Staunton, October 27 – A major obstacle to Russia escaping from its current situation and avoiding the risk of falling ever further behind the rest of the world is that the country’s most senior decision makers suffer from an ever shorter term approach to problems and thus cannot address Russia’s most deep-seated problems, according to Yevgeny Gontmakher.
The Kremlin elite, the Moscow economist and commentator says, appears “uninterested in seriously thinking about the future of their own country” and “in the best case, the time horizon of strategic planning is the electoral cycle (five to six years)” or three-year budgets which are so often changed as to be meaningless (echo.msk.ru/blog/gontmaher/1861730-echo/).
And that is true, Gontmakher continues, despite the government’s proclivity for announcing all kinds of long-term plans, most of which have no real impact on what Moscow does. What such plans do allow for is a self-satisfied approach that Russia can proceed along its own “’special’ path.”
Were the country’s senior leaders willing to think longer term, they would be compelled to consider more fully than they have just what that “’special’ path” will lead to. In Gontmakher’s opinion, they then would quickly discover that Russia doesn’t really have a realistic option of going its own way unless it is ready to fall ever further behind the West.
There simply isn’t any other “human and humanistic alternative to the European way of life.” And that “civilizational train is slowly but truly moving away from us.” What is more, Gontmakher says, “it is going away forever, having left Russia outside the world mainstream” and in the company of places like Venezuela, Zimbabwe, and North Korea.
That is not a prospect anyone who cares about the future of Russia and Russians can view without horror, he says; and as aresult, he and those who share his position have joined together in an expert group, “European Dialogue,” to try to generate discussion about the West and Russia’s course by bringing together people from both sides to think longer term.
If the Kremlin elite won’t think about the longer term, then the expert community has no choice to do so unless they are prepared for a future that none of them want, Gontmakher concludes.