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Amid deepening crisis of Putin regime, US steps up regime-change operation
Clara Weiss, WSWS, Oct 7 2022

Eight months into its disastrous war in Ukraine, the Putin regime is facing a severe political crisis. The mobilization of 300k reservists in response to a massive military debacle in northeastern Ukraine in September has aggravated an already far-reaching socioeconomic crisis while escalating frictions within the ruling elites and state apparatus. To avoid being mobilized, more privileged layers of the middle class have left the country in a panic, with reports suggesting that as many as 400k men have fled to neighboring countries. In an indication of the social layer involved, Der Spiegel ran a portrait of two young men involved in a bitcoin company who made it to Georgia, under the headline “Latte Macchiato in Tiflis.” Prior to their flight, they had each been earning $5k a month in Russia, more than many workers make in an entire year. The vast majority of the Russian working population, by contrast, is left to face the devastating economic fallout from both the economic warfare by the imperialist powers and the mobilization drive. Those drafted have to pay for their own uniforms, which can cost up to $3k, and first-aid kits. The mobilization of thousands of working-age men will also leave their families without the main income earners of the household.

The ongoing military route of Russian forces in Ukraine is a result both of the imperialist build-up of the Ukrainian army into a formidable modern fighting force, and the disastrous miscalculations of the Kremlin, which launched the invasion of Ukraine in February believing that it could force the imperialist powers to the negotiating table. Instead, NATO has used the provoked invasion as the welcome pretext to launch a full-scale war against Russia, in which the Ukrainian armed forces are but a proxy. Already, tens of thousands of Russian soldiers are estimated to have been killed and wounded. Media reports indicate that in the North Caucasian republic of Dagestan, where a particularly large number of men had signed up as contractors with the Russian army to escape poverty, virtually every single village has reported battlefield dead. As one military debacle has followed another, with Russia losing more territory over the past week in the very regions it now seeks to annex, the Ministry of Defense and general staff have come under almost constant fire from military figures and politicians, including Putin himself.

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov openly attacked the Ministry of Defense in the aftermath of the fall of Lyman this weekend. Kadyrov declared that he could not understand “what the Ministry of Defense is reporting to the commander-in-chief,” adding that “more radical measures, including the deployment of low-yield nuclear wepaons” should be taken. Shortly after these statements, Putin promoted Kadyrov to the rank of colonel general, his second promotion in the military ranks this year. On Wednesday, General Andrei Kartapolov, who is the current head of the State Duma’s Committee for Defense and the former deputy defense minister, demanded that the Ministry of Defense “stop lying” about the state of the war. He warned that their ongoing “lies” would make the population lose confidence in the Kremlin. He then compared the severity of the situation to the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in WW2, stating:

Today the enemy is on our soil as well. And I’m not even talking about the newly-acquired subjects of the Russian Federation. Practically all the border villages of the Belgorod region have been destroyed. Our city of Valuiki, about 15 km from the Ukrainian border, is under constant fire.

On Thursday, Kirill Stremousov, the deputy governor of the Kherson region in southern Ukraine, which Russia is now annexing, attacked Shoigu, declaring:

Many people are saying that as an officer, the defense minister could simply shoot himself for being the one who let things get to this state.

On Wednesday, Putin joined the public attacks on the Ministry of Defense, blaming the military leadership for “mistakes” made during the mobilization drive. Contrary to Putin’s initial announcement that only those who have combat experience would be mobilized, thousands of Russians, including many who are elderly, sick or fathers of many children, received draft notices even though they had been promised to be exempted. Thousands are now reportedly being sent home after having received draft notices “by mistake.” Media reports on Thursday indicate that regional governors have initiated a purge of lower-ranking military personnel responsible for overseeing mobilization in the provinces. Since the beginning of the war, Russian generals and top officials of the Ministry of Defense have barely appeared in public. The Russian press now speculates that the public criticism of the Ministry of Defense by the Kremlin could be the precursor to a significant reshuffle of the military leadership. As frictions within the Russian elites and state apparatus are emerging into the open, Washington and its allies in the Russian and Ukrainian oligarchy have clearly stepped up their efforts at a regime change in Moscow. Zelensky notably responded to Putin’s move to annex the four regions in East Ukraine by insisting that there would be no more negotiations with Russia as long as Putin was president. The Ukrainian government has since issued a decree, formally banning any negotiations by Kiev with the Kremlin under Putin.

On Sep 30, the day of Putin’s annexation speech, the WaPo published a lengthy op-ed by the imprisoned Alexei Navalny, the figurehead of the pro-NATO so-called liberal opposition to the Putin regime. In the piece, Navalny effectively called for NATO to adopt regime change in Russia as the official strategic goal of this war. Navalny’s calls for the institution of a “parliamentary democracy” in Russia as the outcome of such a regime change are of course no less a fraud than the “bombing for democracy” narrative that served as the basis for virtually every US war in the MENA in the past decades. The result of this imperialist operation would be even more disastrous, leading to the carve-up and a series of civil wars in the largest country in the world, with a large, multiethnic population of over 140m and the world’s second largest nuclear arsenal. With his usual bluntness, John Bolton, a leading figure in the US national security establishment under Bush 43 and Trump 45, spelled out the critical role of the Russian military in what he openly described as a coup. In a piece this week, Bolton wrote:

It is from the colonels and one-star generals, and their civilian-agency equivalents, where the most-likely co-conspirators to take matters into their own hands. These are the decision-makers whom the dissidents must identify, persuade and support to facilitate regime change.

Ultimately, the social layers that the imperialist powers base themselves on in their regime change operation are the same social layers that the oligarchic Putin regime is based on as well: the oligarchy, the state and military apparatus and layers of the upper middle class. Like the Putin regime itself, its opponents in the ruling class and state have emerged out of the Stalinist reaction against the October revolution which culminated in the restoration of capitalism and destruction of the Soviet Union in 1991. While the liberal opposition is advocating a direct alignment with US imperialism, they share with the Putin regime a deep-rooted fear and hatred of the working class. Workers must respond to this immense crisis and the war by developing their own, independent opposition to the Putin regime. This requires unequivocal opposition to the machinations of the imperialist powers and their proxies in the Russian oligarchy and state apparatus, and the building of a socialist leadership in the working class, that is, a Russian section of the International Committee of the Fourth International.

Congressional leaders of both parties welcome members of neo-Nazi Azov Battalion to Washington
Jacob Crosse, WSWS, Oct 7 2022

Last month leading members of both US political parties met with high-ranking soldiers of the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion at the Capitol in Washington. The week-long meetings in Washington by the fascist delegations, who were warmly greeted by Republican and Democratic politicians alike, have gone virtually unreported in the press. In their posts first exposing the visit, journalist Moss Robeson revealed:

One of the Azov soldiers that visited the Capitol was Giorgi Kuparashvili, a co-founder of the Azov Regiment and the leader of its Yevhen Konovalets Military School, named for the founder of the fascistic Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists.

The Azov Battalion was founded in 2014 by white supremacist Andrei Biletsky. The organization is teeming with fascists and racists who idolize Stepan Bandera, a fascist who as a member of the OUN-B collaborated with the Waffen SS during WW2 in carrying out the Holocaust in Ukraine. The embrace of neo-Nazis in the Capitol by both big-business parties obliterates any pretense that the US government is fighting for democracy or human rights in Ukraine or anywhere else. In publicly available Telegram posts the Association of Families of Azovstal Defenders, an organization comprised of family members of Azov soldiers, boasted that Kateryna Prokopenko, Yuliya Fedosyuk and Alla Somilenko joined Azov soldiers, Kupraashvili, Vladyslav Zhaivoronka and Artur Lypka in holding face-to-face meetings with Democratic and Republican legislators alike. Kateryna Prokopenko is the leader of the Association of Families of Azovstal Defenders and is the wife of Denys Prokopenko, an Azov commander. Yuliya Fedosyuk is the leader of an anti-feminist group linked to Azov, according to Bellingcat journalist Alexei Kuzmenko.

The meetings are part of a US and global tour that is being conducted by the groups to build support in Washington, and abroad, for more direct military funding to the Ukrainian military, including the Azov Battalion. Since 2018, Azov has been nominally barred from receiving direct funding and training from the US military. However, since the reactionary Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, the US government, with media partners, has embarked on a historical whitewash of the organization’s neo-Nazi past in order to reverse this ban in name only. Beginning in a Sep 20 Telegram post and continuing throughout the week, the Association of Families of Azovstal Defenders wrote their delegation and Azov soldiers met with “a number of American congressmen.” In a Sep 20 photo, the fascists boast that they were met “at the Capitol” by Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy along with over 20 other representatives, Republican and Democratic alike.

Several US representatives meeting with Azov soldiers and supporters in the Capitol, Sep 20 2022

In addition to McCarthy, other Republican congressmen who met with Azov fascists last month include Texas Republicans Dan Crenshaw, Pete Sessions, Tony Gonzales and Michael McCaul. McCaul is one of the wealthiest members of Congress and the Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs committee.

Rep Dan Crenshaw hosting neo-Nazis in his congressional office, Sep 23 2022

Describing the warm reception they received on Capitol Hill, the Association of Families of Defenders of Azovstal said:

The congressmen, in particular veterans of the US Army, expressed their admiration for the victory of the Azov regiment and declared full support for our Azovstal defenders, They were especially interested in the topic of the defense of Mariupol. In general, American representatives expressed their sincere support to our delegation and Ukraine as a whole and assured that they have no doubts about the victory of our country in this war, and also repeatedly emphasized their admiration for the heroic Azov regiment.

On Sep 21, Senator Rick Scott was photographed meeting with the delegation.

Sen Rick Scott meets with members of the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion, Sep 21 2022

While she did not meet with Azov members in Washington, “CIA Democrat” Mikie Sherrill was photographed with members of Azov in her home district last month.

Rep Mikie Sherrill meeting with a delegation of Azov soldiers in New Jersey, Sep 26 2022

In Washington, Chair of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff was photographed with members of Azov and the Ukrainian military in the Capitol.

Rep Adam Schiff meets with members of the neo-Nazi Azov Battallion at the Capitol

Michigan Democratic Representative Elissa Slotkin, another CIA Democrat, was not photographed with members of Azov, but did meet separately with another contingent of Ukrainian soldiers whose visit, not coincidentally, overlapped with the fascists.

This separate Ukrainian military contingent, as revealed in a Twitter thread by Daria Kaleniuk, an executive director at an “anti-corruption” national government organization in Kyiv, met with several US senators over the exact same week members of Azov were in Washington. The female Ukrainian soldiers were photographed with Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Joni Ernst (R-IA).

This same delegation also met with Robin Dunnigan, DASS for European and Eurasian affairs. A government profile of her notes:

Dunnigan is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service. She has served overseas in Vietnam, Chile, Turkey, Cuba and El Salvador.

Dunnigan has been a long-time opponent of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, arguing in a 2015 conference:

Nord Stream 2 actually threatens not only Ukraine’s survivability and their resources, but it is a risk to fuel diversification in Europe, especially south-eastern Europe.

After meeting in Washington with politicians, the Azov soldiers and the defenders of Avozstal group have embarked on a multi-city tour to gin up support for Azov. Speaking at a Ukrainian church in Detroit on Sep 24, Robeson reported that Azov commander Kuparshavili recalled the reception the neo-Nazis received:

We went to the Senators, Congressmen, from both parties. Honestly, the majority we met, there were like over fifty of them, and head of their fractions, they all gave 100% support. They started to work from their office right in front of us, picked up the phone and started calling to different organizations which can influence, right now.

The open embrace of Azov by US politicians in both parties shows that the only “unity” that can be forged in Washington is based on war abroad with the most reactionary and genocidal forces in world history. It is a further confirmation that there exists no constituency within the US ruling class for the defense of basic democratic rights and underscores that capitalism has nothing to offer humanity except war and fascism.

Biden warns of nuclear “Armageddon” as Zelensky calls for “preventive strikes” on Russia
Andre Damon, WSWS, Oct 7 2022

Frigate Bird, a 1962 test of an 600 kT warhead deployed from a ballistic missile, as seen from a US submarine periscope.

Biden said Thursday that the world is at risk of nuclear “Armageddon,” implying that the rapid escalation of the war in Ukraine could lead to nuclear war between the US and Russia. He said that Putin was “not joking when he talks about the use of tactical nuclear weapons.” Biden said:

We have not faced the prospect of Armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Putin has threatened to use nuclear weapons because his military is, you might say, significantly underperforming. I don’t think there’s any such thing as the ability to easily (use) a tactical nuclear weapon and not end up with Armageddon.

In February, Biden denied that the war could escalate to a nuclear conflict, saying:

Well, I don’t think he is remotely contemplating using nuclear weapons.

In March, Biden said that the United States would not “send in offensive equipment” to Ukraine because it would “lead to WW3.” But since making these statements, Biden has massively expanded US involvement in the war, sending so many high-end weapons to Ukraine that US armories are running low. US generals have directed Ukrainian missile strikes, including attacks on Russian territory, assassinations of Russian generals, and the attack on the Moskva, the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. And US paramilitary forces are directly operating on the ground in Ukraine. The US has sent Ukraine hundreds of armored vehicles, as well as the country’s most advanced anti-aircraft system, anti-ship system and medium-range ground-based missile launcher, the HIMARS. In an article published in September entitled “Why the US is becoming more brazen with its Ukraine support,” The Hill concluded:

The Biden administration is arming Ukraine with weapons that can do serious damage to Russian forces and, unlike early in the war, US officials don’t appear worried about Moscow’s reaction.

Over the past week, Putin, Medvedev and Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov have all warned that Russia could use nuclear weapons in the conflict. Earlier this week, The Times of London reported that a train operated by the division of the Russian military that handles nuclear weapons was making its way toward the front line. When asked about the report, a US Defense Department spokesperson replied:

I’m aware of those press reports. I don’t have anything on that.

The Times of London also reported that NATO members have been secretly advised that Putin intends to carry out a nuclear test near Russia’s borders or over the Black Sea. On Thursday, before Biden’s comments, Zelensky at a meeting of an Australian think tank called for NATO to carry out preemptive strikes on Russia to prevent the “possibility of Russia using nuclear weapons.” Zelensky said:

What should NATO do? Eliminate the possibility of Russia using nuclear weapons. We need preventive strikes, so they know what will happen to them if they use nukes, and not the other way around.

As has become standard practice any time a NATO-aligned leader blurts out what is being discussed behind the scenes, Zelensky’s office claimed that the Ukrainian president was referring to “preemptive sanctions” and that the actual words that came out of the president’s mouth should be ignored. Against the backdrop of these events, the extent of direct US involvement in the war is becoming clear. On Wednesday, the Intercept, in an article by veteran National Security journalist James Risen, reported that Biden has authorized clandestine CIA operations inside Ukraine, likely meaning that American special forces are actually deployed in the country. Risen reports:

The clandestine American operations inside Ukraine are now far more extensive than they were early in the war. There is a much larger presence of both CIA and US special operations personnel and resources in Ukraine than there were at the time of the Russian invasion in February. Secret US operations inside Ukraine are being conducted under a presidential covert action finding, current and former officials said. The finding indicates that the president has quietly notified certain congressional leaders about the administration’s decision to conduct a broad program of clandestine operations inside the country.

Meanwhile, sections of the US political establishment are calling for an even more aggressive US intervention, providing Ukraine with missiles that would be able to strike into the heart of Russian territory. Lt-Gen (Retd) Ben Hodges, the former commander of US Army Europe, told the WSJ:

Army Tactical Missile Systems would give the Ukrainians the capability to make Crimea untenable for the Russian Black Sea Fleet and for the Russian Air Force and logistics in Crimea. That would be a significant step in the eventual liberation of Crimea. ATACMS would accelerate the collapse of Russian forces.

WaPo columnist George Will called Wednesday on the US to provide armed drones to Ukraine, including the Gray Eagle (the successor to the Predator) and Reaper drones. Will effectively declares that Ukraine is a de facto member of NATO, writing:

The immediate imperative is to supply Ukraine with the most sophisticated and dangerous US UAVs, aka drones, which can be force-multipliers for Ukraine’s hard pounding of the Russians. Ukraine must be given weapons that will help it produce battlefield results commensurate with its future status as a member of the EU and, formally or not, of NATO.

The rapid escalation of the war confirms the warnings of the World Socialist Web Site of the immense dangers posed by the desperation and recklessness gripping both Moscow and Washington. As we wrote earlier this week, the reckless actions of governments that are leading the world to disaster must be countered by a global mass anti-war movement of the working class and youth. The working class must demand the immediate end to this reactionary war. It is necessary to unify the struggle by workers in defense of their social and democratic rights with the struggle against war. The building of a new anti-war movement must be based on the perspective of international socialism, rejecting all forms of nationalism and xenophobia and fighting for the unity of workers in every country.

Assange’s wife Stella Moris demolishes US warmonger John Bolton on live TV
Oscar Grenfell, WSWS, Oct 7 2022

A segment on Piers Morgan’s “Uncensored Program” yesterday provided its mass audience with a rare and unvarnished demonstration of the two sides in the case of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, who is imprisoned in Britain and faces extradition to the US for exposing American war crimes. On the one hand, Assange’s wife Stella Moris outlined the dire precedent that the US is seeking to establish by prosecuting a journalist for publishing true information. She spoke eloquently in defence of the democratic rights of Assange and the population at large, as well as on the importance of upholding international legal norms. On the other hand, John Bolton, a lifelong Republican politician and state apparatchik, ranted and raved as he asserted the “right” of the American government to ruin the life of anyone who gets in the way of its “national interests.” The program was broadcast on British television’s TalkTV station, and has already been watched hundreds of thousands of times on social media. The response demonstrates the true public opinion of Assange, which is generally buried by the official media. Moris has received widespread praise for her thoughtful and principled comments, including her statements on Bolton’s own relationship to war crimes. Bolton’s remarks have been condemned as dangerous and frightening. Morgan began by noting that Assange has been locked up in Britain’s Belmarsh Prison, a “very high security” and “grim” facility, for almost four years, following seven years of arbitrary detention at Ecuador’s British embassy. Where did Moris think the case would go, and what did she hope to achieve, he asked. Moris, who is herself a widely-respected human rights lawyer, explained:

Julian faces a potential sentence in the US of 175 years for doing journalistic work. For receiving information from a source and publishing it, and it was in the public interest. It was about US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he revealed tens of thousands of civilian deaths that had not been acknowledged before.

Morgan said that he would play “devil’s advocate,” repeating the oft-repeated claim that while the Guardian and the NYT had redacted the material from whistleblower Chelsea Manning, WikiLeaks had dumped it online, placing individuals at risk. Asked if she accepted this argument, Moris replied forcefully:

I don’t accept it, because it’s not true. WikiLeaks did actually redact all of those documents that Manning gave to WikiLeaks, and in fact it was in cooperation with those newspapers.

WikiLeaks, Moris noted, had withheld 15k documents from the US army’s Afghan war logs, and had been criticised by some for extensive redactions of the Iraq war logs. The publication of 250k leaked diplomatic cables in full had not been the doing of WikiLeaks. Instead it was the outcome of Guardian journalists recklessly publishing the password to the tranche in a book. Morgan then introduced Bolton, asking him why the US was so determined to bring Assange to “unbelievably draconian justice,” in the form of the 175-year sentence that would await him in an American supermax jail. Bolton, unbelievably, responded:

Well, I think that’s a small amount of the sentence he deserves.

Bolton then spouted a series of false generalities, which he made no attempt to substantiate. Assange had committed “criminal activities,” he was “no more a journalist than the chair I’m sitting on,” had “placed individuals at risk,” etc. etc. The only note of truth came when Bolton bitterly complained that Assange had obstructed the pursuit of the US “national interest.” That is, Assange’s lawful, journalistic activities had cut across the criminal militarist policies of the US government. The US politician blithely stated that Assange would receive “due process” and a “fair trial” in America, before proclaiming:

I hope he gets 176 years!

Bolton was apparently oblivious to the stark contradiction between those assertions, but the audience undoubtedly was not. Assange will receive “due process,” says the US state operative, as he proclaims his hope that the journalist is locked in a cell with the key effectively thrown away. Moris proceeded to demolish Bolton’s threadbare arguments. She said:

Ambassador Bolton is a kind of ideological nemesis of Julian. During his time in the Bush administration and later the Trump administration he sought to undermine the international legal system, sought to ensure that the US is not under the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction. And if it was, Mr Bolton might in fact be prosecuted under the ICC. He was one of the chief cheerleaders of the Iraq war, which Julian then exposed through these leaks, so he has a conflict of interest.

Bolton cackled maniacally and described Moris’s statement as “ridiculous.” In fact, Bolton has supported every criminal US-led war since Vietnam. He was the Bush administration’s ambassador to the UN, as it continued the illegal occupation of Iraq, a war based on lies that claimed over a million lives. As Wikipedia notes:

Bolton is widely considered a foreign policy hawk who has variously advocated military action and regime change by the US in Iran, Syria, Libya, Venezuela, Cuba, Yemen and North Korea.

In other words, he is a representative of the militarist, state apparatus that Assange has exposed. Bolton sought to retort, by demanding to know whether Moris accepted that Assange would receive a fair trial in the US. Moris explained that he would not. Assange was the first journalist to be prosecuted under the Espionage Act. It contains no public interest defence, and even corporate publications have warned that the case is a body blow to freedom of the press. Moris again warned of Assange’s deteriorating health, which threatens his life. He was like a “caged animal,” deprived from regular contact with his family, friends and collaborators. Moris called on viewers to participate in a human chain protest for Assange’s freedom around the British parliament this Saturday Oct 8 at 1 pm UK time. Rallies are also being held in other cities around the world.

The segment underscored what is at stake in the fight for Assange’s freedom. Bolton gave a particularly blunt and unvarnished expression to the line of all of the governments involved in the persecution of Assange, including the Biden administration in the US, which is pursuing extradition, the British government, which is detaining Assange in a maximum-security prison, and the Labor government in Australia, which refuses to defend the WikiLeaks publisher, despite the fact that he is an Australian citizen. All of them are using the pursuit of Assange to set a precedent for far broader victimisations, especially targeting widespread opposition to war. This occurs as the imperialist powers, led by the US, are waging a proxy war against Russia in Ukraine, which threatens a nuclear catastrophe, and as they are confronting China. As the WSWS has insisted, the fight for Assange’s freedom must be a central component of a new, international movement of the working class, aimed at halting the catastrophic descent into a world war and the related onslaught on fundamental democratic rights.

Canada leads calls for Ukraine’s NATO membership, joins US in recklessly downplaying nuclear war threat
Matthew Richter, WSWS, Oct 7 2022

Joly and Blinken at Sep 30 press conference

Canada has responded to Zelensky’s filing last week of a formal application for his country’s admission to NATO by urging Kiev’s prompt incorporation into the aggressive US-led military alliance. Ottawa has been joined in this by a cabal of the most belligerent Eastern European states, including Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Speaking in Washington alongside Blinken on Sep 30, just hours after the Ukraine application was announced, Canadian Foreign Minster Mélanie Joly declared:

We believe that Ukraine should be part of NATO. It has been our position for now more than a decade, and we believe in the ‘Open Door’ policy.

Blinken was somewhat more circumspect. He emphasized that there is an admission “process” for would-be NATO states to follow, while adding “NATO’s door will remain open, including for Ukraine.” The reality is Ukraine is already functioning as an arm of NATO and above all of Washington. The US and its NATO allies, Canada included, have poured tens of billions of dollars in advanced weaponry into Ukraine since the outbreak of the war last February; and the Pentagon, as has been publicly admitted, is providing Ukrainian forces with strategic and tactical support, including the intelligence and weapons to target Russian generals. That said, Joly’s remarks underscore the utter recklessness of Canadian imperialism and its NATO allies. Even as they are forced to concede there is a growing danger the Ukraine war will escalate into a nuclear conflict, they are ratcheting up pressure on Russia and threatening a wider war. Ukraine’s integration into NATO would immediately transform the war into a direct military conflict between the Western imperialist powers and Russia. Not only would Ukraine invariably invoke NATO’s Article 5, under which all member states are obliged to defend any NATO member under attack. Biden has repeatedly vowed that the US will defend “every inch” of NATO territory.

Joly’s blithe indifference to the danger that an all-out NATO-Russia conflict would pose for the peoples of Europe, North America and the world is very much in keeping with the NATO powers’ insistence that the threat of the war turning nuclear must not be allowed to interfere with their plans to inflict a decisive defeat on Russia. The reactionary nationalist Putin regime has responded to Russia’s mounting military debacle in Ukraine by making repeated threats that if needed it will use nuclear weapons to counter what it considers an existential threat. To this, government and military officials in Washington, Berlin, London, Paris and Ottawa have uniformly responded by vowing that the war with Russia must be intensified. Underscoring that discussions are well advanced among the imperialist powers on how they would respond if the Putin regime deployed nuclear weapons, Joly responded to a CBC interviewer’s question on what Canada would do by saying ominously:

This is a decision we will take amongst the G7. Canada is preparing for all eventualities.

In declaring her support for Ukraine’s admission into NATO, Joly praised the rapid steps taken to make Sweden and Finland full NATO members after the two Scandinavian countries filed formal applications in May. She noted that they are both Arctic powers and sit on the Arctic Council. The Canadian government clearly sees an opportunity to exploit NATO’s expansion to more aggressively pursue its territorial and geostrategic interests in the Arctic, yet another critical theater in the developing great power conflict. The opening up of the Far North sea lanes due to climate change and the imminent prospect of the disappearance of sea ice is creating new opportunities for the major powers to exploit new trade routes and the Arctic’s large deposits of oil, gas and rare earth elements. Canada’s primary rival in the region is Russia. Joly’s unvarnished support for Ukraine’s accession to NATO reveals Canadian imperialism’s true colours.

From the time of the 1956 Suez Crisis up until the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Canada’s ruling elite for self-serving, pragmatic reasons cast itself as a “peacekeeping” nation. This position, which was made possible by the postwar restabilization of capitalism, became untenable after the Stalinist bureaucracy’s dissolution of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, which opened up a new period of unrestrained imperialist military violence. US imperialism embarked on three decades of uninterrupted wars in the Middle East and Central Asia as it desperately sought to offset its economic decline through military force. Canada joined these bloody interventions as one of Washington’s closest allies, while staunchly supporting the expansion of NATO to Russia’s borders. Ottawa played an important role in triggering the current conflict with Russia, as shown by the Canadian military’s extensive involvement in restructuring the Ukrainian army and integrating fascist paramilitaries into its regular fighting force between 2014 and 2022. The aggressive role that Canada is playing in Ukraine was driven home in a caucus meeting of the governing Liberals last week. Echoing the war hysteria that has gripped the ruling elites in every imperialist country, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland crowed:

What we must do is double down on our support for Ukraine.

Freeland embodies the decades-long alliance between the Canadian state and the Ukrainian far right. The Trudeau government responded to Putin’s announcement last week of the annexation of territories in eastern and southern Ukraine by repeating its vow that Canada will assist Ukraine in “liberating” all its territories, including Crimea, home to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. It also imposed another round of sanctions, including on 43 “oligarchs” and 35 Russian-backed officials in the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia Oblasts. This brings the number of Russian affiliated individuals and entities targeted by Canadian sanctions to over 1,400 since the beginning of the war. On the military front, Canada continues to ship vast amounts of equipment to Ukraine. In a recent interview with the CBC, Defence Minister Anita Anand revealed that Canada has shipped more than 4m lbs of cargo to Ukraine since the spring. Much of the equipment has been funneled through a Canadian Armed Forces hub in Prestwick, Scotland, an airport that was once a transfer point for victims of CIA “extraordinary rendition.” According to Anand, at least three Canadian CC-130 Hercules transport aircraft are running weapons and supplies to Ukraine. Sources told the CBC that Ukraine has written to the Canadian government with requests for significantly more military aid.

Canada’s military contribution alone has surpassed $626m since January, including millions of rounds of ammunition, anti-tank weapons like the Carl Gustav, 39 General Dynamics Super Bison light armoured vehicles, four M777 howitzers with 10 replacement barrels and tens of thousands of rounds of 155mm ammunition. The government has been tight-lipped about much of the aid. In one example of this, a defence source told the CBC earlier this year that GPS precision-guided M982 Excalibur shells have been quietly provided to Ukraine. In addition to materiel support, Canada has secretively dispatched SOF to coordinate the fighting on the ground in Ukraine, a fact only revealed months later in a Jul NYT article. Operation Unifier, the operation to train Ukrainian military personnel, recommenced on Aug 25 in Britain. Over 33k have been trained by the mission since Sep 2019, with only a brief pause during the initial stages of the war. Late last year, it was revealed that Canadian forces had trained members of the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion and deliberately sought to cover it up. The political establishment, from the “left” New Democrats and pro-Quebec independence Bloc Québécois to the Conservatives, all support continuing to pour gasoline on the fire by increasing weapons deliveries still further. Bob Rae, the erstwhile NDP premier of Ontario, interim leader of the federal Liberals (2011-13) and current Canadian Ambassador to the UN, urged the Trudeau government to give Ukraine anything it asks for. Commenting on the Ukrainian government’s letter asking for more weapons, Rae said in an interview with CBC radio:

We have to keep on pushing because the test of our success is, are we meeting the needs that will allow Ukraine to achieve the objectives which it has, and frankly which we share?

With the full support of its trade union allies, the New Democratic Party responded to the outbreak of the US-NATO proxy war over Ukraine by negotiating a “confidence-and-supply” agreement with the Trudeau Liberals in March to guarantee “stability.” That is, the suppression of the class struggle on behalf of Canadian imperialism. Under the agreement, the NDP has pledged to provide the minority Liberal government a parliamentary majority through Jun 2025. The Liberals and NDP have used this majority to vastly expand the financial resources flowing to the military. The 2022 budget provided an additional $8b in defence spending on top of the huge hikes already introduced as part of the Liberals’ 2017 defence policy review. In addition, the Trudeau government has announced plans to spend $40b over the next two decades on upgrading the North American Aerospace Defence (NORAD) bilateral command with the US, which is seen as critical for waging war with Russia and China. The modernization plans will facilitate Canada’s participation in the US ballistic missile defence shield, which in spite of its name is aimed at making a nuclear war waged by US imperialism “winnable.” The corporate-controlled media is wholeheartedly supporting the escalation of the war with Russia by producing an uninterrupted stream of warmongering anti-Russian bile. Andrew Coyne, a leading Globe and Mail columnist, blurted out the imperialists’ determination to bring about “regime change” in Russia as part of their push to dismember the country and seize control of its natural resources. Coyne’s column revived the false Manichean Cold War narrative of a world divided between the “rational” and “democratic” West and the vainglorious, deceitful Russians. He wrote:

There can be no end to this war that leaves Putin in power. The West’s war aims at the start were limited to raising the cost of Russian aggression, or perhaps containing its advance. Our aim must now be, not just victory in Ukraine, but regime change in Russia.

North Korea fires missile over Japan for first time since 2017
Ben McGrath, WSWS, Oct 7 2022

The test launch of a Hwasŏng-12 IRBM in Pyongyang, Aug 29 2017

Over the past two weeks, NK has conducted a spate of missile launches, the first major weapons tests since June. Rather than attempt to deescalate the situation, the US and its allies in Northeast Asia are exploiting the issue, combining increased militarization of the region with the ongoing isolation of Pyongyang, all aimed at preparing for war with China. Pyongyang’s most recent launch took place Thursday morning, with two short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM) landing in the Sea of Japan. This followed a Tuesday morning firing of an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), from Mupyŏng-ri, Jagang Province in the northern part of the country. This missile, identified in the media as a Hwasŏng-12, reportedly traveled some 4,600 km and reached a maximum altitude of 1,000 km. The missile flew over Japan’s Aomori Prefecture, in the north of Honshu, the first time Pyongyang has fired a missile over Japan since 2017. It landed in the Pacific Ocean, some 3,200 km east of the country.

In total, Pyongyang has conducted six tests, launching ten total missiles since Sep 25, which corresponded with the arrival of the US aircraft carrier Reagan at SK’s port city of Busan on Sep 23, as well as the arrival on Sep 26 of US VP Harris in Japan for the state funeral of former PM Shinzo Abe. Harris also made a one-day visit to SK on Sep 29, meeting with SK President Yoon Suk-yeol and provocatively visiting the DMZ separating SK from NK. The US aircraft carrier strike group held multiple exercises in the Sea of Japan with both the SK and Japanese navies for the first time in five years. This broke a tacit agreement in 2018 between the previous Trump administration and Pyongyang to halt large-scale US drills with South Korea in the region in exchange for a moratorium on the North’s intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and nuclear tests. Furthermore, during the summit between Biden and SK’s Yoon in May, the two sides agreed to deploy US strategic assets to the region while also agreeing to restart the Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group for the first time since Jan 2018. The group provides Washington and Seoul the opportunity to hold discussions on strategic and policy issues regarding so-called extended deterrence, including the use of nuclear weapons.

Since agreeing to the moratorium in 2018, NK has conducted only two apparent ICBM tests, one in March and another in May, following the Biden-Yoon summit. The Biden government has allowed NK to languish under brutal US-led sanctions while the country faces a major economic crisis and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Washington has refused to offer any genuine relief as Pyongyang had hoped after halting its weapons tests. Pyongyang’s missile launches represent a desperate attempt to bring Washington back to the bargaining table. They are also the result of Washington’s goading as it abandons the 2018 agreement with Pyongyang by staging large-scale drills with SK, which included the Ulchi Freedom Shield drills in August, forcing NK to respond. NK’s state media has remained silent about Tuesday’s test. However, China’s Foreign Ministry responded by calling on all governments involved to maintain “the policy of seeking a political settlement of issues on the Korean Peninsula and address each other’s concerns in a balanced way through dialogue.” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning also stated during a press conference on Sep 30 that Pyongyang had “legitimate and reasonable security concerns,” while criticizing the numerous military drills the US has staged with SK and Japan in recent weeks. Conscious of the US’s history of violent regime-change operations around the world, including the one currently being conducted against Russia, Pyongyang is looking for security guarantees while using its weapons program as its only real bargaining chip short of complete capitulation.

Washington and Seoul are also seizing on Pyongyang’s missile launches, as well as claims that an ICBM or nuclear test are imminent, to increase military drills in the region, close to China, the primary target of US imperialism. This includes the announcement Wednesday that the US aircraft carrier Reagan would return to the Sea of Japan after leaving last week. The SK Joint Chiefs of Staff called the return so soon “very unusual.” The US and South Korea fired four ATACM (Army Tactical Missile System) missiles into the Sea of Japan on Wednesday. The previous day, the two militaries also conducted a bombing run on a range on Jikdo, an island in the Yellow Sea. Consisting of four South Korean F-15K fighter jets and four US F-16 fighters, an SK jet dropped two JDAM bombs on the island on Tuesday. The SK Joint Chiefs of Staff stated that the air strike demonstrated the two allies “capabilities to conduct a precision strike at the origin of provocations based on the alliance’s overwhelming forces.” SK’s military also attempted to fire a short-range Hyunmoo-2C ballistic missile, but it failed shortly after launch. While its warhead did not explode, it reportedly landed just 700 m from the nearest residential area. In addition, following Tuesday’s missile launch, Biden spoke to Japanese PM Fumio Kishida, with the White House stating afterwards that both condemned NK’s test “in the strongest terms.” Kishida called the launch “barbaric” and told reporters after the call with Biden:

We will always have to consider unique sanctions on NK. We are in close communication with SK on various security issues, while bringing the US into the dialogue. We would like to have close communications with SK.

Kishida called for the setting up of a meeting between himself and President Yoon. The two have already scheduled a phone call for Thursday. Long-standing tensions between Tokyo and Seoul have cut across Washington’s plans for war against China, which includes incorporating its two allies into a regional ballistic missile system designed to prevent China or Russia from launching a counter-attack against US forces. This requires high-level and bilateral intelligence sharing between Japan and SK. Trade disputes and historical issues have prevented this from taking place. SK’s Yoon, however, has made clear his administration will pursue closer relations with Tokyo.

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