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Ukraine War: On Spontaneous Protests of Soldiers of the Russian Army

Down with Putin’s imperialist war! Money for poor regions – not for killing the Ukrainian people!

Emergency Statement of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), jointly issued by the International Bureau and Socialist Tendency (Russia), 3 November 2022, and

1. According to various reports and video clips, more than 100 mobilised soldiers staged a spontaneous protest in the training center in Ulyanovsk. They demand to receive the promised payment of ₽195,000. They complain that "everyone here is deceived" and "we are sent to war for a penny." They also protest that military authorities “stopped letting relatives in on weekdays, they don’t give leave.” Another popular slogan is “One for all and all for one.” For now, the protest has been suppressed by paramilitary units of OMON and the National Guard.

2. The protesting soldiers come from the Chuvash Republic which is in the European part of Russia with the Nizhny Novgorod Oblast in the west, and the Republic of Tatarstan in the east and southeast. The Chuvash people, a Turkic ethnic group, is one of the many oppressed national minorities of the Russia Empire. Poverty is widespread in these regions which is why young men are prepared to join the army. It is telling that the protestors have also shouted Chuvash nationalist slogans – reflecting the deep-sitting resentment against their national oppression by the Russian Empire.

3. These protests, in conjunction with other protests which have taken place since the beginning of the “partial mobilisation” on 21 September, reflect the crisis of Putin’s war against the Ukraine and the process of disintegration of the Russian army.

4. The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) and Socialist Tendency – the RCIT section in Russia – are intransigently opposed to Putin’s reactionary invasion. We reiterate our internationalist and anti-imperialist position which we have advocated since the first day of the war: Defend the Ukraine against Putin’s invasion! Against Russian and against NATO imperialism!

5. Therefore, socialists want to see the defeat of the Russian army. All activists against this barbarous war therefore welcome such a process of disintegration of the Russian armed forces. If this imperialist army is less united and more divided, it becomes a less effective instrument for Putin’s colonial war. We support those demands which help to undermine and break the loyalty of soldiers to the army command (which implements the directives of the capitalist-bonapartist Putin regime). We do not support those demands which help to strengthen the imperialist army and to make it a more effective instrument of the Kremlin.

6. Socialists should therefore support all demands which increase the democratic rights of soldiers, and which weaken the character of the army as a willing tool of the Kremlin. Hence, activists should agitate for the soldiers’ right to receive visits from their relatives and to get leave. We also defend their right to protest. Furthermore, socialists should use these events as an opportunity to explain the necessity for soldiers to self-organise (e.g. building committees of action), to demand the right to elect their superiors, etc.

7. At the same time, we reject supporting the demand for payment of ₽195,000. We oppose the bourgeois army in principle and even more so when it is engaged in a reactionary imperialist war. Socialists in the Duma have to vote against all bills which help financing this war. Hence, we can not support financial demands which would make the army more unified and willing to go to Donbass and to slaughter the Ukrainian people.

8. However, this does not mean that socialists should be ignorant against the demand for money. Quite the opposite! Given the poor circumstances in the Chuvash Republic (and many other regions in Russia), it is not surprising that young men join the army. Socialists need to agitate for spending billions of rubles not for the imperialist war but rather for public employment programs, increase of wages and social security as well as for the improvement and expansion of infrastructure – particularly in poor regions.

9. Socialists should link such demands with explaining the real causes of Putin’s war and the interests of Russian imperialism. It is necessary to show in agitation, with all necessary precautions, that the enemy of the Russian workers and youth is not the Ukrainian people but the ruling elite around Putin and the oligarchs. Likewise, socialists need to agitate for the right of self-determination of national minorities. Given the fact that Russia is a prison house for many national minorities, this is a highly important and explosive issue. Such an anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist perspective has to be combined with explaining the need to fight for Russia’s defeat in the war, for the revolutionary overthrow of the Putin regime and the creation of a workers government.

10. It is to be expected that forces like Zyuganov’s KPRF and Tyulkin’s RKRP will support the demand for payment. (At some point, even Shoigu and Putin might express support for such demands and denounce “incompetent bureaucrats” for the problems!) After all, these “communist” parties are Great Russian chauvinists which have praised Putin’s invasion from the very beginning, and which even support the colonial annexation of Ukrainian regions by Russian imperialism. Surely, they want to see the army better financed so that it can kill more effectively the so-called “Ukranazis” – as the Putinistas shamefully slander the Ukrainian people resisting colonial subjugation!

11. Comrades, brothers and sisters! Putin’s imperialist war inevitable deepens the crisis in the country. It has already provoked popular protests and it will provoke many more in the coming months. It is highly urgent that authentic socialists and communists break decisively break with all kinds of social-chauvinists and opportunists. We need to join forces on the basis of consistent internationalism and anti-imperialism! The comrades of Socialist Tendency have outlined such a program in their “Open Letter to all Socialists in Russia”. Comrades, there is no time to lose! The RCIT calls you to join forces!

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