Statement by the Peace Institute on the military attack on Ukraine

Statement by the Peace Institute on the military attack on Ukraine

Precisely thirty years ago, in February 1992, the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina erupted, which had far-reaching consequences for us, the region and the post-1989 world. At the time, we believed that such a thing could not happen again “in Europe”. With Russia’s attack on Ukraine, all assumptions of NATO-backed European peace and security have been shattered, and we are back to a hybrid war period.

We are horrified to observe and strongly condemn Putin’s “Blitzkrieg”, this utterly illegal and unheard of violation of the territory of another country, the open nuclear weapons threats, the violent attack and the destruction of Ukraine. The consequences will be many dead, displaced and forever stigmatised civilians, violations of rights and the collapse of the 20th-century international order. Therefore, we call for an immediate end to the attacks and violence and the need to resolve the issues at the negotiating table.

Although a part of the international community has rhetorically condemned this act of violence, the international community as a whole seems completely powerless and disunited. The security mechanisms and diplomatic channels in place have failed. In response to the large-scale attack on Ukraine, the EU and Western countries have reluctantly adopted only economic sanctions against Russia. However, it is evident in advance that they will not have an effect on ending the attack. Before that, they had long willingly supported financial transactions, capital injections, and bank accounts of the corrupt wealthy and exchanged technologies that serve military purposes and arms hyperproduction.

At the same time, we see the fate of the fact that in the whole process of establishing integration, the European Union and its Member States failed to set up their own security and defence policy that would be appropriate for Europe and which they would pursue in the long run. They relied solely on NATO and thus became the collateral damage of the imperialism of the great and influential. Ukraine is the worst example of what happens when there is a clash of appetites between the United States and NATO on the one hand and Russia on the other.

Ukraine has long aspired to join NATO, believing it would ensure security and peace. Today, as observers, we are helplessly watching how the promotion of NATO membership has not brought security and peace to Ukraine, quite the opposite. When it comes down, the Ukrainians are left alone and defending themselves. We, the people of NATO Member States, are placed in the position of helpless but co-responsible observers, which we did not want. Unfortunately, the victims had to fall to establish this.

The only way to achieve and maintain lasting peace is to respect international law, follow the inviolability of borders and territorial integrity in Europe and beyond, which should apply to all, including the superpowers, which have most often violated this principle in the past because of their imperial interests. The only way to maintain peace is to negotiate and disarm, reduce arms production, and make extensive and sustained efforts to respect minority rights and democracy.

We welcome the protests in Moscow and express our solidarity with Russian peace activists and all  those who oppose this war in Russia and elsewhere in the world. We call for courage and persistent opposition. There is an urgent need to relaunch international peace initiatives and pay more attention to the issue of peace.

We express our strong support for the people of Ukraine in their self-defence and/or eventual peace agreement. We are aware that it is one thing to talk about peace in Ljubljana or Moscow and quite another when rocket grenades are falling on you. European countries urgently need to provide immediate assistance to all victims of war and violence. Borders for refugees must be and remain open.