Shortly after Russian forces began an offensive against Ukraine in the early morning hours today, an announcement was sent to the Grapevine that Russian citizens living in Iceland are planning to protest against this invasion this afternoon near the Russian embassy in Reykjavík. Iceland’s government has also condemned the invasion, prompting a swift criticism from the Russian Embassy in Iceland for their “biased assessments of the situation”.
“As you know, today the armed forces of the Russian Federation began invading the territory of Ukraine and shelling peaceful Ukrainian cities,” protest coordinator Andrei Menshenin writes. “For the first time since 1999, a war broke out in Europe. A war between two brotherly peoples that was unimaginable before 2014. The responsibility for starting the war lies on the shoulders of Russian President Vladimir Putin. From his official video message the day before, it is clear that he is in an imaginary world where Western democracies plan to take over Moscow and threaten the Russians. So he decided to attack first. The result of his decision will be many deaths and crippled destinies of people both in Ukraine and in Russia.
“We, the citizens of Russia living in Iceland, as well as the Russian-speaking citizens of Iceland, want to protest at the Russian Embassy in Iceland to show our support to the Ukrainians and call on the Russian government to immediately stop hostilities in Ukraine.”
The protest is scheduled for 17:30 today, near the Russian Embassy at Túngata 24 in Reykjavík.
“An unacceptable breach of international law”
Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir issued a brief statement on Twitter regarding the invasion, saying, “Iceland strongly condemns all Russian military action in Ukraine. This attack is an unacceptable breach of international law. The lives of innocent civilians must always be our main concern.”
Iceland’s President, Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, quote-tweeted the Prime Minister’s statement, adding, “Iceland strongly condemns Russia’s military attack on Ukraine. This act of war is against international law and puts millions of innocent lives in danger.”
Minister of Foreign Affairs Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir told RÚV, “Unfortunately, [Putin] has decided to go this way. This is a serious threat to the security of Europe. The NATO permanent council is now meeting, and I can go into more details when they have reached a conclusion, but our worst fears have been confirmed. Which will have consequences for civilians, as always. This is simply a very serious situation.”
When asked by reporters if there was a possibility that the Russian ambassador to Iceland will be asked to leave Iceland, she said that they had met with him yesterday, but the Icelandic government is now prioritising support for NATO, adding, “What pertains to the Russian embassy, that just remains to be seen.”
Response from the Russian embassy
For their part, the Russian embassy in Iceland issued a statement in English on their Facebook page, wherein they criticised Katrín and Guðni in particular, for what they characterised as “such biased assessments of the situation”.
The embassy made essentially the same arguments as the government of the Russian Federation, accusing Ukraine of aggression in eastern Ukraine–in particular, in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR)–that Russia had no choice but to intervene in. The embassy added that they had photographic and video evidence of “war crimes and crimes against humanity” which they would soon convey to the Icelandic government and press.
“We count on a more balanced approach of the authorities of Iceland towards the recent situation after studying this evidence because now it is not only about political aspects of resolving crisis, but about real lives and fate of people,” the embassy concludes.
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