Five ways the Russian invasion of Ukraine upended the world order
The 100 days since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine have seen Europe destabilized, the world economy weakened and the world order turned upside down.
But Russian President Vladimir Putin remains in power and despite the hard blows to the Russian economy and the failures of the military campaign shows no signs of backing down.
Here, AFP examines what has changed since February 24 – and what hasn’t.
– Putin’s pariah –
Before Russia launched the invasion, Putin was a frequent, if thorny, interlocutor with Western capitals. French President Emmanuel Macron even welcomed him into his vacation home in the summer of 2019.
But now Western leaders are unhesitatingly describing him as a ‘dictator’ and a ‘war criminal’, with the Russian leader isolated and his henchmen like Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov – once a frequent visitor to the West – sanctioned .
Yet in his own country, despite persistent unconfirmed rumors about his health and discontent within the inner circle, Putin appears to be in control for now and even has support for war on Ukraine.
– Maps still torn –
Russia failed in its original aim of a lightning offensive that would take control of Kyiv, encountering far greater Ukrainian resistance than the Kremlin had anticipated.
But even now, Russian forces are entrenched deep inside Ukrainian territory, with Moscow determined to seize the entire eastern region of the largely Russian-speaking Donbass.
Russia has already undertaken such blatant reshuffling of maps, with its 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, never recognized by the international community.
And since Putin is still in no rush to step down, it’s still unclear what his ultimate goals might be.
If the Donbass falls, the strategic Ukrainian port of Odessa to the west could be in the “line of fire”, geographer and former diplomat Michel Foucher told AFP.
“The period that is beginning is not favorable for Ukrainians,” he said.
– Russian alliances –
But while the EU, UK and US have shown themselves to be relatively united – despite differences in strategy – on the need to pressure Russia, this position has by no means been shared in the whole world.
China has never explicitly condemned the Russian offensive and Moscow has taken advantage of its isolation by the West to forge Beijing-Moscow ties, a historically strained relationship dating back to Soviet times.
India, one of Russia’s key global allies, particularly in arms sales, has been similarly circumspect.
And NATO-member Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been careful not to sever ties with Moscow even as Ukraine uses Turkish drones.
Steven Gruzd, head of the African governance and diplomacy program at the South African Institute of International Affairs, said most countries among the BRICS groups of emerging economies had been “very reluctant” to condemn the invasion.
“I think in Africa some countries are saying they want to stay neutral like South Africa, but that is being interpreted as supporting Russia in the situation,” he said.
– A different NATO –
Prior to February 24, the issue of NATO membership for non-aligned EU members Finland and Sweden was far from high on the political agenda of the Nordic countries.
But now Finland, which has a land border with Russia, and Sweden, whose Baltic maritime rivalry with the country dates back centuries, have both filed applications for NATO membership.
Meanwhile, the United States and its European allies have sent thousands more troops to help protect NATO borders with Russia in Poland and the Baltic states.
All of this is contrary to Putin’s stated war goal of keeping Russia out of NATO’s reach. It also pushed Macron’s view that the EU takes responsibility for its own security back onto the agenda.
– Sanctions with global impact –
Western powers have agreed to the toughest sanctions ever imposed on Russia, seeking to cut it off from much of the global economy and hurt Putin politically.
But the restrictions also risk harming consumers outside Russia. Russia is a major global grain supplier and Europeans still depend on its energy supplies. The EU agreed to a limited ban on Russian oil, but gas would mark another milestone.
The effects of war are felt around the world, affecting economic growth, supply chains, and the food and energy sectors. It has raised fears of a food crisis, especially in North African countries dependent on Russian imports, Gruzd said.
“Who knows what particular effects it may have: it may be uprisings, it may be protests. So even if it happens very far away, in this interconnected world, it most certainly feels in the Global South,” he added.