100 days of Ukraine war: How a war between two countries has changed the world

One hundred days into Europe’s gravest security crisis since World War II, Russia appears to have failed in its military objectives while Ukraine is holding on in a war of attrition that is reshaping global geopolitics and the world economy. This is the second of a two-part report.

The 'butterfly effect' of the Russia-Ukraine war on the global economy

In the 1960s, meteorologist and pioneer of chaos theory Edward Lorenz determined that a butterfly flapping its wings could influence the path of a distant tornado several weeks away. Thus was born what has come to be called the "butterfly effect", the idea that a localised event can have a huge impact far away and cause lasting damage.

It is an apt metaphor for the economic and geopolitical consequences of Russia's war on Ukraine. 

Even though the two countries each account for less than 2 per cent of global gross domestic product, the war between them is already sending ripples across the world economy.

It is impacting economic growth, inflation, food and energy markets, supply chains, financial systems, transportation networks and geopolitics.

It has also led to a refugee crisis, with around 6 million Ukrainians having poured into other countries, mainly in Europe.


Russia-Ukraine war overturns Europe's pet beliefs

When Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his troops into Ukraine, he dismissed Western warnings about the dire consequences of the invasion as just noise.

After all, the West made similar warnings in 2008 when Russian troops invaded Georgia and in 2014, when Mr Putin's soldiers seized parts of Ukraine. But weeks after these conflicts ended, Western leaders were travelling again to Moscow as though nothing had happened.

This time, however, matters will be quite different.

For Europe's entire strategic makeup has changed over the past 100 days in fundamental and irreversible ways. And it is already clear that Mr Putin has practically no chance of restoring his country's old links with the continent, even if he wants to.


The 'Third Space' gains traction

Russia's invasion of Ukraine caused a profound rift in the world. The United States and Europe reacted with an unprecedented unified response immediately to oppose this blatant aggression, and US allies took the same position. Russia and China were cast as the opposing side.

In early March, I wrote about the new, new pop-up world order. It is reminiscent of the Cold War but much more complicated.

I highlighted the emergence of a number of countries that wish to belong to a third space, not aligning fully with the US and its Western allies nor with Russia and China. Many countries did not follow the US and Europe in imposing sanctions on Russia. Of the 193 members at the United Nations, 150 countries did not. None in Latin America, the Middle East and Africa. Israel did not.

Neutrality in Europe would be a thing of the past, I argued. We have just seen Finland and Sweden's joint application for fast-track membership in Nato. Turkey's veto, thought to be an obstacle, may not be a hard one, seeking reassurances from Sweden on its handling of terrorism.

One hundred days on has only confirmed these outlines. But will it stabilise there? Will there be more nuances and shifts as the war enters its fourth month, even among America's allies as economic costs are factored into calculations? Or will the resolve be strengthened and divisions run deeper?

What to expect going forth?


Lessons from Russia-Ukraine war for Taiwan

Three months into the Russia-Ukraine war, there are many Taiwanese who are choosing to spend their free time not at the movies or bars but in basement workshops and parks learning to pack gunshot wounds or move a casualty out of harm's way.

Civil defence workshops are proliferating in Taiwan where people learn first aid and emergency response as well as self-defence and military fitness.

The threat of an attack from China is always there for Taiwanese who seem inured to it after decades of living under that cloud.

But Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the vivid images of carnage on news bulletins have made that threat more real and immediate to them and they want to know what they can or should do if and when conflict comes to their shores.


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