Putin prepares to revive Russian economy

Source:Global Times Published: 2018/5/7 22:43:39

Vladimir Putin was sworn in for a fourth term as Russian president on Monday, seen as a challenging mission by many. Putin faces tough tasks reviving the Russian economy and cultivating a new generation of Russian leadership that will succeed him after six years.

Putin has profoundly influenced Russia in the nearly 20 years since he was first elected president in 2000. Russia dreamed of becoming great again and has undergone several diplomatic crises. The country is currently in high-strung relations with the West and its economy is deeply affected by global oil prices. This highlights the hardships a major power must endure to master its destiny.

With vast territory and abundant resources, Russia has a strong capacity to be self-sustaining. But history suggests that a friendly international environment carries the same weight for the country's development. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has inherited the bloc's nuclear arsenal and influences, but also its strategic burdens. The Soviet Union's collapse didn't exert a positive effect on Moscow's international environment.

The past two decades can be defined as the aftermath, rather than the reconstruction period, of that disintegration. Russia's key mission during this period was not to be squeezed or disintegrate any further. Under such difficult conditions, Putin has maintained high popularity. Perhaps Russian society has reached a common understanding on the situation Russia is facing and of Putin's leadership against persistent Western pressure.

An improvement in the Russia-West relationship is hard to realize. The fundamental reason is that the West doesn't accept Russia's status as a geopolitical power. It expects the country to be a larger-sized Canada, offering raw materials to the world and meanwhile compliant with the West's demands. Apparently this is not what Russia expects. How to interact with the West and set a new boundary for their spheres of influence are the biggest challenges for Russia.

Chinese should learn from Russian experiences. For instance, transition is an arduous process. Blindly pleasing the West won't bring any benefits. Gaining more leverage may help improve ties with Western countries.

Among non-Western powers, Russia is the closest to mainstream European and US culture. But after the Soviet Union's fall, Russia has gone through much suffering to integrate with the West. Eastern European countries and former Soviet republics were instead embraced by Western countries.

Russia is destined to be a special power and it may be seeking its own unique path of development. Given its solid industrial base, enormous room for infrastructure construction and galaxy of human talent, Russia should find reviving the economy no tough task. Economic growth will have an impact on Russia's societal and even demographic structure. An economic take-off will be followed by societal reform, for which Moscow should prepare.

Western sanctions are a major challenge for Russia. But an economic upturn is still possible despite sanctions. Russia's opening-up does not depend on the West. The more diverse Russia's opening-up, the more weapons the country will have to counter sanctions.

China and Russia will continue to be close friends during Putin's new term in office. Their economic cooperation should be further strengthened. China has an enormous market and a China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination is developing at a high level.  It's realistic to view Sino-Russian trade as an engine for the Russian economy and exploiting this advantage to the full will bring mutual benefits.

Posted in: EDITORIAL

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