Moving towards the peace rally on 5 November

Personally, I don't feel this great urge to participate because, on the one hand, it seems to me to be a mainly ritualistic and 'internal' call to the Italian scenario (in which, in any case, there is and will be a need to deal with large and numerous problems of a social order, which as such must rightly be named and for which a political response must be organised) and, on the other, it sees the participation of areas, acronyms and groups with which this war has created a distance that I now consider unbridgeable.

Idiosyncrasies aside, however, I think it is right that there should be talk of negotiations and I find it positive that a movement expressing a desire for peace should be formed and that, perhaps, sensible proposals and initiatives should be articulated from this. Of course, a good starting point would be to recognise why the conditions have now been created for talking, to glimpse perhaps (?) the possibility of peace and dialogue, and the question, as I see it, has an almost unambiguous answer: the will of the Ukrainian people and army to resist the invasion, with a fair degree of success (some of the communiqués express solidarity with the resistance, en passant). I do not say this out of polemics or temptations to heroise war exploits, but because it is a fact, and one of the first objectives of peace thinking should be to understand how to 'deal' with facts (i.e. how to rework them through non-violent means, with what material and symbolic certifications and reparations). Another fact that should not be ignored: while we are discussing peace, Putin (who is THE number one culprit in this war) is indiscriminately bombing Ukrainian territory with drones of Iranian origin, even cities hundreds of kilometres away from the front line, and declaring martial law in the republics of Donetsk and Luhansk and in the occupied territories, making Ukrainians and Russians nothing more than cannon fodder for his criminal delusions.

This is to say, if we really want to give birth to a peace movement, that it would be good to question ourselves seriously on the issues at stake, without giving in to magical thinking, and trying to put in place instruments of peacemaking a little higher than that of a generic appeal to the UN. I insist, without polemic, but because it seems to me that there is in the general debate a serious lack, a void, on the part of those who in past crises and conflicts have also dealt with them 'live' and in all the complexity that this field requires. Open points for discussion:

  • the question of 'justice'. I understand that any peace that does not follow a total military defeat must be the result of a compromise (in which each side 'gives up' something), but one cannot exclude the variable of justice from any hypothetical peace agreement. Unless it is a mere strategic ceasefire, but at least there is an awareness of this (read: an awareness that the firing will start again shortly). Now, I believe that a sense of justice should include - at the very least - the surrender by Russia of all areas occupied during the current invasion and withdrawal within the pre-24 February borders. Really at the very least, something you hang on to tooth and nail and try to wring out until the very end, otherwise you know that any alternative solution (albeit temporary) can only be perceived as a farce. Justice would also want Putin to be handed over to an international tribunal, but (in the knowledge that this clearly could not be a realistic condition to put on the negotiating table) that he would at least agree to have senior army cadres tried for what happened in Bucha, Irpin, Mariupol, etc., etc. On the Ukrainian side, it may probably be legitimate to ask for an amnesty concerning those who collaborated with the occupation forces during these months at low levels and who are part of the civilian population, as well as the guarantee of a fair trial (with international supervision) of those who instead implicated themselves at higher levels. In addition: institutional recognition at the European level of the value of Ukrainian resistance (which is already happening), entry into the EU, debt cancellation, European commitment to the reconstruction of the country;
  • the question of 'security'. The reductionist readings (not least the historically delusional one by Cacciari and other post-fascists) that this conflict originated from the war in the Donbass and inter-ethnic or inter-linguistic or (? boh) inter-identity tensions is wrong. Full stop. Putin doesn't give a damn about the Donbass or the safety of Russian-speakers (this is already nonsense, since Russian-speakers are present and quite accepted all over the country, starting with the country's president himself) or Russian-speakers in Ukraine, he has never even deigned to take a tour of the Donbass. His is a design of regional neo-imperialism, with neo-conservative and post-fascist political traits: this, on the left, should be recognised and treated as such without ambiguity. The policy of 'appeasement' (for which it would suffice to resolve the issue of the Donbass or the linguistic minorities, or even to guarantee easy access even to Russia of the resources of Ukrainian territory, or even full management of the Russian bases in Crimea) is the policy that Europe (and to a certain extent the US too, yes) have pursued in recent years and it does not work, indeed we are faced with its blatant failure. Therefore, and unfortunately, the question of security must also be posed unambiguously, first and foremost in the interests of the Ukrainian people, and secondly in the interests of the European space: it is all very well to blather on about a common architecture that also involves Russia, but seriously, is this possible with Putin's Russia? I believe we are faced with very few and bitter alternatives (with good peace to those who see Ukraine's neutrality as any kind of resolution), which can be summed up as: Ukraine's rapid entry into NATO, or in a demilitarised zone under the supervision of UN contingents between the Russian and Ukrainian borders, or even in a joint defence commitment of the Ukrainian country by the US and some European countries (as Draghi hypothesised some time ago). Is there anything else? On the US side, at the very least, there is a demand for the re-establishment of its commitment to the medium-range nuclear missile treaty, an openness to reviewing the agreed measures of military disengagement in Europe with Russia (as was already expressed during a UN session shortly before the invasion) and to open negotiating tables that also involve Xi's China;
  • Very much related to the above issues, the problem of 'memory' and the reintegration into Ukrainian territory of regions that, for more or less time, have been 'disputed', so to speak. Here too, it would be nice (albeit illusory) to demand a commitment from Russia to recognise and have third-party bodies judge the role that undercover soldiers, mercenaries and other groups have played in fomenting separatism. On the other hand, I think it is legitimate to insist that the Ukrainian government be cleared up and committed to carrying out investigations (perhaps with parliamentary commissions) into episodes that still remain unclear and wait to be cauterised in the collective memory: the sniper shootings during the Euromaidan uprising, the Odessa massacre in May 2014, the war crimes of battalion Azov and Aidar during the Donbass conflict, the influence of forces of neo-Nazi ideology (or using clear symbolism of neo-Nazi ancestry) in the political life of the country. In addition: full recognition of linguistic and ethnic minorities, from the Roma to the Tatars, the introduction of laws in support of women's and LGBT rights, and the adoption of a new labour code agreed with independent trade union forces, also in virtue of the role that all these subjectivities are playing and have played in the resistance against the invasion. Above all in this sense, I repeat, there seems to me to be a vacuum of thought in the pacifist and left-wing world: what support and aid instruments should be put in place? Truth and justice commissions? Collaboration with associations and realities already active in the area (see Sotsialnyi Rukh and Eastern Human Rights Group, for example)?

These are only some, infinitesimal, of the thorny knots. A thousand other points remain open, from how to combine the possible acceptance of Russian defectors with the needs of the Ukrainian community living in Europe to the question of an increasingly urgent reform of the UN (and, I must say, of its more pronounced deterrent capacity that contemplates the use of force), for example: things that I would like to see debated from a concrete, realistic, progressive left-wing perspective. And on which there is also the question of a greater European autonomy 'inside' and 'against' NATO (or alternatively 'outside', but with what programme?), a Europe that must, however, have and will have the 'Ukrainian experience' as its re-founding factor: but, really, with what instruments? The construction of a common European defence army (thus accepting rearmament)? The construction, however serious (which implies the introduction of some form of compulsory mobilisation) of a European peace army, as Langer suggested? The multiplication (but this time really massive, therefore with funds to be taken from...?) of decentralised cooperation activities, international supervision of democratic processes, interposition with military contingents in open conflicts (and therefore with renewed interference in the affairs of other states)? Truly, sincere questions from those who feel leftist, pacifist and anti-militarist but, at the same time, would like to come to terms just as sincerely with the reality we face.