Putin has already won the war in Ukraine by Zelensky already conceding that he’s dumped the idea of NATO membership, Martin Jay writes.
The Ukraine war is setting new geopolitical precedents around the world, which is making it hard for analysts to draw up the usual ‘winners and losers’ listicle usually offered. China, without question is looking more like a winner when we consider not only the new deals it has struck both in Russia, buying up oil firms’ assets at bargain prices, but also setting a new paradigm for its relations with Washington which recently sent one of its top mandarins to threaten it, if it continued to assist Russia in its war in the Ukraine. It ignored Washington and has come out of the closet and backed Russia on many levels, firming up the triplet of eastern powers – Russia, China and India – and their positioning in the world’s economy even more.
And then there is Saudi Arabia, whose mercurial leader, the young crown prince called “MBS” has never really got over how Donald Trump abandoned him during a rather awkward baptism of opprobrium from the world’s press over the ghastly murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Fast forward to Joe Biden taking office and the Saudis didn’t lose anytime in opening up channels of diplomacy and cooperation brainstorming with Moscow, confident that when their own people’s uprising kicks off – and it will one day – that Russia might be there for them, as it was in Syria for Assad.
The Saudis are actually doing alright now with much higher oil prices and their relations with China improving every day. As a smack in the face from MBS to Biden, the former recently just ignored his calls to produce more oil as the midterms loom, which will be felt by the Democrats at the polls when votes are lost due to high energy prices blamed on Biden. It’s a similar story with Boris Johnson and MBS who recently sent the British leader away with a flea in his ear when he asked the Crown Prince for a better oil deal. So much for the special relationship with the very country that created the very family – Saud – which now owns what is now called Saudi Arabia. No prisoners, Boris.
With China, it’s a win-win. MBS gets revenge against the U.S. which still wants it to be a lap dog and accept the tenets of U.S. hegemony, while selling more oil to China, in Yuan which hits the U.S. even harder. China also gets to show the Americans that they really aren’t the superpower they think they are by dumping the dollar for oil sales and looking at the new ‘Eastern bloc’ model which is where really the whole Ukraine war is taking us.
A brutal and simple binary world, where everything is neatly divided into two groups, whose people and businesses are discouraged from crossing the line into one and other’s camp. Think new Cold War with Russia, China, India and most of Asia on one side with its own banking system which replaces Swift, its own internet and internet rules, own eBay, own Facebook, own currencies (including crypto) and a new world order which probably dumps U.S. weapons and banking altogether, as well as western energy markets.
But there will be casualties when the body bags are counted and an analysis done. Relations between Russia and Turkey are probably going to be very bad, certainly as long as Recep Erdogan remains in office as Putin is not going to forgive him for supplying deadly Turkish drones to the Ukrainian forces and closing the Bosporus – despite the charade of both countries foreign ministers’ meetings in Moscow. Other divisions will be notable within NATO and EU countries as it becomes clear that both these organisations have deeply rooted cultural and political problems both internally and across the board which simply don’t allow them to take on bold tasks when the moment is presented. The three eastern European countries presently visiting Ukraine will feel very let down by most other EU member states and NATO partners, when their fears are not adhered to. They will inevitably develop stronger ties with the Zelensky administration while becoming more acerbic towards Brussels and its authoritarian manner.
And the EU hardly come out well either. Some may ask, when peace finally comes and it will be the EU expected to bankroll at least 10 billion euros in reconstruction aid, could the EU have done something earlier to have prevented the escalation, given that it was Brussels as far back as 2004 which has been signalling to Ukraine to consider itself a candidate for membership. Let’s not forget also that part of the price of playing tough, the EU will have to accept that its own actions also have led to Moscow dumping euros as part of its cash reserves and using the Chinese clearing system for its banks more and more. We can certainly expect more division and in-fighting, as we saw earlier when EU member states couldn’t agree on the terms of Covid restructuring aid, when it is discussed how much money should go to Ukraine and Zelensky’s deeply corrupt business elite. Putin, in the meantime, has already won the war in Ukraine by Zelensky already conceding that he’s dumped the idea of NATO membership, which is a considerable blow to its credibility as an amalgamation of new countries join the Russia-China-India business/geopolitical bloc. Those who point to Putin and lamely accuse him of being a Soviet anachronism fail to see the irony of the West playing a big role in provoking him since the early nineties when the broken promises of NATOs expansion east begun. Or, for that matter, the Stalinist mentality behind the EU’s decision to cut off Russia’s media from the rest of the world which reminds me of Nazis burning books in the late 30s.