Unlike the liberating day of April 25, 1945, which celebrated Italy’s exit from the nightmare of war against Nazi-Fascism, this Monday, among those marching in the Italian streets, one could feel the winds of war blowing in, from the big cities and the immense plains of Ukraine.
In Milan, the anguish and pain were conveyed directly through the testimonies of Ukrainian women, who woke up one morning, on February 24, 2022, to the sudden presence of the invader. Two of them spoke on the stage of the big demonstration in Milan, telling the story of their escape from their country, after they were forced to abandon it, together with five million other compatriots, because of Putin’s brutal war.
The war wounds, and at the same time brings renewal. This April 25 was celebrated against the background of a war of trenches and bunkers, coming back once more to maim and kill tens of thousands of people in the center of the European continent, against a population of 40 million inhabitants, bombed every day for two months now, with more and more violence and thirst for conquest.
We are in danger of a return of the devastating barbarity of the Second World War if we are unable to stop those who have triggered it, mercilessly raging against civilian populations, against the headquarters of institutions, against infrastructure, to destroy not only the present, but also the future.
In such a dramatic, troubled and difficult moment, the theme of Resistance – which, together with the partisan struggle, is the expression and the founding root of the Italian Republic and the Constitution – has had to encounter and collide with the reality of the Ukrainian trenches, with armed defense against the enemy army.
An inevitable and defining element have been the attacks among the left, as part of the debate that has cut through it. These attacks are used for instrumental purposes – an old story that we know from other years and other celebrations of April 25.
They are instrumental attacks, because no one on either side has ever questioned the solidarity with the victims. And, barring some proof otherwise, it is certainly not forbidden to question European foreign policy, or the credibility and commitment to pacifism of those who loudly claim to stand for the rights of a martyred population, while having their own history of sowing bombs and destruction halfway around the world.
The discussion finally arrived at a shared recognition and identification with the “heroic resistance” of the Ukrainian people, in the words of Noam Chomsky. “Without ifs and buts,” moving past all misunderstandings and misconceptions – as the current president of ANPI stressed again on Monday, addressing the demonstrators in Milan – in favor of a peace that does not mean the surrender of the victims.
Solidarity, closeness, sharing of the burden and assistance – but without adding more fuel to the fire of this war, one more war against Russia (waged by the Americans and British, in all evidence); instead, helping Kiev to stand its ground and negotiate a just peace.
This intention was also expressed by the Italian President during his visit on Monday to the town of Acerra, the place of a heinous Nazi-Fascist massacre: “We must put a stop immediately, and with determination, to this drift towards war, before it can further disrupt our international coexistence, before it can tragically expand,” were Mattarella’s words.
This is a difficult goal, as we are dealing with a dictator who, in order to justify the invasion, is dehumanizing the Ukrainians, denying them the right to exist as a free country, and, in full consistency with that position, is rewarding those who exterminate them, as he did with those who perpetrated the massacre in Bucha. With the whole Russian media apparatus mobilized to present to the Russian people the explosive message of the war in Ukraine as only a first step, “an intermediary path towards securing the Russian world,” according to the proclamations of Vladimir Solovyov, one of the most famous television pundits of the regime.
Peace seems an impossible mission, and yet it is one that has been fought for since the early days, especially by France and Germany, with repeated and fruitless visits to Moscow. And now, with the victory of Emmanuel Macron in the French presidential elections and the danger of the rise of Marine Le Pen averted, efforts towards peace can be renewed once again.
On Tuesday, UN chief Guterres came to Moscow, the leader of an institution facing unprecedented difficulties, as the repeated votes of abstention by many members against Putin’s war have made obvious.
Unfortunately, in anticipation of the visit, the ruler in the Kremlin preemptively rejected all requests for a ceasefire. Thus corroborating the prediction that he will not stop until he is convinced he can’t get what he wants with the force of arms. And he wants a lot: basically the whole of the south-east of Ukraine, depriving it of any access to the sea.