2024 GEOSTRATEGIC STUDY Russia – Ukraine War


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GEOSTRATEGIC STUDY

Russia – Ukraine War

Prepared by the staff team of ACAR

April 1, 2024

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Abstract

This paper looks at the proxy war between the West led by the United States and Russia. Though the current phase of the war began on 22nd February 2022, it actually began in 2014. Two long years after Russia intervened, Ukraine is on the verge of losing the war despite the massive propaganda and plethora of sanctions imposed on Russia. In this paper, we take another look at the pathways to the causes and effects of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, and the likely outcomes.

What are the likely options open to NATO at this current stage of the war? Would there be a third world war and what type of war would it be? In which theatre will it be fought and what would be the likely outcome for the world. For now, there is mounting loss of human lives as well as massive destruction of physical architectures of Ukraine in addition to some disruptions of international supply chain, insurance, payments and settlements systems. Across the globe, overwhelming high inflationary environments have become the order of the day and in Africa several countries face soaring food, fertilizer, gas and crude oil prices. Whether in the Global South or North, the working people of the world continue to suffer from dire impacts of the war and the associated sanctions.

One thing is however clear. At the end of this war, Ukraine as we know it today might not be in existence and if it does, it would be a pale shadow of its former self. Another possible outcome of the war would be the emergence of a parallel international payments and settlements systems as well as several major currencies acting as reserve currencies outside the United States’ dollar.

Introduction

Since the beginning of 2024, a number of notable events have transpired on the geopolitical front. The fragility of United States’ hegemonic position has further weakened primarily due to events that drive disunity at home, the uncritical support for Israel, the demands to compete for renewal of mandate in the fall of 2024 and the effects of her domestic debt hitting the three trillion-dollar mark backed by no real production. Despite the foregoing, she continues to successfully realign her vassals (Great Britain, France, Germany, and Japan) as well as other members of her tributary states behind her quest to retain and sustain unipolarity using NATO as its main vehicle.

Matters are also not helped with the likelihood of President Trump’s re-election to the White House this year and the threat that poses to the survival of NATO. With President Trump, the likelihood of NATO at its weakest and retreating is real. By announcing a special military exercise in the Ukrainian Donbass region and sustaining the war for two years despite the overt and covert involvement of the West, Russia has succeeded in challenging America’s hegemony and its rule-based system. Due to this Russia’s singular action, other nations now have the opportunity to take independent stance on a range of global concerns.

There is no doubt that there are several rapid changes occurring within the geopolitical environment flowing from the Russian-Ukraine War, Israel’s occupation of Palestine, United States’ China Containment Policy and weaponisation of the United States’ dollar as international reserve currency. The first of these changes relate to the birthing of a multipolar world to replace US’s unipolar hegemony. The other movements have to do with the emergence of other world currencies to contest the primacy of the United States’ Dollar as world’s reserve currency and the struggle of Africa to get rid of foreign military bases.

This paper examines how important these major movements in international geopolitics are likely to change the face of West Africa, in particular, and the rest of the world in general. The discourse also reviews what the real motives of the West’s continuing support for Ukraine are and concludes that the current proxy war is being used by imperialism as prelude to confront China, reverse its socialist gains and whip all popular forces of the Global force back to line.

The Russia-Ukraine War

Current Status

The current status of the war has changed the geopolitical reality on the ground. To begin with, the borders of both Ukraine and Russia countries have undergone changes since 1991 and to such an extent that it is no longer a pre-condition for any negotiation between the belligerent parties. Secondly, four former Ukrainian territories namely Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson and Zaporozhye had voted in a 2023 referendum to become part of Russia. Meanwhile, additional territories to the west have been conquered and yet to be integrated into Russia. As more of Ukraine territory are taken it will become untenable for a sovereign Ukraine to exist.

Ukraine is in this present situation because she has literally run out of weapons, artillery, missiles, munitions and personnel to prosecute a successful war. For several reasons, NATO is currently unable to provide and meet the required demands of Ukraine. Few members of the military organisation are able to meet the agreed threshold of contributing 2% of their respective GDP towards military spending. Though, the Secretary General has recently assured the bloc that a total of 18 members would meet the agreed levels in 2024 the situation remains dire and has serious consequences for the bloc’s munition and armament production.

The other reason has to do with the United States’ presidential elections in November, 2024. Certainly, the upcoming election will be re-contest between former President Donald Trump of the Republican Party and President Joe Biden of the Democratic Party. With the latter’s invisible bag and a not-so-healthy domestic economy, the likelihood of Trump’s victory is strengthening though these are the early days yet. In the event of Trump’s electoral victory, his past complaint about viability of NATO will remain an existential threat to the block unless the constituent members line up to contribute to their respective defence bills.

Chronology of Events

To enhance our knowledge of what brought us to the current level of global crisis, we need to examine the roots of the current Russia-Ukraine War. The conflict, itself, is traceable to the demise of the Soviet Union in the 1980s and its consequential fall-outs which provided NATO with the opportunity to expand eastwards in the face of weak Russia. This leverage enabled the West under the leadership of United States to swallow up several former territories of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union.

However, the Ukraine problem first started in 1997 with NATO establishing a special purpose vehicle known as the NATO-Ukraine Partnership. The object of this partnership is to ultimately integrate Ukraine into the West away from the ambit of Russia. This partnership was later followed by the NATO-Ukraine Action Plan in 2002 which spelt in clear terms the required steps Ukraine had to follow in order to be assimilated into NATO. Although Russia strongly protested, she was ignored by both NATO and the United States.

Then the neo-Nazi coup happened in February 2014 supported by the West. It would be recalled that this coup overthrew the democratically elected government of Victor Yanukovych. Most political analysts believed that it was this turn of events and its subsequent Maidan pogroms[1] which set the stage for the current war between Russia and Ukraine. Following the pogroms, the Ukrainian provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk rejected the sovereign authority of the government in Kiev and called a referendum to decide the future of the provinces. It was when both provinces voted and elected to be independent[2] from Ukraine that the Kiev Government launched a civil war to crush the separatists.

To resolve and settle the main differences between the separatists and government, the Minsk Agreement was reached and signed in 2015 at the initiative of Russia, France and Germany. The main outcome of the Minsk Agreement gave special independent status to the separatist provinces within Ukraine and permitted them to use the Russian language in everyday transactions. However, the Kiev Government never implemented the pact, choosing instead to de-Russianise the population of the Donbass region through legal and legislative measures[3]. This non-implementation of the Minsk Agreement further fuelled the conflict in the Donbass. The resultant effect saw the West and NATO recognising Ukraine as an Enhanced Opportunities Partner by June 2020. This turn of event increased pressure on Russia to respond finally to the heightened threats to her national security.

In her reaction, Russia presented a draft treaty to the United States and NATO in December of 2021 in which she offered a number of strategic measures aimed at dampening the threat to Europe’s security architecture and ensuring global peace. Her main concern then was to prevent Ukraine from being used as a military bridgehead to attack her. Russia was willing to negotiate and sign a new legally binding nuclear treaties[4] or renew existing ones which will lead to the removal of Ballistic Missile Defence Systems (BMDs[5]) from Poland and Romania, contingent upon receiving an assurance regarding a halt to NATO’s further eastward expansion to her borders. Once more, the US and NATO disregarded these proposals. To show their contempt for Russia, the West went ahead and under the ruse of advancing the NATO-Ukraine Distinctive Partnership, trained 35,000 Ukrainian defence forces in offensive, urban and electronic warfare tools. Russia never took kindly to this act and saw it as preparation by Ukraine and its backers for a military operation planned to begin in March 2022 to retake the Donbass region.

This was followed in January 2022 when Russia warned she would take additional measures to protect her national security and went ahead on 22nd February 2022 to fully recognise as independent republics outside Ukraine the two provinces of Lugansk and Donetsk. This action of Russia was meant to pre-empt the United States’ and NATO’s proxy war to retake Donbass and Crimea in March 2022. On the next day, Moscow deployed hundreds of thousands of troops into Ukraine’s Donbass to support the separatists’ declaration. The present conflict became a reality on February 25th, 2022 when Russia launched its formal special military operation.

Of course, Russia provided a number of justifications to legitimize its decision and actions to the irritation of the West and horror to the Global South. The most important of the several reasons include NATO’s eastward expansion to Russia’s border and Ukraine’s neutrality. Russia’s main argument at the time was that Ukraine has Soviet Union era nuclear infrastructure that could facilitate her building of fissile weapons with the potential of endangering her national security. Most analysts at the time believed such missiles would reduce the overall time to hit Moscow and other major cities to less than five minutes. Russia was also of the view that the refusal of the United States and NATO to renew legally binding nuclear treaties or enter into new agreements to reduce NATO’s striking time to Russian cities was a ploy to militarise and use Ukraine against her. She therefore saw her action as one that would necessitate Ukraine’s[6] demilitarisation and de-Nazification.

Response to Russia’s Special Military Exercise By The West

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation immediately rallied its members, non-members of the EU and G7 to impose wide-ranging sanctions on Russia. Specifically, Russia was subjected to a number of sanctions ranging from the seizure of billions of her foreign exchange dollar reserves in G7 countries, restrictions on her industries to access international high-tech markets, destruction of $260 billion[7] worth of annual trade between Russia and the EU, cancellation of the Nord Stream II Gas Pipeline Project to isolation of Russia from the world’s payments and settlement systems. At the time of this write up, there are nine rounds of such sanctions targeting all sectors and lives of Russians. In addition, the West maintained a tight news blackout and media propaganda. NATO also has hundreds of military and technical advisers on the ground. Added to this are tens of thousands of boots in Ukraine fighting as volunteers.

To further literally exhaust Russia militarily, the United States, Great Britain, Germany, Poland and France began a proxy war on Russia by arming the Ukrainian military. So far, nearly $200 billion United States’ Dollars had been expended by the US, UK, France, Germany and Poland to sustain the war. Much of the funds were however used by the military-industrial complexes of these countries. No doubt, the ultimate strategy is to wreck the Russian economy and weaken the Russian State in the hope that the people of Russia would bring about regime change.

Reactions of the rest of the world

The anticipated responses from the rest of the globe were swift and unmistakable. The BRICS[8] countries, which account for around 43% of the world population, declined to support the sanctions or enforce them. With the help of other multilateral and bilateral payment systems, India and China, for instance, turned towards Russia and negotiated independent oil & gas deals running into billions of petrodollars.  Except for Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, very few of the ASEAN, South-Asia and Indo-Pacific Countries supported sanctions. The majority of the countries that make up the African Union, the Middle East and the largest nations in Latin America likewise resisted being dictated to and remained distant and uncommitted despite extensive diplomatic efforts by the United States to persuade them to do so. Saudi Arabia, for its part, chose to build a new crude oil payment system based on the Chinese Renminbi (RMB), breaking away from its strong reliance on the petrodollar.

Real motive of US and EU’s Continuing Support for Ukraine

There is no doubt that America has broad geopolitical objectives which trespass the current war hence the proxy war safeguards its interest. Some of these goals are aimed at establishing absolute domination of Europe and greater part of Eurasia. Specifically, it includes disengaging Europe from Russia and rendering them increasingly dependent on its hegemony and providing a leeway for United States’ incursion into and control of Eurasia as well as the latter’s resource-rich endowment.

Of course, the immediate strategy is to crush and weaken Russia which the United States perceives as a formidable enemy using the old Axis fascist alliance of Italy, Germany, Spain, and Japan in league with Europe’s neo-fascists. It is in this vein that the United States wanted Ukraine to be incorporated into NATO. If this strategy were to work, the US and NATO would have severely undermined Russia’s security by surrounding it with advanced missiles that could reach their Russian targets in less than 10 minutes. The difficulty the US has presently is that Russia reacted timely to forestall and safeguard its national interest hence US’ shift of strategy to conduct of a hybrid[9] war to protract and lengthen the war through the supply of arms, armaments, military advice and intelligence to Ukraine.

The United States is also using the Russia-Ukraine war to implement its China Containment Strategy[10], 2015-2025. In that strategy, the United States sees China as the greatest national security challenge to the survival of capitalism, its own hegemony and the West’s way of life or civilization. The United States is equally worried over the threat of a possible alliance between Russia and China to dominate and control Eurasia hence the Taiwan Policy Act of 2022 and the use of Ukraine as battleground against Russia are part of its siege to destabilize and contain China.

Impacts of the Russia-Ukraine War

The Russian-Ukraine War continues to have terrible and indescribable cost regarding human lives lost every day, the physical infrastructure of both Russia and Ukraine as well as on the global economy in terms of the massive disruption of the international supply chain, insurance, payments and settlements systems. The war has resulted in a world-wide grain and fertiliser[11] crisis, loss of yield and output in West Africa, and an erosion of incomes derived from agriculture by small peasants. Russia has since last year provided several thousand tons of grains and fertilizer to Niger, Nigeria, Central African Republique, Eritrea and Ethiopia.

The Central Asian Republics, who significantly rely on Russia’s grain, oil and commerce, also face adverse effects. The working people of EU, Great Britain and the United States were also not immune to the effects of tripling energy costs amid rising inflation for consumer goods. So far, the real winners are the industrial military machines[12] of the United States and Great Britain, bureaucrats and politicians belonging to the establishment as well as the owners of global capital whose stock market gains increase with each rise in the prices of grain, fertilizer, oil or missiles including artillery shells fired by the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Likely outcomes

Given Washington’s retreating influence in the rest of the world and the current fragility of the United States as the foremost economic cum military power, the likelihood of the Russian-Ukraine war having a number of far-reaching repercussions is becoming a reality. Consequently, a number of power centres are beginning to emerge birthing several independent multi-polarity worlds which are currently moving away from the United States’ unipolarity rule-based order. A contributory factor is the rise of China as the second strongest economic power with the potential of outstripping the United States by 2032; eight short years from now.

Besides, the emergent rise and trend of China is there for everyone to see. It is based on the concrete development of her productive forces as well as on positive production of real commodities. What is happening in China is unlike the United States where no real production has taken place in the last five decades. As a consequence, the dollar will continue to weaken and lose its value including its present hegemony of being an international reserve currency. On the other hand, the Renminbi (RMB) and the Rouble, will strengthen significantly[13] and assume the primacy of being world reserve currencies. With the American dollar losing its primacy as a world reserve currency, one can rest assured that most of the world’s reserve or central banks would no longer hold their net foreign assets and reserves in the form of US Treasury securities, bank deposits, stocks and bonds. Once the availability of these cheap dollars from such treasury-bill transactions are gone, imperialist America would no longer have the degree of freedom to finance its future foreign military wars including proxy ones.

Finally, as we move into the near future, there is also the likelihood of other geopolitical zones emerging, strengthening and coalescing around such polar centres as BRICS, CELAC, UNASUR, Eurasian Economic Union, CSTO, Africa Union and ASEAN. The other contributory factor which cannot be discounted is United States’ own geopolitical decline as the world’s leading imperialist state. This is because capitalism and its imperialist phase is unable to handle and resolve the current crisis facing the world. One can also not discount the changing regional correlation of forces in Latin America, Africa and Asia particularly with the increased presence of the alternative paradigm of socialist development and consciousness.

Conclusion

To conclude, not only has China’s economic, political and military strength pose a real threat to US hegemony but also the West has lost its punitive arsenal of crippling sanctions[14]. The Global South, which makes up the vast majority, has lost trust in the West and subsequently began moving away from the US$ sphere particularly after seeing how the West weaponised and confiscated Russia’s 300 billion United States’ dollar foreign exchange reserves. Russia is growing from strength to strength and its economy remains largely unscathed hence the likely outcome of the current war is therefore going to be the emergence of a parallel international payments and settlement system.

The reason is simple: two-thirds[15] of current international trade conducted by 128 out of 190 countries is with Russia and China. In addition, majority of countries in South America, Africa, Eurasia and Indo-Pacific have developed stronger economic ties with China and Russia rather than the United States which will make such a move not dependent on the American dollar. Besides, the real[16] economy of the West has been shrinking since the last fifty years owing to reduced public investment by successive governments of the United States and the European Union in infrastructure, machinery and factories[17].

America needs to reverse its de-industrialization and chronic trade deficits by building a fair and new society for its people which is not continually monetized through creation of extra dollar IOUs that are secured on dollar seigniorage[18]. Unfortunately, it is these newly created dollar not secured on production that least developing countries in West Africa go to borrow on the international bond markets.

In the final analysis, there is a high probability that Ukraine in its current form will be dismembered. This is because present day Ukraine is an amalgamation of six regions of Russia transferred administratively in 1918, Austria-Hungary and Galicia annexed by the Soviet Union in 1939. Secondly, Ukraine has substantial populations with cultural roots in neighbouring states. For instance, a fifth of the Ukrainian population is Russian speaking with the largest numbers concentrated in Ukraine’s urban areas and within the Donbass Region. Additionally, about one in 10 Ukrainians do identify with cultural worlds that emerge from Belarus to Gagauz; which is a Turkish community from Budjak. Definitely, should the various communities be offered the opportunity in the future to decide where to belong it is our candid opinion that only the Galicians would remain as Ukraine.

Russia has repeatedly declared its intention not to expand the present war beyond Ukraine. Meanwhile, all the parties are intensively preparing for a third world war. In the event of such a war, Imperial Europe cannot rely on its former colonial possessions; Europe could be annihilated and should the rest of us survive, it would be an eerie cold climate.

Reference

1.     Hudson, Michael (2022): The American Empire Self-Destructs, But Nobody Thought That It Would Happen This Fast. CounterPunch. Petrolia, CA95558

2.     Hudson, Michael (2022): America Shoots Its Own Dollar Empire In Economic Attack On Russia. MRonline, Monthly Review Foundation. New York, NY1000-5304. March 2022

3.     Ikenberry, J. (2008): The Rise of China and the Future of the West. Foreign Affairs, 87(1): 23-37

4.     Liang, Bibo (xxxx): Political Economy of US Trade Policy Towards China. China & World Economy

5.     Mohan, Giles (2013): Beyond the Enclave – Towards a Critical Political Economy of China and Africa. Development and Change, Volume 44, Issue 6, pp. 1255-1272; https://doi.org/10.1111/dech.12061

6.     Party for Socialism and Liberation (2022): PSL Statement on Russia’s Military Intervention in Ukraine, February 2022.

7.     Party for Socialism and Liberation (2022): PSL Statement – NATO Expansion Must End To Guarantee Peace In Ukraine, February 2022.

8.     Prashad, Vijay (2022): Central Asia Struggles With The Consequences of Russia’s War. People’s Dispatch, published by Globetrotter

9.     Prashad, Vijay (2021): Why Ukraine’s Borders Are Back At The Centre of Geopolitics. People’s Dispatch April 2021, published by Globetrotter

10.  Starr, Steven (2022): Ukraine & Nukes. Consortium News, Volume 27, Number 72

11.  Tetekin, Vyacheslav (2022): What is Happening in and around Ukraine. Communist Party of the Russian Federation. March 2022

12.   Veneziale, Deborah (2022): Is the Ukraine War a Prelude to a More Protracted Global War? CounterPunch. Petrolia, CA95558


[1] To confront resistance to the coup and Maidan takeover of the Ukrainian State, neo-Nazis are known to have burnt more than 42 ethnic Russians alive in Odessa, Kiev and other major cities in 2014.

[2] 87% of the provinces’ citizens voted for independence

[3] The Ukrainian legislature enacted a language law in 2017 with the object of suppressing the teaching of minority lanuages throughout the educational system. The law also has the purpose of trying to assimilate minorities prompting countries like Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary and Romania fo lodge formal complaints with the Council of Europe.

[4] In 2018-2019, US unilaterally withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and the Open Skies Treaty followed by Russia seriously weakening the security and arms control architecture in and around Europe

[5] US claimed these systems are placed to protect Europe against an ‘Iranian threat’ even though Iran had no nuclear weapons or missiles that could reach the US.

[6] It should be understood that the nature of the current Ukrainian State is an alliance of big capital and the state bureaucracy relying on criminal and fascist elements under the full political and financial control of US Imperialism. The neo-Nazis assumption of power after the 2014 coup in alliance with oligarchic capital therefore threatened the long term survival of Russia.

[7] Note: Trade between US and EU is valued at $23 billion.

[8] Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa

[9] At the last count, US has imposed over 4,300 sacnctions on Russia, its leaders, institutions and economy.

[10] To ensure unipolarity under US hegemony, the United States developed and articulated a China containment strategy in the 1990s and has since the 21st Century accelerated its implementation. The reason is obvious: China is becoming an economic powerhouse.

[11] Russia and Ukraine jointly provide about 40% of the world’s supply of fertilizer and its unavailability on the world market due to the war has resulted in huge reduction in grains output.

[12] The Military Industrial Complex (MIC) is the real foundation and driver of the United States’ economy. As at the end of August 2022, the United States’ Military Industrial Complex received US$45 billion directly from the war supplying missiles, sophisticated weapons, armaments and other war machines to Ukraine through US Defence Contractors.

[13] The recent confiscation of the gold and foreign reserves of Venezuela, Afghanistan and now Russia has ended the idea that dollar, sterling or euro holdings in the US, UK and EU as safe investment havens

[14] In order to extricate itself from the sanctions imposed on Russia, the United States made a list of raw materials that its economy desperately needs and  exempted them from the trade sanctions being imposed severely undermining its effect and imposing on its allies a higher cost of loss opportunities.

[15] Up until 2001, 80% of the world’s trade was with the US.

[16] China’s real economy is the most developed in the world, accounting for 28% of world manufacturing

[17] The focus since the mid-1970s has been on the expansive growth of stock markets, monopolization, financialization and commodification of data

[18] The result is that US BOP deficits end up in the central banks of payments-surplus countries as their reserves. The IOUs are then monetized and sold on the international capital markets which debtors in the global south scramble for. It is this dollar seign


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