Globalization

   Russia has an ambiguous position on globalization, which can be defined as the interdependency that results from commercial, cultural, economic, and political interaction between states and nonstate actors driven by sustained linkages of goods, people, communications, and transportation networks. Many believers in the Soviet system see Mikhail Gorbachev’s attempts to open the country to globalization through economic acceleration (uskoreniie>) and perestroika as the immediate cause of the Soviet Union’s demise, and thus the loss of Russia’s status as a superpower. For such critics, Gorbachev allowed for “too much” globalization, particularly as it related to glasnost and democratization, unlike China, which opened to the world without extensive political reform.
   During the Yeltsin era, Russia suffered first under the unrepentant privatization and shock therapy as it transitioned to a market economy, and later from international exposure related to the 1997 Asian economic “flu,” which in turn triggered the ruble crisis a year later. The diminution of the social welfare system and impoverishment of many Russians during this period, combined with the soaring wealth of the country’s oligarchs and the conspicuous consumption of socalled New Russians, further soured many on the fruits of globalism and generated nostalgia for the Brezhnev era. The perceived subjugation of Russian culture, including the weakness of the domestic film industry and the withering of the global appeal of the Russian language, further depleted Russians’ appetite for globalization. Russia’s industry, in particular, has been harmed by openness to the outside world. This was particularly true given the Soviet Union’s ideological preference for heavy manufacturing, much of which has since relocated to the developing economies of China, Southeast Asia, and elsewhere. In less than a decade, Russia’s exposure to globalization transformed it from a world power into a country with a GDP that trailed Argentina and Austria.
   In political terms, the new realities of the unipolar international system, often associated with the United States’ attempts to impose its own form of neo-liberal globalization on the rest of the world, left Russia particularly cold, especially in relation to the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). New insecurity associated with transnational terrorism and the instability of Russia’s neighbors also impacted Russian views of the new world order. Taken together, these factors made antiglobalism an attractive ideology for many of Russia’s political elites, particularly the Communists, supporters of Russian Orthodoxy, ultranationalists, and neo-Eurasianists.
   During the Putin years, the rapidly rising price of oil and natural gas allowed the Russian Federation to benefit from the global marketplace. International investment firms soon began to speak of the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) economies that increasingly determined the future of the global economic system. Putin ended further experiments in Western-style democracy and abrogated certain freedoms dating to the Gorbachev era, arguing that “Russia need not ape Western norms” and was able to determine its own “sovereign” path in the globalized world; he also sought for Russia to influence the process of globalization, not just be influenced by the phenomenon. Until 2008, the strong ruble, Moscow’s new assertiveness in foreign relations (particularly in the near abroad), and a rapidly rising standard of living portended Russia’s victory over the vagaries of globalization. However, Russia’s overreliance on hydrocarbons led to severe difficulties during the 2008–2009 global financial crisis; the situation was further compounded by capital flight in the wake of the South Ossetian War.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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