By Collin J. Meisel • Caleb L. Petry • Jonathan D. Moyer • Mathew Burrows In Grand Strategy
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, appears to have been an attempt to restore Russian greatness and the borders of its former empire. As a drastic departure from widely held post-Cold War era norms, what are the implications for shifting patterns of geopolitical influence in the coming decades? And what, too, should we make of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s own strategic blunders in managing the COVID-19 pandemic, and perhaps also China’s diplomatic image abroad?
We forecast geopolitical influence across four scenarios, each of which begins with plausible near-term trajectories for the war in Ukraine and parallel geopolitical developments, before expanding to potential long-term shifts in US-China competition through the year 2045. Results are benchmarked against a hypothetical No War scenario.
We find that Putin’s and Xi’s relative losses correspond with relative long-term Western gains, including a consolidation of influence within Europe. There is also a potential for the U.S. to recover recently lost strategic ground, particularly in Southeast Asia. Together, these findings highlight a narrow window of opportunity for U.S. policymakers to achieve a long-term setback to revisionist powers’ attempts to reshape the international order.