SEARCH Committee Statement
Russia should cease its invasion of Ukraine, withdraw, and settle issues through negotiations that respect the legitimate rights and concerns of all
The Russian invasion of Ukraine is a naked exercise of military power to enforce political outcomes and impose Russian rule on parts or even all of Ukraine. It is a clear breach of the right of nations to self-determination and of international law. And it is a crime against the Ukrainian people and more generally against humanity and the global community.
The invasion further destabilises an already dangerous international situation that can only help those reactionary forces and governments who seek to ‘beat the drums of war’ and to settle differences, both within and between nations, by military force rather than through democratic political processes and diplomacy.
Russia’s military operations are already inflicting casualties and terrorising the civilian population. A humanitarian disaster of major proportions could become inevitable unless military actions cease, peace is restored, and all possible efforts are taken to protect civilians.
An immediate cessation of hostilities must be a priority and all those who favour peace should exert whatever pressure they can to that end: as citizens, civil society organisations and movements, governments and multilateral institutions across the world.
We stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people who are under attack and with those Russian citizens that have already begun to publicly protest against the invasion. Inherent in those protests is the hope that the democratic will of both the Russian and Ukrainian peoples for peace and goodwill can emerge in the longer term.
We especially join with International Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons (ICAN Australia) in denouncing Putin’s thinly veiled and chilling threats of possible resort to the use of nuclear weapons.
There can be no excuse or justification for the Russian invasion. Revealing and telling was Russian President Vladimir Putin's speech justifying the invasion, not on the grounds of legitimate security concerns, but rather on longstanding ‘Great Russian chauvinism’ that, among other things, claims Ukraine is really part of a greater Russia. Bolshevik and Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin denounced such Great Russian chauvinism strongly and often. Indeed, Putin blames Lenin and the Bolsheviks for the fact that Ukraine exists at all because, following the revolutions of 1917, they proclaimed the right to self-determination of nations that had suffered under Tsarist imperialism.
Other Putin claims such as the need to ‘denazify’ Ukraine are either outright lies, falsifications of history, or exaggerations designed to justify the unjustifiable.
The United States, NATO and the EU have breached undertakings that were given as the USSR and the Soviet bloc were breaking up in the early 1990s, by joining up many Eastern European states to NATO. The interests of long-term peace and security in Europe would best be served by these states declaring a zone of neutrality and peace between Russia and the longstanding members of NATO in Western Europe.
However, no one should be surprised that the peoples of Eastern Europe fear their Great Russian neighbour after centuries of history including, sadly, during Soviet times when Stalinist practices ditched Lenin’s commitment to national self-determination. Those historical fears of Eastern European and Baltic nations can only be strengthened and justified by this invasion – they will see NATO membership as a guarantee of their security, not a threat to it.
Putin is a multi-billionaire motivated in part by his own interests and those of a few extremely wealthy Russian oligarchs. He has an interest in preventing any moves towards democracy in Russia or nearby nations. Putin funds far-right and authoritarian movements abroad, some of whom defend his actions, and are given platforms by right-wing media and social media. Profits from the sale of oil and gas provides Russia’s oligarchic state with foreign currency reserves that allow it to fund its military and act with relative impunity.
Australia's response should be to call for an immediate cessation of Russia’s invasion, for peace, and to strengthen multilateral institutions. Socialists, the left, and progressive movements should campaign for these demands but also for consistency and against hypocrisy on all issues of military invasions and interventions, peace, human rights and democracy.
Australians should also resist the calls to engage in a harmful and wasteful arms race that can only endanger peace, not promote it. The arms purchases proposed under the AUKUS agreement will not make Australia safer, but only further subordinate Australia’s military independence to the United States and its priorities. The delivery date for the nuclear submarines and second-hand tanks being proposed is so far off that the strategic and tactical situation is almost unknowable. Australia is better advised to work with global and regional multilateral institutions to achieve peace and cooperation, as well as promoting democracy and human rights, as the best guarantors of security.
The SEARCH Foundation will continue its commitments to such aims from its democratic, ecological and socialist perspectives, and work with other concerned organisations and people to these ends.
SEARCH Committee 26 February 2022