When considering how fluid and fast-moving the situation has become in Ukraine, the possibility of the worst-case scenario materializing, or something bordering on it, remains within the realms of reality and the possible. Predictive analysis grows increasingly more unpredictable and daunting.
Should cooler heads prevail, the situation may be contained and managed within the geographic borders of Ukraine. However, presently such minds seem to be in short supply, particularly amongst those responsible for driving developments on the ground in Ukraine. The possibility of spillover into the European Union’s borders, nearby areas and potentially beyond, sparking a wider conflict cannot be discounted.
Time is of the essence and necessity requires that the western world, and all free societies globally, be prepared for all contingencies. With global security and stability on a knife’s edge, the simple cliche’ of “hope for the best, prepare for the worst” grossly underestimates the gravity of what’s at stake.
In present circumstances, active and responsible leadership remain indispensable. At this stage, it is still debatable whether a sufficient level actually exists. Crises can often draw out the best or worst of qualities in leaders and individuals that may defy existing expectations.
The coming days and weeks may lead to greater uncertainty, but the relative peace and prosperity of recent decades has certainly ended. It’s now safe to say the world is officially in the unsafe Age of Great Power Competition, with all its accompanying risks.
Although parallels can be drawn to previous historical eras, the bottom line is that we are entering unchartered, and even more dangerous, territory – particularly when taking into account rapidly evolving technological innovations and their applications to contemporary warfare.
Marco Vicenzino is director of Global Strategy Project.