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[B-SIDE Podcast] Russia, Ukraine, and the Philippines (Part 1)

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Government officials have assured Filipinos that the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war will be minimal given the Philippines’ limited trade and banking exposure with either country. Remittances from the conflict zones are also small compared to inflows from the rest of Europe and the world.

Still, the fact remains that Russia is a major exporter of oil and metals, while Ukraine is among the biggest sources of wheat.

Amid faster inflation, jeepney drivers have called for transport fare hikes; labor groups, for higher wages.

In this B-Side episode, Chester B. Cabalza, International Development and Security Cooperation president and founder, tells BusinessWorld reporter Luz Wendy T. Noble why Filipinos should care about what happens to Russia and Ukraine from three angles: energy, warfare, and diplomatic impact.

He compares and contrasts the hybrid war in Europe to what’s happening in the Asia-Pacific, with China flexing its muscles. Closer to home, Mr. Cabalza, who is also a security anthropologist at the University of the Philippines, draws parallels between the hybrid war waged by Russian President Vladimir Putin and the conflict in Marawi.

TAKEAWAYS

The geopolitical landscape is shifting and the Russia-Ukraine war raises the question: which nation will remain a superpower?

“We will see a lot of hot wars — major powers will have to compete who among them will be the major superpower,” Mr. Cabalza said. How long the US keeps its position as the world’s strongest economy and military is in question.

He noted that the Philippines, under the administration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, boosted ties with Russia “due to idolatry and fascination” for President Vladimir Putin.

The war is a playbook for China’s next move.

China, the second biggest economy, is perceived to have a strong military technology. But the country’s practical experience in terms of tactics has never been tested as it has not played a major role in previous wars, said Mr. Cabalza.

The Philippine military could learn a thing or two from the conflict.

“Even if you have a vision of reviving your country as a superpower, sometimes, strategy is a matter of understanding also. We have to question how come Putin so far has underestimated … Ukraine?” said Mr. Cabalza, who drew parallels between the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the siege of Marawi City in 2017.

Furthermore, the military could look at how the war unfolds to seek insights that apply to the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea.

The war is a reminder to elect sensible, humane, and decisive leaders.

Mr. Cabalza said the best leader to choose in this coming election is someone who will prioritize the national interest of the Philippines, pursue multilateralism, and abide by international cooperation.

The war, he added, has exposed how a leader’s temperament can affect global geopolitics.

“They [leaders] have frailties, weaknesses, and sometimes they go crazy with their decisions. And when they have wild decisions, we get affected,” Mr. Cabalza said.

Recorded remotely on April 27, 2022. Produced by Earl R. Lagundino and Sam L. Marcelo.

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