What is NATO? NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, is strictly a military alliance, commanded and mostly equipped by the U.S.; it was founded in 1949, in the aftermath of WWII, when hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops occupied Western Europe.
NATO’s purpose was to enforce capitalist control of Western Europe, which was challenged by workers’ movements, and to confront the Soviet Union. NATO began with 12 member states. For their defense against NATO, the Soviet Union and the Eastern European countries that had overthrown capitalism established the Warsaw Pact in 1955. To hamper reconstruction in the socialist bloc, where WWII damage was enormous, NATO enforced a trade and technology blockade, using sanctions.
NATO expansion: In 1990, as the Soviet Union was collapsing from the weight of decades of U.S. Cold War and encirclement, U.S. Secretary of State James Baker and numerous other U.S. and European leaders pledged that NATO would not expand “one inch eastward” if Germany was unified into one state. At that time, NATO had 16 member states. From 1997-2022, NATO absorbed 14 new members, all either former Warsaw Pact members, parts of the former Yugoslavia or former socialist republics of the Soviet Union.
NATO imposes and reinforces regimes that privatize and restructure the countries toward the U.S. and the European Union. It imposes the use of military weapons produced in the U.S. and the EU. NATO has held military maneuvers in these East European, Balkan and Baltic countries and U.S./British naval operations in the Black Sea, ever closer to Russia’s border. These provocative maneuvers aim at destabilizing Russia. Since 1991, Washington has also used NATO to intervene in Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.
Ukraine: Historically integrated with the Russian economy within the Soviet Union, Ukraine was the breadbasket of the socialist lands, much as the Midwest is to the United States. From 1991 to 2014, Ukraine kept good trade relations with Russia. Since the 2014 U.S.-backed coup imposed a regime hostile to Russia, Ukraine has become one of Europe’s poorest countries with a 45% poverty rate, making it especially susceptible to western imperialist intervention.
2014 coup: In 2014, the U.S. heavily armed and funded groups of ultranationalists, neo-Nazis and fascists to overthrow Ukaine’s elected government, which was neutral between the West and Russia. Washington’s interventionist tactics to arm, train and direct dissident and/or terrorist groups have been attempted in regime-change efforts in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and other countries. The Ukraine coup installed a government aligned with Western interests.
Coup participants in Ukraine included the paramilitary Azov Battalion, who wear Nazi symbols as their insignia. Many Azov members share Nazi ideology, yet this battalion was officially incorporated into the Ukrainian National Guard. Following the coup, a civil war broke out when troops from the capital, Kiev, attacked two provinces in eastern Ukraine in the Donbass region on the Russian border, whose population declared independence from Ukraine’s coup regime. The U.S. has funneled over $5 billion dollars in eight years of conflict in the Donbass.
The Donbass on Russia’s border: This is the region of Ukraine east of the Dnieper River to the border with Russia. The populations here are majority Russian in language and ethnicity. Following the coup in 2014, in Donetsk and Lugansk, an anti-fascist workers movement, to defend against increased capitalist privatization and looting of their industries, broke off from the coup government in Kiev and declared themselves independent republics.
For eight years the right-wing government in Kiev has attacked and shelled Donetsk and Lugansk. Over 14,000 civilians have been killed by U.S.-backed Ukrainian forces. The U.S. has sent military equipment and advisors to this region directly on Russia’s border. Ukraine shares a 1,200-mile border with Russia. This military aid is illegal and provocative, since Ukraine is not an official NATO member state. Every time a former trade partner of Russia is absorbed by NATO, the military encirclement of Russia tightens.
Sanctions: Sanctions are economic warfare; and because they primarily target civilian populations, international law considers them a “Crime Against Humanity.” Sanctions create hyperinflation and cut off food, medicine, building supplies, fuel, consumer goods, media and resources, impacting the majority of the population. When the U.S. or any other country sanctions Russia, it destroys the lives of its civilian population.
U.S. military track record: The U.S. military has carried out war scenarios that ruin the target countries, victimize their civilian populations and often end with no resolution. The United States has lied about or organized provocations to produce pretexts to go to war on multiple occasions, including the sinking of the U.S.S. Maine in 1898 to start the Spanish-American War — that took Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines from Spain, and from their inhabitants — and the mythical weapons of mass destruction to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
U.S. imperialism has waged devastating wars against the peoples of Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Iraq and Libya and has fomented bloody coups and uprisings in Syria and throughout Latin America. Each war benefits only the war profiteers and imperialist bankers, while devastating generations in the victim countries. U.S. agencies targeted Ukraine to create the current crisis.
European imperialist competition: Europe is a major trading partner with Russia. Russia supplies the EU oil, natural gas and resources at low prices. By pressuring NATO member states of the European Union to cut off trade with and sanction Russia, Washington will force those countries to import much of these resources from the United States. Prices will be much higher. By grabbing this market, U.S.-based monopolies can enrich themselves, while reduced EU (especially German) financial power limits its ability to compete with U.S. capitalist economic interests worldwide.
Nord Stream 2 pipeline: Russia and Germany cooperated to build a larger, direct, natural gas pipeline from Russia’s northwestern border to Germany. This and the several other gas pipelines transport cheap energy resources to heat and power Europe. Nord Stream 2 would have cemented growing economic relations between Russia and Germany, both economic competitors of the U.S. Based on its fracked gas, the U.S. is now the largest global gas producer.
The challenge for the U.S. monopolies is how to find global markets for this more expensive fracked gas, which is supercooled and transported to Europe as LNG (liquefied natural gas). Blocking inexpensive natural gas from Russia opens a major market for U.S. monopolies.
Consequences for the working class: The people of the Ukraine will see their country torn apart further by imperialist powers, and it might be Ground Zero for what has the potential to bleed into total war. Because of the sanctions levied against them, Russia’s people could potentially starve, be hit with massive hikes in poverty rates, lose access to proper medicines and fuels for heating and transport. Europe’s working class will suffer from a rise in inflation and poverty. U.S. workers will face rising gas prices, potentially lower wages, higher inflation and a cultural uptick in racism, xenophobia and blind patriotism.
Each war that strengthens U.S. capitalism becomes a weapon against the working class in the U.S.