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Why 2023 was unsettling for the West

  • Western setbacks in politics
  • Ukraine conflict challenges NATO
  • Double standards in Gaza

On the international political stage, the United States, Europe, and other key democracies have experienced several setbacks over the past year. Currently, nothing has proven to be catastrophic; however, these setbacks indicate a power shift away from the Western values that have dominated the United States for many years.

Western interests are currently facing unfavorable circumstances on myriad fronts. The following explains why, as well as what benefits may still result from ongoing changes:

The Ukraine

Despite a few recent achievements in the Black Sea, the conflict in Ukraine is far from favorable. This inevitably signifies a negative development for NATO and the EU, both of which have provided substantial financial support to Ukraine for its military endeavors and economy (tens of billions of dollars).

At this time last year, NATO was optimistic that the Ukrainian army, which had received intensive training in Western nations and modern military equipment since the autumn of that year, could consolidate its advantage and force the Russians to retreat from much of the territory they had occupied. Such has not occurred.

The difficulty has been temporal. NATO member states deliberated for an extended period on whether or not to dispatch modern Main Battle Tanks to Ukraine, such as the Challenger 2 from the United Kingdom and the Leopard 2 from Germany, for fear of inciting an impulsive retaliation from President Vladimir Putin.

The West ultimately delivered the tanks; President Putin took no action. However, by June, when they were prepared for deployment on the battlefield, Russian commanders had correctly predicted Ukraine’s primary endeavor location based on a map examination.

They hypothesized that Ukraine would seek to advance south through Zaporizhzhia Oblast in the direction of the Sea of Azov, thereby slicing through Russian lines, dividing them in two, and isolating Crimea.

The Russian military’s endeavors to capture Kiev in 2022 may have been disastrous, but its forte is defense. During the first half of 2023, while Ukrainian brigades were receiving training in Britain and elsewhere, and tanks were being transported east to the front, Russia constructed the most massive and extensive lines of defensive fortifications in modern history.

Challenges in Ukrainian Counteroffensive and Western Concerns

A combination of shelters, trenches, anti-tank mines, anti-personnel mines, drones, and artillery has thwarted Ukrainian plans. The much-touted counteroffensive has been unsuccessful.

Nearly every metric indicates that Ukraine and the West are progressing in the opposite direction. Ukraine is experiencing a severe shortage of both soldiers and ammunition. The legislative process is impeding the White House’s endeavors to advance a $60 billion military support package. Hungary is impeding the €50 billion aid package from the EU.

Eventually, either one or both may succeed, but by then it may be too late. Already, Ukrainian forces are compelled to adopt a defensive stance. In the interim, Moscow has strategically positioned its economy to support the conflict in Ukraine by allocating one-third of its national budget to defense and bombarding the front lines with tens of thousands of men and artillery projectiles.

Evidently, this circumstance is extremely disheartening for Ukraine, as it had anticipated reversing the course of the war by this point. However, why is it significant to the West?

It is significant because Vladimir Putin, who personally ordered this invasion almost two years ago, can declare victory with the simple retention of the territory he has seized (approximately 18% of Ukraine).

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For the purpose of supporting its ally Ukraine, NATO has depleted its armies and avoided all action short of war. Everything could conceivably culminate in a disgraceful failure to repel the Russian invasion. In the interim, the NATO member states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are certain that Vladimir Putin will target them within five years if he is successful in Ukraine.

Veseli Putin

The president of Russia is a desired individual. On paper.

The International Criminal Court in The Hague indicted him and his Commissioner for Minors’ Rights in March 2023 on charges of war crimes perpetrated against minors in Ukraine.

The Western powers aspired for him to become a reprobate on the international stage, confined within his own nation due to apprehension of arrest and deportation to The Hague. Such has not occurred.

President Putin has visited China, Saudi Arabia, Kyrgyzstan, and the UAE since his indictment, each time receiving a red carpet reception. Additionally, he participated virtually in the BRICS summit held in South Africa.

Anticipators expected successive waves of EU sanctions to cripple the Russian economy and compel Vladimir Putin to rescind his invasion. However, Russia has demonstrated an extraordinary capacity to withstand these sanctions by procuring numerous goods from foreign nations, including China and Kazakhstan. Although the West has reduced its reliance on Russian oil and gas to a significant degree, Moscow has managed to secure alternative, albeit cost-effective, customers.

In spite of the fact that Western nations abhor Mr. Putin’s invasion and barbaric occupation of Ukraine, the majority of the international community does not share this sentiment. Numerous countries consider this to be Europe’s predicament; however, some attribute it to NATO, arguing that its excessive eastward expansion provoked Russia. These countries appear to be oblivious to the widespread abuses and atrocities committed by Russia’s invading troops, much to the dismay of the Ukrainian people.

Gaza

Recently, at a summit in Riyadh, Arab ministers informed me that the West employs double standards. It was stated to me, “Your governments are hypocritical.” They questioned why I believed they could condemn Russia for committing civilian casualties in Ukraine while refusing to recognize a ceasefire in Gaza, where thousands of civilians are being slaughtered.

Clearly, the Israel-Hamas conflict has devastated every Gazan and Israeli affected by the October 7 Hamas attack in southern Israel. Negative effects have also impacted the West.

It has deflected international interest from Ukraine, a NATO ally that is contending with Russian advances this winter. It has redirected United States military supplies from Kiev to Israel.

However, most significantly, it has rendered the United States and the United Kingdom complicit in the devastation of Gaza in the eyes of many Muslims and others worldwide by protecting Israel at the United Nations. Russia, whose air force carpet-bombed the Syrian city of Aleppo on October 7, has witnessed an increase in its stock in the Middle East.

Already in the southern Red Sea, where Houthis backed by Iran are firing missiles and incendiary drones at ships, commodity prices are soaring, and the world’s largest shipping companies are compelled to deviate around the southernmost point of Africa.

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