Dead Ukrainians and Russians mean profits for powerful capitalists
A man sits next to his dogs on mattress in a hotel underground parking turned into a bomb shelter during an air raid alert in Kiev, Ukraine, Feb. 27, 2022. Un hombre se sienta junto a sus perros en un colchón en el estacionamiento subterráneo de un hotel convertido en refugio antiaéreo durante una alerta de ataque aéreo en Kiev, Ucrania, el 27 de febrero de 2022. Vadim Ghirda|AP

Although U.S. natural gas and oil companies were likely to win big from the hostilities even if Russia hadn’t actually invaded Ukraine, Putin’s attack on that country has sealed the deal.

Europe, which was getting 30 percent of its natural gas and oil from Russia, is now forced to instead buy the more expensive fracked gas that U.S. companies extract as they destroy our drinking water supply here at home. We too will join the people of Europe in lining the pockets of the CEOs with even more money than they already have. C.J. Atkins warned about this in an article last week in Peoples World.

For capitalists, war is all about their profits but for workers and the people and even the pets they love it’s an entirely different matter. There was an article in the New York Times last Friday that described the scene at the Universytet metro station in Kiev which is almost 300 feet underground.

(I went down into that station in 1971 and marveled at its beauty. It was a testimony to the seriousness with which the Soviet Union took provision of superior public services to the public.)

On Saturday it was filled with hundreds who were crammed along the full length of the platforms with their kids, their dogs, and their cats in tow.

For Sonya, 21, and her friend Elena it all started at 4 a.m. on Friday with the wail of sirens across the city. Sonya shook Elena awake as soon as she heard them and she grabbed their cat.

For days Sonya and Elena have been sitting on the platform, under their blankets, shivering from both fear and the cold. Sonya cradles their cat as it too trembles. (Cats can’t understand why everyone just doesn’t stay home.)

Babies all over the station cried as their parents checked cell phones, desperately looking for updates.

“I never thought an invasion would happen here,” Elena told the Times. “And now look at us, sleeping on the floor in a subway.”

A girl looks at a notebook next to her mother in the Kiev subway, using it as a bomb shelter, in Ukraine, Feb. 26, 2022. Emilio Morenatti|AP

People on the floor were wearing winter coats to fend off the cold which reportedly got worse as the wind blew along the platform every time a train packed with people fleeing their homes passed by.

The media is generally not talking about who is gaining from the suffering of the two friends, their cat, and the hundreds of others at the subway station. Nor do they report on who is gaining from the deaths of more than 100 Ukrainians so far and the deaths of 3,000 Russians, all of whom would probably consider themselves lucky at this point if they were there with the people trapped in the metro.

Atkins noted in his article that by putting together a few pieces of the puzzle, some clear winners emerge in the Ukraine crisis. Those winners are multinational gas and oil corporations – capitalists – that operate out of the United States. And, tragically for the people of Ukraine, Russia, and Europe, those companies have found a powerful spokesperson in the United States government.

This is not the first war carried out in the interests of those companies. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, also portrayed as fights to save democracy, were, in fact, wars fought to enrich those same corporations.

Companies like Chevron, ExxonMobil, and Shell, along with the hundreds of drilling and shipping contractors that work with them, are set now to sell their gas and oil to Europe, Atkins wrote in his article. Sanctions are cutting off the energy lifeline they have regularly purchased from Russia.

The U.S. has backed NATO expansion and has ignored the legitimate security needs of Russia for many years and has never negotiated seriously about meeting those needs or dealing with problems which NATO, rather than solving, only makes worse for all Europeans. This serves the interests of the energy monopolies who want to cut off the oil Europe has coming from the east.

The companies needed to slow or stop Europe’s energy supply, forcing them to buy U.S. oil and driving up the prices they and eventually the people of the U.S. pay.

Along with this servitude to big energy monopolies, U.S. foreign policy has served the interests of Raytheon and other arms producers by backing the absorption of more and more countries in Eastern Europe into the military orbit of NATO. This too has been perceived by Russia as a serious threat to its security.

The result now is a horrific war in which Putin has sent troops across the border into Ukraine, killing some 300 Ukrainians with 3,000 Russian soldiers getting killed in the process. It is too early to tell whether the war can be stopped soon or whether it will continue until many more are wounded and killed.

Even now, however, we don’t hear enough talk from Washington about the need for diplomacy to try to end the disaster now. There have been reports that Ukrainian President Zelensky had asked Israel to sponsor negotiations. Putin claimed he paused the invasion briefly yesterday to see whether Zelensky would negotiate. Any such moves, if they are real, would be more than welcome but they have not yet gone anywhere. And Washington, rather than talking diplomacy, seems to be stoking the fires.

Speeches about sanctions, which are coming from the U.S. and some European leaders are themselves acts of war and do not help solve the problem. Pundits trying to figure out “what is in Putin’s head” and whether or not he is insane also take us nowhere toward a better place, Catering to gas monopolies and weapons manufacturers like Raytheon by putting their weapons in Poland or Slovakia, which the U.S. did last week, especially do not help the situation.

Putin must end his invasion and the U.S. must switch course and push for real negotiations based on meeting the legitimate security needs of both sides. A neutral Ukraine in which the rights of its Russian speaking citizens are protected is the way to go.

It’s too late for the dead Ukrainians and Russians. But there is still time to save those young women freezing with their cat in the Universytet metro station in Kiev.


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.