Police detained more than 4,300 people in over 50 cities across Russia on March 6, as activists mounted a second wave of protests against the invasion of Ukraine. From Moscow and St. Petersburg to the Siberian city of Irkutsk and the Pacific port of Vladivostok, thousands of unpermitted demonstrators chanted "No to war!" and "Shame on you!"—a message directed at President Vladimir Putin. In the Urals city of Yekaterinburg, a mural glorifying Putin was defaced—prompting a charge by the riot police. The independent monitoring group OVD-Info reports that over 8,000 have now been arrested in anti-war protests across Russia since the Ukraine invasion was launched last week.
The UN Human Rights Council (HRC) on March 4 adopted a resolution to establish an Independent International Commission of Inquiry to investigate charges of gross violations by Russian forces in Ukraine. After holding a moment of silence for Ukrainian victims, HRC members passed the resolution overwhelmingly, in a 32–2 vote. Among the 32 countries voting in favor of the resolution were France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Ukraine, the UK, and the US. The only two countries voting against were Russia and Eritrea. Several other countries, including Bolivia, Cameroon, China, and Cuba, abstained.
The threat that climate change poses to human well-being and the health of the planet is "unequivocal," says the latest report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The expansive review—which forms the second part of the IPCC's sixth assessment report (AR6)—warns that any further delay in global action to slow climate change and adapt to its impacts "will miss a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all."
In Episode 113 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg continues to dissect the cynical fascist pseudo-anti-fascism of Putin's war propaganda, which portrays any expression of Ukrainian identity or national aspiration as "Nazism." Much of this hinges on the legacy of Stepan Bandera, the Ukrainian nationalist who collaborated with the Nazis in World War II. Bandera is indeed viewed favorably today by some in Ukraine—just as some in India look favorably upon the Axis-collaborationist independence fighter Subhas Chandra Bose, and some Palestinians lionize the wartime Mufti of Jerusalem who similarly looked to the Axis for support against British imperialism (a reality eagerly exploited by Israel's propagandists). But there is another tremendously important figure who fought the Russians and Germans alike a generation before Bandera, and is nearly forgotten by both "sides" in the current propaganda war—Nestor Makhno, the great Ukrainian anarchist leader of the period of the Russian Revolution. And there is now an anarchist armed resistance to the Russian aggression emerging in Ukraine, reviving the Makhnovist tradition.
Belarus on Feb. 28 voted in a referendum to approve constitutional changes that include dropping the country's nuclear-free status. On the eve of the vote, President Alexander Lukashenko expressed his willingness to redeploy nuclear arms in the country's territory, saying: "If [the West] transfers nuclear weapons to Poland or Lithuania, to our borders, then I will turn to [Vladimir] Putin to bring back the nuclear weapons that I gave away without any conditions."
Russia announced on March 1 that it intends to host an international "Anti-Fascist Conference"—with hideous irony, on the same day its forces bombarded a Holocaust memorial site in Kyiv. Russia struck the Babi Yar Holocaust Memorial in a raid apparently targeting a nearby TV tower, killing five people. The memorial marks the site of the murder of 33,771 Jews by the Nazis in one of the most heinous acts of World War II. Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s first Jewish president, last year attended a ceremony for the opening of a synagogue at the site. He responded to the missile attack on the monument by tweeting: "To the world: what is the point of saying «never again» for 80 years, if the world stays silent when a bomb drops on the same site of Babyn Yar? ...History repeating…"
One knock-on effect of the war in Ukraine has been a jump in the global price of wheat—to its highest level since 2008. Russia and Ukraine account for a third of the world wheat supply, and Ukraine's most productive regions lie in the path of the conflict. If Ukrainian wheat is taken off the market, or ports are badly damaged, prices could possibly double. That would especially hurt the Middle East and North Africa—but also places as far afield as Bangladesh and Nigeria, which are major importers of Russian and Ukrainian wheat. The real test for the world supply will be the next harvest in four months' time. If Western sanctions target Russian production—or Moscow angrily responds to pressure by squeezing wheat supplies—then shortages could really bite, potentially worsening global huger.
International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor Karim AA Khan announced Feb. 28 that he will open an investigation into the situation in Ukraine. In light of Ukraine's acceptance of the ICC's jurisdiction on an open-ended basis to address alleged crimes committed on its territory since 2014, Khan said the ICC may proceed despite Ukraine not being a state party to the Rome Statute. On reviewing the preliminary examination by the Office of the Prosecutor, Khan affirmed that there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Ukraine.