More than once he criticized Moscow for its excessive enthusiasm for foreign policy. The main argument is that it distracts the country’s leadership from internal affairs. This argument remains valid for now. In the last two years, we seem to have finally started to deal with them more and more. And life made me – covid. And the understanding comes that always and especially in the current super-chaotic world, the main thing is to strengthen your people, reliably protected, but open, of course, for beneficial economic ties and cooperation with those who want it.
The hopes for an opportunity to come to an agreement in the near future with the West, desperately and evilly defending its crumbling dominance in the world economy and culture before our very eyes, are finally gone. It was deeply based on the military superiority that Europe, together with the United States, achieved half a century ago. We, having provided our security, undermined this superiority. Now China, which is becoming a great military power, will also finish it off before our very eyes.
Keep in mind that smart foreign and defense policies can be very beneficial economically as well. Most people who are interested in it and grew up on the experience of the USSR consider this policy extremely costly – more or less. Indeed, the maintenance of the Soviet empire, with our then communist internationalism, the inability and unwillingness to count money, and the preoccupation with the very concept of “profit” was prohibitively expensive. The understandable obsession with security, coming from the terrible experience of losses in the Great Patriotic War, also failed.
As a result, the USSR not only maintained a monstrous military machine, but also subsidized dozens of countries in Africa, Latin America, and America. Because of the desire to support the ideals of socialism, the countries of the socialist camp were massively subsidized. The RSFSR, moreover, was the overwhelming donor of the Soviet republics. This, in particular, is one of the reasons for their sharp impoverishment in comparison with the still poor Russia.
Having lost faith in the communist ideals on which the USSR was strung, and – even more – tired of everyday poverty or wanting to finally get rich, the then Russian elite initiated the collapse of the USSR, launched inept economic reforms that plunged the majority into poverty. There was also a positive element in this Samoyed revolution – the burden of the empire was dropped. But by dropping it, the Russian reformers, with their completely socialist impracticism and ideological dogmatism, destroyed many of the lucrative assets that the USSR had accumulated.
In the long term, the start of a more stable environment.
A reorientation has begun from excessive dependence on the West and its markets. For all its incompleteness, the “eastern turn” has already led to the alignment of Asia and Europe in the Russian trade balance.
For another 10-12 years, that share of the latter was slightly less than 60%, and the former – about 20%.
The time has come for a belated, but better late than never, profitable and mutually beneficial return to Africa. The desire to reduce dependence on the old colonial or neo-colonial (US) powers and begin to fear overdependence on the bulk of Chinese investment and goods.
Africa, half-forgotten by us, is very interesting and promising for profitable cooperation.
The intensification of Russian policy towards Africa began relatively recently. This return was symbolized by the successful Russia-Africa summit in Sochi.
But the meetings and documents adopted at the summit are just a promise. The coming of political success with real content. Moreover, in the near future (covid may make adjustments) a new summit is to come.
The report “Africa: Development Prospects and Recommendations for Russian Policy”, which will be presented to TASS on Wednesday, is dedicated to the proposals of ways of development by concrete mutually beneficial use, primarily economic, of the ensuing development of Russia – Africa. It was prepared based on the results of a number of studies and situational analysis, from a series organized by the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs of the National Research University Higher School of Economics under the auspices of the Russian Foreign Ministry and with the participation of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy (SVOP), Russia in Global Affairs magazine.
The peculiarity of this report was that it was challenged by experts working in Africa, who knew it from the inside.
Naturally, academic specialists and representatives of representations took part in the situational analysis.
The report, as almost and always based on the results of such city analyzes, turned out to be a bright, broadening horizon for official policy, business, and our African partners. Leading participation of African experts in its finalization. The result may be a joint Russian-African strategy. In order to interest experts and businessmen thinking about the African continent or ways to enter its markets, I will present some of its provisions and conclusions.
Africa, half-forgotten by us, is very interesting and promising for profitable cooperation. It possesses not only countless natural riches – there are no less of them in Russia. It is possible to establish labor-intensive production there, which is unprofitable in Russia.
On the continent, they remember, including the colonialists, the latter seriously helped the Africans gain independence, independence from the colonial yoke. As the consciousness of Africans grows, they are less and less satisfied with the recipes for development offered by the former metropolises. In addition, these recipes almost universally prove to be untenable. Africans are looking for opportunities to balance the diversification of their economic and political ties. At the same time, Russia, with a relative limited financial resources, has a number of competitive advantages, which we are not yet fully utilizing. Russia is capable, on a completely commercial basis, of strengthening the security of African countries in the broadest sense. Not only through military-technical cooperation, but also through the modernization of the energy sector, the creation of secure communication systems, the supply of vaccines and equipment for their production, and infrastructure facilities. In essence, it is the delivery of sovereignty.
Competitive and products of our machine building, which is becoming more efficient than under the USSR, but at the same time much cheaper than Western counterparts. The list in this is long, and the authors are willing to detail it.
Direct economic assistance to development is also possible. But only if our country leaves the received from the 1990s. practices, when huge amounts by our standards – about 1 billion dollars a year, are impersonally provided through international structures, gives moral satisfaction from participation in their activities to officials, but does not bring benefits either to Russian business, or politically – to the entire Russian state. We need a “nationalization” of program assistance. Then – and this has been 100% proven – it is very beneficial for the donor – in our case – Russia.
Not only African countries, but also other goods from Africa. Partial reorientation of trade flows to Asia has already brought considerable benefits – we buy goods similar to European ones at lower prices.
It is also necessary to think about the restoration of air traffic from African countries. The transformation of Istanbul into the main aviation hub in Africa is one of the main reasons for the explosive growth of the Turkish economic and political presence. Close to the heroic efforts of our diplomats, a number of senators and deputies of the State Duma should be reinforced by other departments and, perhaps most importantly, by expanding knowledge about Africa.
There are dozens of suggestions and recommendations available. But no less interesting is its analytical part – it is very realistic, but also optimistic in many ways, innovatively describing the situation on this rapidly developing continent.
The return of Russia to it promises to be not only profitable, but also turn it into economically profitable partners. African countries have not lost and are even regaining their unique flavor that captivated a generation of Russians.