Putinomics: Power and Money in Resurgent Russia

Putinomics: Power and Money in Resurgent Russia

Putinomics: Power and Money in Resurgent Russia

Putinomics: Power and Money in Resurgent Russia


When Vladimir Putin first took power in 1999, he was a little-known figure ruling a country that was reeling from a decade and a half of crisis. In the years since, he has reestablished Russia as a great power. How did he do it? What principles have guided Putin's economic policies? What patterns can be discerned? In this new analysis of Putin's Russia, Chris Miller examines its economic policy and the tools Russia's elite have used to achieve its goals. Miller argues that despite Russia's corruption, cronyism, and overdependence on oil as an economic driver, Putin's economic strategy has been surprisingly successful.

Explaining the economic policies that underwrote Putin's two-decades-long rule, Miller shows how, at every juncture, Putinomics has served Putin's needs by guaranteeing economic stability and supporting his accumulation of power. Even in the face of Western financial sanctions and low oil prices, Putin has never been more relevant on the world stage.


“There are two absolutely very well-known historical experiments in the world—East Germany and West Germany, and North Korea and South Korea. Now these are cases that everyone can see!” So spoke Vladimir Putin, president of the Russian Federation, in an address to the Duma in 2012. As a former kgb operative in communist East Germany, Putin knew of what he spoke. Communism, he later explained, was a “historic futility. Communism and the power of the Soviets did not make Russia a prosperous country.” Its main legacy was “dooming our country to lagging steadily behind economically advanced countries. It was a blind alley, far away from the mainstream of world civilizations.” Putin is not widely known as a critic of communist economics. the collapse of the Soviet Union, he famously declared, was “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.” “Whoever does not miss the Soviet Union has no heart,” Putin said on a different occasion. Less well known, he also warned: “Whoever wants it back has no brain.”

The Kremlin’s wars in Ukraine and Syria and its attempt to reconstruct the “sphere of privileged interests” that Russia lost when the Soviet Union collapsed have only heightened the popular sense that Vladimir Putin and the Russian elite are dead set on building the Soviet empire anew. in economic terms, many people think, Russia’s failings since Putin came to power in 1999 mirror the dysfunctions of the Soviet economy. Ask a typical person their impressions of Russia’s economy and words such as corruption, kleptocracy, and petrostate come to mind.

These descriptions get much right. the policy failures and missed opportunities of the past two decades are plentiful. Whole books are devoted to exposing the corruption of Russia’s rulers—and indeed they are corrupt. One U.S. senator has described Russia as “a gas station masquerading as a country”—and indeed, oil and gas play as large a role as ever. Other analysts . . .

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