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Russia's war: no end in sight

Russia's war: no end in sight
No end is sight: Russia's war | Quick Take | GZERO Media

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hey everybody. Ian Bremmer here and a happy Monday to you. A Quick Take to kick off your week. Wanted to talk latest on the Russia War.

Seen both sides, significant new attacks. From the Ukrainians, a drone successfully hitting an office tower in Moscow. From Russia, a drone attacking a grain storage and infrastructure facility right on Ukraine's Romanian border. The Ukrainians wanting to show Russia that they can continue to hit deep inside the country, even right at the capital. The Russians wanting to show that they can and will cripple Ukrainian agricultural capabilities now that they have stepped out, the Russians have stepped out of the Black Sea grain deal. Both of these things showing that 500 plus days in the war is not over. It's continuing to cause grave damage to both populations and both also showing that there's very little substantial progress either towards victory of one side, defeat of the other or towards a ceasefire and a breakthrough in negotiations.

Given that state of play, and given that we just had a Vilnius summit, NATO summit that showed that the countries are together and they're providing strong levels of ongoing support for the Ukrainians, that's not going to fall apart anytime soon. But meanwhile, the Russians are defending themselves capably in the front lines against Ukrainian counter offensive, which is not going as well as certainly the Ukrainians or NATO had hoped a couple of months ago before it started. I wanted to look at policy because what US and NATO policy towards the Russia, Ukraine fight is and isn't is sometimes misstated.

NATO and the United States, first and foremost are trying to help defend Ukraine and help them get their land back, certainly the territory that has been taken since February 24th. They have done a pretty good job of that. Certainly the Ukrainians are far more capable in terms of their defenses going forward, and much of the territory that was initially taken by the Russians has now been regained by Ukraine. Certainly not all of it, and again, not very much over the last couple of months, but the Russians do not control most of the territory that they have illegally annexed over a few months ago. And of course, all of the territory they initially took in the north and towards Kyiv and the Northeast, that the Ukrainians have removed them from completely back to the original borders. Secondly, the US and NATO are trying to make sure that Russia doesn't want to do it again, that they understand that this was a mistake, whether or not they admit it as such and that such an attack going forward would be even more so.

In other words, they don't want the Russians to think that they can wait out and have a second bite of this apple. Now so far they seem pretty successful there as well. That's why you continue to have efforts to talk about long-term Ukrainian security guarantees, including eventually a pathway into NATO. But short of that, and before that, commitments that the G-7 will all continue to provide cyber defenses and equipment and training and intelligence for the Ukrainians, all of which is intended to bolster that policy. And then finally want lessons for other countries, notably China, to them, that if you were thinking of invading Taiwan, if you were thinking of attacking territory that really matters to the West, think again, there will be serious consequences. You'll be punished for that. It'll hurt you militarily, it'll hurt you economically. And I think that on that policy as well, there has been so far a fair amount of success.

Now, what the policy is not. It is not a policy to remove Putin from office. It is not a policy of regime change. It is also not a policy to destroy Russia. Russia is a federation. There are different autonomous republics and regions with different nationalities. This is not an intention to do to the Russians what happened to the Soviet Union in the late eighties, culminating in the collapse in 1991. Also very importantly and not discussed very often, it's not an effort to cut off global markets from Russia. I hear a lot, look at, and I put out those numbers myself. Look at how much oil the Indians are buying from Russia. Look at how much the Chinese are now buying from Russia. The American policy, the NATO policy is that India and China should buy that oil at a discount from the Russians. The alternative would be that the markets would be crippled.

The alternatives would be a massive spike in disruptions in supply chain, a major recession that Biden doesn't want and that frankly nobody in NATO wants. So even though you won't see NATO leaders saying, we're so happy the Indians are buying all of this oil, the reality is they are. It's cheaper. The Russians are getting less for it than they would in a properly functioning global market had they not invaded Ukraine. And then the Indians are actually doing more refined product, value add for them that is being exported to Europe so the Europeans can continue to have their economy run. Are the Europeans still essentially consuming a lot of Russian oil? Sure they are. Are the Europeans ending up getting a whole bunch of food from Russia? Yeah, and so is Africa, and so are other countries around the world.

And it's very annoying that the food and fertilizer deal has been unilaterally broken by the Russians, and now the Ukrainians will not be able to profit from their food and fertilizer industry, and it's going to hurt a lot of African nations in particular, but Russia will still be able to export a lot of that food. And again, given the importance of those commodities to global markets, that's not going to change anytime soon. The reason I mention this is because at some point the war will be over, at some point there will be a ceasefire, hopefully, as the Ukrainians can take as much of their land back as was stolen from them as possible, and hopefully with very strong and defined and ongoing support from the EU, from the United States, from the G-7, from NATO, that will allow Ukraine to reconstruct, allow them to join the EU, allow them eventually even to join NATO, and hopefully there will also be strong lessons that are maintained by the Russians, by the Chinese, by others around the world that the G7 is cohesive, will respond to breaking of the rule of law, at least in those cases where countries are strategically important to NATO and the G-7.

I'd like to say to all countries around the world, that would certainly be the proper international law response. It would also be the proper human response. I don't think that we are there, but nonetheless, the basic intentions of these policies are so far looking to be pretty strong. The question of course is what do you do beyond that? Because the consequences of Putin invading is that he has screwed up his own country. The consequences of Putin invading is that Prigozhin, who was this very loyal guy that was providing all sorts of paramilitary services for dictatorships across the Middle East and Africa, suddenly had to redeploy to Ukraine because the defense ministry and the regular forces did so badly, his forces got eaten up, and now he's become enemy number one for the Russians, and yet is still walking around in Belarus. That destabilizes Russia. It's not American policy, but it is a knock on consequence of the failure of the invasion and the consequences of the invasion.

What that means is that dealing with the Russians long term is something the Americans are going to have to think a lot more about. You can get the war in Ukraine eventually over and still have a massive problem with a nuclear-armed Putin whose country is much more destabilized, and yet the US has no interest in having a Russia massively destabilized. In that regard, America shares interest with almost everyone in the world, certainly the Chinese, the Indians, the entire Global South. Nobody wants nuclear war. Nobody wants a rogue state like Russia to become destabilized and more risk acceptant. That would undo so many of the proper lessons that hopefully are finally being learned by a lot of countries on the basis of the late, but nonetheless, strong response to the Russian invasion.

So something to spend more time thinking about, especially as we talk about, for example, Putin as a war criminal, which certainly is true, and on the other hand, he'll never be tried for it. And the ability to deal with a war criminal makes it a lot harder long term for Europe, for the United States to have a stable relationship with a post-Ukraine war Russia. How do you square that circle? And if you don't, what kind of a world are you living in? What kind of greater risks are you imputedly willing to tolerate? Something we're going to talk about a lot more.

Anyway, that's it for me on a Monday. Hope everyone's doing well and I'll talk to you all real soon.


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