Exactly a year has passed since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. The so-called “special military operation” turned quickly into a fully-fledged war. Once more, on the continent of Europe, tanks, artillery, aviation, and infantry are involved in devastating battles. Tens of thousands are dead and wounded, millions have been displaced, and cities destroyed.
A year on, we see clearly that Russia’s military invasion of the territory of a neighbouring sovereign state has devastating consequences not only for Ukraine and Russia, but for all mankind.
The presence of nuclear weapons in the aggressor country gives the military conflict a particularly sinister edge with unpredictable consequences. It is also terrible that a year later no one knows when and how this madness will end.
Another fact is obvious too, that the war unleashed by Russia in Ukraine is not just a classic war of expansion for the territory or resources of a neighbouring state. Rather it is an attempt to destroy the existing civilizational world order – a world order based on the fact that all people share common values and interests based on fundamental freedoms.
Unfortunately, we must admit that Putin is not the only politician in the world whose activities are based on the denial of universal values and the desire to destroy the existing world order.
All dictators and other populist politicians justify their destructive position by invoking the supposed ‘national interests’ of their countries. In their understanding, national interests and globalization are incompatible. But this is only the case if nationalism is to be understood as xenophobia.
However, nationalism can also mean the creation of optimal living conditions for all people living in a country, regardless of their age, gender, religion, race or sexual orientation. With this latter definition, there are no contradictions between nationalism and globalism.
Putin is not the only politician in the world whose activities are based on the denial of universal values and the desire to destroy the existing world order.
Russia’s aggression in Ukraine has largely violated the existing order established after the end of the Nuremberg trials in the late 1940s. It has undermined faith in international institutions, exposed their helplessness and inability to withstand such challenges.
The limitations of international law mean that we see the absence of any mechanisms on the part of global institutions that would guarantee compliance with existing legal norms or agreements by world leaders.
As a result, we face huge challenges in the system of transnational cooperation. Our task is to adjust the global agenda, making an urgent task the formation a new and more robust civilisational world order. Otherwise, we will continue to be unable to adequately respond to global challenges such as conflict, climate change, poverty and pandemics.
Time has the properties of blunting our perception of reality, making the shocking seem ordinary. But we have no right to sit on our hands, because we know that hundreds of people, including civilians, are killed in Ukraine every day.
Earlier this month, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy concluded his powerful address to parliamentarians in London’s Westminster Hall with the following words of hope, which echo with a profound truth: “I am not saying that there will be no more wars after the end of the war – no. It is impossible to completely erase evil from human nature. And yet it is in our power to guarantee with words and deeds that the bright side of human nature will prevail”.