The Russian Federation or simply Russia has had what one can only describe as a tumultuous time over the period since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The economic revolution after the fall of the USSR could be the driving force behind the economic adversity the nation suffered during the period. With Russia enacting extreme economic reform with the aim to transform itself into a modern capitalist nation, Russia actually received vast humanitarian aid itself due to the hardship many lived through during the first years after the Soviet Union.
While there is still much work necessary in the country, Russia has transformed itself from a net receiver of foreign aid into a significant net donor. Russia’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) steadily increased from $100 million in 2004 to more than $1 billion in 2017, making it one of the largest foreign aid donors in the world. Here is some information about Russia’s foreign aid.
Russia’s Foreign Aid
According to the World Bank, Russia has been formulating its development cooperation agenda for nearly a decade. The nation has increased its foreign aid efforts, chiefly, with a significant boost to ODA. As stated previously, Russia’s ODA gradually increased between 2004 and 2017. While also increasing foreign aid, Russia equally provides significant military aid to certain nations.
Alongside the ODA, Russia has increased its role in improving assistance to the International Development Association (IDA). The World Bank stated that “Russia expressed strong support for the IDA as an important multilateral mechanism for providing assistance to the poorest countries.”
Putin and his government list “poverty reduction, disaster relief and the development of trade and economic partnerships as the key reasons” why Russia gives foreign aid, according to AidData.
However, studies also suggest that Moscow might actually be a “pioneer in de-stabilizing aid.” This is a form of aid designed to promote unrest and provoke antagonism towards other states and international institutions. Governments can do this through financial military aid.
Benefits to Russia
Many assume that providing foreign aid only benefits the recipient nation. However, there are many reasons why foreign aid could also benefit Russia itself. By providing foreign aid, there is a chance to boost economic activity in recipient countries. Russia may be able to improve conditions for trade and foreign investment in receiving countries. Thus, increasing the industrial capabilities and capacities may help provide more markets for Russia and increase potential trading partners, according to the World Bank.
Increasing and strengthening national institutions that combat organized crime and terrorism in receiving nations may also prove beneficial to Russia by improving Russian national security. AidData suggests that Russia also benefits from “checkbook diplomacy via foreign aid.” Nicaragua benefited heavily from Russia’s ODA, receiving $150 million alongside substantial military aid.
Nicaragua happens to be one of the only nations that recognize the Russian-backed separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent nations. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Nicaragua was one of only 11 states to back Russia in a U.N. General Assembly resolution during the Russian invasion of Crimea in 2014. This suggests that Russia also benefits politically from foreign aid, gaining favor from nations that receive financial and military aid from the nation.
Benefits of Foreign Aid
While it is possible to see how Russia may benefit from giving foreign aid, it is clear that foreign aid helps many nations around the world tackle serious issues such as poverty. Humanitarian Careers has stated that the first significant reason foreign aid is so important is that “it saves lives.”
Countries that provide foreign aid contribute a number of their funds to humanitarian assistance. Nations that crises, disasters or conflicts around the world affect are often unable to afford basic necessities due to the situations they are in. Foreign aid allows for the provision of food and water alongside other vital supplies that are necessary during a crisis. Foreign aid also allows for a more steadfast recovery and helps rebuild areas where catastrophes devastated, according to Humanitarian Careers.
A second key benefit of international foreign aid is that it helps impoverished countries develop. Increased funding to key government departments such as infrastructure, health care and education can help reduce poverty. Assisting poorer nations benefits their citizens’ livelihoods and increases their incomes.
A substantial part of foreign aid is in the form of military aid. Military aid can come in many different forms. It mostly comes in the form of donations of military equipment or loans which a nation can spend on its armed forces. This can be vital as many donor nations have significant security threats such as terrorism, organized crime groups or separatist movements. While often divisive depending on which side of the debate a person is on, military aid can provide huge security to a nation.
The Russian government has made huge strides to increase its foreign aid in recent years, having moved from a net receiver of foreign aid into a global donor of foreign aid. Foreign aid not only provides many benefits to Russia but also will help nations in need better provide for their citizens.
Ultimately, foreign aid can provide significant resources to those in severe poverty across the globe. The more foreign aid provided from those nations who can afford to can only continue to benefit those who struggle to make ends meet and those who have suffered through tragic natural disasters and regional conflicts that devastate local populations.
– Josef Whitehead