Terra incognita

Foresight series: The long-term implications of the war in Ukraine

Policy Brief


What are the implications of the war in Ukraine for the different dimensions of international affairs?

The impact of the war is both of urgent relevance and of long-term consequences. Tensions among great powers have risen, geopolitical tectonic plates are shifting, the international energy order is being upended, food supply chains have been disrupted, the global economy is facing severe headwinds, fragile countries and regions are being exposed to multiple shocks, and multilateral governance is faltering, as normative disconnects come to the fore.

In this policy brief, Giovanni Grevi argues that the war in Ukraine affects the future in different ways. For one, it has accelerated patterns of change that predated it, including great power competition, middle power activism, and the crisis of multilateralism. For another, Russia’s aggression has introduced major discontinuities, such as triggering a global energy crisis, fracturing the European security order, and sparking nuclear threats by Russia. In addition, the war has diverted the focus from critical challenges, such as sustainable development and climate change, while aggravating these challenges both directly and indirectly.

This policy brief outlines some of the factors that might drive change alongside the ongoing war – factors such as the evolution of the rivalry between the US and China and of the partnership between China and Russia. It also outlines some of the risks facing the global economy, as well as the prospects for the clean energy transition and its strategic implications, and the rising costs of failure to address shared challenges through cooperation.

What lies ahead is terra incognita – a strategic landscape that eludes comparisons with earlier historical phases. While geopolitical competition is nothing new, even if it subsided for a couple of decades, the risks it poses are increased by the fact that it is surging at a time of power transitions and unprecedented economic, technological, and ecological interdependence. However, by tackling geopolitical challenges and managing multi-dimensional competition, while seeking to advance a rules-based international order, leadership can make a decisive difference in determining distinct pathways to the future.

Fondation Jean-Jaurès
Karl Renner Institut
Olof Palmes Internationella Center
Related publications

War in Ukraine, refugees, inclusion and human mobility

The challenges for a progressive EU policy

The EU asylum system and the Ukrainian humanitarian crisis

This Policy Brief summarises the main findings of an international roundtable to discuss the future […]

The Russia-Ukraine war: An inflection point for sustainable energy transitions

Russia’s war on Ukraine has led to a reorientation of EU energy policy towards phasing […]

Partnerships and European strategic autonomy

European Strategic Autonomy series - Security & Defense

Builders of Progress: The war in Ukraine through the eyes of youth

This is the first publication of the research project Builders for Progress
Find all related publications

SDGs for all: Strategic scenarios

Earth4All system dynamics modelling of SDG progress

Lula’s new government

Prospects for Brazilian foreign policy and relations with the EU

The Sahel region: A litmus test for EU-Africa relations in a changing global order

'12 years of crises in the Sahel' series

Europe and the war in Ukraine

From Russian aggression to a new Eastern policy
Find all related events

Walking the talk

Feminist Foreign Policy in action
Geneva, Switzerland (Expert meeting)

For a New Global Deal

The current global order is under a larger-scale transformation: existential challenges emerging for all humankind, […]

The Sahel region

The EU and a changing global order
Find all related news

FEPS President at the SDG Summit and United Nations General Assembly in New York

FEPS President Maria João Rodrigues is in New York this week on the occasion of […]

Call for tender – Research and analysis for the project “Progressive paths to rebuild Ukraine”

Basic Information Project Research “In search of a ‘lost generation’. Harnessing youth potential for post-war […]

President Lula da Silva meets with FEPS and Plataforma CIPÓ

The Brazilian President was present in Brussels in the context of the EU-CELAC Summit

Grzegorz Pietruczuk is FEPS Progressive Person of the Year

FEPS Progressive Person of the Year 2023
Find all related in the media
In the media

‘SDG funding gap swells to $137trn’ New Policy Study from FEPS, together with Earth4All, to deliver a five-point plan for the SDGs.

by Edie 19/09/2023
The “SDGs for All” report emphasises that policymakers have the potential to significantly advance SDG implementation by the original 2030 deadline and beyond by enacting five “extraordinary turnarounds” that break away from current trends.

Un nuevo informe de prospectiva identifica las medidas políticas urgentes necesarias para volver a encarrilar los ODS

by Cope 14/09/2023
'New foresight report identifies urgent policy measures needed to get the SDGs back on track' Cope's article on the policy study 'SDGs for all: Strategic scenarios', published in collaboration with Earth4All

Ukrainian economy and society: whither the (postwar) country?

by Commons 16/06/2023
In Commons' article, Yuliya Yurchenko, co-author of FEPS’ book 'Europe and the war in Ukraine', outlines the consequences of the Russian invasion of Ukraine for the Ukrainian population and the plans needed for Ukraine's recovery.

Rebuilding Ukraine will require radical economic change

by openDemocracy 16/06/2023
In OpenDemocracy's article, Yuliya Yurchenko, co-author of FEPS’ book 'Europe and the war in Ukraine', outlines the consequences of the Russian invasion of Ukraine for the Ukrainian population and the plans needed for Ukraine's recovery.