The proliferation of different crises on the global stage remains ongoing; modern history is replete with successive crises, primarily the disputes among major global powers and the geopolitical competition between rising regional powers. Such competition has global repercussions given the interconnectivity and overlapping nature of economic relations in the modern era. These crises are developing amid the attempts of the United States and its allies in the West to maintain the existing world order and ensure its survival in the face of emerging powers.
This analysis provides a brief overview of the international scene, particularly in the context of the Russia-Ukraine dispute over the past few weeks. First, it sheds light on the new developments in the context of the Russia-Ukraine war. Second, it discusses the Black Sea grain deal and assesses Turkish mediation efforts regarding this matter. Third, it touches on the continuation of Western military support for Ukraine versus the attempts to de-escalate. Finally, it concludes, in short, by reviewing the policies that have influenced the global stage over the past period.
Russia-Ukraine War Updates
The Russia-Ukraine war is swinging like a pendulum with no signs of the conflict resolving in the near future. Moreover, the conflict that has cast a shadow over international relations and breached international norms has become a litmus test for the future of the global order and the extent to which global and rising powers are willing to go to carve out spheres of influence in extended geographical zones.
Following the remarks by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in which he expressed the legitimacy of the ground offensive against Russian forces and the scope of its impact, repeated drone attacks commenced targeting Russian territories — as happened in Russia’s Kursk and Rostov border areas. Kyiv initiated the attacks but did not accept responsibility. These attacks were against the backdrop of continual Russian missile attacks on Ukrainian territories, such as the attack on the city of Chernihiv in northern Ukraine. The Russian Ministry of Defense announced that it had aborted a Ukrainian drone attack over Moscow’s region of Kirovskii while the unmanned vehicle was heading toward the Russian capital.
Ukraine’s counteroffensive strategy appeared successful at the start in deterring Russian forces and revitalizing the morale of Ukraine’s ground forces, with the aim to liberate highly strategic Ukrainian regions that had fallen into Russian hands. Russia’s military lethargy could render Ukraine’s and its European allies’ military strategy against Russia successful in the coming period. The strategy is centered on attrition and prolonging the conflict on the ground to exhaust Russian forces. The war is still swinging back and forth in the Ukrainian regions that Russia announced it had annexed. According to a Washington Post report, the desired Ukrainian triumph in the battle appears to be far-fetched. In addition, the options available to Ukraine and its counteroffensive strategy are quickly diminishing.
The Black Sea Grain Deal and Assessing Turkish Mediation Efforts
Regarding the economic repercussions of the Russia-Ukraine war, challenges arise with the disruption of supply chains and the cancellation of the Black Sea grain deal that Moscow suspended in July. The latter poses a significant danger to many countries, particularly to the African continent. The deal that was mediated by Turkey and the UN and renewed three times, aimed to ensure the safe passage of grain-carrying ships to and from the Ukrainian ports of Odessa, Chornomorsk and Pevdeny; all these ports are located on the Black Sea and are under the control of the Ukrainian Sea Port Authority. Despite Russia suspending this deal, Ukraine did not stand idle but accelerated talks with Romania to export grain via Romanian territories. The two sides reached an agreement to jointly ensure the export of grain and Romania’s Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu hopes to raise the share of Ukrainian grain exports via his country to 60%.
The Russians have put forward conditions to resume the grain deal, primarily the easing of Western sanctions. Moscow sees these sanctions as violating the second part of the deal, which involves Russian food items and fertilizer accessing international markets. Russo-Turkish relations could be considered as a possible means to resume the grain deal, however, the current trajectory of bilateral relations does not suggest that there will be any positive move in this regard. This hope arose despite Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dismissing this possibility.
Russo-Turkish relations have ebbed and flowed after Erdogan’s victory in the Turkish presidential election and the inclination he showed to improve ties with the West. He also approved Sweden’s accession to NATO, made positive remarks supporting Ukraine’s NATO membership and handed over five Ukrainian commanders to Kyiv on the sidelines of Zelenskyy’s recent visit to Turkey. They had been handed over to Ankara by Moscow under the condition that they would not be given to Ukraine until the war ends. These moves by Erdogan are reflective of his need to attract Western investments to help the ailing Turkish economy and national currency.
The Continuation of Russia’s Military Assistance Versus Attempts to Achieve Peace
The United States and its allies in the West continue to help Kyiv militarily. The deployment of US F-16 fighter jets from the Netherlands and Denmark to Ukraine was recently approved by the United States. Taking into account its potential consequences and provocation to the Russian side, which obviously fears losing its air superiority over Ukraine, the deployment is reflective of the escalation of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. However, training Ukrainian pilots on the F-16 fighter jets takes several months. Last week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, unveiled a $200 million security assistance package to Ukraine that includes air defense ammunition, artillery missiles, defensive capabilities and extra mine-clearing equipment.
On the other side, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia hosted a peace conference on Ukraine, where aspirations to revive dialogue and de-escalate the conflict were rekindled. This is despite concerns that diplomacy would be ineffective in light of the continued military escalation. Given its geopolitical and economic standing at the global level, Saudi Arabia took the initiative to converge viewpoints and craft options for a peaceful end to the conflict. The following three points reflect the key aspects of the conference:
- Saudi Arabia’s ability to act as a mediator and coordinate with both the Russians and Ukrainians as well as with other regional and international actors. The country’s international influence was evident in its role in past prisoner swap deals as well as in the number of countries that participated in the Ukraine peace conference.
- Saudi Arabia took advantage of its strong ties with both sides, which boosts the prospect of de-escalation despite the Russians not attending the conference.
- The participation of major powers from both the West and neutral camps and their hope of accelerating efforts to end the Russia-Ukraine conflict given its implications for the global order and international norms.
We can draw several conclusions after analyzing the international landscape, orientations and the repercussions of the Russia-Ukraine conflict:
- The Russia-Ukraine dispute continues, with both sides aiming to exhaust each other on the ground. The Ukrainian forces and their Western backers hope that cracks appear in the ranks of Russia’s forces following the Wagner mutiny. However, the Ukrainian counteroffensive seems far from achieving its desired objectives two months after its launch. With the United States’ approval, the countries that support Kyiv, in particular the Netherlands and Denmark, continue to supply fighter jets and provide other forms of military assistance. By resorting to Romania to export Ukrainian grain, the Western camp attempted to ramp up its efforts to isolate Russia and find alternatives to the supply chain routes that are threatened by Russia.
- In its foreign policy approximations, the United States is putting much emphasis on the Russia-Ukraine war. However, it is also focusing on how best to contain China and tilting toward the Indo-Pacific region, as evidence by its efforts to bring closer the viewpoints between Japan and South Korea. The United States invited leaders from Tokyo and Seoul to Camp David to unify efforts against China, which is escalating against Taiwan, after Taiwan’s vice president and frontrunner in the presidential election stopped in the US route to and from Paraguay. The major and rising powers play vital roles on the global stage. In the context of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Saudi Arabia presented itself as an effective mediator, capable of bringing together countries with diverging viewpoints to the diplomatic table. Although there are signs of tensions with Russia, Turkey nevertheless wants to maintain cordial ties with both parties to the dispute to continue its efforts to extend the grain deal and implement its pragmatic policies. While Turkey is aware of Russia’s need for it, it also recognizes the necessity of having strong ties with the West.
- The Russia-Ukraine crisis has global repercussions, particularly for African countries that are centers of global conflict, with successive coups such as the one in Niger, further inflaming instability across the continent. These countries are stuck between a rock and a hard place; the Western powers and Russia’s Wagner. The global repercussions of the Russia-Ukraine conflict provided momentum for the BRICS summit that was held in South Africa. This economic bloc is growing within the existing status quo. BRICS member countries prioritized food security and the implications of the Russia-Ukraine conflict on the African continent at the summit. In addition, the summit discussed issues related to expanding the bloc; accordingly the world order will face further challenges as countries will seriously consider more reliable alternatives — amid the emergence of various powers in geographically scattered regions that will end the traditional dichotomy of the East-West dispute.