J. V. Stalin

The Ukrainian Knot

March 14, 1918

Source : Works, Vol. 4, November, 1917 - 1920
Publisher : Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1953
Transcription/Markup : Salil Sen for MIA, 2009
Public Domain : Marxists Internet Archive (2009). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit "Marxists Internet Archive" as your source.

At the end of February, before the conclusion of the peace with Germany, the People's Secretariat of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic sent a delegation to Brest with a declaration that it was prepared to sign the treaty concluded by the former Kiev Rada with the German coalition.

The notorious Hoffmann, representative of the German command in Brest, refused to receive the delegation of the People's Secretariat, declaring that he saw no necessity for peace negotiations with the latter.

Simultaneously, German and Austro-Hungarian shock troops, in conjunction with Petlura-Vinnichenko Haydamak detachments, began the invasion of the Soviet Ukraine.

Not peace, but war with the Soviet Ukraine — that was the meaning of Hoffmann's reply.

Under the treaty signed by the former Kiev Rada, the Ukraine was to release 30 million poods of grain to Germany by the end of April. We say nothing of the "free export of ores" which Germany demanded.

The People's Secretariat of the Soviet Ukraine was undoubtedly aware of this provision of the treaty and knew what it was doing when it officially consented to sign the Vinnichenko peace.

Nevertheless, the German Government, represented by Hoffmann, declined to enter into peace negotiations with the People's Secretariat, which is recognized by all the Soviets of the Ukraine, urban and rural. It preferred an alliance with corpses, an alliance with the deposed and expelled Kiev Rada, to a peace treaty with the People's Secretariat, which is recognized by the Ukrainian people and is alone capable of providing the "necessary quantity" of grain.

This means that the object of the Austro-German invasion is not only the securing of grain, but, and chiefly, the overthrow of Soviet power in the Ukraine and the restoration of the old bourgeois regime.

It means that the Germans not only want to pump millions of poods of grain out of the Ukraine, but are also trying to rob the Ukrainian workers and peasants of their rights by taking from them the power they have won at the cost of their blood and turning it over to the landlords and capitalists.

The Austrian and German imperialists are bringing on their bayonets a new and shameful yoke which is not a whit better than the old, Tatar yoke. Such is the meaning of the invasion from the West.

This, apparently, is realized by the Ukrainian people, and they are feverishly preparing to resist. Formation of a peasant Red Army, mobilization of a workers' Red Guard, a number of successful skirmishes with the "civilized" bandits after the first outbreaks of panic, recapture of Bakhmach, Konotop, Nezhin and an approach to Kiev, mounting enthusiasm of the masses, who are marching in their thousands to give battle to the enslavers—that is how the people's Ukraine is retaliating to the bandit invasion.

To counter the foreign tyranny advancing from the West, the Soviet Ukraine is raising a war of liberation, a patriotic war—such is the meaning of the developments in the Ukraine.

This means that every pood of grain and scrap of metal the Germans get they will have to take in battle, in a desperate conflict with the Ukrainian people.

It means that the Germans will have to conquer the Ukraine outright before they can secure grain and put Petlura and Vinnichenko on the throne.

The "swift blow" with which the Germans reckoned to kill two birds with one stone (secure grain and smash the Soviet Ukraine) stands every chance of developing into a protracted war of the foreign enslavers against the Ukraine's twenty millions, whose bread and liberty they want to take away.

Need it be added that the Ukrainian workers and peasants will not spare their energies in their heroic struggle against the "civilized" bandits?

Need it be demonstrated that the patriotic war begun in the Ukraine has every reason to count on the utmost support of all Soviet Russia?

And what if the war in the Ukraine assumes a protracted character and turns in the end into a war of all that is upright and noble in Russia against the new tyranny from the West?

And what if the German workers and soldiers come to realize at last in the course of this war that the rulers of Germany are governed not by the aim of "defending the German Fatherland," but simply by the insatiable appetite of a bloated imperialist beast, and, having realized this, draw the appropriate practical conclusions?

Is it not clear from this that in the Ukraine the major knot of the whole existing international situation is now being tied—the knot of the workers' revolution begun in Russia, on the one hand, and the imperialist counter-revolution advancing from the West on the other?

The bloated imperialist beast meeting its doom in Soviet Ukraine—will this not be the outcome of the exorable logic of events? . . .

Signed:   J. Stalin