In Other News – Invasion of Ukraine Renews Focus on Political Alliances – 6/23/2022

June 23, 2022

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has triggered renewed focus on political alliances with an eye towards physical, economic, and energy security. While fierce military battles continued in Ukraine this week, international heads of state have been convening to address the many serious knock-on effects of the conflict. Since the onset of the war, there’s been a renewed interest in securing and strengthening political alliances. We’ve seen this most overtly though a reinvigorated NATO replete with new membership bids from Sweden and Finland, and through heightened attention on security alliances like the Quad and AUKUS. Much of the renewed collaboration initially focused on physical security, but the alliances are also proving valuable to strengthen economic and energy security, especially now that energy’s been clearly deemed a national security interest.

At the BRICS summit this week, leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa are meeting virtually to reignite their effort to curb the influence of the US dollar. While Putin was quick to emphasize that Russia’s presence in the BRICS is rising, reflected by the sizable increase in Russian oil exports to India and China, it was Chinese President Xi who has been exploiting the global economic crisis to elevate Beijing’s standing, calling upon the BRICS nations to use their collective economic clout to advocate for leadership over the global financial system. Xi also heavily criticized “the abuse” of international sanctions.

China is now reportedly looking to expand the BRICS alliance to include nations like Turkey and Saudi Arabia. But India, who is a thorn in Beijing’s side, is likely to oppose any further expansion that could elevate China’s status within the group. Brazil is also relatively cautious of China. Russia’s already been reaching out beyond the BRICS to try to secure its financial future, and this week Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov is in Iran attempting to “reconfigure” economic relations to operate outside of the Western system.

Meanwhile, while BRICS and friendly nations try to collaborate, NATO and allies are doubling down on their own alliances and security initiatives. The EU is currently determined in its resolve to support Ukraine, and just today granted Ukraine candidate status. Moldova was also granted candidate status in a further show of unity. The G7 is also scheduled to meet this weekend and while the climate crisis was a big topic at last year’s event, energy security is likely to headline this year. The critical need to secure energy for Europe that isn’t dependent upon Russian supplies has sparked new conversations and strategies.

While some EU members are likely to revert temporarily to coal, especially if supplies aren’t sufficient during the colder months, EU and allies are taking a multipronged approach to energy security. The EU and Norway just announced that they would increase collaboration to ensure additional short and long-term gas supplies from Norway, and the EU recently signed an MOU with Israel and Egypt to explore increasing natural gas sales to EU countries. The United States is also at the forefront of the effort to ensure LNG reaches Europe, and Canada has also stated that it’s open to speeding up gas projects that could supply Europe in just a few years. These are just a handful of myriad initiatives underway, including reevaluating the role of nuclear power and simultaneously increasing the viability of alternative energy sources and technology. As the reconfiguration of energy sources continues for the EU, BRICS, and much of the world, further innovative solutions and novel political partnerships are likely.