Zelensky and Putin Zelensky and Putin. Photo: Public Domain and kremlin.ru / CC BY 4.0, license linked below article

The bombing of Crimea’s Kerch Bridge, followed by deadly Russian attacks, is a dangerous escalation that must be opposed, argues John Westmoreland

On Saturday, a large explosion severely damaged the Kerch Bridge, which connects Crimea to the Russian mainland and is a vital supply route. The attack was celebrated by Ukrainian officials, and seen as a blow to Putin’s personal prestige as well as to the Russian war effort.

However, the bridge is also important civilian infrastructure, and at least three people were reported killed. It is widely believed that Ukraine was responsible. Russia returned fire with an attempt to destroy Ukrainian infrastructure. Civilian deaths were inevitable, and we can only imagine the terror that a cruise-missile attack generates.

The weekend’s events serve to remind us that once war starts, it has a dynamic. It escalates. Every escalation is justified by those who see war as an answer, and ‘victory’ as a justification. But to talk about ‘victory’ in a world plagued by war and poverty is frankly ludicrous.

Since 1991, the US has led one hundred military interventions. America is diverting billions of dollars from domestic need to boost the arms economy that supplies Nato members and locks them into spiralling militarism.

There is every reason to suppose that US backing for Ukraine is going to be repeated in Taiwan. The expansion of the US fleet certainly points in that direction.

International escalation

Business Insider reports that the latest nuclear-powered American aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford, was deployed in the Atlantic today at a cost of $13bn, and with an array of destructive firepower. The USA is pulling Nato members in its wake.

France is commissioning a ‘New Generation Aircraft Carrier’ fitted out with American technology and capable of working in partnership with a US-led fleet. It too will be nuclear powered. The language used is all about national prestige.

Business Insider says of the planned French carrier: ‘The yet-to-be-named ship will grant the French navy the prestige of operating a “supercarrier” — a distinction held by only a few navies.’

Militarism can never deliver a meaningful ‘victory’ for the working class.

There is nothing to choose between Putin and Biden. The truth is that Russian and Nato war strategists mirror each other. The US and UK governments are openly talking of regime change in Russia, and Russia hopes bombing civilian infrastructure will encourage Ukrainians to turn against Zelensky. History tells us that bombing civilians for regime change has never worked.

The greatest tragedy is that the voices of those campaigning for peace here and in Russia are shut down. And here, a special contempt has to be reserved for the leaders of our so-called Labour movement.

As far as the British Labour movement is concerned, both the TUC and the Labour Party are happy to let the ruling class hijack the concept of international solidarity, and ‘support’ Ukraine. That ‘support’ means complete submission to US war aims and rounding on anti-war protesters with pumped up patriotic fervour. There is not even a whiff of the politics of the Second International from Labour.

Our Ukrainian brothers and sisters deserve real solidarity from workers who reject war and want to live in peace. Ukrainians need an end to war, and a commitment to help Ukraine rebuild as an independent state, free from the machinations of both Nato and Russia.

Our demands come from the best examples of socialist internationalism. We understand that the main enemy we face is at home: the Tories and the system they serve.

  • Stop arming Ukraine.
  • Stop the proxy war on Russia.
  • Solidarity with the anti-war protesters in Russia.
  • Demand that peace talks start now.

And of course, join the Stop the War Coalition.

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John Westmoreland

John is a history teacher and UCU rep. He is an active member of the People's Assembly and writes regularly for Counterfire.

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