Russia's Economic Performance and Policies and Their Implications for the United States [Updated November 5, 2008]   [open pdf - 173KB]

"The Russian economy has grown impressively since 1999 and, by some measures, has been one of the fastest growing economies in the world. The growth has brought an improvement in the standard of living of the average Russian citizen and has brought economic stability that Russia had not experienced in at least a decade. This strong performance is a major factor in the popular support that former President (now Prime Minister) Putin enjoys-- some 70%-80% of the population view him favorably. The improvement in the Russian economy is also arguably a factor in the boldness with which the Putin leadership has reasserted Russia's status as a world power, challenging the United States, Europe, the other former Soviet states in economic and national security areas. The Russian economy is highly dependent on the production and export of oil, gas, and other natural resources. Its success has largely been the result of record breaking world energy prices, although prudent fiscal policies have also helped to promote economic stability. However, oil dependence could prove to be a double-edged sword. The Putin regime's failure to complete important economic reforms and its penchant for re-asserting government control over key economic sectors also loom among the possible roadblocks down the road. Russia's dependence on oil and other weak spots in the economy have been exposed by the 2008 credit crisis and other events. Although its influence has been greatly diminished since the Soviet period, Russia remains a formidable force on the global stage, and its influence seems to be growing. Russia's economy is large enough to influence global economic conditions. Many European countries and former Soviet states are highly dependent on Russian natural gas. Russia is a significant player on a number of issues critical to the United States, for example, nuclear proliferation by Iran and North Korea. Russia's perceived national interests do not always match those of the United States, creating an environment for disagreement if not conflict."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL34512
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