The Russian Winter offensive / by Gordon M. Hahn

Originally published in Russian and Eurasian Politics on November 22, 2022

The only way Ukrainians will see anything approximating a holiday season is if a ceasefire can be arranged by New Year’s Day, and it just might happen, regardless of President Volodomyr Zelenskiy’s repeated assertions that there will be no negotiations with Russia until it withdraws all its troops from all occupied territories, including Crimea. There are several reasons for the possible ceasefire.

First, the Russian hammer is about to fall on Ukraine. The gloves are coming off; electric energy stations, bridges, and even ‘decision centers’ such as central Kiev’s government buildings are being targeted. Russia is one or two more massive bombing attacks on Ukraine’s energy and transport infrastructure from permanently disabling Ukraine’s electricity, water, and railroad systems. With ‘only’ 50 percent of Ukrainian electricity infrastructure knocked out by the first three widespread bombings of electricity grid components, demonstrations are already breaking out in Odessa and other places over the deteriorating humanitarian situation, with Zelenskiy sending the Ukrainian KGB, the SBU, in to break up the protests and banning coverage in media. The Office of the President was reportedly recently informed by technicians that the electricity system has entered the stage of ‘arbitrary and uncontrolled imbalance,” and one official has urged Ukrainians to be prepared to leave the country in winter. What will the sociopolitical situation be like when these critical infrastructures are in complete collapse and temperatures are 20 degrees colder? Russia will be moving closer to the strategy of ‘shock and awe’, fully destroying all infrastructure—military or otherwise—as the U.S. did in Serbia and Iraq and will likely take less care now to avoid civilian casualties.

After the infrastructures are completely destroyed or incapacitated, Russia’s reinforcements of 380,000 regular and newly mobilized troops will have been fully added into Russia’s forces across southeastern Ukraine. Even without these reinforcements, Russian forces continue to make small gains in Donbass around Ugledar, Bakhmut (Artemevsk), as withdrawals from and stabilization of the fronts in Kharkiv and Kherson have led to a redeployment and thus concentration of forces in Zaporozhe, Donetsk, and Luhansk. A winter offensive by some half a million troops will make substantial gains on those three fronts and multiply Ukrainian losses in personnel and materiel`, which are already high. This could lead easily to a collapse of Ukrainian forces on one or more front. On the backs of such a success Russian President Putin might also make another attempt to threaten Kiev by moving a much larger force in from Belarus than the small 30-40,000 force that advanced and then withdrew from Kiev’s surrounding districts in the first months of the war.

Second, the West is suffering from Ukraine fatigue. NATO countries’ arms supplies have been depleted beyond what is tolerable, and social cohesion is collapsing in the face of double-digit inflation and economic recession. All this makes Russia the winner on the strategic level and is forcing Washington and Brussels to seek at least a breathing spell by way of a ceasefire. This is evidenced by the plethora of Western leaders calling on Zelenskiy to resume talks with Putin and the emergence of the ‘Sullivan plan’. Most recently, rumors have it that new British PM Rishi Sunak used a package of military and financial aide he announced during his recent trip to Kiev to cover up his message to Zelenskiy that London could no longer bear the burden of leading the European support for Kiev and that Kiev should reengage wirh Moscow. There has been a several day delay in the fourth round of rocket sorties against Ukrainian infrastructure, suggesting Putin is waiting to to see if Zelenskiy will cave and offer talks before unleashing the major assaults on Ukrainian infrastructure and the Russian winter offensive.

Third, Ukraine’s greatest political asset—Zelenskiy himself—just got devalued, putting at even greater risk Ukraine’s political stability. The Ukrainian air defense strike on Poland (accidental or intentional) and the Ukrainian president’s insistence that it was a Russian air strike, despite the evidence and nearly unanimous opposing opinion among his Western backers, has hit Zelenskiy’s credulity hard. Zelenskiy’s insistence on the Russian origins of the missile and technical aspects of Ukrainian air defense suggests that the event may have been an intentional Ukrainian false flag strike on Polish/NATO territory designed to provoke NATO or Poland into entering the war. Some in the West are beginning to wake up to the dangers of Ukrainian ultranationalism and neofascism, not to mention the growing megalomania of Zelenskiy, who has appeared on ore than one occasion to be willing to risk the advent of a global nuclear winter in order to avoid sitting at the negotiating table across from Putin. Some may now come to understand that claims that Putin wants to seize all Ukraine and restore the USSR if not conquer Europe are yarns spun by Kiev to attract military and financial assistance and ultimately draw NATO forces into the war. There remains a danger that Kiev’s dream of a NATO intervention might come to fruition is the following temptation. NATO has declared that a defeat of Ukraine in the war is a defeat for NATO, and NATO cannot be allowed to lose a war to a Russia because that would accelerate the coming of the end to U.S. hegemony. It cannot be excluded and may even be likely that should Kiev appear to be losing the war that Polish forces, NATO or some ‘coalition of the willing’ will move military forces into western Ukraine up to the Dnepr but do so without attacking Russian forces. This would force Russia to cease much of its military activity or risk attacking NATO forces and a larger European-wide war. This or something like it is probably already being considered in Washington.

For now, in order to keep the West on board, Zelenskiy is rumored to be pushing Ukrainian armed forces commander Viktor Zalyuzhniy to start a last pre-winter offensive in northern Donetsk (Svatovo and Severodonetsk) or Zaporozhe in order to put a stop to the West’s ceasefire murmurs and reboost support. At the same time there is talk of continuing Zelenskiy-Zalyuzhniy tensions over the latter’s good press and star status in the West. Tensions first emerged over disagreements of previous offensives and Zalyuzhniy’s earlier entry on the Western media stage. On the background of the deteriorating battlefield and international strategic situation, such civil-military tensions are fraught with the potential for a coup. Much of Zelenskiy’s strategy and tactics is driven more by political than by military considerations. Not least among the former is Zelenskiy’s political survival, which any ceasefire or peace talks requiring Kiev to acquiesce in the loss of more territory certainly will doom. Neofascist, military, and much of public opinion will not brook the sacrifices made in blood and treasure bringing only additional ones in Ukrainian territory. Others will ask why was not all of this averted by way of agreeing to Ukrainian neutrality and fulfilling Minsk 2 could have avoided it all.

We may be reaching the watershed moment in the Ukrainian war. No electricity, no army, no society. But here, as with any Russian occupation of central or western Ukrainian lands (not planned but perhaps a necessity at some point down the road for Putin), a quagmire awaits the Kremlin. Russia can not allow complete societal breakdown and chaos to reign in Ukraine anymore than it could tolerate a NATO-member Ukraine with a large neofascist component next door. All of the above and the approaching presidential elections scheduled in Moscow, Kiev and Washington the year after next make this winter pivotal for all the war’s main parties.


Gordon M. Hahn, Ph.D., is a Senior Researcher at the Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), Akribis Group, San Jose, California, www.cetisresearch.org; an expert analyst at Corr Analytics, www.canalyt.com; and an analyst at Geostrategic Forecasting Corporation (Chicago), www.geostrategicforecasting.com

MRonline, November 28, 2022, https://mronline.org/

Is the Russia-Ukraine war at a crossroads? / by Gilbert Doctorow

Peace March – The Banner Reads ‘Together against the War’—the Message of the Combined Russian and Ukrainian Flags, Moscow, September 21, 2014 | Photo by E. Razumnyi/Vedomosti

Originally published on the Gilbert Doctorow Blog on November 21, 2022

In a new 25-minute live broadcast devoted to the war, Iran’s Press TV showcases key issues from this week’s developments on the front lines, including the latest bombardments of the Zaporozhie nuclear power station and the missiles which fell on Polish territory, threatening to bring in NATO as full co-belligerents. The panelists were asked to comment on likely ‘end game’ scenarios for this war.

As we know, mainstream Western media is rock-solid in its predictions of ultimate Ukrainian victory, with the Russian evacuations of Kharkov and Kherson as their leading arguments.  In the alternative media, opinion is divided over whether there will indeed be a new Russian offensive in coming weeks when the 220,000 recently mobilized reservists still in training are ready for action or whether the U.S. administration will push Zelensky into negotiations with the Russians that temporarily or even permanently put an end to the fighting.

A lot of attention is directed in world media to the resistance of Zelensky to entering into negotiations. That is explored as well on this Iran TV program. However, an issue which is not addressed there is the willingness and even the ability of the Russian President to enter into negotiations.

Ever since the October mobilization of reservists, the military operation in Ukraine has de facto become the war of a nation in arms about which everyone in Russia now has an opinion. The fact is that Russian society from top to bottom is very unhappy with the present state of the war—but their discontent is with what they see as the pusillanimity of their own government in not responding more resolutely to Ukrainian provocations in the form of continuing artillery strikes on the Kursk and Belgorod regions from the Kharkov oblast just across the border or through atrocities such as the just released video of the cold-blooded murder of Russian prisoners of war by gleeful Ukrainian soldiers. The withdrawal from the city of Kherson inflamed the passions of the Russian public who demand better explanations in their parliament and on their television than they have received so far.

The pressure on Mr. Putin is from his own patriotic supporters, and an untimely truce for negotiations right now could lead to civil disorder in Russia. This is not idle speculation: it was perfectly clear from the latest edition of yesterday’s talk show Sunday Evening with Vladimir Solovyov in which a deputy speaker of the Duma from the ruling party United Russia and a Duma committee chairman from the Communists took an active part, meaning that the nation’s elites are moving with the popular current against Defense Minister Shoigu if not against those still higher in the Kremlin. Meanwhile, discredited Russian Liberalism is taking down with it the commitment to free markets for the sake of more effective war production. There is serious talk of reintroducing Five Year Plans. And the recent official approval of plans to proceed with traditional celebrations of Christmas and New Year’s in Russian cities was denounced as inappropriate for a country at war in an existential struggle with NATO.

We may conclude that the Special Military Operation is indeed a watershed in Russian domestic politics.


Gilbert Doctorow is an independent political analyst based in Brussels. He chose this third career of ‘public intellectual’ after finishing up a 25 year career as corporate executive and outside consultant to multinational corporations doing business in Russia and Eastern Europe which culminated in the position of Managing Director, Russia during the years 1995-2000. He is presently publishing his memoirs of his 25 years of doing business in and around the Soviet Union/Russia, 1975 – 2000. Memoirs of a Russianist, Volume I: From the Ground Up was published on 10 November 2020. Volume II: Russia in the Roaring 1990s will go to press in two months.

MRonline, November 22, 2022, https://mronline.org/

Former Bolivian President Evo Morales calls for a Global campaign to eliminate NATO / by Jeremy Kuzmarov

Evo Morales | Source: declassifieduk.org

Originally published in Covert Action Magazine on July 30, 2022

In an interview with British journalist Matt Kennard at his home in El Trópico, a small town four hours from Cochabamba in the heart of the Amazon rain forest, former Bolivian president Evo Morales (2006-2019) called for an international campaign to eliminate NATO [the North Atlantic Treaty Organization].

According to Morales, this campaign should explain to people worldwide that “NATO is—ultimately—the United States. It is not a guarantee for humanity or for life. I do not accept—in fact, I condemn—how they can exclude Russia from the UN Human Rights Council. When the U.S. has intervened in Iraq, in Libya, in so many countries in recent years, why have they not been expelled from the Human Rights Council? Why was that never questioned?”

Morales continued:

We [in the Movimiento al Socialismo, MAS] have profound ideological differences with the politics implemented by the United States using NATO, which are based on interventionism and militarism. Between Russia and Ukraine they want to reach an agreement and [the U.S.] keeps provoking war, the U.S. military industry, which is able to live thanks to war, and they provoke wars in order to sell their weapons. That’s the other reality we live in.

| With the constant shipment of weapons to Ukraine the United States and NATO continue with their policy of quotfighting Russia to the last Ukrainian soldierquot iuvmpressnews | MR Online
[Source: iuvmpress.news]

Coup Against Alternative Economic Model

Morales is one of the most successful presidents in Latin American history who closed down a U.S. military base in Bolivia, expelled the CIA and DEA, and helped reverse half a millennium of colonial history by helping Bolivia to industrialize its economy.

In November 2019, Morales was ousted in a U.S./UK-backed coup that culminated with the army’s massacre of anti-coup protesters. Morales survived an assassination attempt only because Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, sent a plane to rescue him.

The beneficiary of the coup, Jeanine Áñez—a conservative Christian who lost the October 2020 election to Luis Arce of MAS—was sentenced to 10 years in prison in June after being convicted of terrorism and sedition.

Morales—who returned to Bolivia after Arce’s election in October 2020—believes that the coup was prompted by his move to nationalize Bolivia’s oil and gas reserves.

Morales told Matt Kennard that “I continue to be convinced that the empire, capitalism, imperialism, do not accept that there is an economic model that is better than neoliberalism. The coup was against our economic model… we showed that another Bolivia is possible.”

| Bolivia just wants to have friends rpolandball | MR Online
[Source: reddit.com]

“All For Lithium”

In 2021, the British Foreign Office released documents which showed that the British embassy in Bolivia had paid an Oxford-based company to optimize “exploitation” of Bolivia’s lithium deposits the month after Morales fled the country after being ousted in the coup.

The documents also showed the UK embassy in La Paz acted as “strategic partner” to Áñez’ coup regime and organized an international mining event in Bolivia four months after democracy was overthrown.

| | MR Online
Jeff Glekin, the UK ambassador, with Jeanine Áñez in January 2020. [Source: declassifieduk.org]

Bolivia possesses the world’s second largest reserves of lithium, a metal used to make batteries, which has been increasingly coveted due to the burgeoning electric-car industry.

Under the traditional imperial dynamic which had kept Bolivia poor, rich countries extract raw materials, send them to Europe to be made into products, and then sell them back to Third World countries like Bolivia as finished products at a mark-up.

With Bolivia’s lithium deposits, Morales was adamant this system was finished. Bolivia would not just extract the lithium; it would build the batteries too. He told Kennard that:

We started with a laboratory, obviously with international experts that we hired. Then we moved on to a pilot plant. We invested around $20 million, and now it’s working. Every year it produces about 200 tonnes of lithium carbonate, and lithium batteries, in Potosí [the capital of the Spanish empire where the Spanish had undertaken silver mining in the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries.]

| Bolivian state firm YLBs plant is seen at the Salar de Uyuni a vast white salt flat at the center of a global resource race for the battery metal lithium outside of Uyuni Bolivia March 26 2022 REUTERSClaudia Morales | MR Online
Bolivian state firm YLB’s plant is seen at the Salar de Uyuni, a vast white salt flat at the center of a global resource race for the battery metal lithium, outside of Uyuni, Bolivia, March 26, 2022. [Source: learningenglish.voanews.com]

Morales continued:

We had a plan to install 42 new [lithium] plants by 2029. It was estimated that profits would be five billion dollars. Profits! That’s when the coup came. The U.S. says China’s presence is not permitted but… having a market in China is very important. Also in Germany. The next step was with Russia, and then came the coup. Just last year, we found out that England had also participated in the coup—all for lithium.

Colonial Mentality

When Kennard told Morales that the UK Foreign office had denied that a coup took place, Morales responded that this was hard to comprehend and reflected “a totally colonial mindset. They think that some countries are the property of other nations. They think God put them there, so the world belongs to the U.S. and the UK. That’s why the rebellions and the uprisings will continue.”

With the People or the Evil Empire?

Morales has great admiration for Julian Assange whose detention, he said,

represents an escalation, an intimidation so that all the crimes against humanity committed by the different governments of the United States are never revealed. So many interventions, so many invasions, so much looting.

| The US Is Determined to Make Julian Assange Pay for Exposing the Cruelty of Its War on Iraq | Sri Lanka Guardian | MR Online
Morales has great admiration for Julian Assange. [Source: siguardian.org]

Currently, Morales is working on building independent media in Bolivia, where he says that most of the media “belong to the empire or the right-wing.”

Optimistic about the recent victory of left-wing political forces in PeruChile and Colombia and Lula’s expected return to the presidency in Brazil, Morales told Kennard that,

in politics we must ask ourselves: Are we with the people or are we with the empire? If we are with the people, we make a country; if we are with the empire, we make money. If we are with the people, we fight for life, for humanity; if we are with the empire, we are with the politics of death, the culture of death, interventions, and pillaging of the people. That is what we ask ourselves as humans, as leaders: ‘Are we at the service of our people?


Jeremy Kuzmarov is Managing Editor of CovertAction Magazine and author of The Russians Are Coming, Again, with John Marciano (Monthly Review Press, 2018).

MR Online, August 2, 2022, https://mronline.org/

Anti-NATO event organized by the KKE in Stockholm / by Editorial Staff of RiktpunKt*

Andreas Sörensen with Lefteris Nikolaou-Alavanos.

THE PARTY On Sunday, a meeting of the Greek Communist Party (KKE) against NATO was organized in Stockholm. One of the party’s EU parliamentarians and also SKP’s chairman Andreas Sörensen spoke.

Since 2019, Lefteris Nikolaou-Alavanos is one of the Greek Communists’ two representatives in the European Parliament. Yesterday he was invited to speak at a meeting organized by the Greek Communists in Sweden about NATO. A delegation from the Swedish Communist Party was also invited to this meeting and the party’s chairman Andreas Sörensen gave a greeting.

In his greeting, he commented on the events of the past six months and how they have shown the weaknesses and shortcomings that exist within the communist movement. The events in Kazakhstan and in Ukraine have led too many parties to side with imperialism and become tools for their own or any other bourgeoisie.

However, this is not the case with KKE, which is able to pave a revolutionary path towards socialism for its people, Sörensen said. It is also from here that the deep ties between the parties come – both are on the right side of history and share both analysis and ideology.

The meeting was held in the premises of the Greek Cultural Association in northern Stockholm and after an interesting speech by Nikolaou-Alavanos, interesting and friendly discussions began.

*RiktpunKt [The Objective, The Communist Party of Sweden], June 13, 2022, https://riktpunkt.nu/

Berlin – Munich – Kyiv: Berlin Bulletin, No. 202 / by Victor Grossman,

The tide of public opinion in Germany is as overpowering–and changeable–as elsewhere: “Stop the Russian invasion!“–“Defend Ukraine!”–“Send money”–“More, bigger, further–reaching weapons!”–“Defeat Russia!” Sustaining this tide is an all–encompassing media campaign. No politician is exempt; even President Frank–Walter Steinmeier and ex–Chancellor Angela Merkel are pressured to make excuses for long–past efforts to achieve detente and decrease confrontation with Russia, now denounced as “appeasement”. (Steinmeier has abjectly apologized, Merkel stubbornly refuses to do so.) And the calls to defend Ukraine are expanding: now we are told to defend our “democratic rules of order” in a new crusade.

Every epoch has had its call to battle the Forces of Evil. Once it was Anarchism, then Bolshevism, Communism. After those menaces were defeated new ones were required; in 2001 it was Terrorism. With that frightening term eroding, it is being replaced by Authoritarianism. The gargoyle staring at us from magazine covers–after Stalin, Mao and Fidel have died and Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, Gaddafi been eliminated–is now a scowling Putin. And with him Russia, which must be ostracized, sanctioned, wrecked, starved and, above all, defeated. I have not yet heard any direct use of the word “bombed,” but the weapons are ready, with $800 billion spent annually in the USA, about thirteen times Russia’s military budget, not counting the others in NATO. In Germany, on top of its already huge military outlay, a special €100 billion fund was added, after receiving the required 2/3 parliamentary majority to overrule constitutional limitations. Its use is restricted to strengthening and modernizing the Bundeswehr, for F–35 planes, capable of dropping atomic bombs on Moscow in record time, for warships capable of landing at any shore, for latest–model, deadliest tanks.

All this is “to achieve security”. German borders are nowhere threatened, but the Ukraine invasion, it’s said, proves Putin’s plans to regain the area of the USSR or the czarist empire. So who knows? And any call to reason, to push for a truce and negotiations instead of demands to defeat and “ruin” Russia, oust Putin and put him on trial, is denounced as appeasement, with allusions to the 1938 Munich Agreement, when Neville Chamberlain and French premier Daladier sold out Czechoslovakia.

I also see parallels, but very different ones. Hitler’s main aim, proclaimed in his Anti–Comintern Pact with Italy and Japan, was to invade and destroy the USSR, seizing the wealth of its giant expanse and moving closer toward hegemony, with Japan, of all Eurasia.

How did “the West” view such plans? In a secret meeting on November 19 1937, Lord Halifax, Britain’s representative, congratulated Hitler “that the Fuehrer had not only achieved great things in Germany, but that by destroying communism in his own country he had blocked its way to Europe and that therefore Germany can rightly be regarded as a bulwark against Bolshevism.”

The West, though not itself fascist, admired Hitler’s hatred of the USSR and hoped he might attack and destroy it, thus eliminating any nasty socialist threat. It demonstrated this by supporting Hitler, Mussolini and Franco in Spain, uttering hardly a whisper of disapproval of the Nazi takeover of Austria, agreeing to the sacrifice of Czechoslovakia which brought Germany to the Russian border, and rejecting calls by Soviet Foreign Minister Litvinov in the League of Nations for “collective security” against German expansion. Litvinov’s hopes for unity against fascism died with the West’s speedy recognition of Franco’s victory on April 1 1939. Within a week Stalin drew the consequential  conclusion, ousted Litvinov and set his successor, Molotov, to making a deal with Germany.

As Litvinov commented: British and French leaders…

had done everything they could to goad Hitler’s Germany against the Soviet Union by secret deals and provocative moves… The Soviet Government, in order to avoid an armed conflict with Germany in unfavorable circumstances and in a setting of complete isolation, was compelled to make the difficult choice and conclude a non–aggression treaty with Germany.

The two years it gained made the Red Army’s liberation of Berlin possible, but only after the death of over 50 million people, about 27 million of them Soviet citizens. The events following the West’s rejection of Litvinov’s “collective security” were bloody and devastating. So too are the events of 2022. Of course the world is very different and neither NATO, Putin nor Ukraine are Nazi Germany. But has it not been USA policy to push its NATO closer and closer to Russia, building up its neighbors militarily, with annually threatening  border maneuvers, organizing provocations like the putsch against an elected Ukrainian president in 2014 for wanting trade with both Russia and the West? Has it not been trying to totally surround Russia, weaken it economically, aiming at a final goal of “regime change” with a pawn like Yeltsin providing full access to a giant region and a ramp for an attack on the last big barrier to world hegemony, China? Doesn’t current U.S. (hence NATO) policy recall eastward pressures of the past–called “cordon sanitaire,” “containment“ or “rollback”?

That ugly agreement of Stalin with Hitler was necessitated by an overwhelmingly existential threat. Did Putin view the present scene similarly? We cannot tell. Of course he saw how Ukraine was being steadily armed with Javelin antitank missiles, modern artillery, drones and howitzers that fire deadly Excalibur shells “with pinpoint accuracy”. He most certainly knew of deadly, joint U.S.–Ukrainian “biological research facilities,” as admitted by Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland (the same official who guided the 2014 putsch in Kyiv). And we needn’t simply guess at what steps Washington would take if China conducted heavily–armed maneuvers in Tijuana or Baja California; we can look up the Bay of Pigs invasion or the attacks against Guatemala, Grenada, Panama, Dominican Republic, not to mention Korea, Vietnam, Iraq , Libya, Afghanistan, all of them far distant from Washington or New York. Luckily, the toll in lives and damage in Ukraine has not approached that in some of those invasions. Of burning necessity today; those numbers must never be approached!

But even the most valid comparisons with past or present dangers cannot minimize the Putin government’s share in the guilt for present horror! Nor can they overcome worries that Putin may indeed be dreaming of Czar Peter, of a Greater Russia, denying Ukrainian rights to independence and sovereignty. Nor do accusations of Nazi rule justify the violation of international law, the wrecking of so many towns, cities and families, despite a very real Bandera cult and the strength of Azov thugs. It is more than likely that a massive attack against the Russian–speaking Donbas republics was planned and Putin moved to prevent it. But was invasion the only method of prevention? I cannot say.

There is much we do not know. But there can be only one answer to current escalation, with growing election–related American belligerency, ever more powerful weaponry which will cost ever more lives, mostly Ukrainian ones–and the constant menace of atomic war. The answer must be to pressure Biden and Johnson, Baerbock and Scholz to support negotiations and peace. Difficult as such a response may be, I think it must top the agenda, worldwide, of every progressive! And it also means welcoming similar conclusions by a very mixed crowd including Erdogan in Turkey, the Pope in Rome, courageous Lutheran leaders in Germany and even that old war hawk Kissinger.

The call for peace is also heard from inside Russia, despite attempts to silence it. I hope it bears fruit–but not for those Russians who yearn for a NATO victory–and one more regime take–over!

In Germany, weak attempts to avoid total confrontation and work for peace were heard from Chancellor Olaf Scholz, a Social Democrat, who dared briefly to look to the future, when a Europe deprived of its Russian component, unalterably aligned against it, should be unthinkable. But timid words in this direction were soon shushed by his coalition partners: the right–wing Free Democrats, ready to spend billions for war and weapons but not tax the billionaires one more euro, and the Greens, once seen as progressive, now nicknamed “Olive–Greens”, with Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock loudest in the ravenous pack, outdoing even European Union Commission boss Ursula von der Layen. Scholz knows that resisting either partner could sink his coalition ship and end his captaincy. Both of them (and his own party) have happily joined in many state–level coalitions with the rightist Christian Democrats and could try it again nationally. His fears of their desertion could explain his loud support for the €100 billion package for the military. But the trend is strong all over Europe, as seen in the efforts of Sweden and Finland to break long–held traditions and apply to join NATO. The bellicose “Atlanticists” have used the Ukraine war to please the Pentagon and the  Raytheons and defeat the pragmatic, business–minded advocates of trade and rapprochement with Russia and China.

Olaf Scholz now plans to forget past insults from Kyiv and pay a visit, together with Emmanuel Macron and Italian premier Mario Draghi, all of them somewhat hesitant till now but all fearful of media accusations of being slouchers, the threesome will be listening favorably to Zelenskyy’s insistent demands for heavy weapons. They will undoubtedly be spared embarrassing encounters with the Nazi–like flags, insignia and tattoos of the Azov battalions or visits to giant Bandera statues.

Scholz has already paid a first–time state visit to Vilnius, where he assured the heads of state of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia that Germany was thinking of them and would send more troops to their countries, near Russian St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad. No mention was made of Hitler’s use of this Baltic area when attacking the USSR in 1941 and laying deathly siege to Leningrad for 2½ years, nor the eager participation of Baltic volunteers in SS units fighting for Hitler. During the visit none of the traditional, police–protected marches of SS veterans and supporters were held; their current accent has switched to support of Ukraine.

While the western winds were blowing stronger, partly out of sympathy and solidarity, partly tainted by the smell of nationalism and hatred, where in Germany was DIE LINKE, The Left, a party traditionally standing for peace and opposing the weapons race? Sadly said, it’s better not to ask!

After its disastrous results in the national election last September, where it sank to 4.9%, down from 9.9% in 2017 and only squeezed back into the Bundestag thanks to a rule by which, if three or more delegates were elected directly by their districts, proportional representation (PR) came into force.  Just three won, two in Berlin, one in Leipzig, so the party stayed in the Bundestag, but no longer the largest opposition party with 69 seats but as the weakest, down to 39. Drastic changes were more than urgent! But they were not made, and in three state elections the Left again lost catastrophically.

Despite participation in four state coalitions, in Berlin, Bremen, Mecklenburg–West Pomerania and Thuringia, the party’s further existence was clearly endangered. A heavy blow hit in April, when the more “reformist” co–chair Susanne Hennig–Wellsow resigned, because of her “personal situation” as mother but with a veiled attack on her more militant co–chair, Janine Wissler, based on a nastily distorted article in the crafty magazine Der Spiegel, always an enemy of Die Linke, which falsely wrote of Wissler covering up a case of misogyny by her ex–partner. Almost certainly allied with its usual behind–the–scenes snoopers and manipulators, it wrote of Die Linke’s mishandling of “sexism.”

Because of the co–chair’s resignation, the many election defeats, and the charges of sexism flying around (although Die Linke has a female majority in its Bundestag delegation and in state legislatures), it was decided to elect an entire new leadership at the party congress in Erfurt on June 24–26. Defying the unjust media attacks, Janis Wissner will run again for the top office. Since she is a left–leaning female West German, a likely co–chair might be a reformist–leaning male East German.

But the party is sharply divided. The “reformers,” who based their disastrous campaign last year on hopes of joining a national coalition with the Greens and the Social Democrats, had to bury this dream (for now). Even if feasible, the party would have had to abandon opposition to NATO and the deployment of German troops in foreign wars and occupations, as in Afghanistan and Mali, and its resistance to big armament plans, or sending heavy weapons to Ukraine. The ”left wing” of Die Linke insists that this would mean giving up its position as a lone party of peace, thus becoming irrelevant: a slightly left–leaning Social Democratic sector of the establishment, forgetting its opposition to the capitalist system and its mighty billionaire potentates!

Such basic questions will likely be at the center of debate in Erfurt at the end of the month–and in the choice of co–chairs and all other positions. Will the party choose sides? Will it find some compromise? Could it split, forming two weak parts, leaving a peace position unstated in the Bundestag and the media? In two weeks we should know.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Despite the current catastrophe, about forty people, also calling the past to mind. met at a  small square monument at Berlin’s Lustgarten park to commemorate a tragic failure.

In May 1942 the Nazi war machine, after all its Blitzkrieg victories and early gains in its attack on the USSR, had begun to bite on granite. Unexpected reverses and heavy losses meant flagging morale, so a big, multimedia exhibition, sarcastically named “Soviet Paradise,” was set up to show the desolate, poverty–stricken Soviet they were destroying–and regain enthusiasm for  ”our boys in uniform”.

Two underground groups, young Communists, decided to set fire to the exhibition. Five from one group, seven from a second, Jewish group, severely restricted but not yet hit by the deportations, were led by Herbert Baum, 29, highly talented, in sports, musically, and in support of Marxist ideas–and dearly loved by all of them.

But on the date set, May 18th 1942, the combustible material secreted around the exhibition failed to ignite; the plot was discovered and nearly all members of both groups were caught, tortured, and sent to the guillotine. Baum was found hanged in his cell. The small monument in East Berlin was erected in 1981 and only slightly altered after unification, partially veiling references to the USSR.

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On May 8th, to mark the anniversary of a great victory, many hundreds of Berliners resumed the traditional annual visit to the Soviet Memorial Monument in Treptow, one of three in Berlin, with its statue of a Red Army soldier holding a small child protectively in one arm, in the other a sword, smashing a swastika at his feet. The long green lawn below the statue contains the remains of 7000 soldiers who, after four terrible war years, died in the last fierce battle to defeat Hitler fascism.

Additional side–notes:

  1. Elon Musk has started production of his electric autos in a gigafactory complex in a previously wooded area southeast of Berlin, to be his biggest plant in Europe.
  2. With prices here also soaring upwards, various schemes are constantly being debated, either to allay misery or blunt growing militancy, now seen in strikes by nurses, airline attendants, hospital personnel and others, with demands as high as 8% in raises.
  3. In a curious experiment, a single €9 ticket in June, July and August will grant free transportation for one month each on all subway, elevated, streetcar, bus and railroad travel, except only the fancy international routes. From the start, trains to Baltic and North Sea beaches were jammed.

Victor Grossman, born in NYC, fled McCarthy-era menaces as a young draftee, landed in East Germany where he observed the rise and fall of its German Democratic Republic (GDR). He has described his own life in his autobiography Crossing the River: A Memoir of the American Left, the Cold War, and Life in East Germany (University of Massachusetts Press, 2003), and analyzed the GDR and questions of capitalism and socialism in Germany and the USA, with his provocative conclusions, along with humor, irony and occasional sarcasm in all directions, in A Socialist Defector: From Harvard to Karl-Marx-Allee (New York: Monthly Review Press). His address is wechsler_grossman [at] yahoo.de (also for a free sub to the Berlin Bulletins sent out by MR Online).

MR Online, June 13, 2022, https://mronline.org/