RIAC Forecast 2019–2024
Global Governance and World Order
#MeFirst against Strategic Stability
Fyodor Lukyanov
Editor-in-Chief of "Russia in Global Affairs" Journal, Chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, RIAC Member
In early October 2018, INTERPOL headquarters in Lyon sounded the alarm after Meng Hongwei, President of the organization and Deputy Minister of Public Security of China, had disappeared. A couple of days later, the issue was resolved, Meng resigned via signed postal letter from Beijing, and authorities reported that he was apprehended on suspicion of corruption.

It's a milestone event. For the first time in a long period, the Chinese leadership made such an eloquent sacrifice of its international prestige and relations with international organizations for the sake of solving an internal task of demonstrating to the citizens that there are no untouchables and no external obligations can be higher than justice in their homeland. Until now, Beijing has been using a different tactic — to expand Chinese representation in any transnational structures that have something to do with global governance to maximum and to promote Chinese cadres wherever possible, especially in leadership positions. It was a focused and very painstakingly enforced line. And removing their own appointee, lobbying whom for the position of head of INTERPOL required so many efforts, seemed completely illogical. This is not Armenia with its revolutionary enthusiasm, that decided to bring the current CSTO Secretary General to trial without any consultations with the allies. The new fervent authorities simply did not think that the partners might get disappointed and that Yerevan would lose this position. However, one cannot blame China of indiscretion, it was a conscious choice.

Beijing got the global trend right, which, by juggling with two fashionable slogans of this year, can be formulated as #MeFirst. States are increasingly putting the interests of their own internal stability higher than international issues, and global governance is giving way to local governance.

2018 was the year of Donald Trump strengthening his positions. Despite the unprecedented attacks from opponents domestically, the White House of Donald Trump is quite solid. However, one has to point out the consistency and determination of the President of the United States in the implementation of his fixed idea to transform the world governance system, primarily, but not only, economic, from multilateral to uni- and bilateral basis. To be more specific: Trump seeks to transform multilateral systems into bilateral format, and bilateral, like in the area of arms control, into unilateral. The objective is to minimize the concessions the United States has to make, even if in this case the range of possibilities is narrowed.

With economy, Trump is somewhat careful, regardless of witty remarks and harsh criticism of all trade agreements concluded before him. He willingly and loudly makes claims against partners, forcing them to shift to more favorable conditions for the United States, threatens with trade wars or declares them, but in general, does not destroy the whole framework. Thus, replacing NAFTA with USMCA is a rather symbolic act, Washington still expects to settle the disputes amicably with the EU (albeit under strong pressure). The hatred of the U.S. President for the WTO, which Bob Woodward [1] vividly described in his recent book, does not yet lead to legal action. Trump's relative restraint is supposedly due to the fact that he, being a businessman by nature, and his economic environment committed to traditional models, stems from the possibility of maximizing the benefits from existing relationships, rather than completely breaking them. So there is more bluff than nihilism coming from Trump in his key area, i.e. economy. Moreover, it works in many cases: the partners do make concessions not wishing to risk getting into a serious conflict with the most powerful country in the world.

In politics, which D. Trump is less familiar with and less interested in, the situation is different: there is much less caution. The milestones of 2018 are the withdrawal [2] from The Joint Comprehensive Action Plan on Iran (as of 2015) in May and the statement [3] of intent to withdraw from The Intermediate and Shorter-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (as of 1987) in October. In fact, both cases of "slamming the door" are connected with the nuclear sphere, which for decades has served as the core of international security, not to mention the relations between Russia and the United States.

This can be viewed as a coincidence. The motives and background of the two withdrawal decisions are very different. The current U.S. administration views Iran solely through the lens of relations with Israel and the allies in the Persian Gulf. This is regional and partially domestic policy for Washington. Pulling out of the INF Treaty demonstrates how on the eve of the 2020s America sees the implementation of its dominance strategy for the next decades.

Regarding the Treaty of 1987, it is essential that this withdrawal is not Trump's personal position. The White House has been announcing its intention to put an end to the arms control system, in the form in which it has been developing since the 1960s, from the beginning of this century, when George W. Bush became president. Now the circumstances are right, and the Trump factor is nothing more than a catalyst. The 45th president is so far from strategic issues that he can easily make decisions that would have caused a more serious torment for a more traditional leader. But even after Trump leaves the White House, the situation will not get back on track.

Although Iran and the INF Treaty are models on different scales, when combined they mark the end of the time of managed confrontations as an important element of global governance. The arms control system owes its rise to the fear of a nuclear war, the need to streamline and prevent a deadly threat. The Iranian deal is the result of understanding that a regime change is neither a universal nor an effective tool for resolving serious issues. This is the result of reflections after a period of "storm and onslaught" in 2001–2011, and at the same time, an attempt to revive the spirit of the NPT, according to which the absence of aspiration for nuclear weapons should be encouraged.

The withdrawal from the INF and, in the future, from the START is a transition from strategic to "tactical" stability, when the agreements, if any, are specific, current, and rather short-term. This is a completely different logic, which generally is in line with the global trends, i.e. to avoid rigid obligations in favor of flexible, variable geometry. In 2018 this approach manifested itself very clearly. For example, the Astana format is a temporary association with a lack of trust between the participants who have different interests, however, they are more than aware that they will achieve nothing without each other. And this format works, despite the forecasts. At the end of the year Istanbul joined in and a meeting [4] was held between Turkey, Russia, Germany, and France, in the course of which the parties tried to make the first attempt in restoring Syria. This, by the way, brings up a question of how permanent regional associations should in fact be considered as a model for the future, given that a few years ago they were sure to be quite perspective.

Although such ad hoc combinations will most likely multiply in the area of resolving local conflicts (referring to Donald Rumsfeld with his idea of the early 2000s that "The Mission Determines the Coalition", and not otherwise), at global level, where nuclear safety relates to, this would be unusual. And this would only be possible if the idea that nuclear weapons are basically some kind of very special matter continues to blur. "Banalization" of nuclear weapons is even more dangerous than their proliferation. However, something similar may occur after the inertia of the twentieth century with its particular perception of nuclear weapons as an apogee of deterrence is gone. Moreover, technologies blur the line between nuclear and non-nuclear, and they place emphasis on the "global strike" of ballistic missiles delivering non-nuclear (or nuclear?) warheads.

The Iranian plot is simpler, but no less illustrative. The intention to change the regime with the methods of power pressure returns to the agenda, and the use of the nuclear factor as a cause only shakes the former foundation more. A new nuclear arms race and improvements in all major powers — the United States, Russia, and China — once again recall the illusory promises of the five nuclear weapon states in the context of the NPT to move towards rejection of nuclear weapons in response to other countries stepping away from their acquisition.

By the second half of the previous century, mankind came to a firm belief: nuclear weapons are so exclusive due to their enormous destructive power that they, by definition, should be the sphere of common responsibility, and first of all, common responsibility of the main opponents. However, this scheme is subject to erosion. On the one hand, the fear of nuclear war has significantly blurred compared with the 1980s, and the sense of its possibility has lapsed. On the other hand, the general course towards fragmentation à la #MeFirst influences the sphere of strategic stability, offering an alternative approach: everyone decides how much and what he needs, and all that is left is to agree on a certain level of information exchange. This approach is further supported by the fact that bilateral negotiations in this area are a long and complicated matter. A multilateral process that would include new or entrenched nuclear powers could not be practically implemented. The call of the U.S. administration to cancel the INF Treaty and promptly renew it for three with China sounds like a mockery.

It should be emphasized once again that the deal is not about Trump personally, but about the international environment, which has changed dramatically in comparison with the second half of the twentieth century. Mutual nuclear deterrence and a set of norms around it served as a pillar of the world order in the post World War II era. It did not end with the end of the Cold War, and its continuation after 1989–1991 was an attempt to adapt the system, that had been created for completely different conditions and with other tasks, to the new situation. And it predictably failed. Today's reality is based more on the spirit of ad hoc. However, weapons of mass destruction are way too serious to be handled according to the situational principle.

2018 brings a firm line under the key postulates of the former world. The process began a long time ago, but now it has touched on the basis of the foundations — the nuclear sphere. And the development of new principles of relationships in it becomes the most important task for the next few years, as international security depends on its solution. The responsibility still falls on Moscow and Washington. Europe, despite bitter complaints and exclamations, having neither arguments nor leverage in this topic, remains an object (the EU's position on the Iranian nuclear deal is very typical — Europe is strongly against the U.S. actions, but cannot do anything and agrees ex post). China flatly refuses even to start a dialog. Other nuclear states, "legitimate" and self-proclaimed, step aside, referring to the insignificance of their arsenals. Non-nuclear states can create a certain background, reviving the campaign for a nuclear-free world, but this has nothing to do with real political processes. Therefore, the ball is again in the field of the Big Two.

Taking into account the monstrous bilateral atmosphere, today it is difficult to imagine that a constructive, and in this case, highly innovative dialog is generally possible. However, the decorations on the global stage are changing much faster than before, and new twists in the plot are very likely to happen. So far, there is a need for a fresh understanding of the entire nuclear issue, and a search for the new angle of view. The inertia of the Cold War is very strong in this area, and this is more than explicable, perhaps even correct. However, this inertia is fading out and gradually stops moving things forward. It seems that in the sphere of arms control this has already happened, and we need a new impulse.
The Future of Global Economic Governance
Sergey Afontsev
Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Head of the Department of Economic Theory at the Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Professor at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, RIAC Member
The main temptation when forecasting international economic processes and the prospects for their regulation is to construct a basic forecast scenario based on the premise that the trends of the previous period will continue, and then formulate alternative scenarios that may stem from current trends either speeding up, slowing down or being modified. However, applying this forecasting strategy to issues of global economic governance is not relevant. The inertia scenario for the coming years must be jettisoned.

A number of factors favour such a conclusion. The key among these is connected to the fact that infamous crisis of multilateralism that was on everyone's lips even before the 2008–2009 global crisis in the context of the impasse that had been reached during the Doha Round of WTO negotiations has manifested itself in all its glory in recent years. [1] The failure of the WTO and G20 mechanisms to effectively counteract the threats of increasing protectionism in global trade. The blocking of the reform of international financial institutions. The refusal of the Trump administration to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and its forcing through of a modified version of NAFTA and the new-look Agreement between the United States of America, the United Mexican States, and Canada. All this clearly demonstrates that the balance in global economic governance has shifted drastically from multilateral mechanisms to unilateral and bilateral initiatives. In November 2018, the participants in the 26th Annual APEC Summit in Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea) failed to adopt a joint final declaration, marking the first time in the history of the association that this had happened. [2] It turned out that mutual grievances and animosities turned out to be stronger than the decades of cooperation mechanisms. And there is no reason to believe that the crisis in multilateral formats of global economic governance will stop there.

Secondly, pre-crisis hopes for the speedy formation of mixed and private mechanisms of global economic governance whereby non-state economic actors would have an increasingly active role in the resolution of regulatory issues soon gave way to the realization that the leading countries have no intention of giving up their positions in international intergovernmental mechanisms. What is more, these countries are increasingly willing to use their positions to achieve their own goals without due regard for the interests of their partners. Individual oases of cooperation with nongovernmental structures remain (particularly as part of the G20, the OECD, and partly the World Bank), but their real influence on the regulation of global economic processes has decreased significantly over the past few decades.

Thirdly and finally, there is an obvious crisis of leadership in global economic governance. Given the rapid growth in the economic power of emerging economies, which accounted for approximately 57.2 per cent of gross world product by purchasing power parity in 2017, economically developed economies are forced to acknowledge that both their resource base and their international authority – the basis of their dominant position in global economic governance – are growing weaker and weaker with each passing year. The cumulative economic weight of China and India alone (25.7 per cent of gross world product by purchasing power parity in 2017) is already one-and-a-half times greater than that of the United States (15.3 per cent) and the economically developed countries of Western Europe (14.9 per cent). [3] What is more, the gap between them could very well increase by another 4–6 per cent. Under these conditions, the claims of economically developed countries to a continued presence among the leaders in the regulation of the global economy are looking increasingly ephemeral. Suffice it to say that practically no one thinks about the once all-powerful mechanisms of the G7 today, while the activities of the IMF, which 20 years ago was the sole arbiter when it came to distributing loans to developing countries, are now mostly limited to anti-crisis tasks. At the same time, countries with emerging markets have thus far been unable, both by themselves and within the framework of cooperation structures (including BRICS), to create fundamentally new global economic governance structures, radically strengthen their positions in existing structures, or fulfil their statutory functions in an adequate manner. In 2018, the area of global economic governance in which the scale of the relevant problems manifested itself most clearly was the regulation of international trade.

Salvo Fire of Trade Wars

In 2018, for the first time in decades, the world found itself on the brink of a large-scale trade war between the leading economies. While concerns about the possibility of trade war flaring up were purely hypothetical during the 2008–2009 global financial crisis, and the 2008 G20 Summit in Washington was instrumental in quelling such fears, the first salvos of a trade war have already been fired in this new situation. [4] And, quite the opposite to what happened 10 years ago, the main threats in terms of escalation now emanate from Washington.

From the point of view of the general statistics of trade restrictions in the global economy, the situation is far from catastrophic. According to the Global Trade Alert trade policy monitoring programme, the total number of measures introduced to protect domestic manufacturers from trade imports has dropped steadily from the maximum values achieved in 2012–2013 (886 trade remedies for both years), to 641 trade remedies in 2017. [5] A little over 550 new measures were introduced in January–October 2018, but this is not enough to reverse the trend that has appeared in recent years. According to a WTO Report on Trade-Related Developments, there was only a slight increase in trade barriers during the first half of 2018. An average of 13 trade measures were introduced from mid-October 2017 to mid-May 2018, just a twofold increase on the monthly average for the whole of 2017. [6]

However, in terms of the scale and nature of the measures implemented, radical changes have occurred: the volume of international trade affected by the import restrictions imposed by the G20 countries increased by more than six times in May–October 2018, reaching a record high of $481 billion. [7] This is primarily due to the introduction of new tariffs on steel and aluminium by the Trump administration, as well as to the import goods from China worth a total of $250 million.

The pivot of the trade policy of the United States towards protectionism is based on a fundamental reassessment of the principles and goals that had been its foundation for over half a century following World War II. Given the competitiveness of U.S. goods, pursuing a liberal trade policy and moving it to the level of global economic governance via the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and WTO mechanisms were long considered a guarantee of the United States' trade leadership in the global economy (in this sense, it had much in common with the free trade policy pursued by Great Britain during the period of its trade dominance in the 19th century). The situation started to change dramatically in the 2000s, when, against the backdrop of the sharp economic upturn experienced by emerging markets (primarily the Chinese market), the positive balance of costs and benefits of an open trade policy for the United States started to look less obvious, both economically and politically. Growing imports (trade with China increased from $100.02 billion in 2000 to $505.6 billion in 2017, or by more than five times) started to exert increasing pressure on production and employment in the United States. In combination with the growing trend towards transferring production abroad, this was a factor that drew a negative reaction from a significant portion of voters who work in the manufacturing industry, which goes a long way to explaining the support for Donald Trump in the country's "industrial" states during the elections. The current U.S. administration talks about a high level of openness not as a guarantee of American leadership, but rather as a threat to the country's economy. The accusations of a number of partner countries (primarily China) of using incorrect trade practices (specifically direct and indirect instruments for supporting export) are an additional argument in favour of introducing trade barriers to protect the U.S. economy.

The risks of such a policy are that a "protectionist turn" could lead to a revision of the entire system of regulating international trade relations that was formed during the post-war period under the de facto leadership of the United States. [8] If this happens, then the likelihood of a full-scale trade war in which mutual "exchanges of blows" could push the global system of international trade to the brink of collapse will increase dramatically. It is possible that this collapse may not be as catastrophic as the one that hit in early 1930s, but it will be enough to make us look back on the trade achievements of recent decades as a long-lost paradise.

Immediate Prospects

Like any significant shifts in regulatory mechanisms that have existed for a long time, the current transformation of global economic governance mechanisms is an open-ended process. What happens in 2019–2020 will be crucial in this respect. On the one hand, there are convincing reasons to fear the further weakening of multilateral regulatory mechanisms and the strengthening of protectionist tendencies – especially if the issue of the increase in foreign trade protectionism is ignored (and not condemned) at the G20 Summit in Argentina on November 30 – December 1, 2018. [9] If events do unfold in this manner, then such bilateral initiatives as the "Silk Road Economic Belt," which effectively represents a kind of "garland" of China's bilateral formats of interaction with counties on the Eurasian continent, will continue to have the greatest potential in terms of developing cooperation. Russia will have another reason to develop bilateral economic diplomacy and use the mechanisms of the Eurasian Economic Union to conclude new trade agreements with prospective partner countries.

On the other hand, the current trends may turn out to be "short-lived," especially if Donald Trump is not re-elected to office in 2020. Even if this is what happens, we will not be able to go back to the system of global economic governance that we knew, as the positions of emerging economies will inevitably grow stronger. It is important that Russia take advantage of this trend, on favourable terms, by entering into coalitions with interested partners and, where possible, form such coalitions of its own.
Hopes and Illusions of Polycentric Bipolarity
Valery Garbuzov
Director of RAS Institute of U.S. and Canadian Studies, RIAC Member
Neglecting the entirety of knowledge about modern world processes and their participants inevitably creates an atmosphere of illusions and unmet expectations, giving rise to bold, but often inadequate, even inverted perception of reality, ill-conceived decisions, and erroneous actions.

The nature of current global processes requires increased attention to the government decision-making mechanism, aimed at finding the most effective options that exclude high costs and mistakes.

Polycentrism and Bipolarity

The modern world configuration is clearly unlike the structure of the second half of the 20th century: it is primarily characterized by the emerging polycentrism, caused by the increased foreign policy activity of the new centers of power (both states and quasi-state and other entities). It is also distinguished by the absence of a pronounced bipolarity (of the Cold War era) and of provocative unipolarity (the era of the United States sole domination) characteristic of the 1990s.

However, this does not at all interfere with the birth and evolution of the bipolarity of a dissimilar nature within the limits of the emerging and therefore not yet fully established polycentrism. Relations between the United States and China have long been developing as part of a peculiar combination of interdependence and mutual rejection.

Another polycentric bipolarity, that has taken shape over the past 10 years, is the relationship between the USA and modern Russia, which is still in search of its own place in the modern world, is creating new integration structures, alternative energy, financial, and defense systems.

All this gives rise to even greater disorder and chaos in the rest of the world, causing new challenges and risks. A more complex, potentially more confrontational polycentric world structure has become a reality. But the world has never been simple and calm before.

Donald Trump has accumulated all these problems in the United States, still living in the hope of making America great again. Despite the fact that the possibilities of the United States, due to the competitive struggle in the modern world, are clearly shrinking, it still retains undisputed global domination. The latter is based both on the economy that has long gone beyond the boundaries of the United States and is developing throughout the world, as well as on military, geopolitical, and ideological factors.

Russia as a Provocateur

It seems obvious that in recent years modern Russia has become not just a potential strategic threat, but a real constantly acting geopolitical provocateur of the West. The use of the energy factor and integration initiatives as tools of its own geopolitical influence, bold and sometimes even daring methods, adopted in the 21st century struggle for the Soviet inheritance (war with Georgia, accession of Crimea, events in Donbass), complemented by accusations of interfering with the 2016 presidential election in the USA and poisoning the Skripals, only strengthened the confrontation that determines the relations between the two states. And, apparently, it is going to last long.

Today, the United States and Russia are the only powers in the world that declare and purposefully implement their own geopolitical programs, which are hardly compatible with each other. On the one hand, there is the US program of the world leadership and global dominance that has been forming throughout the whole history, especially in the 20th century. On the other hand, Russia is making bold attempts to formulate and embody its global vision of the epoch and determine its own (most likely leading) place in it.

The current degraded state of Russia – U.S. relations is based on several intractable problems: the Ukrainian crisis, the war in Syria, Russia being accused of interfering with the 2016 elections in the U.S., and poisoning the Skripals. The American political elite perceives Russia's behavior as a challenge to the long-standing constants of the U.S. foreign policy, its global dominance, messianism, and exclusivity.

That is why, having encountered such a threat for the first time after the end of the Cold War, the United States was as a response forced to resort to a regime of large-scale economic sanctions against Russia, supported by more than 40 countries, aimed primarily at isolating and restraining the country, at changing its political regime and total internal order. All of them were caused by the U.S. response to the decisive (and sometimes conflicting and daring) geopolitical course of Russia on the path of revising its own policy of the 1990s. The perception of this practice by the political elite of the United States as a serious and demonstrative challenge on the part of Russia to American global domination is perhaps the most serious obstacle to getting out of the current impasse.

In this situation, the U.S. and Russia inevitably perceive each other's foreign policy course as provoking signals, which must inevitably be followed by retaliatory actions.

Chess Board Turned Over

The current Russia–U.S. relations are perhaps similar to the game on a chessboard turned over and least of all resemble a game of sophisticated and responsible players who have long known each other. Today there are too many illusions, contradictory rhetoric, and mistakes, mutual caution and prejudice, as well as huge mutual mistrust, which in no way contributes to the desired breakthroughs and the goal being quickly achieved. [1]

Going along with geopolitical clashes at the regional level (in the post-Soviet space and in Syria), the increased foreign policy activity of the two states led their relations to a deadlock, paralyzing a whole range of spheres that used to form the basis of the bilateral and mutually beneficial constructive interaction during the Cold War.

It was in such an extraordinary situation (one and a half years after the election of Trump) that an agreement on the first official personal meeting of the two presidents on July 16, 2018, in Helsinki was finally reached. Just before NATO Summit and meeting in Helsinki, former foreign ministers of 16 countries, including Madeleine Albright, the U.S. Secretary of State, David Miliband, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, and Joschka Fisher, his colleague from Germany, addressed President Trump. They urged the American President to strengthen the "deteriorating relations" of the U.S. with Western allies [2]. The message also warned the President that ignoring the "threat from Putin's Russia" could turn into new problems for the West.

Putin and Trump: Untapped Partnership

During the years at the peak of power, each of the two leaders has developed a stable image in the West. Putin has the image of an autocratic "tsar" of the new Russia, decisively and mercilessly changing the geopolitical configuration and building the world according to his own patterns. The regime of international sanctions directed personally against Putin turned out to be ineffective in this part, only strengthening his power inside the country and increasing his popularity in a number of regions of the world.

Trump's personality is no less remarkable, an original and a unique president, able to surprisingly often change his views and still make such contradictory statements and things that surprise even the most sophisticated experts in world politics.

And there is every reason for this. Trump is working hard to create the image of a man who, without fear of being known as a destroyer of civilization, unlike his predecessors, boldly and resolutely tackles the inherited complex and intractable issues that have been accumulating in the country and in the world for decades.

Trump's foreign policy is a bizarre combination of modernized isolationism with an admixture of obvious demagogy, typical undisguised American unilateralism, old and orderly ideas of global domination and somewhat forgotten protectionism of the past.

However, with all the differences between the two presidents, there is one thing that unites them: Putin and Trump are the only leaders who openly challenge the usual course of life and the established pillars of the world order. Some people love them, others hate them.

It is important to take into account that the first official meeting of the two presidents in 2018 took place in the atmosphere of growing disagreements between the U.S. and other NATO members, in the situation of economic wars launched by Trump, when some European countries started realizing that it is difficult, and almost impossible, to provide European security without Russia.

Neither must we forget that the position of the American President himself domestically still remains fragile, although it has strengthened over a year and a half. The U.S. political elite still hardly perceives him, considering this phenomenon alien, accidental, and destructive. The fate of the President is still in the hands of the Congress. Investigations of Russia's interference in the 2016 elections are still ongoing, and Trump himself is ruthlessly and continuously being attacked by his opponents: the Democrats and the liberal press.

Despite public assurances [3] by Presidents Putin and Trump about their desire to establish bilateral contacts and the absence of personal anger between them, there are no signs of any noticeable movement towards each other yet.

Was it then worth expecting anything serious from the negotiations in Helsinki? Indeed, given the entire complex outline of current Russia – U.S. relations, it would be difficult to answer this question. One thing was clear: two presidents, two leaders of the modern world were to start a very difficult dialog on extremely complicated issues. If so, then the mere fact of such a meeting could be considered as an undoubted success.

And regardless of the outcome of the meeting of the two presidents (which turned out to be still useless and disappointing in the opinion of many), it is time to understand that one can hardly expect any changes in the bilateral relations between Russia and the United States without certain changes in their foreign policy.

So far, these relations (or rather, what remains of them) are developing in the framework of an untapped partnership with a clear tendency to complete or partial degradation.

Dilemma of Today

The current situation inevitably poses a question to all interested parties, which has become an intractable dilemma. How to pursue an independent geopolitical course and preserve national dignity and sovereignty, and at the same time form a constructive partnership with the United States that do not accept such course? Is it possible whatsoever?

In other words, are the changes that would allow the two countries to establish a dialog and maintain a solid foreign policy course for each of them, implementing their own geopolitical program, possible?

However, it is time to ask other, equally important, questions. Why are the relations between Russia and the United States getting worse in spite of the fact that Putin and Trump occasionally compliment to each other? What will America be like after Trump? Will he be able to create a new model of American domination? What exactly does Putin want from the U.S.? What is the objective of Russia's foreign policy activism and is it achievable? What will the growing wave of anti-Russian sanctions lead to? When is the moment we can call the world multipolar? Or is multipolarity just an imaginary and unrealistic illusion? Will Russia be able to implement and benefit from the policy of geopolitical maneuvering, which in the foreseeable future may result in something more significant?

These are the questions that anyone can hardly give a complete and comprehensive answer today. However, these are exactly the issues, resolution of which really conditions the relations between the world players, their changing role in the world, the world itself, and the destinies of the nations.
1. Woodward B. Fear: Trump in the White House. New York, London, Toronto, Sydney, New Delhi: Simon & Schuster, 2018. PP. 290, 302.
2. Trump Claims to Withdraw from the Nuclear Deal with Iran // RIA News, 08.05.2018. URL: https://ria.ru/world/20180508/1520183150.html
3. Trump Claims to Withdraw from the INF Treaty // RIA News, 20.10.2018. URL: https://ria.ru/world/20181020/1531120537.html
4. Istanbul Hosts a Summit Meeting for the Leaders of Russia, Turkey, France, and Germany // RIA News, 28.10.2018. URL: https://ria.ru/syria/20181028/1531622079.html
1.For more on the progress, achievements and difficulties of these negotiations since 2001, see: The Doha Round // World Trade Organization. URL: https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/dda_e/dda_e.htm
2. APEC Ends in Disarray After U.S.–China Dispute Over Final Statement // Bloomberg, 18.11.2018. URL: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-11-18/apec-fails-to-agree-on-joint-statement-amid-u-s-china-tensions
3. Calculations of the National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences. See: Main Global Economic Indicators // "The World in 2017" Yearbook. Moscow: National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences, 2018. URL: https://www.imemo.ru/jour/oprme/index.php?page_id=928&jid=8800
4. Declaration of the Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy. Washington, November 15–16, 2008 // Official Website of the President of the Russian Federation, 16.11.2008. http://www.kremlin.ru/events/articles/2008/11/209291/209303.shtml
5. Independent Monitoring of Policies That Affect World Commerce // Global Trade Alert. URL: https://www.globaltradealert.org/global_dynamics/area_goods/flow_import
6. Report to the TPRB from the Director General on Trade-Related Developments (Mid-October 2017 to Mid-May 2018) // WTO, 25.07.2018. URL: https://www.wto.org/english/news_e/news18_e/trdev_25jul18_e.htm
7. Report on G20 Trade Measures (Mid-May 2018 to Mid-October 2018) // WTO, 22.11.2018. URL: https://www.wto.org/english/news_e/news18_e/g20_wto_report_november18_e.pdf
8. The Rules-Based System Is in Grave Danger // The Economist, 08.03.2018. URL: https://www.economist.com/leaders/2018/03/08/the-rules-based-system-is-in-grave-danger
9. G20's Draft Statement Omits Anti-Protectionism Pledge // Financial Times, 21.11.2018. URL: https://www.ft.com/content/a593d1c6-ed74-11e8-8180-9cf212677a57
1. Garbuzov V.N. Late, but Necessary Meeting. Are changes in Russia-the U.S. relations possible? // Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 12.07.2018. URL: http://www.ng.ru/kartblansh/2018-07-12/3_7265_kart.html
2. Ex-diplomats caution – and credit – Trump before NATO, Putin meetings // Politico, 07.09.2018. URL: https://www.politico.com/story/2018/07/09/trump-putin-summit-diplomats-albright-703568
3. Russia pledges to improve US relations: 'It's hard to make them worse' // CNN, 23.11.2016. URL: https://edition.cnn.com/2016/11/23/politics/russia-kremlin-us-ties-improve/index.html; US, Russia disagree over what Trump and Putin actually said to each other // CNN, 07.07.2017. URL: https://edition.cnn.com/2017/07/07/politics/trump-putin-meeting/index.html;Trump declares hope for a better US-Russia relationship // Financial Times. URL: https://www.ft.com/content/70353a38-88c5-11e8-bf9e-8771d5404543