We, the International League of People’s Struggle in Canada, call for Canada’s immediate withdrawal from NATO, and an end to the inter-imperialist conflict in Ukraine.
NATO has played the main role in provoking this conflict. It has done this through its continued expansion and its provocative actions in Eastern Europe. NATO members knew that any expansion eastward beyond the Elbe would be considered a betrayal of their commitments, and would undermine the NATO-Russia Founding Act. NATO continued pushing eastward anyway. It spread, for instance, to Poland, Hungary, the Baltic States, and into the Balkans. In 2008, it announced its intention to extend NATO membership to Georgia and Ukraine, knowing full well that this would represent a direct threat to the Russian Federation.
Even in the 1990s, many realized that continued NATO expansion risked re-militarizing Europe and provoking conflicts with Russia. Western diplomats promised Russia in the early 1990s that it would not expand ‘one inch’ eastward. This promise was almost immediately abandoned. It is no surprise that Russia has eventually responded to the extension of a military alliance to its doorstep.
The threat posed to Russia by NATO expansion is not an abstract one. It involves the stationing of missiles within reach of Russian cities, regular military exercises on Russian borders, and the withdrawal of US and NATO powers from arms-control agreements, as well as increasing intervention into Ukrainian domestic politics. The latter significantly impacts Russia’s political and economic interests.
NATO expansion thus confronts Russia with a direct threat of violence and foreign political influence. Why have NATO powers provoked Russia and pushed for the remilitarization of Europe? NATO and Russia’s actions are motivated by competition for natural resources, and by NATO powers’ desire to establish control over the former socialist economies of Eastern Europe.
Western powers have sought the integration of Eastern European economies into the European capitalist system. Ukraine is rich in mineral resources and is a crucial area for the transportation of oil and gas to Europe. It is these considerations which weigh on the ruling classes of Russia and the NATO powers, rather than the security or wellbeing of the Ukrainians themselves. By recklessly provoking conflict, and then opportunistically taking advantage of it, NATO has proved that its interests are fundamentally incompatible with the interests of ordinary working people.
For the rest of us, war between imperialist powers achieves nothing other than death, destruction, and impoverishment. The Ukrainian people have undoubtedly borne the heaviest cost. Alongside them, working people across the world have paid the costs of our governments’ warmongering, through soaring costs of living, ballooning military budgets, and crumbling public services.
Neither the Ukrainian bourgeois government, nor those of NATO powers or Russia, have the best interests of ordinary people in mind. Throughout the last decade, we have seen genuine expressions of popular discontent be appropriated and redirected by the ruling classes of Ukraine and surrounding powers for their own interests. The contradictions which have led to the war in Ukraine will not be addressed by the competing capitalist states.
As anti-imperialists in Canada, it is our job to join with the working classes of the world in opposing imperialist war, and to take a stand against our own bourgeoisie that perpetuates it. Just as many Russian people have taken a stand against their own warmongering ruling class, it is up to us to stand against the Canadian ruling class, and its support for NATO militarism.