The latest development in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is an indication of the growing imbalance in the existing system of international relations. This is characterized by the emergence of new wars, the resumption of long-standing confrontations with considerable human casualties, and the risk of further escalation. Claiming international leadership and the role of guarantor of the existing international order, the US has again failed to prevent the explosion of another flashpoint. There is still a chance that the new crisis will be isolated and prevented from escalating into armed combat between major regional players. But the very fact that such a state of affairs is emerging suggests that the fabric of the post-Cold War order is being torn more and more frequently on the wreckage of the bipolar system, once run by Moscow and Washington. Such developments are becoming increasingly challenging to mend.
Events in the Middle East have pushed the hostilities in Ukraine to the back of the media agenda. Meanwhile, even there, the situation hardly supports the permanence of the old status quo. Things would be different if Russia had been returned to the status of a defeated power and Kiev and its Western backers had finally consolidated the results of the collapse of the Soviet Union.
But the facts tell a different story. The Ukrainian army’s high-profile and expensive counteroffensive has failed to achieve its objectives. The Russian military is slowly but inevitably building up pressure on the front. Economic sanctions have not caused the country’s economy to collapse. Despite heavy damage, it is quickly adapting to the new conditions. Attempts to politically isolate Moscow have not worked either. For the Western partners of authorities in Kiev, the conflict is becoming increasingly expensive. The price could rise as the Armed Forces of Ukraine are stripped of Soviet-made equipment, and the need for new supplies grows. Ukraine’s economy also needs external cash injections in the face of military losses, demographic failure, and persistent governance problems, including corruption.