A Ceasefire Is Immediately Needed to Reduce Escalating War in Ukraine

As Russia marks the Soviet Union’s defeat of the Nazis 78 years in the past, Ukraine is getting ready to launch a serious counteroffensive, which has compelled Moscow to difficulty an evacuation order for 1000’s of residents in areas occupied by Russian forces. In the meantime, worldwide actors are calling for negotiations, presumably brokered by China or Brazil, to finish the warfare. For extra on the prognosis for peace in Ukraine, we’re joined by Phyllis Bennis, writer and a fellow on the Institute for Coverage Research.


This can be a rush transcript. Copy will not be in its remaining kind.

AMY GOODMAN: Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the West of unleashing a warfare in opposition to Russia throughout a Victory Day celebration in Moscow marking the Soviet defeat of the Nazis 78 years in the past. Putin’s remarks came visiting 14 months after Russia invaded Ukraine. In current days, Russia has stepped up assaults on Ukraine, launching waves of drone and missile assaults focusing on Kyiv and different areas. Putin spoke in Moscow’s Purple Sq. earlier at this time.

PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: [translated] Right this moment, civilization is as soon as once more at an important turning level. An actual warfare has as soon as once more been unleashed in opposition to our homeland. However we have now fought again in opposition to worldwide terrorism. We may also shield the folks of the Donbas and guarantee our safety. For us, for Russia, there aren’t any unfriendly, hostile nations, neither within the West or the East. As with absolutely the majority of individuals on the planet, we need to see the longer term peaceable, free and steady. We imagine that any ideology of supremacy is disgusting, evil and lethal in its nature. …

The Western globalist elites, nevertheless, nonetheless preach about their exceptionalism. They’re pitting folks in opposition to one another and dividing society, upsetting bloody conflicts and coups, sowing hatred, Russophobia, aggressive nationalism, destroying the normal household values that make folks folks.

AMY GOODMAN: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has additionally marked the anniversary of the give up of Nazi Germany in World Warfare II. On Monday, Zelensky in contrast Putin’s Russia to Nazi Germany.

PRESIDENT VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY: [translated] Sadly, evil has returned. Simply as evil rushed to our cities and villages then, it’s doing so now. Evil killed our folks then. So it does now. Though now the aggressor is completely different, the aim is identical: enslavement or destruction. And similar to within the Second World Warfare, we’re not alone in opposition to evil. We struggle in opposition to him collectively in the identical means with all the free world, with the states and peoples who created a joint victory at the moment. … We fought then, and we struggle now, in order that nobody ever once more enslaves different peoples and destroys different international locations, and the previous evil that fashionable Russia is bringing again can be defeated, simply as Nazism was defeated.

AMY GOODMAN: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s remarks come as Ukraine is getting ready to launch a serious counteroffensive, which has compelled Moscow to difficulty evacuation orders for 1000’s of residents in some areas occupied by Russian troops. In the meantime, the Biden administration is asserting at this time a brand new $1.2 billion navy support package deal for Ukraine.

To speak extra in regards to the warfare in Ukraine, we’re joined by Phyllis Bennis, a fellow on the Institute for Coverage Research.

Phyllis, welcome again to Democracy Now! So, let’s begin there. As this counteroffensive begins by Ukraine and Russia rains down strikes on Ukraine, the U.S. is asserting at this time one other $1.2 billion in navy support to Ukraine. The place do you see this going?

PHYLLIS BENNIS: Good morning, Amy.

I’m afraid that what we’re taking a look at is already collapsed right into a warfare of attrition. The analogies to World Warfare II are harmful on various ranges, however one of many ranges is that this isn’t a warfare that’s going to finish like World Warfare II with the give up of 1 aspect or one other. I feel there may be widespread understanding that this isn’t a warfare that’s going to be gained militarily.

The query is: How lengthy is it going to be extended? What number of extra Ukrainian civilians, and likewise Russian troopers which were compelled into the navy, are going to be killed? How far more Ukrainian territory goes to be destroyed? How far more of a worldwide set of penalties, together with the environmental penalties, the financial disaster, and the famine that’s attacking giant components of the World South, due to the implications of this warfare — all of that and the potential menace of an escalation to a nuclear trade, essentially the most harmful and essentially the most lethal risk that might come from this? So, all of that’s attainable.

And I feel that, wanting on the query of the brand new, looming Ukrainian offensive — there’s been discuss additionally of a Russian offensive within the spring, though that isn’t as clear as the potential of a Ukrainian offensive — the actual difficulty is: For a way lengthy is that this warfare going to finish? And what needs to be the place of our actions, actions of progressives, of antiwar forces, of anti-empire forces, those that assist Ukraine’s proper of self-determination and but see the implications of this warfare going ahead? If our aim, as I feel it needs to be, is to finish the warfare, to not lengthen it indefinitely — so long as it takes, as President Biden describes it, by offering all of the weapons that Ukraine would possibly ask for, the entire weapons of any type between the U.S. and its allies — that is going to make issues worse and never higher. It’s going to increase the warfare and never lead in the direction of a means of ending the warfare, which I feel needs to be our aim.

AMY GOODMAN: What nations do you imagine might play a task in negotiations?

PHYLLIS BENNIS: I feel, first, there needs to be a coming collectively of various nations to name for a ceasefire. A ceasefire is the quick demand. It gained’t result in justice by itself, but when the tip of the capturing can occur, if the tip of the bombing can occur, if individuals are now not being killed, there’s a significantly better probability that critical negotiations might get underway.

I feel there are variety of international locations that might play a task in a constructive means. The Chinese language 12-point program that was submitted a while in the past, I feel, by itself, will not be ample. It didn’t, for instance, say that the Russian troops have to be withdrawn. It didn’t acknowledge the illegality of the Russian invasion. That’s a major problem. But it surely did embrace various parts, which even the Ukrainian management has mentioned they may settle for.

On the degree of who’s shifting around the globe attempting to place ahead a brand new name for negotiations, the initiative taken by Brazilian President Lula, I feel, is likely one of the most necessary. Partnered probably with the South African president, President Ramaphosa and President Lula collectively, could be a really formidable group. They each have relations with each Russia and Ukraine. They each are a part of the BRICS alliance, however they’re the one one of many BRICS who will not be both combating or offering weapons or attempting to supply weapons to at least one or either side. So that they’re in a very helpful place by way of having the ability to negotiate, having the ability to interact with either side, to behave as an interlocutor. Now we have not but heard that there’s a group in formation, if you’ll, between Lula and Ramaphosa, however I feel President Lula, particularly, has been very seen in shifting around the globe calling for this. He’s somebody with a protracted historical past of engagement on worldwide points past Brazil’s personal borders. And South Africa has made very clear their each opposition to the Russian invasion however refusing to simply accept the U.S.-led requires sanctions and different punishments, which might be identified to not work to finish wars. So I feel there’s a nice potential there for these two leaders to play a serious position.

AMY GOODMAN: Would Ukraine settle for South Africa, which hasn’t condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as it’s conducting naval workout routines with the Russian and Chinese language navies within the Indian Ocean? And would they settle for Brazil, which claimed that the U.S. is stimulating the combating — and would you agree with that — and mentioned that each Ukraine and Russia had determined to go to warfare?

PHYLLIS BENNIS: I feel that there’s no query that the U.S. provision of navy gear, of arms, of tanks, of assist of every kind, and U.S. allies offering the remainder, probably even together with long-range missiles, we’re listening to at this time — one thing the U.S. has refused to do however now Britain is speaking about that as a risk — there’s no query that that has prolonged the warfare.

I feel that there’s a mistaking — a mistaken view on the market that claims that South Africa has by no means condemned the warfare. There was a criticism of the warfare. What South Africa has not been ready to do is vote for the condemnations within the Safety Council that got here together with requires particular sanctions, and many others., in opposition to Russia, which they weren’t ready to do.

I feel that there’s a good probability that the Ukrainian management would settle for virtually any critical negotiations at this level. One of many points is: Will their key navy backers, notably the USA, pull again from their earlier positions of telling the Ukrainians, basically, “We don’t desire a ceasefire but. We’re not pushing you to barter”? There was a interval final April, greater than a 12 months in the past, in April of 2022, when there have been negotiations that have been — appeared to be pending. There have been discussions about talks — talks about talks, if you’ll. And at that time, with U.S. involvement, the then-prime minister of the U.Okay., Boris Johnson, went to Kyiv to fulfill with Zelensky, with President Zelensky, and all of the experiences indicated that his message was “Don’t begin negotiating but. We are going to offer you no matter you want. Hold the struggle. Hold the struggle going.” And that was certainly what the Ukrainians selected to do. That has not made it higher, by way of the potential for future negotiations.

And, in fact, we’re additionally going through a critical problem with our motion within the variations between those that assist one set of reliable rights of Ukraine as crucial elements and others who assist different rights of Ukraine and the world because the extra necessary. And there’s been such pressure inside that motion that it’s been virtually unimaginable to construct a unified effort to finish this warfare. So we’re going through a really difficult second, when the urgency for a ceasefire, the urgency for shifting in the direction of negotiations is essential, and but there’s issues of a stall in our motion degree. There’s a stall on the diplomatic degree. The one factor that’s not being stalled is sending extra weapons.

And I feel that’s a really major problem, as a result of what we’re taking a look at, Amy, one of many challenges that we face is that this huge contradiction of this era of historical past, the place it’s not solely difficult as a result of that is now not the Chilly Warfare, the place there was U.S. imperialism attacking international locations, undermining the self-determination of nations around the globe, and far of the remainder of the world mobilized in opposition to that, and political actions mobilized on the identical aspect — not essentially agreeing with what the Soviet Union at the moment was doing or saying, or what China at the moment was doing or saying, however clear in our opposition to what the U.S. was doing around the globe. What we’re seeing now’s that illegitimate actions, unlawful actions, violations of worldwide regulation are coming not solely from the U.S.; on this case, they’re coming from Russia, as nicely.

We even have to know, I feel, that there are two separate wars being waged in Ukraine, one in all which has been waged for many years now, led by the USA and NATO as a geopolitical warfare in opposition to Russian affect within the post-Chilly Warfare period, with the collapse of the Soviet Union. That included issues just like the motion of NATO into international locations a lot nearer to Russia, regardless of guarantees not to take action. It contains the positioning of weapons throughout Europe, together with strategic weapons and even nuclear weapons in components of Europe. So, all of that has been one type of geopolitical warfare. As of final 12 months, and starting, in some methods, in 2014 with the Russian invasion and occupation of Crimea, you could have a Russian-led warfare on the bottom. And it’s that floor warfare proper now that so urgently must be stopped, as a result of that’s the place we’re seeing the deaths of simply too many individuals. Too many Ukrainian civilians, elders and youngsters and infants, everybody, is susceptible to being killed or injured on this warfare.

So there’s a determined, pressing have to cease that warfare, however we are able to’t put apart the truth that there’s been this different geopolitical warfare led by the USA and NATO, which continues to be happening. So we are able to’t merely want that away and say, by concentrating on the bottom warfare, which I imagine must be our precedence, a warfare wherein Russia was clearly the aggressor — we have to give attention to that, however conserving in thoughts the opposite a part of this very difficult set of wars which might be underway. So, I feel the decision for a right away ceasefire and the decision for critical negotiations that first will result in a peace with justice within the medium and long run after a right away ceasefire — we are able to’t afford, I’m afraid, to say we are able to postpone a ceasefire till a totally realized peace with justice is on the way in which —

AMY GOODMAN: And what do you say, Phyllis —

PHYLLIS BENNIS: — as a result of what that leaves —

AMY GOODMAN: What do you say, Phyllis, to those that say a ceasefire serves Russia, as a result of they get to maintain their land that they’ve occupied, from Donbas to Crimea?

PHYLLIS BENNIS: A ceasefire is barely the 1st step. A ceasefire is barely the prelude to negotiations, which ought to result in Russian troops being pulled out. That’s a aim. However in virtually each case — there are exceptions in historical past. The U.S. negotiated with Vietnam for 5 years, whereas the worst of the combating continued, between 1968 in 1973. However that’s a rarity in historical past. In virtually each scenario, critical negotiations don’t happen till there’s a ceasefire. We’re not speaking about Russia being allowed someway to maintain territory it has claimed. That’s a transparent violation of worldwide regulation in a complete host of the way. But it surely’s a step. It’s a mandatory step. We are able to’t omit that it’s solely the 1st step, that the subsequent step needs to be shifting in the direction of critical negotiations.

There additionally have to be separate negotiations, wherein — the USA, to begin with, has no proper to inform the Ukrainians what they need to do within the negotiations. However as its primary provider of arms, of cash, of every kind of assist, it has, for my part, not solely the suitable, however the obligation, to push Ukraine in the direction of negotiations, as on the identical time that the world is pushing the Russians in the direction of negotiations.

AMY GOODMAN: And, Phyllis, on the problem —

PHYLLIS BENNIS: There must be negotiations.

AMY GOODMAN: On the problem of debate inside international locations, you journey around the globe. How does that debate in Europe — do you see it extra sturdy and open than in the USA? You’re employed with many congressmembers. The difficulty of negotiation and ceasefire is never publicly raised right here, until we’re speaking about protesters on the bottom getting arrested.

PHYLLIS BENNIS: I feel it’s a really difficult query. I’ve not been touring round since COVID, though that’s about to vary. However in my discuss, by telephone and by Skype, with colleagues in antiwar forces and progressive folks of every kind throughout Europe and elsewhere, there may be debate and dialogue, however I feel that the degrees of assist for arming Ukraine in an virtually limitless means is as nice or higher throughout Europe than it’s right here. There may be an lively and vibrant peace mobilization in Europe, and but the general public polls point out nice assist for additional arming, additional weapons being despatched, the growth of NATO within the new international locations of — which might be shifting into NATO, Finland and Sweden, the place the populations for many years prided themselves on their nonalignment with warmaking forces around the globe, together with the USA. In that context, we’re now seeing an entire reversal, the place the federal government selections to affix NATO in each Finland and Sweden, which is now in course of, has enormously excessive ranges of public assist.

So, I feel that we’re in the same scenario right here, the place there may be a substantial amount of assist for Ukraine, a degree of assist that I feel is suitable by way of supporting a inhabitants that has been attacked and occupied by an out of doors aggressive power — that being Russia — however on the identical time we’re seeing — we’re not seeing that very same degree of assist for sending the amount of cash — it’s over $66 billion simply on the navy aspect thus far, and it’s about to be $67 billion, one other $50 billion or so in financial support. There’s a number of opposition to that on this nation. And I feel that we have now to be keen to problem those that are saying that someway a everlasting provision of a weapons pipeline will not be going to finish this warfare. Now we have to be very away from the hazard. This warfare threatens the potential of a nuclear escalation in a means that no warfare, no scenario because the Cuban missile disaster threatened.

AMY GOODMAN: Phyllis —

PHYLLIS BENNIS: It was not true in Iraq, Afghanistan or the others. It’s a menace right here. And for that purpose, the worldwide penalties, and the regional penalties, of militarization and famine and the environmental price, all of that, the highest of that pyramid of prices is the nuclear menace. And that’s why we have to finish this warfare as quickly as attainable.

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