Left parties and anti-war groups internationally have added their voices to calls for peaceful negotiations to end the crisis.
In the US, peace group CodePink said: "Unilateral diplomatic and military actions like those recently taken by Russia cannot be the solution to this crisis, and risk further and even more dangerous escalation."
CodePink called on the Biden administration and Congress to “fully support the Minsk Protocol, the real path to peace in Ukraine", referring to the international agreements signed in 2014.
"Now is the time for President Biden to show his leadership, not by escalating the crisis and imposing sanctions that will hurt ordinary Russians and affect the global economy, but [through] intense negotiations that can bring us back from the brink of a potentially calamitous nuclear war.
"On the larger breakdown in US-Russian relations," the group said, "we call for a re-examination of NATO, which has long outlived any good purpose, and holding serious disarmament talks with Russia."
British Stop the War organisation said in a statement released on February 22 that it condemned the movement of Russian forces into eastern Ukraine and urged their immediate withdrawal and for diplomatic negotiations to be resumed to resolve the crisis.
“This dispute could and should be resolved peacefully, and that remains the only basis for a lasting settlement, rather than the imposition of military solutions,” said STW.
“That it has not been resolved is not, however, the responsibility of the Russian or Ukrainian governments alone. The conflict is the product of thirty years of failed policies, including the expansion of NATO and US hegemony at the expense of other countries as well as major wars of aggression by the USA, Britain and other NATO powers which have undermined international law and the United Nations.”
The group called out the “provocative role” played by the British government, in “talking up war, decrying diplomacy as appeasement, and escalating arms supplies and military deployments to Eastern Europe”.
“If there is to be a return to diplomacy, as there should be, the British government should pledge to oppose any further eastward expansion of NATO and should encourage a return to the Minsk-2 agreement,” said STW “as a basis for ending the crisis in relations between Ukraine and Russia,” said STW.
“Beyond that, there now needs to be a unified effort to develop pan-European security arrangements which meet the needs of all states, something that should have been done when the Warsaw Pact was wound up at the end of the Cold War. The alternative is endless great power conflict with all the attendant waste of resources and danger of bloodshed and destruction.”
In Germany, Die Linke (the Left party) released a statement on February 22, expressing alarm at the possibility that the Russian-Ukraine conflict could develop into a “warlike conflagration”.
“As a peace party, we reject breaking international law and military aggression as a means of political debate,” said Die Linke.
“The state recognition of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and the announced deployment of Russian troops represent a new level of escalation,” said the party. “In order to avert war, there must be a return to the Minsk Agreements, which are binding under international law.”
“The people in eastern Ukraine have been suffering from the armed conflict for years. There is a risk of another radical deterioration in their situation, a life-threatening situation for the civilian population.
“There can only be one creed these days: we urgently need de-escalation and negotiations.
“It is already clear that the current escalation of the Ukraine conflict is triggering a spiral of armaments running into the billions, which is further destabilising the entire situation in Eastern Europe.
“Necessary resources for social security and combating climate change are being destroyed. The damage is being borne by the civilian population in Ukraine, in Russia, in the European Union and in the NATO member states.
“We stand with those who fight for democracy, against exploitation and militarisation in Germany, in Russia, in Ukraine, throughout the EU and in the US.
“Russia's concern about NATO advancing eastward is understandable. As a result of NATO's eastward expansion, security promises to Russia were broken. Instead, there were missile deployments, a continued rearmament policy and NATO manoeuvres in Eastern Europe, most recently the Defender-Europe 2021 manoeuvre.
“We condemn Russia's breach of international law, but see that Putin is using NATO's Kosovo war, which violated international law, as a blueprint for his military aggression. However, using this argument to legitimise one's own military aggression is illegitimate and is intended to cover up the fact that Putin himself thinks in terms of geopolitical spheres of influence.
“Ultimately, Russian aggression will lead to people in Eastern Europe in particular to increasingly longing for NATO as a supposed guarantor of their own security. But even this path would not guarantee security in Eastern Europe in the long term, but would intensify the conflicts in the long term,” said Die Linke.
“On the basis of international law, we want to move away from the system of deterrence and armament towards disarmament, cooperation and the reconciliation of civilian interests.
“We need great powers to turn their backs on claims to hegemony and to recognise a multi-polar world order with equal partners. The territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine must be restored in accordance with international law. No country in Europe should be allowed to become the plaything of geopolitical interests.
“In order to be able to live together in peace, we need a new European security architecture in which the security interests of all countries are of equal value.”
Die Linke called for: Russia’s recognition of Ukraine’s sovereign borders and the “withdrawal of Russian troops from the Donetsk and Luhansk regions”; a return to the “Minsk Agreement”, which “envisages a ceasefire on the contact line, dialogue with the conflicting parties and an autonomous status for the Donetsk and Luhansk regions within Ukraine; agreement on a mutual military-free security corridor on the Ukrainian-Russian border and on the border between Russia and NATO member states”; and negotiations “based on a clear commitment to detente and the principle of common security”.
Die Linke also called for: “a return to arms control and disarmament negotiations”; cuts to Germany’s weapons’ budget; the “strengthening of the OSCE and its role in mediation and peacekeeping”; “no eastward expansion of NATO”; “no delivery of arms to crisis areas”; and for the admission of “conscientious objectors from Russia and Ukraine” in the spirit of solidarity.
[Translation of Die Linke’s statement by Duroyan Fertl.]