ArticlesOne Year of War on Romania's Border – Short-...

One Year of War on Romania’s Border – Short- and Long-Term Consequences

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After almost one year of war on Romania’s border, we are all wondering if and how the war in Ukraine could end. At the moment, there are no chances for peace talks, rather the most possible scenario appears to be a new escalation this spring. There are currently three types of consequences of the war. (1) the ones for security in the field and at the regional level (2) the political ones at the international level and (3) the economic ones at the European and global level.

Regional security

It is important to consider how the war in Ukraine has changed the security relations in the region, as well as the regional security arrangements. Mainly the relations between NATO and Russia and the stability of cooperation between West and East were affected. Russia’s desire to expand on the territory of a sovereign state, although an existing reality since 2014 with the annexation of Crimea, is today a much stronger threat, not only for Ukraine, but also for other states in the region such as the Republic of Moldova. The deterioration of NATO-Russia relations has led to the exacerbation of bellicose rhetoric from both sides, as well as, for the first time since the end of the Cold War, to the clear identification of Russia as a threat to NATO values and strategies. This aspect is particularly important, leading to the removal of Russia as a regional security partner and the transformation of the eastern flank into a major danger zone.

Apart from these dangers, the humanitarian situation in the region has led to major flows of refugees in Eastern Europe. Although, in the short term, the issue was managed with relative success by international and national organizations, as well as by neighboring states, the issue of the return of the refugees to Ukraine, come the eventual end of the war, remains one of the main challenges for Eastern European states. We must not forget that, although the war can be ended by a purely territorial agreement, the human dramas suffered by those affected, who have lost not just their homes, but also their identity, will remain for generations to come.

Last but not least, when it comes to the regional situation and the consequences of the war, the way Ukraine’s neighboring states have reacted to this major security crisis must be taken into account. What role does Romania play at this moment in this war and how will we be affected in the future by the situation in Ukraine? In the short term, Romania reacted positively to the influx of refugees from Ukraine. In the long term, however, the way in which the Romanian state deals with hosting these people and their integration into society poses major problems for what we can call Romania’s response to the war on our border. This is particularly important if we take into account the level of support for the war effort (both military and economic) in the states neighboring Ukraine. Here the difference between Poland and Romania at the collective societal level must be mentioned, with Poland leading in supporting Ukraine, the population of Romania being much less open to the military support of Ukraine than Poland for example, despite our participation in the collective effort of NATO.

In the long term, the way we will support both the Ukrainian military effort as well as the economic reconstruction effort at the end of the war will greatly affect the neighborly relationship between Romania and Ukraine. The existing problems between the two states, the way the Romanian minority in Ukraine is and will be treated depend on Romania’s stance within the collective effort to support Ukraine against the Russian aggression.

International political consequences

From the point of view of international relations, Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has led to major changes both for the bilateral relations of the Western states with Russia and, perhaps more importantly, to a failure of multilateral cooperation at the international level. A particularly significant aspect that must be mentioned is the way in which this war has been waged within the United Nations since last February. The bellicose rhetoric between Russia and Ukraine within the Security Council has become emblematic of the inability of the UN to adapt in the post-Cold War period to the reality of the national interests of the major international actors acting in global politics. Russia, China and the United States – all permanent member states of the Security Council – are representative examples of how national interests take precedence over international cooperation.

In the short term, the main consequence for the United Nations was related to the response that the UN was able to provide. The blocking of the Security Council votes by Russia (a position supported by China by abstaining) led to the condemnation of the aggression only by the UN General Assembly, with little abilities on behalf of the Council to act further.

In the long term, Ukraine’s initiative to remove Russia as a permanent member of the Security Council, although it may lead to precedents in international law, does not seem to have any effect on the reform of the Security Council, but rather leads to the continuation of the de facto blockade of this institution .

What does the lack of perspectives in multilateral cooperation through the existing institutions of the international system created after the end of the Second World War mean for the dynamics of international relations? First of all, such a trend brings with it the creation of new alliances (or rather, the strengthening of already existing cooperative relations) between the major international actors, as we can see in the cooperative relations between Russia, China and India, which thus become an opposition against the West. Secondly, it leads to the re-definition of threats at the global level, as we can see in the Strategic Concept of NATO, which mentions both Russia and China as threats to the North Atlantic Alliance. Last but not least, we observe initiatives to redefine the European Project, threatened by Russian neo-imperialism as the Project for a European Political Community initiated by French President Emmanuel Macron suggests.

Economic consequences at a European and global level

From an economic point of view, the war in Ukraine has led to major fluctuations in the price of oil on the international markets, as well as, through the economic sanctions imposed on Russia, for the possible change of the energy dependencies of the European states. It should be mentioned here, as a possible long-term economic consequence, the way in which dependence on Russian gas can be replaced in a short time through the consolidation of Norway as a European leader on the energy market. What effects could such a change have? First of all, for Norway, there is now the question of ethics of such a gain from the war in Ukraine, as well as the need for a part of the profit from the sale of energy as a result of sanctioning Russia to be re-invested in the economic reconstruction of Ukraine. Secondly, another consequence is related to the harmful effects that an increase in energy production by Norway can have on global warming in the Arctic area. Last but not least, there is the technical problem of how Europe could be reconnected to another energy source than the Russian one. All these trends, however, lead to difficult questions, such as: what does the complete isolation of Russia mean for the global economy? Can such long-term isolation lead to the collapse of the Putin regime and the end of the war? At the moment, the answer to this last question remains simply, no.

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