Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week on Russian escalation of Ukraine strengthening NATO, omicron and the end of COVID-19, and on the most recent military coup in West Africa — Burkina Faso:
How will Russian escalation of Ukraine strengthen NATO?
Well, NATO over the last 10, 20 years even was increasingly beset by problems. You had the US unilateralism focused more on Asia. You had the old mission of defending against the Russians less relevant. The French wanting strategic autonomy. Macron leaning into that. Now, of course, Merkel's gone, too. But the proximate reality in danger of the Russians invading Ukraine, actually, as much as the Europeans are more dependent on the Russians for their economy and their gas, they're also more concerned about Russia in terms of national security. That has driven a lot of coordination, including announcements of a lot more troops and material from being sent by NATO states to Ukraine and also to defend NATO borders, like in the Baltic states as well as Bulgaria and Romania. I would argue that what Putin's been doing so far has had no impact greater than bolstering NATO, and it's one of the reasons why I'm skeptical that a full-on invasion is something that Putin has in the cards because that would frankly do more than anything else out there to make NATO, focused on Russia, a serious and going concern.
Is omicron the end of the COVID-19 nightmare?
If you put it that way, I guess I would say yes. I think it's the end of the nightmare, because the people that have been living with the nightmare, primarily in the developed world, so many are going to be getting omicron and that's going to create a lot more natural immunity, plus most of those populations are already vaccinated. A lot of them are boosted and we've got all these therapeutics. I think that going forward, after omicron is done in relatively short order, this just feels like a very different virus for most of the countries that have been back and forth, back and forth with lockdowns. With the poorest countries in the world, very young populations, they've been living with the virus from day one. They don't have the vaccines in most. They've had to deal with it. In the case of China, that's the big question everyone knows I've been focusing on, but they're going to continue with these lockdowns, and so it hasn't been a nightmare per se, but it is going to be an economically very significant issue this year. But it's a little different than the way the question was phrased, so that's how I'll answer it.
Another coup is happening in West Africa. What's happening in Burkina Faso and in the region?
Yeah, it's the third coup in the region that we've seen in Mali and Guinea and now in Burkina Faso. It's this new organization that no one's heard of until yesterday that basically said it's military, the government in Burkina Faso was not doing a great job of maintaining stability and security in the country, and there've been growing attacks and influence of local Islamist extremists. That's a problem in all the countries that we've seen these military coups in recent months and, as a consequence, the Democratic elected government is no more. Former French colony, United States not doing an awful lot about it, China does most of the trade with them, but they're not engaged particularly either. So, as a consequence, it makes news and it moves on, and that's where we are.