Report. The union, which has called for a no-war demonstration on Saturday at Galilei Airport, has called on the air traffic control structures of the civil airport 'to immediately stop these flights of death disguised as "humanitarian" aid.'

Italian airport workers refused to load weapons bound for Ukraine

The “warfighting” circular of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Italian Army, which imparts new operational instructions to all commands “in order to respond to the needs dictated by the changing international context which is being closely watched by everyone,” has immediately had a wide echo from the online media. One can’t say the same about the complaint from a group of employees at the Galilei Airport of Pisa.

The workers, who are tasked with loading and unloading goods, discovered that the flights departing from the airport towards Ukraine weren’t only humanitarian flights with food and medicines for the Ukrainian population. When they found themselves loading crates full of various types of weapons, ammunition and explosives, they refused to load the material, reporting the incident to the USB union.

The union, which has called for a no-war demonstration on Saturday at Galilei Airport, has called on the air traffic control structures of the civil airport “to immediately stop these flights of death disguised as ‘humanitarian’ aid,” and on the workers “to continue to refuse to load weapons and explosives that are feeding a spiral of war that we can only stop with an immediate ceasefire and the relaunching of peace talks.”

The issue has already come before Parliament. “Together with the deputies of the ManifestA group,” explains Maurizio Acerbo, secretary of the Communist Refoundation, “we have already asked the Minister of Defense to come to the floor, and prepared a parliamentary question.”

There was a similar move on the local level, thanks to Councilor Francesco Auletta of Rights in Common and the secretary of PRC Pisa, Giovanni Bruno: “We’re questioning Mayor Conti, because it’s not acceptable that those who govern the city don’t know, don’t say anything or don’t take an interest in what is happening, and what is of concern to all of us.”

The Tuscan regional councilors of the M5S, Irene Galletti and Silvia Noferi, brought up a question for the regional council: “We want to understand if President Giani is aware of the facts and what his view is, also in the light of the current complex international scenario and of the attempts, failed so far, to de-escalate the conflict.”

As denounced by the Italian Peace and Disarmament Network, Acerbo explains, “there seems to be a real international military air bridge operating towards the base of Rzeszow, in eastern Poland, where a US logistic command has been operating since the beginning of February. Aircrafts coming from other countries as well are converging on Rzeszow, in particular from the UK, France, Belgium, Spain and Canada. In Italy, some airports playing a leading role in this affair are the military airport of Pisa and the Mario de Bernardi airport of Pomezia, one of the biggest military airports in Europe.”

In short, the armed conflict is widening, also following the Russian bombing of the Ukrainian base of Yavoriv on Sunday, just 25 kilometers from the Polish border, a NATO country. The base is the seat of the International Peacekeeping and Security Center, where Ukrainian military personnel are trained, including by NATO instructors (the US, Canada, the UK), and it has been used as a support base for some NATO exercises, the last one only a few months ago.

It is in this context that the Army circular calls on all commands to be 100% operational. The document, which was supposed to remain confidential, is dated March 9, and makes explicit reference to “developments on the international scene.” It calls for taking care to avoid early leaves of absence, for departments in operational readiness to be “100% fueled,” and for training to be “warfighting oriented.” It also asks to “ensure that the maximum levels of efficiency are reached and maintained for all tracked vehicles, helicopters and artillery weapon systems.”

The circular signed by the head of the Joint Chiefs, General Bruno Pisciotta, provides precise indications to the commands regarding personnel, training, readiness and weapons systems. Even the health facilities—and this explains General Figliuolo’s turn away from the fight against Covid—will have to take into consideration “the commitments of higher priority connected to the directly operative forces.” It goes without saying that all these instructions were intended to be implemented with immediate effect.

“Nobody who has served in the armed forces in the last thirty years has ever seen a circular of this kind,” Maurizio Acerbo of the Communist Refoundation points out. “And beyond this ominous mobilization of troops, there’s also the fact that we don’t yet know what kind of armament we are sending to Ukraine.” Hence the request his party is addressing to Mario Draghi’s government: “The government should immediately give clarifications before Parliament and the country. We must stop this spiral of war.”

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