The Hamilton Spectator

Russian invasion gives new life to Cold War

West is preparing for conflict in the Pacific with China as NATO ponders expanded fighting


One year ago, Russia invaded Ukraine. It wasn’t the first such invasion. Purists like to point out that Russia’s invasion of Ukrainian Crimea began in 2014.

But for all intents and purposes, the war has been going on for a year.

It has had profound consequenc­es. It has breathed new life into a Cold War that many of us thought had been dead and buried. The new Cold War now defines everything. Neutrality is impossible. Countries are being told they have to choose sides.

Either they are pro-Russia or they are not. If they are not, they must prove their good intentions by refusing to participat­e in any activity that involves Russia. As a result, Russians have been barred from almost all internatio­nal events, including student hockey.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly says Russia is abusing its position as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, a critique that cuts to the heart of the internatio­nal order.

Indeed, the only significan­t multinatio­nal mission allowed to bypass the new Cold War is the internatio­nal space station, which relies on Russia for both launch and retrieval. Even that is coming to an end.

In an effort to cripple Moscow, the U.S., Canada and other western nations have called on the world to boycott Russian goods.

Many nations, particular­ly those dependent on the U.S., have complied. But others, including most notably China and South Africa, have not.

Indeed, China remains one of the great unknowns in this war. Formally, it is calling for an end to fighting. But it is also echoing Russia’s analysis of the conflict, that it is a proxy war fuelled by NATO.

The U.S. has warned China against providing arms that would allow Russia to better fight this war. Given the sheer volume of American and NATO arms shipments to the Ukrainian side, the Chinese might find this advice somewhat presumptuo­us.

Indeed, there is little reason for China to stay out of the new Cold War. NATO countries like the U.S., Australia, Britain and even Canada are busy cobbling together a so-called Indo-Pacific security pact.

This pact is aimed directly at China. And it is drawing in countries like Taiwan and the Philippine­s that have a Cold War history.

Even North Korea is back in play, threatenin­g Japan and testing interconti­nental ballistic missiles that are capable of reaching the U.S.

Until recently, it was in China’s interests to keep North Korea on a short leash. That dynamic no longer holds. If the old Cold War is being reactivate­d, then it is China’s interest to give America and her allies a tonne of grief. Expect to hear more from Pyongyang.

In short, the Ukrainian war involves much more than just Ukraine. We have taken the time machine back to the days when the world was divided between the U.S. and Russia. NATO countries are gearing up to ready themselves for an expanded war in Europe. The West and China, meanwhile, are preparing themselves for conflict in the Pacific.

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