We see that our first responsibility is to be allies of Ukraine and its fight for self-determination. We have tried to take proactive steps to support Ukrainian organizations without trying to intrude and without expecting anything in return.
We try to help with fundraising for humanitarian aid and for feminist organizations in Ukraine, which we encourage everyone to support, and we are planning to organize a fundraising event. When we take part in public events we support the demands of our Ukrainian comrades. That is really very important for us.
We are very aware that we are in the aggressive power, and so we are very careful when participating in antiwar public events and round tables. We double-check with Ukrainian participants to make sure that it is OK with them and are happy to withdraw if they don’t feel comfortable, because we want to amplify their voices.
That’s the spirit in which we launched our manifesto. It has gotten a lot of media attention. We put forward a clear antiwar stance declaring that this war is a war against women and that we oppose it full stop.
It was written to address the Russian people. It has played an important role in cohering antiwar feminists and broader antiwar sentiment. But then it was translated into many languages and gained international importance on the left.
We realized that it was being instrumentalized by some forces for goals different from our own. These forces used it to oppose all military action and spending, not only against Russia but also against the US and NATO and, most problematically, against Ukraine.
Thus, our manifesto was used to promote a somewhat blurry pacifist position. We didn’t anticipate this debate about arms. So, our manifesto was used in ways that we didn’t intend.
For me this is problematic. In my opinion, Ukraine has the right to defend itself against the Russian invasion and has the right to secure arms to do so. We need to make a distinction between them securing arms and the US and NATO increasing military spending.
We can support Ukraine’s right to secure arms for self-defense and oppose increases in Western military budgets. Countries can send weapons from their existing stockpiles, which are already enormous.
Our problem is that our compelled silence on the issue of arming Ukraine was exploited by those groups that don’t want to hear Ukrainian feminists and socialists but want to show some engagement in the situation via, for example, their solidarity with us. Our silence is compelled because raising the demand to defend Ukraine’s right to secure arms puts our activists in Russia in immediate danger of arrest and long prison sentences and at the same time would have zero effect on anti-war mobilization in Russia.
Second, because of our horizontal structure, adopting a new position on arms requires organizing an assembly to vote, which is again problematic because of the risk of repression against our activists in Russia who would take part in a discussion like this. Thus, there is no way to say anything about the issue on behalf of the entire Feminist Anti-War Resistance, but many of us whom I know support Ukraine’s right to secure arms.
We wanted to position ourselves against the Russian war and in solidarity with the Ukrainian resistance. So, we are now very careful to emphasize that, so we are not misunderstood as having position that is not clearly on Ukraine’s side. We are on its side and against the Russian state.