Just as Veterans For Peace (VFP) condemned US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, we strongly condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine and grieve for the human and environmental/climate devastation now occurring there. We support the creative resistance of the Ukrainian people, the brave opposition of the Russian people and the resistance of Russian soldiers, just as VFP has supported GI resistance to US wars.
The USA also bears responsibility for the devastation in Ukraine by stoking Kremlin's security fears with USA's bloated war and war preparation spending (10 times Russia's) combined with USA's promotion of NATO's eastward expansion. After all, NATO's purpose ended in 1991 after the Soviet Union ended.
Compounding the tragedy unfolding in Ukraine is the ever-worsening climate crisis documented in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, Climate Change 2022, which U.N. Secretary General António Guterres describes as "an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership". As bombs were falling on her home country, Svitlana Krakovska, Ukrainian lead delegate to the IPCC, stated "Human-induced climate change and the war on Ukraine have the same roots: fossil fuels and our dependence on them." We add militarism as another root cause because Russia invaded Ukraine "as a predictable consequence of NATO expansion."
Unfortunately, just as the IPCC again pleads for the world to lower its emissions, the attack on Ukraine has prompted Germany to announce a drastic increase in its military spending. Increased military spending, likely copied by other NATO nations, will result in even higher CO2 emissions*.
We call for the following to address both the escalating threats of war and the climate crisis:
- Immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and a negotiated settlement that accommodates the security needs of Ukraine, Russia, and Europe.
- Reduction in NATO and US military posture in Europe in exchange for Russian guarantees to respect the right of self-governance of its neighboring nations.
- Renegotiation of lapsed arms treaties.
- Huge reductions by all countries in military spending and redirection of those funds to address the climate crisis.
These steps could both lower international tensions and begin meaningful global action to mitigate the existential threat of climate change.
Climate Crisis & Militarism Project, Veterans For Peace
*Personal communication with Dr. Neta Crawford, Professor of Political Science at Boston University and co-director of the Cost of War Project.