The modern power confrontation of states in the world is rapidly acquiring the features of not only an armed struggle, but civilizational war, behind the facade of which military-political coalitions of various configurations are being created. They often directly correlate with the emerging new centers of power – not only the collective West led by the United States, but China, India, Russia, and the Islamic world (Larson & Shevchenko, 2019). From this point of view, the events in Ukraine should be viewed not just as a military conflict, but as a military and forceful struggle between Russia and the collective West for the preservation of national identity and sovereignty.
The old security structures, in particular NATO, play an important but secondary role. Power confrontation acquires all the features of a civilizational military-power confrontation when the most diverse states are drawn into it. This applies to neutral states (Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, Austria) and non-aligned states that are far outside the alliance’s area of responsibility, for example, in the South Pacific (Araujo, 2022). Russia’s aggression in Ukraine can only be understood in the context of a broader historical and civilizational confrontation between Russia and the open aggression of the Western coalition (Araujo, 2022). Political provocations covered almost all areas – from the financial, economic and military-technical spheres to culture and sports.
The modern world order is rapidly changing, which is noticeable in the initiatives that come out of different countries. Moreover, this happens unpredictably, and often chaotically, when chaos becomes the defining trend of formation (Araujo, 2022). Under these conditions, the formation of national strategies and goal-setting is extremely difficult, as is the precise distribution of national resources. Meanwhile, this process is not only obligatory and inevitable, but the effectiveness of the development of states directly depends on it. The foregoing is directly related to the formation of Russia’s national strategy in the 2020s, which is taking place under the influence of increasing external military pressure (Araujo, 2022). Events in Ukraine and Russia’s Relations with the West in 2021–2022 is the clearest example of this.
The nature of such external pressure and the prospects for its evolution directly affect the development and strategy of Russia. This became clearly understood in the country’s ruling elite and was directly reflected in the strategic planning documents and decisions of the Russian ruling elite for 2021–2022 (Marples, 2021). Thus, the recognition of the LPR and DPR in February 2022 and the obligation to protect them actually formalized the break in unequal relations with the West that had existed since the late 1980s (Eglitis et al., 2021). This step became in many ways a direct statement of the difference between the national-civilizational interests and values of Russia and the universalist values of the West (Marples, 2021). The world order has both a direct, direct and indirect influence on the formation of national strategies in several important areas. First of all, it concerns goal-setting, systems of national values, distribution of resources and subjective ideas of the ruling elites and society.
The development of the conflict in Ukraine confirmed the conclusion that in recent years the military-political alliance of NATO has been transforming from a regional bloc into a global military-political coalition. Its activities are directed not only against Russia, China, Iran and the DPRK, but other countries that are trying to maintain their sovereignty and national identity (Larson & Shevchenko, 2019). In addition, the conflict in Ukraine at the beginning of 2022 put on the agenda the need for a new understanding of the role of the collective West and its North Atlantic bloc in the world, its policy of forceful pressure and effective opposition to such a strategy (D’Anieri, 2019). Therefore, the attitude towards NATO formed in the Soviet period, and even more so the attempt to rethink it within the framework of the liberal-democratic tradition undertaken in the 1990s, no longer explains many features in the development of the alliance (Götz, 2018). Especially when such features as the politicization of NATO are created artificially (D’Anieri, 2019). In fact, the development of relations between Western states in the XXI century. turned under the persistent influence of the United States into the formation of a broad Western military-political coalition, in which NATO member countries form a kind of backbone.
Other developed countries, primarily Japan, Australia and South Korea, form the “eastern flank”. A number of US allies complement the coalition on a bilateral basis, including states that are often classified as neutral or non-aligned countries. The number of participants in this coalition is twice the number of NATO member countries (Götz, 2018). Therefore, the UN vote demonstrates to a certain extent the existing balance of power within the framework of the Western coalition and those countries that retain their sovereignty (Eglitis et al., 2021). Thus, the vote at the UN on the anti-Russian resolution shows that the global anti-Russian coalition at the UN, created by the United States, has faced serious problems (Götz, 2018). This opinion was expressed by an expert on international issues T. Carpenter in an article for The National Interest. 141 countries voted in favor of the resolution, five against. However, T. Carpenter draws attention to the large number of abstentions (Jerome, 2019). Because the United States attaches so much importance to building an overwhelming coalition against Russia, it takes a certain amount of courage for other countries to refuse to join it.
Russia’s aggression in Ukraine is an illustration of ongoing changes in the international and military-political situation, which are of a global nature. In fact, Russia has left the orbit of the West, where it was led by the liberals at the turn of the 90s (Eglitis et al., 2021). The following features can be noted in the strategy of the United States and the West as a whole in relation to Russia:
- Cynical Russophobia in relation to the Russian ethnic group and Russian culture in general, which has engulfed almost the entire Western world. J. Biden and his NATO allies added to this military-power concept their own information-cognitive and socio-cultural concepts, which consolidate the civilizational leadership of the West (Araujo, 2022). In fact, these concepts have already turned into a Russophobic policy that does not hide bias towards the peoples of Russia (Jerome, 2019). This became a mental and cognitive justification for the admissibility of a power policy towards Russia and the use of any means of armed violence against it in the future. The transformation of Ukraine into a state hostile to Russia has been purposefully going on for the past 30 years, but it began to rapidly intensify after the coup in Kyiv in 2014. Until 2022, aggression against the people’s republics continued and the Minsk negotiations were actually ignored. On the territory of Ukraine, a NATO military infrastructure (bases, retraining centers, warehouses of weapons and military equipment) was created and preparations were made for a military operation against Russia.
- Russian proposals made in December 2021 to strengthen European security and create guarantees were ignored by the West. Thus, Russia faced a planned military attack that could be threatened by NATO to increase blackmail and forceful pressure (Christensen, 2020). Russia has interpreted this disregard and ongoing geopolitical actions as a serious threat (Araujo, 2022). Despite the fact that this is a misinterpretation, Putin was confident in this position, which can be explained by the previous tightening of relations with the West.
- In the near future, it was planned to deploy shock offensive weapons on the territory of Ukraine using the country’s established infrastructure. In particular, this refers to operational-tactical missiles and front-line aviation, as well as long-range multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) (Larson & Shevchenko, 2019). Even the already deployed weapons of the Ukrainian Armed Forces were able to provide an attack to a tactical depth of more than 100 km along the entire length of the three thousand-kilometer border with Russia (Larson & Shevchenko, 2019). If they were reinforced with new generations of extended-range MLRS, CR and aeroballistic missiles, then the territory of Russia would be shot through from Ukraine up to the Urals.
- From the point of view of military security, the military threat to Russia was growing rapidly. The country’s leadership found itself in a situation where it was forced to take military measures to eliminate this threat. Therefore, Putin declared the main goal of the war to be the complete elimination of the military infrastructure of Ukraine, which is currently being systematically destroyed by the forces of the Russian Aerospace Forces.
- The Western sanctions policy was by no means initiated in February-March 2022, moreover, it was not started even in 2014. It has not actually ended since the Soviet times – restrictions on cooperation and technology supply continued to persist all these years, and after the conflict in the Caucasus, they became more active (Christensen, 2020). It should be noted that with any development of relations between Russia and the West, the policy of sanctions would continue to intensify (Araujo, 2022). At the same time, the policy is obviously of a general (bipartisan for the United States) and coalition (for all pro-American countries) character in all areas – from culture and sports to military-technical cooperation (Christensen, 2020). Regardless of the development of events in Ukraine, the policy of sanctions against Russia would only intensify.
At the same time, the general rule of military science, when the means and methods of military operations depend on the level of development of the economy (and technology) and society, is fully manifested at the present time. Every year there are new achievements of the military-technical revolution, which qualitatively change the idea of the means and methods of waging wars and conflicts (Araujo, 2022). The conflict in Ukraine has demonstrated that the rearmament of the Russian Armed Forces in the last decade has provided its army with clear advantages at the front, and the modernized defense industry has provided a guarantee of military-technological independence (Araujo, 2022). This general rule is largely implemented precisely under the influence of the United States and its allies, which have taken a leading position in building up military potentials in the new century, setting the pace for the production and trade of weapons and military equipment (more than 75% of world production and trade) (Owen IV, 2022).Russia, under sanctions and many artificial restrictions, will have to modernize not only the defense industry, but the entire industry, relying mainly on national resources and capabilities, primarily human capital.
It should be noted that the above facts and opinions do not justify the start of the war that Russia initiated in February 2022. Despite all sorts of prerequisites and provocations from various participants in world politics, the main culprit is always the side that started the conflict (Owen IV, 2022). However, one should not lose sight of the mistakes made by the West and the United States in political relations with Russia (Owen IV, 2022). At the moment, Ukraine has the status of an intermediate instrument, which is a method of fighting one area of interest with another. This is an extremely inhumane and wrong strategy, since this situation is about people, human rights and a full-fledged state.
In order to resolve the current situation and somehow prevent the escalation of the conflict, it is necessary to initiate bilateral peace negotiations. This means that the West should not wait for any steps in this direction from Russia or Ukraine, but act independently. At the moment, there are enough diplomatic and military experts who use the latest and most effective theories and strategies. In this case, it is necessary not to ensure the interests of any of the states, but to prevent human casualties and cruelty, and then consistently help Ukraine with restoration. Moreover, it is important to note that despite the fact that most of the responsibility will fall on the aggressor, the West has a certain form of guilt in the current situation. Therefore, the most effective and logical action will be to draw up new agreements and mutually beneficial conditions for all countries, and subsequent world cooperation.
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