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Pacifists urge Patel to offer asylum to Russian soldiers who refuse to fight in Ukraine

PACIFISTS urged Home Secretary Priti Patel today to make a public offer of asylum to Russian soldiers who refuse to fight in Ukraine.

The Peace Pledge Union (PPU), which has been in contact with peace campaigners in Ukraine and Russia throughout the war, wrote to Ms Patel and PM Boris Johnson, pointing to evidence that hundreds of Russian forces personnel are questioning or disobeying orders.

Cross-party MPs have backed the PPU’s call, including SNP constitutional affairs spokesperson Tommy Sheppard.

PPU said that there has been an increase in the number of conscripts mentioning their opposition to war in Ukraine when applying for exemption as conscientious objectors.

The campaign group said that an offer of asylum would encourage disobedience among Russian President Vladimir Putin’s troops.

It added that if British ministers want to end the war, they need to support people resisting it on the ground, rather than sending more and more weapons to Ukraine.

Geoff Tibbs of the PPU said: “There are already hundreds of Russian soldiers who are questioning or refusing orders.

“If Boris Johnson and his ministers are serious about trying to end war in Ukraine, they should go beyond gung-ho military rhetoric and step up practical support for people resisting war.

“We are confident there would be widespread public support in the UK for an offer of asylum to Russian soldiers who refuse to fight.”

Mr Sheppard, MSP for Edinburgh East, said: “The Russian government is asking young conscripts to join a war of aggression.

“Any of them who are brave enough to say no to Putin’s orders risk jail and should be entitled to asylum.”

The call came as events across the world took place to mark International Conscientious Objectors’ Day today.

Statements from Ukrainian and Russian pacifists were read out in London.

The Russian Movement of Conscientious Objectors said in a statement: “In the course of the months of warfare, we have witnessed a totally new phenomenon: cases in which professional soldiers refuse to participate in the special operation and demand to terminate their contracts.

“We wish to express our special gratitude to those soldiers and police officers who had the courage to refuse to kill and die in a foreign land.”

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