Abstract. This article analyzes the current formation of the geopolitical landscape and its impact on the use of military force and nonviolent means to achieve the political and economic interests of global powers in interstate conflicts. Based on an analysis of recent scientific and technological advances, this study predicts probable developments in the nature and content of military conflicts in the near future.

The start of the 21st century has been characterized by significant sociopolitical changes, leading to a challenging transformation of the global geopolitical landscape. The bipolar model, consisting of the USSR and the US, has ceased to exist. Currently, a new model is emerging, yet it still lacks stability and remains incomplete.

The US, which claims to be the sole world hegemon, does not have the ability or the will, despite all its resources, to limit the potential for and manage the manifestations of conflict in various regions of the world. An analysis indicates that recent US actions are not peaceful in nature. In defending its interests, Washington frequently imposes sanctions and creates artificial crises. Furthermore, under the guise of promoting democracy, the US is willing to overthrow foreign governments thousands of miles away from its borders.

Under these circumstances, antagonistic contradictions at the level of property and ideological differences between wealthy and impoverished countries, as well as ethnic groups and religious affiliations, are intensifying. Additionally, the escalation of conflicts between countries in most cases results from the failure of the US and its allies to respect international law. In many crucial international scenarios, their insolent and unscrupulous conduct aggravates the situation.

It is telling that the international community since World War II has carefully avoided using the term war, substituting it with such concepts as establishment of constitutional order, peace enforcement, antiterrorist operation, etc., but this does not change the nature and meaning of the use of military force.

The Military Academy of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation places significant emphasis on examining military conflicts. Findings from these studies have been published in various scientific and scholarly articles, including those featured in this journal.1,2,3,4 At the same time, the dynamic changes in the geopolitical landscape, marked by heightened global tensions and deepening Western involvement in confrontations with Russia and other power centers, highlight the persistent need to pursue further research in this area.

Currently, there exists a clash between two world order concepts with distinct methodological foundations. First, the Western world’s unsuccessful unipolar world, and second, the emerging geopolitical reality of a multipolar world supported by Russia, China, India, and other states.

Polycentricity is a factual reality that clashes with the previous approach of a unipolar world order, as outlined in the recent National Security Strategy of Russia: “The redistribution of the world’s development potential and the formation of new architecture, rules, and principles of the world order are accompanied by an increase in geopolitical instability and the aggravation of interstate contradictions and conflicts.”5

The intense competition for natural resources, food, territory, and even water reveals that the geopolitical struggle persists. However, new and advanced methodologies are required to analyze and study this phenomenon effectively, as traditional techniques may not be sufficient. The geopolitical reality of the modern world today is determined not so much by geographical features or the conditions of a likely theater of military operations, but by the nature of the spatial distribution of pockets of political instability, which under certain circumstances can quickly escalate to the level of international conflicts.

Today, it can be argued that the formation of a new geopolitical landscape is creating conditions for the increased likelihood of military force being utilized in situations where interstate conflicts reach peak levels of tension.

A comprehensive analysis of possible interstate disagreements that precede the use of military force shows that military conflicts of the first half of the 21st century will not be generated by a single factor, even a very significant one, but by a complex interweaving of various sociopolitical, economic, national, religious, and other tensions and factors. In the most general form, its basic content is determined by two main trends.

The first trend stems from Western countries’ active promotion since the late 1990s of a new approach to international relations. This approach involves selectively recognizing or denying the legitimacy of sovereign state governments and allowing for the possibility of humanitarian interventions, including retaliatory or preventive interventions. This strategy, known as regime change, was developed by ruling circles in the US. The approach consists in identifying countries of the international community that Western leaders consider unreliable and then proclaiming the need to change the political regimes in them using various technologies, including military force. At the same time, such actions are usually allowed to be carried out in circumvention of the UN.6

It is evident that such a trend violates the nonintervention principle that has guided state relations since the Peace of Westphalia. A considerable share of the world refuses to accept the legality of its violation, citing various international documents, such as the UN Charter.7

Furthermore, in an attempt to bypass international law, the US and its allies have consistently integrated the concept of conflicts of varying degrees of intensity into international military theory and practice in the last few decades since the defeat in the Vietnam War. From a legal standpoint, such conflicts do not have a formal declaration of their start or imply the transition of states to a special status, as is the case with war. Experience shows that this method of achieving goals in the current geopolitical climate is satisfactory to NATO country leaders and will remain significant in the near future.

The uniqueness of this approach lies in the emergence of new actors in geopolitical relations due not only to the expansion of interstate confrontation but also to the intensification of civilizational clashes. The expert community asserts that the US and its allies provide material and political support to various extremist and separatist groups. They also suggest that they engage in the establishment of managed chaos and the creation of destabilized areas with the cooperation of destructive organizations and the coordination of their actions. This is exemplified by what happened in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Venezuela, and several other countries.

The second trend is related to the revision of the concept of victory, which many specialists are beginning to associate less directly with success in battle or war. In modern geopolitical conditions, it is not always necessary to completely rout the enemy, to destroy his production and life-supporting infrastructure. Otherwise, the victor will have to invest considerable resources in their restoration, which, of course, is undesirable for him.

Thus, there is a steady trend toward the increased use of nonviolent tools such as economic, scientific, technical, informational, and ideological coercion. Therefore, a significant characteristic of 21st-century conflicts is their multilayeredness – the use of various military and nonmilitary methods of influencing the enemy and means of conducting confrontation, which together determine their so-called hybrid content. Depending on the degree of aggravation of interstate relations, such impact may take different forms:

· indirect – a visually impressive demonstration of a state’s military power and capabilities

· direct – direct use of the state’s military force

· covert – provision of military-technical assistance to a supported party to the conflict.

In this case, the use of military force is obligatory.

Along with military force, nonlethal weapons systems, indirect forms of violence, and nonviolent actions are used. However, they can still cause significant damage. First, there are new spheres of confrontation: cognitive and informational.8 The new information paradigm of geopolitics means that in the 21st century, the prospects of relations between states will be determined primarily by information superiority.

The geopolitical dimension of contemporary military conflicts is evidenced by the collision of interests among the world’s major powers in a comparatively limited space. Most modern military conflicts involve the participation of multiple states or military blocs and involve regular and irregular* armed forces. Irregular armed forces often gradually acquire features of a regular army, abandoning guerrilla tactics in favor of systematic actions.

Based on this, we can conclude that currently, military security depends not only on the readiness of the armed forces and other public institutions to maintain the state’s defense capability at a level adequate for preventing conflict, but also on the pursuit of national interests beyond its borders.

In our view, the achievement of victory in current military conflicts should be judged by the new content of the military policies of states, which includes the assertion of one’s own sovereignty or the creation of dependency between states through the use or threat of force, as well as persuasion and the promise of benefits or the imposition of restrictions such as sanctions or embargoes.

Throughout human history, virtually all scientific achievements, technological advances, and innovations have found their place in interstate confrontation. The introduction of various new technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing, and bioengineering, is altering the geopolitical landscape, generating fresh prospects for states, and constituting a significant trend redefining the nature and substance of military conflicts.

The rapid revolution in the means of military force is fueled by explosive development in science and technology, marked by a shift in focus toward noncontact confrontation using precision weapons. In such an environment, the struggle for technological superiority intensifies as the pace of development of scientific and practical knowledge accelerates and technology supply chains become more intricate. Achieving and maintaining technological superiority is one of the most important areas of national military security.

It is noteworthy that the US Department of Defense has allocated a record $130.1 billion in its FY 2023 budget for research and various developments, primarily for advanced technologies in cyberspace, outer space, and AI.

According to Pentagon officials, digitalization has transformed the cyber and information space into a new arena of conflict that transcends geographical borders. State and nonstate actors engaged in conflict consider critical infrastructure and high-tech companies primary targets for destruction. The top global powers are therefore taking steps to improve cyber defenses and methods of detecting cyber intrusions, as well as to increase the resilience of backup networks. Even so, the information infrastructure of highly developed countries remains vulnerable. Hackers can easily launch attacks on computer networks and communication systems, leading to instant paralysis of society and widespread panic.

Also concerning is the continual increase in spending on space launches and associated technologies, resulting in an expansion of the number of countries and private companies capable of and willing to engage in space exploration. The use of space for military purposes, as well as the utilization of cyber tools, enables attacks on a potential adversary’s military and civilian infrastructure from anywhere across the globe.

In practice, robotics and autonomous systems have become essential tools of armed combat. Robotic systems (RS) are engineered to perform combat operations with superior autonomy and efficiency, without the need for human intervention. It can be said that their widespread use has already led to a clarification of the basic principles of military operations, taking into account not only military-technical aspects, but also psychological factors.

In the near future, we should expect intensive robotization of weapons and military and special equipment based on the creation of unmanned vehicles in the form of robotic systems and complexes for military purposes, as well as wider use of unmanned aircraft of various types. Effective execution is primarily attributed to the rapid advancement of microprocessor-based computing, control systems, navigation, data transmission, and AI. The future framework of the militaries of technologically advanced countries will be significantly impacted by progress in the development of autonomous RS.

It should be noted that AI has been identified as one of the most significant challenges facing NATO today. The leadership of the alliance predicts that the military capabilities of member countries of the bloc will primarily be affected by AI-enabled advancements in virtual (augmented) reality, quantum computing, autonomy, modeling and simulation, materials research, manufacturing, and logistics. Advances in AI over the next five to 10 years will create new vulnerabilities and could lead to an arms race in this area.

Thus, promoting technological innovations and fielding them in a timely manner will be crucial to bolstering the military capabilities of various states. The efficacy of new technologies is anticipated to facilitate the creation and execution of novel military concepts.

Currently, a new military conflict ideology and innovative confrontation strategies are emerging within the context of informational, cognitive, and proxy wars. Essentially, states are increasingly resorting to indirect warfare. This involves the use of various irregular formations, private military companies, volunteer units, etc.

The development of new tactics and the improvement of existing strategies are directly influenced by the widespread integration of information and communication technologies in military operations. Additionally, the impact of these technologies on the mindset of armed forces personnel and the enemy population is of growing significance. In the latter case, one option for the practical implementation of such influence is the organization and conduct of so-called velvet or color revolutions, which in their form and content are actually a type of coup d’état.9

In practice, robotics and autonomous systems have become essential tools in armed combat. Robotic systems are engineered to perform combat operations with superior autonomy and efficiency, without the need for human intervention. It can be said that their widespread use has already led to a clarification of the basic principles of military operations, taking into account not only military-technical aspects, but also psychological factors.

These coups are often accompanied by the widely utilized US concept of managed chaos, reinforced by extensive deterrence measures taken against potential adversaries, following a particular set of guidelines:

· civilizational deterrence encompasses psychological wars, etc.

· political and diplomatic deterrence entails color revolutions, environmental terrorism, etc.

· economic deterrence encompasses protectionism, sanctions wars, financial speculation, etc.

· power deterrence comprises conventional warfare, guerrilla warfare, sabotage, terrorism, etc.

Experience has shown that in recent years, NATO countries have developed a specific process for preparing and instigating new military conflicts in their personal interest. They first fabricate “compelling” evidence of a threat to global or regional security from a targeted victim state and present it to the international community. An information campaign is then launched to legitimize justification for the use of military force to suppress the perceived threat. The targeted entity then faces sanctions as a prelude to forthcoming aggression.

Economic and political pressure is exerted on states that do not comply with this scenario. A coalition of interested countries, prepared to use force, is assembled, troop groupings are formed, and an invasion is executed. One of the most recent examples of such actions is Libya. A comparable plan has been devised for Syria and several other nations.10

In recent years, there have been attempts to implement a strategy aimed at weakening Russia’s sovereignty and subordinating it to the North American military and political leadership, using a similar scenario. The NATO ruling elites’ policy toward the containment of Russia (as well as China) is, at the same time, systemic in nature and conditioned by the desire to maintain their leading economic and geopolitical positions. This systemic strategy took shape prior to the Ukraine crisis and encompassed the severing of economic, cultural, and political ties; the formation of an anti-Russian ideological coalition; and the advancement of NATO infrastructure toward Russia’s borders. One tool for the implementation of US plans has been the military conflicts in which Russia has been directly or indirectly involved in recent years.

It is anticipated that this trend will persist in the near future. Thus, a series of new conflicts directed at not only Russia but also other states that are safeguarding their sovereignty is to be expected. The use of military force has become a pervasive aspect of human existence and, with the aggressiveness and impunity of one party, can lead to periodic escalations of conflict or even the crossing of established red lines. From a historical perspective, this situation is not unprecedented, but it is important to recognize one crucial factor. The current standoff is occurring without the former bipolar strategic balance of power, which greatly heightens the risk of an unpredictable worldwide military conflict.

Based on the aforementioned, it can be posited that future military conflicts will have a growing hybrid nature, with the Western coalition, headed by the US, taking a hypocritical approach to international law. The current geopolitical climate is marked by a significant level of instability. The US leadership’s drive to maintain its dominant global status by any possible means is the primary cause of escalating tensions with other major powers, including Russia, China, India, and various regional actors. The existing differences between them have the potential to worsen and exacerbate further.

An assessment of current global affairs reveals that the US authorities continue to use military conflicts as a primary means of securing their dominance throughout the geopolitical arena. They engage in destabilizing and provocative activities practically all over the world, and although they exert pressure on their opponents in various environments and in various ways, they have one main goal – to subdue them to their full influence.

Conflicts are mainly instigated in economically and strategically significant regions with the aim of penetrating and establishing a foothold there. This often involves the establishment of military bases and the engagement of regimes under their control in different alliances and military-political blocs operating under their auspices. Globalization is often used to justify the supposed necessity and inevitability of the collective dominance of the Western world, its way of life, and its ideology as the sole right and useful one for the future of humanity.

The evolving nature of warfare is chiefly determined by technological advancements and accessibility. Progressing innovations in technology that are implemented and applied in a timely manner by the armed forces will be crucial in enhancing a state’s military capabilities.

Today, conventional state-to-state wars using solely overwhelming military force are becoming obsolete. They are being supplanted by new wars, which will be worldwide in scope and comprise diverse components such as combat, humanitarian, and peacekeeping operations, among others. They are rooted in a distinct form of orchestrated aggression, marked by a blend of warfare, organized criminal behavior, terrorist attacks, and the significant influence of information and communication technologies.

The significance of the preceding period is growing; economic and political tactics to pressure the adversary will be extensively employed. A crucial role will be assigned to informational confrontation with the objective of incapacitating, controlling, or commandeering the adversary’s information and communication systems. Similarly, efforts to sway the mindset of armed forces personnel and the affected nation’s populace will also be pursued.

It is reasonable to assume that the party that gains and maintains dominance in the virtual space will create optimal conditions for achieving its goals in the conflict. Efforts will be made to incite a political crisis in the enemy’s territory through the creation of a situation of managed chaos. This will be accomplished by capitalizing on citizens’ discontent with their authorities, on society’s social stratification, and on the effects of natural and man-made disasters. The primary objective of these actions is to diminish the adversary’s ability to resist in an attempt to decrease their casualties when transitioning to the implementation of military tactics.11

The upcoming hostilities will likely lack a unified front and rely on dynamic strategies. Autonomous combat groups are expected to play a significant role in accomplishing objectives. Armed conflict will occur across all feasible domains, encompassing physical ones such as land, water, air, and space, in addition to virtual ones, including cyberspace and cognitive environments. Under such circumstances, prompt decision making by managers will significantly increase, primarily relying on technological superiority and guaranteed through the extensive implementation of AI.

In conclusion, states aiming to uphold their sovereignty should enhance their military and defense capabilities by prioritizing the following vital factors to effectively withstand military conflict:

· ensure economic independence and self-sufficiency to successfully resist possible sanctions

· develop science-intensive technologies on their own territory, including a production base, in order to quickly provide their armed forces with modern weapons, military equipment, ammunition, and materiel

· actively explore outer space, including for the purpose of improving the quality and sustainability of communications and enhancing intelligence capabilities

· improve information security to both protect data transmission channels and prevent negative adversary impact on the population.

The world has entered a new era of violent confrontation in which the goal is not to destroy the enemy but to subdue it and then use its resources. To that end, the optimal form is currently military conflicts, which make it possible to achieve the necessary results without the threat of nuclear war and with minimal costs and the maximal possibility of preserving the infrastructure of the subjugated party. In light of this, it is expected that a forthcoming surge of conflicts will arise with the aim of maintaining the West’s influential position.


1. A.S. Fadeyev, V.I. Nichipor, “Military Conflicts of Today and and Development Prospects for Their Methods: Direct and Indirect Actions,” Military Thought, Vol. 28, No. 4 (2019), pp. 1-9.

2. V.B. Zarudnitsky, Kharakter i soderzhaniye voyennykh konfliktov v sovremennykh usloviyakh i obozrimoy perspektive [The nature and content of military conflicts in current conditions and the foreseeable future]. Voyennaya Mysl’, # 1, 2021, pp. 34-44.

3. A.V. Serzhantov, A.V. Smolovy, A.V. Dolgopolov, “Transformation of the Concept of War: From Past to Present – Hybrid Warfare Technologies,” Military Thought, Vol. 31, No. 1 (2021), pp. 69-77

4. A.V. Serzhantov, A.V. Smolovy, I.A. Terentyev, “Transformation of the Content of War: Outlining Military Conflicts of the Future,” Military Thought, Vol. 31, No. 4 (2022), pp. 57-68.

5. O strategiyi natsional’noy bezopasnosti Rossiyskoy Federatsiyi. Ukaz Prezidenta Rossiyskoy Federatsiyi ot 02.07.2021 g. № 400. [On the National Security Strategy of the Russian Federation. Decree of the President of the Russian Federation dated 07/02/2021 No. 400] URL: http://www.kremlin.ru/acts/bank/47046 (retrieved on July 26, 2023).

6. Voyennaya sila v mezhdunarodnykh otnosheniyakh: uchebnoye posobiye [Military force in international relations: textbook]. Endorsed by Prof. V.I. Annenkov. Vostok-Zapad, Moscow, 2009, pp. 18-19.

7. Ibid.

8. S.N. Petrunya, Sovremenniye podkhody k sushchnosti voyny i perspektivniy vzglyad na yeyo soderzhaniye [Current approaches to the essence of war and a perspective view of its content]. Transformatsiya voyny i perspektivniye napravleniya razvitiya soderzhaniya voyennykh konfliktov. Sbornik materialov kruglogo stola [Transformation of war and promising directions for the development of the content of military conflicts. Collection of materials from the round table]. VA GSH VS RF, Moscow, 2023, pp. 16-17.

9. A.V. Serzhantov, “Transformation of the Concept of War: From Past to Present,” Military Thought, Vol. 30, No. 1 (2021), pp. 55-68.

10. see [1].

11. see [4].