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Editorial - April/May 2022

James Lewis, IBA Director of ContentFriday 1 April 2022

This edition of Global Insight focuses on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. A devastating humanitarian crisis has ensued since the invasion on 24 February and sustained attacks on numerous Ukrainian cities, including Kyiv and Mariupol. At time of writing, after a month of intense conflict, reliable sources are reporting an estimated 23,000 casualties and four million refugees.

Vladimir Putin gave notice of his intentions towards Ukraine in 2014, with the annexation of Crimea. He rehearsed abhorrent military tactics in Syria and elsewhere. While the February invasion and subsequent horrors are shocking, they are not surprising.

The international response has been swift, but limited. The precarious geopolitics dictate economic sanctions must be relied upon, rather than military action through multilateral institutions such as NATO or the UN. The act of sanctioning the oligarchs (who’ve propped up Putin’s regime for decades), while welcome, also prompts the question: how can their activities have been indulged and facilitated by so many for so long?

The cancellation of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is also welcome. That it was given a green light within months of Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea now looks very wrong. In addition, Russia continues to generate huge revenue from the sale of oil and gas, highlighting the crippling extent of its European neighbours’ energy dependency.

These and other flaws in the international system have been highlighted by the conflict, some of which are the subject of the coverage in the pages of this edition. The most obvious thing that must change as a result of Russia’s actions, and the international community’s relative inaction, is the make-up of the UN Security Council. This should not, however, obscure the need for root and branch change to an international financial system that has allowed the ill-gotten gains of the oligarchs to flow through it far too freely for far too long.

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