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Few have studied the Russian oil and gas industry longer or with a broader political perspective than Gustafson. The result is this superb book, which is not merely a fascinating, subtle history of the industry since the Soviet Union’s collapse but also the single most revealing work on Russian politics and economics published in the last several years.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia has become increasingly addicted to oil, which has underwritten bad policies and allowed Putin to buy off key constituencies and the masses. But petroleum could also hold the key to Russia’s salvation. The supply of cheap oil is running out, and Russia’s best hope of responding to the coming crunch is making the sort of changes liberal reformers have been pushing for years.