Russia’s CIS gas trade during Yeltsin’s Presidencies
This chapter examines Russia’s policies towards the former Soviet states in the energy sector, primarily in relation to gas, during the Yeltsin Presidencies. Russia remained the biggest producer and the main supplier of gas to those former Soviet states that had insufficient energy resources to cover their own needs, in particular the Baltic states, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus. It also controlled the export lines of those republics with abundant energy resources, such as Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, which wanted to export their energy supplies to world markets. The chapter examines whether Russia’s advantageous position as the main producer and supplier of gas, and as the centre of the post-Soviet energy export network, allowed it to exert substantial pressure on FSS states in order to bring them into Russia’s sphere of influence; or whether instead, Russia’s energy policies towards the FSS followed purely economic interests. This chapter shows that Russia’s energy policies towards gas-consuming countries were often a reflection of Russia’s own efforts to correct the unfavourable terms of trade inherited from the Soviet Union and were generally characterised by the pursuit of commercial interests, although geopolitical considerations also played a part. As far as the energy-rich Caspian states are concerned, Russia’s policies were rather more assertive and partly reflected a neo-imperialist mindset among several Russia’s decision-makers.