Petrostate: Putin, Power, and the New Russia

Marshall Goldman

Oxford University Press, 2008

Agent: Sandra Dijkstra

In the aftermath of the financial collapse of August 1998, it looked as if Russia's day as a superpower had come and gone. That it should recover and reassert itself after less than a decade is nothing short of an economic and political miracle.

Based on extensive research, including several interviews with Vladimir Putin, this revealing book chronicles Russia's dramatic reemergence on the world stage, illuminating the key reason for its rebirth: the use of its ever-expanding energy wealth to reassert its traditional great power ambitions. In his deft, informative narrative, Marshall Goldman traces how this has come to be, and how Russia is using its oil-based power as a lever in world politics. The book provides an informative overview of oil in Russia, traces Vladimir Putin's determined effort to reign in the upstart oil oligarchs who had risen to power in the post-Soviet era, and describes Putin's efforts to renationalize and refashion Russia's industries into state companies and his vaunted "national champions" corporations like Gazprom, largely owned by the state, who do the bidding of the state. Goldman shows how Russia paid off its international debt and has gone on to accumulate the world's third largest holdings of foreign currency reserves--all by becoming the world's largest producer of petroleum and the world's second largest exporter. Today, Vladimir Putin and his cohort have stabilized the Russian economy and recentralized power in Moscow, and fossil fuels (oil and natural gas) have made it all possible. 

The story of oil and gas in Russia is a tale of discovery, intrigue, corruption, wealth, misguidance, greed, patronage, nepotism, and power. Marshall Goldman tells this story with panache, as only one of the world's leading authorities on Russia could.

"One of America's most seasoned Kremlin-watchers, Goldman's snappily written Petrostate argues boldly that Russia has become an energy superpower with a strong political agenda."
The Economist

"This may be Goldman's best book, and that's saying a lot. Focusing on Putin's Russia with a scholar's commitment to deep and meaningful research and a reporter's eye for detail and color, Goldman has explained why and how Russia has again emerged as a global power. The answer is oil. At inflated prices, it leads directly to inflated national aspirations and further down the road to dangers of a totally unpredictable nature. Read and learn."
Marvin Kalb, former Moscow bureau chief for CBS News

"Few developments are likely to reshape the contours of international politics over the next decade more than Russia's ascent to energy superpower. And no one can tell the story of that ascent and the challenges it presents with better knowledge or flair for detail than Marshall Goldman."
Mark R. Beissinger, Professor of Politics, Princeton University

"In Petrostate, he treats petroleum as the key to Russian power, devoting the first half of his brief and very readable book to a fast-paced history of oil in Russia's economic growth from the mid-nineteenth century to the end of the twentieth."
—The Nation

"A superb, readable description of Vladimir Putin's role in the emergence of Russia as a successful and potentially threatening petrostate. As a bonus Goldman also provides a concise survey of Russian political and economic history, with emphasis upon the growth of its oil and gas industries from the earliest days to the present."
James R. Millar, Professor of Economics and International Affairs, George Washington University

"'What is good for Gazprom is good for the world!' This emphatic claim by a prominent Russian energy official lies at the core of Marshall Goldman's timely and sobering new study of Moscow's petroleum industry. Putin is at the center of Goldman's readable study of the resurgence of Russian power based on petro-dollars. But the author combines sound history with economic analysis to come to the important conclusion that the new assertiveness of the Kremlin is here to stay."
Norman M. Naimark, Robert and Florence McDonnell Professor in East European Studies, Stanford University