Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine led to the biggest rethinking of United States foreign policy since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, changing its strategic calculations regarding both allies and adversaries. Thus, there has been the strongest deepening of U.S. relations with European countries and Asia Pacific allies since the Cold War, while forcing a reassessment of rivals such as China, Iran, and Venezuela.
The Russian invasion restored the U.S. leading role in the democratic world, following the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in 2021.
Since the beginning of the war, democratic countries, led by the United States, have formed a united front to support Ukraine in its defense against Russian invasion. While closely coordinating their efforts to pressure Moscow, they also monitored China’s diplomatic efforts to strengthen ties with autocratic countries. This is how tensions between Western democracies and Chinese-led authoritarian regimes have grown, which has begun to pose serious challenges to the current world order.
Aggravation of the Taiwan question
At the same time, the Taiwan issue also intensified. After studying Ukraine’s experience in resisting Russian aggression, Taiwan became interested in increasing the purchase of American weapons, which have shown their effectiveness in Ukraine.
For example, the powerful American HIMARS missile system is the weapon that changes the balance of the war in Ukraine due to its efficiency in delivering operational strikes and survivability against fire. The first HIMARS were approved for sale to Taiwan as early as 2020, but currently Taiwan’s defense leadership is interested in purchasing even more HIMARS instead of M109 self-propelled howitzers. These facts, of course, angered China. China’s Ministry of Defense has strongly condemned the US’ $120 million arms sale to Taiwan, which “could lead to an escalation of tensions”.
Joe Biden repeatedly declared that the responsibility to protect the territory of Taiwan is even stronger after the start of the war by Russia against Ukraine. This is one of the strongest statements by the U.S. president in support of Taiwan in recent decades. Washington traditionally avoided giving clear guarantees to Taiwan’s security, but now considers the island’s forcible accession to China unacceptable.
Public opinion shift
According to the results of surveys conducted in the EU and in a number of other countries, we can see a noticeable trend of increasing the authority of the United States in the world. The unwavering position of the US government and people regarding the war in Ukraine (supply of equipment and weapons, financing of the state apparatus, humanitarian aid) shows the strong position of the U.S. in the international arena, strengthening its status of the state as a stronghold of democratic values. Moreover, a similar trend is recorded both in Western and Northern Europe, as well as in the countries of Asia and Australia. Supporting Ukraine in its struggle for democracy has become a perspective field for improving the international influence of the United States and the positive perception of the United States in the world.
Countries neighboring Ukraine, which feel this looming threat, are also very optimistic about the efforts of the United States in the fight against Russian aggression.
So, taking into account the effectiveness of American military support against the background of NATO’s passivity, confidence in the ability of the United States to contribute to security is indeed growing.
The role of the American military-industrial complex
In general, the war significantly strengthened the role of the American military-industrial complex. The USA is the largest exporter of weapons in the world, as well as the main supplier of weapons to Ukraine, Taiwan and European countries. In the conditions of global challenges, it is very difficult to adjust the supply evenly. The war in Ukraine has caused delays in arms shipments from the United States to Taiwan, which is currently considering canceling the country’s purchase of anti-submarine helicopters because of their high cost. At the same time, the war created great anxiety among European countries regarding the security of the continent. Before the war, European countries relied too much on the U.S. in security matters, and now they are quite vulnerable, increasing their dependence on NATO and, in general, on the U.S.
According to the SIPRI report, Europe has seen the world’s largest increase in arms imports. Thus, Europe’s share in the global arms trade has increased from 10% to 13% over the past five years, and it is expected that this percentage will continue to grow significantly, in particular, due to the Russian threat.
Natural gas export from the U.S.
In addition, as a result of Russia’s war against Ukraine, the export of U.S. natural gas to Europe, which previously bought more than 40% of its gas directly from Russia, increased significantly. In 2021, Russian natural gas exports to the EU amounted to 192.6 billion cubic meters, which is 81% of total exports. Gas was mainly supplied through the pipeline across Ukraine and Nord Stream 1, which was shut down after the start of the war, and Nord Stream 2, as a result of Western sanctions, declared itself bankrupt. Now Europe will need more resources, which it plans to import from the United States.
Cooperation with the Indo-Pacific region
At the same time, the USA remains long-term focused on the Indo-Pacific region, despite concerns about Russian aggression against Ukraine. The Pacific islands are affected by an intense geopolitical dispute between China, Australia and the United States, which are making deals with island nations to gain more influence in the region.
Australia, India, the USA and Japan form the so-called “the Quad”, a bloc of Indo-Pacific democracies created to counter China’s regional influence. In particular, the USA, Japan and 11 other countries created the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) to counter China’s influence. The bloc represents 40% of global GDP and 60% of the world’s population and, according to the United States, will be the largest contributor to global economic growth over the next three decades.
Influence in Latin America
The United States is also conducting an active campaign to counter Russia’s influence and spread of disinformation in Latin American countries, deepening comprehensive cooperation with them.
The different reactions of Latin American countries to the conflict in Ukraine reflect deep ideological cracks in the region. Thus, there are 3 opponents of the USA and allies of Russia in the region: Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has shifted the geopolitical chessboard, where support and alliances have become clearer than ever. The bloc that most insisted on condemning the Russian invasion and strongly supported sanctions was led by the USA.
As a result of active U.S. assistance to Ukraine in resisting military aggression by Russia, the authority of the U.S. in the world tends to increase. Comprehensive cooperation with the world’s democracies is deepening, while relations with authoritarian countries traditionally opposed of the U.S.: Russia, the People’s Republic of China, Iran, and North Korea, as well as some countries of the Middle East that support Russia in the war, are escalating.