Foreign Policy Research Institute

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Foreign Policy Research Institute

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Formation of a new bipolar confrontation

On June 1, the second summit of the European Political Community (EPC) took place in Chisinau. The EPC has once again brought together the countries of the continent to maintain political dialogue and discuss issues of common interest. Since its establishment, there have been concerns among states participating in a new format, especially in Ukraine, that the European Political Community is created as a substitute for full membership in the EU. However, the countries intending to join the European Union, including Ukraine, and even the EU members have clearly stated that the EPC cannot be an alternative for the EU and is a parallel format. Therefore, the option of substituting membership was finally rejected. 

For Moldova, the fact of hosting such a high-level event is unprecedented. Since last year, there were doubts that the country could provide the logistics for the event, but Moldovan diplomats eventually coped with the task. The summit was attended by 47 heads of state and government, the President of the European Commission, the President of the European Parliament, the President of the European Council, and the EU High Representative. It is symbolic that the event was held 30 kilometres from the occupied Transnistria.

The EPC has become a useful forum for exchanging views and discussing common issues. The summit in Moldova was devoted to such issues as security, energy sustainability, and mobility. But its main advantage was the opportunity for the leaders to discuss various issues during personal meetings on the side-lines. In particular, Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with the leaders of the countries participating in the Aviation Coalition (Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium, the United Kingdom, and Poland), with President of Moldova M. Sandu and Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova D. Recean; with Prime Minister of North Macedonia D. Kovacevski and Prime Minister of Albania Edi Rama, with President of the European Commission U. von der Leyen, Chancellor of Germany O. Scholz, Presidents of France, Romania, Switzerland, Serbia, and Prime Ministers of the UK, Czech Republic, Portugal, and Spain.

At the EPC Summit, the President of Ukraine held a series of meetings at the highest level. The main topics of the talks were the aviation coalition and the Patriot air defense coalition. At the same time, clear statements in support of Ukraine were made at the summit. For example, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said that Italy supports the European path chosen by Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia: "this is not EU enlargement, but the return of these states to the family, where they belong," she said. Mark Rutte, in turn, emphasized that he is close to the place where all the atrocities are taking place. In fact, he noted, Moldova is also partially occupied by Russians, and the EU will continue to stand with Ukraine in the fight against Russian aggression. An important statement for European leaders was President Zelenskyy's statement that Ukraine will not liberate Transnistria without an official request from Moldova. This topic was the most popular among Moldovan journalists during their conversation with the President of Ukraine.

While the summit of the European Political Community was taking place in Chisinau, in Cape Town, the foreign ministers of the five BRICS countries called for a "rebalancing" of the world order. The European Political Community consists mainly of democratic countries, and most of the discussions during this event centred on countering Russian aggression and supporting Ukraine. Thus, states discussed the way to preserve the state of international relations in which rules matter. By supporting Ukraine, the states of a continent are speaking out against the right of the strong and in favour of the strength of international law. At the same time, representatives of countries that actually legitimize aggression against Ukraine and view this aggression as part of the transformation of the world order into what they call a "more just world order" gathered in Cape Town. 

Because of the resentment towards the United States, the BRICS states do not condemn and partially support the aggressor state. The prospect of the BRICS expansion at the expense of the Global South cannot but cause concern. According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, more than a dozen countries have expressed their desire to become a member of the BRICS. 

First and foremost, the negative aspect of this situation for Ukraine is not the economic consequences of the increased role of the Club and the New Development Bank, but the political ones. Experience shows that states that are getting closer to China are more likely to agree with Beijing's policies and position. On the issue of the Russian-Ukrainian war, such countries are lobbying for Ukraine's surrender by establishing a ceasefire and securing the seized territories for Russia. In fact, many countries of the Global South are defending the right to seize a neighbouring state by force if it is in their interests. This is a return to the jungle. Therefore, in order to prevent the countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America from strengthening their support for Russia, the United States and the EU should apply the principle of carrots and sticks to such countries: on the one hand, deepen cooperation with some states, increase economic, humanitarian and military support. On the other hand, they should impose sanctions on some states and cancel support programs for destructive foreign policy.

Russian aggression has exacerbated the conflict along civilizational lines. Currently, two mega-blocs are being formed. On the one hand, there is a democratic one led by the United States of America. On the other hand, there is an authoritarian one led by China. Ukraine, in the context of countering Russian aggression, has found itself in the centre of this confrontation, which complicates the task of pushing the occupying country out from the territory of Ukraine. In the context of intercivilizational confrontation, liberal democracies should reconsider their approach to cooperation with countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. In recent years, many such states have strengthened ties with China and increased their criticism of Europe and North America. Liberal democracies should prioritize relations with more loyal countries and increase cooperation with them, including in accordance with approaches of such states to resolving international relations issues. At the same time, countries whose leaders intensify anti-European and anti-American rhetoric should face the threat of reduced economic and humanitarian aid. Withdrawal of support for at least one of these countries may change the rhetoric and position of others. 

At the same time, Ukraine should also reconsider its approach to relations with pro-Russian states. A number of foreign diplomatic missions could be closed, and the resources that would be available in this case could be directed to more promising countries in Asia and Latin America.

1.  БРІКС планує розширення і створення спільної валюти, щоб протистояти США, 01/06/2023, URL: