Russia’s transformation into a market economy has engendered mythology; Western scholars and media have painted very different pictures of the prospects for the Russian economy. Despite coming to a wide range of conclusions, existing studies all tend to tackle 'issues' ranging from privatization to federalism, from a weak state to backward financial systems, with occasional reference to relevant sectors of the economy. This book takes a different approach. As part of an attempt to resolve a larger puzzle - what makes economic reform in Russia difficult - it examines how one of the major sectors of the economy - energy has influenced economic growth and political development. It provides an in-depth analysis of the country’s export of oil and gas, showing how the energy sector went through the topsy-turvy period of Gorbachev’s economic reform and the initial stages of market transition under Yeltsin. In doing so, it highlights the importance of the major oil and gas companies for the functioning of Russian politics.