Three internationalists died defending Bakhmut, here’s why they joined the struggle against Russia’s invasion

Finbar Cafferkey, Cooper Andrews, Dmytro Petrov - anarchists killed while fighting Russia in Bakhmut, Ukraine
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Finbar Cafferkey, Dmytro Petrov, and Cooper Andrews were revolutionaries from Ireland, Russia, and the US. All three of them joined the military defence of Ukraine, against Russian aggression. All three of them fell together on 19 April during the Russian offensive against Bakhmut.

It’s a sad fact that parts of the European left have shown little solidarity with the people of Ukraine, instead making apologies for Russian militarism and colonialism.

Finbar, Dmitry, and Cooper’s sacrifice should remind us what it means to be a revolutionary, and to support struggles against oppression everywhere.

Supporting anti-authoritarian resistance against Russia

Solidarity Collectives (SC) is an organisation supporting around 100 anti-authoritarian comrades fighting against the Russian invasion. When the Canary spoke to Anton, a member of SC about their work, they said:

our work is related to the logistics to bring them all that is needed and that the army could not provide, to assure their safety as well as their effectiveness in combat. Our work consists as well in supporting relatives and comrades affected by the war, meaning if one comrade gets killed or injured in combat, we would help economically and in any form of support we could provide. Our work continues with the care to relatives in [their] understanding of the engagement of the comrades, sometimes with explaining the choices of the comrades.

SC has published statements about each of the three fallen internationalists so that people can remember them and understand their struggles better.

Finbar Cafferkey: From County Mayo, to Raqqa, to Bakhmut

Finbar Cafferkey, and a comrade

Read on...

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Finbar Cafferkey was from Ireland. He was involved in the eco-defence campaign against Shell’s natural gas pipeline in County Mayo in the mid-2000s. Later, he volunteered to help defend the Rojava revolution in North and East Syria, and participated in the liberation of Raqqa from Daesh (ISIS) in 2017. Finbar went on to participate in Rojava‘s armed defence against the Turkish invasion of Afrin in 2018 as part of the YPG (People’s Defence Units). He was given the name Çîya, meaning ‘mountain’, by his Kurdish comrades.

When Russia invaded Ukraine, Finbar began to organise support. He worked with ACK Galicja and the XVX Tacticaid to bring humanitarian support from Poland to the front lines in Ukraine comrades said:

When asked why he did that, Çîya always answered: “Because I have time and I can be useful here.”

Later he decided to join a fighting unit with three comrades, supported by SC. According to SC’s statement:

Finbar taught others to look, listen, and learn carefully – and valued seeing with one’s own eyes. He moved easily through a complex world, comfortably with different people, competently in difficult situations, and calmly amid chaos.

They continued:

With his character, he defended the coasts of his homeland from pillaging corporations. With his understanding, he fought in the battle for Raqqa and showed compassion to everyone he met in the Rojava Revolution against Daesh and the Turkish regime. With his commitment, he embraced and served the Ukrainian resistance as it is.

Finbar’s comrades in the anti-Shell struggle posted a recording of him singing his rebel song about the campaign to defend County Mayo, which you can listen to here.

Cooper Andrews: ‘there is a world to win and a fight which requires great sacrifice’

Cooper Andrews, aka Harris, became politicised at a young age. He soon became involved in struggles as a Black autonomist, organising against the police murders of Tamir Rice & Tanisha Anderson. Cooper was also involved in anti-fascism, mutual aid organising, and self-defence training.

Cooper believed passionately in self-defence. He joined the US Marines to gain the skills he would need as an internationalist fighter. Then, in March 2022, he joined with other anti-authoritarians in the struggle against the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Cooper wrote a letter to his comrades a month before he died in Bakhmut. It said:

In our hands there is a world to win and a fight which requires great sacrifice. For us and everybody else who faces the shadow of fascist aggression, there is only victory or death. Love and struggle.

SC wrote:

Before he departed he had conversations about Spain and fascism and history, and he made it clear that he was going to Ukraine because of the humanitarian needs of the people there to his mother.

Willow Andrews, Cooper’s mother, wants to carry on his legacy. She has set up a memorial fund to support the causes he was passionate about. The money will go to several mutual aid projects in Cleveland. You can donate to the fund here.

Dmytro Petrov: Russian anarchist fighter against Putin’s invasion

Dmytro Petrov

Dmytro Petrov, aka Illia Leshyi, was a Russian anarchist. He was active in protests in Russia, in particular the Bolotnaya Square protests against Putin a decade ago. He also organised militant direct action against the state, and in 2014 he supported the mass protests in Kyiv’s Maidan.

SC wrote:

He participated in the defense of the Bitsa Park in Moskow, in “Food not bombs”, fought against infill development and against building of incinerators, for the rights of workers in the ranks of the Anarchist union MPST and against police brutality.

He participated in the antifascist movement and fought Nazis on the streets of Moscow and other places.

In 2014 Dmytro decided to join and learn from the Rojava revolution. His comrades wrote:

As [a] revolutionary, Dima was internationalist. He fought against the atrocity of oppression everywhere he saw it, borders did not stop him. Besides activities in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus he went to Rojava and trained there, took part in the liberation struggle of the Kurdish people.

Dmytro was one of the founders of the Combat Organization of Anarcho-Communists (BOAK). BOAK has carried out widespread sabotage operations in opposition to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. One of their focuses has been disabling train lines and other infrastructure inside Russia.

Dmytro realised that it was too dangerous to stay in Russia, and he moved to Kyiv. After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he joined the military resistance. He gave interviews where he called on leftists from all over the world to support the struggle of Ukrainian people. Before he died, he was trying to organise an anti-authoritarian fighting unit.

SC made this statement about Dmytro:

Leshyi always rejected any kind of nationalism, he based his actions solely on anti-authoritarian values and ideals. And his personal qualities immediately made everyone fall in love with him, even those who had nothing to do with anarchism.

They continued:

Today everyone is remembering Dmytro. He is really impossible to forget. But we also encourage you not to forget his legacy. The ideas he believed in. Never give in to the mainstream and always be on the side of the oppressed against the oppressors.

Call for international solidarity

You can watch a video that Dmytro recorded in February 2023 here. In his video, Dmytro stresses:

We are here neither to defend any neoliberal policies or any state structures. We are here to defend this society which defends itself against the aggression, and against elimination and enslavement. Are we tired, of course yes! We are exhausted by this year, but still we think that we are obliged to gather all the forces that we have to continue this struggle, and we also call you to combine your forces together to support us.

The deaths of Finbar, Cooper, and Dmytro in Bakhmut are a huge loss for anti-authoritarians everywhere. Their memory and their revolutionary spirit should be treasured by all of us. All three of them were people who fought in many different ways against oppression, for liberation, and in defence of the natural world. Their internationalist spirit shows how strong we can be as revolutionaries, and how our struggles for freedom are intertwined globally.

Their deaths are a devastating blow, but their ideas, dedication, and commitment are a legacy which will inspire many more to continue fighting.

Featured image via Solidarity Collectives (with permission)

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  • Show Comments
    1. It is sad to read of these wasted lives. Ukraine’s government is fighting not for the Ukrainian working class but for its ruling class, its oligarchs and as a proxy for the US government. The goal is, if possible, to break up Russia so that its human and natural resources can be effectively ruled and exploited by Western corporations. Fighting and dying for that do not seem worthwhile to me.

    2. “It’s a sad fact that parts of the European left have shown little solidarity with the people of Ukraine, instead making apologies for Russian militarism and colonialism.”

      What, like Azov, Adir, Kraken and the other neo-nazi elements that have done their bit to drive this war ?

      We should feel solidarity with them ?

      “He participated in the antifascist movement and fought Nazis on the streets of Moscow and other places.”

      And now he’s fighting FOR the fascists , and doesn’t even seem to realise it. I realise the Canary can be suprisingly naive at times, but even so….

      You want real Ukraine war news, vist Moon Of Alabama instead.

    3. Your uncritical reporting on Finbar, Dmitry, and Cooper’s sacrifice in Bakhmut does Canary little credit.
      If the three brave individuals think that fighting for the Ukraine fascists and for NATO’s attempts to Balkanise Russia are worthy objectives, then they have been misled into acting as tools for America’s proxy-way in Europe.
      NATO is the military arm of America’s foreign policy in Europe.
      USA is quite prepared to ruin European countries in support of its blind hatred of Russia.

    4. Three young people have lost their lives in a tragedy that will be remembered by their families, friends and communities for a long time. Many will understand their motivations without necessarily agreeing with them. Were they fighting for Ukraine as a nation or the working class people of Ukraine who, like the people of Russia and the rest of the world, are used as disposable resources in futile wars? Many people, myself included, will see any fight based on national chauvinism as ultimately as futile a waste of life as the mass murder of soldiers and civilians being used in this needless war to reshape the world and control of resources by the global ‘elite’. The only battle worth fighting is that against the ruling class of the world, to liberate all people from capitalism. The WSWS has a somewhat more solidly socialist take on the war than The Canary and condemns all parties equally.

    5. am really sorry about the anguish and loss that these three men have caused to their friends and family. What a tragic and unnecessary loss of life. I am amazed at their naivety. We deserve a proper analysis of this war before more people are slaughtered in what is obviously a NATO proxy war. We should be arguing for a swift negotiated end, not romanizing the actions of misguided participants. There is a grave risk of escalation by encouraging people to fight and throwing more weapons in. Nuclear conflict could see the end of us all. Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the Russian invasion, the war will only be ended by negotiation. Over the past year, we have seen Russia get stronger financially and militarily and Ukraine devastated. The USA has been insulated from this European war, except for the riches enjoyed by the arms manufacturers. The aim to weaken Russia has badly backfired.

    6. So glad I stopped paying money for this pro-imperialist, pro-fascist nonsense. These men sadly wasted their lives so that a fascist puppet government could fly its flag over people who despise it. They were taken in by the relentless propaganda pumped out by every mainstream corporate media platform, and now echoed with fake ‘anarchist’ branding in the Canary. I’m sure MI5 pays handsomely for this crap. If not, you really should pitch this stuff to them. I’m certain they’d be more than happy to take over your ‘workers’ co-op’ and put you on the payroll.

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