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  • Author: Andrew Weiss, Eugene Rumer
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Amid the widespread attention the Kremlin’s recent inroads in Africa have attracted, there has been surprisingly little discussion of South Africa, a country which, for nearly a decade, unquestionably represented Russia’s biggest foreign policy success story on the continent. As relations soared during the ill-starred presidency of Jacob Zuma (2009–2018), the Kremlin sought to wrest a geopolitically significant state out of the West’s orbit and to create a partnership that could serve as a springboard for expanded influence elsewhere in Africa. Moscow’s strategy was multifaceted, capitalizing on well-established close ties with Zuma, a former African National Congress senior intelligence official with extensive Soviet bloc connections. Russian President Vladimir Putin and other senior officials pursued a series of initiatives, such as the inclusion of South Africa in the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) grouping and the launch of ambitious forms of cooperation between state-backed energy interests primarily in the nuclear sector. Yet relations were undermined by the Kremlin’s propensity to overreach, to lean too heavily on the legacy of Cold War–era relationships forged with leaders of national liberation movements, and to take advantage of cultures of corruption. The controversy arising from a massive $76 billion nuclear power plant construction deal triggered strong pushback and legal challenges from South Africa’s institutional checks and balances, civil society groups, and independent media. Key parts of the Russian national security establishment view civil nuclear power exports as an important tool for projecting influence overseas while creating revenue streams for sustaining intellectual and technical capabilities and vital programs inside Russia itself. Yet such cooperation is often a two-edged sword. On the one hand, costly projects such as the one pushed by Zuma typically make little economic sense for the purchasing country, spurring uncomfortable questions about who stands to benefit. On the other hand, heavily subsidized projects pursued mainly for geopolitical reasons risk saddling Russia’s nuclear power monopoly Rosatom with burdens it can ill afford. Ongoing investigations of high-level corruption during the period of so-called state capture under Zuma shed remarkable light on how the Kremlin operates in Africa and other parts of the world. In retrospect, the sustainability of Moscow’s embrace of South Africa was highly questionable due to its paltry tool kit. Russian involvement in the South African economy is miniscule compared to that of other trading partners such as the EU, China, the United States, India, and the UK, accounting for a mere 0.4 percent of South Africa’s foreign trade. While the Soviet Union was an important patron during the anti-apartheid struggle, modern-day Russia offers little in the way of practical assistance for helping South Africa deal with its deep-set economic and societal challenges.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, National Security, Geopolitics, Nuclear Waste
  • Political Geography: Africa, Russia, South Africa
  • Author: Anna Korppoo, Adnan Vatansever
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Regardless of many benefits available to Russia from adopting a more practical approach to climate mitigation, the country remains on the outskirts of the international climate policy debate—an important element of foreign policy in this decade. Russian leaders tend to point to the post-Soviet decline of Russia's greenhouse gas emissions as a major contribution to global climate mitigation efforts. Yet, because the country's carbon intensity remains very high, that stance undermines Russia's role as a serious global climate actor.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Environment, International Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Alexandros Petersen, Katinka Barysch
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Energy has come to symbolise the geopolitics of the 21st century, reflecting countries' diminishing reliance on military and political power. Today, energy is an instrument of geopolitical competition, like nuclear weapons or large armies were during the Cold War. The means of international influence have become more diverse and sophisticated, but the goals remain much the same: national security, power projection, and control over resources and territory.
  • Topic: Economics, Energy Policy, International Trade and Finance, Bilateral Relations, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Central Asia
  • Author: John P. Millhone
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Russia has the world's largest share of fossil energy resources. During the Soviet era, because this wealth of resources insulated the country from global energy crises, citizens never had to worry about conserving energy, and much was squandered. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the situation has improved in western, urban Russia, but great expanses of this vast country continue their inefficient ways. Indeed, recognizing that minimizing waste helps preserve Russia's resources, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev successfully urged the Duma to pass sweeping new energy-efficiency legislation. But more remains to be done to identify how energy resources are used and wasted, and where efficiency might be improved.
  • Topic: Economics, Energy Policy, International Trade and Finance, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: Russia, Soviet Union
  • Author: Martha Brill Olcott
  • Publication Date: 02-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The honeymoon between the Western oil industry and Russian President Vladimir Putin ended in mid-2003 when the Russian procurator's office began arresting Yukos executives. The Kremlin's seemingly sudden attack on private industry surprised the international business community that was expecting investment-friendly behavior from the Russian leadership. After assuming power in late 1999, Putin quickly signaled interest in developing a strong energy partnership with the United States, including increased opportunities for Western firms to invest in Russia's oil and gas industry.
  • Topic: Development, Energy Policy, Industrial Policy
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Asia