“The world just turned.”
Ukraine and the Putin–Xi statement.
9 FEBRUARY— It is always difficult to understand the present as history for the simple reason we are living it and cannot see it historically without great effort. But we are living through a passage of the 21st century whose long-term significance is hard to overstate. The future is arriving, to put the point another way. Who would have guessed it would come to us by way of the ongoing morass in Ukraine?
On the ground, the crisis in Ukraine sharpens by the day. This is the point of Washington’s incessant efforts to provoke Russia into an incursion that will justify a proxy war on the part of the U.S. and those few allies hawkish enough to follow its lead into the cesspit of corruption and crypto–Nazism on the Russian Federation’s southwestern border.
But on the ground is not where to look if we want to understand this long-festering crisis and its likely outcome—not as of last week. When Presidents Putin and Xi issued a declaration of mutual solidarity as the Winter Olympics opened in Beijing last Friday, all changed, changed utterly. What the Russian and Chinese leaders had to say in 5,300 words puts the mess in Ukraine in a fundamentally new perspective. What happens there will stand as a mile marker and nothing more on the way to a global order most of humanity has awaited throughout the postwar decades—all seven of them.
This is immensely positive.
We read the Joint Statement on International Relations Entering a New Era, to abridge its lengthy title, as a document of historic magnitude. Two nations signed it, and it is too early to predict its reception among others, notably influential non–Western nations such as India and Iran. The text of the statement, as translated by the Kremlin, is here and greatly worth reading. By way of its sentiments, the principles it espouses, and its potential significance, we rank it with the declaration that came out of the Bandung Conference of nonaligned nations that Sukarno hosted at an Indonesian mountain resort in the spring of 1955.
This should make clear what we mean by historic.