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Statement of IPPNW physicians on the situation in the Ukraine

September 2, 2014

In 1985, at the height of the Cold War, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its East-West cooperation to prevent a nuclear catastrophe. The current crisis in Ukraine requires us to remind President Obama in the USA and President Putin in Russia that there are still thousands of nuclear weapons on high alert, set to launch on warning within minutes.

We know—and have new evidence—that even a small percentage of those weapons, if launched, would kill millions of people immediately, and would alter our climate in ways not seen since the last ice age—quite possibly killing 1-2 billion people. The current arsenals of Russia and the USA, totaling around 15,000 warheads, are sufficient to literally end life on this planet several times over.

The current crisis in Ukraine is of complex origin and of large humanitarian consequence.  It may lead to Ukraine re-acquiring nuclear weapons (which they voluntarily renounced in 1991). It threatens to re-ignite the Cold War and risks involving the use of nuclear weapons accidentally or on purpose.

As Russian, American, Ukrainian, and German doctors and leaders of IPPNW, we together call upon the parties to immediately cease the violence and to re-emphasize diplomatic communication between the USA and Russia, to assist Ukraine to resolve the crisis peacefully.

Furthermore, we hope the parties recognize the potential existential threat posed by a return to nuclear-armed antagonism. We call for renewed efforts to finally negotiate an end to the risk of nuclear war by making the historic decision to take the weapons off high alert and then ban and eliminate them. We are living in the most dangerous time since the end of World War II, and this is our joint prescription for our survival.

Vladimir Garkavenko, IPPNW Co-President

Ira Helfand, IPPNW Co-President

Olena Bezsmertna, International Councillor, IPPNW Ukraine

Helmut Lohrer. International Councillor, IPPNW Germany

On behalf of the IPPNW Board and International Council

  1. September 5, 2014 9:32 am

    Lets not forget all is due to this modern plague of militarism Global MIC spend 1761 billion dollars a year for preparedness of war, how can we have peace. Add to this the R&D, weapon sale. On Nuclear accidents and threat of incidental or accidental detonation “there is psychic numbness” by civic society which is needed to be broken.

  2. Andrew S. Kanter permalink
    September 4, 2014 11:06 pm

    I think this is a very important statement. Not only because it focuses on the real danger of a nuclear catastrophe stemming from this situation, but because it shows how physicians from Russia and the US, Ukraine and Germany, can rise above their national interests and propaganda and speak for the betterment of All. This is a really dangerous situation and it is the courage of concerned citizens like doctors who can help steer a course away from violence and the possibility of global annihilation. It was for this reason that IPPNW was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985.

  3. September 4, 2014 10:41 pm

    It may be unconventional way to say, but cold war never ended.actually feelings around the globe is that WWIII is in progress. Militarism, leading to control of world resources has brought social injustice to a point that we are heading towards inevitable human suicide.Civic society needs to find innovative ways.UN needs to bring in stronger then ever noise against rising militarism e,g(,Ban on weapon sale),PSR IPPNW needs to add in their upcoming meetings the agendas to stop militarism. faith based communities are needed to be mobilized.Public demonstrations against militarism should be staged.Universities and think tanks should be involved with strategy through education.A strong appeal to make a larger and stronger peace force should be extended to the states governments


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