Regional Powers and Ukraine War; From Destruction and Inflammation to Concern and Costliness
With 2 months passed the war in Ukraine and total destruction of Ukraine’s capacities, and to some extent Moscow’s, the sides involved and the regional countries, and even countries beyond, are preparing themselves for a prolonged conflict.
In this paper, we will examine the situation and approaches of these countries, over 20 countries. There are several general elements like the energy crisis, inflation, grains shortage, and especially the end of war becoming harder, in addition to other elements for the green continent and world countries, in relation to the Ukraine crisis:
A: The G-14 countries, that is the countries which have joined the Nato from Central and Eastern Europe following the Soviet collapse, include three classifications of extremely concerned like Poland, Romania, the Baltic republics; concerned countries like Czech, Croatia and Albania; and less concerned like only Hungary. These three classifications are trying to offer full-scale help to Ukraine according to their amount of discontent, and are pushing for stricter sanctions on Russia.
Albania and Croatia have also another type of concern of a new crisis unfolding in the West Balkans and reemergence of frozen ethnic conflicts, especially in Bosnia and Kosovo. Up to now, the losers of this crisis are the smaller Black Sea littoral countries like Moldova, Romania, and Bulgaria, which have been fundamentally shocked psychologically, economically, politically and from the perspective of security, and more than ever see themselves exposed to direct engagement with the various dimensions of this crisis and geographical expansion of the Russia-Ukraine war to their territories.
B: G-4 including the countries of Moldova, Bosnia, Serbia, and Kosovo, which except for Serbia that supports Russia, have greatly deep concerns, especially Moldova is insistent on a full-scale support for Zelensky, and delivering equipment to the Ukrainian army.
C: Turkey; this country as a regional power on the coasts of the Black Sea, though managing to pursue an active impartial policy and utilization of both sides by selling advanced UAV equipment to Ukraine as well as other military equipment, has not been serious in implementing Moscow sanctions, but no doubt, this war will bring negative impacts on the country’s economy, chief among them in the tourism and exports to Ukraine and Russia. With a cursory glance, if the situation goes on as it is now this year, at least Turkey will see a 5 million reduction in tourists from Russia and Ukraine. In addition, the Turkish companies have invested in major infrastructure and producing plans in Russia and Ukraine, and the exchanges of Turkey with Kiev and Moscow was over $20 billion in year, which will certainly experience a downward trend after the outbreak of the crisis.
However, this crisis has produced a breathing hole for Turkey’s politics and efforts to get closer to the Atlantic axis; meanwhile, the country has played a tangible role in mediation between the two countries. Considering its long and old presence in the region and the type of interactions with Moscow and Kiev, Turkey is sort of trying to appear as a mediator to the parties, but its chances are to some extent dependent on the positions of big countries , especially the US and UK.
D:China; this country too has in the last two decades extensively invested in the Black Sea coastal and Central and Eastern European countries in the form of the One Road, One Belt Initiative and in the form of the G17+1 group. This crisis, no doubt, has seriously damaged China’s developmental plans and goals in the region. According to relative assessments, China has so far invested about $100 billion in the form of the 17+1, and has tried to get it to $200 billion in year. It is not a secret that the Chinese have so far tried to play the role of an actor with balance impartiality, and despite predictions they did not go out of their way to show full-scale support for Russia. China, though taking steps in support of Russia in propaganda terms, in operational terms and in gross violation of the sanctions, has not effectively helped Russia.
In a general conclusion, it has to be said that this war has emptied Russian and Ukrainian economic resources, and once again the horrific pictures of Moscow have been conjured up in the minds of the majority of these 20 countries, and no doubt, the impacts are here to stay for a long time. This crisis has also driven the Balkans and Black Sea littoral countries toward NATO, and embeded in them the belief that without help from NATO, they are going to lack the minimum capacity to secure their security and defend against a foreign enemy, especially Russia.
Last word, Iran, given its historical and traditional relations with most Central and Eastern European countries and the type of special relations with Russia, can adopt a more active approach with the element of active and balanced impartiality towards continuous negotiations to encourage ending war, even with a limited role, and considering the impact of this crisis on the Vienna negotiations, no doubt, the sooner the crisis is ended, the more benefits will come for the international system and the Eurasian peace and stability.
Ali Beman Eghbalizarch, European Studies Expert
(The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the IPIS)