Andrew Murray: A ceasefire and a negotiated settlement is the only way the war will be brought to a halt

For months Stop the War has been warning of an uncontrolled escalation of the war in Ukraine. Now that escalation is happening before our eyes.

At the weekend, the bridge connecting Russia with Crimea was bombed and badly damaged in what was presumably a Ukrainian attack designed to stop resupply of Russian forces occupying Ukraine.

Today, Russia has responded with large-scale missile attacks on a number of Ukrainian cities, including the first bombardment of Kyiv for months.  These attacks appear aimed at key infrastructure but will inevitably lead to civilian deaths.

The issue is not whether Ukraine had the right to attack the Kerch bridge or not.  Ukraine is under assault and the bridge may be regarded as a key military facility.

It was, however, an escalation of the conflict in that one end of the bridge is indubitably in Russia and the other is in Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.  Unlike the annexations proclaimed after the bogus referenda held in four other Ukrainian provinces lately, most people in the Crimea supported their transfer back to Russia and many in the west and even Ukraine itself acknowledge this.

Such an escalation was therefore bound to provoke a counter-reaction from Putin, whose army has been losing ground in parts of Ukraine which had been under Russian occupation.

All this is happening as speculation about the use of nuclear weapons is mounting.  The rhetoric from Moscow on this issue has not been reassuring.

But none of this appears to give leaders in Washington and London any pause for thought.  While Russia declares itself ready for talks, in theory at least, Ukraine at NATO’s direction seems to rule them out.

The British government has no policy beyond pushing for a Ukrainian military victory.  Stop the War has called for the withdrawal of Russian troops from the territory occupied since the start of the war.

However, it remains the case that this is unlikely to be achieved by Ukrainian military action, no matter how many arms Kyiv is given.

And while the point is put to the test, the danger of further escalations remains acute.

The world realises this, even if Liz Truss does not.  OPEC sent the clearest possible signal when it decided to cut oil production despite heavy pressure from President Biden to expand output.

That was widely interpreted as declaring a preference for Russia, or at least a benevolent neutrality, over NATO.

Likewise, support for economic sanctions against Russia is negligible outside the NATO bloc itself.  Governments of all stripes in the rest of the world know that they only aggravate the suffering caused by the economic dislocation of the war.

In the end, a ceasefire and a negotiated settlement between Ukraine and Russia is the only way the war will be brought to a halt.  The British government, for its own selfish imperialist interests, wishes to continue bleeding Russia and selling arms, regardless of the price Ukraine itself pays for that strategy.

Securing peace cannot be left to the brave anti-war forces in Russia and Ukraine itself.  The anti-war movement in Britain needs to mobilise, as it is doing in Germany, to defeat our government’s reckless policy and open the way to a negotiated end to a war that can only get worse.

10 Oct 2022 by Andrew Murray

Sign Up