An orgy of summits around Ukraine and global competition

The difference is that the Russians will finance themselves their recovery, while Ukrainians can only relay on international aide to rebuild infrastructures and an economy which was already in bad conditions well before the war.

** But, a week earlier, on 17 June, President Putin had delivered a video message to the St Petersburg Economic Forum participants, accusing the West of being fully responsible for the global crisis and describing Russian opponents to the war as defeatists, or even traitors. Twenty-five years after the launching of the so-called “Russian Davos”, it was the first Forum after 2 years of Covid. In the context of Ukraine’s war, the session was boycotted by “unfriendly” countries, as Putin calls the Western world and their allies. The focus of the Forum was on the geopolitical picture projected by the attendance of political and business leaders from the 5 continents. Many of them have resisted Western pressures to take side and join sanctions against Russia. Most of all found way to stay neutral (Russia does not ask for more), and are opposed to the West growing use of sanctions to impose “their” international order.

** Vladimir Putin developed further his St Petersburg’s narrative on 24 June, during a summit of the 5 BRICS members states. In his address, he rejected the responsibility of the actual crisis on the G7, which was at the time preparing his own summit, quoting excessive money emission leading to inflation, energy skyrocketing prices, and global food insecurity. The circle of participants was enlarged to potential new members. The accent was put on the “collective nature” of the group, which was described as “not a political structure”, but “an island of predictability thanks to the accent put on mutually beneficial trade”. In short, the BRICS are supposed to possess all the virtues that Western orientated Nato, EU, G7 are lacking.

** On 26-28 June, in the Bavarian Alps, the G7 members met in much fanfare, backslapping, schoolboys’ risqué jokes about Putin’s chest, even endorsed by the only woman around the table. The sessions were rich in declarations of support to Ukraine and about the unity of world democratic forces confronted with a brutal dictator. But, when discussions moved to implementation, it was evident that unity was far from superseding concerns for national interests. The concept of a “Marshall Plan” for Ukraine was lacking substance, as were the promises to support Ukraine “as long as it takes”. The G7 failed to address key issues in its capacity, such as climate changes, world food security, sanitary global crisis, and control of energy’s prices. They came on the agenda almost as secondary matters, and were described as mere consequences of the Russian invasion. In fact, Western opinion, and even more that inside countries invited to attend G7 (the list of guests included president of India, Indonesia, Senegal and South Africa) begin to believe that the invasion amplified already existing global problems and that the sanctions do not help.

** From Bavaria, leaders flew to Madrid to attend another “historic summit”, that of NATO on 28-30 June. This time, the guestlist included Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand reflecting the American intention to present the security of the European continent and that of the Indian Pacific region as “inseparable” – a red flag under the nose of China. The New Security Concept adopted by the 30 members states modifies the 2010 NATO Strategic Concept to state that Russia’s war in Ukraine was a violation of the norms and principles that contributed to a stable and predictable European security order. In those conditions, the Euro-Atlantic area is no longer considered at peace because of Putin’s Russia militarily threats; and the Indian-Pacific Region, and even the European continent, are facing politico-economic rivalry by China. The image of unity was blurred twice: when President Erdogan came with last minute conditions to gain his green light to the adhesions of Finland and Sweden; and when NATO had to qualify the level of its support to Ukraine. Finally, it was agreed that President Zelensky will receive more modern weapons and further support for training its soldiers; that more Western troops will be based closer to the Russian borders. But the members states made clear that “Ukraine is not a NATO member and therefore is not eligible for collective defence”; also that “NATO is not part of the conflict” as they do not want the conflict escalating “into a confrontation between NATO and Russia”.

** On 4 July, a group of around 50 potential donors (G7, EU, NATO, NGOs, international organisations)  gathered in Lugano for a meeting entirely devoted to Ukraine’s reconstruction. Ukraine was in need of a proof of solidarity, but it looked strange to discuss the reconstruction of a country still at war, with much uncertainty concerning territorial issues. President Zelensky came with his “national plan”, putting the cost of reconstruction at the whooping amount of 750bn. Zelensky’s “national view” for international aid goes far further that repairing the destruction of the war, to include the creation “of a new basis” for a modern Ukraine. Some international economists have put the bar even higher, at 1.200bn, supposed to be financed by economies confronted with inflation, social tensions, and, in many cases, fragile leaderships and coalitions. Even if the West were able to find a quick and legal way to use the seized Russian properties and Russia’s Central Bank assets frozen abroad, it will be a drop in an ocean.

Hence the accent put by EU on private-public cooperation and the adoption by Kiev of strict anti-corruption measures. They will have to go far beyond a “de-oligarchizing” bearing in mind that huge funds will flow into a country already much corrupted, funds that can leak all along the chain and feed the black market, in and even outside Ukraine. Some EU members, including neighbours, might have problems to swallow the idea of such huge amounts of common budgets helping to transform a non-member state into what Zelensky described as “not only the freest country in Europe and the most convenient for life and business, but also for us to complete the political part of the work the fastest of all those who moved towards the European Union”. This miracle might look like the creation of a serious economic and financial concurrent.

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