STOP The War yesterday condemned the government for blocking a petition submitted to its e-petitions website which called for an end to NATO exercises in the Ukraine.
A group of politicians, celebrities and campaigners submitted the petition on 7th May to highlight the participation of UK and US troops on Ukrainian territory in July as part of NATO’s Rapid Trident manoeuvres.
The petition stated: ‘No to Nato military exercises in Ukraine. We note with great concern that UK and US troops will participate alongside Ukrainian troops in joint military exercises on Ukrainian territory in July as part of NATO’s Rapid Trident manoeuvres.
‘Ukraine is not a member of NATO. Its participation in military exercises by a nuclear-armed alliance with a first-strike policy can only further destabilise the situation in the Ukraine, making it more difficult to achieve a political resolution to the crisis.
‘The existence since 1997 of the Rapid Trident exercises, their forerunner Peace Shield, and the associated Sea Breeze naval exercises in the Black Sea, make clear that NATO seeks to include Ukraine as part of its eastward expansion which has been taking place since the end of the Cold War.
‘We call on the UK government to urge the US and other NATO governments to cancel this July’s Rapid Trident exercise, and to give a plain and public undertaking that the UK will not participate.
‘We call on the UK government and the Welsh Assembly to make clear that NATO’s expansionist policies are adding to global instability, and urge everyone to join our protests at the 2014 NATO Summit which is due to take place in Newport, Wales, in September.’
Amongst the signatories are actors Mark Rylance and Miriam Margolyes, Caroline Lucas MP, Baroness Jenny Tonge, Jeremy Corbyn MP, and film director Ken Loach.
On 19th May the Office of the Leader of the House of Commons informed the Stop the War Coalition, the organisation behind the petition, that the Ministry of Defence was responsible for moderating petitions that dealt with the issues raised in the letter.
E-petition guidelines recommend that petitions are moderated within 7 days.
Three weeks after it was submitted, the petition remains censored. No explanation has been offered by the Ministry of Defence, despite an intervention from the Leader of the House of Commons office.
• Russia has not received any official request from the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) for Russian help, Presidential aide Yuri Ushakov said yesterday.
‘I did not see the request. It was not on my table, but if the Republic’s Head, Denis Pushilin, sent it, then it would probably arrive,’ Ushakov said.
On Tuesday, Donetsk People’s Governor Denis Pushilin released an online video message asking Russia to provide the besieged region with ‘any possible help,’ following the massive air raids and ground attacks on the capital city Donetsk.
• Soldiers of Ukraine’s National Guard have used prohibited explosive bullets while shelling the city of Rubizhne, near Lugansk, a member of the local self-defence forces said yesterday.
‘They have begun firing explosive bullets in residential areas. People have started hiding in basements,’ he said. ‘Apparently, the National Guard is unaware that explosive bullets are banned by international convention,’ he added.