Can we support Ukraine and call for a ceasefire?
The International Peace Bureau, the world’s oldest and largest umbrella organization for peace movements spanning the globe, is calling for a “Week of Global Mobilization for Peace in Ukraine” from Saturday 30th September to Sunday 8th October 2023.
In an announcement, the IPB said, “The common goal is to call an immediate ceasefire and peace negotiations to end the war in Ukraine.”
Peace is controversial
Their call for negotiations will be controversial, even among peace groups.
For some, the terrible behavior of the Russian Federation and its illegal invasion of Ukraine last year is unforgivable. They feel that ending the fighting now will allow Russia to continue to occupy large swaths of Ukrainian territory. That’s why there is so much public support for supplying Western weaponry to help Ukraine’s “counter offensive” against Russian troops in an effort to drive out Russian President Putin’s forces.
The New York Times, picking up on the divisions between parts of American society that have traditionally opposed U.S. military interventions, published an article this week with the headline, “For Ukraine, Many Antiwar Activists in the U.S. Make an Exception.”
Well-known anti-war activist Medea Benjamin supports a ceasefire, and PeaceQuest readers will recall her from previous articles about Ukraine.
As the New York Times says, peace activists who support a ceasefire have found it difficult to advance their cause.
“It’s been tough,” conceded Medea Benjamin, a founder of the antiwar group Code Pink, which was founded in late 2002, mainly to oppose George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq.
Ms. Benjamin, who was dragged out of a Senate hearing in March after she shouted “Be a diplomat — not a war hawk!” during testimony by Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, said she firmly opposes Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but doubts that a prolonged fight can restore Ukraine’s borders.
The counter-offensive has had mixed results, so far
There is an assumption by many that Ukraine’s counter-offensive will be successful if it receives sufficient weapons, such as cluster bombs, along with NATO-style training in high-level combat using weapons donated by NATO countries, including Canada.
But some analysts in the U.S. are now observing that the West underestimated Russian defences guarding the occupied territory, and overestimated the effectiveness of NATO training for Ukraine’s troops.
Observers here in Canada agree. “This long awaited major Ukraine counter-attack began in early June, but after two months of bitter fighting and huge casualties, very little ground has been gained,” writes publisher and former soldier Scott Taylor of Esprit de Corp.
“Unfortunately for all involved it appears that neither Russia nor the NATO supplied and trained Armed Forces of Ukraine have the capability to deliver a heavy enough knock-out blow that would end this war any time soon.”
The cost of failure is very high
The stalemate prompted Medea Benjamin to ask, “So we’re going to let this war keep going, let more Ukrainians die, more chances of a wider war in Europe and more chance of a nuclear war, just so it’s back to where we were a month after the Russian invasion?”
The U.S. has approved the transfer of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine to help drive out the Russians. So, in response to Medea Benjamin’s question, the answer from Western governments seems to be “yes.”
- Read ”On Target: Russia and Ukraine Frozen in Conflict” by Scott Taylor, published by Esprit de Corp on August 14, 2023
(Cover: TANAGRA, ATHENS – SEPTEMBER 22 2018: Fighter / trainer two-seat military aircraft F-16 of the Hellenic (Greek) Air Force, during AFW (Athens Flying Week) airshow 2019. Via Shutterstock)