It’s easy for folks to get caught up in the US-led West’s pressure to classify any given state as taking one side or another while ignoring those that have impressively remained neutral, but it would be best for everyone to appreciate the many countries in that last-mentioned category a lot more than they presently are. No one should have expected them to decisively take Russia’s side, but pragmatically remaining neutral can in some sense be interpreted as defying the declining unipolar hegemon in pursuit of those countries’ multipolar interests.
The recent intensification in the New Cold War’s western theatre between Russia and NATO, which is occurring on the opposite side of Eurasia from its eastern theatre between China and the US, surprised many observers who hadn’t predicted such escalations. This fast-moving sequence of events was triggered by the US-led West refusing to respect Russia’s national security red lines in Ukraine in particular and in Europe more broadly, which in turn prompted President Putin to commence his country’s special military operation in that neighbouring country. He did so in order to avert World War III after his intelligence services warned that NATO was preparing to launch a surprise attack against Russia from that former Soviet Republic upon neutralizing its nuclear second-strike capabilities through continued regional deployments of “anti-missile systems” and strike weapons near its borders.
The US-led West subsequently imposed unprecedented pressure upon all members of the international community to choose sides in the worst global security crisis since World War II (seeing as how the Cuban Missile Crisis never turned hot like the undeclared US-provoked missile crisis in Europe just did), though quite a few countries have impressively remained neutral despite the threat of American “secondary sanctions” and other forms of Hybrid War meddling aimed at coercing unilateral political-economic concessions from them in this respect. First and foremost among them are China, India, Iran, and Pakistan, whose role in Russian grand strategy just became so much more important like the author recently explained. It’s all the more significant to draw attention to India and Pakistan’s neutrality since some thought that one or both of them would capitulate to Western pressure.
Bucking expectations, India is in the process of finalizing alternative financial channels with Russia while Pakistan surprisingly just broke free from the West’s post-colonial neo-imperial chains by striking energy and agriculture deals with its newfound non-traditional partner. Those two and other comparatively less geostrategically important Global South states are showing the US-led West that the brief period of its unipolar hegemony over International Relations is decisively over, which should be appreciated by all observers. This process was already a long time in the making, having begun around the time of the 2008 financial crisis, which proved the world that the US’ full-spectrum hegemony over global affairs was a lot weaker than some might have earlier assessed it to be. The parallel rise of Russia and China, the dual engines of the Multipolar World Order, together with other Great Powers changed the world.
Smaller- and medium-sized Global South states took note of these irreversible trends and consequently prioritized the comprehensive improvement of their ties with such countries, ultimately creating alternative networks that fell beyond the scope of Western influence or at least weren’t as directly affected by the declining unipolar hegemon as before. BRICS (along with its BRICS+ extended network of each multipolar anchor’s regional partners) and the SCO tangibly embodied these developments, which in turn inspired the dual engines of the Multipolar World Order to unveil their complementary grand strategies of Russia’s Greater Eurasian Partnership (GEP) and China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI). This resulted in the creation of credible paradigms within which their relations with others could develop in pursuit of their shared goal of accelerating the global systemic transition towards multipolarity.
India saw an opportunity to jointly assemble a new Non-Aligned Movement (“Neo-NAM”) with Russia for creating a third pole of influence in the increasingly bi-multipolar world order that’s largely shaped by the global competition between the American and Chinese superpowers while Pakistan formalized its geo-economic vision in January’s first-ever National Security Policy that aimed to harmonize its Eurasian connectivity plans with Russia’s GEP. They’re not the only ones who were inspired by Russia and China’s complementary grand strategies, however, since those two’s myriad partners across the Global South were also very receptive to them as well. Russia’s pivotal role in the Syrian peace process enabled it to become the kingmaker for balancing West Asian affairs while China’s generous infrastructure and other investments in Africa created hope for the promising scenario of an Afro-Asian Century.
The mutually beneficial opportunities unleashed by the Global South states’ synchronization of their respective grand strategies with Russia and China’s explain why many of them are remaining neutral in both of the New Cold War’s theatres, its Western Eurasian one between Russia and NATO as well as its Eastern Eurasian one between China and the US. Even some of those countries like Turkey that voted against Russia at the UNGA actually practice very pragmatic policies towards it if one examines their substance such as Ankara’s hitherto refusal to sanction Moscow, close off its airspace to its planes, and its desire to continue military-technical cooperation and even possibly conduct trade in national currencies. This speaks to the confidence that fellow Great Powers and comparatively smaller states alike have in the viability of the Multipolar World Order that’s actively taking shape after recent events.
It’s easy for folks to get caught up in the US-led West’s pressure to classify any given state as taking one side or another while ignoring those that have impressively remained neutral, but it would be best for everyone to appreciate the many countries in that last-mentioned category a lot more than they presently are. No one should have expected them to decisively take Russia’s side, but pragmatically remaining neutral can in some sense be interpreted as defying the declining unipolar hegemon in pursuit of those countries’ multipolar interests. Their authorities decided to do this precisely because they tacitly believe that it’s impossible for the US to “reset” International Relations back to the 1990s given the irreversible developments that have taken place across the last three decades. This observation should fill folks with some much-needed optimism about the future of global affairs.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Voice of East.