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  • andrewmleber

Russia & Ukraine

Taking a brief break from fast-paced dissertation writing to clear my head, so no time to contextualize these op-eds. You might check out this RAND report from c. 2016 on Russia’s policy towards the Middle East, this note from AGSIW (Kate Dourian) on what OPEC+ is up to, and this MEI roundup on views of the present conflict in the MENA region.

As for economic sanctions, they are, as we well know, a failed weapon, especially with regimes willing to bear the price, no matter how harsh. The irony is that the West and the countries of the world are paying the price for the sanctions for the invasion of Ukraine, with inflation and rising prices for vital commodities such as energy and wheat. Abdelrahman Al-Rashed, Aawsat, 2.25.2022
Intellectually, no one likes war, but realistically you must be prepared for it. The West has focused on the idea of “rejecting the will of war,” rejecting “preparation for it,” and refusing to put the idea of “force” on the table sometimes. This reflects civilizational decadence, an imbalance in priorities, and the influence of some “[human] rights” minorities, such as women and homosexuals. It also reflects the liberal left’s dominance in general [in the West[, which is not the case in other powerful countries in the world. Abdullah Al-Otaibi, Aawsat, 2.27.2022
What is certain is that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine created new unmistakable facts on the ground: he undoubtedly imposed a new world order, completely different from the one imposed by the West on Russia after the end of World War II… Putin saw the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in the independent Soviet republics and the countries of Eastern Europe neighboring his country, as a serious threat to Russia. Jamil Dhiyabi, Okaz, 2.26.2022
The repercussions of the Russian invasion of Ukraine will extend to alliances all over the world. The winner for now is China, and the strategic loser is the United States and Europe, as we are facing Western politicians whose concern is elections, even though the losses of their countries are greater. The lesson of this changing world is that whoever takes into account his internal concerns and national interests, and moves rationally, without rushing or slowing down, will win. In this changing world, the stark message is that no one should be trusted, especially since we are in a dangerous moment of transition. Before the invasion of Ukraine is not the same as after it. Tariq al-Humaid, Aawsat, 2.27, 2022
We do not know how things will end, whether it is resolved in favor of far right by the defeat of the Russians or to the far north [left?] by the crushing of Ukraine… Afterwards it could be resolved various solutions or by a compromise, for example, by [Ukraine] declaring its neutrality. Or, with a different way of thinking, it seems to me that Ukraine could declare for a decade or two not to enter NATO and pledge not to acquire nuclear weapons. The wisdom we take from this is not to depend on anyone to be a substitute for you, especially the state that is known to repudiate its obligations in your eyes, and at the top of the list is the United States. This is if Ukraine if we do not implicate Iran as well after it was made the tip of a spear to undermine Russia and bring it to its knees economically. But as usual we only think of solutions after it’s too late. Asad al-Farij, Al-Watan, 3.1.2022
The war today is inside Ukraine, but the betting is outside it, as it has turned into a theater for global political rebalancing, and the repositioning of alliances around the world based on the results of what is happening… It is certain that Putin’s Russia realizes that it is facing its greatest challenge since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The issue is not a matter of an expansionist project so much as a geopolitical question resulting from an existential stalemate and a high-risk gamble for Putin to either assert [Russia] rise a major power or see [Russia] return again to being broken. Between the questions of Ukraine’s borders, no less important questions were born about the impact of political economy and energy supplies to reconsider the political balance far away from the “sloganeering” we are accustomed to. This was expressed by the Washington Policy Institute in its approach to the crisis with a fundamental question [not sure what this refers to]: “Why does the United States need Saudi Arabia?”… Yousef al-Dini, Aawsat, 3.1.2022

A few more, taking a slightly different tone (compare to authors’ contributions above)

The invasion of Ukraine strengthened NATO, not the other way around, and brought Western Europeans closer to the American leadership, not the other way around. The US used the crisis to strengthen its position to a degree unparalleled since the Cold War. For understandable considerations, NATO countries will not get involved in a direct war in defense of Ukraine. However, the superiority of the West in its economic and financial weapons will greatly weaken Moscow by boycotting it, forcing Russia to retreat or reconcile. The lesson of the crisis is that we are in a world like a jungle, where only the strong, the powerful, and self-reliant are respected. The concept of power is not entirely military, but rather scientific, technical and economic. The Soviet Union collapsed for economic reasons, at a time when it was the second largest military power in the world. Abdelrahman Al Rashed, Aawsat, 3.2.2022
For Putin, whatever he will achieve from this war cannot be considered a victory, because the cost is great and Russia will be forced to enter into difficult negotiations to return to the international community and lift the sanctions. This will take years, not months. Even if President Putin occupied all of Ukraine, which is difficult, or overthrew the government there, his great loss would be felt by the Russians themselves inside and outside Russia. Therefore, it is difficult to determine the meaning of victory in this war, for all parties, and this war may be a wakeup call for “relaxed” Europe, and for a United States that is excessive in its “political naivety.” Tariq al-Humaid, Aawsat, 3.2.2022
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