RUSSIAN president Vladimir Putin slammed the Western powers in his annual end-of-year press conference yesterday, telling the assembled journalists that Russia was cheated by the West when in the 1990s NATO promised Russia that the US led military bloc would not move ‘an inch to the east’.
That this turned out to be a ‘vehement’ and ‘blatant’ lie came as no surprise to anybody, except the leaders of the Moscow Stalinist bureaucracy who believed it!
Putin stressed that national security is Moscow’s number one priority and that the West had lied to Russia, reneging on all the agreements made in the 1990s by expanding NATO into Eastern Europe.
Questioned about the security guarantees that Russia is insisting that the imperialist powers concede and whether Russia was prepared to invade Ukraine Putin insisted that the whole situation was created by the West.
He said: ‘Our actions will depend not on the course of negotiations but on the unconditional guarantees of Russian national security. We made it clear that NATO’s expansion to the east is unacceptable. The US is standing with missiles on our doorstep.’
Putin then posed the relevant question: ‘How would Americans react if we placed our missiles at the US border with Canada or Mexico?’
The whole world knows what would happen.
In 1962, the Soviet Union agreed to a Cuban request to station missiles in Cuba following the failed invasion of that country by US forces in the infamous ‘Bay of Pigs’ adventure and in response to the US stationing nuclear missiles in Italy and Turkey to threaten the USSR – US imperialism went to the brink of nuclear war to force their withdrawal.
Putin expressed anger that Russia was ‘tricked’ in the 1990s when they assured the then president Boris Yeltsin that NATO would move ‘not a single inch to the East’.
Since then, Putin said, ‘There have been five waves of NATO expansion. Missile systems are appearing in Romania and Poland. Did we come to them? They came to us.’
Yeltsin was prepared and eager to swallow all the imperialist lies about NATO not threatening Russia.
Now, Putin is complaining that ‘In 1991, we divided our country, but it was not enough for our European partners’ insisting that ‘The Soviet Union did everything to build normal relations with the United States and the West’. Putin has clung on to the Stalinist line that it is possible for a workers state to peacefully coexist with the mad dog of imperialism.
Now with the imperialist powers making clear that they are preparing for war against Russia. Putin is drawing a line demanding legally binding security guarantees from the US and NATO that he ‘hopes will end the current crisis and start to normalise relations.’
These include the demand that NATO won’t expand into states formerly part of the USSR and that both sides agree not to deploy nuclear weapons in other countries and withdraw any that have been deployed.
However, the legal guarantees from the US and NATO he seeks are worthless in the defence of Russia against imperialist war. The Stalin-Hitler pact to keep the peace resulted in the greatest ever assault on the USSR, which was saved only by the ferocious determination of the Russian workers.
Gorbachev and Yeltsin’s sell-out almost resulted in the destruction of the Russian workers state.
Imperialism has long desired taking control of Russia with its vast mineral wealth and markets and restoring capitalism to the land. With the world crisis of capitalism deepening by the hour this drive to war is intensifying.
The imperialists are prepared to risk nuclear war in a desperate attempt to keep a decaying and historically bankrupt capitalist system from collapse by restoring capitalism to the country it was driven from by the Revolution in 1917.
While Russia has an absolute right to defend itself militarily there is only one way to put an end to imperialist war and that is to put an end to capitalism and imperialism, which is constantly driving towards war.
To defend the Russian degenerated workers’ state against imperialism requires the workers of the world overthrowing capitalism in the US, UK and Europe and going forward to the victory of the world socialist revolution.
World socialist revolution is the only way to put an end to all imperialist wars. The Putin alternative to this is to issue warnings to the imperialist in the knowledge that it is only a matter of when the crisis of capitalism drives the western powers to seek to obliterate Russia from the face of the Earth.
Building sections the Fourth International in all of the major capitalist states to answer the imperialist war threat with socialist revolutions and the victory of the world socialist revolution is the only way forward. There is no other way.