The Global Order After the Russian-Ukrainian War: Opportunities and Risks

Several international experts and practitioners agree that, regardless of the outcome of the Russian-Ukrainian war, the international politics will not remain the same. The international order will be pluralistic, that is, multipolar. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization annual summit, which was held last September in Samarkand, brought together China, Russia, India,and other countries and was a pivotal event that indicated this pluralistic transformation of the international order. Researchers also refer to the Xi Jinping-Vladimir Putin summit in February 2022, on the sidelines of the opening of the Winter Olympics (in Beijing), which issued an important statement that mentioned a borderless strategic partnership between the two sides, and called for the adoption of a multipolar order. In addition, the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Saudi Arabia, on December 7, which includes holding Gulf-Chinese and Arab-Chinese summits attended by the leaders of the countries of the region, is favorable for the efforts of the major countries, led by China, to make the arrangements for the period following the Russian-Ukrainian war, and establish the international and regional environment needed for a multipolar international order.

But what is the structure of this post-war international order? Experts agree that both the United States and China will be two of the poles that will form the post-war international order. However, they disagree in identifying the other poles. Some of them suggest that Russia’s chances of being one of these poles increased after its strategic partnership with China. Others suppose that Germany will be one of the pillars of the international order that is in the process of being formed, especially after it increased its military spending, and developed its military capabilities in light of its perception of the Russian threat. A third party believes they will be France and the United Kingdom, as they are the common denominator in any order of major powers, not to forget India and Brazil. Another group of experts and researchers suggests that the international system after the war will be tripolar, consisting of the United States, China, and the European Union.

Whatever the case is, the post-war pluralistic international order offers many opportunities as well as a number of risks. The first of these opportunities is to reduce the risk of the outbreak of major international wars, as the major countries will act as a deterrent to each other. An attempt to launch a major war to dominate the world by one of these powers will bring a counter-coalition of other major powers to thwart it. On the other hand, the chances of a peaceful settlement of international conflicts will increase. Thus, the countries of the world will focus on comprehensive and sustainable development efforts. At the same time, the pluralistic order enables small and medium countries to act freely in international politics. It increases their potential to pursue an independent foreign policy and gives them the opportunity to diversify their partners on economic and strategic levels.

As for the risks posed by the pluralistic international order after the Russian-Ukrainian war on international security, the most important of them is to embark on an arms race, especially in the field of strategic nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, between the major countries, and the potential tensions and conflicts it may create between them. In fact, the risk of this arms race lies in the change in the balance of power among the major powers that it may lead to, which will inevitably undermine the order and cause an unprecedented state of international chaos. Most importantly, the pluralistic order may turn out to be a disaster for small and medium countries because they will constitute the subject of such an agreement.    

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