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Alexander Yakovenko: “New Threats in the Development of the International Situation. Beyond the Horizon of the Future”

© Форпост Северо-Запад / Анастасия Литвинова

The international situation at the present stage is characterized by a high degree of polarization and turbulence. It was a consequence of the U.S. attempts to restore the unipolar world order through confrontation with Russia and China at the same time. Despite the apparent absence of a long-term strategy for such a "two-front war" in Washington, the U.S. leadership continues to raise the stakes, especially in terms of support for Ukraine, which was turned into an environment for anti-Russian policy. The "summit of democracies" held at the end of March 2023 demonstrated the U.S. focus on the revival of bloc mentality and ideological confrontation. This predetermines the course of Washington to deliver a "strategic defeat" to Russia through its internal destabilization and disintegration, and to prepare for a military clash with China.

Contrary to this attitude of Washington, there are serious changes in the geopolitical picture of the world: the countries of the collective West cease to play the role of the driver of global economic growth. The emergence of a polycentric world order, embodying the cultural and civilizational diversity of the world, is painfully perceived by the West, which has used to consider itself the center of human civilization since at least the colonial era, and which benefits from its hegemony. Now it is obvious that many countries of the global South are not ready to put up with their neocolonial robbery and want to act in their own, not Western, interests in the international arena.

Accordingly, we have a situation where the West, led by the U.S., tries at all costs to maintain its world domination, and in this matter prevail not only economic and political, but also philosophical factors. This situation, combined with rapid technological progress, creates new global threats to humanity. They overlap and exacerbate existing international problems that the international community has so far been unable to resolve in existing multilateral forums, including the UN, where the West defines the lowest common denominator.

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Unconventional or new threats to security are becoming systemic in nature. Sanctions, embargoes and refugees are commonplace. They aggravate socio-economic and political problems, in particular instability in the world energy sector, shortage of water and natural resources, world food security and so on, threatening the basis of the vital activity of states and peoples.

The role of the power factor is increasing in international relations. Russia's pursuit of an independent foreign and domestic policy prompts opposition from the United States and its allies. Plans to move NATO's military infrastructure to Russia's borders remain relevant to the West. The collective West is "balancing on the edge" between hybrid actions and an open armed conflict with Russia. The danger of a nuclear war has increased markedly.

One of the most dangerous threats of our time appears to be an uncontrolled arms race. Virtually all strategic arms control treaties linking Russia and the United States have ceased to work. Faced with the U.S. policy of containment, China is seriously building up its nuclear capabilities. Conventional weapons and armies are being modernized in all regions of the world, often relying on artificial intelligence. Threshold countries are seeking to counter the U.S. and its allies with nuclear weapons. The willingness of NATO alliance members to send weapons to Ukraine translates into receiving new weapons from the U.S. in return, as well as the production of new types of weapons, which will be designed to increase the military threat to all other countries, including Russia.

© Marek Studzinski,

The U.S. desire to expand to a global area of responsibility of the NATO military bloc, as well as to create new military blocs in regions of the global South in order to "contain" China and Russia (AUKUS) brings further destabilization to the international situation, contributing to its chaotization. The aggravation of contradictions at the global level is fraught with the emergence of new and aggravation of old armed conflicts that could lead to extremely grave consequences: in the Middle East, Africa, Northeast Asia and so on. In turn, the risks of international terrorism are increasing.

One of the main recent trends in global politics is the apparent degradation of international institutions and international law. Western countries have moved here to the blatant practice of blocking compromise solutions that take into account the vital interests of states outside the Western group. This trend is manifested in a variety of platforms (OSCE, IAEA, WTO, sports organizations and so on). The result is a decrease in the manageability of international relations and an increase in their conflicts.

At the same time, confrontation around the processes of breaking the outdated global economic model led by the U.S. and attempts to transition to a new economic model based on the principles of equality of the world centers of economic and political development is intensifying in the world. The system of international financial and currency relations, which was formed in the post-war period and has served Western globalization for the past 40 years, is being deformed. Sanctions pressure on Russia by the U.S., EU and other Western countries caused an economic boomerang effect and contributed to its self-isolation from non-Western countries, which make up the majority of the international community. The introduction of settlements in national currency between Russia and friendly countries, reducing the influence of the dollar and the euro in the global economy also contribute to the process of disintegration of the worn-out global trade and economic and monetary systems, which became a brake on global development.

The risks of stagflation in the global economy are rising, which will lead to a broad economic recession (World Bank forecast). The usual methods of correction used to solve one problem will exacerbate other economic problems. The world economy is moving into an era of low investment, low growth, and weak cooperation, which threatens to undermine its sustainability and increases systemic risks.

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There is a surge of uncontrolled competition and rivalry between states around the structural restructuring of the economy, especially its transition to a new technological basis. The development of new technologies is becoming a battleground for sanctions and the "export" of country influence. A new arms race can be accompanied by a race for resources, which will exacerbate tensions. A new phenomenon in such a "cold war" will also be active confrontation in the digital environment: with measures to ensure national sovereignty in this area, espionage and cyberattacks. Against this background, threats related to the security of data, digital systems and communications have also become more acute.

The failure of a planetary solution to global warming makes it a "threat multiplier," exacerbating problems of migration, poverty or conflict. The World Bank predicts that by 2050, 143 million people (or about 2.8 percent of the population) in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America will be forced to change their place of residence due to adverse climate change.

Threats related to crimes in the information environment are growing. At the same time, the most common type - cybercrime - is becoming closely interconnected with political issues. According to experts, by 2025 the losses of the world economy from fraud in the information environment will amount to 11 trillion dollars. In this regard, cyber attacks by criminals against certain segments of the economy of individual countries are becoming a weapon. In 2023, the total number of cyber attacks on Russian organizations will increase by at least 50 percent. At the same time, hackers, in order to obtain large sums of ransom, turn to attacks on the activities of companies, provoking the shutdown of critical technological processes and accidents.

© Towfiqu Barbhuiya,

In the coming years, the U.S. and its allies will further divide the world along value lines. The liberal model of social structure is promoted as a kind of ideological yardstick, on the basis of which the collective West is ready to cooperate with a particular country. It will also serve as a kind of ideological watershed, separating the Western world and its satellites from the World Majority.

Against the background of crisis phenomena in the world, the collective West is intensifying policies aimed at preventing the strengthening of the subjectivity of regional players in Asia, Africa and Latin America. As a result, the situation in these regions is increasingly burdened with conflicts, characterized by a high degree of volatility, dependence on internal political changes and even such unpredictable factors as natural disasters or provocative actions of politicians, which contributes to the growth of threats, challenges and risks affecting Russian interests.

The presence of American military forces in many regions of the world and military bases in a number of Western countries remains. The United States and NATO have resumed promoting projects for regional defense systems under the auspices of the bloc. The issue of nuclear weapons also remains extremely acute for the regions. The discussion of non-proliferation issues is intensified not without taking into account the growth of the military-power component in modern international relations.

In the political and diplomatic sphere, against the backdrop of the Ukraine crisis, the U.S. has intensified diplomatic efforts to isolate Russia in the countries of the World Majority, drawing regional actors into sanctions pressure on Russia and China. In the economic sphere, the West is threatening countries with the application of secondary sanctions, which can negatively affect their trade and economic relations with Russia. New challenges and obstacles have emerged, such as rising transportation costs and financial transactions.

To be continued...

Rector of the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia,
Alexander Yakovenko, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the United Kingdom (2011-2019).