Feminist Initiative: Right to Resist

20 07 2022

The Feminist Initiative Group’s “Right to Resist” Manifesto takes issue with the Feminist Resistance Against War manifesto, arguing that the latter denies Ukrainian women the right to resist.

We, feminists from Ukraine, call on feminists around the world to stand in solidarity with the resistance movement of the Ukrainian people against the predatory, imperialist war unleashed by the Russian Federation. War narratives often portray women* as victims. However, in reality, women* also play a key role in resistance movements, both at the frontline and on the home front: from Algeria to Vietnam, from Syria to Palestine, from Kurdistan to Ukraine.

Its signatories, numbering in the hundreds, call “for an informed assessment of a specific situation instead of abstract geopolitical analysis which ignores the historical, social and political context,” and argue that “Russian aggression undermines the achievements of Ukrainian feminists in the struggle against political and social oppression.”

It’s worth noting that the Feminist Resistance Against War, which was published on March 17, has been signed by 151 signatories as of today. Not a single one of them is based in Ukraine. In contrast, the “Right to Resist” manifesto, as of July 20, is signed by 629 people and 56 organizations, of which at least a few hundred appear to be Ukrainian (judging by names or affiliations).  

The entire manifesto can be read on Spil’ne/Commons.

Ukraine Solidarity Campaign: “No to partition!”

10 03 2022

Ukraine Solidarity Campaign, which organizes solidarity with independent socialists and trade unionists in Ukraine, has published a statement penned by Marko Bojcun, author of Toward a Political Economy of Ukraine and The Workers’ Movement and the National Question in Ukraine, 1897-1918. It addresses the looming possibility that Russia may negotiate peace in exchange for the parts of Ukraine in its current military control.

The full statement, “No to partition! Yes to reunification!”, can be read here.

What you can do

4 03 2022

Please remember the following facts:

1. The war in Ukraine is not a two-way conflict. Ukrainians — citizens and residents of Ukraine — are victims of an unprovoked invasion. Russian efforts to blame Ukraine, NATO, the US, and “the West” are strategies of war intended to sideline the victims and place Russian neo-imperial interests at the center of world attention. Ukraine’s very existence as an independent, sovereign, democratic, and European state is a threat to Putin’s autocratic, neo-imperial vision of Russian power. In every conversation about this war, Ukrainian voices need to be heard loudly and clearly.

2. Russian neo-imperialism is a threat to the world. Even if Russia’s military is not the strongest in the world, its nuclear arsenal is the largest, and its informational and hybrid war techniques are well honed and powerful. Their goals include weakening, if not destroying, the liberal democratic world, the world of sovereign democratic states the US and “West” at least pretend to champion. We have seen the results of this hybrid and informational warfare in the domestic politics of most western countries. They aren’t incidental; they are part of a global struggle over the fate of democracy. 

3. Democracy is at stake. It goes without saying that US and other western nations have not been historically innocent in their relations with the rest of the world. Oligarchs’ wealth corrupts politics everywhere. Democracy requires constant maintenance, vigilance, and action, including action against the power of oligarchic interests to shape the conditions for life on earth. To do that effectively requires global cooperation on multiple fronts. The most urgent current battleground is Ukraine. If Ukraine falls to a kleptocratic, authoritarian, and neo-imperialist petro-state, the further spread of oligarchy, authoritarianism, and militarism will be virtually guaranteed. It is time for Putinism to fall, so that the world can work together on the urgent problems that face us.

Actions you can take

1. Call your political representatives: Urge them to support sanctions against Russia and Russians who support its government, and to support a No-Fly Zone over Ukrainian skies. (There are ways to do this that avoid direct NATO involvement.)

2. Call and speak to any friends or colleagues you may have in Russia. Russians’ support and acquiescence is what allows their government to conduct this assault. Russian state media is not allowing discussion of the reality of the war (indeed, describing it as a “war” or “invasion” is banned). Independent media have been closed down and the internet is being actively squelched. If you have any personal, professional, or organizational connections with people in Russia, now is the time to use them to share what we know is happening in Ukraine and to urge them to stand up against the invasion.

3. Reject Russian propaganda narratives. They are untrue and intended to obscure the truth. Plenty of analysis has been conducted to show how Russian state media supports its own interests by creating an alternate reality for its audiences. Domestically, this is intended to prop up the regime and its goals; externally, it is intended to confuse, obfuscate, and sow distrust in our own democratic institutions. Thankfully, our own media institutions still have the capacity to report and assess events judiciously; that capacity should be supported.

4. Donate to humanitarian as well as civil and military aid organizations. Please see the “Support Ukraine” page for a list of ways you can support Ukrainians affected by the Russian invasion.

People walk down the boulevard ‘Strasse des 17. Juni’ ahead of a rally against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in Berlin, Germany, Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Statement on Russian invasion

1 03 2022

UKR-TAZ stands in solidarity with the citizens of Ukraine, who are fighting for their right to live in a sovereign and democratic nation. It condemns the Russian invasion as a morally abhorrent act, and joins with all of those who are committed to ending this violation of civil norms and international law.

For a list of things you can do to support Ukraine and Ukrainians at this time, please see SUPPORT UKRAINE.

Statement on Russia-Ukraine crisis

7 02 2022

I have been conducting research in Ukraine, intermittently, since 1989. This period encompasses at least two ‘revolutions’ (three, by some counts), one short-lived military coup (in 1991), one declaration of independence (later that year), a boundary war that has now gone on for the last eight years, and confusing and varied accounts of relationships between U.S. political figures and Ukrainian and/or Russian ‘oligarchs’ and political advisors (such as Paul Manafort). I recognize that news about Ukraine can wear thin on people. But I am also aware that my academic colleagues, friends, and family in Ukraine are deeply concerned about the likelihood of a military incursion, and potentially an invasion, of Ukraine by Russia. The following statement is intended to help us think about what western scholars and citizens can do to help.

Peace with Sovereignty

Russia and Ukraine, we are told, are poised on the precipice of war. Russian armed forces have gathered on Ukraine’s eastern, northern, and southern borders, purportedly to prevent Ukraine from joining Nato and/or the European Union, or otherwise moving away from the Russian “sphere of influence.”

It is important to understand that Ukrainian opinions about their country’s foreign policies — i.e., whether to embrace their western (EU, Nato) or Russian neighbors — have varied greatly over the years, but that those opinions have more recently shifted toward the West and away from Russia. Recent surveys confirm that significant majorities of Ukrainians support joining the EU and/or Nato, the latter primarily to help with defending against the kind of foreign incursion that is now being threatened. And a survey conducted in December by Ukraine’s most respected sociological institute, the KIIS Institute of Sociological Research, showed that 33.3% of Ukrainians are prepared to take up arms against a Russian invasion, another 22% are prepared to resist through demonstrations, marches, boycotts, and other nonviolent means, and another 15% are prepared to move to a safer region of the country.

An invasion and takeover, military coup, or greatly expanded war would therefore not be taken lightly by Ukrainians. On the contrary, it would result in severe human costs. It would also place many other Eastern European countries – which have themselves joined Nato precisely to protect themselves against potential Russian military aggression – on high alert. In global terms, it is also likely to result in destabilization of other zones of relative stability (such as Taiwan, which would feel threatened by China as a result of China’s and Russia’s recent statement of solidarity with each other’s territorial ambitions).

To prevent the world from sliding into global war, at a time when our hands are full with the Covid pandemic, climate change, and other global challenges, requires concerted action by citizens and by governments to apply pressure on all the relevant players. 

You’re probably wondering: but what can we do? Here are a few things:

1) Support peace: Make it known, including to your political representatives, that the power of diplomacy and sanction should be maximized to prevent war, which itself could threaten the stability of the world at a time when the challenges we face (social, environmental, et al) are already momentous enough. 

2) Support Ukrainian sovereignty: Make it known (to the same representatives) that you care about Ukraine and wish to support its national sovereignty. Why care about Ukraine? It is the first country to have unilaterally disarmed of a huge nuclear arsenal, third largest in the world (at the time) , in exchange for security guarantees that its borders and sovereignty would not be violated. One of the signatories of that agreement, known as the Budapest Memorandum, has now violated its boundaries and is threatening more dramatic violation. The precedent this sets up for global security is frightening and should be avoided at all costs.

3) Support the Russian anti-war movement: As with the late Soviet movement for “people to people contacts” between citizens across the Cold War divide, professionals and academics could reach out to their Russian colleagues to let them know that a military invasion of Ukraine would be disastrous, both for Russia and the world. There is a growing anti-war movement in Russia, and while many academics rightfully fear their government’s ability to curtail their professional opportunities, international solidarity with academic colleagues can ultimately strengthen their resolve to work with us for peaceful, negotiated solutions to conflicts. 

Some would say that these three goals contradict each other: that supporting peace might mean “sacrificing” Ukraine, or that defending Ukraine’s sovereignty might mean supporting one side of a growing global arms race (e.g., the Western side versus the Russian side). They do not. Sacrificing Ukraine means placating Russian militarism and placing other countries at risk, leading to an enhanced arms race in Europe. Supporting Russian militarism gives fuel to other forms of expansionism across the world. Long-term peace is only possible with sovereignty, dignity, self-determination, and the rule of law, applied everywhere equally.

There are no “angels” and “devils” here; the U.S., Russia, China, and other powers have all played the bully in international affairs. The way to build a world of peace and prosperity is by supporting institutions that would keep such bullying in check wherever it may arise. Today it is arising on the borders of Ukraine. Ukrainians themselves know this; it is time that their views be recognized and supported.

For further information on the background to the current situation, see the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute’s web site on the crisis. And please read and, if you agree, share this “Open Letter to the Russian Leadership” from the Russian Congress of Intellectuals.

Kurkov: I’m Russian and I demand removal of Russian troops from Ukraine

2 03 2014

Andrei Kurkov is the leading Russian-language writer and novelist in Ukraine. He writes:

“I’m a Russian. My ancestors settled in Crimea in 1785. Growing up in Crimea, I was nurtured on Russian culture. I think, I talk, and I write in Russian…

“And I want to say this with every fibre of my being: I don’t need any protection. I demand the immediate removal of Russian troops from Ukraine.”

Ab Imperio statements

1 03 2014

Ab Imperio is one of the leading scholarly journals covering the post-Soviet world. Two recent editorial statements concern events in Ukraine. Read them here:

An appeal of the Ukrainian scholars to the international scholarly community (from March 2)

Russian intervention in Ukraine is a disgrace! (from March 1)

TAZ is here, TAZ is gone

23 02 2014


The concept of the TAZ, or temporary autonomous zone, comes from “ontological anarchist” writer and poet Hakim Bey (Peter Lamborn Wilson). It is intended to indicate a space of liberation, a space which is at once physical and real, if temporary, and metaphysical — a space of consciousness outside of the mental frames of social structure, from which a reimagination of the world may proceed.

Read the rest of this entry »

Open letter from world intellectuals

27 01 2014

From “The future of Ukraine,” an Open Letter signed by a growing list of intellectual luminaries, including Timothy Snyder, Zygmunt Bauman, José Casanova, Timothy Garton Ash, Jeff Goldfarb, Andrea Graziosi, André Glucksmann, Adam Michnik, Claus Offe, Richard Sennett, George Weigel, Slavoj Žižek, and many others:

“The future of Ukraine depends most of all on the Ukrainians themselves. They defended their democracy and future 10 years ago, during the Orange Revolution, and are standing up for those values again today. As Europeans grow disenchanted with the idea of a common Europe, people in Ukraine are fighting for that idea and for their country’s place in Europe. Defending Ukraine from the authoritarian temptations of its corrupt leaders is in the interests of the democratic world.

We cannot afford to turn our back on Ukraine. The new authoritarians in Kyiv should know Read the rest of this entry »

Open Letter

26 01 2014

An Open Letter from Ukrainian scholars, scientists, artists, doctors, lawyers, pedagogues, and journalists to their fellow citizens and to the international community can be read here.

(Note that the title, “We are not extremists!”, was added by CNN.)



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