Roland Freudenstein: Russia’s war and the Global South – a way forward for the West

2023-04-05 | Geopolitical analysis, Expert publications

Since March 2022, there has been a recurrent phenomenon in the corridors of Brussels: Whenever Western Europeans feel cornered by Poles or Balts who criticize their responses to Russia’s full-scale war, they divert to talking about the Global South.

Mentioning the apparent indifference of India, Brazil, Indonesia, and countries in Sub-Saharan Africa to Ukraine has become Western Europeans’ go-to.

First of all, mentioning the Global South redirects attention toward the region that has been France, Spain, and Italy’s favorite security concern for many years.

Second, it directs attention to the global sins of the West, such as the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, which is an evergreen topic in places like Brussels.

Third, for many reasons, it removes Central Europeans’ halo of geopolitical righteousness and moral superiority, due in part to their support for events such as the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

These debates in Brussels point to a larger problem.

While, since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the West is more united than ever before, Russia is far from isolated: China has, in many respects, taken Russia’s side, and several countries in the Global South are sitting on the fence when it comes to condemning Russia’s brutal aggression. There is even talk of the resurgence of the Non-Aligned Movement.

I propose to tackle the problem in three steps. First, by trying to understand a non-Western perspective on the war. Second, by developing a counter-narrative. And third, by outlining next steps.

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