Robert Jellinek, an intern at the Carnegie Moscow Center, has published a report titled “Russia and the Global Meltdown: Domestic and Foreign Policy Responses to the International Financial Crisis.” The broad goal of this study is to examine the concrete steps taken by Russia in response to the financial crisis both at home and abroad, in order to gain insight into Russia's current place in the world political and economic order as well as the current trajectory of its rule at home.
The first section gives a brief overview of the origins of the financial crisis and what it has meant for Russia, and briefly outlines Russia’s relations with the U.S. and EU pre-crisis. Understanding the context of the Russian response to the U.S.-driven financial crisis helps explain the rationale for its response, and correspondingly, its political trajectory.
Second, it examines Russia’s domestic response to the crisis, and why the crisis will very likely undermine its hold on power at home; in doing so it will further drain the Kremlin’s resources, adding constraints to Russia’s leverage in world affairs.
Third, it examines Russia’s foreign-policy response to the crisis, which Jellinek explain as a three-prong strategy to solidify Russia’s place among the great nations in the 21st century: it is at once trying to marginalize the U.S., move closer to Europe, and consolidate its control over the former Soviet space.
Finally, Jellinek argues that the financial crisis has effectively invalidated the widely held multipolar thesis underlying its foreign-policy aspirations and suggests an alternate theory about how, given what we know now, Russia’s domestic and foreign policy strategies might play out. The crisis does, in fact, present an opportunity to build a more mutually beneficial world order. Whether our politicians will use that opportunity to the common advantage will be the test of 2009.