Reuters Examines Russia’s Efforts To Position Itself As A Foreign Donor
“A prominent aid recipient in the 1990s, Russia has quintupled its annual foreign aid budget in the past four years, from $100 million to $500 million, and created a $7.5 billion fund to help struggling neighbours. It is [also] considering setting up a national body to rival the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID),” Reuters writes in an article that examines some of the country’s motivations towards greater investment abroad.
“The moves are part of a bid to narrow the gap with its G8 partners, all long-time donors, and to compete with a wave of emerging market countries like China and South Africa whose increased contributions are redrawing the international aid map,” the news service writes. “Russia also wants to shore up its influence in former Soviet republics, many of which receive aid from the European Union and United States to the West and China to the east.”
Russia “trails its G8 partners, spending less than 0.03 percent of gross national income on official development assistance in 2009, budget figures show,” with the “next lowest G8 member contribution [being that] from Italy, which spent 0.16, while Britain spent 0.52 percent, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.” The article describes the role of the “new mid-income donors,” such as China and Russia, who according to a World Bank study are estimated to have “contributed $10-15 billion to global aid programmes in 2008,” even as developed countries “were cutting their budgets in the wake of the global economic crisis.”
Some say the emergence of such mid-income donors is “replacing an East-West divide of donors and recipients with a number of regional powers with their own agendas,” according to the news service. The article describes how despite such efforts, few internationally recognize Russia’s position as donor country and ways the country hopes to turn that around with a better communication strategy. Pedro Alba, World Bank head in Russia and Viktor Zagrekov, head of the department of international organizations at Russia’s Foreign Ministry are quoted in the article (Humphries, 2/10).
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