Staying Sane in a Crumbling World
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Oleg N. Barabanov

Russian historian and political scientist, is Program Director of the Valdai International Discussion Club, Professor, MGIMO University. 

Timofei V. Bordachev

Ph.D. (Political Science)
National Research University–Higher School of Economics (HSE), Moscow, Russia, 
Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs,
Associate Professor;
Centre for Comprehensive European and International Studies (CCEIS)
Academic Supervisor


SPIN RSCI: 6872-5326
ORCID: 0000-0003-3267-0335
ResearcherID: E-9365-2014
Scopus AuthorID: 56322540000


Tel: +7(495) 772-9590 *22186
E-mail: [email protected]
Address: Office 427, Bldg.1, Malaya Ordynka Str. 17, Moscow 119017, Russia

Yaroslav Lissovolik

Programme Director at the Valdai Discussion Club, Member of the Government Expert Council

Fyodor A. Lukyanov

Editor-in-Chief of Russia in Global Affairs, Chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, and Research Director of the Valdai Discussion Club. Research Professor, Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow.


Tel: +7 (495) 980-7353
[email protected]

Andrei A. Sushentsov

MGIMO University of International Affairs, Moscow, Russia
Department of Applied International Analysis
Associate Professor;
Institute for International Studies


ORCID 0000-0003-2076-7332


E-mail: [email protected]
Address: Room 3036, 76 Vernadsky Prospect, Moscow 119454, Russia

Ivan N. Timofeev

Ph.D. (Political Science)
MGIMO University, Moscow, Russia
Associate Professor;
Russian International Affairs Council, Moscow, Russia
Program Director


SPIN-RSCI: 3517-3084


Tel: +7(495)434-67-66
E-mail: [email protected]
Address: Office 324, 76 Vernadsky Prospect, Moscow 119454, Russia.

Valdai Discussion Club Report

Just like any pandemic, COVID-19 will not last forever. However, it will serve as a catalyst for disruptive changes in spheres with no immediate link to this virus. The world has accumulated a great number of problems, so a trigger was all it took to plunge the world into crisis.

The world has been living in a state of shock since spring 2020. Hardly anyone could have anticipated the events that resulted in lockdown orders for billions of people, brought the global economy to a standstill and rendered most of the international organisations irrelevant. The international community was not motivated to coordinate its efforts effectively during the COVID-19 pandemic. The imbalance between the causes and the effects is striking. What seemed a fairly ordinary virus with a relatively low fatality rate seriously affected the interconnected world in almost all its aspects.

The scale of the crisis induced by the pandemic can be attributed to the fact that it was in perfect alignment with the trends that took shape long before China reported its first infection case.

Social distancing and isolation are the only effective remedies. This is simply how nature works. One cannot fail to be impressed by how everyone was mentally prepared to follow urgent policies to barricade themselves from the outside world. The ideas and rhetoric that have been polluting international relations over the past 30 years instantly faded away, signalling an end to what seemed like unsolvable disputes and answering a number of essential questions.

There is now hope among politicians and intellectuals that the Third World War will play out in its “softer” version in the form of the pandemic and the global economic crisis, levelling the playing field, and enabling the world to turn the page, leaving all the accumulated imbalances behind.

There is every reason to believe that this will not be the case. In a crumbling world, countries will have to face up to regular shocks of this kind. Moreover, they could become a routine, albeit dramatic, occurrence.

Valdai Discussion Club