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Notes of the Month

Russia’s War Aims

(February 1943)

From The New International, Vol. IX No. 2, February 1943, pp. 37–38.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan.

With the upturn in the military fortunes of the Allies, the war aims of Stalinist Russia have again become of utmost concern to the bourgeois world. Stalin has recently been as silent as a Sphinx on this question. But the concern of the Allies undoubtedly reached the Kremlin, for Pravda, under the by-line of David Zazlavsky, a new political observer for the Russian Stalinists, repudiated the “rumors” about Russia’s annexationist aims in Europe and Asia. The basis for the article was a London report stating that Russia sought territory in Asia (China), Iran, sea outlets in the Baltic and the Black Sea, as well as European territories.

In his May Day address of last year, Stalin had declared that: “We haven’t, we can’t have such a purpose in this war as the conquest of foreign territories or foreign peoples in Europe or Asia, including Iran.” Zazlavsky, in referring to this portion of the speech, went on to say that the regime was fighting to keep the “Soviet state intact,” and that Bessarabia and the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) are organic parts of that state.

Why are they organic parts of the Russian state? Because they were incorporated by the Soviet Constitution!

These are the territories which were obtained by force and violence during the hey-day of the Stalin-Hitler pact. They were forcibly seized and incorporated into the Soviet Union in violation of every principle of proletarian internationalism. But Stalin’s allies are in a quandary. Great Britain in particular cannot challenge the position of the Soviet Union, even though it is an express declaration of Roosevelt and Churchill not to recognize any seizures and territorial incorporations by force and violence. If the territorial expansion and acquisitions by the Soviet Union are questioned or challenged by her Allies, Stalin can, with equal justification and right, question Britain’s rights to her empire. And he can go a lot further than that. Thus, it is apparent, they will recognize each other’s “rights.”

Interestingly enough, Zazlavsky makes no mention of that part of Poland which was Russia’s during the division of that nation with Germany. Nor is anything said about Finland, whether it is intended that parts of that country seized during the Russo-Finnish war will be retained or whether all of Finland shall come under the reign of Moscow. Nor is any specific denial made of other parts of the London report.

The reference to a speech of Stalin made a year ago, is in our opinion, of considerable significance. Since the recent military victories of the Red Army and at a time when Russian war aims are discussed by her allies, the Holy Father of Russia has not uttered a single word on this question. But two things stand out sharply. First, Russian aims are completely nationalist, seeking immediate preservation of the existing state and retention of those territorial gains made through the aid of the alliance with Hitler, i.e., the retention of territories which were seized by military means. Secondly, there is a complete absence, as there has been since opening of the war in 1939, of proletarian socialist internationalism. Only a simpleton or political novice can believe that Stalinist Russia is the purveyor of this outstanding pillar of Marxism. The above-cited reference to the Pravda article is only additional evidence of the nationalist degeneration of a once glorious workers’ state.

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