In 2014, Russia and the West entered into a serious conflict due to the Ukrainian crisis. At that time, it seemed that Moscow was doomed to oppose a powerful and consolidated enemy on its own. In a matter of months, their relations lost all remnants of partnership of the previous 20 years and entered a stage of a new Cold War. As distinct from the Soviet Union, Russia found itself in a much more vulnerable position. Its economic, military and human potential was incomparably lower whereas the West had greatly increased its potentialities. In addition, Russia avoided ideology in its foreign policy whereas the Soviet Union offered the world a full-scale ideological alternative.
However, the new structural realities of international relations appear to be a much more important distinction. In the 20th century, the confrontation between “the socialist East” and “the liberal West” set the rhythm and determined the structure of international relations, whereas in the 21st century, the conflict between Russia and the West became just an isolated episode. The main intrigue revolved around the policy of China and the character of its relations with the United States, the only global superpower. In 40 years since the adoption of Deng Xiaoping’s pivotal decisions, the PRC made an enormous leap in its economic, technological, military and political development. The United States became increasingly concerned over China’s growth. By the early 2020s, this concern developed into the recognition of China as a threat to US security and the US-led “liberal international order.” American officials began to talk openly about a new Cold War. The United States fixed the need to deter China in its key doctrines. In practice, it was manifest in the mounting ideological, trade and economic pressure on Beijing. The COVID-19 epidemic only fuelled the anti-China slant in US policy. The United States directly blamed China for the emergence and spread of coronavirus. The US approach to China became increasingly ideological in the spirit of “communist China versus the democratic United States.