Iskyan, Kim, Global Finance
Russia unexpectedly announced that it was abandoning its quest to join the World Trade Organization on its own in favor of applying to enter as a bloc with Belarus and Kazakhstan. The move may be an attempt by Russia to accelerate the accession process, which has dragged on for 16 years. However, analysts believe that accession as a bloc could delay it by several years. Meanwhile, relations between Russia and Belarus are becoming increasingly volatile, as Russia banned the import of a range of dairy products from its neighbor, only to reverse the ban several days later.
At the St. Petersburg Economic Forum in early June, touted as Russia's answer to the Davos forum, president Dmitry Medvedev pushed Moscow as a global financial center and reiterated Russia's desire to make the ruble a reserve currency, both of which are distant goals at best. The volume of deals announced ar the gathering was, not surprisingly, down sharply from levels the previous year.
A few weeks later, Russia hosted the first summit of the BRIC countries, during which Brazil, Russia, India and China demanded greater "fairness" in their representation in international institutions. …