Petrostate: Putin, Power, and the New Russia

By Marshall I. Goldman | Go to book overview
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Introduction
Russia——Once Again an Energy Superpower

THE AUTHOR AS JAMES BOND

At first I was puzzled. Where were they taking us? For such a big, sleek, glass Moscow high rise, Gazprom’s elevator in its headquarters building was tiny (five people could barely squeeze in) and its hall corridors narrow. This was, after all, the world’s largest producer of natural gas, not to mention Russia’s largest company. Following a short walk we were ushered into a darkened, silent room where nothing seemed to be happening. Strange.

It was only when all the members of our group had made their way up on the elevators that the room suddenly came alive. Then for a time I felt as if I had wandered into the NASA Space Center, or was it a James Bond movie set? All that was missing was that out of body voice intoning, “Welcome, Mr. Goldman. We were expecting you.”

In front of me, covering the whole 100-foot wall of the room, was a map with a spiderweb-like maze of natural gas pipelines reaching from East Siberia west to the Atlantic Ocean and from the Arctic ocean south to the Caspian and Black Seas. Manipulating this display were Gazprom dispatchers, three men controlling the flow of Gazprom’s gas to East and West European consumers of this Russian natural gas monopoly. No wonder there was tight security. There was also a sense

-1-

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