3 Global Issues Journalists Are Watching in 2022

The first few months of 2022 have been marked by strained international relations and a war in Eastern Europe. Two top journalists shared the global issues they’re watching this year.

Air Date: March 23, 2022

Moderator: Myron Brilliant, Executive Vice President and Head of International Affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Featured Guests: David Ignatius, Foreign Affairs Columnist, The Washington Post, Lingling Wei, Chief China Correspondent, The Wall Street Journal

The ongoing and unpredictable war between Ukraine and Russia has the world on edge. Tensions are high, partnerships are in question and the global landscape is falling victim to chaos and destruction.

As the war rages on and officials await Putin’s next moves, there are many unanswered questions about what it means for international relations. At a U.S. Chamber of Commerce Virtual InSTEP event, two top journalists shared what to watch for on the global landscape in 2022, including insights into NATO and nuclear weapons.

NATO Is Deterring Putin From Expanding the War, But Stakes Are Still High

David Ignatius, a journalist for The Washington Post, stressed how destructive and dangerous the war in Ukraine is right now.

“I think this is a more dangerous moment even than the Cuban missile crisis in terms of potential risks,” he said. “There's no question the administration's effort to restore American alliances … has been crucial and effective.”

For example, Ignatius noted that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has prevented Vladimir Putin from expanding the war into further territory.

However, “The problem of deterrence of nuclear powers is more complicated now than it was before this war,” Ignatius said. “Every day we wonder whether Putin will choose to jump domains [and] take this war into the cyber domain, to take it into the domain of chemical weapons, even to take it into a nuclear domain with the use of tactical nuclear weapons.”

China Is Trying to Balance Its Relationships with Russia and the Rest of the World

Lingling Wei, chief China correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, noted the difficult position China is in regarding the war. The country is attempting to square its support for Russia.

“The Chinese are also trying very hard to avoid rupturing the relationships with U.S. and Europe, which are both very important markets for China — much more important than Russia's market,” said Wei.

Balancing the two has been difficult for the Chinese, but Wei predicts the country will not back down from its partnership with Russia.

“On the other hand, they're also trying to show support and sympathy for Ukrainians,” she continued. “I think the Chinese leadership has been pretty unsettled by the scale of this conflict.”

However, based on conversations with Chinese officials, it's clear China would like to maintain normal economic ties with Russia, continuing to buy oil and gas from Russia.

“They're definitely trying to do this diplomatic dance here,” Wei said.

Questions Remain Regarding Nuclear Weapons

Russia’s nuclear weapons have stirred up fear among other countries about getting involved in the conflict.

“This war on Ukraine has been a demonstration of the usefulness of having nuclear weapons,” said Ignatius. “The reason we don't have a no-fly zone over Ukraine that could stop the slaughter of Ukrainians is because Russia has nuclear weapons.”

Additionally, Ignatius noted that if Ukraine hadn’t signed a commitment to give up its nuclear weapons in 1994, Russia likely wouldn’t have invaded the country. However, Russia was able to use Ukraine’s vulnerability to its advantage.

“The value of [nuclear weapons] is just lit up in neon by this war, and this war will end up being the biggest boon … in modern history — and that's dangerous,” Ignatius said.

During the war, the U.S. has gained the unity of its European and Asian allies in joining in the economic sanctions against Russia. But it’s important to note that, “as strong as the U.S. partnerships in Europe [and Asia] are … U.S. traditional partnerships in the Middle East are really in retreat,” said Ignatius.

“There's just no other way to see Saudi Arabia's refusal to help the U.S. by pumping more oil, keeping global energy prices down,” he continued.

However, he added, one potential outcome is that China may say, “We don't ever want to be in this situation ourselves in a confrontation.”

“I would think that the moves that were already afoot to move away from dollarization of global finance, to move away from reliance exclusively on U.S.-led money centers, is going to accelerate,” Ignatius said.