Labor doubles down on Ukraine War

Australian Bushmaster PMV Armoured Vehicles are loaded onto a cargo plane at the Amberley Air Base in Ipswich, Australia.

By Sam King

Complaints have surfaced in the press of the rich, imperialist states that India, China, Turkey and other Global South countries are not doing enough to support the efforts against Russia in the Ukraine War.

No such disunity exists among the imperialist states themselves – at least so far.

All the richest states in Europe rallied around NATO and against Russia. In addition, Canada, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, New Zealand, Australia, the Unite Kingdom and the United States are lining up to write cheques, send weapons and equipment to Ukraine, and to send personnel.

In a recent announcement, Australian Defence Minister Richard Marles confirmed seventy members of the Australian Defence Force will participate in a United Kingdom based training program – Operation Interflex. The British-led program, originally proposed by Boris Johnson to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy in June, can train 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers every four months – 30,000 annually.

Interflex also involves New Zealand, Canada and new NATO membership applicants Sweden and Finland. A parallel €500 million EU program to train 15,000 Ukrainian troops over two years was announced a week ago.

Since the 2014 coup that installed an anti-Russia regime in Ukraine (aided and abetted by the United States and Britain), the US, UK and Canada are thought to have trained 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers annually. The UK alone trained more than 22,000 between 2015 and February 2022 according to an official British website.

Training assistance from Australia was not requested by Ukraine. Ambassador to Australia Vasyl Myroshnychenko was reported on October 11 as stating, “I haven’t seen a request from the Ukrainian government to assist with training” … “What we should be discussing is artillery, ammunition, Bushmasters, Hawkeis [both armoured vehicles], heavy weapons, drones.”

But it looks like the Zelenskyy government has been overruled on this – and has now publicly expressed its acceptance and gratitude.

The training announcement comes alongside a pledge to donate thirty more Bushmaster armoured vehicles to Ukraine bringing the total to 90 with Australian financial support to the Zelenskyy regime reaching AUD$665 (including almost AUD$500 million in military aid).

Albanese claims the imperialist campaign to defeat the Russian invasion is “not just about Ukraine’s sovereignty; the brave people of Ukraine are defending international law, rules and norms.”

However, the true aim of the alliance of imperialist states is not to protect sovereignty or international law. Rather, it is show that only the rich countries are allowed to decide when and how sovereignty and international law can be violated. That is the “rule and norm” that Albanese and his allies defend. They make no mention, for example, of the repeated Israeli missile attacks on Syria this year.

Imperialist unity against Russia parallels the same imperialist unity in escalating military, economic and political aggression against China. This year, there has been continuous military exercises close to China led by the US. The so-called Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, the Quad (US, Japan, Australia and India) and the AUKUS military alliance also aggressively target China. None of the rich countries oppose the anti-China campaign either.

Six hundred and sixty-five million Australian dollars to support Ukraine is a significant spend. The Guardian reports “overall defence spending will increase by 8% this financial year”, excluding AUKUS, which is yet to be added to the budget and could run up to AUD$171 billion over its lifetime.

Australian military spending is expected to rise from 1.96% to 2.12% of the budget next financial year. The government will pay some AUD$23m just to host the Quad leaders’ summit next year – including nearly $5m for federal police.

If it costs on average $262,000 for each new unit of social housing, the AUD$665m would be better spent building 2500 public houses than escalating armed conflict against Russia.

Both Ukraine and Russia have at different times indicated they are willing to open negotiations. Only the imperialist camp has been completely opposed to negotiations, instead falsely promoting the war propaganda claim that “Putin” (Russia) aims for the genocidal destruction of Ukrainian society.

It is obvious from any cursory assessment of the fighting that this is not the case. Russia only began to target civilian infrastructure in October after Ukraine bombed the Kerch bridge in Crimea on October 11 – a civilian target. For the whole prior period Russian attacks were overwhelmingly concentrated on military targets – though including Ukrainian military forces positioned in civilian areas. Massively outgunned by Russia and suffering ongoing, heavy military casualties, the Ukrainian army appears to have used this (illegal) tactic routinely – possessing few other defensive options in many areas of the fighting.

Russia has clearly articulated limited demands prior to and after its February 27 invasion. These are for Ukrainian neutrality (outside of NATO) and demilitarisation. According to Noam Chomsky demilitarisation in Ukraine means a situation similar to that of Mexico which possesses a military, but cannot target advanced offensive weapons at the United States.

The imperialist states are unwilling to accept such an outcome for the same reason they have been expanding NATO Eastwards against Russia since the early 1990s. It is the same reason as their extreme aggression towards China today.

The global economic and political system as it stands has massively enriched this club of imperialist states at the expense of the Global South. The imperialist club does not want to accept any limitation on their power to continue to enforce that “global rules-based order”.

Large, independent Global South countries on the Eurasian continent with a defensive military capability – such as Russia and China – are an emerging limitation on that power. That is why the imperialists are so united and determined to crush them.

Those of us who oppose the imperialist world order should be demanding our government end its military aid to Ukraine and support a negotiated peace.

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