During the weekend of June 10-11 in Vienna, Austria, over 300 people representing peace organizations from 32 countries came together for the first time since the Russian invasion of Ukraine to demand an end to the fighting. In a formal conference declaration, participants declared, “We are a broad and politically diverse coalition that represents peace movements and civil society. We are firmly united in our belief that war is a crime against humanity and there is no military solution to the current crisis.”
Summit organizers chose Austria as the location of the peace conference because Austria is one of only a few neutral non-NATO states left in Europe. Ireland, Switzerland and Malta are a mere handful of neutral European states, now that previously neutral states Finland has joined NATO and Sweden is next in line. Austria’s capital, Vienna, is known as “UN City,” and is also home to the Secretariat of the OSCE (the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe), which monitored the ceasefire in the Donbas from the signing of the Minsk II agreement in 2015 until the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022.
Surprisingly, neutral Austria turned out to be quite hostile to the Peace Summit. The union federation caved in to pressure from the Ukrainian Ambassador to Austria and other detractors, who smeared the events as a fifth column for the Russian invaders. The ambassador had objected to some of the speakers, including world-renowned economist Jeffrey Sachs and European Union Parliament member Clare Daly.