Giorgio Spagnol
Date de publication: 


Russian gas exports are beginning to reverse their flow, swapping western destinations for eastern ones and essentially following Russia's geopolitical shift.

Carpet bombings across Ukraine in the last few days also hit Lviv and the Western area of the country causing significant damage and a considerable blow to the morale of the population, who in the West of Ukraine generally felt safe.

Among those observing the Russian military’s ongoing operations

in Ukraine, few will be watching and assessing its performance more intensely than those in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

The Russian invasion into Ukraine will have far reaching consequences in a variety of areas: the situation has evolved into a humanitarian crisis, has turned food and energy security volatile and raises questions about the architecture of global security.

It is increasingly difficult to predict what the future holds for Ukraine which, in the event of a Russian victory, could be divided along ethnic lines, with an ethnic Ukrainian Western state and a more Russia-oriented Eastern state comprising today’s Southern and Eastern Ukraine.


Figures released by Gazprom speak quite clearly: deliveries of Russian gas to EU countries fell sharply between February and April, following the war in Ukraine, with a significant decrease in the export of Russian gas destined for Europe, but with a parallel leap in exports from Moscow to China, increased by 60% year-on-year through the Power of Siberia pipeline.

Gazprom said it will continue to supply gas "in full compliance with contractual obligations" but "the replenishment of gas reserves in underground plants in Europe is a very serious challenge," stressing that the daily delivery capacity has technical limits and that "the total amount of gas available on the European market is highly dependent on demand. of the growing Asian market “.

Behind Gazprom's technical message the political message of Moscow is clear: thanks to the Ukrainian affair and the consequent tensions that broke out with the Western bloc, Russia is ready to Asianise, both politically and economically.

China intends to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060 and, to do so, is focusing on the triptych formed by hydrocarbons, gas and renewable. Beijing's energy hunger can keep Russia afloat, minimizing the repercussions of a possible further tightening of sanctions.

Power of Siberia pipeline's deliveries began at the end of 2019, and in 2020 amounted to 4.1 billion cubic meters. In the long-term Gazprom expects to increase the volume of the aforementioned deliveries annually to reach the annual capacity of 38 billion cubic meters by 2025. Meanwhile the Power of Siberia 2 project is being drawn up, which involves the construction of a gas pipeline to China through the territory of Mongolia (estimated capacity: 50 billion cubic meters per year of deliveries).

Bombing in Western Ukraine

Numerous missiles have been launched by the Russians since Tuesday May 3 creating several fronts of concern in Western Ukraine, such as Transcarpathia, which remained out of the conflict to date.

It is the railways above all that have been in the sights of the Russian raids with the bombing of railway stations, electrical substations and power supply systems. There were also explosions in the Odessa area, one of the hottest fronts.

Meanwhile rumours have emerged that Vladimir Putin could formally declare war on Ukraine on 9 May. On the day of victory, the Russian president, in addition to announcing the success over Mariupol, could decide to mobilize the country in what, even from the perspective of the Kremlin, would begin to be called "war" against Ukraine.

Mariupol is now in the hands of Moscow. The flags of the Russian Federation and the Donetsk People's Republic have been flying for days in the districts of the historic center, the port and those adjacent to the airport, as pro-Russian separatists have also fought in the city.


Analysing the wars of other countries continues to play an important role in Beijing’s decision-making about military modernization, its increasing use of big data, Artificial Intelligence, and simulations.

The success or failure of this operation will certainly colour Beijing’s views about the “comprehensive national power” of the Russian Federation in general and the state of the Russian armed forces in particular.

The Chinese and Russian militaries are close institutionally, conducting general staff talks and attending each other’s schools of professional military education. In November 2021, the two signed a “roadmap for closer military cooperation, 2021-2025”.

The Chinese and Russian armed forces have been conducting combined exercises with each other for many years. This is why the technical performance of Russian weapons systems — their strengths and vulnerabilities — will be of particular interest.

Beyond the operational and tactical level, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the international responses it catalysed is likely generating discussions about larger strategic-level issues, such as the implications of strong international economic sanctions for the future of Chinese national security, the ability of liberal democracies across regions to present a united front in the face of a common galvanizing threat, the inherent power of alliances, and the rapid return of the United States to a global leadership role.

And while the government in Beijing denies any political parallels between the situation in Ukraine with that of Taiwan, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) may find both operational and strategic lessons from the Russo-Ukrainian war to be relevant to that scenario.

Consequences for Europe

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has put many questions that had been left unanswered by European policymakers in capitals across Europe.

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is shifting into a prolonged war of attrition, the implications of a protracted conflict in Ukraine must be closely assessed. As there are no risk-free options, what are the best ways to avoid unnecessary escalation and ensure long-term peace and stability in Europe? What would good or bad outcomes of this war look like for  Europe?

The war has also highlighted other related strategic questions, such as Europe’s energy security, defence spending, refugee policies, the EU’s enlargement and role as a geopolitical actor. What should the strategic priorities be and how will responses to the war in Ukraine shape European states' long-term direction on these issues?

Worldwide consequences

The Russian invasion into Ukraine is a tipping point for world security, the international economy and the global energy architecture.

According to the United Nations, more than eleven million people have left their homes in Ukraine so far: 5.3 million of which have left to neighbouring countries, while 6.5 million people are now internally displaced in the country itself amidst the continuation of the war.

Ukraine grows enough food to feed 400 million people worldwide, which includes 50% of the world's sunflower oil supply, 10% of the worldwide grain supply and 13% of global corn supply. As for now, up to 30% of crop areas in Ukraine will either not be planted or be unharvested this year because of the Russian attack.

The markets have already reacted. Wheat prices soared by almost 25% over the past year. This will result in a supply issue, impacting the availability of food for people around the world.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has the potential to accelerate the global shift to green energy in the long run, but as for the short-term it will have huge consequences on energy price and market structures. Firstly, countries are working on contingency plans as a response to the shortage of oil and gas.

This marks a shift in how we think about energy and where we get it from: the investment into renewable will be considered a component of energy security and political stability. Therefore, the rapid development of the technologies needed for a green transition would only accelerate this process.

The Russian invasion into Ukraine is raising questions about national sovereignty, democracy versus autocracy, human rights and the global world order. This means that whatever its outcome may be, it could mark a turning point for the world's security architecture and infrastructure.

A divided Ukraine?

A divided Ukraine could see two radically different states emerge. A future "Eastern Ukraine" could comprise those regions (oblasts) where the deposed leader Viktor Yanukovych received over half of the vote during the 2010 Presidential election. "Western Ukraine" could include the other 17 of the total 27 oblasts.

Western Ukraine would be relatively rural; by contrast Eastern Ukraine would be a less populous but more urbanised state. West would be poorer than East. In Western Ukraine, the economy is dominated by agrarian production and the huge service sector centred on the capital city of Kiev.

Ukraine’s industry centres are on the East. Nearly all steel production and most arms manufacturing takes place in the region. Other higher value-added sectors, including the auto and aerospace industries, are also predominantly located in the East. Two other issues might define the respective economic futures of a divided nation: the future of Ukraine's large stock of public debt, and the potential transformative impact of shale gas.

But there is no crystal ball at the moment and guessing, at this stage, without any fortune-teller or clairvoyant available and able to predict the future, is a real hazard.