Thousands of Italians have demonstrated across the country in Rome, Florence and Genoa against Western sanctions imposed on Russia and transfer of lethal military hardware to Ukraine, a day after the first anniversary of the Ukraine-Russia war.
The protesters chanted “No to war” and “Peace”, demanding an end to the war and urging the Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s government stop supplying Kiev with weapons.
A march was held in Rome under the name “Europe for Peace”, with contributions from non-governmental organizations. The anti-war protesters also held demonstrations in Milan, Italy's second-largest city, Pisa, Florence, and Lecce among several other cities.
“We represent the majority of public opinion that does not want war but wants peace. We are not only pacifists, we are radically against any war and the goal we want to achieve is to overcome war as an instrument for regulating conflicts between states,” said Maurizio Landini, a socialist in Rome.
In Genoa, people took to the streets and chanted “Exit Italy from NATO”, calling for Italy’s withdrawal from the European Union and NATO. Other slogans such as “Down the guns, raise the wages” were also shouted.
“We know well that the problem is another and it is this system that produces this war. We are workers, students, we are different souls. As the polls also show, there is 60% of Italians who are against the sending of arms and against this military adventure,” said one of the protesters.
“We are convinced that the lifting of sanctions against Russia and the end of this useless conflict is an urgent need. Our vision is to restore relations with our Russian friends and work for the good of the world,” another demonstrator said.
The demonstrators believe that Rome’s pro-EU policy and confrontation with Russia have led to detrimental economic consequences for Italians, who are suffering due to Washington’s plan to deprive Europe of Russian energy resources.
Italy's PM Meloni has repeatedly said that supporting Ukraine is the best way to reach a possible negotiated settlement with Moscow and that Rome aims to be a lead player in that regard and in Ukraine’s reconstruction.
This is while prices in Italy rose by 8.1 percent in 2022, hitting a 37-year high, due to soaring energy and food prices linked primarily to the conflict in Ukraine and the related rearmament spending that all members of the bloc are engaged in.
The war between Ukraine and Russia has massively increased oil and gas prices as both Russia and the West play hydrocarbon supplies as a bargaining chip to force the other’s hand.
The market price of fuels and electricity has adjusted accordingly, triggering double-digit energy inflation.
On Saturday, anti-war protests were also held in other major capitals across Europe such as Berlin, London, and Paris, calling for an end to the war in Ukraine.
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