With raised voices, we issue a strong and desperate “No!” to the military aggression of Putin’s Russia against Ukraine. On Friday morning, Putin took the criminal decision to send military fighters, awakening Kyiv with air raid sirens.
We condemn this adventure of the Kremlin, an open violation of international law, with the same strength and clarity with which this newspaper has always condemned the West’s wars in Iraq, Somalia, former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Libya, Gaza and Palestine, Syria, etc. (And not only Western wars — starting from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.)
However, the images from the Kyiv subway, with terrorized children and women, open up an old wound: with their unspeakable personal pain, they remind us of the nights of the NATO bombing of Belgrade 23 years ago, which we wished would be the last one in the history of Europe.
Let’s hope that this time, the civilian victims won’t be lumped under the demeaning label of “collateral damage.” Our heart is on the side of the smallest and the weak, and our “international” position is at this moment fully behind the Ukrainian civilians. And also behind the Russians who are demonstrating for peace and against war.
We don’t like geopolitics: in the end, it’s an arrangement of flags on maps for the purpose of war games which always do damage to the prospects of the world.
It goes without saying that we are faced with the upheaval of the world’s strategic makeup. We are against war: no political reason justifies it. We are against it no matter who is the driving force behind it. We are against the military-industrial complexes, be they Western, Chinese or Russian: these institutions that preside over national GDPs and power politics are the ones preparing destructive and deadly scenarios like this one.
It is about time for politics to take note of this, instead of relegating issues such as peace, stopping the growth of military spending, disarmament or the divestment of the nuclear weapons that are widespread in Europe, to a neglected and forgotten basement, as if they did not concern the allocation of resources: more than just energy, but the exit from the disaster of the pandemic, the ecological transition. Peace isn’t just a desire, it is something built.
Instead, these topics are now returning to center stage with the flashes of missile explosions on TV screens. And it’s certainly more difficult — if not impossible — to deal with these issues in this dramatic moment. We are seeing a last-minute democratic interventionism from Italy, after eight years of civil war, 14,000 dead and two million refugees in the Ukrainian crisis, about which it had kept a guilty silence.
The American administration and the Atlantic leadership are now saying to Russia: “You wanted less NATO, so now you will have more.” An obvious answer, but one that implicitly recognizes that the strategy of NATO enlargement to the East was, and is, a threat. Now the risk is that the Atlantic Alliance will no longer have a stopping point. And this is also thanks to Putin’s war initiative, which has zero justification. Especially since just 24 hours before the recognition of the independence of Lugansk and Donetsk, it could be said that Putin had “won” by deploying troops to the border alone, gaining ground back from his opponents and dividing them on the NATO membership of Ukraine and the revival of the Minsk agreements. In short, it is not true that Putin had no choice but to invade, as he says.
What is the ideology, or pathology, driving the Russian president? The most obvious is the impulse to escape the humiliation of the end of the Soviet power and revenge against the Western military moves that confirmed it. But we are facing the aftermath of a mad, self-contradictory and suicidal decision. What remained of the USSR in Russia were the economic assets which, once privatized, built the fortunes of the oligarchs, former party officials, and the arms factories which have been fully revived.
Putin is not interested in socialism: not real socialism, let alone the Bolshevik Revolution. It is no coincidence that he felt the need to attack Lenin, who back in 1924 saw as decisive for the first Constitution of the Soviet Union the independence of the four socialist republics that composed it back then.
While it is true that the collapse of the USSR took place along nationalist fault lines, by bombing Kyiv, Putin is now bombing his own history, hurting the Russian-Ukrainian roots, erasing the equal Slavic identity — quite the opposite of a return of Great Mother Russia. And in doing so, he’s destroying the credibility of the new Russia as an “other” power, which he had been claiming as his achievement up until now. After the suicide of the USSR, with Vladimir Putin we are witnessing the suicide of Russia.
The Soviet Union has not returned, but the hot war has: against the background of a nuclear threat, in the heart of Europe, playing with the lives of civilians and the future of the world, fueled by nationalist madness. There should be an immediate ceasefire, and Putin should stop and withdraw. He has already destroyed enough.