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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Drunk On Oil: Russian Foreign Policy 2000-2007


Over the past seven years, oil has climbed steadily in price, while at the same time Russian foreign policy has become more assertive. Many commentators have linked these two phenomena, claiming that such aggression is due to “petroconfidence” – implying that the increase in the price of energy resources is causing or enabling this increased aggression. This paper attempts to analyze whether or not such linkage is empirically justified, finding that it is. The author measures a newly constructed metric of Russian aggression against the price of oil, to see if the relationship is statistically extant. The paper goes on to dissect the various ways in which oil resources can impact foreign policy decision-making, and scrutinizes potential alternative reasons for alterations in Russian foreign policy decisions. Finally, future trends in regard to oil price, Russian energy production and Russian political leadership are outlined, with the conclusion assessing the implications for the United States.

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