The Council of Canadians condemns the invasion of Ukraine by Russian Federation armed forces. We stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and global citizen movements working for peace in Ukraine, especially within Russia itself where thousands have called on President Putin to put an end to the fighting.
Prime Minister Trudeau must take every action possible to de-escalate the crisis, and to support diplomatic efforts to immediately protect civilians caught in the crossfire. As is always the case, war and conflict affect the most vulnerable people disproportionately from others, and a priority must be helping working families, women, and children fleeing for their lives.
Equally alarming is the threat of use of nuclear weapons by Russian President Vladimir Putin, which would create a humanitarian and ecological disaster of unimagined proportions. UN General Secretary General António Guterres has declared the Russian invasion of Ukraine has been declared a violation of the United Nations’ Charter. Canada is not a bystander in this conflict and has an obligation to work for a peaceful end of the invasion. Our country has long been a supporter of the United Nations and other institutions meant to promote peace and cooperation but is also part of NATO.
Canada did not join the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, a similarly illegitimate invasion by a superpower which was strongly opposed by millions of Canadians. However, Canada does currently supply weapons to the Saudis for their deadly intervention in Yemen. As a NATO member, Canada has supported the steady eastward expansion of the nuclear-armed military alliance right up to Russia’s border; a grave security threat in the eyes of President Putin and previous Russian leaders as they believe that NATO presence implies “nuclear deterrence capacity”.
The immediate by-product of this conflict is a demand by oil and gas interests to sweep away restrictions to greater fossil fuel production, along with a dramatic increase in military spending. Both will be a disaster for our planet. The failure of many countries to implement transition measures off fossil fuels has allowed President Putin to blackmail European countries with the threat of either energy shortages or skyrocketing prices.
Peace will only be achieved by reversing the invasion and undertaking immediate peace talks where each country’s security and humanitarian needs can be addressed through a strong international system which is led by the United Nations and made legitimate through the broad support of civil society. Now is the time for Canada to take a leadership role in ending the crisis, and to recommit itself to rebuilding the tattered international system of peace and cooperation.