Foreign PolicyForeign Policy

The battle for Eurasia

By Hal Brands

04 Jun 2023 · 13 min read

informed Summary

  1. The war in Ukraine is accelerating the rise of a bloc of autocracies in Eurasia, composed primarily of Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea. This 'Fortress Eurasia' is unified by geographical proximity and shared geopolitical hostility towards the West.

The war in Ukraine may have many positive outcomes: A Russia bled white by its own aggression, a United States that has rediscovered the centrality of its power and leadership, a democratic community that has been unified and energized for the dangerous years ahead. There will also be one very ominous outcome: the rise of a coalition of Eurasian autocracies linked by geographic proximity to one another and geopolitical hostility to the West. As Russian President Vladimir Putin’s folly rallies the advanced democracies, it hastens the construction of a Fortress Eurasia, manned by the free world’s enemies.

Revisionist autocracies—China, Russia, Iran, and, to a lesser degree, North Korea—aren’t simply pushing for power in their respective regions. They are forming interlocking strategic partnerships across the world’s largest landmass, and they are fostering trade and transportation networks beyond the reach of the U.S. dollar and the U.S. Navy. This isn’t, yet, a full-blown alliance of autocracies. It is, however, a bloc of adversaries more cohesive and dangerous than anything the United States has faced in decades.

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