2020
Ivan Timofeev
Programme Director of the Valdai Discussion Club; Director of Programmes of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC); Associate Professor at MGIMO University

In a short historical period since the end of the Cold War the world has managed to change at least three paradigms of security risks. At the end of the Cold War, the key risk was a possible nuclear conflict. The world community applauded the arms control treaties, believing that the worst was over. For a decade, the factor of competition of the great powers has faded into the background. Attention has shifted to non-state players – terrorists, radicals, pirates, international criminals, etc. In the late 2000s, attention returned to state players again, but on a different plane. Now we are talking about low intensity conflicts directed by big states, cyber threats, interference in internal affairs, financial sanctions and other risks. At first glance, they look milder in comparison with the brutal prospect of a large-scale clash of tank armies in Europe and the exchange of nuclear strikes. However, they are extremely difficult to control, as they cause acute political crises and quickly mutate along with rapidly changing technologies. The good old risks of nuclear and conventional war have taken on a different quality. Paradoxically, by the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century, Russia was perhaps the most prepared state, ready to withstand several types of threats at once. However, how sustainable the control of security risks will be remains the big question. Will Russia be able to maintain momentum? How adequate is the selected model, given a rapidly changing international environment? Another big question is how to determine the psychological characteristics of the new generation. How will the new generation, which was socialised in the 1990s, coordinate itself? How will it be affected by its lack of experience regarding a big “hot” or “cold” war? How important will it consider foreign policy and international risks?

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