What will happen in Europe and the world if russia wins
History does not know the subjunctive mood. However, at the same time, it is sometimes important to simulate an alternative history in order to try to look at a probable version of a different future and feel what the consequences of a wrong decision will be. Especially when it comes to important decisions that affect the fate of not only one single country but the continent or the whole world. The following reflections are inspired by “Rammstein session”- 8 and the Day of Unity of Ukraine.
A bit of history
After the First World War, as a result of the collapse of the russian and Austro-Hungarian empires, independent Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Ukraine appeared on the map of Central and Eastern Europe. Soviet russia recognized the independence of Finland. Poland defended itself from russian aggression with the help of the Ukrainian army in the so-called miracle on the Wisła. The Baltic countries became independent. The Ukrainian People’s Republic (UPR) could not withstand the russian invasion in the 1920s.
However, already at the end of the 1930s, even Central Europe could not resist the influence of the “evil alliance” – Hitler’s Third Reich and Stalin’s USSR. In addition, the Munich Agreement led to the destruction of the Czechoslovak state. The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact destroyed not only Poland, but also the Baltic States that did not resist the Soviet aggressor. Finland retained its independence but lost part of its territory.
The reluctance of the West at the time to counter the “evil alliance” through a chain of erroneous judgments and actions, turning a blind eye to the genocide of Ukrainians in the 1930s, and tolerating the Nazi regime ultimately led to World War II. It brought suffering to Europe and the whole world, tens of millions of dead, destroyed cities and villages, and crippled people’s destinies and unborn lives….
Apart from that, the UPR did not receive adequate help from the West at that time. In addition, quarrels between the leadership inside the country and “sweet” communist ideas from russia about “land and freedom” did their job. As a result, the invader, having gained control over the country, resorted to eliminating the Ukrainian nation with the Holodomor, another invader — Nazi Germany — subsequently occupied the entire territory of Ukraine. Soviet liberation from Nazism restored the russian yoke of Ukraine. Having gone through the loss of independence in the 1920s, the Holodomor of 1932–33/47–48, the Second World War, and the terror and reprisals of the Moscow regimes, Ukraine regained its independence in 1991.
However, what if one wonders whether the Second World War would have happened at all, despite all the wishes of Hitler and Stalin to change the map of Europe in their favor, if the Ukrainian People’s Republic had survived, and become an element of the belt of independent states between Soviet russia and Europe from the Arctic to the Black Sea? If the USA had not recognized the USSR in 1933? If the West did not come to terms with the Anschluss of Austria? If France and Great Britain fulfilled their obligations to Czechoslovakia? Probably, there would have been no war in Europe, because there would have been a balance of power that would balance the aggressive regimes in Berlin and Moscow. Then they would not be so strong, and the states between the Baltic and the Black Seas – so weak, having their own armies and the real, not nominal support of the then West, namely, Great Britain, France, and the USA.
Well, let us return to the present time. Many modern historians, political scientists, and thinkers find many similarities in current events with what happened before the previous world wars. What if the Special Operations Forces of the russian Federation were knocked out of the Priština International Airport in 1999? It is worth noting that US General Wesley Clark was ready to do this. What if, instead of the reset, russia had been severely punished with sanctions for its 2008 invasion of Georgia? Would the invasion of Ukraine in 2014 have happened in this case? What if, in response to russian aggression against Ukraine in 2014, not only was Nord Stream 2 not built, but there was also a refusal to use Nord Stream 1 and russian energy carriers altogether? Would there be a full-scale russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, nuclear blackmail, and threats to “bomb Berlin, Paris, and London”?
What lies beyond the virtual horizon?
Now, I will briefly describe the situation in terms of the dark alternative that can await Ukraine if the rhetoric of modern chamberlains and daladiers like Sullivan in the USA, Scholz in Germany or Schallenberg in Austria regarding the so-called “diplomatic settlement of the war in Ukraine” prevails.
The victory of russia and the defeat of Ukraine will not only be the defeat of an individual state that is not a member of NATO and the EU, it will be a catastrophe for Europe, the West and the whole world. This will trigger a multi-speed and far-going chain reaction of negative transformations both on the continent and on a global scale
- Reduction of the global space of freedom and democracy and automatic increase of the global space of authoritarianism and kleptocracy.
- The renaissance and strengthening of Trumpism in the USA and the popularity of Putin in Europe.
- The critical decline of the USA’s authority as the leader of the West and the strengthening of anti-Americanism in Europe.
- Strengthening of Chinese influence in Europe with the help of Europeans, as a lesser evil compared to neighboring russia.
- The right to use force will gain more weight than the force of law decades in advance due to:
- loss of significance of the “The Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States” by which the participating states are to be guided in their mutual relations and of the Final Act of the CSCE of 1975;
- final devaluation and marginalization of the UN and the OSCE;
- final discrediting of security guarantees rendered by nuclear states to non-nuclear ones;
- final collapse of the nuclear non-proliferation regime;
- inability of the world’s leading security alliance, NATO, to stop the war on its eastern borders.
- The final loss of sovereignty and absorption of Belarus by russia.
- russia’s destruction of weak democracies in Moldova and Georgia.
- Growth of the potential of russian authoritarianism and aggression due to the absorption of the resources of Ukraine and Belarus (human, agricultural, critical raw materials, transport and energy infrastructure).
- Deployment of tactical nuclear weapons of the russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine and Belarus near the eastern borders of NATO.
- Multiplicative effect of increasing aggressiveness of other authoritarian regimes — China, Iran and North Korea.
- Strengthening of the russian-Iranian axis with provoking wars in the Middle East – with Saudi Arabia and Israel.
- Strengthening the tyranny of the Assad regime in Syria.
- Emergence of new nuclear states (Iran, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Turkey, South Korea, etc.) against the background of the general inability of the West to maintain the established status quo of nuclear non-proliferation and security.
- Transformation of the Black Sea into a russian-Turkish condominium under russian domination.
- Orbanization of Central and Southern Europe: Hungary, Bulgaria, and Slovakia are pragmatically reorienting themselves to the strong trendsetter — Moscow.
- Dysfunction of regional cooperation formats: V4 and 3SI.
- Withdrawal of individual countries from NATO on the initiative of pro-russian governments, namely Hungary and Bulgaria.
- China’s military “reintegration” of Taiwan.
- Accelerating the establishment of China’s dominance in the South China Sea is a fait accompli.
- Increasing aggressiveness of Serbia, renewed attempts to retake Kosovo and carry out a coup in Montenegro.
- The disintegration of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a new war in the Balkans, which will be provoked by russia and Serbia in order to weaken the EU and NATO.
- Dysfunction of NATO as an organization that failed to curb the aggressor in its conflict with the country on the eastern flank of the Alliance.
- Increasing conflict in Europe due to “unfair borders”, including between EU and NATO member states:
- Trianon revisionism of the Hungarian regime with territorial claims to its neighbors — Slovakia and Romania;
- Hungarian-Slovak conflict over Ukrainian Transcarpathia;
- Escalation of the Greek-Turkish conflict due to Turkey’s efforts to regain the “blue homeland” (part of the Greek islands of the Aegean Sea).
- Strengthening of the russian threat to the Baltic countries and Poland, russia’s breakthrough of the Suwałki Gap to connect with the Kaliningrad region and isolate the Baltic countries from Poland.
- Demand of the russian Federation on the Baltic countries and NATO to withdraw from the Alliance and declare a neutral status under the threat of aggression.
- russia’s separation of Northern Kazakhstan with its oil resources and deposits of critical raw materials.
- Facilitation of further covert Chinese absorption of russia, in particular, the mineral resources of Eastern Siberia and the Far East.
- russia’s occupation of the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard (Spitzbergen).
- Transition of the Arctic under the control of the Chinese-russian tandem under the Chinese leadership.
- Displacement by China and russia of Western companies and Western influences from Central Asia (primarily from Kazakhstan), where large deposits of energy resources, critical raw materials, rare earth metals, and uranium ore are concentrated.
- Control over the Trans-Caspian International Transport Corridor and the South Caucasus Energy Corridor (due to the loyal regime in Georgia), which will complicate the supply of oil, gas, and uranium ore to the EU from non-russian sources.
- Strengthening the orientation of the countries of the Middle East and North Africa towards russia and China.
- Provocation by russia of new waves of migration from Africa to Europe using its presence in the CAR, Mali and spreading its influence to other countries of the Sahel and Equatorial Africa.
- Destabilization of the national financial systems of EU member states and the eurozone due to the need for significant additional spending on defense, defense industry, and social benefits.
- Creating a situation of chaos in the West by covert malicious actions of russia to cut deep-water fiber optic lines in the Atlantic between Europe and North America.
- Freezing of the “green transition” of Europe, the collapse of the Paris climate agreement due to the need for an urgent reorientation of investments in the defense and security sectors.
- Re-weaponization of energy and food resources through the control of Ukrainian and Kazakh products.
When, between shame and war, some leaders of European countries in the past chose shame in order to “bring peace”, they got both as a result. When government officials are not guided by principles, but by “pragmatic” interests, it leads to a security disaster. The win-win philosophy is for business, not for the genocidal war unleashed nine years ago in Europe by the revisionist regime of russia. In addition, the catastrophe of the West, if “war fatigue” and “pragmatic” interests of “peace” prevails, will not come sometime, in the distant future, but will begin immediately. Putin’s horde (the latest eastern barbarians) has no intention and will not stop. They can be stopped only by immobilizing them, and for this Ukraine needs weapons that will be supplied to Ukraine without any conditions, restrictions, or exceptions.
It is about how knowing the mistakes of negative experiences, it is possible to avoid repeating them and prevent a new world war. russian aggression against Ukraine in the West for some reason is called “war in Ukraine”, while the aggressor does not hide that Europe, the USA – the West as a whole is actually its enemy, its target, which it wants to destroy.
Thus, the victory of Ukraine will be a joint Victory, one for all the forces of democracy and freedom. Politicians constantly have to make a choice between different solutions. Each choice branches into an infinite number of virtual realities, but it’s always a choice between light and darkness. It is important for the world to avoid the dark alternative and instead help the Victory of Ukraine. The world needs the defeat of authoritarianism, tyranny, and kleptocracy, that is, the defeat of russia!
Author: Mykhailo Gonchar, Ukrainian energy and international relations expert, President, The Centre for Global Studies “Strategy XXI”