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A woman weeps as she sits outside a building that was damaged by bombing in the eastern Ukraine town of Kharkiv on February 24, 2022.

A woman weeps as she sits outside a building that was damaged by bombing in the eastern Ukraine town of Kharkiv on February 24, 2022. (Photo: Aris Messinis/AFP via Getty Images)

Anti-War Coalition Holds Online Rally for Peace in Ukraine

"We must come together across borders to demand the withdrawal of Russian troops and immediate talks to find a diplomatic solution," says Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CodePink.

Kenny Stancil

Update:

At least 2,000 people from every corner of the globe attended an anti-war coalition's emergency online discussion and rally on Saturday afternoon, during which organizers announced that they are planning an international day of action for peace in Ukraine and beyond to be held on Sunday, March 6.

Jeremy Corbyn, a member of parliament in the United Kingdom who was one of several speakers, denounced the Russian military's invasion of Ukraine, which he called "abominable, appalling, and unnecessary." He also condemned war in general.

"The world's media, understandably, completely focused on what's happening in Ukraine with the Russian invasion," said Corbyn. "But yesterday there was massive bombardment of Yemen by Saudi Arabian forces supplied with their weapons by the United States and Britain. And so I think we need to then start looking at the global arms trade and what that does and the consequences of it."

"Because if you supply arms to somebody and they're used to kill somebody, then you're involved in it whether you like it or not," added the former Labour Party leader. "So I think this is a day for... a fundamental message that war will not solve the issues. War will not make anybody better off apart from the arms dealers and the arms manufacturers."

Other speakers echoed Corbyn's message about the hideousness and futility of war, and praised the courage of people in Russia and around the world who are marching for peace, sometimes at great personal risk.

Panelists also argued that while the militaristic foreign policies pushed by the U.S. and other Western powers for decades do not excuse Russian President Vladimir Putin's aggressive actions, they have contributed to the current crisis and should be subject to reform.

In a petition to U.S. President Joe Biden that event moderator Medea Benjamin encouraged participants to sign, CodePink wrote that "we write to you as people concerned about the horrific situation right now in Ukraine and the real possibility that this military conflict could easily spiral out of control with either a nuclear accident or a nuclear war."

"We agree that Russia must withdraw its troops, but we also recognize the major role that the United States and NATO have played in exacerbating this conflict and we call on you to now promote vigorous diplomacy to end the war and achieve a peaceful agreement," said the group.

CodePink continued:

NATO expansion contributed greatly to the roots of the present crisis by violating the agreements that brought the original Cold War to an end and reunified Germany. NATO should have kept its promise not to expand eastward. Instead, it has added 11 member countries that were once either Soviet republics or members of the Warsaw Pact, creating legitimate security concerns for Russia.

Russia has always been opposed to Ukraine entering NATO. In 2008, when Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko first applied for NATO membership, President Putin called Ukrainian membership "a direct threat" to Russia. NATO should clearly take the position that Ukraine should not enter NATO but should instead be a neutral country.

The group also urged Biden to "re-examine" the 2015 Minsk II agreement, which called for an immediate bilateral ceasefire between forces of the Ukrainian government and forces of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics—two provinces in eastern Ukraine that declared independence following a U.S.-backed coup in the country in 2014.

"Unfortunately, all sides failed to fulfill their obligations under the agreement," CodePink noted. "Now is the time to promote this framework in seeking a diplomatic solution."

"Diplomacy, not sanctions, is where the solution lies," said CodePink. "Sanctions on the entire Russian economy will only hurt ordinary Russians and will spread economic hardship to Europe and potentially, the global community—including here at home with energy prices rising ever higher than they are now."

The group stressed that "we cannot risk a military confrontation between the world's two most heavily armed nuclear states—the United States and Russia or the risk of a nuclear accident at one of Ukraine's many nuclear power plant facilities. We cannot tolerate the senseless loss of Ukrainian and Russian lives, the mass suffering of refugees, and the economic hardship on ordinary people that sanctions will impose."

"What we need instead is vigorous diplomacy to end the war, get Russia to withdraw its troops, achieve a negotiated solution, and advance the Minsk II diplomatic process," CodePink added. "That will be in the best interest of all NATO nations, the Russian people, all the people of Ukraine and the world community."

Earlier:

In response to the Russian military's invasion of Ukraine, which has escalated into a full-fledged war that experts warn increases the risk of a world-shattering nuclear conflict, a coalition of European and U.S.-based peace groups has convened an emergency online discussion and rally beginning at 12:00 p.m. ET.

The hour-long panel—organized by CodePink, Stop the War Coalition, No to NATO Network, and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament—is hosted by CodePink's Medea Benjamin and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament's Kate Hudson and will feature elected officials, intellectuals, journalists, and peace activists from both sides of the Atlantic. 

Speakers include Jeremy Corbyn, a U.K. parliamentarian and former Labour Party leader; Vijay Prashad, director of the Tricontinental Institute for Social Research; Lindsey German of the U.K. Stop the War Coalition, and many more.

"We must come together across borders to demand the withdrawal of Russian troops and immediate talks to find a diplomatic solution," Benjamin said in a statement. "We call for a return to the Minsk agreement and assurances that Ukraine will not become part of NATO."

Register here to join the Zoom webinar, or watch below or on CodePink's YouTube channel.


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