OpEd

Yaltsinki and the counter of children

Emmanuel Todd, a French anthropologist, historian and sociologist, in his new book "The Defeat of the West" says that Russia will win in Ukraine, no later than 2027, and this will be only one of the developments of a world new. Todd, as a 27-year-old, in 1976, based on demographic analysis, predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union

1.

At the beginning of the war in Ukraine two years ago, a well-known British historian wrote that Putin will be in a historic dilemma to choose between Yalta and Helsinki. Yalta, of course, refers to the Great Power Agreement between Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill to share their influence in the world liberated from Nazism. Helsinki, on the other hand, refers to a different model of reaching the European Peace Agreement, when states agree that there will be no change of borders, except by mutual agreement.

I briefly wrote on the Twitter platform (now known as X) that Putin will choose to take both, ie "Yalta and Helsinki". As a result, in the end it will turn out that a "Yaltsinki" should be reached, a name derived from the abbreviations of both agreements.

I laugh thinking about this while reading the intense book of French anthropologist, historian, sociologist and public intellectual Emmanuel Todd, published in January of this year in Paris, with the provocative title "The Defeat of the West". Todd doesn't talk about Yalta or Helsinki, but he could have in this remarkable book—which combines demographic statistics, geopolitics based on family patrimonial systems, and things like the rise and fall of Protestantism to explain the rise and fall of Western democracies - in which the author says that by 2027 Russia will win the war in Ukraine.

2.

And, if it wins the war, then it will be ready to dictate both new processes: Yalta and Helsinki. This is not what Todd says, I say it as a logical conclusion of the author's book. Because first it must be clarified what is called victory. In the analysis of the French anthropologist, the military victory of Putin's Russia is understandable within a five-year window from the day the war begins, in 2022. This window is derived from demography first - so Russia is consuming the last cycle of this number of recruits. With a birth rate of 1.5, this country will be increasingly old, with a lack of people to properly administer its territory. The five-year window is also tied to industry and military doctrine factors: Russia entered the war having developed hypersonic missiles, a technological lead over the West. And this superiority or technological escalation also brought an escalation of the Russian military doctrine, which publicly announced that it is able to use tactical nuclear weapons (that is, with the effect of local destruction), but that its national security is considered endangered, which also means the territories of Ukraine which it has annexed. And the current moment on the front lines in Ukraine, after the failure of the summer counteroffensive by Ukrainian forces, is illustrated by the remarkable contrast of the figures: Russia and Belarus at the beginning of the war represented 3.3 percent of the gross national product of the USA and of Western countries, yet Russia has regularly sent weapons and ammunition while the West is failing to fulfill its promises of aid to Ukrainian soldiers. Moreover, the idea that sanctions and war will economically damage Russia so much that it will not be able to continue the war for long has turned out not to be true. Russia today exports more food than natural gas; changed the exchange system with dollars and euros, included in SWIFT, to that of Indian, Chinese and Russian rubles.

And, so, after an impressive elaboration of a cocktail of figures from the most diverse demographic and anthropological (decline in alcoholism and suicide figures in Russia, high child mortality in the USA, the dramatic decline in the number of American engineers and the impressive growth of Iranian ones in American universities) Todd says that victory by Putin would be called if he remains with 40 percent of the territory of Ukraine that he occupied with tanks, flesh and blood. And, in his book, this is where the narrative of wars ends (except for one percent of Lithuania's territory to connect Kaliningrad with a land corridor to Russia).

3.

And here begins Yaltsinki.

Todd's prediction is not far from the diplomatic and military analysis that is being done around Ukraine today. It has been over a year that the leaders of Ukraine have been told half-heartedly and more discreetly by Western military and diplomats that this war has no military end. Barring a clear victory, at worst it will remain an unfinished but frozen conflict. At best, an agreement would be reached with Russia that would meet the demand for the preservation of all of Ukraine in exchange for forms of self-government for the country's pro-Russian population. But this does not seem to be part of today's reality; Russia's military position is that the occupied territories are not part of the negotiations, but the relationship between the enlarged Russia and the truncated Ukraine. And the aid in money and ammunition that is being prepared by the West for Ukraine is not with the hope of liberating the country, but of creating the conditions for Zelensky to negotiate from the position of the military strongman and not, as now, of the one who has to retreat tactically from the trenches of the destroyed cities.

This end of the war would be in the most tragic form a new and extremely cynical interpretation of the new "Helsinki": the new borders between Russia and Ukraine would be the fruit of the agreement between them.

But where would "Yalta" be left? The old version would go down in history, with the black-and-white photo of Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill sitting down for the 1945th century's signature photo. Now, in the 2022st century and during the war in Ukraine, another non-Western pole has developed, partly built in solidarity with Russia. There are China, India, Brazil, Turkey, and after the Israeli attack on Gaza, almost all the states that consider themselves Muslim. In Yalta of XNUMX, a war started in Europe brought about the rearrangement of the world based on the agreement between the USA, the Soviet Union and Great Britain. This version has collapsed in this European war of XNUMX, and in the mind of Putin and like-minded people in the neighborhood and other continents, the realignment will be between all of them and the West.

4.

I read Emmanuel Todd's book more as a warning for a whole longer period that awaits us, than just as an alarm about the war in Ukraine. As a 25-year-old, Todd, in 1976, analyzed indicators of increased child mortality in the Soviet Union, after a period of constant decline, and warned of the collapse of this state. His geopolitical analysis today, based on socio-economic, cultural, religious and demographic indicators, warns of a dramatic decline of the West.

For the Western Balkans, the great world traumas are added to the traumas and personal challenges. The collapse of the Soviet Union, which Todd foreshadowed in 1976, was followed by the bloody and war-torn disintegration of the former Yugoslavia, a process which has yet to come to a peaceful conclusion. The new trauma, starting with the war in Ukraine, has kept the Western Balkans in a state of waiting, further pushing the road to ending in peace. But for that in another article.