Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

“You either support Russian imperialism or Ukraine’s right to determine its own future, together with its civilians. Period” – Notes from a Correspondent in England

with one comment

Mark Findlay reviews the Russian Invasion of Ukraine, and reactions from the left in England. The article comes from Mark’s Facebook Page,

NATO or not NATO?

Much is being said about NATO aid to Ukraine; this morning (11/04/2022), I read from Graham Durham on Facebook:

“It was good to see the pro NATO demo on Saturday, called by the PCS union and disgracefully publicised by the TUC , was a tiny flop.
The warmongering demand to ‘Arm Ukraine ‘ is a disgrace to the trade union movement which should be demanding an end to NATO expansion and aggression . As deadly weapons are sent by NATO countries to extend the war some feeble ‘leftists ‘ argue it is not NATO doing this but individual countries
No to War .Stop NATO warmongering
Monday greetings to all in the 5.38 club”

The above is fairly typical from much of the Left. Frankly, I find it hard even to include such a disgraceful post in my text. Not one word about the role of Putin and Russian imperialism, overwhelmingly the aggressor in the current war. This post neatly summarises the Tankie position. Effectively, they want Russia to win. There is no choice in the matter; either Ukraine fights them off, or it’s game over, and Russia will have won at least a large chunk of Ukraine, perhaps the entire Black sea coast plus much of the East, and Kyiv would still remain at threat. If you don’t allow Ukraine to acquire weapons, you are inviting its defeat. This is war-mongering on behalf of Putin.

Here is an exchange in the comments to the above post:

“Simon Hannah
Wow lots of people on this status just cheering on Russian imperialism. Shocking, It seems people want the Russian army to occupy the whole of Ukraine?
Charles Chiverton
Simon Hannah no they just refuse to support a fascist government with the drags of society running it with the puppet zelensky”
(Simon is being ironical in case you hadn’t noticed); my reply: “Fascist? This piece of weary slander gets wheeled out again and again. If you can’t tell the difference between fascism and the Ukrainian government, your level of political and historical knowledge is rock-bottom.”…” And while I am cautious about throwing the “fascist” adjective around, Putin draws much of his support from the far Right in Russia. Far more so than Zelenskiy.”

So what is NATO? I have a small amount of inside knowledge, due to a family member having been a NATO officer. It is a narrow military alliance between the US, most of Europe and a few other countries such as Turkey. It exists to ally its existing member countries, both defensively and potentially offensively in some circumstances. Inside, it’s a quarrelsome alliance with internal rivalries (The Dutch, opposite the British, contingent delightedly shows a picture of Admiral de Ruyter (who with van Ghent and de Witt led the Dutch navy in its successful invasion of the English river Medway in 1667). But it has already denied Ukraine membership, kicking it into the long grass of an “Individual Partnership Action plan”.

We are opposed to NATO. It is an inter-Imperialist alliance between the most powerful capitalist countries in the world. It is also a nuclear alliance between the main global nuclear powers, excluding Russia, China, India, Pakistan and Israel. This last is a close ally of NATO, which is one of the reasons why, despite its clearly apartheid nature, it remains defended by every member state.

However, Ukraine remains excluded from NATO, and in a little –reported action at the beginning of the war, NATO established a hot-line to Russia to ensure that any accidental incursions either way between NATO and Russia would not result in all-out war. In other words, NATO itself has kept very carefully outside the current conflict. It is not ready for a conflict which would very likely turn nuclear.

Individual countries, some but not all members of NATO, are sending arms to Ukraine. Whether they are sending enough for Ukraine to successfully defend itself remains to be seen, even though Russian forces have left the area of Kyiv for the time being. But this is not the same thing as military support by NATO itself for Ukraine. Personally I think it’s barely enough to keep Ukraine in the game in any case; it is still possible that Russia will ultimately defeat Ukraine and at least annex a large chunk of the East and South to add to its forceful grab of Crimea in 2014 and its puppet Luhansk and Donetsk mini-states. And it might then turn its attention again to taking Kyiv and installing a new puppet regime. To recap on Ukraine armament, I think it is at least partly a propaganda exercise, making it look as if Ukraine is being fully defended, but falling short of a real confrontation with Russia, which at the end of the day could turn nuclear. And the sanctions against Russia are pretty ineffective, unless and until Europe is weaned off Russian gas and oil, which could take years and be extremely expensive.

Incidentally, it is foolish to pretend that “we” in Britain are free from dependence on Russian fuel supplies. Russia supplies world markets, and if hypothetically Germany and other European countries stopped their supply from Russia tomorrow, the effect here would be a massive price rise and shortages, even if we don’t actually physically import any from Russia directly.

It would however be foolish not to admit that NATO isn’t active just now. It’s had a massive boost to its strength, buoyed by Russia’s action in Ukraine, both in terms of commitment by existing member countries such as Germany, and with countries like Sweden renewing interest in joining. Much is being made of the vulnerability of the Baltic countries, with Lithuania only have a narrow neck of border with Poland between the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad and close Putin ally Belarus. Myself, I sincerely doubt that Russia would attempt to take on NATO directly, especially now when its massive army has been exposed as so fragile against Ukrainian forces.

That isn’t to say that there is no problem for the Left however.

Ostensibly, within England, we are allied with nearly everyone to our Right up to and including Boris Johnson. It certainly looks and feels uncomfortable, but it would be utterly wrong to do any other than support the Ukrainian people’s fight against Russian imperialism. The Ukrainian resistance to this brutal invasion is fully entitled to procure weapons from anywhere and from anyone, regardless if they hold a NATO membership card. We must recognise that there are other imperialisms beyond the “traditional” ones, even if they are in conflict with “your own”. You either support Russian imperialism or Ukraine’s right to determine its own future, together with its civilians. Period.


Mark Findlay April 11 2020

One Response

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. I’m with that quote 100 per cent.

    Cheers, Bernadette

    On Mon, Apr 11, 2022 at 12:55 PM Tomás Ó Flatharta wrote:

    > tomasoflatharta posted: ” Mark Findlay reviews the Russian Invasion of > Ukraine, and reactions from the left in England. The article comes from > Mark’s Facebook Page, NATO or not NATO? Much is being said about NATO aid > to Ukraine; this morning (11/04/2022), I read from Graha” >


    Apr 12, 2022 at 9:30 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: