Lately, the world has experienced a déjà vu of the cold war during the Ukraine Crisis. Fortunately, it did not turn out to be a proxy war of the superpowers. One of the reasons for that was the alteration in the magnitude of Russian power. Russian Federation is no longer a superpower like its predecessor, thus, poses a lesser peril to its counterparts.
Russia, in its post-Soviet avatar, has emerged as one of the expeditiously growing economies. And, the major factor behind this rapid growth, is its oil wealth. Currently, Russia is one of the largest producers of oil in the world. It has attracted massive investment and economic ties with several European states, in this sector. Moreover, Russian businesses and oligarchs have grown deep roots into Europe’s financial, media, sports, construction and real estate sectors.
Despite of the close business ties with European powers, Russia preferred turning its face towards an idea of BRICS, a term coined by Goldman Sachs’ Jim O’Neill to describe the key fast developing economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China, later joined by South Africa as well. Besides, the converging policy of non-interference and belief of a multipolar world, BRICS holds Russian interest as it might provide an alternative institution to that of western ones for Russia.
Russia’s gradual re-emergence to the mainstream politics with its old –strong stance such as in the case of Syria and Ukraine, somehow points out to its plan to climb the ladder of superpower rapidly. Even, in the case of Crimean annexation, it has been claimed by the western powers that it is Russia’s plan to consummate its dream of Eurasia, through the acquisition of Crimea.
And, as the western powers used the containment policy, now they are endeavouring to use the weapon of sanction to nip the bud of the Eurasian dream. There have been a number of sanctions proposed and implemented on Russia and Ukraine, and their respective officials. Although these sanctions could not be implemented in the absolute terms due to the economic interdependence of Russia and the European Union.
Russia has not lost its touch in the mainstream power politics, both factors of oil wealth and BRICS association have paid off well. The BRICS states backed Russia’s stance in the Crimean issue and the economic ties with the European Union, made the implementation of sanction quite knotty. But, it does not suggest that Russia has reached the optimal goal, nor will that be the case, at least in the near future, with the aid of these two factors.
Russia is driven by corruption that permeates every aspect of its civil and public life. There is an increasing internal strife in the state, which is making its claim to be a superpower, in the near future, quite hollow. And, this could be seen in the case of protest by the people of Russia against the Sochi Winter Olympics. Similarly, the other co-members of BRICS are entangled in their own developmental and internal issues, thus, could not able to prioritize BRICS at a larger level.
Further, what seems like a blessing now will turn out to be a curse soon, i.e. the dependence of the Russian economy on oil exports. For that, two factors need to be taken into account, firstly, they are not the only oil exporters. Secondly, oil reserves won’t last long, to sustain the emerging power status for years to come.
It would not be incorrect to say that Russia has changed its role in the world politics. It has travelled a long journey from being a superpower to a devastated state and then re-emerging as a potential power. Russia has immensely affected the world system, by establishing a bipolar world and later, through its attempts to move it towards the multi-polarity. Now, It would be interesting to see how the world system will carve out Russia’s future.
About the Author
Loveleena Sharma has completed her graduation in Political Science from Delhi College of Arts and Commerce. And, with her ardent interest in International Relations, is now pursuing her Masters in International Relations from the South Asian University. She is interested in subjects like Foreign Policy, Conflict Transformation and Peace Building, South Asian studies, etc. She has earlier interned at DLSA (Delhi Legal State Authority). She has also volunteered at Amaani, for the education of the underprivileged children. She has an inclination towards theatre, and has performed in various competitions during her graduation. She is currently pursuing her internship with Alexis Centre for Public Policy and International Relations.