Ukraine: the world after one year of war

24 February will mark the first anniversary of Russia’s full-scale attack on Ukraine. There is no end in sight: Russia continues to bomb Ukrainian positions, civilians and infrastructure, while Western backers supply Kyiv with weapons. Over 7,000 civilians have died so far in the conflict, according to UN figures. Commentators take stock and discuss long-term perspectives.

Der Standard (AT) /

Zelensky is a godsend

The Ukrainian president has behaved in an exemplarily statesmanlike manner since the beginning of the war, Paul Lendvai praises in Der Standard:

“The comedian and entrepreneur whose mother tongue is Russian has proven to be a boon for the state fighting for survival in the defensive war. This short man with a stubbly beard, always wearing an olive-green military uniform, has become a statesman and globally effective communicator this year. ... His recent lightning trips to London, Paris and Brussels, his speeches with great emotional power and historical symbolism confirm the impression that he himself has become a key figure in history.”

Paul Lendvai
Élet és Irodalom (HU) /

Dangerous utilitarianism

US media should be wary of portraying the war as a business enterprise, economist István Dobozi advises in Élet és Irodalom:

“The Wall Street Journal, the most influential business paper, pointed out in an editorial that helping Ukraine is by no means a bad deal for America: the costs are insignificant in comparison to the benefits. ... Such cold-blooded utilitarianism on the part of one of America’s leading media organs is appalling in the face of such a tragic war. ... This attitude unintentionally plays into the hands of the Kremlin’s war propaganda, which repeatedly claims that Washington is delaying the peace talks between Russia and Ukraine and prolonging the suffering of the war out of pure self-interest.”

István Dobozi
Trends-Tendances (BE) /

Russia becoming China’s vassal

Western sanctions are driving the Russian economy into the arms of Beijing, Trends-Tendances notes:

“Russian engineers are rapidly leaving the country. ... Russia imports two to three times as many Chinese cars as it used to, and soon, reports economist Eric Chaney, the aviation sector will also be affected. In Mao’s time it was the Russians who supplied China with new technologies. Today it’s the other way round — the former masters of the Kremlin must be turning in their graves. ... Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine has made his country a satellite of the Chinese empire. He wanted to be bigger, stronger, more independent and freer, but in the end he has only changed masters — or leashes.”

Amid Faljaoui
El País (ES) /

East and South gain in significance

In El País, political scientist Luuk van Middelaar compares 2022 with 1989:

“One year after the Russian invasion, the strategic map of Europe is changing. The borders are hardening. Power is shifting eastwards. This dynamic does not sit well with the Franco-German duo but it opens up new space for key countries like Spain. ... The year 2022 should be seen as a kind of ‘mini-1989’. The invasion is the biggest geostrategic upheaval on the European continent since the fall of the Berlin Wall. ... On the new map of Europe, while the East is at the forefront of defence, the South is at the centre of the energy transition. We should keep an eye on this double shift of power.”

Luuk Van Middelaar