by Raffaele Crocco

Far, far away from the wars we fear and usually talk about, the taskmasters are showing muscle and teeth. China is conducting naval manoeuvres in the South China Sea. Not far away are the fleets of the United States and its allies. They sniff and warn each other: no one should overreact, and no one should think they are masters of the world.

They are involved in the great Global Risk and need to know that. The vanity of the contenders – “pro-American” and “anti-American” – is reflected in the power of arms. Death in this confrontation is for the time being left to third parties. In Ukraine, for example. According to the Armed Forces Command in Kyiv, Russia lost 450,890 soldiers in 780 days of war. If this number turns out to be true, we should add at least 250,000 Ukrainian soldiers, the estimate is made by international agencies. This means that one soldier dies every minute and a half in this war.

That is devastating, as is what happens to civilians in any war. How many have died so far? There is no official figure, but it is estimated at least 30,000. Russian bombs and missiles continue to fall; the bombing has been furious this week. President Volodymir Zelenskyy has sounded the alarm: there is now a shortage of anti-aircraft missiles. But the call is likely to go unheeded. Two years of war have depleted even the arsenals of the United States and its allies. The Russians, meanwhile, are hitting hard, hoping to weaken the Ukrainians’ will to resist. Missiles destroyed the Trypilska power plant in the Kyiv district. Russia has also damaged two other thermal power plants. Dtek, Ukraine’s largest private energy company, said in a statement that its facilities were targeted at least 10 times in March, damaging or destroying 80 per cent of its thermal generating capacity. In short, Ukrainians are left out in the cold for hundreds of miles, and Putin is counting on this to wear them down.

There is little and bad talk of peace. It has been officially announced that a peace conference where Kyiv wants to discuss the future of the country will be held in Switzerland between June 15 and 16. Moscow will not be there, making the meeting more of a showcase between allies than an opportunity to find a solution to the war.

Things are certainly no better in the Middle East. Israeli military pressure on the Palestinians in Gaza continues. The Israeli army’s killing of the sons and grandsons of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has thrown fuel on the fire of negotiations. According to the Hamas political bureau, the attack would demonstrate the desperation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is determined to boycott the ongoing cease-fire talks. For Basem Naim, a member of the Hamas political bureau, “Netanyahu has failed in recent weeks to ruin the negotiations and is under pressure from the Americans, the international community and Israeli domestic society. Now he is using all means, killing our children, our wives, and assassinating leaders or people in Damascus, to prevent us from reaching a cease-fire agreement.”

Meanwhile, another threat to the international balance comes from Iran’s decision to respond to the airstrikes suffered by its representatives in Damascus. The Israeli military is waiting for its retaliation. U.S. Middle East envoy Brett McGurk sent a message to Tehran through the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Iraq to ease tensions with Israel.

It is difficult to predict what will happen. The waters in the Red Sea are becoming increasingly choppy. During the week, Israel shot down a drone overnight as it flew east near the southern Israeli city of Eilat. Last Sunday, April 7, the Houthis launched “five attacks on Israeli, British and US ships.” It is a war that threatens to become endless and wear everyone down. Above all, it is an affair that risks getting out of control every minute.