It is possible to be outraged by positions and tones of this nature, and it is easy to assume we can simply ask populations to stop fighting against an invasion when it is not our own nation that is under attack. However, the reverse argument can also be used, in other words, that it is easy to ask populations to continue to resist when we are not on the front lines of the battle. Some might say we can at the very least offer our material support and help them arm themselves. However, due to the brutal disproportion of the relationship of forces and the nuclear threat, there will always be those who claim this is simply inviting such populations to help decimate their own country.
We know all too well what it would mean to send troops from other countries to Ukraine: war on a global scale with an uncertain duration. Therefore, a solution of this nature has been completely ruled out. It is also worth recalling the consequences of past actions to weaken the United Nations, which came from Western powers, particularly after the US invasion of Iraq. We are currently paying the price for irresponsibility of this nature, because we can no longer simply appeal to an international forum who then sends troops into a war in an attempt to keep things under control.
It is a mistake to consider this current conflict as a war between democratic and authoritarian societies. In fact, our “way of life” is very much economically tied to authoritarian governments.
On the other hand, I believe it is true to say those who claim this is a “punctual” war are wrong. In fact, it might be possible that it is a symptom of a greater structural problem. Be it a war between nations or wars against certain populations, capitalist accumulation processes are always a part of it. Although some believed such an aspect was a thing of the past, this outlook may have been overly optimistic. For decades, Russia has sought to recover from the trauma it endured following the erosion and decay of its imperial strength. Today, it is employing a conventional war of occupation to impose what it perceives to be its natural zone of influence – and force the world to acknowledge it as such. In addition, there is no guarantee other countries that have become military powers, such as China, will not follow suit in the medium term – not least because the notion of a “zone of influence” has not been entirely abandoned by Western powers. For example, several politicians recently used just such an argument to justify sending French troops into Mali.
Obviously, it is not a question of “naturalizing” the monstrosity of actions carried out within such a criminal logic. On the other hand, the best way to fight something is to understand its real function and resilience. We live in a world in which imperial war is not just something for the history books, but rather a reality we need to know how to handle without the support of political mediations conducted by multilateral structures we no longer have, thanks to our own destructive actions. The logic of economic sanctions may appeal to some, but historically they have always proved ineffective – case in point Cuba, which has endured sixty years of sanctions to no avail. In any case, the Russia, China and India alliance doesn't really seem to contribute to economically isolating Putin. For now, what remains to be seen is how to avoid the worst in situations where the worst is happening right before our very eyes.