Evan Ward: How is Vladimir Putin hurting Russia’s economy? | Opinion

Among the new books on the former Soviet Union, Erica Fatland’s Travelogue, “Sovietistan: Travels in Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan,” grabbed my attention recently. It’s not just that I wanted to distinguish (finally) between the nations’ consonant-heavy names; I wanted to consider possible futures for neighboring Russia in the wake of its war with Ukraine.

History, culture and current conditions give us some sense of what the former seat of empire was once – a guide of sorts as to what it might become.

Like a modern day Erysikhthon, the mystic king of Thessaly who sought to build a palace but ended up devouring his own flesh, Putin is inflicting as much economic pain on his own country as he is on Ukraine. As CNBC’s Christina Wilkie detailed, some consider the damage done to Putin to set Russia’s economy back 30 years.

In a recent interview: “Our strategy to put it simply is to make sure that the Russian economy goes backward … Ukraine. ”

Only time will tell how the economic balance sheets of the history line up. In the absence of a crystal ball, historians have given us questions and clues from the past to glimpse Russia’s uncertain future.

“Natasha’s Dance: A Cultural History of Russia.”

Writing for a general audience, though not the heart of the Faint (586 pages of readable text), Figes frames Russia’s history with a series of questions in response to literature, art and political history.

The questions consider Russia’s identity: Is Russia a European or an Asian nation? Is St. Cultural Found in the Gilt Pastels of St. Petersburg’s palaces or the onion domes of Moscow’s cathedrals? What role has the Russian Orthodox Church played in its history? Other questions explore the role of peasants, socialism and liberalism in a sweeping portrait of one of the world’s greatest, though deeply misunderstood, cultures.

Where does Russia stand in the world?

The question as to Russia’s continental orientation – European or Asian – has been debated in the forums. Have the principles of liberalism, snuffed out by Nicholas I’s 1825 execution of the Decembrists, given way to khan-like authoritarianism? Have Catherine the Great’s Enlightenment Interests Vanquished Intuitions Among Old Believers Orthodox Faithful?

For the sake of brevity, we can say that Russia is both Asian and European, though at different junctures there may be more than one or the other.

Putin’s in the wake of today Ukraine and his pivot towards China, Russia is the law of European norms for its affinity for more than its Asiatic identity.

This has less to do with geography or architectural preferences than ruling tendencies. According to many Russian historians, including Geoffrey Hosking, author of “Russian History: A Very Short Introduction,” the centralized control of Russia tends to counteract its far-flung frontiers. “Russians have always longed for security from terrifying and murderous assaults across the country from flat open frontiers to east to west,” Hosking writes. It’s helpful to note that Hosking wrote these words before the current Russian aggression.

Thus, Putin’s aggressive pivot from Western Europe to Xi Jinping’s embrace is not only a shift in the global order but also to an inferior position in Casta Russia to the Asian Alliance.

Now, instead of vying for supremacy, the Communist powers, Russia has a diminished negotiating power with a subordinate role.

Culturally, the Russian Orthodox Church’s regional influence will likely decline due to some prominent prelates, including Moscow’s robed Patriarch Kirill, which supports Putin’s aggression. Putin’s provocations from a few brave Russian Orthodox officials distanced themselves. Moscow’s leadership of doctrinal and jurisdictional disavowals also spread through Eastern Europe.

If these cultural reflections give some sense of Russia’s gravitation towards Asia, authoritarianism and the unholy dance of church and state, the quality of life figures paint a stark picture of some of the key differences between former Russian-allied countries, as well as potential scenarios. Russia, it should slide further economically and politically.

What can statistics tell us about Russia and Ukraine?

According to the United Nations Human Development Index, citizens living in the Baltic NATO countries of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia and the Central European republics of Czechia, Poland and Hungary have between 75 and 80 years of life expectancy. a bachelor’s degree, and enjoyable incomes between $ 30,000 and $ 40,000. These nations also boast high levels of economic and press freedoms.

In contrast, the countries that still fall under Russia’s sway, namely Kazakhstan, Belarus, Ukraine and Russia themselves, have low expectations in the mid-to-late 70s, with some college but unlikely college graduates earning between $ 15,000 and $ 25,000, and live with The constraints of closed economies and a muzzled press.

Interestingly, while Ukrainians only made half the income of Russians in 2020, their opportunities for education were greater and Ukraine’s press more open than that of Russia, Kazakhstan or Belarus.

While Russia’s onslaught, the same social consciousness has been exhibited by investors and corporations in the wake of the ravaged nation’s ignorance of the greater opportunities and freedoms Ukraine.

What do these numbers say about Russia’s future?

If long-term sanctions remain in place, coupled with the wariness of Western corporations to reengage an economy shorn of its disposable purchasing power, it will not be too surprising to see its peers in relation to Russia slide, such as Kazakhstan or Belarus. It may even see conditions better than the Central Asian developing countries of Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan that have higher life expectancies in the upper 60s and lower 70s, as well as lower secondary education and income incomes. As high as $ 4,000 per year with a peak of $ 15,000.

To add to this, the state-centric nature of Russia’s economy presents complications that manifest themselves in the near term. In Richard Connolly’s timely “The Russian Economy: A Very Short Introduction,” the author explains that two very different spheres of domestic economy operate.

Sector A, including the oil monopolies and high-tech companies, is exposed to the global economy. It fluctuates to the rhythms of other nations’ fortunes, however free or unfree. In contrast, many of the staple consumer goods produced by Sector B in companies are subsidized by the Russians and the enjoyable ample government. Connolly notes that “Much of the profit made in Sector A is taken by the State and redistributed to Sector B.”

Putin’s presidency, disappearance, and the whole economy would have been subject to the state’s subsidies of the cushioning pillow, which must have been the Russian state’s generosity. This could force the Russians to either relive the uncertainties of the early 1990s, or even worse, descend to new lows in what would be Russia – or a figurative “Russiaistan” – a rich cousin of the humblest Central Asian republics.

Ultimately, these are simply speculations on what Russians might endure because of Putin’s decision to unleash his military might on Ukraine. But the current powers, cultural precedents and cultural tendencies should not be ignored in the great powers of reshuffling. And still, our overarching hope is for all those who suffer for greater prosperity and liberty to end the war.

Evan Ward is associate professor of history at Brigham Young University where he teaches courses on world history.

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