Wealth of Health: The global impact of Ukraine’s devastation – Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story!
The devastation wrought by Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine has shaken our sense of humanity and set in motion inexorable changes to the global order. Few anticipated that the relief felt as we emerged from the grip of the COVID-19 omicron variant would be shattered so immediately and intensely.
The Russian shelling of not only military targets and infrastructure, but also of hospitals and schools, mines planted while in retreat and execution-style killings are deeply visceral. It is impossible to understand this aggression simply through the lens of geopolitics or even ruthless behavior to achieve a military objective. No, it would seem rather the acting-out of pent-up rage of one man, harbored since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
As fighting increases in the southern and eastern parts of Ukraine, more than 10 million citizens have been displaced. Already, over 4 million refugees have emerged amid allegations of war crimes and genocide.
The magnitude of this war on European soil, not seen since Hitler’s WWII blitzkrieg launch, has brought together the free world once more. The European Union’s squabbles with autocratic leaders of member states on its eastern flank, complaints of spendthrift economies on the southern flank and the travails of Brexit to the west now seem minor in comparison with the scale of Russian aggression.
Members of NATO have redoubled their commitments. Quite notably, Germany has awakened from its security slumber by increasing its defense budget and focusing on energy independence from Russia. Doubts about the American relationship with NATO arising from the last administration are settling.
Still, Ukraine, with a fraction of the military might of Russia, pleads for more support in the form of Soviet-era tanks and fighter jets already on hand in neighboring NATO countries. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy continues to press his case with the free world. If Ukraine loses this war, the aggressor will expand its efforts. If Ukraine prevails, it will be a lesson to the world that the alliance of liberal democracies is not in terminal decline and place would-be bad actors onto the back foot.
Despite tough talk and lack of wholesale support for Russian sanctions, China appears loath to risk damaging its trade with Europe, which is tenfold larger than its commerce with Russia. All of this comes at an inopportune moment for China, already struggling with an economic downturn, a property bubble and now a COVID-19 shutdown in Shanghai, as Xi Jinping tries to make his case this year for another term in office.
Economic impacts of the invasion include a rapid escalation in defense spending already driving an uptick in defense …….