The political crises are shaking France and hang over Belgium, Great Britain, Germany, the USA… These crises are initiated by economic and energy problems, inflation and rapture of the world financial system, by falling living standards of the population and are pushed by inter-civilizational conflicts between the local population and millions of migrants. Before the “Prigozhin rebellion”, it seemed that unlike the West, Russia was able to avoid the crisis, despite the war in Ukraine and sanctions of the West.
After economic indicators fall in the first months of the war in Ukraine due to Western sanctions and move out of European and American corporations, the Russian economy began to develop at the fastest pace in the last fifteen years. Despite the fall in oil and gas revenues that led to depreciation of the ruble, Russian GDP from May 2022 to May 2023 grew by 5.4%, manufacturing production by 12.8%, and the inflation did not exceed 4%.
The counter-offensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine will determine the course of the conflict in Ukraine for this year, and possibly the fate of the war. Nevertheless, the capture of Bakhmut by the Russian PMC Wagner remains one of the main events of 2023.
At this point it is important to analyze the battle in Bakhmut, including the so-called the “Prigozhin rebellion”, and the first results of the counteroffensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine not as separate events, but in their interconnectedness. That will allow us to more deeply understand the processes that are taking place at the front, as well as within the Russian political elites and its armed forces, and between Russia and the West outside of Ukraine.
Moreover, those events signal that there is a force rapidly growing and increasing its influence on the international arena that can become important factor and instrument in the conflict between the West and Russia.
In the Ukrainian Trap
Situation in Russia, Europe and in the world is rapidly developing, spurred on by escalation of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict that becomes world war, covers all spheres of life and leads to sharp aggravation of contradictions, including social and economic, within most of the states involved. The world is changing rapidly, and as Josep Borrell said to those who oppose those changes and the war itself: “What kind of peace do you need?!”
The aggravation is manifested in events that become symbols reflecting processes hidden for many, but that may determine the future of mankind.
In this article, I would like to draw attention to two events: the attack by Ukrainian drones on the Moscow Kremlin and the sharp surge in terrorist and sabotage activities on the territory of the Russian Federation, and the “rebellion” of the head of the Wagner private military company, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who insulted the highest Commanders of the Russian Armed Forces, personally Minister of Defense Sergey Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov.
In April 2023, when the world was expecting counteroffensive by Ukrainian troops, there were few events that not only had impact on the outcome of the war in Ukraine, but also provided additional information on the topic of this series of my articles — the threats to Russia and the West posed by China’s rise. Those events, from my point of view, did not receive due attention of political analysts and media.
Among those events were the visits of Brazilian President Inácio Lula da Silva and French President Emmanuel Macron to Beijing, of Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu to Moscow, the telephone conversation between Xi Jinping and Zelensky and the meeting of G7 foreign ministers in Japan.
Though those events were discussed in the world media, the essence of the ongoing process remained hidden in the shadow of the expectation of offensive by Ukrainian troops.
Putin’s rationalism as ideology of transition
In recent days, the fundamental and irreversible changes have taken place in the system of international relations preceded by ideological crises and fundamental changes in interaction between ideas and real politics. All those changes will result not only in changing course of the military conflict between Russia and Ukraine supported by the West and in deepening of the global economic crisis, but inevitably will also lead to changes in governments and ruling elites in many states.
Let’s start with changes in the system of international relations.
Disruption of the world order and legitimization of conflict of civilizations
More than a year ago, at the beginning of 2021, I started writing about oncoming division of the world into macro-regions or civilizational blocs that would generate fundamental restructuring of international relations on the basis of strategic interests of the main world civilizations.