Russia's inability to conquer Ukraine is proof of terminal decline, George Friedman claims

Geopolitical expert also predicts China's influence will wane over next 50 years

Ukrainian soldiers surrounded by debris from a Russian tank after fighting in Trostsyanets, 400km east of the capital Kyiv. AP
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The war in Ukraine is proof that Russia is a diminishing global power, said a leading geopolitical forecaster speaking at the World Government Summit in Dubai.

Russia’s inability to be able to conquer Ukraine and take the city of Kyiv showed it was not the force of old, said George Friedman.

The conflict has also seen a resurgence in the global influence of the US, whose sanctions against Russia have shown it can successfully wage war without firing a bullet.

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We’ve discovered Russia is no longer a great power
George Friedman

He also predicted China’s influence would wane over the next 50 years, as its economy was beginning to show signs of trouble.

“We’ve discovered Russia is no longer a great power and its economy is waning,” said Mr Friedman.

“Its military has shown itself to be incapable of adequate planning for the execution of war with a country as weak as Ukraine.

“We also know they couldn’t survive the sanctions imposed on them without stumbling.”

He was speaking during a presentation at the World Government Summit entitled 'The World in 2050: Characteristics of New Rising Powers'.

He predicted that Poland, Japan and Turkey would be among the fastest rising global powers.

George Friedman, founder of Geopolitical Futures, speaks at the World Government Summit. Pawan Singh / The National

Russia’s reputation had already been damaged by events of 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed, he said.

Mr Friedman also predicted the next 50 years would continue to see Russia struggling on the geopolitical stage, as the sanctions invoked over the invasion of Ukraine had highlighted how weak the rouble was compared to the dollar.

On the other hand, the US was emerging with its reputation restored over the conflict, he said.

“There has been a re-emergence of American power, not from a military viewpoint but an economic one,” he said.

“The power of the dollar was there for all to see when it was denied to the Russians.

“It crushed Russia’s ability to wage war because wars are expensive.”

He said the US had shown itself to be a global leader as it was very much at the head of a coalition to reduce the capabilities of Russia.

“The US discovered it could wage war without shooting,” said Mr Friedman.

“This was the discovery of a new kind of power, the capacity had always been there but we just didn’t know [how effective it would be].”

He predicted the next 50 years would see a reduction in China’s global influence, because it was about to experience an economic decline similar to that of the US in the 1930s and Japan in the early 1990s, he said.

China was already showing signs of mirroring the economic meltdowns of those economies, which had decades of huge prosperity before collapsing, Mr Friedman said.

“When the US emerged as a global economic power in 1890, it did so by selling low-cost products to the world,” he said.

“It collapsed after about 40 years, just like Japan did in 1991.

“The Chinese economy is 35 per cent made up of real estate and we are seeing Chinese companies starting to default on their debts.”

He said people would laugh at the thought of the Chinese economy crumbling but that was exactly the reaction before it happened to US and Japanese markets of the past.

Updated: March 29, 2022, 12:26 PM