Russian Imperialism and Other Disputes

First published: 27 October 2018
Last updated: 28 January 2024

In late 2018 several members of the IBT submitted a statement announcing they were leaving the organization. The grouping had until their departure been in the majority in the IBT in a long-standing dispute over whether Russia is now imperialist.

A substantial minority of the organization had argued that Russia had developed into an imperialist power over a decade ago. Building on natural resources in oil and gas and what remained of the economic base inherited from the Soviet Union, Russia had come to project its economic might abroad to extract value from less powerful countries, using its military weight to secure spheres of influence for future enrichment. Although considerably more backward than the established major imperialist powers, Russia plays an increasing role in inter-imperialist competition, particularly demonstrated in recent conflicts in Ukraine and Syria. The then-majority described Russia as a non-imperialist regional power of similar status to Brazil. With the departure of this grouping, the previous minority view that Russia is imperialist held a clear majority in the IBT and we published our analysis in “Imperialist Rivalries Escalate.”

Confusingly, the split group are now calling themselves the “Bolshevik Tendency,” a farcical maneuver that will only invite derision of our shared revolutionary tradition, which they claim to defend.

Below we publish a collection of documents, including articles we have published on Russia and Ukraine since the split, replies to accusations from the “Bolshevik Tendency,” the original split statement and our response, and finally a selection of internal documents from the period before the split. We may add documents to this collection from time to time.

IBT articles on Russia and Ukraine

Inching towards World War III: US imperialism targets Russia & China
1917 No.47, 10 March 2023

Ukraine & the Left
1917 No.45, 7 March 2022

NATO Provokes Russian Attack on Ukraine
1917 No.45, 24 February 2022

The Revolution Overthrown: How the Soviet Union was destroyed
1917 No.45, 31 August 2021

The Bulldog Pokes the Bear: British imperialist provocations
1917 No.44, 29 June 2021

Ukraine in Imperialist Vise
1917 No.44, 11 June 2021

NATO Imperialists Escalate Ukraine Crisis
Audio and introductory remarks at IBT online public meeting, 30 January 2021

Nationalism & Nagorno-Karabakh
1917 No.43, 22 December 2020

Imperialist Rivalries Escalate: Russia—Capital Export & Global Power
1917 No.41, 19 February 2019

Imperialists Tear Ukraine Apart
1917 No.41, extract from 17 May 2014 internal document

Polemics with the ‘Bolshevik Tendency’

Imperialism & Energy Prices
Reply to the Bolshevik Tendency, 14 February 2022

Sectarian Slanders over Crimea
An exchange of letters with formers members, written January 2021, published 29 January 2022

2018 split from the IBT

“Statement Dissolving PRG/BT Fusion”
Resignation letter sent to IBT, 2 October 2018

A Note on the World Situation
IBT statement, 19 October 2018

Letters to Comrades in East Asia
Sent in June and September 2018, published 12 January 2019

A Letter to Former Members of the IBT
Sent 2 January 2019

IBT internal documents

We reproduce below a selection of documents from debates within the IBT prior to the 2018 split, primarily revolving around Russia's role in the imperialist world order. Some names have been edited for consistency and some information pertaining to individuals has been redacted. The terms “Imp” and “Nimp” are used in several of the documents to refer respectively to those who hold that Russia is imperialist (now the line of the IBT) and those who believe it is non-imperialist.

Russian imperialism, 2013-2017

Commentary on “Is Russia Imperialist?”
Josh Decker & Barbara Dorn, 19 June 2013

Twenty Points on the Imperialism Discussion
Bill Logan, 18 September 2013

What is Russia doing in Syria?
Barbara Dorn, 26 February 2014

Observations on the Leninist Theory of Imperialism
Josh Decker, 17 March 2014 (excerpts)

Reply to Roxie on Russian Investment
Barbara Dorn, 20 March 2014

Dots for Joining
Bill Logan, 23 March 2014

Problems with Russian FDI in the CIS
David Watts, 25 March 2014

Russia’s Emergence as an Imperialist Power
Josh Decker, 27 March 2014, data updated 2017

FDI Figures and a Grain of Salt
Josh Decker, 27 March 2014

On the Uneven Development of Nimpism
Bill Logan, 8 April 2014

Reply to Tom on Petro-State FDI
Josh Decker, 9 April 2014

Counting Trees, or Leninism vs. Empiricism
Barbara Dorn, 11 April 2014

Response to the majority position on the current crisis in Ukraine
Barbara Dorn & Josh Decker, 17 May 2014

Imperialism, Tsarist Russia & WWI: Understanding the ‘Weakest Link’
Agreed by both sides in the dispute and published 22 March 2017

Presentation on Amendment to the T&P
Josh Decker, IBT international conference, April 2017

Military blocs, 2017

Turkey and the Tactic of the Military Bloc
Adaire Hannah & Barbara Dorn, 27 March 2017

Notes for Discussion on Turkey 2016 Coup
Barbara Dorn, IBT international conference, April 2017