Breaking down the ‘world’ reaction to Putin’s war


The colours of Ukraine. Photo by Marjan Blan @marjanblan on Unsplash

No matter what the western media reports, claiming it as “the world’s” reaction to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, different capitals have responded very differently. (The Financial Times and The Washington Post are two of the very few exceptions to the western media’s herd mentality. Both are doing a sterling job of keeping an eye on the rest of the world.)

It’s important to individually examine the reaction of the rest of the world – perhaps that’s the way to describe the parts left out by the western media? Anyway, I mean the world beyond Washington, D.C., London, Brussels, Berlin, Paris, Athens, Wellington, Canberra and Tokyo.

As I said before, the rest of the world’s response to the Russian invasion has been very nuanced. Consider this:

** The three giants of the global south – India, Brazil and South Africa – have not explicitly denounced Russia. In fact, India initially used its “explanation of vote” in the UN Security Council to merely urge a de-escalation of the conflict. It didn’t even mention Russia or deplore the invasion. Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro said his country “will not take sides” in the conflict. Lindiwe Zulu, South Africa’s minister of social development,  publicly hailed Russia as “a friend through and through”.

** China too has not explicitly denounced Russia. It is demonstrably walking a tightrope between Russia and Ukraine, throwing out words of vague comfort to both.

** Pakistan, whose prime minister Imran Khan was actually in Moscow when Mr Putin launched the Ukraine invasion, has been bullish about the west’s call to condemn Russia’s action. Instead, he said Islamabad would keep its own counsel and not participate “in any camp”.

** Sri Lanka, which is actually very hard hit by the Ukraine invasion, has abstained from condemning Russia’s invasion at the UN. It’s been a difficult choice for Colombo because two of the main markets for its two key industries (tourism and tea) are Russia and Ukraine.

** Turkey, a Nato member, is also being scrupulously neutral by cutting off the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits to all warships, not just Russian ones.

It’s worth noting, at this point, that Turkey, like India, has bought Russia’s S-400 missile systems. In fact, India buys anything from between 50 and 70 per cent of its weapons from Russia. Arms exports are one reason (but not the only one) that Russia has won friends and influenced people in Africa. We’ll look at that next.

(Click here to read the first in this series.)

Tomorrow: Russia has won friends and influenced people in Africa