Briefing Paper

Project: Russia and Eurasia Programme

John Lough
  • Russia's large energy resources are a mainstay of its foreign policy and an essential source of its current political power projection and international prestige. These reserves can act as a source of economic attraction for neighbours and partners. They are a significant factor in bilateral relations with neighbours that can be traded for political and economic benefit.
  • Russia also uses its energy relations as a means of achieving economic and political influence through non-traditional and non-transparent mechanisms. At times, Russia employs energy in coercive ways and to build patterns of dependence.
  • While Russsia's energy exports give it international clout, the current development and export model has created a dynamic that has undermined trust and at times created counterproductive outcomes with both CIS and EU countries.
  • The changing external environment and pressures to develop new Russian sources of oil and gas production may force changes. Russia may be pushed to run its energy sector more efficiently with greater foreign investment, closer relations with foreign partners and increased mutual market access. If this happens, Russia might develop a qualitatively different energy-based influence across a much wider area.

Project The Means and Ends of Russia's Influence Abroad >>