IN his ‘Address to the Nation’ last Wednesday, the Russian leader, President Vladimir Putin, was forced to deal with the fact that Nato is being expanded up to and around the borders of Russia, from the Baltic Sea to the Caspian Sea, from northern Europe to Central Asia.
At the same time as the US is preparing to attack Iran, its vice president, Cheney, has been touring eastern Europe, from where he has launched a rabid attack on Russia.
In his address, the Russian president said Moscow stood ‘unambiguously’ for preventing the spread of nuclear weapons in the world.
He was more ambiguous about the dangers from war between Iran and the US, cautioning that ‘Methods of force rarely give the desired result and often their consequences are even more terrible than the original threat,’ alluding to the declared aims and the actual results of the US attack on Iraq.
Neither did he take to task Vice President Cheney’s remarks condemning Russia for allegedly using its vast gas and oil resources for ‘intimidation and blackmail’ of its neighbours. Cheney also announced that Albania, Macedonia, Ukraine and Georgia would be joining the Baltic States as members of the NATO alliance.
Putin tried to be scornful about this, remarking that ‘Not everyone in the world has been able to move on from the stereotypes of bloc-thinking and prejudices which are a carry-over from the epoch of global confrontation, though there have been fundamental changes in the world. Putin continued: ‘We must not repeat the mistakes of the Soviet Union, and of the Cold War.’ He said: ‘We must not sacrifice the interests of socio-economic development to develop our military complex.
‘That is a dead end. Our military and foreign policy doctrines should answer the most topical question: How can we fight not just against terror but against nuclear, biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction?’ With these remarks Putin revealed the crisis of the Stalinist bureaucracy.
His treatment of imperialist alliances – as if they were the results of prejudicial thinking and not expressions of imperialist needs and policy aims, especially to occupy oil and gas bearing regions – is puerile.
However his remarks that facing this growing threat of a bloc of hostile states along Russian borders, Russia must not concentrate on reviving its armed forces at the expense of everything else, shows a recognition of the complete bankruptcy of the policy of socialism in a single country, that held back the development of the USSR, and led to the attempt of the Gorbachev-Yeltsin led bureaucracy to restore capitalism and overthrow the USSR, an action that Putin has called a disaster.
He speaks about armed forces that would have a defensive posture, but has no solution to the issue of how to prevent another imperialist assault on the territories of the USSR as the capitalist crisis deepens.
In fact Putin’s remarks about blocs, and the dangers of sacrificing socio-economic development, were an attempt to answer to the furore that Cheney’s remarks caused in Russia.
They were greeted as a new Fulton speech, made to start a new Cold War. (In 1946 Churchill made the original Fulton speech, condemning the USSR, and beginning the Cold War).
The response from the Russian media was that Eastern Europe had sold itself to America, but that Asia stood with Russia, and it was to Belarus and Asia that Russia must turn using its strategic gas and oil resources and its military potential to defend itself. These are not policies for defeating imperialism. These are policies for awaiting some inevitable imperialist assault.
To defeat imperialism, the growing world crisis of capitalism must be used to build sections of the Fourth International all over the world.
Their task must be to lead political revolutions to overthrow the Stalinist bureaucracy and the new bourgeoisie that it has spawned, and socialist revolutions to smash capitalism and imperialism in the major capitalist countries. World revolution and the victory of world socialism is the only way to defeat capitalism and imperialism.