Volume 43, Number 171,
October-December 2012
Russia: Strengths and Weaknesses
Arturo Bonilla
The International Weakening of Russia

Besides internal weaknesses, Russia suffered losses in international power, unable to overcome the historical situation in which it found itself, due to the high cost it would imply in terms of productive and military efforts, as well as loss of life and physical destruction, and of course, the threat of a third world war.

This weakening was manifest in the political advances that Western countries have achieved, especially the usa, including the following: incorporating countries into nato that were formerly members of the Warsaw Pact, like Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia (previously Czechoslovakia), Bulgaria, the Ex-Democratic Republic of Germany and Romania. nato has managed to incorporate countries that were part of the former Soviet Union, like Lithuania, Lithonia and Estonia. nato has also tightened the ring of its military bases that are closest to Russian territory, with consent from various countries of Eastern Europe that are already nato members. Advances have been made in building oil and gas pipes to transport hydrocarbons from the Caucasus (formerly partially part of the ussr to Western Europe, avoiding Russian territory. nato has insisted and pressured for the incorporation of Ukraine, a country neighboring Russia. The fates of Russia and the Ukraine have been linked for many years, despite some disagreements like the recent issue of petroleum tariffs, or the displeasure of some Ukrainian nationalists due to reinstating the intergovernmental agreement from the Russian base in Crimea.

Differences have arisen in economic terms related to the increase of the Russian gas price supplied to Belarus or the amount that the Belarusians want to charge for Russian gas to pass through to other countries.

Other conflicts that have been difficult to resolve include Georgia and Chechnya, which were also formerly part of the Soviet Union. Although Russia is not directly linked to these conflicts given the borders and ethnic composition, Russia is close by. This is the case for Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, which as can be recalled, were also formerly part of the ussr.

One of the problems that has arisen between countries that were part of the Soviet party is Azerbaijan and Kirghizstan, due to ethnic motivations. The situation is delicate because Kirghizstan has two military bases, one from Russia and the other from the United States.

Russia’s International Achievements

The almost complete conclusion of the Cold War had favorable consequences for the world as a whole:

  • Russia continues to be recognized as a world power, and maintains its membership in the United Nations Security Council.
  • An agreement has been reached with the usa to limit strategic weapons, and although it is not enough of a guarantee, its importance should not be underestimated.
  • There are advances in establishing the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, although political will from both parties to reach approval is lacking.
  • Russia has maintained its supply of gas to Western Europe, despite the fact that since the beginning, the usa did not approve of this out of fear of Russia’s influence in that part of the world.
  • Establishment of important trade agreements between Russia, China and Japan.
  • Definitive agreement to define part of the border with China.


As has been demonstrated, despite the fact that the Soviet implosion resulted in backtracking in all orders of productive, social and political life, Russia has gradually been restored as a capitalist power on the world level, although many aspects are still pending for recovery in terms of basic issues such as health, education, reversing low salaries and increasing standards of living for the majority of the population.

Russian power fundamentally rests on its enormous capacity for destruction, accumulated during the Cold War decades, especially mass destruction, with weapons ranging from atomic bombs to chemical and biological weapons. Its military capacity to transport nuclear warhead missiles to any part of the world is also key.

Published in Mexico, 2012-2017 © D.R. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).
PROBLEMAS DEL DESARROLLO. REVISTA LATINOAMERICANA DE ECONOMÍA, Volume 49, Number 192, January-March 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,
CP 04510, México, D.F. Tel (52 55) 56 23 01 05 and (52 55) 56 24 23 39, fax (52 55) 56 23 00 97, www.probdes.iiec.unam.mx, revprode@unam.mx. Journal Editor: Alicia Girón González. Reservation of rights to exclusive use of the title: 04-2012-070613560300-203, ISSN: pending. Person responsible for the latest update of this issue: Minerva García, Circuito Maestro Mario de la Cueva s/n, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, CP 04510, México D.F., latest update: Feb 23th, 2018.
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