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(Extensive excerpts from the article published in "Kommounistiki Epitheorisi", the political-theoretical journal of the CC of the KKE, issue 1 of 2016)


Elisseos Vagenas

Member of the CC of the KKE,

Responsible for the International Relations Section


Over ten years have passed since the writer Alexandr Zinoviev [1] first likened capitalist Russia to a "rabbit with horns"."A rabbit", because obviously in the first years after the restoration of capitalism the newly formed bourgeoisie of Russia, which was on the way to assimilating the country into the global imperialist "pyramid" and was attempting to consolidate its position domestically, easily gave ground in the face of the demands of the USA and other powers. And this, despite the fact that it had "inherited" a powerful arsenal from the Soviet Union (hence ... the "horns")

But how things change. And Russia, more and frequently now, is using military force outside its own borders.It did so in Moldova (in the case of Transdniestria), Tadjikstan, Georgia (in the case of Abkhazia and South Ossetia), Ukraine (in the case of Crimea), i.e. in the territories of the former USSR which are considered to be its "zone of immediate interests".Moscow carried out a "leap" with its military intervention in Syria, trespassing onto the recent US "monopoly" regarding military interventions in more distant regions.An intervention that changes the terms of the 'Syrian equation" and , apart from anything else, creates confusion in the International Communist Movement.

Of course, after the Russian military intervention, there followed the murderous attack in Paris. This carnage also formed new conditions in the Syrian geopolitical "algorithm".Because the mass murder of ordinary people was utilized by the French bourgeoisie and by the member-states of NATO and the EU as a whole as a kind of "libation"-with the blood of the French people-before their even greater military involvement.

First of all, let us look at some of the basic political-military developments that are useful to understand for the issue we are examining.



The Russian airstrikes began in Syria against the so-called Islamic State (IS) on the 30th of September.

On the same day, the Russian Upper House approved the request of the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, to deploy military forces abroad and specifically to support Bashar Assad in Syria.

This came after the Russian President's speech in the UN where he defended the Russian positions on Syria and Ukraine.As regards Syria, he had stressed that there can be no political solution without Assad, as well as the need to strengthen Assad who together with the Kurds is resisting IS.

The meeting with the US President, Barak Obama, despite the fact that there was an attempt by a section of the mass media to present it as indicative of a “convergence” of Russia and the USA concerning combating IS, did not overcome their contradictions over the future of the Assad regime, something which of course is linked to which imperialist power will have the "upper hand" in Syria.

The development also clearly signals the further sharpening of the inter-imperialist contradictions in the region of the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean.We must bear in mind that the Russian military intervention in Syria comes after the intervention of the USA, EU, Turkey, the Gulf monarchies and other powers in the region underway before 2011 e.g.the US occupation of Iraq, the NATO attack against Libya, the infiltration of forces armed by the USA and its allies into Syria.

It should be noted that the KKE from the very first moment, in 2011, denounced the intervention that has very serious consequences for the people of Syria and also for the people of the wider region. When  bourgeois and opportunist parties celebrated the so-called “Arab Spring”, our party exposed the organized efforts to fund and arm the so-called Syrian opposition by the imperialist powers, which resulted in, amongst other things, the formation and spread of the monstrosity of the “Islamic State”, as well as the creation of an enormous wave of refugees, both inside the country (about 10 million people) and also to foreign countries (chiefly to Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, where about 2 million people live who have been driven from their homes, of these people those that can are trying to reach European countries).



The close economic and political-military ties of Russia with the bourgeois regime of Assad are well-known. This regime is a stable ally of capitalist Russia in the region of the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean for the last 20 years.This is a region where a serious geopolitical “game” is underway with powerful “players”, like the USA, the EU, Israel, Turkey, Egypt, the Gulf monarchies, the bourgeois classes of which promote their own interests.Let us look at some more specific data.



Assad in an interview in June 2013 argued that:"The western countries, in contrast to their political stance in public, are striving to present to us under the table "attractive" contracts for the reconstruction of the country and extraction of the rich hydrocarbon deposits that have been discovered on the Syrian coast.The World Bank, which cannot move without US permission, proposed a 21 billion dollar loan with "generous" terms, which we completely rejected.We have already given the rights for hydrocarbon extraction in the Syrian EEZ to a Russian company.We trust the Russians, who are defending their strategic security and national interests that will be endangered if Syria is controlled by the West and its satellite powers in the region." [2]

There are different assessments as regards the size of the hydrocarbon deposits, [3] while Syrian researchers claim that the dimensions of the natural gas deposits in the country overturn the current "international energy map", as they are ten times larger than those of Israel.

The contracts signed with Russian companies for extraction, before the most recent events, were worth 1.6 billion dollars. In addition, Russian companies are active in the construction of refineries.



The Russian newspaper "Kommersant" wrote in 2013:"The outcome of the war in Syria could significantly affect the European natural gas market.The parties involved in the conflict are supported by two rival powers, which want to construct new natural gas pipelines to the EU, which will cross Syrian territory: Iran and Qatar.In this light, the consequences for Gazprom and for the Russian budget's revenues will be determined to a great extent by the battles for Aleppo and Damascus." [4]

In relation to the specific different plans:

On the 27th of July 201, an agreement was signed between Iran, Iraq and Syria for the natural gas pipeline called "Friendship Pipeline" that provides for the transport of natural gas from Iran to Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and to Western Europe. [5]

Qatar, Iran's basic rival as regards natural gas, considered that its aim, in consultation with Turkey, to construct a pipeline that would distribute Qatar's natural gas via Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria to Europe has been sidelined. Of course, the precondition for the construction of this pipeline would be Syria's participation, which however with the agreement it had signed with Iraq and Iran removed Qatar from the "game".Qatar's plan also had the blessing of the USA.

It goes without saying that Russia would not want to see the realization of the US-Qatar plan, which is in competition with its own positions in the European markets, while the Iranian plan is more complementary to it and it is doubtful whether it could actually be carried out, due to the instability in the region.In addition, Russia had also been practically involved in the implementation of this plan, as it had undertaken a section of the Iranian pipeline, the modernization of the ports where the pipeline will end and the construction of refineries. [6]



Russia profits from arms sales in Syria, which even before these developments was one of the basic consumers of Russian weapons. Based on the data of SIPRI, if in 2010 (before these developments) Russian arms exports to Syria were worth 238 million dollars [7], in 2013 they reached 351 million dollars, while the contracts that are going to be implemented according to "Jinmin Zibao" will reach 4 billion dollars. [8]

Naturally, the uncontrolled overthrow of the Assad regime would endanger all these profits. As it notes:"If Russia abandons Syria, then this debt possibly may not be recognized by another transitional authority, endangering the continuation of arms sales to this country and consequently limiting Russian influence in a state that has a crucial geographical position in the Middle East." [9]



Russian companies exported (and continue to export, even if to a lesser extent than before the war) products (fuel, machines, food, wood etc.), while other Russian companies are also active in the tourism and telecommunications sectors.

The Russian monopolies, which of course have suffered losses due to the hostilities (the value of non-military Russian exports fell from 1.89 billion dollars in 2011 to 582 million dollars in 2014) [10], would be even more comprehensively damaged if there was an uncontrolled overthrow of Assad that would lead to a significant loss of profits.



It is well known that Russia possesses a "naval refuelling station" in the Syrian town of Tartus which could be developed into a full military base with permanent moorings for its naval hardware in the Mediterranean. This is the only Russian naval base on non-Russian territory.

This is underscored by the Chinese newspaper "Jinmin Jibao", which also adds:"Russia does not want to allow countries that cooperate with it to be attacked, one after the other, by the USA. Otherwise, the leading status of Russia will be seriously damaged." [11]



The USA and its allies, initiating the imperialist intervention in Syria about 5 years ago, put forward as pretexts issues of "democracy", the overthrow of the "dictator Assad", the support for the so-called "Arab Spring". This hypocrisy was extremely obvious, if you look at who is invoking "freedom" and "democracy": the anti-people Gulf monarchies, Turkey, which occupies half of Cyprus, the EU and USA that play the leading role in massacring the peoples and overthrowing regimes that are not to their liking so that their monopolies can win better positions.

Today the same powers, insisting on using pretexts regarding democracy, have also brought back the pretext of "the war on terror" and "self-defense" from the attacks carried out against them by the jihadists, who are based in the territories of Syria controlled by the so-called "Islamic State".

On its part, the Russian leadership rarely makes reference to its economic, geopolitical interests that we have already highlighted, as the reasons for its intervention. Nevertheless, Russian politicians from the government and journalists talk about these things. In this specific phase of the Russian intervention, the Russian leadership promotes the following pretexts:

1. Russia was invited by the government to assist against "terrorism". It promotes the so-called war against terrorism and it also stressed that its actions are not contrary to international law, as it has been invited by the legal government.

2. It highlights the fact that several thousand IS fighters come from regions in Russia and the former USSR, and if IS is victorious in Syria, they will return to Russia to carry out similar "terrorist attacks" there, targeting the country's territorial integrity and the Russian people's wellbeing.

3. The following issues are also utilized to a lesser extent where appropriate: To stop the wave of refugees, the humanitarian disaster, the destruction of antiquities and the barbaric acts of IS.

4. After the tragedy that struck the Russian passenger plane over Mt Sinai, the Russian leadership also resorted to using the pretext of "self-defense", which we will refer to in more detail below.


[A section of the article providing data regarding the military correlation of forces in the Syrian conflict is omitted]


In these complex military conditions, the Russian leadership has decided to reinforce Assad’s forces, chiefly in two ways:

a) Through the provision of modern military equipment, with high precision weapons (new armoured personnel carriers, modern telecommunications systems, spy drones, machine guns etc.)

 b) Through aerial bombardments of the “terrorist” forces.In a display of military strength, Russia bombed enemy positions with missiles fired from warships belonging to the fleets in the Caspian and Mediterranean. The Syrian airforce has older planes, with less capabilities of carrying out precision strikes on the enemy.

[A section of the article providing data about Russia’s airforce and naval strength involved in the Syrian conflict is omitted]



Military importance of the Russian involvement

Through these actions, it is assessed that the losses of the Syrian armed forces can be cancelled out and that they can once again achieve the upper hand and dynamism in relation to their enemies.

Moreover, according to the newspaper "Financial Times" [12], the USA in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan will implement a "No Fly Zone" in Syria, i.e. according to the same method they used in Libya.The Russian involvement impeded these plans




Political aims

The Russian bourgeoisie is aiming to consolidate its economic and geopolitical interests in the region of the Eastern Mediterranean.Having learned the lessons from the developments in Yugoslavia and Libya, where it had no military presence and was distant from the arena of the confrontation, it is attempting to prevent a similar situation.Russia aims to support the Syrian regime with every means at its disposal so that its monopolies and not the Euro-Atlantic ones have the first say, in cooperation with the section of the bourgeoisie represented by the Assad regime, as regards the exploitation of resources and the people.

This is a development that "disentangles" it from the impasse in Ukraine and allows it to better utilize the contradictions between Germany, France and the USA.It also allows it to more effectively approach the regimes in Iran, Iraq and Egypt.

Moreover, whether it is successful or not in defending its interests in Syria will predetermine if it has the decisiveness and strength to protect its interests in other regions, like, for example, Central Asia and other regions where it seeks the deeper penetration of its capital, such as Egypt and Iran.So the Russian leadership is taking a gamble on maintaining its positions in Syria in order to strengthen its attempts to deepen its penetration of other countries in the region.



It is worth noting the stance of the other strong powers, at a moment when the EU, USA and their allies, amongst other things, have implemented economic sanctions against Russia, on the pretext of its absorption of Crimea and accusing it of military involvement in East Ukraine.

The USA reacted negatively to the Russian military involvement in Syria.On its part, it continued airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, while it has also sent advisors to the Kurds and possibly to other armed groups active in Syria.All these moves demonstrate US interest in the northeastern region of Syria.The USA utilizes the existing military based of its allies in order to advance its plans, amongst them the bases in Suda and Kalamata. It has also sent the aircraft carrier "Harry S.Truman (CVN75)" to the Mediterranean.

Politically, the USA seems to be posing the unconditional removal of the Syrian President as a precondition, but its real aims are the strengthening of its position in the region and the weakening of the position of its rivals.

In the recent past, China has aligned with Russia in the UN over the issue of chemical weapons in Syria and the USA's aim to win UN approval for airstrikes.Together with Russia it utilized its veto.Now, various Greek sources write that Chinese warships and planes are reaching Syria in order to defend Assad.This has not yet been confirmed by China, but cannot be ruled as a possible scenario.Indeed, the newspaper "Jenmin Jibao" has published an evaluation of the Chinese military expert Chan Chunsen, who claims that all the reports of a Chinese aircraft carrier going to take part in the conflict in Syria are simply rumours and that China will not take the side of any force in Syria militarily.[13]

The Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, at the meeting to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the UN, said that the world could not stand idly by in the face of the tragic developments, but also that no one of his own volition can intervene in the affairs of other countries.He also argued during his meeting with the Foreign Minister of Syria that Syria's sovereignty should be respected. However, in his speeches he made no reference to Assad or the Russian initiatives and added that "China has no interests in the Middle East, and thus it seeks to play a constructive role". [14] The Chinese Foreign Ministry announced that China is taking a position in favour of a political settlement.[15]

At the beginning of 2015, the representative of the Chinese Foreign Ministry Hua Chunying stated China’s position: " As for Russia’s strikes against terrorist organizations in Syria, we have also expressed our support previously and noted that Russia carried out the fight against terrorist organizations in Syria at the invitation of the government of this country." [16]


The stance of Germany, its differentiation from the USA, is of particular interest.Initially Germany had signed the statement of the 7 (USA, Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey) [17], which called on Russia to immediately cease its attacks against the Syrian opposition and citizens and to focus its efforts against the Islamic State.

A.Merkel stated on October 4 2015:

" We will need military efforts, but military efforts will not bring the solution; we need a political process but that has not really got going very well yet." She also added that it is necessary for the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad to be involved in the talks: « But to get to a political solution, I need both the representatives of the Syrian opposition and those who are currently ruling in Damascus and others as well to get real successes and then above all the allies of the respective groups. Russia, the United States, Saudi Arabia and Iran could all play a role, along with Germany, France and Britain.» [18]

I.e. It has a stance that differs from that of the USA on the following issues:1) It accepts Assad's presence at the table in the talks for a political solution.2) It accepts that Iran must be at the same table.

Germany's stance clearly differs from that of the USA and also that of France.It is characteristic that France, following the USA's example, carried out airstrikes in Syria on the 27th of September (two days before the Russian intervention), while the French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, speaking about the Russian intervention, dredged up the issue of chemical weapons(!), stating that :"Russia must not make mistakes regarding its targets in Syria and hit other organizations aside from the Islamic State", clarifying that:" We should hit the right targets and in this instance ISIS"."The second condition is that no one can attack civilians.And chiefly, you are aware that the regime of the (Syrian President) Bashar (Al Assad) continues to use chemical weapons against civilians and this cannot be tolerated", continued Valls. [19]

However, after the murderous attacks in Paris on the 13th of November 2015, the French stance seems to have altered.The French President F.Hollande in his speech to the parliament and senate on the 16th of November made the following reference:" In Syria, we're looking for the political solution to the problem, which is not Bashar Assad. Our enemy in Syria is ISIL." This is interpreted as a change of policy in Syria, approaching the German position, as there is no longer an obsession with Assad's removal (immediately).Hollande also mentioned that he would call on Putin and Obama to take joint initiatives together with him, a position that pleased M. Le Pen who has been demanding for a while "a change of stance towards Russia."


The French aircraft carrier "Charles de Gaulle" headed to the Eastern Mediterranean and began attacks against the "Islamic State", seeking to coordinate its military operations both with the USA (whose alliance it belongs to) and also with Russia.

France's decision to invoke article 42, paragraph 7 of the EU's Treaty [20], and not article 5 of the relevant NATO Treaty, demonstrates that the French bourgeoisie wants its alliance with the USA, but does not unconditionally accept the hegemonic role of the USA.At the same time, the fact that the French government did not invoke article 222 of the Treaty of Lisbon (which indeed refers more specifically to the instance of a terrorist attack) demonstrates the distance it is attempting to keep from Germany.

Britain made very aggressive statements against the Russian intervention.Prime Minister Cameron made the following statement:"They are backing the butcher Assad, which is a terrible mistake for them and for the world.It is going to make the region more unstable." [21] In addition, Britain's Foreign Minister, Philip Hammond accused Russia of conducting a "classic asymmetric war" in Syria [22]. On the 3rd of December, Britain also began airstrikes, using its military bases on the "unsinkable aircraft carrier", Cyprus.

On its part, Israel which admits that it is carrying out operations on Syrian territory for reasons of "self-protection" is seeking to have a balanced position, but has expressed its unhappiness about direct Russian military involvement.Prime Minister Netanyahu stated that he does not want a return to controversy in Israel's relations with Russia [23] and also said that "Israel is aware of the fact that it has a Russian border now"[24]. However, it should be noted that Russia has assured Israel that its interests will not be damaged by the Russian military intervention, quite the contrary!

Of course, all these powers have stated their intention-and some have already acted on it-to create "mechanisms" in order to avoid an accidental military entanglement with Russia.

Turkey, with the so-called "Neo-Ottoman Dogma" as its vehicle, utilizing Islam as a unifying factor in the Middle East and Balkans and Caucasus, promotes the ambitions of its bourgeoisie for an enhanced role in the global imperialist system, initially inside the G20 and then to get into the tighter circle.It is playing a decisive role in the Syrian crisis!The Turkish bourgeoisie supported the jihadists and the accusations about its involvement in the illegal oil trade organized in the areas controlled by the "IS" have a basis.To begin with, the Turkish bourgeoisie supported the plans to dismember Syria and Iraq and not only demanded airstrikes in Syria, but also the implementation of a "No Fly Zone", as had been done in Libya, which in reality would create the preconditions for a ground invasion and occupation of Syria or a section of it.There already sources that refer to powerful ground forces being deployed by Turkey on its borders with Syria.The downing of the Russian fighter plane was a deliberate act on Turkey's part, with the aim of showing Moscow that it cannot openly ignore the interests (and plans) of the Turkish bourgeoisie.This development has clear provoked and provokes even greater NATO involvement in the Syrian crisis.

It would be an oversight for us not to mention Saudi Arabia's aim to form a new coalition, the so-called "Islamic Military Alliance" [25], which aims to integrate 34 countries from the Middle East, Asia and Africa in order to allegedly confront IS.Such a plan, which clearly enjoys the support of the USA, regardless of whether it is totally successful or not, will clearly play a role if ground operations the plans to dismember the country proceed in Syria.



The basis on which these contradictions and their military expression are formed is capitalist competition for profitability and the division of natural resources and wealth.So, the Syrian issue is the epicentre of an enormous concentration of forces, without meaning that they will necessarily come into conflict.There are many possibilities, which are influenced by dozens of factors and we are not in a position to evaluate their importance and potential dynamism.The workers'-people's intervention is an important factor that up until now does not have the direction of freeing itself from the aims of the domestic and foreign bourgeoisies.

Based on the current correlation of forces, there could be developments in the following directions. We present them below in no particular order of importance:

a) Continuation of the long-term wearing down of Assad and his allies, triggering other flashpoints, as a basic choice of the USA and its allies e.g.Turkey, Israel, the Gulf monarchies, with the aim of bleeding it economically over the long-term and grinding Russia down politically and militarily in Syria.This could be achieved by providing weapons (e.g.'Stinger" missiles to the "opposition" which is alleged to have already asked for them and been officially refused by the USA) [26] and also by opening up "fronts" in East Ukraine, and other wounds in Central Asia, the Caucasus etc.Of course, such a possibility could lead to uncontrollable consequences, which could be negative for the powers that planned them e.g.a generalized war.Military-political personnel are already talking about a generalized war between NATO and Russia and pushing for an increase in NATO spending.[27]

B) A compromise solution to the Syrian crisis.The compromise to begin with would be between the foreign powers and then later would include the opposing domestic forces.And there could be various outcomes of a compromise, with the most likely being the dismemberment of Syria, as the open military intervention of the imperialist powers also has geographical dimensions.For example,Russia is showing more interest in the coastal regions of Syria, the USA in the north and northeastern sections, where they have sent military "advisers" to Kurdish armed groups etc.That is to say, each foreign power, supporting local bourgeois forces, will divide Syria into zones, i.e. protectorates.

In any case, the opposing interests will continue to come into conflict. We will have a false, in essence imperialist, "peace", i.e. "with a gun to the people's heads".

The scenario of the internal and external correlation of forces allowing a return to the situation as it was a decade ago is less likely, i.e. for Russia to completely maintain its position and the Assad regime in place and to "crush" the "terrorists", who as Putin stressed cannot be easily separated into a "moderate opposition" and "opposition".

On the other hand, a compromise and a "disentanglement" from the conflict would facilitate other imperialist powers to focus their attention on other flashpoints, like e.g.the South China Sea, where the confrontation has being intensifying for some time, above all between China and the USA and also between China and other countries in the region.



The open Russian involvement in the Syrian crisis, like the bomb attacks in Paris, have created a "recycling" of ideological confusion, both old and new forms, that we must examine.So, for example, while the class nature of today's capitalist Russia and the aims of Russian capital are not usually disputed and it is acknowledged that Russia today is not the Soviet Union of yesteryear, various misleading ideological constructs are often promoted.In addition, decidedly non-class analyses of international relations and developments re-emerge.These are issues that are worth answering, as they lead the workers into aligning with and choosing an imperialist power in a war that is being waged for interests alien to theirs, specifically for the interests of capital.


The "multi-polar world" in opposition to the "empire of the USA"

Certain forces see imperialism merely as the “empire” of the USA and on this basis they salute the promotion of new emerging capitalist powers in global affairs, such as the emergence of new inter-state unions (BRICS, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Collective Security Treaty Organization, ALBA etc), which are formed by capitalist states, with an economic-political and military content.These developments are saluted as the beginning of the emergence of a new “multi-polar world”, which will “reform” and will give “new life” to the UN and the other international organizations that will escape the US “hegemony”.These hypotheses conclude that peace will be ensured in this way.From this standpoint, the Russian military involvement in Syria is welcomed as a step in this direction.

It is argued that the "new" inter-imperialist contradictions and the apparent realignment of the global system can lead to the "democratization" of international relations, as a world with many "poles" is emerging with the strengthening of Germany, Russia, China, Brazil and other states and the relative retreat of the USA's position.

Related proposals are heard, such as, for example, the expansion of the UN Security Council with other countries.

So the question arises: Can an increased global role for the EU, as , for example, SYRIZA and the Party of the European Left argue for, or even an enhanced role for Russia and China create another "peaceful" environment  for international developments?

Not at all, in our assessment.And this is because imperialist wars are not caused by the specific correlation of forces amongst capitalist states at any given moment, but by the laws of capitalism: uneven capitalist development, competition, the tendency to acquire additional profits.The inter-imperialist contradictions are produced, reproduced and altered on this basis, particularly as regards raw materials, energy, their transport networks, the fight for market shares. It is monopoly competition that leads to local and generalized military interventions and wars.This competition is conducted using every means possessed by the monopolies and the capitalist states which express their interests.  It is reflected in the inter-state agreements, which are constantly being disputed due to uneven development.This is imperialism, the source of military attacks on both a large and small scale.

The talk about a “new democratic global governance”, with “transparency”, which is  disseminated by bourgeoisified social-democratic and opportunist forces aims at ideologically prettifying the new correlation of forces in the capitalist, imperialist barbarity, with the goal of misleading the workers.

Previous wars, like the 2nd World War, were also unleashed in the name of righting unjust agreements or preventing new wars.There is an urgent need for the workers to be liberated from such illusions and traps regarding the "democratization" of capital and international relations, which line them up behind interests alien to theirs.

The "multi-polar' world as a means of safeguarding peace and people's interests is a fallacy.In essence, this approach treats the enemy as being an ally, traps popular forces into choosing an imperialist or imperialist union, paralyzes the labour movement.


"The stance of Russia, even if it includes risks of a more general conflict, facilitates the anti-imperialist struggle."

This view is often overlaps with the assessment that Russia is an "anti-imperialist power".An entire political "current" has emerged in Russia in recent years, with the name "Red Putinists", who provide "leftwing" political support to the current President of the country V.Putin.This is a modified form of the ideological construct of the "multi-polar world".It is equally misleading and paralyzing for the labour movement, as it overlooks the social-class character of today's power in Russia.Who possesses the means of production and power in Russia today? The answer- that the bourgeoisie is the ruling class in Russia and that the monopolies are dominant there, while the vast majority of the people are faced with all the social and economic impasses of capitalism-is bypassed by the representatives of this standpoint.The attention of specific forces is basically focused on Russia's struggle against the USA and other imperialist powers.However, this struggle is not being waged in the interests of the Russian people, but in the interests of the Russian monopolies.

Moreover, it is important to clarify what is meant by the term "imperialism".If by this term we understand the scientific criteria established by Lenin his writings, on the basis of which he concludes that it is capitalism in its highest, monopoly stage, then it becomes obvious that a capitalist power, such as Russia, where the monopolies are dominant, cannot be characterized as being an “anti-imperialist power”.

Forces, even communist ones, that abandon the Leninist understanding of imperialism and treat it as an "aggressive foreign policy" or identify it only with the USA and the view about a US "empire" can end up making enormous political mistakes.A characteristic example of this is that such forces a few years ago labeled Turkey as being an “anti-imperialist power”, when Erdogan sharpened Turkey's confrontation against Israel and took positions in favour of Iran,  while it was in the imperialist military alliance of NATO, still militarily occupying 40% of Cyprus and threatening Greece that its implementation of the International Law of the Sea in the Aegean would be a Casus Belli (reason for war).

Of course, the sharpening of the inter-imperialist contradictions and imperialist war on its own do not lead to a change of the correlation of forces in favour of the working class and popular forces, as is demonstrated by the current developments in Syria, as well as in Ukraine and other countries.A precondition is the existence of strong CPs, with a well-elaborated revolutionary strategy and roots in the labour-people's movement in order to direct the insurgent masses towards the goal of overthrowing capitalist barbarity.


Non-class interpretations of International law

In the case we are examining, a series of forces (including communist ones) claim that Russia is acting in the "framework of International Law", in contrast to the USA and other powers.On this basis they justify the Russian military intervention, at the invitation of the Syrian government, as being different in comparison to the interventions of other capitalist states.

However, "International Law" as it stands today provides for three instances when there can be military operations on the territory of another state: 1) Through a decision of the SC of the UN as was the case in Libya, 2) at the invitation of the legitimate government of the specific state, i.e. as Russia was invited by Syria and 3) for reasons of "self-defense".

The USA invoked reasons of "self-defense" from the beginning regarding is airstrikes in Syria.But the Turkish government, with its letter to the General Secretary of the UN, Ban Ki Moon, also invoked "Article 51" of the UN Carter.Turkey's deputy permanent representative to the UN, Levent Eler, made the following references in his letter:

"It is apparent that the regime in Syria is neither capable of nor willing to prevent these threats emanating from its territory which clearly imperil the security of Turkey and safety of its nationals (..)Syria has become a safe haven for (Islamic State). This area is used by (Islamic State) for training, planning, financing and carrying out attacks across borders of Syria, in Turkish territory."[28]

It is worth noting that Article 51 of the UN Charter, which refers to the right of a country to defend itself against an armed attack, was not always as it is today.Initially the article engaged with a foreign invasion at the expense of a UN member-state and its right to respond to this attack by striking outside its borders, i.e. at the territory of the aggressor state, for reasons of self-defense, until a relevant decision of the UN Security Council is taken.

However, after September 2001, the USA addressed the UN Security Council and requested an "expanded interpretation" of the specific article so that it could invoke it to invade and occupy Afghanistan in its war against the Taliban.Then the UN Security Council (and Russia) accepted the US request and now self-defense is not just a response to an attack (military invasion) by a specific state, but any armed attack in general, something which, as is obvious, is interpreted at will.

On the 18th of November 2015, Russia also stated that from now on it will act on the basis of Article 51, considering that it is also exercising its right to self-defense.This position, in reality, ended the discussion underway within the ranks of the International Communist Movement as to "whether we should support the power that observes International Law against those that do not."

However, we must clarify the following: International Law is an extension of bourgeois law.As long as the USSR and other socialist countries existed, this was formed as a result of correlation of forces between capitalism and socialism, which nevertheless continued to be negative, and even in this period imperialist crimes were being carried out.After the overthrow of socialism, International Law is exclusively determined by the correlation of forces amongst capitalist states, it is becoming even more reactionary and is utilized by the imperialist powers at will, in the framework of their competition and at the expense of the peoples.

At the moment when another imperialist conflict breaks out, it is completely misleading to have a discussion as to who started it or who observes "International Law", which has become even more reactionary and "flexible" so that it can be invoked by the imperialist powers.The essence, which we communists must clarify, is the "terrain" on which this war is being conducted. A terrain that is defined by the interests of the monopolies.The essence is to be found in the character of the powers that are coming into conflict-and these powers have a specific class content.


The characterization of the USA as "fascist" and Russia as a "democratic" international power

This ideological construct also flows from an non-class analysis of International Law.The basis for this is the view that the Russian bourgeoisie, while promoting its interests, acts within the framework of existing International Law, while the USA violates it continuously and acts "selfishly" and "in a fascist way" in the promotion of its interests.It argues that the USA may observe some democratic norms domestically, but acts in a "fascist way" in its foreign policy and causes the so-called "exportation of fascism".On this basis, there emerge calls for new "anti-fascist fronts".

This assessment, whether consciously or not, bypasses the unified class character of domestic and foreign policy in each state and misleads the labour movement.The class nature of the system as the basic criterion is bypassed.The interests of the monopolies are served inside the capitalist states by the anti-people political line, just as the interests of the monopolies are also served by the interventions and imperialist wars for the control of the markets. V.I. Lenin underlined the following concerning this issue."No idea could be more erroneous or harmful than to separate foreign from home policy. The monstrous falsity of this separation becomes even more monstrous in war-time."[29] Lenin in many of his works stressed that "the workers, if they are politically conscious, cannot side with either group of imperialist plunderers."[30]

The tragically mistaken separation of states into "fascist" and "democratic" ones leads the communist and labour movement into choosing imperialist, in a regional or more general military conflict.

As regards the invocation of the history of the anti-fascist struggle, we should bear in mind that there is now incontrovertible evidence that the major economic and military power of fascist Germany was acquired due to the direct support given to it by "democratic" bourgeois states:USA, France and Britain. These states also tolerated its initial acts of military aggression.Moreover, after the end of the war, German war criminals, staffed NATO and the intelligence services of the "democratic" capitalist states.And we should not forget that it was not just the Nazis and Axis forces that committed crimes against humanity, but also the governments of "democratic" capitalist states.The USA committed an enormous and blood-chilling crime, without any military necessity existing for it, when it dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki (6 and 9 August 1945).


The stance of supporting the less strong power

Certain comrades from other CPs assess that Russia is a capitalist state, but only a "regional power" in the international imperialist system which, like the other BRICS states (Brazil, India, China, South Africa), observes the rules of International law, and indeed is not integrated into "global imperialism", which is considered as being the "hard core of finance capital".

However, this approach detaches politics from the economy, as today finance capital is dominant in every capitalist country, finance capital being the fusion of industrial and banking capital.The monopoly groups that bring together stock companies, a basic feature of monopoly capitalism i.e. imperialism,  are dominant both in the "rich" and the "poor" capitalist countries.

The separation of capitalist countries into some that are in the "metropolis", a version of this being the theory of the "golden billion" (of the global population) and others that are in the "periphery" narrows the concept of imperialism, restricting it to issues of dependence on and exploitation by the capitalist "metropolis".The Leninist theory of imperialism, on the basis of the development of monopoly capitalism in the era when this theory was formulated, correctly posed the issue of the existence of a "handful" of large imperialist powers that exploit the rest of the planet.The schematic transfer of an identical classification of the countries in the global imperialist pyramid to the situation today, ignoring the current level of the development of monopoly capitalism in many more countries, is a caricature of Leninism.In the end it leads to collaboration with the bourgeois classes of less developed capitalist states, of with sections of them which are considered to be "patriotic", "non-monopoly", "nationally conscious". This is a catastrophic approach for the people's movement, especially when we are talking about issues related to imperialist war.

In addition, it must be stressed that Russia cannot be characterized as belonging to the "periphery", because it exports raw materials,  just as one cannot characterize the USA, as being in the "periphery", even if it is the most indebted state in the world.Moreover, the EU and China have a significant level of energy dependence on Russia, which apart from its inexhaustible raw materials, has a nuclear arsenal capable of responding to the USA, technical and scientific expertise, a highly trained labour force and it exports capital.Taking this into account, it belongs to the "handful" of states that sit at the top of the "imperialist pyramid".It is no accident that it is the "motor force" of all the unions of capitalist states in Eurasia. Nor is its important role in global developments an accident.

Of course, the economic strength of the Russian bourgeoisie is clearly smaller than that of the USA's, but this is not a reason for the labour movement to choose it as an ally.It is worth learning from Lenin's methodology and the position he took on this specific issue:

"The former country, let us say, possesses three-fourths of Africa, whereas the latter possesses one-fourth. A repartition of Africa is the objective content of their war. To which side should we wish success?It would be absurd to state the problem in its previous form, since we do not possess the old criteria of appraisal:there is neither a bourgeois liberation movement running into decades, nor a long process of the decay of feudalism.It is not the business of present-day democracy either to help the former country to assert its “right” to three-fourths of Africa, or to help the latter country (even if it is developing economically more rapidly than the former) to take over those three-fourths.”[2

Present-day democracy will remain true to itself only if it joins neither one nor the other imperialist bourgeoisie, only if it says that the two sides are equally bad, and if it wishes the defeat of the imperialist bourgeoisie in every country.Any other decision will, in reality, be national-liberal and have nothing in common with genuine internationalism(…)In reality, there can now be no talk of present-day democracy following in the wake of the reactionary imperialist bourgeoisie, no matter of what “shade” the latter may be(…).”[31]


"Russia's stance has an ulterior motive, aims to serve the interests of the monopolies, but supports a "patriotic" regime, which is waging on its part a "just war", for this reason it is positive and useful for the anti-imperialist movement."

As regards this view, the relations between the USSR and Syria are often referred to bolster this view, ignoring the class character of Syria and the fact that the means of production are in the hands of the bourgeois class.The Baath regime that has been governing the country since 1963 became dominant after the 2nd World War when thanks to the USSR, its contribution to the anti-fascist victory, the creation of socialist regimes in Eastern Europe, the collapse of colonialism, there were positive developments in the correlation of forces.Then in Syria,  as well as in the general line of the international communist movement, the question of national independence and the rallying around this goal were the central issues, as a first precondition for the overcoming of the backwardness which was predominant in every sector of social life. The USSR and the other socialist states formed a policy of economic and other forms of cooperation with and support for the new regimes, amongst them Syria, with the aim of preventing their assimilation into the international capitalist market, the imperialist unions, and also to strengthen forces within the governing fronts which were in favour of a socialist orientation.

This effort of the Soviet Union to develop economic relations, and even alliances, with some capitalist states, against the stronger imperialist powers, was legitimate and understandable, as it weakened the united front of the imperialists, detached forces from them, even if only temporarily, and utilised contradictions in the imperialist camp.The problem was that this contingent (state) policy of the USSR, which was expressed at an economic, diplomatic or other level towards certain countries, was elevated into a principle, it was turned into a theory and there was talk of the so-called “non-capitalist path of development” in these countries, which was linked to the view about a “peaceful transition”. This led communist forces, and consequently the labour movement to show toleration for or even participate in governments of bourgeois management.

Indeed up until today the Leninist position “state-monopoly capitalism is a complete material preparation for socialism, a rung on the ladder of history between which and the rung called socialism there are no intermediate rungs” [32] is misunderstood by communist forces. On the alleged basis of aiming to mature the material preconditions, the active support and participation of communists in bourgeois management, also in Syria, is excused. Even more so when these specific people understand state monopoly capitalism merely as the existence of a strong state sector in the economy, and not as imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism, as Lenin described it, and we must highlight something else as well:Lenin never called on the communists to contribute from government positions or other positions to the management and strengthening of state monopoly capitalism.So, this is a mistaken interpretation of Leninist positions to excuse the participation of communists in bourgeois governments, “left”, “patriotic” etc .Lenin wrote just above this specific phrase that “Imperialist war is the eve of socialist revolution”[33], but this does not mean that we as communists should welcome the imperialist war and participate at the side of the bourgeois class of our country in it.As we know from history, Lenin was the one who raised the banner of proletarian internationalism, against the participation in the imperialist 1st World War, a banner that was abandoned by the 2nd International.

So the mistaken separation of the bourgeois class into a “patriotic” section and a section “subservient to foreigners”, the participation in bourgeois governments, can lead the CP and the workers to fight under a “false flag”, Lenin warned of this danger [34]. Even more so, when it has been demonstrated in practice that a ‘third road to socialism” does not exist. Likewise, intermediate stages between capitalism and socialism do not exist, something that is also apparent in the case of Syria.

After the counterevolution and overthrow of socialism in the Soviet Union, the Syrian state favoured the centralization of capital, further developed its relations with monopoly interests, implemented restructuring policies, and took anti-people measures.

The goal of the bourgeois class of each capitalist state, in line with its economic, political and military strength, is to assert a better position in the competition for the control and exploitation of natural resources, oil, natural gas, energy pipelines and transport networks in order for the monopolies to acquire more profits, by acquiring greater market shares, by intensifying the exploitation of the working class and other popular strata.This is the general "rule", to which Syria is no exception. It had elevated Erdogan and Turkey into being a “strategic ally” in 2010. This had already been preceded by its change of stance towards the PKK (we must not forget how Ocalan's "Odyssey" began that ended with his imprisonment on the island of Imrali).It voted for laws, despite the protests of τhe communists, in favour of the so-called "liberalization of the market", with serious negative consequences for the workers (e.g.the worsening of labour relations, amongst other things the freeing up of dismissals, price increases of basic mass consumption goods etc.)So, even earlier that the beginning of 2011, mobilizations occurred that expressed their discontent with the policies of privatizations and austerity followed by the Assad government.A movement developed that struggled for wage increases, the expansion of democratic rights, constitutional reforms.To a varying extent, some demands were satisfied, but the plan of foreign intervention was already underway, in the framework of the more general designs for a "New Middle East".This plan was advanced to carry out changes that aim to curb and negate tendencies that were manifested at the expense of the economic interests of the USA and other strong imperialist powers, such as France, because there were states in the region that were making other choices. These states were looking to China, Russia and India, which had improved their position in the inter-imperialist competition and threaten the US primacy in the imperialist "pyramid".

So, in summary we can say that the character of a form of power is not determined by decorative adjectives like "subservient to foreigners" or "patriotic" which someone might use, but by which class is in power, by who possesses the means of production. Syria is no exception. This is a capitalist state where the bourgeoisie has the power. Its behaviour, particularly after the overthrow of socialism in the USSR, prepared, amongst other things, the "terrain" for the current developments: in the sense that Syria participated in the global imperialist system, carried out restructurings and reforms with aim of its deeper integration into the international capitalist economy, without hesitating to attack the gains of the workers and popular strata and in the end it became entangled in the web of monopoly contradictions over the division of the capitalist markets.

So it does not escape our notice that the the Syrian regime, developing political-economic relations with the Soviet Union in previous decades, without ceasing to cooperate with capitalist countries as well, opposed the imperialist plans of the USA and Israel from time to time, supported the just cause of the Palestinian people, came into conflict with Israel, which still occupies Syrian territory taken in the 6 Day War of 1967. We very well understand that the weakening of those political forces that are led by President Assad, or even his overthrow, could lead to new imperialist wars and interventions.

We are opposed to the imperialist war, we call on the people to organize their struggle against the country's involvement in it, against the use of its territory, waters and airspace as a "launching pad" for attacks against foreign lands, as well as against the participation of Greek armed forces.For this reason we are opposed to the choices and plans of our country’s bourgeoisie, which are being served by the SYRIZA-ANEL government that states it is ready to push Greece into an imperialist war, under the pretext of “fighting against terrorism”.

We express our solidarity with the communist movement in Syria, which clearly cannot be indifferent towards the foreign imperialist intervention that is taking place now in its country, nor towards the plans to occupy and dismember the country.Analyzing the historical experience of the international labour and communist movement, we believe that the struggle of each  people can have significant results to the extent that it is linked to the struggle for a country freed from capitalists, outside all the imperialist coalitions, a country where the working class will be in power, owning the concentrated means of production and the wealth it produces.Only in this way, can the socio-economic and political factors that create the vilest forms of capitalist management, like fascism and the murderers of the Islamic State, be put to an end.


The "joint war against terrorism"

The shooting down of the Russian fighter plane by Turkey temporarily extinguished the euphoria of the bourgeois mass media,  and of several opportunist forces, about the formation of a "great alliance" in the "joint war against terrorism" and the criminals of IS.Here we can see the regurgitation of arguments that what is required is "national" and "European" unity, as Europe (and the world) are under attack from "terrorism".Bourgeois political forces, from fascist Golden Dawn to the governmental "left" of Syriza, supported more open military involvement in Syria.Thus, for example, the French CP, after the Paris attacks, took a position in favour of ""an international coalition under the UN mandate because today the United States, Russia, France and others are engaged in military operations which obviously do not get the desired outcomes."[35]

Certain leading political forces in states such as Russia and also France made similar statements after the Paris attacks.On their part, these forces seek to "consolidate" their position in the political processes that will follow in Syria, after the "reduction" of  IS, seeking to safeguard or win bases for their monopolies.

However these false appeals are not in the interests of the workers of Europe, but aim to conceal the real intentions, interests and plans of these forces.

Once again, it has been demonstrated that opportunist and social-democratic forces are the "leftwing chorus" of the system and imperialist wars.

As the imperialist invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq clearly proved, islamicist reaction and obscurantism, the problem of immigration and refugees can in no way be solved by imperialist wars, interventions and occuopations.Quite the opposite.

The strategic line that the communist movement should form must be independent from the plans of each bourgeois class and its sections.It must not allow the  workers to be turned into the cannon fodder of the imperialist wars.It must target the causes of capitalist barbarity and not just some of its more extreme manifestations.



The SYRIZA-ANEL government, talking about a "multidimensional foreign policy" and seeking to achieve the best possible result for the interests of the country's bourgeois class, has made it clear that it operates within the framework of the country's commitments to NATO and the EU.

This not a political line the government has been “dragged” into due to a lack of will, but a conscious one that is directed by the strategic interests of the country's bourgeoisie (or its dominant section), which assesses that it will be able to increase its profits in these unions.So, the SYRIZA-ANEL government appears willing, in the name of "protecting the Christian population" in the Middle East, "combating terrorism", "reversing the flow of immigrants", to provide military infrastructure and facilities for the EU-NATO military intervention in Syria. The only reservation that has been expressed so far concerns Greece's involvement with ground forces, something however that in their statements (if not in their plans) the USA and NATO do not prioritize at the moment.However, the agreement of the government to the activation of Article 42, paragraph 7, that talks about "an obligation of aid and assistance by all the means in their power" has left it exposed!

Many workers may ask themselves in these conditions:"Can our struggle for Greece's disentanglement from the imperialist plans, when it remains shackled to NATO and the EU, have results?"

The workers'-people's struggle in order to have prospects and results must at the same time be turned against both domestic and foreign capitalist forces, against the government's decisions and against those of NATO and the EU.The stronger this struggle is, the more forces from the working class and popular strata embrace it, the more possibility we have of impeding the sending of Greek armed forces to an imperialist war at the side of the imperialists of NATO-EU-USA.The stronger the movement against imperialist war is, the more obstacles can be placed to impede the use of the country's military infrastructure by the NATO-EU-USA imperialists.The struggle against imperialist war could be the "trigger" for the country's disengagement from the imperialist unions themselves, for the overthrow of capitalist power, as only workers' power can guarantee the real disengagement from them and every other kind of imperialist union.

We communists, who base our analyses on the theory of scientific socialism, know very well that war is continuation of politics by other specifically violent means.War arises on the terrain of the conflict of different economic interests, which permeate the entire system of capitalism.This is the reason why, even if war in the conditions of capitalism is inevitable (like economic crises, unemployment, poverty etc); at the same time it is a social phenomenon that reflects the crisis of capitalism, can lead to a general political crisis, to a revolutionary situation, to form conditions for an exit from the war through the revolutionary overthrow of capitalist power and the conquest of workers' power.

In conclusion, our struggle for a socialist-communist society where the means of production will be the property of the people (and not the property of the very few), where the economy will operate  on the basis of being planned centrally and controlled by the workers themselves, with the aim of satisfying the needs of the people (and not the increase of the capitalists’ profits) is integrally connected to the struggle against the imperialist war and  the "peace" imposed by the imperialists with the gun to the people's head, which prepares the new imperialist wars.



  1. Alexander Zinoviev (1922-2006): One of the best-known contemporary Russian writers, sociologists, mathematicians and philosophers. His life trajectory included his rejection of the Soviet system and his expulsion from the CPSU in 1976 and then his departure from the USSR in 1978. 20 years later he completely changed his views and now in capitalist Russia he can be counted as one of the most fanatical supporters of the Soviet system that exists amongst the Russian intelligentsia. He is possibly the only Soviet “dissident” from the “Cold War Era” who fully regretted his anti-Soviet stance and has indeed officially apologized to the Russian people. He has responded aggressively to the anti-soviet propaganda about “persecutions” and “gulags”, stating that he himself was arrested in 1939 and rightly so, as he had organized a group that aimed to assassinate Stalin. “What were the meant to do, give us a medal?” was his answer to a question on this subject in 2005. After 1990 he passionately defended the gains of the USSR and also the humane values that characterized the Soviet system. Zinoviev has spoken harshly about the dissolution of the USSR , characterizing it as an “unprecedented crime”. In one of his last interviews, he stated that “the basic evil in the world is private ownership, and if humanity does not move beyond it, it is doomed.”
  2.  See, for example toliki-mesogeio
  3. 184653
  4. «Synchroni Rosia»,  sti_mesi_anatoli_19795
  5. «The energy war in the Eastern Mediterranean», Kommounistiki Epitheorisi, issue 1/2012.
  9. Andreas Matzakos, retired army officer, MSC international relations and strategic studies. «Are Russia’s vital interests at stake in Syria? Why is Russia continuing to support the Assad regime?” 2013-01-06-18-39-21/item/2015-09-27
  12. axzz3neno2hNG
  17. Memorable Statement - 7 countries call on Russia not to attack the islamofascists whose patrons they are naTs9Kdr
  20. Article 42 includes provisions of the «common security and defence policy» της ΕΕ. In particular paragraph 7 reads as: «If a Member State is the victim of armed aggression on its territory, the other Member States shall have towards it an obligation of aid and assistance by all the means in their power, in accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. This shall not prejudice the specific character of the security and defence policy of certain Member States. Commitments and cooperation in this area shall be consistent with commitments under the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, which, for those States which are members of it, remains the foundation of their collective defence and the forum for its implementation.».
  25. No=24
  29. V.I.Lenin:The Foreign Policy of the Russian Revolution. Collected Works. V.25
  30. Ibid
  31. Β.I.Lenin:Lenin.  Under a False Flag. Collected Works, V. 21
  32. Β.I.Lenin:The Impending Catastrophe and How to Combat it.Collected Works, V. 25
  33. Β.I.Lenin:The Impending Catastrophe and How to Combat it.Collected Works, V. 25
  34. Β.I.Lenin:Lenin.  Under a False Flag. Collected Works, V. 21
  35. laurent-il-faut-des-objectifs- de-paix-589717