MOSCOW, April 16 (RIA Novosti) – Russia is rethinking its approach to foreign aid policy in a bid to move from multilateral to targeted assistance, Russia’s development aid agency said.
“The plan is to switch from the multilateral to predominantly bilateral format and weigh our geographic priorities,” said Konstantin Kosachev, the head of Rossotrudnichestvo, a Russian agency that promotes international assistance.
“We are now mulling target projects and programs that could be carried out under the Russian banner so that we could keep track of how money and technologies are allotted. In this way, our effort will be acknowledged and serve the interests of our country to a greater extent than just a concerted humanitarian mission,” Kosachev told reporters at a global partnership conference in Mexico City.
Kosachev said his agency had laid down guidelines for Russia’s overseas assistance programs together with the Foreign Ministry. The program has already been submitted for review by President Vladimir Putin.
The Russian foreign aid chief said the country’s priorities unmistakably lied with the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), an organization comprising former Soviet republics. He added Russia would also prioritize nations with strong historic ties to it or countries where Moscow had its vested interests.
Russia was formerly allocating funds in proportion of 70 percent multinational to only 30 percent bilateral aid, meaning that most of assistance was given to international organizations like the World Bank that distributed funds among the developing countries.
Member countries of the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) provide about 130 billion dollars' worth of development aid per year, while global development aid accounts for 400-500 billion dollars.
Kosachev said Russia was going to reassess its contribution globally, since some of its programs weren’t regarded by international NGOs as foreign aid. This includes cut-price energy deliveries to partner states.
“For years, we have been de-facto sustaining Ukrainian economy through these price cuts,” he said, adding Russia’s help to Ukraine proved its importance as a committed donor. He said that the international community had so far refused to count this contribution in Russia’s donor record.
In December, the gas price for Ukraine stood at $268.5 per thousand cubic meters. On April 1, Gazprom increased gas prices for Ukraine to $385.5 after Kiev reneged on its contract by failing to pay its gas bills.
Beginning April 3, Moscow withdrew a further $100 discount, which the crisis-laden Ukraine had earlier received on the condition that Russia’s Black Sea Fleet could stay in the Crimean port of Sevastopol, now Russian territory. The end of the two discounts bumped the price to nearly $500 per thousand cubic meters.