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Statements at UJP Program on Ukraine

United for Justice with Peace held a forum on "Crisis in the Ukraine: Cold War? Civil War? Roots of the Conflict" on Wednesday, May 28 in Cambridge.  Following are excerpts from the two presentations. 

Mark Solomon, professor of history emeritus, Simmons college:

There are two roads for Ukraine. One road leads to reconciliation, compromise and progress. The other road leads to internal strife, warfare and renting of the societal fabric. The first road encourages international cooperation and peace. The second road holds out the threat of a rekindled cold war and a global conflagration. 

At this critical moment, the Kiev government led by its new President Petro Poroshenko has embarked on the second road. The deadly assault on indigenous forces in Donetsk recklessly undermined prospects for a negotiated settlement of the country’s internal conflict. The carnage at the Donetsk airport was a blow against sanity that could only please those who wish to see a country turning its back on negotiations while opening its doors wider to NATO, to austerity, privatization and cuts in social services. 

The stakes in Ukraine are truly global. The tragic conflict can easily ignite a far wider conflict. However, it is not too late to pull back from the abyss and embark on a road to peace and progress. Peace activists in the United States have a vital role in preventing further bloodshed and helping restore sanity. It has to demand that our government supports negotiations between contending forces; that it cooperates with Russia in advancing talks; that it withdraws provocative missile-armed warships from the Black Sea and that it stops the forward movement of NATO deeper into Eastern Europe and Russian borders. With constructive efforts by all who support peace – peace can prevail.  

Gary Leupp, professor of history, Tufts University:

The “Ukraine Crisis” is the result of the relentless eastward expansion of NATO in violation of George H. W. Bush’s promise to Mikhail Gorbachev that this would never happen, and Russia fear of the prospect that the Crimean Peninsula would someday soon fall into NATO hands, and the Black Sea transformed into a NATO lake.

Regardless of the legality of the annexation of Crimea, the basic issue is not Russian aggression but the aggressive expansion of a military alliance designed to oppose a USSR that dissolved 23 years ago, along with the Warsaw Pace.

The peace movement should focus on opposing NATO expansion and indeed demand the alliance’s dissolution, while also challenging the mainstream media’s depiction of events in Ukraine, in particular the whitewash of the crucial involvement of neofascist groups.

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