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Russia’s provocations: Kyiv Security Forum identifies five global flashpoints

The victory of the DPP candidate in the Taiwanese presidential election has exacerbated the situation in the region
The victory of the DPP candidate in the Taiwanese presidential election has exacerbated the situation in the region

Escalating global tensions, rooted in conflicts directly or indirectly linked to Russia’s extensive aggression against Ukraine, are fostering a breakdown of the international security system, fueled by Moscow’s persistent ties to radical terrorist groups and authoritarian regimes, as the Kremlin strategically instigates new conflicts to divert attention from its illegal actions, according to analysis by Kyiv Security Forum experts.

Moscow actively pursues arms deals with marginal partners, especially Iran and North Korea. Additionally, it expands military-technical cooperation with nations long under international sanctions, providing advanced technologies that significantly boost their military capabilities and aggressive ambitions.

Experts pinpoint five geopolitical hotspots crucial to Moscow’s strategy for fostering instability. Developments in these regions will determine the overall instability orchestrated by Moscow.

Middle East

The situation in the Middle East remains tense. Following a significant terrorist attack by HAMAS on Israel, the conflict persists. Israel continues military operations in the Gaza Strip to counter the threat. Despite partial IDF withdrawal, recent offensive actions have raised concerns, including civilian casualties and targeting of refugee camps.

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Efforts from the US, Egypt, and Qatar to facilitate hostage return face challenges. HAMAS demands Israeli withdrawal, cessation of hostilities, and release of Palestinian prisoners, which Israel finds unacceptable. Israel aims for the complete destruction of HAMAS and demilitarization of the Gaza Strip, a process that may take months.

Israel rejects the idea of an independent Palestinian autonomy, creating uncertainty for long-term stability. Moscow’s support for HAMAS strains relations with Israel, with evidence of Russian military assistance. Arab countries and Iran offer moral support, while proxy groups engage in regional conflicts.

Yemeni Houthis respond to Gaza events with piracy and shelling in the Red Sea, blocking navigation. Despite targeted airstrikes by the US, UK, Australia, Bahrain, Canada, and the Netherlands, Houthi aggression persists. Efforts to influence China to stop Houthi actions remain unfulfilled.

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China – Taiwan

Tensions in the Taiwan situation have risen following the recent victory of Democratic Progressive Party candidate Tsai Ing-wen in the presidential elections. Tsai supports Taiwan’s independent development, challenging China’s President Xi Jinping’s plans for swift reunification.

Currently, the conflict involves strong political statements.

On Jan. 25, Colonel Wu Qian, spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of National Defense, reiterated that Taiwan is part of China and will never be sovereign. He emphasized China’s military readiness to defend its national sovereignty.

Despite the importance of trade with the West for Beijing, there are hopes to avoid military conflict. Both China and Taiwan are preparing for potential conflict, with Beijing modernizing its military and conducting purges, while Taiwan enhances its armed forces and missile capabilities.

Taipei seeks continued support from the United States, as expressed by President Tsai Ing-wen. However, the blocking of a U.S. Congress aid package and the possibility of Donald Trump’s re-election could bring adjustments. Trump’s ambiguous remarks in a Fox News interview, where he mentioned Taiwan’s impact on chip manufacturing, were enthusiastically received by Beijing.

North Korea

Statements from Kim Jong Un, the leader of one of Russia’s key partners, North Korea, are becoming increasingly aggressive, backed by demonstrations of military capabilities and military provocations.

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In early January, during an inspection of military plants, Kim Jong Un referred to South Korea as the most hostile state and threatened to turn the neighboring country into ashes in the event of confrontation. He stated that he would not initiate war unilaterally but had no intention of avoiding it. He also expressed a lack of interest in a policy of reconciliation and reunification with South Korea. Kim Jong Un expressed satisfaction that North Korean enterprises are flawlessly executing the plan for military equipment and emphasized the need to produce more weapons and military equipment.

North Korea goes beyond bellicose statements, engaging in dangerous military provocations. On Jan. 5, North Korea fired 200 shells towards South Korea, landing in the maritime buffer zone north of the demarcation line, essentially the maritime border with South Korea. More recently, North Korea launched several cruise missiles toward open waters, falling between the Korean Peninsula and China.

Venezuela

Tensions persist in the relations between Guyana and Venezuela following the referendum held on Dec. 3, 2023, regarding the annexation of the oil-rich Guyanese province of Essequibo.

The referendum, organized by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, aimed to expand his support ahead of the upcoming elections scheduled for this year. The return of control over Essequibo is supported by a significant majority of the population, both pro-government and opposition forces. Observers note that Maduro is employing strategies previously used by Russia in Ukraine, including distributing Venezuelan passports to residents of the province.

Venezuela remains a steadfast ally of Russia, one of the few countries consistently supporting Moscow in UN General Assembly resolutions condemning aggression against Ukraine and the annexation of Ukrainian territories. There is also a military dependency of Venezuela on Russia, with its armed forces extensively using Russian weapons, from Kalashnikov rifles to Sukhoi aircraft and missile defense systems, while Russian instructors provide training for the armed forces.

The question of Essequibo is currently under consideration at the International Court of Justice. However, some observers do not rule out a potentially conflictual development in the situation in the future, according to experts.

Africa

In this continent, Russia also plays a certain destructive role.

“The results of Russian influence include military coups in certain countries, with a shift from the West to Moscow, from democratic governance to autocracy, with Russia’s involvement in the plundering of Africa’s natural resources by corrupt regimes and the artificial support of controlled instability,” the research states.

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In May 2021, a military coup occurred in Mali, and in September 2022, in Burkina Faso. The new juntas oriented themselves towards Moscow and became dependent on the presence of Wagner Group mercenaries.

In July 2023, this process continued in Nigeria. The pretext for these coups was the intensification of jihadist groups, which since 2012 have transformed West Africa into one of the least stable regions on the planet.

In the list of African countries where military abuses of power have occurred in recent years, Chad, Sudan, and Gabon can be mentioned, although the nature of the coups there was somewhat different. Attempts at coups (Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Sao Tome and Principe) and military conspiracies (Sierra Leone) failed in several other countries.

“While not all countries show clear evidence of direct Russian intervention, Russia’s aggression against Ukraine remains one of the factors contributing to increased instability on the continent. At a minimum, it contributes to rising prices, particularly for food, leading to heightened social and political tensions,” concludes the Kyiv Security Forum.

Founded by the Arseniy Yatsenyuk “Open Ukraine” Foundation, The Kyiv Security Forum, is the state’s key platform for discussing issues of war and peace, national and global security.

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine