Russia-Ukraine: A New Geopolitical Confrontation

We are facing the end of Western dominance. The problem is serious and must be followed hour by hour because it could get out of control. The actors are going to rearrange themselves and seek alliances. The world of the future will be more conflictive than we have seen in the last 25 or 30 years.

Russia-Ukraine: A New Geopolitical Confrontation
Conflict between Russia and Ukraine is evidence of changes in the world order. Photo by Max Kukurudziak / Unsplash

With the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, we are facing the inauguration of a new geopolitical confrontation and, therefore, far from certainties. The world, as we know it, is in the debate of its reconstruction and what is happening in that part of the planet is only the beginning of a rearrangement and the demand for a new agreement between the great powers, said experts at UNAM.

During the conference "The great game of the 21st century. Ukraine: General Reflections", organized by the Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas (IIJ), Arturo Oropeza García, academic of the entity, considered: "We are before the "great game of empires" where there are three actors at the table, which lead a new order that will accompany us in the 21st century: We are facing the "great game of empires" where there are three actors at the table, which lead a new order that will accompany us in the 21st century.

Ariel González Levaggi, from the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina, agreed that this is a crisis that will last a few more weeks. Despite the military deployment, the chances of an armed conflict are still low, and there may be an opportunity for diplomacy. The conflagration expresses the changes taking place in the international order, where there are increasingly balanced powers in the "triangle" Russia, China, and the United States.

For Francisco Javier Haro Navejas, from the University of Colima, it is not possible to guarantee the behavior of the actors, nor to determine what they will do; but what can be said is that we are facing a reconfiguration and that the coming months will be months in which they will rearrange themselves and seek alliances.

Cassio Luiselli Fernandez, a member of the University Program of Development Studies, considered that Ukraine is perceived by the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, as part of his zone of influence. It is one of the ex-Soviet countries that have most rapidly and forcefully embraced democracy and that tried to approach Western institutions such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). "But Russia is not willing to let it go, because it is geopolitically vital to that Federation."

Attentive to the cannons

Oropeza García continued with his intervention and said: we are facing the "chronicle of a clash foretold" that had been going on since the end of the last century, where the official international actors had not wanted to take note because "it was not expected that this type of confrontation would grow to what would seem a military escalation supported by 130 thousand soldiers that are surrounding Ukraine. It's not minor what's going on."

The big question is whether Russia, with a gross domestic product less than Brazil's, really has the power to confront and bring its military to the table as a radical measure to demand recognition as power and to compete with China, the United States, or the European Union. "Economically the answer is no, but in the face of cannons and military clash we must be vigilant."

We are in the presence of the end of Western domination for economic reasons, and the rebirth of Asian societies on a large scale, with Russia as a relevant actor.

Furthermore, we must ask ourselves whether NATO still operates as such and whether what we consider Westernism, that is, the automatic alliance of the 27 countries of the European Union with the United States, still survives; we see that this is not the case and that the rivalry, isolation, division, and divorce between these parties persists today more than ever, and in the face of this "Russia takes note".

Cassio Luiselli recalled that Ukraine is not a minor country; with an area similar to that of Spain and 45 million inhabitants, it is the breadbasket of Europe and Russia, it counts in the geopolitics and restructuring of the "Eurasian massif". It is also a nation with complex relations with Russia and has been besieged by its neighbor over time.

The United States views the problem with concern; President Biden is talking about retaliation against Russia, which we don't know what it is, and for the time being, it could not be military, but the conflict is serious and needs to be followed hour by hour because it can get out of hand. "I think Ukraine will not be able to gravitate towards the West so easily."

Haro Navejas agreed that more than certainties there are questions: how long will the close relationship built by Putin and Xi Jinping, leaders of Russia and China, last. "That is fundamental; it seems to me that it is explosive. The Russian president is not someone who puts up with being subservient to another state."

The other is whether Germany and France will be able to build a security system of their own, without US domination and, in the same sense, what kind of system it would be: an essentially European one, without Russia, or one that guarantees, if not the inclusion of the Russians, at least their non-exclusion, he said.

In González Levaggi's opinion, the situation in that part of the world expresses a new crisis of the international norms and rules that have been a fundamental element of global stability within the framework of an international liberal order, and also the resurgence of the Russian Federation in world politics.

We are moving, he considered, towards a more balanced world, in a game that has a big question mark: whether a Eurasian axis will be established or whether the relations between Russia and China demonstrate a marriage of convenience, which will determine the freedom of action of the United States, whose hegemonic decline is quite clear.

The world of the future is going to resemble that of the past, where there were several powers disputing leadership, which will give rise to a more conflictive planet than we have seen in the last 25 or 30 years, he concluded.