The significance of Russia’s special military operation (SMO) in Ukraine has gone far beyond the regional framework. Already now, a little over two weeks later, we can state the beginning of serious structural changes in the balance of power on the world stage. And the vector of these changes is quite clear: from the multipolarity long declared in words to its real formation. Which is sometimes accomplished in quite unexpected ways.
Without aiming to give an exhaustive overview of the reactions to the Russian operation in all countries of the world, much less to analyze the content of the sanctions or the lack thereof, let us focus on some of the most significant and sometimes atypical moments.
First of all, Russia’s claim to great power status until February 24, 2022 was insufficiently supported. One could talk a lot about Russia’s successes in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, but this was undermined by the disastrous situation in Ukraine. By refusing to deploy troops, Russia showed weakness, and neither adversaries nor allies respect the weak. There is no doubt that our partners, from China to Iran, have now begun to seriously respect Russia’s real sovereignty and power. This has already triggered a chain reaction.
Public sentiment in China is, to a certain extent, elusive, but we can already see a flurry of sympathy for Russia in the Chinese social networking segment. The Chinese are demonstratively buying up Russian goods at a frantic pace, turning this into a political campaign of support. The importance of official statements by the Chinese Foreign Ministry against the U.S. policy in unison with the Russian position cannot be overestimated. The issue of Taiwan’s liberation immediately after February 24 has become so acute that at any rate during 2022 or 2023 it can be quite expected to be realized. The PLA is carefully studying the combat experience of the Russian Armed Forces.
We see a similar situation in the DPRK, which supported Russia and accelerated its own military training.
The situation in Latin America is determined by the fact that in recent years the absolute majority of countries in the region have had governments that are more or less anti-American, at least trying to pursue a course independent of the United States, despite their limited opportunities. Not only the ALBA countries (longtime allies of Russia), but also Mexico and especially Argentina have shown themselves to be reliable partners of Russia and China, which, incidentally, have recently recalled the problem of the British occupation of the Malvinas Islands.
All this was to be expected; what was really unexpected was Jair Bolsonaro’s sharp change of course towards the pro-Russian direction in Brazil. His chances of being re-elected for a second term are highly questionable (and if Lula da Silva wins, Brazil’s rapprochement with Russia will only accelerate), but the deep rejection of the “Trumpist” Bolsonaro by the Biden government and other Western leaders has inevitably led him to make some very strong statements supporting Russia (he called Vladimir Putin one of the most powerful men in the world) and concluding favorable treaties with our country. Thus, the dominance of the globalist discourse was shaken in both the “left” and the “right” countries of Latin America. Given the pro-Russian position of some Trumpists in the U.S. and the unprecedented popular uprising in Canada, suppressed by the globalists through the dismantling of formal democracy and the introduction of Trudeau’s police tyranny, one can state the tectonic shifts in the New World towards genuine multipolarity of regional centers of power, not always visible on the surface.
Recent years, especially 2021 and the first months of 2022, have seriously changed the balance of power in Africa. Unfortunately, not everyone in the Russian information space was aware of the importance of establishing a strong Russian dominance in the CAR, Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea, and ousting French neocolonialism from these countries. Only now, when there are rallies of many thousands under Russian flags there, and professional military personnel from these countries are going to go to Ukraine to fight on our side in gratitude to Russia, the scale of the imperceptible shift in the Sahel region becomes clear. However, cadres from other countries (Congo, Cameroon) are also declaring their intention to join the Russian SMO.
The balance of power in East Africa is more complicated: the establishment of a Russian naval base on the Red Sea in Port Sudan is proceeding at its own pace, but the cards have largely been shuffled by the worst civil war in Ethiopia with active interference in it by neighbors. In view of the unexpected support for Russia from the previously hostile Eritrean regime of Afwerki, we can talk about radical changes in this region as well.
Isaias Afwerki is an Eritrean politician who has been president of Eritrea since shortly after he led the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) to victory in May 1991, ending the 30-year-old war for independence from Ethiopia.
Still, perhaps the most impressive development of the Ukrainian operation was the absolutely incredible scale of support for Russia in the Arab countries. This applies both to the governments of a number of countries and to public opinion even in countries with unfriendly governments. From the first days of the operation, rallies under Russian flags and other actions in support of the USO in Ukraine swept Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Palestine. Now experienced fighters from these countries, as well as from Egypt, Algeria, and Libya are beginning to travel to Ukraine to participate in the operation. But, let us stress, the mass pro-Russian mood of the Arab street is even more important than the fact of direct Arab participation in these events. Ukraine is too strongly associated with Israel and the West in these countries.
For many years, official Moscow’s position on establishing permanent contacts with all Arab governments, even those that are hostile and at war with each other, has been criticized. Only now the positive effect of such a policy has become apparent, with Russia putting its eggs in several baskets at once. Even traditionally pro-American Riyadh and Abu Dhabi refused to talk to Biden about oil prices. The presidents of Egypt, Sudan and Syria publicly supported Russia. The Husi government in Yemen immediately recognized the independence of the DNR and LNR and began talks with Abkhazia on mutual recognition.
The Maghreb region, however, now attracts the most attention. Algeria, under President Tebboun, has been going hand in hand with Russia in pushing France out of the Sahel for more than a year. It is no coincidence that Algeria’s support of Russia at the UN. Western Sahara (SADR), which is a satellite of Algeria, immediately de jure recognized the independence of the DPR and LPR. As for Egypt as the most powerful country in North Africa, it is no coincidence that immediately after his conversation with Vladimir Putin, President Sisi again released to the public Ahmed Qaddaf al-Dama with a statement of support for Russia. It should be taken into account that this cousin of Muammar Gaddafi, who lives in Egypt, always speaks out only when Sisi intends to take radical anti-Western steps.
At the same time, the ongoing war of all against all in Libya presented an unexpected turn, which was a consequence of the Russian SMO in Ukraine. While for many years the Tripoli pro-Turkish Sarraj-Bashagha government was openly hostile to Russia, although Moscow never interrupted its contacts with it, after the establishment of the internationally recognized Dbeiba government, the situation has changed dramatically. Bashagha, who was out of action and ignored by Biden, carried out another military coup in Tripoli, and the city was again divided into quarters between fighters of different factions. The Russian Foreign Ministry, contrary to all expectations, supported Bashagha against Dbeiba, which correlates with a clear shift in Erdogan’s position towards greater loyalty to Russia.
The case of Israel is extremely curious. Despite the presence of a large and aggressive pro-Ukrainian lobby, something happened that would have been impossible under Netanyahu: the Benet-Lapid government convincingly and unequivocally rejected Kiev’s harassment and supported Moscow as openly as is possible for Israel. Tel Aviv’s sober calculation is obvious: in case of an anti-Russian stance, Moscow would strongly support all anti-Zionist forces in the Islamic world, something Israel is very afraid of.
The validity of these fears was brilliantly confirmed on the night of March 13 when Iran struck American and Israeli targets in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan, with the Iranian side directly citing Russia’s actions in Ukraine as an inspiring example. Ayatollah Khamenei’s recent speech about the West abandoning its puppet regimes in Afghanistan and Ukraine is further evidence of this.
It is hardly necessary to elaborate on how the Russian operation in Ukraine has affected the entire post-Soviet space. Russia’s new exceptionally favorable treaties with Azerbaijan and Armenia, Georgia and Moldova’s frightened distancing from Ukraine, and their surprisingly soft tone toward Russia speak for themselves. Integration of Belarus with Russia reached an unprecedented military level, while Transnistria once again demanded the recognition of its independence, which against the background of recent unrest in Gagauzia, as well as transport and fuel collapse in Moldova, calls into question the future of this territory as well. Of course, the whole range of problems in the CIS space is also possible (first of all, in terms of irrepressible multi-vector nature of Kazakhstan). But the Ukrainian operation has radically sobered up even the most fronting post-Soviet elites. Never before would Ilham Aliyev have gone for the signing of such a comprehensive treaty, unequivocally beneficial to Russia, as he has decided to do now.
Moreover, even in the Baltics pro-Russian sentiments have soared (most obviously in Lithuania, where since last year there has been a split in society over the issue of geopolitical orientation) that the authorities are hysterical in imposing criminal penalties for the most innocent words and blocking many resources, realizing that without the harshest police dictatorship, the future of Russophobe Atlanticist regimes in this region will be in huge doubt within a few years. Even if not now and not under Biden, but in ten years denazification may reach the Baltics, and no NATO membership will help then.
The geopolitical and, even more so, the geo-economic future of Europe looks very bleak. The U.S. has managed to drive Europe into a suicidal position in which the most likely outcome remains the degradation of European industry and the final transfer of hegemony to the space of English-speaking countries. Undoubtedly, there are voices in favor of Russia in the European political field (Alternative for Germany and part of the Left in Germany, Eric Zemmour in France, the Alba Party in Scotland, etc.), but under the current regime of totalitarian neoliberalism, the chances of changing the dominant agenda in Western Europe are extremely small. At the same time, a significant share of Hungary’s sovereignty, the tough conflict between pro-Russian and pro-Western forces in Slovakia and Croatia, the apparent shift of Bulgaria’s ruling elite towards Russia (amid popular rallies in support of our country) speak of certain shoots of a future multipolarity in Eastern Europe.
Even more impressive is the unprecedented mass spontaneous support for Russia in the streets of Serbia, Montenegro, Northern Macedonia, and Republika Srpska. The transition to real multipolarity, among other things, could mean a “return of history” to the Balkans in the near future, with the Dayton Accords and the fictitious Bosnian “state” sure to be the first victims of change.
Summarizing all of the above, it should be emphasized that the theses of liberal political scientists about the alleged obsolescence of direct control of territory and ground wars in the twenty-first century have turned out to be completely false. Those who were dead set against Syria, Libya, and Yemen now have an epiphany about Ukraine. Classical geopolitics has once again regally confirmed the truth of its foundations. The Kremlin calculated that the benefits of controlling the former Ukraine would more than compensate for any possible losses from sanctions (however, the U.S. also rightly concluded that it was more profitable to get rid of toxic Ukraine for the sake of a qualitative new stage of European enslavement). The price of sanctions by the West and its very few (exclusively East Asian and Pacific) satellites was a sharp acceleration in the formation of real sovereignty of other poles of power on all continents and a rift within the former pro-American bloc. Not a single state in Africa or Latin America (even the most pro-Western ones) has imposed sanctions against Russia. Turkey, Israel or India have not done so, contrary to the aspirations of many globalists.
The degree of support for Russia, not only where it was expected and predictable, but also in completely new parts of the world, has surpassed all forecasts. The change of moods in the elites of the regions of the world is evident. And if at the local level for Russia and the entire former Ukraine February 24, 2022 washed away the shame of February 24, 2014, at the global level Russia had the honor of being the first in the world (the Taliban hardly counts) to deliver a sharp forceful blow, testing the weakened Atlanticist hegemon to the strength. There is no doubt that other blows will follow, especially since Victoria Nuland recently outspokenly predicted the fall of the American presence in Taipei and Baghdad, immediately following Kabul and Kiev. And then everywhere else. The millstones of geopolitics grind their flour inexorably.