Ukraine and its Global Impact
I guess it is time, to take a broader look at the Ukraine War, namely at the global level. This means we look at how various powers around the world reacted to the conflict and interacted with both Ukraine and Russia in the last year. This includes economic, political and military actions. At first, we take a short look at the Russian perception on the War in Ukraine, for this we look briefly at a Russian booklet titled: I live, I fight, I win! The Rules of Living in War And President Putin’s Speech in the Federal Assembly from 21st February 2023. Let us start with the Russian booklet, it was published by the All-Russia Society, Russian Union of Afghan and Special Military Operation Veterans.
As most of you probably know, the war in Ukraine in Russia is officially called a “special military operation”. For the various lessons covered in the booklet, be sure to check out my video on it. Now, the intended audience is the regular soldier in the field, to quote: “The collection is intended for servicemen of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation taking part in the special military operation in Ukraine, conscripts, cadets of military educational institutions, employees of various security agencies.” So, what does the booklet note about the war in Ukraine? Well, the second section is titled: “The Great Patriotic War 2.0”, for the uninitiated, in Russia the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945) was the Second World War, whereas the Patriotic War was the war against Napoleon in 1812.
So much for context, but what does the section note: “It's enough to look at the list of countries that have announced sanctions on us and helping the Ukrainian regime - Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Norway, Denmark, Japan, Italy... All of them fought against us. Today in Ukraine. They are taking revenge on Russia for our Great Victory. So, for us it is a continuation of the Great Patriotic War. And we, like our grandfathers in the forty-fifth [in 1945], must win.”
So, it becomes rather apparent by the analogy that the war is portrayed as an essential struggle for Russia. Of course, one could argue against this, yet, the third section is titled: “ „In Ukraine, we defend Russia” The first paragraph in this section is rather for a lack of a better word “straight forward”, I was thinking of quoting it directly, but then again this is YouTube, so this is relatively safe summary: It denies that Ukraine is a state, it is noted its territory is occupied by a “terrorist gang” and then it goes off into antisemitic and anti-western statements. Followed by this: “In order to survive, the people, as once the blacks in the U.S., for a pittance work on the European plantations. Europe's brothels are filled with young Ukrainian women. Men are forced to fight against Russia.”
So, of course, this booklet is not published by the Russian Federation, so let us look at something official from 2023. Particularly, we look at Putin’s from the 21st of February Speech 2023 in the Federal Assembly. You very likely heard about this speech since it contained the announcement of the suspension of the New START treaty, which is a nuclear arms reduction treaty. The address starts off as follows, note this is the official English version from the homepage of the Kremlin: “This Presidential Address comes, as we all know, at a difficult, watershed period for our country. This is a time of radical, irreversible change in the entire world, of crucial historical events that will determine the future of our country and our people, a time when every one of us bears a colossal responsibility.” In the following parts the West is
basically blamed for the situation in Ukraine, to quote just two paragraphs: “I would like to emphasise that, prior to the special military operation, Kiev held negotiations with the West about the delivery of air-defence systems, warplanes and other heavy equipment to Ukraine. We also recall the Kiev regime’s vain attempts to obtain nuclear weapons; they discussed this issue publicly. The United States and NATO quickly deployed their army bases and secret biological laboratories near Russian borders. They mastered the future theatre of war during war games, and they prepared the Kiev regime which they controlled and Ukraine which they had enslaved for a large-scale war.“ The mention of large-scale war, is particularly stressed again later on, additionally, that this is again for the survival of Russia, to quote: “The Western elite make no secret of their goal, which is, I quote, ‘Russia’s strategic defeat.’
What does this mean to us? This means they plan to finish us once and for all. In other words, they plan to grow a local conflict into a global confrontation. This is how we understand it and we will respond accordingly, because this represents an existential threat to our country.” This is a clear message to the West, since Russian military doctrine allows the use of nuclear weapons if the existence of the state is threatened. To quote a 2017 report from the
US Defense Intelligence Agency on Russia: „Moscow fears that the speed, accuracy, and quantity of non-nuclear strategic precision-guided weapons can achieve strategic effects on par with nuclear weapons, one of the primary reasons that since at least 1993 (and most recently codified in the 2014 Military Doctrine) Russia has reserved the right to a nuclear response to a non-nuclear attack that threatens the existence of the state. In addition to rejecting no-first-use, Moscow has discussed using nuclear weapons to de-escalate a conflict.” Additionally, I thought I would do a quantitative analysis of keywords, particularly, since I heard from others that the speech has a strong focus on the West. Now, here is the list of words and combinations I searched for, ideally pause the video now and take a short guess which words or phrases were used the most. Ok, ready? Excellent, here we go. At the very top was the phrase “The West”, it was mentioned 19 times, be aware if you just search “the west” without a space after “west”, it is actually 32 times, this also includes “The Western elites” and “the western leaders”. Next in line is the adjective “Western” with 16 mentions,
followed by Donbass with 14. Ukraine is mentioned 13 times, then United States 11 times, 10 times as “United States” and 1 time as “USA”. Then comes “nazi” 10 times, the term is used alone but also in combination namely “neo-nazi”. The adjective Ukrainian is only mentioned 6 times as is NATO. Europe is mentioned 5 times, American 3 times, UN Security council 2 times and finally EU is mentioned only once. Unless I missed something, this clearly indicates that the content of speech is more concerned about “the West” than on Ukraine.
Let us look at the sanctions and Russian counter measures next. After the Russian Invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 the United States, member states of the European Union and others, in total about 38 countries imposed sanctions and export restriction on the Russian Federation in order to undermine its ability to sustain the war in the long run. “Export controls include bans or restrictions on products for military end use or to military end users, bans on exports of certain foreign-origin items like semiconductors produced with U.S.
advanced technologies, tools, and software, and restrictions on exports of luxury goods to impose costs on Russian oligarchs. In addition, many multinational companies closed their Russian plants or stopped exports to Russia.” This led to a partial isolation of Russia’s economy and also led to a reduction in effectiveness of Russia’s military industries, particularly in the area of computer technology. Yet, Russia had prepared to a certain degree for this case, before the invasion Russian imports had substantially increased, as such their inventories were stocked up, e.g., in late 2021 the imports of integrated circuits or simply said computer chips were increased. The sanctions after the start of the invasion led to a decrease in imports in March and April 2022, with about 43 % below the prewar median level. Yet, already in September 2022 Russian imports had rebounded. Be aware this data
is based on value, as such the quantity and quality of goods imported might still differ quite a bit from the pre-war situation. The EU exports to Russia dropped by 52 % from October 2021 to October 2022. US exports by 85 %, UK by 89 %, Ukraine by 100 % and Japan by 41 %. This is also a good reminder that although severe sanctions are in place that the Russian economy is not completely isolated. In order to fill the gap from the sanctions the import from other countries was significantly increased, most notably China. Other important countries are Belarus, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and Uzbekistan. Another aspect are of course transshipments,
these are shipments from multinational companies that don’t directly ship to Russia, but ship to other countries that then ship to Russia. As so often, this not something particularly new, to give one example from WW1: “While the Netherlands met their promise to Britain to end the transit trade [to Germany], nothing was done at first to stop the vast increase in the export of home-produced food to Germany. The Dutch thus exported between three to five times more cheese, butter, eggs, potatoes and meat in 1915 compared with 1913; practically all Dutch food exports went to Germany.” (Winter, Jay M.: The Cambridge History of the First World War. Volume II: The State. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 2016, p. 469)
There are indications that this is happening in a similar fashion currently, the Financial Times notes that Imports from the European Union and United Kingdom into Central Asian countries increased significantly, particularly Kyrgyzstan and Armenia. Bloomberg notes: “German exports to Russia fell to 38% from May to July last year from the average of the same period between 2017 and 2019. But they almost doubled to Armenia and more than tripled to Kyrgyzstan — a trend also seen in trade flows to the Caucasus and central Asia from the US, the UK, and other EU states, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development said Thursday.” Thank you to Chris from Military Aviation History for pointing me to this source. So, let us take a look at Ukraine, whereas Russia was sanctioned and partially cut off from the world economy, Ukraine experienced something quite different. Although the war made exports, particularly grain exports via the Black Sea significantly harder, Ukraine received a lot of support from around the world. According to the Ukraine Support Tracker
by the University of Kiel, Germany, a total of 40 countries have supported Ukraine with either financial, humanitarian and/or military aid in 2022. Additionally, the European Union is also mentioned. Interestingly enough NATO is not listed, I reached out to the authors and they noted that NATO data is not explicitly shown but included in the non-lethal support for each country. Legally, there is an important distinction here, e.g., NATO is supplying non-lethal support to Ukraine. Meanwhile, lethal support like ammunition and weapons to Ukraine are done by one country to Ukraine or to use the technical term in a bilateral fashion, these can be NATO member states, but it is not coming from NATO.
In terms of support by percentage of the GDP, the Top 5 countries are Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and the United States. Unsurprisingly the top 4 countries have a long history with Russia and the Soviet Union. When it comes to total commitment in terms of billions, the Top 5 countries are the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada and Poland. Be aware that the EU is technically in second place, but it is not a country. Additionally, be aware that different countries took in and care for different numbers of Ukrainian refugees, these costs are not included in these numbers. Generally, three types of aid are differentiated, there is financial, military and humanitarian aid. Here we look at the data from February 1st 2022 to December 31st 2022.
A total of 141.74 billion Euro were committed. 66.21 billion euro were financial aid, 63.51 billion euro military aid and 12.01 billion euro humanitarian aid. Yet, the distribution over the course of the year is quite interesting, humanitarian aid shown in yellow stayed rather constant throughout the year with the biggest spike in December. Meanwhile, financial aid in red had 3 major months, May, November and December as you can see here. Probably, the most uneven distribution is for military aid in blue, which peaked in December with 22.92 billion Euro, so 36.1 % of the military aid was committed in December 2022. If we look at yearly distribution, we also see that in August the number was the lowest, then rising again steeply in September. Sadly, I don’t know how these figures are influenced. Although,
I discussed it with some people and likely the most important factors are the following: The initial support was motivated to keep Ukraine in the war, once the front was stabilized and Kiev relatively safe, the support dried up. If I remember correctly, the interest about the conflict had died down over the summer months, furthermore most politicians were likely also on vacation as well. This would explain the limited support from June to August 2022. In September the successful Ukrainian counteroffensive brought the war back on the radar in a big way. This likely led to an increased spending in the hopes that the conflict might end soon, additionally, the politicians did return from their vacations, which likely also had some influence, but I am likely biased here since there are few things, I dislike more than bureaucrats. The increase in November and December is likely the result of the increased attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure by missiles and loitering munitions, which led to support in terms of increased air defense system like IRIS-T. Be aware that the announcement of main battle tanks came in early January 2023 and had no effect on the December numbers.
Another support for Ukraine is of course logistics. A Ukrainian Tank Officer mentioned in an interview, which I covered in more detail in this video, that some tanks are repaired in Europe: “20) The transporting of our tanks into Europe is a significant help, a single factory is able to repair 20-30 written off tanks per month. They have a large supply of specialists. In total we get back 2-3 tank companies every month.“ (https://twitter.com/childsacrifice1/status/1546124676228947969, last access: 2nd March 2023)
This is also one major argument for the Leopard 2 instead of the M1 Abrams for Ukraine. Namely the existence of supply-chains, repair facilities and trained personnel in many European countries that already exists for Leopard 2s. Meanwhile, there is little for the M1 Abrams, yes Poland got a handful, but that is just an initial shipment and as such the whole supply chain and training is still work in progress. Another major support is of course the training of Ukrainian personnel in countries like the United Kingdom, e.g., currently they are training crews
for the Challenger 2 Tank. Yet, this is just a small part of the overall numbers trained, in February 2023 the bbc reported that: “Around 20,000 Ukrainians are to be put through an intensive five-week course to help them prepare for combat.” Last year, Germany trained Ukrainian artillery men on the Panzerhaubitze 2000. Again, this is just a minor example, in October 2022 it was reported that: “European Union foreign ministers signed off on Monday on a military assistance mission to train 15,000 Ukrainian personnel in various member states.”
Be aware, one probably could do an entire video on this topic. So, basically we covered the United States and Europe, yet, what about the other major and sometimes forgotten players. Namely, India, China, Iran and Africa. Let us start with India. Now, India is probably the most interesting player since nearly everyone forgets about India. Yet, India is not only a nuclear power, it also has a population of
about 1.38 billion. In comparison, China has 1.41 billion, the United States 0.33 billion. India has a GDP of about 11.7 trillion US dollar, whereas China has 39 trillion and the US 25 trillion. Yet, what position has India been taking so far? According to Reuters in November 2022 the Indian Foreign Minister stated: ‘We have seen that the India-Russia relationship has worked to our advantage; So, if it works to my advantage, I would like to keep that going’.
Thanks to Andrew for pointing this out to me. In February 2023, India abstained from voting in a UN General Assembly resolution to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In overall, the motion in the Assembly was backed by 141 nations, 7 voted against it and 32 abstained. India’s armed forces use a lot of Russian/Soviet equipment, additionally, the Russian Federation had supported India before diplomatically when it came to the Kashmir region which is a point of conflict with Pakistan, which also abstained from the vote. Now let us take a short look at Africa.
In February 2023 Russia’s Foreign minister returned from his second trip to Africa since the invasion of Ukraine. A RUSI article notes the following: “Although the economic relationship between Russia and African countries remains relatively piecemeal and small-scale, there still appear to be many states on the continent prepared to embrace or at least ignore the most challenging aspects of Russia’s view of the world. The Russia-Africa Summit will be held in St Petersburg later this year: established in 2019, since Russia invaded Ukraine the Summit has taken on a new urgency, with Russia keen to identify new clients for its exports. [Russian foreign minister] Lavrov has been open about the fact that much of the conference will identify ways for Russia and Africa to manoeuvre around the US sanctions, including moving to using national currencies rather than the US dollar.”
Although Africa might seem to be of minor importance, it is clearly not forgotten. Russia is working for quite some time now on replacing France influence in its former colonies in the Sahel region. US president Joe Biden in December 2022 had also toured Africa as well. This was followed up by the US Treasury Secretary with
a 10-day tour of Africa in January 2023: “The tour represents the opening salvo to the stepped-up outreach that Biden promised during last month’s US-Africa Leaders Summit as Washington looks to deepen economic ties with the continent while offering a desirable alternative to rivals such as China and Russia.” Additionally, South Africa recently conducted a naval exercise together with Russia and China. To quote a RUSI article: “Overlapping with the anniversary of the [Ukraine] war, the exercises are taking place around the port of Durban and Richard Bay – strategically important shipping routes that link up Europe and Asia. This is less about trade – Russia and South Africa have little turnover and imports are
chiefly from China – and more about aligning national interests to act as a counterweight to the US-led world order. The timing is a clear signal that there are countries for whom Russia’s war does not present a barrier to cooperation, as long as it chimes with their national interests.” The next country that is important to take a look at is Iran. The cooperation between Russia and Iran is not a new relationship since Russia and Iran are supporters of Assad in Syria, yet, the ties are likely closer now. Iran as probably many of you know
supplied loitering munitions to Russia that were used particularly in the Winter months to hit critical Ukrainian infrastructure. “Russia and Iran have formed a partnership of convenience against Western powers for decades, but that relationship has historically been tinged by an undercurrent of distrust and wariness, experts said.” Since Russia due to Ukraine War is lower on options, this partnership is likely to intensify. Yet, this is not a one-way street and could tip the balance further as such have regional or even global consequences: “At the same time, it [improved relations between Russia and Iran] could also endanger U.S. allies in the Middle East that oppose Iran if the Russian government delivers new forms of military technology and high-end weapons systems to the heavily sanctioned Middle Eastern power.” According to the article, both countries are currently building up new trade networks in order to circumvent the various sanctions both countries are facing.
While Iran supplied loitering munitions to Russia, Russia launched an Iranian satellite into orbit in August 2022. Last, but definitely not least is China. China in February 2023 announced that its President Xi will be traveling to Moscow for a summit with Putin. A RUSI article notes the following: “China has sought to present itself as a mediator in Russia’s war, and while it lacks international credibility – or trust and interest from Russia’s side – Xi’s concerns about the ratcheting up of tensions over the war have been noted and heard in Moscow. China’s expression of concerns about
the nuclear dimension have in previous months been sufficient to alter Putin’s rhetoric on the potential use of nuclear force.” On the anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, China published at 12-point plan to end the war in Ukraine. This is rather untypical for China, yet, it clearly tries to establish itself as a global problem solver according to some. This must also be seen in the context of the increasing tensions between the US and China in 2022. In October 2022, the United States imposed tech restrictions on China,
like the restriction of US citizen supporting the development, production or use of integrated circuits aka computer chips. The latest development in 2023 are fundamental steps by a US House committee to allow for a ban of the Chinese social media platform TikTok. Of course, this must all the be seen in the context of Taiwan, which China does not consider as a sovereign country, but that is backed by the United States. As such any major commitment
by the United States in Ukraine, also weakens its ability to interfere in the Indo-Pacific. At the same time, if China would openly support Russia with weapon deliveries, this likely would sour the relations even further, as a time article notes: “Any provision of weapons to Russia would instantly make an already fractious U.S.-China relationship much worse. The aftershocks from that quake would be felt around the world.”
To summarize, although many of us see daily videos of the fighting or other military action in Ukraine. There is a lot more going on the global stage, alliances are forming and shifting. The flow of financial and logistical support is well documented and the first was also mentioned by Putin’s speech in February. Yet, there are many more pieces at play, like the shift of trade routes and the likely circumvention of trade routes. Additionally, the lack or weakness of certain powers can lead to regional clashes, like between Amernia and Azerbaijan in 2022. Yet, such incidents can also have a global impact as well. Thank you for watching and see you next time!