Geoeconomy in Russia is becoming as important as geopolitics. Therefore, the government's recent meetings held a few days after the NATO summit in Prague where it was decided to grant former Soviet republics of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia access to the alliance showed that the ministers were much more concerned about Russian exporters' support than the increase of arms arsenals. Also the State Duma International Committee refrained from rending the air with belligerent statements on those "after-Prague" days, holding peaceful parliamentary hearings on the same export issue instead.
These are rather characteristic symptoms proving that geoeconomic ideology is gradually but steadily claiming its rights in Russia.
When did it happen that economic cooperation with Western countries pushed aside Russia's traditional confrontation with that very West represented by NATO? On the 11th of September 2001? Or a little later, during the Putin-Bush meeting on the ranch in Taxis? Or, perhaps, it happened at the Russia-NATO meeting in the suburbs of Genoa, which nearly resulted in announcing their strategic alliance?
This is obviously the case when any answer will do. Because Russia's generally changing position in the world, confirmation of its new urge towards raising problems before partners from geoeconomic, not purely geopolitical point of view develop from a number of these answers. Combating antidumping measures with respect to Russian exporters, promoting Russian companies to the world markets, tax and customs regulations are gradually becoming key issues in Russia's foreign policy.
However, could it have been otherwise? The fact that economic potential in international relations time and again proves to be more often than military power has not been discovered specifically by Russia. This is an all-world trend, which one can only avail oneself of - either to advantage or not.
Today a successful export-oriented metallurgic industrial plant can replace several divisions, while a big vertically integrated transnational oil or gas company can be perfectly compared with a victorious army. But with an only distinction, that they work for themselves and for their country without inflicting any damage to other nations. International economic competition is mankind's great invention, allowing nations to accumulate riches without waging wars or shedding blood.
The only, though serious, danger lies in the fact that being a participant in international competition you may lose. If it should happen to Russia, it would be a sensation after which geopolitics, stake on power confrontation and striving for economic autarchy can dominate here for a long time.
Accordingly, now many factors depend on Russia's foreign partners, on their readiness to reach reasonable compromises. In the middle of December Geneva will host a regular meeting of the working group on Russia's joining the WTO. It will dot all the i's concerning agriculture, the services sector and customs fees. But the main problem is whether the West agrees that it is high time Russia's new geoeconomy-oriented foreign policy turned from a sensation to a commonplace fact.