Tag Archives: Russia

Editorials: Ukraine long war, Northern Ireland ‘Legacy’

The long war

It is dead (sic) easy to get into war but extremely difficult to get out of it.

The war in Ukraine is a classic ‘long war’ where no side can gain sufficient advantage to get into the situation where it can ‘win’. In that, and in its trench warfare, it is reminiscent of the First World War except with 21st century weapons and technology. So both sides continue to pour soldiers, civilians, and money, down the drain. And the more money and blood expended in the cause, the more difficult it is to sacrifice that ‘sacrifice’ to move to peace; Shakespeare put it eloquently into the mouth of Macbeth – “I am in blood / Stepped in so far that should I wade no more, / Returning were as tedious as go o’er” – ‘tedious’ here meaning difficult.

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, said on 17th September (speaking to the EU Parliament) that “Most wars last longer than expected when they first begin. Therefore we must prepare ourselves for a long war in Ukraine.” He went on to say that ““There is no doubt that Ukraine will eventually be in Nato”* – a crazy thing to say when it was Ukrainian prospective membership of NATO which was a major cause of the Russian invasion. He also conflates or confuses future Ukrainian security with Ukrainian membership of NATO when the two are very much not the same thing; there can be guarantees of Ukrainian territorial integrity which are nothing whatsoever to do with NATO. *INNATE continues to use the upper case acronym ‘NATO’ rather than ‘Nato’ as we consider the latter an attempt to make it seem like a friendly neighbourhood organisation rather than a major war alliance with nuclear weapons.

Continuing the comparison with the First World War there is another, extremely dangerous, possible parallel with the First World War. The Second World War was a direct result of the First through the penalisation and victimisation of Germany. The disorder of the post-First World War years in Germany, which were brought about partly by economic and other penalties on Germany, led to the rise of fascism – and the rest, tragically, is history.

There is the danger that the West, especially the USA but others as well, want Russia to be humiliated through this war, not just to have a settlement that they and Ukraine can live with. For the West it is a proxy war. We have already seen what happened when NATO, against Russian warnings, continued to push its boundaries eastward – something which they undertook not to do at the time of the collapse of Soviet communism and control in Eastern Europe.

We have stated here previously, numerous times, that the USA and the West expected Russia to accept something which was totally unacceptable to the USA. In 1962 the world came close to the brink of nuclear war when Russia/the Soviet Union placed missiles in Cuba. This was ‘the enemy at the gate’ and the USA threatened nuclear annihilation if the situation was not remedied to its satisfaction. Russia compromised. And yet the USA and the West expected – expect – Russia to accept NATO weaponry, of all sorts, on its borders in Ukraine if it joined/joins NATO and/or the EU. The USA is a world superpower militarily and Russia now only a regional military power – admittedly flexing its muscles in Africa and the Middle East – but the situations are identical. The West misjudged the situation and expected Putin to roll over.

While what was said had its own nuances, Jens Stoltenberg in his September address to the EU Parliament https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/opinions_218172.htm?selectedLocale=en went on confirm many of the details of Putin opposing NATO expansionism. Putin in autumn 2021 “sent a draft treaty that they wanted NATO to sign, to promise no more NATO enlargement. That was what he sent us. And was a pre-condition for not invade Ukraine……So he went to war to prevent NATO, more NATO, close to his borders. He has got the exact opposite.” While Putin was looking for more than the above in terms of the withdrawal from NATO by countries in central and eastern Europe, it has to be recognised that their membership was contrary to promises previously given to Russia.

Not to have entered talks and negotiations with Russia was a monumental error and part of NATO’s belligerence and feeling of superiority; perhaps a modus vivendi could have been reached as opposed to the current modus morendi (way of dying). In terms of military thinking, Russia had a legitimate interest which was brushed aside by NATO. Russia’s demands might have seemed unreasonable by the standards of realpolitik but that is what discussion and mediative processes are about; the different sides put out their stalls and views and, then, collectively look at whether movement is possible. There could indeed have been ways to reassure Russia on its security but NATO did not bother to look. This is a substantial cause of the war in Ukraine – obviously not the only one with Putin deciding he could pull a fast one militarily but he got bogged down by Ukrainian military resistance.

Should Russia be humiliated in defeat, with consequences for the Russian state and society, it is quite possible that the same scenario could emerge as in Germany after the First World War – the emergence of leadership which makes Vladimir Putin look like a screaming liberal. Brutal and unnecessary as Russia’s war on Ukraine has been, the art of trying to put a conflict to bed and being able to move on is through giving both sides an ‘out’, not in penalising one side, the losers. In other words, Putin has to be allowed to save face, whether that is liked or not. We are not saying Russia and Russians should not face war crimes trials; we are saying Russia and Russians need to be allowed to move on to hopefully a more peaceful future.

There are many ways a settlement could come about while retaining justice for Ukraine. Crimea was mainly ethnically Russian and a possession of Ukraine’s based on a whim of Stalin, a move not too significant at a time when all were in the Soviet Union. Ukraine accepting the loss of Crimea would be a psychological blow but could be a price well worth paying. Accepting Crimea as Russian might seem to give in to ‘might is right’ but compromise may be necessary to avoid endless bloodshed. So far as the eastern provinces of Ukraine claimed by Russia, we have suggested Russia withdrawing but allowing all there to claim Russian citizenship. Attending to Russian interests in terms of security guarantees is part of meeting Russian interests rather than being put off by its positions and this was an important part of the Russian invasion to begin with, aside from arch-nationalist concepts of a ‘Greater Russia’.

A long war is in nobody’s interest except the arms companies who, as usual, are happy to make a killing (sic) from it. Attempting to get Russia into harmonious relationships with the rest of Europe has to be a long term aim, a possibility which was badly dealt with after the fall of the Soviet communist regime when the West did nothing. This does not mean excusing Russian crimes but nor should it mean excusing other countries’ crimes; Brown University’s study attributes 4.5 million deaths to the USA’s warmaking since 2022 https://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/papers/2023/IndirectDeaths – and where are the penalties and sanctions on the USA? And there are carrots as well as sticks which can be used, even if better relations with Russia may have to await another leader than Putin.

Ireland, meanwhile has jumped on the bandwagon of military support for Ukraine through training for Ukrainian soldiers as well as ‘non-lethal’ support. Not only is this incompatible with neutrality but denies Ireland the opportunity, which it should be taking, to explore possibilities for bringing the war to a close, a war to which there is currently no end in sight. If you don’t look then you don’t see. If you don’t explore possibilities to end the war then it is permitting more and more death and misery. Those seeking peaceful solutions and resolutions should never be put off by the position adopted by the different sides but strive to find ways to meet sufficient of the belligerents’ interests that an end to the war becomes possible. Ireland is doing nothing in this regard.

– See also ‘Readings in Nonviolence’ in this issue which looks at different peace proposals and possibilities to end the war in Ukraine,

Northern Ireland:

A miserable legacy

Challenges to the British government’s Legacy Act, formally the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Act, as it now is since it passed into law, are coming from from a variety of sources, national and international – including possibly the Irish government. So, just perhaps, it may not get too far. It offers a conditional amnesty to those accused of killings during the Troubles and will stop any new Troubles-era court cases and inquests being held.

However the whole sad saga presents an appalling picture of how the current British government treats Northern Ireland. To act against the will of every single political party in Northern Ireland takes some doing not only because of the way that represents the vast majority in the North but because such unity, such unanimity across the board, is so unusual. Even if the British government really did believe its Act is the way forward (which is dubious) it should have hesitated to act against such universal opposition; its actions smack of superiority and, dare we say it, colonialism.

The current system and possibilities are not ideal but all the Northern Ireland political parties and victims’ groups are certain it is preferable to the new Legacy Act. With the passage of time the chances are getting steadily slimmer of justice in the courts, or even for truth through the coroners’ courts, but this was considered preferable. Meanwhile, of course, the British government reneged on the deal which it had done in the 2014 Stormont House Agreement which did provide an agreed way forward and institutions to match. The government failed to implement the deal and then, in 2020, announced it would develop its own proposals – resulting in the Legacy Act of today.

Cui bono? Apart from a few commentators, only British military veterans’ groups are in favour and that gives a clue. But a major factor is surely not only protecting former British military personnel, it is even more protecting the state. We already have a certain amount of information about the actions of the state in running informers within paramilitary organisations but there are major questions about what agents of the state knew about forthcoming paramilitary actions where they could have prevented deaths but did not do so to protect their sources or agents, or for other reasons. And then there is the impunity given to informers who in some cases were involved in appalling actions. This is, of course, aside from where deaths and human rights abuses were perpetrated by soldiers and other agents of the state.

Human rights groups have been scathing about the Legacy Act, drawing comparisons with what was done in Chile introducing impunity for those involved with the Pinochet regime. The Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) states, for example, that it “fails to honour the UK’s obligation under the ECHR to carry out proper investigations into deaths and serious injuries that occurred during the NI conflict“ – and indeed that the UK government is in serial breach of its obligations to do so. They also state that it would “shut down existing legacy mechanisms at a time when such mechanisms are increasingly delivering for families.”

The Troubles were a terrible time for many people living in Northern Ireland. Moving on from the Troubles, even 25 years after the Good Friday Agreement, has also been very difficult. For the British government to do a ‘solo run’ on the legacy of the past when there was a very reasonable collective agreement on the issue nearly nine years ago is quite bizarre and would suggest that they are acting primarily in their own interests to protect the British state. That is particularly sad for victims across the board – civilian, paramilitary, police, military, whoever. Justice delayed, or in this case negated, is justice denied but truth has a way of emerging in the end. And the judgement on those who closed off possibilities for justice will not be a warm one.

Editorials: Forever war, A notion once again

Perpetual, forever war

The analysis seems to be that Vladimir Putin is settling in for a long haul on the war in Ukraine, a ‘forever war’, see e.g https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/mar/28/putin-prepares-russia-for-forever-war-with-west-as-ukraine-invasion-stalls?CMP=share_btn_link However, given his control of the media and the lack of any rights for citizens, this is not too bad an outcome for him. Of course he would have preferred a blitzkrieg which would have had his soldiers proudly promenading through Kyiv after a week or two – as many expected to do – but that did not happen. Instead, making an unvirtue of necessity, he can use the rhetoric of ‘national survival’ as a means to justify repression and uber-nationalism. As long as oil revenues don’t disappear he can certainly try to ride the storm, and his efforts at oil market diversification are bearing fruit, or should we say dollars, even if western sanctions are biting.

But Putin is a late comer to the concept of ‘forever war’, something which the USA and its NATO allies have been practising for years. What was ‘the war on terror’ if not a justification for ‘forever war’? One difference is that ‘in the west’ the mass sacrifice of soldiers is unacceptable and the alternative used is bombing the hell out of places and using remote warfare that does not require your own side to be lambs to the slaughter. Of course drone and missile use is now an integral part of warfare everywhere but the massive death toll of Russian (including Wagner) soldiers would not be contemplated in the west because there would be uproar and the upturning of governmental tables. Russia may have lost more than twice the total number of US soldiers killed in the whole of the Vietnam war, plus many seriously wounded.

Why are there 800 or more US military bases around the world? The US may see itself as the world’s policeman but that is a self justification for throwing its weight about. What were the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq about? If they were about ‘democracy’ and ‘human and women’s rights’ then a very different course of action would have been followed, both in not going to war and, if they did, policies afterwards. And so far as 9/11 is concerned if they were going to attack anyone it should have been their repressive and violent ally, Saudi Arabia. US interests come first, and last, in its foreign policy, wars and warmaking.

The EU is part of this militarisation too. Its commitment to developing the arms trade, and funding of same, is a crying shame or should we say crime against humanity. Its work on the gradual evolution of an EU army is the development of an army for a superpower. It is increasingly becoming the European wing of NATO. It may all be dressed up in fancy language, and the threat of Russia currently used to justify it (but it was happening well, well before any Russian treat to Ukraine) but if NATO had not expanded into eastern Europe (as promised to Russia at the time of the fall of communism) then there almost certainly would not have been any Russian threat – or if the anti-communist NATO had itself disbanded. That and a policy of fair dos for Russian speakers in the east of Ukraine, through implementation of the Minsk agreements, would almost certainly have prevented the current war. And once the war started ‘the west’, including blustering Boris, vetoed any serious talks with Russia.

The more armaments are developed and the higher the expenditure on the military, the more insecure the world will be, and the risks of nuclear war have certainly not gone away, they have just been waiting in the wings. The needs of the world, for economic justice worldwide and the elimination of the armageddon of global warming, are so great that we are struggling for the wrong things. Insecurity grows from the barrel of a gun. A secure world is where there is economic justice and climate security (insofar as we can possibly achieve that now); we need human security not military insecurity.

Instead we are offered the chimera of forever war. It is not dissimilar to a version of George Orwell’s 1984. And that is a terrible place to exist. Maybe enough of us do love the Big Brother of US, NATO, EU and Russian militarism (respectively) to enable the MADness (‘Mutually Assured Destruction’) to continue. But some of us will resist and point to a better future without the military monoliths, their threats to humanity and their current assault on economic and ecological progress through eating scarce financial and other resources and adding considerably to global warming.

Northern Ireland

“A notion once again”

Northern Ireland is still a very unsettled place, that should be obvious. Even the concept of what is democracy continues to be up for grabs; harder line unionists see the Northern Ireland Protocol as an assault on their Britishness while most of the rest (an arithmetic majority) want the return of devolved government to deal with the dire problems heaped up and getting worse. Educational and health outcome are rather better in the Republic than the North for example (see e.g. David McWilliams in The Irish Times 4/3/23).

Some Northern Ireland unionists still want to be the tail wagging the UK dog. That position passed once Boris Johnson won a stomping parliamentary majority using his bluster and lies and Tory dependence on the DUP bloc at Westminster was no more. It is clear from the relatively easy passage for Rishi Sunak of the so-called Windsor Framework that Northern Ireland issues and unionist angst and anger is about as important as the issue of how many angels can dance on a pin head – first of all it does not rate as an issue, and if it did then it is not considered important in the overall British context. This is difficult for unionists in a variety of ways because it is obvious that other British interests (e.g. getting Brexit done sufficiently to have reasonable relations with the EU) trump their concerns.

A poll in the Belfast Telegraph 10/3/23 showed 67% of people in the North back the Windsor Framework deal but only 16% of DUP voters – and 73% of DUP voters proclaim they are opposed to it. How Jeffrey Donaldson and the DUP leadership will square that circle, with Jim Allister of the TUV breathing down their neck (just as the DUP breathed down the neck of the Ulster Unionist Party) remains to be seen. Now 54% of unionists as a whole are recorded as wanting the DUP to stay out of the Assembly and Executive until further changes are made or the deal is torn up. The DUP committee of senior party figures set up by Donaldson to consider what to do has reported but there is no smoke of any kind emanating yet on the matter. The DUP practised an ‘in, out and shake it all about’ approach after the Good Friday Agreement which served their interests well; they might try something similar again although there is arguably less wriggle room now.

Of course the return of the Assembly and Executive at Stormont would be the start of the next crisis, whatever that will be, because as night follows day the crises will continue. But the biggest crisis is simply the inability of the system to make decisions and plan in a reasonable manner; some of this may be inherent in the primary division in Northern Ireland but some is a result of the current consociational system in place. Obviously ending the ability of one party to block the system functioning would be progress but the use of more advanced and inclusive voting, such as the Modified Borda Count, could facilitate more effective, collective decisions.

A recent poll on the ‘middle ground’ of those who proclaim to be non-nationalists and non-unionists showed that in relation to the border a considerable majority would currently vote to stay part of the UK (53% would stay in the UK, only 19% opt for Irish unity, Belfast Telegraph 4/3/23). All this means that it is currently not so so much the possibility of ‘a nation once again’ in the near future as only a notion (of a nation) once again. If it is this ‘middle ground’ who will decide the constitutional status in the event of a referendum (given the relative balance between nationalists and unionists), unionists should take this to heart in the sense of relaxing a bit about the immediate future, while Sinn Féin pushing for a border poll is pointless posturing.

However this current balance within the ‘middle ground’ could change over the medium term particularly if the Republic had a coherent plan on unification and what it would mean which shows respect for all the people of the North, and an economic plan which showed how the current British exchequer subsidy to the North would be replaced. The Irish government’s refusal to even look at the topic might be for good reasons (avoiding stoking conflict in the North) but is unhelpful on a wider level since what would or could be in a united Ireland is subject to wildly fluctuating interpretations. At the moment people are comparing the reality they know with an indefinable non-entity.

It has also been very noticeable in recent weeks that loyalist paramilitarism and feuding haven’t gone away. While small republican paramilitary groups primarily pose a threat to the police and ‘security forces’ (though also to civilians as in what tragically happened to Lyra McKee), loyalist paramilitaries at the moment are mainly a threat to the communities where they exist and who they purport to serve, as well as themselves. In addition to dealing in drugs many deal in the dregs of Troubles sectarianism.

The intelligent unionist response would be to make Northern Ireland politics work and deliver for people, along with an acceptance that Northern Ireland is, was, and shall be different to the rest of the UK for a variety of reasons – not least that partition created a then unassailable majority and a humiliated minority (though there will be no unassailable majority, certainly in the near future, the majority-minority position is in the process of being reversed). Compromise and prosperity are the way for unionists to try to continue the link with Britain now that they are no longer a political majority. Whether the Act of Union has been compromised (and as has been previously pointed out in these pages, said Act was only passed through massive corruption) may be important to some unionists but to no one else.

It is of course possible that the DUP will re-enter Stormont after the May local government elections are safely out of the way, and see how they can still make their points on the Northern Ireland Protocol. While the Assembly restarting should be welcomed it will be a rather stale and not a fresh start (and the previous ‘Fresh Start’ restart was not a fresh start either!). Stormont is symbolically placed on a hill, a grandiose building as the parliament for a relatively small statelet; the hill which Northern Ireland has to climb to get out of all its current malaises is far, far higher.

Editorials: 1) Dangers of war – and nuclear war 2) Choices for and about unionists in Northern Ireland

The dangers of war – and nuclear war

If you look at war from the beginning, military resistance seems plausible and a possible solution. If you look at it from the end, the `military solution´ is a disaster.”

The above is a quote by someone from the Balkans, who would have lived through the wars there, at a recent Church and Peace https://www.church-and-peace.org/ conference which took place in Croatia. Most wars begin with optimism about the result – on all sides – and a belief in the cause, usually in the European and some other contexts blessed by the churches. But hope turns to fear, dread, regret, mourning and a thousand other negative feelings – but once warfare begins it is difficult to end as chauvinism and stubbornness kick in. We face Macbeth’s dilemma, in Shakespeare’s words ““I am in blood / Stepp’d in so far that, should I wade no more, / Returning were as tedious as go o’er”. And there is the feeling that some benefit from the war must be shown for ‘the blood of the martyrs’, those who have died for ‘our’ cause.

It is totally understandable why Ukraine decided to resist the Russian invasion with military means. In Mohandas Gandhi’s hierarchy of responses to injustice, inaction comes bottom, violent reaction next, and nonviolent resistance is preferred. But how may will be killed, in Ukraine and Russia, at the end of the war? How many will have had their lives ruined or disrupted? How long will it take to rebuild anything like normality?

And what dangers have we yet to pass through? We have previously spoken about the dangers of even mentioning the threat to use nuclear weapons, as Vladimir Putin and other senior Russian figures have done. We also have stated that it is simply holding nuclear weapons that is the danger and the UK, for example, has no ‘no first use’ doctrine – in other words they would use them if they felt it necessary. The problem with a war like the war on Ukraine by Russia is that we do not know what escalation might happen, and how it might happen, and it remains a very real danger. If Russia used a tactical nuclear weapon then NATO would respond strongly and militarily and we could be on the road to a European, and possibly wider, armageddon. There is a strange sense of deja vu to be contemplating the horrors of nuclear war once again – for those old enough to remember the 1950s, 1960s, or 1980s.

Carl von Clausewitz may have said that war is the continuation of politics by other means but while it may be an attempt to do so the result is very different. Politics as such does not necessitate the filling of body bags. Politics does not destroy whole cities and displace whole populations. Politics does not precipitate the hate and venom that war does. Politics, we should hope, creates few orphans and widows. Of course some politicians may see war as a continuation of politics – and Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine was a political misjudgement of mammoth proportions, and an attempt to get by force what he had been unable to get through diplomatic and political pressure, insofar as he tried those.

But Putin was not the only one to miscalculate. NATO’s promise to Russia on the fall of communism in eastern Europe not to expand eastward was broken again and again. The failure to have Ukraine state categorically it would not join NATO was another crass mistake, as well as the failure to implement the Minsk agreements which would have given relative autonomy to eastern provinces of Ukraine; even if Russia was not keeping to its side of the bargain, the move to implement its obligations by Ukraine would have pulled the rug under further moves by Russia.. Len Munnik’s cartoon on the transfer of ‘foremost enemy status’ from the USSR to Islamist militant militant fundamentalists after the end of the Cold War was very perceptive (see NATO entry at https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/posters/ ) – but the problem is now that ‘foremost enemy status’ has switched back to Russia, and the west has had a large role in turning an erstwhile friend into a deadly enemy.

The risks of war, and managing a proxy war like that in Ukraine (NATO supplying Ukraine with war equipment but not itself fighting) include not only the destruction of the people and territory involved but also a significant risk of escalation. We have referred to nuclear risks above. The world is actually lucky not to have had nuclear exchanges (see e.g. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/oct/27/cuban-missile-crisis-60-years-on-new-papers-reveal-how-close-the-world-came-to-nuclear-disaster ) and it has been a very close run thing at times, not to mention the many accidents which could have been catastrophic. These dangers continue in a very real way. Nuclear power is another, although somewhat related. Matter but we see its danger in the war situation in Ukraine as well.

The only way to eliminate the threat of nuclear war and nuclear blackmail, by all sides, is to work for universal nuclear disarmament. Some will say that goal is utopian. We would say that goal is realistic in that this is the only way to eliminate the ever real danger of nuclear war – and we may not always be as lucky to avoid that eventuality as we were in 1962 with the Cuban missile crisis between the USA and USSR. Of course nuclear disarmament is only likely to come about through wider international rapprochement and the creation of human and ecological security way beyond what exists today. But the alternative to moving forward on disarmament is to move backwards to greater human insecurity and misery – and the denial of wellbeing to billions because obscene amounts of money is spend on weapons and the military. There is a long road to travel.

Choices for, and about, unionists in Northern Ireland

It is understandable that unionists and loyalists in Northern Ireland feel cheated or even threatened by the Northern Ireland Protocol between the UK and the EU. Whether it affects their standing in relation to the Good Friday Agreement is a moot question but it has changed part of the economic relationship between the North and Britain, whatever about the constitutional position – though in relation to that, Northern Ireland still ‘feels’ and functions as part of the UK even if culturally distinct from Britain.

If unionists were sold out in any way then they were sold out by their own government and there is no one else they should blame apart from their own role in the debacle. It was an English nationalist move both for Brexit and especially a ‘hard’ Brexit which created the issue of an EU single market boundary. A hard Brexit was a move which had staunch DUP support and led directly to the NI Protocol.

Any system of government in Northern Ireland has to have broad support across both major political entities, unionist and nationalist, ‘cross-community’ (there are issues in relation to a vote for a united Ireland and constitutional change in this context which we have explored and will explore again). At the moment ‘the system’ clearly does not have such cross-community support. We doubt whether the DUP boycott of Stormont is justified given the severe issues which face the North, as well as the fact that the NI Protocol is a UK-EU issue; although boycotting is a classic nonviolent tactic it is not always for positive reasons or results. The whole matter is also caught up with internal unionist brinkmanship and showing that ‘we are stronger on the Union than you’ within the unionist community which is an unfortunate game of ‘chicken’ (and more like a game of ‘Dodo’).

Realities have changed in Northern Ireland but other realities remain the same. A new election would be pointless, the two largest parties might gain a seat here or there but the result would be the same stalemate. What are needed are substantive talks which involve all sides in the North. Yes, the issue may be a UK-EU one but where there is a will there is a way, and there is no reason why parallel, simultaneous talks cannot take place which provides input from, and feedback to, the Northern parties while the EU and UK do some final bargaining. This would be the most democratic option with the inclusion in some form of all sides in the North.

There are various parts to the current reality. One is that Stormont is only a part-time partial success; whether you judge this to be a ‘total failure’ is an open question, but even when functioning it has not dealt successfully with many issues of which education is a glaring example. It could have better decision making mechanisms which encourage compromise and at least partial consensus. But some republicans and nationalists are very unwise to recently talk about ‘joint authority’ (between Britain and Ireland, Republic of) as an alternative ‘backstop’ to the Stormont assembly, either as a threat or possible reality – apart from any issues of practicality it is not in accord with the Good Friday Agreement and such talk gets loyalist paramilitaries preparing to go on the warpath – not that they should exist or be in position for any warpath.

But the more major, societal change which has a major bearing is the demographic one that unionist parties are no longer in a majority, but then neither are nationalists. The DUP is reputed to have spent less than half an hour deciding to back Brexit, showing a very considerable lack of strategic thinking. Unionists need to think strategically about what will ensure, for their constitutional preference, the continuation of the ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’.

So what is the best way for unionists to ensure the continuation of the ‘UK’? Clearly it is by making it as attractive a place to live for people – especially nationalists, ‘others’, and not-naturally-unionists’. How? By making Northern Ireland an economic success, which it clearly is not at the moment – and by making people feel ‘at home’.

And how can the North be made an economically successful ‘homely’ place? For one, providing political stability, making the system (whatever it is) work, and building on the privileged access which the NI Protocol gives to exporters to the EU (including continuing to grow sales to the Republic). Certainly there are issues and problems with the NI Protocol in the EU having been overly strict but then the UK has been overly lax in meeting its obligations. The EU is well disposed towards Northern Ireland so a bit of effort by the British government, plus compromise and creativity, on both sides, should get a win-win-win result (for the EU, UK and NI itself), and this ongoing sore settled.

As to making people feel ‘at home’ in the current constitutional situation, unionists need to think ‘what do other people want’ – and if possible give it to them. A specific Northern Ireland human rights act (as promised as long ago as the Good Friday Agreement) – certainly. Support for the Irish language act – yes. Creativity and generosity of spirit would go a long way. And perhaps some awareness might be warranted that nationalists in the North do not have the constitutional arrangements that they desire – and this might temper unionist anger at perceived changes under the NI Protocol. Both sides need to think what it is like to walk in the other side’s shoes; it is actually to their advantage to do so..

Please note that we are not saying ‘we support a united kingdom’, what we are saying is we support the coming together of the people of the North, whatever the constitutional situation. And unionists have usually been their worst enemies when it comes to strategic thinking. That may have worked relatively well for them when unionism was in a clear numerical majority but not any more – and even less so in future. If they choose ideological purity over practical progress then everyone will certainly lose – including themselves. But for anything to work there needs to to a stable and relatively strong unionist voice (not necessarily from one party)..

There are many myths about ‘the Protestant work ethic’ (and that is certainly not a runner in the Ireland of today and it never was an unvarnished fact) but there was a reason many Quaker businesses thrived in Britain and Ireland in the past. Apart from any hard work and creativity on the part of the proprietors, they were known to be trustworthy and reliable, and they treated their workers well by the standards of the time. Unionists could do worse than learn from this by thinking of everyone and not just themselves. Compromise can seem a dirty word to some but it can also be the means to achieve a lasting result which is found acceptable to all.

But current unionist concerns need addressed and a way found to do so. Thinking of others includes thinking of unionist concerns by nationalists and the British and Irish governments.

Editorials: Ukraine war, UK miitary-monarchical complex

The reality of war hits Russians – but not the Irish government

It is obvious that there is and has been considerable reaction against the ‘partial’ mobilisation or conscription of men in Russia for the war in Ukraine. Some of that reaction has included the torching of recruitment centres and, in one case, the shooting of a recruiting officer. While some men may feel it is their patriotic duty to go and ‘serve’ their country, many others are looking at how they can possibly avoid being drafted. In a move reminiscent of many men in the USA leaving that country to avoid the draft in the Vietnam war in the 1960s, many Russian men have been fleeing abroad. But women have been protesting too either on principle or because they do not want the men in their family to be cannon fodder. It represents a sad brain drain for Russia. While polling shows just over 70% of people still supporting the war, there are many qualifications to that support.

There were also a reported 1300 arrests in demonstrations following the mobilisation announcement. The mobilisation itself has not been well handled from the government point of view, and seems to have been targetting ethnic minorities and country people more than metropolitan white Russians – while in a rather despicable move some of those arrested for protesting have been served with call up papers as a penalty. While many Russians have been brainwashed by state control of the media, it is obvious to all that the fact there is this mobilisation means the ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine has not been going to plan. The number of Russian soldiers already killed is uncertain, Ukraine claims it to be 55,000 but it is certainly far in excess of the figure, a tenth of that, admitted by the Russian state, and people in particular areas may know how many local people have died as soldiers and the real human cost of the war on their side.

Some in other parts of Europe are sceptical of people only showing their opposition to the war now. But this is largely mistaken. Of course it would have been desirable if more people had protested against the war earlier in Russia but at what cost? When the potential cost came, literally, knocking on their door then they had to make up their minds fast. It takes courage to go against the state in Russia and whether acting from principle or self interest (we do not recognise the concept of ‘cowardice’ in relation to militarism), it does not matter if men avoid the draft, the effect is the same, to undermine Putin’s war in Ukraine. And in such situations we are all likely to have mixed emotions, including a desire not to be killed or to kill people from a neighbouring country which has had extremely close links with ours.

All countries should provide safe passage and refuge for Russian war resisters, whoever they may be and whatever their reason for refusing to fight. It should not be too difficult for people to prove that they have been conscripted. Of course false conscription papers could be provided to Russian agents wanting to come to the west but the Russian state has rather a lot on its hands at home and in Ukraine at the moment.

It is uncertain how much Russian mobilisation will affect the course of the war, certainly in the short term. The fact that the war may be longer term brings up all sorts of issues about the final cost to both sides. And that includes a very significant cost to Russia in terms of lives lost and opportunity cost, mainly men from the bottom of the pile in Russia. We hear little, as part of deliberate policy, on the cost of the war in Ukrainian lives except for civilians, that is the number of Ukrainian soldiers killed, while the obliteration of whole towns and cities in Ukraine is staring us in the face.

Warnings or threats about using nuclear weapons, which have emanated from Putin and other senior Russian government figures, are reprehensible. The possibility of a cornered Russia, on the cusp of being defeated, using small ‘tactical’ nuclear weapons against Ukraine is an appalling prospect and one which cannot be ruled out even if the repercussions could be beyond the beyond. But let us get one fact straight; the very holding of nuclear weapons is a threat to humankind (they are held as a military threat) and totally reprehensible, and now also illegal. The western powers of the USA, Britain and France are all holders of massive amounts of nuclear weaponry. When do we hear prominent figures denouncing western nuclear weapons?

This brings us back to the coverage we have previously given to the possibility of nonviolent resistance to the Russian invasion. The longer the war goes on, the greater the cost in lives and the destruction of essential infrastructure. Ukrainians may well have felt they had no choice but to resist militarily. But that was not actually the only option. Nonviolent civilian resistance was, is, also a possibility. As stated in these pages, it would have had a different time frame but would have avoided the massive loss of life and destruction which has been part of this war.

There is also the question of how the war can end. The Irish government has paid €55 million for military aid to Ukraine though the European Peace Facility (sick) though admittedly for body armour and non-lethal supplies – however any army does not march on its bullets and bombs and needs such provisions as part of its total outlay, so the distinction from lethal supplies is academic. The Irish government could have been more usefully employed in looking at how the war could be brought to an end with a just solution.

Neither side has shown signs of being willing to have a ceasefire and negotiate which is why great creativity is needed by third parties who want the war to stop immediately, not parroting pro-war slogans like the Irish government. Of course this might include things like a fictitious ‘victory’ for Putin in such things as a guarantee of Ukrainian neutrality (likely to be part of a settlement anyway) but the government seems to studiously ignore Article 29 of the Constitution about the pacific resolution of conflicts which is both very sad and rather bad. The Irish government and elite has been gunning (sic) anyway to be part of NATO and EU militarism – they have attempted to leverage the war in Ukraine towards this. They could have been using their imaginations and explorations towards peaceful ends. The organising of a second military/arms fair in Dublin [see News section], with an outlandishly greenwashing name (including ‘Ecosystem’) is a further indication of where the Irish government’s heart lies.

All wars come to an end. What is most needed is governments and NGOs who stick their necks out to work on non-violent solutions, and press hard for them so belligerents, and aggressors, take note. Instead of playing a positive neutral role – militarily neutral but practically on the side of justice and peace – the Irish government has been content to be a cheer leader for a military ‘solution’ which look more like it could turn out to be something of a pyrrhic victory. Meanwhile the dangers of escalation and nuclear warfare are considerable. This all represents a massive amount of wasted potential by a supposedly neutral country whose constitution emphasises peaceful solutions.

The death of Queen Elizabeth and the perpetuation of the UK’s military-monarchical complex

Queen Elizabeth II was a dedicated and hardworking woman who fulfilled to the highest degree her understanding of the role which she occupied. And no one under the age of 75 would likely remember another monarch in the UK. She had a good grasp of current affairs and a sense of humour – something instanced by her interaction with Paddington – and was reputed to be a good mimic. She also led an extraordinarily privileged but circumscribed life, the latter perhaps contributing towards her love of dogs and horses who would not distinguish between a member of the royal family and a lesser human being.

The extraordinary ten day mourning period in the UK following her death was very revealing. The pomp and circumstance gave ordinary people an opportunity to mourn her death but it also upheld the status quo of the country and the transition to a new monarch. At most times it looked like too many of those involved in the ceremonies chose unwisely from an extravagant dressing up box. But, as with Queen Elizabeth’s platinum jubilee (celebration of 70 years as queen) the presence of the military, and military symbolism, was everywhere – she was titular head of the armed forces. Even her four mourning children, following her coffin in Scotland, were all dressed in military uniform, except for Prince Andrew and that was only because he has been in disgrace for sexual abuse and/or rape (and whose military titles were removed to avoid tarnishing the military brands he was associated with); they were all in military uniform for a short vigil around her coffin in London.

Much of the set pieces for the monarch’s funeral process were not ancient traditions but dated from the early 20th century. When there is an emotional but also potentially divisive happening it is extremely difficult for it to be marked or celebrated in a way which satisfies supporters but does not make others feel something is being stuffed down their throat (and BBC main news could be half an hour of what was happening after the Queen’s death, five minutes on the war in Ukraine which was going through a critical phase, before returning to more news of the obsequies).

All of this impacts on Northern Ireland. While Queen Elizabeth is considered a reconciling figure to some extent because of her reaching out to both sides in the North, and her visiting of the Republic and what she did there, royalty in the North is a deeply divisive matter. Most Protestants and a considerable majority of unionists in Northern Ireland would be royalists and monarchists, and some few Catholics as well. There is also the ‘celebrity factor’ of those who follow the rich, famous and powerful. But the more one identity is emphasised by the state – as with the obsequies for Queen Elizabeth – the more divisive it is. Obviously the whole matter is divisive for the considerable minority in Britain who are not monarchists but it has further ramifications in the North where by definition of identity up to half of the people are excluded.

The military-religious-royal complex of the past in the UK, the alignment between these forces – the armed forces, the church, and the royals – and the buttressing which each gave the other, has changed somewhat insofar as British society is now very largely secular. The position of the Church of England, and the monarch being the titular head of it, is wholly anachronistic and unworthy of a modern state. The Church of England is still a part of the establishment in a minor way but the military-royal complex continues unabated. The non-military involvement in the pageantry presented after Queen Elizabeth’s death was exremely limited and most parts of the public mourning was a festival of militarism. The queen’s aura was cast over the military, and the military spectacle in turn emphasised the importance of the monarchy. The military-royal complex, or military-monarchical complex to give it a bit of alliteration, is alive and well.

Although relatively minor as mentioned above, the Church of England/Christian aspect of it all is rather unsettling. How any church got from ‘Blessed are the peacemakers’ words of Jesus through to outright support for militarism is difficult to comprehend. To anyone believing in peace and nonviolence, all the military trappings are an insult to the deceased person as well as a militarist drug for the masses. We return, as we frequently do, to Gandhi’s saying that the only people who do not believe Jesus and his teachings are nonviolent are Christians. Queen Elizabeth was an enthusiastic member, and titular head, of the Church of England so it is highly appropriate that they should be involved in her funeral arrangements but that is not what we are talking about.

The UK is the European country, or certainly one of only a couple (and we include Russia in this), most likely to be at war at any time. Its colonial wars on freedom fighters in its colonies may be substantially a thing of the past but it has been a participant in various other recent wars including Afghanistan and Iraq, both of which have been completely disastrous for the countries and regions involved, as well, for example, involvement in the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime in Libya which has also had violent and destabilising consequences. The UK remains a nuclear armed state which has engaged in sabre rattling, e.g. in the South China Sea, and in illegal drone strikes to kill islamist militants..

The class system in the UK, and economic inequality, is among the worst in Europe. While Queen Elizabeth undoubtedly had a strong sense of noblesse oblige, the fact is that the monarchy is one of the bastions of inequality, and part of the circus element of bread (sometimes dread) and circuses which keeps such inequality at least partly palatable to people. Unintentional it may be but the recent mourning period for Queen Elizabeth was a distraction from the real issues including energy prices and resultant poverty which face people.

There are also matters of free speech associated with the aftermath of Queen Elizabeth’s death and the transition to a new monarch. There were instances of people arrested for mildly proclaiming alternative views. There are also more who feel their free speech was constrained by the oppressive faux-consensus and the threat of violence. However there is also an issue of ‘nonviolent communication’ to be taken into account; challenging people’s views when they are mourning, albeit for someone they have probably never met, is unlikely to be the best way to get people to question the establishment orthodoxy. It would be better for them to wait but free speech should apply for those who feel they cannot do so. And, as with all divisive issues in Northern Ireland (it goes with the territory or the territorial division) some people, on all sides, resort to mockery which is extremely insensitive and divisive.

The people of the UK are, of course, free to choose what they want in terms of government and social and state structures. But an antiquated and unjust electoral system (the first past the post voting system is very distorting of anything that can be considered remotely to be ‘the will of the people’) has facilitated right wing whirlwind change under Margaret Thatcher and more recent Tory prime ministers.

Queen Elizabeth rarely put a foot wrong in terms of the establishment’s view of her role. People from countries colonised by Britain are likely to have a more nuanced view. The recent royal obsequies were also about the transfer of power and prestige from one monarch to another and thus ensuring passive stability. It remains to be seen how King Charles III will exercise his role, and how popular he will prove with his subjects. Charles’ vocal and long term support for environmentalism (in theory if not necessarily in practice) should not hide the fact that the monarchy in Britain remains a bastion of class division, privilege, and militarism.

There are many things which the people of Britain can be proud about, and many things which unionists in Northern Ireland can appropriately celebrate in terms of the Northern Ireland link to Britain in the United Kingdom (but rarely do so). Such things were invisible in the mourning and funeral process, with people in some cases queueing for nearly a day to pass her coffin, and the effect of such concentration on the very apex of British society is anti-egalitarian. This has unfortunate consequences in a country where the health service, social security and economy were once in good shape by international standards and served the people relatively well but have been declining rapidly and are failing the people they should be helping.

Readings in Nonviolence: In the new cold war, we have no future

by Yurii Sheliazhenko

Introduction

Truth may or may not be the first casualty in war but in an atmosphere of perpetual war and rumours of war then truth is extremely vulnerable, and everyone risks being deceived. Perceptions of truth can also be a bit like ‘our’ speaking accent; ‘we’ tend to think we don’t speak with an accent, it is people different from us that have an accent. In the same way, we can be so immune and inured to our own society and its propaganda, so familiar with its ways, that we feel we are presented with the truth, even if nothing can be further from the truth.

Western relations with Russia have been a developing nadir of the post-Cold war period. ‘The west’, particularly by taking NATO to the edge of Russia, has contributed considerably to poor relations between countries and to the development of authoritarianism and xenophobia in Putin’s Russia. Please note that we would be highly critical of Russian repression of civil society internally, and of Russian military actions in the region, e.g. the Crimea (annexation) and eastern Ukraine (disguised attempts at annexation), as well as in Syria.

So it is always a breath of fresh air when we are given an account of situations as they are, free from the blinkered, tinted spectacles of one side or another. This is the case with this report from Ukraine by Yurii Sheliazhenko. Thank you to VredesMagazine and War Resisters’ International/WRI for this piece.

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* A manuscript published in Dutch translation under a title "A pacifist voice from Ukraine: in the hybrid clamp between NATO and Russia" in VredesMagazine, vol. 14 iss. 4, 2021. Vredesmagazine is a joint publication of half a dozen different peace-oriented organisations in the Netherlands. 

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As Ukraine became a battlefield of the new cold war between United States and Russia, our peaceful life was torn apart by militant domestic nationalism and both competing aggressive imperialisms. We should get out from a dead corner of permanent war, economic and democratic decline, but it is not easy to pursue hopeful future.

STUCK IN THE PAST

Many of our troubles are caused by a fact that whole world stuck in the past. This hot summer revealed it vividly.
Summit of NATO, this relict of cold war epoch, positioning itself as the strongest democratic alliance in history and a leading contributor to international security, endorsed new nuclear arms race against Russia and proclaimed opposition to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons which was supported by the majority of United Nations.
Zbigniew Rau, Gabrielius Landsbergis, and Dmytro Kuleba, foreign ministers of Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine, signed a declaration claiming common historical heritage of Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. It mentions “European identity of Belarusians, Lithuanians, Poles, and Ukrainians” suggesting they fought in the past and should fight again “despotic Russia,” and Ukraine should join NATO.

Then President of Russia Vladimir Putin wrote a long doctrinal article about “historical unity” of Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians as descendants of Ancient Rus, which should stay together against supposedly hostile United States and European Union. He emphasized that those who turn Ukraine in the enemy of Russia “will destroy their own country,” threatening: “we will never allow our historical territories and people close to us living there to be used against Russia.”

Dark histories invoked by politicians weaponize dangerous half-truths. Building the myth of “us” against “them,” high-ranked storytellers try to erase from popular memory biological unity of all humans, intercultural capacities to find common ground, and long historical periods of relative peace when feelings of universal brotherhood and sisterhood were widespread.

ENDLESS HYBRID WAR

Strong rhetoric rooted in violent history always ends badly. When NATO launched missile defense system in Europe and welcomed planted “aspirations” of Ukraine and Georgia to became NATO members in 2008, Russia claimed post-Soviet sphere of influence by military force in South Ossetia and political mobilization of Russian diaspora around former USSR.

People of Ukraine were cornered by these great power tensions and forced to decide what side should we take. Ironically, instead of the dead corner metaphor we prefer to be optimists and call it opportunity for democratic choice, made by public gathering at square (“maidan” in Ukrainian), in particular Independence Square in Kyiv.

In 2013-2014 admirers of Nazi era ideologist of Ukrainian ultranationalism Stepan Bandera in Western-funded right-wing Ukrainian civil society networks, so-called Maidan movement, started series of massive protests and riots against former pro-Russian president Yanukovych, broke EU/Russia mediated agreement about peaceful transfer of power to pro-Western opposition, and pressured for prohibition of Russian language usage in local self-government bodies.

Simultaneously, admirers of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in Russia-backed right-wing civil society networks, so-called anti-Maidan movement, rioted against strengthening pro-Western ultranationalist political elite, supported Russian military takeover in Crimea and hybrid warfare in Eastern Ukraine.

Seven-years’ war in Donbas between Ukrainian and pro-Russian combatants killed and wounded tens thousands of civilians and deprived of home more than two million. Both sides, according to OSCE reports, almost every day violate ceasefire established by Minsk agreements, and Ukraine refuse to negotiate peace with separatists, as Russia demands, claiming they are agents of Russian occupation.

Geopolitical ambitions prevail over concerns about life of people. Consequences are tragic, as in situation when separatists fighting Ukrainian military aircraft with Russian Buk missile system shot down civilian airliner MH17, killed 283 passengers and 15 crew members.

In Crimea seized by Russia people suffer irrespectively of their (non-)allegiance to Ukraine, either from political repressions by de-facto authorities or from international and Ukrainian economic sanctions, including water blockade.

Great powers play with fire, organizing frightening military operations in and around Ukraine. NATO and Russia send troops to secure their interests on the ground, simulate naval war with each other during dangerous drills in Black Sea. In arms race with Russian nuclear-capable navy in Crimea, NATO plans to build two naval military bases in Ukraine.

Each side in the hybrid war tells compelling but yet a half-truth, or, to say sincerely, a false story, why it is “just war” of self-defense. These stories are good illustration of 1921 Bilthoven statement of principles adopted by war resisters: we should not support any kind of war, “aggressive or defensive, remembering that modern wars are invariably alleged by Governments to be defensive.”

MILITARIZATION AND DECLINE OF DEMOCRACY

Hybrid war corrupts and blows up all usually peaceful spheres of life. Ruthless populist networks, far-right sentiments, and propaganda of hatred provoke more and more bloodshed. Neo-Nazis fought on both sides of Donbas war, Russian National Unity and Varyag Battalion for separatists, Right Sector’s Ukrainian Volunteer Corps and Azov Battalion for government. Returning home, they teach kids to hate and fight in militarized summer “patriotic education” camps.

News is not news anymore, media aren’t media; they are Russian or Western propaganda subject to information war and censorship. The same problem with education and science, battle of historical half-truths is good example. Law is turned to lawfare: instead of human rights, we protect politically expedient rights of “our people” and punish “enemies” as severely as “we” can.

Ukrainian civil society was polarized and weaponized by the notions of exclusive identity, awaken by the new cold war. Ukrainian nationalists refuse to tolerate any tradeoffs to Russia, gather rioting crowds against implementation of Minsk agreements, violently silence opponents. There are also right-wing proponents of Russia and Soviet past; formally, they call for peace, but in fact it is call to take side of Russia in the new cold war.

President Volodymyr Zelensky, elected after promising peace, stated that peace should be “on our terms” and shut up pro-Russian media in Ukraine, like his predecessor Poroshenko blocked Russian social networks and pushed official language law forcibly excluding Russian from public sphere.

Zelensky’s party Servant of the People committed to increase military spending to 5% of GDP; it was 1,5% in 2013, now it is more than 3%. With majority in parliament, presidential political machine concentrates political power in Zelensky team’s hands and multiplies militarist laws, such as draconian punishments for evaders from conscription and creation of new “national resistance” forces, increasing personnel of armed forces in Ukraine by 11 000, creating military units in local governments for mandatory military training of millions of people aimed to mobilize whole population in the case of war with Russia.

According to the 2019-2020 EBCO annual reports “Conscientious Objection in Europe,” those who refuse to kill have a little chance to legal recognition and protection of their beliefs during conscription in Ukraine and Russia, not to say in separatist “people’s republics.” Alternative non-military service arrangements are hardly accessible, discriminatory and punitive in nature.

HOPE FOR PEACE AGAINST ALL ODDS

Public opinion polls paradoxically show that majority of people demand peace, but trust Armed Forces of Ukraine more than any of political institutions. Faith in “peace through victory” is result of political illiteracy and lack of peace culture.

Peacebuilding projects funded by international organizations heal some wounds of war, but strategically are focused on social cohesion around militant national identity. Many of them avoid to use the word “peace” itself because of patriotic reasons: right-wing propaganda equates it with “Russian world.”

There is no strong public voice of common sense in Ukraine denouncing in principle and impartially toxic militarist policies and identities, like Stalinist and Banderite, or generally denouncing all war and preparations for war. Main churches, while sometimes praying for peace, made clear unequivocally what side they took in the geopolitical battle.

Consistent pacifists, religious or secular, in our society are tiny minority treated like dreamers, in the best case, but usually as heretics and traitors.

Pacifist Ruslan Kotsaba who denounced mobilization to Donbas war in 2015 YouTube video was jailed for treason, acquitted and released, put on trial again with mobs of haters surrounding the court during every hearing. Recently neo-Nazi assaulted him on railway station, he lost sight on one eye because of splashed brilliant green. Police failed to arrest perpetrators.

Netflix sci-fi war film “Outside the Wire” prognoses endless violence will turn Ukraine into wasteland during coming decades. The only way to prevent such grim future is to learn how to achieve peace by peaceful means, but very few people believe in such perspective and work on it.

Despite challenging environment, we try to build peace in minds and in real life of people on the basis of consistent pacifism, according to War Resisters’ International declaration, using our limited opportunities and resources. It seems that whole worldwide anti-war movement do the same. For progress in this cause, we need to develop and enact universal peace plan more effective and realistic than strategies of the new cold war.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR. Yurii Sheliazhenko is executive secretary of Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, member of the Board of European Bureau for Conscientious Objection, member of the Board of World Beyond War. He obtained Master of Mediation and Conflict Management degree in 2021 and Master of Laws degree in 2016 at KROK University, and Bachelor of Mathematics degree in 2004 at Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. Apart from participation in the peace movement, he is journalist, blogger, human rights defender and legal scholar, author of tens of academic publications and lecturer on legal theory and history.

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