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More than two weeks have already passed since the beginning of the war between Russia and Ukraine and the situation is not taking a good turn: all the diplomatic attempts put in place so far have failed while the military action continues inexorably, claiming more and more victims among civilians. It is clear that the gap between the two sides is still too wide and that, to date, there is no common ground to be able to enter into genuine negotiations. In this phase, disinformation, hackers, bad faith and propaganda are contributing to exacerbate the conflict, risking to lead to consequences that would be catastrophic.
After all, the wars of the 21st century are increasingly characterized by an intensive use of media (especially social media) aimed at manipulating reality to bend it according to the narrative to be transmitted. The government propaganda, which throughout history has always existed – evolving – through the forms and means available in every era, is now accompanied by that conducted by more or less easily identifiable subjects on social media. In today’s conflict, it is obviously Russia that makes a more unscrupulous use of propaganda: indeed, almost brazen if we think of what Lavrov said the other day in Antalya with the total denial of the invasion. Even the Ukrainian government, however, does not renounce – even legitimately – to oppose the Russian invaders through propaganda. This is why Zelensky’s rhetoric is often based on terms such as “genocide”: an improper word because it is incorrect to represent the current situation, but which is aimed at arousing the reaction against Moscow through an international mobilization that touches the emotional strings as well as those of the law international.
What to do, then, in the face of an increasingly confused situation? This “special military operation” (as Putin and Lavrov define it) is transforming from a blitzkrieg to one of attrition, with Russian troops slowly encircling the main Ukrainian cities trying to undermine any attempt at resistance. The more the fighting continues, the greater the risk of exacerbating the parties involved with the – not so remote – danger of a military escalation that could have devastating effects for the whole world and with internal uprisings of the populations taken to the extreme. China is also increasingly concerned, and in the last few hours Xi Jinping has made an appeal to find common ground to establish a truce.
The opening of Beijing is certainly positive; however, Europe and the United States must not make the mistake of leaving China as the “arbiter” of this affair. The firm and resolute stance towards Russia has paid off so far, as sanctions are hitting Moscow’s economy heavily. Now, however, we must insist in the direction of mediation, which cannot fail to be entrusted to Europeans, if only for the geographical proximity and the strategic interests at stake that must be carefully balanced with those of Russia, perhaps relying on former prime ministers of the countries. more involved and sending field observers with international coverage.
At the same time, the project to establish a common European defense is expected to progress rapidly. In this sense, the results of the informal European Council in Versailles aimed at accelerating this process by trying to make an embryo of a common EU “army” operational as early as 2023 are to be welcomed. Italy should do its part by trying to orient our foreign policy objectives in a clearer and more stable way. In this regard, the establishment of a National Security Council modeled on the US experience could be the trump card. This body, which would report directly to the Prime Minister, would bring together all the competences in terms of security and defense from the various ministries, contributing to more coherent, rapid and flexible action. In this way, the Farnesina would not lose its role of direction and management of foreign policy, but would exercise it in a framework of greater coordination with the other ministries so as to contribute more effectively to the pursuit of our national interest and by sharing the tools of diplomacy with those of defense, intelligence, economics, health.
We are facing a crucial historical moment, and it is in these moments that radical decisions are made. Europe and Italy must seize the opportunity for a change of pace also on the issues of security and defense: here too passes the path to finally count more on the international scenario.
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