Putin and Zelenskyy, Talk to Each Other!

By Yurii Sheliazhenko, World BEYOND War, February 27, 2022

KYIV, UKRAINE — We live in hard times which demand courage to promote peace.

When neighbor nations with intertwined history are starting to oppress, destroy and kill each other year by year, on their own territory or invading the neighbor’s territory…

When you post on Facebook that the UN Charter demands pacific settlement of all disputes and, therefore, President Putin of Russia and President Zelenskyy of Ukraine should cease fire and start peace talks, and comments are momentarily overflowed with obscenities and damnations…

When martial law and total mobilization is proclaimed, and rifles handed out to thousands of newly recruited city soldiers, and selfies with rifles become trendy on Facebook, and nobody knows who and why somebody suddenly shoots at the street…

When even civilians in a condominium are preparing to meet an enemy with Molotov cocktails, as the army recommends, and they delete from their Viber chat a neighbor perceived as a traitor because of calling people to be careful, don’t burn common house and don’t allow the military to use civilians as human shield…

When distant sounds of explosions from windows are mixing in mind with messages about deaths and destruction, and hate, and distrust, and panic, and calls to arms, to more bloodshed for sovereignty…

…it is a dark hour for humankind which we should survive and overcome, and prevent from repeating.

Ukrainian Pacifist Movement condemns all military actions on the sides of Russia and Ukraine in the context of current conflict. We condemn military mobilization and escalation within and beyond Ukraine, including threats of nuclear war. We call the leadership of both states and military forces to step back and sit at the negotiation table. Peace in Ukraine and around the world can be achieved only in a nonviolent way. War is a crime against humanity. Therefore, we are determined not to support any kind of war and to strive for the removal of all causes of war.

It is hard to stay calm and sane now, but with the support of global civil society it is easier. Friends from many countries are showing solidarity and actively promoting peace by peaceful means in and around Ukraine. We are deeply grateful and inspired here.

Unfortunately, warmongers too are pushing their agenda throughout the world. They demand escalatory more military aid for Ukraine and destructive economic sanctions against Russia.

The sanctions which the West and the East are imposing on each other as a result of the U.S.-Russia battle for control over Ukraine may weaken but will not split the global market of ideas, labor, goods and finances, so the global market will inevitably find a way to satisfy its need in global government. Question is, how civilized and democratic will be the future global government; and military alliances, aimed to uphold absolute sovereignty, are promoting despotism rather than democracy.

When NATO members provide military aid to support sovereignty of Ukrainian government or when Russia sends troops to fight for self-proclaimed sovereignty of Donetsk and Luhansk separatists, you should remember that unchecked sovereignty means bloodshed, and sovereignty is definitely not democratic value: all democracies emerged from resistance to bloodthirsty sovereigns, individual and collective. War profiteers of the West are the same threat to democracy as the authoritarian rulers of the East, and their attempts to divide and rule the Earth are essentially similar.

NATO should step back from conflict around Ukraine escalated by its support to war effort and aspirations of membership of Ukrainian government, and ideally to dissolve or transform into an alliance of disarmament instead of military alliance.

The United States should send a message to Ukraine that peace talks between the government and separatists are inevitable, the sooner the better, and then enter into meaningful peace talks with Russia. I suggest both should join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons making it a good example to other great powers, first of all to China. And all great powers should commit to nonviolent global governance based on peace culture, universal communication and cooperation instead of doomed to fail efforts to impose their hegemony, global or regional, by brutal military force.

Ukraine should not side with any bellicose great power whether it is the U.S., NATO or Russia. In other words, our country should be neutral. The Ukrainian government should demilitarize, abolish conscription, settle peacefully territorial disputes concerning Crimea and Donbass and contribute to the development of future nonviolent global governance instead of trying to build a 20th century fashioned nation state armed to the teeth. It will be easier to negotiate with Russia and her client separatists when you share a vision that Ukraine, Donbass and Crimea in future will be one whole on the united planet without armies and borders. Even if elites lack intellectual courage to look into the future, pragmatic understanding of benefits of the common market should pave the way for peace.

All conflicts should be resolved at the negotiation table, not at the battlefield; international law demands it and there is no other plausible way to solve disputes emerging from the 2014 violent power grabs in Kyiv, Crimea and Donbass, following eight-years bloodshed by Ukrainian and pro-Russian forces, and current Russian aggressive militarist attempt to undo regime change in Ukraine.

Public outrage provoked by the war of lies is growing while all belligerent parties are making all sorts of noize to deceive the whole world blaming each other, refusing to admit their own misbehavior, whitewashing their war efforts contrary to common sense.

Instead of breaking the last bonds of humanity out of rage, we need more than ever to preserve and strengthen venues of communication and cooperation between all people on Earth, and each individual effort of that sort has a value.

Not many people are trying hard to be either angels or demons; most people are drifting intuitively between a culture of peace and nonviolence, on the one hand, and culture of war and violence, on another hand. Pacifists should show the good way.

Nonviolence is a more effective and progressive tool for global governance, social and environmental justice, than delusions about systemic violence and war as panacea, a miraculous solution for all socio-economic problems.

Have Ukraine and Russia not enough runned amok and suffered from rampage to understand that violence doesn’t work? But lack of peace culture in both post-Soviet nations results in extreme non-negotiability. Putin and Zelenskyy received many calls from leaders of other nations suggesting they should negotiate a ceasefire. And it was announced they would negotiate. Then their teams said that preparations for talks failed because the other side can’t be trusted, asks too much, cheats and plays for time. It seems that the concept of negotiations for the both presidents means either military stratagem or accepting surrender of the enemy.

Putin and Zelenskyy should engage in peace talks seriously and in good faith, as responsible politicians and representatives of the people, on the basis of common public interests instead of fighting for mutually exclusive positions.

I hope that with the help of all people of the Earth telling the truth to the power, demanding to stop shooting and start talking, aiding those who need it and investing into the peace culture and education for nonviolent citizenship, we could together build a better world without armies and borders. A world, ruled by great powers of Truth and Love, embracing East and West. And, quoting May-May Meijer, my friend from the Netherlands — a world in which all children can play.

8 Responses

  1. War is a tragedy. This war has been going on for 8 years, 14,000 lives lost in the Donbass, both army and civilians. According to the UN and OSCE 81% of the cease fire violations have been against the separatist zone. We so soon forget that the US has been pushing this war for a long time. Russia has been provoked over and over. Still I agree, no war is justified.

  2. Although this war was clearly started by Russia, the path leading to it was laid by NATO states and their role in Ukrainian affairs since 2013/14. Therefore I support this declaration and thank you for it

  3. There is a time for peaceful means yes. When you are dealing with rational people. You’re going to get more people killed preaching the way you are though, you cannot fight fire with peace leaves, they will burn. You cannot reason with a tyrannical madman, keep attempting your ‘peace’ talks and see where it gets you. You want your own people to lay down their arms and accept Russian totalitarianism? If the world had no armies and no borders how long do you think it would take for a militant organisation to just take over the world? You’re like a child with these utopian fantasies. Come back to reality because you will almost certainly get your yourself and your family killed.

  4. Thank you, Yurii, for your encouraging statement. I believe that even in the current situation sincere talks with Putin are possible. They should be prepared by trust building measures on both sides, but especially from the US’ and NATO’s side. The readiness for cooperation towards a peaceful Europe including Russia and the states of former Soviet Union Putin showed in his speech at German Bundestag in 2001 makes me hope that a peaceful solution is possible.
    Good Wishes! Hanne from Germany

  5. Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

    Multilateral disarmament would be wonderful. If that cannot be achieved there are other ways of achieving peace.

    Why is it that for almost 70 years no two countries with nuclear deterrents have declared war against each other?

    We all want peace. We all wish armaments were never invented. But we are where we are and what solutions do we have? Blessed are the peacemakers? Will they endanger their own lives to garner peace?
    If not who will garner peace?

  6. Thank you, Jurij! When would be our time if not now that things have happened that we hoped they never would? If our fundamental convictions are right, that every human being is our sister or brother, that every ennemy is a friend-to-be, then we have to get up and fight our fight without weapons. The fundamental misunderstanding of “the other side” is that refraining from weaponry is refraining from resistance (see above “RealityCheck”). Not at all! It is not until the weapons are silent, that our words will be heard. And that the non-violent resistance against the military that we practice in our countries can and shall be practised in Ukraine.
    Let us know how we can support you, practically, phasically.

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