Russia Overtakes Japan to Become Fourth Largest Economy in the World

By Michael Pröbsting, Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 5 July 2024,




According to recently revised data from the World Bank, Russia’s economy has overtaken Japan to become the fourth largest in the world in PPP terms (Purchase Power Parity). [1]


In fact, it did already do so in 2021 but the World Bank recognised this only now because previous calculations were based on 2017 data. [2] Russia did already overtake Germany last year to become the fifth biggest economy in adjusted terms. [3]


Ben Aris from bne IntelliNews, a news wire agency which is partner to major Western media corporations like Bloomberg or Reuters, points out: “Even the World Bank’s PPP adjusted size of the economy may be an underestimate. The World Bank also estimates that 39% of Russia’s economy is in the shadows, while the shadow economy only makes up 10% of Japan’s economy, which would add an additional $2.5 trillion to Russia’s $6.4 trillion PPP adjusted economic size – still not enough to overtake India’s $14.6 trillion PPP adjusted GDP value, but widening the gap with Japan further.[4]


There is no reason to suspect these figures since it is hardly necessary to emphasise that the World Bank is a global institution controlled by U.S. imperialism. Hence, it is definitely not a Putinista source which would be tempted to exaggerate Russia’s economic growth.


There are two important conclusions to be drawn from this development.


First, these figures demonstrate once more that Western sanctions have failed to seriously weaken Russia. When the U.S. and Western Europe imposed unprecedented sanctions on Russia, after Putin started his reactionary invasion of the Ukraine, Western politicians claimed that these would force Putin to retreat. In March 2022, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen declared with certainty that "the Russian economy will be devastated as a consequence of what we’ve already done." [5]


In fact, Russia’s economy grew by 3.6% in 2023 and this year the World Bank has already almost trebled its forecast for growth from 1.1% to 3.2%. Such growth rates are higher than in most Western imperialist countries.


Second, Russia economic advance, even under conditions of Western sanctions, confirms the analysis which the RCIT has advocated since a number of years: Russia has not a “weak economy”, it is not a “semi-colony” or a “sub-imperialism”. It is rather an imperialist Great Power in its own right – even if the U.S. and China remain the two strongest powers on the planet. It is one of that handful of powers which shapes global developments. [6]


Hence, socialists must not view Russia as a “lesser evil” or even an “anti-imperialist” force. It is an enemy of the workers and oppressed like all other imperialist powers. Socialists should therefore not support Russia (or any other Great Power) in inter-imperialist conflicts. And in conflicts, where the Kremlin attacks smaller countries and oppressed peoples – like in Chechnya, Syria or the Ukraine – socialists must defend the later.


The fundamental principle of working-class internationalism and anti-imperialism – with the oppressed people – always, with the imperialists – never! – remains valid also in the case of the Kremlin.


[1] See World Bank, GDP, PPP (current international $) - Russian Federation resp. Japan, and

[2] Ben Aris: Russia overtakes Japan to become the fourth largest economy in the world in PPP terms, Intellinews, 4 June 2024,

[3] Ben Aris: Leading emerging markets move rapidly up World Bank’s PPP GDP and FDI confidence rankings, 9

April 2024,

[4] Ben Aris: Russia overtakes Japan …

[5] CNN: Russia’s economy will be ‘devastated’ by sanctions and further sanctions are under consideration, Janet Yellen says, 10 March 2022,

[6] The RCIT has published numerous documents about capitalism in Russia and its rise to an imperialist power. The most important ones are several pamphlets by Michael Pröbsting: The Peculiar Features of Russian Imperialism. A Study of Russia’s Monopolies, Capital Export and Super-Exploitation in the Light of Marxist Theory, 10 August 2021,; by the same author: Lenin’s Theory of Imperialism and the Rise of Russia as a Great Power, August 2014,; Russia as a Great Imperialist Power. The formation of Russian Monopoly Capital and its Empire, 18 March 2014,