Moreover, amid modern conditions we cannot assert with the same certainty as before that imperial power is necessarily supported by direct control over dependent states. Although the anarchic and competitive nature of international politics remains unchanged, the specific requirements for decisions may change. They are increasingly linked to increasing technical capabilities, which were lacking in an era when the time required for military mobilisation was determined by the distance from the capital to the border.
Leading European states within the EU and the US are also seeking to maintain imperial control over certain countries and entire regions. However, with rare exceptions, they do this through various forms of economic manipulation. The global influence of the United States, of course, is different - its military presence remains in most regions of the world, but it does not always imply a willingness to act as a protector of its dependents. Discussions about the degree of war risks the United States can take are constantly on-going. Among the countries of the European Union, only France maintains military contingents in several former African colonies. As we saw in the events in Mali, these forces can be successfully used to suppress threats at the local level. In both cases, both powers fully control only their immediate environment: the United States in Canada and Mexico, and France - within the framework of European integration. In more remote areas of influence, the ability to exert it is associated either with advanced technical capabilities and military overstrain (USA), or with a limited range of goals and objectives (France and Great Britain).
The growing mobility of the international environment is forcing the great powers to pursue a more prudent and restrained policy in terms of their own obligations, and Russia is no exception. We can hardly expect that in modern conditions it is the only one to retain the features of imperial behaviour inherent in already very distant historical eras. Moreover, unlike Austria, Great Britain, Turkey or France, it has retained its main acquisition from the period of active territorial expansion - the space between the Urals and the Pacific Ocean. These territories are the only imperial achievement that brought profits to the Russian state, not losses, as was the case with all other possessions, from the Baltic to the Pamir. Other nations can only count on Russia to be truly interested in participation if they occupy a geographic position that is critical for Russia's security. In the case of the space of the former USSR, these nations are Belarus and Kazakhstan.
The refusal of the great powers to meet their obligations beyond the minimum necessary limits is, at the same time, a new challenge for the very concept of international order. The hegemony of one power in terms of the science of international relations is a way to overcome the consequences of the anarchy of the international system. It does not matter at all that in the case of the United States after the Cold War, the whole world, with rare exceptions, acted as such a zone. However, now the question is whether it is possible amid conditions when powers that are theoretically capable of claiming hegemony do not need order to ensure their own security and development? This issue is extremely topical now, when international institutions are in a state of deep crisis. And the more the great powers save their energy in accordance with clearly defined priorities, as Russia is doing now, the less hope we have that the growing anarchy will be replaced by some form of "concert".