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Ukraine is just the beginning: war is not just an Eastern European problem

Ukraine is just the beginning: war is not just an Eastern European problem

Despite the various insinuations and euphemisms used by the Kremlin’s official channels to refer to the war in Ukraine, the reality has been this way from the beginning Putin’s true goals became clear. The subjugation of Ukraine to Russia was merely a move on the complex board set up internationally, the first deployment of pieces in a scenario that some described as disorder, and in reality they should have recognized that it was so a process of global reorganization.

In fact, already in the first month of the conflict, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov assured that “it is not about Ukraine at all, but about the world order,” adding that it was, however, a fateful moment that defines modern history. And the fact is that the demands made as an ultimatum by the Kremlin in December 2021, if accepted, would have meant the end of the Western defense architecture in Central and Eastern Europe and would also have entailed restrictions on the sovereignty of states after the fall of the Soviet regime, that they were looking for the protection of NATO’s protective umbrella and the political and economic support of the European Union. Among the demands was the withdrawal of the United States’ nuclear weapons in Europe, which had been a key element of the continent’s defensive and strategic cover for 75 years.

Nothing new so far. The real problem is this Neither in the United States nor apparently in some parts of Europe do they seem to have realized what is really at stake. From former President Trump’s mass rallies we receive alarming statements that seem to confirm the nationalist and populist tendencies of the presumptive candidate on security and defense policy, who is applauded by his supporters for words that freeze the blood in the veins of every European should leave minimal historical knowledge (including from our allies across the pond). Anyone in Europe who thinks this is an Eastern problem is wrong.and those in the United States who think this is a European problem are wrong.

However, the fact is that in Washington the arguments are once again being heard in favor of a withdrawal of the United States from the international stage, a decision that would have devastating consequences at the global level and leaves gaps that would undoubtedly be promptly filled with actors who could keep in check the stability that has been so laboriously achieved in recent decades. In reality, this transatlantic divide is nothing more than a necessary step towards the Kremlin’s goal, a condition without which a new order, which Lavrov had already described as “post-Western” in 2017, could not be established.

A “post-Western” order that would leave international architecture behind which, in the eyes of Moscow and Beijing, would have slowed down their expansion efforts over the past decades. A “post-Western” order that would return perverse idea of ​​spheres of power, regions and countries whose sovereignty would not only be questioned but directly destroyedby reducing their governments and citizens to the role of puppets in a great power play.

So does this mean China and Russia are working together?

No. Although they share the goal of weakening the unity of the West Their geopolitical interests are contradictory and their realities are very different.. The paradox is that it is probably Beijing that has reaped most of the rewards of the relative global stability of the last three quarters of a century. But China is running out of time as it faces various crises (from demographic to financial to energy, among others) that could well lead to China disappearing as a protagonist in this film and Beijing becoming an unpredictable factor. Xi Jinping would welcome the developments in Ukraine because, like Lavrov, he understands that this is much more than just a conflict over Kiev’s sovereignty, a distraction that also serves as a pressure valve to ease tensions in the Pacific while at the same time To weaken the North Atlantic axis.

We are therefore faced with a bleak picture, with an increasingly complicated situation in Ukraine and an international situation that does not invite optimism, in which certain sectors are beginning to doubt the need for further economic and military support for Kiev. What Zelensky and the Ukrainians heroically avoided with the overwhelming defeat of the Russians in the early stages of the war, Putin could now well achieve the traditional Russian tactic of sending troops to the front until the enemy is tired. Faced with the impossibility of getting more support from the West and determined not to recognize the significance of what is really at stake, Kiev’s resistance may well come to an end.

A Russian victory would lead to a more dangerous and unstable world with a wounded and unpredictable China and the United States determined to follow the ostrich tactic.

And Europe?

We will see how they react in Brussels, Paris, Berlin, Warsaw or Rome. We have to decide what role we want to play. In a multipolar or “post-Western” world, the West must take the reins of its destiny, knowing that the external threat is becoming ever more real in a world without structure. Europe must wake up and look for common solutions in a hostile context.

*Borja de Arístegui is Professor of Geopolitics at IE University.

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