A doubtful peace conference in Vienna

Russia is currently activating various international “pacifist” organizations with the aim of impressing upon public opinion the necessity of peaceful negotiations between Ukraine and the Russian Federation. In essence, the goal is to freeze the war, with, at a minimum, preserving those Ukrainian territories under Russian control, which the Russian occupiers managed to capture. Recent developments indicate that certain pocket organizations have ramped up their activities, particularly in anticipation of an impending counteroffensive.

Amidst these developments, it becomes increasingly apparent that Russia is strategically leveraging the concept of “pacifism” by attracting pocket “pacifists” from around the world. This raises suspicions about the underlying motives driving the involvement of these organizations, as they align with Russia’s larger geopolitical agenda.

The Kremlin does not stop trying to force Ukraine to sit down at the negotiating table. To promote pacifist rhetoric, Russian manipulators use international platforms that spread the idea of “peace negotiations” in the Western information space. To participate in such forums, a whole pool of “experts” loyal to the Kremlin is involved, who call for the consolidation of the activities of anti-war movements against the military support of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. 

On June 10-11, the international summit “For Peace in Ukraine” is to be held in Vienna. It will be attended by “representatives of Russia, Ukraine, and various NATO countries that support the goals of peace” in order to “end the war and prepare for negotiations.” 

However, an organization whose leadership echoes Russian propaganda in its statements is responsible for the summit. Most participants also promoted pro-Russian narratives. The purpose of the summit is to prepare the “Vienna Declaration for Peace” address to political leaders. The call is planned to be sent to the embassies of Russia, Ukraine and NATO countries, as well as international organizations for further work on the “peaceful settlement of the war”.

The event presents itself as an innocent peace gathering. According to the program, Ukrainian and Russian peace activists are supposed to engage in dialogue. However, even the invitation text for this gathering conveys key elements of Putin’s propaganda. A look at the organizers and the selection of speakers further strengthens this finding.

“We condemn the illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine,” is the first sentence in the corresponding call for the peace gathering. Apart from this introductory sentence, there is no direct mention of Russia’s role in this war. The attacker and defender are presented as being equally guilty of the war and its destructive consequences. The second sentence of the call already mentions NATO’s shared responsibility for Russia’s attack. Thus, aggression and shared responsibility are placed on the same level.

Who is funding?

One of the sponsors of the summit is the American feminist organization Code Pink: Women for Peace (CODEPINK). On their website, CODEPINK notes that they are working to end war and imperialism in the USA, and are holding anti-war rallies. In fact, the organization plays along with Russian propaganda. For example, he opposes the Russian invasion, but says that the war was caused by the expansion of NATO and the “aggressive” approach of the West. CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin also published the book “War in Ukraine: Making Sense of a Senseless Conflict”, in which she described how the USA and NATO “provoked” the war. Under the loud headlines “nothing justifies Russia for its attack,” the organization repeats typical Russian rhetoric: it calls the Revolution of Dignity a “coup d’état supported by the United States” and justifies the annexation of Crimea by the fact that the overwhelming majority of votes in the pseudo-referendum came from “ethnic” Russians.

In addition to the statements, CODEPINK posted a petition on their website for a diplomatic solution to the war in Ukraine. The organization calls for support for the words of Pope Francis, the leaders of Brazil, Turkey and China regarding the end of the war through negotiations. The name of the petition is “Tell Biden, Putin & Zelensky: No to WWIII, Yes to a Ceasefire in Ukraine!” implies that its authors do not see any difference between the aggressor and the victim of aggression.

The Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung is also among the sponsors. The Foundation’s official website states that its ideology is close to the Left Party of Germany. In particular, a member of the German parliament from this party, Katrin Vogler, stated that Germany is “doomed” to cooperate with the Russian Federation and Putin. Sahra Wagenknecht is also one of the supporters of Russia from the Left Party of Germany. The politician played along with the Russian narrative about the “civil war” in Donbas and stated that anti-Russian sanctions since 2014 are harming Germany itself.

The financiers of this event, essentially, are Russia’s financial intermediaries in Europe.

The ‘Austrian Trade Union Federation’ (German: Österreichischer Gewerkschaftsbund) has existed since 1945. The head of this organization, Wolfgang Katzian, being an Austrian parliamentarian, was a member of the parliamentary group ‘Austria-Russia’, promoting the strengthening of friendly and economic ties with Russia. In 2018, this organization adopted a 5-year program of cooperation and dialogue with Russia.

The Austrian Trade Union Federation has withdrawn its political support, however, it still provides the conference rooms free of charge and the Herbert Kelman Institute (HKI), a renowned peace research institute, also has decided to withdraw from the preparation circle for the Vienna Peace Summit. The institute expressed concerns regarding the involvement of Code Pink, a group known for its anti-Israel stance. 

The most interesting thing is that in the past, Wolfgang Katzian also managed the football club ‘Austria’, one of whose sponsors was… the Russian ‘Gazprom’! Some time later, Katzian became a part of the management of the Austrian-Russian Friendship Society, which was financed by Russian special services through Jan Masalek.”

Another financial organizer of the event is ‘transform!europe!’. This Eurosceptic organization was founded in 2001 and does not hide its left-leaning orientation. It is funded through the party funds of the Communist Party of Austria, the Communist Party of France, the Catalan left party Esquerra Unida i Alternativa, and other European left-leaning parties.

Such is the ensemble of organizations of this event. It’s not difficult to determine the coloring, but most importantly, a note should be made regarding each of them and, in my opinion, their activities and attempts to integrate into Ukraine should be prevented.

Annex: Leo Gabriel, one of the organisers of this fake “peace summit” in Vienna, participated on a friendship delegation (including Austrian, Italian and German stalinists) in Donetsk supporting the rulers of this Russian-created “republic” in June 2019.

Previously, Russia has not been able to hold such an event with so many involved organizations and speakers. And this is disturbing. Indeed, in this way, the Kremlin is trying to bring the topic of reconciliation into trends and change the agenda from the military one – military assistance to Ukraine, to a pacifist one.

However, it is predicted that the effectiveness of this event will be minimal due to the pro-Russian tendencies of its participants. After all, the experience of previous Russian attempts to draw attention to Ukrainian issues in this way indicates that European society does not accept the Kremlin’s position.

Do you tolerate the occupation or even partition of Ukraine? Or do you support those who are fighting against occupation terror? This statement of 40 Ukrainian civil society organisations is directed against such events that only seem to serve peace.

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