The 2024 scenarios for the global security order will be shaped by a significant number of variables driven both by domestic developments in the key actors and their foreign policy choices.

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The 2024 scenarios for the global security order will be shaped by a significant number of variables driven both by domestic developments in the key actors and their foreign policy choices.






The 2024 scenarios for the global security order will be shaped by a significant number of variables driven both by domestic developments in the key actors and their foreign policy choices. Considering the increase of volatility of the international system at the end of 2023 and the appearance of the new hot spots of instability, the combination of variables and their weight during 2024 can differ and change accordingly. While the big security actors will still play the main role in formulating and shaping the security agenda, the role of the smaller ignitions should not be overlooked or undermined.

The main variables to which special attention should be paid in 2024 are:

Chinese willingness for global involvement. For 2022-2023, there has been an impression that China hesitated to be more involved in the security domain, partially due to their position regarding the Russian-Ukrainian war and the Red Sea destabilisation. Nevertheless, China continued to develop their global and regional initiatives, such as The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Global Security Initiative (GSI), cooperation with Latin American and African states and did not fully de-escalate tensions with the US. So, for 2024, we can expect that these spheres will remain among the Chinese priorities, however, it may refocus and reshape its involvement towards more tailored and regional involvement.

Chinese policies will remain competitive and even provocative against the United States, especially in the question of Taiwan. China will most probably promote its security initiatives and be involved in a closed-door consultation on minimising risks and decreasing tensions in countries and regions where they have economic interests.

Chinese choices regarding Russia will also influence the developments, as the time of balancing between the political willingness to support Russia vs the USA and the necessity to care about the economic consequences of such cooperation (due to the possible EU and US sanctions) is finishing, that will make Beijing search for the new configurations.

The US elections. Within this variable, both the process of the elections and the possible outcome are important. The active, conflicting campaign may not only prevent the US from greater involvement in global affairs but also undermine its image as a reliable partner and a model of democracy. This may also cause some politicians to be willing to manipulate international support and the US involvement in different conflicts, depending on how it satisfies the political needs and rating of the candidate rather than the national interests of the state. The results of the elections will mean either continuation of the existing course (Biden), a rapid turnover with unpredictable configurations (Trump), or a change of policy with a strong position over Russia and China but less involvement as a global policeman (Haley). Two months of turbulences after the November 2024 elections are the time to be considered for security uncertainty.

The outcome of European elections. The preliminary polls demonstrate a greater interest in the European elections compared to previous electoral cycles, so the ability to get their votes on a voting day can impact the final results and configuration of European politics for the next several years. The main question on the table is a possibility of maintaining a pro-European coalition in the next term of the European Parliament. With the recent rise in support for far-right and populist political forces, there are high chances for them to get higher support and thus bring a more Euro-sceptic approach to the European institutions. Hungary’s Presidency in the EU in the second half of 2024 is also part of this issue as it coincides with the time of the European Commission leadership appointment and can provide Hungary’s Prime Minister Orban with additional leverage and power.

The process and the results of both the US and European elections will impact Transatlantic unity. Isolationism from the one side and the rise of nationalism on the other, including greater attention to the idea of European Autonomy with less attention to NATO, can influence the stability of the current European security architecture, as well as the will and capacity to implement a sanctions regime against Russia. This will affect not only Russia’s position in the global system and its ability to conduct active warfare but also the willingness of other states to act in a more disruptive way.

Domestic situation in Russia. Suppose the Presidential election results in March 2024 are mostly predictable, there are other public and covert factors that may impact the Russian policy and capabilities to continue the war against Ukraine and intervene in other conflicts. Economic and, first of all, financial stability will be one of the main factors, together with the internal rivalry among the security agencies and individuals from Putin’s inner circle. Even if mass opposition or protests are not expected, the ethnic protests in the periphery regions or those of the marginalised groups due to the unresolved social issues in parallel with the significant military spending – can have a destabilising effect, undermining the Russian leadership image. Competition between influence groups, as well as the growing information bubble around the Russian President, will continue in the future.

This, among others, will also influence the capacity of the Kremlin to intervene in the domestic affairs of the third states, including the African and Latin American states, to promote its agenda and hybrid warfare in the so-called Global South. Given that elections will be held in many African states next year, Russia can be expected to advance in this direction.




The following developments will shape this scenario:

  1. Crises and threats of 2023, including the Gaza war, the Red Sea crisis due to the Houthi provocations, and Russian-North Korean rapprochement, will slow down. The Arab-Israel or Iran-Israel full-fledged war will not start, but the negotiations on the future of Palestine will be initiated.
  2. Russia’s ability to intervene in third countries, especially in Latin America and Africa, will be decreased due to the economic situation and concentration on the domestic disturbances.
  3. The US elections will concentrate on the domestic agenda without manipulating the issues of the economic and military support for Ukraine. In this scenario, the final competition should occur between N. Haley and J. Biden. This will also mean continuing the current US approach of being a security provider for other regions.
  4. This scenario may also envisage the greater involvement of China in global affairs, which within the Global Security Initiative promotes the idea that a nuclear war cannot be won and should not be initiated. This may lead to Beijing’s non-public initiatives to decrease North Korean and Russian nuclear ambitions and rhetoric.
  5. The absence of new crises in Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East will allow the regional powers to continue paying greater attention to sustainable development and economy, thus establishing a basis for a resilient and de-conflicting political environment.
  6. The win of the pro-European political parties will allow the quick formation of the European Commission leadership and a continuation of the current strong support of Ukraine. This will also mean continuing the defence cooperation within the EU and a persuading policy of global involvement.
  7. Such a scenario, first of all, assumes the decrease of conflict potential in other parts of the world, which will allow the focus to be back on Ukraine.



Within this scenario, the current security crises in different regions will have different dynamics and levels of probability to move to the next stage. In this case, a greater involvement of the main security actors in one crisis may not mean the destabilisation of the whole security system or an immediate effect on Ukraine.

The following developments will shape this scenario:

  1. North Korea may continue provocations but without increased support from Russia. Russia will also not receive stable support from Pyongyang due to the necessity of the latter to preserve the balance of capabilities with the Republic of Korea.
  2. Gaza war active phase will finish, but the negotiations will be un-easy, and the high alert state will continue. Depending on the progress of negotiations, the attention of the Middle East countries and the main security actors may be divided between European affairs and the Middle East.
  3. China will continue the covert support of the Russian Federation but will not allow Moscow to prevail or take serious advantage. Regarding other regions, China’s economy will turn politics with greater involvement in Latin American and African affairs, where they feel a vacuum. This may lead to the gradually expanded confrontation between China and the United States, flowing beyond the purely ideological differences. The confrontation along the line of economic influence is transfused into the political sphere. While trend-setting for global affairs, for Ukraine, it will not have a significant impact in the security sphere, however, it can decrease Russia-China cooperation due to the change of priorities.
  4. Within this scenario, one can expect smooth and not scandalous European Parliament elections that will allow the new European Commission to launch quickly, avoiding a scenario of Viktor Orban’s presidency over the European Council. Still, a higher rate of populist parties and far-right politicians may be present in a new parliament’s composition.
  5. The turbulent US elections will not allow a positive shift in US policies. Even if Ukraine and its military support do not become a hostage of the election confrontation, the attention of the key players in US politics will be diffused, and for several months, Ukraine will disappear from the US agenda.

The increased number of security challenges and new crisis zones are usually considered the most negative scenario. Such developments can have an impact on Ukraine as well, as will take away a significant number of the attention and resources. However, the worst-case scenario for Ukraine is an isolationist ideology and disengagement of the main security actors and ad-hoc mediators.

The following developments will shape this scenario:

  1. China will increase the level of provocations in the South-China Sea as well as against Taiwan, thus prioritising its interests in the immediate neighbourhood and neglecting other regions. It will also mean the concentration of the Asian states on countering China’s threats and partial disengagement from the global challenges, many of which have been provoked by Russian aggression.
  2. The US electoral campaign to be hot and scandalous. Support for Ukraine would be a hostage of the domestic rivalry when Donald Trump increases rhetoric on the peace negotiations with Russia, hence decreasing military support for Ukraine. This can also negatively influence the developments in the Middle East and allow greater Russian hybrid involvement in the US and many countries of the Global South.
  3. Populist and far-right political parties may get a significant increase in seats in the newly elected European Parliament, leading to a less coherent position towards support of Ukraine. This can also lead to the disengagement of the EU as a security actor beyond the European continent.
  4. Russia will increase appeasement rhetoric, promoting the idea of peace negotiations with Ukraine and undermining the necessity to provide Ukraine with military support. This will allow the European and US politicians to insist on shortening support of Ukraine, pushing it to the disadvantageous negotiations, and stepping back from the idea that their countries have already been considered a party to the conflict.
  5. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and maybe UAE will concentrate on the regional confrontations and mediation, siding with Russia on energy issues and losing interest in the Peace Formula or cooperation with the US and EU. Turkey can also side with them.

The views expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung or of the organization for which the author works.