Russia’s comeback as a global player has been characterized by its determination in multi-polarity overseas and creation of an autonomous democracy at home. The Hegemonic Stability Theory (HST) argues for the cyclical transition of world leadership. It states that the superpower status keeps on changing from one country to another. Based on the mentioned theory, it may be claimed that the United States will at one time cease from being the superpower and other countries will take over. In the recent past, there have been claims that Russia is silently preparing to become the superpower. However, various aspects may prevent the country from ascending into a superpower status. Such factors include the low gross domestic product (GDP), poor global military presence, and poor technology among others. Before the fall of the former Soviet Union, Russia was among the countries that had the strongest military spread across the globe. At that time, the country would have managed to become a superpower. Currently, the country must adopt strong measures to rise to the status. This report analyses the current situation of Russia and recommends several strategies that the country may adopt to achieve superpower status.
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One of the key characteristics of a superpower is a strong economy, which is characterized by high gross domestic product. As it stands now, Russia’s economy cannot support the emergence of the country to a superpower status. According to the World Bank figures, the Russian gross domestic product was $1.3 trillion in 2015 compared to $18.1 trillion of the United States (Maitra 65). The high difference in the gross domestic products for the two countries implies that Russia is still far much behind of the United States in terms of the economy which raises the question of whether the country can manage to take over the hegemonic position. The state of the Russian economy is largely attributed to its poor foreign trade policies. In the past, the country has faced sanctions from the United States, the world’s biggest economy. The problem is compounded by the fact that Russia risks more sanctions from the United States following the alleged hacking of the country’s elections in 2016. The imposition of such sanctions is harmful to its economy since international trade is at the heart of a country’s economic growth. The other factor that is directly linked to the slow economic growth of the country is tax evasion. According to the country’s treasury, about 90% of private corporations evade taxes. This situation implies that there are gaps in the taxation laws. The government needs to enact legislations requiring all the businesses operating in the country to pay taxes (Balcer 29). This way, the country will boost its gross domestic product; hence, facilitating the strengthening of the military.
Russia is one of the countries that are endowed with oil resources that are central to its economy. Therefore, the country’s foreign policies are largely influenced by oil exportation. The country can use the oil resources to stabilize its economy in the preparation of the superpower status. Superpowers need to have a strong economy to be able to support other countries. The poor countries, especially the developing ones, look up for financial support from the developed nations (Magen 45). Such support earns the respect of the poor countries, which is crucial to the attainment of the superpower status. One of the measures that Russia can adopt to attain the superpower title is fostering good relations with the global countries to facilitate global trade. The country must promote peaceful coexistence amongst regional and global countries. Persistent focus on peace while avoiding diplomatic rows is paramount to the promotion of the country’s oil market (Committeri 56). To achieve regional and international peace, the country needs to encourage a diplomatic approach to the inter-country disputes. The country needs to approach the United States to deliberate on various issues facing the two countries that are a threat to the growth of their economies (Committeri 56). Another way to achieve regional and international support is by embracing humanitarian activities. By increasing its gross domestic product, the country will manage to offer support to the poor nations. This way, it will acquire regional and international backing that will propel it to the superpower status. By offering aid to such countries, it will also earn much influence in the region.
The country needs to establish military bases in many countries across the globe to have a strong military presence. It is important to note that for a country to achieve superpower status, it has to have a strong military. Before the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia had military bases in all CIS countries which strengthened its regional influence (Maitra 87). Additionally, it had military bases in other non-CIS countries which imply that its military strength was felt globally. Today, Russia has withdrawn its military from many countries due to lack of funds to support their activities. The closure of the military camps may also be attributed to diplomatic rows between Russia and other states (Maitra 87). To ensure that it reinstates its military, Russia needs to formulate foreign policies that foster cooperation among the nations. Such strategies will ensure that its efforts of establishing military camps in the neighboring countries are successful.
To ascend to superpower status, the country’s leaders must also show commitment to the stated goal. Bagdonas argues that one of the reasons why Russia cannot become the world’s superpower is that its leaders are not truly focused on elevating it this position (65). Russia’s president, Putin, has been in the past quoted severally saying that they did not intend to transform the country into a world’s superpower and that they only wanted to develop the country economically. For a country to achieve the superpower status, its leaders must focus their energy on achieving that goal. Thus, the reluctance by the Russian leaders is a major barrier to the country’s efforts towards rising to a global homogeneity power. The elevation of a country to this position requires the undivided devotion of the leaders to developing its economy both in the short-run and long-term (Baev 56). Additionally, it requires the leaders to be prepared to embrace the military strengths to facilitate securing of the country’ boarders. Economic prosperity can only be achieved through investing in the infrastructures that facilitate international trade. Technology is also a major component of a superpower status; hence, leaders must invest in technology to fast track development. The reluctance by the leaders to embrace important aspects of national growth is the main reason why Russia has failed to achieve dominant global influence. It is important to note that leaders are the primary policymakers. Therefore, they are expected to formulate regulations that favor development both nationally and internationally. It is also alleged that the citizens, just like the leaders, are not yet prepared to accept the country as a superpower.
In an effort to become the superpower, the country must also embrace democracy and shun any dictatorial leadership. Russia has a history of dictatorial leadership that does not favor the elevation of the country to a superpower (Gill 65). It is important to note that the leadership of a country greatly influences the support from other nations (Committeri 56). In other words, a country cannot ascend to the superpower status only because of its economic and military supremacy. As it stands now, Russia is surrounded by independent nations that see themselves as equally self-governing, regardless of their relative economic and military inferiority. The concepts of self-rule and the rule of law have dominated the contemporary globe, which implies that superpowers must embrace them to succeed in leading the others. Russia must, therefore, possess the economic and military strength coupled with democratic leadership. It is important to note that the perception of other countries towards a prospective superpower largely shapes its ascension to that status. Therefore, a dictatorial country cannot become a superpower owing to the negative perception of the other nations. It requires a country to have a strong democratic leadership to attract support and act as a role model to the rest of the world.
Russia should also make substantial investments in technology to facilitate the growth of its economy and military at large. Before the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia had deficiencies in technology that prevented it from controlling other countries (Magen 45). It is important to note that a superpower nation must have great technology to enable it to sail through waves of becoming the world’s hegemony. Compared to the European countries, the Russian technological framework could not support its economic and military stability at the time. During the period under consideration, the European countries focused on trade and they possessed a set of technologies that supported their expansion. Russia, on the other hand, did not have the right technology to foster the international trade or allow its expansion. Consequently, the European countries found it easy to expand their territories using the technology they had at the expense of Russia. Besides, the countries utilized the technology to enhance their respective economies through trade and invasion. Additionally, the European countries used the technology they possessed to boost their military so that they had one of the most powerful forces in the world. Military strength is one of the important aspects of a superpower. Thus, the advantage availed by the technology greatly influenced the ascension of the United States into the superpower status. The importance of military might for a superpower nation is evidenced by the current American military presence in the world. Currently, the United States (the current global hegemonic power) has military all over the world and it controls Iraq and Afghanistan. Without a powerful military force, a country cannot maintain its superpower status.
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Today, Russia is more than willing to regain the superpower status. President Putin’s asserts that the country does intend to transform the country into a world’s superpower. However, he has restored Russia’s nationalism significantly. In addition, its economy, which is backed by abundant natural resources, has improved tremendously. This situation has reduced the country’s dependence on the west significantly. Nevertheless, it needs to invest more in the improvement of its military to achieve the superpower status.
Baev, Pavel K. Russian Energy Policy and Military Power: Putin’s Quest for Greatness. Routledge, 2012.
Bagdonas, Azuolas. “Russia’s Interests in the Syrian Conflict: Power, Prestige, and Profit.” European Journal of Economic and Political Studies, vol. 5, no. 2, 2012, pp. 55-77.
Balcer, Adam. “In the shadow of a neo-imperialist Russia.” New Eastern Europe, vol. 22, no. 3, 2016, pp. 29-35.
Committeri, Camilla. When Domestic Factors Prevail Upon Foreign Ambitions: Russia’s Strategic Game in Syria. Istituto Affari Internazionali, 2012.
Gill, Graeme J. Symbolism and Regime Change in Russia. Cambridge University Press, 2013.
Magen, Zvi. Russia and the Middle East: Policy Challenges. Institute for National Security Studies, 2013.
Maitra, Sumantra. “Was Putin Ever Friendly to the West?: An Expository Study of the First Two Terms of President Vladimir Putin, In Light of the Theories of Realism”. Journal of International Relations, vol. 14, no. 1, 2016, pp. 58-92.