Veterans For Peace and World BEYOND War Promote Image of Soldiers Hugging

By World BEYOND War, September 21, 2022

As we’ve previously reported, and as has been reported in media outlets around the world, a talented artist in Melbourne, Australia, has been in the news for painting a mural of Ukrainian and Russian soldiers hugging — and then for taking it down because people were offended. The artist, Peter ‘CTO’ Seaton, has given us permission (and high resolution images) to rent billboards with the image, to sell yard signs and t-shirts with the image, to ask muralists to reproduce it, and generally to spread it around (with credit to Peter ‘CTO’ Seaton). We are also looking into ways to project this image onto buildings — ideas are welcome.

Veterans For Peace is partnering with World BEYOND War on this.

Please share this image far and wide:

See also this statement from Veterans For Peace and this article by a member of  Veterans For Peace.

Here is the artwork on Seaton’s website. The website says: “Peace before Pieces: Mural painted on Kingsway close to the Melbourne CBD. Focusing on a peaceful resolution between the Ukraine and Russia. Sooner or later the continued escalation of conflicts created by Politicians will be the death of our beloved planet.” We couldn’t agree more.

Our interest is not in offending anyone. We believe that even in the depths of misery, despair, anger, and revenge people are sometimes capable of imagining a better way. We’re aware that soldiers try to kill their enemies, not hug them. We’re aware that each side believes that all the evil is commited by the other side. We’re aware that each side typically believes total triumph is eternally imminent. But we believe that wars must end with the making of peace and that the sooner this is done the better. We believe that reconciliation is something to aspire to, and that it is tragic to find ourselves in a world in which even picturing it is deemed — not just unliklely, but — somehow offensive.

News reports:

SBS News: “‘Utterly offensive’: Australia’s Ukrainian community furious over mural of Russian soldier embrace”
The Guardian: “Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia calls for removal of ‘offensive’ mural of Russian and Ukrainian soldiers”
Sydney Morning Herald: “Artist to paint over ‘utterly offensive’ Melbourne mural after Ukrainian community anger”
The Independent: “Australian artist takes down mural of hugging Ukraine and Russia soldiers after huge backlash”
Sky News: “Melbourne mural of Ukrainian and Russian soldiers hugging painted over after backlash”
Newsweek: “Artist Defends ‘Offensive’ Mural of Ukrainian and Russian Troops Hugging”
The Telegraph: “Other wars: Editorial on Peter Seaton’s anti-war mural & its repercussion”
Daily Mail: “Artist is slammed over ‘utterly offensive’ mural of a Ukrainian soldier hugging a Russian in Melbourne – but he insists he’s done nothing wrong”
BBC: “Australian artist removes Ukraine and Russia mural after backlash”
9 News: “Melbourne mural criticised as ‘utterly offensive’ to Ukrainians”
RT: “Aussie artist pressured to paint over peace mural”
Der Spiegel: “Australischer Künstler übermalt eigenes Wandbild – nach Protesten”
News: “Melbourne mural showing Ukrainian, Russian soldiers hugging ‘utterly offensive’”
Sydney Morning Herald: “Melbourne artist removes mural depicting Russian and Ukrainian soldiers’ hug”
Yahoo: “Australian artist removes mural depicting Russian and Ukrainian soldiers hugging”
Evening Standard: “Australian artist removes mural depicting Russian and Ukrainian soldiers hugging”

8 Responses

  1. I am very concerned that a vision of reconciliation is seen as offensive. I find Peter Seaton’s expression hopeful and inspiring. It is tragic that this artistic statement for peace is seen by so many of my fellow humans as offensive. War is offensive, terrible and unnecessary. Action for peace and reconciliation is essential for life. John Steinbeck said, “All war is a symptom of man’s failure as a thinking animal.” The offensive reaction to Seaton’s work illustrates the truth of Steinbeck’s statement. I will do all I can to circulate this statement widely as I can reach.

    1. I’d love for this image to be spread throughout Russia, where people protesting the war in Ukraine are filling the streets in cities across Russia. It might further fuel protests against Putin’s illegal war and bring peace to Ukraine.
      I lost contact with an online friend from Ukraine who took part in the Maidam Uprising in Crimea in 2014, quite likely a victim of Russian intervention there.

  2. I totally agree with you have said. It is very sad that people don’t view this mural as something we need to strive for. Hate does not produce peace but it does war.

  3. I am a member of Veterans For Peace and a veteran of the American war in Vietnam. I very much agree with the sentiments expressed by the artist Peter Seaton in his mural which shows Russian and Ukrainian soldiers hugging. If only it were true. Perhaps soldiers will lead us to peace since our political leaders seem only able to lead us to war, death, and destruction of the planet.

  4. One of our Peace Activists was at a Stop Wars rally – (of course Wars are the major cause of Global Warming) & of course they always bring in the Riot Police to our Rallies. Anyway she was King punched in the face by one of the Police – her nose was broken & she fell onto the Concrete & has a really big lump on her skull. I really hope she suffers no further Brain Damage. This is Democracy in Australia.

    However she continues to support the Greens & our War for Peace. I cannot fund American Peace but I do have your Hooddy with “The first casualty of War is the Truth – the rest are mostly Civilians. However I donate to Australian Peace Groups.-
    Keep up your Great work.

  5. I tried to forward the picture of this beautiful painting but couldn’t … no matter how many times I tried. I’m sure it’s being censored. This in our beautiful land of the free.

  6. As an Army Medic in Viet Nam, my life completely changed when I returned to the United States. I learned that American corporations can’t make a killing off of peace. The U.S. has a war economy, and that is why the U.S. is involved in war after war after war. Forever Remember: W A R = Wealthy Are Richer
    When politicians and the rich start sending their kids to war I’ll start believing in noble causes. With the U.S. being addicted to War, the U.S. is constantly in search of enemies to justify their Military Industrial Complex. As Martin Luther King Jr. said in a speech on April 4, 1967: ” A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” Two soldiers hugging is very powerful, because it is only their narcissistic leaders that hate each other.

  7. Offensive and defensive is the binary language that brings us to enemy and friend, love and hate, right and wrong. When the lines are drawn so tightly between the two, we either balance on the tightrope of indecision between them or we are confined to chosing ‘sides’. Building relationships and love rather than dominance are signposts that show a path of possibility – a world beyond war. Thank you for your work and dedication.

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