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Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Dr. Joseph Dillard is a psychotherapist with over forty year's clinical experience treating individual, couple, and family issues. Dr. Dillard also has extensive experience with pain management and meditation training. The creator of Integral Deep Listening (IDL), Dr. Dillard is the author of over ten books on IDL, dreaming, nightmares, and meditation. He lives in Berlin, Germany. See: integraldeeplistening.com and his YouTube channel.
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Characteristics of Our Emerging Worldview
Part 4: The Russian Worldview
Since 2000, a Russian worldview built largely around orthodox Christianity, traditional family values... and sovereignty has increasingly gained internal coherence and stature among Russians.
How integral is the Russian worldview? Like other worldviews, that of Russia is becoming increasingly multi-perspectival, continuing to incorporate into itself important and fundamental aspects of the Western, Chinese, Indian, Global South, and AI worldviews. Nationalism is on the rise today globally, and in Russia it takes the form of assertions of sovereignty and the embrace of traditional Christian values, both of which tend to be interpreted by integralists as a fixation at “blue,” early personal levels of societal development.
There is evidence this conclusion may be a western-centric projection rather than an accurate representation of the Russian worldview. Since 2000, there has been a notable insistence by the Russian government on the importance of the rule of law both nationally and internationally, reflecting “orange” or mid-personal values. Most Russians experience themselves as living in a “green,” late personal, liberal democracy. Putin's years of immersion in oriental martial arts appears to be reflected in a general non-reactivity to sanctions and military provocations. This is a sophisticated and evolved perspective that tends to be interpreted by the West as weakness. Is it? Might it not instead indicate a worldview that includes and transcends green?
While Wilber takes a developmental and hierarchical approach to the evolution of both individuals and societies, Gebser advances a more heterarchical model of integral, viewing both different modes of consciousness and societies through an egalitarian and communal lens. Due to the indisputable and continuing rise of Russia on the world stage, a framing of its worldview more reflective of Gebser's brand of integralism, rather than that of Wilber, appears increasingly necessary.
At present, in the third decade of the twenty-first century, there is no worldview which brings up feelings and opinions that are nearly as strong as that of Russia. Russia is currently challenging basic and important assumptions of the Western worldview, and that demands some response from Westerners. If we simply react to what we assume is the Russian worldview without first taking the time to look out at the world from the perspective of Russia, we are likely to arrive at conclusions that are not simply wrong but hurt our own interests. And indeed, this is exactly what has been happening in the West. The sanctions imposed on Russia have backfired in spectacular and undeniable fashion. Based on false or partial assumptions, Western actions have only undermined the Western worldview, which was certainly not the intended consequence.
One of the purposes of this series of essays is to contextualize not only the Russian worldview but other major contenders as well, including those of the Global South, India, China, Western, and that of artificial intelligence, in order to support greater objectivity toward all. In this essay we will consider what the Russian worldview currently is, as opposed to what it has been in the past or to how supporters and detractors present it.
It is a mistake to ignore or misrepresent the fact that Russia is an industrial, economic, and military powerhouse that is becoming stronger despite persistent efforts to undermine it. It is a mistake to ignore Russia's growing contribution to a broader synthesis of Western and Global South worldviews. For the 6.3 billion people who live outside of the West, 66 percent feel positively towards Russia and 70 percent feel positively towards China. We now have photos of Africans waving Russian flags, implying an identification with Russia's ongoing successful challenge to the West. It also implies that people in the Global South are admiring and respecting Russian actions on the world stage, which further implies a growing desire to ally with it and accept aspects of the Russian worldview. This conclusion is also supported at the UN, by some 50% of the world's population refusing to support the US and EU in sanctioning Russia for its war in Ukraine. It makes much more sense to dive into the elements in the Russian worldview that contribute to an understanding of why it is gaining support both in Russia and in much of the Global South.
The second diagram focuses on functions associated with each of the quadrants.
As in previous essays in this series on worldviews, I will consider priorities in terms of their strongest quadrant identification. For example, autarky is an external collective priority (EC) in that it is mostly about Russian strength as a society in relationship to other societies. That implies the least incorporated quadrant for Russia, regarding autarky, is the opposite, interior individual (II). But Russia also places a priority on nationalism, which is an interior collective value and ideology (IC), implying that the least incorporated quadrant for Russia regarding nationalism is the exterior individual (EI). These relationships and conjectures are provisional generalities, more designed to stimulate thought regarding relationships rather than pretending to be statements of fact.
You will notice that some priorities share the same quadrant with lesser priorities. For example, Russo/Eurasian-centrism and Euro/Western-centrism are both external collective (EC) in orientation. What this indicates is a shift in priority within a quadrant, in this case within the external collective. Where before Russia was concentrated on building its relationships with Europe due to its social and cultural identification with Europe, it has now fundamentally and massively shifted its priority to building relationships with China, Iran, India, and non-European Asia, Africa, and the global south. It has de-emphasized a previous priority within one and the same quadrant. Where priorities are the same in two quadrants, as in Socio-cultural multi-perspectivalism/Ideological, cultural, social hegemony (IC), (EC), both ideological/cultural and geopolitical priorities have shifted significantly in two quadrants, signaling a massive change in worldview and behavior.
Historically, Russia has not been able to depend on other countries. Allies, including Germany, France, Austria, and Great Britain, have become enemies at times during the past three centuries. Since the time of Peter the Great, for some three hundred years, Russia has identified with Europe and attempted to become fully integrated into Western society and culture. That intention came to a screeching halt in 2022 when the West imposed multiple traunches of sanctions. The consequence of those sanctions, which were designed and intended to generate such serious economic harm to Russia that the government would be overturned, have been largely responsible for turning Russia into the most self-sufficient country in the world.
Autarky is primarily an external collective (EC) manifestation of social systems. The opposite of autarky, on a societal level, is interior individual dependency (II). Vassal states like members of the EU and NATO, that have limited autonomy, are focused in the external individual (EI) and collective (EC) quadrants regarding autarky/dependency, interdependency, in a dependent sense.
Allies of the US are in a dependent position; they have no real autonomy. An example of this is the silence that followed the destruction of the NordStream pipelines. Another was Japan's acceptance of the Plaza accords, which destroyed it as an economic competitor of the US and sent its economy into thirty years of stagflation. By comparison, Russia's relationships with China, Iran, and India are interdependent. While multi-perspectivalism may be regarded as an internal collective value (IC), interdependency is an external collective (EC) relationship.
Miriam-Webster defines nationalism as “…exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups.” Globalism is defined as “…a national policy of treating the whole world as a proper sphere for political influence.” Because both nationalism and globalism can be both healthy and unhealthy, it is easy for individuals and nations to take up either with the best of intentions and use that ideology to justify corruption and criminality.
Russia is nationalistic, more so as a result of being on a war footing. However, it is not ultra-nationalistic, as are Ukraine and Israel. The difference is largely one of exclusion and discrimination against minorities. Nationalism might be compared to developing and maintaining an individual identity, something which is necessary but not necessarily healthy, as one can have an unhealthy identity. To submerge one's individuality in a group is sometimes necessary for group problem solving and effort, yet it is intrinsically problematic because it easily substitutes groupthink for autonomy, outside of one's awareness. This can happen among nations as well, as submersion in the Atlantic alliance has resulted in dangerous misinterpretations of the worldviews of Russia, China, and Iran by US allies. The opposition to nationalism can be either an unhealthy interior individual (II) or exterior collective (EC) focus.
Sovereignty/Ideological or legal subjugation
Russia currently frames its dispute with the West as one between sovereignty and globalization. It is insisting, following the UN Charter, that its rights to autonomy and self defense as a sovereign nation be respected. As a national policy, this is an interior individual (II) stance. The West, on the other hand, is insisting, following another element of the UN Charter, on the right of nations to make autonomous choices of confederation with other nation states, another interior individual (II) perspective. Both of these positions are justifiable and the issue is not either/or but of finding the just balance under different geopolitical conditions.
National solidarity (national multi-perspectivalism)/Globalism
Russia's priority here, in contrast to globalism, is that nations have the right to form commercial and military alliances with whomever they wish and to exclude others. Globalism insists on the integration of all nation-states. The tension here is between interior individual (II) intent and exterior collective (EC) system generation.
International law/Rules-based order
International law is relatively exterior and collective (EC), in that it involves objective social norms of justice determined in and by relationship. The “rules-based order” is relatively interior and collective (IC), ambiguous and shifting based on definitions that are convenient at the moment.
Russia has, since about 2000 and the initial election of Putin, taken a major turn toward revival of its connection to its Russian Orthodox traditions and roots. This is remarkable and unexpected for a country affirming a thoroughly atheistic ideology for the previous eighty years, but this return appears to be widespread and authentic rather than simply an imposition by the leadership for propaganda purposes. We can confidently describe the revival of Christian Russian orthodoxy as a conservative turn toward traditional values that the West has largely forsaken but which are still very much alive throughout the global south, regardless of religious affiliation. This has in consequence strengthened the appeal of the Russian worldview in places like Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Africa.
While religions are much more than ideologies or systems of values and beliefs, the interior collective (IC) quadrant is the major domain by which one is differentiated from another and indeed from secularity. While secularity is a belief system, it is one principally chosen and expressed by individuals, with the emphasis being placed not on tradition or this or that statement of faith but on the right of people to choose their own belief system, or none at all. Russia and much of the global south view the results of such an external individual (EI) focus with increasing horror and condescension while the West views the interior collective (IC) reinvigoration of Christianity as a revanchist turn by Russia. This represents a major and growing cultural chasm between the Russian and Western worldviews.
“Family values”/Cultural, identity diversity
An important aspect of the Russian embrace of traditional Russian Orthodox Christianity is patriarchy, something which has been anathema in the West for at least some forty years now. In addition, Russia publicly upholds the importance of the traditional family unit of mother, father, and children. This is another important aspect of the split between interior collective and exterior individual priorities that differentiate Russian and Global South worldviews from that of the West.
As a third aspect of the Russian turn toward Orthodox Christianity, it joins much of the Global South in rebelling against the cultural embrace of homosexuality and gender fluidity that is currently a major priority in the Western worldview. This difference in interior individual (II) worldviews is important because of how central gender is to personal identity. This may be the pressure point that most differentiates the turn of Russian culture in the interior collective (II) quadrant away from Western culture, and it may also be the major signifier of how Russia has fundamentally and decisively thrown in its lot with China and other collectivist worldviews.
Just how real and lasting is the ongoing pro-Eurasian shift of Russia? Economically, Russia has in the last year massively reoriented itself away from Western markets toward those in Asia and the Global South, essentially replacing its energy trade with Europe with China, India, and the Global South while developing trade in non-dollar/Euro denominated currencies. However, culturally Russia remains more Western than Asian and would appear to remain so.
Self-reliance; trust in Eurasian values, worldviews, and organizations/Diplomacy with, trust in Western values, worldviews, and organization
Putin and Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, have both stated that the West is not “agreement capable,” meaning that it is not trustworthy and is liable to break any treaty that it makes. This unwillingness to trust the West has translated into both increasing Russian self-reliance and a turning to stronger relations with nation-states that demonstrate a greater capacity to be “agreement capable.” At present, the standouts in this area for Russia are China, Iran, and India. For Russia, this represents a shift from one set of interior collective (IC) priorities to another.
Acceptance, internalization of Western epistemology, logic, ontology/De-emphasis of traditional (pre-Peter the Great) Russian epistemology, logic, ontology
Much like China, India, and Iran, Russia has internalized Western science and philosophy without thereby abandoning its own unique worldview. This is another aspect of a profound shift away from long-standing values and priorities in the interior collective (IC) while retaining its essence. The interior collective worldview of Russia has remained intact while it has adopted exterior individual and collective manifestations of the Western worldview. This is both confusing and disturbing to Westerners, who tend to assume that the internalization of Western forms, such as privatization and the importation of Western goods, media, and culture, results in the internalization of Western values and the adoption of its worldview. The persistence of Chinese, Indian, Global South, and Iranian worldviews all indicate that this is hardly the case, and Russia is perhaps the most threatening demonstration of that principle, because Slavic peoples “look” Western and are assumed to share the Western worldview.
Axiology based on Christian concepts of morality/De-emphasis of Western “human rights” -based morality
For Westerners, human rights are synonymous with the adoption of the Western worldview. This is often summarized by an appeal to “democracy.” The idea that other worldviews and the nations that espouse them can and will safeguard human rights, regardless of their governmental structure, is met in the West with denial and disbelief. The assumption of the superiority of the Western worldview due to its advocacy of human rights dates from the French and American Revolutions in the 1700's and the entire notion of the “Enlightenment,” which is a phenomenon of Western, not world, history. The idea that China, Russia, or Iran safeguard human rights is met with great skepticism and even derision in the West, despite ample evidence that these are highly developed civilizations with strong legal traditions protecting the rights of individuals. The Russian worldview has adopted, since Peter the Great, the values Western enlightenment rights and freedoms in the interior collective (IC) quadrant. This is not to claim that Russia never violates its citizens' human rights. To argue that point would be as foolish as to argue that the US and European nations never violate the rights of their citizens.
Axiology based on reciprocity of respect and trust/De-emphasis on stated intent or legal agreement
Underlying and underpinning the principle of sovereignty is the principle of reciprocity, itself based on the values of respect and trust. In the Russian worldview, respect and trust exist prior to stated intent or self-image as a respectful, trustworthy, reciprocating individual in the interior individual quadrant. I can believe that I am reciprocating, an interior quadrant value, but that intent is not enough, in the Russian worldview. Similarly, there can and should exist legal enforcers of reciprocity in the external collective (EC) quadrant - laws for commercial transactions, for example - but again, in the Russian worldview, laws are necessary but not intrinsic to the Russian worldview. Respect, trust, and reciprocity exist, in the Russian worldview, most fundamentally in the realm of character, which straddles the interior individual and collective quadrants. While character is indeed identity in the interior individual (II) quadrant, it is more than intent or self-image. Character requires validation in the exterior quadrants in order for individuals or nations to be trusted and believed.
Strong defensive military/Less reliance on cooperation for security
This is due to Russia's lack of geographical barriers to attack, like mountains and oceans, which has led to multiple invasions. By comparison, the West relies much more on cooperation with allies for security. The West's military is largely offensive, not defensive.
Societal, civilizational development/Empire
The one period of Russian armed expansionism, post World War Two, turned out badly. Since 2000, Russia has focused on its civilizational development and military defense. This represents two different models of system organization in the external collective (EC) quadrant. The West has at least a five hundred year history of armed expansionism. It continues today in the form of color revolutions, occupations (as in Syria), and various special forces operations throughout the global south.
Social, industrial development/Colonization
Moscow was recently recognized as the most livable big city in the world. The IMF has issued a report noting that contrary to widely held expectations, the Russian economy and industrial base is growing and is predicted to continue to do so. Oligarchs have either left Russia or lost power within Russia in consequence to the war in Ukraine. That is not to say that none remain, or that they are not a significant force, only that they are less so than before the ward. A study by Yale University found that the US is an oligarchy, not a democracy.
For the eighty years of its existence, the Soviet Union repudiated the traditional Russian worldview. The worldview of the Soviet Union was subsequently repudiated by both the West and by Russia itself. From the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989 until 2000, it was difficult to point to any Russian worldview. Since 2000, a Russian worldview built largely around orthodox Christianity, traditional family values, a defensive military posture, self-sufficiency, and sovereignty has increasingly gained internal coherence and stature among Russians. This has been accompanied by reduced mortality and an increased standard of living within Russia. The trend toward increased citizen identity with an autonomous and authentic national worldview currently shows no signs of slowing.
How the West will deal with this reality remains to be seen. At present, doubling down with sanctions and militarism continues, with no signs of abatement. This is forcing a critical confrontation of worldviews, one that certainly must reach a crescendo soon. With the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moving the hands of the nuclear clock to ninety seconds to midnight, the closest it has ever been, the world is currently passing through perhaps the most critical moment of the entirety of the Anthropocene.
 This appears to be largely due to Putin's influence. He is a trained lawyer with a strong legalistic sense.
 “In the archaic stage that Gebser posits as the first structure of human consciousness, there is no separation between human beings and the universe. It is the state of perfect identity. The magic state is characterized by every point in the world being equivalent to every other point, although for the first time humans begin to have a world rather than be the world. In the mythic structure, there is a move from timelessness to rhythmicity, from unity to polarity. I take Gebser's point to be that these stages are no less advanced than the mental structure even though they come before in terms of emergence. All four of these structures are necessary for the integral structure to come into being as their integration.
In practical terms, this means that the civilizations have different balances among the structures from that of the modern West. They are not behind in any sense. They are just different and need to learn the mental outlook from the West only to become fuller just as the West needs to reclaim the experiences of oneness and polarity that have been lost. The tragedy of history is perhaps that when a new structure has emerged the previous one has tended to be suppressed rather than preserved. That is the reason there is no progress in history. Gebser also believes that the progressive view of history is itself a reflection of the mental structure that will be integrated into the next structure of consciousness, the integral.
I think that integral philosophers believe that the new spiritual age will arise first in the West. The West is ahead in terms of spiral dynamics (a progressive stance). And the West will continue to lead as it takes in aspects of Eastern philosophy. But if you look at the matter from Gebser's integral standpoint, no such inference can be made. No group is ahead or behind. This doesn't mean that Gebser specifically made this point. He only had a deep understanding of modern European culture and therefore looked for signs of the integral in present-day Europe and found them.” (Kelly, W., (2023) Personal Correspondence.)
Also, see Kelly, W., Structures of Consciousness: Wilber, Gebser, Thompson. Medium.
 For example, “Europe Has Spent €792 Billion To Shield Citizens From Energy Crisis.”, www.zerohedge.com
 In the UN vote on the Ukraine war on February 23, 2023, while 141 nations voted for Russia to withdraw, 39 either voted against the resolution or abstained. Those 39 represent some 50% of the world's population and well over half of the global economy.
The following essay provides five reasons why the Global South is not supporting the West in Ukraine:
Mehta, K., “5 Reasons Why Much Of Global South Isn't Automatically Supporting The West In Ukraine” Eurasia Review
 Security for one side should not interfere with the security of the other side. “Indivisible security” is included in several treaties with Russia. Its position is that the expansion of NATO threatens its security and thereby breaches those treaties.
"Russia's Lavrov urges Washington to drop aggressive rhetoric in phone call with Blinken", newsaf.cgtn.com
“In international relations, the security dilemma (also referred to as the spiral model) is when the increase in one state's security (such as increasing its military strength) leads other states to fear for their own security (because they do not know if the security-increasing state intends to use its growing military for offensive purposes). Consequently, security-increasing measures can lead to tensions, escalation or conflict with one or more other parties, producing an outcome which no party truly desires; a political instance of the prisoner's dilemma.” (Wikipedia)
Russia's security demands of the US, NATO as of December, 2021:
“[W]hile ignoring our concerns, the United States and NATO are referring to the right of states to freely choose specific methods to ensure their security. But this is not only about providing someone with the right to freely choose methods to ensure their security. This is only one part of the well-known indivisible security formula. The second inalienable part implies that it is impossible to strengthen anyone's security at the expense of other states' security.” (Kremlin.ru)
 As of February, 2023, there have been ten traunches of sanctions: "Tracking sanctions against Russia", reuters.com
 “Russia is fully self-sufficient in basic foodstuffs, it is consistently venturing into global markets, and is one of the leading exporters in a number of positions…” Vladimir Putin. The grain harvest in Russia has exceeded 100 million tons for 6 consecutive years.
"Putin: Russia is now fully self-sufficient in basic food products", tass.com
Russia's budget revenues from the oil and gas industry grew 28% in 2022, amounting to $36.5 billion. Oil production in Russia rose 2% in 2022 to 535 million tonnes, while exports of the fuel increased by 7.5%.
 Dow, K. “How the Plaza Accord Helped the US Destroy the Japanese Economy.” Medium
 “The sovereignty of all states, including Ukraine, should be respected, Russian President Vladimir Putin told CBS's '60 Minutes,' stressing that he knows “for sure” that the US was involved in the ouster of President Yanukovich in 2014.
Speaking to veteran journalist Charlie Rose, Putin said that Russia respects the sovereignty of Ukraine, adding that “at no time in the past, now or in the future has or will Russia take any part in actions aimed at overthrowing the legitimate government.”
He added that Moscow “would like other countries to respect the sovereignty of other states, including Ukraine. Respecting the sovereignty means preventing coups, unconstitutional actions and illegitimate overthrowing of the legitimate government.”
It is “absolutely unacceptable” to address issues through unconstitutional means, he said referring to the coup in Ukraine in February 2014.
“Our partners in the United States are not trying to hide the fact that they supported those opposed to President Yanukovich,” he said.
Putin added that he “knows for sure” that the US had in some way helped oust Viktor Yanukovich. Moscow knows “who had meetings and worked with people who overthrew” the ex-president, as well as “when and where they did it,” he said.
“We know the ways the assistance was provided, we know how much they paid them, we know which territories and countries hosted trainings and how it was done, we know who the instructors were. We know everything. Well, actually, our US partners are not keeping it a secret,” he said. (https://www.rt.com/news/316687-putin-interview-sovereignty-ukraine/; website blocked)
 For example, the US and EU recognized the sovereignty of Kosovo, independent of local elections and democratic processes while denying the sovereignty of Crimea and the Donbass, although they held elections which international observers certified as democratic and fair. On March 16, 2014, Crimea held a referendum on joining Russia: 83% voted, 96.7% said 'yes' to re-integration. Crimean authorities referred to the International Court of Justice ruling on Kosovo declaration of independence as one of the justifications for their own succession from Ukraine.
“The difference between the two cases is primarily not in a more severe versus less severe violation of international law; it is in the legitimacy of the two actions lent by the historical processes that led to them. NATO's use of force in order to terminate the persecution of the Kosovars and the severe humanitarian situation created a point of reference for the Russian Federation, which Moscow did not miss the opportunity to use. With this, however, Russia, rather than respecting international law, has de facto recognized that the illegal activity of one international actor should legitimize the illegal action of the other. With this, the Russian Federation followed the West into the slippery slope of weakening the legal foundations of the international system.”
"Kosovo 1999 and Crimea 2014: Similarities and Differences", connections-qj.org
 This conclusion is based on multiple historical events: The dishonoring by Trump of the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) treaty with Iran forged during the Obama administration, the admissions by Poroshenko, Merkel, (French president), Bennet, and Zelensky that eight years of Minsk II negotiations were a ruse intended to buy time for the arming of Ukraine, the breaking of promises made to Gorbachev in 1990 not to incorporate any countries in the previous Soviet sphere of influence into NATO, the ongoing refusal to negotiate peace in Ukraine, and the forsaking by the US of almost all nuclear arms treaties.
 Because of the pivotal nature of these countries on the world stage, the rise of various treaties and treaty organizations, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Belt-Road Initiative, and BRICS +, represents a direct and profound threat to the long-standing ascendency of the Western worldview.
 Hersch, S, “How America took out the NordStream Pipeline.”, seymourhersh.substack.com
 "List of Largest Empires - European Colonial Empires", www.liquisearch.com
This is also reflected by the famous quip by the first Secretary General of NATO, Lord Ismay, when he said that its purpose is to keep the Americans in, the Russians out, and the Germans down. It is also seen in the NATO wars on Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, which were clearly offensive. Russia, in contrast, has configured its military based on a defensive posture. This is seen in its reliance on defensive armaments and eschewing of the right to a first nuclear attack. Those who argue that Russia's war in Ukraine is aggressive can only do so by ignoring the previous eight years of war on ethnic Russians by the West via its proxy Ukraine, following the US planned, funded, and supported coup in Kiev.
Russia relies less on cooperation with the West for security because the West has refused such cooperation. Clinton turned down Putin's request for Russia to be admitted to NATO; there was never any serious interest in including Russia in the EU, and in 2022 the West blew up NordStream 1 and 2, and with it, destroyed energy cooperation between Russia and the West.
 “The UN has published its global cities ranking for 2022, and has awarded Moscow the top spot among large cities for quality of life and infrastructure, commending the metropolis for its transportation and its citizens' well-being.” (https://www.rt.com/russia/548199-un-named-moscow-best-city/: website blocked)
The International Monetary Fund estimated in January, 2023 that Russia will avoid a recession in 2023 and expand by 0.3% after shrinking by 2.2% in 2022.
"The IMF's outlook on Russia is too rosy to be true", www.reuters.com
 Boren, Z., “Major Study Finds the US is an Oligarchy.”, www.businessinsider.com