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The Left’s Co-President Manon Aubry took the floor today in a special sitting of the European Parliament to debate Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Her full speech is below:

War is returning to Europe.

I belong to the generation born after the Cold War, which did not experience the belligerent clash of the great powers and which was told since childhood that Europe “was peace”.

But the ghosts of the past seem to be resurfacing. And war is back. And I want to say it very clearly here: Vladimir Putin bears full responsibility and has blood on his hands today.

Our group condemns in the strongest possible terms the intolerable Russian military aggression against Ukraine and salutes the heroic resistance of the Ukrainians and their President, Zelensky, to the invasion.

The tanks are there, the bullets are raining down, and the civilians are trying to find shelter, fearful, sometimes in the metro, sometimes on the roads to exile.

I want to think of them first. Today, Ukrainians must know that we will not abandon them.

I want to say to President Zelensky, whom I thank for taking the time today to address our Parliament, that the democracy and freedom for which his people are fighting are our values and precisely Vladimir Putin’s ultimate fear.

We must first send emergency humanitarian aid without conditions and welcome the refugees. Without distinction as to skin colour, without “buts”, without quibbling.

The crisis is humanitarian but it is also, obviously, more geopolitical than ever.

Putin wants us to enter a world of chaos and brutality, where the rule of the strongest dominates.

I say it solemnly here: ladies and gentlemen, Mrs Von der Leyen, Mr Michel, we cannot agree to enter into a terrible game and allow Europe to be transformed into a battlefield in the long term.

I would warn you against military escalation and an arms race that would put our continent on fire and blood. As Jean Jaurès rightly said, “We do not wage war to get rid of war!”

On the contrary, the European Union must defend whatever the cost, the only valid objective, peace and de-escalation.

Strong and targeted sanctions have been taken. But for some of them, how can you really apply them when you guarantee the impunity of the tax havens that hide the assets of Russian oligarchs? So fighting tax evasion is also fighting crime at the international level.

Let’s be clear, economic sanctions will only last for so long. Because the people will suffer the consequences, particularly through price increases that must be compensated for!

We all know that the only sustainable option is diplomacy. All our efforts must be directed towards obtaining a ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian troops.

Yes, the path to peace is laborious, but it is the only reasonable one at this time.

NATO, the military alliance inherited from the Cold War, is not the solution! The international judge of peace is not NATO, it is the UN. The forum for discussing the security conditions of the continent is not NATO, it is the OSCE.

The Ukrainian President has mentioned ways of finding a way out, such as a neutral status, protected by the UN. Let’s go along with this possibility.

I do not want to lie to the citizens. There is no miracle solution. But I have a deep conviction: the real firmness against Putin is not to lock ourselves into the vicious circle of “an eye for an eye”.

On the contrary, hope comes from the mobilisation of peoples for peace. Even in Russia. In Rostov-on-Don, right next to the Ukrainian border, in Russia, a young woman was given eight days in prison for standing alone in the street with a white sign. A symbol for a mobilisation that Putin wants to make invisible.

It also symbolises the courage of thousands of Russians defying Putin’s ferocious repression. It echoes the hundreds of thousands of Europeans who are wearing the Ukrainian flag with a message: “peace, peace at all costs”.

I will end with these words of Albert Camus, on August 8, 1945, just after the bombing of Hiroshima: “Faced with the terrifying prospects that are opening up to humanity, we realise even more clearly that peace is the only battle worth fighting. It is no longer a prayer, but an order that must go up from the peoples to the governments, the order to choose definitively between hell and reason.”

Thank you.

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