Ukraine: Anti-war groups, left parties condemn Russian invasion, call for de-escalation

February 25, 2022
Russia's war on Ukraine

In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, anti-war and progressive groups have responded with calls for Russia’s immediate withdrawal and for a diplomatic resolution of the crisis.

Britain’s Stop the War coalition condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 and said it must immediately withdraw. “We call for an immediate ceasefire alongside the resumption of diplomatic negotiations 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. 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 British government has played a provocative role in the present crisis, 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, already signed by both sides, by all parties as a basis for ending the crisis in relations between Ukraine and Russia.

“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.”

It said anti-war campaigners can best show solidarity with “those campaigning for an end to the war, often under very difficult conditions” in the Ukraine and Russia “by demanding a change in Britain’s own policy, which can be seen to have failed”.

United States peace group Code Pink tweeted: “We condemn Putin’s military actions which escalate this conflict. We oppose any further escalations by the US/NATO. Diplomacy is essential!”

In response to reports that President Joe Biden had authorised the deployment of 7000 additional troops to Europe, the group tweeted: “We, the people of the US, must use our voices to say NO to war in Ukraine and demand negotiations, not escalation!”

In the Asia-Pacific region, the Communist Party of India (Marxist Leninist) Liberation said on February 24 that Russia must immediately stop its bombing.

“We stand with Ukraine against the war being waged on it by Russia, and demand that Russia immediately stop bombing Ukraine, and withdraw its military from Ukraine territory and airspace. All disputes must be settled only through diplomatic means. 

“Russia must immediately call a halt to its aggressive military intervention in Ukraine, dubbed a ‘special military operation’ by Putin, withdraw its forces and return to diplomacy to de-escalate & resolve the current impasse. 

“India must adopt a proactive role to stop Russian military intervention in Ukraine and the ongoing military mobilisation by NATO which can only push the region to a full-scale war with ominous consequences. Safe repatriation of Indians in Ukraine must also be a top priority.

“We also condemn interference and warmongering by the US and NATO constituents on the pretext of Ukraine. We demand that the US withdraw the sanctions it has declared against Russia, and NATO must call a halt to its eastward expansion. Contrary to claims by the US and UK that NATO is a defensive alliance, its record in Afghanistan, Yugoslavia and Libya over the last generation, not to mention the US-British attack on Iraq, clearly demonstrate its imperialist objectives.”

The Socialist Alliance in Australia said: “Russia has no right to launch attacks across Ukraine and it must pull back. We stand with Ukraine against the war being waged on it by Russia and demand the latter immediately stop bombing Ukraine and withdraw its military from Ukraine territory and airspace.

“All sides must return to diplomacy to de-escalate the situation and resolve the current impasse.

“In addition to the terrible destruction and loss of human life, an escalation in conflict will reinforce the violent authoritarian nationalism pushed by the governments of Russia and Ukraine, where it is already being used to stifle opposition. In both countries, democratic space is severely restricted and war would squeeze it out even further, to the benefit of the capitalist oligarchs. Russia's military strikes today will have surely reinforced that dynamic already.

“Russia needs to stop its attacks and to get out of Ukraine. The US and its allies need to back-off, pull their missiles away from the Russian border and dissolve NATO. At a time when climate change poses the greatest existential threat our species has ever known, the last thing humanity needs is for precious time, resources and lives to be squandered on a new war.”

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) Australia strongly condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine "and Putin’s threat to use nuclear weapons".

"Potential escalation to nuclear war risks catastrophic, existential consequences for the entire world," said ICAN.

"The international community must stand united in ensuring that we protect and support civilians, and strongly reject the violations of international law by Russia.

"While all wars are unacceptable, ICAN warns that the recent Russian behaviour risks escalating the conflict to one involving nuclear weapons. Last week, Russia conducted a strategic nuclear weapons exercise, practising dropping weapons of mass destruction on civilians with intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine launched missiles and bombers.

"Even more concerningly, yesterday morning President Putin stated that: ​​​​ “No matter who tries to stand in our way… Russia will respond immediately, and the consequences will be such as you have never seen in your entire history,” in a thinly-veiled threat to use nuclear weapons, prohibited under the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The use of nuclear weapons remains on the table for all states that possess and deploy nuclear weapons. Putin’s words and actions escalate further the risk of nuclear weapons being used.

"This conflict is already harming the civilian population. Adding threats to mass murder civilians indiscriminately with nuclear weapons does nothing to protect people. The only thing nuclear weapons do in this situation is elevate the risk of a massive humanitarian catastrophe. 

"We urge Russia, Belarus and all other states to not engage in any military activities involving nuclear weapons, such as nuclear weapons exercises and other possible deployments of nuclear weapons. Belarus’ referendum on Sunday to revoke its nuclear-weapon-free pledge in its constitution adds fuel to the fire in an already tense time. 

"We urge the international community to strongly pressure Russia to engage in dialogue and diplomacy, to return to compliance with the UN Charter, respect international humanitarian and human rights law, join relevant treaties to reduce nuclear weapons risks, including the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and negotiate with other nuclear-armed states the verified, time-bound elimination of all their nuclear weapons."

In Europe, the Left group in the European Parliament (GUE/NGL) co-presidents Manon Aubry and Martin Schirdewan condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 describing it as an “act of war” and “in clear violation of every principal of international law”.

“Our solidarity goes to the Ukrainian people who are suffering from Russia’s aggression. Putin’s invasion has the potential to become a global war,” the GUE/NGL said.

“The invasion calls international stability and security into question. This must be prevented at all costs. We call for a debate in the plenary of the European Parliament without delay and support the organization of an extraordinary plenary next week.

“The European Union must act as a broker of diplomacy. All measures must be taken carefully to keep the way open for a diplomatic solution to the conflict. Russia must return to the only legitimate channels: the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

“The EU also has a humanitarian responsibility and must commit to welcoming refugees without delay and support every initiative to protect civilians. Immediate political asylum must be granted to all soldiers who do not want to participate in Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine.”

Two days prior to Russia’s invasion, German left party Die Linke (The Left) expressed 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,” Die Linke said on February 22.

“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,” Die Linke said.

“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.”

[Translation of Die Linke’s statement by Duroyan Fertl.]

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