Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s first trip to Russia was largely pro forma: Ban stressed the importance of Russia’s membership in and contributions to the UN, and Russian leaders — Putin and Medvedev both — praised the role of the UN as “the key element of the whole system of international relations.” Russia’s enthusiastic support, however, may prove to extend beyond words, if what Reuters reports turns out to be true:
Kommersant newspaper reported that during the meeting with Medvedev, Ban Ki-moon would be told of Moscow’s willingness to increase its annual contribution to the U.N. to roughly the same as the United States — a huge 20-fold hike in its fees.
In 2006 the United States contributed $423 million and Russia $21.2 million.
Other G8 member states like Japan, France and the United Kingdom paid in substantially more in 2006 than Russia.
I’m not sure where exactly Russia, with a substantially smaller economy than that of the U.S., is going to get this money, but the investment would be more than welcome. Moreover, Russia’s offer to pay more to the UN stands in sharp contrast to the U.S.’s frequent complaints about the size of its share, as well as to its unwritten policy of falling behind on its dues — over $1.2 billion, at last count.
The U.S. has often been as outspoken as Russia in its support for expanding UN responsibilities. To meet these commitments, as well as to maintain its influence relative to other major powers — an often under-appreciated benefit of paying such a large portion of the UN’s budget — the U.S. would be wise to pony up and put its money where its mouth is.