International diplomacy: on the verge of collapse

During the weekend of January 28, 2022, Russia moved blood supply near its border with Ukraine, where tens of thousands of Russian troops have gathered, further adding to US concern that an invasion is imminent. When stored at 6°C, donated blood can last up to approximately six weeks. Time is running out as the world eagerly awaits Russia’s next move, towards what could turn into a full-fledged war.

However, for some, waiting is not an option. Last summer, a group of Irish fishermen made headlines during a protest against the Brexit trade deal between the UK and the EU, in which Ireland would lose around 15% of its fishing quota share by 2026. In response, the fishing group, led by Patrick Murphy, chief executive of the Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation, organized a flotilla of 100 trawlers to sail to Dublin to protest new EU quotas. The same group of fishermen has recently returned to the forefront, turning outward and confronting the might of the Russian navy head-on.

Originally scheduled to start on Thursday, February 3, 2022, Russia was to conduct naval exercises about 240 kilometers off the southwest coast of Ireland. Fishing groups, including the Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation, have raised concerns that these naval exercises could harm local marine life and thus jeopardize the livelihoods of Irish fishing communities. In response, the fishermen promised to sail their trawlers among Russian warships and continue fishing regardless of ongoing naval exercises as usual.

When this story made headlines, Russian Ambassador to Ireland Yury Filatov initially warned fishermen to avoid any provocation with the Russian Navy as it could endanger the lives of fishermen. Despite the warning, the fishermen refused to back down. But finally on the evening of Saturday January 29, 2022, in a surprising turn of events, Moscow announced that the exercises would be relocated”as a gesture of goodwillfollowing appeals from the Irish government as fishermen prepared to set sail.

In an interview after the news broke, Patrick Murphy proclaimed: “I’m shocked, really…didn’t think this little old us…would have an impact on international diplomacy.” If a group of brave fishermen can take on the Kremlin and escape unscathed, it should be obvious that strong diplomacy is our best bet for defusing the current crisis.

Unfortunately, the diplomatic outlook is narrowing as we speak. On Monday, January 31, 2022, the United Nations Security Council held a meeting on the situation around Ukraine, which quickly escalated into vicious clashes between American and Russian diplomats. Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya remarked, “You are waiting for this to happen, as if you want your words to come true” towards US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, accusing the US of being the provocateurs of the crisis and “stir up the hysteria” among UN member states. In response, Thomas-Greenfield expressed the hope of the United States that “Russia will choose the path of diplomacy rather than the path of conflict in Ukraine”, but while promising that the United States does not have the intent to “wait and watch.

Cold War Echoes

The vitriolic debate between the United States and Russia playing out on the world stage echoes the Cold War era. In fact, on Friday, January 21, 2022, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned that today’s world is “much more chaotic, much less predictablethan during the Cold War, and even more “dangerous” without the “appropriate instruments to deal with crises”. Since the end of the cold war, the common rules and norms governing the international system have been eroded over time. Targeted disinformation campaigns, cyber interference in foreign elections, the degeneration of political campaigns and electoral campaigns and the general deterioration of civic consciousness, in the context of growing inequalities and identity politics on a global scale, are as much factors that have led to the corrosion of democracies around the world. world. The Charter of the United Nations, based on the sovereign equality and the right to territorial integrity of all its Member States, is under attack. Often it seems that there is no more”Rules of the gameto hold nations and their leaders accountable.

Diplomacy depends on the good faith and good will of the various adversaries. So while it’s easy to romanticize the Irish fishermen’s victory, Russia’s true aims have yet to be revealed. Obeying the sinners was easy acquiescence, giving the illusion of empathy. But was this more than a public relations calculation for Russian statecraft?

As one of the most influential diplomats in history, Niccolò Machiavelli would claim that “state art is performing art.’ Therefore, the victory of the Irish fishermen is not a story of diplomatic ingenuity, rather it is a performance that the world must watch. Today, British and American intelligence reports claim that Russia was planning to forge a fake propaganda video, as a means of justifying the invasion of Ukraine. As tensions continue to escalate, can goodwill and international diplomacy end the stalemate we are witnessing, or will Machiavellian savvy prevail?

Lauren is currently completing her MSc/MA dual degree in International Relations and Environment, Policy and Development at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and SOAS University of London with a concentration in Global Economic Policy. Prior to college, Lauren was a member of the AmeriCorps service to promote civic education in American classrooms. In addition to education policy, Lauren is also passionate about sustainability and climate action. Lauren previously worked alongside the Australian Greens to advocate for marine parks conservation initiatives. She is currently based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

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