Juneau members of Veterans for Peace Craig Wilson, left, and K.J. Metcalf, wave signs urging a diplomatic solution in Ukraine the morning of Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Juneau members of Veterans for Peace Craig Wilson, left, and K.J. Metcalf, wave signs urging a diplomatic solution in Ukraine the morning of Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Juneau’s Veterans for Peace urge diplomacy amid Ukraine tensions

Early morning demonstration urges peace

The Juneau chapter of Veterans For Peace held a small demonstration Tuesday morning, waving signs to passing drivers urging diplomacy in Ukraine.

“War has always been our default setting,” said K.J. Metcalf, standing at the intersection of Egan Drive and the Douglas Bridge and holding a Veterans For Peace flag. “We favor diplomacy.”

In a continuously evolving situation, Russian President Vladimir Putin has officially recognized separatist regions in Ukraine’s east which have been fighting a war against the government for several years. On Monday, Putin ordered Russian troops to enter the separatist regions.

In response, Western nations have sent their own troops to the region, with the U.S. sending troops to Poland. According to the Associated Press, the European Union unanimously approved sanctions against Russia and Germany stopped working with Russia on a critical gas pipeline, Nord Stream 2.

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It’s a situation VFP Chapter President Craig Wilson likened to World War I, which he said started out as “a border skirmish in the Balkans.”

“Some folks in Congress don’t recognize just how close we are to destroying ourselves,” Wilson said. “You’ve got two nuclear-armed powers basically pissing at each other, for lack of a better term.”

If the U.S. was to take military action against Russia, Wilson said it would likely lead to World War III and the use of nuclear weapons.

The U.S. and its allies have imposed a raft of sanctions on Russia, and are preparing more, according to AP.

Alaska’s U.S. senators have urged sanctions against Russia, particularly for seafood products, and have said the situation demonstrates the need for the U.S. to increase its energy independence. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, is in Juneau Tuesday to deliver a speech to the Alaska Legislature.

Ukraine was part of the Russian Empire and has a significant ethnic Russian population, particularly in the East on the border with Russia. But many Ukrainians in the country’s west and the leading party have sought to increase their relationship with Western Europe and NATO. NATO, a military alliance created to counter the Soviet Union, has continued to expand its membership even after the fall of communist Russia.

Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and has supported separatist forces in Ukraine’s east since then.

Although there were only six members of the group out in the early morning cold, several passing cars honked their horns in support.

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.

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