"If the economy of Russia is only raw and military, we will be ruined"

Published: March 1st, 2018

From the hidden confrontation, relations between Russia and the West grew into an open one. We are engaged in the deportation of diplomats, the introduction of sanctions, military support for the polar parties to the armed conflict in Syria, we are waging an information war. But who wins it? The Soviet Union lost the economic race with the countries of the West. The lag was noticeable already in the late sixties, and by the 1980s the situation had become catastrophic. What should Russia expect from the Cold War 2.0? The conference will be devoted to this topic at the Moscow Economic Forum. Futurologist, expert of the MEF Maxim Kalashnikov revealed in an interview what Russia can expect from the new "cold war" and whether it can win it.
Were there similar challenges in the Soviet times during the Cold War, as in today's version of the confrontation between Russia and the West? What were the indicators then and how did the country's economy work?

- Of course, there were similar challenges. The economy of the country at that time worked imperfectly, but the Soviet Union had a stronger economic base than the Russian Federation. The ruling elite of the USSR did not keep its capital abroad and the Soviet Union was not in the same dependence on the West. Nobody could arrest the assets of the political bureau abroad, because they were not there. The Union did not have to sell so much oil to provide itself with everything necessary. There was no need to import from abroad pedigree cattle, seeds for sowing, food. It was not necessary to import so much electronics, because they produced their own. In other words, the USSR could withstand the confrontation with the West much better than the Russian Federation. According to the economic situation, the Union was stronger than Russia. He was an industrial country with a sufficiently developed background. There was nothing that the West could do, but the USSR could not afford it.
To listen to you, it will seem that the USSR economy was ideal. Was it so?

- No, there were also mistakes made, I'm not talking about this. The Soviet Union instead of concentrating forces on some very important areas, on the contrary, shot all its potential. Instead of conducting a "cold war" rationally, he led it irrationally. The Union began dubious foreign policy adventures such as the Afghan war, which were completely unnecessary. The USSR did not conduct the necessary reforms. For a long time, there have been virtually no economic transformations in the structure of the USSR. The union tightened with them. And in Gorbachev's time they were chaotic, deformed, ineffective, aimed at opposite results.
As for the modern "cold war". What potential does Russia have in this confrontation?

- The situation of the Russian Federation is much worse. The Soviet republics that used to be our allies are now our economic enemies, or even if they are not enemies, they are not companions. The economic basis is very weak, and financially we are too dependent on the export of raw materials.

And we also spill our potential as before?

- Exactly. Today, money is scattered in Syria, there are plans almost to Sudan. They want to deal with the so-called introduction of order. They spoke about Libya. There are persistent rumors about Iraq. The conversation is not so much about military potential as about economic.
And in economic terms, how is the waste of our forces manifested?

- You see, at first the spilling of credits begins. It's about issuing giant loans. We give loans to Hungary. We are going to give a loan to the Turks for the construction of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant. Look at Bangladesh. The Russian government gave a loan at 1.5-2% per annum (the Russian government ordered an export loan of up to 11.38 billion dollars for Bangladesh for the construction of the nuclear power plant Ruppur - ed.). Not only through foreign policy adventures and through archival loans to other countries, money is wasted, but also on sports megaprojects are wasted, huge budgets for events are being spent.
What mega projects you are talking about?

- The Soviet Union has already suffered tremendous losses in the 80th year, having held an Olympiad in Moscow. This was initially a loss-making idea. But the decision to participate in the Olympics was taken in 1972, when the holding of these games was still allowed. Now, according to my calculations, in the conditions of the new "cold war", the Russian Federation threw out more than $ 70 billion for the Sochi Olympics and for the "mundial". This money is simply buried in the grave. They did not create new jobs in the advanced industries, did not lead to the creation of a network of communication routes that are not needed for tourists and fans, but for the development of the country as a whole.
In your opinion, which model of the economy would now be better adopted to change the situation?

"The Russian Federation, if she still wants to be saved," I emphasize, if she still wants to be saved, "should switch to an economy model that is close to Franklin Roosevelt's new policy. In fact, this is the real mobilization economy.

Is this the economy of protectionism?

- This is a reasonable protectionism, which lies not only in customs duties, but also in preferential loans, in state projects that develop the real economy. I mean the construction of roads, the construction of housing, the development of high-tech agriculture, the return of neglected lands. This is such a system of megaprojects, draft and locomotive megaprojects. It is a policy of increasing the welfare of the effective demand of its citizens and creating jobs for them. In other words, it is a policy of cutting off unnecessary costs, such as soccer championships and Sochi Olympiads. Protectionism, in fact, is the acceleration of technological progress, the creation of special bodies that provide accelerated scientific and technological development. This is the mobilization economy, but not the one when everyone dresses up in blue overalls and works only to produce weapons. In this mobilization economy, you have to produce twenty combines and tractors per tank, if you switch to modern mobilization rails.
Is the production of weapons inefficient in the conditions of this "cold war"?

- In the current cold war, the production of tons of weapons is practically useless. On the contrary, they speed up the economic collapse. Weapons are certainly necessary, but we have to produce two civilian aircraft for one military aircraft. And very modern and effective. On one ship, we must produce ten civilian ships. The reason is that the production of electronics and their own combines and machine tools in this war is much more important than the production of systems of salvo fire or cruise missiles Kolibri. It is necessary to move on to this type of economy. Surprisingly, the analogue of the nearest model is not so much the Soviet Union as the US of the 1930s under Roosevelt.
I want to ask you, as a futurologist - if the government suddenly does not want to save our economy, then what will we come to? And how soon?

- I will not answer the question "how soon?". Futurologists never say "how soon", they only indicate trends. Because much depends on external factors that do not obey us and are sometimes impossible to calculate. But if the right steps are not taken, in particular in the economy, then the Russian Federation will turn into a huge raw fetlock, which will rapidly lag behind in science, technology and industry from the rest of the world and which will be so dependent on the outside world for technology that it will achieve full degradation of science and education. As a result, this country can also be divided as China at the beginning of the 20th century, when the Celestial Empire collapsed. Just because the elite will be completely dependent on the West for mentalities, theories and medical care.
What do you think will happen to the domestic economy?

- If the raw material economy will produce mountains of weapons, then, in the end, it will "break" itself. If the economy of our country will consist, as before, from the extraction of raw materials and the military-industrial complex - we will simply be ruined. And the only question is, when exactly will this happen. As a result, we will get an uncontrolled state, struck by corruption, with an elite that depends entirely on the West. In the end, after the economic ruin, we will see a second restructuring and, relatively speaking, Putin's successor will say: "Well, guys, we can not resist the West, so let's give up." And, thanks to Gorbachev, we all remember well how the power surrenders during the restructuring. However, now we will find ourselves in much worse conditions for us.
And what is the outlook for the regions, in that case?

- In this forecast, very unpleasant moments may arise ahead. If we continue the current policy, then, in the end, we can face the financial and economic collapse of some regions. If there are five or ten of them, then this will be enough to recognize an exceptional crisis. We can face technogenic accidents due to the moral irresponsibility of the leadership apparatus. This can lead to full-scale man-made disasters, which in turn will lead to irreversible consequences.

Interviewed by Ksenia Shiryaeva