Russia trampled on international order through invasion of Ukraine

The U.N. Charter’s principles of respect for sovereignty and territory have been trampled on by a major power. Many people must have been angered by the sight of missiles and tanks destroying towns and killing and wounding civilians.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine topped the list of this year’s top 10 international news events selected by Yomiuri Shimbun readers.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aim of winning the war in a short period of time has been thwarted by Ukraine’s all-out resistance and support from the international community, leaving the war in a stalemate. Sustained assistance is needed to ensure the Russian offensive ends in failure.

Russia’s outrageous acts have hit the global economy hard, with crude oil prices soaring (sixth on the list) and grain prices rising, among other problems. They have also brought changes to Europe’s security environment, for example, with Finland and Sweden applying to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (ranked 11th).

The death of Mikhail Gorbachev, former president of the Soviet Union, was ranked 13th. While he had been regarded in the United States, Europe and Japan as a dominant player behind the end of the Cold War, he was given the cold shoulder in Russia for leading the breakup of the Soviet Union, which Putin has described as “the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the 20th century.”

The gulf between Gorbachev’s aim of a policy of international cooperation and Putin’s vision of a “strong Russia” is far too wide.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is also general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, broke the custom of limiting the country’s presidency to two terms covering 10 years to launch his third administration (ranked seventh) and has solidified his long-term regime.

In dealing with the novel coronavirus pandemic, China has created turmoil with its noticeably rigid policies. The lockdown in Shanghai (ranked 10th) halted production and consumption activities, hurting the global economy too.

The Chinese government has now effectively abolished the zero-COVID policy and the number of COVID-19 patients has been increasing as the medical care system is not sufficiently prepared. China’s response to the pandemic continues to be a risk factor for the world.

North Korea frequently launched its ballistic missiles toward the Sea of Japan this year. In October, an intermediate-range ballistic missile flew over Japan. Although North Korea-related events did not make the top 10 this time, it is absolutely necessary not to let our guard down.

The death of 158 people in a fatal crowd crush in Seoul’s Itaewon neighborhood came in third. A situation in which many people flood into a narrow street for events and other occasions could also happen in Japan. The lesson to be learned is that failing to take safety measures can lead to a serious disaster.

The death of Queen Elizabeth II was in second place. This is proof that she was loved all over the world and that her loss was mourned.

People may have sensed the end of an era with the passing of the queen, who reigned for 70 years from 1952 after the end of World War II.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 28, 2022)