by Raffaele Crocco

It has been 27 months of death in Ukraine. But now it is the French president, Emmanuel Macron, who is making the world tremble: once again, in February 2024, he declared that Europe had done too little to stop Russian President Vladimir Putin. The leader of the Kremlin, the French president said, must not be allowed to win, and so it cannot be ruled out that France could “send ground troops to Ukraine if Moscow breaks through the front lines and if Kyiv asks for them”.

It is, in fact, a request for war. And if it is true that France’s closest allies – including Italy – have ruled out any military deployment against Moscow, Macron’s words weigh like a stone, especially in light of what is happening on the ground, where the Russians are indeed breaking through Ukrainian defences. Fighting is intensifying near Avdiivka. The Ukrainian army has called in reserves, but the Russians have managed to break through. They have taken Ocheretiny in the Avdiivka area of Donetsk. Military command spokesman Nazar Voloshyn explained the gravity of the situation.  “The situation is such,” he said, “that the enemy has managed to break through. Part of the settlement under enemy control is under our fire. We are taking steps to dislodge them. There is heavy fighting, the Ukrainian forces control the situation.”

All this is happening just days before 9 May, a day of celebration in Russia to commemorate the victory in the Great Patriotic War against the Nazis. Putin wants to celebrate with a symbolic and strategic victory. That is why the army has stepped up its efforts. As has become customary at this stage of the war, area forces are attacking Ukrainian power stations and supply points, putting the already hard-pressed population to the test. Kyiv is trying to get back on its feet by attacking Russian territory with drones and unmanned aerial vehicles. Every possible negotiation seems distant, and no credible negotiator for a ceasefire has emerged.

Instead, a ceasefire for Gaza is still being discussed, with Hamas evaluating the proposals made during the week. Meanwhile, worldwide opposition to the Netanyahu government’s policies is growing. In North America – the United States and Canada – dozens of university campuses have been occupied by thousands of students who want to stop the slaughter in Gaza. The police have intervened heavily, with arrests and beatings. The same is happening in France, and to a lesser extent in Italy, but the protests are growing and seem unstoppable.

Meanwhile, the UN says the cost of rebuilding the Gaza Strip devastated by Israel’s military action will be between 30 and 40 billion dollars. “The scale of destruction is enormous and unprecedented,” said Abdallah al-Dardari, director of the agency’s regional office for Arab states. “This is the kind of problem the international community has not faced since the Second World War.”

Meanwhile, the pawns of the global risk of confrontation between ‘pro-American’ and ‘anti-American’ are still moving in the Red Sea, with the Yemeni Houthis attacking the pro-Israeli ships in transit and the European and US fleets engaged in containing them. But the confrontation is also likely to be bitter in sub-Saharan Africa. The governments of these countries, led by Chad and Niger, have declared that they no longer want US forces on their territory, openly expressing doubts about the strategies of the US army and the imposition of stars-and-stripes democracy. They are demanding a military and political presence from Russia. African governments see Moscow’s strategy as the best for their defence and development. A choice that opens a new, harsh front of confrontation between the great planetary contenders.