The Russian state wages war on Ukraine. The savagery of Putin’s attack is expressed in ruined homes, bombing of hospitals, and a refugee crisis of historic proportions. This was done to Syria and now is happening again. But the paeans in support of Ukraine proclaimed by Putin’s war monger counterparts in Washington and the capitals of Europe ring hollow and cynical. They are not innocent but complicit in the senseless destruction and death pouring forth from Russian guns. The threats of US imperialism, including calls for no-fly zones, only play a game of dangerous brinkmanship. There are exactly two sides to this war: working people vs imperialist states locked in capitalist competition. Either you stand with working people everywhere, including in both Ukraine and Russia, or you stand with the capitalist states. In the interest of providing political clarity to a crisis, Rampant is proud to publish an explainer from Dissenters providing some pointers about how to talk about the invasion of Ukraine as US-based anti-imperialists standing in solidarity with everyday people and liberatory movements everywhere.
- Do not justify or rationalize Russian imperialism by blaming the invasion solely on U.S. / NATO or framing it as “too complicated.” As a US-based movement, we are focused on dismantling the US empire, but we shouldn’t minimize Russia’s brutal actions impacting people in Ukraine. Putin can end this war, today, by withdrawing Russian troops and ending the invasion.
- Do not justify or rationalize U.S. imperialism. The US military is part of the problem, not the solution. We oppose unilateral action by the US or NATO and are in favor of meaningful international cooperation.
- Do not frame this as “the biggest invasion since WWII.” This is inaccurate and conveniently erases US imperialism, and the suffering of people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Yemen, Vietnam, Korea, and beyond.
- Do not casually comment that WWIII is inevitable. This reinforces the idea that military force is the best and only response. We must actively influence this situation, not resign ourselves to a devastating spiral.
- Do not amplify Russian state-backed media, war-mongering western media, and active misinformation campaigns. We don’t want to empower these sources, even if you agree with the message. Here are some sources you may not have known are state-sponsored: RT News, RedFish Media, Ruptly, Soapbox.
- Do center the experiences of people in Ukraine impacted by this imperialist violence, and be sure to include the experiences of people of marginalized identities, from Nigerian, Moroccan, Egyptian, and other African people to Muslim Tatars.
- Do support noncompliance as a response to Russia’s aggression, by cutting economic and/or cultural ties with Russian entities that are not explicitly anti-war.
- Do amplify global grassroots solidarity. We have been left with so few solutions, largely because of US hegemony. But people around the world are showing solidarity against empire from below. Anti-war protests have erupted around the world, including hundreds of thousands of Russians risking arrest on the streets. Hong Kong students are demanding the abolition of Ukraine’s foreign debt, Ukrainian socialist Taras Bilous, called for the importance of democratizing the UN in his letter to the Western left. Syrians are making anti-imperialist art. Keep uplifting that there are ways to offer solidarity and keep building towards demilitarized futures simultaneously.
- Do focus on our role as a US-based movement: exercising leverage over US decision-makers, and rejecting unilateral action by the US/NATO. US propaganda means our audience are more familiar with Putin’s violence, and less familiar with the history of the region, or the history of NATO as a project of western hegemony. In this context, we call attention to US responsibility, and demand resources are directed to humanitarian aid and multilateral cooperation.
- Do call for humanitarian aid, civilian defense supplies, evacuation and resettlement support, and rapid, full service refugee acceptance.
- Do uplift mutual aid efforts, especially ones helping Black and African people experiencing anti-Blackness get out of Ukraine safely. There are over 10,000 African students studying in Ukraine, and many are being threatened and stranded at the borders by police and border control agents.
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