This is a collective statement by the current Board of the INGO Foundations for Freedom (F4F).
1. First and foremost, we condemn the unprovoked and unjustified war that Russia unleashed against Ukraine, which began with the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, fomenting and secretly supporting separatist movements, constantly seeking to destabilise Ukraine and gain control over it. The hybrid war became a full-blown military assault on February 24th 2022 and now includes Russian military committing war crimes daily by shelling/bombing civilian infrastructure, killing civilians, the same strategy that was used in Chechnya and Syria. Even during war, the rules of war and international humanitarian law must be respected and complied with by all sides. The Russian military has also been hindering humanitarian and evacuation efforts. This must stop. We call for an immediate ceasefire, withdrawal of all Russian troops and adherence by Russia to Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, assistance for humanitarian efforts and the end of this senseless and terrible war. 141 nations voted for this and only 5 voted against it. We also call for immediate investigations and prosecutions of those who initiated this war, promoted it and implemented it, including the commission of war crimes.
2. Our priority right now is to support Ukrainians to survive, those resisting at home and those who have fled danger. There are many initiatives already, from military to humanitarian support. With donations, we encourage funding small, trusted initiatives where your money will go directly to help Ukrainians. Big organisations can be bureaucratic and your donation to them may not be as quick, effective, or efficient.
- Direct donations to Foundations for Freedom through IofC1: https://www.iofc.org/en/we-can-all-help-ukraine
- Direct donations and fundraising campaigns (e.g. https://helpukraineonline.com , https://savelife.in.ua/en.
- Awareness-raising and advocacy (e.g. protests, petitions, letters to local politicians, media interviews) https://t.me/ukrainenowenglish, https://heylink.me/ukrainer, https://www.instagram.com/withukraine
- Information gathering and coordination (e.g. determining needs of Ukrainians, linking them up with support opportunities) - https://ua-aid-centers.com , https://razom-ua.com/en-gb , https://helpukraineonline.com , https://www.uatalents.com<)
- Hosting or supporting Ukrainian refugees - e.g. https://ukrainetakeshelter.com , https://pomagamukrainie.gov.pl/#section2, https://www.gov.pl/web/ua-en , https://dopomoga.gov.md/#useful-links , https://dopomoha.ro/en
- Disseminate this centralised resource: https://supportukrainenow.org
We acknowledge that people are often keen to help or give advice but suggest checking with Ukrainians first whether they want help and what kind. Sometimes it’s better just to listen and provide empathic support, at other times - actions are very important to complement thoughts and prayers.
3. We want to emphasise that Ukrainians right now are going through hell, literally and metaphorically, it is normal for them to feel strong emotions, including hatred. It is healthy and can help to act, to survive. We must not try to suppress this for the sake of our own calm and peace but react with compassion and acceptance. Emotions that are constructively channelled now will minimise long-lasting psychological trauma. We call for ‘saying things how they are’ and not softening language to feel more comfortable or diplomatic. We do not promote hysteria but honesty and respect for the horrific suffering Ukrainians are living through now.
4. We see and value the amazing international support for Ukraine and solidarity in condemning the Russian government. The international community must continue putting pressure on the Russian government to ensure that such bullying and aggression has no place in the future world order in the 21st century.
5. We acknowledge the heroism and self-sacrifice of all Ukrainians who have been forced to defend their home or have been caught up in the violence. We pay respect to anyone who has lost their life in Ukraine as a result of this war, may they rest in peace. We also acknowledge those Ukrainians who lost their houses, jobs, normal and peaceful routines and are suffering trying to figure out their new tomorrow.
6. We acknowledge that many Russian soldiers are young conscripts, many soldiers were misled and might not want to fight in this war. We support any Russian soldiers who refuse to fight or who defect and call on others to do the same. Every soldier also has a right and a duty not to follow orders if they believe that those orders will result in war crimes.
7. We acknowledge that there are different categories of Russian people and do not support a blanket condemnation of all Russians. However, we want to emphasise our position that Russian citizens have a responsibility for their government, even if democracy no longer works in their country. There are millions of you and you cannot all be silenced. We praise all those Russians who have not been silent for many years and aren’t silent today, who attended and continue attending protests, continue activism for the respect of democracy and human rights, and who have paid with their freedom and sometimes their lives. We must do what we can to support them to achieve real change in their country, which will have a global impact.
8. Many Russians are either unaware of the horror currently being inflicted by their government or are under an illusion created by the Kremlin’s powerful propaganda machine. Wake up. Break through the propaganda with critical thinking, bring the truth to others. Don’t be afraid to act and believe that you can change things. Demand rights and freedoms, know that water wears away a stone. Take responsibility for your future. The time to be apolitical is over. You have blood on your hands.
9. To those Russians (or citizens of other countries) who support this war and the current government - we know that you believe in your own truth, in your own understanding of what’s going on. You see Russia fighting against the US, ever since the Cold War, against the expansion of NATO, you believe that Russia has been under threat and needs a strong leader to stand up to the West. You believe that any criticism of the Russian government is an attempt to destabilise and ruin Russia. We disagree but acknowledge that you may not want to be convinced otherwise.
Dialogue between Ukrainians and Russians right now may not be possible. It is too painful, too emotional, there’s an urgent call for justice and responsibility. Many Ukrainian families that include relatives living in Russia have been torn apart, some struggling to maintain ties, some already destroyed. We have to acknowledge this.
Dialogue with Russians may for now be the responsibility for the international community, for Ukraine’s allies, and for Russians themselves. We support dialogue as a tool, when it is appropriate, to help people understand each other, to help counter propaganda and reverse the dehumanisation that comes with war. F4F are ready to support dialogues for those who are ready and willing to share their truth but, crucially, for those who are ready to learn about the truth of others and not just try to convince the other that you’re right. We want you to know our truth about the deaths and devastation currently being inflicted by the Russian military, about the war crimes and the urgent need for this war to stop, about the hopes and dreams of the Ukrainian people.
We believe that this war is part of a much longer conflict - between an autocratic, Soviet-style regime that promotes corruption, inequality and a disregard for human rights and a struggle, spearheaded by Ukrainians, to live in a free, new society that promotes citizens’ responsibility, democratic participation, transparency and inclusion. We do not ignore the problems of the West - the colonialism, the corruption, the hypocrisy, the military interventions. We condemn these too. Two wrongs don’t make a right and that is not the world of aggression and fear we want to live in. We want the same free and democratic society for Russians and believe in such a future for Russia. Many Russians have never stopped fighting for it and deserve support. We hope that after the Putin regime collapses Russians can atone for their past and build their own foundations for freedom, inspired by Ukrainians and helping the same transformations in other post-Soviet countries.
To our F4F community members - if you need support right now, wherever you are, please get in touch with us, by email (firstname.lastname@example.org), through our Facebook page (facebook.com/foundationsforfreedom) or directly through F4F board members that you know.
We call on F4F members, members of other IofC initiatives and any other allies to sign up to our statement, to share it and show solidarity. If there is anything you disagree with, we invite you to reach out and welcome dialogue. May we emerge from this challenge much more capable of building trust and positive peace on our planet.
1 If you decide to financially support F4F, please let us know how you would like us to spend these funds: protective needs of Ukrainians involved in fighting (helmets, equipment, medical supplies, etc); humanitarian needs; operational support of F4F; or a cause of your own choosing.