The war in Ukraine, a change of era in world geopolitics


Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, ordered by President Vladimir Putin a month ago, has meant a change of era and, according to a group of analysts, conflict is a turning point of the same magnitude as the end of the World War II or the fall of the Berlin Wall.

This war on Ukrainian territory -at the gates of the European Union- has turned the Block of Twenty-seven into a key player on the international stage. EU member countries have shown unusual unity and, for the first time in their history, they are going to finance the purchase of lethal weapons for nations in conflict.

According to some experts, after the war the United States will continue to play an important role, although increasingly threatened by the growth of China. Russia will also have it, although the professor of Contemporary History at the National Distance Education University (UNED), Isidro Sepúlveda, explains to that will not have the “conditions to play a leading role.”

a change of era

The day February 24th Putin ordered the start of a “special military operation” in Ukraine, which would end up being the beginning of the invasion of the country, and which in a month has shaken the foundations of Europe. Some analysts believe that there will be a before and after after this conflict.

The senior analyst of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), François Heisbourg, stated in his speech at the seminar ‘War&Peace in the 21st Century’ of the Center for International Analysis of Barcelona (CIDOB), which must be take the war in Ukraine “as a change of era”. In this sense, he pointed out that in the last 75 years in Europe there has been “three great turning points”. “One was in the late 1940s, another in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and now we have another of the same magnitude,” Heisbourg said, referring to the end of the World War II and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

For his part, in the same seminar, the professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University, John Ikenberry, assured that “Putin’s invasion is really a seismic shift in the world order” and stressed that Russia “is trying to create a different kind of international order” with the aim of “build around it a Eurasian sphere of influence.” However, according to Ikenberry, “we see the opposite effect, a moment in which liberal democracies have the opportunity to breathe new life into the Western liberal order.

The war in Ukraine, according to Sepúlveda, has caused new powers are emerging. “During the Cold War there were two superpowers. When the Soviet Union disappeared, only the United States remained. Now Russia wants to be one of three, the European Union wants to be one of four and India exactly the same”, explains the expert, who adds that “We are going to see how many top-tier international agents are left on the new board.”

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The EU grows as a geopolitical actor

The European Union, a bloc of countries that until now has had a relative influence and always following in the footsteps of the United States, seems to have developed the ability to fortify oneself in the face of unforeseen circumstances: from the end of the Soviet Union to the Brexit or the COVID-19 pandemic.

The war in Ukraine has been no less and the countries of the European Union have taken quick decisions of great importance and demonstrating an unusual unit, even despite the difficulties, since some of the sanctions imposed are also going to affect the national economies of the Twenty-seven.

“The European Union has done what it sometimes does in its history, moving forward in a time of crisis,” Heisbourg said. “Here we have the mother of all crises”, he added.

Here we have the mother of all crises

According to the research director of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), Jeremy Shapiro, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine starting a month ago, “we have seen a largest transatlantic unit we have seen in a long time” and the European Union “has grown to a greater degree as a geopolitical actor”. “Putin has done more for the integration of the European Union than anyone. This is a huge cultural shift that will have lasting effects,” he asserted.

Europe has also had militarily dependent role of Washingtonbut now, for the first time in its history, the Twenty-Seven will finance the purchase of lethal weapons for countries that are attacked, a great change for a bloc that was originally created to defend peace.

The professor of International Relations at the University of Nebrija, Gracia Abad, points out to that in the European Union “there is a willingness to develop a much clearer role as a political and military power than there was a few years ago.” “Many specialists argue that the EU, in developing its capabilities and power, especially in the military field, lacked potential and what it lacked was will. It seems that the current situation endows him with that will”, he asserts.

For his part, Sepúlveda warns that “we have to be aware of what may come to us, because the changes are going to be transcendental.” “Either the European countries react – and they have reacted surprisingly well to this challenge – or not only they can be condemned to the absolute trivialitybut condemned to be pawns of powers like during the Cold War, where they were pawns in a geopolitical chess game played by the powers”, indicates the UNED professor.

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The future role of the United States

During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union were the two great powers on the planet. Once the conflict is over, Washington remained the world’s only superpower.. However, it is now increasingly threatened by the China’s growth in all aspects.

Shapiro explained in his speech at the CIDOB seminar that “US policy was focused on China because he understood that it was his main threat”, something that assures that “it will be sustained after the crisis in Ukraine”. He also noted that Washington “will continue to ask the European Union to stand up and take responsibility for security in its region and to deal with the Russian problem with less help from the United States.”

For his part, the professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University assured that “China is looking for their own version of the post-liberal order” and opined that Beijing “is not happy with what Russia is doing in Ukraine” because “It gives authoritarianism a bad name.”

Both Gracia Abad and Isidro Sepúlveda agree that The United States will continue to play an important role after the war in Ukraine. The Nebrija University professor affirms that Washington “will continue to be the great Western power and will continue to assume the leadership of NATOalthough the European contribution is definitely greater and more determined”.

In this sense, Sepúlveda emphasizes that “at the international level there is no power comparable to the United States in any region of the globe or as a whole” and that “for decades, The United States will persist as a great military and geopolitical power.

A new government in Russia

The disintegration in 1991 of the Soviet Union, which extended its geopolitical influence for 70 years, left the newly created Russia in an identity crisis. After the Cold War, the United States and other Western countries they did not return to treating Moscow as the great power that was the Soviet Union. Furthermore, one of the most painful events for Moscow was the expansion of the Atlantic Alliance towards Eastern Europe. Both the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and a significant number of his compatriots they yearn for the time when their nation was a great power.

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Professor Sepúlveda believes that, after the war in Ukraine, Russia “will play an important role in the coming decades”, since “it is a continent in itself”. “It is the largest state, it also has a very important demographic and, in addition, it is a granary of natural resources, fundamentally first-rate energy”, indicates the expert, who emphasizes that “Neither by economy, nor by demographics, nor by possession, is it in a position to play a leading role.”

For her part, Gracia Abad emphasizes that “whatever happens”, Moscow “will suffer a lot after this aggression” and that Russia “will be the big loser”. “It has been a terribly deadly option for Russia’s interests. The economic consequences are going to last for possibly decades,” she states. In addition, the Nebrija University professor points out that “politically, reestablishing the trust that might exist is very complicated” and states that “on the global board, if there were two powers outside the West, which were Russia and China, then from the war Russia has gone down many rungs while China is going to go up many others”.

As for Moscow’s relations with Brussels, According to the IISS senior analyst at the CIDOB seminar, “until there is no other type of government in Russiathere is not going to be any serious chance that the European Union will welcome Russia with open arms.”

In this sense, Sepúlveda indicates that the President Putin’s future “will depend a lot on how long the war lasts”. “If the siege of kyiv is ended and (Russia) conquers all of eastern and southern Ukraine in two months, it would be a great victory for Putin and it would have some continuity. If this does not succeed and if he tries to occupy the whole of Ukraine with the resistance that he is going to have, this would mean not only the disappearance of Putin, but the end of his regime”, he opines. “Putin has played Peter ‘The Great’ and enter the pages of Russian history as a new conqueror, but he was calculating a week-long war, which would even allow other adventures later. Having seen the result and the misconduct of the war, evidently there will be no new adventures”asserts


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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