“For the small nations,” reminded Czech-born author Milan Kundera, “existence will not be a self-evident certainty however at all times a query, a wager, a threat.” Nothing in current reminiscence reminded Mongolia of this vulnerability greater than the conflict in Ukraine.
Surrounded by Russia and China, with a inhabitants of solely 3.5 million, Mongolia is deriving many arduous classes from watching Ukraine. Such classes realized by smaller international locations will form international affairs within the years to come back.
Mongolia’s excessive geographic constraints imply that in the case of international coverage issues Ulaanbaatar normally has to first think about its two neighbors’ positions. However this strategy inevitably delays Mongolia’s international coverage formulation. Within the age of social media, dropping time means dropping the narrative. Mongolia’s authorities has to be taught to be proactive in its communication and keep forward of the narrative. In any other case, there’s a threat of public opinion not precisely reflecting Mongolia’s international coverage.
Within the case of the conflict in Ukraine, Mongolian Minister of International Affairs Battsetseg Batmunkh didn’t publicly talk Mongolia’s name for a peaceable decision of the battle till March 2 – nearly every week after the invasion. Even then, the message was not replicated in English.
Globally related and socially acutely aware, Mongolian youth didn’t take the delay flippantly. Mongolian social media is awash with criticisms of the federal government’s perceived inaction in advocating for Ukraine.
However, Mongolia had despatched humanitarian help to Ukraine and did abstain from voting on a U.N. decision demanding the withdrawal of Russian troops (fairly than voting in opposition to the decision). Though these measures are usually not sufficient by any means, they’re vital contemplating the truth that Russia has nearly whole management of Mongolia’s vitality provide and has been relentlessly pressuring Mongolia to assist its conflict.
The communications shortcomings of the Mongolian international coverage institution are compounded by close to absence of revered Mongolian voices within the worldwide media. Aside from one op-ed by then-prime minister in 2005 in The Washington Submit, nearly no Mongolian has printed an op-ed in a significant opinion-shaping publication, resembling The New York Instances or the Monetary Instances.
It is a severe hole that one may even argue has nationwide safety implications. Ukrainians are expertly deploying worldwide media to tell the world about their plight. Mongolians are solely now beginning to understand the significance of having the ability to successfully make their case to a world viewers.
Dwarfed by outsized navy powers, Russia and China, for the previous 30 years, Mongolia noticed little have to spend a lot taxpayer cash on its navy. However the conflict in Ukraine is educating Mongolians a special lesson: Nobody can predict the longer term, and Mongolia needs to be prepared for any scenario.
On July 10, State Flag Day, Mongolia’s authorities held in all probability the largest annual navy parade in 30 years. Judging by the enthusiasm and fanfare of the Mongolian public, there appears to be little resistance to this elevated deal with navy.
As famous by many worldwide specialists, loads of Ukraine’s success will be attributed to their extremely expert and decentralized forces. Similar to the Ukrainian navy of 2014, Mongolia’s navy nonetheless operates in the identical previous Soviet top-down tradition.
However throughout the previous eight years, Ukraine managed to empower their NCOs and gave extra autonomy to small models. If the Mongolian military is severe about repelling exterior threats and inside instability, it has to bear the identical revamping of organizational tradition. Given its restricted dimension and sources, Mongolia has no selection however to depend on unbiased smaller models.
For numerous historic and geostrategic causes, many Mongolians imagine that Russia is the one nation that might present a safety assure to Mongolia. However the Russian management’s current unfounded declare that Mongolia hosts American bioweapons labs and Russia’s evident navy shortcomings in Ukraine are making Mongolians query Russia’s need and skill to ensure stability within the area.
Mongolia is within the midst of determining its place within the altering world order. This course of requires a fragile balancing act. On the one hand, as the one functioning democracy in your complete Eurasian heartland, Mongolians can deeply relate to Ukrainians’ need to stay in a democratic and affluent society.
However, Mongolians are additionally realizing that ought to something occur to Mongolia, the nation shall be by itself. No Western nation may present a safety assure to Mongolia. Russia and China is not going to go away from the neighborhood, and someway, Mongolia should peacefully coexist with them.
The teachings that smaller international locations are deriving from the conflict in Ukraine are distinctive to their very own circumstances. However the one unifying theme is elevated self-reliance. Creatively circumventing constraints and making themselves indispensable to the worldwide neighborhood are the important thing for small states. The conflict reminded Mongolians that they now haven’t any selection however to organize for all eventualities.