Depletion of Russia’s Mineral Wealth
Russia is expected to run out of many of its mineral resources by 2025. Within a decade economically viable reserves of zinc, manganese, copper, nickel, and platinum will have run out, these mineral resources are necessary for running a modern economy. To combat this threat to its economic security, the Russian Federation has pursued a number of mineral exploitation projects in Africa and other continents.
Uranium Supplies and Nuclear Energy Proliferation
Russia has specialized skills in nuclear energy desired by much of the developing world. In exchange for minable material exploitation needed for the Russian economy, leaders have initiated a number of nuclear energy development contracts with African countries.
Note Russia has also included minable uranium from Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Namibia, South Africa, and Zambia.
Contracts for Russian developed nuclear energy facilities exist in the Africa countries of Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Nigeria, Ghana, Ethiopia, Sudan, Zambia in spite of security concerns and instability. These contracts follow the China model of noninterference into the local politics and corruption in these countries. China is developing nuclear energy projects in Sudan, Kenya, and Uganda.
China is Russia’s largest importer of oil. Oil and gas account for almost 70% of the Russian economy contributing to almost half of it’s federal budget. Despite this, Russian infrastructure continues to suffer and restrict growth to its economy. “I am convinced that infrastructure is one of the key problems of the Russian economy. We are underinvested here, the quality of infrastructure does not correspond to the level of Russia’s development and is a serious obstacle on the way of economic growth,” according to Russia’s Economic Development Minister Maksim Oreshkin.
International Investment in Diversification and Infrastructure
Over the course of Vladimir Putin’s presidencies, he has asserted his commitment to stimulating non-commodity sectors of the economy, improving the business climate in Russia, and making it more attractive to foreign direct investment (FDI). Discouragement for international investment in Russia based on internal government corruption since the collapse of the Soviet Union has led to further nuclear and arms proliferation in the Middle East and Africa and consequently further military build-up in the motherland.
The lack of foreign investment in Russia has prevented its ability to develop other skills and commodities to offer to developing countries. This policy has also reinforced Russia’s growth in the narrow industries of defense and energy over the long term. The most attractive forms of trade with Russia for Middle East countries is in arms and nuclear energy followed by oil technology and transportation logistics. Instability in these regions continues to demand a steady stream of weapons.
Yet with the majority of the Russian economy based on oil and natural gas, it shares some of the same problems as Middle East countries in the need to diversify its industries and build up its internal infrastructure to support diversification. US trade agreements therefore with the Russian Federation and the Middle East could be aimed towards emerging markets to begin building economic diversity in these regions, and infrastructure development on all sides.
At the same time, the direct security capabilities of the US, Russia, China and local governments in these regions could therefore be directed towards the common threats of militant extremism. Control of transportation on land, water, and by air for example is essential to minimize the flow of supplies including natural resources, aid provisions, and other economic stimulus currently ending up in the hands of militant extremist groups in addition to stabilizing threats between regional players.