Following a pandemic that brought significant parts of the world’s economy to a halt, the war started by Russia is having global consequences in food and energy costs. In tennis terms, the pandemic was a “forced error”; one in which the player is beaten by his/her rival’s ability. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was instead an “unforced error”, one that could have been avoided.
Although the West (mainly the US) might have made unnecessary mistakes encouraging Ukraine to defy its neighbour, it is certain that prior to the attack Russia got offered enough assurances to save face and avoid the bloodbath. No one is therefore more responsible for this war and its consequences than Russia.
In January’s report, the IMF projected growth in 2022 of 4,4 percent globally and of 4,8 percent for emerging markets and developing economies (EMDCs). In April’s report, due to the war, the expectations dropped to 3,6 percent for the world and to 3,8 percent for EMDCs, effectively chopping off the creation of goods and service worth $700 billion. This is more than what Saudi Arabia, the 19th largest economy in the world, produces on a yearly basis.
The picture for EMDCs is more dramatic when realising that against the 3,8 percent expected growth, inflation is forecasted to reach 8,7 percent, effacing almost 5 percent of households’ purchasing power. To have a clearer picture of what this means, the current spike in the cost of staple foods is increasing the number of people who cannot be sure of getting enough to eat from 440m, to 1.6 bn. And if the war drags on, hundreds of millions more people could fall into poverty.
It is therefore baffling to say the least that so many EMDCs, including major ones like India, South Africa or Brasil, abstained from condemning Russia’s actions. Not only it is self defeating in economic terms, it also sets a terrible precedent in international relations. How can India for instance, expect any support if China was to make an aggressive move over its disputed border?
And even if the war had not wrought the dire economic consequences it has, not denouncing Russia is sinister. It means siding with falsehood. Do Modi, Ramaphosa and Bolsonaro really believe Ukraine needed to be “denazified”?
Some EMDC leaders’ acuse the US of hypocrisy in demanding accountability for Russia’s aggression while its invasions of Irak and Afghanistan were also violations of the United Nations Charter. But there are at least three major differences. Firstly, the US actions came as a response to an attack in their territory. Secondly, the objective was never to annex the entire or even a part of their territory. And thirdly, internal dissent and denouncing of the excesses (Abu Ghraib prison) was always tolerated. There was never a threat to be jailed 15 years for challenging the government’s narrative.
Finally, two wrongs don’t make one right. As much as opposing the invasion of Irak and Afghanistan was the right thing to do, rejecting the Russian aggression of Ukraine is a moral obligation.
Opinions today are divided between proponents of waging war until significantly debilitating Russia and those suggesting Ukrainians should acquiesce to Russia’s territorial demands to put an end to the conflict as soon as possible. I believe it is for Ukrainians to decide until when they want to fight. And the World, not only the West, should help them defend themselves as long as they are willing to.