Ukraine, Self-Determination and Peace

Almost a year ago, a couple months after Putin’s government invaded Ukraine, I wrote this in a Future Hope column:

“As Russia pulls its forces back to concentrate them in the Dombas eastern region of Ukraine, those of us who oppose Russia’s invasion, as well as NATO’s problematic actions in the years leading up to it, must call for an immediate ceasefire and serious diplomacy for a negotiated end to this disastrous war. When the head of the US armed forces is talking openly about this war going on for years, it’s time for those of us who believe in peace and justice to speak out in support of this ceasefire and serious diplomacy demand. When the fossil fuel industry and the military industrial complex are looking to use this war to expand their corporate profits no matter how many millions of people’s lives are lost, disrupted or ruined, no matter the severe setback in the critical race to stabilize our disrupted climate, it’s time for us to focus on a call for an immediate end to the violence.”

Since then, and up to now, I have also publicly supported Ukraine’s military efforts to prevent the takeover of Ukraine by Russia, including their right to get arms and ammunition from other countries, including the US. I’ve supported their right to self-determination, as I’ve done for decades supporting people and groups in countries all over the world—Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Chile, South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere–where the United States has engaged militarily or provided armaments to deny just that and many other human rights.

For months now the Ukraine/Russia war has been stalemated. Neither country is making significant military gains, while huge numbers of people are being killed, injured or forced to live in atrocious conditions. Within that context, China is playing a major role to try to bring about a ceasefire and negotiations toward a peace settlement. Putin has said he supports those efforts, which he has to do given the importance of China economically to Russia. US government spokespeople, like Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, are openly dismissing them, while making no efforts to advance any kind of a peace process. From all outwards appearances that I have seen, it looks like the Biden Administration would have no problem with a protracted war on the territory of Ukraine that goes on another year, or two, or more. This is madness!

Here’s what I think the US government should do:

-Stop dismissing China’s efforts and put forward its own proposal for an immediate ceasefire and the opening up of negotiations.

-Call for Russia’s withdrawal to where it was in Ukraine before their full-scale military invasion 13 months ago.

-Call for democratic and transparent elections under the auspices of the United Nations in Crimea and those parts of eastern Ukraine where Russia troops were before February 24th of last year. Those elections would be a form of self-determination in what are clearly the most contested areas between Russia and Ukraine. The issue to be determined by those elections is whether those regions continue to be Ukrainian or become part of Russia.

-Call for reparations from Russia for the massive damage it has inflicted on the Ukrainian people and economy. This is important first of all because of Russia’s imperialistic devastation. It is also important to send a signal to other countries that they will face a similar fate if they do anything similar.

More of us need to speak up and publicly call for a ceasefire and the opening up of negotiations. End this war now!

Ted Glick has been a progressive activist and organizer since 1968. He is the author of the recently published books, Burglar for Peace and 21st Century Revolution. More info can be found at