RUSSIA’S G8 MEMBERSHIP COMMITMENTS COST IT ABOUT $1.5 BILLION
Membership in the G8 costs Russia practically nothing.
“Russia’s G8 commitments and obligations between 2005 and 2009 cost it $1.4-1.5 billion,” said Andrei Bokarev of the Finance Ministry’s Department of International Finances. The matter mostly concerned military peacekeeping operations (first and foremost in Africa), war on drug trafficking and catching diseases, support of agriculture and education in the poorest countries. A thorough account of the costs is given in a report drawn for the G8 summit in Canada later this week. “All G8 countries drew analogous reports. It is done to remind society that G8 is not just an organization of talkers,” said Bokarev.
Russia spend $800 million in 2009 (four times the sums it had spent in 2008), a fact Bokarev attributed to the global crisis and the necessity to help some foreign countries out of predicament. The Eurasian Economic Community established an anti-crisis trust and Russia contributed 7.5 billion rubles or about $200 million. Tajikistan became the first recipient. It loaned $70 million at 1% for two decades. “Reduction of the budget deficit and successful implementation of reforms over the next three years will entitle Tajikistan to $50 million more,” said Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin.
According to Bokarev, aid from Russia as a G8 member mostly went to CIS countries. “Helping these countries address the problems they are facing, Russia prevents appearance of the same problems at home,” said Bokarev. Also importantly, Russia as a member of the international community of financial donors was committed to assistance to foreign countries and international organizations.
Bokarev admitted that Russian spendings within the G8 did not even begin to come close to what other countries were spending. The rest of the G8 spent almost $80 billion on development alone in 2009. Bokarev meanwhile said that Russia intended to keep spending approximately $500 million every year.
“If Russia is to be regarded as part of the global elite, it must contribute adequately,” said Fyodor Lukianov of Russia in Global Politics. “G8 is more important than G20 for Russia. The former does not include China, so that Russia in it represents all of the non-Western world.”
Yaroslav Lisovolik of Die Deutsche Bank pointed out that figures of Russia’s spendings would have been higher had they included what debts Russia was chalking off. More than $12 billion worth of Iraqi debts were chalked off, and Iraq was not the only impoverished borrower.