With good reason. It’s the first war in Europe in nearly a quarter of a century, and it could very well turn into a third world war, one in which nuclear weapons get used.
For a country that has slowly been absorbed by Russia over the last eight years, and was again invaded by it in February, it’s an especially ironic situation.
Ukraine may be contracting, but it’s more a part of the world than ever. If not, physically, in terms of refugees, as a subject of political debate and press coverage.
Though American media have recently reported that the war is being overreported by domestic news outlets, in Europe, Ukraine’s headline hogging feels more natural.
Ukraine is in Europe, after all, not across the Atlantic. Lviv to Berlin is a day’s drive, if you push it. Across a country, I might add, that hosted the Second World War’s worst atrocities – Poland – which was also invaded by Russia.
The violence can’t help but revive memories of that time, and make Europeans feel vulnerable, once again, to the same kinds of nationalism and xenophobia which helped underwrite it.
Hence, the intensity of public discourse about the conflict in Italy, to which these photos testify. Shot off and on since the war began, they reflect the seriousness that the country attaches to the conflict.
Consisting of adverts, flyers and graffiti, there’s a particularly progressive sensibility conveyed by the images that’s typically Torino, a cosmopolitan city with a long history of left politics.
Not all of the images are partisan, though. Some of them are just about taking inventory, like the photo of the Ukrainian government fundraising flyer below (second from last), shot outside Torino’s main train station.
And some of the images reflect my musical tastes. Looking for flyers of potential gigs to go to, I came across two for hardcore shows at a local squat, one of which was a benefit for Ukrainian anarchists.
The final photo is a self-indictment of Italy’s role in the war, as IVECO has supplied light armoured vehicles to the Russian army in recent years. Not tanks, as the graffiti in the final image says, but the Humvee-style Lynx.
For those familiar with Italian military hardware, destroyed Lynxes have featured prominently in foreign news media. If the reporting is accurate, Russia appears to have lost a significant number to Ukrainian fire.
Italy did try to sell a tank-like vehicle to the Russian army a decade ago, a wheeled tank destroyer called the Centauro, but it was unsuccessful.
Under review is a proposal to export 50 Leopard I tanks to Ukraine. Built under license from Germany during the Cold War, Berlin has vacillated on approving the deal.
Photographs courtesy of the author. All rights reserved.