Ukraine solidarity demonstrations on Saturday sought to funnel union support for Ukrainian refugees behind demands for Nato intervention and militarisation. Little more than 200 people joined the march in central London, where organisers led chants of “arm Ukraine.”
Marchers also chanted “Put an end to Putin’s reign, arm arm arm Ukraine”—a call for Western intervention to force regime change in Russia. Labour MP Nadia Whittome joined in chants of “Putin out.” Though the march was supported by a number of trade unions, only a few sent union banners and a couple of people each.
PCS union assistant general secretary John Moloney, wearing a union tabard, directed the short march and brought the union’s national banner. UCU union president Vicky Blake also brought her union’s national banner and chaired the closing rally.
Trade union speakers emphasised solidarity with Ukrainian workers and called for Britain to let in more refugees. Blake also acknowledged that the UCU’s position is to oppose Nato expansion into eastern Europe.
But protesters reacted more enthusiastically to organisers’ calls for escalation and arming the Ukrainian military. Ukraine Solidarity Campaign organiser Christopher Ford said, “Those who call for peace—those people are the voice of appeasement. Those people are a 21st century Vichy.
“I want to see Putin hanged in the Maidan in Kiev.” He added he wanted to build “a movement that demands not just meagre arms,” but “all the arms they need to inflict a defeat on Russia.”
Peter Radcliff of the Ukraine Solidarity Campaign in Nottingham said, “Anyone who propagates the lie that this is a war of Nato expansion is doing Putin’s dirty work for him. “Pressure Nato to give the Ukrainian people the arms they need to defend themselves.”
Campaigner Peter Tatchell called for “total economic war on Russia” and said, “To call for peace is to stand on the side of Putin.”
And former left wing writer Paul Mason said, “It is in the interests of working class people to support Ukraine in this war. I know how hard that is for many of us who stood out here for so many other wars and said screw your hypocrisy for Iraq, Afghanistan and the rest.
“But the only way to get arms into the hands of Ukrainian people right now is to keep the pressure on the government to get all the banks sanctioned properly, all the oligarchs sanctioned properly.
“Push back against the pressure inside the labour movement from voices that I’m afraid to say have swallowed the Kool Aid of Putin’s right.”
This demonstration for more arms leads to support for endless escalation and more war horrors. It is a path towards potential conflict between nuclear-armed powers.
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