between Russia and the West, the ambiguities of a part of the world


Do everything to avoid turning the war in Ukraine into a diplomatic face-off between Russia and the West. Beyond the fighting, such is, in the eyes of European and American officials, the challenge posed by the prolongation of the conflict launched by Vladimir Putin on February 24. Moscow may well be marginalized at the United Nations, as several votes have shown since the invasion of Ukraine, but the Kremlin has not ceased to present the current confrontation as a binary confrontation between Russia and the Western world. With a lot of propaganda, Russia has even distributed eloquent maps on social networks aimed at diminishing the reality of Russian isolation: the rapprochement between Russia and China is presented there as the keystone of a new order. world, to the detriment of Washington and its European allies, hit by the return of war on a continent in decline and torn apart for a long time.

Read the analysis: Article reserved for our subscribers War in Ukraine: Russia’s historic isolation at the UN

On paper, Russia’s banishment from the international community is clear if we take into account the votes that have taken place at the United Nations in recent weeks: 141 countries have condemned the war and called for a ceasefire. less than a week after the invasion of Ukraine, and only four, Belarus, Syria, North Korea and Eritrea, voted with Moscow. But 35 others abstained, starting with China, India, several African and Gulf states.

Many indifferent states

Thursday, April 7, the vote on the suspension of Russia from the United Nations Human Rights Council confirmed that the initial consensus was fragile: only 93 States (out of 193) voted for, 24 against (including China this time), and 58 abstained, including many emerging countries. “There are many states that are indifferent to war, because they do not want to take sides in a conflict between great powers and are worried about its consequences on energy and food prices”, analyzes a diplomat posted in New York. “Russia is isolated, but many countries do not side with Ukraine and its Western allies,” he adds.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers Russia suspended from UN Human Rights Council

How to explain such a situation when the atrocities committed by Russian soldiers on civilians, the strikes against railway stations and hospitals, and the siege of Mariupol arouse widespread indignation, at least in the Western world? “Many countries want to keep their distance vis-à-vis a conflict whose effects they fear, while the defense of major principles by Westerners is not always considered credible.analyzes the former Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations (2000-2008), Jean-Marie Guéhenno, a teacher at New York University. Their feeling is that the West’s emotion is variable and that the erosion of international law began with the Kosovo war, with NATO’s intervention against Serbia in 1999, and of course during of the Iraq war in 2003. Two events that Russia does not hesitate to highlight to denounce the interventionism of the United States and its allies since the end of the Cold War.

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