BANGKOK (AP) — On the eve of the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the battlefield has narrowed and dogged resistance has forced Moscow to reduce its military targets, but the diplomatic fallout from the war still reverberates around the world. .
The war has reshaped global alliances, stirred up old fears and breathed new life into NATO and US-European ties.RELATED
The invasion has sparked a rapprochement between Moscow and Beijing, as well as the rogue states of Iran and North Korea. It has also raised questions about sovereignty, security and the use of military power, and intensified fears about China’s plans for Taiwan.
“The war highlights the interrelationship between diplomacy and the use of force from a point of view that no one has thought about for many, many years,” says Ian Lesser, vice president of the German research institute Marshall Fund.
The invasion of Russian forces on February 24, 2022 “signified the total end of the post-Cold War world,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida declared last month during a speech at Johns Hopkins University. “It has come to light that globalization and interdependence alone do not guarantee peace and development across the globe.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin says Ukraine is an “integral part” of Russian history that has never achieved “true statehood,” the same position Chinese President Xi Jinping holds on Taiwan, an autonomous island claimed by Beijing.
Six months after the invasion of Ukraine, China issued a white paper on Taiwan saying the island “has been an integral part of China’s territory since ancient times.” The document says that Beijing aspires to “peaceful reunification” but that it “will not renounce the use of force.”
China’s intentions toward Taiwan date back to long before the war in Ukraine, but Beijing has stepped up the pressure in the past year, including launching ballistic missiles on the island and in Japanese waters in August following a visit by the then-president. from the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi to Taipei.
If the West allows Russia to succeed in Ukraine, China could be emboldened by its vision of an international order “divergent from ours and which we can never accept,” Kishida warned.
The Japanese prime minister has vowed to use Japan’s G7 presidency this year to strengthen “the unity of like-minded countries” against Russian aggression. “If we allow this forcible change of the status quo to go unpunished, it will happen in other parts of the world, including Asia,” he warned.
A Chinese invasion of Taiwan would be far more complicated than Russia’s attack on Ukraine, explains Euan Graham, a Singapore-based expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).
“Russia’s incompetent performance on the battlefield in Ukraine gives any high-ranking military or politician in China pause about an adventure on a much more ambitious scale in Taiwan,” Graham adds.
But the fear is real. Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen referred to the war in Ukraine when announcing the extension of military service in December.
“They have learned from the Ukraine the lesson that you have to have a bigger military reserve if there is a conflict,” says Graham.
North Korea, which has threatened to preemptively use its nuclear weapons in a wide range of scenarios, was already a cause for concern in the region, but Russia’s hint that it might use its nuclear weapons in Ukraine raised new fears.
South Korea, protected by the US “nuclear umbrella”, last year expanded military operations with US forces that had been reduced under the Trump administration. Seoul is asking for fresh assurances that Washington will quickly deploy its atomic weapons in the event of a North Korean nuclear attack.
North Korea has provided strong military support to its neighbor Russia. Last year, the United States accused Pyongyang of supplying Russia with artillery shells.
Iran also gives military aid to Russia, supplying it with the bomb-carrying drones used to attack power plants and civilian sites across Ukraine.
The Western allies have collaborated closely in their responses to the war, but have faced the diplomatic challenge of convincing the rest of the world of the significance of the invasion.
Only a handful of Asian countries have cracked down on Moscow, and many abstained on a United Nations resolution condemning the attack.
Weeks before the invasion, China proclaimed its “unlimited” friendship with Russia. Beijing has refused to criticize the war and has increased its purchases of oil and gas, helping Moscow to counter Western sanctions.
However, there are signs of “complex fault lines” in the China-Russia relationship, Jude Blanchette, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), warned in a telephone press conference.
During talks in September in Uzbekistan, the Chinese president expressed unspecified “concerns” to Putin regarding the invasion, while at the same time vowing to give “strong support” to Russia’s “core interests.”
“I think if Xi Jinping could snap his fingers, he would like to see the war end, but in such a way that Putin remains in power and Russia remains a strong strategic partner,” Blanchette added.
India, heavily dependent on Russia for its military equipment, also abstained from the UN resolution and continues to buy Russian oil.
However, as regional rival China closes in on Russia, India has quietly turned to the United States, especially within the Quad partnership, which includes Japan and Australia, says Viraj Solanki, an expert at the IISS center.
In Europe, the invasion has reinvigorated NATO after a barrage of criticism from then-President Trump led French President Emmanuel Macron to declare the alliance “brain dead.”
NATO member countries and allies have come together to help Ukraine, amending rules that prohibited the export of weapons to countries in conflict. Most notably, perhaps, is that Germany overcame its post-World War II taboos to send Leopard tanks.
The war prompted Finland and Sweden to apply for NATO membership, something most experts believe will happen in the coming months.
Last year, NATO first singled out China as a strategic challenge, though not a direct adversary. The alliance warned of Beijing’s growing military ambitions, its aggressive rhetoric and its tightening of relations with Russia.
Beyond NATO, the war highlighted the importance of the relationship between the United States and the European Union, which Lesser said has been “absolutely crucial” for sanctions and export controls.
China maintains that it was the United States that started the Ukrainian crisis, in part through the expansion of NATO into eastern European countries. Beijing has criticized the alliance for suggesting the war could influence China’s actions in Asia.
“NATO claims to be a regional organization, but it continues to open territory and field, stirring up conflicts, creating tension, exaggerating threats and encouraging confrontation,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Thursday.
The long-term consequences of the war are difficult to predict, but according to Lesser one thing is indisputable: it will be “very difficult for Russia to recover from the damage to its reputation on many levels.”
A group of countries like Syria, North Korea, Iran and Venezuela “may feel inclined to continue supporting Russia,” he adds, but in terms of broader diplomacy, Russia’s reputation “has taken a tremendous blow.”
Associated Press writers Lorne Cook in Brussels and Jon Gambrell in Dubai contributed to this report.