By mid-century, climate change will be a game-changer for Russia. The worldwide energy transition and the coming decline of fossil fuels will cut out a large part of its export revenues. Yet Russia has few alternatives, and so far Russia’s leaders are doing little to prepare the economy for this fundamental change, or to offset the direct damage climate change will do inside the country. All this coincides with the approaching end of the Putin era, bringing to power a new generation of Russians, who will have new opportunities but will also face a weaker Russia than at any time in the past century.

Klimat: Russia in the Age of Klimat Change.

Presentation with the Harriman Institute at Columbia University. November 12, 2021

The Bridge: Natural Gas in a Redivided Europe.

The Bridge: Natural Gas in a Redivided Europe

In this 2020 book I argue that despite Europe’s geopolitical divisions, natural gas unites Europe’s nations in mutual self-interest–provided that peace prevails. The book also explores the future of natural gas in Europe in the era of LNG and climate change.

Reviews are in for The Bridge

“What an excellent book.  Imagine somebody — in this case Thane Gustafson — taking all those snippets of gas history you used to read about and turning them into a coherent, well-written narrative.  The Dutch disease, Norwegian gas, the origins of Gazprom and Western Siberian reserves, the French decision to go nuclear, and much more.  It’s all here.  Every topic should have a book like this about it.”

—Tyler Cowen, in Marginal Revolution

There is plenty of drama in “The Bridge” by Thane Gustafson, from secret Cold War-era meetings in an Austrian castle to the tale of Ukraine’s former prime minister, revolutionary and one-time “gas princess,” Yulia Tymoshenko.

“A richly detailed analysis written with a relaxed, lucid style”

“A readable, intelligent, even-handed historical interpretation”


Two Shock Waves

Two waves of change have intersected in Europe over the past forty years. Russian business moved west, as Gazprom entered Western Europe, especially Germany. EU legislation moved east, as the EU Gas and Power Directives spread into Germany and Eastern Europe.

Have a look at my last book:

Wheel of Fortune: The Battle for Oil and Power in Russia

Wheel of Fortune tells the story of the collapse of the Russian oil industry after the end of the Soviet Union and its renaissance in the 2000s and 2010s. It describes the rise of the private oil companies in the chaos of the 1990s, the arrival of the Western majors and service companies, and the opportunities and obstacles they encountered. The book describes in detail the rise of Putin’s team in Saint Petersburg, the measures he took to gain control of the oil industry once in power–including the notorious “Yukos Affair”–and the trend toward renationalization of the industry under Putin, armed with a strong state oil company called “Rosneft,” headed by a close ally of Putin. The book closes with a look ahead at oil and the future of Russia, and Russia and the future of oil.

The book is written in a lively style, with plenty of human-interest stories about a colorful industry and its never-boring personalities and politics. It was named a “Book of the Year” by Foreign Affairs.

Book Reviews

“The history of Russia’s oil industry since the collapse of communism is the history of the country itself. There can be few better guides to this terrain than Thane Gustafson, a professor of government at Georgetown University who has been studying Russia and global oil for more than three decades. His Wheel of Fortune stands out amid a series of recent books on Russia, combining meticulous research with a storyteller’s gift.”

—Neil Buckley, Financial Times

“Few have studied the Russian oil and gas industry longer or with a broader political perspective than Gustafson. The result is this superb book, which is not merely a fascinating, subtle history of the industry since the Soviet Union’s collapse but also the single most revealing work on Russian politics and economics published in the last several years.”

—Robert Legvold, Foreign Affairs

“Thane Gustafson has produced what will surely be the definitive work on this subject… For the past twenty years Gustafson has shuttled back and forth to Russia, getting to know many of the key players. Having been present at the creation, he is uniquely placed to combine an insider’s knowledge of how the industry works with academic analytical skills and a sophisticated understanding of Russian culture and politics.”—Peter Rutland, The Times Literary Supplement

— Foreign Affairs

Other books by Thane Gustafson

Reform in Soviet Politics

Crisis amid Plenty

Capitalism Russian-Style

Russia 2010

Thane Gustafson

At Georgetown Thane Gustafson teaches courses on Russian politics and the politics and government of the Former Soviet Union. His recent research interests include Germany and Western Europe, and the politics of climate change. He teaches an undergraduate seminar on climate change, called, “Energy and the Coming World,” and a graduate seminar on “The Future of Russia in the Age of Global Warming.”

Get in touch with me