Peace in Ukraine, but at what price?


France Blanmailland Oksana Kozlova Jean Vogel Luc Walleyn Thomas Weyts

February 25, 2023

France Blanmailland, Oksana Kozlova, Jean Vogel, Luc Walleyn, Thomas Weyts are active in the European Network for Solidarity with Ukraine and co-organisers of the National Demonstration in Solidarity with Ukraine on Saturday 25 February (1pm, North Station, Brussels)

Ukraine, Europe and the whole world yearn for peace and the cessation of Russian aggression, but in their opinion contribution Ludo De Brabander (Vrede vzw) and Annemie Gielen (Pax Christi) plead not for solidarity with Ukraine, but for negotiations and an end to arms supplies (DM 22/2). This also seems to be the tenor of the demonstration called for by part of the peace movement, but also by a number of left-wing organisations and personalities.

This conveniently forgets that Russia formally announces it will only talk about peace if Ukraine recognises the ’new realities’ (read the illegal annexations of four provinces), which makes it impossible for the current negotiations - which do exist - to go beyond agreements on the passage of grain ships and the exchange of prisoners of war. Should we then demand that Ukraine simply capitulate, reward the aggressor with part of its territory, and renounce any demand for reparations?

It remains to be seen whether that would deter Putin from making another attempt to fully annex the country over time. Three years after independence, Ukraine was persuaded by the US to hand over the estimated three thousand nuclear weapons it had inherited from the dissolution of the Soviet Union to its Russian neighbour, and to sign the treaty against nuclear proliferation. This surely curious peace initiative did not stop Putin from occupying and annexing Crimea in 2014, launching a war of aggression in 2022, war crimes and crimes against humanity included, and now threatening the Ukrainians with those same nuclear weapons.

In the name of “peace logic”, the signatories oppose the provision of “ever new arms deliveries”, as if the Russians would stop bombing civilian targets if Ukraine’s air defences run out of ammunition. And their solidarity goes not to the Ukrainians holding out under the bombing rain but to “all those fleeing the war or refusing to be part of it”. Not surprisingly, no Ukrainian organisation will take part in Sunday’s demonstration, and another demonstration will step through Brussels on Saturday, which does call for an immediate end to the bombing and demands the unconditional withdrawal of Russian troops from the occupied territories, and expresses solidarity with the resistance of the Ukrainian people.

Russia is counting on European and Western support for Ukraine to crumble. The Ukrainian people are counting on our solidarity, not a call for capitulation.