Is Russia Becoming Irrelevant?
Ian Bremmer and Nouriel Roubini call for removing Russia from the category of emerging-market economies:
Mitt Romney, the Republican party’s likely presidential nominee, recently referred to Russia as America’s “number one geopolitical foe”. That’s absurd, not because Russia isn’t increasingly antagonistic to US interests, but because it is becoming increasingly less relevant – as a political power or as an attractive emerging market. Russia’s fellow Bric nations may have no interest in dismissing Moscow from their club but the rest of us can (and should) stop speaking of Russia as if it belongs in this company.
Adomanis challenges the authors on their facts concerning Russian economic and demographic growth, among other things. The most important mistake Bremmer and Roubini make is their contention that Russia is becoming less relevant as a market. Russia has just joined the WTO after eighteen years of seeking membership. It is on track to become more economically integrated with the rest of the world than it has ever been in the post-Soviet era. Russia was the largest economy in the world that remained outside the WTO until now, and membership in the organization ought to lead to increased foreign investment. How has the Russian market become “less relevant” than it was in the last decade? The opposite would seem to be the case. It also doesn’t make much sense to declare that Russia is increasingly politically irrelevant in the same op-ed that begins with a complaint about Russian intransigence over Syria at the U.N.
The BRIC “club” was always something of an arbitrary grouping, so I suppose there’s nothing to stop Westerners from arbitrarily excluding Russia from it. What is a bit more puzzling about Bremmer and Roubini’s op-ed is that they aren’t calling on Western governments or investors to do very much differently from what they have been doing. They don’t think Russian membership in Western organizations has yielded positive results, but they aren’t even saying that Russia should be kicked out of the G-8. The authors want Western governments to talk to Russians who want “a democratic Russia with an innovative, modern economy driven by private sector ingenuity,” so they are arguing for deeper engagement with Russian civil society, such as it is. That’s fine as far as it goes, but what do the authors expect this to accomplish?