The free and independent trade unions in Belarus and Russia have made strong statements against Putin's invasion of Ukraine. Both confederations call for immediate cessation of hostilities. These statements are in stark contrast to the state controlled unions which praise the invasion.
Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions (BKDP)
The Executive Committee of the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions (BKDP) that received "Arthur Svensson International Prize of Trade Union Rights" last year, made this statement right after the invasion:
"No nation in the world wants war. The Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian peoples are no exception. Few peoples in the world have suffered such terrible losses and sacrificed the lives of tens of millions of their citizens in their history as our three peoples did, peoples who are so close to each other. And the fact that the Russian government has started a war against Ukraine today cannot be understood, justified or forgiven. The fact that the aggressor invaded Ukraine from the territory of Belarus with the consent of the Belarusian authorities cannot be justified or forgiven.
Irreparable things have happened, and their long-term consequences affecting the lives of several generations will poison relations between Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians. On behalf of the members of the independent trade unions of Belarus, the workers of our country, we bow our heads to you, our Ukrainian brothers and sisters. We apologize to you for the shame, the shame that the Belarusian government has imposed on all Belarusians, having become an ally of the aggressor and having opened the border with Ukraine for it.
However, we want to assure you, dear Ukrainians, that the vast majority of Belarusians, including workers, condemn the reckless actions of the current Belarusian regime which tolerates Russian aggression against Ukraine. We demand an immediate cessation of hostilities and the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine, as well as from Belarus.
In this difficult, fateful time we declare that our minds and hearts are together with you, dear Ukrainians. We wish you to withstand and win.
Long live Belarus! Glory to Ukraine!"
Confederation of Labour of Russia (KTR)
The Confederation of Labour of Russia made a similar statement right after the invasion, emphasizing that it is the workers of both countries who suffer from the war:
"The Confederation of Labour of Russia, as a part of the international trade union movement, considering its direct responsibilities to the working people of Russia, Ukraine and the whole world, and recognising its role in promoting and ensuring peace between peoples, is extremely disturbed at the events now taking place.
The Confederation of Labour of Russia is convinced that all disagreements and contradictions—however deep and however longstanding—must be resolved by negotiations, on the basis of goodwill and adherence to the principle of world peace. This vision has been an integral part of the global and anti-militarist outlook of the workers’ movement for more than a century, and has been realised through the establishment of international institutions and mechanisms tasked with ensuring peace.
The Confederation of Labour of Russia notes, with great bitterness, that it is the working people of our countries, on both sides, who are suffering as a direct result of military conflict. Intensification of the conflict threatens a devastating shock to our nations’ economies and social support systems, and a fall in workers’ living standards. It would open the door to a massive wave of breaches of working citizens’ labour rights.
With regard to all the above, the Confederation of Labour of Russia expresses its belief in the need for the cessation of military action, as rapidly as possible, and the renewal of peaceful dialogue and coexistence between the multinational peoples of Russia and Ukraine."