memorandum on the radical anti-imperialist position regarding the war in Ukraine (New Politics, February 2022)
This statement addresses a number of important specific issues, such as demanding withdrawal of troops rather than just a cease fire, opposing direct military intervention by one imperial force against another, and advocating unconditional delivery of defensive weapons to the victims of aggression. These issues are important for us to consider, whether or not we agree with Achcar’s specific positions.

Gilbert Achcar, “Six FAQs on Anti-Imperialism Today and the War in Ukraine (New Politics, 19 March 2022)
Achcar addresses six questions related to his “Memorandum” above, such as “Is the ‘Global South’ supporting Russia?”, “How can we radical anti-imperialists support a resistance that is led by a rightwing bourgeois government?”, and “Can we support Western arms deliveries to Ukraine?”

Anindya Bhattacharyya, “How the West made Putin (rs21, 17 March 2022)
Today, western politicians and media denounce Vladimir Putin as a war criminal and a new Hitler, yet in 2002 then British Prime Minister Tony Blair helped secure “Putin’s backing for the NATO invasion of Afghanistan in return for Western endorsement of his brutal campaign to crush Chechnya’s separatist movement.” “The difference between the bad Putin today and the good one two decades ago wasn’t a new found bloodlust or inclination to bomb civilians. The difference was simply his change in attitudes towards Western imperial interests.”

Simon Pirani, “Ukraine: the sources of danger of a wider war (People and Nature, 21 March 2022)
“[F]or all their disavowals of dividing the world into ‘spheres of influence’, the NATO powers treated Putin’s Russia as a gendarme to control parts of the former Soviet space. They had the ‘war on terror’ to fight after the twin towers attack of September 2001; and the wars in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan, and the Saudi terror in Yemen, that followed. This policy persisted not only up to 2014, when the Kremlin’s annexation of Crimea provoked a limited western response, but in its essentials up to last month.”

“Russia’s war on Ukraine from 2014 was both an imperial adventure aimed at the state and an exercise in social control. The Kremlin feared, with justification, that Yanukovich’s overthrow could presage unrest in Russia, where falling living standards and authoritarianism were provoking reactions. Here, too, Putin acted as a gendarme for international capital – as he did more recently by intervening in Belarus (2020) and Kazakhstan (this year).”

Analysis of far right forces

Atlanta Antifascists, “War in Ukraine… Where are the Fascists? (February 2022)
This 13-minute video presentation provides a helpful introduction. “While none of the states involved are ruled directly by open fascists, there are fascist adventurers present in Ukraine, Russia, and also within the US military.”

Vyacheslav Likhachev, “The Far Right in the Conflict between Russia and Ukraine (Institut français des relations internationales 7/2016)
A detailed study of both Ukrainian and Russian “radical nationalists” before, during, and after the events of 2014, including the Maidan revolution, Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and the formation of the separatist “people’s republics” in eastern Ukraine. This was published in 2016 but still provides useful background.

Diane Francis, “Vlad’s Wagner (Kyiv Post, December 2021)
(Cached here.)
Report by a mainstream journalist on the Wagner Group, the private armed force of Russian mercenaries that works closely with the Russian state. Wagner soldiers helped Russia annex Crimea and invade eastern Ukraine in 2014, and they have also operated in Syria and over a dozen African countries.

Lev Golinkin, “Neo-Nazis and the Far Right Are On the March in Ukraine (The Nation, February 2019) (Cached here.)
Putin’s claim that neo-Nazis run Ukraine is false and self-serving, but fascists do have a significant presence within the Ukrainian military and police, far rightists have violently attacked Roma and LGBT communities repeatedly, and World War 2-era Nazi collaborators have been widely (and officially) glorified.

Paul Bowman, “Is Putin a fascist? (Medium, 24 March 2022)

“The danger that Putin and his autocratic regime of silovik barons and oligarch courtiers pose to Ukraine and the world is not to be underestimated. When we say that this is not fascism, we are not downplaying the danger the regime poses, by any means. But grassroots anti-fascist resistance could not have prevented his rise to power, because he did not come from the streets at the head of a fascist paramilitary party, but from within the existing corridors of power of the collapsing Soviet state.”

Philippe Alcoy, “Beyond Putin’s Propaganda, the Far Right is a Major Problem in Ukraine (LeftVoice, 14 March 2022)
“‘Denazification’ is one of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s justifications for his continued attacks on Ukraine. These declarations are pure Kremlin propagandas aimed at building a consensus, primarily within Russia itself, that legitimizes the aggression of the Putin regime. To be sure, the Ukrainian government is reactionary, bourgeois, and pro-imperialist, but it is not actually led by Nazis. However, denying the existence of far-right nationalist organizations and the ability they’ve had since 2014 to influence Ukrainian politics only strengthens their position, posing a grave threat to the working class and oppressed in Ukraine and beyond.”

Far rightists and the 2014 revolution

Three Way Fight published a series of articles in the immediate aftermath of Ukraine’s 2014 revolution. Although many of the specifics have changed, the basic analysis remains relevant: 

Photo credit:

Акутагава, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

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