New World Disorder

by | May 26, 2024 | 0 comments

New World Disorder

On the collapse of the international order formed after the end of World War II and the risks of a major global conflict 29.04.2024 / 

Grigory Yavlinsky


International political developments today show that the previous world order is irreversibly paying its final bow in history. Against the backdrop of an increase in shocks and risks, the world is becoming more and more unpredictable. It should come as no surprise that this process has been accompanied by the acute and widespread escalation of confrontation, which would lead to a major war1.

Over the past 30 years we have witnessed a whole range of events and processes in international politics attesting to the systemic inadequacy of political decision-making. There have been a number of causes: the wrong conclusions were drawn from the end of the cold war; there were delusional ideas about some new world and the winners and losers; the failure to deploy the savings from disarmament to support and improve the living standards of the poorest population groups in third world countries; degradation of the political elites in developed countries as a consequence of the surge of populism and the intensification of ochlocracy, attributable in turn to the widespread influence of information technologies. At the same time, to all intents and purposes a number of the main established political institutes were no longer fit for purpose when confronted by contemporary realities by the start of the 21st century. These discrepancies have spiralled over the past 15 years and, after becoming clear and intensifying significantly owing to the pandemic, have been expressed in an upsurge in economic protectionism, a gradual, but persistent rejection of globalisation, the anticipation of serious climate issues and the escalation of military conflicts in Ukraine and in the Middle East. Going forward, we will encounter even more active changes due to the consequences of the increasingly large-scale implementation of artificial intelligence in politics, society and state governance, which are not entirely comprehensible at present, but appear to be inevitable.

It is hardly surprising that in these circumstances international cooperation is diminishing, such institutes as the UN are forfeiting their role and mutual understanding is disappearing globally. We are witnessing the fragmentation of international markets: trade and investment barriers are on the rise, competing economic blocs are splintering, the global economic integration achieved over the past 30 years is collapsing.

This is manifest in the breakup of supply chains (in particular, during the period of international lockdowns in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic), in technology transfer restrictions, in geopolitical tension and security issues. Globalisation and integration are cited more and more frequently as the causes of job cuts in certain economic sectors, growing inequality, and as a consequence the exacerbation of social tension.

Against this backdrop protectionism is flourishing. The fact that it is specifically global economic cooperation over the past three decades — after the end of the cold war — which actually enabled billions of people to enjoy improved living standards: raise their prosperity and increase their life expectancy, become more productive in the economy — all these factors are categorically disregarded. 

Over the past 80 years the number of countries has increased 99 in 1944 to almost 200 today. During the same period the earth’s population has more than tripled — from approximately 2.3 billion to 8 billion today, while global GDP has risen more than tenfold. Whereas over 40% of the world’s population lived in abject poverty in 1981, forty years later this figure had contracted to 8% of the total, while over half the citizens of our planet are classified as middle class based on a number of parameters2.

However, the opportunities to achieve systemic positive global development changes were not leveraged. For example, the resources formed in connection with the end of the cold war and global confrontation at the start of the 1990s could have been used to assist third world countries and level up living standards internationally. However, a significant proportion of the savings from international disarmament were allocated to the banking and finance sectors instead. Accordingly, a material share of these funds was lost in the global financial crisis of 2008. This was followed by period of slower growth and lopsided economic development, while countries started proactively introducing trade barriers.

Now the world is fragmenting and splintering, although it is abundantly obvious that this process is making it impossible to resolve the real problems that it faces. For example, climate change is becoming more and more ominous with every passing year, resulting in increasingly frequent forest fires, flooding and catastrophic weather anomalies. Even though a great deal has been said about climate concerns and specific decisions have even been adopted, climate issues have not become and are unlikely to become a real priority for global leaders — unless something earth-shattering actually happens. However, here too perhaps nothing will change, as international politics is on the one hand becoming more and more dangerous and increasing the risks of real armed confrontation, but on the other hand focuses on extremely paltry and transitory issues in practice.

In addition, the problem of growing global inequality and the backwardness of entire countries and regions is not being addressed.  Frightful events are taking place in full view of the watching world in Haiti where the state has effectively disappeared and ceased to exist — the country is being run by armed gangs, chaos and anarchy reign supreme and there appears to be no way out of the exacerbating situation. The sense of utter despair in this country in Central America is heightened by the overriding focus of global news on completely different topics. In actual fact, however, the developments in Haiti should be treated as a note of warning and are indicative of trends which will surface in a future fragmented world.  

There has been a material slowdown in global economic growth: the lowest annual global GDP growth for the past three decades is projected for the next five years. What does this mean? There will be no reduction in poverty and no new jobs will be created for an increasing number of young people in many countries. The destabilisation of energy and product markets and numerous disruptions of supply chains are anticipated, while food security “risks” will rapidly worsen. Millions of people will be transformed into migrants-refugees.

The world is breaking up into competing economic blocs. However, the key issue here is that none of the political decision-makers on the international stage appear to understand what is likely to happen next and accordingly are not ready to do anything.

For example, it is telling that a number of geopolitical and political issues have been discussed over the past two years at an international level except for one — the issue of the continuing senseless loss of lives of tens of thousands of people3.   

The most recent events globally have shown that key UN members are finding it virtually impossible to find common ground, in particular, given that trust between various groups of countries has virtually disappeared, while they do not believe in promoting the common good.

Against this backdrop, there is a growing sensation that the world has become disillusioned with the United Nations.  An organisation which was at one time the main platform for resolving geopolitical disputes, is marginalised more and more often in the new global politics. At the same time, other key international institutes such as the WTO, the IMF and the WHO, similarly are no longer fit for purpose for impending problems.

The global economy is moving towards the technological decoupling of countries regarding goods, services and knowledge, setbacks on products markets, food and energy insecurity; investors and countries are only reallocating investments and financial transactions to countries which are their allies. According to the IMF, in 2019 countries introduced at least 1,000 trade restrictions, while in 2022 this figure increased to almost 3,000. The global financial safety net (the IMF and the World Bank) was not set up to deal with such a sequence of developments and could, to put it simply, come to a halt. Such a development would represent a significant blow to the quality of life and living standards in many countries.

So in the modern world, which is far more dangerous and where growth prospects are declining, the risk of division and disintegration is rising exponentially, creating a vicious downward spiral.

The mounting tension in relations between the USA and China, the bloody military confrontation of Russia and Ukraine, Israel’s war with Hamas in the Gaza sector and the threat of a war between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon, Iran’s pursuit of hegemony over the entire Middle East — all these factors are triggering acute geopolitical contradictions, which are toppling once and for all globalisation and are leading the world to an age of upheaval4.

Mankind developed and used for almost 80 years a system of general rules, principles and institutes for economic development. Today the world is entering an era of mounting disintegration. The period of peace, globalisation and integration has come to an end, while the forces of confrontation are on the rise. Going forward, serious shocks are extremely likely. 


Today hardly anyone remembers how a key event in the history of modern Russia happened on 1 July 2020. On this day, leveraging a referendum on amendments to the Constitution, the Russian authorities officially repudiated the country’s formal commitment to democratic legitimacy and the onward movement from the Soviet past to a modern civilisation of the 21st century 5.

The change in the 2020 Constitution signalled the defeat of the democratic reforms started in Russia at the end of the 1980s — start of the 1990s.  This failure was attributable primarily to the following factors: the refusal to conduct a state and legal assessment of Stalinism and the crimes of the Soviet period, as well as gross miscalculations in the logic and substance of the reforms of the 1990s (hyperinflation of 2,600% and the criminal privatisation, the loans-for-shares auctions, the merger of the state, property and business, and the emergence of an oligarchy6).

In addition, on 1 July 2020 the new Russian Constitution enshrined the immutability of the reign of Vladimir Putin who had already been in charge of the country for two decades by then. To all intents and purposes, Russia’s fundamental law proclaims that this is a corporate, extreme authoritarian state with an anti-democratic ideology.

The events in Russia since the adoption of the amendments to the Constitution represent a logical continuation of the selected political direction. As a result of the failure of post-Soviet modernisation in Russia and the abortive parity partnership with the West in the second half of the 2000s, the regime’s foreign policy transitioned to the systemic exacerbation of multifaceted geopolitical tension.

The bipolar system ceased to exist in 1991. Starting from 2014 the world has become year on year more and more tripolar: the USA, China and Russia7. And even though Russia economically is materially inferior to the USA and China, the country remains the third power thanks to the massive potential of its nuclear weapons, the country’s vast territory, significant natural resources and, as it transpired, a practical readiness to change borders and resolve conflicts through force. The actions of Russia’s regime are not driven by a desire to create a democracy or a modern effective economy in Russia, but instead to promote European and global geopolitical fragmentation. They started calling this approach “multipolarity”, “polycentrism”, Russian “Eurasianism”, etc. 

The day 24 February 2022 was the start of a tragedy which has already been continuing for more than two years and is claiming human lives daily. Against this backdrop, in March 2023 Putin approved a new concept of the foreign policy of the Russian Federation8, where Russia was determined as a “state-civilisation”. Meanwhile in autumn of the same year, Russia’s President declared straight out at a meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club that Russia “has the objective” “to build a new world.”9. Putin explained that the war with Ukraine was not a territorial conflict and not even an attempt to establish a regional geopolitical balance. It was all  about the issue of the underlying principles of the new world order.
In this context the “Russian Presidential elections” held in March 2024 were in actual fact a plebiscite with a foregone conclusion and unconditional result. However, in light of developments in geopolitics and against the backdrop of continuing military actions, mounting repressions within the country and harsh confrontation with the Western world, it is becoming clear that the latest confirmation of Putin as head of state drew a line on the entire period after the end of the cold war and signalled a transition to a principally different stage. The act of terrorism committed at Crocus City Hall in Moscow Region, with a vast number of victims,  which happened immediately after the so-called elections, served as the grounds for a new escalation of tension both in relations between Russia and the West and also on the battlefield in Ukrainе. And it is irrelevant to the regime that responsibility for the attack was assumed by Islamic State (a terrorist organisation prohibited in the Russian Federation). The key issue was how to exploit the act of terrorism to escalate confrontation. This is not a new topic. One merely needs to recall the bombings of buildings in autumn 1999 and the subsequent start of the Second Chechen War.
Ukraine’s abortive counteroffensive last year, the military conflict which broke out in the Middle East after the horrific act of terrorism committed by Hamas against Israel, the difficulties in the United States, which have arisen with the provision of key assistance to Ukraine, the thinly disguised discomfiture of EU countries and the increase in the diverse political, military and economic complications within Ukraine — owing to all these factors in the changing circumstances there have been extensive debates in the West on the place and role of NATO in the military confrontation between Russia and Ukraine. 

However, the actual debates on how to deal with Russia are characterised by disagreements on the goals, anticipated realistic perspectives on what is happening and in the final analysis on the specific threat that Russia actually poses for European countries. 

At the same time, the financial and economic collapse in Russia predicted by virtually all Western politicians and economists in spring 2022 did not happen. Contrary to the forecasts, the Russian economy did not slip into recession. 

Inflation was maintained within controlled limits, reaching 7.5% last November and now on a downward trend. This is the result of the doubling of interest rates by the Russian Central Bank since July 2023. Last year, nominal wages in Russia rose by 18%. At the same time, the high interest rates incentivised Russians to put their money on savings accounts and not spend them. Naturally, owing to the tightening of monetary policy, in December 2023 retail lending rose by only 0.6% month on month, compared to 2% throughout most of 2023. Now, it is already universally recognised that Russia’s economic indicators at present comply with trends existing prior to the special military operation. In real terms Russia’s GDP grew by over 3% last year. Unemployment remains at a record low level, the number of businesses that were closed in the country fell to an eight-year minimum. Russian production capacities previously owned by Western companies were relaunched under new management. The companies configured reliable supply flows in circumvention of the sanctions, while over half the country’s imports come from China. At the same time, it is notable that Russian exporters have started raising their prices in order to maintain their incomes and profit. The discount on oil offered by Russia to Chinese customers, for example, has contracted from over 10% at the start of 2022 to approximately 5% today. And this concerns not only oil. 

As Russia is a resource component of the global economy, the anti-Russia sanctions are the consequence of yet another instance of incompetence and have not worked, despite Western expectations.  Russian resources continue to be supplied in different ways, inter alia, to the very countries which imposed bans on their supply. The scale is significant: for the time being, Russian budget revenues are comparable with pre-war volumes. A number of major economies — from India to the Republic of South Africa — continue to maintain while some are even expanding their commercial ties with Russia. Here one should note the role of special parallel imports and various supplies through China and other intermediaries. The directions of trade flows to Russia have also changed, moreover, new ways to transfer modern technologies to the Russian market have emerged. Here I am talking not only about Iranian drones, but also about the most modern microchips which are smuggled into the country. 

It goes without saying that the current structure of the Russian economy, the level of inflation today, low labour productivity, as well as the entire production and distribution system, combined with an excessively authoritarian state and respective social interaction, are not signs of a healthy and efficient, and most importantly, promising economy. 

One constant threat concerns the likelihood of the rouble’s devaluation — in the event of a fall in oil prices or the introduction of any special new sanctions, or a deterioration in political relations with China. It is clear that as a consequence of the sanctions and other restrictions and impediments the systemic backwardness and deceleration of development will be perceptible in the Russian economy. However, this will happen at the very least in the mid-term outlook, as will any serious political changes.

The events of the past two years have clearly shown that the West should not underestimate Russia and build its policy on hopes and dreams about the collapse of the Russian autocratic state apparatus. They need to understand and acknowledge that the war with Ukraine has not isolated Russia from the rest of the world. A new situation has developed in the global positioning of Russia. At the same time, the positions of the United States internationally have weakened perceptibly over the past few years. In the view of a number of countries, the USA complies less and less with the standards and principles of democracy and freedom proclaimed by the US authorities. Today America is associated first and foremost with military fiascos in Iraq and Afghanistan10. The anti-Western moods in general and anti-American sentiment in particular have been intensifying year on year in countries in South America, Africa and the Middle East. The so-called “global South” is drifting perceptibly towards China, and recently towards Russia as well. It should come as no surprise that the “global South” is also advocating anti-Western positions regarding developments in Ukraine.

Over the past two years, threats have been issued regularly from Russia that the authorities will use nuclear weapons against the West. And this is taking place at a time where all international treaties on bans on the use and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons are unravelling and are virtually ineffective, while the biggest nuclear powers Russia, the USA and China are building new facilities, tunnels and test sites. For example, analysts noted back in February 2022 the expansion of the Russian nuclear testing site at Novaya Zemlya. Nuclear scientists assume that today is the most dangerous time since 1947 for the start of a nuclear war. In the opinion of the scientists, the events in Ukraine and threats of the Russian regime to resort to nuclear weapons are real risk factors. 

It is clear that the model of global politics sought by Vladimir Putin complies with the middle of the 20th century — this is a division of the world into spheres of influence as had been the case after World War II, and as a result an increase in the world’s dependence on Russia’s political views. To put it another way, this means a “New Yalta” model —  a world order similar to the one achieved after the results of the Yalta Conference which had been attended by the heads of government of the USSR, the USA and Great Britain in February 1945. This is the global strategy being pursued by the Russian regime.

Incidentally, it should be borne in mind that Russia wields not only nuclear resources, but also other means of leverage and geostrategic options to deploy its foreign policy strategy. One such lever today concerns grain supplies to the global market. Last year Russia cut off grain supplies from Ukraine, which triggered growth in global food prices, and in so doing Russia became the key player on the grain market. The structure of the influence is simple: Russian control over food supplies leads to shortages, which leads in turn to higher grain prices and the prices of other food products and engenders inflation on global markets. Rising inflation in turn undermines support for the existing powers-that-be and boosts the popularity of opposition parties and ultra-right movements11

The Russian regime expects to force countries confronted by a food crisis to revise their voting at international institutions on issues of material importance for Russia. This is how Russia intends to dictate global economic conditions in accordance with its foreign policy plans. Moreover, as food shortages in a number of the poorest countries in Africa and Asia could lead to hunger and as a result serious political turmoil, it is highly likely that the West will face new inflows of migrants. In turn such phenomena could bring to power in Europe and the USA political leaders who oppose migration. It is extremely likely that this will only bolster the positions of right-wing politicians and anyone opposed to assistance for Ukraine in particular.

However, that is not all. 

The regime is also using energy supplies as a geopolitical weapon. In September 2023 Russia introduced a ban on exports of diesel fuel and benzene to the oil market in connection with an increase in oil prices to USD 100 per barrel. Subsequently diesel fuel prices in Europe shot up by almost 5%, crude oil and Brent crude also rose in price.

Russia is one of the world’s biggest suppliers of diesel fuel and a leading crude oil producer. Russian crude oil exports contracted in 2023 in connection with an agreement with Saudi Arabia and the bigger OPEC+ group which contributed to a leap in oil prices. Market participants are concerned that Russia is taking a tougher stance on oil supplies at a time when central banks are trying to curb inflation, but this is not being helped by rising oil prices. This is yet another illustration of how Putin is using economic levers to achieve his political objectives, in particular, tools to influence energy markets.

Almost immediately after 24 February 2022 Russia began reducing natural gas supplies to Europe, which resulted in a global energy crisis that triggered inflation and caused damage to industry and consumers all over the world. Diesel fuel is the power house of the global economy, playing a vital role in cargo carriage, shipping and aviation. Diesel fuel derivatives such as heating fuel are particularly sensitive to winter price hikes.

For example, America’s north-west is in significant need of this fuel to heat homes, and the Republican party has repeatedly lambasted President Biden’s administration in connection with rising fuel prices, while Donald Trump has accused the US government of neglecting the domestic oil industry. Moreover Trump has repeatedly declared that if he were re-elected President, he would force Ukraine to hold negotiations with Russia. Regardless of whether Putin is interested in such a development or not, it is clear that Trump’s return to power would fragmentise the West’s support for Ukraine, which is why it is an entirely rational tactic for the regime to wait for the results of the US presidential elections (naturally, we cannot rule out attempts by the Kremlin to interfere in the election). In this light, the decrease in oil exports only confirms the regime’s readiness to leverage its natural resources as a weapon. 

Let me repeat here that it is important to understand that Russia is objectively an organic component of the global economy (primarily commodities). The global economy could not exist without Russian commodities. That is why the sanctions introduced by the G7 and the European Union haven’t worked as they had expected.

It is clear that in future Russia will use the global assets and tools at its disposal to promote its foreign policy concept. Russia is focused on protracted and possibly global confrontation, not only and not so much over territories and power in Russia, as over global influence. All available levers will be deployed for this purpose, and the consequences could turn out to be very serious and far from trivial. Furthermore, it is highly likely that a significant proportion of the world would support Russia. 

Everybody has been aware for a long time of the support that the country enjoys from the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea and Iran. Iran has become the main supplier of drones for the Russian army in Ukraine. The extravagant visit of Kim Jong Un to Russia in September 2023 was intended to demonstrate to the world that North Korean weapons are also used in the special military operation. It is assumed that the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea will receive in exchange access to Russian missile technologies which could increase the range, reliability and flexibility of the North Korean system for the creation of a nuclear weapon, which would without a doubt have an impact on the nuclear balance in Asia. Any military escalation in the Asia-Pacific Region would distract the USA from Ukraine. All the more so, as the attention of the USA already switched in part to the Middle East after the attack by Hamas on Israel on 7 October 2023 and subsequent events in the Red Sea where Yemen Houthis have been using rocket attacks to block the passage of Western merchant vessels a (it is worth noting that at the same time the Houthis have announced their “cooperation” with Russia and China, whose ships they do not intend to block in any way when they cross the Gulf of Aden)12

Consequently, the redistribution of spheres of influence at present is already proceeding de facto not only through the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, but also through the explicit attempt to create a union of Russia, Iran, the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea jointly with the “global South”, represented by a number of countries in Africa and Latin America. These are all serious aspects in the formation of a principally different world order.   


It goes without saying that the problem of engineering a new world order and reformatting international relations which have functioned for almost 80 years is endlessly multifaceted and includes a countless number of risks and threats. All the more so as there is no model of the future order which would be recognised by the main participants of the reformatting process. There is no common platform for discussions or even an approximate idea as to what needs to be discussed and how. 

However, there is one objective which should become the unconditional common denominator for everyone: to prevent the start of a third world war which is already becoming more and more likely.  Naturally, I am referring here first and foremost to the threats arising from the large-scale bloody conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which has all the potential grounds for escalating into a major war. Today everyone should be dedicating their efforts to finding a solution to this issue.  

In the period from November 2022 to April 2023 the best moment to secure a ceasefire agreement was missed. In this situation a ceasefire was the only right solution for Ukraine (after the successful military operations in the north and south of Ukraine), and it is highly likely that this proposal might have been discussed seriously by the regime in Russia. Owing to the short-sightedness of Western politicians and diplomats, this moment was not identified.  The approach to European security was articulated by the West as follows: Europe with Ukraine, but without Russia. As demonstrated by the events of the past year, this was mistaken and flawed logic; the military actions continue, people are dying every day, European security threats haven’t gone anywhere, while any normal future of Ukraine is becoming more and more illusory. According to the official data of the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine, over the past three years average life expectancy in the country has contracted by nine years for men — from 66.4 to 57.3 years and by five years for women — from 76.2 to 70.9 years.

Throughout the first half of last year, Ukraine and the West talked about the anticipated Ukrainian counteroffensive. Today it is already clear to everyone that there was no counteroffensive. However, neither the evident failure of the spring-summer offensive, nor the catastrophic shortage of weapons and manpower, nor the mounting difficulties with the receipt of western aid, have prompted politicians to take any steps towards the conclusion of a ceasefire agreement or at the very least towards a discussion of this issue. On the contrary, some strange forecasts have been circulating about a new Ukrainian offensive in 2025. In actual fact, recently people in the West have been talking more and more frequently about a protracted confrontation with Russia not only in Ukraine, but also along the entire contact line with NATO. 

For the time being, the inevitability of war between Russia and NATO is probably still not a common feature of political thinking on both sides of the frontline. However, such a thought is pushing through (for example, the statement of the President of France Emmanuel Macron that French soldiers might be sent to Ukraine13 is promoting thinking along these lines. And this is an extremely dangerous prospect. 

In Europe politicians talk more and more about the threat of direct military confrontation with Russia (Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk has announced the onset of a pre-war era in Europe14 (checked on 31 March 2024)., while the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Josep Borrell talks about impending war15), assuming that developments in Ukraine represent the prologue and the more exhausting it is for Russia, the better for Europeans. 

However, such calculations contain one very serious error: the direct confrontation of Russia and NATO would rapidly and inevitably escalate into a nuclear apocalypse. That is why the logic of European politicians that “if we don’t defeat Putin in Ukraine, then we will have to fight him directly” is utterly flawed, as nobody would win in such a war. This is clear to all the real specialists in military matters. Such military experts as General Mark Milley, former Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff of the United States Army, have been declaring ever since November 2022 that it was impossible for either side in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine to win on the battlefield16. However, politicians prefer to ignore experts, effectively transferring the situation in Europe to a pre-war stage. 

It is a mistake to proceed from the premise that there is no alternative to “victory on the battlefield”. A ceasefire is the only possible prospect in such confrontation.

In the third year of the military confrontation in Ukraine, when a simple suspension of the conflict through a ceasefire is not even discernible on the horizon, the mounting threat of a major war is becoming a reality which is still imperceptible to journalists and the overcited manic online community. Events developed in similar fashion on the eve of World War One: the emergence of trading barriers between countries, the rise in militarism, the fight for colonial rule, local conflicts (Russo-Japanese, Italo-Turkish and Balkan wars), the reciprocal territorial claims of neighbouring European against the backdrop of ineffective diplomacy… And it is against this backdrop that the heir to the Austrian throne Franz Ferdinand is killed in Sarajevo. There is hardly any need to state that today, given the superfluous range of potential causes, any spark could serve as the reason for a new world war — from the sending of French soldiers to Ukraine or a Russian missile striking a Western leader on Ukrainian territory, as might have happened recently in Odessa on the date of the visit of the Prime Minister of Greece17. Let alone the recent act of terrorism in Crocus City Hall, an event from the black swan theory which might, as was the case 110 years ago, become the trigger — a new Sarajevo18.

Moreover, recently there has been a perceptible increase in demand for the external exacerbation of the situation as a way to deflect attention in connection with the inability of politicians to cope with mounting domestic political and economic problems. And this phenomenon is not only typical of Russia. All these factors raise the risks significantly. 

However, internal political processes in Russia are of paramount importance when analysing international security risks. The modernisation of the Russian state, which continued for 30 years after the collapse of the USSR, has failed19. Instead of building a modern European Russia, the regime turned to the past, to Soviet Bolshevik traditions: to authoritarian rule, and accordingly, political repressions, intimidation, the liquidation of democracy with the assistance of so-called constitutional reform, and finally as a result the start of the special military operation. That is why achieving the objectives of re-founding the state and establishing the fundamental principles of democratic popular legitimacy is a task for the future. However, in the context of our discussion,  one is bound to talk about the serious crisis, chaos and even possible collapse at any moment. The actual situation in Russia is such that similar phenomena within the country can have even more reactionary consequences to what has happened until now. So this could also trigger a big war in some way or other.  

We all learned on 24 February 2022 that international politicians were unable to predict and understand that a large-scale armed conflict was imminent: back in mid-July 2021 President Putin had set out frankly and in detail his claims against Ukraine and his plans in connection with this fact in an article published on the President’s official website20. However, none (!) of the current international leaders took the article seriously21. The first signs of a belated understanding of the impending danger only started to appear in November-December 202122.

Moreover, even subsequent events: the death of people in horrific proportions for modern Europe, colossal destruction and real risks that nuclear weapons might be deployed  — virtually none of the leading Western politicians have expressed any desire to protect the lives of people.

Instead of dropping everything else in a bid to prevent even more catastrophic developments, international leaders are doing all they can to intensify confrontation — without making any attempt to find diplomatic solutions. 

However, at a time of changes and transformation of the 21st century, this is an extremely mistaken and even criminal strategy. Such a policy, consisting of gossip, daydreaming and the chaotic supplies of weapons, is collapsing before our eyes, as it confronts a situation which is developing according to its own logic. And this concerns not only what happened in Ukraine two years ago. The events of 7 October 2023 in Israel not only showed how one of the strongest armies of the world with virtually the best secret services overlooked the terrorist threat and was not prepared for a large-scale attack by terrorists from the Gaza sector, but also reminded everyone how Iran, in international isolation for decades, is capable of sowing chaos throughout the Middle East. And then you also have China: China has never concealed its territorial claims regarding Taiwan. The build-up of military power by China over the past few years has been called unprecedented in terms of scale in East Asia for the era after the end of World War Two.

So it is clear that global politics today should focus primarily on preventing the break-out of a major war which could sweep across Europe, the Middle East and Asia. For this purpose, it will be necessary first and foremost to secure a ceasefire in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and prevent its escalation. A rapid reset of the entire European policy is needed and the immediate signing of a ceasefire agreement between Russia and Ukraine is required (possibly with the participation of the US and Chinese authorities). 


The very first steps to be taken to prevent a big war should include: a ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine and the signing of a respective agreement; the creation of a demilitarised zone on both sides of the fault line; the resolution of humanitarian issues — an exchange of prisoners; the creation of acceptable living standards for people on the territories in the zone of the military actions.

It should be acknowledged here that diplomatic dialogue will have to start against the backdrop of total distrust. The goal of such dialogue at this stage should be the attainment by the parties of a minimum common understanding on security issues. This concerns an end to the loss of lives and destruction of the infrastructure guaranteeing the basic necessities of life.

Is this possible? 

Yes. And there are historical examples. Let us take the Caribbean crisis in October 1962. Despite the lack of any trust between the parties, the leaders of the USSR and the USA Nikita Khrushchev and John Kennedy established a dialogue, as there was an understanding as to the common goal — to avoid at all costs wars between nuclear powers. It was in the same paradigm and based on the logic of this understanding that the entire system of arms control in the world was also aligned subsequently, which continued to work until recently. 

In conversations about the settlement of the conflict, people often speculate on the topic of the need “to restore justice”, However, one should proceed here from the fact that justice in the current specific conditions — when people continue dying in large numbers and a whole state is being destroyed in full view of everybody — is unrelated at present to territorial issues, reparations or international courts.  Today justice means bringing an end to the loss of lives and preserving the future for children and grandchildren. The dilemma of “peace or justice” in this case is fallacious. In the current conditions, the most primitive form of peace — ceasefire — is justice. There is no other real alternative.    

The necessary communications channels must be created immediately. We talked about this in 2022 and wrote on this topic at the start of 202323. Now leading specialists in international relations are writing about this, citing the need to change the rhetoric of the parties, appoint special representatives for negotiations, impose restrictions on strikes within the territory of the opponent, and arrange for an exchange of war prisoners: “If neither side begins this process, the warring parties will likely remain stuck where they are today—fiercely battling over inches of territory, at a terrible cost to human life and regional stability, for years to come”24. These experts also hold that no amount of aid can ensure Ukraine’s security and prosperity without an end to the war25.

Consequently, in spring 2024 it looks as if the threat previously considered in international politics to be a limited conflict by virtue of a lack of understanding of the crux of developments, is being transformed into the real danger of a large-scale war. If it happens, this will either be the variant of a war of “everybody against everybody else”, or local — here, there, somewhere else … Everything might start in Europe and then spread to the rest of the world. Or perhaps everything will spread from the Middle East. The name given to this war — World War III, a new global war or something else –is unimportant. 

Serious strategic research specialists back in 2022 assessed the likelihood of a major war as real26. Now, two years later, the risks of the escalation of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict into a world war is already understandable not only to experts. One can say with hardly any exaggeration that we are approaching a precipice beyond which there is a civilised abyss, in other words, an all-encompassing war. We are witnessing how all the participants in the conflict  are plunging more and more deeply into crisis. There has been a perceptible transition from talks to practical preparation. 

Today Europe’s political class is in a complex and contradictory state. The evident inability of leading European politicians to understand or at the very least imagine the extent to which everything may start with catastrophic speed and then snowball is striking.

Surely it is obvious that the United States are drifting away from European problems more and more? The US authorities are preoccupied by the Middle East and the Pacific Region, and also by the extremely complex impending Presidential elections. At the same time, in Europe (and not only there) the demand for war is emerging as a way to extricate these countries from serious non-military crises, political gridlock and socio-economic problems. At the same time, we now have a line of military confrontation — the vast contact border of Russia and NATO lengthwise, from Finland to Moldova. As was in the case on the eve of World War One, errors and miscalculations could result in a vast destructive conflict, the real scales of which nobody can even imagine. “Unless there is some basis for some cooperative action, the world will slide into a catastrophe comparable to World War I,” — warned former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in 202027.

Today an immediate ceasefire is essential. This is the biggest step to preventing a big war. We cannot allow mankind to fall asleep at the wheel and permit another catastrophe to happen.

The key is that the international order today is in such a state that it could collapse at a high rate of speed. It does not make sense to discuss the consequences of this collapse, in other words, what will remain after a major war. This will no longer be a matter for our children and grandchildren. It only takes sense to say how this can be prevented — which is the goal of this article. 


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