Major Powers have been hesitant to intervene, cooperate or even to show the same view points as other Major Powers when it comes to major international crises. This has been especially true in the cases of Ukraine and Syria. As international attention has been drawn to these locations in the last few years and especially in the last few months, we have seen several Major Powers propose many solutions to the issues, most if not all receiving very mixed responses. Major Powers are either fighting with each other over how this issue should be handled, while others are not even participating in the discussion. This leads me to believe that Major Powers are not just finding it hard to cooperate but that for some differentiation viewpoints were so distinct that cooperation was not even an option.
Let us take into account the case of Syria, mostly following the five main actors involved, Russia (along with China) and the United States (along with the UK and France). Russia and the United States came into early clashes in the UNSC as Russia advocated for no involvement while the US advocated for strong sanctions. Russia, along with China, did not only try to block any resolution involving Syria but actually vetoed a “British-sponsored” resolution that would have punished the Syrian government “for failing to carry out a peace plan.” While some may speculate over China’s role in the veto, it is quite clear why Russia is so involved in keeping Syria within the status quo. Russian self-interest might have moved it to help its Syrian ally as the Russians have a major naval base in the country. The countries fate is still in gridlock within both the UNSC and NATO, even as the situation changes with the involvement of the Islamic State.
In the case of Ukraine, the actors have not changed, except perhaps for the notable exception of China as an interested party. The crisis has been taking place for the better part of a year and while a ceasefire (brokered by the Russians) has been achieved, some are doubtful that the it will last. The US’s stake in Ukraine is one of security as it sees Russian expansionism as a threat, which is only worsened by the fact that Ukraine is a NATO non-member partner. While the US and its allies in NATO have a clear intention as to why they want Ukraine to stay stable and united, the Russians just seem to be flexing their muscle and looking for areas to expand like they did with Georgia.
Major Powers like any other nation are motivated by national interests, which create gridlock within the system if they do not match with other Major Power’s interests. It is not so much that Major Powers are finding it harder to cooperate, as it is that they are not willing to cooperate because they view the issues from two very different sides.