US Experts Anticipate Future Decline for Russia Among the Great Powers

By Arik Burakovsky, Dina Smeltz, and Brendan Helm

October 2020

Although President Trump initially hoped for improved relations between the United States and Russia, during his tenure the US government has overtly declared Russia a top threat to US national security. Congress and the administration widened Obama-era sanctions against Russia after alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Data from a recent survey of American experts on Russia, conducted by The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs paints Russia as a declining power.

The results show that while experts anticipate changes in the global balance of power in the next 20 years, with China overtaking the United States, they do not expect Russia to come out stronger over that time frame. Experts draw attention to Russia’s cracked economic and political foundation in the present and its likely decline over the next two decades due to economic mismanagement and faltering soft power. Now there are the lingering economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic to add to this list.

Key Findings:

  • Experts expect China to surpass the United States within 20 years in terms of influence and economic strength but not with respect to military power.
  • In 20 years, experts expect Russia’s level of influence to fall barely past that of India, which experts currently view as much less influential than Russia.
  • Despite dim prospects for Russia’s economy, experts predict that its economic strength will modestly increase over the next two decades, though it will remain less economically powerful than other great powers.
  • While Russia remains a militarily powerful country today with a sizeable nuclear arsenal, experts see a somewhat diminishing might over the next two decades.

Please click here to access the full report. This piece was republished from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

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