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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain


by our Eastern European Affairs correspondent

AIR RAID sirens wailed across Ukraine this week as waves of Russian missiles rained down on strategic targets right across the country.

Ukrainian drones attacked air-bases deep inside Russian territory and Ukrainian artillery continues to pound civilian areas in the liberated Donbas whilst fighting rages all along the front as Russian forces battle for control of the strategic town of Bakhmut.

Donetsk communists, whose party has now merged with the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF), held their founding conference last week, and a young Donbas MP was killed in Donetsk as the result of artillery shelling and rocket attacks by the Ukrainian military.

Maria Pirogova, a 29-year-old MP in the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), was killed when the city came under a barrage of Ukrainian rockets and shells. The Ukrainians hit a business centre, a market, the Donbas arena, a sports complex, several shopping centres, a bus station, the cathedral, the local prosecutor’s office and many residential buildings. The attacks left at least eight civilians dead and several wounded. Maria Pirogova was one of them. Her death was an “enormous loss for all of us” said DPR leader Denis Pushilin. “In 2014, when she was only 21 years old, she began to help people. She gathered things, delivered them herself to those in need, and was not afraid to go to the most dangerous places to help others,” he said, praising Maria as the “epitome of kindness” with an exceptional “talent at doing good”.

Donetsk has been under heavy artillery and missile fire by Ukrainian forces on an almost daily basis since Russia launched its military operation in late February. Since 2014, when the Donbas conflict broke out in the aftermath of the fascist coup in Kiev, the city has endured years of low-intensity fighting and sporadic shelling by the Ukrainian military.

The war has shattered the Ukrainian economy. The Zelensky regime depends entirely on a never-ending stream of imperialist guns and funds that is stretching US imperialism’s European allies to breaking point. With reports now saying that at least 100,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in the fighting, renewed calls for diplomatic efforts to end the conflict are being heard within the corridors of power in Berlin and Paris.

The Americans, who are using the war to restore their hegemony over Western Europe, remain committed to prolonging the war regardless of cost, but in Europe some seem to be having second thoughts.

France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, is now talking about ‘security guarantees’ for Russia to end the conflict. The German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, says Europe should go back to its pre-war “peace order” with Russia and resolve “all questions of common security” after the war in Ukraine if President Putin is willing to halt his “aggression” against his neighbours.

This may reflect a more serious approach to the crisis by the leaders of Franco-German imperialism. Or it could simply be a cynical ploy to assuage the growing anti-war sentiment within the European Union. That sentiment is clearly growing.

Tens of thousands took to the streets of Italy last week to protest against the shipment of Italian weapons to Ukraine and the expansion of anti-Russian sanctions. In the capital, 10,000 or more demonstrators called for an end to Italian involvement in the war. In Milan protesters marched through the city carrying Italian and Russian flags and called for an end to sanctions against the Russian Federation.

Sanctions have hiked up heating bills and fired inflation leading to mass protests and a surge of union militancy in defence of workers’ living standards not seen since the 1970s – it’s certainly going to be an angry winter this time round.