Russia’s Turbulence Could Drive Sustainable Development

Oil and sustainability: Russian President Vladimir Putin opens the Siberian crude oil pipeline to China (top); western sanctions threaten European food supply to Russian supermarkets

MOSCOW: The economic crisis confronting Russia paradoxically offers the country a chance to reform and try a sustainable path. External shocks such as economic sanctions and a drop in oil prices are pushing the Russian government to focus on domestic affairs pressing economic, social and ecological problems accumulated since the breakup of the Soviet Union. Difficult times could help Russians transform their society.

To do so, Russia must mobilize its strengths – including a well-educated public, sustainable development of rich natural resources, and economic reform.

Oil and gas represent about 50 percent of the Russian government’s budget. Sacrifices would be required in reducing dependence on these resources, striving for sustainability and shifting toward a service economy.

Russia has a great opportunity to switch to services and away from energy by developing, for example, the agricultural sector, mechanical engineering, software production. According to the decision of the Ministry of Economic Development of Russian Federation, there are several priority sectors for import substitution and further development of equipment for the food, heavy engineering, power engineering, electrochemical and cable, oil and gas engineering, machine-tool, shipbuilding, electronic industry, chemical and petrochemical, pharmaceutical and medical, conventional weapons, civil aircraft, engine and  transport engineering industries.