Military Escalation between Russia and Ukraine at the Kerch Strait


Down with the Reactionary Warmongering on Both Sides!


Emergency Statement of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency ( and Marxist Group "Class Politics" (Russia,, 28 November 2018



1.             Tensions between Russia and the Ukraine have substantially escalated after clashes in the Kerch Strait on 25 November. Russian forces fired on three Ukrainian warships, wounding three crew members before seizing the vessels along with a Ukrainian Navy tugboat. 24 Ukrainian sailors were taken captive after the gunfight. Russian navy had previously blocked the Kerch Strait to stop ships from passing from the Black Sea into the Sea of Azov.


2.             Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko has already declared the general mobilization of the country’s armed forces on 26 November. On his request, the Ukrainian parliament approved on the same day the declaration of martial law for 30 days on territories bounded with Russian boarders. This measure will restrict civil liberties and give state institutions greater power. This could help Poroshenko ahead of a presidential election in four months time which polls indicate he would lose.


3.             The Sea of Azov is bounded in the west by Ukraine and in the east by Russia. The Kerch Strait is a strait connecting the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. Russian authorities have been asserting greater control over the area since its annexation of the Crimean Peninsula – particularly since May 2018 when it opened a new 19-kilometer bridge that links the Crimea region to Russian territory to the east of the Kerch Strait.


4.             This latest escalation has to be understood in the context of accelerating rivalry between the imperialist Great Powers in West and East. Russia as well as the U.S. and the EU wrestle for control over the Black Sea as it is crucial area for access not only to Russia and the Ukraine, but also to Southeast Europe, the Middle East as well as the Mediterranean Sea. Furthermore Russia just completed the 930 kilometer-long offshore section of the TurkStream gas pipeline across the bottom of the Black Sea. In order to strengthen their position, both Russia as well as the U.S. resp. NATO have ramped up their naval presence in the Black Sea in recent times.


5.             The Ukraine government of President Poroshenko is a regime which came to power as a result of the Euro-Maidan movement in spring 2014. This has been a reactionary movement which included fascist forces and which was instigated and controlled by U.S. and European imperialism in order to weaken Russia’s regional hegemony. The subsequent civil war in the Donbass region of Ukraine has been a reactionary conflict between the Ukrainian government (acting as proxy for Western imperialism) and the Donbass insurgents (acting as proxies for Russian imperialism).


6.             The latest provocations in the Kerch Strait could result in a military conflict between the Ukraine and Russia. The rivalry between the imperialist Great Powers – U.S., Russia, China, EU and Japan – has significantly accelerated in the recent period. Furthermore, the Poroshenko government could look for a pretext to wipe up domestic chauvinism so that it could increase its chances to win the coming elections.


7.             The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) and Marxist Group "Class Politics" (MGKP) calls the organizations of the workers and popular movement not to support any side in this conflict. Both authorities of Russia and Ukraine pursue reactionary goals. Russia is an imperialist Great Power which strives for domination of the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea. While the Ukraine is a semi-colonial country, its government acts as a proxy for U.S. and European imperialism. It is unthinkable that it could enter a military conflict with Russia without close coordination with EU and USA imperialists but at the same time it has some autonomy to do some things without approvals from the patrons. The increasing presence of NATO navy vessels in the Black Sea underlines the aggressive goals of Western imperialists. The RCIT and the MGKP therefore advocates a defeatist position on both sides in this conflict. None is the lesser evil for the working class and the oppressed people.


8.             We are aware that many activists of workers organizations and liberation movements around the world tend to sympathize with one or the other side. As they are in direct conflict with either Western or Eastern imperialist forces (respectively their local proxies) they might see their respective direct opponent as the main enemy. However, it is crucial that the struggle of the working class and the oppressed people is based on an international program of unity and solidarity across the borders. Hence, such a struggle must remain completely independent of all Great Powers. Liberation can not be achieved if domination by one Great Power is replaced with domination by another Great Power. It can result only from defeating all imperialist powers by successful socialist revolutions around the world.


9              We call revolutionaries to join forces in the struggle against all Great Powers, in solidarity with the liberation struggles of the working class and the oppressed people and for international socialism. Such a struggle requires the creation of a new Revolutionary World Party. Join us in building such a party!


* Down with the Warmongering in Russia and Ukraine!


* In Case of Military Conflicts: No Support for Any Imperialist Camp – Neither Russia not Ukraine/NATO!


* No to any Imperialist Sanctions!


* Workers and Oppressed – Unite against the Great Powers in East and West!


* No Martial Law in the Ukraine!




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We refer readers also to the following documents of the RCIT:


RCIT: Theses on Revolutionary Defeatism in Imperialist States, 8 September 2018,


Joint Statement: Global Trade War: No to Great Power Jingoism in West and East! Neither Imperialist Globalization nor Imperialist Protectionism! For International Solidarity and Joint Struggle of the Working Class and Oppressed People! 4 July 2018,


Michael Pröbsting: The Uprising in East Ukraine and Russian Imperialism. An Analysis of Recent Developments in the Ukrainian Civil War and their Consequences for Revolutionary Tactics, 22 October 2014,


Michael Pröbsting: Russia as a Great Imperialist Power. The formation of Russian Monopoly Capital and its Empire – A Reply to our Critics, 18 March 2014, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 21,