London 25 Jan 2022 – The historic ally Belarus, where dictator Lukashenko is ready to stand side-by-side with Russia in case of war, the annexed Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and further to Iran, Middle and Far East and, on the other side of the globe, to Latin America. Russia is testing its alliances.
Last, week Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi met Putin in Moscow and officially shared accusation to NATO of expanding its interests and presence into “various geographical areas with new coverings that threaten the common interests of independent states”, words positioning Teheran on the chess board of the Ukrainian crisis.
In the Arab peninsula Moscow can count on UAE and, though Emirates supported NATO intervention in Libya 2011 and in Syria against Assad (who has Putin on his side), both countries opposed the Arab Spring and want to limit US influence in the Middle East.
The attempt of Russia to reach out to Latin America actively involving Venezuela and the communist Cuba, also raised international concerns on the possibility of missile deployment: AP reported last 20 January that Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, asked about this, told media “Russia is thinking about how to ensure its security in the context of the current situation”; and there are historic precedents: in 2018 Russia briefly deployed nuclear-capable Tu-160 bombers to its major political ally, Venezuela, in show of support for Maduro amid Western pressure.
One more team up provocation on the global chess board: the Russia-Iran-China naval drill in the Northern Indian Ocean (the third since 2019), framed as ‘exercise seeking to counter maritime piracy’.
Always in support of dictators, the Kremlin also reached out to, former Soviet, North Korea in defense of Kim Jong-un’s last challenge: Russia and China “delayed a US effort at the United Nations to impose sanctions on five North Koreans in response to recent missile launches by Pyongyang”, Al Jazeera reports.
It might hopefully not turn into conflict, but the Ukrainian crisis could stabilise alliances splitting the globe and preparing a dangerous minefield for the future of forces who need to defend democracy and national territorial integrity.