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The Aleksanteri Institute

Unioninkatu 33 (P.O. Box 42)
00014 University of Helsinki

Past Aleksanteri Conferences

Ingerid Opdahl (Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies, Norway)

Integration into the Global Economy on Ever More Narrow Terms? Policymaking on Foreign Economic Policy in Russia

Foreign economic policy reflects domestic preferences on the choice of economic development model. In authoritarian political systems, as today’s Russia is, the choice of economic development model also affects regime stability and durability. The starting point for this paper is that while considerations of regime stability and durability in Russia today would indicate a preference for less integration into the global economy, a foreign economic policy for development in the longer term would include measures for continued openness in the Russian economy. The reality of the Russian economy today is somewhere in the middle. Russia became a member of the World Trade Organisation in 2012, but its foreign economic policy has taken on some ambiguous traits, including a tendency towards limiting the domestic effects of integration into the global economic system. The paper looks at Russia’s current regime as a source of such ambiguity. It discusses the politics of foreign economic policymaking in authoritarian systems, concentrating on the relationship between the ruler and elites. The theoretical approach is that this relationship consists of exchanges of rent-sharing opportunities in return for elite loyalty to the ruler, and limited accountability of the ruler towards elites in return for incumbent legitimacy. However, time horizons and personalism in the elite-ruler relationship affect the balance between rent sharing and ruler accountability to the elite. When looking at Russia in this perspective, what can we say about the relationship between Putin and different elite groups in foreign economic policymaking? And how has this relationship affected foreign economic policy over time?