World War III.2 - Global South

World War III.2Moscow maintains partner relations with several nations whose importance has grown significantly in recent times. These are primarily the great world powers China and India; regional players Brazil, Iran, Turkey, and South Africa; and the Persian Gulf countries " primarily Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. These countries, along with dozens of others, have not joined in the Western sanctions against Russia and continue to be Moscow's partners.

The Ukraine war has been a moment of reckoning for the international community. One year after the Russian invasion, a tectonic chasm appears to have split the Global North from the Global South. Confronted with the sort of aggression and territorial expansionism that the postwar world order was designed to avert, the Western alliance, also called the Global North, has overcome competition and rivalries to maintain unity.

More than 70 years after the end of World War II, several countries of Asia, Africa, the Middle East and South America that were “emerging” for decades have essentially emerged on the world stage. The terminology for this group of nations has also kept apace, evolving from “less developed countries (ldcs)” to “developing” to the more acceptable “Global South”.

Most Global South countries adopted a position of studied neutrality on the war in Ukraine. Their self-interest over the principles of international law and stability ended up serving Russian interests and regional tyrants. Shortly after Russia invaded a neighbouring sovereign state, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government adopted a policy of studied neutrality. As India abstained from the first UN vote demanding an end to the Russian offensive – and kept up the pattern in successive votes – the Indian media largely fell in line with the official position.

As Russian troops advanced on several fronts in the early stages of the war, the national news focused on Indian students trapped in Ukraine, reducing a war threatening the international system to a very local story. Commentators adopted Kremlin talking points of Russia being “wronged” by NATO. It fit neatly with the anti-Western hegemony discourse popular in Indian right-wing and leftist circles. The war in Ukraine, in Indian public opinion, was “Europe’s problem”. India, it was widely accepted, must look out for its own interests.

The division between the positions of the Global North and South became evident during the very first UN vote on the Ukraine war. On March 2, 2022, when the UN General Assembly gathered at a special emergency session to vote on a resolution condemning Russia’s invasion, the 35 abstentions included some of the leading members of the Global South, such as China, India, South Africa and Senegal. Some countries – including Morocco, Venezuela and Ethiopia – were simply not in the room to cast a vote, abstaining even from an abstention. With many African, Asian and Latin American countries having historic ties to Moscow, they were unwilling to pick a side. The resolution was nevertheless adopted with a resounding 141 countries voting in favor.

By April 7, 2022, when the General Assembly gathered to vote on a resolution to kick Russia out of the UN Human Rights Council, international unity on Moscow’s actions had weakened. This was despite the evidence emerging of a Russian massacre of civilians in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha. The abstentions this time rose from 35 to 58, and they included Brazil. With that, all the countries of the BRICS bloc comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa cast their lot with a fellow member, the prime belligerent.

While some Global South countries are more equal than others, what binds this diverse group together is the quest for a “multipolar” world order stacked against the “unipolar hegemony” of the West. It also happens to be Russia’s favourite talking point, which has turned louder as Moscow attempts to justify a clear breach of international law.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev stated that “now, in fact, World War III is going on, no matter how people call it.” Aliyev said in an interview with Azerbaijani TV channels on 10 January 2023 “If we look at the number of countries involved in this conflict (meaning Ukraine-ed.), we will see that this is actually World War III, but it is conducted in a new way.”

Syrian President Bashar Assad was interviewed 16 March 2023 by Sputnik after his summit with Putin. "I believe that World War III is underway but it differs in its form. What I mean is that world wars used to be conventional in the past. The armies of several states were fighting against each other. This is also true when it comes to the current situation, but because of modern weaponry, especially nuclear, it is different from conventional war. That’s why wars are now moving toward becoming proxy wars. That’s why Zelensky is now fighting a war on behalf of the West, using, of course, its army of Nazis. The same goes for terrorists, they are the armies operating on behalf of the West in Syria and other regions."

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