Open the borders to war resisters!

With at least 200,000 Russians fleeing the military mobilisation decreed by Putin, it is imperative that the borders are opened to them. Putin has been pressured by the nationalist right within the Russian Federation to call a partial mobilisation following the many setbacks of the invading Russian forces in Ukraine. This nationalist right has openly criticised Putin’s conduct of the war and he must manoeuvre to make sure he is not overthrown and replaced by a figure even more bellicose.

Deserters and draft dodgers face criminal prosecutions if caught, especially when attempting to flee the country.

As the European Bureau for Objection of Conscience  (EBCO) has remarked, “Give the right of asylum to those who refuse to let themselves be enrolled for war in Ukraine or in Russia” referring equally to those Ukrainians who have refused war.

The Union of Conscientious Objectors called for Finland to let pass all conscientious objectors and army deserters, put in danger by their refusal to take part in the in Ukraine and to accord them international protection., saying that it was a concrete and humane way of supporting Russian citizens opposed to the warmongering politics of their country . It went on to say, “Naturally, the Ukrainians fleeing the war must equally benefit from a protection and right to asylum abroad…several libertarian networks and pacifist associations of Russia (Mothers of Soldiers, House of Peace and Non-Violence, International Federation for Peace and Reconciliation –Moscow group, Memorial etc.) have signalled that more than 13,000 pacifists have already been arrested in Russia.”

Whilst Germany has opened its borders to these refugees from war, Poland and the Czech Republic have failed to do so. Russians fleeing war have mainly gone to neighbouring countries which are accessible without a visa, but this is still precarious and dangerous. In one instance, 23 Russians fled from North Pacific ports in the far east of Russia to South Korea to avoid the call-up. However 21 of them were refused tourist visas.

All the countries which can offer asylum in Europe and Asia should be pressured to receive Russians opposed to war.  Equally President Zelinski of Ukraine has decreed a general mobilisation, and the right of asylum should include all those Ukrainians who refuse to fight in the war.