In the last issue of Proletarian Era (dated 1 March 2022), we have dealt at length on the perspective as well as various economic-political aspects of the Russian military aggression in Ukraine which commenced on 24 February last and continuing till date. We had shown that after counter-revolution, Russia has become an imperialist country while Ukraine, a constituent of erstwhile Soviet Russia, turned into a capitalist country. And this war of aggression is the fallout of a contradiction between US imperialism and Russian imperialism in the main over grab of market and firming up political dominance in the global sphere through creation of respective spheres of influence. Once again, the prognosis of great Lenin that ‘‘imperialism generates war—an annexationist, predatory, plunderous war—’’ is reaffirmed. As usual, this war has taken a heavy toll of life and property of common Ukrainian people, subverted all canons of human rights, exacerbated migrant problem and overnight turned a highly industrialized and developed country into a wreckage. Many people have been turned into beggars, moving here and there to somehow hold on to their life and are migrating to other countries for being available as cheap labour. This is the inhumanity of imperialism-sponsored wars. Yet, this large scale devastation, enormous loss of life and cry for survival by the shattered and hapless refugees are of no consideration for the war-monger imperialists. Their profit greed and power craze override everything including the very right of the oppressed millions to live.
Ruinous consequence on global economy
Besides colossal destruction, perishing of innocent lives and flagrant violation of human rights in Ukraine, the cascading effect of this war has already cast its dark shadow on global capitalist economy already sunk in acute crisis. Oil and natural gas, as is well known, are two crucially important ingredients for running the wheels of industries and transport. Of late, most of the localized wars including wars of occupation of other lands, launched or engineered, as the case may be, by the US imperialists and their allies in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America have been mainly aimed at capturing oil fields and gas-rich areas of other lands. On the other hand, Russia is the second largest crude oil producer in the world, behind the US and ahead of Saudi Arabia. It is one of the main suppliers of crude oil and gas to most of the European countries. Russia uses roughly half of his domestic production of 11miliion barrels per day for its own internal demand and exports the balance quantity. With outbreak of war in Ukraine, crude oil price is rising by leaps and bounds fearing cut in supply from Russia. Moreover, while the US imperialists and some of their allies have been posing to adopt a stiff stand against imperialist Russia by way of threatening imposition of more stringent economic sanctions on it, some of the European countries many of whom are members of US-headed NATO like Germany, Italy and Netherlands are still ambivalent in regard to their approach towards Russia from whom they receive bulk of their oil and gas supply. The very objective of slapping such sanctions by US is to increase their own market by ousting Russia from its hitherto controlled markets. To increase pressure on Russia, the US and UK have already banned oil import from it. But Russian crude oil is not really a base-load staple for US refiners because US purchases barely register on Russia’s massive oil earnings. UK itself is an oil producer. Hence, unless most of the countries impose bans, Russian export purse would not be affected. As stated above, the US have long been trying to take control of the vast oil reserves in the Middle East by flexing military muscle and even annexing, so to say, a sovereign country like Iraq on fraudulent pretext. Hence, US do not stand any moral ground in criticizing Russia for invading Ukraine or scoring on oil diplomacy.
India’s international diplomacy with big imperialist powers
Next comes the question about Indian position in this crisis. As is evident to all, India has already acquired imperialist character and is displaying all features of imperialism like export of capital abroad, exploiting cheap labour and raw material of other countries, etc. It is aspiring to emerge as a superpower not only in Asia but in the world. When the Indian BJP Prime Minister boasts of being a $5 trillion economy within few years, it is reflective of that very aspiration. In order to realize that dream, India has long been aligning itself militarily with US. Both the countries often take part in joint naval and aerial military drills. In 2007, India, US, Australia and Japan had formed Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD), colloquially the Quad or QUAD, an informal strategic forum for information exchanges and military drills of all the member countries. India also had entered into an insidious nuclear deal with US in 2006. A year before that, in September 2005, India voted adversely against Iran in the crucial meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). India also supported a resolution moved by the US and its European Union allies alleging violation of Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) by Iran. In 2003, when US militarily occupied Iraq, India did not condemn that. Rather, it, in a diplomatic way, had termed it as ‘‘unjustified’’ and called for all possible efforts to bring ‘‘hostilities’’ to an early end. When US and their NATO allies killed Col. Qaddafi, the elected President of Libya, India again reacted guardedly limiting only to expressing readiness to extend all possible assistance to the Libyan people in their political transition and rebuilding of the country. At the same time, despite closeness with US, India has not joined NATO, the major military alliance headed by the US imperialists. This time also, India has remained non-committal on Russian aggression on Ukraine by abstaining from voting against UN resolution condemning Russia. But top Pentagon officials have shown an understanding of India’s abstention. ‘‘We recognize that India has a complicated history and relationship with Russia,’’ Assistant Secretary of Defence for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, told members of the House Armed Services Committee of US. Thus, India has been cunningly refraining from making either US or Russia hostile.
India walking a fine line
Instead India shows friendly overture to both and seeks to derive more advantage from both of them through skilful bargaining. The ruling Indian monopolists are also aware that in the present global scenario, the major imperialist forces would go on orchestrating local and partial wars from both economic and political interests. While they are after increasing their respective spheres of influence either at gunpoint or through exploitative neo-colonial route, they also need to release their stockpile of arms produced through increasing militarization of economy, to somehow stave off growing economic crisis. The Indian rulers are also seeking to gain prominence in the arms race by regularly augmenting military budget while people are being pushed to untold misery and penury, procuring sophisticated military hardware from other imperialist countries as they also need to keep war tension in the border areas alive and engineer occasional armed conflicts with the neighbouring countries to divert people’s attention from the burning problems of life bred by oppressive capitalism as well as to keep artificial stimulation of its sagging economy through militarization. So, they are trying to walk a fine line, maintaining its relationships with the United States and other Western nations on one side, and the historically deep and strategic ties with Russia on the other.
Indian trade with Russia
This small background would help providing an insight into Indian position in the Ukrainian crisis. There is a reason for India, a close US ally, for persistently abstaining from voting against Russia in the UN over Ukraine war. It is true that India like many European countries is not dependent on Russia for oil or natural gas supply. India does import both oil and natural gas from Russia but not of any significant quantity. It hardly accounts for about 1% of its oil and 0.2% of its gas imports respectively. But, for Russia, India is the largest importer, and for India, Russia the largest exporter when it comes to arms transfer. Between 2000 and 2020, Russia accounted for 66.5 per cent of India’s arms imports. Of the $53.85 billion spent by India during those two decades on arms imports, $35.82 billion went to Russia. During the same period, imports from the US were worth $4.4 billion, and from Israel worth $ 4.1 billion. India is also in talks with Russia to lease two nuclear-ballistic submarines, Chakra 3 and Chakra 4, the first of which is expected to be delivered by 2025. Moreover, the Indian Army’s main battle tank force is composed predominantly of Russian T-72M1 (66 per cent) and T-90S (30 per cent). The Indian Navy’s sole operational aircraft carrier is a refurbished Soviet-era ship, and its entire complement of fighter and ground attack aircrafts are Russian-made or produced in India on license (the Navy’s fighter fleet comprises 43 MiG-29K/KUBs). Four of the Navy’s 10 guided-missile destroyers are Russian Kashin class, and 6 of its 17 frigates are Russian Talwar class. Also India exports goods worth $2.5 billion annually to Russia and another $1.5 billion to CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) countries including Ukraine. So, this heavy dependence for arms and uncertainty over export market are the compulsions that forbid India from voicing any protest against Russia. Any student of political economy can make out that this compulsion is of the ruling Indian monopolists and the parties who are anointed to power act to ensure fullest compliance with bourgeois class interest. The Congress had done that in the past. Now the BJP is also following suit. What is notable is that even the pseudo-Marxists like CPI (M), CPI have also refrained from condemning Russian invasion of Ukraine. The CPI (M) only ‘‘expressed its grave concern at the armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine’’ and called ‘‘Russian military action against Ukraine unfortunate.’’ Similarly, the CPI also expressed concern over human and material losses in Ukraine as the Russian forces advanced in its neighbouring country and demanded restoration of peace and return to the path of diplomacy and dialogue. Perhaps they are also intending to curry favour with the ruling Indian monopolists to stay afloat in the corridor of power. But our Party, from the viewpoint of Marxism-Leninism-Shibdas Ghosh Thought, strongly condemned imperialist Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine and pointed out that as the US imperialists-led NATO has been extending its sphere of control over most of the East European countries, Russia as a contending imperialist power and in its bid to bring Ukraine under its domination has launched this aggression. We have categorically mentioned that conflict on domination between US imperialism and Russian imperialism created this war situation which is endangering world peace. It is heartening to note that the the Russian Communist Workers’ Party (RCWP) has also stressed out the actual aims of Vladimir Putin’s government to be of ‘‘strengthening the position of imperialist Russia in the world market competition’’. It further observed that ‘‘the source of the conflict is the inter-imperialist contradictions between the US, the EU and Russia,..We have no doubt that the real aims of the Russian state in this war are imperialistic’’. Defying police warnings, common peace-loving people of Russia have also come out on the streets in thousands to protest against invasion of Ukraine. ‘‘No to war!’’ chanted the crowd and they expressed solidarity with the attacked Ukrainians. Similar protests of common citizens have been taking place in almost all countries. ‘‘It’s Putin’s war, not a war of the Russian people, said one Russian protest organizer in Netherlands.’’
Shameful self-eulogy over rescue of stranded Indian citizens
While the two major imperialist powers are set against each other, various facades of hardships faced by the suffering humanity are unfolding. A case in point is the life risk, harassment and rigour faced by 20,000 odd Indian students who went to Ukraine to pursue medical education as their parents could not bear the exorbitant cost of enrolling them in the medial colleges within the country. As against Rs 1 crore, medical education in Ukraine costs around Rs 25 lakhs. ‘‘If medical education policies were right earlier, then you would not have to go abroad,’’ said an angry guardian. But the ruling BJP leaders felt no qualm in demonizing and mocking at such students. On the day, an Indian student died in Ukraine, Prahlad Joshi, the Union BJP parliamentary affairs minister quipped that ‘‘90% of Indians’’ who study medicine abroad are those who ‘‘fail to clear qualifying exams in India’’. Incidentally, the student who lost his life had scored 97% in his pre-university course, his father told the media.
It was from early December 2021 that tension was building up centring Ukraine and warnings were given from various quarters that the situation could deteriorate into a military conflict. Many countries like US, Canada, Australia, UK and Germany had started bringing back their citizens from Ukraine in January 2022 itself. But the Indian government showed no sign of hurry. Also, the focus of the ruling BJP and its leaders including the PM was then on campaigning for the assembly elections in the five states. Hence, the urgency to protect and, if necessary, evacuate the Indian citizens particularly the Indian students stranded in Ukraine was conveniently relegated to the back.The Indian Embassy in Ukraine offered no advice to its citizens. This reminds us that the same offence was committed by the BJP leaders when they abnormally delayed necessary preventive measures against a serious pandemic like Covid 19. The hospitals ran short of beds, oxygen cylinders were in short supply, availability of doctors, nurses and paramedical staff was far less than requirement. Due to such gross negligence and utter callousness 5.1 lakh people including many doctors are officially reported to have lost life (actual figures would be over 40 lakhs as per unofficial sources). The news of three to four bodies being cremated on one pyre, series of dead bodies floating in the river Ganga bear testimony of gross under-reporting of Covid death figures. The rickety skeleton of India’s healthcare system was laid bare like anything. The unthinkable plight of several crores of migrant labourers turned jobless, foodless and shelterless overnight due to sudden and unprepared lockdown also exposed the cruelty of the government. Why did the situation so worsen? Because, when Covid pandemic was gripping the country and warnings were sounded by World Health Organization about severity of it, the PM, other ministers and ruling party leaders were busy felicitating the then US President and hatching conspiracy to snatch power in Madhya Pradesh by engineering defection. These were so important to them that they did not bother pushing the whole country to a catastrophe.
This time also, winning elections in five states was priority to them. So the adverse consequence of Ukrainian crisis on the thousands of Indian citizens particularly students living in that country never received any consideration to them. When electioneering was in the last lap, the government rose from the slumber and had launched ‘‘Operation Ganga’’ to evacuate Indian citizens, mostly students, from Ukraine with much fanfare. After much toil, most of the students managed to cross over to the countries like Hungary, Romania and Poland bordering Ukraine and then boarded Indian planes to get back to their homeland. On arrival, some of them were greeted with flowers by the central ministers with chants of ‘‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’’ and in praise of PM Modi. But the students, visibly enraged, strongly criticized the government saying that the gestures like distributing flowers were pointless when timely steps were not taken to rescue Indian citizens from the conflict zone. Holding up the rose given to him, an Indian student said, ‘‘Now that we are here, we are being given this. What is the point? What will we do with this? What would have our families done if something happened to us there?’’ A shocking description of the kind of harassment and danger they faced was given by a first year girl student of a medical university in Ukraine. She said that Ukrainian soldiers were treating them very badly, beating the boys, kicking the girls, firing tear gas shells and also bullets in the air. Asked if they received help from the Indian embassy in Ukraine, they replied, ‘‘Whatever we did, we did on our own….The officials of the Indian embassy left us to our destiny.’’ Yet, India’s foreign secretary shamelessly tried to defend the government’s actions by claiming that the Indian government ‘‘gave a lot of advance notice’’ to students, in order for them to leave Ukraine.
Disinformation campaign in social media
As Indian evacuation efforts fumbled and families of the stranded student were fighting anxious moments, a silently orchestrated amplified disinformation campaign had been taking shape across digital platforms to exaggerate the government’s successes. Apart from spreading fake news, the posts falsely blamed students stuck inside Ukraine for their fate, stoke hyper-nationalism, glorified India and Prime Minister Modi. It also went to the extent of disparaging the stranded students who would criticize Modi once they would return to India as ‘snakelings’ and claimed that Ukraine had called Modi the world’s ‘most powerful leader’. It also aired another false claim that Ukraine and Russia sought India’s help to resolve the war. One message, found in various pro-BJP WhatsApp groups read : ‘‘You want to get out of the war-zone safely and then come and cry in front of TV cameras that you were not given 5-star facilities… The students should have been dropped by a helicopter till their doorsteps. The government should have paid for a porter to carry their luggage. Modi should have carried them on his head and dropped them home, isn’t it?’’ Such was the kind of demonization of the students and mocking of their tribulations in the motivated campaigns on social media.
Two fact-finding agencies have found evidence of such a campaign largely across WhatsApp groups as well as Facebook groups being run by BJP quarters. Also in one case, so detected, a graphic claimed that the Russian Defence minister Sergey Shoigu had promised his country’s forces would not harm Indian civilians in Ukraine and would evacuate such civilians to safer locations. One fact finding agency too found both these claims to be false—Shoigu never said what was attributed to him, and the Indian flight never flew into the no-fly zone. Such fabrication, the fact-finding teams argued, was required to counter the criticism that the Modi government was facing for its delayed response to the situation.
Why the rulers are getting away with such deceptions
This, in fine, is the Indian position on Ukraine issue for reasons elaborated above and how the BJP government has fared in its cunningness in fabricating truth and bask in self-arrogated glory while the sufferings of the common Indians whether in the country or in trying circumstances abroad, are immense, if not unbearable. The BJP and its government subservient to the ruling monopolists are getting away with such offences and fabricated campaigns because the toiling masses lack political consciousness. Most of the opposition parties including pseudo-Marxists who pretend to be at loggerheads with the BJP only remain confined to the extent necessary for scoring better in elections. It is futile to expect that they would impart proper political education to the masses. Rather, their efforts are to confine the masses within the precincts of electoral politics. So, the people remain confused, shuttle between this or that party or combinations of the bourgeoisie in the electoral mock-fight and get carried by catchy slogans of pseudo-patriotism or national jingoism.
Riding on their ignorance, the ruling monopolists and their lackeys make fortunes and go on deceiving them. This is true for India as well as all imperialist-capitalist countries. Elaborating the prognosis of Comrade Lenin, Comrade Shibdas Ghosh, Founder General Secretary of SUCI (C) and an outstanding Marxist thinker and philosopher, had shown long back that ‘‘The law of inevitability of wars in the epoch of imperialism is a law of political economy which arises from the special economic conditions of the epoch. These conditions are mainly the competition between different capitalist-imperialist countries for market and the intensification of this antagonistic contradiction in the epoch of imperialism’’ (Call of the Hour, CW Vol II) ‘‘It would be possible to banish war for good from human society only when socialist revolution would become victorious throughout the world or when the present capitalist encirclement will be replaced by the encirclement of a few remaining capitalist countries by the world socialist system.’’ (On War, Peace and Peaceful Co-existence, CW Vol. I)
So, our appeal to the people at large to realize this heinous game of the ruling dispensation as well as their lackeys of different hues, shed all hesitations, doubts and fears, boldly come forward and build up their own struggles under correct revolutionary leadership not only for emancipation from the yoke of capitalist oppression through revolution but also for forcing the power-that-be to yield to their just demands and give them some relief. Our Party is pledge-bound to be by the side of the suffering millions and try to increase their political education alongside developing the class and mass struggles including powerful anti-imperialist movements.
[Source:-BBC 27-01-22, 24-02-22, Global Conflict Tracker28-01-22, DW.com ,AP, Reuters, AFP 21-02-22, Workers’ World-22-02-22, Al Jazeera 23-02-22, The Hindu 24-02-22, 08-03-22, CPI (M) Website, 2502-22, Business Standard 26-02-22, idcommunism 27-02-22, Economic Times 28-02-22, 10-03-22, India Today 28-02-22, 02-03-22, The Statesman-01-03-22, The Wire 02-03-22, Times Of India 02-03-22livemint 03-03-22, The Tribune 03-03-22, NDTV 03-03-22, Indian Express 03-03-22, article-14 03-03-22, ABP 04-03-22, The Quint 07-03-22, 08-03-22, the conversation.com 09-03-22]
Russian Communist Workers’ Party on Ukraine war
In a statement titled ‘‘No to fascism! No to imperialist war’’ issued on 27 February 2022, the Russian Communist Workers’ Party (RCWP) refers to Russia’s invasion in Ukraine, stressing out that the actual aims of Vladimir Putin’s government is to ‘‘strengthen the position of imperialist Russia in the world market competition’’.
‘‘Neither the Russian authorities nor the US and EU leaders pay much attention to the working people. We have no doubt that the real aims of the Russian state in this war are imperialistic’’, the statement of the RCWP states. The Party acknowledges that ‘‘the source of the conflict is the inter-imperialist contradictions between the US, the EU and Russia’’, adding that ‘‘the goal of the more powerful US imperialism is to weaken its Russian competitor and expand its influence in the European market’’.
In any case, the RCWP states, ‘‘not the masters but the workers will die on both sides. To die for class brothers is worthy, but to die and kill for the interests of the masters is stupid, criminal and unacceptable’’.
The RCWP, which has been banned from elections in Russia, has hailed the recognition of the so-called ‘‘People’s Republics’’ in Donbass, a position that the Party has advocated in the previous years.
In the end of its statement the Party reaffirms its position against the relapses of fascism, noting that only the path that leads to socialism can put an end to wars. ‘‘The common struggle of the working people against the bourgeoisie of all countries is the main strategic line of our parties’’, the statement concludes.