Russia’s Approach to the Future World Order

The conflict in Ukraine is heating up. The called-for ceasefire isn't happening. As a matter of fact, world reconstruction has begun. Covid was just a try-out.

The West is preparing for global war

The USA and its allies are preparing for global war. Ukraine is just the beginning. It is an opportunity to reinforce military preparations before a more global conflict.

Almost 5,200 Ukrainian soldiers have already been trained by France. Paris planned to train a total of 7,000 troops by the end of 2023, according to French Defence Minister. The United Kingdom is also heavily involved: more than 17,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been trained by London and its allies over the last year. New tranches of support for Ukraine are being announced. Obviously, the West does not intend to halt the conflict.

The West denies its involvement in Ukraine, while its actions tell otherwise. President Joe Biden signed an executive order on 13 July 2023 allowing the USA “to augment the active Armed Forces of the United States for the effective conduct of Operation Atlantic Resolve in and around the United States European Command’s area of responsibility.” No more than 3,000 reserves, “of whom not more than 450 may be members of the Individual Ready Reserve,” may be called up. The Pentagon increased the US troop presence on the continent by about 20,000 in 2022. 64 US and British special forces operatives were active in Ukraine in March 2023, according to leaked American documents. At least 100 CIA officers are deployed there, too. The number of NATO troops in Europe is 100,000. The alliance is going to increase its high readiness forces to 300,000.

Why does the West need to increase its troop presence on the continent?  It looks like Washington and NATO countries are going to be ready to fight in Europe. In that case, it is nothing less than preparation for a full-scale war with Russia.

45% of adults in Britain consider that the size of the UK armed forces should be increased, a YouGov Survey reports. It should be borne in mind that the new Chief of the General Staff of the British Army, General Sir Patrick Sanders, warned in June 2022 that British troops must be prepared to fight against Russia in a potential Third World War.

The Franco-German brigade had drills in Lithuania at the end of June 2023. 256 German and 158 French soldiers were training in “high-intensity warfare”, the same kind as the war raging on NATO’s eastern flank. Their aim was to prevent the Russians from invading NATO territory. Later, the French President announced the construction of a new military hospital in Marseilles, with the facility intended “to prepare France for a possible high-intensity war.” The Assemblée Nationale approved $450 billion military spending on 13 July 2023: the largest French defence budget in half a century. “The money would modernize France’s nuclear arsenal, augment intelligence spending and develop more remote-controlled weapons,” as the Associated Press observes.

Poland held its largest military parade since the Cold War on 15 August 2023. Warsaw is asserting itself as one of the leading European military powers. Poland has over 172,000 armed troops, according to the Polish Defence Ministry. However, Poland has recently classified the exact size of its army. Now, it is impossible to compare the growth rate of various national militaries in numbers of personnel. The Polish Government plans to create an army of 300,000 troops to resist Russia.

Warsaw aims to allocate up to 4% of its GDP—twice the NATO agreed norm—to increase defence spending. By way of comparison, Poland spent 2.42% of its GDP on defence in 2022, according to NATO estimates

What is this but preparation for global war? Are Germany, France, the United Kingdom, the USA, Poland and other NATO members going to fight in Europe once again? If European leaders don’t seriously reassess the consequences of a global war with Moscow, they risk making an issue of Europe’s very existence. Europe in such an eventuality shouldn’t expect a second Marshall Plan to help it cope with the economic strain: that would not be advantageous for Washington. It is a sink-or-swim world.

Worst-case scenario for Russia

There are several possible scenarios for future developments. These are the scenario of a bipolar world (the West on the one hand and the East on the other), the scenario of a multipolar world, and the scenario of a new world order, where all the power belongs to multinational corporations and other non-state actors. If Moscow is not able to deter its adversary with superior military potential, that will be the worst option for Russia. Specifically, if the United States and its allies create a huge arsenal of precision weapons and a global missile defence system to repel a Russian nuclear strike, that is a threat to Moscow.

Washington is doing its utmost for global military dominance and strategic survivability. Its efforts include conventional weapons, high-precision weapons, nuclear forces, a global missile defence system and cyberwarfare.

The United States is deploying its missile defence systems at the borders of its designated adversaries in order to be able to launch a sudden nuclear strike on their territory and defend against a retaliatory strike. (Details are given in Russian studies: Kozin V.P., Evolution of US Ballistic Missile Defence and Russia’s Stance (1945–2013). Moscow: Inforos. 2014. 351 pp.; Kozin V.P., Evolution of US Missile Defence Beyond 2040 and Russia’s Stance. Moscow: Sabashnikov Publishing House. 2016. 446 pp.) There is also a concept of a prompt global strike (whether or not there would truly be an American first use of nuclear weapons is debated) that would entail delivering a precision-guided conventional weapon airstrike anywhere in the world within one hour. This attack concept is similar to a nuclear strike in its manner. It is also known that the Pentagon is developing the concept of “pre-launch” destruction of the intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) of its opponents, as well as their destruction at the stage of acceleration. That means they are supposed be hit by NATO before they are launched or before cruising velocity is attained.

The development of global missile defence has a special importance in the modernisation of US military potential. America’s new Missile Defense Review, published in 2022, names China, Russia, North Korea, Iran and non-state actors as threats. Large missile arsenals now include not only offensive ballistic, hypersonic and cruise weapons, but also Uncrewed Aircraft Systems (UAS), alias drones. In this regard, it should be emphasised that contemporary US missile defence strategy is associated with the strategies of nuclear deterrence and the use of non-nuclear means. In particular, it has to do with the use of global Integrated Air and Missile Defence (IAMD), which includes an integrated air defence system and missile defence of US territory as well as integrated air defence and missile defence systems of allies and partners.

Operating, upgrading and maintaining US nuclear forces is expected to cost $756 billion over the 2023–2032 period; $122 billion more than was estimated for the 2021–2030 period. The United States continues to be the top spender on nuclear weapons. US-owned nuclear weapons have long been deployed at six NATO airbases in continental Europe: in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Turkey.

Whereas earlier the USA denied that its missile defence system in Europe was fashioned against Russia, now it does not hide its true intentions. The conflict in Ukraine has also lent impetus to the development of American ballistic missile defence systems, since the Patriot system is the part of the European missile defence shield.

Global corporations run the world

There is no doubt that the Russo-Ukrainian conflict—or, to be precise, its resolution—will have a substantial impact on the future world order. It is a foregone conclusion that the “winners” will seek to reshape it to their satisfaction, at the expense of the “losers”. However, there is a possible scenario in which none of the (super)state actors—Russia, Ukraine, the EU or the US—is a “winner”. Non-state actors—the multinational corporations—will be the ones to “win”.

Multinational corporations, or MNCs, are an integral part of the world economy, the “engines of globalisation”. They are already acting politically: actively lobbying for the laws they need to increase productivity or sales, and fronting influence campaigns to promote or introduce agendas. This is also being pursued vigorously by Big Tech firms such as Meta (Facebook). Some Western MNCs are the largest of military contractors—Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Rheinmetall, BAE Systems—and they profit from the current Eastern European conflict as never before.

NATO member states have increased their defence spending, and all that money goes directly to these corporations, bolstering their market value, influence and capabilities, both economic and political. What I am outlining may resemble the plot of some dystopian cyberpunk video game, where states have almost no authority and society is run by corporations; but it is a very possible scenario.

If the war in Ukraine continues for another three to six years, the damage to the world economy could become irreversible. Western societies will have to be forcibly consolidated: newer and better weapons will be bought every year to combat “threats”. It is quite easy to imagine a gruesome world, highly militarised as foreseen by mid-twentieth-century authors, where international politics is defined by some defence contractor using private military companies to “open” new markets and sell battle-ready armies, not just weapons. A world whose ideology is defined and enforced by a Big Tech giant, using social credit systems and real-time population control. A scary future indeed, but a possible one. Society must always have some ruling force: if nation states fail to cope with the challenges, corporations will stand in to take their place.

Consequences of the Ukrainian conflict

But how can states be undermined to such a degree as to let that envisaged scenario come to pass? Two words: economic collapse. Warfare is an expensive undertaking. According to some calculations, the overall cost of war for both sides has exceeded $95 billion. This is a tremendous amount of money. Russia’s military expenses amount to 5% of its GDP. Ukraine cannot sustain itself without foreign aid: the USA alone gave it $111 billion as of the end of summer 2022 and a further $61 billion in time for the summer 2024 peak fighting season.

The economic impact of the conflict is not just limited directly to military spending of money which could be used for something more useful; the war takes a toll on every part of the global economy. World economic growth in 2022 was just 3.1%, while expectations had lain around 5%

The modern world is over-globalised: when one of the largest natural resource suppliers is sanctioned, it is not the one to suffer the most. Rather, it is the purchasers of those natural resources who suffer most.The European economy is severely damaged by lack of cheap energy from Russia: some industries are no longer profitable; green energy plans are postponed; investments are cancelled. Supply chains have to be redirected; some high-value commodities have global shortages; food prices are skyrocketing; inflation is shooting up globally. The quality of life is plummeting worldwide; everyone is affected. At this stage, the damage to Earth’s entire economy is so severe that, according to some experts, global growth in 2023 will not exceed 2.2%. And all of this has been brought about with only a partial embargo introduced, and only against Russia. In the case of any fresh escalation or geographical extension, the impact could easily be even more devastating. Economic collapse comes first; then society starts to crumble. 

The conflict between Moscow and Kyiv has greatly been impacting the markets for wheat, fertilisers, oil and natural gas. Russia is one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of phosphate-, nitrogen- and potash-containing fertilisers, producing 13% of the global total. According to some forecasts, the Ukraine conflict may cause world famine: 1.7 billion people may be subject to hunger and 276 million more may find that their food supply is no longer secure.

Everyone from Moscow to Brussels to Washington seems to understand that there will be a point of no return. Both sides use escalatory rhetoric, even raising the spectre of the use of nuclear weapons, but are reluctant to act on these threats. No-one wants to see the world burn. The apocalyptic scenario is not a viable one; everyone agrees on that. What are other options? A Ukrainian victory, we are assured by the likes of Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen, will safeguard Euro-Atlantic hegemony and bring back the “rules-based” world order, governed by “international law” and Western capitals. To be honest, we in Russia well recall that this was the world order just after the Cold War—and it was, despite all the patter about cooperation and democracy, a unilateral system, where the US, as winner, set the rules for everyone else. It is unwise to suggest that everyone was content with American hegemony, even in Europe. Now, Europe is even weaker than before: it cannot challenge the USA in who it is that will define the “rules”. Europe itself is plagued by internal quarrels—some EU and NATO member states (Hungary the least ambiguous among them) want to bow out of supporting Ukraine, while others, such as the Netherlands, nakedly prepare for their own bilateral war with Russia. Today, the USA is an unreliable partner. It is the biggest debtor on the planet, so a return to American hegemony does not bode well.

A multipolar world as a way out

However, there is a whole parade of countries, a Global South, that does not want to interfere in the doom playing out in Eastern Europe. Some of these world majority nations distance themselves from both sides; others profit from the changing global economy. Yet all these countries have one thing in common: they do not want a return to a unilateral system. A multipolar world, where there is no apparent hegemon, seems an ideal model for almost all of them: from China, preparing as it is to challenge the US head-on, to African countries, which are interested in fostering multinational cooperation and obtaining more foreign aid—not only from the West, but from everyone else.

What is particularly interesting is that Russia shares this view: Vladimir Putin has said countless times that his aim is to build a “fair”, multipolar world order, and his words are repeated by Russian officials and experts. The Ukraine conflict started as a Russian internal affair in which the West then interfered, transforming it into an existential threat to Russian national security prompted by Western expansionism. Many Global South countries agree: some, including Iran, make no bones about their endorsement of Russia; others are taciturn, such as China, which has a fairly similar situation with Taiwan.

The West can no longer ignore this sentiment, because more than half of the world shares it. Iran became a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in July 2023. The same summer, BRICS invited six new countries to join it: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Ethiopia. Four of these candidates formally joined BRICS on 1 January 2024. 

Frankly, though, a multipolar world is something of an ideal model that is difficult to achieve. Another scenario is more likely, whereby the world will be divided into several regional financial and technological clusters. This means autonomous regions, if not autarkic. Each region will have its own prevailing values, financial system, payment chains and technologies. These clusters will interact with each other where it is to their rulers’ mutual benefit to do so. Every region will have its own hegemonic state. Obvious candidates for leading states of such blocs include the USA, Russia, China and India. The United Kingdom will be a leading state of its own over essentially the Commonwealth, or else it will join America’s Anglo-Saxon cluster. Moscow, New Delhi and Beijing are all members of BRICS, so a single Eurasian cluster is still possible to unite these three behemoths.

The question here is where the Arab world, Africa and Latin America will be housed. Probably, in this context it is best to talk in terms of the following clusters: the Anglo-Saxon cluster, including Europe and the British Commonwealth; the Islamic cluster (Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the United Arab Emirates will vie for its leadership); the Asian cluster (where both China and India claim to be natural leaders, while Russia also has its own interests in the post-Soviet Central Asian republics); the cluster around Russia, as an actor aiming to be a chief player in Eurasia; the Latin American cluster, with Brazil making a bid for regional hegemony; and the African cluster, with South Africa as chief. Weak countries will be satellites, included in a cluster penumbra or grey zone between clusters.

Incidentally, Africa and Latin America as whole blocs could also choose the role of satellites. In this scenario, the international organisations will cease to exist or will change radically. This is the model of the regional turn in globalisation.

The USA does not want to allow China’s dominance, so Washington is keen to stop the multipolar world in its tracks. Regarding the Middle East, there are some factors that could transform the region and may even make it a threat to Europe: local wars, terrorism, migration. As for relations between Europe and Russia, the situation may change rapidly if Washington forsakes Europe for internal reasons. It is worth noting that America is not as great as it was. It has its own problems; it is not as united as it seems.

There is not just black and white; the world is quite diverse. In this regard, there will always be centres of power; there will always be rivalry. The question is the level of this inevitable confrontation. The man in the street sees how countries compete with each other, but nation states are not limited only to the politics of realism. As the figures show, multinational corporations are very often behind the conflicts. Some will say that this is just a coincidence or conspiracy theory, but the situation with Covid has shown how a single supranational organisation, the WHO, dictated its terms to the whole world. The fact is that the international organisation as an entity has turned out to outrank nation states; precisely as designed in the aftermath of both world wars. 

What is the Russian position in this globalised world? At the very least, not to be left out in the cold, but rather to promote its agenda by finding its supporters.


Article image: Europe as viewed from the USSR, 1944 (Richard Edes Harrison for the U.S. Army Information Branch, public domain)