How The Russian-Ukrainian Conflict May Be A Precursor To More War Throughout The World.
Article Written By Jett James Pruitt.
There's a good chance 2022 will be known as the year it all started.
As most Americans know, Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24. With the conflict in its third week, fighting continues to intensify in several cities, killing thousands and displacing millions. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), nearly three million people have fled Ukraine to surrounding nations, and the number is expected to rapidly increase in the following weeks.
Aside from the immediate humanitarian impact of the conflict, the war is crippling the global economy. Western nations have enacted sweeping sanctions against the Kremlin in response to its offensive, including freezing international assets, barring banks from the SWIFT messaging system (which allows financial institutions to transport money around the world), and expelling Moscow from the World Trade Organization (WTO).
These recent measures now make Russia the most sanctioned country in the world.
Needless to say, the conflict in Ukraine is of great international concern, and will certainly be etched into the global consciousness for decades to come.
Unfortunately, it may not be the only problem of 2022.
Citizens of North Korea
Tensions between the United States and North Korea are intensifying after Pyongyang fired numerous missiles in violation of international protocol. As of this writing, Pyongyang has launched nine missile tests since January 1, 2022.
On March 10, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby stated North Korea tested a new prototype of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM):
“Based on analysis of these launches, the United States government has concluded that these launches involved a new ICBM system that the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the official name of North Korea] is developing,” Kirby told reporters. “This is a serious escalation by the DPRK.”
Concurrently, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean president-elect Yoon Suk-yeol pledged on March 11, 2022 to strengthen trilateral ties with the United States to ward off North Korea’s aggression.
Yoon — who was elected on March 9th — centered his campaign on toughing Seoul’s stance against its northern counterpart. Specifically, he has called for amplifying defense mechanisms to pressure North Korea into denuclearization. This is in stark contrast to outgoing President Moon Jae-in’s “Sunshine Policy,” which embraced détente to reduce the DPRK’s military development.
South Korean President-Elect, Yoon Suk-yeol
To keep it short, many international pundits predict that Yoon’s foreign policy agenda will contribute to renewed peninsular tensions. While Yoon stated he wants to maintain diplomatic dialogue with North Korea, early signs indicate that relations are not warming anytime soon.
After all, Moon’s efforts to negotiate a formal end to the Korean War have been stalled, and Pyongyang does not appear willing to approach Washington, Seoul, or Tokyo for diplomatic breakthroughs.
Above all, North Korea voted against a March 2 U.N. Resolution condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine. As sanctions strangle the Russian economy, many international pundits fear Moscow will be pressured to strengthen military ties with Pyongyang — an alliance most nations do not want to manifest.
To add even more complexity to current geopolitical events, relations between India and Pakistan are on edge after an Indian missile fired into its neighbor on March 9. New Delhi claims the missile launch was due to a “technical malfunction” during routine maintenance. Dissatisfied by this explanation, Pakistan demanded a joint probe into the origins of the incident and rejected India’s decision to hold an internal inquiry.
“The grave nature of the incident raises several fundamental questions regarding security protocols and technical safeguards against accidental or unauthorized launch of missiles in a nuclearized environment. Such a serious matter cannot be addressed with the simplistic explanation offered by the Indian authorities,” the Pakistani Foreign Office said in a March 12 press statement.
“The Indian decision to hold an internal court of inquiry is not sufficient since the missile ended up in Pakistani territory. Pakistan demands a joint probe to accurately establish the facts surrounding the incident,” it added.
For context, relations between India and Pakistan have historically been hostile. Following the partition of British India in 1947, the two nations dispute possession of the Kashmir region. This conflict has generated three wars between India and Pakistan, as well as instigated several acts of cross-border terrorism. While there have been numerous attempts to thaw tensions, India and Pakistan remain deeply suspicious of each other.
Fortunately, the relationship between the two countries has somewhat improved since February 25, 2022 after they mutually agreed to stop cross-border firing in Kashmir. Moreover, since Pakistan merely wanted clarification from India over its supervision of military equipment, it is likely this incident will be confined to safety protocol.
However, given both Islamabad and New Delhi possess nuclear weapons, the March 9th incident should not be taken lightly by the international community. While no one was killed, the investigation may procure destructive findings, renewing violence and exacerbating distrust.
Put simply, the world is “not out of the woods yet” regarding this matter.
As of this writing, India has yet to respond to the Pakistani Foreign Office’s statement.
So, will distinct conflicts occur simultaneously throughout 2022? In other words, is the Russian-Ukrainian Conflict simply a precursor to even more war throughout the world?
Well, hopefully not. International pundits can only speculate how recent developments will affect long-term relations between the aforementioned countries. So, it is probably best to be optimistic in this age of great uncertainty.
But as former British Prime Minister Sir Harold Wilson once quipped, “A week is a long time in politics.”
Of course, there is some good news in international affairs.
Armenia and Turkey held bilateral talks on March 12, 2022 to reconcile tensions between the two countries. Speaking to reporters, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said he had “very productive and constructive” talks with his Armenian Counterpart, Ararat Mirozyan.
“We are continuing the process of normalizing relations without preconditions,” he noted to foreign press.
Mirroring the Indian-Pakistani conflict, Armenia and Turkey have historically been hostile towards one another. At the center of tensions, Armenia claims the Ottoman Empire (the predecessor to Turkey) orchestrated a genocide of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915. While Turkey acknowledges Armenians were killed in clashes with Ottoman forces during World War I, it denies the killings constituted genocide.
Moreover, Turkey and Armenia have sparred over the Nagorno-Karabakh territory, in which Ankara (capital of Turkey) accuses ethnic Armenians of occupying land belonging to Azerbaijan.
Turkey's Foreign Minster Mevlut Cavusoglu (L) meets with Armenian Counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan (R)
Beginning in 2008, both Ankara and Yerevan (capital of Armenia) attempted to normalize relations via the Zurich Protocols. However, these efforts were ultimately unsuccessful as neither nation ratified the concordat.
Needless to say, the meeting between Turkey and Armenia provides some hope for peace. Given the stark animosity between the two states, the world must give them credit and help them create a blueprint for co-existing, border to border.
Despite this glimmer of hope, the entire world must remain diligent.
As most direct their attention to the developing crisis in Ukraine, it is important to ensure tensions in the Korean Peninsula and Indian Subcontinent do not spill over into a more massive conflict.
Otherwise, 2022 may turn out to be the last year of peace in our adult lives.
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