In course correction, Russian foreign aid program turns inward

Russian President Vladimir Putin in Seoul, South Korea. As Putin’s tug of war with the West over Ukraine drags on, Russian officials have indicated that they are now more eager to tend to their neighbors in the Commonwealth of Independent States. Photo by: Jeon Han / Korean Culture and Information Service / CC BY-SA

After a brief period as one of the biggest recipients of foreign aid in the world, Russia is firmly back in the donor club. Last year, Russia’s official development assistance reached $714 million, a drop in the bucket when compared with Soviet levels, but still a sevenfold jump from 2006.

Russia’s donor comeback has been nearly a decade in the making. It was from his perch as chair of the G-8 in 2006 that President Vladimir Putin gave notice that a resurgent Russia was ready to assume the roles and responsibilities of a respected global power.

“It is clear that Russia’s growing economic potential is enabling it to play an increasingly important role in global development,” said Putin, who at the time struck a cooperative tone with his G-8 colleagues.

In the years that followed, Russia looked to the World Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development and other Western donors for funding and expertise to help rebuild its aid regime. Drawing a contrast with its BRIC peers, the fledgling donor then made a deliberate decision to channel the bulk of its aid spending through multilateral organizations — at least for the time being. Russia is also believed to have considered membership in the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the donor grouping for industrialized countries.

This article is for Devex Members

For full access to the content of the article sign in or join Devex.

About the author

  • Piccio

    Lorenzo Piccio

    Lorenzo is a contributing analyst for Devex. Previously Devex's senior analyst for development finance in Manila, he is currently an MA candidate in international economics and international development at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington. Lorenzo holds a bachelor's degree in government and social studies from Wesleyan University.