Shifts Towards Multi Polarity


Photo source: Al Majalla

By Naveed Qazi | Editor, Globe Upfront

In July 2023, NATO issued the ninety-point agenda at Vilnius Summit Communique widely seen as ‘a historic moment for the future of European security, and Ukraine’s in particular.’ The take-away from it was that Russia’s war in Ukraine will continue.

The NATO Summit culminated with leaders from thirty one countries making a significant announcement. Ukraine had been offered an invitation to join NATO. However, the reality is that Ukraine was not yet deemed ready for membership. This has left the international community wondering about the timeline and specifics of Ukraine's eventual participation in the Atlanticist alliance.

It also shows that some strategic plots seem to be at play. Ukraine finds itself in a complex position. While NATO appears to be postponing Kiev's membership, it simultaneously presses Ukraine to pursue its own aspirations. The reason becomes apparent upon closer analysis: Ukraine's entry into NATO could potentially ignite a larger conflict, the NATO-Russia War, which could spiral into World War III, and the ominous chance of nuclear weapons usage looms large.

Europe, particularly key players like Germany and France, are reluctant to give a green light for Ukraine's NATO accession. The US, too, has its reservations at this stage, as it seeks to avoid an imminent global war. Instead, Washington aims to fine tune its global stance, moving away from a previous globalisation action that failed to benefit its interests and unknowingly bolstered China.

The US appears to be opting for a long-term strategy, engaging in an erosive war with Russia, thereby escalating a Second Cold War that was set in motion during the Donald Trump era, although his diplomacy was more focused on Beijing.

In this intricate geopolitical scenario, it appears unlikely that Ukraine will join NATO anytime soon. Equally, Russia may not meet the stringent requirements outlined in the Vilnius Summit's communique.

Remarkably, the Ukraine War has already surpassed seventeen months, and the parallels with the Soviet Union's nine-year protracted conflict in Afghanistan are very striking. This war looms large for Moscow, with a much wider span to contend with. It could span another five years or even longer, a timeline that seems to align with the US's likely plan.

Amid NATO expansion, there are several military challenges for Russia. The US may be banking for a regime change within Russia, which can change a strategic viewpoint leaning towards the US during this protracted conflict. Although, the continuous strain of a war economy on Moscow may eventually lead to public discontent, furthering internal turmoil.

To maintain its military manpower, Russia has even raised the maximum military conscription age from twenty seven to thirty, highlighting the challenges faced in assembling a large pool of trained soldiers. This is why mercenary structures like Wagner are needed, even if they pose challenges themselves.
Meanwhile, the west, especially Europe, copes with its own set of socio-economic problems. Escalating living costs, surging energy prices, inflation, economic contractions, an influx of Ukrainian refugees, rising unemployment, and growing public dissent against the war illustrate a sorry picture.

France has experienced uprisings that nearly resemble a civil war, while Germany's decision to distance itself from Russian energy has dealt a severe blow to its industries and economy.
Amidst all this, the US appears to be the sole benefactor in the ongoing conflict. Safeguarding its interests without risking the lives of its soldiers, the US channelises itself in the global struggle. Through its actions, it both challenges Russia and strengthens NATO and Europe behind its cause.

Defense budgets of NATO countries are soaring, its arms and energy sector are revitalised, and its market share expands. It has culminated in an anti-Russian stronghold in the Baltic Sea, even securing the participation of Finland and Sweden on NATO's northern flank.

Despite this, the US has faced challenges to its global hegemony. The situation in West Asia and China's expanding influence are just a few examples of the changing dynamics. Traditional allies like Saudi Arabia are seeking cooperation with Beijing through projects like the Belt and Road while Iran maintains resilience despite sanctions, forging ties with Persian Gulf states such as Qatar and the UAE.

Russia and Saudi Arabia's increasing energy collaboration further underscores the shifting landscape, while India defiantly continues to buy weapons from Russia. These developments are contributing to a natural evolution towards multipolarity, with various countries asserting their interests and pursuing independent paths.

Efforts to reduce the reliance on the US dollar are indicative of this trend. Nonetheless, the US remains committed to fighting this struggle to preserve its global leadership and hegemony, despite being aware that time may be working in China's favour.

One notable development occurred in July, 2022, when Russia, Ukraine, and the UN signed the Black Sea Grain Initiative with Turkiye’s mediation. The goal was to facilitate the safe export of cereals, foodstuffs, ammonia, and fertilisers from Ukrainian ports.

Simultaneously, Russia signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the UN Secretariat to support the sale of Russian food and fertiliser products to global markets. However, due to embargoes, SWIFT and insurance barriers, Russia was unable to export any grain and fertiliser.

But Russia withdrew from the agreement in 2023. It turned out that in Africa, the claim that people are at risk of starving because Ukraine can't access grain is not true. Only twelve percent of the grain exported from Ukraine in a year was sent to the continent, and forty percent was instead directed to Europe.



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