It’s a common phrase, but it’s wrong. It is often said in the German media that Russian war crimes have triggered worldwide horror when horrific news and pictures from Ukraine arrive again. The fright of this approaching war blocks some people’s view of the fact that Europe, Russia and the USA are not alone on this globe.

The completely justified condemnation of this war of aggression, which is based on international law and morals, only finds a weak response in many emerging countries and in the global south. The people there come from different traditions, pursue different interests and have different needs.

And they accuse the West of double standards: it reacts immediately and decisively to the war against Ukraine, but leaves it cold to similar suffering in the Middle East, in Asia, Africa or Latin America. Some distant voices express satisfaction at the fact that the dominance of the US hegemon, who is perceived as arrogant, is being challenged by Vladimir Putin.

But it’s not just about judgements, it’s also about naked interests. In the 20th century, a European conflict erupted into World War I and World War II. In the 21st century, Russia’s blocking of Ukrainian grain shipments to the South and Western economic warfare against Russia are affecting the entire world. The war in Ukraine has become a global war without a single Russian or Ukrainian shell falling on any other continent.

Ukraine’s and the West’s struggle with Russia is also a struggle at the expense of third parties, because because of skyrocketing energy prices and the gagging of the Russian economy, already unstable economies will collapse, the poor will become poorer and famine will break out. The hungry will not care if they suffer because Russia is cynically using the wheat export ban as a weapon. Or whether his plight represents collateral damage from Western sanctions against Russia, imposed with the best of intentions.

The Indian author Pankaj Mishra is already warning of a wave of anger in the poor south against the rich north in a return to the “Nine-Eleven” moment: the USA and its allies had to react to the terrorist attacks of September 2001, but they went too far. After a few years, those who were attacked had turned large parts of the Arab and Muslim world against them, and the gap was larger than ever.

Will the West repeat Nine Eleven’s mistakes?

Is such a disaster imminent again? At least the traffic light coalition seems very focused on supporting Ukraine through a strong, unified NATO – and that is also urgently needed. At the same time, Germany, as chairman of the group of the most important industrialized countries, is working together with the G7 partners to secure food supplies in those countries that have previously purchased Ukrainian wheat, for example. This aid does not make headlines. Nevertheless, it is important and in German interest.

Will the many billions of euros for new German weapons mean that future tasks, for example in climate policy, will have to be cut back? It is still completely unclear whether the calculation will work, but Germany is trying to speed up the energy transition by decoupling Russian supplies instead of delaying it. This is not possible without compromises.

German policy should also follow this approach in relation to the Global South: it must not withdraw from the task of changing unjust global structures because of the war, but it must increase efforts and development cooperation because of the war.

The world is even more connected today than it was in 2001. What it cannot afford is a repeat of the division that provoked the Western reaction to Nine Eleven. Otherwise the future will be even more dangerous than the present.