Whatever Ukraine’s fate, the war has confirmed that we now live in a tri-polar world – where China, America and Russia form a kind of global triangle of power. It is evidently no more stable than many of the various balances of power that prevailed in the past, and indeed feels considerably more prone to things going wrong – simply because there are more “moving parts”, and more players to misread each others’ intentions.
But the future of the world, as with Ukraine, depends on how these three larger superpowers (with the EU as an economic superpower) align themselves. In practice, that means who, out of America or Russia, can recruit the Chinese to side with their cause and protect their interests.
If China chooses Russia, and forges an authoritarian-nationalist alliance, drawing in the likes of Modi in India, Erdogan in Turkey, Mohammad bin–Salman in Saudi Arabia and Bolsonaro in Brazil, then the prospects will be bleak indeed, for Ukraine and world peace. If President Biden can somehow revive China’s previous productive cooperation with the US and Europe, then the path the world takes will surely be happier, less violent and more prosperous – and China will not bankroll Putin’s war machine or sell him drones. It hangs in the balance, and while it does, there will be more wars.
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