What can Russians do to Help Americans?

What Russia can do to Help America

Argumenty i Fakti

October 21, 2008

Translated from the Russian by Ekateriana Blinova (WorldMeetsUS.com)

Alexei Malashenko, a Scholar-in-Residence at the Carnegie Moscow Center, Vladimir Sergievsky, strategist for Russian Investment Company FINAM, and Yefim Rachevsky talk of what Russia might be able to do to help the United States.

The current political week began with a comical incident: Russia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations received a letter signed by U.S. presidential candidate John McCain, with a request for financial assistance. In the letter, McCain appealed to Russian Ambassador Vitaliy Churkin for a rather modest sum to support his election campaign – from 5,000 to 35,000 dollars. McCain himself, as well as representatives of his campaign, assured us that this was a result of a regrettable computer glitch; But the mere fact that America would ask Russia for financial aid is somewhat symbolic, especially given the backdrop of the global financial crisis. We asked our respondents in what ways Russia could help the United States:

Alexey Malashenko, Scholar-in-Residence at the Carnegie Moscow Center:

I don’t know whether the United States would accept aid from Russia. Besides, McCain himself refuted the news of his aid request. But if one were to choose between the two candidates, it would be more logical to help McCain. For Russia, he is the most advantageous U.S. candidate. He is clear, familiar and well understood. One can criticize him and draw cartoons about him. His persona allows for this. McCain will continue Bush’s mission and perhaps Russia can play the Iraq card to its advantage, since McCain is directly connected with the conflict. Obama is less agreeable to us. He represents a new formation. I’m sure that psychologically, he won’t regard Russia as a great power and he won’t even be able to tell Brezhnev from Stalin. Besides, he isn’t White, and our society is rather conservative.

Vladimir Sergeevskiy, a strategist for the FINAM, a Russian Investment Company:

It’s obvious that as a result of the crisis, the U.S. role in the global financial system will diminish. This means that the country could borrow money from Russia to resolve its problems, particularly those related to the servicing of foreign debt. Although, the international reserve assets of the Russian Federation, which are invested in U.S. securities, are already being used to support the country.

However, it’s unlikely that in the next few years, the U.S. would directly ask Russia for assistance. Rather, the country will seek assistance from various international organizations. Russian funds make up a share of the budgets of many of those international organizations, and therefore the Russian Federation will indirectly participate in America’s rescue. Directly, this isn’t something we can pull off as of yet – the scope of our economy isn’t comparable to that of the United States. But of course, the collective bailout of the United States is a worthy cause. It’s the largest market in the world, and its problems affect the entire world. For instance, we have a stake in high oil prices, but without a growing American economy – that is hardly sustainable.

Yefim Rachevskiy, member of the Public Chamber of Russia [a group that monitors the Duma], and honorable teacher of the Russian Federation:

We have already helped America in any way we could. Including intellectual resources. In Silicone Valley, people walk around with Russian phrasebooks. I do think we could offer them our educational program. Then, hopefully, they will be more successful in their forecasts of the future.

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