Today, the Russian military began shelling and missile attacks on cities across Ukraine. These attacks are a violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and international law. They are a brutal assault on Ukrainians and must be halted immediately. Ukrainians have already been killed, and if attacks continue we can expect further destruction and loss of life.
The international community has roundly condemned this invasion, calling for a full and immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine and an end to air and sea attacks. The invasion represents a clear violation of the rules laid out in the United Nations Charter and ignores the commitment by all UN member states to settle disputes through peaceful means. We call on all parties involved to allow diplomacy to bring about de-escalation and a ceasefire.
We are also concerned about sweeping U.S. sanctions and call on the U.S. and the international community to ensure that any sanctions imposed on Russia do not impact health, food access, or other basic needs of the Russian people. We are calling on all parties to respect international humanitarian law and give unfettered access to humanitarian organizations.
We are deeply concerned about those in the U.S. government and media calling for the U.S. to supply weapons or other military support to the Ukrainian government, as this will only escalate the conflict. The U.S. and Russia have stepped back from diplomacy and ended meetings at the time when diplomacy is most needed. Only diplomacy will bring an end to this conflict and stop the bloodshed, but for decades the U.S. has over-invested in the military and under-invested in diplomacy and international cooperation.
We have been in touch with Ukrainian Quakers, who shared with us the following message: "It is very important for us to convey that Ukrainians are peace-loving people and very kind. In the last two months, when we got together and started our meetings, we agreed that there is no one among us who would see war as the answer, or believe that violence is the way out. We categorically condemn any aggression, expansion, and pressure." Let us not let them down.
The ongoing Russian military actions and the political posturing and military threats of Russian, U.S., and NATO political leaders serve only to divide us and, if continued, will accelerate the unnecessary loss of life. We stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine – and the many people in Russia, the U.S., and around the world – in calling for an immediate end to military action and a peaceful solution to the conflict.
As a Quaker peacebuilding organization, we have seen over our century of work that much can be accomplished when we turn away from violence and toward cooperation. We reject military engagement at any level. Now is the time to uphold human dignity and invest in global cooperation that increases our shared security through nonviolent means.