At Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Washington, DC headquarters today, Marshall Goldman, one of the world's leading authorities on Russia, discussed his new book chronicling Russia's dramatic resurgence on the world stage. ** Listen to the briefing here: [RealAudio streaming / download] [WindowsMedia streaming / download]. Read a transcript of the briefing. View slides distributed during the briefing.
"Make no mistake -- Russia is back," said Goldman, Professor of Economics Emeritus at Wellesley College and Senior Scholar at the Davis Center for Russian Studies at Harvard University. "The key reason for its rebirth is oil and natural gas. Thanks to these natural resources, Vladimir Putin has stabilized the Russian economy, recentralized power in Moscow, and reasserted Russia in world politics.
In Petrostate: Putin, Power, and the New Russia
, Goldman charts the rise of the Russian oil economy from its origins in the 19th Century through the Soviet and post-Soviet eras. He explains how Putin reigned in the oil oligarchs after the fall of the Soviet Union and moved quickly and forcefully to renationalize and refashion Russia's industries into "national champions" -- corporations like Gazprom, largely owned by the state and which do the state's bidding.
Using charts and graphs to illustrate the correlation between increased Russian oil production and a surging national GDP, Goldman said that Russia's resurgence, a mere decade after the 1998 financial collapse, is nothing short of an economic and political miracle.
"One of the biggest reasons for Russia regaining its status as a superpower is Europe's reliance on Russian gas," said Goldman. "If you look at the numbers, you'll see that places like Finland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia are 100% dependent on natural gas imports from Russia. France is at 30%, Germany at 40%, Turkey gets two-thirds of its gas from Russia and the list goes on -- these numbers suggest that Russia once again has tremendous leverage in Europe."
The briefing was moderated by Clifford Gaddy, a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution who has written several books on the Russian economy including the forthcoming Russia's Addiction: the Political Economy of Resource Dependence
(with Barry Ickes). RFE/RL's Russian Service is the leading international broadcaster in Russia, with 24-hour, 7-days-a-week coverage and a nationwide network of correspondents. A highly influential media outlet during the Cold War and the breakup of the Soviet Union, the Russian Service today continues to provide wide-ranging news and analysis under the slogan "local radio with a worldwide perspective."