The Lost Equilibrium: International Relations in the Post-Soviet Era

By Bettie M. Smolansky; Oles M. Smolansky | Go to book overview

On Russian-American Relations

HENRY TROFIMENKO

THE UNANTICIPATED RESULTS OF THE WELL-INTENTIONED BUT DISmally implemented perestroika in the Soviet Union and the followup “reforms” in Russia were in effect equal to the country’s defeat in a war. As it appears, the damage caused to the country by those developments has been much more severe than that inflicted upon it by the German invasion.

The multinational country that stood firm against the Nazi hordes all of a sudden disintegrated like Humpty Dumpty into fifteen separate pieces. The self-inflicted economic damage caused to Russia alone during the last eight years of reform is several times greater than the damage caused by the Nazi occupation of large parts of its European territory and the hostilities. Come to think of it: after five years of the Great Patriotic War (as the Russian part of World War II is called in Russia), the gross domestic product (GDP) of the USSR fell by 20 percent, while after the last eight years of reform in Russia (1991–1998) the Russian GDP dropped more than 50 percent! In fact, if one considers that, in their calculation of the GDP, Soviet statisticians excluded the cost of services and that the share of services (essentially the speculative banking operations) in the current calculations of the GDP equals 50 percent, then it follows that Russia’s real GDP is now roughly a quarter of that of 1990.1

The country’s weight in the global balance of power dropped dramatically. Russia—former core of one of the two superpowers—is now officially classified by the international financial institutions as a country with a transitional economy, in other words, a developing country. Politically, it is virtually ignored by the leading world powers, notwithstanding occasional pep talk by their leaders about the “importance of Russia” and Moscow’s pro forma inclusion in such international institutions as the G-7 group of industrial nations or the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

The decline of Russia as a major power has resulted in dramatic shifts in the global correlation of forces. This process of readjust-

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