A World Turned Upside Down
March 20, 2022
In the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the world has faced very unexpected events. These have turned the established geopolitical situation on its head. Many countries' long established positions and the habits of their organizations have been transformed. Here are the most striking changes.
Just days after Russia's invasion, the European Union launched a huge number of sanctions and has effectively isolated Russia. These sanctions include, most surprisingly, the Nordstream pipeline to Germany⏤which would have made Germany even more dependent on Russia for energy⏤and SWIFT, an international banking organization that connects all major banks. This is surprising, because the EU has been known for being extremely weak against Russia. The EU did not even sanction Russia for annexing Crimea in 2014, and only did so when the Russians shot down a Dutch passenger plane. The sanctions the EU launched against Russia in 2014 were extremely weak, and made no difference to the Russian economy. Now however, Russian planes cannot enter EU airspace, and are sending weapons to Ukraine, something unthinkable a few years ago. The EU has also refused to accept Ukraine on multiple occasions, mainly because the Russians have been threatening Ukraine. But now the EU is accepting Ukraine. This paves the way for Ukraine to obtain their main goal: join the European community, and become a Western democracy. The EU has gone from a weak organization unwilling to stand up against Russia to cutting off Russia in only a single weekend.
Many countries in Europe have considered themselves neutral. After the Second World War Austria became a neutral country, followed by other members of Europe and the EU who have also acted neutral in world affairs. Sweden became neutral around the mid 19th century, and has stayed as such through multiple world wars. Switzerland, however, has been neutral for much longer, and many foreign powers, including many of the Russian Oligarchs, have money in Swiss bank accounts. These countries have changed their age-old traditions of neutrality in the face of Russia's invasion. Sweden has begun sending weapons to Ukraine, while Austria has followed EU sanctions. The most surprising turn of events, however, is in Switzerland. The Swiss have sanctioned Russia and frozen Oligarchs assets in Switzerland. The neutral countries have chosen sides and are making a huge difference in the Russian Economy.
In the decades after the Cold war, NATO, or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which was created to defend Europe from Soviet aggression in the Cold War, has been less active, and has become weaker and seemingly less important. Many NATO countries, like Germany, have not kept their military at the levels NATO requires, and, in general, NATO has been without unity. This disunity mainly stems from the false belief that there is no longer a threat. There is a threat⏤Russia⏤but NATO and Europe have become complacent. Now, with the threat visible, NATO has become unified against Russia. NATO may also be expanding soon. Sweden and Finland are considering joining NATO, and Georgia has also begun to start the process. Ukraine’s entry to the EU also paves the way for Ukraine's possible entry to NATO. Putin has unified both Europe and NATO.
Putin has altered the world order extremely rapidly, and has turned most of the world against him. Most of the west is sending weapons to Ukraine, sanctioning Putin, and those who are not in NATO are considering joining it. Whatever happens with this invasion, in one weekend it will have changed the world order of the past 70 or more years.