Wales for Peace in Ukraine

WCIA, alongside partners and communities Wales-wide, deplore the outbreak of conflict in Ukraine, following Russia’s military invasion. Wales and the internationalist community extend our deepest support and solidarity with the people of Ukraine and of Russia through this anxious time – and encourage our politicians across the political spectrum to pursue firm, but peace-focused actions to kerb aggression, and to support ordinary people affected on the ground.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called what happened the “saddest moment” in his tenure, appealing to Putin and to Russia from the General Assembly: “In the name of humanity bring your troops back to Russia. In the name of humanity to not start what may be the most devastating war since the start of the century.”

Events and Voices

12.30-2.00pm, 1 March Wales for Peace in Ukraine – a partnership event between WCIA and Academi Heddwch Cymru – Find out more (now past).

WCIA supported an event by Cymdeithas y Cymod on Thursday 3 March at 6pm, where Ukrainian Peace Activists will be speaking of their experience on the ground, and stimulating debate around how Welsh people can support (now past).

A number of community groups Wales-wide have been organising local solidarity events:

23rd March, 12.30 lunchtime – Wales for Peace in Ukraine Q&A – in followup to the hugely subscribed event below, this event followed a similar format of information sharing and Q&A between community groups Wales-wide, International Affairs commentators and Ukrainian voices – Find out more / Register

History For Ukraine brought historians from around the world together in solidarity to raise vital funds for Ukraine with a 24-hour event, broadcast online and across social media.

A host of famous faces pledged their support for the event, including Prof. Suzannah Lipscomb, Dr. Fern Riddell, Prof. Kate Williams, Dr. Janina Ramirez, and Earl Charles Spencer. They were joined by professional historians and genealogists from around the world to stage a programme of informative talks and discussions on a huge variety of topics.

The event also had the support of a number of prominent organisations, including The National Archives, Royal Historical Society and the Society of Genealogists, along with over 200 volunteers and local history groups.

Attendees were asked to make donations to the Disasters Emergency Committee Ukraine Appeal via a special JustGiving page.

Policy and Action

Whilst primary responsibility for foreign policy on Ukraine and Russia sits with the British Government, the Welsh Government and Senedd members can also play a critical role not just in showing compassionate leadership, but in extending solidarity and practical support to the Ukrainian people – as well as many million of Russians equally fearful at the outbreak of war, as illustrated with the awarding of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize to Russia’s Novaya Gazeta.

Wales is proud to be a Nation of Sanctuary, that recognises the realities faced by refugees from conflict, and rejects media manipulations and misportrayals of refugees as illegal or economic migrants. We appeal to journalists and organisational spokespeople to represent victims of conflict honestly, openly and with compassion. Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford has publicly offered sanctuary for Ukrainian Refugees in Wales, and appealed for the UK Government to open a legal route – which had been suspended at the outbreak of conflict.

Should conflict escalate further, it is essential that the UK and Welsh governments do their utmost to extend humanitarian support and sanctuary to Ukrainians forced from their communities, and home land; and to mobilise coordinated, multilateral action through the United Nations. Assertions doubting sovereignty of Ukraine – the 2nd largest nation state in Europe – ignore its status as one of the founding signatories to the UN Charter since 24 June 1945.

Britain must also recognise its responsibilities as a longstanding centre of financing for Russian elites complicit in arms proliferation and aggression against Ukraine, as written about by Oliver Bullough in ‘Moneyland’, investigated and reported on by the UK Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee.

Take Action –> Write to your MP (Member of Parliament)

Take Action –> Write to your MS (Member of Senedd)

Ways of Supporting Ukrainians

WCIA does not specifically endorse these links, but share pointers in good faith and will add others we are made aware of – email walesforpeace@wcia.org.uk.

Talking to Children about War: education and action

WCIA are lucky to draw on a century of Peace Education and Global Citizenship experience, from WW1 to today. Particularly in the age of social media, young people are surrounded by potentially conflicting information on conflict, navigating through this with friends, family, teachers and others’ in their communities. Whilst anxiety is natural, it is important not to try to ‘hide away’ from events. Experience suggests that open discussion and enabling action are 2 key ingredients for supporting young people to navigate the uncertainty of war; for example, through writing to their MPs to express concerns. The following links offer useful resources and ideas for parents and teachers:

  • Wales Schools of Sanctuary: Speaking with Children about War in Ukraine – Guidance and Resources for Parents, Carers and Teachers
  • Save the Children, ‘How to talk to Children about War in Ukraine’ – five tips from a child psychologist and counsellor
  • WCIA’s ‘Peace Schools’ network is a Wales-wide scheme offering cross-curricular resources and activities to fit into schools’ everyday lives – promoting positive ethos, critical thinking, creative skills and non-violent conflict resolution.
  • The Teach Peace pack by Quakers, WCIA and the Peace Education Network is a pack of ten assemblies, follow-up activities, resources, prayers, and reflections on peace and peacemaking for 5-12 year olds.
  • ‘What is Peace?’ is a workshop for Key Stage 3-4 learners (ages 11-16) exploring what we mean by peace, characteristics of ‘heroes’, and what young people can do to create a more peaceful world.
  • ‘Standing up for your Beliefs’ enables Key Stage 2 learners (ages 10-11), alongside ‘Conscience and Choice’ (KS3-4, 11-16), to explore conscription during WWI and parallels to today, consequences of decisions for individuals and their families. Through case studies, learners can reflect on the role of conscience and conviction in making decisions, and relate back to their own lives.
  • Teachers and parents can encourage children to research and learn more about the history of Ukraine, and Wales’ Peace Heritage of connections and solidarity between the Welsh and Ukrainian people (see below, a ‘History of Solidarity’, for resources links).
  • Enable young people to participate in public rallies and gatherings or even organise their own local events.
  • Support young people to organise fundraisers, and to research different causes or charities they could support – from medical and health to support for refugees fleeing the fighting.
  • Support young people to develop and share their own local Message of Peace and Goodwill (inspired by the Welsh Children’s Peace message broadcast every year since 1922: WCIA’s resource, for Key Stages 2-4, looks at the history and significance of Young People’s Message, and gives ideas for how schools can work with peace messages today).
  • Individually or as a group, organise an activity towards Wales’ Young Peacemakers Awards 2022, to be presented at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod this July. Categories include: Young Peacemaker of the year, Young Peace Writer of the year, Young Peace Artist of the year, Young Climate Champion of the year, Young Global Citizen of the year, Young Peace Heritage Champion of the year.

Reliable Information Sources

  • Meduza is one of the last remaining independent media outlets and has already been declared a foreign agent. They are a good source of information about what is happening inside Russia via this link is to their English language website: https://meduza.io/en
  • Kyiv Independent – Ukrainian journalists who report from across the country in English.
  • Twitter Accounts recommended by Russia expert Jenny Mathers, International Politics Aberystwyth
  • E-International Relations is a good source of scholarly articles in the subject of IR, and they have a big archive of articles on Ukraine.

It is important to maintain a critical eye and ear with social media postings, and state-controlled media (on. all sides). Services such as Full Fact – Check on Ukraine; Reuters Fact Check; Politifact; DW;

Link to Catholic News Service (CNS photo/Issei Kato, Reuters)

Wales and Ukraine: A History of Solidarity

Wales has a long history of solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

The city of Donetsk itself was originally called Hugheskova, founded in 1870 by Merthyr ironmaster John Hughes with 100 Welsh migrant workers, who collectively pioneered Russian metallurgy. Home today to 1 million people, it is now at the heart of the conflict following Russia’s recognition and annexation of the People’s Republic of Donetsk.

 

Barry Journalist Gareth Jones’ explosive expose of Stalin’s Holodomor in 1933

In 1933, Welsh journalist Gareth Jones exposed the HolodomorStalin’s Ukrainian famine, in which 7-10 million Ukrainians died at the hands of the Russian State, recognised as genocide by the UN in 2006. Gareth Jones was assassinated in 1935 in China, the day before his 30th birthday; but his story and its impact in giving voice to the Ukrainian people has been told in Agnieska Holland’s 2020 filmMr Jones‘ – inspired by his niece’s Margaret Siriol Colley’s research, and recently commemorated in Barry in Nov 2021.

The National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth hold Gareth Jones’ Archives, whilst the Temple of Peace is proud to hold his personal collection of books in the Temple Library – donated by Gareth’s parents, Ann and Edgar Jones. Ann had lived in Ukraine as tutor to the family of John Hughes (above); whilst his father Edgar was hugely involved in Wales’ Peace movement through the Welsh League of Nations Union, and was the first Warden of Wales’ Temple of Peace throughout World War Two.

In 1986, the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl in Northern Ukraine prompted an outpouring of public support Wales-wide, with charities and solidarity groups – including many supported by CND Cymru – some of which continued through initiatives such as Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline.

In recent years, many international volunteers have exchanged between Wales, Ukraine and Russia through UNA Exchange, which continues today through WCIA’s International Volunteering programme.

 

Twitter / Mick Antoniw, via Wales Online feature

Over recent days, Welsh Senedd members Mick Antoniw and Adam Price travelled to Kyiv in a private capacity, to witness firsthand the situation on the ground in an ‘Anti-War Visit‘. Mick Antoniw , MS for Pontypridd – who has family in Ukraine – commented:

(As governments and) assemblies started sending all their people out, Ukrainians have felt they were being abandoned. They have a recognition of how it is to be abandoned when international issues arise. They’re able to tell us what is happening, how they’re feeling… and how important it is that people actually support and recognise the situation here. As one person just said earlier ‘we are potentially on the brink of a Third World War – it’s just so good that you are here so we can talk and tell you about what is happening in this country’.”

On their return to the UK, Mick Antoniw and Adam Price responded to the invasion of Ukraine calling for all in the UK to #StandwithUkraine.

Observers are drawing obvious parallels between the Russian treatment of Ukraine in the 1930s, and today; as well as echoes of the 1936 Spanish Civil War, when many thousands Wales and world-wide fought the rise of fascism through the International Brigades. How can we learn from the past, to draw on lessons for today and future generations?

 

‘Thank you for Peace – Victims of War in Ukraine’, at Kyiv Hospital – Wikimedia Commons (Diana Vartanova / Still Miracle photography)

Further Coverage

4 thoughts on “Wales for Peace in Ukraine”

  1. Pingback: Voluntary sector support for Ukraine - WCVA

  2. David Dzidzikashvili

    What is happening in Ukraine today these events had been happening for the past 20+ years, when Putin came into power by bombing his own people – civilian apartments and committing atrocities against the Chechen people. The response from the US, EU and NATO had been just complete silence and welcoming Putin to the summits and holding red carpet meetings for him. This further emboldened Putin who attacked Georgia in 2008 and conquered Abkhazia and Samachablo. What did the Western powers do? Absolutely nothing! Reset by the Obama Administration and warm handshakes by Merkel, total ignorance of the international laws and Putin’s war crimes against the Georgian people. What happened afterwards? Putin invaded Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. What did the Western powers do? Bare minimum of symbolic sanctions that continued to feed Putin’s war machine. Then Syria, use of chemical weapons, more atrocities… What did the Western powers do? Absolutely nothing!

    So we are here as a result of Putin’s false perception that he could chew more than he could bite and the 20+ year ignorance from the EU, US and the NATO. Today there is strong response and sanctions that will take the Russian economy back to the 1990s indicators, however it is too late and too little. Ukraine needs the Patriot missiles, S-400s, S-300s, missiles to shoot down airplanes and incoming rockets at much higher altitudes than Stingers could reach, Ukraine needs much more firepower and the ability to control and close its own skies. Lets help Zelensky establish the No Fly Zone! The Biden administration looked weak, but slowly they are starting to wake up and see the true face of evil – Vladimir Putin who is trying to restore the new Russian empire…

  3. Raza Hosyain

    Today’s latest World News Updates in Urdu are available online. Get new International breaking news & top stories with youtube videos, story headlines & pictures from around the world in English and Urdu. Read today’s latest World News with complete Twitter, Facebook, Instagram sources online. —>> https://www.enews.pk/world/

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