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Russia’s attempts to gain a status boost from the G20 chairmanship

Pavel K. Baev, 21 August 2013

Russia has invested great efforts in profiling its role as G20 chair and increasing international focus on this organisation. Moscow seeks to exploit this role to boost its international status and thus to prepare for a confident chairing of the G8 in 2014. The expectations for meaningful results from the September G20 summit in St. Petersburg remain low, but it will probably run smoothly and receive high marks for good organisation.

Acknowledging the diminishing relevance of energy security, Moscow has shaped the lengthy summit agenda around the key theme of “growth and jobs”, focusing on the question of investments. The intention is to establish that Russia belongs not to the crisis-affected West, but to the group of dynamic “emerging powers”. This proposition is weakened by the current slowdown of Russia’s economy and the deterioration of the investment climate in the country, which has caused a sustained outflow of capital.

The St. Petersburg summit is intended to demonstrate the restored effectiveness of President Putin’s political control. Political stability in Russia is nevertheless precarious. The authorities could try to suppress street protests in early September with disproportionate force. Moscow expects to harvest dividends from staging a problem-free summit, but Russia’s economic weakness and accumulating political discontent could derail the “show”.

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