WASHINGTON — The international Global Zero movement condemns Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, as well as President Vladimir Putin’s outrageous and thinly-veiled threat to use nuclear weapons against any nation that interferes with his actions. This comes after weeks of increasingly aggressive rhetoric, escalatory steps including large-scale nuclear drills, and groundless claims of Ukrainian nuclear ambitions as one attempt to justify war.
In response to the Russian government’s actions, Derek Johnson, managing partner of Global Zero, the international movement for the elimination of nuclear weapons, issued the following statement:
“This illegal and premeditated war of aggression by the Russian government puts Ukrainian civilians in harm’s way and drastically increases the risk of escalation to nuclear conflict, with catastrophic global consequences for us all. Russia’s actions must be condemned and met with severe repercussions by the entire international community.
“The Russian government’s decision to send troops into Ukraine threatens to spiral into wider conflict with unpredictable and far-reaching results. The greatest risk of nuclear use today comes from unplanned or unexpected escalation of a conventional conflict. With NATO and Russian forces operating in close proximity, the threat of one mistake, misinterpretation, or miscalculation during a close encounter or military exercise increases the risk of escalation to direct conflict and potential nuclear use. Russia has an obligation to de-escalate, withdraw its forces from Ukraine, and refrain from further nuclear threats.
“As the United States and NATO impose sanctions and deploy additional forces to Eastern Europe, they must take measures to guard against unintended escalation — and resist misguided calls to inject nuclear weapons deeper into this conflict. It is also imperative to continue diplomatic efforts and keep lines of communication between Washington and Moscow open in order to mitigate miscalculation and worst-case-scenario planning. Especially in the face of potential conflict, diplomacy and cooperation on steps to de-escalate and reduce the risk of nuclear use are imperative to global security.
“In the coming days, Russia’s belligerence will undoubtedly be used to justify more aggressive military postures, a greater appetite for escalation and brinkmanship, exorbitant new military spending and an accelerated nuclear arms race. We must not lose sight of the fact that, in a world bristling with thousands of nuclear weapons ready to launch at a moment’s notice, the stakes of any conflict involving nuclear-armed governments are already unacceptably high. Our urgent focus must be on reducing these risks, not further exacerbating them.
“Just weeks after Russia, the United States, and the other permanent members of the UN Security Council declared that ‘a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,’ the need to operationalize that principle through concrete measures — like taking all nuclear weapons off alert and establishing credible no-first-use agreements and attendant reforms to force posture — is palpable.
“As the Russian government inflicts violence and terror on the Ukrainian people, the world is in a perilous moment — one that could deal a devastating blow to international law and the global security environment, uplift nuclear weapons as legitimate tools of warfare, and ultimately push us across the nuclear threshold. Nuclear-armed nations and their allies have an obligation to recognize the inherent risks of conflict and nuclear use in current strategies, and the international community must collectively pressure Russia to engage in diplomacy to prevent further harm to Ukraine and its people, and to negotiate measures to reduce nuclear risk.”
Thumbnail photo credit: Людмила Голуб from Wikimedia Commons under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.