On July 4, The National Interest published an article by Emma Ashford about how the war in Ukraine demonstrates the persistence of spheres of influence and signals an ongoing shift to a multipolar world.

“A sphere of influence is not a normative concept, nor something a state cedes to another out of courtesy or pity. It is instead a simple fact: the place where one great power is unwilling or unable to commit the necessary resources to force another state to submit. In that regard, Ukraine is itself not a repudiation of the idea of spheres of influence, but rather a clear example of how they work in practice,” Ashford wrote.

“Ukraine is both a clear indicator of the limits of America’s global sphere of influence in the post-Cold War period, and a demonstration of the extent to which Russia is able to defend what it sees as its own regional sphere. The war in Ukraine thus does not mark a continuation of the unipolar moment, but instead, a dividing line between the period when the United States saw the whole world as its sphere of influence, and a new, more multipolar world in which U.S. power is constrained and limited.”

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