Speaking at a Lockheed Martin missile plant in the state of Alabama, U.S. President Joe Biden declared on May 3 that the world was at a historic “inflection point [that] comes along every six or eight generations,” the beginning of which was marked by the Russian-Ukrainian War which broke out on February 24. He described the conflict as fighting the first “real battle” in a civilisational struggle which pitted the Western world again Russia and China, and implied that several new battles were expected. This follows widespread speculation in Western discourse that conflict in Ukraine could quickly be followed by a war in the Taiwan Strait, the East or South China Seas, or even in the Persian Gulf pitting the U.S. and its allies against Iran. “Things are changing so rapidly that we have to be in control,” the president stressed.
The location of Biden’s declaration of a new phase of global conflict was highly symbolic, with the Lockheed facility manufacturing Javelin anti tank missiles of which Ukraine may well be the largest operator in the world after receiving tremendous quantities as aid supplementing missiles purchased in prior years. The Javelin is the most iconic Western weapon supplied to the country, and has been credited by Western sources with taking a heavy toll on Russian armour. The missile symbolises U.S. and NATO efforts to fight Russia through Ukraine, which has used them as an asymmetric asset to challenge Russian armour with its infantry formations due to the obsolescence of its own large tank units.
Alongside the Javelin, other forms of Western involvement have included provision of all manner of weaponry from air to air missiles to tanks, as well as provision of intelligence and targeting data using satellites and even of combatants and advisors. This has included large numbers of Western volunteers going to the frontlines to fight Russia, although these have taken heavy losses to missile strikes, as well as widespread reports of mercenary contractors from Poland and other Western countries deployed to the front. It remains uncertain to what extent opinion in Washington or the Pentagon expect new wars to break out pitting the Western world against those counties outside the Western sphere of influence, but the possibility of preparations including further symbolic Javelin missile deliveries to potential other frontline Western clients, including both state and non state actors, remains significant.