by Eli McCarthy
for Waging Nonviolence
The war in Ukraine is a human and ecological catastrophe. We have failed to create the social conditions for the prevention of large-scale violence. We have failed to escape the cycle of threats, blame and retribution that escalates hostility and distrust. We have failed to acknowledge the relevant root causes and responsibility for harm from key stakeholders. We have failed to engage in diplomacy that prioritizes the dignity and human needs of the key stakeholders, with a willingness to compromise, and a focus on saving lives. We have failed to adequately train people in nonviolent conflict, resistance and civilian-based defense. We cannot afford to make these mistakes again.
Yet, despite all these failures, there are still signs of hope. A variety of creative, courageous, nonviolent ways of resistance are being activated and could be scaled up by Ukrainians and others.
Ukrainians have been blocking convoys and tanks, and standing their ground even with warning shots fired in multiple towns. In Berdyansk and Kulykіvka people organized peace rallies and convinced the Russian military to get out. Hundreds protested the abduction of a mayor, and there have been protests in Kherson against becoming a breakaway state. Ukrainians have fraternized with Russian soldiers to lower their morale and stimulate defections. There’s been humanitarian assistance (with Orthodox priests stepping up as escorts) and caring for displaced persons by the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders.
Russians have participated in numerous antiwar protests, and around 15,000 have been arrested. Journalists have interrupted and resigned from state TV. Nearly 100,000 Russians from a variety of sectors have signed petitions to end the war. Russians from all parts of society have spoken out against the war — from members of the military and connected to the foreign ministry to members of the Russian oil industry and billionaires, as well as nearly 300 Russian Orthodox clerics . Meanwhile, over 100 soldiers have refused to take part…