The war of capitalism in Ukraine | left green

The war in Ukraine continues. The cost in human lives and the destruction of infrastructure are painfully obvious. We see it on a daily basis. The other war, that of capitalist control of land, resources and markets, also continues but out of sight of the camera. The war should be over but it continues. Why? Profits can be made. If it wasn’t, wars wouldn’t be fought.

While the Ukrainian people suffer, the United States, NATO and Russia assure that no quick solution will be found. The West’s preferred option remains a withdrawal of Russian forces and a weakened Russian economy in line with the dictates and interests of Western capitalism. Russia clearly intends to maintain control over the occupied territory. Its economic future largely depends on achieving such a result.

There was talk of a new Marshall Plan that would promote European and American capitalist interests and serve Ukrainian capitalism. The Recovery Summit in Lugarno, Switzerland, in July, set the framework for such a future. United States Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, spoke of huge private capitalist investments in a post-war Ukraine. President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen hinted that “reforms” and “support” for Ukraine will come at a terrible cost to the Ukrainian working class.

These “reforms” are based on an outcome that suits Western capitalism and, in this regard, reflect the needs and aspirations of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The cost of war, in dollars, is rising. Current estimates of the cost of reconstruction, according to the Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Chmyhalwould be at least US$750 billion.

The stakes are high for all sides in this war and are measured in dollars and cents, lives and blood. Ukraine also counts the cost in land and national sovereignty. The territory that belongs to Russia remains essential for the outcome of the war and the economic balance sheet.

The Washington Post recently cited a report from analytical source SecDev. The report says no less than $12.4 trillion of Ukraine’s energy, metal and mineral deposits are now located in Russian-occupied territories and the “republics” of Donetsk and Lugansk. Sixty-three percent of Ukraine’s coal deposits, 11% of its oil, 20% of its natural gas, 42% of its metals, and 33% of its deposits of rare earths and other critical minerals, including lithium, are now under Russian control.

Ukraine, whatever future emerges, will be squeezed and its working class will suffer.

Stanislav Zinchenkomanaging director of GMK, a Kyiv-based economic think tank, recently observed that “the worst-case scenario is that Ukraine loses land, no longer has a strong commodity economy and looks more like the ‘one of the Baltic States, a nation unable to sustain its industrial economy’.

Kyiv’s economy will only survive with huge investment from the West. If Western capitalism were to lose the potential to exploit Ukraine’s resources, then the “investment” that FinancialTimes which was spoken of with so much praise when describing the future of the country after the withdrawal of Russia, would be less attractive.

Kyiv would permanently lose access to nearly two-thirds of its mineral wealth. While this has devastating ramifications for Ukraine and its people, there are broader geopolitical issues to consider. Western Europe, as part of a global economic bloc that simultaneously seeks to limit China’s economic ascendancy and weaken Russia, wants to find alternative markets and reduce the need to import from China and Russia.

And as the war continues, the United States, Britain, France and Germany forge an alliance that can only be temporary. Anything else would defy the whole logic of capitalism, the very essence of which is the competitive accumulation of capital that leads corporations to push outwards towards new markets and sources of raw materials, new arenas for investments profitable and new job opportunities to exploit.

Under capitalism, wars are waged for access to markets, resources and to put the working class at its service. The suffering of the Ukrainian people testifies to this. People everywhere want and demand an end to the war. It will end when the costs outweigh the gains on one side or the other. This is the war of capitalism. It is the working class, both Ukrainian and Russian, that ultimately pays the price.

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