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The Year That Will Change Everything

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Photo: Ukraine will give this year to Western leaders so that they can still transform the economy and society, finally change the perception of Russia, and strengthen defense. Source: Collage The Gaze by Leonid Lukashenko.
Photo: Ukraine will give this year to Western leaders so that they can still transform the economy and society, finally change the perception of Russia, and strengthen defense. Source: Collage The Gaze by Leonid Lukashenko.

The world order, established after the collapse of the USSR in 1991, fell on February 24, 2022. Along with it ended a 30-year era of peaceful, calm, and prosperous life in Europe and the world at large. International organizations - the UN, Red Cross, OSCE, and others - demonstrated their corruption and helplessness in addressing modern challenges. The defense capabilities of EU countries leave much to be desired. The shape of the new international security system will be determined in 2024.

Russia has poured virtually all its resources into its war. The economy is being restructured for military purposes, mobilization continues unabated, and even the main branch of the FSB, the Russian Orthodox Church, has been involved in ideological indoctrination of the population. Secret technologies are being handed over to rogue states like Iran and North Korea in exchange for drones, ammunition, and missiles. Massive funds are being invested in destabilizing Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, as well as in propaganda.

All this is in pursuit of achieving some significant success in the Ukrainian military campaign. The Kremlin understands that its "window of opportunity" will close in 2025. Sustaining military expenditures at 40% of the budget and 6% of GDP, amid inevitable economic contraction due to sanctions, will not be feasible for much longer. Furthermore, if Ukraine holds out until 2024, Putin's further prospects involve retreating into isolation and abandoning his cunning plans for global domination. Ultimately, facing the fate of Hitler, Gaddafi, Hussein, and other dictators.

For European countries, too, a pivotal moment has arrived. After the end of the Cold War, the EU experienced an economic and social boom. Armies were downsized, weapons were scrapped or sold to third countries. From 1992 to 2022, according to McKinsey, the tank fleet of European countries decreased by 77%, aircraft by 57%, and the number of military ships almost halved. Overall, Europe "saved" a colossal amount on defense over 30 years - $8.6 trillion.

This money flowed from the defense sector into social welfare, healthcare, and culture. European politicians began to believe that "this music would last forever," and for some, often for Kremlin money, it still seems so. The result was a complete loss of their own defense capabilities and excessive reliance on the idea that, if necessary, the US would protect dear old Europe. According to the Deputy Chief of the British Defense Staff, Lieutenant General Rob Magowan, the United Kingdom's army will be able to withstand Russia for no more than two months.

The situation is even worse in continental Europe. Germany in 2023 still hadn't reached the necessary 2% of GDP for defense. The former Minister of Defense of the United Kingdom, Ben Wallace, described the situation in Berlin best: "The wrong man in the wrong job at the wrong time." The state of EU armies, including the NATO contingent, leaves much to be desired. The two years that Ukraine paid for with the blood of its soldiers went towards catching up. Only towards the end of last year and the beginning of this year did the seriousness of the situation begin to dawn on some European leaders.

But mere understanding of the situation, that Europe is at war with Russia, is no longer sufficient. For victory over the Kremlin dictatorship, 2024 must become a year of massive transformations. The economic policy of the European Union and, generally, the Western democratic world must undergo significant changes.

Historical examples of such transformation are still fresh in memory. Great Britain and the USA have already walked this path during the Second World War. The same United States in 1939 practically had no army, but by 1942 possessed the largest military might in the world. This path needs to be traversed again. Currently, Europe is capable of producing about 230,000 artillery shells per year (promising Ukraine a million), the manufacturer of long-range missiles Taurus, which Germany still hesitates to supply to Ukraine, has stopped production altogether due to lack of orders.

If the West does not accelerate the structural reconstruction of its economy, does not redirect funds to increase defense budgets, does not ensure the growth of the military industry in geometric progression, then the world will return not even to the state of the "Cold War". The West will find itself in a strict world reminiscent of the mid-19th century, when the Russian Empire was the "gendarme of Europe" and practically determined the policy on the European continent. There will be simple and understandable management from Moscow for the lion's share of European capitals. The European project and the collective "NATO umbrella" can be forgotten altogether.


In Ukraine, in 2024, there are also two most important tasks: to withstand the battles with the Russian horde and to rebuild the economy on a military basis, making a qualitative leap in the construction of its own defense industry. The question now is blunt: either Ukraine and the EU will rebuild in 2024, or 2025 will be the year of the global defeat of the Western democratic project.

Ukraine will give this year to Western leaders so that they can still transform the economy and society, finally change the perception of Russia, and strengthen defense. But Olaf Scholz and Jake Sullivan should remember that every second of their deliberations and procrastination is paid for with the blood and lives of Ukrainians: soldiers, women, elderly, and children.

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