Following the Ukraine invasion, several countries are taking one aggressive step after another. On Thursday, North Korea test-fired its most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). The missile fell in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
A few days ago, Iran had claimed responsibility for a missile barrage targeted at a U.S. consulate complex in northern Iraq. It was an extraordinary event, for it is Iran-sponsored non-State actors that generally claim responsibility for such attacks. This was a rare incident when Iran’s IRGC claimed responsibility for targeting an American diplomatic institution.
What explains the surge in aggressive actions?
The sudden surge in such aggressive actions finds its roots in the growing friction caused by the Russia-Ukraine war.
North Korea and Iran being traditional Russian allies are backing Moscow.
The US has been leading sanctions, restrictions, and other forms of economic warfare against Moscow. This is what explains Iran’s decision to fire a barrage of missiles at a US consulate complex in northern Iraq.
On the other hand, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida too joined the US-led chorus condemning Russia. In fact, Tokyo unexpectedly sanctioned Moscow. This is what again explains North Korea’s decision to test-fire an ICBM in what served as a clear nuclear warning to the Kishida government.
So, we are looking at the creation of two broad blocs- one led by Russia and the other loosely held bloc by the United States.
War at two fronts
The growing uncertainty in global security is leading to a multinational war situation. And it is being fought on two fronts- economic and security.
Russia has the clear support of its traditional allies as shown by both North Korea and Iran. Also, Russia could get some help in the form of fighters from Syria and some African countries that remain grateful towards the Kremlin for saving them from regime change wars and coup attempts.
On the economic front too, China is helping Russia. Sino-Russia trade has remained strong despite Western sanctions. Meanwhile, Chinese tech companies have decided to stay in Russia, notwithstanding the exodus of Western companies from the country and a lingering threat of sanctions spilling over to China.
So, rest assured that Putin will get the required support from his partners.
NATO in disarray
The US-led NATO, on the other hand, seems to be in disarray. Apart from weapons supplies to Ukraine, none of the NATO countries seems to be willing to directly participate in an armed conflict.
The Biden administration, which had instigated Ukraine in the first place isn’t very keen on letting the US enter into the evolving war situation. So, NATO is basically nowhere to be seen.
Other US allies like Japan and South Korea also face a growing North Korea threat and they are likely to stay on the sidelines for now.
Finally, there have powers like India, Arabs, and Israel. These countries have had a history of balancing relations between the West and Russia. These countries will therefore be looking to avoid any significant escalation and play mediator between the two sides.
At the end of the day, it seems that World War 3 could be around the corner. Or worse, it might have already started.