Staunton, Mar. 14 – Many in Moscow and the West imagine that east-west discussions about the world in the wake of the Ukrainian conflict will be like Yalta in 1945, Aleksey Fenenko says; but a far more likely model is provided by what happened at the Congress of Berlin in 1878.
The international affairs specialist at Moscow State University suggests that it is an understandable mistake to think that Moscow and Beijing may be able to force Washington to agree to accept a new set of spheres of influence, but even if there are moves in that direction, they hardly will be like those at Yalta (ng.ru/kartblansh/2022-03-16/3_8392_kb.html).
The situation now is fundamentally different than it was at Yalta. Then, the West and Russia were allies; now the US and Russia are “leaders of hostile military-political blocs.” Unlike in 1945, the leading powers don’t have a common opponent and one that they destroyed, raising the need for the creation of a new world order without that opponent.
“The powers of the anti-Hitler coalition build a new world order by liquidating the remnants of the Vienna order of the 19th century,” Fenenko says; and the powers now continue to live on the basis of that new order and its political, economic and legal institutions.” Because there aren’t conditions for a new Yalta, one won’t take place.
Instead, the Moscow scholar argues, a better model for what is likely to happen is the Congress of Berlin of 1878 which formally ended the Russo-Turkish war and in fact brought to complete the period of limited wars from the Crimean to the Russo-Turkish. It “divided the Balkans into spheres of influence and brought peace to Europe for the next 35 years.”
But what it did not do is satisfy any of its participants. All felt they had been deprived of the fruits of their victory; and all nursed hopes for revenge at some point in the future. For the period of apparent calm after Berlin, all began to think about “the inevitability of a global war,” one that came in 1914.
“To expect ‘a new Yalta’ in our time is hardly realistic,” Fesenko concludes. “For a Yalta, one must have total wars which destroy the world of the past and create a world of the future. Limited wars end sooner or later with ‘new Berlins’ which bring the appearance of a long peace but at the same time create the conditions for the preparation of a new war.”