15 theses on the war in Ukraine

A statement by Winfried Wolf

Stop the Kremlin‘s war against Ukraine!

For Passive resistance against the Russian occupying power!

Stop the spiral of the sanctions policy!

No arms deliveries to Ukraine!

Stop the expansion of the war into a global war!

Stop the arms funding for the German Army – Funding for climate protection is needed instead!

17th March 2022

  1. The Russian government bears full responsibility for the Ukraine war //

    The Russian government started a war against Ukraine on the morning of February 24, 2022. It is
    a war of aggression against a sovereign country. This war is to be condemned without ifs and buts. There are causes, explanations, backgrounds for it – but there is no excuse. The Russian government must immediately withdraw its forces behind the Russian (and Belarusian) borders as of 23 February 2022. Every hour this war continues it costs human lives, destroys valuable infrastructures unnecessarily, is also directed against civil society in Russia, lowers the prestige of the Russian government to zero, contributes to the global arms race, strengthens worldwide militarism, and especially Western imperialism, and increasingly endangers world peace – which can lead mankind to the threshold of a nuclear war. The consequences of this conflict for the world economy are not foreseeable; what is certain is that world inflation will be strengthened and the rise in energy prices accelerated, which means that a substantial part of the cost of this war will be paid by ordinary people.

    It is the task of the worldwide peace movement, through a variety of activities, not least
    through demonstrations, to express our anti-war position and our solidarity with the
    anti-war mood in civil society in Ukraine and Russia and to put pressure on Russia to withdraw its troops and to return to the path of dialogue and negotiations. At the same time, we must oppose the arms-race policy of the West, of NATO, of the EU, of the government in Berlin, and argue against the supply of arms deliveries to Ukraine. The policy of permanently increased sanctions is to be rejected; it primarily affects the population in Russia. It is aimed at pushing the Russian government to the extreme and to stop energy exports to the EU. It deliberately accepts the risk of a global economic crisis and a financial crash with unforeseeable consequences.

  2. We, the peace movement, left-wing groups and parties, and progressive publications,
    were wrong //

    A large segment of the traditional antiwar movement – including me as a person – were wrong when we assumed until a few hours before the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops that the Russian government was not seeking war. And when we observed the widespread maneuvers of the Russian army along the Ukrainian border and on Belarusian soil beginning in January and through until February 23, we perceived them merely as an attempt to build pressure for a negotiated solution – or possibly an attempt to „safeguard“ the „people’s republics“ in eastern Ukraine, possibly supplemented by recognition under international law of the integration of Crimea into the Russian Federation. This assessment was closely related to how the West-East confrontation developed since 1990/91, in which Russia has acted almost exclusively reactively. A similar assessment was also made in progressive bourgeois circles. The SPD politician Klaus von Dohnanyi and the industrialist and top manager Oliver Hermes, Chairman of the Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations, are representative examples for this. Even the government in Kyiv did not assume until February 23 that a direct invasion of the entire Ukraine by Russian troops would take place. There was not even a mobilization of the Ukrainian army.

    Despite many others having had a similar false analysis in this instance, the following is true: We were wrong. A correct assumption was made by those, including some on the left, who saw the Putin government taking a fundamentally aggressive stance at this point in time.

    Leaving necessary self criticism aside, in the meantime, it can be assumed that there has been a change from quantity to a new quality. There have been earlier observable elements of such an aggressive potential in Kremlin policy. However, until the beginning of 2022, the predominant factor in Russian politics was the predictable, the ratio. This no longer seems to be the case since February 24, 2022.
  1. Internal dynamics in Russia that led to this war of aggression //

    There are a number of causes for the changes in Russian politics. These are rooted to a large extent in the aggressive policy of the West. At this point, however, it is necessary first of all to emphasize the internal Russian causes. In Russia, after the collapse of the non-capitalist or „state socialist“ Soviet Union in 1991, there was the restoration of a capitalist economy. This is a capitalism with special characteristics: a private capitalist economy controlled by two or three dozens of oligarchs, and coexisting with a strong state sector. The latter state sector of the economy has its economic basis in the clearly predominantly state-owned extractive sector and in the military-industrial complex, with close links to largely state-owned financial capital.[1] The political situation in Russia was characterized in the most recent “newspaper against the war (Zeitung gegen den Krieg)” of early February 2022 – written before the Russian attack on Ukraine – as follows: „Russia is an authoritarian country where human rights are violated and oppositional – even critical-democratic – media are excluded and banned. The closure of the meritorious „Memorial“ educational institution is an example for this.“[2]

    This basic assessment has been confirmed with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It was documented by the unanimous decision of the Duma on February 22 to recognize the two eastern Ukrainian „people’s republics“ as „independent states,“ and by the bizarre meeting of the Russian Security Council on February 23, in which Putin, in the style of a feudal autocrat, formally called in the representatives of various services and state institutions and paraded them in front of him. Putin’s speech justifying the war contained irrational, absurd passages, such as the references to the need to „denazify“ Ukraine or the assertion that the Ukrainian government was headed by „drug addicts“. This speech was characterized above all by a great Russian chauvinism, for example when Putin, using scornful phraseology, questioned Ukraine’s sovereignty – which Moscow itself recognized in 1991  and accepted for more than a quarter of a century. It fits into this picture that in his first speech justifying the war against Ukraine Putin blamed V. I. Lenin for the Ukraine being able to emerge as a state at all. It is true that until the victory of the October Revolution in 1917, the Ukrainian language was suppressed in tsarist Russia as all forms and all demands for national independence were rejected. It was the victorious revolution of 1917, in the wake of which Ukrainian was recognized as a language for the first time in the history of this country, and Ukraine was established as a republic within the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Undoubtedly, there were phases of Russian-chauvinist policy towards Ukraine within the USSR as well. However, there were also positive opposite tendencies; the overall picture is simply contradictory, even though Ukrainian nationalists such as Petro Poroshenko, Volodymir Selenskyi and Vitali Klitchko do not want to admit this.
  1. Putin’s threat of nuclear war is absolutely irresponsible //

    Putin included a passage in his speech on the justification for the war in which he warned in drastic words all those who would „interfere”. Russia would take all, even the most extreme countermeasures, in such a case. Putin thus declared, in effect, that Russia would use nuclear weapons if necessary in response to such „interference.“[3] So far, it has been the West, and in this case NATO, which has included a nuclear first strike policy as „prevention“ in their military strategy – and is also doing so currently, in the context of the „modernization of nuclear weapons“. So far, only the U.S. government, with the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, has broken the civilizational taboo of a first strike on the use of nuclear weapons. If the government in Moscow now threatens, at least indirectly, a nuclear first strike (as a „response“ to whatever kind of „interference“), this is criminal. Nuclear weapons are weapons of mass destruction. By their very nature, they are always directed against the civilian population, since they indiscriminately kill human (and other) life in a large region. Our fundamental “No” to nuclear weapons applies, of course, at world level. We strongly condemn the indirect threat to use them.
  1. Western rearmament and encirclement policy //

    To make it clear once again: The responsibility for the current war lies solely with the Russian government. Russian President Vladimir Putin and his close entourage are directly responsible for this. This statement must be supplemented by a criticism of western policy. Putin’s irrational reaction is an irrational response to a rational, warmongering policy of NATO. Such a policy can be seen on five levels: First, there is the breach of the 1990 agreements not to expand NATO to the east.[4] Since 1990, there has been a systematic expansion of this military alliance towards Russia’s borders – with an increase in the number of NATO member states from 16 in 1990 to 30 at present. This had to be perceived by Russia as a policy of encirclement. Second, there is a systematic Western policy of militarization along Russia’s eastern borders through the stationing of NATO troops and missile systems (among others in the Baltic states and in Romania), by arming Ukraine, and by maneuvers clearly directed against Russia“ („Defender 2020“ and the two subsequent „Defender“ maneuvers in 2021 and 2022). Third, the U.S. has unilaterally terminated disarmament treaties that were concluded towards the end of the Soviet Union or immediately after 1990. Fourth, since the end of the 1990s at the latest, the West has been embarking on a new arms race, which has parallels to the arms race in the 1980s and which amounts to an arms race to the death. In the past year 2021, NATO arms expenditures were sixteen times that of Russia – with an upward trend keeping this distance alive. The „2-percent target“ for Western armaments, which was agreed upon by NATO member states a few years ago, serves to increase this arms race. And finally, fifth, the U.S. – accompanied by the nuclear powers Great Britain and France – has been pursuing a “nuclear weapons modernization” project, which has been underway for a decade, thus setting in motion a new nuclear arms race. The German governments under Angela Merkel and currently under Olaf Scholz have supported and continue to support this process by also giving their backing to the stationing of „modernized“ nuclear weapons on German soil and by the continuation of the policy of „nuclear sharing“ and by ordering new combat aircraft for their deployment. In other words, even before February 24, 2022, it was clear that the Bundeswehr would actively participate in a nuclear war directed against Russia.
  1. Irresponsible policy in Kyiv //

    The Russian war against Ukraine, which – let it be repeated – cannot be justified in any way, has as its background the movement to the right and the development of anti-Russian policy in Kyiv. Until 2014, there was an official policy in Kyiv, with which the East-West conflict was largely balanced. This reflected Ukraine’s character as a major border country with Russia, a country in which at least 30 percent are ethnic Russians and in which about 50 percent speak Russian in everyday life. In 2014, with the overthrow of Viktor Yanukovych’s government and the prevention of an agreement – at that time still reached with the consent of Moscow and Berlin, according to which new elections would be held after the passing of an appropriate time interval – a „regime change“ massively supported by the West that amounted to a coup d’état took place. As an immediate first reaction, the newly formed 2014 Western-oriented government in Kyiv decided to abolish Russian as a second official language. There were massive acts of violence against the Russian minority. These reached a repulsive high point in Odessa in 2nd of May 2014, when more than 40 people were trapped in the trade union building by a Ukrainian nationalist mob. The building was set on fire, and 42 people were burned alive or killed while jumping out of the burning building. Only in context of these events did the two „people’s republics“ in eastern Ukraine secede. In 2015 the „Minsk Agreement“ was concluded, involving France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia. According to this agreement, the two predominantly Russian-speaking districts in eastern Ukraine were to be granted partial autonomy and Ukraine’s constitution was to be amended accordingly; thereafter, on this basis, regional elections were supposed to be held with the breakaway regions subsequently being fully reintegrated into the state of Ukraine. However, the previous three governments in Kyiv refused since 2015, for seven years, to implement the Minsk agreement by refusing to sit down at the table with the representatives of the people’s republics, among other things. And the Western signatory powers, Germany and France, did not exert greater pressure on Kyiv to implement that agreement.

    Finally, in the months before the war began, a number of Ukrainian nationalist acts took place that inflamed the situation and must have been perceived as a provocation in Moscow. At the end of February 2022, the Ukrainian power grid was to be disconnected from the Russian power grid for several days on a trial basis. In 2023 at the latest, Ukraine was to be independent of the Russian power grid and, if possible, export electricity to the West. 55 percent of Ukraine’s electricity is based on nuclear power, and this share is to be extended significantly, with French and U.S. nuclear industries set to benefit the most. [5] The law passed in 2019, according to which all publications in Ukraine that are published in Russian language must also be published in Ukrainian has also been regarded as being provocatively anti-russian. This law, which came into force at the beginning of 2022, shortly before the start of the war, means the end of half a hundred newspapers, magazines and publishing houses that publish primarily in Russian. The anti-Russian policy pursued by the governments in Kyiv resulted in the goal of joining NATO being written into Ukraine’s constitution. This means that a country whose name translates as „borderland“ wants to join an anti-Russian military force directly on its border with Russia.

    Putin’s outbursts against Kyiv, which refer to „Nazis“ and „fascists,“ are absurd in the form in which they are made. They do, however, find some basis in the fact that fascist and anti-Semitic individuals have been honored in the Ukraine at least since 2014 and that fascist forces are openly tolerated in the country, with such forces also being accepted into the Ukrainian army. This is true of the so-called Azov battalion, now part of the Ukrainian army, whose commander Andriy Biletsky led the fight against the eastern Ukrainian People’s Republics as a „crusade for the white race […] against the subhumans led by Semites.“[6] The mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, who in these days of war is presented in many ways in all German media as a great democrat, entered during the 2014-Maidan-revolt into an alliance with the far-right and anti-Semitic Svoboda party. The CDU-affiliated Konrad Adenauer Foundation, which has massively supported Klitschko and his party UDAR for many years, distanced itself from Klitschko to a certain degree because of this. The Friedrich Ebert Foundation, which has close ties to the SPD, criticized Klitschko severely for this as well. Over the past two decades, hundreds of Stepan Bandera statues have been erected in many places. In Kyiv – also initiated by Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko – the „Moscow Prospect“ was renamed „Stepan Bandera Prospect.“ Stepan Bandera was a Ukrainian nationalist, fascist, war criminal and fervent anti-Semite, who collaborated with the Nazi regime and whose Ukrainian combat unit OUN (or OUN-B) was involved in the murder of thousands of Jews and Poles. Governments in Warsaw, Moscow and Tel Aviv protested against the honoring of Bandera.
  1. The Hypocrisy of the West //

    The reactions of the West to the Russian war against Ukraine are characterized by a systematic use of double standards. Since 1990 the West in general and NATO in particular have been waging new wars and have been driving the world toward a major war. Since the fall of the Soviet block in the years of 1990/91 alone, there have been five Western-led wars: Iraq in 1990, Yugoslavia in 1999, Afghanistan from 2001 to 2021, Iraq again in 2003 to 2011 and in Libya in 2011. These five wars alone have cost the lives of more than one million people, most of them civilians, and have plunged the regions concerned into economic and social disaster, destroyed immeasurable cultural treasures, and reduced the four corresponding countries (Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, Libya) to the level of „failed states.“ The West tolerates and encourages two NATO members, Greece and Turkey, to arm themselves against the other country respectively. It has tolerated Turkey’s occupation of a large part of Cyprus since 1974, in violation of international law, and that the same government in Ankara is fighting the Kurdish population in its own country with extremely repressive measures, sometimes with the use of military force. It tolerates that the same government in Ankara supported Azerbaijan’s war against Armenia in 2020 with the delivery of armed drones, and that it was provocatively engaged in the Ukraine with the delivery of the same type of armed drones to the Ukrainian army and with the first deployment of these drones in the east of the country in October 2021.
  1. The Hypocrisy in Berlin – The Erasure of the Kosovo War from the History Books //

    The reactions in Germany and especially those of the government of SPD, Greens and FDP, the „traffic light coalition“, and those of CDU/CSU are themselves characterized by hypocrisy. Germany did not supply weapons to Ukraine until the beginning of the Russian war against Ukraine. [7] But even before the war began, the government in Berlin was, after the U.S., the one country that provided the most financial support to the government in Kyiv. Since 2014 alone, nearly two billion euros of taxpayers‘ money have flowed to the government in Kyiv, which has used it to buy weapons on a large scale in countries such as France and the United Kingdom. By moving ever closer to U.S. positions on the North Stream II project, the old and then new German government accepted the possibility of energy policy blackmail by Ukraine and Poland (countries through which the existing gas pipelines pass), respectively and is in the process of increasingly exchanging its – in terms of climate policy problematic – dependence on Russian gas for a dependence on – far more problematic in climate terms – US fracking gas and liquefied natural gas.

    Since the beginning of the new war in Ukraine, the mainstream media in Germany have been saying that „war has returned to Europe“, that „for the first time in almost eighty years there would be a war of aggression in Europe“. In this way, the Kosovo war of 1999 is deliberately left out. This coincides, by the way, with the Wikipedia entry where the beginning of this war is brought forward to the year 1998, in order to cover up the responsibility of NATO and the German government.[8] The suppression of the Kosovo war from public historiography is an attempt to hide the fourfold disgrace, with which the SPD/Green German coalition government of the time, being enthusiastically supported by the CDU/CSU and the FDP, has loaded itself with. It is an attempt to eliminate a fourfold shame from history: This was, firstly, the first ever war of aggression in Europe after World War II, which, by the way, was waged against Serbia, traditionally a close ally of Serbia, then the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which was traditionally a close ally of Russia. It was secondly the first war after 1945 in which German soldiers and the German army took an active part. Thirdly, it was a war with German participation on a soil charged with history, an area where then Chancellor Helmut Kohl just a few years earlier had said: „German troops in the Balkans – never again“. And it finally was, fourthly, a war without UN mandate, i.e., a war that was in all aspects a war in violation of international law. Germany and the then Red-Green federal government were actively involved in opening this Pandora’s box of war as a means of politics in the center of Europe. At the beginning there were deliberate falsifications with which the participation in the war was to be justified („Horseshoe Plan“). A that time – according to the subsequently published writings of those involved – the newly elected SPD Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and the newly inaugurated German Green Foreign Minister Joseph Fischer flew to Washington in October 1998 to deposit their “yes” to the coming war against Yugoslavia.[9] This Washington visit in 1998 is, incidentally, reminiscent of the visit of the newly elected German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to the U.S. capital on February 7, 2022, when he sat wordlessly next to U.S. President Joe Biden like a schoolboy and Biden, answering a question from a journalist about how the U.S. president thought he could stop North Stream II, he replied: „You’ll see – we’ll do it!“
  1. The significant differences between the events in 2014 (annexation of Crimea) and the Russian war against Ukraine in 2022 //

    Today, it is argued in many places that there is a straight line between Russian aggressive policy in 2014 and the current war. There may be elements for such a continuity – but the differences are considerable. In 2014, there was the massively Western-backed „regime change“ in Kyiv, which, as mentioned, came close to an anti-Russian coup d’état. There were the aggressive acts committed against the Russian minority which were already described, including the de facto ban on Russian as a second official language. Crimea is about 90 percent Russian-speaking. It historically has had a special status, in part due to the strategically important Russian naval base in Sevastopol. The occupation of Crimea by Russian troops could be carried out without a shot being fired, i.e. largely peacefully. Following from this, there was a referendum involving the Crimean population in which a clear majority voted in favor of secession and integration into the Russian Federation. Even today no one doubts that a clear majority in Crimea wants to remain part of Russia; and only a small minority favors a return to Ukraine. There is also an objective contradiction in international law concerning this issue between the principle of the inviolability of borders (which was violated with the annexation) and the right of national self-determination and secession (which can be said to have been claimed with the secession of the region to Russia). Finally, there are comparable conflict-ridden regions in Western Europe – and, according to the standards of international law contradictory situations in Ireland, Spain (Catalonia) and the UK (Scotland). In the case of Yugoslavia, moreover, the EU and the government in Berlin openly took the side of the majority of the population in Kosovo when they seceded from the state of Yugoslavia/Serbia. The different reception of the 2014 Crimean annexation and the current Russian war among the Russian population is also noteworthy: Crimea’s integration into the Russian Federation was welcomed by more than 90 percent of the Russian population; with it, Putin’s prestige in Russia reached its peak (2015/2016 with more than 80 percent approval). Russia’s current war against Ukraine, however, is also met with considerable criticism by larger segments of the Russian population; Russia’s democratic civil society rejects this war unequivocally and with a wide range of activities. Putin’s reputation in Russia itself is likely to suffer further due to this war.
  2. The policy of Western sanctions against Russia do not show any perspective, hit primarily primarily the Russian population and lead to an escalation in the war //

    Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, the U.S. government, the EU, and the government in Berlin have imposed sanctions on Russia on a scale not seen in the last 75 years. The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock publicly declared that the goal is to „ruin Russia“, „to drive Russia to ruin.“ In fact, in the medium term, the sanctions will primarily affect the Russian population. They are also likely to contribute to the fact that support for Putin is not eroding and that many people in Russia rally around the regime in the Kremlin, as they see the Western sanctions as attacks on Russia as a country and nation. In addition, it is not really Russia being strategically dependent on Western imports, but rather it is Western Europe and Eastern Europe being dependent on Russian energy exports. With their policy of spiraling sanctions, interested circles in the USA and Western Europe are trying to get the Kremlin to stop exporting energy to the West. This would be in the economic and strategic-military interests of U.S. corporations and the US government. The EU would then finally be completely tied to the USA; the fracking and liquefied gas industry in the USA could reap additional billions in profits. Such a policy also runs counter to the economic interests of a large section of the German economy – and the interests of most EU member states. Moreover it increases the risk of a world war.
  1. The policy of rearmament leads the world economy into crisis and inflation. It increases the danger of World War //

    The Russian war of aggression on Ukraine has triggered a worldwide wave of rearmament, the like of which has not been seen since the end of the Korean War in the mid-1955s. On Feb. 24, the champagne corks were popping in the major defense corporations. The military-industrial complex, that tightly meshed structure of the defense industry, of the arms industry, the military and politics, which exists in all major imperialist countries and which is particularly strongly developed in the USA, is once again considerably strengthened. Symptomatic of this development was the announcement by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on February 27 in the Bundestag that, with immediate effect, a „special fund“ in the amount of 100 billion euros would be made available for German arms spending – an announcement proclaimed without any democratic legitimacy, even without prior information to the SPD parliamentary group being given. Almost everything suggests that as a result of the war arms spending will be massively increased in the whole of Europe, in the USA and in China, and that by 2023 at the latest, the 30 NATO member states will have achieved their target of spending 2 percent of their gross domestic product on weaponry – a target previously thought to be barely reachable. All of this amounts to a 35 to 50 percent increase in European defense spending over a period of two to three years; in Germany, this increase could be even higher. „Nach Rüstung kommt Krieg – after the weapons build up comes war“ was not only a central slogan of the German peace movement in the 1970s and 1980s. Above all, it is also an important insight from centuries of experience. A lot of indicators are pointing towards the world heading for a new global war in this way – unless a new worldwide movement against the arms race and for general worldwide disarmament develops.

    Such a movement is not only important to keep the peace. It is also needed to prevent a catastrophic global economic crisis and runaway inflation. For the increase in arms spending also has a fatal economic significance. In these times of economic crisis, whose tendencies are among others caused by the fact that demand is lagging behind productive capacity with capital having not enough investment opportunities in the productive sector or too few sales prospects in this area, investing in the arms race – in addition to speculation – temporarily offers a way out for „unproductive capital investment.“ However, this is limited in time; an increase in arms production cannot be continued indefinitely; at some point „the use value“ of the accumulated weapons will be activated, the stockpiles will be emptied – war will break out. At the same time these wars always provide a testing ground for new weapon technologies – „tests“, which of course are also carried out on people, which results in thousands of deaths, injuries and long-term illnesses. During the recent U.S.- and NATO-led wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yugoslavia, for example, it was the use of “depleted uranium” – uranium-hardened ammunition, for example, resulting in cancer in thousands of people to this day as a result.

    In addition, there is the problem of inflation: only if armaments are financed 100 percent by taxes, i.e. by a deduction from (wage and capital) incomes, this increased expenditure will not trigger an inflationary process. If, on the other hand, weapons are procured entirely or partially based on credit, this will set in motion or accelerate an inflationary process. [10] For more than a decade we have now been living in times of high and increasing debt of all kinds (rising private debt, rising corporate debt and, above all, rising public debt). Government debt as a share of GDP (debt-to-GDP ratio) initially increased in the global economic crisis of 2008/2009 due to the massive government programs to prevent a global financial and economic collapse. Thereafter, it was only reduced again in a few countries, such as Germany, for example. With the Covid 19 epidemic and with the onset of huge government spending, almost exclusively credit-based, to cope with the pandemic, there was a new massive expansion of debt ratios. Countries such as Italy, Spain, France, Greece, Portugal and Belgium were considered over-indebted according to conventional criteria at the beginning of 2022.[11] The new massive increase in arms spending represents an additional element in this inflationary process. Even before the war began, we were witnessing a process in North America and in Europe where initially slow inflation began to speed up; in the U.S., the inflation rate was 7.5 percent in January 2022, while in Western Europe it was around 5 percent. The new arms boom could lead us soon into double-digit inflation figures. As the central banks in North America and Europe have been forced to raise interest rates since the beginning of 2022, for the first time in a good decade, the combination of general crisis trends plus high debt ratios plus rising interest rates plus „underlying inflation“ can lead to severe dislocations worldwide, if not to a new global economic crisis. A significant reduction in real wages for tens of millions of people is already assured today in the current year. A scant week before the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Harvard’s best-known economist, Kenneth Rogoff, stated in an interview as follows: „In the short term, an invasion of Ukraine would drive up inflation because war always leads to supply constraints, which in turn drives up prices. That would present the European Central Bank with a hard-nosed question: Does it take action against inflation and raise interest rates? Or would it rather not do so, because it could exacerbate a recession, which could quickly arise in the event of war. […] We will come to a point where the key interest rates [of the central banks; W.W.] will have to be higher than the inflation rate in order to still fight it. This will then be followed by a major crash.“[12]
  1. The military and militaristic positions of the government in Kyiv and the city administration of the Ukrainian capital in response to the Russian invasion cannot find our support //

    The government of Volodymyr Selenskyj and the Kyiv city government led by Vitali Klitschko are calling on their own population to engage in all out military and violent resistance against the Russian invasion forces. All men between the ages of 17 and 60 must remain in the country and should in principle make themselves available for a defense of the country. People are to confront Russian tanks with Molotov cocktails. Klitschko demands, that in Kyiv „house after house should be defended.“ Such positions must be questioned – even if they find support in the West in general and in Germany in particular by an all-party coalition, including the Christian Democrats, a party based on Christian religion with its maxims „Love thy neighbor“ and „If anyone slaps you on your your right cheek, offer (him) the other“[13]. Under the given conditions, this amounts to calling for the death of hundreds of thousands of people and the destruction of the country and large cities in order to „defend the homeland.“ This is a nationalistic, questionable and democratically unsupported position. „Nationalist“ because the mere defense of a „homeland“ does not represent a humanistic value under the given social and weapon-technological conditions. It projects a backward-looking vision of homeland. „Questionable“ and „democratically unsupported“ because those in power have no legitimacy to demand the self-sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of lives. There has been no referendum with a yes vote for total war. Selenskyj and his party „Sluha Narodu- Servant of the People“ themselves have achieved great successes in the presidential and parliamentary elections, however people voted for the program of this party and for the person of Selenskyi. Both promised to establish peace with Russia – which would have meant implementing the Minsk Agreement. Also, because this peace was not achieved Selenskyi’s party suffered a devastating defeat in the local elections on October 25, 2020. It received less than 20 percent of the vote. In the capital Kyiv, Sluha Narodu received even less than 10 percent of the vote – three quarters less than in the parliamentary elections. In not a single major city did the party establish itself as the relatively strongest. Yet the Ukrainian president did explicitly frame these elections in terms of a referendum (which is problematic from a constitutional point of view). Two of the issues he put forward for the referendum were firstly, the establishment of a special economic zone (!) in the (predominantly Russian-speaking and seceded) Donbas and, secondly, the withdrawal from the „Budapest Memorandum“. By withdrawing from this Memorandum, Ukraine would have declared that in the future it would again seek to possess nuclear weapons. [14] The (relative) winners of these elections were pro-Russian parties, in part the nationalist, pro-Russian Sharij party of the right-wing video blogger Anatoly Shariy, partly more moderate Russian groups such as the one formed by Gennady Trukhanov in Odessa, a person with an Ukranian and a Russian passport, by the way, who was again elected mayor in this big city on November 15, 2020, winning 54.5 percent of the vote. His opponent candidate in the runoff, by the way, was supported by another Russia-friendly party. Trukhanov has been Odessa’s mayor since 2014 – and is considered a fried of Putin.[15]

    In my political understanding, in today’s society it is fundamentally questionable to recommend or even urge other people to take the path of heroic death. In Ukraine, moreover, there is no democratic legitimacy for such a policy in the given situation. It would be more reasonable, given the military superiority of the Russian army and the sinister determination of the Kremlin leadership to achieve the war aims it has set for itself, to forsake further military resistance and switch to a nationwide passive resistance against the occupying power with the aim of disintegrating the occupation regime and to call for a democratic turn in Russia itself. This by the way was the politics of Alexander Dubcec in August 1968 confronted with the Soviet Army crushing the “Prague Spring”.
  1. Danger of a major war, a third world war, which US elites are openly preparing for //

    The Ukrainian government’s demands that NATO and/or the U.S. should provide military support to Ukraine and, for example, impose a „no-fly zone“ over Ukraine would, when posed in plain language, mean a direct military confrontation between Nato and the U.S. on the one hand and Russia on the other. Such a position is absolutely irresponsible, even criminal, since it would turn the world into a nuclear fire. Unfortunately, such a perspective is already structurally inherent in the dynamics of world capitalism.
    The USA have been in decline as a capitalist hegemonic power since the 1970s with the abandonment of the gold basis for the US-Dollar and the defeat in the Vietnam war. For more than two decades, the People’s Republic of China has emerged as the decisive economic challenger to the USA. For a decade, the two nuclear powers Russia and the PRC have been moving closer to each other – as evidenced on the first day of the Winter Olympics in January 2022 with Putin’s visit to Beijing. The nature of the war of aggression launched by Russia against Ukraine on Feb. 24 has clouded this harmony though, as China, which relies on mass exports of goods and imports of high technology, does not want to be hit by the massive sanctions now being imposed on Russia by the West.

    In the more than 300-year history of world capitalism, there has always been a link between hegemonic economic power, monetary power and military power. And the change from one hegemonic power to another (Netherlands, British Empire, USA) has always been accompanied by wars. The USA are massively economically battered. They are ailing in monetary terms; the dominance of the U.S. dollar and the U.S. stock markets is fragile. Yet militarily, the United States of America are world leaders. U.S. defense spending amounts to nearly 40 percent of the world’s total arms spending. At 778 billion U.S. dollars, it is three times higher than the combined arms spending of Russia and China.[16] For a decade, elites in the United States have been openly orientating towards war against the People’s Republic of China, including nuclear war if necessary, as is documented in Pentagon papers. With the policy of encircling Russia, with the eastward expansion of NATO and by demanding an end of the cooperation between Russia and the EU in the field of energy policy, they are literally driving Russia formally into an alliance with the PRC. In doing so, the U.S. government, Nato and the EU are making fatal contributions towards enabling a Third World War – a war that would transform large parts of the world, not least Europe, into nuclear-contaminated chaos. Integrating the EU into US policies plays a decisive role in the U.S. military strategy for that war. The U.S. hope to achieve in this way what they have been successfully doing for a 100 years and more: keeping the territory of the USA itself out of such a world war and concentrating a large part of the nuclear counterfire on Europe – 6,000 kilometers away from the home ground in North America.
  1. Drastic change in the global balance of social forces in favor of capital – de facto rejection of a policy to combat climate emergency //

    The Russian war against Ukraine, like all wars of this kind, massively changes the social power relations by strengthening the arms industry, big capital, partially and temporarily also the stock exchange (stock exchange slogan: „Buy when the cannons thunder!“) and finance capital. Linked to this is a strengthening of right-wing currents: militarism, racism, chauvinism, machismo, misogyny, and a covering up of actual class relations. Currently Russian flags are burned in Kyiv and Ukrainian flags in Russian cities. The new popularity of nuclear energy – in Ukraine, but also in other parts of Europe – is also part of this change in the general political weather situation. During a recent demonstration against the Russian war in Ukraine in the German city of Düsseldorf the interior minister of the State of Nordrhein-Westfalen, who is responsible for a recently passed, extremely repressive state police law, was able to give a speech from the platform. This is perverse, of course, but it is also an expression of the shifting balance of power to the right. A situation such as the one we are witnessing today is being used by the ruling classes like a “shock doctrine” as described by Naomi Klein: A latent shift to the right is being amplified through anti-democratic and unsocial measures. The project of a “special fund” for the German army, as is proposed by the German chancellor Scholz and as has been already described above, is typical for such a “shock strategy” as analysed by Naomi Klein. [17]

    Under these conditions, the central task of mankind, which is actually pending at the moment, to take massive measures to slow down the acceleration of climate warming, is thwarted. The military and the arms industry are the largest institutional climate emitters – and it is this sector that is now being strengthened. The described sanctions against Russia will result in a promotion of liquified gas, which is particularly harmful to climate policy, and the strengthening of fossil fuels. The Green Minister of Economics, Robert Habeck, not only rejects „thinking taboos“ and not only does not want to „ideologically fend off a further use of nuclear power“. He also declares that now „security of supply“ has priority and that „in case of doubt, Security is more important than climate protection.“[18] Whereby, it should be repeated, the actual „security policy“ pursued by Scholz-Baerbock-Habeck-Lindner amounts to launching a worldwide economic war, a worldwide process of rearmament and to contributing to the growing danger of a nuclear war, which is primarily conjured up by Putin’s policies.
  1. Our demands aim to stop the arms race, promote disarmament, reduce the threat of war and help refugees from all regions //
  • In this dramatic situation, also bearing in mind Germany’s special responsibility, we demand:
  • Immediate halt to all Russian acts of war. Immediate withdrawal of Russian troops
  • troops behind the borders of February 23, 2022!
  • Immediate reduction of the Russian troop concentration at the borders to Ukraine. Stop
  • of all Russian maneuvers in the region!
  • Get out of the escalation spiral – All sides, especially Russia, must return to the negotiating table. A Minsk III is necessary!
  • Lifting of the „listing“ of the responsible Russian politicians by USA and EU
  • respectively by the German government – a step, which massively prevents any kind of negotiations
  • Immediate cancellation of the new NATO maneuvers in Central and Eastern Europe (among others „Defender Europe“)
  • All NATO troops and especially the German armed forces need to be withdrawn from Eastern European countries
  • Convert all German taxpayers‘ money to support Ukraine into money to support democratic civil society in Ukraine
  • Stop of arms deliveries to Ukraine
  • Stop the German and EU arms buildup. Convert the 100 billion special fund for the Bundeswehr into an aid program for refugees and climate protection!
  • End the sanctions spiral. No boycott of Russian energy supplies to Western Europe.
  • Acceptance without exceptions of all refugees fleeing Ukraine from Russian bombs and from other countries fleeing wars that are also being waged with German weapons.
  • The Russian Federation is obliged to finance the re-construction in Ukraine with reparations.
  • Our solidarity goes to the people of Ukraine and especially to the Ukrainian civilian population.
  • Our respect and solidarity goes to the democratic civilian population in Russia, who spoke out just a few days after the start of the war with a wide range of activities and since then daily on streets, squares and on the Internet to build anti-war protests.
  • We support in every way the population living in Ukraine, whether it is the majority population or the Russian-speaking minority. We reject support for militaristic positions, as they are also being presented by the government in Kyiv.
  • The 2022 Easter March activities must strengthen the peace movement and build a movement against the new world-wide militarism formed by Russian aggression and the rearmament of NATO.


[1] Of the seven major Russian banks that were hit by Western sanctions after February 24, 2022

and largely cut off from the Swift banking system, three are directly part of the state-owned financial sector and another is closely linked to Putin’s inner circle. The first three are Bank VTB, which has a state share of 60 percent of its share capital, Promsvyazbank, and VEB (both wholly state-owned). The major shareholder in Bank Rossiya is billionaire Yuri Kovalchuk, who belongs to Putin’s inner circle and also has ties to Gazprom. Novicombank and Sovcombank can be regarded to be wholly privately controlled. The seventh bank in this group, Bank Otkritie, is a special case. This bank stumbled in 2017 and was nationalized at the time. In January 2022 it became known that the major Italian bank Unicredit wanted to take over Bank Otkritie. This should now be in doubt due to events.

[2] Newspaper Against the War (Zeitung gegen den Krieg) No. 50, page 1. Even if, as repeatedly stated in this text, we were wrong in the basic assessment of a possible invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops, it is absolutely wrong that we did not fundamentally criticize Putin’s regime as authoritarian. This is also true for my own personal history. My first political articulation was participating in a protest against the invasion of the CSSR by Russian troops in 1968. Since then, I have been involved in dozens of solidarity events in the 1970s and 1980s. I have been involved in dozens of solidarity activities for democratic opposition figures such as Lev Kopelev, Rudolf Bahro, Wolf Biermann, and Roland Jahn, and in the early 1980s I established the committee Solidarity with Solidarnosc. Any accusation that I am an uncritical „Russia-understanding“ (basically an

absurd term, who can be against wanting to UNDERSTAND a country or a person and their way of thinking and acting?) is absurd. Incidentally, it is often raised by people who before 1989 were in hardly limited solidarity with the CPSU and the SED, and who supported a nuclear power plant in Greifswald for the development of peaceful energy and technological progress whilst being opposed only to a nuclear power plant in Brokdorf in West Germany which they perceived to be a danger capable of radioactive contamination of the environment.

[3] Putin literally said: „Whoever tries to disturb us must know that Russia’s response will come immediately and will lead to such consequences for you as you have never experienced in your history. We are prepared for any development of events. All the necessary decisions have been made.“ According to: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, February 25, 2022.

[4] The comments in Western media that there never was such a promise made by the West are

false. This is proven by documents that U.S. political scientist Joshua Shifrinson found in a formerly classified document retrieved from the British National Archives. It deals with a meeting of the political directors of the foreign ministries of the United States, Britain, France and Germany in Bonn on March 6, 1991. The topic under discussion was the security of Poland and other Eastern European states. A Political Director heads the Political Division in the State Department and is considered the closest advisor to the Foreign Minister. Bonn’s representative, Jürgen Chrobog, stated at the time, according to the memo, „We made it clear in the Two Plus Four negotiations that we would not extend NATO beyond the Elbe. We cannot therefore offer NATO membership to Poland and the others.“ The British, French and Americans also rejected NATO membership for the Eastern Europeans. U.S. representative Raymond Seitz said, „We have made it clear to the Soviet Union – at Two Plus Four as well as other talks – that we would gain no advantage from the

withdrawal of Soviet troops from Eastern Europe.“ (Quoted from Die Welt, Feb. 18, 2022; also in Der Spiegel, Feb. 18, 2022.


And: https://nsarchive.gwu.edu/briefing-book/russia-programs/2017-12-12/nato-expansion-what-gorbachev-heard-western-leaders-early

[5] The project is being pushed by the US government and the EU. „Ukraine is in this way providing a strong statement of its desire to be bound to the European Union,“ said „energy security advisor at the U.S. State Department,“ Amos Hochstein in the Welt am Sonntag of February 6, 2022.

[6] According to El Pais, November 14, 2021 (Bernando de Miguel, „The EU plans to conduct in 2023 the first military exercises in its history“)

[7] This restriction was abandoned on February 26, 2022. Since that date, Germany has been supplying weapons of many types, including heavy weapons, highly effective Stinger missiles among them.

[8] According to Wikipedia Germany, the Kosovo War was an „armed conflict in the Yugoslav wars

over control of Kosovo from February 28, 1998 [1] to June 10, 1999. Parties to the conflict were the

Kosovo Liberation Army (UÇK/KLA), the army of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and Serbian  security forces and, as of 1999, NATO forces led by the United States (U.S.). The NATO mission

lasted from March 24, 1999, the date of the first air strike, until June 9, 1999, the date of agreement concluding the Military Negotiations.“ https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kosovokrieg

A similar incorrect dating can be found in the English and French Wikipedia-versions. In the Serbian version, however, the correct date for the start of the war is given with March 24th, 1999. Obviously those responsible at Wikipedia do not wish to subject their Serbian audience to such a clumsy falsification of history.

[9] „In fact, Gerhard Schröder, Chancellor-designate, and Joseph Fischer, Foreign foreign minister-designate, approved the planned war against Yugoslavia during a visit to Washington on October 9, 1998 Yugoslavia – before they were sworn in, before the Bundestag decided, and without a UN mandate.“ Source: https://konkret-magazin.de/aktuell/644-das-groessere-uebel

[10] „Arms production has, in monetary terms, a special characteristic; it increases the circulating purchasing power without producing an additional inflow of goods in exchange. Even if this increased purchasing power leads to the acquisition of machinery and the hiring of people who were previously unemployed, temporary inflation results. The incomes of workers and the profits of companies appear on the market as demand for consumer goods and production goods, without any increase in the production of these goods having been achieved. There is only one case in which the production of arms does not cause inflation: when all weaponry expenditures are financed entirely by taxes, that is, when the purchasing power of both consumers and firms is reduced accordingly.“ Ernest Mandel, Marxistische Wirtschaftstheorie, Frankfurt/M. 1970, S.555.

[11] Officially, the debt ratio in the EU is capped at 60 percent. The public debts of a given country are not allowed to exceed 60 percent of gross domestic product. 100 percent is generally accepted to be and hardly  a debt level that can bring a country close to national bankruptcy. At the beginning of 2022 the average debt ratio in the EU was already 98 percent. Heavyweights such as Italy (155%), France (116%) and Spain (122%) are already massively above this barrier. With the new heavy increases in arms spending, which are welcomed by (almost) all EU countries, there will be a further increase in debt.

[12] Kommt jetzt der Crash, Interview mit Kenneth Rogoff, in: Die Zeit vom 17. Februar 2022.

[13] „But I say to you that you should not resist evil, but if anyone gives you a stroke upon thy right cheek, offer the other also unto him.“ Matthew 5:39. Source: https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/Deutsch/topics/Die-Andere-Wange-Hinhalten

[14] Results of the Elections in Ukraine Sergei Sumlenny, Local Elections in Ukraine – Tough Defeat for Selenskyj, in: Böll-Stiftung, 28. October 2020: https://www.boell.de/de/2020/10/28/lokalwahlen-ukraine-herbe-niederlage-fuer-selenskyj

[15] https://m.tyzhden.ua/post/249910 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ukrainian_Week from 17. November 2020; Wikipedia England: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gennadiy_Trukhanov

[16] Figures for the year 2020 according to SIPRI, Stockholm. More extensively in: Zeitung gegen den Krieg, Heft 50; Lunapark21, Heft 57, March 2022 (article by Anne Rieger)

[17] Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism“, New York 2007 (deutsch: “Die Schock-Strategie. Der Aufstieg des Katastrophen-Kapitalismus”).

[18] According to: Süddeutsche Zeitung from 2. March 2022. https://www.sueddeutsche.de/wirtschaft/energie-habeck-im-zweifel-versorgungssicherheit-wichtiger-dpa.urn-newsml-dpa-com-20090101-220302-99-345886 previous quote by Robert Habeck according to: Süddeutsche Zeitung from 1. March 2022.

Winfried Wolf, Potsdam, 17th of March 2022 (a first version of this statement was published 27th of February 2022.

The author is responsible editor of the „Zeitung gegen den Krieg – ZgK“ and editor-in-chief of “Lunapark21 – Zeitschrift zur Kritik der globalen Ökonomie”. He was member of German parliament (Bundestag) 1994 -2002.

Übersetzung: Christian Bunke, Wien