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Escalating Confrontations, Intensifying Threats:

Biden/Putin Faceoff Brings World to the Threshold of Nuclear War

Aircraft from Germany, Finland, Sweden, and the United States fly in formation above the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge.


Aircraft from Germany, Finland, Sweden, and the United States fly in formation above the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge.   

The threat of nuclear war—of World War 3—is real, and is growing more likely by the day. Last week we wrote thatThe war in Ukraine has escalated to a perilous new phase. The danger of nuclear exchanges is greater, and more explicitly stated, than ever by political leaders on both sides of the war—Russia on one side; on the other, Ukraine, backed by the U.S. and NATO.”

In just the past week, this conflict has gotten significantly more dangerous.

  • Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, announced that Russia is annexing four areas of Ukraine and will consider them part of Russia. This is the largest annexation of territory in Europe since the end of World War 2. The annexations followed sham referendums1 run by the Russian government under the aegis, or authority, of their occupying troops.
Map showing Russian control of Ukraine as of September 27, 2022.


Ukraine    Credit: ISW

  • Ukraine launched a major, and successful, offensive in the contested territory, and drove Russian forces out of the city of Lyman (part of territory claimed by Putin as part of Russia). After the Russian retreat, a close ally of Putin called for “more drastic measures that could include “the use of low-yield nuclear weapons.” (As we reported last week, “low-yield” or not, "tactical" or not, once things cross the nuclear threshold the war is in a whole other realm of destruction.)
  • Putin gave a major speech on September 29, attempting to recast the Russian invasion as part of a worldwide struggle against Western neocolonialism and as a defense of Russia’s nationhood. As part of this, Putin called out the U.S. use of nuclear weapons against Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but then said that this “created a precedent.” This phrase could be seen as a justification in advance for Russian use of nuclear weapons, should Putin decide on that course. The fact that every major politician within the U.S. has to this day justified that “precedent” with the excuse that it “saved the lives of soldiers” and “brought the war to an end” should be cause for even more concern—for it is easy to imagine, in the current circumstances, how similar arguments might be invoked by Russia for what would be an extremely criminal and extraordinarily dangerous act. “For the record,” these were both lies—the war had been essentially won, the Japanese wanted peace, but the U.S. wanted to intimidate the rest of the world with a demonstration of the destructive might that it alone at that point possessed. More fundamentally, nuclear war is never justified in any circumstance.
  • Adding to this, Putin said that Ukrainian military actions in the annexed territories will be considered an attack on Russia. Putin has already delivered a clear warning that “If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, to defend and protect our country and our people, we will use all the means that we have. I'm not bluffing." Translation of “all the means we have”: nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, even while it is at this point a proxy war, the U.S. has been implementing a multidimensional squeeze on Russia.

  • Joe Biden vowed to “rally the international community to both denounce these moves and to hold Russia accountable. We will continue to provide Ukraine with the equipment it needs to defend itself. ... America is fully prepared with our NATO allies to defend every single inch of NATO territory. Every single inch. So Mr. Putin, don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. Every inch.”
  • Jake Sullivan, Biden’s National Security Advisor, said “there is a risk” that Russia will use nuclear weapons, and that the Biden administration has informed the Kremlin that the U.S. will take "decisive" action if Putin follows through with his threat. Axios reported that Sullivan said the U.S. had privately made clear to the Russians what its responses would be, but “we’re not going to telegraph these things publicly.” Earlier in the week Sullivan had promised “catastrophic consequences” if Russia used nuclear weapons. He said Russian leadership “well understand[s] what they would face if they went down that dark road.”
  • The Pentagon announced that it is sending an additional $1.1 billion in military “aid” to Ukraine, including “18 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System launchers, or HIMARS, one of the most vaunted weapons of the seven-month war with Russia.” This is in addition to the $15.2 billion in high-tech military equipment the U.S. has already sent to Ukraine this year. It also announced it is setting up a special command center devoted to training and supplying the Ukrainian military. This expresses the U.S.’s “… long-term commitment to support Ukraine in its war with Russia.”

By week’s end, the website Dispatch stated that the war in Ukraine has brought the world to “… its most dangerous moment since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. No other single incident has had a higher potential to escalate into a general war between Russia and the United States, to inflict mass casualties on such a large number of people, or to bring such a high level of disruption to the global economy.”

War Danger - Putin/Biden and BA quote


An Imperialist Showdown, NOT “Good Guys vs. Bad Guys”

An official statement from Biden said the U.S.will stand by Ukraine as it defends its democracy and support its sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of unprovoked Russian aggression.” This is hypocritical, self-serving bullshit. Americans are not the “good guys” coming to the support of a “plucky but beleaguered” country—the U.S. is pursuing its own murderous interests of global exploitation and domination against an equally imperialist power.

The U.S. is arming Ukraine and giving tactical, logistical, and training support to the Ukrainian military, not to “defend democracy” but to militarily and economically weaken Russia and prevent it from strengthening and further consolidating its own imperialist power and its challenges to U.S. dominance of the world. It is supporting Ukraine to firm up its leadership and grip on European imperialist countries. And it is doing all this in our name, under the banner of “democracy,” trying to rally our support for its crimes and its empire.

Ukraine is not a battleground between “democracy and autocracy,” it is a conflict zone of imperialist rivalry between Russian imperialism and U.S. and Western imperialism. Both are fighting to impose their will on the other, to advance the interests of their empire at the expense of the other—and at the cost of the tens of thousands of lives lost, with the looming threat of crushing and incinerating millions more. (For more analysis and history of this situation, including several articles by Bob Avakian [BA], go to’s The War in Ukraine: A Resource Page.)

The Democratic Party Is a Machine of Massive War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity

The Democrats are not the “party of peace”their entire record is one of bloody war crimes and crimes against humanity. They have demonstrated over and over again they have no hesitation at all when it comes to killing millions of people in the interests of the U.S. empire.

The Democrats are the party of nuclear bombs dropped on densely populated cities... the party of napalmjellied gasoline that burns to the bone—dropped on children... the party of drone strikes on wedding parties. The party of nuclear threats on China and North Korea... millions slaughtered by U.S. troops in Vietnam... the assassination of Patrice Lumumba in Congo... the invasion of the Dominican Republic… training and funding death squads in El Salvador... the military occupation of Afghanistan... and many more. These are just some of the war crimes committed by the U.S. when the Democrats are in power. (Go here for a fuller picture.)

And now, under Democratic Party leadership, this country is bringing the world to the brink of nuclear war. It’s way past time for people to stop being a tail on the Democratic donkey! People need to wake up! Far, far too many people are sleep-walking through and into a horrific nightmare. Your government—led by Democrats—is perpetrating war crimes, and laying the groundwork for even more horrific crimes that could break out at any moment.

This Whole Dynamic Must Be Urgently, Radically Changed—in the Interests of Humanity, Not of Rival and Contending Imperialists

People can’t stand by passively and hope for the best—they need to be challenged with and think deeply about the truth of these words by BA, and they need to actively raise the slogans below this article everywhere they can.

All this emphasizes why it is vitally important for the masses of people, in this country, and other countries aligned with it, as well as in Russia—for people everywhere—to finally and fully wake up now, recognize the real, and profoundly heavy, stakes involved, and act in accordance with our actual interests—the interests of all of humanity: demanding that this war in Ukraine, and the involvement (direct and indirect) of the imperialists on both sides in this war, be STOPPED, before it not only causes even greater suffering for the people of Ukraine but possibly escalates into a far more terrible conflict which causes massive destruction and death, on a whole other level, and even possibly poses a threat to the very existence of humanity itself.






1. Referendums are elections in which people vote yes or no on a single issue—in this case, did they wish to join their territory to Russia. [back]

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