New York, July 30, 2022
North-West Russia Peace Movement, Public Council of the Southern Coast of the Gulf of Finland, Sosnovy Bor, St Petersburg, Russia, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org www.decommission.ru
Dear participants of the conference!
Thank you to the International Network Peace & Planet for the invitation and the opportunity to talk to you from the shores of the Baltic Sea, 7,000 km away from New York.
Unfortunately, I don’t have such a public opportunity to discuss Ukrainian events here in Russia.
In my hands is an advertisement that I removed from the bulletin board of my city. It says here: men between 20 and 60 years old are invited to sign a contract to participate in a special military operation in Ukraine. Monthly salary 130,000 rubles or 2,200 dollars. This is 3 times the salary of a schoolteacher. This is a reality for many Russian cities in the context of the economic crisis.
President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 was a shock for millions of Russian citizens. To me it looks as if my right hand is attacking my left hand and trying to break it. It’s absurd and insane!
But it soon became clear that President Putin sees this war as a war between Russia and NATO on the territory of the former Russian empire.
The geopolitical situation has changed radically since the invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops. In April, the Baltic Sea Region Peace Movement, including our NGO, sent an appeal to the President, Parliament, and Government of Finland. We asked to organize an International Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe in 2025 in the spirit of a similar Helsinki conference in 1975. We suggested too, that Finland should not join NATO until the results of such a conference are summed up in 2025. But our initiative was not heard.
Neutral Finland and Sweden, neighboring Russia, have decided to become members of NATO. This means that the whole Baltic Sea region has become a confrontation zone between NATO and Russia. About 100 million people live here in 11 countries.
So far, the generals are only discussing what type of nuclear weapons and under what scenarios they could be used in the Baltic region.
But in fact, on March 4 Russia already used a new type of nuclear weapon in Ukraine. For the first time in world history, the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant was captured with the support of heavy military equipment.
Such actions are forbidden by the Geneva Convention and IAEA resolutions, but this is today’s reality!
Zaporozhye NPP is the largest NPP in Europe. Dozens of tons of plutonium-239 are contained in spent nuclear fuel on the grounds of this nuclear power plant. If extracted, they can be used to make several thousand bombs like those dropped on Nagasaki. But there is no need to extract this plutonium! Destroying such a nuclear power plant, even with a non-nuclear weapon, means detonating a dirty atomic bomb. Plutonium with a half-life of 24 thousand years and other radionuclides could contaminate many thousands of square miles across Europe.
The Zaporozhye NPP is now run by Ukrainian specialists under the control of the Russian military. The International Atomic Energy Agency confirms that it is impossible to guarantee its safety under such conditions. Zaporozhye NPP has effectively become a Russian military base that cannot be attacked because of the dangers of its destruction.
What happened in Ukraine means that countries that have nuclear power plants on their territory can become nuclear victims in a military conflict with countries that do not have nuclear weapons.
The main conclusion from this story is that there is no differences between so-called military and peaceful nuclear technologies. They are all dangerous.
I think it’s time to reform the IAEA. Now the IAEA is a promoter of the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Unfortunately, Russian civil society cannot influence the military escalation now.
In the first weeks of aggression in Ukraine, more than 1 million 200 thousand citizens of Russia signed the petition “AGAINST WAR”. Students, professors, and graduates of Russian universities spoke out against the war. In many cities there were numerous protests in the streets. At the same time the Kurchatov Institute in Moscow, the developer of the first Soviet atomic bomb, supported the “special military operation in Ukraine” on March 4.
But within a few weeks the situation changed radically:
– All Russian independent media have been shut down.
– Total propaganda of the war is on state TV channels.
– New laws have been passed that prohibit public criticism of the war (including by MPs); violators must pay hefty fines or go to prison.
– There is no independent judiciary; the courts are politically biased.
– The judgments of the European Court of Human Rights are not implemented; the President of Russia has signed a decree to this effect.
– Facebook and some other social networks are blocked.
– representatives of non-governmental organizations cooperating with partners from other countries are given the status of “foreign agent”, and they are deprived of some of the civil rights provided for in the Russian Constitution.
Dear conference participants!
To fight effectively, peace activists should unite environmental, human rights, climate change, and other NGOs. We have a common goal – to preserve our living planet!
And last, but not least: at present politicians in Russia and Western countries are forming an image of an enemy in the countries of their political opponents. They see in this an opportunity to consolidate the society inside the country. But can we in USA, Ukraine, Russia, and other countries be enemies? We are neighbors on our common planet Earth.
Let us hold hands and act together for the health of our living planet!