Social Movement (Ukraine): Statement on the one year anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion

SR statement

First published at Social Movement’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. Merged and edited for clarity by LINKS International Journal of Socialist Renewal.

A year ago, both the Russian aggressor and West powers expected Ukraine would fall within a few weeks, if not days. But a year has passed and we are still resisting. The lack of knowledge about Ukraine among most foreign observers prevented them from understanding why this is a war of imperial aggression and why Ukrainians are — and will continue — resisting.

Systematic shelling of residential neighbourhoods and civilian infrastructure demonstrates that terror against civilians has become a deliberate tactic of the Russian army. The atrocities uncovered in Bucha, Izyum, Kherson and other cities that Russian troops were driven from have shown us what awaits Ukraine if it surrenders its territories. That is why, after a year of full-scale invasion, Ukrainians reject any idea of partitioning our country. Ukrainians refuse to leave their relatives and loved ones under occupation, where they face torture, rape, execution and terror.

It is also why not just the government but the Ukrainian people continue to request military aid to allow us to protect ourselves against a country that openly expresses its genocidal intentions. To understand the extent of the threat that Russia represents for Ukrainians, it is necessary to understand what Ukraine means for the Russian political elite. Simply analysing this war from a geopolitical perspective, means foreign observers often fail to see that the relationship between Russia and Ukraine is marked by a very long history of imperial domination and oppression. Russian political elites see the separate existence of Ukrainians as something that will lead to the destruction of so-called “Russian civilization” and the Russian nation itself. This archaic ideology still has a strong sway within the minds of ordinary Russians. This ideology has a genocidal potential, as it denies the right of others to simply exist as separate entities.

Ukrainians refuse to be perceived as voiceless victims waiting for charity because we are a stable and self-organised society. During this year of aggression, we have seen many examples of solidarity and mutual aid enacted by ordinary Ukrainians, including members of marginalised groups such as Roma people or the LGBTI community. Spontaneous mutual aid networks and initiatives like Solidarity Collectives have played an important role. Workers form the core of the Ukrainian resistance, defending themselves from the occupiers with guns in their hands, saving the lives of others and ensuring a functioning rearguard.

Globally, millions of ordinary people have joined in sending humanitarian aid and supporting refugees, while big organisations have sadly often gone missing. So we cannot forget to mention the help and solidarity of our international friends, such as the European Solidarity Network with Ukraine, the International Labour Network of Solidarity and Struggle, solidarity campaigns with Ukraine in Britain and the United States, and many others who decided to help Ukrainians resist. We are truly grateful to you.

Social Movement wants to emphasise that the people of Ukraine need a socially and ecologically just reconstruction, paid for via reparations and the confiscation of property and assets belonging to Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs, not a continuation of anti-social neoliberal policy in the interests of large capital. We do not want external actors to decide what is good for Ukraine; we want decisions to be made by Ukrainians. We, as Social Movement, will do everything possible to make these voices heard. And we thank everyone who chooses to help us in this fight.