Europe has not seen carnage such as that unleashed by the Russian invasion of Ukraine in nearly thirty years. The war this time has produced a massive European refugee crisis, disrupted much-needed energy supplies, and plunged the world into yet another global economic crisis.

The impact of the Russian invasion is not restricted to Europe alone and stretches as far as the southernmost tip of Africa, South America, and Asia. Known to supply much of the developing world with wheat and other agricultural staples, Russia and Ukraine have either directly or indirectly halted exports. As a result, this has created a global food crisis, affecting 400 million people, especially those in poorer countries. The United Nations stated that the most impoverished countries will be the hardest hit by the food export disruptions.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began earlier in 2022, is the most significant development in international relations in recent times, vastly affecting the global economy and supply chains, politics and diplomacy, food security, and many other areas.  In this issue of The Cairo Review titled “The Ukraine Effect,’ we explore the multi-layered influence the Ukraine War had and continues to have on the political, diplomatic, security, and economic fronts.

On the diplomatic front, countries with robust relations with both Russia and the United States (and Western Europe) have been forced to choose sides. Responses of countries in the Middle East and North Africa have wavered; many states have been guarded in taking clear official positions, playing the political long-game to ensure their interests are met in the long run or erring on the side of caution lest they eventually end up on the wrong side of the war. In The Ukraine War: The View from Iran for example, Hamidreza Azizi explores why Iran’s official rhetoric has been shifting toward publicly supporting Russia. Zine Labidine Ghebouli, in Fortune and Hazard for Algeria, explores how Algeria, which has traditionally remained neutral in global conflicts, is maneuvering to become an energy hub for Western countries seeking to cut dependence on Russian oil. And in Syria, where Russia has had the strongest military presence in the region, the Russian–Ukraine war might potentially impact Russia’s continued role on the ground and cause other actors to gain a foothold in the Syrian conflict, Omar Abu Layla argues in Strategic Survival in Syria.

More broadly, the ongoing war in Ukraine has dampened regional hopes of Russia becoming a trusted alternative to the United States as an ally. In his piece on Russia, Ukraine, and U.S. Policy in the Middle East, Daniel Kurtzer writes that the outcome of the war can cause the United States to reassess its policies toward the region and intensify its engagement with it. Being a flagrant violation of international law, the war is a threat to multilateralism and the United Nations-based system, causing Antonio de Aguiar Patriota to question whether the multilateral system is at all democratic in Democratizing International Relations.

The “Ukraine effect” has exposed other fractures and tensions in the international stage on several issues, although they are sometimes less visible. For example, sanctions on Russian oil exports coupled with the recent OPEC+ decision to cut oil production quotas has deepened the rift between Saudi Arabia and the United States. In OPEC+ versus the United States and World Democracies, Giacomo Luciani details the unfurling implications of that decision. The war, in which United States and the European Union are notable players heavily involved militarily and otherwise, has laid bare the deep skepticism of Western intentions across the Global South, a skepticism that goes back for centuries, writes Ayman Zaineldine in his essay The West’s Stigma, and Why It Loses Global Support by Its Own Actions. Finally, the war’s direct and indirect impact on economically vulnerable countries like Egypt is the topic of the CR Interview with political economist and American University in Cairo professor Amr Adly.

Firas Al-Atraqchi & Karim Haggag

Cairo Review Managing Editors