Russia’s G8 Credibility Problem

Lawyer Peter Belk and Alexandros Petersen of CSIS have a new article in the IHT discussing Russia’s credibility problem as a member of the G8, and what can be done to solve it (actually, I believe the authors quote the Spider-Man movie: “with great power comes great responsibility“). Is Russia ready to become a global superhero then? Commanding the respect and prestige of a global power? Moscow’s recent calls for curbs on Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe definitely looks like a step in the right direction as a responsible and conscious global citizen, and a break from the trend of sheltering authoritarian states. Belk and Petersen argue that Russia has a right to complain against unfair Western criticism, yet these protests overlook the enduring, fundamental credibility problem in terms of rule of law – the country’s current inability to conform to rules and standards of international banking and law, “the core strengths of the modern economic system.” Their advice to just let Russia alone handle this problem, which we think is poorly argued: “That said, Russia needs no direct interference from the outside. Medvedev has made clear that he understands the problem. It will take Russian action – and Russian action alone – to begin much-needed reform and restructuring. The United States and Europe would be best served by continuing to encourage these trends through a nuanced carrot-and-stick approach. Targeted foreign direct investment – which Medvedev acknowledges is a priority for Moscow – can be married, for example, with principled cooperation toward achieving Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization.