This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
More than 2,000 Russian intellectuals, including prominent rights activists, have urged the Kremlin to avoid starting an “immoral, irresponsible, and criminal” war against Ukraine amid global concerns that Moscow may be on the verge of launching a wide-scale invasion of its western neighbor.
A statement from the Congress of Russian Intellectuals was made public over the weekend as Russia continued its buildup of troops — now estimated at well over 100,000 — near the Ukrainian border.
“The flow of disturbing information about a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine is intensifying,” the statement said.
“Russia does not need a war with Ukraine and the West. Nobody is threatening us, nobody is attacking us. The policy based on promoting the idea of such a war is immoral, irresponsible, and criminal, and cannot be implemented on behalf of Russia’s peoples. Such a war cannot have either legal or moral goals…. Russian citizens are actually becoming hostages of a criminal adventurism into which Russia’s foreign policy is being turned,” it added.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are due to discuss the Ukraine crisis by phone on February 1, while British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will travel to Kyiv to hold talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy as world leaders look to avoid the outbreak of a military conflict.
Russia has denied the troop buildup is a prelude to any invasion.
However, Russian President Vladimir Putin has demanded a guarantee that NATO won’t allow Ukraine’s future membership. Moscow has subsequently suggested it won’t tolerate NATO troops and infrastructure in places like Romania, Bulgaria, and Georgia.