APF have added our signature to a petition coordinated by Quakers in Britain, Fellowship of Reconciliation and War Resisters’ International, calling on both Russia and Ukraine to honour the right of Conscientious Objection. The petition was delivered to both the Russian and Ukrainian embassies in London on Thursday, 7th December. You can read the full text of the petition and view its signatories here.

The rights of Conscientious Objectors are protected under international law. They are guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Ukraine and Russia are both signatories to these agreements.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, however, both Russia and Ukraine have curtailed the right of individuals to refuse to fight as a matter of conscience.
When Russia invaded in February last year, President Volodymyr Zelensky banned all men aged 18-60 from leaving Ukraine. He also introduced martial law under which the limited right to alternatives to military service disappeared. BBC research found that more than 20,000 Ukrainian men have risked their lives to avoid killing others or dying on the battlefield, including swimming across rivers. One conscientious objector has served a prison sentence while nine have been given suspended sentences and seven trials are in progress.
In Russia, evasion and desertion from military service can mean up to ten years in prison. At least four conscientious objectors have been jailed for refusing to fight in Ukraine on religious grounds. Hundreds more Russian soldiers and mobilised civilians who object to participating in the war have been detained in detention centres, where they are reportedly subject to physical and psychological abuse.