Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Reliance on Export of Raw Materials Will Drive Russia to Periphery of World after the Pandemic, Kuznetsov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 13 – Many hope that when the pandemic ends sometime next year, the peoples and countries of the world will be able to return to normal; but their ability to do so and the relations they will have with others will depend in large measure on the approaches their governments adopted earlier, according to Aleksey Kuznetsov.

            According to the economist who now heads INION, those countries who base their economies on science and innovation will do well while those who continue to believe that they can rely only on the export of raw materials to drive their countries forward will fall further and further behind (svpressa.ru/society/article/284447/).

            And these choices, the academician suggests, will drive not only the economies of the countries which make them but also the relationships they have or will seek with others. Indeed, at present, he says, Moscow is “frantically” looking for new partners given its past economic approach and its current problems with Europe and the United States.

            This trend has been emerging for some time, Kuznetsov continues; but it has been exacerbated by the pandemic which has highlighted the looming exhaustion of resources, the growing importance of digitalization and other high-technology branches, and the way choices about these structure international relationships.

            One should not exaggerate “conflicts among traditional allies” or “successes in playing with former geopolitical competitors,” the Moscow scholar says. “Russia is now in very complicated relations with the West, and Moscow is fanatically seeking new allies.” But it isn’t clear that Turkey or some equivalent could play that role.

            Russians need to recognize that its bad relations with Europe and the US did not begin yesterday. This situation really extends back to at least 2008-2009. And consequently, it isn’t going to be reversed quickly or easily, Kuznetsov argues, especially since Moscow is counting on tactical foreign policy successes rather than investing in modernization.

            But that isn’t going to be enough when the pandemic ends. Indeed, Russia is in a worse position because its economic concerns have prevented Moscow from taking the kind of radical defensive measures that would have ended the pandemic more quickly. This may not mean “a catastrophe” in the near term; but it points to one in the coming years.

            And as Russia falls behind in the technological world, it will increasingly drift toward “the periphery of the international economy,” one in which any skills its leaders have will not be able to overcome the fact that ever more countries really won’t care what Russia thinks or does, Kuznetsov says.


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