It is difficult to understand the crisis that led to the violent Russian invasion of Ukraine, with all its implications, if one does not accept that this is a regional crisis within a much broader, global crisis. And that the deaths of Khar’kiv and Mariupol, from Donbass and the Russian army, are victims of a clash that did not start on February 24 last year, but which has lasted for about three decades. It has been weeks since the start of the conflict in Ukraine. As in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Syria, Burkina Faso, the madness of war has endless horizons and devastating consequences for the civilian population, generating deaths, injuries and millions of refugees. This is a war we must face without hypocrisy. Like many today, we hear it higher, we must raise our voice against this war and against all wars, wherever they burst, regardless of their shape and what name they get. On behalf of the pacifist movement I can say that approxI will always be against whom war wants it, spurs it or prepares it. We contest the Italian government’s choice to send weapons to Ukraine few days after the Russian invasion, and immediately deprive themselves of the opportunity to negotiate. We believe that the decision to increase military spending by up to 2% is notorious of GDPas requested by NATO, we condemn the militarization of our territories And we raise the need again after 40 years to adopt conscientious objections to military spending. It seems incredible to us that we can still choose to continue in policies of war, destructive to people, to people, to the planet. The story goes, and children know it too: Peace is not built with weapons. Peace is built with culture respect for the other, with cooperation and with the promotion of lifestyles that are responsible for the environment and for Justice. Peace is for everyone or it is not for anyone.
Never have European citizens felt so involved in a conflict, and never, as this time, have the answers of theologians and moralists been dull, repeated, inadequate to answer the questions posed by crisis and war with the usual violence. The question we all ask ourselves is: have all non-violent means really been used? Did the deployment of additional military contingents from the Atlantic Alliance to Eastern European countries on the eve of the crisis with Moscow serve to promote the military de-escalation that NATO asked Russia for, or did it not instead help boost tensions? And the Ukrainian government made it clear to Putin that Ukraine could review and even repeal the various articles included in the 2019 constitution confirming “the irrevocability of Ukraine’s European and Euro-Atlantic route” as a condition of an agreement ? And speaking of the sacred right of the Ukrainian people to self-determination in the field of security, we should ask ourselves whether European countries can say that they can exercise their full self-determination in the defense sector when there are numerous US military bases in their territory, which include nuclear weapons over which they have no control. Whether the media solos like it or not, issues of European defense and security do not fall within the sole and exclusive competence of a country – be it Italy, Germany or Ukraine – but are still characterized by the logic of “spheres of influence” and as such are considered by the powers that have at great cost defeated Nazi fascism in Europe, including Russia.
With this, mind you, I do not intend in any way to justify the military invasion of Ukraine by the Russian armed forces.: invasion, which I clearly condemn, without if and but. Instead, I intend to argue that, once again, in order to justify the armed reaction, it was taken for granted that the first and fundamental condition of “legitimate defense” was complied with, viz. that all parties – including the United States – have experienced NATO and the European Union – all the ways to find an agreement and all the non-violent means to respond to an announced aggression. The Yavoriv military base in Ukraine, where NATO training of Ukrainian troops was held for years, the significant supplies of US weapons and military systems to the Ukrainian armed forces in the weeks leading up to the invasion are perhaps you a way to promote a non-violent response? The integration into the Ukrainian armed forces of paramilitary groups of clear Nazi origin such as the Azof battalion – according to the UN responsible for “arbitrary killings of civilians, looting and torture” – and the nationalist militias in Pravyj Sekto (right sector) have been designed to promote relaxation ? Was the military training in Ukrainian squares of the civilian population with real rifles and silhouettes and the distribution of weapons a way to deter armed defense? Let’s not fool ourselves: If you’re only training in war, you’re not looking for a non-violent response, you’re preparing for war.
The armed response is certainly a legitimate response and recognized by the United Nations Charter of 1945, which in Article 51 declares “the natural right of individual or collective self-defense in the event of an armed attack on a Member State”. But the UN Charter does not say that this “natural right” should be exercised solely and exclusively by military means and instruments, and it is in fact stated that Member States “shall resolve their international disputes by peaceful means so as not to jeopardize international peace and security and justice.“(Art. 2). Armed legitimate defense is therefore only one of the possible reactions to an armed aggression and must always be adopted as an” extreme relationship “after exhausting all other possible reactions and not as the first and only reaction. on an attack that is announced or underway.This is what the Italian Constitution prescribes, born, let us remember, from the opposition to Nazi fascism, which in Article 11 not only states that “Italy rejects war as an instrument of attack for other peoples’ freedom “, but adds” and as a means of resolving international disputes “. war) as a way, not only for insult, but above all as a means of resolving disputes.internally, even when the conflict has acquired the character of an armed conflict.
It is for these reasons that the Italian peace and disarmament network and several associations, including Pax Christi, have the decision of the Italian Government to supply arms and military means to Ukraine. Weapons, on the other hand, were sent not only by drawing funds intended for cooperation and, moreover, by using “humanitarian” flights, but even by separating their quantity and type and thus helping to increase suspicion and tension. But there is also another problem, which is certainly not insignificant in this crisis, which moral theologians have only been very aware of. Russian President Putin has repeatedly threatened the use of atomic bombs. This is the situation that Pope John XXIII had in mind in the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis, as in the encyclical Pacem and Terris he has stated: “In an age like ours, which is proud of nuclear power, it is foreign for any reason that war could be an appropriate tool for restoring violated rights.” (No. 67). Unlike other conflicts, with the nuclear threat, what is at stake today in Ukraine is not only the independence of a nation and the freedom of a people, but its very survival and, in fact, ours and that of the people. . Sending weapons was the most comfortable answer, but also the most dangerous: under current international law, it would not represent a real “act of war”, but it is indisputable that at the political level it constitutes a gesture of clear hostility. It is therefore even more serious that this decision was taken by the EU Heads of State and Government, who hailed it as a “historic decision”, while several governments at the same time announced the increase in their military spending.
The war in Ukraine and the impossibility of defending the victims by military means – if not with the risk of triggering a world war – do not show the failure of pacifism, but the huge military machine that continues to burn itself in Italy and in Europe. It is further evidence of the fragility of a world order which is not based on specific and binding rules and which is unable to enforce them through a system of sanctions and international security, but which is still based on the strongest law. It is yet another case of a series of violations and wars that require every day more and more redefining of the system, architecture and instruments responsible for international security: a system that can only be established by abolishing the permanent membership veto states in UN Security Council. And that makes it urgent to promote the practice of non-violence and the ethics of peace. To which Catholic doctrine could contribute significantly by returning to humble and attentive listening to Jesus from the words and life of Nazareth. Peace is for all, or it is not for anyone and is built with a culture of respect for others, cooperation and the promotion of lifestyles that are responsible for the environment and justice.