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Liam Denning

Putin Has Squandered the Soviet Energy Legacy, Part 1

A conversation with Soviet and Russian energy specialist Thane Gustafson the country’s oil and gas history and how it relates to the invasion of Ukraine.

Russia’s energy legacy has been destroyed.

Russia’s energy legacy has been destroyed.

Photographer: Gavrill Grigorov/AFP via Getty Images

As it wages war on Ukraine, Russia is also waging an energy war against Europe, its biggest export market. That relationship has endured for decades, even during the Cold War. Under President Vladimir Putin, Russia has monetized that Soviet energy legacy to reassert itself. But, post-invasion, will there even be a Putin energy legacy?

To answer this question, I connected over Zoom recently with Thane Gustafson, a professor of government at Georgetown University and a Russian energy specialist. Over the past decade, he has authored books on oil, gas and climate change as they relate to Russia and the Soviet Union. You can find him on Substack, where he writes about the impact of sanctions on Russia.