One year on from the clash of the titans in Ukraine: Results and lessons learned (1)

Brussels – Written by Elijah J. Magnier:

The second year of the Russian invasion of Ukraine has begun with a new world, significantly changed since the start of the war last February 2022. Continents are divided among themselves, alliances have changed remarkably, the West is more isolated and less dominant, and Russia is winning the battle at home and in Ukraine, despite the losses. It was a decidedly arrogant and lousy idea for the US to think it could defeat Russia, regardless of the economic consequences for the world, when Moscow demanded a security guarantee before sending its troops into Ukraine. The world is witnessing the caesarean birth of a multipolar system after the US emerged to fight Russia through NATO, of which Moscow had been a close observer for many years. 

For three decades, Russia trusted that the West would take it into its club, only to discover recently that the hateful US wanted to subjugate or tame the Kremlin but keep it far away, on the periphery. Russia has repeatedly asked to join NATO, but its application has been rejected to avoid having two superpowers in the same organisation and to prevent Moscow from vetoing any new member’s will to join, as required by the NATO constitution. 

Washington has actively overthrown several leaders, occupied and impoverished many nations by destroying their countries, sanctioning entire populations, displacing tens of millions of people and families, and killing and wounding millions more. Moscow built an empire in Eastern Europe, but the US established over 750 military bases in 80 countries. The unaccountable US and NATO nations carried out illegal interventions in the affairs of other countries because of the absolute supremacy of the US empire since the Second World War, which was strengthened after perestroika in 1991. 

With the return of Russia to the international arena from the Syrian window in 2015, the US felt the heat and the beginning of the challenge to its hegemony. NATO enlargement was the US’s powerful hope – and tool – to rally more partners behind it in its future confrontation with the powerful, no longer communist Kremlin. It was necessary for the survival of the US as a superpower to confront Russia on the battlefield through a proxy country to avoid a third world war. The US haggled over Ukraine, drawing Russia into its arena. But Washington found that nearly 75 per cent of the population had given up on its quest, unwilling to support its war and to put “America first” ahead of their interests.

Instead of US dominance and unilateralism, many countries, such as India, Brazil, South Africa and China, are joining Russia in speaking out against Washington without necessarily declaring outright hostility. Sixteen per cent of the world’s population stands with the US against Russia. Many of these countries fear being sanctioned by Washington. This doesn’t mean that the rest of the world is on Russia’s side, but that it is fed up with the US’s unjust domination, violation of international law and destructive wars. However, the countries that stand for a multipolar world offer a new model of cooperation based on the many lessons learned from the US wars.

What has this war achieved? What lessons can be drawn after a year of fierce fighting?

Many people worldwide no longer believe or pay attention to the US narrative of exporting ‘democracy’, ‘human rights’ or ‘freedom’, values used to overthrow several nations and remove elected leaders. A year of the war is not about Russia’s expansion or a change of strategy to become an empire again. It is about precisely what Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said when he was told that the American people thought they were giving too much to Ukraine: “If they don’t change their minds, if they don’t support Ukraine, they will lose NATO and they will lose their leadership in the world.” 

In fact, this is about reviving the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, which was a dead brain, as described by French President Emmanuel Macron and confirmed by President Joe Biden, who told the world why he was fighting Russia in Ukraine. “It’s not about Ukraine. It’s about NATO. It’s about Eastern Europe,” declared the US president. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said, “The war in Ukraine did not start last February. It started in 2014,” referring to the Maidan coup against an elected Ukrainian president.

US-led NATO and Ukraine believed it was possible to defeat Russia, cripple its economy with thousands of sanctions and remove President Vladimir Putin from power after only a few months of fighting. These exaggerated and unrealistic US goals, presented to European allies to convince them to do more to support Ukraine, proved an illusion, as confirmed by EU leader and NATO member Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. By dragging its allies into the war in Ukraine (and in all wars in recent decades), the US caused great pain to Europe, a supposed natural ally of Russia, especially when European leaders orchestrated sanctions against Russia. EU officials deliberately ignored the boomerang effect on the economies of every single European nation. 

President Biden managed to separate Germany, his main target in this war, from Russia and sabotaged the Russian-German Nord Stream pipeline with no accountability and a muted European response. The price of being a US ally is fatal, said Henry Kissinger. President Donald Trump tried his best to separate Russia and Germany. Still, he failed because of Germany’s policy of distancing itself from US hegemony under Angela Merkel, which is far from the case under Chancellor Olaf Scholz. 

It was important for the US to stop Russia’s growing economy and see hundreds of billions of euros from selling cheap gas to the European continent into Russian coffers. It was more affordable for the US to fight now than when the growing economies of Russia and China became uncontrollable, especially when the US deficit had reached $31.4 trillion. Russia and China have become rich countries with powerful militaries threatening US dominance in the next decade unless a war reshapes the world economy.