The History and Politics of Russia's Relations with OPEC
Jaffe, Amy Myers
As the second-largest producer and exporter of petroleum in the world, Russia has considerable weight in exercising its control over the international oil market. However, it remains a nonmember of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which is the dominant player in the global market. Although it frequently attends OPEC meetings and has made many pledges to cooperate with OPEC production cuts, Russia has a history of reneging on its promises to the cartel and has repeatedly acted to undermine the authority of OPEC in determining prices on the world market. Russia’s self-image as an industrial superpower motivates it to behave in a contrarian manner, despite the fact that the global economic crisis has hit Russia particularly hard, such that this environment membership in OPEC might be particularly beneficial. As a result of Russia’s assertions of power and sense of entitlement, Saudi Arabia, currently the world’s leading petroleum producer and exporter, is not inclined to trust the Russians. On the same note, countries that have attempted to overtake Saudi Arabia’s position of supremacy in the past have met with dire fates. Additionally, Russia’s conflict with Saudi Arabia has proved detrimental to many of its political goals in the past, in regard Saudi Arabia’s historical role as a major counter-Soviet influence. Due to these various points of contention, Russia is not likely to become a full-fledged member of OPEC at any time in the foreseeable future.