Volume 43, Number 171,
October-December 2012
Russia: Strengths and Weaknesses1
Arturo Bonilla *
Date submitted: September 12, 2011. Date accepted: May 20, 2012

It is well known that since its creation, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (ussr) had to face serious setbacks in the productive, social and political life inherited from the Tsarist empire, while also confronting a series of threats, resulting from the Bolshevist revolution of 1917, that put the new governmental regime at risk. This was the fundamental historical sign that served for the later development of the ussr. All efforts made by the Soviet republics were oriented in that direction, whose main goal was to centralize economic surplus, giving priority to heavy industry as the base to establish a war industry powerful enough to discourage possible invasions. Political directors of the ussr knew that this could happen, and it was proven with the Nazi invasion of a large part of the European portion of the Soviet Union.

Although the Soviets later defeated the German army and its allies, this cost them a great deal in terms of destruction and devastation of all types of installations, which seemed like very little damage in comparison to the magnitude of loss of life in the population, nearly 25 million Soviets. In the history of humanity, there is no group of people that have paid a higher cost in lives than the Soviet Union.

But the end of the Second World War did not bring a full guarantee of security, because the Cold War2 began at the end of the 1940s, which ended with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

As is well known, current Russia is the historical result of the implosion of the former Soviet Union, of which Russia constituted a large part not only in territorial terms, but also as the main productive center, the heart and brain of political and scientific activities. The ussr came to occupy the position of the second world power, following the United States of America (usa). In some ways, the ussr surpassed the usa, such as in the area of space exploration. In broad terms, the military industry had power equivalent to that of the usa.

As can be recalled, the usa joined with other Western powers during the Cold War to create the most important military block on the planet, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (nato). The ussr also did the same with countries in Eastern Europe, forming another military block, the Warsaw Pact.

In the same way, both Western European countries and the ussr formed large trade blocks. The first began with the European Union of Carbon and Steel, which little by little turned into a growing incorporation of European countries until it came to be the European Union. The ussr, on the other hand, constituted the comecon (Council for Mutual Economic Assistance), with the idea of facilitating trade between socialist countries. This entity disappeared with the implosion of the ussr.

In the area of research, the ussr managed to cultivate a number of scientists comparable to those in the usa, Japan and Germany, countries that were long characterized by a high number of scientists and, of course, by greater allocation of financial resources towards research and development.

1 Conference given during the Round Table: “Russia Today, Strengths and Weaknesses,” March 11, 2010, Jesús Silva Herzog Room, annex building to the Department of Economics, unam.

* Principal Investigator “C” of tc of the unam - Institute for Economic Research.
Note: The journal Problemas del Desarrollo would like to thank Dr. Sergio Suárez Guevara, researcher at the iiec-unam, for helping in editing and correcting this work.

2 “The Cold War was a fight between the United States and the Soviet Union for global influence, which employed a variety of methods, although neither side launched a direct or total attack against the other side’s territory. The creation of rival alliances, the presentation of military and economic help to States that were supposedly their clients or those that aspired to be, massive and costly weapons build-up, propaganda campaigns, spying, guerrilla warfare, the fight against subversion and political assassinations were the methods used. The Cold War was one of the longest conflicts in the history of humanity, as it lasted more than seventy years (1917 — 1991), although hostility was lower during some time period. It was also the war with the largest scope seen in the world. It involved all continents in the world, and including space exploration, also involved the space above the earth. Likewise, it was one of the most expensive conflicts, not only in terms of the number of lives lost, but also for the resources consumed. In the end, the Soviet Union fell, and Communism expired, at least the form of Communism that existed in those countries (...)” Source: Ronald Powaski, The Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union, 1917-1991, Editorial Crítica, Barcelona, 2000, p. 9. At http://historia1imagen.blogspot.mx/2007/06/historia1imagen_6271.html.

Published in Mexico, 2012-2017 © D.R. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).
PROBLEMAS DEL DESARROLLO. REVISTA LATINOAMERICANA DE ECONOMÍA, Volume 48, Number 191, October-December 2017 is a quarterly publication by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, CP 04510, México, D.F. by Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas, Circuito Mario de la Cueva, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán,
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