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A step away from nuclear war

Written by The Frontier Post

Galiya Ibragimova

Will there be a new war in Donbass, will Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Alexander Lukashenko and Nikol Pashinyan retain power, what will the sharp rivalry between America and China turn out to be, what is the fate of the nuclear deal with Iran – the world is entering the coming year with these problems. What else will affect world politics in 2022 – RIA Novosti figured out.
Red lines C and Joe
Much will depend on the relationship between the United States and China. Washington and Beijing will continue to deploy red lines in the Indo-Pacific. The question of Taiwan’s status is escalating. The Chinese have stepped up their rhetoric against the 1949 breakaway province. Xi Jinping said bluntly that he wants unification. Taipei fears a power scenario and calls for help from allies.
Western partners will find themselves in a difficult situation. On the one hand, the US and the EU recognize the island as Chinese, on the other hand, they adhere to the principle of “one country, two systems.” Now Beijing is pushing for political and economic unity.
“The alliance of the United States, Great Britain and Australia – AUKUS – is aimed at containing China. Taiwan may become one of the key problems where the new union will have to show itself. The West is irritated not so much by Beijing’s claims to Taipei as by the strengthening of its naval power. a threat to the entire Indo-Pacific region, “explains Temur Umarov, a Sinologist at the Carnegie Moscow Center.
Pavel Koshkin, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for the United States and Canada, agrees that China will cause America a lot of trouble in 2022. But he draws attention to the positive tone of the recent talks via video link between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping.
And the main irritant here is Taipei. “Biden pro-mised that the Americans will not interfere in the int-ernal political processes in China. However, they will not be able to remain silent about Taiwan and play ahead of the curve through AUKUS,” says Koshkin.
Communists and Democrats
Nevertheless, experts are confident that both Beijing and Washington will focus on internal problems.
“In China, the 20th plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party is scheduled for the fall. Xi Jinping must decide on a successor. But, apparently, he will remain for a third term and will break the system of power change that developed in the 1970s. The political elite is ready for this, the consequences will be revealed later,” – says Umarov.
For the United States, the main domestic political event is the midterm congressional elections, which are perceived as a referendum on confidence in the Democrats and Biden personally.
“Last year, the president made many mistakes. He reacted late to the Arab-Israeli confrontation. Then – too hasty withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. Pandemic, inflation, unemployment – all of this has collapsed the rating. Most likely, the Democrats will not retain the majority in Congress”, – predicts Koshkin.
Zelensky against Maidan 3.0
The coming year may be a turning point for Russian-Ukrainian relations, believes Andrei Fedorov, director of the Center for Political Studies. Troops have been gathering to the border since autumn, provocations are possible. Any careless step is fraught with escalation and a new war in Donbass.
“Ukraine is in a political impasse. The Minsk agreements are not being implemented. The Normandy format does not work. The West supports it in words, but in reality it would prefer to forget about Kiev as soon as possible. In Germany, the new chancellor is not yet involved in Ukrainian intricacies. France is busy preparing for the presidential elections. The United States withdrew its troops from Afghanistan and is unlikely to want to fight in the Donbass. To return attention, Kiev may aggravate, “says Fedorov.
The political scientist does not rule out attempts to overthrow Zelensky. The recent demonstrations are just the beginning. People do not go out on their own, big business is behind this, he believes.
“Maidan 3.0 may happen due to the” law on oligarchs. “The guard of Ukrainian entrepreneurs is pressing on Zelensky to cancel it. But the president is still defending himself. The announcement of the upcoming coup is an attempt to find a compromise. If the oligarchs catch this sign, the next revolution will not take place.” – says Fedorov.
Ukrainian political scientist Konstantin Skorkin admits the possibility of ea-rly presidential elections. “Zelensky’s rating is fal-ling, but as long as he has a chance to gain more than others. His centrist elector-ate will not go to pro-Rus-sian or nationalist forces.
The Sea of Azov is another point of tension that will make itself felt in 2022. “The Ukrainians are planning to relocate part of the Naval Forces to these waters. In addition, the United States and Great Britain are ready to open military bases there. This will cause a negative reaction from Russia,” Fedorov said.
Referendum in Belarusian
In Belarus, the main thing is a constitutional referendum, tentatively scheduled for February. Alexander Lukashenko personally worked on the text. His opponents were outraged that the document had not been discussed with anyone. This will serve as a pretext for protests, belie-ves the coordinator of the program “Foreign Policy of Belarus” of the Council on Foreign Relations “Minsk Dialogue” Denis Melyants-ov. But he adds: the discontent will be short-term.
“Referendum day is the last opportunity for the opposition to influence the process in which they do not participate (mostly voluntarily). But local actions are unlikely to seriously affect the voting results. So far, everything is going according to plan,” he said.
Andrei Fedorov does not exclude that after the referendum Lukashenka will announce early presidential elections. “The situation is in his favor. There are no serious competitors. The opposition has been pushed abroad. Despite Western sanctions, the economy is growing, unemployment is falling,” the source lists. “Ideal conditions to confirm legitimacy.”
The migration crisis on the Belarusian-Polish and Belarusian-Lithuanian borders will not be resolved until Minsk and Brussels reach an agreement on at least partial lifting of the sanctions, predicts Mel’yantsov.
The political scientist draws attention to the militarization of Poland, Lithuania and Belarus: “In fact, this is the zone of contact between NATO and the Allied State. The accumulation of troops and military equipment there is fraught with incidents. This can start a chain reaction and turn into a clash.”
Negotiation or confrontation
The tense situation will continue in the South Caucasus as well. Armenian political scientist Hayk Khalatyan fears armed incidents between Yerevan and Baku. Determining borders and opening roads is a long history, not one year.
“Russia can again play a constructive role. At least not allow Azerbaijan and Armenia to slide into a new war,” Khalatyan says. And he adds: the unblocking of communications and the delimitation of borders do not mean final clarity with the status of Artsakh.
The expert also predicts internal political instability in Armenia. “Early parliamentary elections last year and the victory of Pashinyan’s party did not lead to socio-economic improvements. People are dissatisfied and demand intelligible reforms. There is a risk that Pashinyan will not retain power. In some regions, his party has already lost its majority.”
Caucasian expert Nurlan Gasimov believes that the unblocking of communications is still a long way off. “The roads have to be built. The next question is who will guarantee the safe transportation of goods along these routes. The distrust between Armenia and Azerbaijan is going through the roof,” he said.
The OSCE Minsk Group on the Karabakh settlement may be replaced by the “3 + 3” format, the interlocutor continues. In addition to the countries of the South Caucasus, it will include Russia, Turkey, Iran. Now this platform for dialogue is being promoted by Ankara, but Georgia is against cooperation with Moscow. Not everything is going smoothly with Turkey and Iran either.
“New negotiating platforms do not make sense until Armenia and Azerbaijan come to at least some kind of consensus on delimitation. And Turkey and Russia already have a serious military-political potential in the South Caucasus,” Gasimov said.
Georgia is awaiting a decision on Mikhail Saakashvili’s case. Political analyst Archil Sikharulidze is confident that the former president will be given a real term and that he will remain in prison until at least 2024.
Unyielding negotiators
In the Middle East, the focus is on the Iranian nuclear program. If it cannot be frozen, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Turkey will feel the negative consequences. But not everyone agrees that the resumption of the deal broken under Donald Trump will be deterred by Tehran.
The Islamic Republic is actively developing the atomic project. There are calls to increase the enrichment of uranium to 90 percent required for nuclear weapons.
“Under the new president, Ibrahim Raisi, Tehran’s rhetoric has intensified. Biden is also not ready to make concessions. Republicans will accuse him of treason. This delays the negotiation process that has started in Vienna,” explains Andrei Baklitsky.
However, the political scientist is confident that even if the deal cannot be renegotiated, negotiations with Iran will continue. Nobody in the world wants to slide into nuclear war.

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