From Vienna to Vilnius, the long-distance confrontation between peace and war forces

European peace movements gathered in Vienna to join forces at this very delicate historical moment and to analyze the situation as well as to propose a line to counter the belligerent drift. The timing chosen is not coincidental: in July, in fact, NATO summits will meet in Vilnius for a meeting that could be decisive in the perspective of the Ukrainian conflict.

By Laura Tussi

The participants of the June 10-11, 2023 Vienna Peace Summit come from different parts of the world and have different experiences, agendas, and positions, but they are all united by the struggle for peace, democracy, and social justice, and for an ecological balance in a world without neo-colonialism, neo-nuclearism, patriarchal domination, racism and exploitation of human beings. In summary: Vienna before Vilnius, Lithuania, site of the next NATO summit. Peace before the war.

In Vilnius, on the discussion table at which representatives of NATO countries will sit on July 11 and 12, there will be several issues, including the status of Ukraine. This is the reason why the International Peace Movement met last weekend in Vienna, while the Women’s peace movement will demonstrate in front of the NATO headquarters in Brussels on July 8 and 9. We are all, as humanity and as the pacifist world, deeply concerned about the war between Russia and Ukraine.

It is by no means the only war: there are currently multiple armed and violent conflicts going on, but this war is violent in a special way because all the major powers are involved, and it is dangerous because it risks becoming a third world war and consequently nuclear. This is the reason for the Vienna Peace Summit that took place in June: to strengthen the cooperation of peace movements and raise global awareness to help end this absurd and wearisome war.

The action of the Vienna conference is an urgent call for peace that remains in the history of the ages. The world of nonviolence and disarmament believes that the illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine must be condemned. No country has the right to attack another state, whatever the pretext, or to conquer and annex its territory or part of it. This war, as such, is a crime against humanity. But we must also explicitly condemn the war crimes committed by both sides in this violent conflict.

This violence has been simmering since 2014 and has been underestimated on one side and the other. It also has been channeled and exacerbated to the point of leading to the conflict we are witnessing today. With it goes the destruction of democracy in the countries themselves, which regime opponents and those resisting the war are the first to feel, such as conscientious objectors to arms in Ukraine and Russia. Not to be forgotten is the responsibility of the United States, with the co-responsibility of NATO and the European Union, for the lack of resolution of the deeper conflicts affecting Europe – beginning with the post-1989 security architecture – and which, particularly with the enlargement of NATO’s borders, are contributing to the escalation of this long-term conflict.

The conclusions of the Vienna summit

Peace movements also gathered in Vienna to mourn the wounded, the dead, and the millions of refugees and to empathize with the women who are suffering, providing vital care, and struggling for their livelihood and peace despite human rights violations. [Peace movements] showed deep concern about this war that is destroying Ukraine’s environment and infrastructure and causing material, economic, environmental and psychological disasters.

Also on the summit table were the devastating global effects of the conflict, which is causing rising food and energy prices and a shortage of grain products. [All this] is exacerbating poverty and triggering famines in the global south. Rising geopolitical tensions and the arms race in the wake of this war are destabilizing world politics and draining vast and precious resources – there is a desperate need for food and health as well as to combat ecological disasters. The pacifist world has therefore called on the public to be aware of the history of this war and especially its complexity.

The intervention of the Vienna conference is an urgent call for peace that remains in the history of the ages.

Toward a nuclear world war?

The analysis concluded that there are three conflict situations we are witnessing: the continuation of the civil war in Ukraine between the government and the separatist provinces, supported and incited by Russia. NATO’s willingness to finance the war in Ukraine militarily and by all means, an attitude perceived by Russia and also by many southern states as a proxy war. Finally, a historical and legal context transcends Ukraine and Russia and pits Russia and the United States against each other for control of East Central Europe.

Because of all this complex constellation of dramatic events – the fear expressed by the people of Vienna [is the following:] – a growing threat that all of this will escalate uncontrollably to a world war, even with the risk of a terrible nuclear denouement. That is why the threshold of attention and activism should not be lowered, all the more so in view of the upcoming and decisive NATO summit in Vilnius.

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