Russia-Ukrainian war: The danger, the opportunities — The Guardian Editorial

Posted by News Express | 13 October 2022 | 266 times

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Early February this year, not too many took Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation” in Ukraine too seriously. But about seven months after, the world is in turmoil and the global economy is reeling on all fronts.

With more material now funneling into Ukraine to match Putin’s nuclear threats, a devastating Third World War and new world order are upon the globe. Yet, amid the looming annihilation abounds a golden opportunity for African countries, not to take sides or get terrified, but to reorganise into a formidable continental bloc while the superpowers are much-distracted.

For those still in doubt, the world is on the tenterhooks and Pope Francis’s recent homilies say as much. Last month, the Pope hinted that the spate of conflicts around the globe was effectively a “piecemeal” Third World War. “Humanity needs to weep,” he said, “and this is the time to weep.”

During his Angelus noon prayer at the Vatican penultimate Sunday, he appealed to the Russian President to “stop his spiral of violence and death” in Ukraine and as well denounced the “absurd” risk to humanity of catastrophic nuclear war. He further appealed to the international community to use all diplomatic instruments to end this “huge tragedy” and “horror” of war.

The pontiff’s eerie message and appeals mirror the woes that have beset the global economy and without deterrence, the seething catastrophe that is imminent. Indeed, since the war began, global economies have been tumbling on multiple fronts.

Ukraine’s inability to export essential wheat, maize and barley to the world market has plunged many countries on the brink of starvation and surging food prices. Russia also accounts for about 40 per cent of natural gas used in Europe.

Since Russia cut 88 per cent supply as punishment for Western sanctions for its invasion of Ukraine, the price of energy has spiked in Europe and beyond. There is high apprehension over the coming winter amid this energy crisis.

Goldman Sachs, a bank, projected that gas prices in next summer will be around £235 per mwh, far higher than they are today. The pre-pandemic rate was about £20. The Domino effect on the U.S. dollar has caught up with global economies too, forcing most central banks to make painful adjustments to interest rates amid widespread record-high inflation. Largely, the global economy is not at ease.

Compounding the economic woes is the uncertainty that awaits humanity – a dilemma made worse by the hypocrisy of the superpowers in international politics. Clearly, the undercurrent of the Russia-Ukrainian war is the latter’s push to become a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) – contrary to an earlier agreement with Russia.

Again, Putin is challenging NATO’s rights to the Russian doorstep (through Ukrainian membership of NATO). That is akin to the U.S. threatened invasion of Cuba exactly six decades ago, citing Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba, which is next door to America. Remarkably, the nukes were removed to pacify the U.S., while America also secretly removed hers from Turkey to bring the crisis to an end within 13 days.

Now, the rehash of that plot has lasted more than 225 days and the war is far from over. While the United States is now railroading million-dollar worth of military equipment into Ukraine to compound the misfortunes of the Russian forces, Putin has said he would deploy “all weapon systems available” to defend the “territorial integrity” of Russia – including all the Ukrainian lands he is annexing through referendum carried out at gunpoint! But another worry is Putin not winning on the battlefield. A defeat will only motivate the irresponsibility to go nuclear, which may not spare the Baltic States and allies of Ukraine.

America and friends (29 NATO allies) have also warned of “catastrophic consequences” should Putin detonate nuclear weapons. Tellingly, and perhaps with the exception of Africa, the world is polarised for another escalatory war of all against all.

Really, Africa has not been immune from the painful realities of the war. Soaring costs of food and fuel are revving up tensions in African countries, including South Africa and Nigeria. However, the ongoing war is not one for Africa.

The continent should rather take advantage of it instead of being a party to selfish tendencies. With the benefit of hindsight, the sustainable development of African countries has rarely been on the agenda of international politics or the foreign policy of the superpowers. In the prevailing realism theory of the international system, power is exclusively in the interest of the superpowers; to use the same for selfish gains.

Noticeably, it is the same orientation from colonial period to the current neo-colonial and imperialist structures on the continent. For instance, the French-occupied territories are in very bad shape economically and politically.

In 2020, the estimate has it that over 21 per cent of the African population faced extreme hunger and famine without succour. There are currently over 14 million of them in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya. If those are not graphic enough, the colour discrimination against blacks fleeing the Russia-Ukrainian War in Ukraine re-echoes the Western institutionalised racism, which African leaders should challenge more strategically.

It is repulsive that the European nations that officially opened up to Ukrainian refugees, denied blacks seats on evacuation trains and summarily turned back Africans at the Polish and Hungarian borders! Like they did to fleeing Afghans and Syrians, Africans were left in the freezing cold!

Against those backdrops, it is expected of the real pan-Africanist leadership to shift gear from reptilian obeisance to imperial hubris of the superpowers, to concerted efforts at making Africa a powerful bloc of global reckoning.

In any case, the global economy is tanking; and rarely able to muster serious aid to third-world countries that have refused to grow up. It is time for African countries to unite and form a common economic front, without risking the fate of Muammar Gaddafi of Libya.

The example of the European Union (EU), being the most successful regional bloc, suffices for African leaders and the African Union (AU). There is no better time for the AU to float its own currency than at a time the world is sceptical of the U.S. Dollars, Russian Rubles and even Chinese Yuan. It is also time to get serious with the free movement of persons, goods and services in Africa to share prosperity and promote sustainable interdependence.    

Regrettably, the natural lightning rod of that African renaissance, Nigeria, is wobbly. Under Muhammadu Buhari’s disastrous leadership, the country has further lost its potential to be taken seriously in Africa or in global politics.

The question is: what has Nigeria efficiently done with its oil and gas resources to tower its economic and military standings for appreciable reckoning in the world? Not much for posterity. Therefore, the ailing most populous Black Country to needs a rebirth to lead a new Africa, and the 2023 general election should be a new beginning.

In the interim, the onus is on other African leaders to close ranks, rally forces and ensure Africa comes of age in the ensuing dizzying climate of world politics. Not necessarily for the sake of powers, but primarily for the survival of its population in very challenging times.

Certainly, the current war of attrition and escalating tension will upset the apple cart of a world governed by few superpowers. It may be the turn of deeper regionalism, and Africa should get prepared not to get left behind and in the cold again.

Source: News Express

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