by Raffaele Crocco

There is a real danger of not being able to slow down. The fear is that no one can muzzle the crisis and the war, step by step, one exaggerated response after another, one provocation after another. Let’s look at the situation on the international stage. Let’s do it randomly, not in order of importance or chronology. Let’s start with the last week of global risk-taking between pro- and anti-America.

Act one. France carries out the first test launch of an improved nuclear-capable missile, the Asmpa-r. It is designed to be fired from a Rafale fighter, the ‘Nerf’ of the French armed forces. The test comes, not coincidentally, 24 hours after Russia announced that it had begun nuclear exercises in its southern military district, near Ukraine. According to the Russian Ministry of Defence, this is the “first phase of exercises on the preparation and use of non-strategic nuclear weapons.” Action, counter-reaction; provocation, reaction. This is the macho and dangerous logic of the current international confrontation.

Act two. Moscow has unilaterally announced a change in the maritime borders with Lithuania and Finland, two NATO states. This would involve revising the limits of territorial waters. Finland and Lithuania protested, the Kremlin first denied it, then confined itself to ‘not confirming’. The spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, says only that the level of tension, especially in this region, requires “relative steps” by Russian ministries and agencies “to ensure national security.” An ambiguous phrase that takes nothing away and adds much to the tension in the region. Up there is a piece of humanity’s future, this Arctic route that seems destined to become the main artery for goods produced in Asia and sold in Europe. Moscow smells a deal and wants maximum control of this route. So: action, counter-action; provocation, reaction.

Act three. Far away, still at sea, in the Pacific. In New Caledonia, a French colony, the independence fighters are fighting for their own country, far away from the French. There are clashes and deaths. Surprisingly, the government in Paris blames Azerbaijan, a former Soviet state in Central Asia, far from the Pacific, for interfering and financing the rebellion. How is this possible? Because the government in Baku, which has been at war with Armenia for years over Nagorno-Karabakh, presents itself to the world as the ‘champion’ of oppressed peoples. Supported by China and Russia, it is financing and fomenting the anti-French revolt in the Pacific, thereby provoking the wrath of Paris. Again: action, counter-reaction; provocation, reaction.

These are three cases that were recounted last week. The table on which we are walking is becoming increasingly slippery.  And while the chancelleries play at flexing their muscles, civilians are dying.

In Ukraine, another attack in the northeastern city of Kharkiv killed several people. The attack also damaged municipal and transport infrastructure, making life more difficult. Governor Oleh Syniehubov said Russian forces had shelled Kharkiv about 10 times. Zolochiv and Liubotyn were also hit. Meanwhile, Washington is raising the stakes, saying it is considering “whether to allow Ukraine to use US weapons to attack Russia directly.” This is a new and serious position: until now the US had instructed Kyiv not to use US weapons for actions against Russian territory. What can we expect? We will see-action, counter-action; provocation, reaction.

Finally, in Gaza, where nothing has changed except the list of civilians killed by Israeli military action. The request by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to arrest Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Hamas leaders for war crimes and crimes against humanity has suddenly appeared on the scene. Israel rejects it and calls on its allies to do the same, but the court is independent, even if not recognised by all countries. The consequences are a loss of international credibility for Tel Aviv. Spain, Ireland and Norway have reshuffled the European deck by officially recognising the state of Palestine. There are now 146 countries in the world that recognise the right of the Palestinians to exist.