The Johnson government is ratcheting up its war propaganda while detailing Britain’s plans for a military escalation in Eastern Europe and Ukraine, targeting Russia.
In his speech at the Munich Security Conference and an interview with the BBC Sunday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson all but declared war with Russia inevitable. He went further than any other NATO power leader, telling the BBC that Russia is planning “for something that could be the biggest war in Europe since 1945 just in terms of sheer scale.… All the signs are that the plan has already in some senses begun.”
Echoing US President Joe Biden’s statement Friday that Putin “has made the decision” to invade Ukraine, and without providing a shred of evidence, Johnson said information had come from intelligence agencies that an imminent Russian assault on Ukraine would be mounted from Belarus. “People need to understand the sheer cost in human life that could entail—not just for Ukrainians but for Russians.”
In Munich, Johnson warned that “if dialogue fails and if Russia chooses to use violence against an innocent and peaceful population in Ukraine, and to disregard the norms of civilised behaviour between states, and to disregard the Charter of the United Nations, then we at this conference should be in no doubt that it is in our collective interest that Russia should ultimately fail and be seen to fail.”
At every stage of NATO’s provocations, Johnson has referenced the large number of Russians who would die in any war. At Munich he declared, “I fear that a lightning war would be followed by a long and hideous period of reprisals and revenge and insurgency, and Russian parents would mourn the loss of young Russian soldiers…”
He threatened, “If President Putin believes that by these actions he can drive NATO back or intimidate NATO, he will find that the opposite is the case. Already the UK and our allies are strengthening the defences of the eastern flank of NATO.”
Johnson has positioned Britain as the attack dog of US imperialism. The Sunday Times noted, “Officials say the UK has greater flexibility to push for a tough line on Moscow now the country is outside the EU. ‘We aren’t forced to worry about the slowest-moving EU countries,’ said one.”
Detailing the UK’s military build-up just a few hundred miles from Moscow, Johnson said, “We are increasing the British contribution to Exercise COLD RESPONSE by sending our newest aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, and 3 Commando Brigade.
“We are doubling our presence in Estonia to nearly 2,000 troops; we have increased our presence in Poland to 600 troops by sending 350 Marines from 45 Commando; we have increased our presence in the skies over south-eastern Europe with another six Typhoons based in Cyprus; we are sending warships to the eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea; and I have placed another 1,000 troops on stand-by to respond to any humanitarian emergency, which we all fear is increasingly likely.”
Johnson boasted that Britain’s support for Ukraine had escalated since the 2014 coup led by neo-Nazi battalions which forcibly ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych: “We have been helping Ukraine, training 22,000 troops and, in recent months, in response to the threat, we have been among the nations to send defensive weaponry in the form of 2,000 anti-tank missiles.”
The prime minister cheered the expansion of NATO to Russia’s doorstep. In the “amazing years” following the “dissolution of the Iron Curtain”, “NATO opened its doors to 14 states after 1999, and we cannot allow our open door to be slammed shut.”
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, in an interview with the Mail on Sunday, outdid even Johnson in asserting that Putin was preparing to militarily take over not just Ukraine, but half of Europe. “He’s been very clear—his ambition doesn’t just lead to him taking control of Ukraine, he wants to turn the clock back to the mid-1990s or even before then. The Baltic States are at risk… the Western Balkans as well.
“Putin has said all this publicly, that he wants to create the Greater Russia, that he wants to go back to the situation as it was before where Russia had control over huge swathes of Eastern Europe.”
The staggering implications of Britain being dragged into the vortex of “the biggest war in Europe since 1945”, which would result in the deaths of millions, is being systematically concealed from the population. Parliament has been in recess over the past 10 days and never at any stage was there even a suggestion that it be recalled to discuss a war that Johnson insists has already begun.
No debate can be permitted, even under conditions in which the vast majority of MPs from all parties back NATO’s provocations against Moscow. The government, the nominal “opposition parties” and the media know:
1. That the “Russian invasion” narrative is a pack of lies used to further the geo-political aims of the major imperialist powers, culminating in the eventual dismemberment of Russia into myriad statelets and their enslavement.
2. That there is no support for such a filthy predatory war in the British and international working class.
The Sunday Times had to point out: “There are aides around Johnson who think Russia ‘has a point’ when it objects to Ukraine’s ambition to join Nato. One source close to Johnson said: ‘Ukraine in Nato is not something the US would put up with on its borders. It’s something that is open to discussion’”.
The herd immunity policy of Johnson’s despised government is now responsible for the deaths of over 180,000 people. In the last three months the “partygate” scandal has wracked his premiership. A critical element in his inflaming tensions with Moscow is to deflect outwards, through the identification of an external foe, the staggering social and political tensions in the UK. The Sunday Times, in an article headlined, “Ukraine couldn’t have come at a better time for Boris Johnson”, pointed out these “additional benefits for Johnson”, with Ukraine taking the lockdown “parties scandal off the front pages.”
The overwhelmingly pro-war constituency among Britain’s ruling elite was underscored in the response of Labour MPs to a petition published February 16 by the Stop the War Coalition declaring that “Britain should be advancing diplomatic proposals to defuse tension and seek a solution to the crisis over Ukraine rather than ratcheting it up.” This milquetoast appeal secured the backing of just 12 Labour MPs and three peers in the House of Lords. The MPs signing were all from the dwindling rump of the Socialist Campaign Group, including Labour’s former leader Jeremy Corbyn, who sits as an independent, having had the whip withdrawn over a year ago by current party leader Sir Keir Starmer using the anti-Semitism witch-hunt.
Such is the frothing sentiment for war within ruling circles that over half of the Socialist Campaign Group, who number just 34 MPS out of Labour’s total of 198, refused to sign even the timid declaration offered up by the STWC.
A genuine anti-war movement opposing imperialist aggression that threatens hundreds of millions of lives can never be built by such forces. It must be built on firm political foundations and rooted in the working class, the great revolutionary force in society capable of defeating the warmongers and ensuring world peace.
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