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The crisis in Ukraine has created a perfect inflationary storm. The war, the western sanctions on Russia, the pandemic, protectionism and climate change are unravelling decades of low commodity prices in a crisis that is only getting deeper.

Fifty years ago, on 29 April 1972, violence between Hutus and Tutsis broke out in Burundi. This was the latest round of ethnic conflict in the African Great Lakes region, and marked the beginning of a genocide of up to 300,000 people. Western imperialism bears direct responsibility for the horrors of the spring of 1972. They didn’t lift a finger to stop it, and in some cases, they actively supported it. Today, while western imperialists cry crocodile tears over Ukraine, they bury the history of the far greater abominations they perpetrated just 50 years ago.

The main peculiarity of the present war in Ukraine is that it has been completely overshadowed by an unprecedented war of information. This has served to generate a lot of heat, but very little light. In fact, its principal objective is not to inform, but to conceal the real situation. In this, one has to admit, it has been highly successful.

On 17 February, President Macron announced the withdrawal of French troops from Mali in West Africa. From 2013, alongside the forces involved in ‘Operation Barkhane’ and the ‘Takuba Task Force’, France led an intervention in Mali with the supposed intention of fighting to “stabilise the country”. All major European NATO countries were involved, and the intervention was fully backed by the UN, which sent a 15,000-strong mission, which it called “MINUSMA”, which also established itself in other countries of the Sahel region.

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.

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.

So, it has started. Russian forces have unleashed a massive attack on Ukraine. In the early hours of the morning, in a short televised address, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation” at dawn. Within minutes of the broadcast, at about 5am Ukrainian time, explosions were heard near major Ukrainian cities, including the capital Kiev.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has recognised the independence of the Donetsk and Luhansk Peoples’ Republic (DPR and LPR) in South Eastern Ukraine and sent Russian “peacekeeping” troops into both territories. This represents a significant escalation of the conflict between Russia and Western imperialism. What interests lie behind the conflict, and what should be the position of the international labour movement?

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