When Russia invaded Ukraine a year ago, shock and disorientation spread throughout Europe, but there was also a belief that it was a temporary crisis and that things would eventually return to normal.
The leadership of President Volodymyr Zelensky; the heroism of the Ukrainians; the cruelty of the Russians, symbolized by Bucha; and the eventual military aid from the U.S., U.K., and their allies turned the “crisis” into a war, and unfortunately, when wars start, they do not end quickly.
However, the fundamental factor linking all of these events together remains the person responsible for them, Vladimir Putin.
Historians will likely debate the motives and circumstances of his decision to invade Ukraine, but it seems that in addition to his well-known personal ideological obsession with the country, the goal of starting the war was to finally reject the principles of the post-Cold War order in Europe and the world that had been shaped after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The aim was to turn the tables on international relations, which had been globally arranged for 30 years. Why the Kremlin believed that Russia should no longer play by the old rules will remain a matter of interpretation, but the consequences of this decision are now irreversible. They cannot be undone.
Therefore, while after a year of war, there is reasonable hope that Kyiv will be able to defend its independence and become an integral part of the Western world, at the same time, no one can doubt that we have all found ourselves in a completely new, global world order.
This world will require long-term mobilization, effort and sacrifices from the West. It will force the West to look at itself, its values and goals anew. It will also require the need to seek new allies around the world. In Europe, the balance of power will shift towards Central and Eastern Europe for a long time, forcing states to overcome old prejudices and antagonisms and to have greater self-discipline and responsibility. There can be no illusions that the global antagonism caused by the war will disappear.
The anti-Western “triumvirate” of China, Russia and Iran is not a seasonal phenomenon but a lasting factor that will define the main axis of global tensions and conflicts for a long time to come.
The old post-Cold War world has ended and will not return.