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Keir Starmer is wrong to say that peace activists are pro-Putin

Keir Starmer

Keir Starmer is wrong to say that peace activists are pro-Putin

The Peace Pledge Union has strongly denied Keir Starmer's claim that peace activists who oppose NATO are supporting Vladimir Putin.

The Peace Pledge Union (PPU), a pacifist network, has been one of Britain's leading peace groups since the 1930s. They emphasise that they oppose both Putin’s militarism and NATO’s militarism.

The PPU is liaising with peace activists in both Ukraine and Russia who are campaigning against their own governments’ military policies. The PPU will take part next week in a public online meeting with Russian and Ukrainian peace activists.

Starmer this afternoon accused peace activists of “showing solidarity with the aggressor”. While he spoke of “the likes of the Stop the War Coalition”, he also attacked the British peace movement in sweeping terms. The PPU said that, while they cannot speak on behalf of any other organisation, they are confident that the vast majority of British peace activists do not support Putin.

Symon Hill, Campaigns Manager of the Peace Pledge Union (PPU), said:

Keir Starmer has launched a bizarre and ill-informed attack on peace campaigners. We have no sympathy whatsoever with Putin and his military aggression. Russian militarism and NATO militarism are two sides of the same coin. Our allies in Russia are not Putin and his cronies but the peace activists who resist him.

Starmer’s claim that NATO ‘has never provoked conflict’ is misleading. In the last 25 years alone, NATO forces have bombed Serbia and Libya and invaded Afghanistan. NATO has aggressively expanded eastwards in violation of promises they made at the end of the Cold War. As Putin’s tanks gather on Ukraine’s borders, NATO troops gather on Russia’s other borders, including British forces in Estonia. Putin and NATO use each other's aggression to justify their own. Like our allies in the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, we oppose militarism on both sides.

Boris Johnson, like Putin, is using the Ukraine crisis to distract attention from growing unpopularity at home. Both sides need to get real about diplomacy, withdraw troops from borders and push ahead with previous agreements such as the Minsk II Protocol. There is no military solution to the Ukraine crisis."

The PPU added that, in the event of a Russian invasion, they would support people in Ukraine engaging in mass non-co-operation, of the sort used effectively by people in Czechoslovakia during the Soviet invasion of 1968.

The Peace Pledge Union is the British section of War Resisters’ International, which unites pacifists and anti-militarists around the world. The PPU is not linked to any political party and PPU members include supporters of several parties and none.

The Peace Pledge Union’s statement on Ukraine and Russia, issued on 21 January 2022, can be read at

Join us online on Thursday 17 February to meet grassroots peace activists from Ukraine and Russia. More details here!