The Russian-Ukrainian conflict has been going on for nearly four months. As time has passed, the global impact of the war has become more and more obvious. Fuel prices are rising and food is getting more expensive. This no longer affects only the two parties to the conflict: the world is paying for the current situation.
The situation in Ukraine has a complex historical background and context. The current issues are the result of interplay between various factors. The hegemonic expansion of the United States is the underlying reason for the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. NATO, led by the United States, has ignored Russia’s security demands, reneged on its commitments, and violated both its promise not to expand eastward and the principle of indivisible security. NATO has disregarded Russian concerns and expanded eastward on five separate occasions, narrowing Russia’s strategic space and triggering Russian opposition. In the Asia-Pacific region, we are very concerned about this situation getting out of hand because of the US’s "Indo-Pacific strategy," which is yet another form of NATO expansion.
Ukraine, on the other hand, has fallen into the tragedy of small power politics. It is extremely irresponsible for the United States to have pushed Ukraine into the abyss of confrontation with a major power. Ukraine currently stands to lose the most from this great power game, while Europe will bear the huge costs of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. European companies have severed ties with Russia, while many refugees from Ukraine have flocked to Europe. At the same time, US businessmen far from the battlefield have made a fortune in crude oil reselling. History tells us how the United States caught up with its then-hegemon—the British Empire— during World Wars I and II. We of course remember the contributions of all countries in the war against fascism.
In this war in Ukraine, we have seen the most terrifying of battlefields: the "cognitive war" launched by the West. All international communication channels are controlled by the West. We can see Western accusations against Russia, but it is hard to hear the Russian side of the story, since Russian media with any international audience has been shut down by the West. The world is inherently diverse, and in such a one-sided international communications environment, we become more aware of the importance of this diversity. Breaking the US’s monopoly and building a new global system of governance grounded in multi-polarization, economic globalization, social informatization, cultural diversification, and democratized international relations has become a demonstrable necessity for today’s world.
Sanctions vs. Recovery
Ordinary people are paying for economic sanctions. As a result of the pandemic, the global economy is in a downturn. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has put global economic recovery at risk. The World Bank expects Ukraine’s economy to shrink by 45.1 percent this year, while Russia’s economy has already plunged into a deep recession with output projected to contract by 11.2 percent in 2022. The conflict has also dealt a blow to emerging and developing economies in Europe and Central Asia, the latter of which was already heading for an economic slowdown this year due to the ongoing effects of the pandemic. The World Trade Organization predicts that the Russia-Ukraine conflict will have serious repercussions for the global economy and has reduced forecasted global trade growth for 2022 from 4.7 percent to between 2.4 and 3 percent.
The Russia-Ukraine war has had two significant ramifications for the global economy. First, it triggered a global food crisis, especially in Africa and the Middle East. Eighty percent of Egypt’s wheat supply is imported from Russia and Ukraine. This year, Ukraine missed out on its agricultural season because of the conflict, which means the country might shift from grain exporter to importer, while its food shortage will worsen. Impoverished areas and refugees will be the first to feel the effects of these changes.
The other important repercussion of the conflict is the energy crisis. Russia is the world’s largest exporter of natural gas and second largest exporter of oil. Since the conflict began, international oil prices have risen sharply as a result of Western sanctions and market panic, and at one point approached $140 USD per barrel. As oil and gas prices continue to rise, low- and middle-income households could fall into energy poverty.
China Upholds Multilateralism
China’s basic approach to the Ukraine question is to encourage peace talks. China does not want to see the conflict escalate: its sole desire is peace. China’s development requires a stable international environment. As Deng Xiaoping has pointed out: "In China, the overriding need is for stability. Without a stable environment, we can accomplish nothing and may even lose what we have gained." We firmly believe that peace and development remain relevant and we are willing to work with the international community to together defend hard-won progress and peace around the world.
However, hegemony and unilateralism remain fundamental threats to world peace and development. For the good of humanity, the Cold War mentality must be completely abandoned, and a balanced, effective, and sustainable European security mechanism must be established through dialogue and negotiation. We advocate respect for the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, and we oppose forcing small and medium-sized nations into geopolitical games. We cherish our peace in the Asia-Pacific region, and the US’s "Indo-Pacific strategy" poses a risk to regional security.
In sum, as President Xi Jinping has said, the world is witnessing unprecedented changes. Given the volatility of international dynamics, the international community must work together to deal with various crises and commit to a path towards peace and development for the good of all people.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are solely the author’s and are not necessarily endorsed by the publisher.