The conflict in Ukraine can turn to be nothing but the first act of the great geopolitical transformation. What will it be like?
The state of play at international markets makes it increasingly difficult to review the Ukrainian crisis in isolation from global processes, as a kind of regional challenge. More and more opinions are heard this is not a local war at all but something that will sooner or later act as a catalyst for major global shifts. It is possible that new fronts will appear soon, for example, in Southeast Asia, around the island of Taiwan as one of the central topics of US-China contradictions.
Not the only point of intersection of major players’ interests, Ukraine actually turned out to be a “bottleneck” that triggered the “avalanche of sanctions” on the already deep crisis in relations between the West and Russia. What is at stake for them is not the right to control Ukraine but rather the ability to demonstrate their geopolitical aspirations and opportunities to satisfy them. Russia is now aggressively demanding that the West recognize its right to decide the fate of countries and regions on an equal footing, at least in the post-Soviet space.
The fact that the Ukrainian events did turn into reality suggests that the international institutions tasked with deterrence and control are no longer effective. New ones are not in place yet, which means that the world will continue to become more unstable. Therefore, the war in Ukraine can be safely called the first act of a great transformation of the global world.
The Moscow-instigated fracture of the existing world order prompts the West to respond and act as cohesively as possible in order to seize the strategic initiative. The other day, the American president said that the world is at a turning point and the United States must determine the outcome of this process. According to Biden, Washington must lead the world order and unite all free and democratic states around the United States.
The war in Ukraine, although it may sound as an overstatement, indeed marks the end of the post-Soviet unipolar world era. Against the growing confrontation between the United States and China, countries such as Great Britain, France, Turkey, India and Russia are increasingly assertive in their leadership – or at least “stand-alone subjectivity” – bids. Most likely, they will be the designers of the future world order and regional blocks that are to frame the new-look political map of the world.
After the US withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021 and the actual defeat in Syria, Washington apparently lacks the necessary amount of resources, authority and public support despite its rather strong global ambitions. This explains why US is so restrained in responding to Russia’s assertiveness. There is no doubt that the whole world is keeping a watchful eye on the American administration’s moves and, most likely, certain influential capitals will act accordingly as the situation evolves.
A look at the map shows one important detail – most of the population and countries of the globe did not support Western sanctions against Russia. This can be perceived both as a principled rejection of solidarity and a protest from the “third world” who is waiting for the final outcome to opt for a “winner”, or not to opt at all. Unless the White House’s stance is more articulate, the countries that initially backed sanctions may also abandon them over time, out of concern for their national interests.
The architecture of the previous world is being deeply eroded, and this can be traced even in the behavior of the traditional US allies from the Persian Gulf countries, who are much less disciplined in responding to Washington’s requests. This can speed up changes in the global financial system already today, causing the weakening of the US dollar which is now the main reserve currency in the world.
The results of Joe Biden’s tour to Europe last week gave reason to suggest that the collective West has finally shown its true colors, and actually got away with it after years-long efforts to make the Ukrainian elites believe they are protected and affiliated with the common geopolitical space of the United States. It seems that Ukraine is about to be left alone with Russia. The existing level of support and supplies will certainly remain but more military aid can hardly be expected.
Ukraine managing to endure will significantly bolster the status and the authority of the United States as a global leader and postpone the transition to a multipolar world order. In this case, a major achievement will be that Washington could arrive at the desired result without activating its military resources, but merely imposing tough sanctions which were supported by the main allies and satellites.
Russia achieving its goals will deal a serious blow to the West and its claims to exercise global control over world processes. Ukraine being defeated will seriously challenge the West’s standing as the dominant force. This can explain why Russia is tacitly supported by China, Iran, the Arab world, Turkey, and some African states – not so much out of their pro-Moscow sympathies, but out of desire to shatter the current international system and emerge as co-founders of a new world order.
Due to its small military and economic potential, Moldova hasn’t yet turned into the scene of a fierce confrontation between the West and Moscow. However, one way or another, our small republic is also a concentration of interests of both global and regional players. This poses serious risks, but at the same time opens up more opportunities. Therefore, the country’s leadership should demonstrate their maximum responsibility and do everything to help our land turn not into a place of another geopolitical fracture but that of stability where new game rules are defined.