“The war in Ukraine marks the culmination of a slow deterioration in international relations”

Stand. Among the reactions of all kinds it can provoke, the invasion of Ukraine by Vladimir Putin’s Russia is astonishing in its anachronism. This brutal and totally unjustified aggression against a sovereign and peaceful state in the heart of Europe, in flagrant violation of international law and the law of armed conflict, by conventional means against a background of nuclear threat, is indeed sending us back, with its millions refugees, in the dark hours of Hitlerian or Soviet military expansionism.

Product of a nostalgic hypernationalism, it realizes the fantasy long feared by Westerners since the end of the Cold War, and even more so by the old ‘people’s democracies’, of a return of the Russian threat to the European continent. All this in a world that has been radically changed by the positive developments of the second half of the 20th century.and century: European construction, progress in international law, democracy and the rule of law, the end of the bipolar world, globalization, the digital revolution.

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An anachronistic event, strong reactions, often unexpected and sometimes unprecedented. Let us cite here the strength of the Ukrainian resistance and the revelation of Zelensky as a warlord and master of strategic communications; Western political unity (European, transatlantic and bipartisan in the United States) rediscovered; the most comprehensive and rigorous program of economic and financial sanctions ever implemented against a state; US and European non-NATO military and logistical assistance; the proliferation of appeals to international justice, or even, in the age of social networks and corporate social responsibility, the voluntary withdrawal of most major Western companies operating in Russia, under pressure from international public opinion.

The Weakening of the West for Twenty Years

But in addition to these happy reactions, this war from another time, paradoxically, will also have long-term geopolitical consequences that will mark the century. Reference has been made in this regard to a “paradigm shift” and the end of the post-Cold War era, albeit with a delay of 20 years, because September 11 actually ended the post-Cold War parenthesis abruptly. 2001.

Since the blow to US power that day, the past twenty years have been marked by the return of power politics in international relations, the geopoliticization of globalization, the (re)increase in power of the major emerging countries (China, India, , Russia, Turkey…) and the correlative weakening of the West, followed by the increasingly direct challenge of the principles and values ​​of liberal democracy by these authoritarian regimes.

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