As the Russian army continues to shell the cities of Ukraine, the western press and politicians are doing their utmost to conceal the role of western imperialism in the disaster. Far from being a neutral party, the West have been provoking the conflict for their own imperialist reasons.

The French philosopher Voltaire was supposed to have written the celebrated phrase: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Whether or not he actually pronounced them, these words are often cited to describe the principle of freedom of speech.

We publish here a document written in 2016 by the leadership of the IMT as part of a discussion about the role of imperialism today and the character of China and Russia. We think it can serve to clarify questions that have been raised in relation to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The EFF’s recent campaign of ‘labour inspections’ at restaurants in Gauteng is a reactionary descent into the xenophobic politics of the right-wing parties like ActionSA and the Patriotic Alliance. These right-wing outfits are very small on a national scale, but their message has been amplified by opportunist elements in the bigger parties such as the DA and the ANC. Now, scandalously, the EFF has joined in the fray.

The first casualty of war is truth. This is also the case of the Russian military intervention in Ukraine. Marxists need to be able to cut through the fog of lies and war propaganda and analyse the real reasons behind the conflict; what has caused it; and the real interests that lie behind the excuses and justifications of the different parties involved. Above all, we must do so from the point of view of the interests of the world working class.

Alan Woods (editor of marxist.com) provides an update on the situation in Ukraine. Since Russia's invasion, a barrage of propaganda has been pumped out by the Western media, contributing to an atmosphere of utter hysteria, with the papers now screeching about the threat of a Third World War. Meanwhile, the imperialist leaders continue to display disgusting hypocrisy in their condemnation of Putin's 'violation of Ukraine's national sovereignty', having never shied from warfare in pursuit of their own interests in the past. Marxists must reject the cynical message of 'patriotism' and 'national unity', as we continue to oppose our own ruling classes in every country.

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