Then there are those Russian officials who use the word modernization to promote any major state spending projects that will line their pockets. This is the kind of modernization favored by many of Russia’s state capitalists, those who see modernization as an opportunity to win government contracts from commercial partnerships with particular state-run companies. These guys have no more interest in political reform than Putin does, and they have almost nothing to say on the subject of economic diversification. Within the dinosaur-era industries, those kept alive only by state subsidy granted to prevent a surge of unemployment and the resulting political unrest, these are the last of the mastodons. This is the opposite of modernization — by anyone’s definition.
What does all this mean for Russia’s future? Does modernization simply mean application of a new coat of paint and construction of some new pipelines? Or is there a credible and clearly demarcated path toward construction of a 21st century economy?