Photo: Vladimir Putin with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who Wagner head Yevgeny Prigozhin was attempting to depose in his revolt. Credit: Presidential Press and Information Office
An attempted coup directed against Russia’s military forces has ended. The leader of the coup attempt, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has agreed to leave Russia after he ordered his troops from the Wagner Group to return to their bases following a deal brokered by Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko. Russian President Putin agreed to the deal, allegedly including dropping charges of treason against Prigozhin and amnesty for the revolting soldiers from the Wagner Group as long as they returned to their military bases.
The sudden end of the coup was a huge disappointment to the U.S. corporate-owned media, which had been covering the mutiny with great hope and expectation that the Russian government would be toppled and that internal chaos inside Russia would give a military advantage to NATO-backed Ukrainian forces whose counteroffensive against Russia had made little headway.
A great deal of information is still unknown to outside observers about events of the past few days. The internet is overflowing with self-proclaimed experts engaging in hot takes and commentary. Their opinions should be taken with a giant grain of salt. Deductive reasoning can’t take the place of facts. The facts will come out.
What’s most important for socialists and genuine anti-imperialists at this moment is to focus on the key elements. By proxy, the United States and its NATO partners are at war with Russia. NATO’s endless expansion right up to Russia’s borders was a decision taken by U.S. political and military leaders who knew with certainty that it would provoke Russia to strike back in Ukraine. Biden administration officials were calmly predicting that Russia would invade Ukraine in the month before February 22, 2022. Yet, they insisted that Putin’s demands for a Russian security guarantee were “non-starters.”
Instead of urgently returning to serious negotiations, President Biden announced on February 7, 2022, that if Russia invades “then there will be … no longer Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it.” Since that time the United States and its imperialist allies in Europe and Japan have engaged in an effort to defeat Russia on the battlefield rather than focusing on a negotiated end to the war, which could stop the terrible human suffering and death for Ukrainians and Russians.
In appealing to the Russian people to unite to defeat both the coup and the imperialist powers that are seeking to weaken Russia, President Putin falsely compared the Prigozhin-led coup attempt of today with the Russian Revolution of 1917 that first toppled the Czar and replaced the former Russian Empire with a multi-national government of workers and peasants that built unity on the basis of equality between nations and peoples.
The war in Ukraine is a terrible tragedy. The peoples of Russia and Ukraine lived as one during the era of the Soviet Union. They were trying to build socialism in a complicated and difficult domestic and international environment. Together they defeated nazism and liberated much of Europe from the fascist yoke. The peoples of the USSR lived in peace until the period of capitalist restoration and counterrevolution tore them apart. The 1917 Revolution signaled the emergence of Russia and the other Soviet Republics as a modern state with social and economic achievements for the working class of all nationalities. All the imperialist powers hated the Russian Revolution. Fourteen foreign armies invaded Russia between 1918 and 1919 to crush socialism. The coup effort by Prigozhin on the contrary was greeted with hope and expectation by the imperialists of all stripes who want to weaken Russia, just as they hope to weaken China and any other power that is viewed as an obstruction to their own hegemony.
The U.S. proxy war with Russia is paid for by enormous sums of money that could instead have been used to provide desperately-needed relief for working people. The more than $100 billion of U.S. taxpayer money that has been funneled into the war effort — and the pockets of the weapons manufacturing corporations — should instead be used to provide affordable housing, good schools, clean drinking water and many other vital services to the working class.
Responsibility for the profoundly dangerous conflict in Ukraine lies ultimately with the U.S. government and its NATO allies. Constant expansion towards Russia’s borders, disregard for all of Russia’s core security interests and a blanket refusal to negotiate on the part of western imperialist powers made war all but inevitable. U.S. imperialist strategists dream that they can shore up their declining “world order” by inflicting a defeat on Russia in Ukraine.