Historical Social Research

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Jeronim Perović & Dunja Krempin: “The Key is in Our Hands:” Soviet Energy Strategy during Détente and the Global Oil Crises of the 1970s. [Abstract]

This essay traces the rise of the Soviet Union as Europe’s key energy supplier during the 1970s and early 1980s. While détente and the global energy crises proved to be accelerating factors in fostering East-West economic cooperation, it was ultimately the USSR’s own impeding “energy crisis” that prompted Soviet leaders to seek closer relations with the West. If the Soviet Union wanted to meet the growing energy demand at home, maintain export volumes to its Communist allies in Eastern Europe, and boost its role as an international energy player, it needed to counter fast-declining production and engage in the development of new energy frontiers, namely in the resource-rich northern part of Western Siberia. Concerns over the threat of superpower confrontation were major motivations for the Soviet leadership to embark on the path of détente beginning in the late 1960s. However, as this essay argues, rapprochement with the West was also driven and sustained by an understanding on the part of the Moscow leadership that it needed Western technological assistance and credits.

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