Analysis & Opinions - Project Syndicate

How to Deal with a Declining Russia

| Nov. 05, 2019

The Kremlin is on a roll. Under President Vladimir Putin, Russia has replaced the United States in Syria, continues to intervene in Eastern Ukraine, and recently hosted an African summit in Sochi. Appearances, however, can be deceptive. True, Russia retains a vast nuclear arsenal, equal in size to that of the US, and it used force effectively against Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014; provided military assistance to save Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria; and has used cyber means to disrupt US and other elections. But Russia can only be an international spoiler. Behind the adventurism, it is a country in decline.

In 1959, the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev famously boasted that the Soviet Union would overtake the US by 1970 or 1980. Instead, in 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed, leaving a significantly shrunken Russia, with three-quarters of the USSR's territory, half its population, half its economy, and one-third of its military personnel. Its GDP is only $1.7 trillion, compared to $21 trillion for the US. In 1989, the Soviet economy was twice the size of China's; today, Russia's GDP is one-seventh that of China. Moreover, Russia is heavily dependent on energy exports....

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Nye, Joseph S. Jr.“How to Deal with a Declining Russia.” Project Syndicate, November 5, 2019.