“There is very real danger of World War. But I agree with your line. We are faced with huge economic and ecological challenges and we are possibly in the run down to WW3. “Mad” does not cover it.” – an anti-war activist and educator.
Ian Curr’s interview with Bevan Ramsden (IPAN) on Ukraine
- Why should the Australian government change tack and insist that it’s allies in the conflict (the US, UK and NATO) call a ceasefire in Ukraine?
- Is the US involvement in the Ukraine conflict an attempt to weaken Russia? If so, why?
- What is the main priority for peace activists in Australia regarding this conflict?
- How should we go about preventing an escalation of the war between Russia and Ukraine?
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
Bevan Ramsden is an ex-telecommunications engineer and a long-time peace activist and advocates for Australia’s independence. He is a member of the coordinating committee of the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN).
Transcript of interview with Bevan Ramsden (IPAN)
[apologies for any transcription errors]
Before addressing the questions which I’ve been given about how to achieve peace in Ukraine, and what the Australian government should be doing, I think it’s appropriate, to have a bit of background on how it has all happened … this war in the Ukraine.
It goes back to when the Soviet Union broke up in the late 1980s. Ukraine was one of the several Soviet republics, which became independent nations. And despite that Ukraine and Russia continued to have friendly relations. The United States actually promised Russia in 1990 and 1993, that they would not expand NATO eastwards towards Russia, and try and bring the ex-Soviet Union republics under their control. They promised that that would not be done.
However, under President Clinton, those assurances were broken. And so a number of the former Soviet bloc states are now members of NATO. Further, the United States under Trump backed out of an agreement with Russia not to install intermediate range missiles in Europe. So if Ukraine joined NATO, Russia would have NATO bases on on its borders, with the possibility of intermediate range missiles, which could be a nuclear armed, close to its border and pointed at Russia, a situation that obviously it would not want to tolerate and one of the reasons it demands that Ukraine never be allowed to join NATO.
A further instance of President Clinton’s assurances being broken about the US not trying to bring ex Soviet Union republics under its control was in 2014, February and March 2014. It’s been seen quite clearly that the United States and NATO helped engineer a violent coup in Ukraine, which overthrew the democratically elected Ukrainian government of Viktor Yanukovych, and installed a government dominated by far right elements through the virulently hostile to Russia and pro-NATO.
And one of these groups was the neo-Nazi ASOV battalion, now part of the Ukrainian National Guard and notorious for its savage attacks on the Russian speaking people of eastern Ukraine and the shelling of residential areas in the Donbass region.
So, following that coup, called the Euromaidan coup, by the West, there was a virtual civil war in Ukraine, with the Eastern area of Ukraine, not wanting to be under the control of this newly engineered right-wing government. Hostilities (broke out) between the east and west of Ukraine,(and) to prevent this, the Minsk II agreement was signed between Russia and Ukraine. It (Minsk II) stipulated that the Russian speaking regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in Ukraine would enjoy regional autonomy while remaining part of Ukraine. Although this agreement was brokered by Germany and France, and supported by the United States, the Ukrainian government has refused to implement it. This led to Donetsk and Luhansk declaring their independence from Ukraine and forming the Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic.
Now Putin and actually, his intervention, his invasion of Ukraine, was allegedly to get rid of this neo-Nazi battalion and support the people of eastern Ukraine from attacks by that battalion and Ukrainian armed forces. That so called justification has been put out by by Putin. You could understand (how) with that background, this might happen. But nothing in this history justifies one country invading another, even for such reasons; and certainly peace groups in Australia with the Independent Peace Australian Network (IPAN) have condemned that invasion. Whilst understanding some of the reasons why it might have occurred, there is no justification for that and the war that’s taken place.
So that’s the bit of background, as I put it in because the Minsk II agreement, if it was reinvigorated after a ceasefire, might lead a way to finding a peaceful solution, which Minsk safeguards the peace and security of peoples in the region, if it was actually returned to and implemented.
Why should the Australian government change tack and insist that it’s allies in the conflict (the US, UK and NATO) call a ceasefire in Ukraine?
The Australian government has been sending arms and military equipment to Ukraine. And that was one of the points made just recently in an IPAN media release [IPAN Urges Australian Government to call for a Ceasefire in Ukraine – 23 September 2022]. That media release, actually called on the Australian government to support a ceasefire in Ukraine. And the call for a ceasefire and negotiations, leading to a situation which safeguards the peace and security of all people in the region. That call has been made by China and by India. I’ve noticed that in the Australian mainstream media, I haven’t been able to see any mention or recognition or acknowledgement that China has called for a ceasefire in this war in Ukraine, and UN has called for negotiations to an agreement, which would lead to peace and security for all people in the region – Ukrainians, Eastern Western and Russian people too.
And IPAN has called on the Australian Government in this most recent media release (23 September 2022), to change its tack on Ukraine to support such a ceasefire and negotiations and to urge its allies, like the United States and NATO to also support a ceasefire. No progress can be made towards peace until a ceasefire is actually implemented and agreed to. And indeed, IPAN has pointed out that United Nations involvement is probably essential with a UN peacekeeping force to supervise such a ceasefire, whilst negotiations might start and a true solution which recognizes the security concerns of all people in the region, that is in Ukraine and the Donbass region, and Russia, and anyone else. A solution which will ensure their peace and their security, because the only people that suffer; not the only people that suffer, but the main people that suffer in this war in Ukraine is ordinary people noncombatants, including children. That’s the trouble with war being used as a means of trying to solve a conflict.
Only by negotiations around the conference table, can peace be really achieved and the solution achieved, and that involves always a little bit of compromise here and there to bring an end to a conflict, which is causing such hardship and such suffering for the ordinary working people. That’s men, women and children in Ukraine; and for that matter, also in Russia, where for families have lost many soldiers in this war, and are no doubt suffering, also.
The war has also caused suffering to Europe in the sense that the United States has surged European countries not to buy oil or gas from Russia, and other commodities, in order to put pressure on them. To get out of Ukraine, and that is causing hardship to the people of Europe as well. So there’s every reason to want to bring to an end the war in Ukraine, for the sake of the people with the region, and, and for peace. So the call on the Australian Government by IPAN, has been for supporting a ceasefire, the call that India and China have made, and support for negotiations for a security solution, which will meet the needs of the people in the region.
And in addition, IPAN has called on the Australian government to stop sending arms and military equipment, which is only prolonging the war.
What is the main priority for peace activists in Australia regarding this conflict?
Preventing an escalation, of course, is equally important, because Putin has mentioned using weapons of mass destruction if necessary. And the United States military have said, Yes, we would respond if that happened. So are we talking here about nuclear weapons? That would be a fearsome situation, if such an escalation led to the use of nuclear weapons, and everything must be done to stop that.
So the first priority is not only for that reason, but for peace is to in fact, call for a ceasefire. And as far as Australia is concerned, to put all the pressure we can on the Australian government to change its position of feeding the Ukraine military with the equipment which is prolonging the war, and to join the call (by India and China) for a ceasefire and negotiations.
How do we do that? Well, this means getting the support of a broad section of the Australian people to bring pressure on the government to lobby those members of the government like Greens and some Independents, to get them onside and to lobby the other MPs to get them onside …. when they see a broad movement in Australia, and they see protests, meetings, and those sorts of actions.
For example, recently, there was a statement printed in the Saturday paper and the weekend Australian signed by about 1,000 Australians, including organizations calling for us good idea not to go to war was calling on the Australian government not to be involved in a war on China and to cease war preparations for that purpose and not to allow Australian territory to be used and further to sign the treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons.
That was an action which showed a strength of Australian opinion. Over one thousand (1,000) people signed and they donated money, something like $20,000 to put these advertisements in two major national papers, actions like that, meetings rallies, writing to your members of parliament, writing letters and newspaper all the usual stuff (is) needed to develop the strength of opinion that the government cannot then resist and realize(s) this, as electoral consequences for not listening to the people, then that way, actions occur for the better. So let us hope that the call for the ceasefire and negotiations is heeded and supported by the Australian government and its allies.
Is the US involvement in Ukraine in the conflict, an attempt to weaken Russia? And if so, why?
Well, my opinion, that is one of the motivations of the United States. It sees Russia as a competitor, as it sees China and the imperialists, those who represent the interests of the huge corporations who want to exploit and make money out of other people’s resources, and indeed, using their labor. They see Russia as competitor and China’s competitor, and they want to reduce and weaken their influence. And I think it’s been said, by commentators, and it’s been said by some representatives of the United States government, that weakening Russia is to their advantage, and prolonging the war to the last Ukrainian is in their interests. That’s United States imperialist interests. Of course, not the interests of the Ukrainian people.
Bevan Ramsden (IPAN)
29 Sept 2022