As from late August, what amounts to a straightforward Russian invasion of Ukraine is underway.
Alexander Zakharchenko, self-styled “Prime Minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic”, has said that there are 3,000 to 4,000 Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. But, he claims, they are soldiers on leave who prefer fighting to going to the beach!
All three offensives were launched from Russia and were backed up by artillery fire from the Russian side of the border. The most southerly of three new offensives launched by pro-Russian separatists with Russian aid is along the southern coast of Ukraine, well away from the previous combat zone, and is reported to have involved 30 tanks and 500 troops.
According to separatist political leaders such as Oleg Tsaryov and military commanders such as Aleksei Mozgovoy, the southern offensive will enable their forces to capture the town of Mariupol and then push on to link up with the Crimean peninsula, annexed by Russia in February.
In the weeks preceding the Russian attacks, the separatist forces had been on the defensive. They controlled just one per cent of Ukrainian territory, cut into three separate areas by the advancing Ukrainian military.
As the Ukrainian socialist Left Opposition puts it:
“Insofar as part of the border (with Russia) is not controlled (by Ukraine), reinforcements (for the separatists) will constantly arrive, making a purely military solution of the problem of separatism in the east impossible.
“Every attempt by Ukraine to resolve the problem by building up its military forces has ended in a corresponding build-up in military forces by Russia.
“We began to use tanks, but the opponent received armoured vehicles and anti-tank weapons. We began to use aviation, but the separatists used up-to-date anti-aircraft systems. We went over to the mass use of artillery. In response we got mass artillery salvoes from Grad systems and heavy weaponry.”
Socialists in Britain should support the Ukrainian and Russian left in their efforts to:
• end Russian intervention
• defend Ukraine’s right to determine its own future free of interference by Putin
• prevent the Ukrainian and Russian working classes being split by the forces of nationalism and fascism.