A World Without Superpowers
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Fyodor A. Lukyanov

Russia in Global Affairs
National Research University–Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia
Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs
Research Professor;
Valdai Discussion Club
Research Director


SPIN RSCI: 4139-3941
ORCID: 0000-0003-1364-4094
ResearcherID: N-3527-2016
Scopus AuthorID: 24481505000


E-mail: [email protected]
Tel.: (+7) 495 980 7353
Address: Office 112, 29 Malaya Ordynka Str., Moscow 115184, Russia

Oleg N. Barabanov

MGIMO University, Professor;
Program Director of the Valdai International Discussion Club.

Timofei V. Bordachev

Doctor of Political Science
National Research University–Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia
Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs
Centre for Comprehensive European and International Studies
Academic Supervisor;
Valdai Discussion Club, Moscow, Russia
Program Director


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


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

Yaroslav D. Lissovolik

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

Andrei A. Sushentsov

PhD in Political Science
MGIMO University, Moscow, Russia
School of International Relations
Valdai Discussion Club
Program Director


ORCID: 0000-0003-2076-7332


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

Ivan N. Timofeev

PhD in Political Science
MGIMO University, Moscow, Russia
Department of Political Theory
Associate Professor;
Russian International Affairs Council
Director General;
Valdai Discussion Club
Program Director


SPIN-RSCI: 3517-3084
ORCID: 0000-0003-1676-2221
ResearcherID (WoS): ABF-5625-2021
Scopus AuthorID: 35293701300


E-mail: [email protected]
Address: 76 Vernadskogo Prospect, Moscow 119454, Russia

The Annual Report of the Valdai Discussion Club

World politics has begun to rapidly return to a state of anarchy built on force. “The end of history” culminated in the restoration of its usual course – the destruction of the international order resulting from large- scale conflicts between centres of power.

The historical period to come will be marked by conflicts and, most likely, hostilities that are an inevitable part of the emergence of a new international order. A fuse system that could at least mitigate the emerging threats is vital to global security. But it is unlikely to ever be developed without providing an answer to the above question of how to ensure the balanced functioning of the international system in the absence of a hegemon and a clear-cut hierarchy.

The current state of affairs is marked by the fact that the United States and its allies, in fact, no longer enjoy the status of dominant superpower, but the global infrastructure that serves it is still in place.

As a result, a powerful machine created for the “proper” (in the interests of the hegemon) distribution of goods and (after all) promotion of development has become a mechanism for punishing nations that claim global power or are simply dissatisfied with the current state of affairs. Improper use leads to accelerated wear of the system and also blocks the prospects for it morphing into something that is aligned with new times. Simply changing the “operator” as it happened in earlier centuries (for example, the United States taking over from Britain) will not help today. It just won’t work.

In theory, China should be the next nation at the helm, but there are several concurrent obstacles to that ever happening. First, the current leader is emphatically against giving up its top spot to Beijing, and the entire system under its control (primarily finance and the economy) will oppose this. Second, the PRC does not appear to be ready or willing to take on the associated burden and risks. Third, and most importantly, the structure of global politics has changed in such a way that important countries will simply not agree to anyone’s dominance.

Nevertheless, the need for international restructuring is extremely pressing, since the world at large and individual countries are facing multiple challenges, including existential ones. Objective processes are leading the world to a system that is much more based on regional spaces. “Pulling together” the countries that form a spatial community and streamlining (simplifying and shortening) the value and supply chains is a pathway towards overcoming the pandemic-related challenges. The crisis caused by the economic war of the West against Russia has also highlighted the value of interaction that is immune to external interference which includes geographical proximity.

Relying on regional interaction and creating spatial communities can resolve the issues of development of small- and medium-sized countries that do not have sufficient resources of their own for development. Being part of regional associations, they have a good chance to find their own niche, take advantage of the collective potential and contribute to it.

The unification of countries based on their interests and the complementarity principle will eventually help solve today’s root problem which is to limit the effectiveness of the infrastructure that was built to support superpower hegemony, and to eventually leave it behind.

The most urgent issue – the world’s dependence on the dollar-based financial system – will also be resolved much easier by a group of stakeholder countries that can agree among themselves on alternative forms of settlement and trade that bypass the US sphere of influence. The United States can use secondary sanctions, but their undeniable abuse has already begun to undermine this tool’s effectiveness.

The future system must be similar to the superpower model in its original design just in one respect. The key role in it will not be played by military force, even if the international military-political tensions increase during the transition period. Military conflicts, including the one that is now blazing in Europe, are not about building a new order, but are the result of the dysfunction of the one that has existed so far. Even though readjusting the imbalances in global development, as we see, can lead to the use of military force, as such it is not and should not be a decisive factor as we move forward.

The democratisation of the international environment needs an appropriate response, which is not about suppressing but harmonising interests and respecting pluralism of opinions and assessments. Hierarchy gives way to distributed interaction. A world without superpowers will need a system of self-regulation, which implies much greater freedom of action and responsibility for such actions. With that, we will eventually be able to move from the phase of complete collapse to the next stage which is creation.

You can download the report here.


The Age of Pandemic: Year Two. The Future Is Back
Fyodor A. Lukyanov, Oleg N. Barabanov, Timofei V. Bordachev, Yaroslav D. Lissovolik, Andrei A. Sushentsov, Ivan N. Timofeev
The main objective of the next stage of international politics is to prevent any savage behaviour as rules and institutions crumble and it becomes every country for itself. This is hardly a very uplifting mission, but it is what the past thirty years amounted to.