Kyiv revisited one year on

Mick Antoniw on returning to Ukraine with an aid convoy

In February 2022, I was in Ukraine as part of a progressive delegation of trade unionists and politicians. Russia was threatening Ukraine with invasion. We had gone to express our solidarity with the Ukrainian trade union movement and to express our opposition to Russian warmongering.

On 22nd February, two days before the invasion, we were advised to leave urgently. An attack was imminent. I was shocked and a bit in disbelief. Despite all the noise from Putin, I could not believe that an actual invasion of an independent, democratic and sovereign nation could happen. I was wrong.

Exactly one year on, I was back in Ukraine, in the same hotel in Kyiv, this time to deliver medical and other equipment to my comrades in the Ukrainian Miners Union and their members in various military battalions, this time supporting the defence of Ukraine and its independence from Russian fascism. Countless war crimes have been committed with impunity by the Russian forces. Putin’s imperial ambitions thwarted, what he cannot control or occupy, he destroys. Rape, looting, torture, liquidations and deportation are part of this new fascism that threatens peace in Europe and internationally.

Despite all this, all the evidence, there are those on the far right and on the infantile left who are in denial about the true nature of Putin’s Russia and its imperial ambitions. Blinkered, and in essence totally reactionary, they form an unholy alliance, deluded in the belief that it is possible to negotiate with fascism and whose faux-pacifism has more in common with a desire for Ukrainian capitulation.

I know where I stand as a socialist: I want peace for Ukraine. I want an end to the war. But I know it will only be achieved by building solidarity with the Ukrainian people and providing them with the means to defend their freedom and expel Russian forces from Ukraine. Only then can we really build the peace. Slava Ukraina.

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