The Geopolitics of Russian Energy

July 29, 2009 | 00:00

The geopolitics of Russian energy
Looking back, looking forward

Russia is a major player in both oil and gas exports, and much of the country's current and likely future economic growth is based on the income these exports will generate, particularly when high market prices prevail. When prices and demand decline drastically as they have recently, dependence on export income becomes a burden. Russia knows that oil and gas revenues cannot and should not form the sole foundation for its growth in the coming years, but if not oil and gas, then what?

What happens after 2009? Will negative rates of growth continue, or will the oil sector plateau for a handful of years before securing the basis for a return to a period of growth once again? But where will the new supplies of oil and gas come from to support that growth? Finding and developing these new supplies will be costly and time consuming and may not be adequate to cover both export and domestic demands.

For Russia, the global financial crisis has intruded on plans for military reform, a lesson brought home by the Georgian war. The West does not have a confident measure of Russia’s true military, financial, and economic strength, nor does the West have an understanding of who is really in charge, Medvedev or Putin. This new report examines all these issues and makes projections for the future.

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