Thailand/ photo: Jimmy Liao/PexelsAfter Sergei Lavrov’s visit to Brazil, President Lula da Silva claimed that Ukraine was also responsible for the Russian invasion (“both countries made a military decision”) and accused Washington of instigating the conflict. The Brazilian president’s remarks are just the latest, but perhaps the most disturbing, example of how the West and Ukraine have failed to convince a large number of so-called Global South to crusade against Russia. The prevailing narrative in the West is that Russia is isolated on the world stage. But we have several countries in different regions (including large democracies like India and Brazil) that refrain from openly criticizing Russia at the UN and acceding to Moscow’s demands (as Lula did with Crimea). Is the appeal of the West failing? Why have we failed to convey the significance of Putin’s defeat for global security? If we look at the numbers: 141 countries have condemned Russia’s actions at the UN. That’s a lot, especially when we consider that there are no more than seven or eight countries that have backed Russia, including Syria, North Korea and Eritrea. Countries that were already isolated. The real problem, however, is the large number of abstentions (30-40 countries), including some of the world’s largest economies such as Brazil, South Africa, India and of course China and Mexico. This does not mean that all these countries are pro-Russian. Many of them felt uneasy – to put it mildly – about Russia’s behavior. But some have also found an opportunity to buy cheaper oil or gas here. non-aligned states, which assumed that a war in Europe was a war in the northern hemisphere, so it was not their problem. Such a narrative is a classic of the Cold War, when the countries that would later be called the Third World did not take a stand. To convince the undecided, the West must try harder. It must be made clear that the Russian war in Ukraine is exactly what the Global South really hates: contempt and questioning of the country’s sovereignty; changing borders by force, human rights violations. Western leaders must bet on this narrative because countries in the Global South have traditionally criticized this type of stance regardless of where or by whom. So the message we need to convey to each of these countries is that we do not understand the stance the ongoing war in Ukraine, especially as Brazil and South Africa tend to be staunch defenders of international law when sovereignty issues arise in Africa or Latin America, or when Americans invade another country, or Israel terrorizes Palestinians. It is worth directly asking the Global South the following question: “Why are you silent about Russia, when in other conflicts you are the first to criticize and vote against this type of behavior at the UN? Why is the Kremlin different?” In a way, this is interesting because what Russia is doing in Ukraine is nothing more than a colonial war. Russia is a colonial power with the difference that, compared to Spain, France or Great Britain, its colonies were adjacent to its territory. It can therefore be said that Putin is currently fighting for his former colonies. So would the Global South want the US, France or Spain to try to reclaim their former territories? If that were to happen, the states that now declare themselves neutral would probably expect the rest of the world to side with them and consider a possible invasion unacceptable. Then the West, following Putin’s example, could say: “We have been there for several centuries. In Western Sahara they speak Spanish. In Tunisia they speak French. And we want to regain our control there.” This, of course, is completely unacceptable. This example is the kind of message we need to convey to other countries. It should also be constantly reminded that if it had not been for the war in Ukraine, there would not have been all these problems with food and energy supplies. Were it not for the war, the flow of wheat, fertilizer, oil and gas would have been maintained. This message must be repeated many times by Western capitals, which in most cases have very good relations with the Global South. It is often argued in international discussion that the Western world did little when China invaded India. In 1962, many felt that Western civilization had not sufficiently condemned China’s actions on the Indian border. But should that be an excuse for Russia’s actions? Should this be a justification for occupying a large part of Ukraine’s territory and changing the border by force? The fact that Russia has a permanent seat on the UN Security Council should not be an excuse. Source: El Confidencial
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