NATO’s Baltic Blockade Opens New Front in War Against Russia
On Monday, the Baltic state of Lithuania, a NATO member, imposed an effective blockade on Russia, preventing the transport of many goods, including steel and coal, between mainland Russia and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad. .
Traditionally, the imposition of a blockade has been considered an act of war. With this reckless provocation, the United States and its NATO allies seek to push Russia into a military attack on NATO territory, which would lead to the invocation of Article V of the NATO Charter. NATO and a full-scale war with Russia.
Faced with a series of military setbacks on the ground in Ukraine, the United States, NATO and European powers are seeking to open a new northern front in the war.
Lithuanian officials have hinted that the decision to implement the blockade against Russia was taken in close consultation with other NATO members and Washington. “It’s not Lithuania doing anything, it’s the European sanctions that have started to work,” said Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis.
Responding to the blockade, the Russian Foreign Ministry bluntly warned: “If the transit of goods between the Kaliningrad region and the rest of the Russian Federation via Lithuania is not fully restored in the near future, Russia reserves the right to take action to protect its national interests. .”
A sharp warning must be made. The United States and the European powers, each facing a raging economic, social and political crisis and fearing a growing social movement of the working class, are recklessly stepping up a war that threatens the use of nuclear weapons.
The imposition of a blockade against Russia by a NATO member comes just days after a series of highly provocative statements by European military and civilian leaders.
In an internal message to military service members, Sir Patrick Sanders, the Chief of the General Staff, said: “There is now a burning imperative to forge an army capable of fighting alongside our allies and defeating the Russia in battle. In a chilling allusion to the First and Second World Wars, he concluded: “We are the generation that must prepare the army to fight again in Europe.
Speaking to the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said: “We must not stop supporting Ukraine. … we have to prepare for the fact that it could take years.
Writing Saturday in the London timeBritish Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called on NATO to “finish this war on the terms that President Zelensky has set out”, i.e. to reconquer Donbass and Crimea, which Russia considers part of his territory.
In another bloodcurdling threat, Ingo Gerhartz, head of the Luftwaffe (German Air Force), declared that Germany must be ready to use nuclear weapons, saying: “We need both means and political will to implement nuclear deterrence.
Already, hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers are dying every day. What would it mean for the UK and other European countries to fight “alongside” Ukrainian forces in a war against Russia and for this conflict to last “for years”?
European officials describe a war spanning the entire European continent, with deaths in the hundreds of thousands or millions. All of Europe must be turned into a huge killing field.
Who decided that a new generation of European youth should be sent to die en masse in the trenches? Who asked the public if there should be a repeat of the First World War?
These statements belie claims by the US and NATO powers that they are not at war with Russia. This assertion, along with the statement that Russia is “unlikely” to use nuclear weapons, is a desperate attempt to lull people to sleep while their governments drag them into a war that threatens to kill millions.
In the latest pretext to further escalate the war, Josep Borrell Fontelles, the European Union’s top foreign policy official, has accused Russia of war crimes for allegedly preventing Ukraine from exporting grain. Breaking the “blockade” of grain exports was the pretext for an operation, first proposed by Admiral James G. Stavridis, to stage a naval battle between NATO and Russian warships in the Black Sea.
The Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad was successively under Polish, Prussian and German control from 1525 to 1945. After World War II, it was annexed by the Soviet Union. Kaliningrad is the only Russian port in the Baltic Sea that remains ice-free all year round, and it is essential to the maintenance of the Russian Baltic Sea Fleet. Polish officials, including the former commander of the Polish Army Ground Forces, claimed that Kaliningrad was part of Poland.
The Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia have powerful right-wing movements that occupy dominant government positions. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Landsbergis is the grandson of Vytautas Landsbergis, who founded the far-right Sąjudis movement and advocated for the banning of all symbols of socialism.
Estonia’s most recent cabinet included the conservative fascist Estonian People’s Party, whose interior minister repeatedly photographed himself waving his white hand. Latvia’s current cabinet draws its ministers of economy, culture and agriculture from the fascist and fanatically anti-Russian National Alliance.
These politically unstable small states, dominated by the extreme right, are given carte blanche and political support to provoke war with Russia by the imperialist powers.
The actions of the NATO powers show a staggering degree of recklessness, which cannot be explained solely by the military setbacks suffered by Ukraine.
Each imperialist country is confronted with an economic and social crisis for which it has no solution. The COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 20 million people worldwide, is accelerating into its third year. The governments of the United States, France, the United Kingdom and Germany are in the throes of crisis and instability. Around the world, the cost of living is spiraling out of control.
In order to impose the cost of the inflationary crisis on the working class, the US Federal Reserve and other central banks are trying to increase the unemployment rate by raising interest rates, thus triggering a sell-off of all financial assets which, by some measures, are unprecedented since the Great Depression.
The inflationary crisis is propelling workers into struggle, most visibly manifested in the British railway strike which begins today. Historically, the ruling classes have used war as a means of diverting attention outward, while using the war effort as a pretext to suppress strikes and working class opposition.
The Putin government’s response has failed completely. Putin believes that through tightrope military politics, a settlement can be reached with the imperialist powers, allowing for a more equal distribution of global power. His belief is that by putting pressure on Russia’s “western partners” there could be some sort of settlement of the war.
But there can be no peaceful settlement of the global crisis that led to the outbreak of war in Ukraine. The imperialist powers are determined to subjugate and carve up Russia and China. They engage in a series of provocations that threaten a nuclear war ending civilization. Any military escalation by Putin in response, such as the invasion of Ukraine, can only produce a bloodbath that plays into the hands of the imperialist powers.
There is no military solution to the current crisis, which ultimately cannot be resolved within the nation-state system. War is the most advanced expression of a crisis that grips the whole of capitalist society.
To the extent that there is a way out of this disaster, it will be through the intervention of the working class. As workers come into struggle against the soaring cost of living, they must seek to unite their struggles internationally with the struggle against imperialist war. Like the COVID-19 pandemic, the Third World War that has already broken out can only be ended through the conscious intervention of the working class, mobilized on the basis of a socialist perspective.