In the face of the Russian Federation's assault on Ukraine, Razem’s National Council strongly condemns the actions of Vladimir Putin, the Russian government, parliament, the commanders of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation as well as of the regime of Alexander Lukashenko obedient to Russia. We call for immediate and severe sanctions against Russia and for strong support for Ukraine.

In justifying his decision to attack, Vladimir Putin invoked a revisionist and falsified view of Ukraine and its history. Putin does not recognize Ukraine as a sovereign state and makes claims to its territory on arbitrary grounds. Therefore, we have no doubt that an illegitimate sense of sovereignty over Ukraine and imperialist aspirations are behind Moscow's actions.

Putin accuses Ukraine of violating Article 51 of the UN Charter, which is a lie. This claim should be considered all the more ludicrous as it is Putin that has repeatedly broken international law by infringing upon the territorial integrity of a neighbouring country. We consider these violations to include the annexation of Crimea, the instigation and participation in the war in Donbas, and now the recognition of the independence of the so-called people's republics of Lugansk and Donetsk together with the advance of Russian troops into Ukrainian territory and the bombing of Ukrainian cities.

The military escalation was preceded by a Russian strategy that ruled out any diplomatic solution, instead being based on disinformation and putting forward ultimatums such as the withdrawal of NATO forces to their 1997 positions and a written guarantee that neither Ukraine nor Georgia would ever join the alliance. It is therefore clear to us that the responsibility for this aggression lies solely with Putin's regime. We cannot blame Ukraine nor any other countries of the Central and Eastern European region or NATO and recognize that the accusations levelled at the alliance have, from the outset, been a pretext for pursuing an imperialist policy aimed at subjugating Ukrainian territory.

Russian and Belarusian citizens also suffer due to the aggression against Ukraine and we must clearly distinguish them from the undemocratic elites of the Putin and Lukashenko regimes. We, therefore, send our support to all those who oppose the aggressive policy of the government of the Russian Federation, and in particular to those whose opposition has been repaid with brutal violence.

Russian aggression demands a firm response. We therefore call on the Polish government, the European Union and the international community to impose the following sanctions:

  • Cutting off Russian and Belarusian banks from the European market and from the SWIFT system.
  • Freezing of Russian bond trading.
  • The definitive abandonment of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
  • Suspension of the Russian Federation's membership in the Council of Europe.
  • Expulsion of Russian diplomats from EU Member States.
  • Seizure of all assets and prohibition of free movement within the European Union for Russian and Belarusian oligarchs, political parties and other organisations supporting Vladimir Putin’s regime or the invasion of Ukraine, Russian and Belarusian armed forces officers, leaders of the self-proclaimed People's Republics and all high-ranking civil servants of the Russian Federation.
  • Report the persons listed above to the International Criminal Court as responsible for crimes of aggression and war crimes. A European arrest warrant has to be issued as soon as possible for each of these individuals together with appropriate instructions to the Polish police.

Sanctions against Russia and its allies are only one of the ways of stopping their aggression. The second, and even more important, is to support Ukraine itself. It is therefore our duty to immediately support:

  • Ukraine's defence. The response to the military threat must be aided in the form of supplying weapons, military supplies and basic resources for the civilian population, as well as intelligence and medical support. It is also crucial to call on the United Nations to launch a peacekeeping mission inside Ukraine.
  • Ukrainian economy. The response to the economic threat must be financial assistance. War and economic instability are huge problems for the Ukrainian budget. Ukraine spends more on servicing its international debt than on defence. We call for Ukraine to be freed from the burden of debt. Debt must not push Ukrainians into poverty and deprive Ukraine of its defensive capabilities. We call on the European Commission and the Polish Government to ensure that the responsibility for paying the cost of servicing Ukraine's public debt is fully transferred to the European Central Bank.
  • Ukrainian civilians. Ukrainian citizens are already having problems with obtaining food, energy and fuel supplies. The situation is bound to deteriorate dramatically with each day following the invasion. We must be ready to supply food and other basic necessities to Ukraine. Putin must not be allowed to manipulate the access to food or financial resources for the Ukrainian population.
  • Ukrainian refugees. For several hours now, refugees from western Ukraine have been crossing Polish border points. We should do everything to provide them with shelter, medical care (including medical assistance for soldiers, evacuation of the wounded and medical equipment) and psychological care. Preparations for carrying out efficient asylum procedures and maintaining a sufficient number of inland reception points must be accelerated - so as to avoid overcrowding and the need to divert refugees to makeshift encampments in the border area. We call on the European Union to launch procedures that will allow all arrivals to be quickly granted temporary protection, so as not to overburden the asylum system.

At the same time, it is our duty to protect Polish security:

  • The main element of the Polish Republic's security is collective defence within the framework of membership in NATO (Article 5) and the EU. Poland's security can be guaranteed with the use of EU battle groups and mutual assistance as defined in Article 42 (7) TEU.
  • Being an eastern flank and frontline country, Poland should ensure its collective defence is based solely on NATO and the EU.
  • Polish government attempts at forging new alliances and taking unilateral actions (e.g. sending Polish soldiers to fight on Ukrainian territory) would pose a threat to Poland's security.

It is obvious to us that we must simultaneously strive to ensure the security of the whole of Europe. That is why we will try to convince the European Union member states to become independent from Russian supplies of raw resources as soon as possible and to hasten the energy transformation, creating an energy mix based on renewable energy sources and nuclear energy. Discussions on this transition should involve Ukraine, and the decisions taken must take Ukrainian  energy security into account.

We also call for the opening of an in-depth discussion on the development of a sovereign European self-defence capability based on a modern collective defence forces as a key element in preserving peace in the face of Russia's aggression.

Photo by Gleb Albovsky.