Russia launched an offensive against Ukraine on 24 February. Since then, his army has expanded its offensive and continued bombing, forcing more civilians to flee west and into neighboring European countries. Faced with this invasion, you have many questions. France 24’s strategic consultant Guillaume de Rouget will answer some of your questions.
Two weeks into the invasion of Ukraine, the Russian army, having already suffered heavy casualties and material losses, is advancing more slowly than expected, but is still approaching the capital Kiev. Diplomatically, talks between the two belligerents have stalled as the European Union (EU), more united than ever, is forming a common front against Russia.
France 24 Strategic Adviser Guillaume de Rouget answers the questions you have asked us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Will economic sanctions against Russia have any effect? (Question from Pope Sheikh Falsey)
Guillaume de Rouge: They are already working. There are already people in Russia who are losing their jobs and are under pressure. There is a collapse of the ruble. We can feel the consequences in the daily life of the Russian population. The blow to the middle, urban classes integrated into globalization is important, but at the same time it does not affect the impoverished classes, who in any case did not have access to a certain amount of consumer goods and a certain standard of living. a life. On the other side of the spectrum, there is the category of the richest, which will concern the oligarchs, the upper class, who may suffer from the closing of luxury stores, but are generally protected. She certainly lost a lot with overseas assets and luxury real estate, but at the same time she has so much inside, and she is so tied to the system on which she depends, that in the end these sanctions do not play a huge role.
Should the EU consider more effective measures to stop the Russian invasion? (Question from Aziz Steve Coulibaly)
The whole problem in resisting the will is to keep it under control and also manage not to shoot yourself in the foot. There is an energy issue, and we can already see macroeconomic issues and implications for global markets for essentials like wheat.
As for other measures, other large companies may terminate their relations with Russia. Then everything becomes more complicated, except for the boycott of Russian products, mainly in the energy sector, there is nothing special. Then the challenge will become indirect, trying to rally the countries of the Middle East or other representatives of the international community. In particular, there is the Chinese question.
What is China’s position in this conflict? ? (Question from Benjamin Zaban
This country must remain ambivalent. At the beginning of the Beijing Olympics, there were these declarations of solidarity and alliance with Russia, but in reality there is mutual distrust due to the dissymmetry of forces and because of the symmetry of these closed apparatus regimes that do not trust their partners. In principle, there is an objective alliance, but not an alliance that can lead to real long-term trusting relationships.
This means that Russia may try to cooperate, which will eventually improve these relations, especially in the energy sector. But the “pipe policy” cannot be changed at all. It will take at least five years to redirect their hydrocarbon exports from the West to China. Also, would the Chinese be interested in increasing their dependency even as they try to diversify their supply? Finally, there may be military cooperation, but then again, who has more control over the other? Finally, their objective alliance is now being carried out against another power: the United States. This is by definition a fragile alliance, since it is against something, and not for a common project.
Why the US is not intervening directly in the war to stop Putin ? (Question from Jeremy Mouzol)
What is the interest of the United States in stepping in alone and positioning itself exactly as Putin wants, i.e. as the big western devil? It would be counterproductive for America. On the other hand, it is in Europe that NATO’s Atlantic alliance exists. The United States is its most powerful member, but no longer the only one. It is inconceivable that America could act alone, regardless of its allies and partners.
Then, at the military level, there is another piece of evidence. We are still dealing with two nuclear superpowers, a legacy of the Cold War. The US and Russia have 90% of the world’s nuclear potential. Great power conflicts respond to very specific rules, which are really about not starting a war because that implies nuclear risk. After the Bay of Pigs crisis in 1962, a hotline exists between the two countries. We understood that it was necessary to constantly use levers of a psychological and political nature to ensure strategic stability, that is, a very low probability of nuclear war.
Can the French army participate in this war? ? (Question from Haruna Mahamat)
This is the same answer as the previous question. These are the same restrictions as for the US. I mean the legal concepts of joint war. If you contribute to the training of the troops of a belligerent country, its operations directly with the armed forces of your country, you are in a commonwealth. On the other hand, the fact of supplying weapons to the state is a legal act. The fact of providing expertise in terms of intelligence is where we start to get into gray areas, but it’s not a form of militancy. This is exactly what Western countries, including France, are doing now. But there is a lot of privacy.
France intervenes on land, at sea and in the air. We have strengthened the presence we already had in, for example, the Baltic sky defense, but we have especially expanded it in Romania, the eastern Mediterranean and a number of air defense missions. But all this is within the framework of NATO spying on its territory and by no means within the framework of assistance to Ukraine. It is important to keep this distinction.
Human rights violations allegedly committed by the Russian military have been reported in Ukraine. What is the role of the International Criminal Court (ICC) ? Can Vladimir Putin ever be judged? ? (Question from Bohit Bichara Ahmat)
It is very important to keep in touch with international public and criminal law. It has the dignity of being there and it is important to uphold the right to war. The idea of being able to archive and document all war crimes committed by armed forces during a conflict is closely related to this notion of the rule of law. It’s also what we’re fighting for, even if, for example, the United States hasn’t always played the game with the ICC.
As for the verdict against Vladimir Putin, it seems to me that the criminalization of the enemy, that is, turning him into an enemy, can contribute to the escalation. It is difficult to separate the actions of the armed forces from the head of the Russian state, but one must be careful not to add fuel to the fire and continue to maintain contact. There is a reality principle that obliges us to note that we should not burn every channel of discussion that we may have with Vladimir Putin.