Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


The War in Ukraine Heralds a New World Order

Ukraine Russia
Russian Artillery Firing. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

There are few countries outside of Russia and a handful of its allies who support its act of aggression against Ukraine. However, the United States must not delude itself into believing that most of the world is coming together under its banner to oppose Moscow’s invasion. While a rallying around the flag effect may be true for NATO countries in Europe, the reality is far more nuanced outside of this geopolitical bloc. In fact, the international response to the Ukraine War indicates not global unity and a reinvigoration of old alliances, but an important shift in the international system that the conventional fixation on “New Cold War” rhetoric simply ignores.

Given this complex and emergent international context, the Institute of Peace and Diplomacy recently released a new report titled “Middle Powers in the Multipolar World.” The study contends that the often-overlooked class of actors called middle powers are essential to a better understanding of the complex geopolitical shifts in a multipolar world. As keystone states in regional balances of power and anchored to a particular regional security complex (RSC), middle powers enjoy a significant degree of freedom to affect and shape world events.

The war in Ukraine has further underscored this reordering, even as many foreign policy commentators—fixated as they are on great power politics—seem to miss the fundamental changes in the working of the international system that it signals. One only needs to consider the nuanced, hedging response of many middle powers to the conflict in Ukraine to appreciate the extent of influence these regional and civilizational powers hold in this increasingly multi-polar world.

Efforts by both Moscow and Washington to reboot at least the perception and rhetoric of a rekindled superpower confrontation and re-partition of the world accordingly have fallen flat in much of the world (especially the global South) hoping to transcend such all-or-nothing stances. With the (re-)emergence of several different civilizational poles—as middle (or, in the case of China, great) powers—the familiar circumstances and old strategic frameworks of ‘unipolarity’ and ‘bipolarity’ that dominated the post-WWII era find little application in the current geopolitical landscape. As the study contends,

“A major reason for this necessary paradigm shift is that middle powers are civilizational states, firmly rooted to a particular land, tradition, and culture and possessing a powerful historical memory. Compared to the ideological impetus of the superpowers of the 20th century, access to a historical consciousness—not ideology—is the engine that most often drives these states, linking the interests of the past and the future of ‘a people’ with the concrete realities faced by the present generations.”

And due to this shift, nations not traditionally considered to be as influential as great powers have become vastly more important and impactful in specifically regional contexts. What’s more, collectively, they represent a challenge to the liberal consensus on international crises. Examining the generally independent tack some of these middle powers have adopted in relation to the Ukraine War is illuminating of future trends.

Both a middle power and a partner of the United States, India’s non-aligned response to the Russo-Ukraine War and its insistence on neutrality has surprised some in Washington. Yet, India has had a long-standing relationship with Russia dating back to the early Postwar era (particularly in the defense sector). While New Delhi has strengthened its relationship with Washington in the past few decades, this has not led to a weakening of its ties with Moscow, from whom it is currently still buying oil. The relationship between Russia and India is mutually beneficial and based on the rationale of balancing China in Eurasia. Moreover, it boosts New Delhi’s strategic autonomy, allowing it to avoid over-dependence on any one foreign country. The North Atlantic foreign policy establishment would therefore be wise not to conflate India with Europe.

The case of Erdogan’s Turkey, both a NATO member and a revisionist middle power, also offers an interesting example. Both an important member in the NATO alliance as well as an exporter of the highly effective Bayraktar TB2 drone to Ukraine, Ankara has nevertheless vied for a flexible diplomatic approach towards Russia. It has also used its leverage with both Russia and Ukraine to elevate itself into the role of a key intermediary, hosting direct ceasefire talks between Moscow and Kyiv. In contrast, status quo middle powers like Japan and Germany have been happy to back Washington and even been quite proactive in sanctioning Moscow, with Berlin, in particular, surpassing the most optimistic expectations by the forcefulness of its response to the Russian Aggression even in the face of growing economic dislocation.

As the United States reviews and recalibrates its role in the world, the Ukraine War has also shown the growing tactical influence of middle powers in fault line conflicts in their adjacent RSCs. As Ukraine’s reliance on Turkish drones and the Houthi armory of Iranian-made ballistic missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) demonstrate, arms manufactured and supplied by middle powers can play a decisive role in faultline conflicts to empower peripheral states. This could lessen the traditional dependence of peripheral states on great power weapons manufacturing.

Not only is Russia discovering in Ukraine what many NATO countries had to learn the hard way in Afghanistan (and arguably Syria)—namely that peripheral and fault line states hold more defensive power than is often assumed—but also the world is noticing how easy it is for middle powers to exert influence in the more open and dynamic multipolar international system to stymie their extra-regional rivals (as revealed by the damaging impact of Turkish support for Ukraine on Russia).

Given their generally non-aligned posture, middle powers thus possess far more strategic flexibility and diplomatic autonomy than great powers like the United States which are rigidly wedded to their global alliances. Taken together, the world is witness to an often-neglected aspect of multipolarity—that of the regionally anchored middle powers: nations strong enough to maintain the balance of power in a specific region, even as they lack the ability to replicate this posture on a global level.

Therefore, policymakers in Washington would be prudent to account for the increasing importance of middle powers to the international order as pivotal states and take advantage of this fact by recognizing middle powers’ rooted interests and engaging with them as equal sovereigns. Given the reality of multipolarity and re-emergence of regional security complexes, wise great powers will leverage the keystone middle powers, rather than working against them, to apply more significant geopolitical pressure and advance their interests at lower cost—while neutralizing their rivals’ spheres of influence in the process.

Christopher Mott is a research fellow at the Institute for Peace & Diplomacy in Washington DC and author of “The Formless Empire: A Short History of Diplomacy and Warfare in Central Asia”. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of St. Andrews.

Written By

Christopher Mott is an international relations specialist and author of The Formless Empire: A Short History of Diplomacy and Warfare in Central Asia.



  1. CK

    May 10, 2022 at 9:58 am

    This is one of those pivotal moments in recent history indeed. Of the same calibre as 1991 and 2001 respectively.

    Hilariously enough, the unintended consequence of this foolish invasion has been NATO, the EU and “The West” becoming stronger, and taking their militaries seriously again, especially in terms of funding.

    It’s about damn time, because for the last thirty years, besides terrorists and dubious foreign adventures, it has been as if the West has been blind to big state actors (like Russia and China) and that they would ever pose a threat.

    Handel durch Wandel has finally been put to bed as the fallacious and self-serving, hypocritical policy that it was.

    Today it was Russia’s turn, and it seems increasingly likely China will be the next to try their hand at superpower maneuvreing. The totalitarian, authoritarian, anti-liberal powers of the world have been on the move for a long time.

    It’s about time the West recognised this, and acted accordingly.

  2. Alex

    May 10, 2022 at 11:01 am

    And now, instead of tantrums and fantasies, let’s face it.

    Zelensky is a Kremlin agent.

    So in just two months:

    1. Actively extorted money from the West.

    2. Strengthened the ruble.

    3. In addition to the Crimea, he gave Donbass to Russia.

    4.. Turned off the gas at the whole of Europe, sending it to the Middle Ages.

    5. Ruined the pockets of drivers, farmers, entrepreneurs and manufacturers in the EU and the US.

    6. Since the beginning of the special operation, almost all major competitors from Russia have left, making room for Russian entrepreneurs.

    7. Begging for so many weapons that even Scholz said that the Bundeswehr was running out of weapons “for himself.”

    8. He collected all the crap of the Ukrainian Nazi subculture – tattooed Nazis, outcasts, idiots, maniacs, murderers from Europe and other countries in one place, where the Russians kill them in batches and promptly deliver them to Bandera.

    9. United the Russian people around their leader. Russia has never known such powerful support for the actions of the President and his cabinet during all the terms of his reign.

    10. He sent into emigration the entire corrupt beau monde of the Russian stage and cinema, with pockets full of “wishes” from the grateful Russian people.

    Never before has Russia been as good as under Zelensky.

  3. Alex

    May 10, 2022 at 12:46 pm

    Jim Chambers (Fergie Chambers) – a journalist from NY spoke about how he SAW the attacks of Ukrainian fascists on peaceful Ukrainians. He told how he SAW what horrors the Bandera Nazis were doing to the Ukrainians. He said that food and medicine appeared when the Russian Liberators came.

    He told how he SAW Nazi paraphernalia wherever the military of Ukraine abandoned their positions (swastikas, Mein Kampf books, paintings by Hitler, Bandera, etc.).

    He SAW how opponents of the regime of the Ukrainian authorities were detained, tortured and killed. He told how the people of Ukraine are waging their struggle for existence and for peace without Bandera Nazis. He spoke about how the Russian liberators help civilians and the Ukrainians ask the Russians not to leave. The Ukrainians are upset that the Russians came late, they should have come earlier.

    He said: “Our American weapons have only exacerbated the useless bloodshed in a battle that the Ukrainian fascists can never win. I am ashamed to carry an American passport with me. The world desperately needs a Russian victory: at the end of Ukrainian Nazism and at the end of the American NATO empire. World needs victory for freedom.”

  4. Alex

    May 10, 2022 at 1:59 pm

    Graham William Phillips is an outstanding British journalist who objectively and unbiasedly covers events in Ukraine.

    He is in a war zone and interviews all sides. He confirms the existence of Bandera Nazis who brutally torture and kill Ukrainians just because they do not want to see Bandera Nazis in their country.

    He confirms that the Ukrainians are asking the Russian liberators not to leave them anymore and not to leave.

    It is interesting to see how Graham interviews Aiden Aislin, a Briton who fought on the side of Ukraine as part of the Nazi Azov Battalion and was taken prisoner in Mariupol.

    The truth will always see the world thanks to such professionals, and not propagandists, who sometimes have never been to Ukraine and are thousands of miles away.

    No Nazism. We – free people will win.

  5. Alex

    May 11, 2022 at 12:17 pm

    A bit of truth.

    The head of the UN monitoring mission, Matilda Bogner, said that the organization has reliable information about the torture of Russian soldiers in Ukrainian captivity:
    “Ukraine and Russia must promptly and effectively investigate all allegations of torture and ill-treatment of prisoners of war,” she said.

    The military-civilian administration of the Kherson region announced their intention to appeal to Putin with a request to include the region into Russia:
    “We intend to live as part of the Russian Federation. We fully cooperate and feel as one with the regions of Russia.”

    Pfizer, Moderna, Merck, Gilead are testing medicines in Ukraine, bypassing international safety standards, reducing the costs of research programs and gaining significant competitive advantages. Coronavirus vaccine manufacturers have been involved in US military biological activities.

    Along with American pharmaceutical companies and Pentagon contractors, Ukrainian state structures are involved in military biological activities, the main tasks of which are to conceal illegal activities, conduct field and clinical trials, and provide the necessary biomaterial.
    The American side expanded its research potential both in the field of creating biological weapons and in the field of obtaining information about antibiotic resistance and the presence of antibodies to various diseases in the population of specific regions.

    Ukraine has long become a training ground for Western countries to create biological weapons components and test new samples of pharmaceuticals.

    The United States, as part of its military biological program in Ukraine, used Mariupol as a regional center for work with the cholera pathogen.
    Evidence was obtained of the emergency destruction of documents confirming work with the US military department. A preliminary analysis of the surviving documentation indicates the use of Mariupol as a regional center for the collection and certification of the cholera pathogen.

    The selected strains were sent to the public health center in Kyiv, which is entrusted with the functions of further sending biomaterials to the United States.
    This activity has been carried out since 2014, which is confirmed by the acts of transfer of strains.

    Pentagon spokesman John Kirby on Fox News recalled that the United States supplied weapons to Ukraine long before the start of the Russian special operation.
    “The Biden administration was supplying weapons long before the invasion. The first billion dollars that the president allocated for Ukraine did indeed include assistance with lethal weapons … The United States, Canada, Britain, other allies actually helped prepare the Ukrainians, ”Kirby quoted the TV channel as saying.

    As military experts and analysts had previously assumed, Ukraine would have brought down all its military power on the Donbass in any case, but Russia was the first to come to the aid of Donyuass.

    The world is watching. The world sees. Lies are dying.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.