President Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine turned the world on its head. He then upped the ante, moving Russia’s nuclear arsenal to a “special mode of combat duty” and putting the world on the precipice of a nuclear crisis. Subsequently Russian ally Belarus changed its constitution to renounce its non-nuclear status. The nuclear threat level is increasing while, in Russia, Ukraine, and around the world, people are mobilizing for peace.
The Nobel Women’s Initiative is calling for the immediate de-escalation of nuclear tensions and for negotiations to end the invasion. The world must commit to the elimination of weapons of mass destruction once and for all.
“The resurgence this past week of the ugly spectre of nuclear weapons is not just a threat to peace, but to humanity itself,” said Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams. “Once again, we are reminded of the destructive power and catastrophic consequences of nuclear war – an option that must be forever eradicated.”
It is estimated that Russia has nearly 6000 nuclear weapons, with Russia and the United States combined accounting for 90 percent of the world’s nuclear stockpile.
Putin’s order to raise nuclear forces to a higher state of alert has made the prospect of a nuclear exchange all the more likely. With the higher state of alert comes the risk of miscalculation, misunderstanding, and mistakes. Either way – through deliberate or inadvertent use – the results are apocalyptically the same.
We are on the brink of a nuclear catastrophe where millions of lives could be lost and the health of people and the planet threatened for generations to come. What is at stake here, in no small measure, is our future.
Putin must rescind his nuclear alert and Russian troops must withdraw from Ukraine. But in addition to ending the war in Ukraine and eliminating the prospect of imminent nuclear war, nuclear weapons themselves must cease to exist. Governments must sign and abide by the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and commit to engaging in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review.
Nuclear weapons, despite their horrifying power, do not prevent conflict and are, in fact, a danger to lasting peace. In Russia and Ukraine, people are courageously calling for an end to war. World leaders must listen. Our future depends on it.