Exiled Russian activist challenges pacifist approach to ending war on Ukraine

Exiled Russian activist challenges pacifist approach to ending war on Ukraine

Ashley Smith writes:

Russia’s war in Ukraine is intensifying. In response to victories on the battlefield won by Ukrainians this fall, Russia has responded by launching a wave of missile and drone attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure throughout the country. As a result, over 15,000 Ukrainian civilians had been killed or injured by early October, and another 1,043 by early November. Despite this state terrorism, Ukraine has continued to put up a valiant resistance to invasion and occupation.

Faced with a failing war, Vladimir Putin’s regime has conscripted hundreds of thousands of men into his armed forces and deployed them to his frontlines. That, in turn, has triggered a rise in antiwar resistance in Russia. In an exclusive for Truthout, Ashley Smith interviews Lolja Nordic from the Russian activist organization Feminist Antiwar Resistance about the movement against Putin’s regime and its imperialist invasion of Ukraine.

Lolja Nordic is anarcho ecofeminist, antiwar activist and artist from Saint Petersburg, where until recently she organized for gender equality, human rights and climate justice. She is a co-coordinator of Feminist Anti-War Resistance, a group created in February 2022 to protest the war in Ukraine. Since January 2021 Lolja has been facing political repression, arrest and threats for her activism. In March 2022 she had to flee Russia and continue her work in exile after becoming a suspect in a “phone terrorism” criminal case, which was fabricated by the Russian secret police to put pressure on several antiwar activists.

Ashley Smith: What is the nature and roots of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine? Why did he launch it and what are his war aims?

Lolja Nordic: Putin actually started the war back in 2014 when he annexed Crimea. He just escalated it in February. His reasons are clear, and he has repeated them over and over. He has a very colonial mindset; he opposes any country in the post-Soviet space gaining its independence. He has ambitions to rebuild the old empire.

He considers Ukraine to be a part of Russia and will not allow it to exist as an independent country. He denies it is a nation, rejects its right to self-determination, and refuses to acknowledge Ukrainians’ agency and subjectivity.

After Ukraine’s Maidan uprising in 2013-2014 that drove Russia’s corrupt ally, Viktor Yanukovych, from power, Putin feared that the country was slipping out of his control. So, over the last eight years he has deployed troops to Ukraine, backed up the so-called People’s Republics in Donetsk and Luhansk, and plotted to carry out the colonial seizure of the whole country.

Putin’s imperialism flows from his abusive, toxic and patriarchal worldview. You can hear this in how he speaks about Ukraine. His language is identical to how rapists and abusers talk about their victims. [Continue reading…]

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