In the modern world, the catastrophic nature of the damage makes a big war between the great powers impossible. They no longer see the war as solution to international crises – in the age of mass consumption, people want to live long and well off. However, the strategic competition continues. Countries are looking for a way to strengthen their positions at the expense of others, including via military capabilities and the proxy use of force. The nature of modern conflicts presumes special demands for leadership parameters. It is still a product of will and determination, and readiness to sacrifice – as it was in past centuries. But the modern technological era requires other qualities of a leader. In a world, that is becoming increasingly anarchic and still remains relatively safe and well off, readiness to sacrifice is in a diminishing quantity. The Valdai Club research programme aims to explore the nature of modern international conflicts and the parameters affecting modern political leadership.