Over the past week, there’s been a significant change in the U.S. posture in Ukraine which marks a dangerous escalation of its proxy war with Russia there.
On Monday, April 25, after a trip to Ukraine with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin declared, “We want to see Russia weakened to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine.” The New York Times called it an apparent shift in the U.S. goal in the war “from defending Ukraine’s independence and territorial sovereignty to weakening Russia” that implied “the United States wanted to erode Russian military power for years to come.” The Times called this shift a “hint of a more direct confrontation.”1
On Thursday, April 28, President Biden called for another $33 billion in artillery, antitank weapons and other military hardware and economic aid. The New York Times called this “an extraordinary escalation in American investment in the war.”2
And on Sunday, May 1, after a trip to Ukraine, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said, “America stands with Ukraine. We stand with Ukraine until victory is won.” The Times concluded that such a statement by Pelosi, the highest-ranking U.S. official yet to go to Ukraine, seemed “to underscore an expanded view of American and allied war aims.”3
Russia Threatens and Carries Out New Escalations of Its Own
In response to these U.S. moves, the Russian imperialists, for their part, made these moves to escalate:
* Launched missile strikes on Kyiv and western Ukraine and stepped up its brutal ground and artillery offensive in eastern Ukraine.
* After Austin’s threat, Russia cut off the flow of natural gas to Poland and Bulgaria, raising the possibility it could cut off Germany, which is very dependent on Russian gas.
* Russian foreign minister Sergey V. Lavrov stated that “NATO is essentially going to war with Russia through a proxy and arming that proxy” and warned that U.S.-NATO weapons would be “a legitimate target for Russia’s military,” and the risks of nuclear war were “really considerable... The danger is serious, real…”
* On April 27, Putin warned that any countries who “create a strategic threat to Russia” could expect lightning-fast “retaliatory strikes.”
* Russia also warned of a widening war, saying that the U.S. and Poland were conspiring to control western Ukraine and that the West was “encouraging Ukraine to launch strikes inside Russia, where gas depots and a missile factory have burned or been attacked in recent days,” according to the New York Times.
Both Sides Deeply Committed to a “Win”
This back-and-forth escalation between the U.S. and Russia, and dying out of “talk of a diplomatic resolution or even a cease-fire,” prompted the New York Times to warn:
For nine weeks, President Biden and the Western allies have emphasized the need to keep the war for Ukraine inside Ukraine. Now, the fear in Washington and European capitals is that the conflict may soon escalate into a wider war—spreading to neighboring states, to cyberspace and to NATO countries suddenly facing a Russian cutoff of gas. Over the long term, such an expansion could evolve into a more direct conflict between Washington and Moscow…4
And this raised alarm bells, including among various representatives of the ruling classes, particularly in Europe. Citing a German political analyst, the New York Times wrote, “To say that ‘Russia must not win,’ he said, is different from saying ‘Russia must lose’… ‘we shouldn’t push Putin too hard against the wall, so that he may become desperate and do something truly irresponsible.’”
What the Times and other mouthpieces of this capitalist-imperialist system will never say, but instead constantly lie about and cover up, is the reality that, as Bob Avakian has analyzed, “the confrontation between the U.S./NATO on the one side, and Russia on the other, is not a conflict ‘between democracy and autocracy’ but between rival imperialists.”
It's precisely the driving agendas and necessities faced by both these imperialist marauders that’s given rise to the trajectory of escalating and growing danger Bob Avakian (BA) describes in his recent article “WORLD WAR 3 AND DANGEROUS IDIOCY”:
In this war—where the Russian imperialists have invaded Ukraine, and on the other hand the U.S. imperialists (and their NATO “allies”) are backing and heavily arming Ukraine—both sides are deeply committed to a “win” in this situation. On the part of the U.S. imperialists, their aim, and what for them constitutes a necessary “win,” is to bring about a defeat of Russia in Ukraine and thereby significantly weaken Russia and its ability to challenge the dominant position of U.S. imperialism in the world. For the Russian imperialists, their objective is precisely to challenge that U.S. dominance, and a key and immediate aim is preventing Ukraine from joining NATO and ensuring that Ukraine does not become part of the U.S./NATO “encirclement” of Russia, which is already very far along (with a number of countries close to, or actually bordering on, Russia already members of NATO). With each side seriously committed to its objectives, and having become seriously involved in war in pursuit of these objectives (with Russia directly at war in Ukraine and the U.S./NATO now indirectly but deeply involved), this means that, so long as the terms are set by these contending imperialists, neither side can easily back down. (Again, so long as the terms are set by these contending imperialists, and the people, on all sides, do not effectively act, in their masses, in such a way as to force things onto different terms, which are in their interests, in opposition to those of the imperialists on either side.)5
Would either side back off and admit defeat, if the masses of people do not rise up in this way? Again, from BA:
No, the “dynamics” of direct war between the U.S./NATO and Russia would very likely lead to a process of continuing escalation, with neither side willing—or really able—to back down when faced with the prospect of some kind of defeat in this war.
A Dynamic That Could Lead to Global Catastrophe
As the U.S. escalates and Russia warns of the danger of nuclear conflict, U.S. “officials are already gaming out how they might react to a Russian nuclear test, or demonstration explosion, over the Black Sea or on Ukrainian territory,” according to the New York Times. This even as the Pentagon insists, “Nobody wants to see this war escalate any more than it already has… Certainly nobody wants to see, or nobody should want to see, it escalate into the nuclear realm.”
A former French ambassador to the United States commented: “Right now, we are sleepwalking to nobody knows where.”
What We Need to Do—What Is in the Interests of Humanity
This growing and very grave danger illustrates the dynamic BA has sounded the alarm about:
Regardless of intentions, however, as has been shown over and over again, events—especially the dynamics of war itself, once entered into—can “overtake intentions” and lead to circumstances and consequences that neither side wanted or anticipated at the start. In the current situation, with the war in Ukraine, there is a very real danger that such a dynamic could “take over” and lead to truly terrible consequences—the very real possibility of war between the U.S./NATO and Russia, with the use of nuclear weapons which could pose a very real threat to human civilization as a whole.
And this underscores what BA concludes WE must do:
From all this, it should be obvious that the interests of the masses of people in all the different countries involved, and of humanity as a whole, are in fundamental opposition to those of the imperialists on both sides of this conflict. With this understanding, what are we called on to do?
Certainly, a crucial lesson that people should learn from the war in Ukraine is that humanity cannot afford any longer to allow these imperialists, on any side, to continue to rule the world, and battle over who will dominate in this situation, with the very real and dire threat this poses to the future, and the very existence, of humanity.6
These developments add further urgency to widely spreading and actively promoting the crucial slogans raised at the spirited and determined revolutionary internationalist May 1st marches that took place in New York and Los Angeles in the U.S., and in Berlin, Germany; Bogota, Colombia; and elsewhere around the world:
NO US/NATO WAR WITH RUSSIA! NO WORLD WAR 3!
IT’S THIS SYSTEM, NOT HUMANITY, THAT NEEDS TO BECOME EXTINCT!
WE DON’T ACCEPT THEIR FUTURE
IT’S TIME TO GET ORGANIZED FOR A REAL REVOLUTION