Support Ukraine! Russia Get Out of Ukraine! No U.S. or NATO War!

This is a significantly updated and revised version of the talk I originally gave at the “No War with Russia over Ukraine” rally on Feb. 5, 2022. The rally was sponsored by Economics for Everyone.

The US, Ukraine and Russia: Russia Out, No NATO WAR

Here is the text.

Support Ukraine! Russia Get Out of Ukraine! No U.S. or NATO War!

by Peter Bohmer, February 27, 2021

This is a significantly updated and revised version of the talk I originally gave at the “No War with Russia over Ukraine” rally on Feb. 5, 2022. The rally was sponsored by Economics for Everyone.

The situation between the United States and Russia over Ukraine is very dangerous. Russia is a capitalist country led by an authoritarian and militaristic leader, Vladimir Putin. A major Russian invasion of the Ukraine began on February 24th together with massive bombing.

The Russian aggression against Ukraine is totally wrong and totally unjustified. Yet, from the mainstream media and our leaders, Russia is the only aggressor and the only responsible party for this horrific war. That is not the reality.

An agreement made and then violated – by our side

In 1990, the leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev made an agreement with Secretary of State, James Baker, then a close confidant of President, George H.W. Bush. In return for Gorbachev agreeing to the unification of Germany and permitting many nations within the USSR to become independent, the US and European leaders agreed not to station troops east of Germany nor to expand NATO there.

 

Ukraine was specifically mentioned as part of this verbal agreement. The request from Gorbachev for the neutrality of countries in Eastern Europe must be seen in the context of the Soviet Union losing 25 million of its residents from Nazi aggression and wanting to maintain a buffer between Germany and Russia.

From 1999 to 2004, NATO violated this agreement, expanding east of Germany into Poland, Romania, the Czech Republic and the Baltic countries, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. The US has recently sent 10.000 US troops to Germany, Poland and Romania with more likely to come. There were major sales of weapons to Ukraine even before the Russian invasion.

 

A negotiated settlement

There could possibly still be a negotiated settlement along the following lines. In return for Russia agreeing to immediately withdrawing fully from the Ukraine and accepting its sovereignty and territorial integrity, the Ukraine, NATO and the U.S. could simultaneously pledge that Ukraine will not now or in the future join NATO. This was the main demand by Putin and the Russian government during their troop buildup on the Ukrainian border. The U.S. totally rejected this reasonable demand so we will never know whether it would have been sufficient to stop the Russian invasion. It still should be made by the U.S. at this late date. Of course, Ukraine should be part of this negotiated settlement.

Does this violate the Ukrainian right to self-determination? Let us not forget that NATO is a military and expansionist alliance led by the US. Sovereignty doesn’t include the right to militarily intervene in other countries which is a central part of NATO. In the longer run, we should demand the dismantling of NATO, a cold war relic.

 

Why is Our Focus on the United States?

The war is catastrophic for the people of Ukraine and could spread throughout Europe and beyond.  Higher energy and food prices globally are happening and likely to worsen as well as a major refugee crisis from Ukrainians fleeing. Negotiations beginning with an immediate ceasefire and diplomacy including in a central way, Ukraine, is the way forward. A neutral Ukraine is a possible, desirable outcome of a settlement.

Let’s demand that the U.S. in addition to calling for ending the Russian invasion and supporting “No Ukraine in NATO” propose sanctions that primarily hurt the rich and powerful in Russia.  Much of their wealth is abroad so freezing their assets and threatening to confiscate it could reduce their support for Putin and the war. 60% of Russian exports are oil and natural gas. Refusing to buy them until a cease fire by Russia and honest negotiations would harm Russian exporters although it would also hurt the Russian people as Russian imports would soon be reduced. The U.S. could temporarily increase oil and gas production and help people here by subsidizing the rising costs they incur for higher energy prices.

Other actions that could put pressure on Russia to end its aggression include banning all Russian banks and financial institutions from the SWIFT messaging system which connects most large banks around the world. This would make it more difficult for Russian entities to process transactions and hobble the Russian economy’s ability to do business beyond its borders. Another possibility is boycotting Russian sports teams such as the announcements by Sweden and Poland that they will refuse to play the Russian national soccer team in the qualifying games for the World Cup.

All these actions minimize the possibilities of a wider war and could further undermine the support for the war inside Russia thus increasing the possibility of the Putin led government ending its war of aggression or even having to resign.

There is a serious danger of the escalation of this war. The Ukrainian people have the right to defend themselves and the U.S. sending defensive weapons such as anti-aircraft artillery is justified but not offensive weapons or troops or military advisers.

Those could lead to a war beyond the Ukraine.

Why is our focus on the U.S and not just Russian aggression?  We live here and we can have more influence on U.S. actions than on other countries. U.S. behavior is partly our responsibility. When people here participate in an anti-war movement to stop US escalation and support peace efforts, it encourages those in Russia seeking peace and increases their credibility in demanding Russian end the war. Each will reinforce the other.

The large protests in Russia against Putin, saying No to War are courageous and inspiring.  More than 3000 have been arrested in Russia since the beginning of the Russian invasion and they are continuing to grow. Let’s support them. The war is not popular in Russia and may lead to Putin’s downfall like what happened to the Czar for leading Russia into the highly destructive WWI.

A war between Russia and the United States over Ukraine?

Let’s continue to oppose the U.S. going to war over Ukraine while supporting the Ukrainian resistance to their invasion. There is a danger of unintended consequences. Specific actions by the US or Russia could be misinterpreted and a broader war that is not planned for could occur.  There is the slight danger of a nuclear war. Let us not take this chance. Let’s  make part of our daily life — and the groups we are part of, a call for diplomacy and a negotiated settlement.

Building an anti-war movement

Let us educate ourselves, our friends and communities, our workplaces and fellow students about the history and current situation in Ukraine including the human costs of the war and Ukrainian resistance.  Let’s build an anti-war movement calling for “No NATO expansion into Ukraine” and Russia out. One of our tasks is to educate and build an antiwar movement for cutting US military spending and closing U.S. military bases around the world. We need a movement against the growing US military build-up and threats against China; a movement that demands the end of sanctions against Iran, Cuba and Venezuela; an end to military support for Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and an end to military sales there.

In building an anti-war movement in Olympia and beyond, we should build one that makes central calls for ending injustice  and oppression in the US and links up with organizations and social movements involved in these struggles.

For example, let us connect the anti-war movement to the demand for freedom for Leonard Peltier.  He was a leader of the American Indian Movement (AIM) and has been a continuing inspiration to Native Americans and many others.

Leonard has spent 45 years in prison after being unjustly convicted for a 1975 killing of two FBI agents who invaded the Pine Ridge Reservation. Let us demand President Biden grant him clemency on medical and humanitarian grounds.  With enough pressure, this is a winnable demand.

Let’s build solidarity with people across borders who are resisting oppression, exploitation, authoritarianism and repression and foreign intervention.

Let’s connect US militarism and imperialism, not only to its costs, but also to “race”, gender and class oppression at home and to an exploitative capitalist system that we need to replace and transform into a participatory socialist system.

Peter Bohmer is active as a member of Economics for Everyone, Real Utopia, and was a long-time faculty member at The Evergreen State College.

 

My Talk at the No War with Russia over Ukraine Rally, February 5th, 2022

No War With Russia over Ukraine

My talk at the “No War with Russia over Ukraine Rally”,

by Peter Bohmer, February 5th, 2022

I am Pete Bohmer, a member of Economics for Everyone, the sponsor of this rally.

This rally is part of a national day of anti-war actions coordinated by Code Pink, codepink.org.

The situation between the United States and Russia over the Ukraine is very dangerous. Russia is a capitalist country led by an authoritarian leader, Vladimir Putin. Russia has increased its military build-up to 130,000 troops near their 1300-mile border with Ukraine.  This is wrong. Yet, from the mainstream media and our leaders, Russia is the only aggressor and threat to peace in Ukraine.  That is far from the reality.

The United States has consistently intervened in other countries, e.g., has tried to overthrow the government in Cuba for over 60 years. In 1990, the leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev made an agreement with Secretary of State, James Baker, who was also a close confidant of then President, George H.W. Bush.  In return for Gorbachev agreeing to the unification of Germany and permitting the independence of many of the nations within the USSR, there would be no NATO expansion east of Germany, nor stationing of European and US troops east of Germany.  Ukraine was specifically mentioned as part of this agreement.  This request from Gorbachev for the neutrality of countries in Eastern Europe needs to be put in the context of the Soviet Union losing 20 million people from the Nazi aggression and wanting to have a buffer between Germany and Russia.

In direct violation of this agreement  in the late 1990’s, NATO expanded into Poland, Romania, the Czech Republic and the Baltic countries. Today, there is a major military buildup of Russian troops near the Ukraine but there has also been an increase of 3000 U.S. troops to Poland and Romania with likely increases to come and  increased sales of weapons to the Ukraine. Somewhat ironically, Ukraine’s government, led by Volodymr Zelensky, seems less worried about a Russian invasion than U.S. leaders like Biden and National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan.

                                                                                 Negotiated Settlement!

There could and should be a negotiated settlement along the following lines. A clear statement by NATO that it will not offer membership to Ukraine in the present or future and that there will be no stationing of U.S. or troops from European countries in the Ukraine. In return Russia is likely to accept the sovereignty of the Ukraine, agree to not intervene in its domestic politics, to not invade and to significantly reduce Russian troops from Ukraine’s border.  Of course, Ukraine should be part of this negotiated settlement.

Does this violate the Ukrainian right to self-determination? Perhaps, a little bit but let us not forget that NATO is a military and expansionist alliance led by the U.S. Moreover, sovereignty does not include the right to militarily intervene in other countries which is a central part of NATO. In the longer run, we should demand the dismantling of NATO which is a cold war relic.

A war would be catastrophic for Ukraine and beyond.  Negotiations and diplomacy including in a central way, Ukraine, is the only way forward. A neutral Ukraine is one possible desirable outcome of a negotiated settlement. France is currently making that proposal. Let us demand the United States end its threat of sanctions and military escalation and be a part of a negotiated and peaceful solution. The sanctions being proposed by the U.S. Congress would seriously harm the Russian people and could be put into effect even short of a Russian invasion.

Why is our focus on the United States and less on Russia?  We live here and we can have more influence on U.S. actions than on other countries. U.S. actions are partly our responsibility.  Moreover, by people and an anti-war movement here reducing U.S. escalation and supporting peace efforts encourages those in Russia seeking peace and increases their credibility in demanding Russia de-escalation. Each willeinforce the other.

How likely is war between Russia and the United States over Ukraine?

I don’t know how likely it is, but we are more likely to be effective in stopping a war before an actual war starts. There were massive protests before the 1991 Gulf War (the first war against Iraq), the 2001 U.S. War against Afghanistan and especially the 2003 war against Iraq. Once the U.S. went to war the protests and anti-war movement declined. Also, even if no nation is planning to go to war, there is a danger of unintended consequences of specific actions by the U.S. or Russia, being misinterpreted and a war that is not planned for, occurring.  Moreover, besides the destruction of Ukraine from a war fought on Ukrainian territory, there is even the slight danger of a nuclear war. Let us not take this chance and make part of our daily life and groups we are part of –active opposition to United States escalation of this dangerous situation and a call for diplomacy and a negotiated settlement.

Building an Anti-War Movement

Let us educate ourselves, our friends and communities, our workplaces and fellow students about the history and current danger with regards to the Ukraine. Let us build an anti-war movement in support of diplomatic solutions along lines I have mentioned: No expansion of NATO into the Ukraine.  Ukraine is the immediate danger but also let us also educate and build an antiwar movement in the not too distant future for cutting U.S. military spending, that is against the growing U.S. military build-up and threats against China, that demands the ending of sanctions against Iran, Cuba and Venezuela, and for ending U.S. military support for Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and for ending military sales to those countries.  As already mentioned, let us in the future also call for the dismantling of NATO.

In conclusion, in building an anti-war movement in Olympia and beyond, let us build one that also makes central calls for ending injustice and oppression in the U.S. and links up with organizations and social movements involved in these struggles.

For example, let us connect the anti-war movement to the demand for freedom for Leonard Peltier.  He was a leader of the American Indian Movement (AIM) and has been a continuing inspiration to Native Americans and so many others. Leonard has spent 45 years in prison for supposedly killing two FBI agents in 1975 who invaded the Pine Ridge Reservation. His trial was a huge misjustice with coerced and perjured witnesses.  The prosecution withheld evidence that could have cleared him. Leonard Peltier has Covid although he had requested a booster shot that he was not given. The conditions at the Federal Prison where he is incarcerated in Coleman, Florida are inhumane.  Leonard has diabetes and high blood pressure and other comorbidities with Covid and is 77 years. Let us demand President Biden grant him clemency on medical and humanitarian grounds.  With enough pressure, this is a winnable demand.

More generally, let us connect U.S. militarism and imperialism, not only to its costs, but also   to “race”, gender and class oppression at home and to an exploitative capitalist system that we need to replace and transform into a participatory socialist system.

Thank You.

 

No War with Russia over the Ukraine: Diplomacy Not War

Here is the leaflet we are handing out as part of the national day of action against U.S. escalation. Our rally is Saturday, February 5th from Noon to 1 by the State Capital, on the  street , Capital Way (just south of Union) in Olympia, WA. Join us!

NO WAR WITH RUSSIA OVER UKRAINE!

We are on the brink of a massive war between the US and Russia – two nuclear-armed states.
The time to speak out is NOW!
We are here on February 5, 2022 to demand an end to the drumbeat of war with Russia over Ukraine! President Biden has just sent 3000 US troops to countries on the border with Ukraine and near Russia.

 

Let us do what we can to stop the growing escalation and threat of a war on Ukrainian soil and possibly beyond, between Russia and the U.S.  The Ukrainian people would pay a horrible price. The dangerous escalation at the Russian/Ukrainian border standoff intensifies.  Biden is also considering sending more warships and aircraft and has already delivered more “lethal aid” to Ukraine.  The $500 million Congress is set to pass through a fast-track vote could and should be used on communities, climate and needs at home. The Pentagon has said that there is the possibility of sending as many as 50,000 troops!
We do not support the Russian massing of troops on the Ukrainian border nor their annexing by Russia of Crimea in 2014.  However, not mentioned by the Biden administration nor most of the U.S. media, is the failure of the U.S. government to live up to its promise made in 1990 by then-Secretary of State James Baker to Russian leader, Gorbachev, that NATO would expand not “one inch to the East” and that the Ukraine would not become a part of NATO.  Since 1999, NATO has expanded to include numerous countries, including some that border Russia. Rather than dismissing out of hand the Russian government’s current insistence on a written guarantee that Ukraine will not become part of NATO, the U.S. government should agree to a long-term moratorium on any NATO expansion. Russia and its President Putin have offered to deescalate the situation if Ukraine remains a neutral country and does not become part of the U.S. led and dominated military alliance, NATO.

 

We live in the United States, so our main responsibility is challenging the U.S. military buildup. Moreover, by organizing in the U.S. against U.S. military escalation and threats to go to war with Russia, and instead, in favor of diplomatic solutions, we are encouraging groups in the Ukraine and Russia who support peace and who are against the growing militarization of the situation. It will increase their credibility and influence. The U.S.  military escalation and sending of troops to Poland and Romania lead to justification in Russia for their military escalation.

 

The only solutions are diplomatic ones. Let us end the forever wars of the United States, the U.S military buildup, and the continued growth of military spending. Let us stop the danger of a major war between two nuclear powers.

 

Join this rally to demand: DIPLOMACY, NOT WAR;

WAR IS NOT GREEN; NO US/NATO AGGRESSION.

NO MORE WARS FOR CORPORATE PROFIT; $$ FOR HUMAN NEEDS, NOT WAR!

This is a peaceful, nonviolent event.  Masks & distancing, please.

 

This rally coincides with activities around the country, led by Code Pink to resist the normalization of war and demand that not a single bullet or gun be sent to Ukraine, and no troops be sent to Europe.                Diplomacy not war!

 

Sponsored by Economics for Everyone, facebook.com/EconomicsforEveryoneOly/

Facebook Event Page: https://fb.me/e/10KBscXG2