The Munich Security Conference, held over the previous weekend, showed that the West is pleased with itself for maintaining unity in supporting Ukraine. Other important topics included communicating with the so-called global south and China's conduct, Deputy Director of the ICDS Kristi Raik told Vikerraadio's "Uudis+" program on Monday.
"First, there was a lot of complacency and praise for how united the West has remained in its support for Ukraine. Of course, we have reason to be pleased with Western unity so far and the fact support for Ukraine has been growing. However, I would have liked to see more self-criticism - things the West has gotten wrong in the past year and before the war started, and how the crisis could have been handled better," Raik said.
She said that discussions also betrayed different visions of the future of European security and Russia-relations.
"Everyone is concentrating on supporting Ukraine right now. But once the conversation turns to what might be the war's end result and how to move on from there, French President Emmanuel Macron found in his speech that in the end, negotiations will have to arrive at a solution acceptable for Russia, adding that he does not believe in a change of power in Russia," Raik suggested. "In other words, Macron's vision is that an outcome Putin can accept must still be found in the end. That is very different indeed from how countries in our region see the end of the war," she added.
Raik admitted that the Munich Security Conference has traditionally been a venue for emphasizing transatlantic cooperation and strengthening the bond, and that sharp self-criticism is not a good fit there.
Efforts to convince the global south have not been successful
The expert said that participants were worried the West had not managed to convince the so-called global south that Russia's war is wrong and harms global security, that Russia needs to be condemned and Ukraine supported.
She explained that India or Brazil see the Russia-Ukraine war in a completely different light from the West.
"And I see little hope for convincing the global south to get behind Western attitudes in this matter. It is the global reality. We live in a multipolar world of different power centers, and the West must concentrate on protecting its security interests and accept the fact that many other countries in the world sport different interests," Raik said.
China trying to divide the West
Thirdly, Raik wished to highlight the speech of China's leading diplomat.
"The Chinese foreign minister's speech was noteworthy and allows for some interesting conclusions. First of all, it is clear China does not want Russia to lose this war," Raik remarked.
China has also refrained from condemning Russia's attack. China has offered Russia support. And news from yesterday, after the Chinese foreign minister's meeting with his U.S. counterpart, suggests China is preparing to give Russia weapons aid. This would be an entirely new development, and the West is trying to stop it from happening," Raik said.
The other important conclusion is that China is trying to drive a wedge between Europe and USA. The Chinese foreign minister was quite hawkish toward the U.S. while trying to keep the door open to cooperation with European states," the expert offered.
"I would very much like to hope Europe will resist the temptation of trying to have better China-relations than the U.S. or the illusion we could somehow stay out of geopolitical competition between China and the United States, which is the single most important dynamic in global politics today."
"Europe is USA's ally and the threat China poses to the rules-based world order and global security also concerns Europe very closely. I hope Europe and USA will be able to strengthen their unified approach to China's conduct," Raik remarked.
Editor: Mait Ots, Marcus Turovski