A year ago, Russian forces invaded Ukraine and with no end in sight, the war continues even today. The war had various consequences for Russia, Ukraine, and NATO, but it will be broadly impacting the global economy too. Despite the visible casualties, no side is apparently giving up and we have no idea how this is going to end. The war most likely seems to continue probably at a slower pace or turn into a frozen conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Witnessing no negotiation strategies on the way, the war is more likely to escalate, and the recent example of the Afghan war shows how citizens of a war-torn state lose the essence of their lives.
The war in Ukraine has many consequences which have directly impacted Ukraine and Russia and indirectly the whole globe. However, there are many key takeaways from the ongoing war which can be a warning for other strategically vulnerable states as well.
There are many questions concerning global peace and economy to which the answers are still unknown. The war in Ukraine has left the world a more perilous place. Despite Fukuyama’s idea of ‘the end of history’, the world has witnessed that bellicose jingoism is not an ancient practice but a bitter present reality. This war has not only threatened the current global peace but also has become one for the future as it has made the possession of nuclear weapons more attractive for the states in general. This tension in the globe escalates with the massive economic challenges faced by the world.
The world was slowly recovering from the global pandemic when it was hit by a huge energy shock due to the war in Ukraine. For decades, Europe relied on the energy from USSR and later Russia, and it was assumed that this massive reliance would be refraining Russia from taking aggressive measures, however, the reality turned out to be otherwise. Russia, despite being the largest energy exporter to Europe, invaded Ukraine and as a result, the west boycotted Russian energy, but transitioning away from Russian energy would not be easy for Europe. No doubt, alternatives like Liquefied Natural Gas are filling the gap yet cannot compete with the prices of dry gas which as a result led to global inflation which impacted underdeveloped countries more. Flipping the side of the same coin, decreased Russian exports to Europe impacted the domestic revenue of Russia as well which is hampering the political influence of the present Russian government inside the state as well.
The Russian economy has been led heavily by oil and gas exports and even if the war stops, the West is less likely to return to Russia because the perils of Russian aggression are too high. Owing to the sudden shift in global market preferences, the world is facing the added pressure of de-globalization due to global price hikes and inflation. This will also be the main cause of changed supply-chain policies throughout the world and also a visible surge in global defense spending will be witnessed due to the ongoing war in Ukraine.
States that were spending more on human development will once again focus on strengthening their traditional security, to overcome the vulnerability that Ukraine is in.
No doubt, the Russian image as a military power has been sternly tarnished and even if it remains on the battlefield for the years to come, it has been weakened. One of the biggest reasons was Russia using heavy old weapons like tanks instead of swift modern weapons. There have been different opinions on what the future of Russia would be and more than the economic collapse, in case the war in Ukraine continues a huge chance of Russia’s internal collapse in form of a civil war or a political disintegration is foreseen. This also reminisces the position of the USSR in the cold war which led to its political and economic downfall. However, these are all speculations as Russia being a nuclear power and aware of its national security is equally dangerous for the world and the perils might exacerbate in case of Russian failure in the war in Ukraine.
Moving ahead of the consequences which are more intense for Eastern Europe as compared to the rest of the world, the war in Ukraine can be termed as a cautionary anecdote for states because there are many lessons the states can learn from it if they want to. As discussed earlier, economic dependence on any state can be a dicey business and for that matter, states should be open to multiple options for trade to survive such unforeseen situations. Today, a strong economy and robust relationships in the world give more advantages to states at war, which implies that states need to work on achieving effective long-term economic and foreign policies.
Apart from the economy, traditional security when discussing war cannot be neglected. The battlefield situation shows that modern technology including satellites played a salient role in the war and this visibly overshadowed the role of older heavy machinery which is more exposed in such wars. The Turkish drones and Western anti-tank weapons used to attack Russian tanks flipped the idea of possessing heavy weapons for state security stressing the importance of modern weapons. As a result, the states need to acquire modern state-of-the-art technology to insure national security and maintain deterrence. Along with that, Russian troops according to some studies were neither trained nor briefed properly and many of them did not know the actual cause of the war. This strategic loophole is a warning as well as an eye-opener for the states that are prone to wars to invest in proper training and briefing of their soldiers to avoid chaos.
Acquiring modern technology, and training the army is however only halfway through it. Turning the pages of history, we find out that after the disintegration of the USSR, Ukraine became an independent country. This implies that it should have worked on its internal and external security which includes acquiring both conventional and nuclear weapons. However, under international pressure or influence, Ukraine signed Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1994 and removed nuclear deterrence from its national security as a strategic option in return for assured collective security by NATO when needed. At the time of need, reliance on external factors led Ukraine to pay through the nose.
Had Ukraine not given up on its nukes, the scenario due to the added deterrence would have been different today. This again emphasizes the importance of state security and deterrence with complete control within the state.
The war in Ukraine is in itself a message for Pakistan too. Owing to the strategic depth of Pakistan with both internal and external security threats, Pakistan needs to establish and strengthen both hard and soft power. As emphasized earlier, the economic fallouts of this war have shaken the entire world, and Pakistan due to various other factors had to face a stronger jolt from this global economic recession. Resultantly Pakistan needs to work on its economy keeping in view the trade deficit, and debt trap, by finding multiple sources of increasing the state revenue. Moreover, Pakistan needs to try to get rid of economic dependence, even on its closest friends, and stand on its own to be able to face any unforeseen situations.
Along with the economic growth, Pakistan needs to focus on its military strength as well. Pakistan during the Indo-Pak war of 1971 has already learnt its lessons by relying on external help from US Seventh Fleet’s Task Force 74. Strengthening the military by acquiring modern weapons with all control in hand and no reliance on any state for help along with trained officers has become essential for Pakistan. Pakistan has an enemy in the neighborhood and it has to bring its military strength both conventional and non-conventional to par with modern standards. However, balancing the power does not promote waging a war, but promises national security by deterring the enemy at the western and eastern borders as well as within the country.
To conclude, the war has seen many escalations in the name of Western military assistance to Ukraine or switching to more powerful weapons which are only changing the war instead of ending it.
Out of all the fallouts from economic losses and breach of peace, Russia being a nuclear state and its possibility to use these weapons can be the most worrisome consequence of this war.
For most of the world, after the cold war, the term war had become an abstract reality that was least expected to occur due to globalization and the liberal world order. However, the war in Ukraine struck the world with the harsh reality of armed aggression and violence, which brings with it different lessons for other states. Although reshaping the military and technology is not easy, it has become the need of time for the world. This is because it heavily depends on the perception of the future of war which in simple terms means connecting the national economy with security. This as a result requires some agonizing policy decisions and contemplation on the part of major global actors as well as individual states, which will be impacting global peace and security in the years to come.
Zirwah Yousaf is an English literature graduate and a freelance analyst with a keen interest in international politics. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, Instagram: @zirwahyousaf