print
memri
February 26, 2018 No.
7354

Columnist Martynov: Russia Plays The Superpower, But With Its Puny GDP It Cannot Afford A War With The West

In his column for Novaya Gazeta, titled "Deadline For Doves," the philosopher and political theorist Kirill Martynov, who also serves as Novaya Gazeta's political editor, shared his conclusion that Russia is starting to realize that it is unprepared for a conflict with the "entire world". Martynov explained that even though Russia plays the role of superpower, its share of the global economy amounts to only 3.5% and continues to decline. "Our GDP is already only half that of California, to say nothing of the entire U.S. or China. In but a few years, our economy’s share in the world may shrink to the historical minimum of 2.5%. Never has such a big country as Russia produced so little — throughout all of contemporary history," wrote Martynov.

Given Russia's limitations, Moscow is now ready to tone down its rhetoric and to negotiate in foreign policy matters. However, according to Martynov, this change of attitude happened too late, since the West already abandoned the "wait-and-see policy" towards Moscow. "Current attempts by the Kremlin to cozy up to Western governments encounter a growing resolve in Washington to finally 'deal with those Russians'," argued Martynov.

Below are excerpts from Martynov's article:[1]


Kirill Martynov (Source: Journal.ru)

 

'The Realization Of The Fact That Russia Is Unprepared For A Conflict With The Entire World Has Come Too late

"When talking about the so-called geopolitics, it's worth keeping one figure in mind: Russia’s share in the world economy is 3.5% now and continues to decline. Our GDP is already only half that of California, to say nothing of the entire U.S. or China. In but a few years, our economy’s share in the world may shrink to the historical minimum of 2.5%. %. Never has such a big country as Russia produced so little — throughout all of contemporary history.

"Accordingly, every news item about Russian air force operations in various parts of the world raises the question: how much does it cost relative to our income levels? Which part of our dwindling resources is Russia spending on this military operation?

"The U.S. also constantly gets involved in conflicts in different parts of the world, but this is consistent with the growth of the American economy and the high living standard of its citizens. Aggressively growing China, whose economy is gradually reaching the world's top positions, demonstrably refuses to conduct military operations beyond its borders. It is possible to be a real superpower and not hurry to introduce your forces to resolve Middle Eastern or African conflicts, even though you invest heavily in these regions.

"A significant part of Russia's current elite sees the problem perfectly. If one sets aside ideology, it becomes clear: our resources are running low. Russia today is a stagnating regional economy, which claims the status of a superpower due to its nuclear potential, bequeathed by the USSR, and its readiness to get involved in escapades beyond its borders.

"On the eve of the elections, Russian attempts to slip out its conflict with the entire world, begun in 2014 [with Crimea], appear quite obvious. The authorities have announced the termination of the military operation in Syria a few months ago, so if the Americans bombed somebody there, it was officially not us.

"Simultaneously, the entry of international peace-keepers to eastern Ukraine – Kazakhs, Swedes, even Argentinians – is being seriously discussed. For almost four years, the Russian authorities did not consider this a possible scenario, because the peace-keepers would close the borders and de facto abolish the [separatist] 'DNR/LNR' regimes, which depend on the Russian 'humanitarian supplies'. Suddenly, over the past weeks, our negotiators have made one grand gesture after another. Everybody understands that the reintegration of the 'people’s republics' into Ukraine will help dismantle the sanctions regime.

"Even the rhetoric is changing: Dmitry Peskov, for example, is markedly polite when speaking about the American officials who investigate Russia’s involvement in the U.S. presidential election. But the realization that Russia is unprepared for a conflict with the entire world has come too late.

"Since 2014, the Western countries headed by the U.S. adopted a wait-and-see policy towards Moscow. And any rational analysis showed that war would go against the national interests of our country. Politicians in the West waited for three and a half years for Russia to understand it too.

"A criminal investigation opened in the U.S. against Russian citizens suspected of attempts to manipulate the American electoral system, demonstrates that the West no longer awaits good news from Russia. At the moment when the futility of further conflict escalation becomes evident even to our hawks, the patience of our 'partners' ends conversely. Current attempts by the Kremlin to cozy up to Western governments encounter a growing resolve in Washington to finally 'deal with those Russians'"

 


[1] Novayagazeta.ru, February 19, 2018.