11:46 Nov. 1, 2016
Russia's imaginary mightiness contradicts to its quite actual economic weakness
The Russian president describes his opponents as weak players and represents his country as a resurged superpower, but that's nothing but a nonsense, writes Neil Buckley for The Financial Times.
At the Valdai conference in Sochi last week, Russia's Putin again blamed the U.S. for "global hegemony" during the last 25 years and for pushing Moscow aside from creating the post-Cold war world order. Being led by the U.S., the world has dived into "chaos", and after Kremlin's ventures in Ukraine and Syria, Russia at last can act equally with Washington, Putin also hinted.
In his speech, Putin also underlined the supremacy of Russian democracy over America. He scored the elections in the West, naming them "a bunch of scandals and dishing the dirt".
Yet, the gap between Putin's expressions and reality is stunning, the FT columnist writes. The Russian government's recent decision to cut the military expenses by 27% next year substantiates this obvious gap. The Western sanctions worsened Russia's domestic problems, making its economy decline by 1% annually. Conducting structured economic reforms and reducing its dependence on energy sources are even bigger problems for Russia. The production hasn't shown a sign of increasing since 2008, and oil and gas industries still constitute 60% of Russian export.