MGIMO Analysis of International Threats for 2021

13 January 2021

A group of MGIMO researchers published the report "International Threats", a yearly review of key events in international relations and provided their forecast for the upcoming year.

The 2021 report considers how the coronavirus pandemic has affected international relations and analyses a myriad of topics including the polarization of political life in the United States, the EU's “green deal” policy initiatives, China's development prospects, digital technology issues, the sanctions policy and climate migration.

“More state” is the leitmotif of this new year. The fight against the pandemic has revealed the main actors in international relations: the world's population expected states, rather than international organizations or NGOs, to provide them with vaccines and adopt measures to overcome the coronavirus. Those states with effective health care systems, capable of maintaining a consistent geopolitical course and avoiding the pressure of opportunistic motives from the political elite are those that have been able to maintain their position on the international stage.

In the context of a strong polarization of society, the United States will experience difficulties in determining its foreign policy course in 2021. Moscow can expect the new administration to embrace a realist approach to arms control issues, but the information war will continue, as will provocations against Russia.

The Biden administration will be for China a respite before new conflicts. Even if Trump has to leave the White House, "Trumpism" from Washington will not recede. "China remains a rather fragile superpower and in the interests of maintaining the dynamics of its global recovery and calm within the country, it must more carefully assess the upcoming risks and respond to them," underline the authors of the report.

Brussels will celebrate the United States' return to the Paris Agreement and the EU's strategic line will be to turn the region into a climate neutral continent by 2050 through the “green deal” promoted by Germany.

Other important issues for 2021 will be the risks of secondary sanctions, climate migration in Africa, the development of digital technologies and progress in vaccinating the world's population.

The report was prepared by faculty members of several MGIMO divisions - the Laboratory for International Trends Analysis, the Eurasian Strategies Consulting Agency, the Institute for International Studies and the Department of Applied International Analysis: E.Arapova, A.Baykov, A.Baklitsky, A.Bezrukov, I.Denisov, I.Loshkarev, M.Mamonov, A.Margoev, S.Markedonov, E.Maslova, N.Silaev, A.Sokolov , A.Tokarev and A.Chechevishnikov.

The head of the project, the Director of the Institute of International Studies A.Sushentsov, noted: “the preparation of the annual forecast has become an important tradition of international researchers at MGIMO. Its regularity and extensive press coverage allow us to check the accuracy of our prognosis at the end of the year and ensure that our team is “in good shape” in terms of its analytical methodology.”

The report can be accessed on the websites of MGIMO and the consulting agency of the University "Eurasian Strategies". Journalists from Kommersant, RBK, Izvestia, the business newspaper Vzglyad, TVC, REN TV and other publications presented the main conclusions of the report.

The previous report - the seventh MGIMO annual forecast – was presented on TASS premises in January 2020.