Tuesday, 23. July 2024

Appeal, 11.03.2022

Put down your weapons! De-escalate now!

Vladimir Putin's war of aggression and the invasion by Russian troops are a blatant violation of international law. We welcome the UN General Assembly resolution of March 2, 2022, which strongly condemns the Russian invasion and calls on Putin to end his aggression.

We now need a ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine. Diplomatic relations should not be severed; channels of communication must remain open. We call on the German government to refrain from any measures that could contribute to escalation. Russia must completely withdraw its troops from Ukraine. In return, Russia could be promised a moratorium on further NATO expansion to Ukraine as well as a conference on the future security architecture of Europe.

Our solidarity and our hearts go out to the people in Ukraine who are affected by the humanitarian consequences of war and displacement. We are horrified by reports that many civilians in Ukraine have already been killed or injured by direct attacks. We also fear there will be a high number of deaths indirectly caused by the destruction of infrastructure such as health care facilities, water and electricity supply, communication networks and transport systems. In addition, there will be displacement and migration. As a long-term consequence of the war, Europe will once again have a generation with post-traumatic stress disorder, people who will suffer from their experience of war for the rest of their lives. We advocate that the EU's external borders be opened for all refugees from Ukraine regardless of skin colour, nationality, and identity, without rejection based on race. Men of military age, whether from Russia, Belarus, or Ukraine, who refuse military service must be granted a residence permit for their temporary protection.

This attack on Ukraine is inexcusable. And yet we must consider how we shape the future. Our future cannot lie in a new arms race. We reject the 100-billion-euro immediate rearmament program for the German armed forces and call instead for more funding for crisis prevention, civil conflict management and a socio-ecological transformation. Massive rearmament diverts energy, resources, and intellect from global challenges such as the climate crisis and global social justice initiatives. According to the World Climate Report, the consequences of the climate crisis will be faster and more destructive than expected. The Ukraine war sets back all climate change efforts a long way. Every war is also a crime against the environment.

The stakes are high: we fear further nuclear escalation. Putin has threatened to use nuclear weapons and is bringing humanity closer to nuclear war. If nuclear weapons are used, there is a threat of a global catastrophe. Nuclear deterrence is not a means of preventing war. There are no winners in a nuclear war. Even a single warhead hitting a major city would result in over 100,000 deaths, over a million injured and widespread radiation. The health consequences of nuclear weapons use are catastrophic and medical containment is impossible - due to radioactive contamination, destruction of medical infrastructure, and death of health care workers, among other reasons. The United States and Russia currently have a combined total of more than 3,500 deployable nuclear weapons. In a nuclear war between Russia and NATO, in which many nuclear weapons would be used, the entire world would be affected; the climate would be so negatively affected that famine would threaten billions of people.

NATO must now refrain from any reaction that would increase escalation and from all countermeasures in the nuclear field, such as increased readiness of nuclear weapons. The precipice upon which we stand today once again clearly shows how urgent and necessary it is for Germany to finally sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) and for the German government to commit to ensuring that nuclear weapons are withdrawn from Germany. These nuclear weapons offer no protection, they are rather potential targets.

We also see another danger: the four Ukrainian nuclear power plants with a total of 15 reactor units pose a major threat to life and health. In the event of an accident, people throughout Europe would be affected. If the power grid goes down due to hostilities or is damaged by sabotage, nuclear power plants will be endangered. If the emergency generator stops working as well, the reactor can no longer be cooled - with severe consequences. Even if the reactor was just damaged and shut down, the loss of cooling water could cause it to heat up to such an extent that explosions could occur, like those that took place in Fukushima. An additional threat comes from the spent fuel pools, which are used to store used nuclear fuel elements.

The possibility for peace in freedom is not lost. Let us show solidarity with the resistance in Russia itself. Thousands of Russian doctors and health professionals have signed an appeal against war and strongly reject Putin's military attacks in Ukraine. Every war violates the human right to health and physical integrity dramatically. It is our task as doctors and health workers to save lives and to protect people from harm. Since 2014, the war in eastern Ukraine has already claimed the lives of 13,000 people. Three million people have been forced to flee.

Too many arms control treaties have been terminated in the past 20 years, above all by the United States. Diplomatic solutions proposed by peace researchers, the peace movement, and former diplomats for a moratorium on any further NATO expansion went unheard. Nevertheless, diplomatic and international legal agreements remain, which we can build upon even in this difficult situation. A new European peace order must recognise the security interests of all. A political solution must be found, based on a concept that is not grounded in deterrence, but rather on the idea of common security. This is the only way to solve major problems such as the climate catastrophe. More than ever, we need a strong citizens' and peace movement on the streets. All forms of cultural exchange between people in Ukraine, Russia, and Germany are urgently needed. The vast majority reject any war in Europe and want to live together peacefully. We refuse to accept the hatred that increasingly dominates debates on the war in Ukraine. It is shocking to see how many civil society ties with Russia, painstakingly built after the painful experiences of World War II, are now being torn up. With this in mind, IPPNW criticises the recommendation by the Federal Ministry of Research to suspend all scientific cooperation with Russia.

We must take peace into our own hands. At the end of the day, only diplomacy, controlled disarmament and common security will be the way forward.

IPPNW demands of the German government that it:

  • works to achieve a ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine
  • exhausts all means to prevent escalation that would end in nuclear war
  • remains open for talks and advocates the use of mediators
  • uses diplomatic possibilities offered within the framework of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)
  • advocates a moratorium on admission to NATO for Ukraine in exchange for the complete withdrawal of Russian troops
  • advocates holding a conference on the future security architecture of Europe
  • refrains from any escalatory reactions and humiliating rhetoric
  • supports the maintenance of civil society and cultural exchanges with Russia
  • grants residence permits to conscientious objectors from Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus
  • cancels the 100-billion-euro rearmament programme for the German armed forces and uses the money instead for an accelerated energy transition and a socio-ecological transformation.

IPPNW – International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War / Physicians for Social Responsibility, Koertestraße 10, 10967 Berlin, Germany | +49 30 698 074-0 | kontakt@ippnw.de | www.ippnw.de
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