“Nobody asked us” – Russian intellectuals rebuke Putin’s policy of war against Ukraine

No war with Ukraine, Peace March in Moscow

"No war with Ukraine" says the banner which Russian protesters against Putin's foreign policy brought to Moscow on 21 September 2014, during the march of Peace. Source: Gazeta.ru 

Russia

On 30 January 2022, the Russian website Echo of Moscow published an open letter from the Russian Congress of the Intelligentsia, signed by thousands of Russians. The letter criticizes Putin’s military policy against Ukraine while promising to do everything possible “to prevent, and if necessary, to stop the war.” They also claim that Russians are against the war and have become hostages of Putin’s “criminal adventurism.”

At the time of this publication, more than 2,500 Russians have already signed the letter, including hundreds of prominent politicians, actors, musicians, writers, journalists, human rights activists, and scientists. Among others, the letter was signed by Andrey Zubov, Russian historian and politician, vice president of the Russian opposition People’s Freedom party, one of the interviewees of Euromaidan Press’ latest series on post-Soviet transformations in 8 countries, including Russia.

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The open letter is titled “A statement by peace supporters against the Party of War in the Russian leadership.” The initiative comes from the Congress of Intelligentsia “Against the war, against the self-isolation of Russia, against the restoration of totalitarianism,” members of whom have been actively supporting Ukraine since Russian aggression in 2014, attempting to tell the world about the other Russia that does not support Putin’s regime and his foreign policy of the occupation of Crimea and Donbas. The inception of the Congress was an appeal published in Novaya Gazeta on 14 March 2014.

The recent letter that we publish below can be signed by any Russians who are against the war and disagree with the recent Russian policy of build-up around Ukrainian borders that threatens a full-scale war.

A Statement of Russians against war with Ukraine

The flow of disturbing information about a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine is intensifying. There are reports of intensive recruitment of mercenaries in Russia and the transfer of fuel and military vehicles to the territory of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine. In response, Ukraine is intensively arming itself, NATO is sending additional forces to Eastern Europe. The tension is not easing, but on the contrary, it is only growing.

Citizens of Russia are actually becoming hostages of criminal adventurism that Russia’s foreign policy line has become. They not only live in uncertainty – whether a big war will begin, but also experience a sharp rise in prices and devaluation of the national currency. Do Russians need such a policy? Do they want war, and are they ready to bear its burden? Did they give the authorities the right to play this game with their fates?

But the citizens of Russia are not asked. Public discussion doesn’t exist. State television broadcasts only one point of view, that of the supporters of the war. Direct military threats are broadcast there, aggression and hatred towards Ukraine, the US and Western countries. But the most dangerous thing is that the war is presented as an acceptable and inevitable course of events. Authorities are trying to deceive people, debauch, impose on them the idea of a holy war with the West instead of developing the country and raising the standard of living of its citizens. The issue of prices is not discussed, but it is ordinary people who will have to pay this price – a huge and bloody price.

We, responsible citizens of Russia and patriots of our country, appeal to the political leadership of Russia, and challenge openly and publicly the Party of War, which has been formed within the government.

We express the point of view of that part of Russian society that hates war and considers as a crime the use of a military threat and criminal style in foreign policy rhetoric.

We hate war while you consider it acceptable. We stand for peace and prosperity for all citizens of Russia, and you put their lives and fates at risk in your political game. You are deceiving and using people, and we are telling them the truth. We are speaking on behalf of Russia, and not you, because the peoples of Russia, having lost millions of people in the wars of the past, for many decades have been living by the proverb “anything, but not war.” Have you forgotten about this?

Our point is extremely simple: Russia does not need a war with Ukraine and the West. Nobody threatens us, nobody attacks us. A policy based on promoting the idea of such a war is immoral, irresponsible, and criminal, and cannot be carried out on behalf of the peoples of Russia. Such a war can have neither legitimate nor moral goals. The diplomacy of the country cannot take any other position than the firm rejection of such a war.

The war not only does not correspond to the interests of Russia but also endangers its very existence. The insane actions of the political leadership of the country, pushing us to war, will inevitably lead to a mass anti-war movement in Russia. Each of us naturally becomes a part of it.

We will do everything possible to prevent, and if necessary, stop the war.

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