Ukraine – If “Rome open city” can be an example for Kyiv

by Glauco D’Agostino

When you lose a war, you have to accept reality. As I reminded a friend of mine who, perhaps, had doubts, the “Western” culture affects me, as my roots do.

Rome unilaterally declared itself as an “open city” on August 14th, 1943. Under international law, it means the city’s will to surrender to the “enemy” to prevent bloodshed and, primarily, the entire city’s destruction. A wise decision, whereby Rome continued to live in a relative tranquillity and avoided the brutalities and bombings on civilian people that Dresden and Berlin have instead known. Ultimately, none recognised their heroic resistance, not even at home.

The statements about a Ukrainian heroic resistance (I am chiefly referring to the editor of the Italian newspaper “la Repubblica”) are reckless. They paired up with those who, at the time, strongly supported the German heroic resistance, while the evidence suggested that Berlin lost the war. Heroes are of little use if the World thinks by the cynical logic of geopolitics. In terms of rhetoric, even the defenders of the Kunduz Taliban stronghold, the last city of the Afghan resistance to fall in 2001, are heroes. But what suffering for the civilian people! So there. As Westerners, more than “la Repubblica” director, we trust the CIA information (think!), which has documented the 60 kilometres of tanks and deadly weapons besieging Kyiv. Military analysts say it is unlike the Ukrainian resistance would be able to stop such an army, however much we can do honour to the Ukrainian heroes. The most “incorrect” observers say that if Kyiv has not fallen, it is due to “madman” Putin’s prudence. Realism is one thing, propaganda in the warmth of newsrooms is another!

I believe the situation of beloved Kyiv is very similar to that of beloved Rome in 1943. Kyiv’s “open city” would mean, under international war law, “open to enemy occupation”. With no bloodshed. While showing solidarity with our brother Ukrainians, we must hope the international community support this solution, which is painful to the Ukrainian state, but a duty to the Ukrainian people.

Tomorrow, the Antalya Forum opens, and it could start negotiations for a ceasefire, which is the priority. Of course, it will be difficult for the likely winner to accept it, but one can guess they are not so unprepared for the case, as 60 kilometres line of tanks is still 60 kilometres and stationary. The declaration of Rome as an “open city” was one-sided since the Allies did not recognise it. The historical contexts are different, and Putin is not Roosevelt. Perhaps, this outlook could open up in Turkey as the first step towards stability that true pacifists wish for those troubled lands. Following diplomatic tables will arrange the rest, hopefully, not the ones of the thrilling armed forces top.

In 1944, the liberation of Rome advanced a government formed by political forces hostile to the fallen regime, and two years after, the institutional change followed. It is not sure Kyiv will follow a regime change and a pro-Russian government. But this is a matter of Ukrainian domestic politics, which no one has the right to speak about in these situations. The Ukrainians will decide when, after a more or less long period of national pacification, they will have the opportunity to express their preferences in the polls.

Meanwhile, in Antalya, they are working frantically for peace. We hope that our expectations and the constructive intentions of the organisers do not turn out in vain. We hope so for the Ukrainian people!

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