By Adrian Bailey
Monthly Review, the US socialist magazine, is taking a very clear stand in opposition to the US proxy war with Russia that is currently taking place in Ukraine. In the forthcoming May 2022 issue the ‘Notes from the Editors’, which have been published in advance, are essential reading for all progressive activists. The Notes, titled ‘The Civil War/Proxy War in Ukraine and the Russian Offensive’, can be read here. For copyright reasons it is not possible to reproduce the whole Monthly Review piece here, so this article sets out why these Notes are important and encourages everyone to read them in full.
The Notes warn how dangerous the situation is for humanity, stating that the war in Ukraine is ‘threatening to mutate instantaneously into a global thermonuclear war, which would result in the extermination of virtually the entire population of the earth.’
The Notes spell out the central role being played by the US in driving forward this war, explaining that:
‘To get a firm grasp on the current situation in Ukraine, we must understand the central role that the United States and NATO have played in the conflict from the start, beginning in 2014 with the U.S.-engineered Maidan coup. This was followed by the breaking apart of Ukraine, during which the Russian-speaking Crimea was incorporated into Russia after obtaining the population’s support in a referendum, while a civil war emerged between Kyiv, supported by the United States, and the breakaway republics in Russian-speaking Donbass in the eastern part of Ukraine, supported by Russia. Following eight years of civil war—which was again escalating in late 2021 and early 2022, with massive increases in military support and training from the United States and continued attacks by Kyiv on Donbass, in violation of the 2014 Minsk agreements—Russia entered directly into the civil war, transforming it into a full-scale war, with further horrendous results. This brought to the fore the reality that what was being played out in Ukraine was not simply a civil war between Kyiv and Donbass, which has set the stage, but rather a much larger proxy war between the United States/NATO and Russia, which has been developing for decades and lies at the root of the conflict.’
In Monthly Review’s April edition the Editor, John Bellamy Foster, clearly showed how the Ukraine War is a proxy war which forms a central plank to the US’ global strategy. The May edition’s Notes demonstrate that such an analysis is not just a view on the left in the US, but it is how key figures in the US military and national security establishment understand the role the US is playing. The Notes quote former President Barack Obama’s director of the CIA and secretary of defence, Leon Panetta, who this March said:
‘We are engaged in a conflict here. It is a proxy war with Russia whether we say so or not. That effectively is what is going on. And for that reason, we have to be sure we are providing as much weaponry as possible.… Make no mistake about it, diplomacy is going nowhere unless we have leverage. And the way you get leverage is by frankly going in and killing Russians.’
The Notes also explain that:
‘during the Obama administration, the CIA began training Ukrainian counterinsurgency forces to fight Russians, extending this to the Azov Battalion and other neo-Nazi military groupings in Ukraine. The United Kingdom and Canada together have trained 55,000 Ukrainian troops.’
The Notes explain why the US is not interested in pursuing a peaceful settlement:
‘The possibility of a diplomatic solution to the conflict is currently being strongly opposed by Washington. In these circumstances the proxy war, which on the U.S./NATO side is clearly aimed at fatally weakening if not destroying the Russian state, will likely continue, devastating Ukraine and imperilling all of humanity.’
Finally the Notes make clear that the priority for progressive people must be the achievement of a peace settlement and that the security interests of all the countries in the region will have to be addressed to reach an agreement:
‘It follows that all parties to the present conflict, and the world as a whole, need to focus on promoting the conditions of lasting peace through diplomacy, which requires that the vital security interests of all of the regional players be respected.’
The full Notes from the Editors ‘The Civil War/Proxy War in Ukraine and the Russian Offensive’ can be read here on Monthly Review.