Why Liberation is marching in London Saturday

Peace. Original public domain image from Wikimedia Commons

Peace talks now – Stop the war in Ukraine: Liberation Statement on the National Demonstration

As a movement founded upon the principles of peace and anti-colonialism, Liberation lends its voice to those protesting against the disastrous ongoing war in Ukraine – opposing both the illegal and unjustifiable intervention by Russian troops as well as the continued fuelling of the conflict by NATO member countries.  Without any effort to create the basis for much needed peace talks and political diplomacy, the peoples of both Ukraine and the Russian Federation, thrust into a conflict not of their making, will continue to suffer.

Liberation unequivocally condemns the flagrant violation of international law committed by the Russian Federation Government when forces under its command embarked upon an all-out attack and invasion of significant swathes of Ukraine’s territory on Thursday 24 February 2022.  The invasion fundamentally constituted a violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of an independent nation-state and, therefore, of the UN Charter and the basic international laws and conventions aimed at preserving the inviolability of recognised national frontiers as well as peace in our time.

This is notwithstanding Liberation’s consistent and principled condemnation of the aggression and provocations perpetrated by the Ukrainian government – including the extreme-nationalist and far-right elements within its makeup – against the country’s national minorities, not least in the east of Ukraine, ever since the US-NATO-backed coup against the elected president Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014.

This wholly unnecessary war is the direct consequence of NATO’s provocative eastward expansion towards the borders of the Russian Federation after the end of the Cold War, despite concrete assurances given to the Russian government at the time, as one of the central conditions pursuant to the dissolution of the USSR.  It cannot be denied that the eastwards expansion of NATO, with the positioning of increasing numbers of troops and weapons close to Russia’s frontiers has been legitimately interpreted as a clear threat by that country to its own security – with the accession of Ukraine or Georgia to NATO seen as clear red lines which must not be crossed.

The failure of the Ukrainian government to adhere to the Minsk accords – a series of international agreements signed by both countries in September 2014 to bring an end to the armed conflict in the Donbas – effectively meant the fighting continued in the predominantly Russian-speaking region in the east of Ukraine, which saw 14,000 casualties in just seven years.

Another key factor driving the war in Ukraine relates to the geo-strategic interests of world powers, not least that of the US to preserve its global dominance, secured in the wake of the collapse of the USSR, in the face of competition from other rising powers – China in particular.  The current war is partly due to the inability of Europe and the EU to act independently of Washington and develop a policy in line with the interests of the people of Europe as a whole – including Russia – aimed at the bringing about of peace, stability and prosperity.

Across Europe, the war is also having profound economic consequences.  The militarisation which follows from the mobilisation against Russia is creating widespread economic misery, energy price increases, and a rise in the cost of living for working people across the continent.  This burden is felt most acutely by the already most vulnerable sections of society – the low paid, unemployed, and refugees fleeing persecution – all while the energy conglomerates continue to reap billions in windfall profits.

As well as the impact that the war is having upon the people of Europe there is also an increasing impact on the poorer countries of the Global South. Rising food and energy prices, the spread of hunger and poverty and the stifling of economic development in these already underdeveloped parts of the world are the devastating consequences.

There is also a sense in the Global South that NATO and its allies are behaving hypocritically when asserting that the Russian attack on Ukraine marks an unparalleled violation of international law.  In doing so, NATO is seen as sidestepping its own history of illegal wars, involving crimes against human rights, the bombardments of civil infrastructure, extrajudicial executions, and the selective application of international law.

This weekend’s protest, coming on the 20th anniversary of the magnificent demonstrations against the involvement of the UK in the illegal war against Iraq in 2003, is a parallel which should not be lost on anyone switched on to current developments.

Given the impact of the war on the peoples of Ukraine, as well as those in many countries further afield, along with the real risk of a dangerous escalation, even nuclear war, ending the conflict must be a priority.  The forces for peace and social justice across the world are appealing for a ceasefire and a diplomatic solution that will bring an end to the war.

The Western strategy of seeking to defeat Russia militarily by supplying Ukraine with an endless and increasing range of heavy armaments is as disingenuous as it is dangerous and irresponsible.  These arms supplies are prolonging the war and creating a risk of escalation to what would be a devastating third world war.  What this strategy most certainly will not achieve is a resolution to an armed conflict that risks soon spiralling out of control.

Like all wars, the one in Ukraine must be ended through negotiation.  It will simply be impossible to arrive at a peaceful solution by unilaterally blaming Russia for its actions, while not addressing its legitimate concerns over the ongoing NATO enlargement and the need for Ukrainian neutrality.

Those who seek war send weapons; those who seek peace send diplomats!

Liberation echoes the calls of our comrades in the Stop the War Coalition and CND for an immediate cessation to the fighting all along the frontlines in Ukraine, essentially a freezing of the conflict, accompanied by serious political diplomacy towards a definitive and lasting resolution – or, at the very least, a holding truce on mutually agreeable terms.

Our organisation makes clear its firm opposition to the drive towards the escalation of the war in Ukraine and adds its voice to those of the growing current making a stand and giving a resounding “NO!” to the official narrative around this war and its continuation from amongst the working people of Europe, the Global South, and indeed the world.

The first anniversary of the conflict in Ukraine should be a time not for an escalation, but for peace to prevail – for the sake of all of the peoples of Europe and the world.

Liberation believes that sound political diplomacy should always prevail over force of arms, or the threat thereof, and should be part and parcel of a principled and progressive foreign policy befitting Britain as an independent, sovereign, and forward-looking country in the 21st century.

Image: CC0 1.0

The demonstration will be assembling outside the BBC, Portland Place at 12 noon, and will be followed by a rally at Trafalgar Square. Liberation will be meeting on the BBC broadcasting House side of Portland Place, near the Junction of Portland Place and Duchess Street at 11.45. Or just look out for our banner and flags

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