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Russian Challenges

Between Freedom and Energy

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Edited By Galina Michaleva and Andrey Ryabov

This book analyses the influence that oil and gas have on various sides of Russia’s contemporary internal and foreign policy. On the one hand, the factor oil and gas enabled the ruling elite to strengthen the state institutions and to stabilize Russia’s political and social system after decades of instability. Relying on the new economic opportunities contributed to the growth of revenues of the mass sections of population, and owing to the increased export of natural fuel resources Russia significantly strengthened its influence on international politics. But on the other hand, authoritarian tendencies increased in politics. The contributions of this book inquire into the gradually declining role of independent actors in relation to the government, and the increasing authority of the elites in power who continue to represent their corporate interests as being national ones.

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Nina Poussenkova - In Search of “Oildorado” …East Siberia and the Far East: Russia’s Petroleum Frontier - 53

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Nina Poussenkova In Search of “Oildorado” … East Siberia and the Far East: Russia’s Petroleum Frontier Until recently, the double-headed eagle of Russia was gazing in the western direction. Historically, Europe, linked to its eastern neighbour by oil and gas pipelines, has been Russia’s main trading partner in the energy sphere. During the 1990s and early 2000s, Russian oil and gas companies made sporadic efforts to diversify their activities beyond Europe, but these attempts were not fully supported by the state, whose energy strategy was mainly focused upon Europe. However, the problem of strengthening Russia’s energy security has currently become one of the top priorities of the RF govern- ment, which is now developing the eastern vector. The “turning east” initiative is also determined by the urgent need to strengthen the national security of Russia through revitalization of East Siberia and the Far East, including through the development of their huge untapped hydrocarbon potential. In terms of strengthening her energy security, Russia intends to diversify the export destinations of Russian oil and gas, which are now predominantly focused on the stagnating European markets, by establishing a foothold in the rapidly growing Asia-Pacific countries and accessing US consumers. Geopolitically, Russia also needs to develop a new relationship with China, since there is now serious concern that Russia’s East may turn into a “resource hinterland” for its southern neighbour. The key question is whether Russia will be able to repeat the unprecedented accomplishment of the 1960s and 1970s, when the USSR launched...

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