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    ‘The transformation of a war confined to Europe into a more general conflict is becoming a real risk’

    One year after the beginning of the Russian aggression, the transformation of a war confined to Europe into a more general conflict is becoming an increasingly real risk. For example, it cannot be ruled out that China, eager to spare its ally a defeat, may revise its self-imposed limitations in terms of military support for Russia. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has already denounced Beijing’s plans in this sense. If China were to deliver “lethal weapons” to Moscow, the face of the fighting in Ukraine could change, but above all American sanctions against Beijing would certainly follow, raising the already high tension between the two countries.

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    Another scenario could be the opening of a “second front,” provoked by Moscow. In Iran, all the conditions are being met for a large-scale conflagration to break out in the Middle East: the Islamic Republic’s attainment of nuclear weapons, non-cooperation between the great powers and the option for Moscow to deliver warplanes to Tehran. For the West, the dilemma resembles the one described by Raymond Aron in 1951: “Winning the limited war so as not to have to wage a total war.”

    Our leaders must think about this all the more seriously since a new era of East-West confrontation is likely to emerge. Under the gaze of a somewhat mocking global South, new uninhibited powers (India, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran) are emerging, countries which can now influence the balance of power and will only think about their own interests.

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    The engine of this new era will be provided by Russian revenge combined with Chinese assertiveness, the hubris of two allies. We have already mentioned a likely crisis centering on Iran, another major crisis concerning Taiwan may be only a matter of time.

    The major Western players (and their allies in Asia) will have to face these challenges with two aggravating circumstances in mind. First, the nuclear risk is once again of crucial importance, in the form of proliferation (Iran, of course, and the intensification of the North Korean program, and then Iran’s neighbors and South Korea will, as a result, be reviewing their options) and also because of Vladimir Putin’s new use of the threat of recourse to nuclear weapons, breaking with a purely dissuasive interpretation of nuclear capabilities.

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    Deep coma at the UN

    Secondly, what might have been left of the collective security system set up in 1945 now appears to be ripped to shreds: the UN Security Council has entered a deep coma, due to Russian obstruction. The basic principles of the UN Charter (the non-use of force, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity) are weakened by skepticism. This is evident in the reluctance of the southern states to isolate Russia, notwithstanding their condemnation of Russian aggression.

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