Hawkish Russian Foreign Policy Scares off Foreign Investors; EMERGING MARKETS

The Birmingham Post (England), February 20, 2008 | Go to article overview

Hawkish Russian Foreign Policy Scares off Foreign Investors; EMERGING MARKETS


Russia's hawkish foreign policy is scaring off the foreign investors the country needs if it is to ride out a global economic slowdown, an influential business leader has said.

The comments by Anatoly Chubais, a former Kremlin chief of staff who is now Russia's state electricity boss, appear to be part of a struggle to influence policy under Dmitry Medvedev, likely successor to outgoing President Vladimir Putin.

Observers are watching for any signs that foreign policy may soften after the departure of Mr Putin, who has boosted Russia's military might and tangled with Western governments.

"It is time for us to calculate again how much our foreign policy is costing us," Mr Chubais said in a magazine interview.

"In our old life, when everything was fine and magnificent, when the market was overflowing with money, we could allow ourselves to say: 'To hell with them, the West, they can wait.' But in our new life everything will be much harder."

Earlier this month Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin made similar remarks, saying Russia needed to "adjust our foreign policy goals to guarantee stable investment".

In the interview, Mr Chubais said the expected global slowdown would drive down demand for energy and commodities exports, Russia's main source of foreign revenue.

As a result, Russia's hefty current account surplus would be slashed to zero within two or three years, threatening economic growth and shrinking the currency reserves that have underpinned economic stability, he said. …

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