Ivan Timofeev
Programme Director of the Valdai Discussion Club; Director of Programmes of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC); Associate Professor at MGIMO University

The aggravation of the situation around Ukraine and a number of other international developments have revived a long-standing dispute over the motives of the great powers’ policies. Such a motive, among other things, can be survival, ensuring security and maximizing one’s influence (power). Moreover, any political process unfolds in a certain resource niche. That is, both security and power are costly. It is possible to expand the boundaries of the resource niche through new technologies, organizational innovations or other means. However, limited resources are a constant factor in foreign policy. On the other hand, both security and power in themselves can be a resource or a prerequisite for expanding the resource base in other areas. Security and power are both a burden and a resource in and of itself. The science of international relations can be thought of as political economy under conditions of anarchy.

In this case, the question arises – what is the modern “currency” or “currencies” of security and power? Military force? Technologies? Territory? Minerals? Human capital? In the science of international relations, there have been many attempts to create indices of the influence potentials of modern states. However, such attempts often left open the question of what exactly drives the state. What kind of “currency” does it want to keep or acquire? If all players have their own “currencies”, then they may have their own rationalities. The motivation for behaviour in the international arena turns out to be closely related to identities and strategic cultures. This further complicates the forecasting task. A misunderstanding of the value of a particular “currency” for an opponent at a given moment in time and his determination to invest his limited resources in this “currency” sometimes leads to catastrophic mistakes and miscalculations.

The Economic Statecraft Programme of the Valdai Club is aimed at studying the current state of the resource base of the foreign policy of modern states. The programme focuses on the impact of limited resources on the strategies and behaviour of states in the international arena, as well as the players’ understanding of the hierarchy and value of certain resources.

This programme is a special project of the Valdai Club and continues the Russia and Global Security Risks Programme.

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