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.