Post-Bipolar World: Peaceful Coexistence or Chaos?

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2016-60-1-17-29

A. Lukin, National Research University Higher School of Economics, 20, Myasnitskaya Str., Moscow, 101000, Russian Federation; MGIMO University, 76, Vernadskogo Prosp., Moscow, 119454, Russian Federation (

Acknowledgements. The article has been supported by the grant of the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, National Research University Higher School of Economics in 2016.

Abstract. The article explores characteristics of the international relations bipolar system, changes occurred after its collapse and the future of post-bipolar world, focusing on the role of non-Western actors in it. On one hand, the bipolar system provided stability of international relations, but on the other – lead to competition between the U.S. and the USSR for the influence on the third countries, which sometimes resulted in armed conflicts in the third states. The collapse of the Soviet Union convinced the West both in the universality of its development model and the necessity to spread it all over the world. Now it is clear that the “democratism” ideology failed politically and culturally. The Western model has neither become a panacea for eliminating disparities between countries on different stages of development, nor the only example of successful and strong governance. New power centers, such as Russia, China, India and Brazil, have been successfully developing after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Their influence has been growing along with that of the West, and even though they did not necessarily directly confront it, they never shared all its values, yet never actively imposed their positions on the rest of the world. Regional powers (Nigeria, Venezuela, etc.) are also playing a more significant role in the emerging system, although sometimes they may join the alliances with more powerful countries to achieve their goals (as Vietnam does with the U.S. in its conflict with China). Russia’s reluctance to follow the West in its development created the first serious alternative to the existing unipolar world model and its values, so naturally and widely accepted by the Western actors. Whereas China with its rapid economic development is also posing a challenge to the ideology of "democratism" proving that the economic welfare is achievable outside the Western political model. As for Russia, its role in the modern world is still not defined. The Russian Federation wants to become an independent power unit and a center of the Eurasian integration. However, it is not clear whether it has resources of all kinds to implement this idea, – moreover, its economic dependence on the West is still too strong to insist on further confrontation. Instead, Russia (as well as its partners in the Eurasian Economic Union) could use Eurasian integration platforms to act as an "ambassador" of Asia in Europe and that of Europe in Asia.

Keywords: bipolar system of international relations, post-bipolar world, the West and non-Western centers of power, regional powers, Western and Eastern development models

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For citation:
Lukin A. Post-Bipolar World: Peaceful Coexistence or Chaos? . World Eonomy and International Relations, 2016, vol. 60, no. 1, pp. 17-29.

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