[The Executive Committee of the Canadian Peace Congress has just issued the following statement on the deepening international crisis between the US/NATO alliance and the Russian Federation]

No War with Russia!

Dial Back Tensions – Seek a Political Solution to the Crisis!

Canada Out of NATO!

The world teeters on the edge of a military conflict involving the two largest nuclear powers – the U.S. and the Russian Federation – over the issue of Ukraine. Washington accuses Russia of preparing an “imminent invasion”, and threatens “severe consequences” including a direct military response by Washington and its NATO allies (including Canada) if Russia attacks.
Many analysts consider this the worst military standoff between leading nuclear powers since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, some sixty years ago. Washington has already placed some of its Rapid Deployment forces on ‘high alert’ and the U.S., Britain and some NATO countries are sending heavy weaponry and scads of money to shore up Ukraine’s defences.
How did this international crisis escalate so quickly, what are the underlying causes and interests driving this dangerous confrontation, and how can a peaceful, negotiated settlement be reached and world peace preserved?
It’s true that Moscow has stationed some 100,000 troops (along with supporting conventional weaponry) near the Russian/Ukrainian frontier. But Russian President Putin has repeatedly stated that his country has no intention of launching an attack on its neighbour. And Russia is not the only political actor to question the U.S. hysterical claims of an “imminent invasion”. Both France and Germany have cast doubts about Washington’s alarmist accusations and have called for calm and for a negotiated de-escalation. Even the Ukrainian Defence Ministry in Kiev has said it sees no evidence on the ground that Russia plans to invade.

Background to the Crisis

Some historical context is needed to better understand what is really going on.
In 2014, right-wing Ukrainian nationalists, with the active support of fascist and pro-Nazi militias and with Washington’s blessing and support, carried out a coup d’état against the democratically-elected government of Viktor Yanukovych, which they accused of being “pro-Russian”. The new coup leaders moved quickly to declare Ukrainian the only official language in the country, and to strip the language and cultural rights of the large Russian-speaking minority (more than 22% of the population at the time). The Crimean peninsula, which was almost 70% Russian-speaking, then voted overwhelmingly to secede from Ukraine and join back into the Russian Federation instead. And in the eastern Donbass region of Ukraine, the Donetsk and Lugansk autonomous republics (also mostly Russian-speaking) were formed in defiance of the nationalist coup government in Kiev.
While Kiev could do nothing but complain about the defection of Crimea, it launched an attack on the two autonomous republics in Eastern Ukraine, and that conflict has continued ever since, costing an estimated 30,000 civilian lives.
In 2015, Russia, Germany and France together intervened diplomatically (in the Minsk Agreements) to facilitate a ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine, along with a promise that Kiev would negotiate with the two autonomous republics to guarantee their regional autonomy and protection of their language and cultural rights within a united Ukraine. Although there have been numerous violations of the ceasefire agreement since then, it has largely held. However, the Kiev government has refused to negotiate an autonomy agreement and threatens instead to crush the Donetsk and Lugansk republics militarily.
Russia’s military build-up along the border is intended to dissuade Kiev from launching such a military assault on the breakaway Eastern republics. It has repeatedly called on Ukraine to respect the Minsk Agreements and negotiate in good faith.

NATO’s Eastern Expansion

But the situation in Ukraine is only part of the deepening security concerns of the Russian Federation.
When the former Soviet Union was in the process of dissolution in the early 1990s, and the Warsaw Pact eliminated, then president Mikhaïl Gorbatchev received verbal assurances from U.S. and other NATO leaders that the Western powers would not take advantage of the situation to expand NATO’s membership eastward, incorporating the former socialist countries and (soon-to-be) post-Soviet republics. In fact, the U.S. and its allies explicitly promised that NATO would expand only as far as the new borders of a unified Germany (including the former GDR), and no further. These undertakings by the U.S. and NATO are all well documented.
But the Western powers lied through their teeth.
In 1999, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic were recruited into NATO. In 2004, Estonia, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Latvia and Slovenia were granted membership. Albania and Croatia were added in 2009, and later still Montenegro (2017) and North Macedonia (2020). Perhaps most alarming of all from a Russian security perspective, NATO has now officially recognized Georgia and Ukraine as aspiring members.
In other words, despite promises to the contrary, NATO – an aggressive, imperialist military alliance – has expanded relentlessly right up to the very doorstep of Russia, which it officially designates as an “adversary”. That, combined with Washington’s 2019 unilateral withdrawal from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, now allows NATO to station nuclear weapons and missile launchers right along Russia’s borders, with a strike-time of 5 minutes to Moscow! Is it any wonder that Russia finds these developments aimed at encircling its immediate frontiers as an existential threat to its national security?
The Putin government recently presented Biden and co. with a series of proposals outlining these serious concerns and advancing security-enhancing and confidence-building measures, including a roll-back of NATO membership to 1997 levels and the creation of a ‘buffer zone’ of countries between NATO and the Russian Federation. But the U.S. Administration has categorically rejected the substantive aspects of these proposals.
It is patently clear from all this that it is Washington and its NATO allies that have created this crisis – a dangerous game of ‘chicken’ which threatens peace in Europe, and which could even lead to a full-scale nuclear war, with all the dire consequences for humanity that would entail.

Canada’s Role in this Dangerous Brinksmanship

Shamefully, Canada has been front and centre in whipping up war hysteria and demonizing Russia. When Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly visited Kiev recently, she offered Canada’s support for Ukraine’s NATO membership bid. Canada already has 200 troops in Ukraine training its National Guard, which incidentally is headed by leaders of the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion (Ottawa Citizen, November 9, 2021), and is now offering to send more troops and (non-lethal) military supplies.

What Is To Be Done

The peace movement across Canada, along with other anti-war forces in the labour movement, indigenous and women’s groups and other mass organizations, need to speak out loudly and urgently against this insanity and impending catastrophe.
For its part, the Canadian Peace Congress and its affiliates and supporters will do everything possible to mobilize opposition to Ottawa’s hawkish pro-war position and to demand:
• Negotiations not provocations – dial back tensions!
• Respect the security interests of all states involved – including Russia, Ukraine and all countries in Europe – in line with the principles of the UN Charter!
• Withdraw all Canadian forces from Latvia (800 troops) and Ukraine (200 troops)
• No military exports to Ukraine!
• Convene an emergency session of the UN Security Council and General Assembly!
• Canada – Out of NATO now!
For more information, or to get involved – info@canadianpeacecongress.ca