The consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are arousing increasing global discontent, as was evident at the G20 summit this week. But as long as Russia has missiles, it can keep trying to pour seven plagues on Ukraine.
Could these be the images that later linger from the Russian invasion of Ukraine: next to the mass graves at Mariupol and elsewhere, the frozen images of dreary-looking, bare, cold torture chambers? The places where Russian occupiers tortured, beat, raped, electrocuted, killed the local population. It is the silent witnesses of Russian cruelty who are now resurfacing in liberated Kherson. Sometimes brought to life by survivors, or by messages like ‘God save us’ carved into the wall.
Strictly speaking, they are not even outgrowths. Those who know Russia recognize the careless banality of violence. That was always part of Putin’s system. Putin became a Russian hero when he destroyed Grozny and restored ‘stability’. Since then, a ‘conveyor belt of torture’ has been running on the Russian Caucasus, to which no cock crowed.
But now that that system has crossed Russian borders, it is hitting a wall. A Ukrainian wall, but increasingly, as it turned out this week, also an international wall. Something special happened at the G20 summit in Bali this week. Contrary to expectations, a final statement was made. While acknowledging that there are “differences of opinion” on the subject, it also contained unadulterated harsh criticism of the Russian invasion – and in this case, that is significant and significant.
Concert of Great Nations
For the G20, at this juncture in which the UN Security Council is paralyzed and formatted far too European, is perhaps the closest approach to Franklin Roosevelt’s original idea of a “concert of great nations.” All major countries from all over the world are represented, including the BRICS countries. That is the group of ’emerging countries’ that, in addition to China and Russia, also includes Brazil, India and South Africa – countries that are abstaining from voting on the Russian invasion in the UN.
What happened in Bali? The fact that Putin did not come was already an omen. The second signal was the hours-long meeting between presidents Biden and Xi, which was subsequently explained as a diplomatic ‘détente’: the sharp differences remain, including over Taiwan, but the temperature is dropping and the two most powerful countries in the world can still talk about overarching issues.
Then, according to an interesting Reconstruction in The Financial Times, a leadership role played by hosts Indonesia and India, the other Asian superpower that will host the G20 next year. They viewed the war in the following way: its impact on the whole world, economically and in terms of food supply. And persuaded other countries that are on the ropes, such as Argentina, Mexico and Saudi Arabia, to come up with a joint statement. “This was the first G20 where developing countries decided the outcome,” said an Indian official.
In addition, on Thursday came the announcement by the UN and Turkey that the grain deal, which allows the export of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea, will be extended by 120 days. “An important decision in the global fight against the food crisis,” said President Zelensky. And again a signal that Russia, which sees the importance of the global diplomatic struggle for the war, is increasingly coming up against limits.
Another example is the changed Russian rhetoric about the possible use of nuclear weapons. Thinly veiled threats from President Putin, among others, have given way to angry denials that Moscow is considering deploying nuclear weapons. Another factor here is that worldwide dissatisfaction has been expressed about Russia’s nuclear clashes.
Attacks on civilian infrastructure
President Xi’s support for Russia is, from a geopolitical perspective, fairly unwavering: the West is guilty of the war, he reiterated this week. Nevertheless, he qualifies that support more and more clearly: China “strongly opposes attempts to use food and energy as weapons.”
Putin has not taken any notice of that last point of criticism for the time being. Attacks on critical civilian infrastructure in Ukraine continue unabated, day in and day out. The resilience of the Ukrainians is great, but the authorities are alarmed and have sounded the alarm. Kyiv hopes Western partners can help quickly repair some of the damage.
As long as Russia has the necessary missiles, it can continue its efforts to deliver seven plagues to Ukraine. In addition, there will be hope in Moscow that sometime this winter – with high prices and new refugees to be accommodated – European countries will reconsider their united support for Ukraine. What is missing in Moscow is the realization that the atrocities and those seven plagues have so far backfired – not only in Ukraine, but also in Europe. The fact that Russia’s international diplomatic position is also not improving will further reduce the tendency to succumb to violence.