Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Up to a Million People are Deserting Putin’s Imperialist Army – Crimea’s Kerch Bridge Destroyed – Russia is Losing the War in Ukraine

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Vladimir Putin is losing the war launched in Ukraine on February 24 2022 – symbolised by the destroyed Kerch Bridge linking Russia to Crimea, captured by an ethnic-cleansing army in 2014 :

The attack on the Kerch Strait Bridge has highlighted that nowhere is Russia invulnerable.

Despite heavy security, innovative defences and dire warnings of retaliation if targeted, this symbol of Russian pride and engineering — at 19km (12 miles) the longest bridge in Europe — was severely damaged by what Russia said was a Ukrainian truck bomb.

This is the assessment of experienced war reporter Patrick Cockburn :

Russian missiles fired at Ukrainian cities and infrastructure are aimed at demonstrating to the world that Russia is still a power to be feared. But the barrage will not erase the impression of Russian weakness created by the blowing up of the Kerch Bridge.

As with other Russian setbacks, the response of President Vladimir Putin is to escalate the conflict, but he shows no signs of having a plan to change the balance of forces on the battlefield.

The partial severing of the bridge linking Russia and the Crimean peninsula may be more important politically than militarily. It will further persuade countries such as China and India that Russia is losing the war and that they need to avoid becoming collateral damage. Russian allies in Central Asia and the Caucasus will see it as further evidence of Russia’s decline as a regional power.

Over 83 missiles hit Ukraine on the morning of October 10 2022, targeting homes, streets, hospitals and power stations. Half of Ukraine is now without water and electricity. For many in Ukraine it is again February 24 2022. Putin wants the people of Ukraine to be afraid, but they are not afraid.

At very short notice, almost 200 protesters gathered at the Kremlin HQ in Ireland, the Embassy of Russia located at 186 Orwell Road.

The only left-wing participating organisation was the Irish Left With Ukraine (ILWU). People picketing the Embassy of Russia were mostly from Ukraine, were women, and were regularly cheered by passing motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians. Approach roads to Dublin’s Kremlin bunker are decorated with Ukrainian flags and signs denouncing Russian war crimes.

Mass campaigning against Putin’s barbaric war needs to grow.

This is the response of the European Network for Solidarity in Ukraine :

Anti-conscription movement

Open the borders for Russians refusing military service!

Putin’s attempt to conscript young Russian citizens to fight in Ukraine is failing. In the two weeks since conscription was announced, 700,000 to 1 million Russian citizens have sought refuge abroad.

The new wave of refugees has gone mostly to Kazakhstan, Georgia, Mongolia, Armenia and Uzbekistan, countries where Russian citizens can enter without a visa. These countries have declared that those refusing military service in Ukraine can remain indefinitely.

Hundreds of thousands more Russian citizens are expected to seek exile in the next few weeks.

Those European countries which don’t have borders with Russia and Ukraine have so far provided only marginal support to refugees from this invasion. They have no excuse to refuse protection to Russian citizens who refuse to fight for Putin.

The EU countries bordering Russia and Belarus have mostly stopped issuing tourist visas to Russian citizens, and restricting entry to those who hold tourist visas from other ‘Schengen space’ countries. This makes it impractical for most Russian passport holders to seek asylum in Europe, since there are no direct flights from Russia or Belarus into the Schengen space. In other words, despite their rhetoric of support for peace activists in the Russian federation, Western countries are helping Putin to force young people into the Russian armed forces. That means more death, rape and suffering of innocent Ukrainians.

Every young Russian citizen who refuses to be cannon fodder for Putin’s imperialist adventure helps the Ukrainians to expel the invaders! It is better to welcome these Russian citizens who refuse war, than to see them killing Ukrainians or being killed for an unjust cause.

The European Network for Solidarity with Ukraine (ENSU) supports the armed and unarmed resistance of the Ukrainian people and opening European borders to all refugees from the Ukraine invasion. We also support those in Russia and Belarus who are sabotaging the imperialist war machine, and calling for the withdrawal of all Russian troops from Ukraine.

The resistance to Putin’s war has up to now been almost entirely concentrated in Ukraine, an inspiring mass fightback which has surprised the world with its courage, tenacity, solidarity and determination.

From the beginning, demonstrators in Russia have shown enormous courage, but remained small in number. After the invasion, more than 17,000 Russian citizens were imprisoned or fined for protesting against the war, with some sentenced to many years in prison. Several thousand more have been arrested in the last two weeks, for protesting against conscription.

Protests are particularly strong among Russia’s non-Russian nationalities, who are more likely to be conscripted than the Russian Federation’s Slav majority. Their opposition to Russian aggression against Ukraine is informed by their own experience of the racist and imperialist character of the Russian state and the prejudices of the country’s Slav majority.

The proportion of Russian citizens emigrating to avoid conscription just in the last two weeks is already 15 times higher than the proportion of US citizens who emigrated to avoid fighting in the Vietnam war, over a more than 10 year period.

Link to the ENSU

Link to Irish Left With Ukraine

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