Russia is reportedly consulting with its allies on a plan to challenge the nomination of Ajay Banga as the head of the World Bank by US President Joe Biden. Roman Marshavin, the executive director representing Russia and Syria, confirmed that they are still in the process of listing potential candidates and consultations with other countries are ongoing. However, he did not provide any further details and said the decision would be made in Moscow.
The move comes as a surprise and could complicate what was expected to be a smooth succession process. The World Bank halted all programs in Russia and Belarus last March, citing “hostilities against the people of Ukraine” following Russia’s invasion. Despite this, Russia remains a voting member of the World Bank.
Marshavin was quoted by TASS news agency, stating that he was in discussions with other countries about possible candidates, including Russian financiers, foreign economists, former heads of international organizations, and ex-ministers of finance and heads of central banks. He, however, declined to comment on the specifics of the TASS report or which other countries were involved.
Ajay Banga, the ex-Mastercard CEO, has already won support from India, Ghana, Kenya, and Bangladesh. He received positive reviews from France and Germany at last month’s meeting of Group of 20 finance officials. However, the US Treasury has declined to comment on the possible Russian challenge.
Although the bank will accept nominations from other countries until March 29, Biden’s nomination almost assures that Banga will take up the role. Since the end of World War II, someone from the United States, the lender’s dominant shareholder, has headed the World Bank.
A challenge from Russia or an allied country is unlikely to change the outcome given the shareholding structure. Still, it could expose simmering tensions between the United States and Western nations and China, the World Bank’s third-largest shareholder, over the bank and other global financial institutions.
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