Between Political and Economic Imperialism: Russia’s Shifting Global Strategy

In: Journal of Labor and Society
Ilya Matveev North-West Institute of Management(Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration), 15 Podolskaya Street, apt. 8, 190013 St Petersburg, Russia,

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Russia experienced both economic and geopolitical expansion in the 2000s. During this time, the Kremlin and big business worked in tandem to assert Russian influence in post-Soviet space. However, the annexation of Crimea and Russia’s involvement in the war in Eastern Ukraine in 2014 marked a new period that severed the state’s geopolitical strategy and the interests of big capital. While the state continues to engage in open and covert military action, the activity of Russian business abroad has sharply diminished. Relying on David Harvey’s concepts of territorial and capitalist logics of power, the article explores the interplay between political and economic imperialism during Putin’s 20 years in power and situates Russia within today’s global imperialist landscape. I find that the Kremlin’s geopolitical and geoeconomic shift in 2014 can ultimately be explained by the strategic orientation of the country’s leadership, in particular, the deeply ingrained emphasis on security and ‘hard power’. However, the turn away from economic imperialism was also structurally determined by the exhaustion of the country’s economic engine that no longer generates surplus capital in need of a ‘spatial fix’.

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